Category: Backcountry Gear Reviews

  • “Overlanding” (Car Camping) in Utah’s Canyon Country and Deserts

    I used to be a backpacking snob.  I felt that backpackers that explore the wilderness walking around on their own two feet, carrying everything on their back were morally superior to folks who drove into the backcountry in a vehicle. However, after spending a fair amount of time in Utah’s deserts and canyons, I’ve become […]

  • Lightweight Backpacking with Boy Scouts

    I have been a scoutmaster or assistant scoutmaster for 23 of the last 25 years.  I have been involved with boy scout troops in New York, Colorado, and Utah.  I’ve had inner-city scouts, suburban scouts, scouts from poor families, and scouts from wealthy families. Throughout all of my scouting experiences, I have learned that a […]

  • Mammut Smart Alpine Belay/Rappel Device

    Mammut Smart Alpine Belay/Rappel Device 4.4 ounces I’ve been using the Mammut Smart Alpine device for several months now.  It has become my favorite belay/rappel device.  Its primary defining feature is that it is an autoblocking device, much like the well-known Gri Gri.   It isn’t guaranteed to hold a fall without help from the […]

  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack

    The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ice Pack is a lightweight alpine pack that I have been using lately for big days and light overnights in the mountains. The ice pack is about 40 liters (2,400 cubic inches) in capacity, and can hold everything I need for a day of ice climbing or winter alpine climbing day […]

  • Olympus OMD EM-5 Camera System

    The Olympus OMD EM-5 Camera   (15.3 ounces) I’ve been using an Olympus PEN E-P2 camera for several years now.  It’s a micro 4/3 system camera that accepts interchangeable lenses.  The sensor is half the size of a full frame sensor, so the “crop factor” provides the field of view equivalent to that of a […]

  • Outdoor photography gear update Part 1: Pocket Cameras

    Outdoor photography gear update Part 1:  Pocket Cameras  This update addresses Pocket Cameras.  A follow on update will address Micro 4/3 system cameras and lenses, including the new Olympus OMD E-M5 I almost never go into the outdoors without a camera.  I love taking pictures of the places I visit and the things I do.  […]

  • Phone, GPS, and Emergency Beacon

    Casio Commando Android Phone with Backcountry Navigator Software (5.4 ounces)   Delorme inReach Satellite Communicator  (8.6 ounces) For many years, I didn’t even own a cell phone or a GPS.  I didn’t take a cell phone to work, much less into the backcountry.  Given the uncertainty over cell coverage, it didn’t seem worth the extra weight.  These […]

  • Sleeping Pads

    This blog entry focuses on various sleeping pads I’ve used over the years.   Left hand column, top to bottom: Prolite Plus; Prolite3; Ortik; Karrimat Evazote; MEC Winter Evazote;  MEC bivi thin evazote;  Ridgerest Right hand column, top to bottom: NeoAir; Exped Synmat; NeoAir AllSeason; NeoAir XTherm; Klymit X-Frame; Klymit X-Lite Closed Cell Foam Sleeping Pads […]

  • Teton Crest Ski Tour

    April 9-12 I just returned from a four day trip skiing along the Teton Crest trail.  We started the trip at Teton Pass at the base of Mount Glory, and 4 days later, came out Cascade Canyon.  It was one of the best ski trips I’ve ever been on.  Scenery was fantastic and we had […]

  • Sleeping Bags

    Sleeping Bags   Down or synthetic fill?  This question has probably occupied the minds of climbers at least as much as any other gear question.  Like the debate regarding Ginger and Maryanne, there is no definitive answer.  I have both synthetic and down filled sleeping bags.  Here’s how I choose:  If I’m only out for […]