Backpacking Brands That Stand Tall in My Book

With a month and a half a backpacking scheduled for this coming season I’ve been going through broken and worn gear and replacing it. I am one of those people who are rough on gear. Every piece of gear and clothing that  I started out with in 2007 when I hiked the AT as been replaced, worn out, or broken with the exception of Tiki-mon,  my Triple Crown water bottle buddy, and I’m checking him out for a possible leak tonight..

Here’s the latest item I replaced, a pair of Point6 light hikers. I purchased two pairs of Point6 light hikers that have been totally satisfactory. Point6 sock have a lifetime guarantee, as do DarnTough socks.  When a pair sprouted a hole, I washed and sent them back. Point6 replaced them in 2 days, no questions asked.

Point6 is a company that shines in customer service

In the past month I have replaced or had gear repaired from MSR (Lightning Ascent snowshoe binding), Princeton Byte ( sending me a replacement cover for my headlamp (plastic broke on battery door), Patagonia (new zipper on my down sweater), and LLBean (replaced a pair of biking gloves).  I have two sets of  Leki trekking poles, and advise hikers to purchase the aluminum models since they carry a lifetime breakage warranty (Leki carbon fiber poles are only covered for a year).

I understand that companies don’t typically provide this level of customer service.  Here’s my policy: I don’t deal with any gear or clothing company that gives me crap about their product quality.  When I hear it starting on the other end of the phone , I thank them right away and that’s the end of it between them and me.  I’m one of those decisive older guys who does not like to waste time with unnecessary burdens of any kind, be it on my back on in my head.  It is for this reason I stopped dealing with Eastern Mountain Sports, Mountain Hardware, and Arc’teryx.

When you spend weeks to months at a time every single day outdoors using these products they have to work, and when they don’t, the company better assist this hiker in replacing that often essential item as soon as possible.  Some of the companies that come to the front here are noted above.  Tarptent and ULA have sent me loaners overnight in exchange for me sending them back my gear to be fixed ASAP.  I like it when that happens. I rebuy from them in kind and it goes on from there.

It’s interesting that I have so little interest in checking out newer tents, sleeping bags, pads, and stoves, even though I am out frequently and even find myself guiding others along the path.  I hear the same thing from other experienced long-distance hikers- that gear that works well tends to start settling in in a comfortable manner, better or worse.

One thing has changed though in my gear deal.  I’m not shopping around much .  I stick with these companies because they respect me as a customer.  And I respect them for producing quality service, AND quality products.

My recommendation to this year’s batch of thru -hiker hopefuls is to be sure to have those 800 numbers written down somewhere when your gear fails you.  If you pay the bucks up front and purchase from a vendor that has a replacement guarantee, you should be all set. In any case,  be polite, and maybe you too will be a repeat offender when it comes to putting out the bucks for new stuff.

I also need to call Leki about a broken pole. They once gave me a bandanna with their customer service number on it, which is answered by a friendly human !

 

How Much Should You Exercise? | NutritionFacts.org

utcold
Baxter State Park

Many of us struggle with deciding how much time we should put into exercising. The truth is a bit difficult to put into practice, due to our busy lifestyles.  You may be dismayed to learn that it takes serious time for your efforts to translate to better health and improved longevity.  In my case, the 75 minute a day target significantly turned health bio-markers around for me, via moderate walking, backpacking ,or biking .

Check out the FACTS below.  Note that you can watch the video or read the transcript of the video.- T. Jamrog

Physical fitness authorities seem to have fallen into the same trap as the nutrition authorities—recommending what they think may be achievable, rather than simply informing us what the science says, and letting us make up our own mind.

Source–>>: How Much Should You Exercise? | NutritionFacts.org

Hills to Sea Trail attempt

The weather this  looks decent, except for a morning shower, for me to attempt a 2 day weekend hike of this local trail.  Since there is no camping on- trail and I have been unable to secure a local place to put down my sleeping bag, I have a couple of options lined up. It’s an admittedly bold agenda- with two 24 mile days planned.  Time for a local microadventure!   Stay tuned for a progress report.  

A Most Pleasant First Trail Ride on Mount Pleasant (2017 version)

The first 2017 group ride with The Bubba to the top of Mount Pleasant in the Warren/West Rockport area had it all- mud, ice, stream riding, and even more snow than expected.  The approach from Route 90 departed from the old parking lot at East Coast Rover’s now defunct location, newly recycled as another car/truck repair facility.  Thanks to Bubba management for gaining permission for us to park there after work hours.

I was very pleased with my ride today- the most successful technical excursion up and down Pleasant ever for me.

Very pleasant on top today.

Atlantic Ocean overlook

Not only did I clear the challenge of ascending Baby Head Hill, I was finally able to loft the front end of my Surly Ice Cream Truck up a pesky little ledge on the section from the Three Way op to the power line after the screaming descent off the summit.

Here is a video of the crew maintaining a controlled skid on the steep, rock-strewn line off the summit itself. 

Today, it might have even helped to have stable ice and refrozen snow smoothing out the trail a bit.  The Bubbas take climbing in stride- in fact if you can’t tolerate climbing forest trails in this part of Maine, you’ll stay home.  S

See?

Veloviewer/Strava connection of this ride

Most of the Bubbas carry folding saws in our packs.  We clear trails as we go, especially this time of year.

Craig Nelson and Nate sawing up fallen tree while John Anders supervises.

Later, we transitioned to riding up the stream that put us on the backside of the mountain just below the blueberry field that set us up for the finish of the ride.

This last wet climb set up a relatively long decent that was a fitting ending to a spring day blissfully absent of the impending blackflies, mosquitoes, and heat.

A most Pleasant morning was spent at my personal Sunday Church of Two Wheels.

Fitness Special—Hike Forever: Age 65 & Up – Backpacker

I’m reblogging today’s Twitter feed from Backpacker magazine.  Granted, it might have a bit limited an appeal, given that it targets us greying hikers.  While I agree with the majority of the points covered, the article contains one glaring piece of medical misinformation, bad advice that should probably be edited out.

It has to do with point E:

Joints/cartilage/back Wear-and-tear decreases padding in the joints and back, leading to stiffness and pain when hiking. The fix: “Moving a joint loosens it,” Lynn Millar says. At home, guide stiff joints through their full range of motion (arm swings for shoulders; squats for knees) 5 times per day. On the trail, repeat movements in the morning, at rest breaks, and in the evening. Pop 400 milligrams of anti-inflammatories 3 times per day.

I’m not going to Pop 400 milligrams of anti-inflammatories 3 times per day !

I didn’t swill Ibuprofen last June while hiking a month in Portugal, and I didn’t down bottles of the stuff on my 2013 CDT thru-hike.  Even though I have a history of  inflammation that eventually resulted in surgery on both my knees for cartilage tears, and have undergone two shoulder surgeries for arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis I rarely dose my discomfort with anti-inflammatories.

If you Google for side effects of anti-inflammatories, you will get specific warnings to be prudent about the use of “Vitamin I”, as it is erroneously dubbed by long distance hikers.

Here a quick read from Outside magazine (2014):  The Cure for Sore Muscles? More Movement.Throw away your ice packs and ibuprofen if you want to recover right.

In the past three years, there has been increasing evidence of the real damage that can be done with overuse of ibuprofen.  From Outside: “Chronic ibuprofen users have some cell damage in their intestines, especially their colon,” says Dr. David Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University and author of several studies on ibuprofen use in endurance athletes. “That allows bacteria to escape in small amounts into the blood stream,” augmenting the inflammatory response.

Source: Fitness Special—Hike Forever: Age 65 & Up – Backpacker:

Our Favorite Backcountry Shelter? A $1,500 Heated Tipi. | Outside Online

I just unpacked my 4 person SeekOutside tipi for shoulder and winter season heated tenting.

IMG_9572 3
4 person Seekoutside tipi setup

Don Kivelus of Four Dog Stove is crafting me a tiny custom titanium airtight wood stove for the tent. The total weight of the tipi/stove/stovepipe should come in at around 10 pounds, and will sleep two very comfortably with the stove in use.  I plan to use it on winter fat tire bike trips, fall and spring canoe trips, and on winter toboggan hauling trips either solo or with 1 other person sharing the tent.

Composed of a floorless ripstop nylon tipi and utilizing wood-burning titanium stoves, the Seek Outside Hot Tent allows you to carry a heated shelter into the back country.

Source: Our Favorite Backcountry Shelter? A $1,500 Heated Tipi. | Outside Online