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2013 Staff Picks
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Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

2013 Picks on 12/26/2013 20:50:42 MST Print View

My picks out of the gear I acquired in 2013 are:

1) ULA Catalyst Cuben Hybrid
This pack is great for larger loads such as packrafting and winter hikes. The cuben hybrid fabric minimizes water weight uptake and keeps my gear mostly dry when packrafting (I use drysacks for crucial stuff). At 40oz, it enables me to undertake a wider variety of backpacking trips. Compared to the HMG cuben hybrid packs, the Catalyst is more fully featured which suits my style.

2) Locus Gear FL CP2 poles
The Locus Gear Flick lock poles are the best poles for ultralight hiking. The flick locks are much nicer to use than the GG LT4 twist locks, and they're decently stiffer too. The also collapse shorter since they're 3 piece and the price isn't too ridiculous. My only complaint the small diameter grips, which I remedied by replacing them with GG grips. 4.8oz ea with the straps off.
flick lock

3) Garmin Geko 301
This GPS is excellent for trips where you'd prefer to have the safety net/convenience of a GPS, but you don't plan on using it much. The Geko 301 is very light (~3oz) and it gives me a my UTM coordinates which is all I need to locate myself on the map. It's been discontinued for several years now, which means they are widely available on eBay for $30-$70. The 301 has much better battery life than the 201 and 101 versions.

Nite-Ize #1 S Biners -Light, strong & well made. Great for bear bagging. 0.1oz.
Nikon AW100 Camera - Waterproof camera's are much nicer to use, and this one is good.
Mountain Hardware Quasar Rain Jacket - The move to more durable 9oz 3 layer rain jacket with a higher quality membrane looks promising.

Edited by dandydan on 01/19/2014 19:54:25 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Re: Re: A rock on 12/26/2013 20:52:32 MST Print View

Kat, because I like to communicate. But you are partly right. I'm taking an online break, and I'll see you guys some time in 2014. Take care :-).

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
My Picks (and an anit-anti-consumerism rant) on 12/26/2013 22:16:00 MST Print View

My picks

Ultralight Backpacking Item - Exped Lighting 60. Great pack! Best 2 pound load hauler I've tried so far.

Insert anti-anti-consumerism rant here

Sometimes the focus on gear isn't some selfish consumerism its just a real need. I would have been happy to use my old pack till the end of time but it wore out, and is discontinued. I didn't go shopping for a new pack because I wanted too but because I had too. I imagine people who hike hundreds of miles a year like Jordan and Chenault are in the same boat.

End of rant.

Outdoor Gear - Running in Merrell Trail Gloves. I tried this on a lark after deciding I didn't have the energy for a 2 mile run in my regular shoes. I thought I'd run a mile. But I felt great! It wasn't just the forefoot striking and ground feel often discussed. I was already forefoot striking more or less. The problem was my stiff NB shoes would slip on the loose gravel as my feet landed and as I toed off. It wasn't as bad as running in sand but it wasn't real efficient. The Merrells just worked better. I think it was because they had a smaller "footprint" so I was slipping on less gravel. Also they wrapped around rocks they hit rather than slipping on top of them. I beat my feet up a bit more but my running was more efficient and I felt less fatigued overall.

Lifestyle - Focusing on Family and Friends. I had ambitious plans for the summer but due to a death in the family I kept feeling like certain family and community events were more important and my backpacking trips kept getting pushed back. I took cousins on a backpacking trip (at there not UL pace), volunteered to help a church youth group on a car camping trip, took my little brother on a short trip and spent a week in Yellowstone with my immediate and extended family. In the end all this cut into my backpacking time a lot more then I thought it would. If I'd known how little backpacking I'd do I might have skipped a few family events. But in the end it was one of the richest and most rewarding summers of my life and I'm glad I (unknowingly) sacrificed backpacking for more important things.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/26/2013 22:52:05 MST Print View

Also a bit underwhelmed by the article, but enjoying the responses!

Ultralight backpacking gear: Exped UL-7 sleeping pad and Exped Schnozzel pump bag. Can't say enough good things about this setup.

Outdoor item: Electric pump that plugs into the car to inflate tubes for when we go tubing the Comal or Guadalupe rivers. I see these kids using their lungs to inflate tubes... taking all day when they could be out on the river like this lazy old man. Or renting a tube every time. Dang! Buy your own tube, inflate it yourself, and save money and time!

Lifestyle item: Baby carrier/backpack. I wouldn't be able to get out on the trail at all without it, but it still gets a lot of use in town. Like when Mrs. pitsy has the stroller with her in the car and I need to go collect my paycheck at work... Just pop little Radley Moon in his carrier and hike over to the shop.

Bonus item: Merino/baby Alpaca hat from Kat_P. My head was the only thing that stayed warm on my walk home from work this evening. Severely underdressed for the temperature drop this afternoon. Remembering my new hat was in my bag brought a smile to my face.

Edited by pitsy on 12/26/2013 22:54:24 MST.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
My Favorite Part About Staff Picks... on 12/27/2013 01:07:19 MST Print View the picks that you all have in each of your categories. I really enjoy learning about the diversity of what makes BPL readers tick. Thanks to those of you who are contributing yours, as well.

(jpovs) - F

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: My Favorite Part About Staff Picks... on 12/27/2013 04:52:54 MST Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/15/2014 14:14:25 MDT.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
2013 picks on 12/27/2013 08:18:06 MST Print View

Backpacking Gear: Being thankful for what you have

I've got a great kit that works together well, so it's hard to pick any one standout item. Notables that haven't changed in years include a Patagonia Houdini, cocoon pullover, BPL vapr bivy, MLD burn pack, Javan Dempsey quilt, firelite 550 pot, and some cutdown foam. In truth though, any of these could be easily interchanged with a similar item and my experience would be just as good. I think the search for the perfect gear sometimes detracts from just enjoying the experience.

Outdoor Gear: An alternate mode of transportation

Be it packraft, skis, snowshoes, or bike, it's nice to see parts of the wilderness that may not be accessible by foot.

Lifestyle: Lake Superior

I never planned on living in the Midwest, but the Lake Superior shoreline has made it worthwhile, transforming Michigan from being just another Midwestern state into a premier backpacking destination. I've spent the last 3 years exploring it, and feel like I've only scratched the surface. The ice formations, caves, and cliffs have to be seen to be believed.

Wishing you all a happy holiday season. Thank you for the 2013 inspirations. Here's to 2014!

David T
(DaveT) - F
um.... on 12/27/2013 09:55:36 MST Print View

"Ryan, are you ever going to respond to my many emails to you about the grandfathered forum membership?"



Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Garmin Geko 301 +1 on 12/27/2013 10:44:17 MST Print View

I picked up this GPS a couple of months ago as well and I should have given it honorable mention. So far it's been the perfect GPS for me as I've found that the option of maps, GLONASS, and WAAS with the newer GPS are unnecessary (at this time) for my purposes.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/27/2013 10:49:17 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
wilderness biking on 12/27/2013 11:05:24 MST Print View

Tim, I appreciate your comments. This is an issues you're going to hear more about here later in 2014. To preview that and further the thread drift:

Wilderness (lower case) biking is for me mountain biking well away from pavement on paths not built for cycling and not traveled often by people via any mode of transport. Finding legal routes in the lower 48 where a bike is an enhancement to travel rather than a hindrence (with respect to both speed and enjoyment) is a challenge.

I live near one of the few remaining large chunks of national forest in the lower 48 which has wilderness trails open to bikes. The social side is pretty insignificant as outside hunting and CDT season you don't see anyone back there. In other areas prejudice against bikes can be a pain but it's just that, and something to be dealt with.

Game trails are another matter. Even when such activity is legally unproblematic, its the rare game trail which is bikeable. In the mountains and forests they're almost always too steep or thick. Locally, I ride game trails to cross islands and link up sloughs and gravel bars while riding river courses at low water in the spring. The areas are public land, get flooded every few years, and receive almost no human traffic.

Again, the issues here are almost always social, as opposed to environmental.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/27/2013 11:57:07 MST Print View

I guess I'll add to the diversity... even though mine aren't diverse as other's:

UL packing stuff. Zimmerbuilt pack/ Gregory 3d belt. Best AND simplest pack I've had ever. Light, right volume for me, simple with one external pocket, tough (Dimension), comfortable. (yes, Eric, comfortable:) )

Outdoor Activity: I understand that I'm not cool cause it's not a flashy activity, but I just really love to be in the wilderness and walking is slow so I can smell the roses. -Never been cool anyway why start now?

Lifestyle item: I don't understand what "lifestyle item" means. Doug put a juicer. We just got a juicer and its pretty cool. Oh! Disc Golf! Yeah been into that lately! Pier Park in St. John's is Sweeeeet! But in a fit of uncoolness I carry my 3 discs in a little bag from a record shop, like a book bag sort of thing. I guess that Golf itself falls under "outdoor activity" so maybe I'll make the bag be my "lifestyle item" My buddy carries his discs in one too and when we play through other groups its fun to carry our douchy little bags and throw just as well (if not better) then they do with their 18 discs in a big ol bag and stool. Especially since we are both left-handed finger-poppers. We feel like cheesy black sheep. Its a gas.

EDIT: OK Vitamix isn't a juicer- its a blender. Take it easy, Doug. LOL Smoothie maker... whatever. :) Must be line helluva blender.

Edited by WoodenWizard on 12/27/2013 23:36:51 MST.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
Re: wilderness biking on 12/27/2013 12:04:43 MST Print View

Thank you for the clarification, Dave. I look forward to reading more either here or at Bedrock. Both social and environmental consequences seem to always be at stake here in CO.

Stopping threads instead of derailing them is usually my speciality so I feel honored to be in new territory.

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 00:32:20 MST Print View

Roger Caffin once ridiculed me for suggesting he review the Hoka One One shoe. I suppose instead of saying talk to the hand I should say talk to Kevin Sawchuk. And i write this with a smile on my face, because I admire Roger.

And for Mary D above, the ultimate mountain bike encounter for me is having to jump out of the way of a speeding mountain bike on a trail where bikes aren't allowed as happened to me today on a day hike at Lake Natoma near Sacramento. Oh well, at least I get to practice my jumping skills and yell "POG MO THOIN!" like my Irish grandfather used to do.

Getting into the spirit of the theater of the absurd (a shotgun?) for a internet site titled "Backpacking" Light my favorite gear for 2013 was the Transatlantic Sessions youtube of Eric Bibb singing "Don't Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down." It is spiritual and yet has backpacking applications as well as it is concerned with slipping, sliding and falling. It embodies my attitude of life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and remember that Christmas represents an important person's birthday.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 07:58:27 MST Print View

"my favorite gear for 2013 was the Transatlantic Sessions youtube of Eric Bibb singing "Don't Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down.""

Good stuff John, thanks for mentioning it. I'll add Mavis Staples, Have A Little Faith []

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Mountain Bikes and Wilderness on 12/31/2013 08:13:25 MST Print View

I once met two mountain bikers a couple miles into the Pecos Wilderness. I asked them if they knew they could get a ticket for being there (I was bluffing I assume the FS would ticket them). They seemed surprised (or faked it) and headed out by the quickest trail. I didn't personally threated to turn them in but I sort of implied that the area was being monitored for hunting season and lots of people would be waiting to turn them in.

tony landrum
( - MLife

Locale: Texas
Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 10:39:00 MST Print View

I have to agree, I looked at this post hoping to find some replacements / upgrades, like a sleeping pad. I haven't seen any gun totin hikers!!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 11:31:20 MST Print View

"I haven't seen any gun totin hikers!!"

That's because I conceal carry Tony

(flame war in 3.... 2.... )

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/31/2013 11:32:46 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: re 2013 Staff Picks on 12/31/2013 11:53:01 MST Print View

I realize there are some on this site (hopefully a small minority) that have a fetish like attachment to their killing toys.

But killing toys are not about the outdoors ... they are about killing.
and isn't this an Outdoor site ?
and if you really want to "Backpack Light" well, a gun doesn't cut it.

Could you, especially the staff, show the courtesy to tout your prowess in this area on hunting sites and spare those of us who truly love the outdoors the pain of having to listen.

my 2013 gear pick is a gun that animals can use so they can shoot back.
oh right ... it hasn't been invented yet.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Useless on 12/31/2013 12:11:00 MST Print View

This list is just about as useless as me sitting at my desk on NYE. Like a tree falling in the woods, who even cares if it happened. Maybe next year someone will put the Sawyer Mini or something remotely relevant (no ill meant to the Rab puffy or Patagucci rain jacket) on the list. Yep. This year's sucked.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Useless on 12/31/2013 12:22:34 MST Print View

Why are y'all mad for people posting their opinions?

Its opinons! Sheesh