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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Haunted Canyon

Setting up my hammock after backpacking into Haunted Canyon this past weekend. But, what I was thinking about? Would that Mountain Lion I spotted two miles back up the trail while hiking in, come into camp during the night.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Merrell Mykos Water Shoes

I recently purchased a pair of Merrell Mykos Water Shoes for backpacking trips that involves a lot of water hiking or water crossings. This pair of shoes is the imediate predecessor to the current Merrell water hiking shoes the ( citation needed ). As far as I can tell the main difference between the two is some extra material just behind the the toe guard on either side of the shoes and an improved heel band for keeping the heel from slipping. The sole is identical on both shoes.

I'm doing a three day trip into Aravaipa Canyon soon and I'll update this post soon after.

Update:

These shoes worked very well hiking in Aravaipa canyon. They drained well, and supported my feet very well walking on and through dock gardens. I recommend these shoes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Dutch Ware Dutch Buckle

I received my Dutch Ware hammock suspension Dutch Buckle today and of course the first thing I did was inspect and install them on my hammock suspension. My first impressions are a mixed bag. While the buckles are totally functional and no doubt will do what they're supposed to do. However, they are a little rough from a production standpoint. They look more like a prototype than a production product. Not a big deal but just something I noted. I'll be going out next week for a camp out and I'll post photos and a quick follow-up then.

Update: just got back from a four day three night camping trip using the new Dutch Buckles on my hammock setup. All in all I liked the buckles. They make it a lot easier to adjust the whoopie slings along the tree webbing to center the hammock when one tree is much larger than the other. Of courses the the main use, hanging the whoopie slung off the buckles is incredibly easy. Good product.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Warbonnet Traveler DL Hammock

I received my Warbonnet Traveler 1.1 DL Hammock (hereafter the hammock or traveler) and the hammock sock (more on the sock in another post) a few weeks ago. First thing I did was to weigh it and compare it to Warbonnet published weight of 19.5oz. Good news, my Traveler 1.1 DL was only 18oz! Next, I inspected the hammock and with exception of some wobbly seams here and there, the workmanship is excellent.

Of course the next thing was to hang the hammock. The first thing I noticed was how much better this hammock is to sit on/in camp chair wise. My other hammock is an ENO Double Nest and between the traveler being a double layer and made from ripstop nylon it makes for a lot less stretch in the hammock when seated.

I hung it with its structural ridgeline at the proper tension and spent the night. Interestingly the hammock was too taught. It actually felt hard, not uncomfortable but not nearly as comfortable as the next night. The following night I hung it with a deeper sag (the ridgeline was just a bit slack) and that was a fantastic nights sleep. Almost perfection, the flattest lay ever. Side sleeping was awesome. I may have to consider shortening the ridgeline for future (I like the ridgeline for hanging stuff) trips. I'm taking the hammock out this weekend and will update this post soon.

UPDATE: I took the hammock out for a two night trip this past weekend and used both the hammock and the hammock sock. I wanted to see how warm the bottom of my hammock stayed with minimal hammock inulation. It did a remarkable job of creating a dead air space under the hammock even with the top portion of the sock open. The traveler was just as comfortable as at home and a bit easier to hang than the eno because it a tad smaller. Definitely worth my investment in these two pieces of equipment.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gerber Epic Sheath Knife (first impressions)

When hiking and backpacking I always carry a multi-tool. However when you just need to quickly cut some cord or spread peanut butter on a bagel a small sheath knife is much quicker and convenient. Which is why I recently purchased the Gerber Epic. On first inspection it appears to be made well for the money. MSRP is $55. However you can buy it all day long for less than $30. It's a small knife with the blade being just under 3.5 inches and the overall length of about 7.25 inches. That ratio makes the knife heavy at the handle, more on that a little later.

The sheath is made from (I think glass impregnated) plastic. It's designed with a positive locking function to the knife. You will probably have to hold the sheath from moving when pushing the knife hard enough to "lock". This is likely an ideal knife if you're kayaking or rafting as it won't get water logged like leather or cloth and there is a drain hole at the tip. The size, weight sheath make this ideal for hanging the knife upside down from a PFD or neck lanyard. It's not ideal for wearing at the hip unless it's on a heavy thick belt that will stand up to the pressure to push into he sheath until it locks into place. Also, because the knife is handle heavy it will flop around on your hip belt unless its a thick belt. I personally will put it on my pack strap or hang it from a lanyard around my neck. Will try both and see what works best for me.

Out of the box the knife wasn't dull but not particularly sharp either. I did sharpen and hone it to a much keener edge. You will likely want a sharper blade as well. I'm going out this weekend and will update this post soon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Exped Multimat Review

Today's review is about another awesome product from Exped, their Exped Multimat. I've used this for several months now and found it to be exactly as advertised. It made from 1/16 in of very durable, dense closed cell foam and sewn together with a ripstop nylon backing incorporating tie out loops and snaps. Unfolded dimensions are approximately 39inches by 79inches and weighs maybe 11oz. This allows it to be used as a small tarp,  waterproof/windproof insulated blanket and/or poncho. The snaps allow for combining multiple mats or folding one over and stuffing it with leaves and grass etc to allow for a colder rating if you're caught in  colder than expected conditions.

All in all, an extremely versatile piece of kit. I use it as a pad for my hammock either flat or folded depending on temperature. If folded in half an half again it fits as the pad/insulation for my chair kit when camping with ground pounders. Often I'll pull it out at lunch when backpacking as my sit pad.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Arizona hiking, what to expect.

A new AZ resident from the Northwest was concerned about bears, snakes, bugs and water while hiking/backpacking in Arizona. Below is my reply to him. Originally posted on Meetup.com

You ask some interesting questions. I"ll answer in the order of the questions. First the bears. While it's very unlikely to see bears in the desert, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility. Especially in the winter. There are bears in the mountains around Tucson and in lean years have been known to wander down into the high desert. My point, while highly unlikely it would be unwise to completely write off the possibility of sighting bear in the high deserts around any large AZ mountains like Mt Lemon.

Preparation for insects is the same for snakes, look where you're putting your hands and feet before you put them there. I've lived/hiked in the desert for more than four decades and I'm always scanning ahead for the possibility of snakes and other issues. In reality scorpions are really only an issue putting your hands into thick brush and rock crevices without checking first. Extremely rare but possible, both have been known to wind up in sleeping bags when the weather is cool and sleeping bags are warm. If you're in a screened tent or screened bivy bag both are negated. Also, many people hike with trekking poles. Poles are handy to block/push thorny brush out of the way and it's better to put a pole over a rock or log before a foot or leg if you can't see what's there.

I personally don't recommend open toed sandals for hiking in the desert and its not because of insects. Very sharp rocks, cactus thorns, cat claw and just about a thousand other irritants for me make sandals a pain. I recommend lightweight breathable trail running shoes or hiking shoes (NO GORETEX). Closed toed sandals from Keen and some Teva models are the exception. It boils down to a personal preference and your tolerance for stopping and emptying your sandal of sand and pebbles.

In summer, carrying enough water for three days would weigh forty pounds or more (1.5 gallons per day min). Winter, less. Everybody in the desert (whole SW region for that matter) plans trips around water availability, with perhaps one night being a dry camp (carrying water for that night) and refilling the next day. Most of the water in AZ can be filtered with the exception of water downstream of mines (old or new). This water should always be considered contaminated with heavy metals mercury and/or cyanide and avoided at all costs except last resort emergencies. When planning trips keep in mind where the mines are.