Arcteryx Stradium Pants Review

Hiking in long pants has always been a struggle for me. While the morning might start out cool enough to warrant long pants as soon as I start going uphill I’m generating enough body heat I just want to strip down to my shorts.

The Holy Grail: Arcteryx Stradium Pants

But then I get to the top of the climb, which is often exposed and/or windy, and I immediately want to put my long pants back on. Other times the air temp might not justify long pants but I want to protect myself from vegetation and bugs (overgrown trail, poison ivy, mosquitos) or intense direct sun (the desert or reflecting off of snowfields)… but once again, there is still the overheating issue.

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Darn Tough Socks

What are the best socks for a thru hike?

Durability and Performance:
If there was ever a true test of a hiking sock’s durability, a 2200 mile thru hike surely qualifies.

I’ve tried many different hiking socks over the years with varying results. As most already know, anything made out of cotton is out…absorbs too much water and they take forever to dry. For many years I was big fan of Smartwool but they seem to wear out surprisingly quickly (especially for the price). So my sock of choice now is a brand called Darn Tough out of Vermont (but widely available). They are a wool blend which makes for a more durable sock…so much so that they have a lifetime guarantee…now that’s standing behind your product! Continue reading

Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus Tent Review

Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus Tent Review

In the summer of 2016 I completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and my primary home for those 117 days was the Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus. When I purchased the tent the goals were: ultralight weight (~18oz w/o stakes), use of a single trekking pole to set up, and I liked the idea of supporting a cottage industry that manufactures its products domestically.
Overall, I was very happy with the tent and it was well suited for the AT environment. Continue reading

Test Drive

Decided I should test drive my Zpacks Hexamid tent overnight in the backyard. I chose a freezing cold night (22 degrees) to see how it handles condensation and also see how well my 30 degree down bag  worked with the Sea to Summit Thermolite sleeping bag liner.

I also tested out a Mylar bag inside the sleeping bag to see how much  that helped out the warmth.

Prognosis, minor frost build up on inside of tent (condensation), Thermolite was great , Mylar burrito…gets a bit clammy and obviously, crinkly. The only thing chilly were my feet, probably just need better insulation from the ground.

The Thermolite weighs in at just over 9 oz and I’d have to ship it home when nigh time temps warms up. The Mylar burrito ways 2.5oz and I would just throw it out when it wasn’t needed anymore.

There will likely only be a couple of nights below freezing at the beginning (The Smokies), so I’m leaning toward the disposable Mylar. I’ll make the call after I check the 10-day forecast right before my departure.


REI Flash 45 Bacpack

imageLightweight and Full Featured
The REI Flash 45 Pack is a fantastic lightweight, full featured pack capable of carrying a thru-hiker load if you can pack efficiently. I have had many packs over the years and each one seems to either represent improvements in technology and/or serve a specific need.

If this link to the REI Flash 45 no longer works unfortunately it may have been discontinued…in the meantime it’s on sale for $64 !

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MEC T3 Hoodie


This is not me…maybe 15 years ago!


The MEC T3 Hoodie is a terrific base layer that is impressively warm considering its minimal weight (7oz / 205gr). It is very similar to Patagonia Capilene Thermal weight but about half the price with better features (Canadian $ is weak so you get more for your money even after $15  for USA shipping)

I really like the fitted hood as I can wear it under my ski helmet on cold days (rather than bringing a balaclava). I also appreciate the extra long zipper (just above belly button) as it aides in ventilation. The thumb holes are more robust than on most shirts and with the extra long sleeve length it definitely helps to keep your hands warm. I haven’t had an opportunity to really test out the wicking/breathability of the shirt but the waffle knit helps to promote airflow.

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