Out and about Fairbanks, Alaska
What can I say, I couldn't get this pack fast enough on my alaskan husky for him to run off with it and play like he didn't even notice it was on him. Since he is a sled dog he was already harness broken though.
The pack itself is not the lightest, but I guess it makes up by its sturdy built and nice little features. I did think the internal water blatters were a nice addition for both padding (I just blew them up when I didn't put any water in) and water supply. I got the M for my dog and wasn't sure how much would actually fit in, but I was amazed at how much room these bags offer. My one dog carried dry dog food for 3 days for 2 dogs plus some water. Because my 2 dogs love to play, the pack sure didn't stop them and I was surprised at how well the thing stayed in place although they were jumping all over each other and rolling on the ground.
One thing that I found a little bit annoying was the velcro straps on the sides that stop the bags from 'flopping' around the harness. The first time I closed it I guess the velcro wasn't completely covered and kinda rubbed on the strap and messed it up a bit. Plus they are a bit tedious to close if you have an impatient dog.
Other than that the pack was definitely nice to have so I didn't have to carry the dog's stuff as well.
The one pocket can be converted into a store away pouch, not sure about its size. In case you are wondering about how to store the jacket - it compresses really nicely, you can probably stuff it in even less than a 1L bottle.
I own multiple dry bags and love this one because of its sturdiness. My siliconized nylon ones, I am always a little hesitant to put outside my backpack or throw around in a canoe because they might tip. This tough material is really abrasion resistant and therefore I strap it outside of my pack if needed. The loops are perfect for holding it in place. I also used it to strap it on my bike rack on top of the panniers. I chose the bright orange color that makes it easy to find in camp.
The only slight downside - it is a bit heavier than the other dry bags, but really, its sturdiness makes up for it.
This dry bag is super lightweight and thus accompanies on every backpacking trip. I use one for my down sleeping bag and one as a stuff sack for clothes. The siliconized nylon makes it easy to stuff and compress my bulky sleeping bag. I also used it on a canoe trip and so far everything stayed dry. I have a sea to summit ultra-sil bag as well, but the tape over the seems pretty much came off all around, so I wouldn't bet on it being waterproof anymore. The OR version of this seems to be better, I also like the strap enforcing the top, it makes it easier to roll. Also, the 2 D rings on each side of the buckle make it easy to either hang it up in a tree or to just make sure the bucke doesnt open.
I love that it's so lightweight!
The Tikka2 is great little companion. Doesn't weigh much, so I can just throw it in the head compartment of my backpack to be ready when it gets dark. I always use rechargeable batteries with it and since I live in Alaska, they have to work also when it is 40 below or less. So far this little guy never let me down, be it on a trip or just skijoring or mushing. I personally think the range of the lightbeam is not that far, but so far this has never really been a problem, since usually all I want to see is not that far away. I can hang it up nicely in the tent for playing cards. I almost always use it on the lowest setting and it seems to last forever on one charge.
Bottom line: simple lightweight piece of gear that will not let you down for your 'everynight' camping trip needs!
The MSR whisperlite was my first and only stove so far. I've had it now for about 7 years and it still works like a charm. There are so many great things about it, I don't even know where to start:
- it packs so small that (without bottle of course) I can stuff it inside my pots for transport.
- it is lightweight
- every thing on it you can take apart and if necessary repair (although mine never broke)
- people that are unexperienced say you can not regulate it and I agree, it does take some special touch to manipulate it the way you want, but you CAN definitely lower its burning power or increase it according to cooking needs
- I am too cheap to buy white gas and always use the cheapest fuel from the regular gas station and it does get dirty, but the really handy shaker jet auto cleans it nicely. After cooking and before storing it away I just give it a good shake to get the carbon out of the jet and that usually does the trick. I think in all its life I have taken it completely apart only twice.
One downside of it being a fuel stove however, is that some problems might occur at the airport. Traveling back to the US through Vancouver Airport, they actually took out my fuel pump and the fuel bottle although both were empty, but apparently smelled. In all my travels across Europe this had never happened before. So just make sure you completely let all parts air our before trying to get it in the plane. O and never mention you have camping gear in your backpack, makes things a lot easier.
But anyways, I can highly recommend the stove!
I have been eyeing the Osprey Xenon for probably a couple years before I finally decided to switch from my old pack over to Osprey. And the decision paid off! The first tour it accompanied me to Katmai National Park, southern Alaska and made the trip so much more enjoyable. On the ~18mile hike in to the base camp with roughly 80lbs on my back it was amazing how light and comfortable the load felt with the Xenon. For dayhikes I tried both the hood that converts into a fanny pack as well as the lightly packed backpack. It compresses really nicely due to the tons of straps on it, so that it even makes a comfortable daypack if you don't want to pack any extra weight. Because my old pack was extremely simple, no fancy zippers or straps, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff going on around the Xenon, but once you got it figured out it actually all makes sense and has its purpose. So although a bit heavier than my older pack it is definitely worth the additional comfort especially with heavy loads.
Because Osprey has a very thought-through fitting system with special sized waist belt, shoulder harness and backpack size, I actually went to a nearby store for fitting it and then bought it at backcountry because it was way cheaper.
The Osprey Xenon 85 in action on a ski tour in the White Mountains, Alaska
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