Category Archives: Outdoor Gear

And away I go

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Haven’t posted in some time, but in have good reasons I swear. They mostly come in the form of a new house and a beautiful baby daughter.

As anyone knows, such earth-moving events can keep you still for a time, and make you reflect.

That being said, I am back on the road. 30L MEC bag holding all my worldly goods for a week working in the UK. My usual gypsy-camp washing system will let me get away with 3 sets of clothes and gym gear.

See you all in transit.

A

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January 25, 2014 · 3:41 pm

Gear I Don’t Like – Lifeproof Iphone 4 – 4S Case

I, like a lot of people, have joined the Smartphone revolution as a way of condensing many devices into a single, portable unit.

The iPhone has for me (like many folks) taken a ‘front pocket’ role in both my business life (as a commuter) and in my hobbies (backpacking, hiking, etc). It combines a personal computer, GPS, Phone, Camera and entertainment centre into one simple Ounce-Light device.

It’s only failings are its durability (common to all technology), susceptibility to water damage and of course reliance on power.

Two of these I was hoping to have solved with my iPhone 4S case from Lifeproof. After reading some reviews, including a recommendation from Backpacker Magazine, I selected it as my new case over Otterbox due to it’s lighter weight and versatility. It would also work with my external collection of camera lenses which extend the iPhones versatility taking photos of the outdoors. The price tag ($99) was fairly average for the case type so I picked it up roughly nine months ago.

For roughly six months it held up well. I took photos on the tops of Tolmie peak in the fall, dropping my phone in the slop as the sun rose and snow started to melt. It held my case safe as it was knocked out of my hand by fellow air commuters in the airport.

Over Christmas it slowly began to decompose. Perhaps the extreme amount of use and time in the sun/outdoors caused the rubber to break down. Regardless, the rubber lips on the front face which seal in the faceplate and cushion the edges from damage began to crumble. Over time, the entire top and left side (along with the side switch cover) had eroded. I removed the phone and tested it for watertightness and the case continued to keep out moisture… so with a shrug I continued to use it, assuming this erosion to be cosmetic at best. The interior cushions still protected my phone and that tiny amount of rubber could not possibly endanger the device.

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It would appear I was wrong. One fateful day last weekend I was knocked while walking through Midtown Manhattan and my phone was tossed from my hand. Landing flat and facedown I assumed at first (having survived many a similar fall) that the phone was fine. It was my wife that noticed a line running down my screen.

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The screen was crushed directly in the area where the eroded rubber had flaked away. My assumption that this small cosmetic flaw wasn’t actually what was protecting my phone was apparently erroneous.

Now, seven months of abuse and my phone’s first bit of damage came after I knowingly watched part of the case fail… but I still feel cheated. The case itself is still watertight and 99% intact. In addition Lifeproof describes that the interior of the case is designed as shock resistant, not the film of rubber at its edges.

While this does give me the excuse to upgrade my iPhone to a 5 (I’m due anyway), I will likely be looking for a new and different brand of case to protect it.

So if any of you are experiencing the same rubber failure on a Lifeproof Case, consider yourself warned. That little bit of rubber lip is apparently what is keeping your phone screen from being drop damaged. Caveat Emptor!

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Filed under Backpacking, Commuter Travel, Outdoor Gear, Traveling Light

Gear I Like – Salomon Synapse Mid-High WP Train Runners

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I have been looking for some time for a pair of light, waterproof boots to take with me on short notice scrambles and peak-bags. Its hard to find hybrids that are tough enough for rocky terrain, supportive enough for uphills and downhills and waterproof enough for the unpredictable weather of places like the PNW.

Salomon to the rescue. Although technically trail-runners these affordably prices boots are burly enough that their goretex exteriors and rubber outsole and toe cap resisted my best efforts to tear them up on Cougar Mt. loop trails outside Seattle and Angels Rests rocky terrain in Portland. Both hikes were between 5-6 miles and both had me caught in rain on several occasions with sloppy trail conditions.

The only moisture in these boots when I took them off was from me. Even that had vented well enough that my socks were bone dry seconds after coming out (Smartwool hikers).

The toggle and lock system of laces kept my heel jammed down in the constant uphills and downhills and my feet (abused by 15 miles walking through Manhattan a week before in Nikes) came out non the worse for wear.

The wide luggy soles were grippy on slick wet rocks, mud and compressed gravel all through both hikes. The mid high cut even gave a bit of ankle support.

My only nitpick would be the lack of arch support… but if you need it you’re already used to putting in your own insoles.

So if you’re a guy looking for a great blend between a hiker and a trail runner this total winner in my books and great for the price.

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May 30, 2013 · 3:40 pm

Gear – Cold weather, sub 20lbs Base Weight

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…and it all fits in my GoLite Jam 50L.

I’m one of those guys that will kill time on airplanes daydreaming gear lists. For a while I’ve been trying to get comfortable and condition-appropriate gear whittled down to under 20lbs and I’m geeked enough that I actually keep a library of all my gear (weighted with our little food scale if it’s small) to tool around with.

This is a sub-20lbs Gear checklist for hiking in the winter in the Ozarks and Smokies (my local ranges) where conditions can be very damp and drop below freezing at the night above 5000feet.

Add in 2L or water (4.4lbs) and four or five days food (about 5lbs) and I’ve got a total weight under 30lbs.

Which, I’m kinda stoked about. 🙂

Any other folks this gear obsessed? I think I’m going to give this a go in the Daniel Boon NF sometime in the next month or so.

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February 8, 2013 · 10:44 am

Outdoor Gear – Innovations – Superhydrophobic Nanotech Weatherproofing

I just caught a look at the demo reel video for a new line of Weather treatment technology that kinda has to be seen to be believed. You can check it out on NPR’s website here;

NPR Article

I don’t normally geek out on things like gear construction, but the video is pretty compelling if real.

One great point the article brings up of course is the cost and durability issue. Most water-resistant (I won’t ever say waterproof, solid rubber is waterproof and you don’t make clothes out of that which aren’t designed to handle level 5 biohazards) clothing is treated with some kind of DWR spray which closes the pores on the exterior but still allows moisture to transfer out the other way (think of it like a doggie door for moisture).

No matter how good it is it does eventually wet-out. Seams leak, water gets underneath and most times it actually wets out from your own perspiration. That would still be an issue with this new treatment.

But still; it wets out from the outside too. No amount of current DWR will keep moisture from getting in if you’re getting dumped on for hours and hours. Best it does is keep it off for a longer period of time. At $50-100 dollars for a treatment… if this product isn’t really durable then it may not be market-viable.

But still; watch the video. Some of the stuff they put this treatment through is just mad, and it comes out clean every time.

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Filed under Backpacking, Outdoor Gear, The Outdoor