On a remote stretch of the Elwha River, in northwestern Washington state, a demolition crew hired by the National Park Service detonates a battery of explosives within the remaining section of the Glines Canyon Dam. The blast destroyed the last 30 feet of the 210-foot-high dam and will signal the culmination of the largest dam-removal project in the world.
Backpacking with kids? Say goodbye to your ultra light backpacking dreams, my friends, you are now a mule that needs to haul some baggage. That said, you might as well do so as efficiently as possible. In a previous life, for trips of a week you would probably use 60-85 Liter packs. That old 70L pack mighty be your new weekend pack, as kids follow along behind you on the trail. Here are a couple well designed multi-day packs, made with excellent materials, that provide big load hauling for your starter family, and plenty of room for those long distance personal trips, in your future.
Arc’teryx Altra 62 – Women’s $449.00
The Arc’teryx Altra 62 backpack, for women, has the necessary size and comfortable harness system requirements, but what elevates it above the pack pile is it’s zippered access openings and lighter weight. As, my friend, John Harlin explains in the video, the easy access reduces the time spend rummaging blindly into the dark void, of a big pack. Beware: the pivot point on this pack can squeak, annoying you and your party. This means it’s time to reapply the provided grease, as per the directions.
Osprey Aether 70 – Men’s $290
The fabric Osprey uses on the inside of the shoulder straps of the Aether 70 is very comfortable on bare skin and, the breathability of the back foam is excellent. Although the Aether series doesn’t quite have the all-access features of the Altras, the strong J-zipper on the front panel provides quick access to gear in main compartment. The slid-in side pockets, easy-to-load hydration sleeve pocket, and two hipbelt pockets for goodies are sweet features on these big rigs from Ospery.
Ever since falling into a New Zealand river, with my climbing pack on, and spending the ensuing night shivering in a wet down sleeping bag, I’ve been wary of both raging river wades and down sleeping bags. Down is an excellent natural insulation that comes from the under plumage of ducks and geese. Since Eddie Bauer patented the first down jacket in 1940, it’s been the insulator of choice for outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Down insulation, having stood the test of time, can’t be matched by synthetic insulation in terms of weight, warmth, comfort, and durability. But, there’s a catch. Down loses all of its insulating properties when wet.
On a recent trip down Oregon’s Grand Ronde river I used a MSR AutoFlow Gravity filter to treat river water for a rafting crew of 12 people. As “impure” water, from the red 3 liter bag, drained through the filter tube, into my 5 gallon jugs, I played cards by the riverside. It is about as easy a job as you can have around camp. This isn’t the case with a pump-style filter, and for a large group, pumping water takes time, concentration and elbow grease. For two people, pumping water isn’t too bad but river trips aren’t too weight sensitive so I pack the gravity system all the time.
When choosing a water treatment system it’s good to consider activities, and your group size. If you’re traveling to a Third world country, a SteriPEN or iodine tabs are compact and kill viruses, along with all the usual bugs. If you’re treating water with a lot of silt, straining the water through a coffee filter or bandana first, will help. Sometimes just boiling water is the best and cheapest treatment. Read more ›
Comfort, while wearing a climbing harness, is situationally relative. If you are mainly skiing, walking or climbing on a glacier your comfort needs will be different than if you hanging on belay, or take repeated sport climbing falls. For example, adjustable and detachable leg loops are better on a mountaineering harness, when you are changing pant layers, changing from crampons to skis, or nature calls for the squat position. Fixed or non-detachable leg loops are lighter, less clunky, and more comfortable in the climbing gym and sport climbing. Below are a couple of our harness that illustrate the features available for, roughly, the same amount of money.
Like scuba gear, crampons allow you to exist in places you couldn’t…without their help. You can stand around on a 45 degree ice slope, with a cup of tea in your hand, shooting the bull with your climbing partner, with the assurance that you won’t slide off the mountain. You can cross and climb glaciers and snow slopes, climb frozen waterfalls and scratch your way up ice crusted rock faces; all with the aid of spikes on your boots. As with last week, I’ve picked-out a few pieces because of their diverse usage and sweet pricing. Like most climbing equipment, crampons have become more specialized according to their use. I’ve included representatives from the general mountaineering and technical alpine climbing catagories, leaving waterfall, mixed climbing and ski mountaineering for a winter posting.
As you examine your ice axe, this spring alpine climbing season, perhaps this is the year your wish list axe becomes an actual upgrade. There are a few rusty-headed relics that I would like to retire, and bolt to the wall for good. It’s great to keep old tools, as memories, but it is also great to get a nice crisp purchase on couloir ice. OMCgear has some sweet deals right now, and I’ve picked a few picked tools for the spotlight.