Multi day trips to the backcountry require a good pack. One that handles the weight with a level of comfort that doesn't fatigue the user and offers protection to his/her belongings from the elements. Within that general need lies an entire focus of some major outdoor companies product lines and in some more boutique firms their entire offering.
As a wilderness counselor, I gravitated toward the bombproof construction and end user focus of pack designer Dana Gleason. When I came aboard, the veteran counselors and leaders all had Dana Design Astraplane or Terraplane models for hiking and Bomb or Humbug Spires for climbing. It was the pack of what I deemed the "professional." Eventually, I purchased through a "pro deal" a Terraplane LTW and found out first hand why they dropped the money when we had free Lowe Alpine and Mountainsmith bags available. Cavernous, user friendly features and enough 500 and 1000 denier to survive a nuclear blast, it was amazing. Dana's load bearing hip belt and yoke held unwieldy amounts of weight and they just plain looked cool.
As life progressed, there was a period of time where I found myself in need of money and not doing any hiking. As a result, I listed my Salsa colored LTW on eBay and in the years following I didn't notice it's absence. Fast forward a decade, my better half found me obsessing about Dana Gleason's new company Mystery Ranch. Gleason began Mystery Ranch and adopted a "made in the USA" model (after selling off Dana Design some years prior) with the end user focus being military, wilderness firefighter and hunters. A demographic that previously was not acknowledged in his designs. This was precipitated by some Navy Special Warfare guys who approached him with needs for the mountains of Afghanistan. The company's bags and supporting accessories are well received within the communities they were meant to serve. Based on my past success with their products, I found myself the owner of a new Terraplane in mid-2014.
Details: At 7lbs, 7oz this 85 liter bag is built from 500 denier cordura. It offers an adjustable yoke to match the hikers height and a padded waist belt with lumbar support along the pelvis. It has a generous removable lid with two large pockets that can second as a "fanny style" pack and a double draw string to seal up the top loading portion of the pack. A zipper for quick access is half way down on one side and compression straps across both sections criss cross both sides directly over two ample pockets for water bottles (holds a large Nalgene). Two tubular pockets run on the backside length of the pack offering quick access to additional layers on a hike or stove/fuel to separate from the rest of your load.
My Experience: Despite my great experience with Gleason's designs in the past and my loyalty to his products, I am not happy with the bag's performance. I was careful to ensure it is appropriately adjusted for my frame/height and the belt is the correct size, yet with a 60lbs load the bag is reduced to a $485 book bag. The belt slides down my hips causing my shoulders to take on the burden. This bag is touted to be for loads of 80-100lbs. I called Mystery Ranch and shared photos of me carrying the load, the bag, etc. The company's customer service team was excellent and talked through everything to conclude that it was "just a lot of weight." Honestly, I am not sure how you build an 85 liter pack and then tell the user that 60lbs is too much weight. 60lbs is at the high end of the recommended weight for other 60-70 liter packs on the market. This pack adds 15+ liters of space, but you are supposed to carry 10-20lbs less than someone with a smaller pack?
Since that call I have used the bag again on a shorter backpacking trip with a bit less weight. The problems still existed and frustrated me to no end. Add in the fact that Melanie has the Osprey Aura 65 and it rides like a feather while I am constantly being reminded of the load on my back, and you have an unhappy hiker.
With modern suspension systems offered from Osprey and lighter, less over engineered materials being used by the majority of other manufacturers, I am hard pressed to recommend this pack to anyone. The price makes it an even more compelling argument. I still have the bag and I'm not sure what I'm going to do at this point. I know it's a bombproof pack, but for the price and the reputation, I also expected it to ride at least somewhat comfortably. I know I should move on but my loyalty to the brand and the design has me saying "just one more time." I guess we will see...Stay safe.
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The leaves are beginning to fall, football is in full swing and it's time to take full advantage of this amazing weather before it's too late. Just like other seasons, gear ebbs and flows with the requirements of the season. Fall outdoor activities such as car-camping, backpacking, tail-gating or just sitting around with your friends dreaming of your next adventure require the right gear to enhance your overall fall experience.
Stanley has offered up three new products sure to amaze you and your friends during your next outdoor get together.
ADVENTURE VACUUM CROCK 3Qt
CLASSIC VACUUM GROWLER 64oz
I don't know how much cooler it can get. This is the ultimate. Have a favorite craft brew that you would love to take along on your next trip but they don't sell it packaged and a glass growler and camping just doesn't seem smart? Never fear my friends Stanley to the rescue once again. You remember Dad or Grandpa's green Stanley work mug from years gone by don't you? Well this is now your beer Growler made of the same great materials to keep your beer cold for... wait for it... wait for it... 24 hours!
Think of the possibilities!
ADVENTURE STACKING STEEL TUMBLER 4-PACK 12oz
Okay so no you are around the campfire with your three best buds your about to show off the new Stanley Growler full of cold Octoberfest or maybe your an IPA'er... wait! What are you going to pour that awesome brew into? A solo cup? Really?
Stanley offers up these perfectly sized 12 oz stacking stainless steel tumblers for your drink of choice. In addition to these cups being strong and durable they are each surrounded by coozie sleeves that are multi-colored so you never mix up your drink.
Stanley has thought of it all for the perfect fall weekend with your friends. Now get on out there and enjoy!
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As a 5'1" female, I have trouble finding pants that fit in general. Many companies have gotten better about offering short or petite sizes, but when you are dealing with niche items like trail pants, it's a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack. So when I saw the Prana Halle pants at REI last year in short lengths, I was pretty pumped.
Prior to that moment, I would wear yoga or workout pants while hiking in cooler weather. While they are super comfortable and easy to wear, they lack things like pockets, wind and water repellency (is that a word? it is now), and protection from thorny brush. Over the years, I had tried a few variations of trail pants, Columbia and Royal Robbins come to mind, but none ever truly felt good to wear.
I've had the Prana Halle pants now for over a year, I actually have two pair. So far, I have been super happy with them. They fit my short legs better than any other pants I've tried. They are slightly stretchy, but not in a clingy way. They are truly comfortable, and they are the pants I reach for when I am traveling as they look nice and feel better than anything else I own. They have button pockets on the back, which are flattering and accentuate your booty in a good way. The material is water repellent and doesn't get caught on brush. They have lots of pockets. They also have tabs so that you can roll them up and wear them as capris, which is great in hotter weather or when hiking in wet conditions. They are flattering and are as at home on the trail as they are running errands around town. I actually get more use out of them as regular pants than trail pants. I have worn them to work many times and always received compliments on them. They wash and dry perfectly and seem impervious to wrinkles. For someone who has a strong aversion to ironing, that quality alone makes them worth their weight in gold. These seem to have a slightly generous fit, I am 5'1" and 125lbs and wear a size 2, but a 0 would have probably worked better for me due to the stretch of these pants.
There are really only two things I would change to make these go from almost perfect to perfect.
I recently found out that they have a lined version of these pants for cold weather. I look forward to checking them out and can almost guarantee they will become a part of my wardrobe very soon. I hope Prana keeps making these pants for a long time, because my search is over and I won't even look at other pants anymore.
If any men out there have tried the men's version, we would love to hear your opinion!
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Grace wanted to be a part of the final test of the Tribe Provisions Adventure Hammock because I have been using this awesome hammock every week for the past many weeks at her soccer practice. (see pics below)
It's amazing how much nicer soccer practice is when you have two nice sturdy trees and a great hammock to hang in.
So lets throw a few things out there. I am a firm believer in quality gear, but also don't believe you need spend and arm and a leg for it.
Tribe Provisions doing both of these thing quite well. This is a quality hammock and it won't break the bank. For some, hammocking is somewhat of a new concept and idea. People are just more familiar with sleeping on the ground, I guess. Silly people! Hammocks are for everybody!
Hanging this hammock cant' be simpler and it comes with the ropes necessary for hanging it. Listen up folks, a hammock and straps (which you normally have to buy separately) can run you near $80-$100. No wonder hammocking is off limits or not in the cards for some. This hammock for $29.99 comes with everything you need to either just hang out at the park and read a book, lay and take a nap while car camping or start to seriously consider hammock camping/backpacking.
Prior to purchasing some gear we all have tribulations about pulling the trigger. We wonder, am I really going to use this? Is it worth the money? Will it last?
If you have never hung out in a hammock, my friends you don't know what you are missing. For those of you that have, I am sorry you spent so much money on your hammock. For what you spent on your hammock you could have bought everyone in your family a Tribe Provisions Adventure Hammock.
Hammock Specs: (from Tribe Provisions)
Keep Hiking & Hammocking Forward!
Can you believe it's already the middle of July already? Oye! Not worry there is still plenty of time to get out enjoy the great outdoors, take a road trip with the family or enjoy a picnic or better yet go camping. Stanley has once again come out with some amazing, durable and functional products to help you enjoy the rest of your summer, no matter what you plan on doing.
Two recent additions to the Stanley line of quality products are:
The Stanley Adventure Cooler 16 QT
Stanley Adventure Camp Cookset
Both of these fine Stanley products can be purchased via REI. May sure to become a member if your not already one and start adding or building your annual dividend today.
Got dirty water? Not for long! Hiking Forward is pleased to offer up the following Potable Aqua Water Purification Pack giveaway. And in addition we are giving away a RockyS2V Survival Grenade.
Rocky® S2V Survival Grenade is not a grenade, but an essential item for survival situations. It contains survival tools to use in the wild or in emergencies.
Features include 10 feet of military-grade 550 paracord, as well as fire starter and tinder. While some necessities can be located in nature or cobbled together from found items, Rocky provides you with tools that are really hard to improvise.
These items have many uses beyond the obvious, and there are essential steps you should take to enhance your chances of survival in a wilderness situation. Rocky wants you to have all this information, so Rocky has included Mountain Shepherd survival tips. Read the tips, carry your Survival Grenade, and be prepared
The total pack retails for over $70.00.
The pack includes:
(2) Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets (total of 60 tablets)
(1) Potable Aqua Germicidal Tablets with PA+Plus (50 tablets Germicidal and 50 Neutralizing Tablets)
(1) Potable Aqua Germicidal Tables (50 tablets)
(1) RockyS2V Survival Grenade
Lucky winner will also get Hiking Forward Stickers!
Contest ends on July 26th, 2015
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This lightweight pack is full of surprises. Designed to handle the toughest of day hikes, it weighs in at just under two pounds (by my scale) and well worth the inexpensive price tag.
This is one of those products that I love to review and showcase here at Hiking Forward. This pack proves you don't need to spend a small fortune to be in the wilderness and enjoy nature. This pack is full of value and features. Side zipper pockets offer a location for your favorite water bottles or gear if you choose to use a bladder in the self contained inner bladder compartment.
The packs top flap is full of other zipper compartments to organize your most important gear so that it is easy to find when you need it. There is nothing worse then having all of those critical items intermixed in this compartment. When you need your knife, first aid kit or headlamp you want to be able to lay your hands on it and quickly. This pack offers that organization that you need and desire.
The lightweight waist and shoulder straps are non-nonsense and offer a mesh backing to lessen the nasty effects of a wet back on your hike. At this price point most packs wouldn't even offer any protection from this most uncomfortable situation.
The two features that I enjoy the most about this pack are the vertical zippers that open up for two large pockets that offer storage for large items you need quickly or don't want intermingled with your softer more delicate gear that will live in the main compartment of the pack. I used these pockets for a flashlight, trowel and food during a few test hikes. The other item I love about this pack is the center pack reinforced handle. It's the first thing I noticed on the pack when it arrived. Call me silly but the more ways I can grab the pack the better. The handle turns the pack in an instant from a backpack that normally you have to grab by the straps to a duffle. I now feel like the handle makes this bag into two bags and widens its potential uses.
Hate spending a lot on gear?
In need of a pack for day hike?
Looking for a versatile pack for everyday use?
You won't be sorry with this great lightweight pack from Outdoor Products.
For more information about this pack visit:
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Father's Day is just a few short weeks away! Don't Panic! Here at Hiking Forward we have your back to ensure that dear ole Dad is happy and you are a star!
The best thing to do is assess what kind of Dad you have? Is Dad more of a weekend warrior? A ultra light weight gear head or just happy mowing the grass and then taking a snooze in the lounge chair? No matter the type of Dad or Husband you are buying for we here at Hiking Forward think we have some awesome ideas for all types of Dad's!
All of the products below have all been tested and used by Hiking Forward.
As a Dad myself of two young girls (Grace 9 - but soon to be 10 and Gabby 7) I have thought about the moments I have recently most enjoyed with my girls over the past year. Many people always think of things... tangible items in exchange for moments, experiences and or quality in life. After much pondering here is a list of 5 Great Gift Ideas for Dad, some tangible and some that will last a lifetime in dear ole Dad's heart and mind.
So is your Dad a Superman?
Then lets treat him like one!
#1 - Give Dad the Gift of Sharing Something He Loves With the Kids
Depending on what your Dad or Husband's passion is this may or may not cost a truckload of money or need a whole lot of planning. But, as a Dad who has had a chance to share my passion for various things that are important to me with my girls, let me tell you... it's AWESOME!
Last August, I got to take my girls to St. Louis to see their very first Major League Baseball Game (MLB) and my and our beloved Boston Red Sox play the St. Louis Cardinals. We had great seats and got to stand close to the field and see the players. My heart skipped beat when both girls could pick out the players using their made up nicknames for them.
To this day the photo of me and my family all dressed in our Red Sox gear is my photo background on my IPhone. Getting to pass on the love of something especially something Dad's grew up loving onto his kids in hopes they love it just half as much is Priceless. (Sorry to sound like a Mastercard commercial).
#2 - Get Dad A Hammock
A Hammock? Yes! A Hammock. Dad works hard. An from time to time us Dad's like an afternoon snooze, after mowing the grass, or reading the Sunday paper or maybe even after reading a story one of the kids.
Summer is almost here. This is now prime hammock snoozing and or hammock camping time. The worst thing is getting a gift you can't use for five months, right? Don't you remember getting a bicycle for Christmas and thinking... "WOW! This will be great in JUNE! Gee thanks Mom and Dad!" So get Dear Ole Dad a gift he can use NOW!
ENO Hammocks can now be purchased virtually anywhere local sporting goods stores, online and your closet REI stores and the come in like a million colors!
#3 - Sign Up Dad and The Kids to Do Something "EPIC" Together
As a Dad who travels a lot for work, these moments of EPICNESS are huge for me. So what are the kids into? Just like Dad wants to share his passions, the kids do too. Sign Dad and the kids up to do something awesome together. A Mud Run, a 5K, a kayak/canoe race. Nothing is sweeter then having the kids show Dad the ropes at something no matter their age.
It's important for the kids to be the big shot from time to time and show Dad a thing or two. Yet, together the experience will last in both Dad and the kids mind forever. "Hey Dad, remember that time when..." Yeah help Dad create "those" memories with the kids this Father's Day.
Grace is a runner and her and I have participated twice in her semi-annual Girls on the Run 5k's. But last summer, we wanted to beat our 5K times. So, together just a short distance from our house together we did it. Both Grace and I raced to complete the 5k and get 5k PR's. Usually we are waiting for mom to finish her long distance road races and get to yell about her PR's this time the shoe was on the other foot and it felt amazing!
#4 - Get Dad Some Quality Products from Stanley to Carry his Favorite Beverages In
Stanley is brand we all know and can trust. If your kitchen cabinets are anything like mine you probably have a host of mugs, lids and assorted travels mugs that either leak, can't keep your coffee hot or hold enough in them. Clear out your cabinets of all that mess and get Dad a set of Stanley mugs that will last a lifetime of use and abuse.
Stanley Products are built for life. Whether your Dad or Husband is surviving another outdoor adventure, tailgating at a football game or working hard for the family in the garage or on the job site, Stanley Products can handle whatever he throws at them.
Let Dad show off his #Stanleyness with one of these fine Stanley Products.
The Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle (1.4QT)
The Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug (12oz, 16 ox, or 20oz options)
The Stanley Adventure Flask (8oz) (My Personal Fav!)
Stanley® Classic Vacuum Bottle 1.4 Quart
The Stanley trademark reads, "Built for Life," and that says it all for this vacuum bottle. Double-wall stainless steel construction. Vacuum insulation keeps liquid hot or cold for 24 hours. Lid doubles as an 11-oz drinking cup. Heavy duty handle folds flat.
Great for the Dad that is a hard worker and tough on his gear. This bottle will keep his hot drinks hot and withstand the toughest elements and days on the job site.
Stanley® Adventure Flask 8 Oz.
Stanley Adventure series 8-oz flask is rugged stainless steel for years of superior service. Leakproof construction. Easy packing design.
Fits most anywhere for your next adventure.
Stanley® Classic One-Hand Vacuum Mug
Stanley's One-Hand Vacuum Mug keeps 16 oz. of your favorite drink hot for up to 6 hours. Just press the button to drink--let go and it's leak proof.
Get rid of all those loose and unusable cups and mugs in "that" cabinet in your kitchen. Get Dad the last coffee mug he will ever need. He will love it!
#5 - Get Dad What He Likes to Drink When He is Relaxing
So, is Dad a coffee connoisseur? A craft beer nut? Or is Dad into bourbon or Whisky? No matter his taste Dad will love sitting back and enjoy his favorite drink maybe in his new hammock or from one of his new Stanley Products.
So toast to Dad's everywhere this Father's Day for all that they do. And remember no matter what you get Dad he will love it. Well except for an ugly tie. Dad's hate ugly ties!
Keep Hiking Forward!
Happy Father's Day All!
There are two things we need when on a long hike to keep us going. Water and and our feet. Everything else is really just icing on the cake. Typically, I don't combine products for reviews but I love both of these products and have continued to use them since Hell Hike and Raft.
Much thanks first off to the good people at both Lifestraw and Foot Kinetics, the makers of HikeGoo for being sponsors and contributors to Hell hike and Raft last year.
If your looking for ease of use in the area of water filtration you can't get any easier then the Lifestraw Go. As a team we all used theses bottles each day to grab water quickly from the mountain lakes and streams. Nothing could be simpler then dipping the bottle into the water and going! No we know where they cam up with the name for the bottle. In addition we were provided Lifestraws to utilize and test as well. Not a necessary item due to having the Lifestraw Go, but still a great little resource for all sorts of backcountry or emergency situations. Both models offer the same type of filtration capacity. Each model will filter 264 gallons or 1,000 litres.
Nothing will ruin a hike quicker then hot feet and blisters. Ladies and gents, HikeGoo to the rescue. Another simple product that is easy to use and delivers every time. If you read previously about our last day of hiking on HHAR, you know we all did a 6,000 ft decent in six hours. During three days of epic hiking, not a single blister was found on my feet thanks to HikeGoo.
If you get blisters or get hot spots you owe it to your self to give HikeGoo a try.
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A few months ago the good people at Native sent me a pair of Hardtop sunglasses to test and a pair of Sidecar's to giveaway to the Hiking Forward readers. Let me first state that I have always held my sunglasses as part of my outdoor caricature and secondly I have been a loyal and faithful Oakley wearer for decades. Given this, I skeptical about trying out something different.
A few things to note about the Native product and the pair of glasses I have been testing for the past few months and why I think Native is an immense value and great product.
* Lifetime Warranty! Yes a Lifetime Warranty... Who does that anymore? Well Native does and on all things sunglasses!
* Native sunglasses come with an awesome hard case for your glasses to protect so that hopefully you won't have to use that lifetime warranty (pictured below)
* A free second set of lenses. All Native sunglasses offer interchangeable lenses and they give you a set in the case provided
* In the case they also offer a free soft lense cleaner that doubles as a bag to carry your glasses in
* Polarized lenses
In addition to all of these added values offered with each pair, the glasses are simply awesome and are far beyond anything I have ever owned from Oakley. Two features that add to the pair I tested that keep me wearing them are weight and the venting. Obviously the difference in weight is not huge between my Oakley's and the new Native's but is it actually noticeable. Some of this I think has to do with the glasses venting and ability to move air in and around my eyes and face unlike my Oakley's which would on warm or active days cause sweat and or condensation to build on the glasses or on my face.
These two features combined add to the desirability of the Native Hardtop's for me. Lightweight yet with a true fit that stays where you want them to during active moments.
The Sidecars (size Medium) that we are giveaway as part of this giveaway retail for $129.00 and have the following specs:
N3™ POLARIZED LENS TECHNOLOGY
The most innovative and advanced polarized lens on the market. N3™ lenses block up to 4X more infrared light than regular polarized lenses, pass Z87.1 testing, provide UV protection up to 400nm, and by significantly reducing blue light and selectively filtering UV, they deliver high contrast, crisp definition, and peak visual cuity.
Good Luck & Keeping Hiking forward!
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