12/20/16

Camp Maid Charcoal Chimney (First Impressions)

Recently I acquired this new folding Charcoal Chimney.  It is the first of its kind, its very surprising that no one has made a folding chimney before. It fits in a standard 12 inch dutch oven and is very compact in comparison to its counter parts. I am going to go over the features then the experience I’ve had so far.

_mg_6795

  • Rapidly heats charcoal for immediate outdoor cookingNo matter what kind of BBQ you use, charcoal takes too long to get hot. The Charcoal Chimney’s unique air funnel design sucks up air, which is equally effective in strong windy environments allowing you to heat charcoal anywhere outdoors. The airflow creates a quick surge of powerful hot flames contained safely in the device, allowing you to start cooking much quicker. 
  • PortableThe highly efficient design is a single lightweight piece that easily opens and snaps into place, and folds down to store inside your 12” Dutch oven. This is especially important for reducing the amount of gear you have to pack for outdoor cooking.
  • VersatileThe Charcoal Chimney can be used with any BBQ or grill, and it especially compliments the CampMaid Complete Outdoor Cooking System tools.
  • Heats 40 Charcoal BriquettesWhile the Charcoal Chimney is compact and portable, it still heats up to 40 charcoal briquettes.
  • Heat-safe HandleMany outdoor cooking products can be dangerous and cause burns so the heat-safe handle helps protect while being easy to hold, handle and manage – ultimately reducing the risk of injury around flames.
  • Cools down fastThe Charcoal Chimney cools down quickly after use allowing you to pack and store quickly

This was really easy to use. It is super portable and really well designed. I really liked the integration of the charcoal holder, this allowed it not to get any mess on the charcoal ash everywhere. Its really easy to unfold and use. This size is really great for cooking with one dutch oven, if your cooking with a few and you’re wanting to get lots of charcoals ready this might not be the best for you. But if you are looking for portability then this is a great choice.

This is being rolled out in a kickstarter campaign check it out at this link

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2081385079/campmaid-charcoal-chimney-quickest-way-to-get-bbq?ref=nav_search

Check out our Twitter Facebook Google Plus Pages

12/11/16

MSR WindPro II Remote Canister Stove

I Recently acquired the WindPro II. A long, long time ago I use to have the original WindPro and used it a lot. But more recently I have been using my MSR Pocket Rocket for backpacking trips and my main stove. I had been missing the wider stability and the more control this stove has.

MSR_WindProII_PR

  • Inverted Liquid-Feed: Increased cold-weather and low-fuel performance with more consistent output across all fuel levels.
  • Efficient: Remote burner allows the use of a windscreen for maximum efficiency.
  • Lightweight & Compact: Weighs just 6.6 oz.; fits in a one-liter pot.
  • Versatile: Supports pots up to 10″ in diameter; compatible with bake ovens.
  • Includes: Windscreen, heat reflector, canister stand, instructions, and stuff sack.

Taken from the MSR Website

“The WindPro II camp stove combines the stability and wind protection of a remote-burner design with the convenience of canister fuel. Unlike other canister stoves the WindPro II is capable of running on liquid-feed direct from the canister. This added versatility lets you run the stove in traditional upright mode for optimal efficiency and flame control or, with a simple twist, invert the canister on the included stand to deliver liquid gas directly to the burner. This advantage allows greatly improved cold-weather and low-fuel performance, and boosts stove output significantly anytime speed really counts.”

I took this on a couple recent trips including Zion and Bryce Canyon. This thing worked like a champ. I cooked some chicken breast on it with some white sauce and pasta, I also cooked eggs, sausage, and even boiled water on it. This thing is really versatile. I was able to use a medium frying pan on in with the pot stands easily, there was no way I could cook eggs on my Pocket Rocket but because i can turn down the heat I was able to cook with ease. This stove fits really easily in my GSI Bugaboo Messkit it would fit it anything similar easily.

Back when I had the original WindPro I would invert the canister in winter and other cold weather its so nice that they added the feature of the stand and swivel. I have yet to try it in cold weather yet but I know it will perform.

Pros

  • Wide Pot Stands Supports Pots up to 10″ in diameter and bake ovens
  • Remote Canister (allowing for the use of heat shield and wind screen)
  • Light Weight 6.6 oz
  • Liquid Feed Mode for cold weather and high altitude
  • Great Range of Flame Control (a nice simmer-a jet speed boil)
  •  Uses canister fuel so no priming required
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Not as compact as other Canister Stoves like the Pocket Rocket or Micro Rocket
  • Not the least expensive stove on the market ($99.95)
  • uses canister fuel (widely available in USA but if traveling outside not as much)

Overall I totally recommend this stove if you are looking for something to do some more gourmet cooking while backpacking or even camping, if you are looking to just boil water this stove isn’t for you I would recommend the Pocket Rocket, Micro Rocket, or the Wind Burner. If you are looking to travel out of the US I would recommend the Wisperlite Universal.

Retails for 99.95 and you can find it at most high quality sporting good stores.

12/29/15

Simblissity LevaGaiters Review

If you’ve been hiking you know the pain and suffering that can come from rocks, sand, and stickers getting into your trail shoes; blisters, chafing, and ruined socks are common maladies. However there are a great number of low-to gaiters known as scree gaiters that are designed to block all that stuff and more, keeping your precious feet intact.

 

There are a number of different companies that make high quality scree gaiters with similar functions but a wide variety in their designs. Most common features include an arch strap that wraps around the underside of your shoe and/or a need for a Velcro on the back of your heel to keep the gaiter down. The Simblissity LevaGaiters use neither and they work great on dirt trails and river crossings.

 

Likes:

No straps/Velcro/extra work:

LevaGaiters are slightly stretchy and constructed in a magical way that makes them lay perfectly on your shoes without any need for Velcro or straps. The only adjusting you need to do is the first time you use them with a pair of shoes you adjust the length of the lace-hook stay to get optimal tension. I used these in sand, mud, and in river crossings and they stayed put, not letting any but the most tenacious pebbles into my shoes.

If you are hiking in snow or otherwise decide you want the strap there are steel eyelets for you to run some cord under your foot or use the accessory made by Simblissity.

Water resistant:

When walking through wet grass or mud it’s pretty common to get wet socks and shoes, but these babies are unbelievably resistant, I’ve done river crossings where they came out of the water totally dry, all the water just beads off.

Lightweight:

For long distance hiking people are very worried about weight, especially on your feet since you will expend so much more energy swinging that weight each step. A pair of these weighs in at a scant  1.8 oz.

Colors:

Most gaiters are boring black, these come in several natural colors like forest green or desert tan. I like that since I’m trying to reduce the visual pollution I contribute to the landscapes I visit.

 

Dislikes:

No accessory cord:

While you can buy the cord separately from Simblissity or fashion your own I would really like to see such a low-cost item just come free with the gaiters. When using these to cross snowfields in the early spring they tend to ride up without the cord, letting in chilly snow to melt in your shoes.

 

Best uses:

Hiking, Backpacking, Thru-hiking.

Honestly, I don’t put on my hiking shoes without a pair of scree gaiters on anymore, and I am always reaching for my LevaGaiters. I don’t want to deal with attaching Velcro to my shoe or replacing straps or cords. These work all the time, look good, feel good, and do the job great. I’ve taken them on river crossings, snow fields, desert hikes, and scrambles and they work great for it all. I always have the cleanest socks in the group at the end of a dusty, dirty day.

 

Cost Analysis:

Worth it. I think all hikers need a pair of great scree gaiters and these are pretty cheap, about $30. The cheapest pairs out there are maybe 15, however they usually are not water resistant and/or require installation of Velcro patches on the outside of your shoes. For the best all-around gaiters I always recommend LevaGaiters.

12/25/15

Osprey Viva 50 L Womens Backpack

osprey viva

Written By Cinimin

INTRO

The Osprey Viva is a women’s lightweight backpacking pack that will store 50 liters for a comfortable overnight or week long trip. This pack allows for a wide range of adjustability

Dimensions: 33’’ x 13’’ x 11’’

Gear Capacity: 50 Liter

Weight: 3lbs 8oz

Fits Torso: 14-19 inches

Fits Waist/hips: 26-42 inches

Materials: Ripstop nylon, polyester, mesh

 

Notable Features:

  • Hipbelt Pockets
  • Adjustable Hipbelt and Hipbelt Padding
  • Adjustable Torso
  • Hydration Pocket
  • Ice Axe Loops
  • Side Compression Straps
  • Sleeping Bag Compartment
  • Sleeping Pad Straps
  • Trekking Pole Storage
  • Stretch Mesh front and Side Pockets
  • Top Pocket

 

Personal Experience

I recently took this pack on a forty mile trek through Paria Canyon outside of Kanab, UT. I’ve been traveling with a Camp Trails pack I took from my parent’s 90’s gear shed for the past ten years of my life and found this pack to be absolutely glorious! I didn’t know a pack could fit so comfortably. Although this pack is only a 50 liter, I felt that I was able to pack all that I wanted and the group weight was distributed evenly throughout my crew. Below is an image of all our packs lined up in a row, mine is the one furthest to the left and although it may not look it, it is the smallest pack by 15 liters.

osprey packs

Likes

I like the hydration sleeve that is found on the outside of the pack that allows for quick and easy access, and the separate compartment and gromit hole found in the bottom of the compartment keeps your gear dry if your hydration pack were to have a small leak or to sweat. I also appreciate how comfortable and easy this pack is to fit, with plenty of gear loops, pockets and compression straps.

 

Dislikes

The mesh is really nice to be able to access gear on the outside of your pack but with only one or two trips out of my pack, I can already see the wear that’s occurring. If you brushed against trees or rock the fabric would be trashed in one outing. I’d really prefer more durable side and front pockets, even if it means adding more weight. Along with more durable pockets, what I really wish this pack had was a detachable top pocket that you can wear as a fanny pack for day trips. If I were to purchase another backpack I would look for something a little larger with the top pocket feature, pockets that will withstand time, and one that comes with it’s own raincover. 

Overall this is great pack on their entry level equipment that they’ve been adding.

12/20/15

MSR Dragonfly Stove

The dragonfly is a top-shelf stove meant for some narrow applications that it does exceed at. I have owned my MSR Dragonfly for about 18 months now and I’ve used it on all kinds of trips: backpacking in the Wasatch, bike touring in northern Utah, canoeing the Green river, and car camping all over Utah and Colorado. I’m quite pleased with the stove but I have become aware of some serious shortcomings.

With a unique burner system and a highly variable burner control the MSR Dragonfly was designed and built for the backcountry gourmet. With a proper setup the stove can provide highly variable heat levels to allow simmering, boiling, and baking while using any of a wide variety of liquid fuels. The Dragonfly suffers from an inclination to burn food, higher weight, and a noise that sounds like a crop dusting plane flying over your campsite.

Dragonfly_stove

Features (from the MSR website)

  • Unrivaled Flame Control: We pioneered the dual-valve design of the Dragonfly stove, enabling it to deliver precision, simmer-to-boil control.
  • Extra Wide Pot Supports: Wide pot supports hold up to 10″ maximum diameter pots or fry pans for group cooking
  • Multi-Fuel: Burns white gas, kerosene, unleaded auto fuel, diesel, and jet fuel.
  • Compact: Folds to 1/3 of its working size and fits in a two-liter MSR pot for easy storage.
  • Efficient: Suspended burner cup enables the stove to burn hot and strong while reducing heat lost to the ground
  • Field Maintainable: Shaker Jet™ technology and smart engineering allow complete cleaning and maintenance in the field.
  • Includes: Fuel pump, windscreen, heat reflector, small-parts kit, instructions, and stuff sack. (Fuel bottle not included.)
  • Pack Weight: 1 lb 2 oz
  • Made In USA: Made in Cascade Designs Seattle Factories

Personal Experience

I took the dragonfly most recently on a four-day canoeing trip down the Labarynth Canyon section of the Green River. It was my first time on a multi-day river trip and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it. The Dragonfly performed admirably every morning to boil water in a flash and fry up hash browns and eggs. At camp each night the variable flame made simmering sauces and heating up meals simple. A few times we seriously burned food on despite frequent stirring and low heat. This was apparently from the stove’s tendency to focus heat on dime-sized points arranged in a circle around the burner cup [insert picture].

I am a confident backcountry chef with no qualms about bringing a bag of staples like flour, lentils, cheese, and spices to simply figure it out as I go. However, my cook group preferred the WhisperLite stove we had on hand for the reduced noise and better heat distribution. This was an option for them because their meals were simple enough to not require simmering, aka dirtbag meals.

At the end, no one but myself and the trip leader, an accomplished river runner, wanted to use the dragonfly. My conclusion is pretty simple: the dragonfly isn’t for everyone.

Likes

This stove gives control and pot stability unlike any other that we have tested. The flame can be adjusted from the size of a pilot light to a thundering fire that is hot enough to warp steel pans if left unattended. This wide range allows for a chef to make sauces that require simmering for a long time, as well as the ability to just boil water quickly for a quick breakfast. The boil times are a touch slower than the nearly ubiquitous Whisperlite by a matter of seconds. Best of all, when if paired with a heat diffuser the stove can do a marvelous job baking because pan rotation is so easy on such a stable platform.

The stove is also capable of burning just about any liquid fuel you’re likely to find in your travels: diesel fuel, jet fuel, kerosene, white gas, and good old unleaded gasoline. Very handy for disaster preparation as well as traveling in foreign countries.

Dislikes

Easily the worst part of this stove is the noise. It’s awful, it’s loud, it makes conversation hard even outside. If cooking under shelter you may need to use hand signals it gets so loud. The stove also concentrates its heat in a small circle and can easily burn food that is not stirred often. For a reference point: the heat is so focused on a small area that when we boiled a gallon of water the steel pan was permanently warped.

Another thing that’s really annoying is how short and stiff the fuel line is. The line is packed solid with some substance that presumably allows all those various fuels it can burn to pass through. The problem is that the fuel line is very stiff from that substance. This stiffness, combined with being so short, makes the fuel bottle tend to hug the burner in an annoying way.

Best Use

The Dragonfly is a touch heavier, 4 oz, than a Whisperlite so backpackers may want to think about how much flame control they need on a trip before taking it on any multi-day routes. Also consider that you may want to bring a heat diffuser so the weight grows further. The stove is absolutely suited for places where weight is a lesser concern: river trips, bike touring, horse-packing, base camps, and big groups.

Cost analysis

As of this writing the Dragonfly runs about $130. That is nearly double the cost of a basic backpacking stove. The benefits gained, heat control, are worth the cost for some few people. Most consumers, however, would be better served by a basic stove.

Purchase the stove here at Backcounty, Campsaver REI 

 

12/17/15

Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW

Photo Sport Pro 30L AW

“Lightweight technical photo backpack for the active adventure photographer.” The Photo Sport Pro 30L AW is a sturdy backpack with lots of bells and whistles for the avid outdoor photographer. It’s a lightweight pack with an internal frame with dedicated space  for a pro photo kit and your hiking essentials. As someone who has taken hikes with her small Camelback hiking pack, this changed things for me. It has the ability to easily carry a tripod, a camera with multiple lenses and perhaps even a flash, trekking poles, a hydration bladder and some hiking gear, like a first aid kit, a jacket, food, a GPS, or whatever you want to put in the 15-ish liter top compartment. It also is versatile – the camera compartment is removable so it can be used as a day pack. The bag has all the adjustments and design features you expect in a technical pack and provides the kind of adjustability and comfort expected in a minimalist pack.

Without the camera compartment it could certainly have the capacity to carry enough for an ultralight backpacker for a shorter trip, and you may be able to get away with using with the camera as well provided you can convince your buddy to help carry some stuff. I have gotten away with backpacking with my husband and I was wearing the Deuter Kid comfort 2 with the baby and all her essentials.

Karisa with the photosport 30l, ready for adventuring.

Karisa with the photosport 30l, ready for adventuring.

Features (From the Lowepro Website)

The Photo Sport Pro 30L AW takes inspiration from the original award winning Photo Sport AW series. It’s lightweight, offers quick access to a pro-sized kit, and features a breathable and supportive air-flow suspension system.

  • Lightweight, technical photo pack for active outdoor photographers provides a minimalist and technical carrying option for outdoor and action photographers who carry pro-sized gear
  • Breathable, trampoline-style, air-flow suspension system with breathable mesh offers a comfortable carry of a heavy load
  • Removable, Ultra-Cinch Camera Chamber provides secure protection while in motion; remove to turn bag into a traditional daypack
  • Fast-access side pocket allows you to quickly grab camera without removing the pack
  • Multiple storage compartments offer a variety of places to stash camera accessories and personal gear
  • Lightweight, resilient and high-performance tech fabrics constructed of 210D triple-ripstop nylon with PU coating for improved durability
  • Toploading design provides quick and convenient access to personal gear
  • Zippered lid pocket offers handy storage for sunglasses, lip balm and other small personal items
  • Patented, built-in All Weather AW Cover™ protects gear from rain, dust, snow and sand
  • Hydration-ready pocket offers easy-access to a 2 liter hydration reservoir (not included)
  • Trekking pole (or ice axe) attachments points provide an easy and secure system for expanding carrying capacity
  • Adjustable shoulder straps offer a custom fit that accommodates 16 to 19 in. (40 to 48 cm) torso lengths, measured from the C4 vertebrae to the top of the iliac crest

Personal Experience

I have taken this on a few extended day hikes and have had good experiences. This pack is comfortable with a breathable mesh back that allows air to circulate between you and the pack. With many larger packs the mesh is pretty ineffective, however with this pack’s small size the added feature really does help reduce back sweat. The camera compartment is also accessible enough to be practice for a photographer who is whipping out their equipment every few hundred yards. Your camera is accessible through a side access compartment, making it easy to swing the pack around on one shoulder to get at it would the need to take the whole thing off. There are straps at the bottom of the pack that work well for holding a tripod and or any other items you prefer to keep outside the pack, up to and including a sleeping bag. I have used them for both.

My current favorite camera lens is my 70-200 2.8 and the compartment on this pack is just big enough to squeeze the camera with the lens attached. After that, there’s a small space left for a smaller lens (for me, perhaps a 50mm), and another piece of equipment such as a small lens, flash, or battery pack. After that, space is filled up I have trouble finding an adequate spot for my other camera essentials – batteries, etc all need to either be squeezed in with the camera or in the brain or main compartment. I recommend putting your memory cards in a card wallet and putting that in one of the belt pockets. Because of limited camera space, you may find yourself cutting back quite a bit on what equipment you bring. If you go the packing-it-in route I would recommend wrapping your gear in something soft, and there are products out there designed to do just that. Basically, gearheads, don’t be expecting for it to carry all your gear. The max I’ve put in is 2 lenses, I wouldn’t generally recommend going more than that depending on what else you’re bringing. This pack is designed for the essentials for lightweight excursions.

The side opening allows for really convenient access.

The side opening allows for really convenient access.

This bag handles the longer 70-200 lens, which is a great benefit for the avid nature and wildlife photographer.

This bag handles the longer 70-200 lens, which is a great benefit for the avid nature and wildlife photographer.

This bag has come in handy during my non outdoor travel as well. I just recently took this bag on a plane with my one year old in tow. It was the perfect thing to use as a carry-on, holding all or my necessities, including my macbook, (and camera- I’m much more comfortable keeping my equipment on me than on a carry-on. Good thing I did that, my checked bag was lost for a day and I was scared my hard drive was lost forever) and is ideal carry on size. I have used it in other situations as a travel bag and it fit the need very well. It is a great overnight bag for the travel and photography enthusiast.

 

Likes

I am cursed with a short torso, and as such fitting technical packs can be a challenge for me. I was really pleased to see that this pack fits my own back comfortably. As I have previously mentioned, this pack is comfortable. I feel that this is especially important considering that with this pack you may be carrying a big, bulky camera with a long, heavy lens. It is solid enough to handle your gear while still keeping it as light as it can.

Despite how small and lightweight the bag is I have found it quite roomy. Below is a picture of all the things I (easily) stuffed into the top-loading main compartment, including: a shelter, sleeping pad, jacket, and a stove and fuel bottle. There was enough leftover space in the pack for a compact sleeping bag, a mess kit, and enough food for a day. And, since the cushioned camera compartment is removable, you would definitely have plenty of room for an awesome overnighter.

There are some handy components for hiking on this pack. There are Trekking pole loops and space for a bladder. The front pocket is large and handy as well as the two waist strap pockets that have plenty of room for wallet and phone (or memory cards as I have already mentioned). The straps on the bottom are able to carry a sleeping bag, tent, or, in my case, a small tripod.

Switch out the tripod for a sleeping bag, add in a mess kit and some food, and you are good to go!

Switch out the tripod for a sleeping bag, add in a mess kit and some food, and you are good to go on that overnighter!

 

Dislikes

There’s a lot of benefit that comes with a pack that can do two things at once. The problem here is: it’s not the very best at either thing. There are not good spaces to hold smaller (necessary) camera gear – like additional small pockets especially for memory cards or extra batteries. I have taken to putting those things in the top “brain” pocket of the pack. There they are less likely to get bumped but still doesn’t offer any padding or organization help. The section which is intended for the hydration bladder is not ideal as well though functions just fine. I am at least somewhat nervous of a bladder leak on to my camera equipment, but the hydration pack lives in a separate pocket. Where the bladder is inserted – they could have added an extra wall of fabric and a mesh pocket, like they do with some similar bags of theirs, but they didn’t. Instead, that pocket could be used for a laptop or tablet instead of a bladder.

Best Use

The Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW is a well-sized, comfortable travel pack for your short excursions. I would take this most places I wanted to carry my pro gear for a while out and about. Given the design it is probably not ideal for secure world traveling in the cities. I might check out PacSafe’s camera bag designs if you are interested in something a little more theft secure but built well for world/urban travel.

Cost Analysis

For the price of this bag ($199 MSRP) you can get a technical pack without the camera features. This bag is not the ideal backpacking pack for most due to is padding-light, minimalist design and mostly small volume, but it does function quite well if you do it right. Lowepro’s larger, more rugged Rover Pro 45L AW does offer a bit more on the technical, overnighter pack front but for more than 50% more money ($329 MSRP). I believe the value of the Photo Sport Pro 30L AW is comparable considering it has what we outdoor enthusiast photographers need as far as protection for our gear, with the additional space, weight, and ruggedness of an outdoor pack.

12/7/15

Sealskinz Knee Length Sock Review

Summary:

Like many backpackers, I had always knew of Sealskinz but never really knew about them. All I knew was: waterproof socks. I heard some mediocre reviews of how they kept feet dry during events like adventure races; More often I heard terrible reviews along the lines of “expensive, baggy garbage sacks for your feet.”

I am here to tell you the truth, and the truth is that the bad reviews are all dead wrong.

Those people describing bad and mediocre products are probably referring to early generations of the product or cheap knock offs. These socks would probably been worth their weight in gold on expeditions 80 years ago. The new stuff is of the highest caliber: nylon outer, merino wool inner lining, and a waterproof, breathable membrane in the middle that stretches with the sock. You read that correctly: the Sealskinz socks stretch and fit as well as a good merino hiking sock.

I had the chance to test some knee-high Sealskinz socks out while hiking the Paria river, a 38-mile, 5-day trip with about 100 river crossings. I can say with the utmost confidence that they are indeed waterproof, breathable and absolutely amazing.

 

Likes:

Waterproof. That’s the most amazing thing I can say about a knee-high sock in a calf-high river of snowmelt. The waterproofness in a river-crossing means no soggy feet, no chafing, no sand in my toes, and no cold current whisking away the warmth in my second favorite extremities. It also means that in between those desert river crossings my cold, wet shoes feel like a million-dollar A/C unit for my normally sweaty feet.

It’s hard to overstate how amazingly comfortable it is to have dry feet during river crossings; you have to try it to believe it. Even during the times the water was well above my knees and the tops of the socks the snug elastic tops kept most of the water out.

Warm. In a pretty thin sock the waterproof layer provides a great deal of comfortable warmth without being sweaty (at least while wet). On the second morning my group hiked up the famous Buckskin Gulch slot canyon where we were going upstream in 33-degree waterflow up to our calfs. After 4 minutes everyone in the group turned back because they were so cold while I was able to explore further up one of the most iconic locations in the southwest.

I wouldn’t recommend the model I was wearing for situations where you would expect sweaty feet. They do breathe, more on that below, but if the exterior isn’t wet the insides of the socks can get pretty toasty in a desert climate.

Fast Drying. Despite submerging the socks completely on thigh-high river crossings I was always  able to dry them out overnight. Even soaking the inside and outside I could simply turn the sock inside out, squeeze the water out, hang it up and have a dry (interior) sock by morning.

 

Dislikes:

Breathable:” This is a minor gripe given the nature of all waterproof products but it should be mentioned. When you put the sock on it puffs out like the garbage sacks the naysayers say it is. However, give it a few seconds and the air escapes and the sock fits like any other.

Waterproof: The problems with waterproof stuff is that it works both ways. I would often have what felt like a gallon of water sloshing around in my sock. In reality it was always more like a few tablespoons since the elastic tops kept most of it out.

Expensive: The model I used, the knee-high, runs for about $58. Even considering how nice they are that is a hard investment to make for a backpacker.

Best Use:

Sealskinz makes socks in all the different heights and weights from no-show up to knee-high with all different levels of insulation, so there are a wide variety of uses. I’ve leard of runners using the no-shows to keep their feet dry when running in wet grass or muddy trails and I’ve seen other hikers in Utah use the crew socks as a warm sock with wetness-insurance when snowshoeing. The best uses are limited to your imagination.

For my specific model, the knee-high, I would recommend them for cases where either a lot of water will be around, as with the trip I took, or where you can’t afford to be wet, as with skiing. Really, they’re like any other nice merino sock but with a waterproof layer.

Cost analysis:

Sealskinz are completely worth it to keep your feet intact. As a long-distance backpacker, I can’t over-protect my feet from injury or blisters and a pair of waterproof socks is a great tool to do that. I think if you’re considering buying them you should go for it – you won’t regret it.

12/6/15

Patagonia Prow Jacket

 


This is not your typical down jacket; the Patagonia Prow has spunk. The Prow is stylish, but this chic number hasn’t compromised style for warmth. With V-shaped stitching, insulated with 600-fill down it will keep you warm over the next winter seasons. This jacket has a metal side zipper with a full 4’’ of overlay to make it look even when opened.

Cinimin wearing the Patagonia Prowler

Cinimin wearing the Patagonia Prowler


When fully zipped and buttoned up this jacket has a great thick two-button neck that will sure keep you cozy. This is an awesome article of clothing that has the quality of Patagonia gear. When making a purchase I try to buy sustainably so owning something made by Patagonia is a no brainer. I appreciate the quality and effort that Patagonia has, ethically harvesting their down and reducing the use of natural resources (REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!). If this is also a personal priority of yours, this may be the jacket for you!

Features

  • Shell: 100% nylon plain weave shell with a Deluge® DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • Insulation: 600-fill-power premium European ethically harvested goose down
  • Motorcycle-style jacket with chevron quilt lines and asymmetrical zipper
  • Versatile, tall, snapped collar stands up or lies flat
  • Zippered side pockets
  • Hip length
  • 371 g (13.1 oz)
  • Made in China
  • Comes in colors:  Black, Raw Linen, Teal, Fatigue Green, and Dark Currant
  • Offered in sleeveless vest version.

I was immediately drawn to this unique jacket at the Patagonia outlet and have loved wearing it in this chilly fall weather. I have hardly taken it off and love cruising along the streets and backwoods in it. It’s been to Moab, Capitol Reef, and plenty of times up Provo canyon on outdoor excursions. I can speak first hand that the DWR on this jacket works; I was caught in the snow for an hour and stayed perfectly dry and the jacket looked great except a small seepage appearing at a seam. Although I’ve taken this jacket on a few trips to the backcountry (and it’s fared wonderfully!) I feel more likely to flash this beaute on the back of a motorcycle or around the city. I love this jacket because it’s warm, stylish and has the high quality of Patagonia gear.

There are a few features that I think I need to mention. This jacket is lacking a hood so I would recommend bringing along a nice warm hat on any outing. The sleeves are missing elastic at the wrists which you may or may not have a preference for; personally I don’t mind it at all, but you do have a higher potential for heat loss this way. Although it’s lacking this trait, I found that the arms are a comfortable length keeping heat in and it’s great for slipping on a pair of mittens underneath.

28421_BLK28421_DKCT_OPEN

Pros: Cozy hand warmer pockets. I’m so used to the slick insides of my previous down jackets that finding the soft pocket of the Prow was an extreme delight! Stylish, warm, comfortable and durable! Made with ethically harvested down and a layer of DWR to keep you dry in light rain or snow.

Cons: No hood. This can be seen as a pro or a con, I suppose it’s just preference or whether you’re looking to add a wool hat or depend solely on your puffy. No elastic around the wrists or waist. Purchase this jacket right from Patagonia, Rockcreek, Backcountry, REI

Overall, I love this jacket; it’s great! I don’t know if this is the article of clothing that I want to take into the backcountry but I love using it for cruising around town.

12/4/15

Camelbak Forge Premium Travel Mug 16 OZ

A few months ago I got this cool new mug from Camelbak. I had been looking for a nice insulated travel mug to bring with me to school or work. This thing did just the trick. In this post I’ll go over the features of the mug and my experience with it.

Here is a quick video from Camelbak that goes over the Forge.

Features

  • One-handed self-sealing lever
  • Leak-proof closur
  • Lock-open button for frequent sipping
  • Arms flip up for easy cleaning
  • Vacuum insulation stays hot 4+ hours
  • Impact cap
  • CamelBak® Got Your Bak™ Guarantee: If we built it, we’ll Bak it™ with our lifetime guarantee.

Camelbak_Forge-1

I have been using this mug for a couple months now and I really like it. There are a few main features, which has made this my favorite mug, the one-handed self-sealing lever, easy to clean, the auto lock feature, and the vacuum insulation.

The one-handed self-sealing lever is one of these mugs greatest features. It just allows the mug to be carried with such ease. I can just carry the mug in one finger or have it hanging by a carabineer or something attached to your back. You don’t have to worry about it leaking either; it has a really nice leak proof seal.

The mug is super easy to clean. When you take the top off and press the button the arm flips up and you can easily access every thing you want to clean. You can also just throw the lid in the dishwasher. It’s recommended that you hand wash the main part.

I don’t know about you, but I am a clumsy person always knocking my stuff all over the place so having an auto-locking lid is really nice to stop spills. If you want to vent your beverage it has a lock open feature too.

The Vacuum insulation is really nice. Camelbak says it will keep your beverages hot for up to four hours. I usually have my first mug of coffee or tea gone within an hour but with the travel time to school or work it has always been kept really hot and while drinking it has stayed hot.

Overall I would really recommend this mug to anyone that is looking for a new travel mug, it’s a great color the green one, keeps your beverages really hot, and its just easy to take care off.

Purchase at REI, Backcountry, or Campsaver  (Least Expensive at the time this was written)

12/28/14

Patagoina Ultralight Down Hoody First Impressions

I have been wanting to test out a down jacket for a while now, and got this awesome one from Patagonia. Here is a video on my experience with the jacket.

<

There are three main things I really like about this jacket, the weight/size , comfortably, and the DWR coating. I’ll go over these after I go over all the features.

Features

  • The toughest, lightest-weight shell fabric patagonia has ever used for down garments; with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
  • 800-fill-power premium European goose down for low-bulk warmth
  • Variegated channel construction stabilizes insulation and allows the use of less down, creating an elegant, low-profile garment
  • Low-profile adjustable hood seals in warmth
  • Two zippered handwarmer pockets; one zippered chest pocket
  • Drawcord hem seals out cold and spindrift; self-fabric stuffsack
  • Insulated with Traceable Down (non-live-plucked, non-force-fed)
  • Shell and lining: 0.8-oz 10-denier 100% nylon ripstop, with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Insulation: 800-fill-power premium European goose down
  • 263 g (9.3 oz)

Lets talk about the weight first. This jacket is CRAZY LIGHTWEIGHT. It comes in at 9.3 oz. They accomplish this a couple of ways, with the super light weight shell and fabric liner, the high quality 800 fill down, and the channel design allows for less use of down but doesn’t sacrifice warmth.  The design of the jacket allows it to be compressed and packed in to a super small space.

This jacket is one of the most comfortable jackets I have worn.  Because it is crazy lightweight you don’t even remember you are wearing anything.  It breathes really easy.  It is also super soft too. I have been wearing like almost full time since i got it. I wear all around town and in the field.

The DWR coating on this jacket is great. Last week I was geocaching in light rain and wind, this jacket preformed super great.  The down didn’t get wet and I was warm. I was hiking around in the wind a light breeze the other day also and it blocked it. Paired with a shell like the Patagonia Piolet this will block out all the wind and snow you want.

I will test this jacket after more use and do a more in-depth review after a while.

Purchase this jacket right from Patagonia