Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Luna Sandals Tech Strap Walking Review

  The team over at Luna Sandals have been doing a pretty good job at hyping up their newest modification to the ATS lacing system.   This added piece of webbing was promised to make the foot feel more secure during lateral movements and lessen the 'toe wedgie' feeling that sandals can give you.  This is especially important for someone that is descending a steep trail grade.  Overtime this may cause irritated at the end of a long day of backpacking.

  So does this extra modification to their ATS lacing system live up to all the hype?  Lets take a look!

Luna Sandals Mono w/ ATS laces & Tech Strap mod in the Olympic National Park. 

OR Show WM 2014 in the eyes of a Minimalist

This was my first visit to Salt Lake City and to Outdoor Retailer.  Given that I normally spend much of my time alone it was a bit overwhelming. Coming from Port Angeles it was a shock to go into the city and find people walking the street with brand new fresh out of the factory puffy jackets, jeans and dress shoes.  It was eye-opening to say the least.  After the full experience was over I came away realizing how important it is to me to support small, innovative and passionate businesses.  Don't go after a product just because you recognize the name. It seems to me that most of the larger companies have lost sight of what created the outdoor industry to begin with: the outdoors.  Let’s do our part to direct the market back to the outdoors-man, not just what looks good in our closet space.  I know that I can go to my local Goodwill and outfit someone completely for a long trek really inexpensively, and after all it is the GETTING OUT that counts.

 Here are a few items that caught my eye in the world of minimal footwear and photography.

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014
A calm morning at OR Show Winter Market, before the crowds arrive. 

Gossamer Gear Gorilla & Kumo - Differences

  Was in need to ditch my heavy weight traditional backpack, so I reached out to Gossamer Gear for help.  Not only did the pack need to be durable, but help repel all the water that falls here in the Olympic Mountains.  Also to have pockets to carry water, snacks or whatever else the trip demanded, giving easy access at anytime; without removing off my back.  Strong enough to carry up to 2 weeks of food comfortably on my shoulders.  When my son & I do trips, wanted to be able to fit extra items into my pack, keeping weight out of his.

  Just finished my second full hiking season carrying the Gorilla.  Spent over 100 nights in the wilderness within that time.  Carrying 14 days of food w/ Bear Can & Ice Axe last year.  Then 10 days of supplies w/ tripod & camera gear this season.  Encountered 4 season conditions while on and off the trail.  Snow, Rain, Wind and brush were not uncommon, even swam across a river last year wearing the pack (not recommended).  None of the contents in the internal compartment ever received moisture (not rated waterproof).

Gossamer Gear Gorilla
GG Gorilla in the upper Bogachiel on my recent Divide to Coast route.  - shared on Instagram.  Water & Pyramid pole right.  Tripod & snacks left pocket.  Shelter in the back pocket when wet, well as stove, ground cloth, stakes, eye protection and maps w/ tide chart.   Bag, food and camera equipment in the main compartment.   

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter - Long Term Review

  Aside from walking, hydrating is the second most consuming task while backpacking.

  In the past I would dread taking off my pack and hand pumping water through a traditional form of treatment.

  Then trying treatment drops was more efficient, but one still had to wait 15 minutes for the water to treat. If I wanted to put in trail miles, I would have to carry water in my pack in order to keep moving.

  When I was asked to test this product it got me excited. At first I was skeptical, but with use, I started to fall in love.

  After a few trips in the wilderness this spring, I decided it would be my primary water treatment system for '30+ Days in the Olympic National Park' trail series.

  Not once did it let me down and was able to field back-flush without carrying the manufactures syringe, which I chose not to carry because it served no other purpose.

Note:  This is for the first generation filter.  

Sawyer Squeeze
My first trip with the Sawyer Squeeze Filter System - shortly after I started having trouble with leaking bags

Minimalist Wallet Review

  I have been using this Wallet System for over a year now.  Don't see myself using anything else for an Outdoorsmen type Lifestyle.  Keeps your things dry and semi compact.  Easy to look for items inside and visible without opening.

  I get ask or commented about my Wallet System almost every time that it gets pulled out from the Pocket.  So if your looking not to attract small attention to yourself; this Tool is not for you.

  Using a Minimal Wallet also has its Health Benefits.  Just like not wearing Shoes; it will help keep your posture in proper alignment.  This time in the form of Sitting.  Not one of my favorite things to do, but rest has its place.

  Just 1/4 inch raise in your hips can throw your whole body out of a neutral position.   For this reason I personally chose not even to carry my Wallet in the back-pocket.

ziploc wallet
My Ziploc Minimalist Wallet.  Folded once for best Water Protection. 


Backpacking Elwha Trail & Gear Test


  • Elwha Bike & Walk Upriver
  • 'My First Impressions' - Trail Designs Caldera Ti-Tri 3 Fuel Cook System 
  • Elwha Walk Upriver (cont.)
  • 'My First Impressions' - Sawyer Squeeze Filter 
  • Elwha Walk Upriver (cont.)
  • 'My First Impressions' - DIY Tyvek Rain Gear System
  • Elwha Walk Downriver (cont.)
  • 'My First Impressions' - Luna Sandals Original Sole Naked Top w/ New ATS Laces
  • Elwha Walk Downriver (end)


Solo Elwha Walk:
  I was in serious need to clear the mind and get some more Training on my Legs.  In my opinion there is no better Training Grounds than the Elwha Valley.   This would also give me a perfect opportunity to Trail Test some Tools that I would be bringing with me on my 30+ Days in the Olympic National Park trip in just over a Month from now.  Training has been going on now for the last 8 Months with the main goal of being 'In the Best Shape of my Life'.

  The last handful of Trips that I've done really haven't pushed my body to its limits.  Being a Trail Runner at Heart; I deeply love self punishment.  Something about that feeling of when you think, 'Can't take another step'.  As you fight with Mental Negativity and flip it around to push through the Fatigue.  Its a very addictive feeling to some.

  The style of Trekking I usually prefer is Wake Up, Walk Slow all Day, Set Up, Eat, Sleep and Repeat.  Typical Camping has its place, but tends not to push me in the same way as a good stretch on the 'Ol' Legs'. This Trip would give me that and even plenty of little surprises.  Those little things are really what makes the memories last a lifetime.

  This has been the 5th trip up the Elwha Valley this year already.  I do not enjoy the first 9 miles of this trail one bit; however the Upper Elwha will always draw me back.  With the plan of taking my kids there and their kids-kids.

  The Upper Elwha is a very Spiritual place for me.  It is hard to put into words the feels that go through your brain while you are in this part of the forest.  I read that it once was a meeting place for the Native American Tribes of the area so that they could do Trade; no matter what their quarrel was.  That they always met here in Peace.  Right there says enough.

  It is also my belief that every young person should Trek the last 15 miles of the Valley alone.  The Forest talks to you and the Primal feel it gives you; very much grounds your mind.  No ego is big enough to engulf  this feeling.  Perhaps the Native Americans once sent their young into this area to become Men?

elwha trail
Upper Elwha Wilderness

Luna Sandals ATS Lacing Review

Disclaimer:  I am not a gear reviewer. My review will be based on a Backpacking and Trail Running point of view only. I do have a lot of people asking me about various models of Minimalist Footwear for Backpacking. So I thought I would put in my two cents.

  I planned on doing a review of the Luna ATS Sandals to use during Backpacking Trips.  Shortly after receiving my Pair in the Mail to my dismay.  I was informed via Facebook and Newsletter that they were no longer offering the ATS Sole package as the Leadville.  They would however still be offering the ATS Lacing System, so not all was lost.  So in this review I will be primarily focusing on the ATS Lacing, Leadville Sole Pattern and not the Foot-Bed.

8" of Fresh Snow

  What I was looking for as a User:

  • Breathable option to VFF
  • Protection vs Skin to Ground Bare
  • Camp Footwear
  • Post Trail Footwear
  • Everyday in Urban Environment

  Above is my expectations of a piece of Footwear I was looking to add to my Hiking Arsenal.

Vibram Seeya Trail Review

Ever since the first time I put on Foot Gloves I have been in search for the perfect Trail Tool.  One that offers Light Weight Protection, Ground Feedback and Breathability.  Most importantly as a Barefoot Backpacker.  I need something that handles water well and drys fast.  I have found that in the Vibram Five Finger Seeya.

vibram seeya
Rocky Trail

  I got invited to go on a Trail Run earlier in the week by a Trail Friend.    Needing to get in-shape  for the Epic 2012 Backpacking Season I have planned.  Of coarse I could  not say no.  Being Outside one trip a day for the rest of my life, I would die happy.

  The route would lead us on an 13.5 Mile Trail Run in the Olympic National Park along the Shores of Lake Crescent.

Vibram Spyridon LS Review - Hiking & Backpacking

My whole purpose of purchasing the Spyridon LS is for Snow Travel, Glacier Travel and Alpine Traversing.  Because of the Weight increase and rocker plate, I have no desire to use these any other time.  I also personally don't like any of the VFF LS models.
  The new sole design defiantly made my eyes perk up the first time I seen them.  I was in need of more traction when in certain conditions such as Heavy Mud, Shush, Snow, Ice and Bushwhacking.

Vibram Spyridon sole

  Right away I didn't like the thick tongue feel of the LS system, so I took scissors to my pair.  Cutting it all the way out of the Footwear.  Then i connected a small piece of bungee cord to keep the top closed from Debris Collection.

  Within the first first mile walking on a Wet Trail I noticed the Rocker Plate in the sole.  Gave my foot a burning cramp like feeling, but also could of been caused by the stiffness of the upper.

I do not know what target market the VFF designers were going for when they put this Upper onto such an aggressive Sole Pattern.   The rear 75% is almost Shoe like and  provides way to much protection.