Wednesday, July 11, 2012

REI Trail Runner Gators

Sick of rocks getting into your low cut shoe or boot? Then gators might help you, but for trail running shoes you are going to want to get running gators that have a lower cut and weigh a lot less then big bulky boot ones. I brought my Brooks Puregrits to REI and sat there and tried on the few they had there. I ended up liking the REI brand ultralight trail runner gators.

I got these for the fact that I always end up with a ton of small rocks in my shoe or boot. The gators do the job of just that. They hook onto the front of the shoe with a metal hook and then the string runs under the shoe. The problem with the shoe and gator combo is the string that keeps the gator down gets destroyed from having no small heel cup to hide it self in, like in most shoes. So this forces me to replace the string every five days or so. The other solution is just not use any lacing system and pull down the gators and get and hike! The front two buttons and Velcro hold help to the abuse of my thru-hike so far. The reason I mention that, is I have heard of others having problems with the buttons falling off or the velcro ripping. By all means grab these if you need some cheap gators that will do there job.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hennassy Hammock Ultra Light Backpacker

Monatauk Gnat Stove

This stoves claim to fame is how much it doesn't weigh. The packaging and website states that the weight 1.6 ounces but my scale calls bullshit with it coming in at 1.7 or 1.69. I would prefer them to say the real weight but still it's the lightest stove that will take isobutane.

I have used alcohol stove systems that weighed just as much and did not perform as well as this little guy. I use this stove with the Evernew titanium 1L pasta pot and it takes about 4 minutes to boil 24 oz of water. It's fun to watch the rivets that hold the arms out turn red hot, it truly shows how much power this little stove puts out.

I have no problems with this stove. It brings my water to a boil and I can simmer if I want. No electric starter which means it can break so I use the lighter I carry any how.

Montbell 50 degree Quilt

The 13oz quilt made by Montbell is made for the summer months in mind for sure. I have had the bag for a month and have been using it every day on the AT since.

The bag has been kept in a 7L dry bag made by granite gear. I stuff it down in there and it might take up a third of the room. The space it takes up is very minimal and love that about the down Montbell uses. The spiral quilt design does allow for some stretching while the bag is fully zipped, but is rather a tight fit when it is. I mainly use it as a blanket to allow for great air flow. I originally used it in my hammock with an EMS ground pad and was very comfortable down to 45 F. Recently I have been sleeping in shelters with a neoair xlite short pad and had not been cold on any night in the high 40s or low 50s.

After about a month of use the bag has only a few quills poke through the shell, which after being stuffed in a sack every morning out here I think it is holding up spectacular. The zipper is bulky for a bag of this nature, a smaller zipper might not get snagged as much as this one does. Maybe even by switching to a smaller zip it could save a few more grams.

Overall this sleeping bag is the best single season bag you can get. It breathes well and keeps you warm. Couldn't ask for anything more

Zpacks 20 degree quilt

Cuben fiber material to me is the end all be all for backpacking. I have a tent, backpack, and a quilt which all share this amazing material.  The weight saving of the material for this lazy backpacker is worth it.  I paid for the quilt for what most other company's normally charge for a bag of this degree and down material so that part was easy.  It doesn't come with a hood or a side zip for my left arm, just the lightest zipper possible.

I been using this quilt out for over 600 miles on the AT before I switched to my summer bag.  I had the quilt in the Smokie Mountains when the temperature dropped to 21 degrees and was warm!  I only had on my Arc'teryx light weight base layer pants, smart wool beanie and REI performance t-shirt. The temperature rating on this bag is very accurate, though I would say I'm slightly about average when it comes to a warm sleeper.

The main reason I purchased was for the ultra light weight value with hopes that it would last me for my entire thru-hike.  So far the down has poked through in several spots but that is to be expected.  Nothing crazy in that department.  The zipper on the rear is the small zipper I have ever seen on any gear, yet it has held up perfectly.  The small zipper does not snag as easy as the much larger zippers I have had on other sleeping bags.

This quilt I would strongly suggest to anyone looking to drop weight from there pack.  I went from a 4 pound 15 degree sleeping to a 18 ounce quilt!  I could instantly tell the difference and my legs thanked me.  I able to do more miles and feel much less sore the next morning so my hikes are much more enjoyable. Do you body a favor and order a Zpacks quilt today!    

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brooks Puregrit Trail Runners

Here I have trail running shoes on my feet as I hike the Appalachain trail and they are holding up to the trials after 300 miles.  I started the trail with these and not really knowing anything about them other then that when I put them on my feet they were the "right" shoe.  After sitting in REI for about an hour of trying other trail running shoes all the others just didnt have the features I was looking for,  tight heel cup, low arch support and wide toe box.  I got the shoe in a half size larger to get the desire effect and in case the normal swelling foot of a thru-hiker occurred to me.

Off to the Appalachian trail! I got the shoes a day before so no time to break them in or give them a test run, I was kind of nervous.  The days passed and my feet felt great!  Brooks really did it right with this shoe, I had enough ground feel to no constantly roll my ankle, yet enough cushion so my feet did not feel beat up constantly.  No hot spots occurred the first 200 miles then suddenly I got a weird blister between my 3rd and 4th toe.  I popped that lil guy and kept it moving and haven't had another problem since.

After 200 hundred miles the front of the shoe have come slightly started to come un-glued.  Where the top of the shoe meets the sole on both shoes in the same spot is having trouble staying together.  Brooks should look into using a heavier glue in these area since they split the big toe from the rest of the shoe so the material is slightly thinner then the rest of the shoe. Another 100 miles the problem has not gotten worse though.  The sole it self is with all the traction is having problems when they have mud on the bottle while walking over rocks.  I find myself being very careful walking when I know my shoe is wet or muddy since I have slipped several times with this combination.  The upper material is very thin and had a hexi pattern of inner hard foam that helps give it some rigidness.  They breath very well, dry fast, but do allow water to get in there. I got these shoes for that very reason, I knew that the AT is a wet place and even if i had Gore-tex my shoes would get soaked.  I needed a fast drying shoe, and after several rain storms these shoes were mostly dry the next morning.
Slight sole seperation

I must say I am SO happy I bought these shoes!  They really are a piece of gear I do not worry about any more.  The first week I was waiting to get blisters, pains in my arch or anything of that nature but the problems never came.  If you want a great natural feel of the ground but need some cushion these are the shoes for you.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day in hot springs

After getting into hot springs with chundder Hannah and LB, last night and settling in our great 3 tier bunk bed system we got to relax! Kinda. We first stopped and got ice cream from the local gas station that is quickly becoming a town day tradition, one which I love to par take in. After that we kept truckin along and stopped at the postal office to grab two mail drops from my aunt teri and uncle Mike, and one from my parents, both boxes full of food and a bathing suit.  I had my bathing suit sent so I could properly wash my clothes in town and not have to wear a bath towel around.  Then we went and checked out the bluff mountains outfitter to see what they had to offer before heading up to our cabin.  The usual slightly over priced gear and food which is quickly getting expensive.  Then once at the check in LB and myself explored the options for a deep tissue massage, after a full second we scheduled a massage for the next day.  When walking into our "hiker cabin" it became very clear why it was deamed that.  There was a three true bunk bed system, no sheets or pillows on any of them.  We showered and decided to use the window curtains as our new bath towels since there wasn't any around.  Off to dinner at the iron horse were I got a great spicy bean burger that nailed my appatite down for a few ours.  The four of us were put in a food coma and we sluggishly dragged our beating hosts back to the cabin for an early bed time.

The following day we woke up as if we were on the trail at our usual seven am.  Getting ourselves together off we went to the local diner which everyone recommends for breakfast.  They have a fairly small menu for a diner, but they make up for it in taste for sure! I order a south western omlet, with a side of biscuit and gravy and home fries.  Then split a pancakes with chunder and Hannah.  There was a picture on the wall of an island on the wall that claimed to be in the international AT, we asked the waitress if she ever been she responded with "nope never been outa hot springs." If she was honest or not it makes me realize how lucky I am to be out here not wishing one day I might get to.  The diner had great food and had home made Apple butter which was amazing on any and everything. The four of us scrapped our plates clean and got outa the place to our next destination of dollar general.  There we picked a few odds and ends, I picked up a long over due item, nutatela.  This stuff is great on most everything and a great way to boast calorie intake. Finally our massage appointment time had come and it was much needed.  My body was mega sore as always, and the massage was worth every penny.  Then was the great hot spring we all been waiting for.  It was a normal hot tube but had a direct line from a hot spring which feed right into our tub which felt like the softest water ever to have touched my skin. It replenished us to say the least. More food, was our new mantra after finishing up there, so off we went in search of it.  We ate dinner, but what was great about that was, we got to eat on the main street in hot springs, which is also the AT. We saw several hikers passing by which we hadn't in a while is always pleasant.  Once we were done there treat dime from the local store and back to our home for the night our cabin