Tag Archives: gear review

Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid Boot Review

I finished up another review after about 6 months of testing: the Merrell Moab Mid Ventilator boot review is posted on Trailspace.  These boots have been discontinued but are still floating around the internet and available at a discount if you are lucky.  If you are looking for a good entrance into the idea of quick drying ventilated footwear without plunging into trail runners this might be a good option.  I like these boots but do question the durability/ construction quality.   I have several more in the works to clear out my backlog this fall/winter and make room for some neat testing opportunities from Trailspace.

Sidewinder Ti-Tri Stove – updated gear review

Just a quick note as I just completely revamped my original Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri stove with wood-burning Inferno insert. This stove is still my favorite piece of gear after three full years of use. I can’t recommend it more highly unless you just want to boil water and add it to a bag of food (if that’s your style then there are cheaper options). If you want versatile fuel options, the ability to simmer food, and one of the best wood burning stoves out there all weighing in under 5 ounces, then check it out.

New Gear Reviews – Vargo Triad Stove & 2 Sporks

I am starting to catch up on some of my incomplete gear reviews, and recently posted new reviews on Trailspace (with links on my Gear Review page) for the new 2017 model of the Vargo Triad Multi-Fuel stove and two utensils: the Humangear Gobites Duo spoon-fork combo and the Vargo Titanium Folding Spork. All are solid pieces of gear and good ideas, but may not work for every type of backpacker – see the details of each review to determine if its something of interest.  I have added two of these to my regular backpacking kit, but you’ll have to read the reviews to find out which one got left out!

Stay tuned for a few more in the next month as I clean out my gear review backlog to make room for some new gear tests.

Tarptent Stratospire I – First Field Test

After my much documented 2-month layoff (see my whining in the previous couple of posts!) I managed to get 2 good nights out with the new Tarptent Stratospire I.

Quick summary: I have never like a tent this much on first use!

The Stratospire pitch on the first night was relatively easy (I had practiced at home 3 or 4 times while stuck around the house). While I didn’t have monster winds or any storms or rain to truly test, there was a steady breeze the first night and it barely ruffled the open flaps.

I used a combination of tent stakes for this trip with relatively rocky open ground:

  • Aluminum 6 inch Easton stakes (2) – 1 at each pitch-lock end
  • Titanium UL nails (4) – at the door/vestibule corners
  • Titanium ascent stakes (2) – at the main guy line locations

I carried 4 Y stakes (MSR Groundhog knockoffs) as well but didn’t need them – they usually replace the nails in softer ground. The taughtness of the pitch first time with little adjustment is what impresses me the most. I did have to make sure I set the pitch-lock ends up vertically.

I found it even a little easier the second night in a steady breeze to stake out the rectangle firsts then insert the trekking pole supports through the roof vents. This allowed me less hassle with getting it right and required only one adjustment to a stake once the tarptent was up.

I had ample room for my gear in each vestibule and my essentials inside the inner netting portion alongside my full size sleeping pad.  The only thing lacking for me personally in my organizational camp habits was a small door pocket to keep my headlamp and glasses (a long habit of mine).  I am planning to add that myself.  Having my entry/exit on one side and my cooking area on the other (I was not in bear country) was ideal.

The vestibule space and two doors are one of the key features I like the most, and the flexibility of this was apparent at a hot and sunny campsite on the second night out.  I rotated the closure of one half of the vestibule doors around to keep the tent shaded while still allowing critical air flow through the shelter.

Overnight, there was no visible sag, but obviously that is dependent on weather, be it rain, temperature change, or humidity.  The Stratospire was so sturdy that I had no concerns running a laundry line from one of the corners.

Breaking down the tent was easy as well – I prefer just for wet weather practice to unhook the inner netting first and pack that away then take down the tarp portion.  This goes quickly – the clips on the inner are a little finicky at first but it gets easy with practice.

Condensation was not an issue on this trip as I slept with both doors wide open both nights and left the netting open on the second night as well since the bugs weren’t bad.

I’ll keep testing this summer and into the fall/winter season and provide a post or two once the Stratospire has ridden out some severe weather.  And of course I’ll eventually post a complete gear review on Trailspace as usual.

New Gear Reviews: Marmot Ether Driclime Jacket and Sawyer Picaridin & Permethrin

Just a quick note that three new gear reviews are available on that page…I have time on my hands while stuck in the house with a bad back/sciatica along with a busy work load.  New gear reviewed is:

Vargo Ultimate Fire Starter Review

I completed my first review for the Trailspace Review Corps last week.  The Vargo Ultimate Fire Starter is a neat little device that any wood stove or campfire enthusiast might find interesting. It combines the function of a fire steel/spark lighter with the addition of an extendable bellows to help stoke the fire.  I find it really helpful tinkering with my Calder Ti Tri wood stove.

Please go to Trailspace for the full review.

Gear Review Page Updated

I just updated the gear review page and now have links to Trailspace for the following reviews:

  • Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti Tri Stove – 5 STARS
  • Lightheart Gear Solong 6 Tent – 4 STARS
  • Feathered Friends Osprey UL30 Sleeping Bag – 5 STARS
  • REI Campware Cup – 5 STARS
  • Princeton Tec Sync Headlamp  – 4 STARS
  • NEMO Astro Insulated Lite Sleeping Pad – 4.5 STARS
  • Marmot Tungsten 3P Tent – 4 STARS
  • Sea to Summit Delta Insul-Mug – 3 STARS
  • Merrel Moab Mid Waterproof Boots – 3.5 STARS
  • Trail Designs Ultralight Glasses – 4 STARS
  • Vargo 1.3L Titanium Pot – 4 STARS
  • Rite in the Rain All-Weather Memo Book – 5 STARS

Hope some of these reviews are useful in your gear quest, as well as the over 30,000 other reviews on Trailspace!

Hi There!

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My first blog post…hmmm.  I’ll start with what my intentions are:

A blog about hiking, backpacking, and camping from a regular guy with kids and a full time job who has backpacked for 30 years.  Not from an expert, just “experienced” (you can read aging here if you want) enough to know there is a lot to learn yet.

I have no ties to outdoor manufacturers and I buy all my own gear, and generally keep favorites for a long time (not a gear junkie but I appreciate the good stuff as well as good deals).  I’ll post my genuine opinion of my gear under normal circumstances (don’t expect any test results from Everest or a thru hike of the PCT – there are other great sites for that). No extreme adventures or long distance hikes, just your average 2 to 7 day trips with a few longer ones scattered in at times.

And just as important or maybe more so for me, a place to put ideas on “paper” and have respectful discussions and disagreements about those thoughts.  Also a place for questions and comments from novice to seasoned backpackers where the answers will be honest and may include links to more experienced sites or folks when it surpasses my knowledge or comfort level.

Looking forward to the journey!