Fitkicks Original Review Published at Trailspace

These aren’t marketed as water shoes or backpacking gear, but I’ve never let that stop me before. Check out my full review at Trailspace linked via the picture above or the text below.

Fitkicks Original


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Vasque Boot Box Review Published at Trailspace

Follow the link via the picture or the text below to check out a very special review published today at Trailspace. After a series of snow camping adventures this Winter where I put this box through its paces I felt ready to write the definitive review of this modern yet retro bit of gear. Check out the review for all the details, but suffice to say, this box rox!!

Mountain Equipment Eclipse Hooded Zip Tee Review Posted on Trailspace

Spoiler alert: This thing and I became best friends this Winter. Check out the full review at Trailspace linked via the picture above or the text below.

Look for another very special review coming out this Sunday! Well and a Spring Pemi snow trip report and then a snowshoe review, but you’ll definitely want to check out the one on Sunday 🙂

Two Nights on West Baldpate – March 2018

Two Nights on West Baldpate – March 2018

“It’s been a while, but lets see how this goes.” is a good theme for this trip and this post. Obligations at home and a Winter that seemed to have fears about commitment had left me unable to sneak away for more than a few hours at a time for quite a while. When things at home were conducive the weather would warm up to ruin the snow and bring rain. Finally given the chance to get out into actual snow I loaded up my sled and headed up one of my favorite mountains!

DSC02926aI didn’t have much time to work with so the plan was to set up camp for two nights near the MATC lean to on Friday in hopes of a clear summit at some point on Saturday. This was my first real world test of my sled. There were some issues to be found dragging gear up a mountain that didn’t occur during tests dragging my daughter around the golf course 🙂 Modifications have since been made and I look forward to more real world testing soon.DSC02928aFriday was definitely not the day to be on top of the mountain. Having been here many times before I knew which direction to point the camera for this shot. If not I would have had no clue there was a mountain there at all.DSC02929aI checked the tiny stream behind the lean to and while I could hear water way down below it was unreachable. Well at least by me, as I noticed the squirrels had kept little tunnels open so they could get to it. That is how I knew I was looking at about a foot of ice and then another foot or more of air before I’d reach that tiny trickle I could hear down there somewhere. That meant melting snow for water so rather than enjoying the afternoon quiet I got to work so I could have dinner before dark with all my bottles filled with warm water to get through the night.DSC02932aThe low was around 20°f with a few snow squalls during the night. I was using my big tarp configured for snow and wind. That let me enjoy the sounds of the weather out there while snuggled warm in my hammock.DSC02933aUsing the sled meant I could bring way too much crap and have a place out of the snow to keep it. After years of winter camping in a two man tent this is very different, but I am learning how to make it work for me. Not sure I’d enjoy it as much without the sled.DSC02934aThe climb to the summit after breakfast was treacherous with lots of hard ice flows buried under varying amounts of snow. The steeper sections were a bit gnarly but I was testing out some back country snow shoes with pretty aggressive toe traction so didn’t switch to spikes.DSC02938aI was pretty happy to be done climbing because it meant I could take off my pack and start taking pictures. I’d been trying to get up to this spot to take some winter pictures for the last several years but kept getting chased off by rain on my summit day every time. Lots of good camping but no summit pics.

I’ll just shut up for a while now and let you enjoy the pretty pictures. I shot about 100 pics while I was up there. The sun kept fighting through the clouds more and more changing the scene around me. I was pretty dang happy about it all!DSC02940aDSC02943aDSC02944aDSC02946aDSC02948aDSC02953aDSC02956aDSC02959aDSC02962aDSC02965aDSC02972aDSC02973aDSC02974aDSC02977aDSC02978aDSC02988aDSC02990aBy camping on the mountain and hitting the summit early I had it all to myself for quite a while. Once I started down shortly after noon I soon began to meet folks on their way up. After more than 24 hours of solitude it was nice to share the beauty with other folks but nicer to move on and return to the peace of being alone in the snow.DSC03012aThere was a lot of ice lurking under the recent snow. The warm melts combined with rain can create some beautiful but dangerous works of art.DSC03015aDSC03017aDSC03019aThese sort of works of art are a lot less dangerous. Well so long as you stop to enjoy the view rather than trying to stare at them too hard while falling off an ice cliff heh.DSC03022aSpeaking of stopping to enjoy the view…I was taking a much wider shot of some trees when I noticed this little bit of valley view hiding back there. I ended up liking this zoomed in shot more than the one I’d taken the camera out for.DSC03027aBack in camp the mountain was much easier to see now. It really isn’t far, but the climb is pretty steep so going up takes a lot longer than coming down.DSC03028aI was happy to be back in camp. I’d set up in the trees far enough away from the LT that the shelter mice didn’t seem to find me out there. Having camped here before I know there are some fearless rodents under that thing.DSC03032aI may have scared a few of them off by drying my feet and socks in the afternoon sun. It didn’t seem to bother the squirrels which were numerous and seemed to think I was in their house.DSC03033aA cup of potato soup is perfect in camp on a winter afternoon. To be honest though, I’m a fan of this soup and think it is pretty darn good for a summer trail lunch too!DSC03037aDSC03038aSunday morning dawned as my last day here usually does with the best weather of the trip. Suddenly the mountain could be seen clearly. Definitely the day to be going up and as usual, I was going down heh.Speaking of which there definitely was some going down on the descent. Seems my snowshoe testing is so thorough that I’ve discovered an issue no one else appears to have ever reported. If you’ve had a similar experience I’d love to hear about it in detail including specifics of the snowshoe, boot and conditions. When descending a slope with the sled and maneuvering around a tree on the right I managed to slip the tail of my left shoe through the toe of my right shoe. One time is a fluke, but I did this multiple times coming down this mountain.

This only happened under very specific circumstances for me and so far my research is coming up with nothing in terms of other folks having something like this happen with these or any other shoe. Post comments here or email please and thanks if you have any experience with something like this. I’d like to hear if anyone else has ever seen this sort of thing under any circumstances.DSC03041aDSC03042aOther than a few tumbles caused by that odd snowshoe hook up issue it was a great day to be coming down the mountain. Lots of sunshine on the snow and the day hikers were getting a late start. In the parking lot I ran into enough folks to make it a crowd but not enough to take any fun out of the day. The day hikers seemed confused by my sled or perhaps concerned I had a body on there.DSC03043aDefinitely great to be out there for a few days. It has been a few weeks now and I’m ready for more. This is my sort of anger management!! Hope you are getting out where and when you can!

The North Face Venture 2 Jacket Review Posted on Trailspace

I’ve been a bit lazy about posting my review links here on the site, but I wanted to share this one that went up yesterday on the Trailspace site. TNF has started to get a bad rap for being coffee shop gear, but this jacket is the real deal. Not gonna duplicate the review here, but follow the link or save it for later and check out what made me give the Venture 2 my highest rating.

Disclosure: My wife bought me this jacket, but she didn’t force me to say nice things about it 🙂

Cold Weather Testing

It finally warmed up enough to do a valid test of my hammock set up for cold weather. With the sub zero temperatures we’d been seeing the last few weeks I’d have needed so much additional insulation that  the quilt set up wouldn’t really be tested. Seeing a forecast for a 10°F night I loaded up the sled and set up camp in the woods behind the house. I’m getting ready to do a Trailspace review of the Cooke Tundra Tarp so it was also a chance to get some pics of that set up in the snow.I won’t be doing a review of the Hammock Gear under quilt for a few months, but always good to grab pics when you can. By the time I write the review the snow may well be gone. Reviews always look better with gear in its natural habitat I think.  As for the testing, it went very well. I slept with minimal insulation from clothing to see what the quilts could do and was still a bit too warm early in the evening. By the wee hours of the morning my thermometer showed 11°F and anything sticking out was feeling the chill. Inside I could tell that my top quilts were still keeping me very warm, but the under quilt was getting close to its limits which wasn’t surprising given there was a bit of a breeze.

Now that I’ve run this test it will be safe to start finding out how low I can go by adding layers to my sleepwear. Based on my tenting experience I’m sure I’ll be good for at least another twenty degrees lower, perhaps more. Despite the big thaw today I’m sure there will be plenty more cold nights to continue the testing. Hope you are getting out when you can and sitting by a warm fire when you can’t 🙂

Hillsound Trail Crampon Review

Hillsound Trail Crampon Review


Hillsound Trail Crampon

Another update for the Gear Reviews page. A Winter that gave us a lot more ice than snow on the trails gave me plenty of opportunities to appreciate the size and strength of these cleats. Check out the full review at Trailspace via the link above for the full story and lots more pics. Wondering about those boots you can see peeking out from behind the gaiters and spikes? Keep your eyes open for a complete review of those coming soon!

Ternua Loughor Hooded Technical Jacket Review

Ternua Loughor Hooded Technical Jacket Review


Ternua Loughor Jacket

This was an interesting jacket made by an interesting company in the Basque region of Spain. It incorporates post consumer down that has been cleaned, sterilized and reconditioned into a light, breathable jacket that was made for active use. Check out the full review at Trailspace via the link above for details on both the jacket and the company as well as a bunch more pictures.

1.5oz and 2.5oz Tube Reviews

1.5oz and 2.5oz Tube Reviews

Updating the Gear Review page with links to recent stuff published on Trailspace. These little things are great for carrying fuel, oil, soap or whatever other liquids you need in small quantities. Check out the detailed reviews via the links below. Look for more soon as I have boot and jacket reviews I’ll be adding here in the next few days.



Easy Traveler Extra Squeeze Tubes 1.5oz Set


Easy Traveler Extra Squeeze Tubes 2.5oz Set

Trailspace Review Contest


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