Gear Institute https://gearinstitute.com Find Expert Gear Tests Wed, 26 Feb 2020 19:21:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Race Report – The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo 2020 https://gearinstitute.com/race-report-the-24-hours-in-the-old-pueblo-2020/ https://gearinstitute.com/race-report-the-24-hours-in-the-old-pueblo-2020/#respond Wed, 26 Feb 2020 19:21:57 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40348

Hustle in the Desert Do you enjoy mountain biking copious miles? How about in the Sonoran Desert? Try the “24 Hours in the Old Pueblo” mountain bike race. Does 24-hour racing sound like hell? I agree and was (sort of) happy when the trend collapsed years ago under its weight, yet this race continues – Read more ›

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Hustle in the Desert

Do you enjoy mountain biking copious miles? How about in the Sonoran Desert? Try the “24 Hours in the Old Pueblo” mountain bike race. Does 24-hour racing sound like hell? I agree and was (sort of) happy when the trend collapsed years ago under its weight, yet this race continues – and with good reason.  With over 20 years of history, a race founder who is an Epic storyteller and a vibe that matches the desolate and magnificent Sonoran Desert – the only thing to fear is fear itself. Well that, the cacti, and maybe the porta-potties.

A “24-hour town” blossomed in the middle of the 16-mile hourglass-shaped course in the days leading up to the event. There were approximately 1,200 feet of climbing per lap, but no soul-crushing ascents. Nearly 100% of the course was on buff and twisty single-track. A b-line was available when things got technical. Conversely, there was a single-track long-cut to avoid the vicious “Bitches” – seven hills and descents in quick succession on a washed-out dirt road. I was curious how passing would work on a single-track course with a few thousand riders of divergent abilities. Trails offered generous passing opportunities and bottlenecking was rarely an issue. Concerns about getting lost at night were unfounded as the course was on the only trails in the area and there were always other folks around to follow.

Quality and reasonably priced food were available during the entirety of the weekend at food trucks, as was water, tech support (not the computer kind), porta-potties and showers – just about everything required for a 24-hour bike race.

Race founder Todd Sadow dropped by campsites during his race day vigils and regaled riders with stories from 20+ years of 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.  His stories ran the gamut from the horrifying (an unfortunate woman who made an unintentional full-frontal embrace with the notorious Chollas cactus) to the romantic (an octo-husband and his septuagenarian-wife that had wintered “van life” style in the area for decades have created the eponymous single-track that racers enjoy).

 

The trail was free of cacti, but making a pass a little too aggressively potentially ended with the Chollas “jumping” cacti’s barbed fruit magically detaching from the main plant and needling its way under the skin. Folks riding with combs sticking out of their jersey pockets were not imitating 1950s greasers, they prepared for safe-cacti extraction from their bodies.

The race started at noon on Saturday and ends at noon on Sunday in mid-February. Getting there a day in advance was wise to snag a good (free) campsite and to pre-ride the course. About 35% of folks come back each year so newcomers were not alone.

When it comes to racing, the event was beautifully managed, and commenced with a Lemans style start (run to your bike and go), and continued until noon the following day. The loops were quick; a sub-1 hour for the speedsters (some of which are soloing the course), over 2 hours for the folks that were having fun. Team transitions were made easy by the race management, and watching the soloists come and go was awe-inspiring.

Pivot loaned me a Mach 4 SL to use for the race, which no doubt substantially reduced my lap times. Pivot is a local company based in Tempe, AZ, and their bike felt at home on the trails of the Sonoran Desert. The Mach 4 SL is a cross-country bike featuring 100mm of travel.

Having recently reviewed other bikes in this category, I was stunned by how fast, carving, and light this bike was. The Mach 4 SL was an absolute winner with magnificent efficiency from its dw-link suspension that thrusts you forward with every pedal stroke. I also appreciated that I could reach the bottle cage, no small feat in this category where the cage is often very low for those of us not born knuckle-draggers.

Because I was riding relatively high mileage (I rode about 100 miles over a couple of days), I was curious about gear performance. I used Archer’s D1x electronic shifting retrofit kit for the weekend (previously reviewed here), and it worked flawlessly under tough conditions including sand, long hours in the saddle, and race punishing shifting during cold temps. There were many virtues of the D1x, but I mostly appreciated the effortless shifting once exhaustion set in, and the perfect shift every time, even under race efforts.

I was on a team with five others, with differing skills and abilities and a low-key approach to racing. This mix of riders and attitude was the perfect way to experience my first a 24-hour mountain bike race. We had racers on the course for about 22 of the 24 hours, which demonstrates that our laziness and disorganization won out over our competitive nature. That said, the race energy was infectious, and we continued to find our lap times pushing the limits and rejecting notions of exhaustion until the final lap. What usually limited our ability to maintain riders on the course was simple logistics, also possibly over-sleeping (something the author was guilty of on at least one occasion).

Camp life is loud, and a bit dusty. I appreciated high-quality earplugs for sleeping. Many folks brought RVs, trucks with trailers, and other luxury rigs so generator noise was substantial – as was the race once started. There may have been late-night parties, but considering my preferred bedtime of 8:30 PM, I only heard stories.

Photo: Ryan Michelle Scavo

Another new product I checked out while at the event was the Hustle Bike Labs REM pedal.  True love. First off, the people behind the company are awesome; great riders that love riding bikes, and smart and innovative as well. Hustle’s pedal is, at its most basic, a flat pedal with a magnet at the center that attaches to a metal plate mounted to the bike shoe where a cleat would go. Pretty simple.

The shoe/pedal combination maintained a great connection to the bike and I could move my foot into different positions. The Hustle pedal was indifferent to mud, water or sand, I enjoyed the flat pedal’s large surface area. I could also remove my foot with ease helping to avoid the dreaded foot lock. I have been alternating between flat pedals and clip-less for years; Hustle’s pedal solved that issue for me as it is both at once.

Basic logistics for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo:  The location was about an hour north of Tucson, 2 hours south of Phoenix in a remote desert location with no permanent services. The night sky was spectacular. The location and the need for enough gear to get through a weekend of racing and camping make driving the only real choice.

Required items:  A bike. A place to sleep- tents worked great. Clothing for temperatures ranging between barely freezing to 70 degrees. Rain is possible, though infrequent. Basic bike tools and flat repair. Food and water not required, but both recommended. Mostly, bring a good attitude, everyone does.

Event details: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Pivot Bikes: Pivot Cycles

Archer electronic shifter: Archer Components

Hustle pedals: Hustle Bike Labs

 

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Review: The MSR Windburner Stove System Combo https://gearinstitute.com/review-the-msr-windburner-stove-system-combo/ https://gearinstitute.com/review-the-msr-windburner-stove-system-combo/#respond Mon, 24 Feb 2020 22:18:36 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40341

A supremely windproof, stable, and accommodating canister stove system After decades of research and over five years of development, MSR debuted radiant burner technology in 2007 with its Reactor stove system. It soon became the coveted snow melting machine for mountaineers and alpinists, the flameless stove putting out 9,0000 BTUs/hour. The Reactor unapologetically claimed the Read more ›

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A supremely windproof, stable, and accommodating canister stove system

After decades of research and over five years of development, MSR debuted radiant burner technology in 2007 with its Reactor stove system. It soon became the coveted snow melting machine for mountaineers and alpinists, the flameless stove putting out 9,0000 BTUs/hour. The Reactor unapologetically claimed the throne for hydrating climbers up high but was incapable of really cooking.

MSR followed up with the release of the Windburner Personal stove system in 2014, dialing the radiant stove back on output to increase usability. The brand released a remote canister, group-oriented version in 2018, and we’ve been testing the Windburner Stove System Combo (MSRP $260) for a few months during car camping and backpacking trips.

The Windburner Stove System Combo is an excellent choice for the adventurer demanding efficiency and durability for outings of 2-4 people. The stove is super resistant to wind and does an adequate job of cooking using lower heat outputs. The included ceramic cookware proved non-sticking, greatly easing life on the trail.

How does a radiant burner work?

Instead of an open flame, radiant burners use a porous material to mix fuel and house the flame, producing both convective and radiant heat. Other stoves only generate convective heat. The porous material in MSR Radiant stoves is a Fecralloy disc that has the structure of open-cell foam. The generated heat spreads across the upper surface of this disc.

This Reactor technology mixes air and fuel within the stove and doesn’t rely on air coming in from the outside as other stoves do. This 100% primary air usage means the flame can be completely enclosed and protected from the wind with integrated heat exchangers.

The MSR Reactor and Windburner stoves are the only radiant burners in the outdoor market and are the only outdoor stoves that operate on 100% primary air.

©Earl Harper

The MSR Windburner Stove System

The Windburner Stove System Combo is one of the three systems MSR sells based around the same remote canister base stove. The Duo Stove System, with a 1.8-liter pot, is a minimalist set designed for two, while the Group Stove System, with a 2.5-liter saucepot, is targeted towards two to four campers.  This Stove System Combo is the most flexible system for small groups, as it includes a 2.5L sauce pot and an 8-inch skillet, both ceramic-coated aluminum.

The stove and 8-ounce fuel canister nests inside of the saucepot, and the detachable and folding handle locks the lid. The pot has a separate latch to secure the lid during strainer use.

The Windburner stove uses a pressure regulator for consistency regardless of fuel level and the remote fuel line is a generously long at 11 inches. The folding wire fuel adjustment knob is a large, glove-friendly size.

The legs on the Windburner remote stove are unique; they slide down the frame and then fold out on their own due to spring tension, forming a 7-inch diameter base of support.

The Windburner remote stove has a verified weight of 8.8 ounces. The 2.5-liter saucepot with handle and lid weighs 12.2 ounces, while the 8-inch skillet with handle weighs 7.7 ounces.

The Windburner Stove System in the field

The first noticed attribute was the stability of the Windburner remote canister stove; with the heat exchanger centering the 2.5-liter pot and the large base provided by the lunar lander style legs, the system felt much more stable than stoves without a remote canister.

The 6.2-minute claimed boil time for one liter seemed accurate; this was not the flame thrower the Reactor has proven to be. But the Windburner had much better temperature control and was able to simmer adequately. The limiter to non-supervised simmering was the heat exchanger on the pot or pan. The heat funneled into the exact footprint of the heat exchanger in the center of the cooking surface. I could simmer soup without scorching with occasional stirring.

Holding to its name, the Windburner was nearly impervious to the wind; gusts that would shut down other backpacking stoves proved futile in affecting the fully enclosed radiant burner. Even blasts that folded tent sidewalls didn’t stop the Windburner from boiling water.

The skillet and sauce pot proved to be non-stick. Cooking bacon or simmering soups with too much heat didn’t cause anything to adhere to the ceramic coating. Even burnt cheese failed to cling. A quick once over with a plastic scraper and rinse was all that was required most of the time for cleaning.

MSR only offers a piezo ignitor on their Pocket Rocket Deluxe, but the Radiant system begged for them. The Radiant technology disc fully enclosed the air and fuel mixture, which made for close encounter lighting, and lack of a visible flame created doubt if ignition occurred. An indicator wire glows within a few seconds of ignition, sparing burnt knuckles with a little patience.

The inability of the skillet to nest created some packing issues, but I couldn’t see a solution without a radical change in dimensions of the saucepot, skillet, or both. One concern with the stove and fuel canister nesting inside the saucepot was the potential damage to the ceramic coating, which would inevitably ruin the non-stick nature. MSR seems to fear this on some level, as they included a felt pad for the bottom of the pot. This pad won’t protect the sides, but the bottom is far more important to keep intact.

Then there was the 8.8-ounce weight of the bare stove. The MSR Wind Pro II, another remote canister stove, has a claimed weight of 6.6 ounces. The Reactor weighs 6.1 ounces and it’s a high output alpine rocket. The non-system MSR Pocket Rocket 2 weighs 2.6 ounces. The Windburner remote canister stove wasn’t the stove for minimalist ounce counters, for whom there were much lighter options.

But the Windburner was robust; MSR built the stove to last, and It was the most rigid remote canister stove I’ve ever tested, with pot stability to match.

Conclusions

Who’s it for? I found the Windburner Stove System Combo to be a Goldilocks of stove systems. It’s not ultralight or compact, but the weight and size can be appropriate for groups sharing a single stove. It’s not the snow melting powerhouse that the MSR Reactor is, but it’s more windproof and stable than other backpacking options.

The MSR Windburner Stove System Combo is a fine choice for backpacking trips for one or two where ounce counting isn’t necessary and there’s a craving for food more demanding than a boil. It’s a great lightweight option for groups of up to four venturing into the backcountry with a single stove. It’s also a great car camping stove that takes up way less room and is much cleaner than a typical dual burner. And the system can do it in all conditions just short of arctic.

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First Look: The BioLite HeadLamp 200 – A Barely-There Camping Headlamp https://gearinstitute.com/first-look-the-biolite-headlamp-200-a-barely-there-camping-headlamp/ https://gearinstitute.com/first-look-the-biolite-headlamp-200-a-barely-there-camping-headlamp/#respond Wed, 12 Feb 2020 14:00:31 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40312

  BioLite launched its HeadLamp 330 last year to much acclaim. The unique headlamp featured a lamp embedded within the head strap, and a separate battery mounted to the rear of the strap. Both made the HeadLamp 330 supremely comfortable, especially while active. BioLite carries the momentum with today’s release of the HeadLamp 200, a Read more ›

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BioLite launched its HeadLamp 330 last year to much acclaim. The unique headlamp featured a lamp embedded within the head strap, and a separate battery mounted to the rear of the strap. Both made the HeadLamp 330 supremely comfortable, especially while active.

BioLite carries the momentum with today’s release of the HeadLamp 200, a lighter, less powerful, simpler, and lower-priced version.

The BioLite HeadLamp 200 (MSRP $45) is a 200-lumen headlamp suitable for most nighttime camping and hiking duties. The simple design and low weight are appreciated qualities, but what steals the show is the supreme comfort of the embedded light design.

BioLite HeadLamp 200 features

The HeadLamp 200 feature list reads similar to other camping-oriented headlamps:

  • White dimming spot, red dimming flood, white strobe, and red strobe lighting modes
  • Micro USB recharging
  • Tilting light panel
  • 40 hour claimed battery life on low, 3 hours on high
  • Lock mode
  • Four colorways

Our sample has a verified weight of 1.8 ounces.

In the field

The most noticeable feature of the BioLite HeadLamp 200 is that it becomes unnoticeable. After a few minutes of use, the super low weight, embedded lamp, and comfortable head strap made me forget I even was wearing a headlamp. Quite a few times after testing and turning the unit off, I would find it still affixed to my head in the car or lounging at home, hours after use. It’s that comfortable; it’s the most comfortable headlamp I have used to date. BioLite backs this comfort up with their “HolyFit” guarantee; if you don’t love it in 30 days, you can return it for a refund.

The softly textured headband was comfortable against bare skin and the flat profile and the bantamweight of the lamp kept it bounce free during aggressive body movements. The adjustment range was generous enough to fit over the largest helmets but might adjust down enough for small children.

The 200-lumen output is adequate for camp chores and trail hiking, but I found it too low for trail running or detailed work. The dimming feature allowed infinite brightness adjustment and the red flood had a pleasing throw that indeed saved my night vision. All functions toggled with a single button and the menu was logical and second nature after a few activations.

The battery life seemed on par with the claims, and the lock mode prevented accidental powering even when tightly packed.

Conclusions

The BioLite HeadLamp 200 follows the successful HeadLamp 330 with a lighter, simpler, and much more affordable unit. The power output is significantly less, but still usable for camp chores and hiking at night.

And like the HeadLamp 330, the comfort is unbeatable and the headlamp making it easily forgotten while wearing. I have not used a headlamp that I would plain forget was there for hours at a time. This characteristic alone makes the BioLite HeadLamp 200 worthy of consideration, especially for prolonged use.

The BioLite HeadLamp 200 is available here.

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A Sleek Crag Pack Ideal for Sport Climbing – The Mammut Neon 45L https://gearinstitute.com/a-sleek-crag-pack-ideal-for-sport-climbing-the-mammut-neon-45l/ https://gearinstitute.com/a-sleek-crag-pack-ideal-for-sport-climbing-the-mammut-neon-45l/#respond Tue, 04 Feb 2020 14:25:48 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40229

Mammut updates the Neon Gear 45L (MSRP $160) regularly and we have been testing the most recent updates of their avant-garde looking crag pack for a few months at both local crags and destination climbing areas. The sleek pack may appear minimalist on the outer surface, but the pack has plenty of organizational prowess on Read more ›

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Mammut updates the Neon Gear 45L (MSRP $160) regularly and we have been testing the most recent updates of their avant-garde looking crag pack for a few months at both local crags and destination climbing areas.

The sleek pack may appear minimalist on the outer surface, but the pack has plenty of organizational prowess on the inside. The top-loading design combined with zippered back panel access eases both loading and gearing up for the day. Although the internal volume is sufficient, the limited ability to carry gear on the outside makes the Neon 45L best suited for sport climbing.

Pack design and structure

The Mammut Neon Gear 45L combines the packability of a top loader and the access of a panel loader; a double pull, zippered lid secures the top opening, while the padded back panel opens via another dual slider zipper.

The pack is smaller in all dimensions at the bottom than at the top, following the general shape of the body. The internal volume at the top is quite a lot bigger than at the bottom, which tapers in all directions.

The Neon Gear 45L has a 5mm aluminum U frame and the 3D EVA padded back panel has channels for air circulation. The padded hip belt has a gear loop on each side and is removable, and the contoured shoulder straps have load lifters, a sternum strap, and clipping points.

The complete lack of pockets on the outside of the pack other than a top lid pocket of the 420d ripstop nylon pack gives the Neon Gear 45L a sleek and minimalistic look. Four clipping points, a grab handle on the front and a haul loop on the back break the monolithic look, but just barely. The bottom is lined with 840d ballistic nylon to enhance durability.

Brightly colored ripstop nylon lines the interior of the Neon 45L.  The organizational features on the interior of the pack belie the spartan exterior. There are two zipped mesh pockets on the interior surface of the back panel, and two gear loops at the top of the main body. There is also a zipped mesh pocket on the inside of the top lid.

The outer top lid pocket has a buckled strap on the inside designed to secure a rope and Mammut includes a rope tarp.

The Neon Gear 45L is only available in one size; the back length is 19 inches. The verified weight is 2 pounds, 15 ounces (with the rope tarp).

The Mammut Neon Gear 45L at the crag

Photo: Seiji Ishii

I found loading the Neon Gear 45L from the top and then accessing gear through the back panel extremely efficient. The funnel shape of the pack made compressing the rope and other gear from the top almost automatic, but the tapered bottom didn’t allow the pack to stand on its own.

The pack’s back length fit me well, and the pack carried very well with loads of up to thirty pounds. The compacting action when loading from the top kept the contents from shifting and the pack always felt like a solid unit when approaching, even while boulder hopping. I felt the hip belt was padded appropriately for a sport climbing load, and the gear loops proved handy when moving between sectors or climbing out of an area for the day.

A full-length rope, twelve quickdraws, harness, shoes, chalk bag, two liters of water and a day’s worth of snacks and other crag essentials fit in the Neon 45L. I could clip small, light items on the outer clipping points (like a pair of shoes to dry out between sectors). My stick clip stuffed into the main body, with the top sticking out between the two upper lid zipper pulls. I didn’t find the buckled strap for a rope useful; it was oriented and positioned incorrectly to carry a rope in what I consider a secure or comfortable fashion, and the top pocket would have to remain open.

At the base of the route, plunking the pack down and opening the back panel made gearing up a hassle-free “window shopping” affair; no digging through the pack to unbury the next needed item. And the bright internal lining made smaller items stand out in the shade.

The internal gear loops were super handy; all items outside of quickdraws that would need to go on my harness lived a tangle and loss-free existence there. Not only did I always know where my belay device, personal anchor system, belay gloves, and similar items were, it also made visually checking for critical, expensive, but smaller gear quick and easy before leaving an area.

The internal mesh pockets were on the flat side; the largest one could house a pair of rock shoes, but nothing bulkier. These pockets kept all smaller items organized, but I felt a looser profile would create a logical place to store a harness to keep it from getting tangled in other gear and allow it to dry. I also prefer that at least one small internal pocket not be made of mesh to keep chalk from contaminating the rest of the pack’s internals.

The included 36” square rope tarp was on the small side; I could manage a 35m rope but it was troublesome to stack a full-length cord. The tarp had a circumferential drawcord that worked well to pack or move for a 35m rope between adjacent routes. I preferred bringing a rope bag when using full-length ropes but still packed the Mammut tarp for shoeing up or racking gear.

Conclusions

The Mammut Neon Gear 45L packs and carries well and the back panel access makes getting geared up a pleasant affair. The modern, minimalist look should please the modern-day sport climber.

The lack of an effective way of securing a rope on the pack’s exterior places limitations on carrying larger racks of trad climbing gear on the inside of the pack. The lack of external pockets makes longer approaches less convenient as there is no quick way to access water, snacks, or guide books.

But for sport climbing, the Mammut Neon Gear 45L shines. And again, the modern aesthetic is a crowd-pleaser. More than a few times, the pack’s good looks drew attention and praise. Yes, we sport climbers might care a bit about how we and our gear look.

mammut.com

 

 

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First Look: Black Diamond Equipment Stomps Into the Performance Footwear Market with the Circuit Approach Shoes https://gearinstitute.com/first-look-black-diamond-equipment-stomps-into-the-performance-footwear-market-with-the-circuit-approach-shoes/ https://gearinstitute.com/first-look-black-diamond-equipment-stomps-into-the-performance-footwear-market-with-the-circuit-approach-shoes/#respond Tue, 04 Feb 2020 14:24:25 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40278

During the last Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Black Diamond announced their entrance into the performance shoe market via a line of approach shoes. The brand best known for hardgoods has firmly planted itself in the outdoor apparel market and recently released climbing shoes. Black Diamond’s release of four approach shoes this month is a logical Read more ›

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During the last Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, Black Diamond announced their entrance into the performance shoe market via a line of approach shoes. The brand best known for hardgoods has firmly planted itself in the outdoor apparel market and recently released climbing shoes. Black Diamond’s release of four approach shoes this month is a logical expansion of their offerings. We’ve been testing their Circuit approach shoe model (MSRP $100) for the past two months, at sport climbing crags, bouldering areas, and across town.

The Black Diamond Equipment Circuit approach shoe is a light, very breathable, sensitive, and unstructured lifestyle approach shoe that is equally adept at navigating urban environments as it is crossing slabs. Given the low weight and spartan construction, the Circuit is best for hiking to boulders or sport crags with easier access. The Circuit also possesses an undeniable style appropriate for approaching the brewpub.

Breathability and comfort

The most notable attribute of the Circuit was the seamless knit upper; it provided great breathability for warmer temperatures and allowed my feet to air out between burns on the project. The upper is lined and padded, which made belays without socks comfortable.

The shoe has a low heel rise and the molded EVA midsole provided light cushioning appropriate for carrying the smaller loads of bouldering or sport cragging. This relatively thin midsole made the Circuit very soft but sensitive to the ripples, crystals, and other small features. A downside was the feet were more prone to stone bruises; I had to take cautions when boulder hopping onto surfaces with sharp or knobby features.

The fit is tighter than a casual shoe, but not as form-fitting as a true approach shoe. The fit felt appropriate for getting to my local sport crags which aren’t in mountainous regions. I would want a tighter fit for more involved treks. I found the amount of snugness the perfect compromise between performance and comfort for a lifestyle-oriented shoe that can still travel to the cliffs.

As a casual, in town shoe, I found the Circuit to be super comfortable as I prefer flexible and light shoes when not loaded with gear; these shoes were supple right out of the box and they have a verified weight of 1 pound, 2 ounces per pair in a men’s size 10.

Stickiness

Sticky rubber is a requirement for approach shoes and Black Diamond delivers with the Circuit. Their proprietary Black Label-Street rubber proved tacky on granite and limestone which bolstered confidence on well-worn slabs. The rubber rand around the forefoot helped mitigate both abrasions and impacts.

The outsole knobs are short; this meant limited traction on loose over hardpacked terrain, but the tradeoff was less squirm on stone. The outsole has a solid perimeter around the forefoot, which usually adds to edging ability, but the softness of the shoe hampered this on anything other than large features.

Other attributes

The Circuit’s unstructured construction did provide one often used function: the heel folded down for use as a slip-on, making for quick and easy transitions between climbing and belaying, or between attempts at the boulder or climbing gym.

The lacing on the Circuit does not extend toward the toes; although this is a nod to style, convenience, and casual comfort, I prefer to-the-toe lacing for any climbing-specific footwear.

Black Diamond offers the Circuit in two men’s colorways and one women’s colorway.

Conclusions

The Black Diamond Equipment Circuit approach shoe is a lifestyle model that is capable of schlepping bouldering and sport climbing loads over shorter and casual approaches. The Circuit is breathable, soft, light and comfortable, but not adept for technical approaches or heavier loads. But the shoes are excellent for double duty; their styling plays to the urban scene well and drew positive comments from both climbers and non-climbers alike.

 

 

 

 

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Outdoor Retailer Best New Gear Awards https://gearinstitute.com/or-best-new-gear-awards-2020/ https://gearinstitute.com/or-best-new-gear-awards-2020/#respond Thu, 30 Jan 2020 22:24:26 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40286

The Outdoor Retailer – Snow Show is the outdoor industry’s trade show where new products and innovations are revealed to retailers, the media and consumers. The show floor, in Denver Colorado’s Convention Center, features thousands of products from all corners of the outdoors. Here are a few new and innovative items that caught our eye. Read more ›

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The Outdoor Retailer – Snow Show is the outdoor industry’s trade show where new products and innovations are revealed to retailers, the media and consumers. The show floor, in Denver Colorado’s Convention Center, features thousands of products from all corners of the outdoors. Here are a few new and innovative items that caught our eye.

Mountain Flow Eco Wax

Waxing skis is necessary for your skis to glide properly over the snow. Unfortunately, in the past, ski wax was a petroleum-based, fluorocarbon containing environmental problem. Not only was wax unsustainable, but it would transfer directly into the snowpack from your skis and into the watershed. Mountain Flow has introduced, through a well funded Kickstarter campaign, a fully plant-based ski wax. In their testing, this wax performs as well and lasts as long as conventional petroleum based products. We’re excited to give it a try this winter!

Avametrix Avyscanner

This new product, developed by a team of Idaho entrepreneurs, introduces the ability to scan the snowpack using radar to identify weak layers. It employs an AI neural network to help identify when conditions exist that may be prone to human triggered avalanches. It’s an innovation on the side of avoiding avalanches, which is preferable to searching for buried victims after a slide has occurred. We’re keen to check this out once they are in full production.

Image courtesy Adidas / Five Ten

Adidas/Five Ten Hiangle Pro

Five Ten’s new Hiangle Pro is one of the biggest innovations in climbing shoes since the down-turned last. Designed for the new style of climbing introduced in World Cup comps and the Summer Olympic Games, the Hiangle Pro is an entirely new category of climbing shoes.

While traditional climbing shoes incorporate a 90-degree angle on inside edge, the Hiangle Pro has a unique sole and heel design. The soft inside curve allows climbers to roll their feet from a smear to toe hook with the maximum rubber on the rock. The heel design is a continuous curve that allows heel hook to a dynamic throw without repositioning.

The shoe will launch in Europe and Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, then roll out in North America for FW 2020. “This shoe demonstrates the strength of the Five Ten-adidas relationship,” says designer Dave Kassel.

SCOTT Superguide
Image by Fabian Bodet, courtesy of SCOTT

SCOTT Superguide Collection

The new Superguide skis from SCOTT are lightweight, touring capable, skis that deliver a high performance ride in many different conditions. I was recently able to try these versatile skis in variable powder, hard pack, and wind effected snow conditions. They are stable, hard charging skis and provided confidence while ripping down the mountain both in the backcountry and inside the resort.

Archer Components D1x Trail – Photo: Amy Jurries

Archer Components D1x Trail

More affordable than a full electronic groupset, this after market system transforms almost any mechanical shifting mountain bike into an electronic shifting machine. Via a combination of programmable shifter, Bluetooth remote, and phone app, the D1x Trail system enables you to make micro rear derailleur adjustments on the fly, shift multiple gears at once, and ensure you remain in a hill-friendly gear if the battery should all of a sudden run out. Easy to install, the system runs off of standard AA lithium ion batteries that will last anywhere from 80 to 150 hours before needing a recharge.

Atomic Hawx Prim XTD 130

Atomic Hawx Prime XTD

When it comes to ski boots, it’s the ones that fit the best that you’re going to keep going back for. Atomic has taken their proven Hawx boot line and shaved weight while also providing the ability for your local retailer to full mold not only the liner, but also the shell, in order to provide a fully customizable fit. Additionally, the 54 degrees of rotation in walk mode and the pin tech / alpine compatible sole means that you can tour in these as well as charge the resort.

Amundsen Skauen Anorak image courtesy of Amundsen

Amundsen Skauen Anorak Jacket

This three layer pullover shell is made from an organic cotton, Lycra blend with an electrospun nano membrane. The Skauen Anorak is lightweight, waterproof and highly breathable — the company claims 20K M.V.T. Its stretch cotton construction provides a superior level of comfort and won’t limit your range of motion. It’s a crave worthy piece of stylish outerwear made from natural, renewable fibers.

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Less is Everything: Ultralight Running Tips From Kris Brown https://gearinstitute.com/less-is-everything-ultralight-running-tips-from-kris-brown/ https://gearinstitute.com/less-is-everything-ultralight-running-tips-from-kris-brown/#respond Tue, 28 Jan 2020 03:55:31 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40323

It’s the nature of the sport. Ultra-runners need to minimize the weight of any gear they use. But trail running pro Kris Brown takes weight-saving to new levels.  “I try to go as minimal as possible,” the 31-year old Santa Barbara runner says. For Brown, that means essentially gear-free. Whenever possible, he shuns packs and Read more ›

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It’s the nature of the sport. Ultra-runners need to minimize the weight of any gear they use. But trail running pro Kris Brown takes weight-saving to new levels. 

“I try to go as minimal as possible,” the 31-year old Santa Barbara runner says. For Brown, that means essentially gear-free. Whenever possible, he shuns packs and even belt pouches in most situations. Whether racing or training, Brown prefers to simply load gel packets into the pockets of a slim pair of running shorts, and hand-carry waterbottles to avoid any kind of extra weight.

“I don’t carry any food on the trail. I stick with gel packets – GU Energy specifically – and I prefer to carry only what fits in my pockets. If the trail is too long between aid or resupply stations, I’ll wear a belt with added pockets to carry extra gels.” 

 

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For that belt, he opts for a Nathan Sports belt, usually the Lightspeed Pak Belt. Hoka One One, Brown’s sponsor, and Nathan collaborated on designing a number of running accessories and this Nathan belt work well with Brown’s ultra-minimalist philosophy. It features a simple pocket for essentials, shock-cord ‘holsters’ to secure gel packets for easy access, and clip attachments for racing numbers. 

The choice to fuel up solely with gels keeps Brown’s trail weight down, and hasn’t impacted his performance, he says. “Use of gels is pretty common, but I think I’m a little toward the extreme in using only gels during runs. Gels and electrolyte drinks. During a single-day race, I pretty much function on sugar and water.”

For hydration, Brown foregoes reservoirs and tubes, opting instead for the simplicity of hand-held bottles. “I just feel more natural running without anything on my back – I shun backpacks whenever possible, even when hiking.” He says he doesn’t think there is any real competitive advantage in using handhelds rather than a reservoir system, “but it just feels better – more natural – to me.” 

 

When pressed on his gear selections, Brown admitted to carrying one bit of extra gear: emergency provisions. But for Brown, emergency provisions means one extra gel packet.  “On long runs, I always have a gel I’m not planning to use. I keep it in a pocket by itself to make sure I know that specific packet is a reserve. I won’t use it unless it’s an emergency. It’s functional as an emergency back-up and it’s a nice security blanket to keep in mind.”

Brown even trims weight in his choice of running apparel. He again references his history in track running, noting he favors a simple fast-drying singlet top and slim shorts. “I dress like I’m at a track meet, I guess.” But for Brown these days, the track is 100 miles long.

Brown’s shoes as the centerpiece of gear in his running kit. “Hoka’s Evo Speedgoat is my favorite shoe. It is lightweight and breathable, with a supportive upper. It provides support and protection with good speed,” he said.  The Evo Speedgoat is a predecessor to the new Speedgoat 4, which Brown says holds true to the fundamentals of the Speedgoat line, “while providing a bit more natural feel underfoot.”

When hitting the road instead of trails, Brown favors the Hoka Carbon X. “As someone with a background in road and track, I still sometimes like to go fast. The carbon fiber plate makes it a bit stiffer and reactive, and it’s just fun to run fast in that shoe.”

 

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Brown started running early in life. He competed in club cross-country events as early as age 10  and excelled as a track athlete at Garfield High in Seattle. In college, he mostly stuck to 5K and 10K events, but always had an eye on longer distances. Ultra was the ultimate goal. 

Brown competed in a couple events in 2016 and 2017, including a 95 miler on Scotland’s West Highland Way. He earned a 4th place finish in the 2017 The North Face / Gore-Tex 50-mile Endurance Challenge before competing in the 2018 Western States 100. Brown finished 10th in his debut in this classic. 

 

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Still just stoked to be here. #westernstates100

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“I was 13th in 2019 – the competition really picked up,” he said, though he plans to regain his top-10 standing, in part by pushing his minimalist approach. 

Looking forward, Brown plans to compete in the 100-mile Tarawera Ultramarathon, New Zealand’s most prestigious trail ultra in February 2020. He’ll follow that up with the Georgia Death Race in March – a 74-miler that features upwards of 28,000 feel of elevation change terminating at Amicalola Falls State Park. The Georgia Death Race is a qualifier event for the Western States 100. 

If you want to spot him out there, just look for the guy who’s not carrying anything. 

 

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Has Atomic Created The One Boot to Rule Them All? The Hawx Prime XTD https://gearinstitute.com/atomic-hawx-prime-xtd/ https://gearinstitute.com/atomic-hawx-prime-xtd/#respond Sat, 18 Jan 2020 18:54:28 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40209

Alpine touring becomes more popular each year with more skiers heading into the backcountry to find pow stashes and more resorts allowing uphill traffic. One problem skiers ran into was the excessive gear — you used to need a completely different setup for touring than the one you had for lift-served days. Over the past Read more ›

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Alpine touring becomes more popular each year with more skiers heading into the backcountry to find pow stashes and more resorts allowing uphill traffic. One problem skiers ran into was the excessive gear — you used to need a completely different setup for touring than the one you had for lift-served days.

Over the past few years that distinction has become less distinct. Companies from both the touring world and the alpine world have gravitated toward equipment that is both uphill capable and sufficient for inbounds, downhill skiing. But issues were still prevalent — equipment was either too heavy, or complicated to use — some boots worked with alpine bindings, while others didn’t, and some didn’t have tech inserts. Striving to provide solutions to these issues, Atomic is introducing their new Hawx Prime XTD line of boots in fall of 2020.

Boots are primarily about the fit. If a boot doesn’t fit, it doesn’t matter what kind of features it has, its weight or how it skis. Atomic has absolutely nailed the fit with the Hawx Prime XTD line. Their new Mimic liner is a heat-moldable liner technology that precisely fits to the nuances of your foot. The liner features a soft, moldable foam, as well as a more rigid plastic on outer parts of the liner that mold to both your foot shape and provide support and protection from possible boot construction hot spots. Additionally, in the XTD models, the shell itself can be heat molded to adjust the 100mm last, providing the ultimate custom fit. I’ve got a high arch and wide forefoot. Finding a boot that fits well can be a problem for me, and my Hawx Prime XTD’s feel like ski slippers after the custom fitting process.

Hawx Prime XTD 130, image courtesy of Atomic

The Hawx Prime XTD’s are based on Atomic’s Hawx alpine boot, providing excellent alpine performance in 130, 120, 115, and 95 flex options. But they also include a walk/ride pivot system that gives 54 degree range of motion that made uphill mode nearly indistinguishable from my Scarpa Maestrale’s. But what’s really impressive is their low weight (my 27.5, 130’s weigh in at just 3lbs 10oz / boot) and their ability to charge down the hill.

In addition to a custom fit and versatility, the Hawx Prime XTD’s feature compatibility with a wide range of both tech and DIN bindings. Whether you’re looking to snap into your lightweight Dynafit’s or a standard downhill binding you’re covered with the Hawx Prime XTD. And if you want to kill your entire quiver you may want to take a look at some Shift bindings.

My gripes with the Hawx Prime XTD? I do miss a full Vibram sole that many touring boots have for traction when boot packing, and just strolling around the parking lot etc. I also wish they were a bit easier to transition from ski to walk mode – you’ve got to kind of lean forward and then back and pull on the lock mechanism at the same time to get it to release. Maybe the lock will loosen up more as I break them in or maybe I’ll just get more used to that motion.

In summary, these boots are the first I’ve truly felt can rip downhill and still tour with the best of them. They’re 6oz lighter than my old Atomic Waymaker Tour 110’s, have a wider range of motion, fit better, and feel like a 130+ flex. They may just be the one boot quiver you’ve been seeking.

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Inside the “Everything Shoe”: HOKA’s Do-It-All Speedgoat 4 https://gearinstitute.com/inside-the-everything-shoe-hokas-do-it-all-speedgoat-4/ https://gearinstitute.com/inside-the-everything-shoe-hokas-do-it-all-speedgoat-4/#respond Wed, 15 Jan 2020 22:37:27 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40143

Back in the olden days (circa 2009), when the rest of the running world leaned into the minimalist movement, HOKA ONE ONE® went big. HOKA’s oversized foam midsoles and aggressive rockers attracted runners who had been disillusioned by the trend toward thin, barely-there minimalist shoes. A decade later, the brand jumped feet first into the Read more ›

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Back in the olden days (circa 2009), when the rest of the running world leaned into the minimalist movement, HOKA ONE ONE® went big. HOKA’s oversized foam midsoles and aggressive rockers attracted runners who had been disillusioned by the trend toward thin, barely-there minimalist shoes.

A decade later, the brand jumped feet first into the hiking market, offering the full-bodied Sky Hike boot series last spring. And now HOKA is filling the gap between megafat trail runners and megafat, supportive backpacking boots with a curious hybrid—the ultralight, ultrathick Speedgoat 4.

“The Speedgoat 4 makes the most of what works well in our other lines,” said Jared Smith, Product Line Manager of the Sky Run series. “Thick, light, and versatile.”

The men's Hoka Speedgoat Mid GTX 2: A trail runner meets a waterproof hiking boot.

As the flagship shoe in HOKA’s new Sky Run line (think flashpacking), the Speedgoat 4 is built in two versions: a classic cushioned trail runner version and a mid-cut lightweight hiking boot, along with a waterproof version of each utilizing a Gore-Tex liner. If you know you like the feel of Speedgoat on trail runs, the mid-cut hiking boot is going to feel very familiar.

Here’s what’s going on in the Speedgoat and what makes it a powerful “utility” shoe:

A Big—but Not Too Big—Midsole

The Speedgoat employs the classic extra-thick foam midsole found throughout HOKA’s products, with a few refinements.

“For that midsole, we constantly noodle on perfect volume – we don’t want to add foam just for as the sake of it. But are looking for the perfect balance of cushioning and feel,” said Smith.

The rockered outsole of the Speedgoat 4 trail running shoe.

HOKA’s massive rockered midsole is one of the defining characteristics of all their shoes. Sculpted from a dual-density foam – EVA for soft, pillowy cushion in places and a rubberized foam for a more responsive, energetic feel in the forefoot – the midsole extends into the footbed, allowing the user’s foot to ‘embed’ into the top of the midsole for direct contact with the structure of the shoe underfoot.

“In engineering our midsoles, we work hard two things for the specific targeted uses: volume and cushioning,” Smith noted. “We use high grade foams which are very durable, and because we have more foam throughout the midsole, the shoes transfer the load over greater volume of foam” for less direct impact pressure.

No Shank, No Rock Plate—Just Foam

That’s one of the reasons, Smith says, that Hoka foregoes use of a traditional shank under that midsole. Another is to ensure a better control and feel on each stride. “The way the midsole is constructed, the foot sits inside the top of the midsole, so the runner enjoys more inherent stability,” he said.

That concept drives the design all Hoka shoes but was especially emphasized in the Speedgoat 4.

The women's Hoka Speedgoat Mid GTX 2.

“The key tenet of our design is cushioning and support,” Smith said. “Support in terms of overall stability, on the specific terrain you are interacting with.”

A rigid or semi-rigid shank does provide some foot protection, but it also dampens the feel of the terrain. “The HOKA midsole provides enough foot protection that you don’t need a shank to protect from rocks and rough terrain,” Smith says.

An Aggressively Rockered Outsole

The geometry of that midsole, with its aggressive toe-to-heel curve – known as the shoe’s ‘rocker’ – also adds to the control and comfort of the shoes. “The rocker effect allows smoother transitions through the strides,” Rosario said. The rocker helps guide your foot through the heel-to-toe motion, reducing the impact force of your stride and providing added power on each push-off, he added.

Gore-Tex Waterproofing Options

To complement the new Speedgoat 4 designs, the waterproof version of the shoe and, beginning this year, other footwear in the Sky series – Run as well as Hike – will make use of Gore-Tex liners. Previous models employed eVent membranes for waterproofing.

The switch to Gore-Tex involved several meetings and discussions between the design teams at HOKA and Gore. The year-long process eventually led to HOKA opting to incorporate Gore-Tex in the Speedgoat 4 line as well as other shoes going forward.

“We found that Gore-Tex is bringing great performance to our products,” said Rosario. “They have a very robust innovation pipeline that we can jump on.” Plus, Gore-Tex has significantly higher brand recognition than eVent, he noted, and “it’s easier for people to understand the performance characteristics of a product they already know more about.”

Full-Rubber Vibram Outsoles

Where the Speedgoat 4 meets the road, HOKA stuck with their proven Vibram Megagrip outsole, though with some significant upgrades. This outsole, according to Smith, has earned high praise from runners of all calibers, so HOKA wanted to refine it rather than replace for use on the new shoes. The updates to the Megagrip sole were simply repositioning of lugs, and a slightly different geometry to the lugs themselves. “We moved some lugs to give better traction going up and down slopes. And the lugs themselves now have stepped sides to help them shed mud and debris without losing traction or control,” Smith said.

A Roomier Fit

Finally, Smith noted during the 15 months of development of the Speedgoat 4, designers and engineers incorporated feedback from actual customers, as well as HOKA’s pro athletes for some tweaks to the overall fit of the shoe. The Speedgoat 4 shoes all feature a slightly wider forefoot box than was found on previous HOKA models.

“The feedback suggested our standard fit was a little snug right around the metatarsal head, so we opened that up just a little to give a bit more forefoot volume in the Speedgoat 4,” he said. “The fit is still purely performance oriented but now it offers a little bit more room for comfort during long runs. That added comfort should allow for better performance.”

The Big Fat Point

“HOKA Sky is for everything from trail running to fast hiking – think of a performance race car that works on rough terrain,” said Hy Rosario, product line manager of the Sky Hike series. “HOKA Sky is designed to service all the different trail needs.”

And that’s as it should be.

 

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The 10 Golden Rules of Better Hiking   https://gearinstitute.com/the-10-golden-rules-of-better-hiking/ https://gearinstitute.com/the-10-golden-rules-of-better-hiking/#respond Sun, 12 Jan 2020 00:11:20 +0000 https://gearinstitute.com/?p=40162

Hiking is simple. You just pick a trail and walk on it. Easy right? The problem is this: We constantly see hikers and backpackers who are making their experience a lot heavier and more uncomfortable than they need to. They bring too much stuff. They’re wearing the wrong shoes. It looks like they’re – suffering. Read more ›

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Hiking is simple. You just pick a trail and walk on it. Easy right?

The problem is this: We constantly see hikers and backpackers who are making their experience a lot heavier and more uncomfortable than they need to. They bring too much stuff. They’re wearing the wrong shoes. It looks like they’re – suffering.

Search around and you’ll come across a million tips and tricks to help you have to better experience on the trail. We think the following are the 10 most important. If you’ve mastered these, chances you’re going to have a good time out there.

And that’s the point!

1. Pick the Right Footwear

 

Think about it this way: You don’t need a pair of stiff-soled hiking boots unless you are carrying a heavy pack or hiking in really rugged terrain. The general rule is the less you have on your feet, the better—until the point that you begin to feel rocks poking through your midsole, or you begin walking on steep, banked, or rocky trails.

Most hikers have three pairs of hiking footwear—a low-cut trail running shoe (or slightly beefed up trail running shoe) for mellow days, a traditional, stuffer-soled hiking boot for bigger loads and rugged trails, and a “light hiker”—which is often a lightweight, midcut hiking boot for days in the middle.

Just grab the right one for day’s mission and you’ll be set.

2. Lighten Up on the “Big Three”

Your pack, tent, and sleeping bag generally represent the three heaviest pieces of gear in your kit. Try to keep your tent, sleeping bag and pack under 3 pounds each.

In sleeping bags, down is lighter than synthetics, and quilts or “bottomless” bags are lighter than traditional sleeping bags. For packs, assemble the rest of your hiking gear, then get a pack that is just big enough to contain it all. Modern, free-standing double wall tents frequently weigh less than 3 pounds, without sacrificing comforts like double doors and vestibules.

You can find tons of advice on how to go even lighter than that for each of these items, but if you keep the 3-pound rule of thumb in mind, you’ll be in good shape.

3. Slim Down on Your “Little Three”

Like the big three, these are items that nearly everyone carries when backpacking: your backpacking stove, cookset, and sleeping pad. Before settling on your camp kitchen set-up, first figure out your cooking needs. If you are simply rehydrating dried foods, an ultralight alcohol stove and tiny titanium pot could be all you need.

Regardless of your cooker, pack the smallest fuel container possible. And eating directly from the cook pot means you can leave your dinner plate/bowl at home.

For sleeping pads, ditch the heavy self-inflating foam pads and opt for a lightweight air mattress.

 4. Keep it Compact

 

A small, fully loaded backpack is not only lighter and carries better on the trail, but it helps eliminate the impulse to over-pack. You should have a pack that is just large enough to carry your basic hiking kit, and not much bigger.

That means opting for compact gear—stuff like nesting cooksets where the bowls, stove, mugs and fuel canister nest into the pot itself. Down sleeping bags are still significantly more compressible than synthetic, and blow-up inflatable sleeping pads roll up tighter than rather than self-inflating or foam pads.

5. Embrace Compression

Sure, this is pretty basic, but we’re surprised with how many people we still see stuffing loose piles of clothes into their backpacks.

Compression sacks remove air voids from your soft goods, allowing you to utilize smaller backpacks for further weight savings. They also help protect your gear and can serve dual purposes. For instance, the minimal extra clothing your carry, should be carried in a lightweight compress sack to keep the gear compact and easy to pack. Waterproof compression sacks around your sleeping bag and dry clothes are an insurance policy if your bag gets drenched. As bonus, that sack of clothes can double as a pillow

6. Pack Less Clothing

The less extra clothing you bring the better, and a lot of hikers just hike and sleep in the same set for days. At most, pack a ‘wet set’ and a ‘dry set.’ The wet set is what you are going to be sweating in, and/or wearing during rainy conditions. The dry set is a clean set of baselayers and dry socks you change into in camp for sleeping. Opt for lightweight, compressible clothes—including the lightest, most compressible rain jacket you can get away with–and obviously avoid cotton anything.

7. Carry Less Water (But Do It Safely)

At 2 pounds per liter, water adds a great deal of weight to a pack. It is obviously critical to bring enough water—plus a little extra for safety—but a lot of hikers bring way, way more than they need without even thinking about it.

If you know, for sure, that there are plentiful water sources along your planned route, you can carry less water and just refill your bottles along the trail using a filter. An ultralight straw-style water filter, or a bottle-top add-on filter weighs far less than a cup of water yet can treat dozens of gallons for you. Just be careful with this sort of advanced technique—don’t try it unless you are intimately familiar with your own body’s water needs and the terrain you are heading into. A misjudged distance, a dry creek, a wrong turn, a turned ankle—and the consequences of going light on water can quickly backfire. Be conscious of water weight, but be smart.

Also, be mindful how you carry your water. Hydration bladders tend to encourage people to bring too much water and it is hard to monitor how much water you have remaining. Collapsible water bottles weigh a lot less than hard, plastic Nalgene-type bottles and don’t take up lots of pack space.

8. Cut Food Weight

Food weight can be trimmed in two ways. First, carry less food. Plan precise portions and stick with them. You can also save weight by eliminating water-rich foods. Go with dehydrated fruits, freeze-dried meals, or even simple dried rice or pasta side dishes from the grocery store. For simple one or two-night outings, plan ‘cold’ meals such as dried fruit, hard cheese, and jerky and you can ditch the weight of a stove and fuel, too.

9. Minimize Extra Gear

Sure, all this stuff COULD be nice to have out there--but it's probably not necessary.

The plethora of gear available to carry to camp makes it easy to overload with luxury items. But a hard look at your needs versus wants can help cut the fat. Instead of a compact chair, just sit on your pack. It instead of a heavy multi-tool, opt for a slim single-bladed knife. Instead of a selfie stick, use your arm. When you start of the trail, you’re your phone off or at least switch to “Airplane” mode and you’ll cut your need for backup batteries. Leave your paperback at home, and instead enjoy the quiet of the wilderness in camp.

10. Re-Evaluate Your Pack After Each Trip

For best weight savings, after each outing upload your pack onto a tarp or clear surface and reconsider each item individually. Did you use it? Was its use essential or optional? If optional, would you be comfortable without it next time? If so, ditch it.

Likewise, any gear that was not used, leave out next time – unless it was packed for safety reasons (i.e. small disposal lighter wrapped in duct tape, a map, etc.). Did you really need a camp trowel, or could you dig a cat hole with a rock or stick? Did you bring too many clothes? For the stuff you used, is there a way to get a smaller, lighter version that will work just as well?

 

 

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