Showing posts with label vibram five fingers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vibram five fingers. Show all posts

Vibram EL-X Long Term Backpacking Review

  At the start of the hiking season, I wrote a Trail Review for the Vibram Five Finger EL-X.  I've since put this pair of footwear to the test.  Used in backpacking on and off the trial, even non-traditional mountaineering.  Traveled in/on Ice, Snow, Glaciers, Rainforest, the rugged Olympic Coast, Scree, Rock, Moss and even walked down/over wind fallen trees.  These little guys were also randomly on my feet in Escalate, Utah.

  I still stand behind every statement in my first review of the EL-X.  Its a good piece of kit to have in your lineup.  Even if you just use them as a secondary footwear source, such as in camp or river crossings.  I found the tread to be superb for winter and/or slippery conditions.

Vibram EL-X
Vibram EL-X, with 3 months of heavy use.  Complete upper failure on the inside forefoot.  Plastic-like material, acting as a skeleton for the upper cracks in below freezing conditions.  The same material is used in the Spyridon upper.  

Vibram Seeya Long Term Backpacking Review

  Last year I did a trail review for the Vibram Fivefinger Seeya.  Then took the footwear on a few weekend trips, couple trips on the North Olympic Coast and Mount St. Helens double loops.

  Keep in mind that they were worn only a 3rd of the time while not in sandals.  So there is no way for me to tell you the exact mileage walked in them.  Only that the terrain was on the harsh ends of surfaces to travel on.

  The designers intended this footwear to be worn for road running and not sharp rocks.  So that has a lot to do with the fabric failing.  Moisture also played its toll on allowing the upper to rip.

 Feeling that the Seeya was the closest thing to being barefoot at the time.  I decided to add it to my backpacking kit when scrambling, steep traversing and kicking steps in hard snow pack.  Areas where my preferred footwear; did not perform as well on.

Vibram Seeya
Vibram Fivefinger Seeya Upper - Outside the heal.  Stress point caused by side-hilling. 

Returning to the Bailey Range - 30+ Days in the ONP Section 5

Start at the beginning of story?

  Last year, while backpacking Solo Across the Olympic National Park a nice man picked me up hitchhiking.

  During the 4 hour car ride back to Port Angeles.  We exchanged hiking stories and email addresses.

  Through the year we exchanged several messages and started planning for a late summer adventure into the Bailey Range.

  He expressed that a trip with his wife through Montana and variable weather would leave the dates flexible.

  The last email exchanged a few days before we hit the trailhead expressed that I had just returned from this area on a Solo Trip.

  He was ready to go since the weather window looked really promising.

  I of course was all ready to go back.  This time on a mission to find Autumn color and shoot some video.  Not walking such long days would also allow me time to enjoy some beauty in the heart of the Olympics.

  So off we set with a few days worth of food on our backs.  He being a traditional backpacker with a big load and heavy boots.  Me with a recently field stripped pack which put me at an 8 lbs base weight and minimal Sandals.  My VFF's were also worn for the sections of rock scrambling.

  Together, with one goal: to arrive into the Bailey Range, explore Ferry Basin and go look for Olympic Elk in Cream Basin.

Dodger Point
Last Sunset for the summer of 2012.  The next morning an Autumn frost fell like clockwork.  Views of Stephen Peak, Ruth Peak, Mt. Carrie and the Northern Bailey Range

Solo Bailey Range Traverse - 30+ Days in the ONP Section 4

Start at the beginning of story?

  The Bailey Range Traverse has been on my bucket list for a few years now. In fact, all my trail training for the last 8 months was inspired by it and I used glimpses of it's peaks for motivation while in various locations of the park earlier in the year.

  The goal for this section of the route was to enjoy it's beauty, but to do it in a timely fashion. Secondly, to do it as minimally as possible without compromising my personal safety.

  The only footwear that I wore were my Luna Sandals for most of this route and Vibram Five Finger Seeya which I used for a good section of snow traverse.

  My gear consisted of Gossamer Gear Backpack and Shelter, Sawyer Squeeze Filter screwed onto bottled water container and other small items. The pack came in just over 9 lbs baseweight, by adding ice ax and bear can it was over 12 lbs.

  This traverse crescents around Mt. Olympus and can also be seen all the way across the horizon from the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.

  After leaving the Sol Duc area, the trail turns into a traverse until after you drop down the Elwha Snow Finger. This body of snow is also where the Elwha River starts.


mount olympus
Mt. Olympus from the Catwalk

Balancing Olympic Passes - 30+ Days in the ONP Section 3

Start at the beginning of story?

  This spring while we were doing parts of the planning together.  Nivaun asked if I would like to join his friends and wife on a leg of their journey.

  Being up for the challenge for some additional miles to the original route set back last October.  I had already been to some of the place in the route the year before; however this would be a chance to do some side trips.

   Last time through the area my backpack started at 70 lbs.  No way in heck I wanted to go scramble a few peaks after going over the Mountain Passes; when it took everything in the gas tank just to get up the thing.

  This year was a different story with my backpack base weight just under 10 lbs.  I had plenty of energy and by the time the group was ready to pitch camp.  Had plenty of energy extra to burn; at times even grew restless.

Olympic National Park
Peak #2 of the day - Looking over to '1,000 Acre Meadows',  Mt. Anderson, Sentinel Peak (later that day) and behind the Pack lies the Bailey Range.  Product testing my Luna Sandals Leadville Pacer on new MGT foodbed w/ updated ATS Laces - Sawyer Squeeze Filter w/ Aquafina bottle - DIY Tyvek Rain Jacket

Elwha Trail to Quinault - 30+ Days in the ONP Section 1.b

Start at the beginning of story?

  In Port Angeles we dropped off our Ice Axes and other things that we wouldn't be needed with the altered route.

  I personally spent time shoving my face and doing a little blog update at the local library.

With our spirits down from turning back on the Cat Walk.  We still had to have a sit down meeting around camp about what to do with the remainder of the route.

  After sleeping on the issue; decided that we would catch up to our route schedule by skipping that section of 'trail'.

  The timing just wasn't right to go across that section of the Bailey's at that moment in time.  I am a huge believer in reading energy's and all the vibes were telling me negative things.  Very sensitive to those sort of things and always go with my gut.

Camp Wilder
the spiritual Camp Wilder area of the Upper Elwha Valley

Backpacking Olympic Coast with Kids

  I have been wanting to take my Son on a Backpacking Trip for some time now.  Other opportunities fell through because of bad weather and scheduling conflicts.

  Once seeing the weather window open up; I was really excited to share our first Official Backpacking Trip together.  Since barely walking he has gone on Day Hikes and Camping Trips, but never on an overnight in the Wilderness.

  It is important for kids to be outdoors; now more than ever.  There are very crustal hands-on skills not being taught by Video Games and Smart Phones.

  4 days were spent learning skills such as Shelter Building, Hydration, Fire Building (when needed) and endless other things.

  My favorite part of the trip was spending the majority of the time Barefoot.  The only time we put on our Five Fingers is for Rock Travel.

  His most memorable moments were Bald Eagles, Seals, Tide Pools and even a Coyote that ran by our Camp one early morning.

Backpacking Olympic Coast with Kids
First signs of the Coast

Trail Surfaces & Footwear Variations in the Eyes of a Minimalist

  As a Minimalist Trekker one should always consider the Environment and Surface that you will be travelling on before each Trip.  With all the 'Minimalist Shoes' on the Market today.  How does one know whats right for them?  Having a piece of Footwear that's even just 5 oz; means one must Lift and place Down that weight over a 100,000+ times in a long day of Trekking.

  Especially here in the Pacific Northwest; encountering Water in route is another important factor.  No matter what kind of Trail your traveling.  Your Foot will get Wet.  You need to accept that right now.

  Questions to ask yourself:

  • How Breathable is the Footwear?
  • How does the Upper Material Purge Water while Walking?
  • Does absorbed water into the Upper Material dry in a short period?
  • How much does the Footwear weigh fully Saturated?
  • Can you feel the Ground, Cold, Moisture and Heat?

Backpacking Tyler Peak - Olympic

  My original plan was a bit different than what turned out. I however still had a nice time exploring the Alpine.   Experiencing a mix of weather from High Winds, Sun, Snow, Rain, Hail (see video) and more Sun.  It was good for my body to get acclimated to being in the Sun for days.  Dreams of Alpine Traverses this Summer.

  It was nice sleeping in the Alpine so early in the season and not walking on Snow.  First trip like this for me in 2012.  Even seen a Black Bear in the Alpine at a full run.  I wonder what he was running from?  I was the only one up there at the time and there is no way he would of seen me up in the rocks?  Out for a morning jog perhaps? (no photo of Black Bear)

tyler peak
Buckhorn Wilderness, Mt. Constance, Royal Basin, Mt. Deception, Mt. Clark, Mt. Johnson, The Needles and Grey Wolf Ridge 

Pacific Northwest Backpacking Adventure

  For the last few Years around my Birthday I try to spend a week Outdoors.  I figure it is the best thing I can do for myself when this time of year rolls around.  What better way to ground myself and start each year out right?

 Those of you that know me personally know that am a 'Planner'.  Well this was one of those trips that nothing went according to 'Plan'.  I however felt that it was good for me to be more flexible.  Moving around each 'Rock in the Path' like water.  As wise men tell me all the time, 'Its about the Journey and not the Destination'.

  Without a doubt  it took more out of this trip than most 'Solo Hikes'.  Since there were 5 parties involved for sections of this trip.

  Group consisted of a Professional Wilderness Photographer, a Conceptual Photographer, an Actress/Film Maker and a Urban Traveler from England (no pictured below).  This made for a very interesting and memorable group indeed.

PNW road trip
Group for the Week (missing one in this picture) 

lake crescent maple
Mysterious Maple 

Sea to Summit - Olympic National Park

Note:  Total Travel expense - $3

 A friend was coming from out of town for some Backpacking Adventure Time in the Olympic National Park. The original plan was to go into a River Valley for a few days with the hope of seeing Roosevelt Elk and Black Bear.  Keeping an eye on the weather I suggested a better plan.   How about an Epic 'Sea to Summit Weekend'?

sea to summit olympic

Backpack the South Olympic Coast

  Looking at the Forecast for the weekend.  I had one mission in mind.  To get as much Sun as  possible and to do as little as possible.  I managed to accomplish all of these things with a few extra little memories.  That is the best thing about Outdoor Adventures.  They are never the same twice.

coastal trash
Chief Buudda Budda helps keep away the Raccoon's 

Wandering South of La Push

  I had some free time to get Outdoors.  I will be doing a large section of the Olympic National Park Coast next month for my Birthday (read more below).  So I wanted to get a few little trips to condition my feet for Coastal Traveling, since its not my specialty.  There is a lot to deal with and isn't a 'Vacation' like every city human thinks.  There are a lot of variable, especially in the Winter.  You must deal with Tides, Rain Storms, Winds, High Surf Advisories, Coastal Flooding, More Mud and Higher River Fords.  All the while trying to plan a Route in all of that is kind of an extra life's pleasure.  The benefit is low Backpacker numbers and Bugs.  Which to me adds to more of a Primitive Wilderness Feel.

Strawberry Bay
Looking across to Scott's Bluff

  My adventure would lead me to Buspack, Buspack again, Backpack, Road Hike, Tribal Shuttle and Buspack.  Total travel expense $5.

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.

Elwha Trail Backpack in Winter Conditons

  This would of been perfect conditions to Trail Test the 2012 VFF Line.  Unfortunately I didnt get my Seeya and Spyridon LS until after I got out of the Back Country.  So that will have to wait until a further trip.  Bummer.

  The Elwha Valley ended up being our groups Plan B Route since the Coast was under a 22' Wave and Coastal Flooding.  Top that off with gust of 39mph with 29mph sustained.  I like to take pictures at the Beach, but am not a Ocean person.  Even tho I live on a little Sailboat.  Doesn't that make sense (hahaha)

  So we got hit pretty hard with around 48 Hours of Heavy Rain, Slush and around 6 inches of Snow.  In that time we got hit with a few inches of rain.   The trail turned into a walk up to 3 inches of standing water in places.  Needless to say, most of the time was spent trying to keep warm and dry.

poncho hiking snow

Lake Ozette Trail Backpacking - Olympic

  I was born to be Outside.  So when a friend wanted to plan an Adventure to the Coast and looked at the Weather Forecast.  I got really excited and day dreamed for days about a much needed relaxing time on the Beach.  I will admit I don't much like the Coast in the Summer for the high numbers of Backpackers.  I also have never stayed 2 nights in one Camp since the 90's.  The chance to play in a Photographers Playground I for sure couldn't pass up the chance.  Seems like every square inch there is some form of Life happening.

Elwha Valley Marathon - Olympic Trail Running

  I don't think I could ever pass up a chance to venture into the Upper Elwha.  One of my old Clients is training for a big trail run race, so off we went.  I just spend then night in the same area a few weeks before.  Like most Wilderness, one trail is always changing.  Last time it was Freezing Temps and this time would be 6 inches of snow in sections.

elwha trail run

Suggested Reading Listening:

 I suggested meeting at a local Coffee Shop and we were at the Trailhead 1 hour before Sunrise.  Traveling for the first 4 miles all by Headlamp.  It was a perfect morning for a Trail Run.  Hearing the river off in the distance in the dark is great motivation.

elwha trail running
Photo by Alecia 

  After 6 miles is when all the excitement began.  Spooking up over 12 head of Roosevelt Elk that were walking down single file in the Trail as we quickly approached.  That gets the Heart going having the whole woods explode with massive powerful body's moving through the Forest.  (sad to not have pictures of the Elk)

elwha trail run
Photo by Alecia

  From that point on we reached the area of the Elwha were Elk really start using the Trail as a highway.  I found especially when Snow starts to push them down from the High Country.

Run the Grey Wolf Trail

 Suggested Reading Listening:

 Was a pretty active day for me. Jumped out of the Boat a few hours before Sunrise. Pre daylight Bike Ride into town to catch the Bus to Sequim. After a short Bus Ride I ended up getting off at the wrong stop and had to walk a little under a mile to were I was meeting my Friends to head up into the Mountains. I will add that walking down Highway 101 is way more dangerous than an Wilderness Trek. DO NOT ATTEMPT :-)

slab camp trial

slab camp trial

  After arriving at the Trail Head which was covering with just under an Inch of 48 Hour old Snow. We begun our Run to descend down to the Grey Wolf floor. The trail consisted of Frozen Pine Needles and sections of Snow Dustings. Such perfect conditions for winter running. I am very addicted to running in snow with Vibram Five Fingers. I love feeling the cold ground under my feet.

Hike the Hoh Rain Forest & Rialto Beach

   I had a friend visiting from out of town that loves the Outdoors.  What better way to show off the area than to go into the Hoh Rainforest in the middle of the wet Winter.  It never stopped raining the few hours we were in there cycling from Heavy Rain to Heavy Hail Storms.  Seeing the Rainforest floor completely saturated with water was quite impressive.

hoh rain forest
Hoh Maple

Suggested Reading Listening:

  The Hoh River Trail leads to Mt. Olympus and follows the river valley pretty much the whole journey.  Endless massive trees, Greenest Moss, Mud, flowing Water and is one of my favorites to Barefoot.  The trail is mostly made up of soft mud, pine needles and roots.

hoh rain gear
Slimy Trail

  My weapon of choice for the day was Vibram Five Finger KSO, since that is the best model made.