ZPacks Arc Haul + Accessories Review

IMG_9964 (1) IMG_0545 (1)

Base stats:
– 60L, 24oz (without accessories)
– Dimensions: 7.5″ x 12.5″ x 30″ (19 cm x 31.8 cm x 76 cm)

I’ve never considered myself to be an ultralight backpacker.  With lighter and lighter gear on the market, I still turn to heavier gear and luxury items often, and my pack for most trips is between 25-45lbs, depending on planned activities.

I finally got a chance to see what a 20lbs pack would be on a hike.  Could have gone even lighter, but 20lbs is already the lightest pack I’ve ever used by a wide margin, and it’s true that it makes a noticeable difference on a hike. Continue reading

Thermarest RidgeRest X Lite Sol Review

RidgerestSolinBackpack RidgerestZ-LiteSol

In a word:  Awesome

Of the 4 most basic items (backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad), a lot of folks might consider the sleeping pad #1. It’s so crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. Very experienced folks might be able to sleep without one, just like the Yanomamo might run in the jungle without shoes, but for most of us, shoes are necessary for walking and running outdoors, and sleeping pads are crucial for a decent night’s rest. Continue reading

Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD), Duomid Review


What’s there to say about the MLD Duomid, except, I’m impessed.

The Duomid has the best of many worlds with few compromises.

With so many tents on the market, like many folks, i started on the low end, and over the years, worked my way up.  One of the biggest problems apart from weight has always been, for me at least, that most tents have barely usable vestibules. Continue reading

L. L. Bean King Pine 4-person tent Review

LLBeanKingPine_A IMG_0399

I’m a big fan of a variety of different camping scenarios, from 20lb ultralight and minimalist backpacking over long distances, to heavy load backpacking with an external frame load carrier allowing for extra gear, to lighter car camping to all out glamping. They’re all fun in their own little ways.

The L.L. Bean King Pine 4-person tent is as close to glamping as I get while still having my own tent. Continue reading

Tatonka Lastenkraxe (Load Carrier) Review


I’ve done a fair bit of camping since the last review here, and I’ve purchased and used a few different packs since then.

In that time, I’ve learned a few new things about gear, and what can be done with what kinds of gear.

For the Lastenkraxe, I finally got around to ordering the dedicated packsack for it, and the difference is huge. Before, the Lastenkraxe was, at least for me, the load carrier to use when I had strangely shaped items and I wanted quick access to them. That, coupled with the fact that it always stands straight up, and it was worth bringing on a fairly wide variety of trips. But my system was unwieldy, and even when empty, the system weighed just under 15 lbs. That happens when you attach a complete pack with its own carry system (in my case, the Bergaus Centruio 45 with side pockets) to another pack system… Continue reading

Wenzel Closed Cell Camp Pad Review

Wenzel Closed Cell Camp Pad

While this unit is certainly not the least bulky or lightest item out there, it has one critical advantage over any open cell inflatable, or straight inflatable out there: It can take a beating and it keeps on working. There is simply nothing out there more reliable as a sleeping pad than a closed cell pad. But, there are rather bulky and typically would have to be strapped to a backpack, maybe with a garbage bag around it, to prevent getting wet in the rain. Continue reading

Grabber Outdoors All Weather Blanket Review


Grabber Outdoors Original Space Brand All Weather Blanket

Edit:  Feb. 2013

I’ve discovered a better way to use this in a tent. In a small two person tent, put this up against one wall of the tent and it ups the ambient temp of the tent really well. In a small tent, i tie two corners along the angular top edge, and two corners along one edge of the base heat reflector facing inwards, of course. Takes a little while but it works better than laying it underneath your sleeping bag. For the floor, a sleeping pad works better to deal with the cold. Continue reading

High Peak Dura Loft Bag Review


Edit:  Dec 2011

Two camping trips in, I’ve learned a little more about this sleeping bag. The short answer is, it’s not nearly as warm as advertised if used flat on the ground. But then, from the research I’ve done, very few sleeping bags are if you lay it on the ground flat. For those who haven’t experienced it yet, it’s beause insulation works when there’s air in the insulation, but the bottom of the sleeping bag is compressed because of your weight, thus, no insulation and therefore cold. Continue reading

Kelty Teton 2 Two-Person Tent Review

KeltyTetonTent IMG_5946
I’d been looking for a 2 person tent for quite a while now. and it seems that there are two major factors affecting price these days: lighter weight and 4 season toughness. I didn’t need 4 season toughness, but I wanted a tent as light as I could get. Surprise surprise, every pound in weight you drop, the price skyrockets to another tier. I was unwilling to deal with 6 lbs and was very reluctant to deal with 5lbs. 4lbs was my goal since anything under jumped to about $250-$400 and I wasn’t willing to pay that. Continue reading

Gear Aid Seam Sealer Tube, 2oz Review


This seam sealer is highly recommended so I got it to use on my tent. The brush is useful, but take note, the liquid is like elmer’s glue, but more runny so even a few drops will follow gravity quickly. As such, make sure the brush is always facing down, just above part you want to run the sealer over. Trying to do it sideways or upside down is laughably impossible as the liquid just runs down the bottle. Best way is to turn your tent inside out to seal the inside seams.

As for quality, it comes highly recommended, tho I won’t know till I field test it.