Friday, June 24, 2011

Darn Tough - Vermont - U.S.A.

Darn Tough Socks of Vermont is another inspiring "Made in the U.S." story. We traveled to Northfield recently to pick up our summer order of Darn Tough Socks. We were eager to tour the mill and find out how Darn Tough can offer a Lifetime Warranty on their wool socks. If you've worn Darn Tough you know these socks don't go threadbare like others. What's the secret? In a nutshell, the density of the wool terry loops (1440 per sq. inch)is so tight that the loops don't move side to side and wear out. Pretty impressive. We think that the Darn Tough Merino Wool Boots socks are the perfect complement to our backpacking boots.

It helps that Darn Tough has an attention to quality that is rare in our modern world. Most Darn Tough employees have been with the company for 15 years or more, many over 30 years! During our tour, we saw owner Ric Cabot in three different corners of the factory looking at product, machinery, and working one-on-one with his workers. Impressive! We couldn't be happier for their recent successes.

If you'd like the background story...when other knitting mills were fleeing the Northeast in the 60s and 70s for states in the South, owner Mark Cabot bought some used sock weaving equipment and set up shop about 25 miles from where CCOutdoorStore now stands. When pressure from overseas manufacturing threatened their business and its 120 plus employees, the company "toughed" it out. Hence the burgeoning six-year old outdoor sock brand DARN TOUGH.

With new packaging, new styles, and 20 new looms on order we're very excited by all the exciting developments we heard about on our recent tour of the Darn Tough factory.

Thermarest & MSR: Proud American Brands

Thermarest mattresses, MSR stoves and almost all of MSR's production remains in the U.S. of A. as we were reminded in our product clinic on Wednesday. With July 4th fast approaching and patriotism in the air it makes sense to highlight and promote those companies who are working extra hard to keep jobs in their communities and maintain high standards of quality. Hats off to you! We also appreciate that American-made products are not impacted by the same backorders and long lead times that have become a bigger problem in our industry lately.

Thermarest and Mountain Safety Research are both owned by parent company Cascade Designs in Seattle, WA. Like, these are family-owned brands and operations--albeit ours is much smaller! Both Thermarest and MSR are on sale at 20% through Tuesday, June 28th. For those of you on the East Coast hurry in your orders and we should be able to rush you your order before the holiday. West Coasters must contact us directly to provide expedited shipping info.

Note: MSR tent poles are manufactured domestically, but MSR tents are sewn overseas like almost every other tent.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sleeping Pad Special

Thermarest Sleeping Pads were the order of the day. With one week left on our Thermarest Sale it was a propos that our customer service team got a thorough review of the Thermarest line from our local rep.

You already know we're big on the Thermarest NeoAir; but this was a chance to build our expertise on the full depth of our offerings. Of note today was the Thermarest Prolite Plus (pictured above). The Prolite Plus offers a tremendous weight-warmth-space ratio. Achieving an R-value of 3.8 through a die-cut closed cell foam this pad offers all-around value for mountaineers needing a warm barrier from snow. To achieve greater warmth for women's needs, the Thermarest Women's Pro Lite Plus increases warmth zones for women by modifying the density of the die cuts. Too much info?

Then suffice it to say that the NeoAir Trekker is a new addition to the 2011 line that offers superior comfort, stability, durability, and value. Maybe it's time you upgrade your old pad with the latest innovation....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL Tents ON SALE.

Here's your chance to become another proud owner of your own Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 Tent. At 20% Off with free shipping, our Big Agnes Tent Sale can't be beat; but it's only good for one more week: until June 28th.

Winner of Outside Magazine's Gear of the Year 2011 and Backpacker's 2011 Editor's Choice Award, the Big Agnes Copper Spur UL4 is the lightest 4 person tent around. Super strong and durable the Copper Spur is perfect for your family of four's summer getaway or for three guys sharing a tent on a longer through hike. With plenty of headroom and space for four to play cards, every backpacking group should have a tent like this for when the weather sours and you'd rather hang out with your friends than in your bivy.

Find other TENTS ON SALE now through June 28th. Note: The tent in the picture above is a Copper Spur UL3.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Backpacking Adventure Movies

While there are a good number of mountain climbing movies out there, you don't see many that celebrate the pure thrills of backpacking. You know sometimes you just want to get in the spirit of your next trip with a movie, but what's out there for backpackers. Plus if you've been following this blog, you're probably sick of hearing about and seeing snow.

Well this one didn't last in the theaters long, but it's got some amazingly beautiful scenery from Kauai's Napali Coast and terrific product placement for Deuter backpacks and MSR tents. So if its a backpacking movie you want to watch check out Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich in The Perfect Getaway. Don't get you're hopes up for a must see movie...but if you're up for an action/adventure backpacking thriller with some twists along the way here's a suggestion for your Netflix queue.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Whitney Trail Crest

OK. So it was two weeks ago already...but I'm still coming back down to Earth and there are so many great stories and photos to share from our JMT/Mt. Whitney field testing trip.

In this photo I'm pointing upwards at Trail Crest on Mt. Whitney at about 13,000 ft and six miles in the distance. You have to admit that the red Millet Expedition 65 Liter Backpack looks good. Did you see the study published that revealed that seeing the color RED increases the speed and strength of reactions? Maybe this explains why I felt surprisingly strong upon summiting Mt. Whitney.

Anyways the Millet pack lived up to all expectations, which were pretty high considering I tested six other packs before choosing it. Cinched down this 3 lb. 7 backpack also served well as my summit pack for carrying my ice axe, crampons and extra gear. (I opted not to strip off the lid--which could have shed further ozs--as it offers the only zippered pocket on the pack.) Read more about how I chose the features on this pack.

For contrast on a longer expedition with more gear a load carrying pack like the Deuter Aircontact 75+10 might have been preferable but I was able to keep my load to about 36 lbs. My runner up lightweight choice was the Deuter Act Lite 60 +10 backpack at 3 lbs. 14 oz, but it was going to be too hard and inconvenient taking off my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes. More on how great the snowshoes worked later.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More gear testing reviews

At 2.8 lbs and 2.3 pounds respectively, the Nemo Obi 1P Ultra lite Tent and the long Big Agnes Heart Mountain 30 degree Super Light Sleeping Bag were just what I'd hoped for on my JMT field test wishlist. I spent the first two nights of the trip in this set-up and was quite content in my neon green lair. You can get these for yourself on sale now as we've got NEMO on sale and Big Agnes on sale.

The Nemo Obi tents share smart design with many desirable features. Freestanding with Jake's feet, easy set-up with a single pole, and a large vestibule I had exactly what I thought I needed. However the one thing the Obi tents have in spades is ventilation, which turned out to be unneeded in high winds and low temperatures. I highly recommend the Obi for summer camping especially in warm climates, and especially for ultralight hikers who aren't willing to sacrifice every comfort to save those last few ounces.

The Big Agnes Heart Mountain 30 degree super light sleeping bag was unbelievably packable. Ultralight and ultra cozy, the Heart Mountain offered the generous width and girth that my 200 lb body needs. Frankly I just get too claustrophic in mummy bags. Unless you're willing to lie straight and still like a dead mummy all night I suggest you check out the varied shapes and sizes of Big Agnes Sleeping Bags. The Heart Mountain ultra light sleeping bag also perfectly fit my regular size Thermarest NeoAir sleeping pad. Snugly synching up with the down edges of the Big Agnes sleep system I was in down heaven. That is until temps dropped into the single much for saving a few ounces by going with a 30 degree bag in JUNE! Lesson learned: It's always safer to have more warmth than you think you'll need in the mountains. Another lesson learned: Neon colored tents can be life savers when you're seeking out shelter from a storm and can't find the trail back to camp.

Friday, June 17, 2011

2011 Field Test Results

Many of our favorite brands and products got put to the test in our Blog's first week long field test the first week of June. What was to have been a 50 mile section hike on the John Muir Trail in the Sierras turned into a week of mishaps that included hypothermia (and altitude sickness) on Kearsarge Pass, a whiteout on the summit of Mt. Whitney, a dead engine in the middle of Lake Meade, and the repossession of a car on the way to Zion National Park. Maybe this will turn into a movie...say like Hangover III. What was successful was learning the strengths and weaknesses of a good number of well known products. In a nutshell here's the report:

Julbo Explorer Glacier Glasses Spectron 4: Great eye protection for the intense sun and wind we encountered on Kearsarge Pass on the way into to the John Muir Trail. Because the spectron lens isn't polarized, it helped to see the composition of ice patches on the exposed traverse at the top. Better sunscreen/wind protection for the nose & lips is something this tester needs to work on next. The Explorers were a little toasty in the desert heat on the way up Angel's Landing in Zion.

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 tent: No complaints about the weight here! But a three person tent? No way. This was great for two people, it would have sucked squeezing 3 guys into this, especially because my two friends carried wide 25 inch NeoAir mattresses. Although given the cold weather, I might have been better off in this tent every night to share some body warmth and the benefit of a full fly that helps keep some warmth in. Staked out, the Copper Spur UL3 easily withstood a night of 25-45 mph winds at Trail Camp on Mt. Whitney; but good luck trying to find this orange/brown tent in this rock field in low light and moderate snow. It took us 20 minutes to find her on our way back from Whitney.... Nemo's neon green Losi Alti Storm 3P tent would have been a better tent for our Whitney summit trip.

Thermarest NeoAir Sleeping Pad: At 14 oz. and the size of a 1 L bottle this pad met my criteria for this trip. I was super comfortable each night. But I wasn't expecting windy nights that ranged from 6 degrees to 24 degrees in June! When temps were above 20 I was OK, but the NeoAir is not the right pad when temps drop into the teens and below. Go with a Thermarest Prolite or another pad with an R value higher than 2.5 when going out into frigid nights.

Yes, there was lots of other gear tested. But that's it for today's blog. Tune in for other test results.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wenger Knives have Arrived!

Wenger Knives are finally here. We are very excited to add the Wenger brand and line of knives and watches to our gear assortment. Why? Well, these are authentic, top quality Swiss Army knives that fit perfectly with our assortment of gear for mountaineers, backpackers, and climbers. Of particular note is the Wenger Ueli Steck Special Edition Titanium Knife--designed by the legendary mountaineer himself!--which has gotten no fewer than three awards from leading industry publications this Spring. It may not be something most of us would use much on a daily basis...but it would certainly be uber-cool to have one to carry around. The Ueli Steck Special Edition Knife might even trump the Spot Connect on our must-have gadget wishlist.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Our Tent Sale just started; timed to kick off your summer fun. We're offering large selections of Big Agnes Tents, Nemo Tents, Kelty Tents, Sierra Designs Tents and MSR Tents. The choices can be overwhelming so give us a call and we'll help narrow down your choice with the tents that would be best for you. You get 20% off and free shipping. We get the satisfaction of bringing you a great new tent that will protect you from the elements.
Looking for tent recommendations? Search through the pages of this blog to read more about some of our favorites.

Friday, June 10, 2011


SAVE UP TO 20% ON MANY OF OUR MOST POPULAR OUTDOOR BRANDS THIS WEEKEND. In our biggest weekend sale event of the year, 70% of our inventory is now on sale for 4 DAYS ONLY! Due to an overlap in our sales schedule, brands that were on sale the first two weeks of June are on sale at the same time as brands going on sale. Don't wait to take advantage of the bargains; prices are only in effect while supplies last!

Three categories where you'll find terrific deals and great selection are:

BACKPACKING BOOTS: Our most popular boots from Lowa and Vasque are on SALE thru 6/14.

TREKKING POLES: Black Diamond, Komperdell, and Leki Hiking Poles are now all on Sale.

BACKPACKING STOVES: Our selection of Jetboil & Primus stoves just went on sale. This sale ends 6/24.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summit Adventure

With a successful summit of Mt. Whitney at noon yesterday, who would have known what an adventure was left in store. The 30% chance of snow turned to 100% about 11 am, and while two hikers down climbed saying they neared the summit but turned back due to weather I don't think we thought twice about pushing on to our goal. From Trail Crest at nearly 13,000 ft. we could still see far into the distance down the John Muir Trail where we would have been facing a treacherous ascent of Forrester Pass if our plans hadn't been modified due to weather.

Exhilaration was in the air as we changed in and out of crampons on the rocky and occasionally icy trail to the peak. Surprised that the altitude hadn't slowed us down more, we reached the summit in high spirits. We then posed for the requisite victory photos, signed the register, and called home on our sat phone. But our own down climb found us off trail 5 minutes after leaving the summit hut in near white-out conditions. It didn't help that the 40 plus mph winds filled in our own tracks within minutes or that we couldn't make out any landmarks. After several false attempts to pick up the trail that ended on the edges of precipices, we headed back to the summit hut to regain our bearings. Knowing the weather forecast for today and yesterday called for more snow and high winds, we feared spending 2-3 nights holed up in the 8x8 stone hut atop 14,496 ft Mt. Whitney. Thankfully after using our satellite phone lifeline to a friend at the base of the mountain, we got in touch with the head of Mt. Whitney's search and rescue who verbally walked us through an expeditious descent that found us eating pizza and drinking beer six hours later in Lone Pine.

I'm sure in the days to come we'll download many lessons from our past four days hiking over mountain passes in the High Sierras and share some feedback about the gear we used. For now I'm thankful to be pool side in Las Vegas staying out of the snow and wind recouping from some badly dried out and burned lips. For now I'm off to scope out a backpacking trip to Zion National Park to fill the time we've got remaining with our time out West.