My brother and his guys at The Outdoorsmans here in Phoenix have been at it again. They already make the best tripods and heads for high end optics but they just couldn’t leave well enough alone. The Micro Pan Head is smaller and significantly lighter than other models. Look for a full product announcement later on their site.
I spent much of my Presidents Day holiday on the trail. The 75 degree blue sky weather was beautiful and the people were few. Those that I did see gave me a lot to comment on had I the opportunity to engage with them like I did when I wore the uniform. I keep my mouth shut out there now most of the time now but I thought that I would do a quick Hiking 101 (Arizona version) for my readers.
It is pretty basic and common sense, I know, but I have learned over the years that common sense is anything but common so here you go.
WATER UP – Water, water, water is what I preach to my players and considering our low humidity environment it is good advice. When you work hard in our dry heat you lose a lot of water just by huffing and puffing and sweat that quickly evaporates so you don’t notice it. Dehydration sneaks up on you. I start and end every day with a tall glass of water and try to get through at least a gallon in between whether I am going out or not. That way my I keep my internal tank topped off.
I did a little over nine miles yesterday with some pretty substantial ups and downs. My little Black Diamond day pack contained a 100 ounce Camelbak and a 16 ounce Super Man bottle. When I got back to the truck 4-5 hours later the bottle was empty and the bladder had about 10 ounces left in it. I was ready to sit down and take a break but I didn’t have a headache, I wasn’t tripping over everything and I was chit chatting with other people in the parking lot. Those are all good signs.
PROPER FOOTWARE AND CLOTHING – I left the truck wearing
- a light colored boonie hat
- Tommy Bahamas sunglasses
- a loose fitting long sleeve Under Armour shirt
- Under Armour boxer briefs
- Under Armour nylon athletic shorts
- Danner ankle socks
- Montail Hard Rock trail running shoes
- a little sunscreen on my neck
- a whistle on a neck lanyard
- a Road ID on my wrist
That’s it. I was comfortable and protected from getting too much sun.
You would be amazed at what I see out there. Everything from right out of church over dressed to damn near naked.
HIKING POLE – Never leave the truck without one. It is a third leg that gives me a little extra push on the ups and catches me when I slip or take a bad step on the way down. It also is a snake remover, dog poop flinger, back scratcher, place to hang my hat when I take a break, good place to store a few feet of Gorilla Tape, self defense tool, signaling device (with a bandana or some reflective tape), make shift crutch or splint, etc, etc.
Here are some other things I have learned from a lot of time hiking on Arizona trails…
Leave your dog at home. If you have an overwhelming compulsion to take you dog out in public and mingle with other dog owners find a dog park.
Pay constant attention to where you are putting your feet while you are moving. If you are going to look at the scenery, and I absolutely think you should, don’t do it while you are moving. Stop and look around or you are gonna take a fall or roll an ankle. It only takes one misstep.
Arizona trails are almost always super rocky, from little round marbles to salt block sized ankle breakers our trails consist of mile after mile of rocks. So, make sure you put your feet on the solid stuff while you are going down hill or that forward foot is gonna come out from under you. Go from one mostly buried rock to another and stay off the marbles and you will be fine.
Remember that most skiing accidents happen on the last run of the day and most mountaineering accidents happen post summit on the descent so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that most hiking injuries happen on the way back or during the last half of the outing.
Earbuds and headphones. I love music too but I can’t hear the runner or mountain biker coming up fast on my left while I am wearing headphones or earbuds. I also can’t hear that Rattlesnake that is on the edge of the trail. Unplug.
I am guilty of daydreaming if I don’t work hard to pay close attention out there but daydreaming on the trail can get you hurt. Not a big deal usually if you are close to the car but if you are way back it can be a problem, especially if you are alone. Stay sharp.
WHAT TO CARRY – In a small day pack I carry
- electrolyte replacement fluid
- truck key
- bandana x2
- mini sharpie marker
- lip balm
- snack (mixed salted nuts in a small zip lock bag)
- bic lighter
- SPOT (second gen)
- 3 inch Ace bandage
- 6 4x4s
- Bloodstopper bandage
- triangular bandage
- Benadryl tablet x2
- tube of glucose gel
That is more than most people need to carry but the first time I don’t carry that stuff is when I will run into a bad mountain biker or horseback rider wreck. I will always stop to help so I want to be at least somewhat effective.
So get out there and do some hiking. It is good for you.
I have never heard of these guys before but I certainly know their work. Impressive. Very cool.
Check them out in this Vimeo video. If it ain’t the real deal it sure looks like it but in this day and age that is still better than 99% of the phony poser crap out there.
Over the years I have been doing this I have established some relationships with people buried deep within the best companies in this industry. These are not PR or marketing people, these are guys that are responsible for new product design, development, testing, and improvement. Pretty down to earth folks with a fire in the belly for making great gear not because it makes sense from a business point of view but because they are hardcore outdoorsmen and dyed-in-the-wool (sorry for the pun) gear heads. They are pedigreed technical experts with decades of factory to field to whiteboard experience and when they speak I listen, closely.
The Nano-Air Jacket and Vest line from Patagonia uses a new synthetic insulation they call “Fullrange” and I am hearing it described with terms like “revolutionary” and “game changer” from these normally hyperbole averse gear gurus. The idea is to provide an insulation piece that you can put on and leave on regardless of physical exertion level. Meaning, no more or significantly less fine tunning that requires constant donning/doffing or adjusting of layers to regulate heat generation/perspiration when you are working hard so that you stay dry and comfortable. Breathability, which is not something we usually consider at all when we are talking about middle insulating layers, is the key. Here is a Youtube video on it and what they say about it on their website.
“An insulation breakthrough: the Nano-Air™ Jacket featuring FullRange™ Insulation is warm, stretchy and so breathable, you can wear it for the entirety of any highly aerobic start-stop mission in the mountains.
Leave the tent, flick on the headlamp, swing the tools, tag the summit and return—for every moment of an alpine mission, the Nano-Air™ delivers a breakthrough in active insulation. Put it on and leave it on through high-output, stop-and-go alpine missions—its exclusive, stretchy and highly breathable fabric package integrates the qualities of fleece, soft shell and puffy by combining a plain-weave liner, warm-when-wet FullRange™ insulation, and a lightweight-yet-durable, weather-shedding shell with DWR (durable water repellent) finish. The jacket’s incredibly soft, supple feel and full mechanical stretch allows for a close, athletic fit over baselayers and an uninhibited range of motion. At brew stops or in frigid conditions, pull on a lightweight shell and the Nano-Air’s thermal properties skyrocket. The left-chest pocket and two above-harness handwarmer pockets all close with trim, low-bulk zippers. The center-front zipper has a storm flap and zipper garage, while stretch binding at the cuffs and a dual-adjustable drawcord hem seal in warmth.
- Light-yet-durable 100% nylon ripstop shell and plain-weave liner offer generous mechanical stretch and exceptional breathability, with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
- Revolutionary 60-g FullRange™ Insulation warms and stretches; combined with the shell and liner, this creates a jacket with generous mechanical stretch and unprecedented air permeability (40CFM)
- Iconic Nano Puff® brick quilting in the side panels, articulated patterning and other quilting details improve shape and durability
- Center-front zipper has wicking interior storm flap and zipper garage at chin for next-to-skin comfort
- Two handwarmer pockets and a left chest pocket are zippered, welted and low-bulk to wear comfortably with a harness or pack
- Stretch binding at the cuffs and a dual-adjustable drawcord hem seal in warmth
Shell: 1.3-oz 20-denier 100% nylon ripstop. Lining: 2-oz 50-denier 100% nylon plain weave. Both shell and lining with
- mechanical stretch and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Insulation: 60-g FullRange™ 100% polyester stretch insulation
- 354 g (12.5 oz)”
I have just received a Nano-Air Jacket (in feather grey) to use in my own field trials and I will let you know what I think when it is time. First impressions – Very light and I was concerned that it was going to be too trim based on the description but while an XL is cut close it is not too close or restrictive.
By the way, the Fullrange insulation Patgonia is using in the Neo-Air series is actually a Toray product called 3DeFX which you may remember from earlier posts is what Kuiu puts in its new Kenai Jacket. Interesting, huh?
Foghorn Leghorn strikes again! Vice President Biden, who is just a heartbeat away from being the most powerful man in the world, while making a public speech today in Iowa calls out to the crowd for an “old butt buddy” named Neil Smith.
You must be very proud Mr. Smith. I am serious. I am not making this up and this is not a joke. Here is the story in the Weekly Standard and the video on YouTube as proof. And what is with the hand gestures?
I am speechless. I just wish he was.
From the Washington Free Beacon, this is the kind of thing that really pisses me off and it should have the same effect on you. How do these people get away with this kind of thing?
I wish I was King for a day. I would fix a few things.
Kuiu released a new Youtube video yesterday in which founder Jason Hairston talks about some additions to their 2015 product line.
SCARPA GRAND DRU GTX BOOTS – We knew something was going on when the FOOTWEAR tab was removed from their website. It is back now. The Zamberlan Pamir is out and an exclusive deal with Scarpa North America to distribute up to 600 pair of these new (a non-insulated version of the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX in a different color) boots is in. Apparently the Zamberlans were just too stiff to be used anywhere but the most extreme terrain which is pretty much what I have been saying since they were introduced.
I am a Scarpa fan so this is good news to me but these still look like big, heavy, very stiff boots so I don’t know how much more versatile or appealing they will be. We will see how big this niche is. The other issue that concerns me is that there was no mention of wide or narrow versions Like Lowa offers in many of their high end boots. Scarpa only makes a few models that come in widths and I am doubting that a limited run of 600 boots will be one of them but we will have to wait and see.
Jason says in the video that their internal testing of this boot produced positive results which I am sure is true but as I have said many times before, pro staff gear reviews are highly biased and often dubious. They can’t be relied on because they lack independence and perspective. In house testers have a vested interest in favoring the gear being tested. Case in point, Kuiu testers said wonderful things about the Zamberlan boots to promote pre-orders but less than a year and a half later they have shit canned them for something new that is supposed to be better. Hopefully we will see some independent opinions on these soon.
ULTRA MERINO SOCKS – So they have done a deal with the New Zealand Sock Company to produce a new wool sock. OK. How are these going to be different or better than the myriad of other high performance socks on the market? Don’t know yet. They do say Kuiu on them so at least the brand wagoners will be happy.
KENAI JACKET – Sounded a little bit to me from the video like they want to move away from their Super Down (treated goose down) products towards a new synthetic insulation due to noise and breathability issues.
This Kenai Jacket is insulated with a continuous fiber product (ala Climasheild, Lamilite, Polarguard, etc) called 3DeFX from their go to source, Toray. However, I don’t understand why the breathability of insulation layer jackets is such a big deal in this situation. I mean, are these guys wearing them while they are generating a bunch of heat huffing and puffing their way up a mountain? Why don’t they just strip down to their base and keep the puffy in their pack until they stop? As for noise, I don’t care about the noise my middle and base layers make, it is the outer shells that are the problem and how much difference will the type of insulation the jackets are filled with make anyway. Not much I suspect.
The most interesting thing about the Kenai to me is that it is an insulation layer jacket with pitzips which is something longtime readers know I like. The Moonstone Cirrus Ultralight and Marmot TR6 Jackets, which both had pitzips, are old favorites of mine but that was mainly because as a SAR Tech-EMT I was often hanging on a rope on the side of a cliff for long periods of time so I had to stay with what I was wearing when I went over. Pitzips on my insulation layer combined with pitzips on my shell layer allowed me to dump heat and ventilate without actually taking anything off when I got too warm.
BTW, Jason says in the video that Patagonia is also using this Toray 3DeFX insulation. After searching the Patagonia website, speaking with their customer service reps and asking my industry contacts I can find no evidence of that.
Anyway, Kuiu continues to expand and in the process make things happen. I have to give them credit for that.
UPDATE – It took a while and some digging but I have been able to confirm that Patagonia is indeed using Toray 3DeFX synthetic insulation in one of their new pieces, the Nano-Air Jacket. Patagonia calls the insulation “Fullrange” not 3DeFX but they have good things to say about it which carries some weight with me.
I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of “highly breathable” and “insulation” working in the same garment since those two things usually work at cross purposes but it has been done in the past with Windstopper (WL Gore) fleece. Problem with those pieces was while they were very effective and extremely durable they were comparatively heavy.
In any event, I need to try this for myself. If it will in fact allow me to do less donning/doffing of layers in order to properly regulate temperature (heat generation/perspiration control) relative to exertion level and its insulative qualities are not significantly compromised by the wind then we may have something useful that is worth considering. Stay tuned.
I have run a number of outer shell jacket and pant comparisons over the years but the last one was incomplete because it didn’t include an entry from Kuiu. The reason wasn’t because Kuiu didn’t make a jacket I liked or wanted to include, it was because what they were offering wasn’t sized so that I could use it properly. In fact, at the time I made quite a fuss about the fact that I was an XL with some companies, an XXL with others but I have never had to even consider going to XXXL to accommodate base and insulation layers like I was going to have to do with previous Kuiu jackets. I thought that was ridiculous and still do and I wasn’t alone. However, indicative of good management they listened and adjusted. That is about all we can ask.
The result is that I can now add the latest Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket to my stable of test pieces. Kuiu has made some pretty big claims about this one in terms of waterproofness and breathability so I am anxious to see how it performs in the field.
A couple of things I like already about it is that the exterior has a nice feel to it although it isn’t as quiet as I expected it to be. The Toray NX fabric stretches four ways and it does so with less effort than any other I have used. Remember though, as I have said in the past, stretch is nice but it can unnecessarily constrict insulative loft and it is no substitute for good fit but that isn’t a problem with this jacket. I also appreciate the fact that Kuiu offers this product in a stealthy solid color, in this case something they call Major Brown.
Lastly, with a customer direct price of $265, what in the segment does the new Chugach legitimately compare to? The Sitka Gear Dewpoint Jacket at $399 whether you buy it direct from them or one of their big box retail partners and the First Lite Boundary Stormtight Jacket for $275 to $300.
Thanks again to Kuiu for making the effort to change their sizing regime. We are not all built like tight ends or outside linebackers. Some of us are linemen but that doesn’t mean that we are any less passionate, capable or deserving of great gear. It’s nice to have Kuiu back in the mix.
Oh by the way, just so you know, I paid full retail for this jacket. Called them up during regular business hours and ordered it just like anybody else would.
UPDATE – I still have some sizing issues with this jacket, I think it is too trim through the hips, sleeves and cuffs. I like the heavier/larger toothed main zipper. It has kept the rain out and been free of leaks so far.
It also breathes very well, maybe better than any other shell layer I have. To that end, what I find most interesting about this jacket is that when you hold it up, looking at the interior lining with a room light behind it you can see very small bits of white shine through the fabric. Again, very small pinpoints of light shine through. Of all the different kinds of waterproof breathable jackets I have and regardless of who made the laminate, none of them is like this or even close. Even the older versions of the Kuiu Chugach Jackets which also use a Toray laminate don’t let specs of light through. Does that mean the fabric is thinner or the microscopic pores are bigger, both or something else? I don’t know. And what effect will this have on its performance over the short, mid and long term? Again, I don’t know yet.
long time readers know that raw notes from the field entries are just that, a brain dump of observations and thoughts from an outing sans regard for spelling, grammar, or layou.
i like my f-150 super crew. it has done a great job for me knock on wood but i have a couple friends that have the raptor. it is indeed a very capable truck but the wider track seems to me like it would be problematic especially on narrow jeep trails and sloppy two trackers. It also has a lot, too much going on in the cockpit. maybe i can find a stripped down government model that never made it to where it was intended to go.
kuiu chugach nx rain jacket did a nice job keeping me dry and warm but the xxl still seems a little too trim especially in the arms, wrists and hips. skinny jeans, shrunken suit influence of the fashion world. can’t seem to get the cuffs dialed in so i don’t have to adjust them over and over again. irritating. the mini toggles on the hood cinch adjustments are too small, hard to use while wearing even light gloves. i ike the larger toothed main zipper but it should be a double version so you can zip from the bottom up too. this jacket does breathe very well though. might be best suited for fast and light summit assaults.
the umbrella is still the gold standard for high exertion breathability in shell layers. you look like mary frickin poppins on the trail but it works like a champ.
delorme inreach explore continues to perform as advertised. super easy to text when paired with my iphone but hate to have to carry both devices all the time. wouldn’t it be great if the inreach accepted voice input for texting in addition to the internal hunt and peck keyboard. an easier nit pic to fix, would be nice to have a satellite reception page like the original garmin units had so you know how good your signal is. btw, make sure your family lists your inreach number as a contact so they recognize who you are when you text them. this thing still is not loud enough.
i wonder if it is possible to text the guys at geos from the inreach.
new product – what we really need is a base/insulation hydrid piece that has pores that open and close mechanically to adjust for activity level. closed when you are still and trying to retain heat and open when you are working hard and want to dump heat. all in one light weight pullover garment. darpa?
hanwag mountain light gtx are simply the best wet weather boots i own. great gription.
Sitka gear dewpoint jacket, not as breathable as the chugach but a much better cut and while similar win eight it feels more durable.
arborwear canopy pants are wonderful and shed light rain better than my older ascender models but they desperately need a cellphone pocket on the thigh. a watch pocket for my zippo would be nice too guys. btw, still hoping for ascender bibs, please!
under armour ls crew neck tactical t is the best light/thin base layer i have used. super comfortable, great cut, very good wicking. wonderful.
love my diamond back truckbed cover. full use of the bed but lockable and reasonably secure. should have got the heavy duty version though.
pelican #1660 cases still the best truck boxes going.
being on the side of a mountain beats the 16th hole any day, wouldn’t you agree?
“bad weather” makes the fair weather outdoorsmen stay home. god bless bad weather.
I upgraded my Cox Cable account recently so I could watch Steven Rinella’s show, MeatEater, on The Sportsmans Channel. You will remember that my brother and I hunted Coues Deer with Steve and his crew in Southeast Arizona a few years ago. Good guy and he puts out a bunch of stuff on Twitter so I figured I would check it out.
I haven’t seen MeatEater yet because it airs on Thursday nights but one of the other channels I got in this sports package is Outside Television. I didn’t know Outside Magazine had a TV side but I like it. Mountaineering, Americas Cup racing, climbing, snow skiing, adventure travel, surfing, and all kinds of other cool stuff. No surprise I guess, I like the magazine too.
Check it out.
UPDATE – I finally watched an episode of MeatEater and enjoyed it. A session with Steven in the kitchen reminded me of being in the classroom with rope rescue guru Reed Thorne in Sedona. He doesn’t just tell you what to do but why to do it and then gives you some history behind the technique. Good stuff. I will be a regular watcher.
I have received quite a few comments asking why I don’t post more often and the answer is simple. At least in terms of gear, I don’t see much out there worth talking about.
I have spent a very long time searching for what I think is the best and with a few exceptions I am using it. Anything I look at now would replace something already in my system so it has to be pretty good to even get my attention. Two current examples. The First Lite Boundary Stormtight Jacket and the Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket. Both are very nice but are they good enough to displace the Arcteryx and Sitka Gear shell layer jackets that now hang on the rack of greatness? I don’t know yet, takes me a while to test and make up my mind.
The outdoor equipment industry has been influenced a little too much by Wall Street and Madison Avenue over the past ten years I think. Like the fickle chic driven fashion industry, twice a year, the gaggle of outdoor gear folks comes out with something supposedly new and different. The next big thing. A new “fad” like waterproof down a couple years ago or now breathable insulation. There is an entire multi-faceted mechanism (echo chamber) built specifically to gin up buzz which creates a sense of urgency that in turn generates a surge of new sales revenue. Voila, goals met, champagne for the suits!
Most of these companies are more concerned about the number of units sold not necessarily producing great gear and I understand that. I am well aware that money is what makes the world go ’round but I don’t have to feed the beast and buy into it the hype. I choose to stay above the fray, keep a close eye on things, sort through the BS and let you know when I come across something worthy of consideration.
Since it hit the market I have told you that I am on the fence as far as treated or water resistant down goes and until the issue is settled that will remain the case. My advice, when choosing between down and synthetic insulation layers, is simple. If the temperature warrants (stays below freezing) and you are certain that you can keep it dry then use down otherwise go with a good synthetic. My favorite synthetics are Primaloft, Climashield and Lamilite. Much of my favorite goose down comes from Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends although I have pieces from Patagonia, The North Face and Canada Goose that are outstanding too. Regardless of which insulation you pick make sure you use it in a system that includes proper base and shell layers.
Kuiu recently put out a Youtube video “to try to make it clear which product (Super Down or the new Kenai synthetic) is the best choice for each different situation”. In the video, Kuiu founder Jason hairston, says that he uses the Super Down jacket when: he is really worried about weight, he is tight on space and needs the compressibility of down like on a backpack hunt, it probably isn’t as cold when he is hiking or climbing, he doesn’t need to be in insulation and when breathability is not an issue because the Super Down jacket is coated which makes it less breathable. He says that because the Super Down jacket is coated it is less breathable therefore warmer.
He refers to the 3DeFX in the Kenai as active insulation and chooses it when it is cold but he is going to be climbing and needs the maximum breathability of an uncoated fabric. He adds that it is not going to be as warm as down but it is something you can wear when you are climbing. He concludes by saying that he hopes this helps. I am not sure that it does.
I have not had an issue with the breathability of my insulation pieces primarily because I am not wearing them when breathability is an important issue. I also don’t want to be wearing anything puffy when I am wearing a pack because the weight compresses it down to nothing which renders the part that covers my back useless. Also, this whole discussion seems to ignore the use and purpose of the shell layer.
I guess this all boils down to one question. Do you trust your treated down? If the answer is no, please refer back to my advice in the first paragraph. It has proven to be sound for a very long time.
Calling his wife in the middle of a firefight. One of many scenes in American Sniper that weren’t in the book and didn’t happen in real life. And the big good guy gets the bad guy final combat climax where he drills Mustafa with a headshot from 2100 yards during a sandstorm? Nope, that didn’t happen either.
I was really looking forward to seeing American Sniper but I walked out of the theater disappointed and irritated. I knew who Chris Kyle was. I read his book and had heard many of the stories, both good and bad, about him. I was hoping that this movie would reconcile it all into one person I could hang my hat on.
Chris Kyle along with everybody else that straps on a helmet and goes is a hero in my book. Period. Full stop. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to rubberstamp his movie and I am not going to. My problem started within the first few minutes when his character puts a hole the size of a tennis ball through the chest of a 10 y/o boy carrying an anti-tank grenade. Yea, I know, shitty situation and the worst possible decision for a moral man in his position to make but the mission was to protect the Marines on the ground by eliminating legitimate threats. You don’t always get to choose in what form threats come, you just deal with them. That’s war.
What disturbed me was that this scene was in the movie at all. Why? It was the most controversial part of the movie and the most commonly run scene in the previews/trailers. They new it would create a sensational uproar. The problem is it wasn’t in the book, it didn’t really happen, the movie makers made it up. That knocked me off the bandwagon and from that point on all I did was nit pick it apart.
Look, if you are making a Harry Potter or Lord of the Ring film and want to stray from the book with some literary license be my guest but this was supposed to be the Chris Kyle US Navy SEAL biopic. A story good enough in absolutely every single respect that it didn’t need to be changed at all let alone embellished with pure fantasy. It just needed to be told well and Director Clint Eastwood should have known that. And here is the part that really chaps my ass and makes me wonder. Kyle agreed to it. He signed off on the screenplay shortly before his death.
Now before you go lumping me in with Jesse Ventura know that this thing is breaking all kinds of box office records so don’t worry. My little review here isn’t going to cost anybody any money. I am just saying that it would have been just as popular, just as profitable without the Hollywood bullshit and it would have saved some of us from having to argue with the likes of Michael Moore.
So see it if you want to but, with all due respect to the man and the things he really did do, I can’t recommend it. Watch Zero Dark Thirty and Act of Valor again instead.
UPDATE – Check out this article on the legal mess surrounding profits from the book and movie. Yikes.
A friend of mine invited me to go on a ride with him recently and we spent the day working our way up and down the Verde River. My parents ran a small training stable for many years and we showed on the local circuits. I was riding a horse long before I ever got on a bicycle and I miss being around them everyday. There’s just something special about these big animals. They demand respect and are a lot of work but you get back much more than you put in. Truth is, nothing puts things into proper perspective like cleaning stalls and a good brushing makes you both feel good.
I have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating. Make sure when you are sorting your gear for a trail ride or pack trip that you keep the most important gear on your person. That way if you are suddenly separated from your mount you still have what you need. Most people put their possibles in saddlebags or a Cantle pack but those will stay with the saddle which is going to stay on the animal when you come off and who knows how long it take you to you get ‘em back.
I just wear my Wilderness Emergency Kit (WEK) around my waist.
Thanks Jeff. I enjoyed it and look forward to next time.
I have been a longtime Petzl product user and fan. I have depended on their helmets, harnesses and headlamps for 20+ years. I have purchased pretty much all of their headlamp models as they have introduced them and then each of the subsequent upgrades to those models.
Up until now I have been using the Tikka XP2 which was the best yet but there is a new Tikka and they just call it the XP. The form factor is more austere than previous iterations. There are no flip down or sliding lenses, there is only one button that controls three built in LED lights (two white, one red) arranged neatly on a rather benign looking flat face. This new Tikka XP is lighter and thinner. The headband is a touch wider and seems to rest more comfortably on my forehead although most of the time I wear it fully extended hanging around my neck.
You can see from the information printed on the packaging what the official stats are. 120 lumens on high with a momentary boost to 160 is pretty good for something this small. Bottom line to the user is that the beam is better in all modes and it is significantly brighter while at the same yielding more efficient, uniformed performance from the batteries thanks to some microchip wizardry.
My opinion is that the new Tikka XP is an improvement over its predecessor which was outstanding. The best aspect as far as I am concerned is that the aural rings cast by the beams have been eliminated. Those were not a deal killer for me but they were mildly irritating and I am glad they are gone.
However, I have noticed a couple of nit pick items worth mentioning. The light housing seems less robust than I am used to from Petzl. I know they are trying to shave weight but I hope they have not gone to far to the wispy side of the spectrum. Also, the tension or resistance in the head pivot hinge thing, I don’t know the technical name for it, is too light. If I step down hard ie trip or jerk my head down abruptly the angle changes and the focal point of the beam slips down below where I had it set. Minor but not the level of quality I expected.
BTW, the circuitry is IP X4 water resistant and NiMH or Lithium batteries are approved for use. Oh, one more thing. You might actually give the instructions a quick once over to help with the button/mode sequence.
To keep you out of hot water with your significant other, tell her that this does not go against your annual gear acquisition budget as a new purchase. It is just a technical upgrade of safety equipment you already had. And let me know how that goes.
For many, many years I have been driven to find the best gear I could get my hands on. Regardless of cost or origin I simply want the best. Why? The reasons have varied over time but the desire, necessity, obsession or whatever you want to call it has always been there. The resulting benefit of having the very best gear is that it gives me an edge. I can go farther for longer with a higher degree of safety.
The unintended consequence is that I end up with a lot of gear. Too much in fact so I have worked hard recently to pare down. I want a system which consists of clothing and equipment that allows me to do all the things I like to do but doesn’t require three days of packing and a U-Haul truck to get it all there. This effort has resulted in what I like to call “The Rack of Greatness” or just “The Rack”. Whether it is sledding with the kids, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, hunting, mountaineering, backpacking, fastpacking, etc, etc, anywhere in any conditions what I wear comes off of this rack. It has taken a little while but I think I got it dialed in just right.
Here is the clothing and boot part of my starting line up.
The clothing and boots go on the rack and the equipment is stored in the big Pelican truck boxes. This is all I need to do all of the things I like to do out there. It is easy to manage and ready to go. All I have to do is choose the appropriate color.
THE RACK – 01/04/15
1) Hardcore Outdoor baseball cap – blaze orange, olive, green, tan, camouflage
2) Boonie hat – white, grey, tan, olive green, black
3) Goose down beanie from Blackrock Gear – black
4) Outdoor Research Windstopper balaclava – black
or Under Armour Infrared balaclava – grey
5) Julbo Bivouac sunglasses
or goggle alternative (looking for a photosensitive model)
6) Sitka Gear Shooters gloves – brown
*considering a switch to Mechanix brand version
7) Hanz liner Nomex gloves – tan, olive green, black
8) Arcteryx Alpha SV mitts – black (add Blackrock Gear down mitten liners)
9) Arcteryx Alpha SV gloves – black
10) Danner Flashpoint OTC Merino wool socks
11) Smartwool Light Walking crew Merino wool socks
12) Lowa Ranger GTX boots for light to medium duty and general purpose
13) Hanwag Mountain Light boots for medium to heavy duty or general purpose and wet weather conditions
14) Lowa Silberhorn GTX boots for alpine conditions
BASE/WICKING LAYER – RED TAG
15) Under Armour 6 inch Boxer Briefs – black
16) Sitka Gear Traverse Bottom long johns – grey
17) Under Armour LS crew Tactical Tech T – sand, Marine green, army brown, black
18) Patagonia All Weather mesh back zip T-neck for high exertion activity – grey, black
19) Patagonia Capilene 3 midweight LS crew shirt – grey, black
MIDDLE/INSULATION LAYER – YELLOW TAG
20) Arborwear Ascender pants – charcoal, olive green with suspenders
21) Bates Uniform Rappel belt – olive green, black
22) Arcteryx Gamma SK pants – black
23) Sitka Gear Timberline pants – camouflage
24) Sitka Gear Traverse T half zip pullover – grey, camouflage (expedition weight base)
or REI Active Stretch half zip pullover (expedition weight base) – olive, black
*this item is no longer made by REI but it is an excellent example of a base/insulation hybrid that works when a base is not enough and an insulation piece is too much. I am looking for a replacement.
25) Sitka Gear Kelvin Lite jacket with Primaloft – grey (summer only)
26) Patagonia Das Parka jacket with Primaloft – black
27) Sitka Gear Kelvin Down Hoody jacket with premium goose down – grey
28) Sitka Gear Kelvin pants with Primaloft – grey
OUTTER/PROTECTIVE SHELL LAYER – GREEN TAG
29) Sitka Gear Dewpoint jacket with Gore Tex – grey
30) Sitka Gear Dewpoint pants with Gore Tex – black
*considering Kuiu Chugach NX Rain Jacket and Pants, Major Brown, as replacements
31) Arcteryx Beta AR jacket with Gore Tex Pro – orange
32) Arcteryx Theta AR jacket with Gore Tex Pro – black
33) Arcteryx LEAF Alpha bibs with Gore Tex Pro – black, Crocodile
34) Sitka Gear Stormfront jacket (2012 model) with Gore Tex – camouflage
35) Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters with Gore Tex – black, tan
This is the current list. I am always looking for the latest, greatest but proven pieces so keep an eye on this because it will change. Additions, deletions, and or replacements will be made as warranted. Also, Stay tuned for a breakdown of what is in those Pelican #1660 cases.
COMMENT RESPONSE – My readers are pretty sharp. You are correct, there are two different Pelican boxes in the picture. The top one is a #1620 which is smaller and what I use to ship (Southwest Airlines) my pack in for air trekking trips. The bottom one is of course the larger #1660 which is what I use for truck boxes.
Also, yes, the Lowa Ranger and Hanwag Mountain light have some overlap in terms of capability and appropriate use but the truth is I love them both so much that I can’t choose one over the other.
We started a little excerise in my house a couple weeks ago and the point was to teach our three (16, 18, and 21) kids a lesson. It’s not punitive, they didn’t do anything wrong to deserve it. I am just trying to do my job as a parent, citizen and a man. The fact is, I am very fortunate in that my kids are pretty squared away. Their heads are screwed on tightly but they have a pretty good thing going and I just want them to know what is what. Where the bear shits in the woods so to speak. Savvy?
Here’s what we do. I taped a simple “T” diagram on a white board in the kitchen and put it nex to the refrigerator. Every time my wife or I spend money, regardless of the amount, we post it in one Colum. Every dollar that comes in gets posted in the other.
The other thing we do now is levy a 25% tax on every dollar they make from baby sitting, odd jobs, gift money, etc. That gets posted too.
It is an amazing process that I encourage everyone to try if you have the stones. It certainly has lead to some interesting conversations. We have discussed these things many times throughout their upbringing but they were more conceptual lectures where I talk and they pretend to listen. Now there is a real life effect and it definitely elicits a response.
The biggest complaint I have is the amount of fees I pay to government/quasi-government agencies. It is ridiculous. Their biggest gripe, of course, is the money they don’t have to spend now because of the tax and how painful it is for them to disclose, truthfully, their actual earnings.
The most glaring change recently is the reduction in money spent on gasoline.
Did I tell you that Vortex Optics has a new set of high power 20 power binoculars?
It’s been a good year if you like high power binoculars. These new 20×56 HD Kaibab binos are about the same size as the 15s Vortex also offers. More power is good in a quality set of optics and of course they work great with the Outdoorsmans Tripod Adapter so you can get the most out of them.
Are you a Coues Deer, sheep hunter or a LEO with a big piece of ground to keep an eye on but don’t want to spend $5000 on a giant set of Kowas? Then these are a much more reasonable alternative that gets you most of the way there and you don’t need a Sherpa to haul them around. Check ‘em out. Great glass, great service, great warranty equals great value.
If you want me to believe that Toray and Kuiu have bested the biggest players in the outdoor equipment business by developing a solution to the one weakness goose down has then I am going to need more than this.
OK, I am getting a lot of questions about treated down in general but specifically the new Kuiu sleeping bags and the coated goose down (Toray calls it Quixdown, Kuiu calls it Super Down) they have chosen to stuff them with.
Here is what I know. Kuiu has bought into the Toray (a Japanese company) program lock stock and barrel. They use Toray products for their waterproof breathable laminates, DWR coatings, goose down insulation source and tent fabrics. Seems the only thing that doesn’t come from Toray on a Kuiu piece of gear these days is the zipper. Those come from YKK.
Toray is a name that has been knocking around the outdoor industry for years but never really made it into prime time with a game changer. You will be hard pressed to find more than one or two companies that use them and they are not big names in the US market. I have an old Lowe Alpine shell layer jacket with Toray Entrant, Bergans of Norway uses Toray Dermizax now on some of their jackets and I remember that TAD Gear used Toray for a couple of seasons before switching to eVent.
Look, the Toray stuff might be the greatest thing since sliced bread but the problem is that it is not commonly used and there are very few independent reviews of its performance in the field. Making matters worse neither Kuiu founder Jason Hairston or his media guy will respond to my inquires so I can’t get any real details beyond the typical marketing hype and based on my experience in this business that just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Normally people at the highest levels in companies like Marmot, Patagonia, Arcteryx, Wild Things, Sitka Gear, Western Mountaineering, Valandre, The North Face, Feathered Friends, etc, etc, etc are always more than happy to talk about their new products and eager to make samples available to legitimate requests. Even up and comers like First Lite are not afraid to belly up to the bar and compete side by side on a level playing field. They welcome it because that is how this process works but here the only reports we have on these new Toray applications are anecdotal fan forum posts or from Kuiu Guides and Outfitters via Hairston who supposedly say it is wonderful. Well, sorry, I don’t accept that from anybody else and I am not about to start doing it now for Kuiu. I have a lot of questions.
The footer on many of my posts talks about sorting through the fads and fashion of the outdoor equipment industry…as far as I am concerned waterproof goose down (that is how they refer to it) is just that until proven otherwise which I sincerely hope is soon. If you, dear reader, are asking for my recommendation here it is. Sit tight and wait for some good independent reporting and field trials before you bet your life on the next big thing because I have been around long enough to know that many times it isn’t.
I have had complimentary things to say about Kuiu products in the past and would love to do so again in the future but I won’t recommend to you what I have not proven to myself. Bandwagons are cool but they just aren’t my thing.
UPDATE – Hey thanks for all the positive comments on this issue, I appreciate the support. I didn’t mean to make a big issue out of this but I have gotten so many questions about it I felt obligated to respond. Apparently that frustration came through in the piece.
One of you pointed out that I am the biggest independent reviewer on the web in the hunting gear space so I am the obvious guy to do the field trials. I don’t know or really care if that is true but the commenter said when you Google hunting gear review or hunting gear recommendation my website is always at the top of the first page. You should know that we spend zero time and even fewer dollars on SEO efforts so those results, if accurate, have to be based on what is contained in over 700 posts. I suspect that we are at the top of those searches because that is what this site is about. My media consulting buddies call that content authenticity and like experience, you either have it or you don’t, you can’t buy it.
The point of this piece was that if you are going to ask highly discerning consumers to spend $700 with a new company to pre-order a brand new product from a brand new product line featuring a brand new technology from a less than well known foreign chemical company then there are going to be some questions. I don’t have answers to those questions.
Elegantly simple. Universally useful. I give you the humble bandana.
I have mentioned the bandana many times here as part of a gear list and featured a specialized version (the McNett CamoVat) but never given the basic model the respect it deserves with a dedicated post of its own. My bad.
I suggest that you carry at least two made of 100% cotton that gets softer and better with age. Here are some of the uses I am aware of;
water bottle filter
sun protection for your head
hot pot holder
flying insect swisher
make shift strainer