I live in Ames, Iowa and work as a mechanical engineer for Iowa State University.
I love alpine/sub-alpine backpacking and have packed in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, California, Utah, South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa. I've also just gotten into motorcycling and... compact backpacking gear is perfect for motorcycle touring!
I've posted a lot of 5 star gear reviews on backcountry.com. I keep a VERY detailed log of my gear -- every piece of gear/food/clothing has been weighed down to the tenth-of-an-ounce -- and I scrutinize the crap out of this stuff! If I give it 5 stars, I mean it.
I use a Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack (size xxs) to keep my Jetboil Ti stove and an extra 100g fuel cylinder tidy. After a meal on a recent trip, it began to rain and I slipped the Stuff sack over the assembled Jetboil to keep its neoprene sleeve and burner dry. Worked like a champ!
That's 5'-7" Katie in a size small Atom LT jacket. We rode my motorcycle to a walk around Ada Hayden Lake in Ames, Iowa and the Atom LT held back the morning's 26 deg wind chill temp. We both think the Atom LT is a great jacket (I've had mine for over 4 years). It's warm and lightweight and just feels great. With its athletic/trim cut, it looks great too. Highly recommended.
In this "lo-fi" video, Ric Cabot, President of Darn Tough Vermont, talks about what he and his company had to do to stave off the outsourcing of his company's Vermont-made socks.
I finally bought my first pair of Darn Tough socks. I was tired of my many pairs of "the other brand" merino socks failing prematurely (and having their customer service people whine). These socks - so far - rock! Comfortable, breathable, fit great and look great (I bought the lime variety). In fact, they're so comfortable that, in one stretch, I wore one pair 5 days in a row!
And... on top of all this, these socks have the longest name out there!
I've purchased many pairs of these socks over the last three years and... they - are - the - bomb! In fact, I like 'em better than my many pairs of Smartwool socks (whaaa?!). My 18- and 21-year-old backpacking sons concur. They're comfortable, breathable and long-lasting. And the chocolate brown (former color) and grey color schemes go with most of what I wear.
What more can you want out of a sock?
I recently went online to check battery specs for this watch and found nothing. I looked through the guide that came with the watch and only found the statement "Battery replacement must be performed by an authorized Columbia service center to retain a valid warranty".
I opened her up and found a Renata 377 button-type battery. Energizer, Eveready and Renata all use the number 377 for this battery. Other battery manufacturer's, like Maxell, Panasonic and Sony have an equivalent battery numbered SR626SW.
Attached pic shows a few of my Air Zippsacks (NOT the Air Zippditty Stuffsacks) in Glacier National Park. I've long thought bc.com should carry the former and was pleasantly surprised that they now have the latter. I assume that Granite Gear created the Zippditty to round out the small end of their zippered stuffsack offerings. For example, the largest Zippditty here (146 cu in) is smaller than the smallest Zippsack (280 cu in) (orange zippered stuff in the pic).
I can't speak for Zippditty's, but GG's Air Zippsacks are the bomb! I've purchased about ten of these stuffs over the years - for myself and for others - and they really help keep my gear organized. The Cordura Sil-Nylon, used in both Zippditty and Zippsacks, is uber-lightweight and is slick (making it easy to slide in/out of my top-load pack). This fabric is also semi-translucent making it possible to identify contents.
Recommendation: Ask bc.com to add the GG Air Zippsacks to their site (I did)!
On a recent trip 'round The North Circle loop in Glacier National Park (7 days x 60 miles), I used my BDULTP's 90% of the time. They were especially useful on ascents / descents / crossing mountain passes. In this pic we're taking a break on a 1500-foot ascent on the highline trail (just below the Continental Divide). Photo by Gary Munkvold.
My Pulsar 1P grabs some rays at the end of a long day on the trail. On this trip we divided three people between two tents (the excellent MH Skyledge 3 and the Pulsar 1P). We played paper, rock, scissors every night to see who got the Marmot tent!
Selfie of me and a pair of SmartWool Hiking Medium Crew Socks on The North Circle loop in Glacier National Park. I wear my SW socks over a pair Fox River merino wool liners for the "perfect setup" on EVERY backcountry adventure. I carry an extra pair of each and alternate every day.
Yes, that's a Precip Baseball Hat - shielding my eyes - under my sunglasses. Coincidentally, backpacking partner, Mike, is sporting a Precip Safari Hat in the pic, too.
After a couple of years on the bench, my Precip hat made it back to first string. On a recent 8-day / 60-mile trip through Glacier National Park, the Precip barely left my head. Mostly, this hat shielded my eyes from 7+ days of bright skies. It also helped hold up the hood brim of my shell jacket during a morning rain.
The mesh liner helped me maintain a cool head in temps that were 15 deg above normal and the adjustable "hook and loop strap" tailored the fit so that it wouldn't blow off in GNP gusts.
Contrary to previous reviewer, I thought the size of the watch is fine (watch case O.D. = 1-3/4" / see pic). Larger watch faces seem to be the trend lately. The band is thin, but comfortable. The watch itself is very light - a plus for some but, for me, it's missing the "heft" of a quality watch. My only real complaint is that the crown pulls out a little too easily and I occasionally mis-adjust the time by accident.
Final analysis: This watch is a fashion watch, not a serious outdoors watch (and, thus, the Backcountry.com recommended use is "Casual"). A pretty good watch for the (on sale) price.
From Tech Specs above, the new Leatherman Juice S2 model weighs 130g (4.6 oz). My previous S2 model comes in at 4.35 oz. The leather holster adds 1.10 oz. Combined, my S2 and holster weigh 5.45 oz.
I think the Leatherman Juice S2 has one of the best function-to-weight ratios out there. I've used mine on hundreds of miles of alpine backcountry trips over the past four years and can't recommend it enough.
How do I use this multi-tool?
- I use the knife always
- I use the scissors even more
- I use the pliers for pulling tent stakes out of frozen ground
- I use the phillips-head screwdriver in town, but not on the trail
- I use the medium screwdriver for opening the back of my watch
- I use the small screwdriver in town, but not on the trail
- I use the extra-small screwdriver for adjusting compass declination
- I use the bottle opener for beer
- I don't use the can opener (does anybody?)
Backpacker Magazine gave this tool an Editor's Choice Gold Award in 2014 (Backpacker's Gear Editor, Kristen Hostetter, REALLY likes this knife) and a video:
This video answers a couple community questions posted below:
A1. The closed cell pad doesn't absorb water, even if punctured.
A2. The pad is meant to be used "silver side up" when placed on the ground.
Last fall I carried this pack (last year's model) for 38 miles x 6 days - mostly above 12,000' - in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness. Fully loaded on the first day, my pack weighed 31 lbs and the Exos 58 carried the load nicely.
Osprey built this pack to be a super-lightweight, full-featured pack. My size large weighs in at 2 lbs, 12.2 oz and, other than low weight, I wouldn't call this a "minimalist" pack (look at the bullet point list of features above). I thought the previous model's zippered, mesh waist-belt pockets were too big / too floppy and Osprey addressed that with their current model. I wouldn't use the elastic shoulder strap pockets, but no star deduction for that feature here.
I'm a big proponent of using 55 - 60 liter capacity packs for week-long trips. My other pack in this category is Gregory's excellent z55 (also received an update for 2014). My older z55 weighs 14 oz more than the Exos 58 but carries the load a little better at the heavy end of the spectrum. I'll likely choose the z55 for 6- and 7-day trips and the Exos 58 for 3- and 4-day trips. (Looks like it's gonna be a fight to see who gets to go on the 5-day trips!)
Photo shows "gear dump" at Bear Lake camp site in Colorado's South San Juan Wilderness.