Category Archives: Gear Talk

Perfect Camera Mount

What's the secret for travelling ultralight in the wilderness and yet getting awesome high-quality photos? Bring a friend that is even more of a photography geek that you are, and he'll be passionate enough to lug all the heavy gear himself Winking smile

Seriously I've done a number of trips with Tim now and he's always struggled bringing his DSLR into the backcountry. The challenge is how do you make the camera readily-accessible yet protected and not inhibit your movement? He tried the ˜hang in around your neck' maneuver, but it swung to-and-fro and was not comfortable to hike with. Often, it ended up buried in the top of his backpack and many little shots were missed. It came out for epic moments, but otherwise it was too inconvenient to get it out. To be able to have enough photos to string a trip report together, it's not just about the epics wallpaper-quality vistas – it's about the little things: campsites, junctions, trail flowers etc.

Enter the Peak Design Capture  camera clip:


It worked really well on our last trip, Tim mounted it on the hip-belt of his pack and was bringing out the camera much more often. It sat in a place that didn't interfere with movement – especially when using poles.

We were fortunate to have dry weather last trip, so a little silnylon synch-bag to put over it to protect from the elements will be essential for the next one.

Not only is this an awesome little gadget, but the story behind it is even better: The inventor asked for pre-orders of $10,000 on to make enough cash to do a production run. He received so much PR / word-of-mouth attention on the idea, that pledges flowed in and the project raised over $350k.

5 things to know about Foot Repair

Nothing ruins a backpacking trip more than a foot full of blisters.


Whether you're a traditionalist with heavy leather boots, going the Ultralight way with trail runners, or breaking new ground with funny rubber feet, you will benefit from a little preventative maintenance on the trail to ensure fond memories.

Here are five great tips for keeping your feet nice and healthy on the trail:

1. Pay Attention
Before blister form you will start to feel little hot-spots in your feet. If you start to get the tiniest sensation of this then STOP IMMEDIATLEY and apply prevention to the affected area. Don't just ignore it and hope it will go away in a mile or two.

2. Lube Up
A recent discovery for me is Hydropel. It's a thick Vaseline-like foot lubricant that goes on thick and provides and excellent barrier between your feet and socks. I find that one application of Hydropel each morning lasts all day and keeps the doctor away.


3. Leukotape
Forget moleskin and messy tincture of benzoin. Leukotape welcomes you to the twenty first century. This is a very strong rigid tape that is easily torn to size. Once applies the zinc oxide adhesive makes sure it's not going anywhere. No matter if you have freshly bathed stream feet or sweaty hydropel stink feet, this sucker isn't going to come off in a hurry. Does a great job at preventing further irritation and friction on a developing blister.

In a pinch, duct-tape works surprisingly well also. 
 BSN_LeukotapeTape _LG

4. Soothing stream foot baths
Hot tired feet at the end of the day? Make sure you clean then really well each night. Dip them in a nearby river and wash away all that grime. With ultralight shoes, the quick-drying mesh means that a lot of dust and soil penetrates both shoes and socks, so filthy feet ensue.

5. Toe Socks
Injinji makes some pretty cool toe socks. Designed to separate your toes with a special anti-friction membrane that is light and breathable. These suckers are actually surprisingly comfy. If you're prone to blisters between your toes – these could be just the ticket.


What *is* GoLite Thinking?

A recent comment on my gear list page brought to my attention that the latest Jam (v3) Pack from GoLite is now a whopping 1 lbs 15oz.

Erm aren't we going the wrong way? Let's review the progression:

Jam v1: 1lb 5oz (21oz) (Circa 2003)

Jam v2: 1 lb 10oz (26oz) (Circa 2007)

Jam v3: 1 lb 15oz (31oz) (Circa 2010)


Surely a leading-edge ultralight backpacking company would be making huge technological leaps each year? Shaving ounces OFF their fabrics, straps, padding etc. and striving for a better product

Apparently not.

GoLite appears to be suffering from what (for lack of an existing label) I'll call The Ray Effect . The Ray Effect is an observation made by Ray Jardine in his book Beyond Backpacking.

Ray observes that gear gets heavier the more successful an outdoor company becomes. The more successful a company, the more likely they are to get exposure at big stores – like REI and Walmart (Yes GoLite sells to the mega store). These big stores carry no questions asked  return policies and their customers often take advantage of the perk. A little tear in your pack a year or two later? No problem – REI takes it back. So what do you get if you cross a fragile, needing to be cared for ultralight fabric with a mainstream consumer with high durability expectations? High volumes of returns – where the product gets sent back to the original manufacturer. Their reaction? Make the product more durable. More durable equals heavier, but more profits.

So sadly, one of my favorite ultralight backpacking pioneers of the last decade has lost their way. Fortunately, however, there are other outstanding startups pioneering in their place.

My next backpack will be the ULA Conduit weighing in a scant 17oz (1 lb 1oz), it's almost a pound lighter than the Jam3 and just as functional.

Go ULA! I hope I never see you at REI.