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As spring is just around the corner it's time to start thinking about trail time. Get out the old boots or better yet, shop for some new ones. If you like a stiffness of a boot but like the low cut of a shoe you're going to love the LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe
LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe Features
- UPPERS: Abrasion-resistant split leather and CORDURA®. Lightweight uppers support freedom of movement, while protecting and stabilizing the ankle.
- LINING: Waterproof breathable GORE-TEX®.
- C4 TONGUE: Anatomically contoured to cradle the foot in comfort.
- FOOTBED: Balance Comfort.
- MIDSOLE: Ultra-cushioning PU-midsole.
- OUTSOLE:The new LOWA 'Trac® Lite' outsole, features a self-cleaning tread design with increased surface area to provide excellent grip on rocky, uneven terrain.
- STABILIZER: 5mm Nylon Heel/2mm Forefoot
- Price: $195.00
LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe ReviewIf a backpacking boot and a hiking shoe got together their offspring would be the LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe. It is a nice blend of backpacking support and low hiker versatility. The uppers feature the classic boot styling of leather. We all know the benefits of leather, longevity, comfort, durability. It does a good job of shedding water and dirt. The upper is lined with GORE-Tex making it fully waterproof, just don't step too deep. The Focus LO is cut low like a hiking shoe giving a greater range of movement and a less restrictive fit. To help support ankle the heel cup is quite stiff and the boot cradles your ankle for added support. An aggressive Y-patterned tread provide plenty of on-trail traction on hardpack, sand, mud, and gravel. The sole is very stiff, the kind of stiffness you'd expect from a backpacking boot. You won't be running in these shoes. From a load carrying standpoint, you will get the support needed for heavy days on the trail. I had mixed feelings on the performance of the Focus LO. I can see the intent of marrying a lightweight hiking shoe with the core features of a boot but it didn't work for me. If I want the support of a boot, give me a boot. If I want a versatile lightweight shoe, give me the shoe. I felt clunky on the trail. There is no question on the quality and durability of the Focus LO. If you are looking for a shoe that can go and go and go the Focus LO is it. The quality, materials, and craftsmanship leave nothing to be desired and will last a long, long time. The Good
- Great Traction
- High Quality
- Wasn't a fan of the mix of boot and shoe
Bottom Line:If you are in the market for a shoe that performs like a boot, the LOWA Focus GTX LO is your shoe. Buy Now: Pick up the LOWA Focus GTX LO Hiking Shoe[gallery]... Read more...
Everyone needs a good knife. If you spend a lot of time in the woods or wilderness and you want to be prepared, you need a knife that can get you out of a lot different situations. Enter the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife. I had the chance to test out the Ultimate Knife this past fall courtesy of Gerber.
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife Features
- High Carbon Stainless Steel Drop Point Blade - Ideal for edge retention and cutting rope
- Ergonomic Textured Rubber Grip - Maximizes comfort and reduces slippage
- Stainless Steel Pommel - At base of handle for hammering
- Emergency Whistle - Integrated into lanyard cord
- Fire Starter - Ferrocerium rod locks into sheath, striker notch incorporated into back of knife blade
- Nylon Sheath - Lightweight, military-grade, mildew resistant
- Land to air rescue instructions
- Diamond Sharpener - Integrated into sheath for on-the-go sharpening
- Priorities of Survival - Pocket guide contains Bear's survival essentials
- Weight: 14.7 oz (with sheath), 11.2 oz (knife only)
- Overall Length: 10 in
- Blade Length: 4.8 in
- Price: $80
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife ReviewScoff if you'd like at a Bear Grylls branded item. Go ahead, I did when I first heard of the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife. Then I started reading about it and my opinion started to change. Then I got my hands on one and used it. I no longer scoff. This knife is the real deal. It is designed by Bear and made by Gerber and it is an extremely handy tool to have with you. It's an extremely well thought out design. It has just about everything you'd need in a tool. Where to begin... The blade is 4.8 inches long and is fairly stout. The blade can come in straight or serrated variations. The smooth blade works extremely well for a lot of applications but sometimes you just want a little bit of serration to help speed things along. Although given the range of tasks you can take on with the Ultimate Knife, I think the serrated blade wouldn't hold up as well. The blade is thick and up for cutting, chopping, hacking, etc. To help keep the blade sharp there is a built in diamond sharpener on the blade cover. Just undo a Velcro strap, flip it over, and hone away. The handle is a dense, textured, rubber grip. It's sure in hand, even when the handle is wet or your palms are sweaty. The contours of grip make the knife comfortable in a number of grips. You have very little to worry about when working away with the knife in hand. The base of the handle serves as a waffled hammerhead. It's stout enough to handle hammering abuse without compromising the entire knife. Just be sure be aware of who/what is around when hammering since the blade will be thrusting through the air. The handle also features a lanyard with an emergency whistle. I think the only purpose is for the whistle. The lanyard isn't long enough to do anything with. The sheath is about 10 inches along so the knife can be fully strapped to it. It does feature a single belt loop and two loops for fastening to a pack shoulder strap. The belt loop is tight. I would have liked to see it as Velcro so you didn't have to partially take off your belt to put it on but it's a minor thing. The blade protector is strong and holds the blade secure so it doesn't rattle around. The handle is held with a Velcro strap as well for quick and easy access. The back of the sheath also has a stitched on infographic on basic rescue signals. Attached to the sheath is a Ferrocerium fire starter. It pairs with a notch in the back of the knife blade for striking and starting fires. It locks securely into the sheath with no worries about it coming out. It is relatively easy to throw sparks but a little difficult to get substantial enough sparks to start a fire. The rod is about 1.5 inches long, which I think is too short to be truly effective. If it were longer you'd be able to have more striking range and get more going. The grip is also awkward to hold. In addition to the rescue signals, the knife also comes with a waterproof pamphlet with basic survival skills on it. This is a great, simple guide for the budding survivalist and good refresher for the veteran. It covers protection, shelter, fire, rescue, navigation, water, food, and some basic knots. It's by no means comprehensive but it's a good starter guide. They even included an inch and centimeter ruler along the margins. The Good
- Lots of utility for a single knife
- Great information is included
- Well rounded package
- Ferrocerium fire-starting rod is short
Bottom Line:The Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife is one tool that just about anybody who ventures into the wilderness could find a use for. Buy Now: Pick up the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife [gallery]... Read more...
When it comes to camping with the kids they have to sleep warm or everyone is going to be miserable. When it comes to kids' sleeping bags Kelty crushes it. The Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag and the Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag sleeping bags knock it out of the park! Kelty sent me these bags to test and review this summer and after they arrived my girls were so excited that they slept in them for a week on their bedroom floor! That helped bring the stoke when it was time to take them camping.
Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag ReviewThe Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag is quite possibly the cutest sleeping bag ever made. My 3 year old loves hers. Kelty really hit what is important to kids and what's important for the parents. For the kids: good colors. Sure they don't have the rainbow spectrum but simplicity is good, pink for the girls, green and blue for the boys. The inside is cozy and fun. The flannel doesn't feel as cold as nylon when your first get it and plush fleece helps them slide down into the bag. Its also soft on the face so your kids won't mind being zipped all the way up. For the parents: the Woobie is rated to 30 degrees. The coldest night we had was close to 32 degrees and my 3 year old stayed warm and cozy all night. Dual zippers make it easy to help the little ones in and out of their bag, no matter what side you af sleeping on. The bag is well made and will keep up with the use that only little kids have a way of bringing. If you're going to get the Woobie, get it while your child is young. At 36 inches long, they will outgrow it quickly. Next summer our three year old will be too big. The full feature set is included at the bottom of this review. The Good
- Warm and cozy
- Great Price
- My daughter loved having "her own little sleeping bag"
- I didn't pick it up sooner!
Bottom Line:For your small kids, the Woobie is the sleeping bag to get. Buy Now: Pick up the Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag
Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag ReviewThe Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag hits the young kids market well. For the young girls (like my five year old) it has a few small touches that made her excited about her new sleeping bag. The faux fur hood gives a little bit of "grown-up" appeal and of course the two-tone pink. For the young boys it's straight, simple blue. Both feature an internal pocket to stash a headlamp or other items. They also include a velcro pillow pouch on the underside to keep a pillow in place. Throw in some loops for keeping a sleeping pad in place and your child is going to sleep comfortably. As a parent my favorite part is the zippered extension. The foot of the bag has a circular zipper. When your child is small, zip it up to shorten the bag by 12 inches to keep her warmer. As she grows taller, unzip it and you'll get a few more years out of the bag. One bag, lasts through a few years of use before they outgrow it. Hands down the best feature. My next favorite feature is the stuff sack. It is sewn to the foot of the sleeping bag so there's no losing it! It also features a carry handle which also hits the "I'm bigger and I can help out by carrying my own stuff" mentality. The Big Dipper is also rated to 30 degrees. On the same 32 degree night my 5 year old was nice and toasty inside with her jammies on. It does seem fairly wide which is good for wild sleepers but could produce cold spots. Keep that in mind. The full feature set is included at the bottom of this review. The Good
- Zippered Extension
- Attached stuff sack
- Good Price
- Nothing, this is a great bag
Bottom Line:Get the sleeping bag that grows with your kids! Buy Now: Pick up the Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag
Kelty Woobie 30 Sleeping Bag Features
- Two-layer off-set quilt construction
- Top baffle collar
- Zipper draft tube with anti-snag design
- Dual-sided locking zips aid in temperature control
- Playful colors and patterned liner
- Stuff sack included
- Temp Rating: 30° / -1°C
- Shape: Mummy
- Fits to: 3' / 91 cm
- Length: 42” / 107 cm
- Shoulder girth: 44” / 112 cm
- Fill weight: 15 oz. / .42 kg
- Total weight: 2 lb. 0 oz. / .9 kg
- Stuffed size: 8"x 15" / 20 cm x 38 cm
- Insulation: Cloudloft™
- Shell material: 66D polyester taffeta
- Liner material: Plush polyester fleece and cotton flannel
- Price: $44.95
Kelty Big Dipper 30 Sleeping Bag Features
- Two-layer off-set quilt construction
- Zipper draft tube with anti-snag design
- Sleeping pad security loops
- 3/4-length, two-way locking zipper
- Sized to fit juniors
- Pillow pocket
- Drawcord replaced by elastic for child safety
- Includes integrated compression storage sack
- Internal storage pocket
- Expandable foot section lengthens the bag by 12" (Patent#US 6,073,282)
- Temp Rating: 30° / -1°C
- Shape: Mummy
- Fits to: 5' 4" / 163 cm
- Length: 72” / 183 cm
- Shoulder girth: 56” / 142 cm
- Fill weight: 35 oz. / 0.98 kg
- Total weight: 3 lb. 9 oz. / 1.60 kg
- Stuffed size: 11" x 20" / 28 cm x 51 cm
- Insulation: Cloudloft™
- Shell material: 50D polyester taffeta
- Liner material: 66D polyester taffeta
- Price: $69.95
You know the feeling. You're worn out from a long day on the trail. All you want is to relax and get some food in your belly. You grab your steaming cup put it your lips and burn! Enter the Snow Peak Hotlips. Snow Peak sent me some Hotlips to test and review this summer.
Snow Peak Hotlips Features
- Material: Silicone
- Weight: 0.3 oz
- Fits: 600 Single Wall Mug
- Price: $6.95
Snow Peak Hotlips ReviewIt's so simple. I'm sure there's other products like this out there but this is the first time I've seen it. It makes so much sense. Just slip the Hotlips onto the rim of your Titanium 600 Mug and voila, no more burned lips. The silicone covers the hot metal thus saving your lips. While the Hotlips are made specifically for the Titanium 600 single wall mug, I was able to get it to work on the Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug. They might work on other Snow Peak mugs as well. The side benefit is for those who don't like the feel of metal on their lips the Hotlips takes that annoyance away. The Good
- No more burned lips
- Only made to fit one mug
Bottom Line:If you have a Snow Peak Mug or are considering getting one, do yourself a favor and get the Hotlips. Your lips will thank you. Buy Now: Pick up the Snow Peak Hotlips [gallery]... Read more...
The H series of stacking mugs from Snow Peak is like the cool, adult, outdoor version of the tub toys many of us played with as kids. Only these are made of titanium, insulated, and way cooler. This summer I had the chance to test and review the Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug courtesy of Snow Peak.
Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug Features
- Material: Titanium
- Dimensions: D 3.8" H 4.1"
- Capacity: 21.2 fl oz
- Weight: 4.4 oz
- Mesh Storage Bag Included
- Price: $54.95
Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug ReviewLightweight, insulated, packable are the three words that come to mind for the Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug. The H series includes 5 mugs and the H600 is the second largest. All five mugs nest together within the biggest one. The H600 holds just over 20 ounces and weighs in at just over 4 ounces. It's a good companion to your cook pot when going on two person trips. If you have the Snow Peak Trekker Kit or a number of other Snow Peak pots, it will nestle nicely inside along with your stove. It might not fit with the fuel canister though. I love that it's insulated, but not bulky. It gives just enough protection to keep your hands from burning when holding hot stuff and it's just enough to maintain temperature while you eat or drink. For drinking, the Snow Peak Hotlips are a great companion. Yes, they weren't made specifically to fit on the H series, however, they will work. It's a cool feature to have all five mugs in the series nestle together, however, I haven't thought of a time when I'd have more than 2. It's great for packing though. I did think the $55 price point is a little steep. Yes it is titanium but you must either really want the mug or you must really be out of other ways to shave weight. The outer wall is lightly brushed which helps give a little added friction. Even with gloves on, it didn't feel like it was going to slip out of my hand. The H series has 5 mugs ranging from 7 ounces to 30 ounces. All are handle-less. If you want a mug with handles, check out the Snow Peak Titanium Double series. With handles you will lose the stackability. The Good
Bottom Line:The Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug will be more than happy to be at home in your pack. And you will be more than happy to have it. Buy Now: Pick up the Snow Peak Ti-Double H600 Stacking Mug [gallery]... Read more...
It blew my mind the first time I heard that UV light could purify water. I was a skeptic until I tried the SteriPEN Freedom this summer. It changed my mind and it changed the way I view purification. SteriPEN did send me the Freedom to test and review.
SteriPEN Freedom Features
- Purifying Element: UV lamp
- Treatment Dosage: 0.5 L
- Total Treatable Volume: 0.5L at a time, 1L by treating twice
- Purification Time: 48 sec
- Dimensions: 13 x 3.5 x, 2.2 cm
- Battery Type: rechargeable
- Includes: USB cable, AC adapter & neoprene case
- Weight: 2.6 oz
- Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
- Price: $119.95
SteriPEN Freedom ReviewThe SteriPEN Freedom is light, compact, rechargeable, and easy to use. The Freedom really can't be any easier to use. Fill up a container with water, insert the light of Freedom, and swirl around until the green indicator light turns on. It's made to purify a half liter at a time. A built in timer keeps track of the 48 seconds it takes to treat so you don't half to. You an purify a liter by treating it twice. You won't be able to do more than a liter at a time though. The UV light will kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including giardia and crypto. One thing that was hard for me to get over is visually or tasting you don't notice a difference. With a filter you an see what was caught in the filter. With drops or tablets you can taste the treatment. With UV light you don't have any indication, visually or taste, that it's been purified. There aren't any switches to worry about leaving on. The base of the UV lamp features two metal connectors. When inserted into water the water connects the circuit and the lamp powers on. The base of the unit includes LEDs to indicate progress or errors. When finished, just dry off the unit and replace the protective cover and you don't have to worry about accidentally turning it on. The cover protects the bulb from breaking and an included neoprene sleeve protects the full unit. The battery is a rechargeable lithium battery and uses a micro USB cable, which is great for charging versatility. Battery life is good. On a full chage you get up to 40 treatments. For most trips you'll be more than covered. For longer trips you'll need a way to recharge. That is one downfall of the rechageable battery. If it runs out while in the field and you don't have a power source, you're hosed. Both the battery and lamp are rated for 8000 uses each. At which point both can be replaced by sending it in to Hydro Photon for repair. At 2.6 ounces it's extremely lightweight and makes it ideal for hiking, backpacking, and adventure travel. A handy little feature is a built in LED flashlight. Just rotate the unit side to side to turn it on and off. It is bright enough for task work while purifying, which is nice if you forget your headlamp. Keep in mind though that light use will reduce the number of treatments you can get from a charge. A few notes of caution: 1. The Freedom (or any SteriPEN product for that matter) works best in clean and clear water. Debris in the water reduces purifying effectiveness and could keep it from being fully purified. Turbid water must be filtered. On that note, SteriPEN does make a small prefilter which is handy (though I didn't test it out). 2. I always used a Nalgene. Anything more narrow than this will be challenging to keep the unit submerged and good swirl action going. The swirling is what ensures all the water is purified. 3. Water trapped in the lid or on the threads won't be purified. Take care to full wipe and dry these areas or use another container to fill the bottle or purify in your cook pot. Overall the Freedom was awesome to use. The Good
- Easy to use
- Good feature set
- No sensory indication that water is purified (such as taste or seeing filtered debris)
- Extra caution must be used to clean lid threads so water doesn't become contaminated after treatment
- Rechargeablity is great but if the battery dies in the field and you don't have backup power, your hosed
Bottom Line:The SteriPEN Freedom is awesome. It is now my go to water treatment method for backpacking, camping, and hiking. Definitely worth the money. Buy Now: Pick up the SteriPEN Freedom[gallery]... Read more...
Made for trail-side lunch and snacking the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container won't let you down by letting your food go cold. Innate sent me a Shiru to test and review and here's what I thought.
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container Features
- Material: Double-wall Stainless Steel
- Capacity: 0.55 liters (18.5 fl oz)
- Dimentions: 3 x 7 inches
- Weight: 14.8 ounces
- Price: $22-$28
Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container ReviewThe Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container is made to be a lunch container. The short and squat shape makes it ideal for eating your warm (or cold) meals. Unlike your typical thermos for liquid, the opening is wide enough to eat out of without feeling like your fishing for your food. No need to dump your lunch out either. The short nature allows you to easily scrap the bottom to get all of your lunch. The Shiru is made of double-wall stainless steel. It's rated to keep your food hot for up to 5 hours, especially if you take 10 minutes to "preheat" it before you put your hot lunch in. It can double as a cooler to keep your lunch cold for up to 10 hours. In testing I've had food in it for close to the 5 hour limit and when I opened it up, it was still hot. The inner lid features a steam release valve to both depressurize the container and prevent steam burns when as you open the container. The inner lid is also insulated to help control heat loss through the top. The inner lid is wide, making it easier to open, even with gloves on. A rubber gasket seals the liquid inside so even if it tips, it won't leak. I didn't experience any leaking, but stay on the safe side and make sure it remains upright in your pack. The outer cap is also insulated, providing even more heat-retaining value. Keep an eye on it though, it can loosen on it's own because it only has a couple threads I've used it in my pack for cool weather hiking and skiing. Although my biggest use has been for breakfast at work. I typically mix my oatmeal in it and by the time I get to work it's ready to eat. The Good
- Great for lunch
- Retains heat extremely well
- Easy to eat out of
- The outer cap is only a couple threads and can loosen on its own
Bottom Line:The Shiru is the container to use to keep your lunch warm. Buy Now: Pick up the Innate Shiru Vacuum Food Container [gallery]... Read more...
Looking for a lightweight cooking system? The Snow Peak Trekker Kit is a great option for someone starting out backpacking but is also a great upgrade kit for the seasoned backpacker as well. I've had the chance this summer, courtesy of Snow Peak, to test and review the Trekker Kit.
Snow Peak Trekker Kit Features
- Includes: GigaPower Stove, Trek 1400 Cookset, windscreen, carry bag
- Material: Stove: Stainless Steel, Pot: Titanium, Windscreen: Stainless Steel
- Output: Stove: 10,000 BTU's
- Boil Time: Stove: 4 min. 48 sec. / 1 liter
- Burn Time: 110 gram fuel: 50 min. on high, 250 gram fuel: 85 min. on high
- Dimensions: Pot: D 5.5" H 4.5"
- Stove: D 4.2", H 2.6"
- Windscreen: D 4.5" H 0.6"
- Capacity: Trek 1400: 47 fluid oz
- Size Stowed: D 5.75" H 5.9"
- Weight: 13.15 oz
- Price: $99.95
Snow Peak Trekker Kit ReviewThe Snow Peak Trekker Kit includes just about everything you need to get started with camp cooking. You get the stove, windscreen, and pot all in one. The Stove The stove is the Snow Peak GigaPower Stove. It folds down small, about 2x2x4 inches in an included plastic case. I'm a fan of the case because it helps protect the stove within the pot, however, you can ditch it to save a few grams. At 3.75 ounces (without case) the stove is decently light. The Piezo ignition saves the need for matches and is high quality. I'd say 80% of the time it would ignite on the first try and 19% of the time on the second try. The stove arms are wide enough to provide enough stability for the cookset. As will all canister stoves you need to be careful to not tip the whole thing over, but with the GigaPower it's not a precarious balancing act. The burner has good control. It can boil a quart of in just under 5 minutes (4:48) and can be adjusted down to get a slow simmer. Made out of stainless steel it's going to be able to handle bumps and jostling without falling apart. The Pot Included in the Trekker Kit is the Snow Peak Trek 1400 Cookset. The cookset includes a 47 oz pot (about 1.5L) and a frying pan lid (will hold 17 oz). Made of titanium the Trek 1400 weighs in at a scant 7.4 oz. Each piece features folding handles. Watch out for the pot handles when cooking on high, they will get hot. Also note that they don't lock into place. The pan features a squeeze handle does lock into place which is nice. Keep a watchful eye, the bottom of the pot is smooth so it will slide around on your stove if you aren't careful. The pot is large enough to fit a 250 gram fuel canister and the GigaPower stove inside with room to spare. I was also able to sneak in a long Titanium Spork. Snow Peak does make more cups and pots that will nest into the 1400 but you will end up sacrificing storing the stove and fuel canister inside. With that said, the storage bag is big enough that you can fit the canister on top of the pot and still be in the bag, keeping everything together. Snow Peak does back up the cookset with a lifetime warranty. The Windscreen My biggest gripe with canister stoves is the lack of windscreens. A slight breeze would drive down efficiency. The windscreen integrates with the GigaPower stove and nestles tightly into place. I have no idea what the efficiency gains are in numerical terms, but it does provide noticeable performance gains in the wind. It is well worth the extra weight. The Good
- Everything you need to boil water in a single kit (add in a spork and you've got everything you need)
- Lifetime Warranty on the pot and pan
- Pot is smooth so it will slide around on the stove
Bottom Line:The Snow Peak Trekker Kit is a great additional to any backpacking kit. It's lightweight, has what you need, and performs well. Buy Now: Pick up the Snow Peak Trekker Kit [gallery]... Read more...
I've been slowly getting turned to Princeton Tec headlamps. The Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp is one more light that is winning my favor. I've had the chance to test the Remix this summer thanks to Princeton Tec.
Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Review Features
- Type: Headlamp
- Illumination type: one MaxBright LED, three 5mm LEDs
- Light output: 100 lumens
- Run time (High): 28 hours
- Run time (Low): 200 hours
- Light modes: High/low
- Batteries: 3 - AAA (Included)
- Dimensions (HxWxD): 2x2-1/2x1-1/2"
- Weight: 2.4 oz.
- Material: composite with elastic nylon headband
- Ideal uses: climbing, camping, hiking, running, fishing, work
- Made in United States of America
- Price: $39.95
Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Review ReviewThe Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp is a powerful light in a little package. The MaxBright LED can reach up to 73m on high (so they say, I didn't get out the tape measure). It's bright enough that when running you don't have to worry about out running the light and I was able to spotlight considerable distances. On a Mt Hood attempt earlier this summer it was definitely bright enough to scout ahead. The dim, early morning light. The three 5mm LEDs are perfect for task work. They provide just enough light when setting up the tent, cooking a late meal, or reading the tent. We are seeing more and more combo lights and there's a good reason. You can get white, red, or green LEDs. With two setting modes for both sets of LEDs you can find the level of light you need while conserving batteries. On high the MaxBright LED will last 28 hours. The 5mm LEDs will last 200 hours on low. The lamp is powered with three AAA batteries. Ordinarily I'd give negative feedback for not being rechargeable, but for a versatile light like this I think it makes sense. Just use rechargeable AAAs. The headband is wide and comfy, even after a few hours of use on the trail. The pivot for the head is solid. Once set it won't bounce out of place. The head is close to being too heavy for the band though. I did experience some bouncing while running but it was manageable. The Good
- A little heavy for running
Bottom Line:The Princeton Tec Remix is a versatile, powerful little light. Buy Now: Pick up the Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Read more...
The Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt isn't your typical wool running shirt. Paired with a small amount of LYCRA you get a shirt that is comfortable, moves with you, and remains relatively stink free. Icebreaker sent me SS Quest Crewe to test this summer and here's what I thought.
Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt Features
- Fabric: 96% Merino wool, 4% LYCRA®
- Quick Drying GT150
- Sweat away with quick-drying odor resistance
- Media player cord loophole
- Eyelet panels Increase venting
- Back pocket stashes keys, gels
- Price: $79.95
Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt ReviewBy now I'm sure we all know the benefits of Merino wool over synthetic fabrics. The Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt is made of 96% Merino and 4% LYCRA. The combination provides a comfortable fit and feel on the skin and the shirt has more stretch, which is great for activities that require more dynamic upper-body movement. From long runs to Crossfit inspired workout, the SS Quest Crewe was able to keep up and move with me. One downside to the LYCRA is it does hold body odor. With only 4% of the shirt being LYCRA it's not a huge issue, but the shirt does hold onto it more than a 100% Merino shirt. To put it into context: I wore the SS Quest Crewe shirt for my daily, noontime workouts in 90+ degree heat for five days in a row without washing. By the end of the week the shirt was starting to smell some but it wasn't overpowering. The GT150 fabric is lightweight and quick drying, perfect for hot weather activities. The underarms feature an eyelet type meshy fabric to help with venting. Icebreaker included a small zipper pocket on the back of the shirt. Great idea, but with the loose nature of the shirt anything heavier than a gel or two was too much. Even at a light run the contents would bounce and tug and it was highly annoying. The inside of the pocket includes a headphone cord port so you can keep the cord contained under the shirt (great feature). The fit is more on the loose side than the tight side. At 6' and 180 lbs, the large fits me loosely. Meaning that it fits me the way a large shirt should, it's not body hugging. The SS Quest Crewe has good styling. The different colored stitching provides a nice visual break over a solid colored shirt. The Good
- Merino wool benefits plus a little LYCRA stretch
- Quick drying
- I couldn't really find anything bad with this one!
Bottom Line:The Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt is a fantastic, active shirt. I wear it all the time now. Buy Now: Pick up the Icebreaker SS Quest Crewe Shirt [gallery]... Read more...
What exactly is a "Compounder"? Adhesive substances? Nope. Fractions? Nope. An awesome jacket meant for whatever you can throw at it? Yep. Columbia continues to step up their game. The Columbia Compounder Jacket is great all-around jacket for those who like to get out doing a lot of different things. Columbia sent me the Compounder to review this spring and summer.
Columbia Compounder Jacket Features
- Fabric: 100% 2.5 layer polyester plain weave
- Omni-Dry ultra breathable waterproof fully seam sealed
- Omni-Wick EVAP® advanced evaporation
- Attached, adjustable, helmet compatible storm hood
- Drawcord adjustable hem
- Waterproof zippers
- Drop tail
- 5 pockets
- Internal key clip
- Abrasion resistant chin guard
- Center back length: 30 in
- Price: $300
Columbia Compounder Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Compounder Jacket would fit well in the "all-around" jacket category. It is a strong performer in a lot of different conditions. The combination of the 2.5 layer Omni-Dry construction was more than enough to keep the weather out. From rain storms, to blizzards, to 40 mph winds, the Compounder kept the weather at bay. I had full confidence when I wore it. The thing that sets it apart from other jackets is the Omni-Wick Evap technology. This is supposed to make the Compounder ultra breathable by using "a special compound that disperses sweat quickly across a broad surface area for accelerated evaporation.". I'm a sweat machine so I was very excited about this. I came away from testing with mixed feelings. Overall it does a decent job. In cold conditions it did well moving moisture. When temps were warmer I was sweating more than the jacket could move. It's definitely not an "active" jacket for running but it does well for hiking, backcountry skiing, resort skiing, or other activities that don't have high levels of output. To be completely fair, other shells have a hard time keeping up with moisture management. With that in mind, though, the Compounder is one of the better performing jackets when it comes to moisture management. It does come with full pit zips which help with additional ventilation. The hand pockets are mesh lined so if things get bad you can open them up as well. The downfall to the mesh pockets is when you get sweaty whatever is in your pockets will get soaked. The two hand warmer, two inside pouch, and one chest pocket allow you to carry way more than you need in your pockets. The fleece lined chin area keeps your face from getting rubbed raw. The drawcord hem will help keep the weather out. The Compounder is relatively lightweight and packs down pretty small. I've kept it stashed away in my pack for when I need it. Once again it's a good all-around jacket so it won't get as small or as lightweight as some shells out there. The hood is big and adjustable. It will fit over many helmets and can snug down tight. It handled 40 mph crosswinds on Mt Hood without shaking or flapping loose. I was able to adjust it small enough to give good coverage of my face. The length is long enough to give good coverage for when your skiing but not so long that you look like a dork when you wear it around town. The Good
- Great all-around jacket
- Lightweight and pack able
- Relatively breathable
- Mesh pockets allow contents to get sweaty
Bottom Line:The Columbia Compounder is a strong contender. It's a good all-around jacket. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Compounder Jacket[gallery]... Read more...
Let's face it, when it comes to camp cooking packing pots, utensils, bowls, cups, stove, and fuel can be a pain. Integrated systems have been around for awhile but I finally had my chance to test one out. GSI Outdoors sent me the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist to review and it is awesome!
GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist Features
- Crushproof lid made of Glacier Stainless steel prevents deformation of your pot/lid and includes an integrated strainer
- Convenient folding handle locks into place for cooking and secures entire set for transport, eliminating the need for a stuff sack
- Unique bowl + mug solution with low center of gravity and Sip-It virtually eliminates spills while the integrated insulating sleeve keeps your drinks hot
- Ingenious, welded stuff sack holds set while traveling and doubles as a sink or washbasin in camp
- 1.8 L Pot
- Strainer lid
- Two 20 fl. oz. insulated mugs
- Two 20 fl. oz. bowls
- Two Sip-It tops
- Two Telescoping Foons
- Stove bag - welded sink
- Size: 5.9" x 6.4" x 5.9"
- Weight: 24.7 oz
- Price: $64.95
GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless DualistFirst and foremost I love not having to track down my spork or bowl, or whatever. In the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist everything is all in one. It's compact, all together, and it doesn't rattle around in your pack. The Glacier Dualist gives you everything you need. The 1.8L pot is big enough for most meals you'll cook for two people. It does get difficult to manage bulky meals like pasta (I burned one and it sucked...totally my fault too) but as long as you're diligent you should be fine. The folding handle is sturdy and locks into place. Even with a full pot I didn't feel like I was on the verge of having it break in two. The lock is facilitated by squeezing the handle together and rotating it past a couple of tabs. It serves a dual purpose of keeping the lid on and everything in place when packing it up. The strainer lid is a good feature but there are a couple of improvements I would like to see: 1. The top ring doesn't stay in place very well. Sometimes you can get it balance in the upright position but a lot of times it tipped over which meant burning my fingers when grabbing it to lift the lid. 2. Something to help hold the lid in place when using the strainer. I don't always want to use the corner of my shirt or beanie or whatever to hold the lid in place. I liked the bowls. They are simple, lightly insulated, and can work as a cup with the integrated lid. The insulation is a thin neoprene sleeve and is just enough to keep your meal warm (or cold) just long enough to get through it. Paired with the lid you can let it sit for a few but don't wait too long. You can still get some hand-warming effect when the temps are cool but you don't have to worry about burning your hands. The bowl does separate into to pieces. When washing if you fully submerge the bowl water will get in to the insulation. This isn't a negative for me, I am just making note. I made it a point to keep an eye on it and take it apart if it got wet. I really liked how the bowl doubled as a cup with the lid. There's nothing worse than using a bowl as a cup and spilling [insert beverage name here] all over yourself. The lid snaps snugly into place. It's not totally bozo-proof so don't expect miracles. Telescoping Foons. Sounds like a medical device or perhaps something from a sci-fi movie. I like the concept of the telescoping Foon but I found them inadequate. First, when using them with the pot, they don't reach all the way to the bottom without sticking your hand in. If you've got a full pot you'll be hosed. Secondly, they break very easily. The part where the spork meets the handle is very thin plastic. I reached snappage dishing up chili. I just held too far up on the handle. Just be careful. I like the idea of telescope action. It's what allows the Foons to fit in the pot. If you have kids you get some additional side benefits. My girls loved the "crazy forks" and they loved the telescoping action. Then they thought it was fun because on our trips they each had their own color. Everything is made to fit together including a canister stove and single fuel canister. I was able to fit an MSR Pocket Rocket and an 8 oz canister. GSI does include a thin sleeve to protect the stove and cookware from scratching each other. With the 8 oz canister it does take some finagling to get everything to fit just right. Take care to not bend your stove. Once everything is put together it fits into a welded storage sack. Once again, it all fits together and I love it. The sack also doubles as a kitchen sink or water holder for purifying. It's stainless so it's going to weigh more. If you're concerned about weight check out some of the other options to save a little weight. To have a system all in one, I didn't mind the extra weight. The Good
- Everything you need in one place
- Stainless steel is durable
- Lots of versatility with each piece
- Foons break easily and they don't the bottom of the pot
- Stainless is heavier, if you don't like it, check out the other options
Bottom Line:Buy Now: Pick up the GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Dualist[gallery]... Read more...
The Vapur Element Water Bottle truly is an "anti-bottle". It's a bottle without being a bottle. It's sleek, compact, and great to use. It takes away your excuses for not carrying a bottle with you. Vapur gave me a bottle to test and here's what I thought.
Vapur Element Water Bottle Features
- Sizes: .7L & 1L
- SuperCap - Tough Seal. Easy Open
- Durable 3-ply construction
- Antimicrobial lining
- Dishwasher safe
- BPA Free
- Made in the USA
- Price: $11.99 (.7L) & $13.99 (1L)
Vapur Element Water Bottle ReviewThe most striking feature of the Vapur Element Water Bottle is how it folds down. This is the "anti-bottle" element (no pun intended). I think the biggest complaint people have with carrying a typical bottle is they are too bulky and a pain to carry. The Element folds down super small. It's small enough to easily fit into a jacket pocket, daypack, or in a purse. It weighs next to nothing when empty. The biggest excuse is no longer valid. My first thought when I first saw the Element was "that's going to be a pain to clean". I didn't realize that the cap unscrews and the inside is easily scrubbed with a bottle brush. It is dishwasher safe too if you want to go that route. My second concern was the cap accidentally being opened. The cap fits tightly and in most cases shouldn't come open. If you throw it in your pack with a bunch of other stuff you'll be tempting the fates. Just be smart. Vapur threw on a plastic carabiner to help with portability. Clip it to the outside of your pack, climbing harness, or if you want to be super cool, your belt loops. I'm not a fan of clipping it when it's full, but when it's empty it's a good option. The biner folds down around the lid when not in use. My next concern was with leakage. With 3-ply construction the Element is durable. You'd really have to work hard to randomly puncture it. It can also withstand freezing. Lastly, and it threw me for a loop, I actually had people tell me how cool the bottle was. It is cool but to receive compliments was unexpected. Just don't buy the bottle thinking it will make people like you or notice you. That's what the convertible is for. The Good
Bottom Line:You no longer have any excuses to not carry a reusable water (anti)bottle. Buy Now: Pick up the Vapur Element Water Bottle[gallery]... Read more...
For the times when you need a jacket but don't have room, or don't want the extra weight, or just when you want to have a back up look no further than the Stoic Wraith Shell.
Stoic Wraith Shell Features
- Material: Nylon
- Hood (non-removable)
- Fit: Athletic
- Weight: 2.5 oz
- Pockets: 1 front zip
- Price: $70
Stoic Wraith Shell ReviewThe Stoic Wraith Shell is the shell that's almost not there. Coming in at a mere 2.5 ounces it literally is almost not there. It is the perfect "emergency" or back up jacket to have. It packs down super small, small enough to easily fit in your pocket. When it's in your pocket you hardly notice that it's there. It is the ideal jacket to cut the wind or shed a light rain. While it's not fully waterproof it is DWR coated and will offer protection from light precipitation. I was skeptical on how well it'd breathe. I thought for sure that it would be a sweat lodge. To test breathability I wore it on a warmer day paired with a baselayer, a long-sleeve merino layer, and then the Wraith. I was pleasantly surprised to see that when I was running the Wraith did a good job of breathing. Then came the real test. Once I was nice and warm I removed the long-sleeve layer to see if the Wraith would stick to my arms and be uncomfortable. Once again whenever I was on the move the Wraith was breathing and moving moisture. Once I'd stop, though, all bets were off. The full time hood is nice and just big enough to cover your head. It is full-time and needs to get tucked inside so it doesn't flow in the wind like a tiny parachute. One thing to note that I didn't think of is because the jacket is nylon it will pick up your funk. I haven't washed mine yet so I don't know how it will do in the washer. Washing in Nikwax Tech Wash or something similar should do the trick. The Good
- Super lightweight
- Picks up and holds odors
Bottom Line:The Wraith is a great back up shell, great for trail running, great to go in the pack. Buy Now: Pick up the Stoic Wraith Shell[gallery]... Read more...
Make your baselayers work a little bit harder. The Columbia Midweight Baselayers work harder for you with the addition of their Omni-Heat lining.
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Top Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Thumb holes
- Price: $59.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayer Bottom Features
- Fabric: 86% polyester/14% elastane
- Omni-Heat thermal reflective
- Omni-Wick advanced evaporation
- Form fit
- 4-way comfort stretch
- Ergonomic seaming
- Gusset detail
- Price: $54.95
Columbia Midweight Baselayers ReviewThe Columbia Midweight Baselayers are a good all around baselayer for multi-season activities. In the fall and spring they work as stand alone layering pieces for cool weather exploits. I've found the top to be sufficient by itself for trail runs down into the 30s. In the winter they pair well as part of a layering system. The Omni-Heat reflective lining helps keep in additional warmth. As Columbia says "keeping you up to 20% warmer". When I first looked at the lining as I pulled the pieces out of the package I was skeptical. I thought it was going to feel like tin foil rubbing on my skin. I couldn't have been more wrong. The Omni-Heat lining is smooth and soft on the skin. I didn't notice it at all and it's surprisingly comfortable. The 4-way comfort stretch fabric helps with mobility and keeps you from feeling restricted when you're moving. The antimicrobial properties work wonders and you can even get away with wearing the pieces multiple times between washings. You know how typically with synthetic layers as you pull on your shirt for the second time you get repulsed by the stench? This isn't the case with the Columbia Midweight baselayer. The antimicrobial properties keep the smell at bay. The fit is definitely athletic. I'm 6 feet tall and 180 lbs and the large top and bottom fit me perfectly. One thing I will say on the fit is the arms are cut a little high so fits tight through the armpits. On the bottoms, do yourselves a favor gents and get the pair with the fly. I don't get why they'd make them without. The Good
- Warm & versatile
- Top fit a little tight through the armpits
- No fly on certain bottom models
Bottom Line:Looking for a solid baselayer to span multiple seasons? Get the Columbia Midweight Baselayers. Buy Now: Columbia Midweight Baselayers [gallery]... Read more...
Icebreaker, the veritable king of the wool world, has your back if you still don't have a gift for that active individual on your holiday gift list. The Icebreaker Tech Top, a midweight base layer, has almost all the functional features you'd want, and will keep the winter chill away for any outdoor activity.
Icebreaker Tech Top Details
- Icebreaker 260 g/m2 Merino Wool
- 3 Way Collar- Zipped up, zipped down or rolled down
- Drop tail hem
- MSRP: $110
Icebreaker Tech Top ReviewAfter making the Tech Top my go to piece for my last several ski tours, I am loving it! I have worn it for 10+ tours and haven't washed it yet- no stench! For my full "wool vs. synthetic" commentary, see my review of the Icebreaker GT 260 Express Leggings (which, coincidentally, I have worn on all the tours I've had the Tech Top out for). The heavier weight wool provides ample warmth on the cooler days, but might be overkill for the milder days.
- Thummies! Though I'm sure that's not the technical term, the Tech top comes with the ever-wonderful thumb loops which I refer to as thummies. Keeps your sleeves from riding up as you layer. I love it.
- Stink free and fuzzy soft. I'm not going to re-argue the benefits of wool here, but I continue to be a fan. After multiple wears, the Tech Top isn't smelly or scratchy. Go wool.
- The Tech Top isn't incredibly long. Though the back side is longer than the front (that's your drop tail hem), the front could use to be a bit longer. It worked fine for layering, but I would have loved to see it about an inch longer in the front.
- No pocket. I love the Napoleon pocket on layers like this and was a bit disappointed to see that the Tech top didn't come with one. That's usually my go-to location to stash my iPod and a CLIF shot.
Bottom LineA great cool weather layering piece that keeps the stink at bay.
Check it OutIcebreaker Tech Top... Read more...
A lightweight, compressible shell for those "light-and-fast" days, Mountain Hardwear's new Drystein Jacket offers the waterproof protection of a 3 layer shell with the breathability of a softshell. I had the opportunity to put the Dry-Q Elite fabric to the test up in Southcentral Alaska during our Fall to Winter transition, which is notorious for rain, sleet and snow.
Mountain Hardwear Drystein Details
- Composed of Mountain Hardwear's Dry-Q Elite Waterproof Breathable Fabric (see below for more info)
- Weather-resistant stretch side panels add breathability and replace pit-zips
- Helmet-compatible hood
- 2-way watertight front zipper
- Adjustable cuffs and drawcord hem
- Chest-high hand pockets accommodate a harness or pack
- Interior zip pockets
Mountain Hardwear Drystein ReviewWith Mountain Hardwear's debut of their Dry-Q Elite fabric, they've also debuted a whole new line of shell jackets, including the Women's Drystein Jacket. At 1.4 lbs, this waterproof breathable shell is lightweight, packable, and still highly waterproof. Check out the photos- after hours outside in a downpour, the Dry-Q Elite was still beading and repelling water beautifully.
The Down-Low on Dry-QWhat is Dry-Q Elite? Composed of 3 layers, Dry-Q Elite is a completely waterproof yet completely breathable fabric that essentially “turns on” as soon as you start your activity. According to MH, traditional waterproof-breathable fabrics require that the inside of the jacket (the part touching you) must reach a certain level of humidity before the material will breathe. With Dry-Q Elite, this technology is “always on.” The theory is that as soon as you start to sweat, this fabric begins to breath, eliminating that gross clammy feeling that is usually associated with sweating in a shell jacket. After several ski tours in the Drystein, I can say that this is true. I toured with my Drystein on, and never once got gross and clammy inside.
The DrysteinOverall, I loved the Dry-Q Elite fabric. I'll definitely be purchasing more Dry-Q products in the future. However, the fit and design of the Drystein were not as versatile as I would have hoped. The arms are very narrow for a shell, making layering difficult. I was able to wear a wool zip-up and a t-shirt under the Drystein and that was max capacity. Even my Patagonia NanoPuff wouldn't fit under the Drystein without major shoulder constriction. The problem wouldn't have been solved by sizing up, as the waist and length fit perfectly. A larger size and the shell would have become a dress. So, if you're looking for a light-and-fast waterproof breathable shell that you won't need to worry about wearing multiple layers underneath, you're stoked about the Drystein. If you're a fan of layering, as I am, another Dry-Q Elite shell, such as the Asteria, might be more your speed. I like to be able to get to the top of a peak and toss my insulation later on, and then put my shell on over that, so I can protect my insulation from getting wet. However, if you don't need that room for layers, the Drystein fit is perfect- long enough to provide good coverage, nice motion in the sleeves despite them being narrow, and a great overall width of the jacket. I will definitely reach for my Drystein when I hit the trails for an all day excursion in Fall or Spring and want to know that I'll be protected from the elements, no matter how hard it rains! However, at $425 a shell, I wish the Drystein was a bit more versatile.
- Dry-Q Elite Fabric is unmatched. Waterproof in a monsoon, and the most breathable shell I've worn to date.
- Pliability of Dry-Q Elite makes it very easily packable
- Helmet brim and adjustability are fantastic, and make it easy to keep the water off your face but not lose your peripheral vision.
- Shell design prohibits layering due to constricting shoulder fit
- No pit zips- though the Dry-Q fabric keeps you from getting clammy, there's no way to immediately get a rush of air, which is nice after a big push of activity.
- The pockets aren't waterproof- they're mesh. Open them up mid-monsoon and you'll have a soupy mess inside your jacket. The zippers are watertight, so as long as they're closed, you're good.
Bottom LineA waterproof breathable shell that truly is both waterproof and super breathable. Best used for light-and-fast, minimal layering needs kind of situations. Check out the Mountain Hardwear Drystein Jacket... Read more...
As temperatures drop and winter approaches, I need a warmer boot that can handle the ever changing conditions that I like to play outside in- snow, rain, sleet, mud, the works. The Keen Delta Boot has been my go-to boot for my adventures ever since the thermometer started reading below 40. With its waterproof membrane exterior and insulated interior, the Keen Delta has been the natural choice for fall hiking for me.
Keen Delta Boot Specs
- Waterproof nubuck upper
- Thermal heat shield footbed
- TPU stability shank
- 200g KEEN.WARM insulation
- 4mm multi directional lugs
- KEEN.DRY™ waterproof breathable membrane
- Dual climate non-marking rubber outsole
- MSRP: $129.95
Keen Delta Boot ReviewFor winter hiking, Keen has hit the nail on the head with the release of the Keen Delta Boot. Insulated with 200g of Keen.Warm insulation, and protected on the exterior with Keen.Dry material, the Delta makes for a great boot. I've taken them out in the sleet, snow and rain of Southcentral Alaska and haven't been disappointed. The insulation seems to be great for temps below about fourty (warmer than that and my feet were sweating), and has kept my toes warm down into the low teens. The 4mm lug sole is, as always, super impressive in muddy or highly variable terrain. I never feel like I don't have traction with the Deltas. Another one of my favorite features is the "gaiter hook" on the boots, so I can easily attach my gaiters and tromp around in the snow. No need to wriggle the attachment under a shoelace, Keen has added the gaiter hook to truly make these a "winter friendly" boot. Though I've used my Deltas primarily as a hiking boot, I've also used them as an "around town" boot now that the weather has gotten a bit colder. They'd be great for someone looking to invest in a winter hiking boot who'd also like to double their use as snow boots for running out and shoveling the snow off the driveway before work. The insulation and waterproof membrane allows them great flexibility of use for anything in the wintertime. For a great price, you've got yourself a boot with a myriad of uses. A note about sizing- the Keen Website mentions that they are finding that the Delta runs a half size small. For me, that wasn't the case. I am a size 7 across the board, and the size 7 Deltas fit me beautifully.
- Insulation is enough to keep you warm on cold days, but not total overkill.
- As have been my other experiences with Keen boots, there's no nasty "break in" period with the Delta. Open box. Put on boots. Enjoy comfortable feet.
- Shank is stiff enough to provide good support, but doesn't feel so restricting that it becomes cumbersome.
- I don't really have anything negative to say about the Delta. Well done Keen!
Buy NowKeen Delta Boot... Read more...
For years Sierra Designs has been cranking out some amazing gear -- always built for true mountain athletes such as Eric Larsen. I remember lusting after a red Sierra Designs anorak jacket back in college, and being even more impressed after I bought it and put it to use out in the elements. It performed better than my flashier Marmot jacket. Out of everything that Sierra Designs has put out there year after year -- and I've tried a lot of it -- the Cloud 15 sleeping bag is my favorite item yet. In fact, the Cloud 15 may be the best piece of camping gear I've tried this year. In my opinion there is nothing out there like the Cloud 15, visually or functionally. First of all, at one-pound-something it is confirmed to be the lightest 15F degree sleeping bag on the market. Secondly, it is one of the coolest looking pieces of soft goods I've seen from any brand. See the images at right? In the pictures it kind of looks like a white or silver bag with blue accents --- but if you look closely, that's not white or silver. It's transparent material, so you can see the down inside. I can't wait until Sierra Designs makes their Gnar puffy jacket out of this material. I was camping with some buddies up in the Cottonwood Canyons of Utah and had my Cloud 15 lying out to fluff before bed. It made gawkers out of my friends. Like I said, it is unique in the market. And I've used everything from Mont Bell to The North Face and everything in between. The Cloud 15 is precisely 1lb 12oz, has 900-fill down with 10D nylon ripstop (an ultralight nylon material), and is EN-tested for an accurate comfort rating at 15 degrees. That means it even comes in under the weight of the Marmot Plasma ultralight sleeping bag, which is listed 2oz heavier. As you can see in the full length image, the Cloud 15 uses vertical baffles rather than horizontal to save weight. The vertical baffles employ a technology called Insotech Flow, which is a patented approach to keeping down from migrating. If I understand it correctly, it is basically one-way flaps of material in the baffles -- similar to the principle you see at work in the veins of some mammals to reduce the backward flow of blood. Simplicity is elegance, making the Cloud 15 one of the most technologically advanced bags you could find. It comes with a storage bag and a stuff sack, as you might imagine. To save weight, the stuff sack lacks compression straps but is made of the same 10D ripstop nylon. And with 900 fill down, the Cloud 15 is highly compressible to avoid bulk. The bag has some great standard design features. As you can see in the pictures, Sierra Designs has cut the bag with a bit of a jacket-style hood (meaning it fits closer to your ears and comes down in a bit more of a straight angle towards the base of your neck, instead of being a broad triangle shape that drapes from your crown to the outside of your shoulders). As you would expect, it has a drawcord for the collar and draft tubes on both the zipper and the collar. It has a 40" zipper for entry and venting, and a trim but ergonomic foot box. Of course, you can't get every last creature comfort when you cut down the weight so deeply. For example, the 40" zipper doesn't allow for venting just your foot (unless you are under four feet tall). So when I've used this on warmer nights in Southern Utah I just laid out my whole left leg comfortably. This bag also doesn't sport draft tubes at the neck (just the collar and the zipper). And it isn't stitched with heavier flex thread to allow for stretchy movement the way the way some other Sierra Design bags are. But given the extreme light weight of this bag, the few missing features aren't enough to deter me from being thoroughly impressed. Great function, great performance, and very stylistic design. This is not muted earth tones. The performance-minded will be very pleased with this bag in almost all situations except snowy winter camping or extremely hot summer nights. Watch for the Sierra Designs Cloud 15 bag to come out in Spring 2012 at a retail price of $499. SHOP: Click here to see more Sierra Designs gear....Read more...
I'm a versatile guy. I like to do a lot of different activities and I have a lot of different needs. I like packs that are versatile as well. Sure I have some dedicated use packs but for the most part I like a pack that can handle whatever I can throw at it. Enter the Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack. It's an extremely versatile, medium-sized pack that will handle just about anything you can throw in it.
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack Features
- Independently adjustable dual density shoulder straps
- X-Frame Load Dispersion Suspension System
- Compression molded back panel with contoured lumbar support
- Shoulder strap attachment loop for Mountainsmith Camera cases
- Internal hydration bladder sleeve with exit port (bladder not included)
- Pivoting dual density waistbelt for optimal load transfer
- Side Compression straps reconfigure for vertical snowboard/snowshoe carry across Front Panel
- A-Frame and diagonal ski carry
- Trekking pole mounts
- Ice axe & tool loops
- Bottom panel compression straps
- Side panel accessory pockets
- Top mount compression strap for rope or accessory carry
- Front panel expandable sleeve/shovel pocket
- Expansion collar with draw cord closure for increased carry capacity
- Volume: 2,135 cu in (38 L)
- Extended Volume: 2,440 cu in (45 L)
- Fit Range: 17-22"
- Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz
- Price: $138.95
Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack ReviewThe Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack is a truly versatile pack. It is packed with enough features that you could do just about anything in it. It can handle day trips to the crag, weekend backpack trips, and it'd also do well on day long ski tours. It is laden (yes I just said laden) with enough features to do a bunch of things well. It is big enough that I was able to tuck away a small but full trad rack, a full sport rack, a couple harnesses, a couple pairs of shoes, helmet, guidebook, water, snacks, and the rope all in or on the pack. The top compression strap held the rope securely in place. It is a good sized pack for a weekend backpack trip. There is more than enough room for 3 season trips. It might do all right for an overnight four season trip, but I wasn't able to test that out yet. The main compartment is large and roomy so it's easy to get all your gear packed away. The Mayhem does feature an expandable collar so you can get an extra 300 cu. in. of room. Just about all packs can carry a bunch of stuff. For me it's the small details that set the Mayhem apart from others. Things that I love about the pack: the front expandable sleeve/shovel pocket. Great option for stashing wet gear or for holding layers without having to get into the pack. The top compression strap is ideal for carrying a rope or for securing oversized loads. The side compression straps reconfigure to carry skis or a board for winter time excursions. Mounts for carrying ice tools and trekking poles. Bottom compression straps for cinching down the load or fitting on extra gear. And there's plenty of daisy chain and other loops for lashing items on the outside. The Mayhem is highly adjustable. Mountainsmith included an adjustment guide stitched to the bottom of the lid to help you get things just right (also good for mid trail adjustments). The shoulder straps were comfortable for a few hours on the trail. I do wish the hip belt pads would have been just a little thicker and maybe and inch or two longer. The seam at the end of the pad sat just on the curve of my hip bones and became uncomfortable at the end of my second day on the trail. Also the way the harness system attaches behind the backpanel was a little bulky. This could have completely been user error, but on my last trip I had a bulge right on my shoulder blades (chances are it was user/adjustment error). With that said though, the Mayhem did a pretty good job of carrying heavier loads. The Mayhem is a good all around pack. It's not too heavy at it's base weight, it's a great size for a wide variety of activities, and it has enough features to make it versatile enough for just about anything you choose to throw at it. The Good
- Highly versatile
- Tons of features to help carry whatever you need
- Great Price
- Adjustment can take awhile
- Hip belt was a little thin and short for heavier/longer trips
- If you are concerned about your pack weight, it might be a little too heavy
Bottom Line:Looking for a versatile pack? Mountainsmith knocked it out of the park with this one. Buy Now: Pick up the Mountainsmith Mayhem 35 Backpack [gallery]... Read more...
I've run the gamut when it comes to water bottles. First it was the original Nalgene. Then it was Nalgene's hard-material, wide-mouth bottles. But then we learned that those bottles leach BPA chemicals into your water. No good. So I moved on to Sigg aluminum bottles, which made for icy sips but raised questions about the health of soaking your water in aluminum. So I've been on the prowl for a replacement. Yes, I'm active in the outdoors ---- raised as the youngest in a family of crazy brothers, I learned when I was young to love hiking and skiing and everything outdoors. And I still love slaying mountains in both summer and winter. But now I'm also a busy mom of 3 young kids. So I don't just use my water bottles for when I'm bagging peaks anymore. Frankly, they often get some of their best testing when I'm trying to keep my soccer kids hydrated and when I'm slamming out a crack-of-dawn workout in the basement before the kids are up. Want to know what I've found over the past couple of months? The CamelBak Groove is the bottle to beat, if you want to go with a plastic bottle (though Thermos and UnderArmour paired up to make a good stainless steel bottle as well, and there is a stainless version of the Groove too, if you want to go that route instead of plastic). Currently scheduled to hit retail shelves in February 2012, I think the Groove Insulated will strike a few good notes with consumers. The current non-insulated Groove (available now) is already a hit. First of all, some of the candy colors that Nalgene made popular are back. And I love my Amethyst-colored Groove Insulated bottle. But this time, the materials used in the bottles are entirely BPA-free (thank you, CamelBak!). But CamelBak has taken things a bit further... The Groove comes in both insulated and non-insulated versions (I have used the insulated version --- the purple one in the attached photos). The insulated will keep your water cooler and reduce condensation (it's basically a purple bottle built inside of a slightly larger clear bottle --- with vacuum space in between the walls). I used my insulated Groove throughout the dog days of summer in the hot Utah afternoons, and I was very impressed. I would expect this type of chill to come out of a metal canteen, but not a plastic water bottle. The Groove Insulated also features CamelBak's Big Bite sipping valve, just as the original Groove does, and CamelBak claims that tests show the valve helps you hydrate with 24% more water. It is effectively the same bite valve used on CamelBak hydration packs. But this time it's on the end of a straw that goes down to the bottom of the bottle. So here's a tip from me: Sip, don't tip. What I mean is, since the Big Bite is attached to a straw, you just bite the valve and sip it like a straw --- you don't tilt the bottle and drink like you would out of a glass or cup or canteen. The rubberized bite valve also folds down flat between sips and helps keep out dust and grime. There's also a gray plastic loop on the lid to hook to a clip on your pack for easily hauling the bottle. But the greatest part is the water filter built into the straw. It's like having a Brita pitcher in your bottle. I can just fill my bottle up with regular potable tap water, and then as I sip it through the straw it passes through the carbon filter and removes chlorine and bad taste and odor. Ingenious! So keep your eye on CamelBak ----- they are turning out some great new innovations. The latest of which is the Groove and Groove Insulated with water filters built into the straws. Pick up the Groove now, and watch for the Groove Insulated in early 2012. SHOP: Click here to browse more CamelBak gear....Read more...
At the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City this summer, I had a chance to see a lot of what many companies are cooking up for the coming year. There was a lot of good stuff, but one very practical item caught my attention and recently I had the chance to test it out in the field. It was the Sierra Designs Summit Sack, which will be out in the spring of 2012. The Summit Sack is a bring-along day pack that was built by Sierra Designs for a very practical reason: the same pack you need to carry all your gear into the backcountry is probably too big to use when you summit all the out-n-back peaks tempting you just beyond base camp. You really should be using a day pack for that. But most day packs are too heavy and bulky to pack into your trekking backpack. So you almost always end up just dumping all your junk out of your trekking backpack and then using its full 75 liters just to carry water, snacks, and a first aid kit up and down every peak in sight. Either that or you just end up skipping the out-n-backs, and you hang closer to camp. The Sierra Designs Summit Sack solves that problem by being a day pack that is extremely packable...meaning that you'll rarely leave it at home...meaning that you'll also likely bag more peaks. And seeing those rarefied views are what it's all about, sometimes. The Summit Sack is a top-loading day pack that has a lightly padded back panel and shoulder straps, 1300 cu. in. of storage space, a couple of well-placed organizational pockets, and weighs in at only 12oz. It comes in plenty of candy colors, such as yellow, blue and red. Gray is also available if you're the more subtle, mysterious type. And the pack turns inside out to pack itself into one of its pockets that is only about 4 inches square. Easy to tuck away into a corner of your larger trekking pack, and you'll be glad you have it on-hand once you've set up camp and you want to start exploring. On that self-stuffing pocket it has printed out the essentials you need to bring when doing a short day excursion: hydration, illumination, emergency shelter, etc. One more thing? In a pinch, the Summit Sack can also double as a rudimentary stuff sack for your sleeping bag (but don't expect it to compress the sleeping bag like other stuff sacks might). I tested this pack out on the famous Joint Trail in Utah's Canyonlands after having backpacked in and set up camp in Chesler Park, and the Summit Sack delivered just fine. Plenty of space for all the essentials, and the sternum strap and waist belt held everything in place. I gave it a scar or two, squeezing through some extremely tight slot canyons. But all in all, it held up very well. If you're looking for a day pack for aggressive ski touring or car-to-car pushes, this pack probably lacks the beef and structure you're looking for. But if you're looking for a day pack to stuff into a larger pack and use for exploring beyond camp, the Sierra Designs Summit Sack is just the right thing. I intend to give mine a few more scars, and see a few more peak-top views, before it hits shelves for the general public in the spring. SHOP: Click here to see more gear from Sierra Designs....Read more...
The Kelty Vista 2 tent for Spring 2012 is a 3-season, 2-man tent that does something pretty amazing for a tent -- it actually accommodates two men. Two full-grown, normal-sized men. Comfortably. If you haven't used many tents, you may not think this is very impressive. But those of us who have tried many different styles of 2-man tents will confess that a 2-man tent can work when you're sleeping perhaps. But once you're sitting up side by side, the inward-sloping walls of a normal 2-man tent usually mean that you both end up bumping shoulders and craning your heads sideways. Not so with the Kelty Vista 2 tent. How? At first glance, the Vista 2 appears to be a double-walled tent with a normal X-style pole design. That is, two poles that go corner to corner diagonally and crossing at the apex of the tent. But the tent designers at Kelty realized that this makes the walls unnecessarily sloped. With the degree of slope on normal X-style pole design tents, you lose a lot of headroom. So while a simple X-style tent pole design might have the square footage to sleep two adults comfortably, it wouldn't have the headroom to seat two adults comfortably side by side. So the Kelty tent designers added two horizontal short poles running perpendicular to the doors of the tent (called brow poles), lying on top of the two X poles, and fitted with ball-and-joint connections to stretch out the side walls' fabric, providing much more headroom. Notice the flat, mansard-style roof profile in the picture. That's thanks to the two parallel brow poles across the top, that stretch the ceiling and increase the slope of the door-side walls. Under the vestibules of the rain fly, the walls are practically vertical. Believe me ---- I didn't just test this tent with my pack lying next to me in the tent. Or even with just my son or wife as my backpacking partner. It says it's a two man tent, so I figured it ought to be tested with two men. I took it camping in the backcountry of Canyonlands with a friend who certainly doesn't have narrow shoulders. And we both couldn't stop commenting about how easily it fit both of us, versus other tents we had tried. We hardly bumped into each other at night, or even when packing things up in the morning sitting side-by-side upright in the tent. Usually packing up your sleeping bag requires you to each take turns in the tent. But this time, we could just sit side-by-side and get our bags into their stuff sacks and deflate and roll our sleeping pads without too much bumping. It was quite a bit different from many other tents we had tried. The tent weighs in at 6lbs 1oz in the 2-person Vista with a price tag of $269 when it hits stores in the Spring of 2012. The 3-person version adds a little over a pound more, and the price goes up to $329. At 6lbs, it isn't in the ultra light category of course. But it isn't unreasonable. I should also note that even though this weighs a pound or so more than other 2 man tents, when splitting up the tent and the poles between my backpacking partner and me, it was extremely easy to pack for several miles over rough terrain. Its weight is in part due to the nylon (instead of mesh) that it uses extensively on the inner walls, which also reduces quite a bit of the star visibility on dry nights. But there are large mesh panels on both side doors, and two mesh windows on the front/back of the tent. This allows great ventilation, and you can velcro the mesh windows shut. Between the close-able windows and doors, and the nylon fabric instead of mesh, it helps keep out blowing sand in a desert environment that would surely make itself into a more mesh-covered tent. Poles all come from DAC, the exceptional pole innovator out of Korea, and the tent comes with a great rain fly with a zippered vestibule for each side door, a large gear loft, and is free-standing (though you'll want to stake out the fly if it's raining or if you want the vestibules to cover your packs on the ground outside each door). All in all, the brow poles on this tent are what make it a real unique offering in the tent category and a winner in my book. While I prefer more mesh for stargazing and lighter overall weight, I understand the trade-off of risking sand being blown through the mesh and into the tent. For those who camp in windy, dusty locales you will very much appreciate the close-able windows and nylon walls of the Kelty Vista tent. And mesh or no mesh, the headroom and vertical side walls provided by the unique brow poles will have you enjoying the space of the tent more than other tents. Keep your eyes open for the Kelty Vista tents (2-man and 3-man) to be hitting shelves in Spring 2012. In the meantime, click here to shop for more Kelty gear....Read more...
There exists a large amount modified trail running shoes and light hikers on the market. But the Keen Erickson PCT is none of those. It is a proud high top hiking boot for heavier loads, longer treks, and rougher trails. But having put this boot through the paces on a handful of trails in the Wasatch, I can happily say that it will end up replacing at least 3 or 4 lighter-weight shoes and boots I have sitting in my closet. Yes, the Erickson PCT is that versatile. But it doesn't get that way by wimping out. It gets that way by taking a very unique and comfortable fit, and placing it on the sort of sturdy trekking platform that reduces foot fatigue under most sizes of loads. It also has a deep V cutout for the Achilles tendon, making it surprisingly good at scrambling, steep slopes and quick paces. On top of that, it does so within an upper that is almost entirely full grain leather -- not much canvas or Cordura-style material in the upper. Not only is that simply a much cooler look than mixed material, coupled with Keen Dry waterproof membrane it gives a lot more confidence in the weather-proof nature of the boot. Having hiked the Erickson PCT boot over several trails here in the Wasatch already, in heat and dust as well as surprise rain showers and muddy streams, I can say that it holds up its end of the burliness equation. It's built with metal lace loops, the upper three of which are hook style. The toe is of course the distinctive Keen rubber toe bumper, which is awesome -- I love it. I must admit that in other Keen shoes I have felt the toe bumper to be too much, and the feel of the fit to be too short and wide. So I usually have to size up a half size, as I do with skate shoes like Vans and Emerica, but then sometimes it becomes a bit wide for my average feet. Not with the Erickson PCT. I ordered right on a 9.5 instead of the size 10 I thought I would need, and the 9.5 is a perfect fit -- even with a pretty thick Teko hiking sock. The boot also has an aggressive rubber outsole, and what they call a TPU stability shank. What this does is reduce the flex of the sole very significantly, which is absolutely the right thing for a hiking boot intended for heavy loads and long treks. The inflexibility of the sole reduces foot fatigue from bumps and rocks in the trail, which I can attest to from experience. I've taken them on steep trail-less scrambles and up the gut of washed out rocky ravines and screes, and I never suffered from the foot fatigue that is an inevitability with lighter-duty hiking shoes. At the same time, I have also worn these boots to the office with jeans and never wanted to take them off. That's why I find them so unique, and why I say that they will replace 3 or 4 other shoes in my closet. They have the lightweight feel of a light hiker, but the sturdy sole flex holds up to nasty trails and ankle-twisting rocks without transmitting the shocks to your foot to cause fatigue. The Erickson PCT boot has that rare balance of both sturdiness and wearability. Many others that try to strike that note end up feeling wimpy or clunky. The Ericksons are neither. And in the all-black color, they look great as well. The more I punished these boots, the more I realized that I only had one major complaint: I wish that they were lined on the inside and along the tongue with calfskin instead of fabric material. That would make sliding them on and off easier, without making your socks bunch. And it would feel nicer to have calfskin around the ankle instead of grippy fabric. That of course might push the price up above $170, but it would make the boot close to flawless in my opinion --- and I've owned everything from Merrell to Asolo and everything in between. In the end, the Keen Erickson PCT Mens boot is a very solid mid-to-heavy hiking boot. But I've found that doesn't mean it can't easily kick around town and on lighter hikes, too. If you're in the market for a good solid hiker, or even for a lighter hiker, and you want versatility and burl, I recommend taking a long look at the Keen Erickson PCT. SHOP: Search for more Keen gear....Read more...
I normally enjoy cooking, and spending lots of time procuring gourmet meals at my home in Alaska. But when I'm on extended trips, my food priorities change. I want food fast, and with minimal cleanup. I could care less what it tastes like, so long as it's got some calories in it. Now, I understand that there is a sect of people out there who enjoy their gourmet meals while in the backcountry (like those of you who have perfected how to bake muffins on a single burner stove. You know who you are...), but that's not my thing. If someone else wants to cook Eggs Benedict for me, by all means, do it up. However, when I'm in charge of the mess hall (or mess picnic table, or mess-rock-near-the-river, as the case may be), I want a product that gets the job done fast and doesn't require a lot of time to clean or space to store in my pack/panniers/drybag. For part of my summer adventures, I used the Jetboil Group Cooking System for my cooking needs.
Jetboil Group Cooking System: The Specs
- Group Cooking System includes pot, stove, the pot support device and a stabilizer tripod (all of which store inside the pot)
- Equipped with Jetboil's Flux Ring technology
- Comes with insulating lid and bottom cover (which can double as plates)
- Weight: 20 oz
- MSRP: $119.95
Jetboil Group Cooking System: The ReviewOverall, the CGS is an efficient system for backcountry travel. It boils water quickly (when I say quickly, we're talking sub-4 minutes). The stove has the capability to integrate with other pans, such as the Jetboil Frying Pan. All parts fit inside the 1.5 L pot. The GCS is best suited for those looking to really save weight and look at cooking with a minimalist approach. The GCS is great for boiling water quickly. However, I also own a Jetboil Flash PCS, and I found myself leaning more towards my Jetboil Flash in many situations. The times when I found the Jetboil system most valuable was when I wanted boiling water. The Flash boils water even quicker than the GCS, and the handle and pour spout made it very easy to pour that water into my french press, Mountain House meal, etc. However, it's tough to cook anything besides soups and dehydrated meals in the Flash. Pasta, mac and cheese and Rice A Roni were also easy in the GCS, after learning how to finesse the fuel dial and not burn dinner.
- The boil time is unbeatable. Before you can find the pasta to toss in the pot, it's up to a rolling boil.
- The Pot Stabilizer, a small metal attachment that sits on the stove portion, makes it very easy to convert from using the pot to the frying pan.
- Single push igniter makes for easy starting. After a summer's worth of use, the igniter is still in great shape, which is more than most people can say about their backyard barbeque grills. Also, my 3 year old Jetboil Flash also starts up no problem. Though the rain would occasionally dampen things a bit, 2 or 3 clicks of the button later, even the Flash was up and going.
- Pouring boiling water out of the pot proves to be a challenge. The Jetboil Flash has a lid that has a small hole in it, functioning as a pour spout. The GCS would be far more versatile if the lid had that same hole.
- Similar cooking setups from other companies come with a dinnerware set of sorts. For example, for around the same price, you can get a MSR Dragonfly Stove, which fits inside an MSR Bugaboo Cookset, which comes with pot, pan, 2 cups, 2 bowls and a lid that functions as a plate. Granted, that system certainly won't boil your water in 4 minutes. But it would be nice to see Jetboil start selling the GCS with a few cups/bowls/utensils, all of which integrated inside the 1.5L pot.
- The handle on both the 1.5L pot and Frying Pan were not the most stable things I've seen. I never had an problems with them "falling off" per say, but they would wobble and move around enough to where I was nervous if I had to pick up a pot full of boiling anything and move it anywhere.
Bottom LineA lightweight, fuel efficient stove best suited for backpacking trips with one to two people.
Check It OutJetboil Group Cooking System and Jetboil Flux Ring Frying Pan... Read more...
The Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp packs a lot of light in a little package. Princeton Tec gave me the opportunity to test the Byte this summer and it has been one of the best lightweight headlamps I've used so far.
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp Features
- Lamp: Maxbright LED & Red Ultrabright LED
- Power: 35 lumens
- Burn Time: 96 hours (low)
- Batteries: 2 AAA (included)
- Battery Location: Front
- Headband Type: Elastic Strap
- Weight: 2.5 oz
- Price: $19.95
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp ReviewEach year headlamps seem to get smaller and more powerful. The Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp is no exception. It truly is a powerful light in such a small package. The Maxbright LED gives a lot of light. The specs put it at 30m on high, 15m on low, and 4m on red. It gives enough light for on the trail and around camp use. I found it to be great for hiking, it would be good for climbing, but it was a little hard with running. Battery life is pretty short on high and low didn't quite give as much light as I like when running. Battery life pretty good. On low the tech spec says 96 hours which is decent for 2 AAAs. On high it only says 2 hours which is problematic if you're out on a trip. I found for most everything low was sufficient for my needs. The Byte comes with a red ultrabright LED. The selling point behind this is that the red light preserves your night vision better than the white light. This is good for small tasks close at hand but even so I found it hard to see by the red light, even for the tasks while in the tent. The part about preserving night vision seems to be true. It was nice not to be blinded when turning it on. The weight is awesome. At 2.5 ounces it's hard to complain. It's easy on the head and easy on the pack. The elastic band is comfortable and didn't give any irritation or discomfort after long periods of wear. One of my favorite features, while small, is the battery door. It's easy to access, easy to open. I've had a number of headlamps where changing out the batteries was a bit of pain, that isn't the case with the Byte. The Good
- Battery life on high is very short
Bottom Line:Looking for a lightweight headlamp that's bright and won't break the bank? You'll get that with the Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp. Buy Now: Pick up the Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp[gallery]... Read more...
Spring and Fall are some of my favorite seasons for one specific reason- new gear! The shoulder seasons always signal a plethora of new equipment coming out from my favorite companies, and Keen is no exception. This Fall, I'll be testing out a pair of Keen Women's Delta Boots.
- Waterproof, insulated hiking boot
- 4mm lug soles with dual climate rubber
- MSRP: $130
First ImpressionsThe Delta looks like a solid boot! Specifically, the multidirectional lug sole looks burly. Might be enough to tackle the mud season up here in Alaska, which is in full force right now. Looks like it will make a great mid-range boot. You know those hikes you go on where you want something more than a trail runner, but definitely don't need to bust out your steel shank ice climbing/mountaineering boots? The Delta seems to bridge that gap in my shoe collection (Gasp. Yes. There is a gap in my shoe collection). I'm stoked to take the Delta out in the ever-cooling temps up here in Alaska, and see how it holds up in the mud and rain!
Check it OutKeen Women's Delta Hiking Boot... Read more...
The Trekr washcloth and Scrubr dishcloth are made of a coarse Nylon and Nylon Poly material respectively that cleans, dries quickly, is low maintenance and super durable. These cloths are also odor resistant and compact. Although they are said to be perfect for use in the outdoors and at home, I have to say I’ll reserve use for camping and hiking trips, but I won’t be using them at home. Sure, it’s great to have a more coarse washcloth that will remove a few layers of grit and grime after a day of camping, hiking, or mountain biking, but I find the Trekr to be too abrasive for every day use, when I’m not covered in dirt. The same goes for my dishes. I think I’ll stick with dish soap and a gentler dish sponge when I’m at home. But, when looking for a fast-drying scrubbing cloth that compacts easily for camping or traveling light, the Scrubr really does the trick to get things clean. And that's always a welcome change to the typical way camping dinnerware ends up -- that is, your pasta never quite washes out so when you cook up some dessert it has that taste of dinner mixed in. Not ideal. The Scrubr is coarse and scrubs dishes especially well without much risk of scratching finishes. Weighing in at only 9 grams for the washcloth and 7.5 grams for the dishcloth, and taking up as much space as a piece of facial tissue, they certainly are incredibly easy to stash. The bottom line: -Dries in only a few minutes -No funky smell after several days of use -Ultra compact -Super lightweight -They really do scrub! The dirt and grime from your camp stove, dutch oven, body and face will be scrubbed away. While the Scrubr is a no-brainer to take camping, I think the Trekr makes me pause a bit more. I used it several times and for my taste, it was just a bit too abrasive for scrubbing my face. While camping, you do miss the exfoliation that you get from your nightly routine at home. But this was just a bit too much for me. As a body washcloth, it is a good fast-drying option for when you're especially dirty. But you can't really scrub your face without risking some redness. I'm not saying it doesn't work...just remember to use a soft touch when you get to your face. Regardless of my sensitive skin, if you’re going to be outdoors for any extended period of time the Trekr and Scrubr will both make a nice addition to your pack. SHOP: Search for more camping gear. ...Read more...
When you spend 6 weeks with anything, using it daily, be it a bike, a backpack, or a boyfriend, you really get to know it. I mean really get to know it. After spending 6 weeks living in the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 tent, I almost feel like I have a relationship with the tent. The Skyledge kept me dry and comfortable all the way from Seattle to Eureka, CA on my bike trip, and then from Seattle all the way back to AK. As I go back to work in August, it will be a sad day when I have to pack the Skyledge away, knowing that the summer’s adventures are wrapping up. But, enough with my sappy relationship with my tent. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of things, so you can understand why I have this new-found love for my tent.
Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 Tent Details
- 3 season superlight backpacking tent
- 2 doors
- 2 vestibules
- 3 pole assembly
- 38 square foot interior
- MSRP $425
Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 Tent ReviewFirst, lets talk about the size, specifically this 3 person idea. My boyfriend (who is 6’1) and I lived out of this tent with all our gear for 6 weeks. If you asked us to fit another person in there, I would have killed you even for asking. For extended trips, especially in locations where you need lots of gear due to the weather (read: the rainy Pacific Northwest Coast), this is NOT a 3 person tent. Could you do it for an overnight backpacking trip? Absolutely. Could you do it if you had no extra equipment, wet clothing or other things that needed to be in the tent? Sure. Do I recommend you and your 2 6’ tall buddies take this for a 6 month excursion? No. For us, it was the perfect size. Just enough room for 1 larger Thermarest and one Women’s ProLite Plus Thermarest, sleeping bags, and then some extra space on either side for clothes, maps, books, whatever we needed access to while we were in the tent. On our drive back to Alaska, the tent was perfect sized for the two of us and our 65lb black lab, who could curl up at our feet as we slept. So, bottom line about size- perfect for 2 people for longer trips with more gear, or 3 people with minimal equipment, minimal height and minimal trip time. Looking for a smaller version? Check out the Skyledge 2.1. Same features with less overall space, intended for 2 people. Now, on to the functionality of the tent. The Skyledge is, hands down, the quickest assembling tent I’ve ever worked with. I love the clip system. With no help, I could have the footprint laid out, tent up and clipped, and fly draped over it within 5 minutes. With a second person, setup was a sub 90-second endeavor. With two large poles and one shorter pole cross pole, you have plenty of room inside the tent, plus added stability from the additional shorter pole. The rain fly functioned excellently throughout the entire trip. The best squalls that the Pacific Northwest could brew up were nothing for the Skyledge Rainfly. Never once was the inside of our tent wet on the entire trip, and when staked out appropriately, the fly allowed for exceptional ventilation. The only time we ran into any troubles was when we didn’t have the opportunity to put the fly away dry- sometimes the weather just doesn’t allow that. Even with days like that, if we took the fly out to air while we were having lunch, it would dry completely within 10 minutes and was good to go for the next downpour. The rain fly also provides 2 full sized vestibules, another crucial feature for my specific trip. We needed a place to store and access wet gear from the road, and to keep it from getting more wet into the night as the rain continued to pound. The vestibules provided ample space for 2 size large panniers plus shoes, and other miscellaneous items. The option to sleep without the vestibule on nice nights is also great. Since the Skyledge is mainly mesh, you have a beautiful view of the stars! A word about the craftsmanship of the tent. Like I said, I used it every day for 6 weeks. I had brought along a mini-tent repair kit, anticipating some sort of problem with poles, tears in the mesh, stuck zippers, anything. I can happily report that I had no such issues. The Skyledge is solid, no matter what you do to it.
- Quick, easy setup
- 2 vestibules creates additional dry storage space
- Dry! Even in the wettest of climates
- Superlight- the Skyledge comes in at 4 lbs 7 oz when packed, an impressively light weight for a complete dry shelter for 2 people plus all their gear. This is an 11 oz downgrade (upgrade? whatever you want to call it, it's 11 ounces less) than older versions due to new material. I know 11 oz doesn't seem like a lot, but the little things add up fast, and as I was in my granny gear cranking up 1,000 ft+ hills, I would have given my left arm for every piece of gear I had brought with me to weigh 11ozs less.
- The gutters on the rainfly vestibule zippers are a pain. They get caught up in the zipper when you zip the fly closed from the inside or the outside with decent regularity.
- The top cross pole is a bit difficult to insert due to the tension between the two points. However, this tension and pole provides additional interior space, making the Skyledge very roomy inside. It also gives the tent greater integrity than your standard 2 pole design. Worth the occasional frustration.
Bottom LineThis. Tent. Is. Awesome. Lightweight, super easy setup, and it withstands the worst of storms that I’d ever want to be outside in.
Buy NowMountain Hardwear Skyledge 3 Tent... Read more...
With camping season in full-swing, maybe it's time to look at your sleeping bag? Yeah, that old thing could possibly use replacing. The tattered edges and permanent campfire smell is a sign that you should look for a new one. But, with everyone looking to pinch every penny, the options become limited. If you're in that boat, check out what the Eureka! Casper 15 sleeping bag has to offer. I've been impressed with it since it arrived a few months ago and will be taking it out for a few tests in the coming weeks. At a $109 MSRP (as low as $65 at some retailers), the Casper 15 is quite the bargain. Lets dive into some of the features. Eureka! Capser 15 Sleeping Bag Features:
- Rteq Insulation
- Internal stash pocket
- Adjustable, contoured hood
- Draft tube
- External pillow pocket
- Trapezoidal foot box
- Lining Material: 210T polyester taffeta
- Shell Material: 210 T polyester diamond ripstop
- Stuffed Size: 9 x 16"
- Zipper: Right
- Total Weight: 2 lbs 15 oz
- Temperature: Rated to 15 degrees
- MSRP: $109
Eureka! Casper 15 Sleeping Bag OverviewThe Casper 15 arrived in its own compression-style stuff sack and I was very surprised by how compact it was. It is very small and light for being a low-price 15-degree bag. Often-times you'll get quite a bulky bag at this kind of price, but Eureka! stuffs a ton of value into the Casper 15. The construction quality is very high on this... I'd have no problems tossing this into my backpack and heading out into the backcountry. Another great feature is the trapezoidal footbox -- not something that's always included in a mummy-style bag. This one will help provide extra space for your feet while you saw logs in your tent. Speaking of sawing logs, the peached polyester lining provides soft next-to-skin feel that's much better than straight-up nylon or polyester. My plan is to take this bag out over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for updates. Buy Now: Casper 15 from Eureka! ... Read more...
Just got back to the Rockies from another week of work meetings on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Every time I've gone out there in the past year or two, I'm reminded that hipsters (of the same ilk that flood the streets of San Francisco) love to look like they are lumberjack camping aficionados from the 60s. High lace-up leather boots, plaid flannel shirts...and skinny, skinny jeans. Don't forget the thick-framed Ray Bans. This style is all over middle America now, too, of course. Not bad-looking, to be honest. Beats several other styles by a country mile. But you know what's missing from the usual camper look you see? A vintage day pack backpack that is true to the period. None of this fake or new-fangled stuff. I mean the real deal. I mean the Kelty Vintage line. Kelty is a true brand from the heart of the golden age of American camping in the 60s and 70s. Founded in 1952, they turned out some of the original daypacks and other backpacks that defined the era. And Kelty is bringing back their vintage line of original daypack designs ---- and I love it. I grew up in the 80s in Seattle near the tail end of 8 boys. With that many older brothers (all of whom went camping in the Cascades or the San Juan Islands at least once a month), I had many of the original 70s-era Kelty packs sitting in the family gear closet. I distinctly remember the Kelty Daypack -- a pyramid-shaped, simple pack for car camping or day hikes. Now Kelty has brought it back, in all it's simple glory (even in the original red), to haul the iPads and Macbook Pros of hipsters born in the 80s and 90s. And I love the thing as much now as I did then. Next in the Vintage line from Kelty is the Mockingbird. In olive, this pack is destined to be a classic. Frankly, in my opinion it already is --- in high school, Kelty re-did this original Mockingbird in a black nylon and my friends and I used it repeatedly as our go-to day pack for backcountry skiing. Many-a-time it hauled the video camera up Mt. Rainier to Camp Muir with us to document the turns on the way back down. Functional then, and fashionable now. The Mockingbird has side bags that are removable, and is a top-loading pack with a cinch string. It has shoulder straps that are fastened to the pack with removable pins, making it versatile to convert from daypack into canoe-friendly gear bag. And did I mention how cool it looks with the olive with red and metal zippers with leather accents? Oh yes, this bag is classic. So keep your eye out for the Kelty Vintage packs in 2011. They are authentic and nostalgic, for sure. But that authenticity is also what makes them oh-so-hip in the second decade of the 21st century. SHOP: Search for more Kelty gear....Read more...
Here at Gear.com we tend to get a little fanatical about our insoles -- in particular, custom insoles. But this time around, we're not looking at a pair of custom orthotics or Surefoot or cork or moldable insoles --- we're looking at a non-orthotic insole from Thinsulate that has one purpose: keep your foot warmer inside your snow boots than a stock insole can. Thinsulate has built the insoles with a series of layers intended to serve unique functions. The top layer is an abrasion-resistant fabric, as you might imagine. It is antimicrobial and is a wicking fabric to help keep feet drier and reduce odors (perhaps would be good for Thinsulate to consider a partnership with Agion Active for this material). The second layer below the top layer is what Thinsulate calls the comfort layer. This is a foot-conforming foam to provide some additional comfort. However, I would not put this on par with a custom moldable insole. This is merely a memory foam type of material to give a bit of cushion. Below the comfort layer is the thermal layer, and I believe this is where the insole differentiates from stock footbeds you'll find in most snow boots. The thermal layer is Thinsulate insulation to provide warmth without bulk. There's a reason the Thinsulate brand tends to get recommended from friend to friend. It appears to work. It's the Gore-tex of insulation. And that's what these insoles are for -- provide better warmth for snow boots and other winter shoes that don't require orthotic support insoles. The final base of the insoles is the bottom layer that is a shock absorbing foam. I swapped out my stock insoles in my snow boots from The North Face with the Thinsulate insoles, and I can say that they are comfortable on first try. They certainly beat the stock insole for warmth -- but that's not much of a hurdle, since the stock footbeds were basically a thin and floppy piece of foam. Nevertheless, I would venture a guess that the thermal layer is doing its job. For those who aren't picky about arch support or custom toe bridges as you might get from a moldable insole, this may be a good and inexpensive replacement for your stock footbeds in your snow boots. I can see these being particularly useful for non-aerobic winter activities, such as ice fishing. So if you are still using worthless stock footbeds in your snow boots, spring for a Thinsulate replacement and see for yourself if it turns up the heat for you. Shop: Search for more Thinsulate items....Read more...
April showers bring May flowers and it’s raining jackets here at Gear.com. Like a good pair of snow boots a good rain jacket is another staple every woman should have. Rain jackets have come a long way and there are various styles and colors to pick from. First things first, figure out what you’ll be doing the majority of the time wearing the jacket (i.e. shopping, traveling, trekking, etc). Once you have it narrowed down you'll be able to find a style which works best for you. If you’re an around town type of gal then I recommend the trench style. However, if you’re planning on trekking through the rain forest then maybe a classic style is up your alley. I'm practical and go for the classic style. Just because classic is very functional doesn't mean you can’t be fashionable by playing up the color. Check out my Top 3 picks and stay dry this Spring. 3. Women’s Precip Jacket by Marmot The Precip Jacket is affordable, stylish, and packs down into the pocket. Who doesn't want a jacket that packs down to nothing?! Take this classic jacket from everyday life to the backcountry. Pit zips are a must if you plan on trekking or hiking and the Precip wont disappoint. Since it’s available in sixteen colors no need to worry about your BFF sporting the same color! Sport either a two tone or solid color this season, I’m diggin the ultra violet/light violet and everglade. MSRP: $99 Jacket Features
- PreCip® Dry Touch Technology, Waterproof/Breathable - Waterproof / Breathable
- 100% Seam Taped - For Full Waterproofness
- Full Visibility Roll-Up Hood with Integral Collar
- PitZips™ - Underarm Zip That Extends Into the Body for Aggressive Venting
- Pack Pockets™ - Slanted Chests Pockets That Can Be Accessed While Wearing a Pack
- Double Storm Flap Over Zipper with Snap/Velcro® Closure
- Elastic Draw Cord Hem - For Adjustability in Serious Weather
- DriClime® Lined Chin Guard - Moisture Wicking Fabric Protects Your Face From the Zipper
- Angel-Wing Movement™ - Allows Full Range of Motion in Arms so Jacket Doesn't Ride Up
- Waterproof, breathable, seam sealed
- Adjustable, removable hood
- Center front two-way zip
- Two flap-closure chest pockets
- Two hand pockets
- Removable waist belt
- Internal media pocket
- Zip sleeve gussets
- 2.5-layer nylon ripstop shell with a waterproof/breathable H2No® barrier and Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- 2-way-adjustable hood with laminated visor rolls down and stows
- Microfleece-lined neck for comfort and enhanced protection of waterproof/breathable barrier
- Center-front zipper has exterior and interior storm flaps to keep water out; pit zips with storm flaps and Deluge DWR-treated zippers
- Self-fabric hook-and-loop cuff closures
- Pockets: two handwarmers, one internal mesh drop-in
- Drawcord hem; packs into zippered self-storage pocket
- 2.5-layer, 2.6-oz 50-denier 100% nylon ripstop, with a waterproof/breathable H2No® barrier and a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
The lightest knife on the earth? That's a claim that has been put on the Baladeo Featherlight Knife. Baladeo gave me the opportunity to test and review the Featherlight. Let's see what the "lightest knife on earth" can do.
Baladeo Featherlight Knife Features
- Weight: 1.2 oz/34 grams
- Length: 4.3 in/11 cm
- Material: Steel
- Lock: Frame lock
- Pocket clip
- Price: 39.99
Baladeo Featherlight Knife ReviewThe Baladeo Featherlight Knife is light and slim. I've been carrying it around in my pocket for about 2 months now and I hardly even notice it's there. While I can't substantiate the claim of "lightest knife on earth" it is definitely light. It features a 4" blade (no serrated option on this model), a 4" handle, frame lock, pocket clip, and is delivered in a gift box (nice presentation if you're giving as a gift). What the Baladeo Featherlight Knife Is:
- Ultralight knife
- Strong & Sturdy
- Well made
- An everyday knife
- Ultralight weight
- Handle was too slim for me to hold it securely for many tasks
- Single beveled sharp edge took a little getting used to
Bottom Line:While I can't substantiated the claim of "lightest knife on earth" the Baladeo Featherlight Knife is definitely light, sharp, and a good knife to keep in your pack. Buy Now: Pick up the Baladeo Featherlight Knife [gallery]... Read more...
Jetboil changed the way we cook in the outdoors. Their impressive cooking system continues to amaze me with the new Flash system. Jetboil also refined some of the small details us early Jetboil adopters will notice.
Jetboil PCS StoveMy first Earth shattering experience with Jetboil was at an IKEA store opening. It’s 6am and I’m surrounded by bustling women screaming to buy paisley print book cases and toss back Swedish meatballs. I fired up my PCS without putting it on the ground. My steam silenced the masses as I began boiling water. I could hardly believe what this thing could do in shoulder to shoulder crowds. After brewing my hot chocolate it fit neatly back in my backpack next to the diapers.
Using the Jetboil Flash StoveThe simplicity of the Jetboil Flash system was a much needed upgrade to the PCS kit. After using the previous model for a couple years my critique list of quality and functionality grew. Somehow Jetboil was thinking the same thing because they absolutely nailed it with the Flash. The first noticeable difference is the bubble flame on the outside of the pot which changes color when it boils. Having a color change when it start boiling is key for Jetboil because the lid can be sticky when trying to peek in. Like I said, Jetboil must have been reading my tweets because the lid got a must needed makeover. Check it.
Jetboil Flash Upgrades
- Lid is a more stiffer plastic, making it easier to take off and put on.
- Bottom cup is also stiffer to complete more tasks in the outdoor kitchen.
- The burner is flush with the circular ring so you can put ANY pot on the Jetboil stove. This is huge because you always want to brag at the campfire this thing can handle just about anything.
- Main cup has color changing flame to indicate boiling.
- Neoprene sleeve has added pocket for a spoon or java kit. Also fits more soild than the previous model.
- A metal tab replaced the plastic gas regulator knob. Huge plus. So much easier to turn up and down.
Jetboil Flash vs. Primus Express SpiderThe Primus is just teeny. Like, stuff it in your suit pocket next to your handkerchief teeny. The Spider itself ways only 7 oz. not including pot and gas. So for weight the Jetboil is about the same all said and done. I like the stability of the Primus more because the gas hose comes out and you take about 3 inches off the top-heavy height factor. The Jetboil sleeve is cool and all but I don't walk around camp boiling water in my hand. For big wall climbing there is no other option, the Jetboil is a must but I don't care for how tipsy it can be at camp. The orange stabilizer that clicks on the gas can on the Jetboil helps a lot with the stability issue. The price is the same after you factor in the pot you'll have to buy, obviously. Jetboil makes it easy though, one stop shop all in one deal, and the integrated ignition sets this apart from other stoves.
Dear Jetboil, I'd like to see weight shaved off this system for our minimalist buyers. I'm not one of those minimalists but in my opinion to seal the deal that would be big. One ounce? Two? Maybe three? The java kit is great but the two piece stick doesn't help much when you lose one of the two (me<---succeeded at losing one of the two pieces). Let's kick down a telescoping java pole next year. Other than that, the ignitor is exactly what the PCS needed and I love the new sleeve. Your Friend, Adam - Gear.com
Bottom LineIf you were on the fence about Jetboil before I don't blame you. At high altitudes a canister stove is like being late to your own funeral. The Flash PCS comes with all the upgrades you've been waiting for and makes it in my top three choices for a canister stove. Hopefully Jetboil can do some magic in their workshop and make canister stoves creep up on liquid gas competition. We'll see, but they aren't too far off. BUY NOW: The Jetboil Flash PCS system on gear.com - $79-$99. ... Read more...
Backpacks over the years have changed quite drastically. I remember my first pack was made by MEI and the hip belt was about 5 inches thick. I used it for a couple years then moved up to a Dana Designs. After two Rainier trips, numerous week long jaunts, the Dana was ceremoniously retired. My backpack buying journey has stopped with the Osprey Aether. Nothing beats the comfort and technology of this pack.
Osprey AetherThe lifetime guarantee sets Osprey a part from the other guys. Gear gets trashed, they get it. Their price may be a little high but the construction and comfort make it worth it. Osprey also focused on cutting weight on this pack which you can tell when you first try it on. There is nothing extra but everything you need.
HoliGEAR PickIf the person you are shopping for this season has everything, upgrading to the Aether might be a safe bet. The bells and whistles on this pack will impress even the uber tough outdoorsy peeps. My favorite part of this pack is the lycra stretch pouch on the mid section for stuffing a rain jacket or lunch. I use this pouch for EVERYTHING and I'm amazed it hasn't worn out.
When to use the Osprey AetherThis is your step above the minimalist option. Notice the pack doesn't have the cute little hip belt pouches or water bottle pouches on the side. This is for someone who has been around the block and knows what they like. Having a dedicated sleeping bag pouch separates this from a Gregory Z packs or other minimalist options. You can get a 85 liter if you are the pack horse in your crew. Personally for that capacity I would probably move over to the Argon series by Osprey. When you get into those 70-90 lb packs the curved design on the Argon is really what you want. Despite a little extra added weight. The Argon has more of a custom fit then the Aether. Just depends on what you are up to. The Aether's slimmed down design also makes it great if you get into thick bush or have to scramble sections of a hike. I really liked how I could move easily because the pack sits very close to the body. The outside of the pack doesn't have excessive straps or pockets that snag on branches. I haven't had the chance yet, but I've heard this also makes a great alpine pack.
The Not so Hot Back PanelAirscape is a design Osprey is using on most of their packs, including the Aether. I did a test on a hike this summer and you could literally see the difference in sweat stains on everyones back. The Airscape was amazing how much less sweat showed up on my back and others that tried it. I'd post pictures but... yeah I think I'm good.
Check out the Osprey AetherThe reverse cinch waist strap is also a huge improvement if you are still on the fence. Not to mention you can cook the waist belt to get a custom fit. BUY NOW: The Osprey Aether Backpack. ... Read more...
You'd think that when a backpacking and hiking company tried to make a cycling specific pack they'd essentially just make another daypack. Well, with the Gregory Vibe Daypack all the naysayers can take a seat. I will admit that I was a little skeptical when I first heard about the Vibe. But when Gregory sent one to me to test and review I was in for a pleasant surprise.
Gregory Vibe Daypack Features
- New proprietary TPU based water and abrasion resistant fabric
- Zip closure and overflow strap
- Large front access organizer
- Interior slit pockets
- U-lock compatible
- Side stash pocket
- Padded mesh backpanel
- Front clip loop for light
- Can fit a laptop up to 17"
- Volume: 1342 cu in / 22 L
- Dimension: 10.5 x 25 x 46 cm
- Weight: 835 g
- Price: $89.49
Gregory Vibe Daypack ReviewThe first thing I noticed when I put the pack on for the first time was that in a lot of ways the Gregory Vibe Daypack felt like a hiking pack. The mesh backpanel helped the pack ride comfortably and the mesh shoulder straps were contoured to fit around the shoulders and hug my body to keep it in place. These are a couple of features that a seasoned, well-respected pack company would have. The best part of the mesh panel was it helped cut down on the dreaded sweaty back a lot! That's the biggest downfall of using a pack for bike commuting, errands, or any general bike riding is your back will always be sweaty. The mesh backpanel on the Vibe helped keep it to a minimum. My back still got a little sweaty but it wasn't as bad. The Vibe does come with a lot of features that make a great commuting pack. The outer fabric is a tough TPU fabric (think vinyl but it's not vinyl) that is extremely water and abrasion resistant. It would literally stand up to years of use and abuse. The large, main compartment has an inner organizer sleeve (I used this for my u-lock), the top zips shut, and it has an overflow strap. The zip-top gives extra protection from the elements (with messenger bags and flap-top backpacks it always looks like water could come in the sides of the top if the wind was blowing the rain sideways). It also helps keep the small valuables from spilling out when you lay your bag down. The overflow strap is one of my favorite features. Instead of having to lash the extra gear that won't fit in the bag to the outside, just pile it on the top of the main compartment, strap it down and you're good to go. The closure strap for the top flap is extra long so there is no worries about getting the flap down. The front of the bag features an organizer sleeve that has a velcro closure on the top and zipper down the side. It has good organization for keys, lights, wallet, iPod, etc. I like the closures because, once again, it keeps the small stuff in and organized. One of the sides features a narrow, long zippered stash pocket. Lastly, on the front there is a loop for hanging a rear blinkie. I had no problems keeping my everyday stuff organized. I was able to easily fit my phone, wallet, keys, pump, small tools, array of three lights, iPod, and a few other things in and organized. It does feature a laptop sleeve that the specs say can fit a 17" laptop but my 15" laptop didn't fit very well. Another downside to the sleeve is it isn't padded and leaves your laptop vulnerable to the jolts and jostles with the other stuff in your bag. A couple of other minor downsides is the pack lacks any kind of reflective materials. I received the white model which is brighter in headlights, but if you get the blue or black you are out of luck. There is opportunity to work in reflective striping or piping. Also the shoulder straps lack any loops to hook small pouches for your phone, radio, etc. When the pack was fully loaded it carried well. It was a little small for my usual commute (I do carry a lot of stuff so for the average person the size would be just fine), but even so it rode well on my back. There is a sternum strap which I thought was superfluous, but having it strapped helped keep the pack in place. Even on my heaviest days and biggest loads the pack was comfortable. I didn't feel any constrictions or pressure points from the straps. The mesh backpanel also kept uneven loads from jabbing me in the back. Overall I was impressed with the pack. It has the craftsmanship of a well-respected pack company, it is comfy, carries well, and overall is a good pack. There are some opportunities for some small additions to make it a great commuting pack. It is a little small for my typical commute, but I carry a lot of stuff. It did excel when I used for errands and my general riding around. The Good
- Well-made from a company with a killer reputation for packs
- Less sweaty back than other packs
- Fabric is burly, will stand up to downpours and abrasion
- Good organization, secure closure
- Overflow strap for securing the big loads
- Laptop sleeve was a little on the small side and it wasn't padded
- No reflective materials
- No accessory straps on the shoulder straps
Bottom Line:It's a pack made by Gregory, you really can't go wrong with it. It's a great pack for smaller loads, errands, and general riding around. Buy Now: Pick up the Gregory Vibe Daypack ... Read more...
Of all the gear in the world to review, nothing -- nothing, I tell you -- is more difficult than socks. I mean really, how much can you say about socks? I hear tales of gear glory all the time, like, “With this one small multi-tool, I fended off seven banditos until the Policia arrived... and I never even got past the wine opener,” however, I can’t think of a single time socks were the obvious hero. I suppose there was one time when I forgot to bring coffee-making paraphernalia on a two week trip and ended up with a designated coffee sock for filtering grounds, but really, cowboy coffee would have sufficed. Of course the opposite is also true. It turns out that, if you have nothing much to say about socks, it means they work as advertised. That doesn’t mean I have literally nothing to say, though. Far from it. In fact, I have brought to bear my full scientific thinking powers to bring a sock-reviewing method to the madness.
Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro Features
- 50% Coolmax, 22% Stretch Nylon, 21% Acrylic, 7% Cotton
- Cushiony all over
- Stay-put top and leg
- Breathable mesh instep
- Low-profile toe closure
Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro ReviewThough it’s made primarily for hiking, the Cool-Lite Hiker Pro is an outstanding all-weather all-around sock. I’ve even been using them inside neoprene booties for cool-weather whitewater fun. Do I think about these socks when doing my thing?
Not even slightly, and that’s a good thing. They’re a crew-length sock, though, and I won’t wear them much in the summer. In the heat and humidity of the Southeast, I much prefer quarter socks and shorter. This time of year, however, thumbs up. Are my feet uncomfortable in shoes that were previously comfortable?
The thought hasn’t even crossed my mind. The ample cushioning is more than adequate for my wimpy feet, and they wick moisture with aplomb. Well, not so much in the river... Did the socks’ qualities change after a few wash cycles?
There’s been no change whatsoever. These socks are exactly the same as they were when brand new. How long did the socks last under heavy use?
This is hard to answer, since it sort of depends on how many pairs of socks are in my rotation. For me, a non-backpacker-occasional-runner with something in the neighborhood of twelve pairs of socks I wear regularly, I had better damned well see at least a year out of my socks before the elastic weakens and I start to see my foot through them. Something in the neighborhood of two+ years is average. Three+ years is awesome. (If you only have five pairs of socks, adjust your perspective appropriately.) Unfortunately, I haven’t had these socks long enough to say how well they held up over time. I’ll revisit this review every six months or so to update. Bookmark it now! How do these socks look?
This is perhaps the least important attribute of a sock, but the Cool-Lite Hiker Pro has nothing to worry about in that department, anyway... unless you’re wearing them with short shorts. Hint: Your shorts should always be longer than your socks.
Bottom Line:The Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro is a terrific cool and cold-ish weather sock, even though they’re billed as a year-round sock. I’m just not that into long socks in the Southeast humidity. I’m sure, however, that I’ll continue to get plenty of mileage out of these in coming months. Buy Now: Slip into a pair of Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro socks. ... Read more...
The ubiquitous camp chair has now reached critical mass. You can buy them at REI, Wal-Mart, Costco or even your local convenience store. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes. You can get one with your favorite NASCAR driver's mug on it or any cartoon character imaginable. But, they all have something in common that makes them unsuitable for real camping--they are freaking HUGE and cumbersome to carry. As a kid, I had an ultralight aluminum-framed backpacking chair that I strapped to the back of my backpack on long hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail or traversing the Olympic National Park. Nowadays, there's hardly a true ultralight backpacking chair on the market, so I thought. That all changed when I found the Alite Monarch Butterfly backpacking chair. More about the Alite Monarch Butterfly Backpacking Chair from AliteDesigns.com:
Monarch Butterfly chair weighs about a pound but can hold up to 250 pounds! Great for holding one of Alite founders: Big Stinky Alaskan Guy. Balancing on the 2 rubber feet allows you to rock back and forth. The leg structure keeps you off the ground while sitting on dirt, grass and even sand. The leg structure is made out of super strong lightweight aluminum poles for durability and elastic chorded inside for easy assembly. The fabric sling is made of high quality lightweight nylon and binding materials similar to climbing harnesses. Constructed to hug your body for super long lasting comfort. The chair packs down into a small stuff sack designed for attaching to backpacks, bags and bikes. We designed it for camping, parking, concerts and the beach. MSRP: $60
Alite Monarch Butterfly Backpacking Chair ReviewIn my quest for the perfect backpacking chair, I previously used the GCI Outdoors Trail Sling, which was decent, but odd in its own way. But, since using that chair, I had yet to encounter something as compact and backpacking-friendly as the Monarch Butterfly. Now let me explain a little about this chair. It's really not a chair in the traditional sense--it's more like a rocker. It sports two legs with large rubber balls on the bottom. Since most humans have two legs , the two legs of the Monarch Butterfly chair add up to four total legs. So, you act like the missing two legs and provide balance as you sit or rock in complete comfort. The way the fabric is designed, it cradles your hindside and your back for a comfortable seat. I've used it extensively this Summer while on vacation and during downtime on the Wasatch Back RAGNAR Relay last June. In all cases, the portability was killer as I whipped it out on rest stops (it takes about a minute to set up) and proceeded to rock and relax in the shade. While most terrain was just fine for it, there were some uneven surfaces that caused the chair to lean to one side and not work all that well. So, you really need to find at least a fairly level spot of ground for it to work well. The Good
- Light weight: 1.35 lbs
- Can support up to 250 lbs
- Great option for backpacking or travel
- Assembles and disassembles quickly
- The stuff sack keeps things nice and tidy
- Gotta find level ground or it's no good
- Don't get too aggressive or you'll rock right over
- It does sit you low to the ground
Outdoor Research boasts that their products are "designed by adventure," and after a summer of using the Helium Jacket, I'd completely agree. Though I didn't climb nearly as much as I normally would this summer, I certainly had several great opportunities to test out the waterproof qualities of jackets- between living on the Oregon coast and my recent move to Alaska, I've had more than my fair share of rain. For my hiking adventures in both Oregon and Alaska, I always had my Outdoor Research Helium Jacket stowed away in the bottom of my pack. Super lightweight and stripped down, the Helium is the perfect addition to the mandatory "oh S*!t" kit for backpacking, hiking and climbing. So light that you don't notice its there until you see the clouds rolling up, the Helium keeps you dry and warm as you finish out that last pitch, get your tent set up, or hike those last few miles back to your car.
Outdoor Research Helium Jacket Features
- Ultralight Pertex Shell Material
- Fully Seam Taped
- Single drawcord hood and hem adjustments
- Small exterior chest pocket
- Stow pocket at side hem, with an added webbing loop for clipping to harnesses, packs, or wherever you need to store it
- Price = $140
Outdoor Research Helium Jacket ReviewThroughout the summer, I had multitudes of opportunities to grab my Helium out of my pack, and throw it on quickly to escape the rain and suddenly plummeting temps. From hiking to backpacking to kayaking, my Outdoor Research Helium Jacket saw a lot of use. The first chance I really got to use my Helium was actually while I was on a kayaking trip- started out beautiful, and then began pouring a few hours into the excursion. Now, I realize that you're supposed to get wet during water-bound adventures, but I didn't relish in the idea of a soggy top half in addition to my already soggy bottom half, so I grabbed my OR Helium out of my dry bag and tossed it on. I loved how lightweight the shell was while still providing great protection from the elements. Since moving to Alaska, I've been out on some great hikes in the Girdwood and Portage areas, and each time I pack up to head out the door, I make sure my Helium is still stuffed down at the bottom of my daypack. When compressed, it is about the size of my fist, and takes up essentially no space. As I get back into rock climbing up here in AK, I am excited to clip this little guy onto my harness. At 6.8oz, it's certainly not going to add any noticeable amount of weight, but will definitely be the difference between a "happy Claire" and a "miserable Claire" when I'm belaying for that last pitch and the clouds that have been threatening to open up all day finally do. The Good
- I love the stow pocket. No more extra stuff sacks to keep track of (or in my case, to lose).
- Webbing loop for clipping to harness. Really, OR thought of everything!
- Helium is a bit longer than your average shell, which is great when you want to toss this on hiking or climbing- it fits under your harness or your pack belt, so it won't ride up. That extra length allows it to stay put no matter what kind of movement you've got going on.
- While I'm normally a fan of velcro closures on sleeves, the Helium has only elastic. I was concerned at first, but after wearing it for a bit, the elastic-only design grew on me, allowing me the freedom to reach up high without getting stuck in the sleeve of my jacket.
- I am a sucker for pockets. I like something to do with my hands, or some place to put them when they're cold. The Helium has one chest pocket, but no place for my hands during those cold belay transitions or snack stops on the trail.
Buy NowOutdoor Research Helium Jacket... Read more...
A good camp stove is worth it’s weight in gold... as long as it’s not too heavy. Oh, and as long as it actually performs as advertised... is fixable in the field... works in adverse conditions... is usable with gloved hands... My previous Jetboil is old enough to predate Jetboil model names. Though I still use it on occasion, I can’t deny that it’s unstable, inadequate for almost everything except boiling water and that, gloveless in cold weather, it’s actually painful to assemble. The Jetboil Helios, on the other hand, is none of those latter things and all of the former. It also manages to retain Jetboil’s trademark reliability and ease of use.
Jetboil Helios FeaturesThe Jetboil Helios has everything you need to cook like a blast furnace... or like Julia Child... or anything in between.
- 2L FluxRing® Pot with neoprene cozy
- Pot-supporting burner base
- Push-button igniter assembly
- Fuel can stabilizer
- Snap-on windscreen
- Lid and bottom covers that double as plates (lid makes a good ‘flying disc’ for added fun around camp)
- Optional 3 liter pot
Jetboil Helios ReviewI cooked a few meals with the Helios (including an unburned omelet!) and put it through a boil test in mild winter conditions. As its name implies, the Helios burns like an angry sun. With a light breeze and 20-degree temps, it boiled snowmelt stream water quickly and consistently, and turned snow into a liter of boiling water in just over 11 and a half minutes. Unlike its predecessor buried in my gear bin, the Helios can simmer with the best of them. What's more, even with a canister so empty it first made another stove fail to boil water at all, the Helios, with its FluxRing® pot, integrated neoprene cozy and inverted canister injection, did it in just over eight minutes. It’s average boil time over eight successive boils was around seven minutes. That’s not unheard of, but it’s more than adequate. Boil times did gradually lengthen over the life of the canister.
Bottom Line:The Jetboil Helios is not the hottest stove I’ve ever used. It’s not the most consistent stove, nor the gentlest simmerer either. But it does all of those things well, plus it’s utterly reliable and anybody with opposable thumbs can set it up and light it, even wearing gloves. It’s easy to recommend this little gem. Buy Now: The Jetboil Helios won't let you down!... Read more...
Cookin’ ain’t easy. It starts with decent equipment, the obtaining of which is sometimes the hardest aspect. A camp stove, for example, has a lot of parts. It’s typically the most complicated thing I have in my back pack, and as someone who likes to do a lot more than just boil water, I make a lot of demands on mine. It’s common for me to both love and hate a stove, and this one -- Primus’ ETA Power MF -- is no different. This review, in fact, could easily be titled, “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Primus;” the ETA Power MF simultaneously manages to be one of the best and worst stoves I’ve ever used.
Primus ETAPower MF FeaturesI can’t let this section slide by without mentioning that the ETAPower MF is a true multi-fuel stove. Primus’ marketing collateral reports usability with, “LP gas and liquid fuels, such as white gas, gasoline/petrol, kerosene/paraffin, and if necessary even diesel.” Some other reported features:
- Weight: 932 g - 32.8 oz (with fuelpump), 830 g - 29 oz (without fuelpump)
- Output: 1500-2000W - 5400-7000 BTU/h
- Boiling time: 2.5-3.5 min (+ pre-heating 45-60 sec)
- Dimensions: 210 x 210 x 135 mm - 8.3" x 8.3" x 5.3"
- Ignition: Manual
- Temperature: Winter: unlimited cold
Primus ETAPower MF ReviewI boil tested two ETAPower MFs in what I would call mild winter conditions. Temps were in the high 20s and the water wasn’t much warmer. Some of the above features seem optimistic. Burning the recommended LP gas, the ETA Power is a waste of fuel. I had to shake the canister every 20-30 seconds to keep the pressure satisfactory enough for a prolonged high flame. The average time for six successive boils (I gave up after six) was almost 12 minutes. First-time assembly is tricky, especially with gloves. The instructions manage to be both wordy and inadequate at the same time, and sans instructions, my climbing partner eventually threw in the towel. Come to mention it, I had to bend one part to get one stove to assemble snugly, and between the two ETA Powers, there were manufacturing inconsistencies. That, however, is not the end of this story. Once assembled tightly and burning white gas, the ETA Power is a completely different machine. It burns hotter than Hell and for-freaking-ever on one tank and refuses to quit until, literally, the last drop of fuel. Whether I just needed to reheat breakfast leftovers or boil liter after liter after liter of water, she couldn’t have been a better companion. Fifteen successive boils yielded an average of only 5-and-a-half minutes.
Bottom Line:I’ll go ahead and give Primus’ ETA Power a thumbs up... and a thumbs down. Don’t bother burning LP gas until the air temp is warm, and make sure you understand how to assemble it before you need it. Buy Now: Primus’ ETA Power MF is either the key to unlocking your next expedition... or a one-way ticket to epic land. ... Read more...
I fancy myself a bit of a chef -- a rank amateur chef -- but a chef nonetheless. There’s little I like more than showing off my culinary skillz (note the z!) when I’m camping, so when Baladeo sent me its ECO100, which it calls a “travel cutlery set,” I wasted no time getting to work with it.
Baladeo ECO100 FeaturesThe ECO100 sports seven functions: (Bullet List of Features)
- Removable spoon and fork
- Locking knife
- Locking can opener
- Bottle opener
- 2-mm flat-head screwdriver
Brand Item Name ReviewThe Baladeo ECO100 is has everything I need -- under normal conditions -- to rustle up some serious grub. I find myself wondering, however, why the screwdriver? If Baladeo meant the ECO100 to also be a stove repair tool (which would be terrific) then a single 2-mm flat head is woefully inadequate. To fill that role it needs at least a Phillips head and a pair of pliers. It would be nice if it also had a gas-jet poker and a small plastic brush, too. The Good
- The ECO100 is nice and stout. I’m not worried about breaking it.
- The fork and spoon attachment system is awesome! It’s very secure.
- The ECO100 has everything I need to eat outside.
- The screw driver is either a waste of space and weight, or it’s inadequate to repair much of anything. Take your pick.
- Though it’s nice and compact, the ECO100 is a little bit heavy. If I’m shaving ounces for an extended trek, this little baby is staying home.
Bottom Line:It’s not as though the Baladeo ECO100 is inadequate or unusable, but to me, a multitool has to provide some advantage over carrying separate tools. It has to be more compact and/or lighter and/or have every function I need in one package. The Baladeo ECO100 gets the compact part right, but I think it falls a little shy when it comes to weight and a lot shy when it comes to utility. If I’m backpacking, I can carry a Leatherman plus a plastic fork and spoon. It will weigh about the same and I can actually fix a broken stove with it. If I’m car camping, then to be honest, I’d rather trot out the big-boy tools -- a chef’s knife, a cutting board, the works. Where I can see the ECO100 being especially useful is when traveling-not-necessarily-backpacking-or-camping. Hitchhiking your way across Europe? This might be your tool. Going on a guided mule trek across the Grand Canyon? This'll be a good choice for that, too. Buy Now: Baladeo’s ECO100 is perfect for outdoor eating, but not for outdoor cooking.... Read more...
Hot on the heels of the success of their snowshoes, Easton is hitting the lightweight tent market with a sledgehammer. Known for their innovation in both aluminum and carbon fiber, Easton is bringing some serious innovation and ultralight goodness to their forthcoming tent line. The headliner is the Kilo 2-person tent ($399) that comes in at a freakishly light 2.2 lbs! Much of the weight reduction is achieved by using ultralight carbon fiber poles and the elimination of shock-cord to keep the poles together. In lieu of shock-cord, Easton has developed what they call AirLock, which uses a carbon insert held together by mono filament line. Because the poles are now 59% lighter than aluminum ones with standard connections and shock-cord, Easton can continue to use durable fabric weights elsewhere and still come in as one of the lightest 2-person tents on the planet. More Info: Visit EastonMountainProducts.com...Read more...
It's been a long time since Sierra Designs had backpacks in their line, but they didn't get into it halfway... their complete pack lineup is as impressive as many who have been making packs for much longer. Utilizing aircraft-grade aluminum stays, the Fulcrum Suspension system is both light and strong. The entire package is built to carry weight well with the suspension design and other little features, like the angled pack bottom to further concentrate weight on the waistbelt. Not only is this design made for comfort in the long haul, it's made for ventilation with plenty of airflow. Each pack is also hydration compatible. Shown at right is the Revival 65 ($240). More Info: Visit SierraDesigns.com...Read more...
I've wanted a super lightweight insulated jacket for a number of years now, but I never pulled the trigger until recently. I needed a jacket and threw down for the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover. The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is light in weight, small when packed, but packs a big warmth punch. As soon as I put it on I knew I made the right decision.
Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover Features
- Ultralight ripstop recycled polyester face fabric with Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Lightweight 60-g PrimaLoft® One polyester insulation provides excellent warmth and compressibility
- Deep center-front zipper allows for easy ventilation
- Stuffs into a self-storage left chest pocket with reinforced carabiner clip-in loop
- Elasticized cuff and hem seal out wind and trap in warmth
- Shell: 1-oz 15-denier 100% recycled polyester. Insulation: 60-g PrimaLoft® One polyester. Lining: 1.4-oz 22-denier 100% recycled polyester. Shell and lining have a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Recyclable through the Common Threads Recycling Program
- Weight: 289 g (10.2 oz)
- Price: $150
Patagonia Men's Nano Puff Pullover ReviewI like Patagonia, their products are hard to beat in terms of durability, quality, and function. The Nano Puff Pullover is no exception. I got the jacket for cool summer nights, camping, and ski tours. So far I've only been able to test on cool summer nights, camping, and other mountain evenings that run passed sundown. I love this jacket. It provides just enough insulation to keep you comfortable when it gets cool. I just may be stating the obvious but the jacket isn't meant as a stand alone insulation piece when it gets bitter cold. It'll be a great mid-layer insulation piece paired with a shell when temps plummet. I love the fit of the jacket. I'm 6'0" tall and about 180 lbs. I do have a positive ape index (arm span longer than your height). My ape index measures almost 6'4". Usually I have to buy XL jackets to get sleeves that don't pull up over my wrists when I put my arms by my side, reach out, or reach over my head. I bought the Nano Puff Pullover in a size large and the fit is perfect! It gives me enough room around the chest and torso to move without restriction and the length comes down to just past my waist. The arms are perfect! When extending or reaching over my head the sleeves don't pull up over my wrists. The Nano Puff Pullover is surprisingly lightweight and packs down about the size of a small melon (see the photo to the right). Just small enough to throw into your pack for any outing. Or it can be clipped to the outside of your pack with the sewn carabiner loop. The Nano Puff does feature a Deluge DWR coating to provide some moisture protection in light rain/snowfall. The Pullover doesn't have handpockets. It was made to be a lightweight piece. Handpockets didn't make the cut. Given how I'll use this jacket I'm fine with it, but a lot of people will want handpockets. The chest pocket is roomy and can accomodate keys, wallet, and phone if necessary. I have the Nano Puff in the pullover, there are options for the Nano Puff Jacket and the Nano Puff Hoody. I want the hoody and will probably pick it up this fall. The Good
- Strong warmth-to-weight ratio
- Perfect for 3 season stand alone use
- Patagonia craftsmanship
- If you don't like pullovers this model isn't for you
- The nylon inside sticks to your bare skin if things get a little sweaty
- No handpockets
Bottom Line:The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is a great choice for a lightweight, 3 season insulation layer. It's well constructed and will last through serious use and abuse. Buy Now: Pick up the Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover ... Read more...
My posse of 4 kids is growing older and is anxious to head out on camping adventures. My oldest daughter (5 yrs old), talks all the time of camping trips to Moab and sleeping "up in the canyon." There's no better way to get them loving the outdoors than getting them a good-quality sleeping bag that they can use for trips, backyard adventures and family camping. Sierra Designs has always been a leader in sleeping bags for adults and their kids lineup continues to kick out the high-quality, bang-for-your-buck vibes with the Big Dog 20 for boys and Dragonfly 20 for girls. If you wish to go even lighter, you can opt for the 35-degree variants (Big Dog 35 / Dragonfly 35). We got the 20-degree bags just in case--you never know when the nights will get cold in the high Utah mountains. Sierra Designs Big Dog 20 and Dragonfly 20 Features:
- Offset Layer Construction
- Ergonomic Hood and Foot Box
- Microfleece Lined Foot Box
- Tuck Stitch
- Pillow Pocket
- Chest Pocket
- Integrated Storage Sack
- 20-degree rating
- Fits child up to 5-feet tall
- HEATsync synthetic insulation
- Weight: 2 lbs 12 oz
- MSRP: $99.95
Sierra Designs Big Dog and Dragonfly 20 Sleeping Bag ReviewsAs a different spin on my typical reviews, I haven't actually tested these bags, but I'm relying on the smiles on my kids faces and the joys they are having with the bags. Well let me clarify just a bit--there are several features any parent would enjoy about these bags, so we'll cover those too. The Big Dog and Dragonfly feature distinctive boy and girl patterns to keep each happy as can be. The construction quality of these bags is as expected from Sierra Designs and will last for a long time. Lengths are cut to accommodate up to a 5-foot tall person, so we've got several years before that happens. The bags come with a small pillow that the kids just love. Not only does it come with a compression sack, but it also has an attached mesh stuff sack so it never gets lost. While this is a great feature, I do worry about the longevity of the attached mesh sack and drawstring. My kids are pretty tough on stuff like that, so only time will tell--so far so good thus far. With the compression sack, the synthetic insulation stuffs down reasonably-well and allows them to be stowed away in the minivan for travel. The Good
- The kids love these bags!
- Great styling that's boy/girl specific
- Built-in stuff sack ensures it will not get lost
- Excellent warmth and comfort for the little peeps
- Soft interior is comfortable next to the skin
- Ergonomic hood keeps the kids covered and warm
- Compresses down to a small size for travel
- Attached stuff sack could get damaged
Looking ahead to Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a new product launch caught my attention. Mile High Mountaineering, founded by two lifelong friends, Colorado natives and outdoor enthusiasts, is launching their fresh and youthful technical backpack line aimed at those who are not satisfied with the same dull and boring designs that line the walls of your local REI. While fresh colorways are a huge part of MHM's pack line, there are a number of innovative features as well, such as:
- Side-loading sleeping bag compartment
- "Back Hugger" internal compression system
- Fully-adjustable harness system
- Dual-pivoting/adjustable cant hipbelt
- Premium suspension design (dubbed sYnc A.C.)
- "Backdraft" air channeled back panel
- Easy gear access pockets and compartments
MHM Flatiron 38 PackThe Flatiron is the smallest pack in our Expedition Series and this versatile pack is intended for quick and light backpacking. Though it is a small expedition pack, it is not small on features. We thought it should still be built with the comfort, adjustability and features of a larger pack. Most companies begin to cut quality and key features out of their smaller packs but the Flatiron maintains all the right stuff to set itself apart from all other packs in this size range. To improve access to your gear, we put a long vertical water-resistant zipper on the front of the pack and 2 large stretch pockets on the each side for stashing those on trail essentials. It has a sturdy single aluminum stay/HDPE frame system, ventilated backpanel, dual-pivoting hipbelt and plenty more features that make it unrivaled by all other small and light hiking packs out there. For ultimate versatility, the aluminum stay can be easily removed without even opening the pack for more mobility while scrambling.
MHM Divide 55 PackThe Divide is perfect for weekend to weeklong trips and a great “go-to” pack for most of your exploring. This mid-sized pack comes as fully featured as its big brother, the Fifty-Two 80, but 25 liters smaller. Equipped with our beefy dual-stay sYnc A.C. suspension, this pack’s frame system is incredibly stable and can handle weight far more efficiently than most packs in the 55-65 liter range. Access to gear is simple too since we put a vertical water-resistant zipper on the front panel so any part of your load can be accessed without opening the top. With superb back ventilation, the best dual-pivoting adjustable hipbelt available and a unique compartmentalized design you’ll be ready for any adventure.
MHM Fifty-Two 80The Fifty-Two 80 is the long hauler in our Expedition Series packs. This deluxe pack is built for your week+ adventures and carrying a lot of gear. The sYnc A.C. suspension coupled with the variCant hipbelt will give you a customized fit and keep your back happy under heavy loads. A large center zip pocket in the front of the pack for extra storage is just 1 of the 12 pockets on this pack that makes stashing your gear a breeze. Like all of our packs, the Fifty-Two 80 has secondary access aside from the top. We outdid ourselves on this pack by adding a large “U” shaped zipper that opens the entire front panel like a suitcase. Whether you’re traveling across Europe or thru hiking the Continental Divide trail, the Fifty-Two 80 can handle anything you can throw at it. More Info: Visit MHMGear.com... Read more...
It's finally camping and backpacking time here along the Wasatch. With an extended topsy-turvy Spring, many activities have been delayed--especially camping. While I'm not typically deterred by foul weather, when the whole family is involved, I tend to be a fair weather camper. Now that my camping and hiking adventures are overdue, it's time to start talking about the great gear that I'll be reviewing this Summer. Lets start off with the tiny little Primus ExpressSpider backpacking stove. This little number tips the scales at a scant 7 oz while packing itself down into a stuff sack that ends up being about the size of two decks of cards. With this small size, you do have a few drawbacks though. Tops on that list for me is dealing with the hose. Because it is braided, it is a little stiff, so make sure you have the stove on a solid surface or moving it accidentally could cause your stove burner to go askew. The other is more minor in that you will have to manually clean the jet on occasion. Finding Primus fuel canisters is a breeze and at $60, this backpacker special is a real value. I look forward to putting that value to the test this Summer. Primus ExpressSpider Features:
- Weight: 198 g / 7 oz
- Output: 2000 W / 7150 BTU/h
- Boiling time: 4.5 min (1 liter)
- Dimensions: 105 x 85 x 55 mm / 4.1" x 3.3" x 2.2"
- Ignition: Manual
- Suitable for: 1-4 People
- Heat reflector included
- MSRP: $60
Here's a thought; make a backpacking tent that is subtle and doesn't leave you soaked in condensation. Oh! How about that? The Kelty Corrie 2 tent pulls through. The last 6 months I've had the chance to roll out the Corrie tent and here is what I found.
Trimmed Down DesignLet's cut the crap. What do you really need in a tent?
- DAC poles
- Generous Vestibule
VentingThree vents on the fly create an ideal cross wind for venting. I like how they brought the nylon a little higher on the side walls because Moab gets cold. I don't want to be on the "I Should Be Dead" show after the "Deadliest Catch" because I froze in the Canyonlands. For the type of climate I'm backpacking I can't justify a completely mesh tent like the Sierra Designs Lightning 4, but that's me. Check out the options and find what works for you.
WaterproofThese days companies can't get away with a shotty fly. It rained for three days straight in southern Colorado while I was using the Corrie 2. It's not the biggest 2 person tent on the market but as far as airflow it didn't get overly stuffy. Let's be honest though, stuck in a tent for three days is no fun and I forgot my Sarah Palin: Going Rogue paperback which was really unfortunate. With a small tent like this anticipating heavy rain is crucial so be aware of slopes when choosing a tent site.
Pole SystemThe central hub design for poles lately is winning me over. My normal routine for setting up a tent includes laying every pole out and one by one sliding them through the sleeves of the tent. With the spider hub design you shake the poles to pop into place and lay it on top of the tent. Especially with the size of the Corrie, if you're in a hurry this design will come in handy. I didn't like how with older designs you would put one pole through and then force the other poles through sleeves. Frustrating for sure. Packing the poles down takes a little getting use to but isn't a big deal. I will never buy another tent with sleeves if I don't have to. Hooks are the way to go. If you get into a bind you don't want two people setting up a tent. Tents should be made for one person to set up and leave the other person to get firewood or start cooking. The Corrie definitely meets this feat.
VestibuleThe vestibule is my favorite part of a tent. This gives us the ability to cook, store, and escape junky weather. I was able to fit my Osprey Argon 85 pack and had some room to cook. It would be a squeeze to fit two 85 L packs in the space, but doable. Two vents gives stove heat plenty of room to escape. The max height on the tent is 40 inches which isn't a lot for casual use but a great backpacking option.
The Corrie 2 Tent Wrap-UpThe Corrie is good for two people 5"10 or so and makes a luxurious solo option. The weight is reasonable. I'm really not a weight stickler and don't aspire to be. For the price this is a great option for the quality but there is always a lighter tent out there; you'll probably pay for it though. The Corrie 1 tent option is available also but I prefer having the 2 person so I don't limit myself. Corrie 2 - $231 Weight: 3lb 10oz Corrie 1- $202 Weight: 3lb 3oz Pick your poison. BUY NOW:The Kelty Corrie 2 Tent... Read more...
If you're like me your first experience with GoLite might have been when you saw a lightweight backpack that was small on features but light as a feather and thereby hard to forget. From the mountains of Colorado sprang a company that I think has set the bar for performance gear in the "light is right" circles. But that's not just inclined to backpacks. Since my first encounter with the brand 5 years ago, GoLite has made great strides into the worlds of lightweight footwear, hiking clothing and performance jackets like the Trinity Jacket which I scored a deal on earlier this year. When I head out into the backcountry there's one piece of gear I like to have stuffed into my pack, ready to break out if the elements turn nasty - an insulated jacket. Until now it's always been a down jacket, but when I picked up the GoLite Cady 2477 synthetic jacket I had a good feeling about it, especially when it weighs in at just one pound. Here are some features that standout: GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket Features
- Lightweight - just 1 pound
- 100% recycled shell material
- Water resistant shell
- 50% Olefin, 50% recycled polyester insulation
- Pit zips
- Two handwarmer pockets
- Very smooth and small zippers
- $150 retail price
GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket ReviewWhen you're carrying around a jacket in your pack just waiting for the conditions to be right to don it, you might start to wonder if it's a good call to carry "dead" weight. If there were a negative with the Cady it's the sizing which could only be concluded as generous or that it's completely off. Unless you like a baggy fit, I recommend sizing down so you don't waste money in shipping back an exchange. I'm 6'4'' and about 210 so I typically wear an XL jacket but the Large actually fit quite well. What could have been a negative in sizing gave me a good athletic fit that went well as a layer or an outer. During one particularly frigged ski tour this winter I had the Cady under my shell and on my most recent spring climb and ski decent of Mount Watson I used it on the summit and for the ski descent as my outer shell and if functioned equally well in both situations. The shell material is both water resistant and wind resistant and despite it's lightweight insulation I was quite surprised how much warmth it provided. I've never been one to measure warmth to weight ratios, but I would suspect the Cady is at or near the top of the list I'm sure someone has conjured up. In the cold wind atop a mountain the zipper pulls are great if you're wearing gloves and the zippers lightweight and more importantly flawless when it counts most. There's nothing worse than when you're on top of a windy peak trying to zip up your insulating jacket only to have the zipper catch on the nylon since its being puffed out. Talking zippers, I can see that come this spring and fall with the multi-directional front zipper this will be my companion on rock climbing outings where you can zip up from the bottom to belay and be free of the cool breezes while my buddy leads the next pitch. I didn't use the pit zips much but they are a nice feature to add to an insulating jacket. I can only imagine the R&D guys at GoLite were struggling with the added weight of two pit zips to an already featherweight jacket but the marketing and likely field testers won out on this feature. The Good
- Smooth zippers with easy to grip (with gloves) zipper pulls
- Water resistant and wind resistant shell
- Packs down very small
- Pit zips on an insulated jacket is a nice touch
- Recycled materials in the shell and insulation - thanks for thinking of the environment GoLite)
- Inconsistent sizing
- I did have a couple of small snags on the shell from backpack and ski use after 10+ days
Bottom Line on the GoLite Cady 2477 Synthetic Insulated JacketFew if anything in my backcountry skiing pack weighs less and delivers more security and comfort than the GoLite Cady. It's a well build and well thought out jacket that I'm certain will be seeing more summits, ski descents and adventures both as a back up jacket or as the main event. Buy Now Grab the GoLite Cady 2477 Jacket for your next climb, backcountry ski or backpacking adventure.... Read more...
Pushing the limits of ultralight backpacking, Sierra Designs introduces the Vapor 15 bag weighing a scant 30 oz. By eliminating the full-length zipper and optimizing the insulation and design elsewhere, this ultralight sleeping bag will provide extended 3-season comfort yet won't weigh you down on the trail. From Sierra Designs:
The newest member to join the Sierra Designs ultrlight lineup, the Vapor 15 shaves weight by using light and warm 850-fill goose down insulation, an offset 25" jacket zipper, and 15D nylon shell and lining to create the lightest weight 15º bag available. An ultralight jacket hood reduces weight while adding warmth by eliminating heat-robbing dead air space. An ergonomically shaped foot box adds comfort while sleep pad locks can be removed for additional weight savings.Buy Now: Available from CampSaver.com... Read more...
- Offset 25" zipper on left side
- Ultralight Jacket Hood
- Continuous Baffle Construction
- Ergonomially Shaped Foot Box
- Fill: 850-fill down
- Material: 15D nylon
- Sizes: Short (5'6") / Regular (6') / Long (6'6")
- Trail Weight: 1 lb 11 oz /1 lb 14 oz/2 lbs 1 oz
- Rating: 15-degrees
- MSRP: $419, $439, $459
Lightweight is an understatement with this jacket, but don't let its featherweight design fool you--the Outdoor Research Helium jacket is for real and not only for the "just in case" moments. The Pertex Shield fabric is light and seemingly-durable in spite of its thin-ness. It also breathes extremely-well. After a hard 30-minute run on a 45-degree day the Helium merely felt slightly damp to the touch on the inside. After 5 minutes, that had all dissipated. The cut of the jacket is great for slapping on top of a down jacket or other puffy insulation layer as need arises. Alone with only a long-sleeve shirt underneath, I'd wish for a little more form-fitting torso. As it stands, it works great on top of puffier under layers. The hem is cut longer than many jackets of this type, so it covers your backside well even when you're moving around a lot. The simple elastic sleeve cuffs are simple and light, but a lightweight Velcro cuff would have been great. I brought this jacket along on a handful of ski tours as well and loved the light weight and compressibility of this jacket. Stuffing it into the bottom of my backcountry ski pack, it yielded plenty of space for other sundries. I really dig the hood and find it necessary in a jacket like this. Should you need to slap it on in a pinch, the hood can be easily worn--leaving your noggin well-protected. As time goes on, I still marvel at how lightweight this jacket is yet how performant it remains. Excellent overall design for "just in case" backcountry use or highly-aerobic activities. The Good
- So light it will amaze you
- Excellent water and wind protection
- Pertex Shield fabric is really the star of the show
- Attached hood adds to the versatility
- The Fossil color is muted and dashing
- Very lightweight and packable
- Single-handed shock-cord hem cinches well
- Missing some sort of grippy rubber along the inside of the hem to keep in place
- No hand pockets
- Front zipper is reversed (for the ladies?)
- Would like to see a simple Velcro cuff closure instead of just elastic
Bottom Line: Outdoor Research Helium JacketWhile some great Outdoor Research jackets are sometimes overlooked, the Helium should garner several double-takes. It's light weight, packable and offers solid shelter for aerobic activity or in a pinch. The Pertex fabric breathes well and performs when needed. Buy Now: Search for the Outdoor Research Helium Jacket... Read more...
If you've got kids and you like to go hiking, there's no doubt you've seen Kelty's kid carriers. They are without a doubt the most popular kid carriers on the market (though Deuter also makes great ones). I've got one and have used it for years with my kiddos. For long trips, nothing beats it for both my comfort and my kids comfort. Heading into the Holidays, REI has an exclusive on the upcoming 2010 models from Kelty. Other retailers will follow, but if you want the latest styles and models, head over to REI. Each model has a bit more bells and whistles, but most notably, the 3.0 includes the sun/rain visor, which is a must for warm or foul-weather travel with kids.
Kelty FC 1.0 Child Carrier
- Auto-deploy kickstand extends and retracts smoothly thanks to an internal spring-loaded system
- 5-point, adjustable harness system is anchored directly to frame and features an easy-to-use central tensioning system similar to car seats
- Curved, molded foam shoulder harness with sternum strap and padded hipbelt evenly distribute load
- Mesh back panel with sliding torso-length adjustment allows easy fitting changes between short and tall parents
- Padded, fixed cockpit offers a reclined position, allowing child to sit naturally and comfortably
- Double-hook seat height adjusts quickly and easily
- Under-seat storage compartment accommodates small toys, snacks and a change of clothes
- Carrier also features hipbelt storage pockets and toy loop attachment points
- 3M reflective tape accents provide 360° of visibility
- Manufacturer recommends a maximum weight limit of 50 lbs. for child and gear
- Made from durable 600-denier polyester and brushed nylon
- MSRP: $149.95
Kelty FC 2.0 Child Carrier
- Auto-deploy kickstand extends and retracts smoothly thanks to an internal spring-loaded system
- 5-point, adjustable harness system is anchored directly to frame and features an easy-to-use central tensioning system similar to car seats
- Curved, molded foam shoulder harness with load-lifter straps, sternum strap and contoured, padded hipbelt evenly distributes the load
- Padded, molded back panel with sliding torso-length adjustment allows easy fitting changes between short and tall parents
- Padded, removable and washable cockpit offers a reclined position, allowing child to sit naturally and comfortably
- Double-hook seat height adjusts quickly and easily
- Zip-off diaper pack with shoulder straps stores toys and essentials
- Under-seat storage compartment accommodates more diapers, toys, snacks and change of clothes—enough for a day's outing
- Carrier also features hipbelt storage pockets and toy loop attachment points
- 3M reflective tape accents provide 360° of visibility
- Manufacturer recommends a maximum weight limit of 50 lbs. for child and gear
- Made from durable 600-denier polyester and brushed nylon
- MSRP: $199.95
Kelty FC 3.0 Child Carrier
- Auto-deploy kickstand is internally spring-loaded (no bungees) for smooth deployment and retraction
- 5-point, adjustable harness system is anchored directly to frame and features an easy-to-use central tensioning system similar to car seats
- Curved, molded foam shoulder straps with load-lifter straps, sternum strap and 2-layer contoured padded hipbelt evenly distribute load
- Padded, molded back panel with sliding torso-length adjustment allows easy fitting changes between short and tall parents
- Padded, removable and washable cockpit offers a reclined position, allowing child to sit naturally and comfortably
- Double-hook seat height adjustment is fast and easy to change
- Included sun/rain hood protects your little one from the elements and also helps guard against unruly bushes and branches
- Removable diaper pack with shoulder strap lets you bring along toys and essentials
- Under-seat storage compartment accommodates more diapers, toys, snacks and change of clothes—enough for a day's outing
- Includes changing pad for those unexpected diaper changes while on the go
- The Kelty FC 3.0 Frame child carrier also features hipbelt storage pockets for small essentials for mom and dad and toy loop attachment points for the little one
- 3M reflective tape accents provides 360° of visibility
- Manufacturer recommends a maximum weight limit of 50 lbs. for child and gear
- Made from durable 600-denier polyester and brushed nylon
- MSRP: $249.95
At the summer Outdoor Retailer show this past July, another cool product I had the opportunity to check out was JetBoil's new personal cooking system- The Flash. My new Flash just arrived in the mail, and I'm planning on using it during my upcoming 2 week Oregon/Washington coast surf trip, so look for a more extensive review later. However, for now, here's a run down of the new sweet features the Flash is sporting.
JetBoil Flash PCS
- Color changing heat indicator on the side of the drink cozy: the indicator window turns orange as the contents of the cup heat up.
- New ignitor button: One push button easier to use
- Flux Ring: Helps to adequately transfer and distribute heat, meaning quicker boiling times and less fuel use. And! It sounds like Flux Capacitor, so you might also get transported somewhere in time as you drink heats evenly :)
- Tripod included for added stability when you're cooking
In preparation for my upcoming Surf trip to the Oregon/Washington Coast, I decided it was finally time to break down and buy a synthetic sleeping bag. The idea of possibly spending 2 weeks in the pouring rain in a down bag just didn't sound terribly appealing to me. I've had a Mountain Hardwear down bag for a few years now that I've been very happy with, so I figured I would stay with what was working for me, and got a Mountain Hardwear Switch Synthetic Sleeping Bag. I looked at a couple of Mountain Hardwear's Synthetic bags, and arrived at the Switch after deciding I wanted a mid-priced bag with a temperature rating of around 20 degrees that could compress small enough to double as a backpacking sleeping bag without being enormous.
Mountain Hardwear Switch Sleeping Bag
- Weight = 3lbs 10 oz
- Stuffed Dimensions = 8 inches x 16 inches
- Quantum Expander System- the Switch comes with the Quantum expander, a secondary zipper system which essentially makes the bag bigger when you want more space and less warmth. When unzipped, it adds 8 inches of girth to the bag, which provides more space, and more air circulation. When you need that warmth, zip the Quantum Expander closed, and you're back to a mummy bag to provide ample warmth.
- Comes in both a 20 degree or a 35 degree option.
- Price = $140.00
- Women's bag means more insulation in typically cold areas, and a shorter overall bag (regular sized women's bag is 5 foot 6 inches long, and the long one is 6 feet).
I have been using the same socks for a while now. In fact, candidly I've got socks that have made it more years than many startup companies. Quite a while ago I ended up switching over to high tech cycling socks for all my running and athletic wear. But for some reason I still had not upgraded my hiking socks. That's when I ran across Teko Organic Merino hiking socks. The "organic" and "chlorine-free" angles are great attributes for the Teko sock, but what is best is their comfort. They have a snug fit around the metatarsal area that I absolutely love. They are also completely seamless, so you don't get hot spots or blisters across the top of your toes. This is HUGE in my book. Nothing can kill a hike faster than blisters and otherwise uncomfortable feet. The merino wool is also a very enjoyable material for a hiking sock because it doesn't suffocate you, isn't itchy, and has a natural feel to it. The Teko socks I used most recently were their Light Hiking model. I took it on a few solid trails up the canyons on the Wasatch Front. I liked its comfort factor very much - I didn't require a polypro liner under it. But one thing to note: when they say light hiker, they mean light. Meaning, it is about the same thickness as a normal athletic sock. So if you are planning to wear these under your trekking boots then you will end up with a loose fit on your boots. Instead, these seem to be designed to be worn under a recreational hiking boot or a trail runner. For trekking or extended backpacking trips, I would recommend looking into one of Teko's heavier weight socks. All in all, I liked the Teko Light Hiking socks quite a bit and will definitely be picking up a few more pairs. Click here to search for Teko gear....Read more...
I imagine that most of you have had a chance to lust after Wenger's gorgeous Swiss watches. Wenger is the Maker of the Genuine Swiss Army Knife, and for years have also produced Wenger Swiss watches with a quality and style that is unquestionably upscale but also very wearable. Wenger watches are the real man's Patek Philippe. In that same vein -- rugged but upscale -- Wenger has now released a solid new line of outdoor footwear under the Wenger brand. I had the opportunity to use my new Wenger Eiger hiking boots last week on a hike up Grandeur Peak in Utah, and I have to say that I am quite impressed with the performance. For a freshman boot, it comes with a new angle that I think lots of consumers will appreciate:
- Nubuck uppers instead of full-grain leather, meaning it is 'broken in' from day one. No blisters (for me, anyway).
- Red polyurethane midsole reinforcement (see pic of sole) instead of a heavy steel shank -- reducing weight.
- That same red midsole reinforcement still provides significant reduction in foot-flex compared to less burly sport boots, which means less foot fatigue (but still lighter weight than a steel shank).
- Rivet-style lace eyelets (durable, holds laces in place).
- Soft enough outsole for immediate good grip when scrambling over rocks.
- Beautiful style that many other boot manufacturers are just plain missing. Though the 'Pine Green' color that I got is actually more of a sky blue, as you can see from the pictures. My favorite color for the Eiger is the black and red version.
Back-to-school doesn't necessarily mean "back to school", but for those who are you have my condolences. For those of us who are not, it's time to look closely at that beat up and useless backpack you haul back and forth to work or up and down the mountain. Is it the same Jansport pack you overused in college? Does it lack enough storage for a quick business trip? No laptop sleeve? Worse yet... does it smell of bunghole (thanks Beavis)? If so, search around here on GEAR.com for a new backpack, or check out Mountain Hardwear's Pack-a-Day Give-a-Way where you have a chance to win a pack every day between now and September 17. All it takes is a name (hope you have one) and email address (you've got mail) and you are entered to win. Today's pack is the Mountain Hardwear Sachel, but it changes every day, so check back often. Enter to Win: Visit Packaday.MountainHardwear.com...Read more...
As the name suggests, the all-new KEEN Newport Backpack takes its cues from the ubiquitous KEEN Newport Sandals that have made the brand so famous. One look at the compression straps and you think, "That pack sure looks like KEEN Newport Sandals". Well, I'll take a step out on a limb and say, YES... it was planned that way. :-) With a bevy of enviro-friendly components the KEEN Newport Backpack will go from boardroom to backcountry in a jiffy. It is hydration compatible and comes with a suspended laptop sleeve built to schlep up to a 15.4" laptop in cradled comfort. Check out a few more features of the Newport Laptop Backpack:
- 100% recycled aluminum components
- 15.4" padded and suspended laptop sleeve
- 100% recycled interior liner
- Hydration bladder pocket with hose outlet
- Breathable mesh and foam back panel
- Water bottle pockets on both sides
- 100% recycled inner tube rubber bottom
- Dimensions: 20" x 12" x 8"
- Price: $100
Eureka!, maker of high-quality, innovative sleeping bags and tents for a wide range of campers and outdoor enthusiasts, introduces eight new sleeping bags for 2010. Eureka!’s new Implosion series includes the Kotey 35°, the Riner 40°, and the Shawnee 40° offering minimal pack size and weight while providing warmth for activities in temperate climates. The new Deep Woods Collection featuring the Centerfire and Rimfire are rectangular, classic-designed sleeping bags with upgraded features for whatever Mother Nature has to offer. The Implosion sleeping bags series is highly compressible and lightweight with a 50D polyester ripstop shell, Eureka!’s own/proprietary Rteqmicro fill and vertical “S” quilting for better insulation distribution. These performance bags come in three different styles – a the mummy, rectangular and hybrid, offering outdoor enthusiasts a variety of design and shape options depending on their sleeping patterns and preferences. Each bag features “peached” polyester liner fabric that is super-soft and feels warm to the touch, as well as an internal pocket and an integrated compression stuff sack.
- Kotey 35° mummy bag (82” x 32” x21”): 2 lbs 1 oz. Retail: $84.90
- Riner 40° hybrid bag (82” x 33” x 24”): 2 lbs 8 oz. Retail: $89.90
- Shawnee 40° rectangular (78” x 33”): 2 lbs 8 oz. Retail: $79.90
“The Implosion Series bags are just right for adventurers who are concerned about carry weight and pack size while on the trail; they provide exceptional performance without the bulk,” said Rob Marcello, Eureka! sleeping bag product manager. “Eureka!’s high performance sleeping bags provide consumers with the technical features they crave blended with the comfort they need to get a good night’s rest.”Eureka!’s new Deep Woods Collection consists of classically designed rectangular bags that are durable, warm and roomy, providing the rugged outdoor enthusiast with a bag that is perfect for harsh elements. Each bag features a 100% yarn-dyed cotton flannel liner for excellent resistance to fabric color transfer and Eureka! ThermaShield™ insulation. The Centerfire collection features bags that are constructed of a two-tone 10 oz cotton duck shell with stylish riveted reinforcements giving the bags the look of a pair of work jeans. Other notable features include a “sip n’ zip” 20-inch zipper on the left side that allows campers to sit up and enjoy breakfast in bed or easily do other activities that require use of both arms without getting out of the bag, and a “downwind” zippered foot vent at the bottom of the bag for comfort. The bags also include an integrated (detachable) carry duffle.
- Centerfire -10° (80” x 38”): 13 lbs 6 oz., MSRP: $139.99
- Centerfire 0° (80” x 38”): 12 lbs. 4 oz., MSRP: $129.99
- Centerfire 15° (80” x 38”): 11 lbs. 3 oz., MSRP: $119.99
- Rimfire 0° (80” x 38”): 10 lbs 8 oz., MSRP: $109.99
- Rimfire 15° (80” x 38”): 9lbs 7 oz., MSRP: $99.99
Editor's ThoughtsEureka is introducing a great lineup of sleeping bags at affordable price-points. The Implosion series is great for warm-weather backpacking or camping where light weight and compressibility is appreciated while the Rimfire and Centerfire designs are standard rectangular bags with all the bells and whistles for the outdoor enthusiast who wants comfort and warmth in any condition. More Info: Search for Eureka! Tents & Sleeping Bags... Read more...
This past weekend, I headed down to Moab for my last multi-sport weekend before it gets way too hot down there. I grabbed my climbing gear and my road bike and headed south with the intention of some cragging on Potash Road and a ride through Canyonlands National Park. After a sweet day of biking, my partner in adventure suggested something a bit more exciting than the Potash crag- Ancient Arts, a well-known tower in the Fisher Towers area outside Moab. Looking at my gear, I was never so happy to see my “Oh S#!t” kit packed inside my duffel. This little orange stuff sack and its contents come with me EVERYWHERE, including on multipitch climbs. Knowing that I had my little kit with me, I transitioned my day from a day at the crag to my first day of desert tower climbing. I thought I’d offer you some insight into what I bring with me any time I go outside, and why I chose the products I do. Much like the Boy Scouts “10 essentials,” this kit is what I consider my essentials any time I go outside. Do I use every part every time? Nope. Have I been SUPER psyched to have it with me on a few specific occasions? Absolutely. For all the products that our vendors carry, I’ve included a link to a more detailed review. Be sure to give it a click and check out specifics for each product. 1. Granite Gear Air Bag: Keeps all the below items with me! Lightest stuff sack I've been able to find that is still durable. 2. Purell Hand Sanitizer Wipes: Like carrying hand sanitizer with you, but with the added bonus of it being in wipe form, and no danger of it exploding all over your stuff if you change altitudes. Sanitize your hands and wipe off grime at the same time. 3. Coppertone Kids SPF 30 Stick Sunscreen: Wear sunscreen (anyone else remember that sweet song!?). To avoid getting it all over your hands before a climb, I'd use a stick form, and my fav is Coppertone Kids. It's waterproof and lasts for 6 hours. 4. Adventure Medical HeatSheet Emergency Bivvy: Super compact, and keeps you warm in a pinch. 5. Leatherman Juice Xe6 Multitool: 18 tools in one, including 1 straight knife, 1 serrated knife, screwdrivers and pliers. Great for unlocking frozen 'biners, severing cord, chopping up dinner or opening the post-climb celebratory beverage. 6. Mini Bic Lighter: Never know when you’re going to need to set something on fire! 7. Honey Stinger Energy Gel or Clif ShotBloks: Delicious! Quick energy when you really need it. Be sure to avoid that bonk! 8. 1 Luna Bar: Something with a bit more substance to snack on. 9. Charmin To Go Toilet Paper: No internal cardboard roll, just TP rolled on itself in a great tiny plastic container to keep the sand out. Great for emergency poos, nose blowings or wiping off your bloodied hands from the gnarley desert chimney you just sent. 10. Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets: If you ever end up somewhere and you’re out of water, yet have access to some source of liquid (snow, river, ice), iodine will keep you hydrated and bacteria free! (ok, there are 11 things. No one ever accused me of being good at math!) 11. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp: I never, ever, ever, ever leave without a headlamp. Even when you’re leaving at 6am. You never know what’s going to go down that is out of your control, and adding darkness to an already deteriorating situation makes it that much worse. Depending on the environment and weather forecast, I sometimes also take my Marmot Ion Windshirt, which compresses small enough to fit into my original granite gear stuff sack along with all of my other crucial materials. So, at full retail, the emergency kit I've put together costs about $80 dollars if you don't include the Leatherman (the most expensive item on my list, by far). If you're good with watching for deals, you can easily put the whole thing together for under $50, and then add the Leatherman the next time it goes on sale! The whole thing weighs about 2lbs (Leatherman also weighing the most). This way, I've got the essentials I feel I need, instead of some formulaic kit! Not too shabby for a homemade essentials kit, huh?...Read more...
For a lightweight and relatively inexpensive solution to making your water safe to drink, I chose Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets. While not the most time efficient or the best product out there to eliminate all creepy crawlies growing in your water, it's definitely the best for it's size and weight, and great for unplanned water treatment.
The Details: Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets
- To treat 1 quart of water you need to drop 2 tablets in and wait 30 minutes. Like I said, not time efficient, but in an emergency, 30 minutes of waiting is better than no water at all.
- Each bottle comes with 50 tablets that are good for about a year. If you keep the bottle closed and don't expose it to temps above 86 degrees and below 60 degrees, then it's good for about 4. However, stick to the year as your general rule as to when to replace it.
- Kills bacteria and giardia. Does NOT kill cryptosporidium. Again, not the best system out there, but in a pinch it's great! Also, for the cost, it's definitely effective. 50 tablets for around $5 bucks? Awesome.
- Some people don't like the taste of iodine-ed water. Not to beat a dead horse, but in a pinch, who cares? Slightly different tasting water vs. no water at all? I'll take the iodine taste please!
If you enjoy a good beverage a few days into the backcountry, Platypus has designed a new product to eliminate toting all that glass in your pack. The Platypus PlatyPreserve system allows you to take wine from the glass bottle, seal it into a PlatyPreserve container, and open it a few days later, still getting that just-opened taste! Exposure to oxygen affects the taste of wine, and wine can go bad within 2-8 hours after opening a bottle. Crux! How do you tote you Pinot Noir on your 5 day backpacking trip without a) drinking the entire bottle the 1st night or b) hauling along that cumbersome glass bottle the entire trip and fumbling with gas-exchange systems to retain the taste? Get yourself a PlatyPreserve.
Platypus PlatyPreserve Features
- Collapsible container- when you've finished off your beverage, there's no large container left around to haul for the remainder of the trip.
- The PlatyPreserve allows you to put your wine in, and then remove all the Oxygen from the bladder, eliminating the exposure to any O2. This keeps your wine tasty, even days later!
- No taste transfer! Your wine doesn't taste like plastic.
- BPA Free- who likes that stuff anyways?
- The average glass wine bottle weighs 2 pounds! Shave that weight off.
- The PlatyPreserve allows you quite the selection of portable wine, as opposed to just the wine that comes in a box...
- $12.95 per bladder. A bit pricey, but think of the weight and space you're saving.
I made a trip down to Coyote Gulch a few weeks ago for some light backpacking on my mini summer break, and one product I used every day was my Katadyn Hiker Water Filter (I also used my Black Diamond Lighthouse Tent, check out that review for an awesome lightweight tent). Katadyn specializes in water filtration systems, and makes a lot of really neat products. From water filters to desalination systems for boats to Micropur purification tablets, Katadyn is your water expert.
Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Specs
- Ideal for 1-2 persons
- Weight = 11 oz. Superlight!
- Max output of 1 liter/minute. I certainly don't have the arm strength to pump out a liter a minute, but the filter has that capability.
- Filters out Bacteria, Protozoa, cysts, algae, spores and sediments. This includes cryptosporidium!
- Comes with both Nalgene compatible and hydration bladder compatible attachments, so you can attach it right to your water container and worry less about spillage.
- Great for weekend, week-long and day trips. If you're looking for a product to serve you on a several month expedition, look more towards Katadyn's Endurance Series filters.
- Filter contains an active carbon core, which reduces "icky" tastes and colors in your water.
- At $59.95, it's a relatively inexpensive water filter for what you get!
As a grad student, my summer break lasts all of a week and a half. However, over that week and a half, I've been cramming in lots of adventures, and all of them have involved my Deuter Guide 30+ pack. I've had limited exposure to Deuter packs. The only other pack by Deuter that I've used is their massive NOLS pack, intended for huge loads and long periods of time. The Guide is a smaller, sleeker 30 liter pack (plus an extension), full of features. From the side zip to the ice tool holders, the guys and gals a Deuter have clearly put a lot of thought into the design of this pack.
Fit InfoThe SL means that the pack is a women's specific fit- shorter torso and slightly narrower overall. However- I'm usually a Small frame in BD packs, Arc'teryx packs and Marmot packs, and this SL torso was almost too short on me. If you're normally on the border between a Small and Regular torso length, I'd say size up with this one. Shoulder straps are set closer together, and are more narrow than on their regular packs. After wearing mine for a multi-day backpacking trip and for several days at the crag, I'm impressed at how well this pack carries. Super comfortable with moderate loads! I've yet to toss more than 40 lbs in it, but if you're carrying that much weight, you're probably looking at a larger volume pack anyways... The hip belt is conical and contoured up for women's hips. It also comes with a Vari-Flex his belt system, which allows the hip belt to pivot with you as you move over varied terrain. This distributes your load evenly, and adds to the carrying comfort of the pack. The hip belt is also removable, in case you want to go super-light one day.
Key Features of the Guide 30 SL Pack
- Compression straps- Make the pack smaller when you've got smaller loads. 2 on each side, bottom ones are a hybrid ski strap/compression strap.
- Hydration compatible
- Ice Axe loops- Different than the previous years of the Guide and most packs. No longer do you have to muck with threading your Axe upside down, and then pulling it up to secure it. The ice axe loops on the pack are more like keeper loops- picks of the axes feed into small loops and are secured both at the bottom and the top of the pack.
- Crampon storage- Top of the pack. You'll need to toss some straps on the top yourself, but it's reinforced and the right size for storing them.
- Side access zipper
- Rope carrier- Easy rope storage on the top of your pack.
My Overall ImpressionI like it! Carries well, narrow profile, and enough cool features to make it interesting without being overwhelming. I'll definitely be using mine for many adventures. There's a few areas I think could use a bit of work, though.
- Top of the pack- Small! I'm used to stashing my day's food, headlamp, cell phone, keys and my emergency kit in the top of my packs. That won't all fit in this one. Also, the top of the pack is permanently attached to the pack by a piece of fabric. When you've got the pack completely full, the top of the pack doesn't sit properly on top of it, because the fabric section limits how far you can pull the top over.
- Ski Holders- They're sweet, and double as compression straps. However, when the pack is full, a pair of Karhu Berthas (100 underfoot) won't fit in the straps. Too wide.
- Compression straps- How many people use a Ridgerest when they backpack? I'd be willing to say a large majority of people out there do. Why is it, then, that ALL pack manufacturers make their straps on the side just small enough that it's a 30 minute wrestling match to get your Ridgerest onto the side of your pack? Certainly not just an issue with my Deuter Pack. Black Diamond, Arcteryx, Marmot, Gregory, they're all guilty too. Would it hurt to make that strap 2 inches longer to eliminate all that frustration?
Summer camping season is just around the corner and while I don't know about you, most of the time when I'm camping or backpacking I eat freeze dried meals like those from Mountain House or Mary Janes. As a result, the only needs I have for eating are a titanium spork and my favorite stove - the Jetboil. But lately I've been doing more car camping and backpacking with the family and while the freeze dried foods have remained steady dinner options (along with the time proven tin-foil dinners!) we've gone to the less expensive and easy to make meals. Examples like instant oatmeal, soups and hot cocoa have been great but you can't just make them and eat from the pot, especially if I'm cooking for the kids. As a result the need to eat from something other than a freeze dried package or the cooking pot has finally arrived. After poking around Backcountry.com I picked up a couple of the GSI Outdoor Nesting Bowl Mug Combo sets and despite a non-traditional shape the entire clan is super pleased with them! My wife took my 3 boys on a backpacking trip up Kings Peak last summer while I stayed home with our baby daughter and the GSi Mug and Bowl were a hit! They are small enough to not take up too much space but ample enough to eat or drink from. The lid on the mug held well despite one reviewer at Backcountry.com who had the opposite result. The neoprene sleeve does help to insulate the mug.
Features of the GSI Outdoor Gourmet Nesting Mug and Bowl
- 3.4 ounces
- Neoprene sleeve that actually does insulate and keep warm soup or tea...warm!
- Multiple colors available
- Made from Cascadian polypropylene - BPA Free!
The only time I really like to cook is in the backcountry. However, I don't enjoy hauling pots, pans and, for lack of a better expression, everything but the kitchen sink. I wouldn't mind taking the REI Ti Ware Titanium Cookset with me though! REI's Ti Ware sets are made of Titanium, which is lighter than stainless steel, yet stronger than aluminum. Titanium is also supposed to conduct heat a bit better than aluminum, leaving less hot spots on your pot.
REI Ti Ware Titanium Cookset
- Cookset comes with a 1.9 liter pot and a 1.3 liter pot. Each pot comes with a lid that can double as a frying pan.
- Pans are coated in an extra-thick silicon ceramic coating, which means added scratch resistance and better heat dispersion.
- Handles: Each pot and lid comes with a collapsable handle, allowing the pots to nest. I'm a bit skeptical as to how sturdy the handle is when you're carrying 1.8 liters of water in that 1.9 liter pot! The handles seem a bit wobbly, and are coated with a plastic tube that seems as if it would melt after the second or third use.
- Comes with a stuff sack. Might not seem like a big deal, but when you're trying to pack effectively and efficiently, having the right sized stuff sack can really come in handy!
- Lightweight: The whole set (2 pots, 2 pans and stuff sack) weights 18 ounces. To give you a point of comparison, the MSR Duralite Mini Cookset, which is 2 pots and 1 lid (no pans/no dual lids) weighs 17 oz. For 1 oz more, you gain a lid, and 2 frying pans. 2 lids allows you to quickly boil 2 pots at the same time, and pans mean eggs for breakfast!
Continuing with my adventure in my Five Ten Canyoneer 2 Shoes, I also needed something to keep my sandwich, camera and topo dry for the day for my first canyoneering experience! Since my stop in Zion was not planned, I hadn't come prepared with my pelican case for keeping things waterproof. All I had that was accessible and waterproof was my Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack. Normally a home for my sleeping bag, my Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack had already served me very well as a compression sack for my down bag. Thankfully, I had yet to have an experience where I had really been able to test the waterproof-ness of my stuff sack. A day in the canyons of Zion in March really put the eVent fabric to the test.
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack
- eVent: What a cool idea for a stuff sack. Allows air out, but doesn't allow water in. No valve necessary for air escape, and totally waterproof.
- Reinforced stitching at crucial points: After hauling this compression sack up Shasta, Rainier, Baker, throughout most of Switzerland and down into the canyons in Zion National Park, none of the seams are even showing wear.
- Pull handle makes for easy grabbing, even if it's at the bottom of a pack.
- Comes in multiple sizes, from volumes of 6 liters up to 30 liters.
Puttin' it to the test!
The North Face, the world's premier supplier of authentic, innovative and technically advanced outdoor apparel, equipment and footwear, today announced The North Face Minibus 23 tent was named New & Notable by Climbing Magazine. The Minibus 23 is new for 2009 and boasts revolutionary interior volume with huge vestibules and well-thought out liveability features, all while being extremely lightweight.
"The Minibus 23" with it's ingenious pole system, super-sized head room, slick ventilation system, and other thoughtful tweaks - stood out as ideal for those day, weekend, or weeks-long cragging trips. "the trips most of climbers seem to make most of the time," said Justin Roth, Senior Editor at Climbing. "It is basically a perfect tent for the typical road tripping climber. For a good portion of us, comfort and quick, simple set up are top concerns in a tent."Climbing magazine's Gear Guide features the latest and greatest of climbing product and gear, as the ultimate guide for climbers of all disciplines. The New & Notable honor is bestowed upon products that are the most innovative, exciting and functional, in each respective category. The Minibus 23, a three-season tent, features large windows, clever high and low venting and mesh canopies to assist in warm weather comfort and breathability. Its comprehensive color-coded pole and webbing pitch system contributes to ease of setup and Twist Clips make the tent pitching and disassembly simpler and faster - all while saving weight. The fly is crafted of lightweight, yet rugged and weatherproof, siliconized nylon and boasts massive vestibules. The Jake's Foot, a mini come-along of sorts, allows for fly tension leverage for a sound structure, regardless of weather. In addition, inside-outside pockets allow for accessibility without having to crawl back in the tent and convenient overhead pockets stow headlamps and accoutrements. The three-person version, The North Face Minbus 33, was recently awarded "Best Headroom" in Backpacker magazine's 2009 Gear Guide. Buy Now: Search for The North Face Tents Source: Amy Goldhammer, VF Corp... Read more...
I think one day all we will need to go camping is pockets. Granted there might be multiple pockets on those pants but you can be sure the MSR Pocket Rocket stove will be neatly stowed away, maybe somewhere on the hip? Ever since the beginning of my backpacking career MSR stoves have been with me every meal and like the Hershey's chocolate bar; why change?
The Company MSRWith MSR you get fresh, new, and innovative designs in your outdoor gear. Functionality mixed with reliability with a dash of sensible know-how, brings you supreme performance. Since 1969 MSR has been passing the competition with steady strides of consistent growth in their gear. The Whisperlite set lightweight stoves to a new standard and here we have the Pocket Rocket, blowing our minds and boiling our water. Ever buy those Toblerone candy bars at the airport? Well cut one of those bars in half and thats what size of the case the Rocket comes in. My problem with lightweight small stoves is the stability of the pot on top. I feel like if I am going to cook with these little guys I'm going to need a fort of rocks to keep the pot from falling over. I haven't used this stove yet but with my experience with the Superfly it looks like the three prongs come out far enough to keep your boil rolling. Well here's another thought, if your using the Pocket Rocket in the first place your probably not going to be packing a long a huge pot for 10 people. A teeny cup should do the trick for your minimalist appetite.
Canister vs. White GasI've had great luck with canister stoves. They are very easy to use and hard to screw up. White gas may pump out the gnarly heat but with canister your not riding the pump train which can be nice for newbie backpackers...or lazies like me. It is fun to pour the left over gas on torches and explore caves; keep out of reach of children.
Pocket Rocket Specs
- Boil Time - 3.5 minutes, your not going anywhere, you've got time.
- Weight - 3oz. Is that a stove in your pocket or....?
- Burn Time - 60min. (8oz. canister)
Although the MSR SuperFly Stove has been around for nearly 5 years, it's one of those pieces of camping and backpacking gear that I am continually glad that I own. If it's anything like the MSR Whisperlite Stove that I owned from 1990 until just last year when it was officially retired, I'm sure that it will more than pay for itself by the time it's boiled its last pot of water. The model I own is the one with the auto ignition which some people I've talked to have said that it's worthless. I found that it was a bit spotty when super cold so I actually bent the ignition arm to be a little closer to the stove and it worked well for me. Weighing in at 4.6 ounces, this stove is about as minimalist as you can get. I liked the Supefly over the smaller MSR Pocket Rocket because of 3 reasons:
- The arms of the stove looked larger which may help to steady a pot of boiling water better
- The auto ignitition
- The flame is a bit larger in diameter than the super small stoves which I felt would provide a better cooking experience
Over the years I've heard many different formulas and methods for fitting a backpack. Some of it coming from young 20-something's who have 2 weeks experience on the sales floor making their way through college and other bits and pieces from people who have logged miles with a backpack but have little understanding of how to properly fit anyone else based on anatomy. This video from Gregory Backpacks is quite likely the most clear explanation of how to properly fit a backpack that I've ever heard. I'm sure watching it you'll think to yourself, "Well, yea, that's so obvious" as well as a flood of memories like I had of shop rats telling me a myriad of ways to fit a pack. The guy featured in the video is Wayne Gregory, founder of Gregory packs. He's been in the backpack game long enough that along with types like George Lowe, he's considered a father of modern backpacks. Gregory was the first to encorporate different pack sizes based on torso length. After all, if a pack won't fit your frame it won't fit, period. Check it out: Watch for some Gregory pack reviews this winter here on GEAR.com --Check out Gregory Packs selection of packs in the shop section of Gear.com...Read more...
So this past weekend I went back to the Tetons to climb, and it poured. Absolutely bucketed. Amidst all the rain, at the trailhead, I managed to leave on of my most treasured pieces of outdoor gear sitting out on a log, and didn't realize this until about 2 hours later, when we had already driven out of Jackson Hole and were well on our way home. I turned the car around, and headed straight back to pick up my beloved Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket. What piece of gear is worth driving a grand total of 4 hours extra for? The Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket. It's synthetic construction (made of recycled polyester fibers) keeps you warm even in the wettest of conditions, its primary advantage over down. Cut slightly longer so as to keep your lower back warm, but not so long that it becomes a hindrance with a pack on, Patagonia has hit it right on with their Micro Puff design.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hooded Jacket
- At 20 oz, a super lightweight choice for a puffy jacket
- Large, adjustable hood fits around helmets, but can also cinch down to fit around small heads!
- Adjustable drawcord hem allows you to tighten the bottom when the elements get the best of you
- 3 pockets allow for lots of storage
- Comes with a matching stuff sack for extra portability
In preparation for our family vacation back to the homeland of Seattle, I started looking for gear that would make our lives easier. We already have two BOB Revolution jogging strollers (single and duallie), already got the Kelty FC 2.0 Kid Carrier... what else could we need? Well, with three kids under three-years-old, strapping at least one of them down is always a plus. I saw the Deuter KangaKid kid carrier backpack and thought that would be a great addition to our slew of kid-friendly outdoor gear. Not only is it a solid backpack by itself, it can transform into a capable kid carrier in a matter of minutes--perfect for those "just in case" trips along the Seattle waterfront when little legs get tired. When the Deuter KangaKid arrived, I was instantly impressed with its style, fit and function. It looked like a solid backpack with all the standard fare commonly found on Deuter's lineup of backpacks. If you're not familiar with Deuter, it's because you live on the wrong side of the pond. Deuter has been building backpacks for longer than almost everyone else on the market, but they have only recently (over the past 10 years) grown their presence in the States. Deuter KangaKid Review The Deuter KangaKid sports a comfortable suspension, shoulder straps and waist belt. I've found it to be very comfortable under the load of my 18-month old son for 2-3 hours at a time. He digs it and seems to be very comfortable hiking around town and on the trail. Getting him in and out of it is fairly easy, but it requires something to set both he and the pack on, like the front seat of a car, a sturdy table or a bench. It's easy to get him buckled in and on my back with the weight distributed on my hips. Hauling the kids around along the Seattle waterfront, this pack was the perfect choice. I felt I was able to carry all the essentials along with the most essential of them all... my son. Without my son in the pack, it felt a little odd and the waistbelt sat a little higher than my hips. I had to loosen everything back up to get it to sit right, but that should be expected when switching modes. Good KangaKid
- Deuter quality and good looks
- Easy-to-use kid carrying system
- Very comfortable suspension design
- Lots of pockets and storage areas
- Unweighted, the pack sits a little high on the waist
- 33 lb. carrying capacity... seems like they are being conservative
- No waistbelt adjustment straps to pull the pack in tighter
- Side straps cover the clamshell zippers
While outfitting the family for the annual trek to the Freedom Festival balloon launch and parade on July 4, 2008 in Provo, Utah, I was scrambling to find the right backpack to fit all the food, drinks and gear. Some things needed to stay cold and others didn't. So, some quick thinking turned me to the High Sierra Guide 3200 pack and things turned out perfectly. With a myriad of pockets and extensive fit adjustments (for myself and my wife), the High Sierra Guide 3200 backpack is a great pack with a very flexible attitude. At 32 liters, this pack is a perfect in-betweener size. If you were going super-lightweight, it could work as an overnight pack, but it's best suited for an all-day pack to carry lots of stuff in style. I ended up turning the pack into a walking cooler. The back pocket has a mesh inner pocket, which held a Ziploc baggie full of ice cubes--perfect for keeping the contents of the pack cool. Because the pack materials are thick and durable and the food was sandwiched between the bag of ice cubes and the thick padding on the frame, the food stayed nice and cold. In the end, the kids had a great time at the early-morning balloon launch and the parade was a success. We enjoyed breakfast, snacks and lunch with everything kept nice and cold inside the pack. The Guide 3200 is comfortable and fits well. With an MSRP of $180, the price of entry is a bit steep, but the street price is typically half that price. Do a google search to find the best deal on the High Sierra Guide 3200 pack. Features of the High Sierra Guide 3200 Backpack:
- 32 Liter size
- ERGO-FIT shoulder harness is super flexible and easy to adjust
- Pockets galore--even comes with a cell phone/radio holster
- Tuck-away rain cover for inclement weather
- A-frame ski carrying loops
- Ice axe loop and daisy chains for attaching gear
- Available in three colors: Black, Blue, Orange