Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Vasque Scree: One Cool New Shoe

When the time comes I'm going to make the Vasque Scree my next shoe purchase. I instinctively wanted to take a pair home in my size as I visualized myself springing from boulder to boulder on my favorite summit climbs. Vasque's Scree hiking shoes are perfect for times when you don't want or need 4 lbs of heavy hiking boot on your feet like that lightweight backpacking trip you're planning. With their sticky Stealth rubber soles they're even better for lightweight summit sprints on rock and for use scrambling around in-general. Don't believe me? Here's what Outside's gear reviewers had to say:
Think of it as a hiking shoe born for rock. Vasque's Scree Low features an outsole made from Stealth S1 Rubber, the same gummy tread that gives some climbing shoes their grip—which made it noticeably sticky on alpine scrambles. If it felt a little blockier than other light hikers we tested, it was also among the most comfortable and blister-free. 15 oz; $120;

If this catches your interest you should read more about the technical features of the Vasque Scree UD Low Hiking Shoe. Also the Vasque Scree UD Low Women's Hiking Shoes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nemo's Obi One Person Tent

The Nemo Obi 1P Tent is the Jedi tent of the Nemo line. At 2 lbs. 8 oz. you could almost clip this super lightweight backpacking tent onto your trick gear belt next to your light saber. Unlike other ultralight tents in the under 3 lb weight class, the Nemo Obi offers a full array of features: a large vestibule, extra foot vent, gear pocket, overhead light diffusing pocket, and Jake's feet for super easy one-person, one pole set up. The Obi certainly lives up to Nemo's innovative, quality standards that say you don't have to sacrifice every feature just to shave ounces off your tent. Obi Wan would be psyched to take this on his next mission.

If you're still wanting to shed every last ounce you might be the ultralight type to go for Nemo's Meta tent series that utilizes trekking poles so you don't need to carry tent poles. Available in a one-person, one pole version and the two person, two pole version; there's a reason this tent won Backpacker Magazine's Editor's Choice Award last year. The Meta 1P / 2P is a pretty slick design and is so light it works great as an emergency bivy as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Women of the Woods Need to Check out Deuter’s SL Packs!

I love to hike! I mean, I really love to hike! Being in the woods is probably the place that I am the happiest. What has made this experience even happier for me is my Deuter Futura Pro 34 SL. This pack is fantastic for a few days hut to hut as well as a great day pack for someone like me who is usually carrying snacks, layers, and stuffed animals for my two young children! I joke that I take this pack out to dinner since I love it so much!

Part of what works so well is that this is a women's backpack. What makes a woman's pack? Well for one, the SL design from Deuter has a slightly shorter back. Many women (not all, of course) have a slightly shorter back then men. Another advantage for women that these SL packs have is their shoulder straps are cut in a way to help prevent squishing your chest! That is definitely more comfortable!

The SL series packs include ACT Trail, Spectro, Futura, and the award winning ACT Zero. Along with women, men who have a shorter back can benefit from these packs as well. Many of these packs are hydration compatible, include a padded hipbelt, and have convenient compartments for easy access and organization.

So, ladies, get out into the woods. Take along a pack that is made with YOU in mind – a Deuter SL series. You will find that your pack can be one of your best hiking partners yet!

Note: Periodically we have our staffers blog with real-life posts such as this written by our resident Long Trail thru hiker who is also a Himalayan trekker. We hope this adds perspective and provides helpful gear recommendations for our readers.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Which Pack to Choose?

So you know you need a new hiking backpack. Or maybe you've got a big trip planned and you want to make sure you get the right backpack. With so many great brands to choose from how do you decide. One obvious route is to pore over the top picks of professional reviewers who are given lots of different packs to use and abuse. Backpacker Magazine's Gear Guide is a great place to start.

Ultimately though you've got to make some decisions about your needs.
  • How long will you be wearing your pack?
  • How much gear will you need to carry?
  • How heavy will that gear be and how much space do you need for it?
  • Is your purchase for a specific use or will it be a multi-purpose pack?
Today's standard of measure for backpacks is the metric liter and in general you'll need 65-75 liters of space for your average 4-7 day backpacking trip; 45-60 liters is usually sufficient for a weekend. Usually the longer you've been on the trail the smaller and lighter you'll want your pack to be. One of our customers came down to our store last summer out of the mountains and needed to replace his broken down old pack to finish his 273 mile hike from Massachusetts to Quebec on the Long Trail. He had a lot of lightweight gear, knew how to pack, and didn't need extra space for heavier clothes or 3-season gear. He choose a 50 Liter pack to finish the last 7-8 days of his trip to Canada.

As the owner of an outdoor gear store I follow the reviews and have a lot of great packs to choose from when I plan a trip. I'm headed out on a 6 day trip to the John Muir Trail in the Sierras next month and wanted a lightweight backpack. Since we'll be above 9,000 ft and there will be snow on the ground most of the way I've chosen a 65 Liter pack because I'm going to be carrying a few extra layers of clothes, crampons, and a heavier and larger sleeping bag. I really don't want to carry a lot of weight so I determined that any pack over 4 and a half pounds would be too much. At the low end of the weight range was the GoLite Pinnacle at 2.1 lbs. Weight typically equates with comfort, features like extra zippers and pockets, and load carrying ability. Sometimes weight also equates to quality; for example was a lighter, stronger grade of aluminum used to make the frame?

Several other GoLite backpacks made the top of my list, but ultimately I selected Millet's Expedition 65. At 3 lbs. 7 oz, it is lighter than many of the possibilities, although not as light as I was really hoping for. In the end the Expedition has enough support for the 40 lbs of gear I need--including snowshoes and an ice axe--and a good combination of features like a full length front panel zipper that opens from the top and bottom. I also liked the look of the Expedition 65 and suppose that style might be an important factor in your decision too!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Backpack Sale in Full Bloom

Our Spring Backpack Sale is in high gear with the addition of Deuter Backpacks to the grand event. These packs only go on sale twice a year for a week at a time. This means that these high quality, value packs are now unbelievable deals. You'll find most of our backpacks at or about 20% Off retail prices...and if you check our Clearance section you might find even better deals on packs from 2010.

On our All Backpack Brands page you'll find Deuter, GoLite, Gregory, Millet, and Mountainsmith backpacks on SALE. Search by backpack brand or use the navigation tab at the top to search by backpack type. If you find a pack you want don't delay as prices are subject to availability and the Sale is going to end next week with brands going off sale from May 12th to May 15th. Call us toll-free at 855-244-GEAR for FREE pack advice or to get the most recent inventory updates. And if you've read this far in our BLOG and you want a pack from another brand we'll be happy to reward you by extending a 20% discount on any pack through May 15th...but you have to place a phone order and mention the BLOG promo discount.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vermont Mountain Biking

Last week I got to hear Patrick Kell--executive director of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA)--give an update of ongoing work on the Vermont Ride Center and this summer's Vermont Mountain Bike Festival. With anticipation, we're keeping our fingers crossed for a six figure grant that would complete an important link from Little River State Park just down the road to the Trapp Family Lodge's network of trails, Adams Camp, and the Stowe Town Loops. Exciting stuff.

For now the premier Spot in Waterbury and all of Vermont is Perry Hill. For intermediate and advanced riders, this technically oriented single track offers steep ascents and challenging descents. Six miles from our store you can access the trails from East River Road off of VT. RT 2; right before the bridge over the Winooski River as you head South out of Waterbury. There is an unmarked parking pull-out before the corn field. Head up the trail through the tunnel under the highway. Trails are marked easy, moderate, and difficult once you access the system.

The Stowe Town Loop three miles up RT 100 from our store offers good beginner to intermediate riding. There are some climbs but overall the trails are moderate and flowing. Well maintained, if not well marked. Access the trails behind IRide in Stowe Village.

Stop by our store on RT 100 at the Waterbury/Stowe line for a free Stowe and Waterbury Recreation Guide that provides directions and basic trail information.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Terrono by GoLite

To any doubters who questioned whether or not GoLite could put out a rugged, full featured backpacking pack, you now have your answer in the GoLite Terrono 70 and Terrono 90. This is not the ultralight backpack we love GoLite for, but at 4lbs. 4 oz. it offers as much pack as the competitors whose packs weigh in almost 50% heavier.

Golite's premier load carrier offers beefy padded shoulder straps and a sturdy hip belt; perfect for when you aren't traveling light or when your body needs a super comfortable fit to stay happy. With an adjustable length torso and waistbelt offer a custom fit. With all sorts of extra features, GoLite even "wows" us with a sleeping bag compartment. The Terrono is also ski and ice axe compatible. Even the styling is super cool (not pictured is the green color). The Terrono 70 and 90L are the perfect pack for expedition travel or extended trips into the backcountry. Oh, did we mention that it got a very favorable review in the 2011 Backpacker Gear Guide?