Saturday, February 26, 2011

Essential Big Agnes Tents

It’s about time to start unpacking all our new Big Agnes Tents & Sleeping Bags! We're very excited about the new tents we're going to find inside. At the top of our list of backpacking tents are 4 person versions of the award-winning ultralight Fly Creek Tent and Copper Spur tent.

Both these tents offer exceptionally low trail weights…ridiculously low if you haven’t looked at new tents lately. The Fly Creek UL 4 comes in at 4 lbs. 1 oz while the Copper Spur UL4 weighs all of 5 lbs 10 oz. These tents truly redefine lightweight with their interior space to weight ratio. (Note: Trail weight refers to the fly, tent body, and poles; stakes, guy lines, and stuff sack are not included.)

The Fly Creek offers 49.5 sq ft of floor space, 17 ft. of vestibule and a head height of 40" to 45". The Copper Spur has 57 sq ft of floor area, 13.5 sq ft of vestibule and 50" of head height. Just think about the possibilities!

I'd love to tell you about all the new changes to Big Agnes’ tent series right now. But you’ll just have to wait for another day to hear more. Whatever you decide on for your next tent, don’t wait too long to place an order as there were many out-of-luck Big Agnes customers last summer as the hot new tents got scooped up in no time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Essential Gear: The SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger

If you are someone who likes to leave the beaten path or spend time off the grid then the SPOT Messenger may be just the new piece of essential gear for you. Or maybe this is the perfect gift to give a loved one that you worry about when they head out on their next trek or epic backcountry adventure. Coincidently we learned about the SPOT a week before 8 adventurers needed backcountry rescues here in Vermont.

The SPOT uses Satellite GPS technology to provides users with five essential functions:
• SOS Messages: Spot can notify the GEOS International Emergency Response Center of your exact coordinates should you face a life threatening or critical emergency. In North America, 9-1-1 responders would be notified of your distress signal.
• HELP Messages: Activate your SPOT to send your contacts an SMS text message including coordinates, or an email with a link to Google Maps™ showing your location.
• CHECK IN/OK Messages: SPOT can let your friends and family know that all is OK with a pre-programmed message along with your GPS location.
• CUSTOM Messages: SPOT gives you access to your waypoints in your SPOT account so you can review your trek or thru hike at a later date. Or link your SPOT account to SPOT Adventures and save a map of your adventures using your SPOT waypoints, and enhance the story with photos and a blog.
• TRACK PROGRESS Messages: SPOT allows you to send and save your location, while contacts can track your progress in near real time using Google Maps. With your SPOT account you have the ability to set up a SPOT Shared Page which allows you to show your SPOT GPS locations to others on a Google Map.

For a short video and more info check out our SPOT Information Page. I’ll bet you’ll agree that the cost is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from knowing help is a button away. It’s certainly cheaper than footing the bill for a night rescue guided by the infrared sensors of a National Guard helicopter!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The New Essentials in Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Looking for new lightweight backpacking gear? Whether you're retiring a worn out piece of essential gear for next season's thru-hike or looking for the hottest new gadget to get you out of a pinch, it is our hope that this blog will be the place you learn about it first. While last month's trade shows kept us away from our blog, they introduced us to lots of great, new gear coming out this spring. Count on us to pick up the tempo of the blog to share news of the latest backpacking gear. CHECK OUT our the New Arrivals section of our home page as we call out new brands and products.

You might have seen in a recent post that we're hot on the Treksta Evolution running shoe. Yes, it's mostly about the "fit"--created by a last designed by measuring the curves and contours of 20,000 different feet. But it also uses a new, patented feature called IceLock that dramatically increases traction by embedding particles of glass into rubber pads or lugs on the outsole. The IceLock breaks the surface tension when the rubber hits ice or water. Every time I've bumped into a runner friend in the past week, they've pitched me on a different gadget you attach to your shoes for traction, I say why not try a running shoe that provides more traction.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Get Kahtoola Microspikes – Your Ash Will Thank You!

So, this all started back in early November when my husband and I were able to have a weekend away from our young children. Well, of course, we had to go hiking! We headed out Northbound on Vermont’s wonderful Long Trail from the Appalachian Gap. The hike was beautiful and so much fun to just hang out together. I digress. We were having a very mild November after some October snow and cooler temps. The trail was wet and snowy in spots. In the hollows, ice covered the trail and much of our descents were us slipping down icy pathways only to slide into a snow bank. Heading up these icy spots led to us relying heavily on our Leki hiking poles as well as a few random trees and branches. As I was sliding around, I thought, “Geez…I need to get some microspikes.”

I will pause the story here to say that Kahtoola microspikes are light and easy spikes to use. Very handy in the case above where you could just have them in your pack in case you needed them and quickly (but securely) put them over your boots. The toe of these spikes, come up and over your toe so no need to worry about these spikes slipping off your boots. The spikes themselves are situated under your foot in way that eliminates any worry of slipping. The Kahtoola microspikes are the security you need to face ice on the trail or summit (or even your driveway!).

This particular day had me shoveling my driveway. As I shoveled, I fell...and fell…and fell. My last fall of the day was me attempting to bring ash from our woodstove out to our driveway to keep my husband’s car from sliding. Well, being very careful, I fell once again – and this time with a bucket of ashes in my hand. Needless to say, when I got back up, I was sore and I was covered in ash.

So, geez… I got some microspikes! -Amy

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Treksta is Here!

The Treksta Evolution. Just in from the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City less than two weeks ago! Possibly the coolest new concept in trail running shoes for all of 2011. Maybe you saw the recent write up in Men's Journal?

We first saw these shoes five months ago and have been testing them on road and trail ever since. We can confirm that the Treksta Evolution lives up to the hype: superior fit, comfort, grip, and performance. Although it does takes a bit to get used to the look because the shoe is assymetrical like our feet!

Using what Treksta calls it's Nestfit technology, the Evolution delivers an anatomically correct running shoe that is as comfortable as anything I've ever worn. Nestfit was developed by taking 1000s of computer scans of real feet to model the perfect last--shoemaking jargon for the plastic mold around which the materials are wrapped and sewn to make your shoes.

With a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining and patented IceLock on the soles this is truly a 4 season trail running shoe. Give us a call at 855-244-GEAR if you want to hear an even geekier description.