Camping>>View fewer Camping
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
For a family sized camping trip you need a family sized tent. The Kelty Hula House 6 Tent is a great option for the family that wants space and quality.
Kelty Hula 6 House Tent ReviewThe Kelty Hula House 6 Tent is a big, spacious tent. Gone are the days of cramming the family into a small tent. The floor size is 10.5 feet by 10.5 feet and the ceiling is 6 feet 4 inches tall at the apex. There is enough room to fit 6 adults with a little extra room. We were able to fit our family of 6 easily with plenty of extra floor space for kids to roll around, store toys, and other kid necessities without bumping into each other and without feeling crammed. Set up was relatively pain free. The two main poles are paired with sleeves to keep things simple. Erecting the poles is definitely easier with two people because of the size of the poles, however, I was able to manage it myself. The "hula" pole is interesting. It's a big circular pole. Assembling it isn't bad until you have to complete the circle. I found it easiest to brace the pole against the base of a tree or a big rock to flex the pole so the last connection could slide together. Once it's done it clips into place on the tent. The only part that was a bit of a pain was putting on the fly. To attach it to the poles you have to duck under the fly to velcro it to the poles. The inside of the tent features a couple of mesh pockets to stash small items, it has ceiling clips for a shelf, and a loop at the apex to hand a lantern. Other than that, the inside of the tent is very minimalist. One of the first things I noticed is the floor of the tent is very thin. So thin in fact that after the first night of use it almost had holes where it rubbed on the pebbles beneath it. The thinness also damped out after a rainy night. We didn't have puddles, just damp spots. My recommendation is to shell out the extra money for the footprint or a tarp. It will prolong the life of your tent (investment) and will help keep you more dry. The Hula 6 features a lot of mesh. It basically runs from close to the ground all the way to the top. This is great for ventilation but bad for privacy. We spent a rainy trip in the Cascades and after an evening and night of rain we woke in the morning with very little condensation in the tent. Where it collected was on the fly but not on the tent itself. From a privacy standpoint, if you are in a campground with people close by, they'll be able to see everything you do inside the tent if you don't use the fly. The fly worked well too. After all the rain from that trip the water was still beading up and running off. The fly comes with plenty of stake points and guy lines to keep it taut in windy weather. The vestibule is the big area I saw for iimprovement. It was kind of small. There isn't a lot of room for storing shoes and things for 6 people. It's the type that zips from the top of the tent straight to the ground. For me it was hard to unzip from the inside. I had to stoop low and reach to get the zippers. With the little bit of condensation on the inside after the night of rain, I ended up with a wet back after rubbing against the fly as I unzipped it. The previous version of the Hula featured a vestibule room. I wish they'd bring this back. Sure it created extra weight and set up time, however, for the extra room (especially for kids who need to roam when the weather is bad) and for getting in and out, I think it would be well worth it. The stakes that come with the tent are okay. They are a U-design which helps a little with rigidity but they still aren't a match for compacted dirt. Just upgrade to Y-shaped stakes when you buy your tent. The Hula 6 packs up nicely into a storage bag that has two handles. Durability is decent. After a summer of use the Hula House 6 is showing light signs of wear and tear. Be careful of the floor and the mesh and it'll last you for years (particularly if you pair it with the footprint). It's tempting to buy a cheap low-name brand tent from a big box store. You'll be glad you paid the extra for the quality and durability of the Hula House 6. The Good
- Tent is big and roomy
- Setup is pretty easy
- Ventilation is great
- Floor is thin
- Vestibule is small
- Stakes are mediocre
Bottom Line:If you have a family and you want to get them out camping, the Kelty Hula House 6 Tent is great option. It's big enough to fit the family of 6 with some room to move around. Buy Now: Pick up the Kelty Hula House 6 Tent
Kelty Hula 6 House Tent Features
- Wall material: 68d polyester, dye free
- Floor material: 68d nylon, 1800 mm
- Fly material: 75d polyester 1800 mm
- Freestanding design
- Continuous pole-sleeve construction
- Clip and pole sleeve construction
- Taped floor seams
- ArcEdge floor
- Mesh wall panels
- Internal storage pockets
- Adjustable stakeouts
- Noiseless zipper pulls
- Taped seams
- Side-release tent/fly connection
- Welded clear windows
- Noiseless zipper pulls
- Guyout points
- Double track vestibule
- Seasons: 3
- Number of doors: 1
- Number of vestibules: 1
- Capacity: 6
- Number of poles: 3
- Pole type: DAC Hybrid
- Floor area: 110 ft2 / 10.22 m2
- Vestibule area: 50 ft2 / 4.65 m2
- Length/Width/Height: 126" x 126" by 76" (320 cm x 320 cm x 193 cm)
- Packed diameter: 12" / 30.48 cm
- Packed Length: 30" / 76.20 cm
- Minimum weight: 18 lb. 5 oz. / 8.31 kg
- Packaged weight: 19 lb. 6 oz. / 8.76 kg
- Price: $399.95
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...
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 Columbia Triple Trail Jacket is a jacket to span all seasons. It'll be at home on the trail on cool spring days, keep you dry in camp during summer storms, and keep the white stuff at bay during mid-winter touring sessions.
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket Features
- Shell fabric: 100% nylon 3L Heat with Omni-Tech waterproof-breathable finish
- Stretch panels: 89% nylon/11% elastane 3L Heat Cyberstretch
- Lining: Omni-Heat® thermal reflective
- Waterproof, breathable and fully seam sealed
- Attached and adjustable storm hood
- Zippered vents beneath sleeves
- Hem features adjustable drawcord
- Zippered hand pockets
- Zippered interior security pocket
- Waterproof zippers throughout garment
- Center back length: 31 in
- Price: $299.95
Columbia Triple Trail Jacket ReviewThe Columbia Triple Trail Jacket isn't like Columbia jackets of old. Prior to the Triple Trail my only other Columbia jacket was the Bugaboo with the zip out fleece when I was 12. That Bugaboo set my perception of Columbia, which remained for 18 years. The Triple Trail has changed that perspective for the better. The Triple Trail features a three-layer nylon laminate with strategically placed stretch panels so the jacket moves with you. The seams are all fully seam sealed to give true waterproof protection. The Omni-Tech finish keeps water at bay. Columbia used waterproof zippers throughout the entire jacket (helps with the clean look) and the zipper pulls are substantial enough that you can grab them, even when wearing a thick winter glove like the Columbia Omni-Heat Bugaglove Max Electric Gloves. The Triple Trail is fully lined (including the hood) with Omni-Heat reflective fabric. The tiny dots reflect back body heat (similar to a space blanket) but the space between the dots allows for breathability. The Omni-Heat lining keeps you warmer. It features two zippered hand pockets which are HUGE! They literally span from the hem to your shoulders. The first thing I thought of when I put my hands in was "these would be perfect pockets for your skins when running laps". But the interior isn't waterproof so you'll just end up soaking your layers. They are extra roomy. I would have loved to see a chest pocket on the jacket, but I don't know how it would have fit with the big pockets. The interior features one zippered pocket and open top pocket. As with most all "waterproof, breathable jackets" the Triple Trail is solid on the waterproof, but not as much so on the breathability. It does feature long pit-zips to help cool you down but I did overheat and sweat when exertion levels started to rise. Maybe I'm just warm, but I still have yet to find a shell I can wear when skinning without overheating. Both the hem and hood are adjustable. The hood features a stiff brim which will keep it from sagging when things start to get wet. The hood fits well but won't fit over a helmet. The Triple Trail would be a good jacket for 4 season use. Keep in mind, with the versatility there are compromises that are made. It is less packable than a dedicated rain jacket. But, you can wear the Triple Trail skiing and have full weather protection. The Omni-Heat lining adds bulk and weight, but it's warmer. If you want one jacket, the Triple Trail is a good way to go. The fit is good. I'm 6' tall and 180 lbs and the large fits me nicely. There is enough room that I can wear a medium weight mid-layer and still have free movement. I have long arms and I can extend them without the sleeves pulling up over my gloves (this makes a big difference for me). The jacket is cut long which makes it extremely nice for skiing. Overall I was extremely impressed with the Triple Trail Jacket. My perception of Columbia changed from that a mediocre outdoor brand to a brand that is now making premium outerwear. The Good
- Well made
- Breathability is all right, but I still overheated in it
- No chest pocket
Bottom Line:The Triple Trail Jacket is a solid jacket. It's well-made and a versatile jacket. If you want 4-season protection, you've got it. Buy Now: Pick up the Columbia Triple Trail Jacket [gallery]... 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'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...
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...
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...
Eugene Buchanan (no relation) explains it best in Outdoor Parents Outdoor Kids about how to overcome the anxiety of taking the little ones outside. It's scary. It's cold. What if they throw up? What if we run out of diapers? What if we lose their binky? What if we have the most amazing time ever?Black Diamond Icon? The Kids Bot by Princeton is simple, kid-like, and inexpensive: $15. I would have said cheap, but that would imply it's cheaply made, which isn't the case. The Bot takes 2 AAA batteries and provides up to 9 hours on low and 4 hours on high beam. The only setback with the battery case is having to use a screwdriver to get into the batteries. But who doesn't carry around a pocket knife? It isn't the strongest beam I've ever experience but I doubt your 5 yr. old is going to truck up Mt. Rainier anytime soon.
About the Princeton Tec Kids Bot LampThe headlamp is easy to use. Duh, it's for kids. The design is super snazzy and kids love it. And at such a good price you can buy a couple so everyone can have their own. The lamp only has high and low beam, no strobe. I wish they would have thrown on a strobe because kids love bright flashy disco dancing type stuff. At 2.2 oz with batteries this would be a great addition to the kids pack to help them feel like hiking champions. It also resists water so they can have fun and not get yapped at every 10 seconds. I love using this headlamp for my own kids because they genuinely like playing with it. BUY NOW:The Princeton Tec Kids Bot Headlamp at Gear.com. [gallery]... 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...
The new Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a solid offering in the recreational camping category, and the suggested retail price point for this tent is definitely attractive at $129.90. I doubt you'll find a comparable tent at such a price. Eureka! is a long-time producer of expedition-grade and military-grade shelters, so it's a brand with a pedigree behind it. The Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a 2-person tent built for 3 seasons. This tent doesn't have the burliness of a 4 season tent that can withstand bitter winters, but it doesn't have the weight or price either. For most recreational campers, this tent will work quite well for when the snow isn't flying. And with the money you save, you'll be able to afford a bit more luxury in your sleeping bag purchase (oh yeah --- down, here we come!). When I first set up the Apex 2XT tent, I immediately noticed that many of the major seams are double-stitched and taped -- good for inclement weather, as is the 75D StormShield Polyester material. Also, it has a bathtub construction for the floor of the tent, which is a big plus in this author's opinion as well. The tent measures 7'4" x 4'11" and comfortably sleeps 2 adults. And the pleasant surprises just kept coming: it has an included gear loft (sweet), plenty of no-see-um mesh ventilation, and massive D-shaped doors on either side (for a cross-breeze and so that no one has to climb over their buddy to exit in the middle of the night for a bio break). I loved these features in the tent -- especially the size of the doors. The Apex 2XT tent also boasts a simple, straightforward 2-pole setup with snaps (not sleeves). The pole design is a simple X design with identical poles that fit corner to corner, crossing each other at the apex (pun intended, of course). Extremely simple -- my six year old boy has now become the named tent-setter-upper when we use the Apex 2XT. It is a free-standing 2-wall tent, and as mentioned the ventilation is good. But on those hot nights in the backcountry when you know it won't rain, one of the greatest moments in a camping trip is lying in a tent that is zipped up against the bugs but has a wide open view of the night sky through a mesh ceiling (sans rain fly). As you lie down in this tent, the fabric above the gear loft is not mesh -- and it sometimes seems to sit right smack in the middle of your night sky view. You still get that good experience with the mesh on the head/toe areas and the large mesh doors. But why not just go all the way and make the zenith out of mesh as well? When it rains, you'll be covering that mesh with the rain fly anyway, so I hope a future iteration goes all mesh. As mentioned, this 2-wall tent is accompanied by a good rain fly (making the 2nd wall) that can be staked out to provide 2 vestibules for coverage for each camper's backpack just outside his or her door. The vestibules measure 13 square feet each. A quick downside of the fly: the head/toe region has a big arc cut out of it (presumably to save weight). I never got dripped on, but it makes me worry about the rain effectiveness in that area. One thing I wish this tent came with is a footprint cut to size for it. I know that the low price point of $129.90 doesn't really allow for an inclusion like that, but nowadays I think that a footprint is not a luxury. But with all of this, given that it is a recreational tent, I was very impressed for the price point. The weight is 5lbs 6oz, which isn't much more than my Marmot Twilight tent (which retails for twice the price). Of course, the Marmot Twilight comes with a matching footprint, a more robust rain fly, and a massive expanse of uninterrupted mesh over the sleepers' heads. But that's why tents are made at different price points -- life is all about deciding on the trade-offs. With two small design changes, the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent could even become extremely competitive against higher-priced tents: 1) more rain fly in the toe/foot area, and 2) more mesh in the ceiling. All in all, the Eureka! Apex 2XT tent is a great value for the price and isn't as heavy as I was expecting for a recreational tent. It's very, very simple to set up and I love the doors and the construction. Aside from my qualms with the rain fly and the night sky visibility, I think it is very well suited to recreational campers. SHOP: Search for more Eureka! gear....Read more...
I've had a number of base layers in my day -- most of which haven't survived, because of a few rips or sometimes just their general grunginess after a fair amount of usage. And there are more than a few of those that were tossed after having been loaned to a friend, whose B.O. unwittingly sped the item along its path towards the rubbish heap. For those of us in this camp that is constantly searching for base layers that treat us right, a new material is in town: Agion Active. As eVent fabric opened the doors to a world beyond Gore-Tex in the outerwear category, perhaps Agion Active will do the same to move us beyond some of the age-old options we've lived with in base layers (Capilene, anyone?). Agion Active is built to be anti-microbial to fight the stink of normal base layers. It's secret sauce? A fabric finish technology that Agion claims is capable of making gear and materials that never smell. Agion says the cornerstone of this technology is silver, which doesn't surprise me -- for years silver has been considered a home remedy for killing microbes. That's where the term "silver spoon" comes from -- some claim that during the terrible infections and plagues that spread throughout Europe years ago, the wealthy would give their children a spoon made of sterling silver to suck on and it would help kill any germs they might incidentally ingest. As a result, to this day many individuals looking for natural alternatives to antibiotics, etc, will take a bit of colloidal silver (sometimes to unusual effect). So it makes sense that this same approach could be used to kill smelly microbes in materials, namely base layers in this case. Having used the shirt in a number of quite sweaty situations such as skinning into the backcountry in mid-winter or skiing hard all day at Snowbird in mid-June (yes, the lifts are still open!), I can say that this shirt is not nearly as stinky as most of my other base layers. I'm pretty stunned, in fact. I even loaned the shirt to a few friends who tried their best to stink it up -- and the shirt has not come close to reaching the stink level of other materials. At first impression, I would say that Agion Active has some good potential. What's more, it's a finish that can easily be applied at the end of the manufacturing process -- meaning that it could possibly be used to promising effect for products other than outdoor gear, such as carpets and pet products. Seems like Agion may have taken some old medicine and put it to creative new use. SHOP: Search for more base layer gear....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...
The Powderwhore tour is underway, the cool air is kissing Jack Frost on the mouth, and ski season is making another debut. The Patagonia Los Lobos jacket is your VIP pass into all the ski premieres from now until...well...till you have to start actually skiing.
Los Lobos Jacket Specs
- 15 oz
- Polartec® Power Dry® recycled polyester
- Spandex arm pocket
- Made in Vietnam (hey at least their honest)
Best of Two WorldsThe Los Lobos offers moisture wicking while retaining heat. From the couple cold nights I've used this jacket I can see how this claim can be a reality. For casual use I wish the arms were a bit more casual fitting. I'm interested to see if the fleece sheds snow, by the feel of it I can tell a difference from similar fleece material. This jacket could be the ultimate snowshoeing piece. For active use the arms do make sense because my old Patagonia retro fleece can get annoying with the big droopy arms and picking up snow. The hood is very form fitting. A definite plus for hunkering down but still be able to stay mobile and articulate head movement. The hood does not have a cinch cord which is fine with how snug it is.
Patagonia Bottom LineThere is no jacket out there like it. Put this in your back pocket for when it comes to holiday gifts because for the outdoorsy junkie who has everything, they don't have the Los Lobos. As I use this more and more I'm leaning more towards an active jacket with the athletic fit. But that won't stop TGR movie goers from wearing this at bars in Cali. BUY NOW: The Patagonia Los Lobos Fleece Jacket. ... Read more...
Got a significant other you'd like to cuddle up with in the backcountry? Nothing compares to a nice double sleeping bag and Kelty makes one of the best on the market today in the Supernova 30 3-IN-1. Kelty Supernova 30 3-IN-1 Features:
- Box-baffle construction (Top)
- Two-layer, offset-quilt construction(Bottom)
- Two-way locking blanket zipper
- Zipper draft tube with anti-snag design
- Top half can be used as a stand-alone lightweight down bag
- Bottom half can be used as a blanket
- Two pillow pockets
- External storage pockets
- FatMan and Ribbon™ drawcords
- Captured cordlock
- Differential cut to maximize loft and warmth
- Kelty Binto included for storage and transport
- MSRP: $279.95
Kelty Supernova 30 3-IN-1 Double Sleeping Bag ReviewLets lay it all out here. It's a double sleeping bag with a synthetic (Kelty CloudLoft) bottom half, down upper (600-fill down) and the ability to use the top/bottom alone as blankets or even zip the down top into a lightweight sleeping bag. Phew... get all that? For $279, you couldn't ask for a more versatile double sleeping bag on the market. I'm a big fan of hybrid down/synthetic sleeping bags (I've used an old Moonstone one for years) as they provide the comfort of down with some of the moisture-friendly features of synthetic insulation. The lower section is insulated with Kelty CloudLoft, which has a comfortable feel to it while the upper is ultra-comfy down. We mated ours to the Kelty Good Night Queen Air Bed and enjoyed a great night's sleep on vacation and camping alike. Yup... if you're looking for the ultimate in vacation-friendly bedding, this one is hard to pass up. With the ability to use it for both camping and vacations, it's really quite a versatile bag. The only bummer about hauling it around is it doesn't compress down like two individual sleeping bags would. But, the included Binto makes for easy transport. As a sleeping bag for two, the Supernova is extremely-roomy and comfortable. With two bodies in there, it keeps things rather toasty, so the side zips do come in handy. We also added our 1 yr-old in-between us with room to spare. We didn't get to test the 30-degree rating, but I'd say it feels accurate on cool summer nights. The inside fabric is soft next-to-skin and the included pillow pockets ensure everything stays put for a long night's sleep. The Good
- Really a great price for this whole package
- Love the down/synthetic insulation for the ultimate in comfort and weatherability
- Versatility is unmatched
- Pillow pockets are great
- Interior fabric of bottom section is soft next-to-skin
- Head area can be cinched down for a "mummy-like" enclosure on cold nights
- Gets pretty toasty on warm Summer nights (thank you side zips!)
- Doesn't compress down very small (but Binto storage is nice)
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...
Mountain Manor is the best descriptor for The North Face Mountain Manor 6 Tent. I picked one up early this summer to go camping with the family. I was elated to end the days of fitting four of us in the small three-person tent. My family of four can fit with plenty of room to spare.
The North Face Mountain Manor 6 Tents Features
- Capacity: 6 people
- Floor Space: 93 sq ft
- Interior Height: 74 in
- Room Dividers
- Full-coverage rain fly
- Warranty: Lifetime
- Storage Pockets
- Ceiling Lantern Clip
- Weight: 20 lbs 11 oz (definitely a car camping tent!)
- Price: $529
The North Face Mountain Manor 6 Tent ReviewFirst off this tent is HUGE! It has the 'main' area that is big and square and off to each side is a curtain that separates enough space for either stowing gear or for 1-2 people to sleep on each side. For my family we put one kid in each side. The sides are big enough that we were able to fit a portable crib in one side for our youngest to sleep in. This left plenty of room in the main area for my wife and I. The tent could fit six and you wouldn't be crammed like sardines. The tent also features plenty of headroom. I am 6' tall and can stand up in the tent without having to hunch or crouch. For being a big tent the setup wasn't too bad. The first time it took a little while to get it together and up but it wasn't too bad. After the first time it's pretty easy. It is big so it can take awhile. It is possible to set it up with one person, if the wind isn't blowing. I put it up myself in less than 15 minutes. If two people were working on it you could easily have it up in sub-10. The poles are color coded with the clip straps to make pole matching easy. There are six poles (seven if you count the fly pole). Two match and are the long ones for the main setup and height. Four match and provide the tension in the tent. It'd be pretty hard to screw up the setup. The tent features clips for all the poles with the exception of the fly pole. My one complaint about them is the top center where the main poles cross only has a clip big enough for one pole and they only include one clip. I'd prefer a second clip to help keep the second pole in place. I don't know, maybe they tested it out and there's enough stability without a second clip. I haven't had the tent out in the rain yet so I don't know about moisture resistance. Also the air is super dry around here (hooray high mountain desert) so condensation wasn't a problem. The main tent body features plenty of mesh and on each side there is a moon-shaped vent zipper to promote cross-ventilation. When we woke in the morning the tent was dry as a bone. For when the weather does turn sour the tent features two vestibules, though the front vestibule is a lot bigger than the rear. The North Face has made the front vestibule is big enough you could fit a camp chair in it plus a couple of packs. The rear vestibule is really only big enough for shoes and a pack or two. This thing is a beast and you definitely won't be taking anywhere you can't drive the car. I suppose you could throw it on the back of a llama if that's your thing. It's a small thing, but I love that the stuff sack for the tent is a duffel style bag. There's no cramming to get the tent in there. The Good
- Great Ventilation
- Side curtains are good for privacy or for separating the kids at bedtime
- Solid construction, beefy poles
- Duffel style bag makes loading the tent easy
- Set up can take awhile, would definitely need 2 people if the wind was blowing
- Spendy at $529
Bottom Line:The North Face Mountain Manor 6 tent is awesome for car camping, family camping, or anytime you need to cram a bunch of people in a tent. It's well-made, roomy, and a lot better than a small three-person tent for the family. Buy Now: Pick up the The North Face Mountain Manor 6 Tent... 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...
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
Stoves have come a long way since my Boy Scout Days. In my opinion, tops on that innovation list is Jetboil. Why? Well, because they practically re-invented personal cooking in the backcountry. The renowned (and imitated) Jetboil PCS is my favorite backpacking stove on the market. For me, it's all about boiling water, so the PCS works wonders. But, what happens when you add 4 kids into the mix and still want to enjoy Jetboil goodness? How about the Jetboil Group Cooking System (GCS)? Jetboil Group Cooking System Features
- 1.5 Liter FluxRing® pot with insulating cozy and fold-out handles
- Adjustable burner with push-button igniter
- Insulating lid and bottom cover
- Quick-lock universal pot support
- Canister stabilizer
- Fuel sold separately
- MSRP: $119.95
When it’s time to house the masses in the outdoors, Kelty answers with the bahama mama Palisade 6 family tent.
“I can finally stand up and get stuff done in one of your stupid tents!” - The WifeYou love camping. Your family? Eh. It’s cold. It’s hot. It’s raining. It’s snowing. It’s dirty. It’s smelly. Step into my office, I have the perfect remedy to extinguish all the excuses. The Kelty Palisade 6 puts them to rest. I’m not a family sized tent guy. I tried cramming a pack n’ play into a lightweight backpacking tent to fit everyone in nice and snuggly. Sleeping was nice, but not snuggly. The Kelty Palisade has a peak height of 6'5". And with the halo pole around the top, the top height is distributed evenly throughout the roof of the tent. Now we are talking.
Sturdy Is As Sturdy DoesKelty is known for their beefy heavy poles. Which are perfect for storms while camping. But what if you took this thing backpacking? Sure it would be hard to find friends to lug the lead pipe poles to natural lakes in Silverton but from using the Palisade, I can say it would probably hold it’s own. The heavy weight would be absolutely bomber in a southern Colorado monsoon. The pictures posted are from Moab two weeks ago. Underneath all the towels and hub bub the Palisade is there somewhere. I can honestly say the designers at Kelty MUST have kids. It is such a plus that a company has the parents in mind. The halo pole that goes around the top is a must have to hang wet towels on. Perfect for keeping things off the gicky floors of Moab. The pull down shades are handy when you have the fly attached. Great way to get some privacy in the crowded campgrounds. As sturdy as the Palisade is, it’s not hard to set up. I of course set it up alone like I do all the tents every time I go camping with the chitlins’. Not that I’m complaining. A family rolled up next to us in Moab with the Marmot Halo 6 which is the exact same style as the Palisade 6. It took 6 people, 2 of which weren’t from the group, 20 minutes, and a google image search to get the Marmot tent together. The Palisade required me, half a Diet Coke, and approximately 11 minutes. Pure sweetness.
My tent has cup holders does yours?Sure enough, throw the fly on top of the Palisade and your six-pack suddenly has a cozy cove towards the front door (two at a time only). Below the cup holders you’ll find a pouch for shoes, wet swimsuits, and all the other junk you don’t need. Out of room? Tie on the gear loft at the top of the tent for the left overs. I wish the gear loft was off to the side of the tent, which I’ve seen REI tents do before. It’s a little IKEA style but I’d rather utilize the 6'5" interior height than bonk my head on the portable Coleman ceiling fan. The rear door is perfect for re-enactments of the beginning scene of Alice In Wonderland where the creepy door knob face dude talks to Alice. My daughter spent about an hour going in and out and zipping it open and closed. FYI - An hour in parent terms is about 5 hours with the current exchange rate. The front door stows off to the side nicely but doesn’t drop down low enough. I found myself constantly tripping going in and out of the tent, as did my little ones. For those non-organic energy wasting inconsiderate generator using souls, whew, Kelty put in a cute little zipper opening for a plug-in for I’m assuming an air mattress. I’d probably never use it since I have the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core mattress (nothing better) so for now I’ll pass Polly Pockets through it to my 3 yr.-old daughter.
Kelty Palisade Specs
- 20 pounds
- Packs down to the equivalent to a gym bag full of 3 pairs of tennis shoes, 3 oversized towels, 17 iPods, 2 pairs of running pants, 2 pairs of XXL shorts, and 6 cut-off sleeve shirts, or so.
- DAC poles - Beefy and easy to maneuver
- $499 - A little steep, just wait till you see it in action.
- 6 foot 5 inch peak height
Bottom LineI probably shouldn’t have gone to Moab two weeks ago. At midnight it was 94 degrees and no tent will make it any cooler. The Halo pole impressed me the most and is breaking ground for the next generation of family sized tents. *high five to Kelty with a knuckle bump followed by the Gear.com uber secret handshake* Buy Now: The Kelty Palisade 6 Tent. ... Read more...
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).
Building on the ultralight MSR Carbon Reflex 1 and 2 tents, it's time to have a Carbon Reflex 3 tent for ultralight (as MSR deems it hyperlite) performance. Carbon fiber is stronger and lighter than aluminum--thus shaving precious pounds from your pack compared to similarly-sized tents. For example, the new MSR Carbon Reflex 3 has a minimum weight of 4 lbs. 7 oz. while the Mutha Hubba tips the scales at 6 lbs. 9 oz. A savings of over two full pounds! Even though it's lightweight, the Carbon Reflex 3 is still liveable with plenty of room and two vestibules. The major setback here is price. This tent will cost a pretty penny at $600 (but did I mention how light this is!?!?!). Look for it to hit retailers in January 2010. Buy Now: Search for MSR Tents...Read more...
We admit that we are so stoked on camping, skiing and biking that we sometimes neglect the other outdoor sports we enjoy like hunting and fishing. But whether you are camping or hunting, you are bound to need an excellent knife. Check out the press release below about the finest knife of 2009 -- the 585 Mini-Barrage from Benchmade Knives. 585 Mini-Barrage Wins Knife of the Year July 30, 2009, OREGON CITY, Ore. - The Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence presented its 2009 Knife of the Year Award to Benchmade Knife Company for the model 585 Mini-Barrage™. The awards were presented at the Shooting Industry Masters event on July 24th in Windsor, Connecticut. "We are thrilled and honored to receive such a prestigious award" says Les de Asis, CEO and Founder of Benchmade Knife Company. "Benchmade prides itself on manufacturing high-quality, American-made products. To have our standard of excellence recognized is extremely rewarding and gratifying." The 585 Mini-Barrage features a patented AXIS® Assist Locking Mechanism, combining speed and strength in one complete package. Other key features include 100% ambidextrous function, reversible carry clip and 154CM blade steel. For more information on the 585 Mini-Barrage, please visit: http://www.benchmade.com/products/product_detail.aspx?model=585 Benchmade has won Knife of the Year eight times since 1998 and remains committed to designing and manufacturing world class sports cutlery and superior-edged tools. Knife of the Year winners include 610 Rukus (2006), 425 Gravitator (2005), 921 Switchback (2003), 556 Mini-Griptilian (2002), 690 Elishewitz (2001), 720 Mel Pardue (2000), 710 McHenry & Williams (1999), and the 910 Stryker (1998). For more information on previous winners, please visit: http://www.benchmade.com/shooting_industry/recap/ For a recap of all winners at the Shooting Industry Masters, please visit: http://www.shootingindustry.com/09SIAEwin.html Sincerely, Team Benchmade "It's not just a knife... It's a Benchmade"...Read more...
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...
I went to the local lake yesterday in search for a battery re-charge from the daily grind. We met up with some friends to throw the boats in the water, roast weenies, and darken up our ghostly white farmer tans. I had my Kelty Cabana with me but didn't set it up right away because someone else had brought a 10X10 shade tent. My friend said the cabana was too small and that I should just leave it in the bag. Cabana First Thoughts As a gear junkie you can't just leave stuff in the bag even if the need for the gear has already been fulfilled. The cabana is quite spacious actually and is a stellar beach shade getaway. You may not be able to fit six adults underneath along with their Twilight books and lawn chairs, but if you have little ones who need to take a nap the ground floor provides great protection from the sand. Cabana - 1. 10X10 shade - 0. Tent Set-up The set up isn't bad. If your like me, you probably don't have 3 people dying to help you set up your tent making the cabana a good addition. After a couple times you get an idea of how the poles are suppose to bend and find which sequence works best. The tent has two short poles and one long one creating the frontal hoop. Anything that can get me in the water faster makes me smile in my sleep. Cabana - 2. 10X10 shade - 0. Fighting the Wind If you went to the beach and watched people there is no doubt something in their spot will blow away at some point. The pole design on the cabana reminds me of a glider and isn't exempt from being 'blown-away proof'. Stakes are a must but you're going to have to dig some up because my cabana didn't come with them. The little sand bags at each corner of the tent won't do it. They are a cute idea but this nylon aircraft is going to be ready for takeoff without some serious anchors. Cabana - 2. 10X10 shade - 1. Cabana Design One thing that I would seriously consider marrying Kelty for is that they are simple. I like the two bug screen windows that can be covered by lifting up the nylon sides hooking into the velcro. The floor space was big enough for me to hang my feet out the front opening while laying down with my head towards the rear. You could easily fit two people for an afternoon nap. We also fit a camp chair inside and while sitting you don't feel like the roof is on top of your forehead. Cabana - 3. 10X10 shade - 1. The front opening also closes completely for some beach privacy to switch in and out of clothes. One idea I had is cutting out a hole in the floor of the cabana for cooking with a stove. With the curved design and leaving the door open it could ventilate during a little storm. The material wouldn't be ideal for a rain storm but hey I'm a dreamer. Cabana - 4. 10X10 shade - 1. Bottom Line: Kelty needs to get rid of those silver casings on their poles and retire the sleeves. Hooks may weigh more but 99% of the time the 4lb. 14oz. cabana is coming in my car not my Osprey Argon 85. This cabana is a strong contender in the beach shade department and I'm looking forward to taking it on my next beach excursion. "Put em' in a body bag Johnny!" BUY NOW: Get the Best Price on the Kelty Cabana ...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!
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!
In my rush between booths at Outdoor Retailer and back-and-forth to my vehicle (usually to check if I got a parking ticket), I had passed by the SylvanSport GO trailer several times, but it didn't register. I have no idea why it didn't click how amazing this product is until a simple email in my Inbox this morning. A quick click and now I'm stoked on this thing. It's like the Transformer of the camping and utility trailer world. Pop-up camping trailers have always been interesting to me, but they have a limited purpose--camping only. Where the Sylvan Sport GO shines is in its versatility. It can go from pop-up tent camper to ATV hauler, gear hauler and crap hauler in a matter of minutes. Take a look at a few of the images to the right to see the various configurations. Take note that some of the accessories (bike racks, storage, etc.) are not included, but you get the idea--this little trailer can be accessorized to the hilt for whatever adventure you and your crew are into.
SylvanSport GO Trailer Overview (from SylvanSport)GO is for fun. Our crack design team made the GO selfishly for themselves. But I guess that’s okay, because like a lot of us, they're into every imaginable outdoor pursuit. We love to camp, boat, bike, surf, sleep, and indulge in just about any other activity that includes family, friends, adventure and fun. GO is flexible. Mobile Adventure Gear is more than a trailer. Like a Transformer™, it changes from a sleek, low-profile, you-hardly-know-it’s-there trailer, to an ATV-hungry hauler, to a secure, comfy camp in just minutes. GO carries the load. It easily hauls, stores and organizes all of your toys, from boats, to bikes, to moto-machines and even tools and garden gear. So whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment mini vacation or a trip to the home improvement megastore, GO works. And it’s smart! GO gets around. With its LED lighting, custom wheels with high-floatation tires, and intelligent suspension geometry, GO is easy to hook up to your tow vehicle and easy to tow—even by first-time-towers. GO light. At 800 lbs. GO can be towed by almost any vehicle out there. This efficient ‘backpack on wheels’ allows you to have the benefits of an RV without the gas credit card. GO knows. From GO’s hyper-engineered™ all-aluminum frame, to its Thule-compatible rack system, to its Kelty tent structure, GO is the most refined small towable ever.
SylvanSport GO Trailer Features
- Low profile design for minimum drag and super fuel efficiency
- All aluminum hyper-engineered™ frame
- Torsion suspension for smooth load control
- Very light weight at 800 lbs.
- 13” ground clearance and high flotation tires for off-road use
- UV resistant plastic storage boxes for years of maintenance free watertight storage
- Waterproof gear storage in top camping pod
- Lockable waterproof gear storage in front storage pod
- Rack system frees up space from your tow vehicles’ roof rack
- Rack system compatible with Thule, Yakima, and other brand accessories
- 800 lb. load capacity
- Control-Tilt™ cargo bed with hydraulic dampening system
- Easy to own with very low-maintenance
- Excellent suspension geometry and handling characteristics make it easy to tow
- Cast aluminum wheels
- Self lubricating hubs
- Spare tire
- LED lighting for safer, long lasting service
- Waterproof electrical system suitable for use as a small boat trailer
- Reinforced diamond-plate flooring for heavy loads
- Multiple tie-down points
- Multiple configurations for carrying gear
- Download SylvanSport GO Configuration PDF
Sylvan Sport GO Camping Tent Features
- Innovative Kelty tent system
- Insulated bed platforms for snug sleeping
- Stargazing windows
- Excellent ventilation
- Custom self-inflating air mattress from Pacific Outdoor Equipment
- Equal to a king-size and a half of sleeping surface
- Secure entry awning with optional larger awning
- Zippered entry / screen door
- Multiple living space configurations
- Center beds convert to table
- Overhead camping pod with gas struts for safe and easy tent set-up
- Convenient rear step also functions as a tailgate.
- Stabilizer jacks in all four corners provide secure stability.
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
Rolled up late to the camp spot and you can't even find a tree to bang your head against because its so dark. Let there be light! I checked out this sweet ray of sunshine and with a brand like BD and something I've always wanted, this is going into my pack with no delay. The Black Diamond Apollo sheds a 30 foot radius of LED rays at that dark but primo campsite. The thing is super durable sporting aluminum stays, but what else would you expect from BD? The reviews on Backcountry.com are informative and entertaining. Everything from "the size of a can of soup" and named "the Scout Master's Choice". I have been wanting a lantern for a long time but I've just been holding out. I definitely don't want to mess with gas and lighting little bags on fire. Coupled with BD's NRG Rechargeable Battery Kit, this will dominate your gear supply and the darkness around you. Also would fit nicely into a stocking right above the orange and next to the Star Wars Pez dispenser.
- Weight: 7.8oz, light enough for ya?
- 60 hours max, long enough for ya?
- Collapsed 5x3in Extended 9.5 x 3in, small enough for ya?
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
Looking for a comfortable 2-3 person tent that won't break your back on your next backpacking trip? Look no further than the MSR Mutha Hubba, which is still a roomy 3-person tent, but tips the scales at a reasonable 6 lbs. 2 oz. for the body, full-coverage fly and aluminum poles. Sounds like you don't have to cram into a miniature cocoon anymore. To lighten up the Mutha Hubba for 2008, MSR revised several areas of the best-selling Mutha Hubba including: 1) a frame upgrade by using smaller, more durable plastic pole hubs, 2) removed 2 air vents from the fly, thus reducing seams and the flexible plastic sticks to hold them open and 3) eliminated zippers and seams on the fly body that were used to access the vents on the fly. The result is a 10 oz. reduction in weight and, after testing, it has virtually the same ventilation properties. I've got a small, 2-person REI tent that I've used for years, but it is snug with two adults inside with little extra room for gear. And, with the pie-shaped design, you end up playing footsie with your buddy--not something I enjoy doing. But, with the MSR Mutha Hubba's roomy rectangular design, you don't have to worry about having to snuggle with your stinky backpacking buddy. At just barely over 6 lbs. the MSR Mutha Hubba should definitely prove to be worth its extra weight (1-2 lbs over most 2-person tents) for the extra elbow room.
Features of the MSR Mutha Hubba
- Comfortable enough for three adults (40 sq. ft.)
- Enough vestibule space for gear storage (14 sq. ft.)
- Flexible design with three setup options: full tent, no fly and minimalist (ground cover, poles and fly)
- 46" interior height allows you to sit up comfortably with room to spare
- Rated at 3-person and 3-seasons
- 6 lbs. 2 oz. total weight
- MSRP: $399.95 and $49.95 for the ground cloth
I have had my eye on a tent recently -- the Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Tent. It's a gorgeous and functional tent, but what's even better is how it is such a lightweight tent. I grew up slogging around the Pacific Northwest in tents that were often less than ideal. I remember a rainy weekend trip to Lake Talapus in Washington State that resulted in a foot-deep river flowing through the middle of my tent...and my sleeping bag soaking it up like a sponge. It was in that moment that I realized two things: 1) Be careful where you place a tent, and 2) No matter where you place your tent, make sure it is a waterproof tent.I guess that's why I ponied up for a proper REI tent when my wife and I got married. Nothing says I love you like outdoor gear, am I right folks? Well, I have since eBay'ed that tent and have been hankering to get a new one. The Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Tent appears to be just the ticket. It appears to be the perfect 2-person tent for lightweight campers (read: those who don't like lugging heavy outdoor gear). Its marketing tagline says: "The Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Tent: Shattering the four-pound 2-person barrier." For those who've lugged what felt like a log cabin around on your pack, you know that this is a huge achievement. Here are some details (pics to come): The Helion 2 weighs 3 lbs. 5 oz, but they have a configuration of the tent called the "PitchLight" option that brings down the weight to a paltry 2 lbs. 11 oz. That is if you are using on the poles, fly, and footprint. That won't block the mosquitoes too well, but if you're just looking for a shade from the sun or a shield from the occasional rain shower during the summer it could be just the tent option for you. It is a freestanding tent, and YES it is guaranteed watertight construction with fully taped and welded body, corners, and guy-clip anchors. The3 poles are of a design that shaves weight off of normal tent poles without sacrificing strength, and there is plenty of mesh on the standard tent option. That means killer ventilation on the sunny days, but no mosquitoes. Because malaria isn't a picnic. It has a single door, which has me a little bummed. But extra zippers would mean extra weight and extra cost -- so I'm okay with that. There's a dry entry vestibule, with a welded vestibule zipper flap for increased water shedding. There are reflective guy-out loops to make it easier to set up in the dark (sweet) and an optional triangular gear loft that's sold separately. The canopy is made of Lightweight 40D ripstop nylon, and the floor is Superlight 40D ripstop nylon. MSRP comes in at almost $400 (ouch) but hey -- I spend that much on a night or two at the Marriott, so it's a real dealio given the better views you get from the tent! You can buy the Mountain Hardwear Helion 2 Tent at REI.com. Also, check out Overstock.com for more camping items on the cheap....Read more...
Happy new year, everyone! Yes, another episode of the GEAR.com show -- straight from my gear closet to yours! In this episode we'll take a look at the Black Diamond Avalung and how it works, and then a few important headlamp styles to consider. Enjoy, and please post any questions or comments. Click here to read a review about Black Diamond's packs that have an integrated Avalung. Cheers, Brig...Read more...
I have more water bottles than I really need, but frankly I'm always finding that I'm glad I have them around. Bottles are like headlamps -- you think you're buying them for all your outdoor escapades but really you end up using them more often in day-to-day life than you ever thought. Sigg's line of lightweight aluminum water bottles are definitely part of that field of outdoor gear -- overused and very appreciated. I first saw Sigg water bottles at ColeSport in Park City, in their bike department during the summer, and was taken by their cool designs. The one I'm showing here is actually one of the more bland ones -- still sexy, but understated. They have every print imaginable from stripes to spots to artistic renderings of animals. Really funky & stylish. But cooler than the designs printed on the outside is the industrial design of the thing itself. Extruded from a single piece of aluminum, Sigg water bottles are extremely durable but also very lightweight. They remind me of a canister of gas for your camp stove. And being aluminum, they keep your drink very cool -- which is why I purchased it in the first place. There's nothing like sipping cold water from an aluminum flask after hiking under Utah's mid-summer sun. A couple of things that are downfalls: 1) Aluminum is inherently hard, so if you fall on it then you'll get a bruise (duh), and 2) Aluminum doesn't flex, so you can't squeeze the bottle and squirt a stream of water like you can with a soft plastic bottle. All in all, however, it's definitely a piece of gear to add to the collection -- and you'll find you never leave it sitting in the gear closet for long without taking it on a backpacking trip through the Uintas, or just on a walk with the kid in the jogging stroller.
Buy Now: Search for Sigg bottles on GEAR.com.Overstock.com: Check out more outdoor gear... Read more...
It's rare that a product can live up to the hype but if you've not yet used a Jetboil then you're not paying attention to the right kind of hype. Stop watching American Idol, get a Jetboil and let me be the first to welcome you to camp cooking 2.0. But before I get into a love-fest with the Jetboil there are a few things that pose safety concerns and performance issues. The unique self containing design with the cooking cup on top that interfaces and locks with the stove below is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the increased time of reaching boiling status of your water and the streamline build. The curse is that due to the design most people will put the cup on the stove and then attempt to light it. This can cause a flash which besides being down right scary could burn things like eyebrows, eyelashes, hands, faces....you get the picture. Although the instructions do say in bold
"Ignite burner before attaching cooking cup"I like most other guys couldn't be bothered reading the instructions first. I had to learn the hard way. Secondly, since the cup and stove can be "locked" together by placing the cup on the stove and rotating it so that the bumps on the cup bottom interlock with the indents on the stove, the mistake of pouring water from the cup while leaving it on the stove (it's one unit, right?) will likely lead to flames on the neoprene cup sleeve and your hand. I'm not saying it's time to call Jackie Chiles just yet but these two safety considerations should be taken into consideration before you fire up a Jetboil.
What I like about the Jetboil Personal Cooking SystemWhen you do decide to fire up the Jetboil something magical happens...it works and works very well. I've used it in altitudes up to 12,000' without much trouble at all. Like any canister stove when the canister is cold the stove can sputter. I used the plastic cover to put the canister into and would pour a bit of hot water into the plastic cover (it's the "cup" looking thing that covers the bottom of the Cooking Cup while in storage) which can help to keep the canister from freezing. This seemed to help. If it's cold outside, remember to keep your cansiter warm by insulating it inside your pack or inside a jacket pocket while hiking. This is not unique to the Jetboil alone as most canister stoves can be iffy when the canister is cold. The speed at which the Jetboil can boil water is amazing - within 2 minutes in most scenarios I've had boiling water. In wintery situations, as my friends who I went to Rogers Pass with to backcountry ski can tell you, it may take a bit longer when boiling water in snowy and cold conditions but it's still amazing to pull it out of your pack, set up, boil water and have a hot cup of ramen noodles or hot cocoa in a few minutes. The storage of the Jetboil is also why it's immensely popular and why I choose it over my MSR Superfly. The fact that it isn't very heavy and is the relative size of a Nalgene is a serious plus for putting this in your pack. If you're looking to cook food rather than pre-prepared food that only needs water, you should consider the 1.5L Jetboil Cooking Pot.
- Lightweight - 14oz stove and cup weight
- Easy storage - 4" x 7" when stored in your pack
- Boils water super fast - times ranging from 90 seconds to 3 minutes
- Flash Alert! - don't put the cup on the stove before it is lit
- Remember to remove the cooking cup from the stove before pouring out water - or turn the stove off
- Sturdy construction - I've had my Jetboil for 2 years and used it over 40 times and it's still solid