Posts Tagged hiking
Whether you’re playing Santa for an outdoor enthusiast in your life, or just want to fill a stocking full of camping gear for yourself, the following nifty products make for great additions to your holiday shopping list.
Coghlan’s LED tent pegs: We love Coghlans! And I’ve tripped over my tent’s guy lines more times than I care to admit. Coghlan’s 10” heavy duty tent pegs now feature a single LED light for visibility at night. Just twist on, and you’ve got a nice glow around your tent. Just $3.99 for a pack of two at Amazon.
Light My Fire Swedish Fire Knife: I don’t know about you, but I definitely want something called a fire knife in my stocking. Light My Fire’s unique fire-starting knife really is all that: this camp knife comes with a plastic sheaf and a high-friction rubber handle, and it creates its own spark via a FireSteel Scout, which twists into the knife’s handle when not in use. Get it on Amazon in one of five fun colors for $28. I also love Light My Fire’s meal kits, perfect for young backpackers.
Arka LED rechargeable lantern: This camp lantern by Industrial Revolution is compact, lightweight, and collapsible, perfect for camping and overnights in outdoor shelters like yurts and fire towers, where electricity may be scarce or nonexistent. Recharge the lantern via USB cable to your smart phone. Can be used as a flashlight or strobe light, too! Pick it up for $69 on Amazon. (See Tim’s review from earlier in the year here: Uco Arka lantern.)
Dublin Dog KOA collars: For the outdoor-loving dogs in your life, how about outfitting them with waterproof collars that don’t stink? Not even after months and months? Our two dogs have been sporting designs from Dublin Dog’s Trout line since summer, and I am sold! They won’t ever wear another type of collar. The KOA material repels dirt and grime, and the collars really do stay fresh-smelling. Pick one up at Amazon for under $30, depending on size.
Icebug ArchFlex Insoles: Talk about the gift that keeps on giving! I’ve been running and hiking with Arch Flex insoles since July, and while I’ve tried many insoles over the years, these are the ones I reach for. They’re slim, easy to get in and out of my shoe, and provide the right shock relief for my repetitive running and hiking movements. Pick high arch or low, plus shoe size. Find them on Amazon.
GRAYL Water Filtration Cup: If you have someone headed to a part of the world lacking potable drinking water, the new Grayl makes for a nice gift. Like other water purification bottles, the Grayl has its drawbacks, but is overall a solid choice for travelers who need access to filtered water all day, every day. The cup, which looks and feels more like a bottle, features a duel cylinder construction wherein the user filters water through the bottom of the inner cylinder via a carbon filter. Once you’ve given it a few practice runs, it’s easy to use, though be advised: until it’s well ‘worn in’, the cylinders can be hard to pull apart, due the the vacuum seal. (As I said, not without its drawbacks.) However, the Grayl is sleek and shiny, heavy but definitely portable, and features a nice open-close design. If using abroad, you’ll need to upgrade the filter to the ‘purifier’, but once you’ve done so, you’re good to go for 300 uses. Buy the Grayl on REI for $69.
Cocoon Ultralight Microfiber terry towel: I love Cocoon travel products! I have used their travel pillow and packing cube, but by far my favorite product is their microfiber towel. Perfect for backpackers, campers, and round-the-world travelers, the Cocoon is small, thin, and light, but still actually does the job intended…you know, actually dry your body. Set it outside to dry afterward, and it will be good to go again in no time. Pick it up for your travel or backpacking friend for under $35 on Amazon.
Liberty Bottle Works Topo bottle: I would say I use this 100% recycled aluminum USA-made bottle every day, but I can’t: the minute I got it, my teen son took it. I think he loves the topographical map design best (ours features Mt. Rainier) but it may be the straw or the easy to open and close flip top lid with carrying handle. Pick out the map your hiking loved one can relate to most for as low as $12 on Amazon. It’s also available at Backcountry.com.
Have you heard of Icebug yet? If not, it may be because you live where the snow doesn’t fly. The Swedish shoe company is best known for their innovative studded shoes and boots for year-round trail running and hiking in wintry conditions. The Icebug Spruce, however, is certainly for the everyman (and woman)…no ice required.
This trail walking shoe is pretty enough to pass muster (and then some) while city touring, walking, and commuting, but also packs enough punch in the traction and weather-proofing department to transition to the trail. The lovely Easter egg colors don’t hurt, either. Bleak winter day, consider yourself cheered.
The Spruce features a low cut construction and comes in two different upper material versions: leather or suede. Both are 100% waterproof, due to the inclusion of OutDry technology (in which a waterproof membrane is bonded directly to the shoe’s outermost layer). At first glance, I could hardly believe the Spruce is waterproof; my suede opal numbers just looked to ‘nice’ to get wet and repel water. I tested them on many a autumn walk, and they stay true to their promise, all while staying breathable and soft.
You get a drop and roll sole construction, but let’s get to what you really want to know: does the Spruce sport Icebug’s signature studded traction? No, that would be overkill in a walking shoe. Instead, Icebug utilizes their traction technology for un-studded shoes. What that means: RB9X. What that means: Rubber 9 Extreme, Icebug’s latest rubber compound development, combined with a saw tooth outsole pattern, which sets a new standard in providing friction. In other words, these guys know traction, and no matter the shoe, they’re going to provide it.
Where my Spruce shoes have been: wooded trails, slick pavement, city streets, airplane cabins, stuffed in carry-on luggage, on wet soccer fields, and propped up on the couch (don’t tell). My point: this is an extremely versatile shoe that will get lots of game time out of your closet.
For low-top hiking shoes that will hold up to tough terrain and water, these Lowa Renegade II ones set you up with Gore-Tex, a Vibram sole, and quality Nubuk leather. And hey, they’re not made in China.
I’ve had far too many pairs of shoes in my review queue much of this year, so I’ve had my hiking housemate trying out the women’s version of the Renegade, one of Lowa’s perennial popular models. It comes in a variety of styles and heights, but she liked the look and functionality of the low ones in maroon.
These shoes are advertised as being comfortable right out of the box and on that claim they passed well. They didn’t go on a five-mile hike out of the box, but they probably could have if needed. (With some good travel socks that is.) The leather is supple, the tongue is not stiff, and the lining is soft. There’s plenty of support where it counts though, with serious tread that’s ready for rock-hopping, a PU midsole that is lightweight but with plenty of cushion, and a nylon shank for stability.
Speaking of lightweight, these certainly are. They might look like they’ll weigh you down, but they come in at under a pound each—great for leather ones. They come in a version with or without Gore-tex. This GTX model has it and it’s been useful since we arrived in hilly central Mexico during the rainy season. If you’re in an always-dry climate though, you might not need to pay the premium.
There is a premium no matter what though when you buy these European hand-crafted shoes. They’re well-made and built to last, so you’re looking at a list price of $170 to $200. A real investment for many people.
In the months she has been using them, my female tester has been happy with all but one aspect: the toe box is too narrow. She has what are usually deemed normal-sized feet, so try these on first before buying them if your feet are not very narrow. Some online reviewers have complained about this as well, so hopefully it won’t be a permanent issue in the series.
If you’re not familiar with Sherpa Adventure Gear, the brand has a nice story behind it: founded by Tashi Sherpa in Nepal, purchases help support the education of Sherpa children. The company donates $.50 for every product sold to the Paldorje Education Fund, which then grants scholarships to deserving students. Plus, purchases help support the families of Sherpa guides through a royalty on sales.
This is awesome, but you’ll want to buy their products regardless; their clothing includes the features I look for most in travel wear: versatility, comfort, and rugged construction.
The Naulo pant is tough enough to withstand a full day on the trail, hiking or scrambling, but lightweight enough pack down small in your bag and comfortable enough for a long plane or car ride. They’re true four-season pants: they breathe in summer and yet protect enough for winter excursions in mild climates. They’re not waterproof, but very water resistant, which makes them a great pick not only for wet days but for travel use (i.e., spills will wick right off). The waist is fitted with a comfortable snap and zippered fly closure, with a soft fleece panel lining at the waist. The 4% spandex helps with the comfort factor. Four flat zippered pockets are convenient (you get two at the top and two mid-thigh). The pants look much more fitted and sleek than standard trekking pants, with the same wicking and range-of-movement benefits. On a strenuous hike in the Canadian Rockies, my Naulo pants took a beating with mud and snow, then were packed away in dirty laundry for four more days. Upon arrival back home (and into the washing machine), they washed out perfectly. Of course, you can play it safe by treating them with Nikwax, my favorite stain block for outdoorsy travelers.
The inseam for the regular is fairly short, and the pant comes in sizes 2-16. They’re $124 on Sherpa or as low as $89 at Idaho Mountain Touring, and you’ll be able to wear them for every aspect of your trip, from dinner out to the day on the trail. Pick between black and tan.
The Langtang jacket is an indulgence you’re not likely to regret. The softest zip-up, lightweight jacket I’ve ever owned, the Langtang is made of high pile polyester fleece, and so soft you’ll think you’re wearing some sort of fur. For an extra treat, wear in the spring or fall with only a t-shirt underneath to feel the material against your skin all day. The design is simple, with two front zippered pockets and a front full-length zipper closure. You get a nice, subtle Sherpa emblem on the back, and no other exterior design. The Langtang comes in four rich colors, including a gorgeous coral in sizes XS-XL, and can be picked up for $90 at REI or on Sherpa.
See reviews of other travel clothing on Practical Travel Gear.
My new favorite bike/hike/outdoor travel backpack! The Salomon Synapse is lightweight, refreshingly simple without compromising on features, and versatile. The 20 L size is perfect for day hikes, bike rides, and even ski days, and flattens down small enough to stash in a suitcase to be utilized mid-trip.
The best feature of the Synapse is something I’ve come to expect from Salomon: stability while you move. The hip belt, shoulder straps, and sternum straps shift with your movement, allowing a full range of motion with out the usual sliding of the pack (and sliding of contents inside). The 20 L pack is bigger than I need for trail runs, but my guess is that it would perform well even with that significant amount of body movement. For a day hike or travel day, it’s ideal.
The pack is panel-loading, and includes four pockets in addition to the main compartment: a top small-item pocket for keys, room card, or sunglasses, a hip belt zippered pocket that can stash a cell phone or small camera, an outside sleeve with a bungee strap system, a zippered outer compartment, and two water bottle pockets. You also get an internal hydration sleeve that holds a 2 L reservoir, with drink tube straps.
The back panel is lightweight and soft, with plenty of padding and ventilation. Poles can be carried on the outside via the bungee straps using rip-and-stick attachment points. The main compartment expands more than you’d think: I easily carried two rain jackets, a DSLR camera, and snacks for two people. The Synapse is going to be my go-to small-sized backpack for a long time. My only complaint: the pack is unisex, but even pulled to the smallest size, the waist belt is too big on me. This is somewhat of a non-issue, since I’d never carry a lot of weight in the Synapse, but with a full water reservoir, I found myself wishing I could cinch it tight.