Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gossamer Gear Q-Twinn Tarp and Ultralight Storage Bag

Gossamer Gear was one of the first cottage manufacturers to bring lightweight backpacking gear to the masses.  At the time, they embraced silnylon and spinnaker fabric.  In the following years, while quantities often ran small, what stayed consistent were thoughtful and functional designs and well made products.

Gossamer Gear continues to press into the cuben fiber market, or by the industry name, Cubic Tech CTK non-woven laminate that is exceptionally waterproof and lightweight, with the offering of two new products made from their headquarters in Austin, TX.

The Q-Twinn Tarp (7oz / $315) is an ultralight catenary cut tarp made for two people.  Seams and tieouts are fully bonded, meaning there isn’t a single stitch so you can avoid seam sealing.  The color is a translucent black.  At 7oz, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a lighter and more sizeable alternative.

The Ultralight Storage Q-Series ditty bags (2-6g/$15-$16) are two products that I think the industry has been missing.  Both are made from cuben fiber.  One is a zippered ditty bag (6.5” x 5”) which comes with a small loop of lashing which means it can be fastened to the outside of a pack, branch, shower head, or ridgeline without a fuss.  This is great for anyone who doesn't want to deal with a draw string and wants a shallower and wider option to more easily see the contents of the bag.  The second is a 10” x 3.3” stake bag.  Having a place to store dirty shelter stakes without using a plastic bag or other option which does nothing but puncture or spread soil around is a great help.  At 2-6 grams, they are unnoticeable, and at $15-$16, they are quite affordable.

Happy trails.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper

In the not too distant past, I raved about a very small cottage manufacturer of sleeping pads.  I won’t mention the company here, because unfortunately the owner/operator fell behind on his work and his solution was to keep taking orders (customer money) without providing a product.  His business is now defunct.

One of the products he offered was something that the industry hadn’t seen – an inflatable sleeping pad that tapered both vertically and in width and length.  It meant you could get a ton of cushioning and girth around your torso and have it taper down at the knees where padding, width and extra weight simply isn’t necessary.  By the time his business closed, he was adding synthetic insulation to it which made the pad into a 4-season option.  I had one of his prototypes and the valve simply never worked.  Other than the valve though, it was beautiful and was hands-down my favorite pad.  I returned it to him for a new valve and never saw the pad again.

Several years passed since then and I’m pleased to announce that Gossamer Gear has partnered with Klymit to offer the Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper.  Like the prototype I miss so dearly, the Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper also tapers both vertically and in width and length.  It comes in 4 sizes and ranges from 7.2oz to 13.80oz.  Pricing is $82 to $99.


·         XLARGE - 28" Wide tapering to 19"  X   56" Long  X  2.5" tapering to 1.5" in height

·         LARGE - 21" Wide tapering to 14.5"  X  56" Long  X  2.5" tapering to 1.5" in height

·         MEDIUM - 21" Wide tapering to 14.5"  X  48" Long  X  2.5" tapering to 1.5" in height

·         SMALL - 21" Wide tapering to 14.5"  X  36"  Long  X  2.5" tapering to 1.5" in height

While the Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper is not insulated, it works just fine for 2-3 season use as-is, or a simple foam pad can be added for increased warmth.

Gossamer Gear includes a patch kit and extra valve with purchase.

One thing I really like about the Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper is that it has tabs on the side for quilt users to be able to secure their quilt to the pad - a great feature for those of us in the lightweight backpacking community.

I like the Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper quite a bit, but there are some drawbacks.  First, I’m not aware of a creative solution to blow it up without using my mouth which means it gains condensation fairly quickly.  Second, while it is refreshing that different sizes are offered, I’d like to see one that was considerably wider.  At 6’5” and 280 pounds, I wear a 54 wide jacket which means I’m very broad shouldered.  I figured the 28” wide XLARGE would suit me just fine, but it isn’t quite big enough as the pad loses measurable width when inflated.

Regardless, Gossamer Gear has introduced another great product and I truly hope it evolves into a padded and wider product that will stay on the market.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Michael Dally with Earth Runners was kind enough to send me sample of their new Bio Earth Runners Sandal which is currently associated with a Kickstarter campaign.  If you choose to contribute, sandals start at $60 (or 20% off).  Orders will be taken throughout December and dispatched in January.  After January, they will be available on the Earth Runner website (


The footwear industry over the last several years has been pressing consumers to try footwear with less padding ultimately mimicking a barefoot walking style.  There are many clever names for this movement, but the concept remains the same.  The spirit of this movement is the belief that by walking closer to the ground and having less robust footwear, the foot is strengthened and walking consciousness and body mechanics are improved.


What put Earth Runners on the map is that they uniquely focused their initial product offerings on being connected to the Earth’s electrical potential by strategically placing copper insets throughout a self-molding conductive sandal sole.  The copper insets curve at the toe base in the shape of the geometric concept called “Golden Mean”.  This shape, coupled with the copper insets, allowed for pressure to be placed on areas of the foot sole believed to offer self-healing effects similar to those achieved by acupuncture.  While wearing a pair of Earth Runners associated with this technology, Voltmeter tests confirmed the charge of the human body is negligible while wearing grounded footwear on the Earth’s naturally conductive surface – the same electrical potential as the Earth.


The Bio Earth Runners Sandal is the next iteration of minimalist footwear inspired by long distance runner.   With a custom molded sole and “zero drop” from heel to toe, the experience is similar to going barefoot while maintaining safety in varied terrains.  The foundation provided is stable.  Copper impregnated conductive laces attach to a copper plug on the bottom of the sandal allowing similar attributes to the conductive sandal soles as described above.   The Tactile Mitosis tread is made of moldable EVA (6mm) and the BioTac bedding is made of recycled car tires.


One of the unique features of the Bio Earth Runners Sandal is the lacing system.  Nylon webbing is routed through the sandal bed, around the big toe and ankle and is ultimately secured with a locking buckle.  It is entirely adjustable, although it is likely they will fit just fine out of the box.


While not necessary, Earth Runners offer Injinji socks whether to improve comfort or to keep feet warmer during cooler temperatures.


In the last two years, I’ve been asked to review three different sandals which were very similar to the Bio Earth Runners Sandal.  After receiving and fiddling with each, I decided to return them as I didn’t feel my finicky feet justified an extended trial and quite honestly – I didn’t find them comfortable.  Largely, I have fairly wimpy feet and prefer more coverage and greater padding in most circumstances.  I was pleasantly surprised when I tried the Bio Earth Runners Sandal.


As advertised, the Bio Earth Runners Sandal both immediately contoured to my foot and I didn’t need to adjust anything.  I elected to use Injinji socks initially due to my lack of foot machismo, but found them comfortable with or without.  They were quite stable in all environments and the traction, something that lacked in every other sandal I’ve tried, was significant.  I found myself thinking about other things rather than worrying about whether my foot was comfortable or if I’d slip.  Essentially, my experience was walking as if I was barefoot without the fuss of being concerned about stepping on something undesirable or the sandal slipping out from under me.  I hope this is interpreted as a high complement to be able to rely on a piece of gear without giving thought to its failure. 


This was also my first use of Injinji socks which I assumed wouldn’t be comfortable because I figured my toe shape wouldn’t be conducive to the unique “finger” design.  I was equally surprised that they proved to be out-of-sight and out-of-mind once properly snugged over each toe.  Pairing them with a sandal is very appropriate in my opinion, although vocal fashionistas may disagree.


In the lightweight backpacking world, I can perceive quite a few applications for the Bio Earth Runners Sandal.  First, there are plenty who would enjoy the simplicity and near weightlessness.  Others would take pride in being able to walk through varied terrain, including forging waterways, without stopping to swap-out or dry-out footwear.  Some would likely enjoy the fact that their feet wouldn’t be as susceptible to sweating and resulting blisters or the dinginess that sticks with more conventional footwear.  Finally, others would likely enjoy simple and lightweight footwear to do double-duty as camp-footwear or for water crossings.  Bottom line – this is a useful product for lightweight backpackers and my only suggestion for improvement is for a slightly longer webbing tag to allow for finite adjustments as desired.


By supporting the Kickstarter campaign, materials and manufacturing costs are kept to a minimum.  You also help towards the down-payment of a new manufacturing facility and legal expenses to get this endeavor off the ground.  Earth Runners offers a 30-day money-back guarantee – so what’s not to like?


(Disclosure: This product was provided to me free-of-charge for the purposes of this review and is owned by me.  However, any information contained herein is my personal opinion without bias.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

MLD / Klymit Pillow X (1.9oz/$30)

While I’m not sure the perfect backpacking pillow exists just yet, Mountain Laurel Designs teamed with Klymit to offer a very viable option in the form of MLD’s Pillow X.


Pillow X is a 1.9oz/$30 pillow that uniquely has an “X” chamber design which enables the users head to be cradled in a manner standard backpacking pillows simply can’t offer.  It valleys in the middle to also center the head and at 15”x11”x4”, the size isn’t too bad either.  Fabric is 30D on top and 75D on the bottom which offers assurances towards durability and the Klymit valve system is reliable.


I found that not blowing it up firm added to the comfort, and like a lot of other pillow options, coupling it with clothing and adding something fuzzy around it (i.e. fleece shirt) increased the comfort level tremendously.  Overall, I wouldn't mind if it were thicker.


The only drawback, MLD doesn’t offer a patch kit, although truthfully, it probably isn’t needed and most backpackers likely already carry one for their sleeping pad.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

The folks over at Sawyer were kind enough to let me test drive their new Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System ($18-$25/2oz).  The “mini” was a bit of a surprise to me because Sawyer seemed to already be leading the industry with the Sawyer Squeeze Filter which received quite a bit of press in the last year.  The beauty of both systems is that they are reliable, effective, and flexible enough to offer a variety of configuration preferences (i.e. squeeze, inline, straw).  Both also come with a straw as well as squeeze bottles.  The squeeze bottles have been improved from the first release of the Sawyer Squeeze and both filters continue to fit Evernew bottles and likely other options.


While I was already a user of the Sawyer Squeeze Filter, the beauty of the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is that it is physically smaller, lighter and less expensive – but the effectiveness remains the same.  At 2oz and roughly $20 for a .01 micron absolute filter capable of removing 99.99% of bacteria, protozoa and cysts for up to 100,000 gallons – this is a product that comes with its own cheering section.


The filter is essentially a cluster of micro-fibrous tubes.  Water is drawn through the side walls of the tubes into their hollow center and out of the end of the tubes.  Harmful bacteria and protozoa is trapped on the outer walls of the tubes delivering fresh and clean drinking water.


Lightweight backpackers, almost by necessity, are fairly meticulous about the gear they carry.  Making decisions based singularly on grams and ounces can quickly yield to a declining fun-factor.  As a result, there is a middle ground between weight and overall comfort.  In my quest for lightweight water treatment, my personal backing history has run the gamut from pumps to chemical treatments.  Looking back, using a pump nowadays is like continuing to carry an Army cot and gas lantern.  They are bulky, expensive, and prone to failure.  Anyone who has had their hand slip off the pumping feature will quickly look for an alternative solution once their hand recovers from being pinched (or worse) and dealing with a clog is an unfriendly nightmare.  UV options are pricey, prone to easy damage and depending on the model, batteries may be hard to locate.  UV options are also only effective in water that is already clear and only for a set volume.  A pre-filter is a good idea, but adds another step and element.  Lastly, UV options may kill water nasties, but it doesn't remove them.  Personally, the knowledge of chugging "dead" nasties doesn't make me overly thrilled.  More often than not I've relied on chemical tablets.  Tablets are effective and lightweight, but gram for gram they are fairly expensive and do nothing to filter out floaties and other nasties.  Usually I use a biodiesel bag or tulle as a prefilter.  Personally, I’m not thrilled about putting chemicals into my body or their cumulative effect.


Fortunately with the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System, weight, cost, nor effectiveness are reasons to leave it at home.  It is lightweight, affordable and effective.  I’ve used it repeatedly for the last three weeks in several different environments, temperatures and in conditions of varied turbidity.  Out of the box, my first use was dipping the bottle into a stream.  I turned the bottle over and expected it to take quite a while to prime the filter.  To my surprise, clean water flowed out almost immediately.  A second misconception was put to rest when I noted that I didn’t need to squeeze or suck on the nozzle to get a sufficient water flow.  Basically, it worked like a charm without additional effort.


Aside from the fact that is an inexpensive, effective and less bulky option than other physical filters, I like the fact that the drinking nozzle has an effective cap cover.  While this comes into play to keep grit out of the drinking end, I quickly learned that it avoided cross contamination when the bottle and filter fell off a rock into a stream while I was photographing it for this article.  Verifying that the filter wasn’t compromised because of my own carelessness was a nice unexpected benefit.  Having reviewed other water filters on this blog, the protective cap on the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is a rarity on other filter options as either they are missing entirely or are manufactured without expectation for them to last more than a few uses.


The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System comes with a large syringe to back-flush the system, but it is a little bulky.  Others have found a compatible cap to work with a spare bottle and detailed its use at BackpackingLight

Mini Bull Designs also offers a unique adapter for $10 as well as a screw top for the Sawyer Squeeze for $15 which I prefer and own.

I enjoyed the flexibility of using it as a gravity filter or with a straw, but most commonly I simply drank straight from the bottle.


Aside from a smaller, lighter and equally functional back-flush option as described above, I would personally like to see see-through bags and bags with a means to hang them upside down (i.e. hung from a tree) or stand-up on their own.


When all things are considered, the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is simply the best overall lightweight filter on the market whether for lightweight backpackers or anyone looking for an inexpensive, lightweight and effective water filter in a very reasonably-sized package.  While there are other more effective filters, they are also more costly, bulky and inconvenient.


For general information about water nasties, below is part of an article I previously authored which helps illustrate why a .01 micron absolute filter is critical.


PROTOZOAN CYSTS – These are hard shelled, single-cell parasites which include Giardia and Lamblia and range in size from 5 to 15 microns. This also includes Cryptosporidium Parvum which is 2 to 5 microns in size. Giardia occurs in the small intestine where cysts hatch and give you diarrhea, gas, nausea, and/or cramps and symptoms appear within 1 to 2 weeks and can last 4-6 weeks or longer. Those with weakened immune systems could be more heavily impacted. Cryptosporidium can give you similar symptoms and can also include loose stool, cramps, slight fever, and an upset stomach. These systems generally appear in 2 to 10 days and typically last 2 weeks. Animals and humans carry Protozoa.

BACTERIA – Bacteria are smaller organisms which can include E. Coli, Salmonella, Cholera, and Campylobacter Jejuni. They range from .2 to 10 microns and symptoms include diarrhea with appears within 6 hours or 3 to 5 days and last 4 days or longer. Animals and humans carry Bacteria.

VIRUSES – Viruses represent the tiniest of organisms ranging from .004 to .1 microns. They include Hepatitis A, Rotavirus, Norwalk Virus, and even Polio. Although these are the least commonly found pathogens in the wilderness water sources, they represent often the most harmful. If you were wondering, most waterborne viruses which affect humans in the backcountry come from human fecal matter.

CHEMICALS AND RUNOFF – As the name implies, another water-nasty includes agricultural runoff (herbicides, pesticides, etc.) and industrial runoff (metals, mine tailings, etc.).


(Disclosure: This product was provided to me free-of-charge for the purposes of this review and is owned by me.  However, any information contained herein is my personal opinion without bias.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gossamer Gear Warm Sack

At the recent Jolly Green Giant National Lightweight Backpacking Symposium and Convention, participants reviewed the Gossamer Gear Warm Sack ($14.95/(17g).  All participants, to include me, myself, and I, unanimously agreed by verbal attestation and hand-raised oath, that the Gossamer Gear Warm Sack was deserving of the highly prized Saved A Few Grams Award.


The Gossamer Gear Warm Sack is intended to replace heavier “cozy-style” pot/cup warmers while offering a more flexible and dual-purpose option being that it doubles as a bag.  The bag, in unassuming yet enticing black, works well to store cooking items and makes a wonderful CIA-style interrogation head bag when the neighbor’s cat is the only source of entertainment for a long evening and you have a lot of questions on your mind.  The bag has insulation sewn on the inside to ensure your warm slop stays toasty.


The Gossamer Gear Warm Sack is ideal for gram weenies and fashionistas alike, but note that it only fits mugs/cups likely 700ml and below with greater comfort between 400-600ml.  I tried it with several options:


·         THUMBS DOWN

o   Snow Peak 900

o   Evernew 700


·         THUMBS UP:

o   MLD 450ml cup

o   LiteTrail Toak 500ml cup

o   Stoic 700ml cup


For me, the Gossamer Gear Warm Sack will replace the absurdly heavy homemade Reflectix option seen here tipping the scales at a gluttonous 24 grams.  The svelte Gossamer Gear Warm Sack comes in at a dainty 17 grams saving me an enormous 7 grams .  This savings offers me the opportunity to carry a couple discarded black jelly beans, perhaps that fancy half toothbrush I had my eye on, or a rubberband so I can say I carried a rubberband.
Vigorous testing proved the Gossamer Gear Warm Sack worked just as well as Reflectix, or more accurately, proved to fall into the "good enough" category.


Happy trails.


(Disclaimer:  No cats were harmed during the testing of the Gossamer Gear Warm Sack.  The Gossamer Gear Warm Sack is not recommended to be used beyond the limits for which it was intended.)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Luke's Ultralight Gore-Tex Limited Edition Shell

When I was growing up, I was always at the front or back of the line in school when headed out for recess.  When picking sports teams, especially basketball, I was always picked first.  When someone needed help moving, I was always reluctantly volunteered.  When it came to family photos, I was always in the middle/back.  When ordering airline seats, I always look for an emergency exit or front row.  When renting cars, “compact” has never been an option.  When shopping for clothes, anything trendy was meant for the rest of the world.  My mother in-law constantly asks me to dust on top of her refrigerator.  People often feel uncomfortable when I stand too close to them in elevators, buses or trains.  Ceiling fan stores make me feel uneasy.

Being a big person in a medium-world is a bit of a challenge.  Manufacturers of, well, most anything plan their products by the rule of averages to appeal to the masses.  For that reason, most of life doesn’t quite fit me.  Backpacking is no different.  Most everything I own for backpacking is either custom-made or fits to the degree of “barely” or “uncomfortably”.

I’ve been looking for a lightweight rain jacket for, I kid you not, about 8 years.  I feel like I’ve tried just about everything and spent a bundle on expensive fabric and imports from all around the world.  I have a closet full of stuff that has been relegated to “around town” apparel and a bank account drained from return shipping costs.

It is with this in mind that I make the following statement:  Luke, of Lukesultralite, is my hero.

I heard of Lukesultralight a few months ago from some forum chatter.  As more companies move towards gear for lightweight backpacking, I’ve recently noticed quite a few more small cottage manufacturers popping up than in past years.  The problem is that not all are quality.  I made the mistake of ordering essentially garage junk many times over the last 10 years from well-intended cottage manufacturers and my maturing attitude (and stuffed gear closet) has only recently caused me to be a little more careful with my purchases.  I’m pleased to say quite clear that Lukesultralight is a quality shop.

Luke made me a custom Gore-Tex Limited Edition shell from Pac-Lite.  On his website, this shell is listed at $99.  Read that again - $99 for Pac-Lite.  The fee to customize it to big-boy size was quite reasonable.

I already own shells constructed of multi-layered Pac-Lite, eVent, various silicon-impregnated nylons, micro porous Dri-Duck materials, DWR coated options, and just about every house-brand proprietary waterproof fabric you can think of to include WPB Cuben fiber made by Zpacks.  Without offending anyone, none of these were significantly any better than others.  Sure some were cheaper, some were more durable, some were lighter, some packed smaller, some were sized better, etc., but all merely made me hot and sweaty, most were clingy and uncomfortable to wear, and most were far more expensive than I liked.

What Luke is selling is an ultra-simple hooded lightweight Pac-lite fabric with waterproof zippers, elasticized cuffs, and adjustable waist cinch and optional pit-zips.  Seam taping is an extra $15.  It also comes with a nice stuff sack made of the same material.  In medium without frills, the jacket comes in at 7.2 oz.  mine was a shade over 10 which is entirely fine by me as my Dri-Ducks is over 8, fits poorly and has nearly zero durability.

I ordered my shell via e-mail with direct conversations with Luke.  I knew exactly what I wanted, to include dimensions, as I’ve played this game before.  I knew what I needed even though typically what I requested from other custom manufacturers wasn’t always what I received.  Luke was quick to respond, clear in his communications, excessively polite, easy to work with and left me with the impression of – this guy gets it.

Most custom gear I order generally takes 6 weeks or more.  In fact, I’d argue that 6 weeks is probably on the early side as I’ve waited up to 4 months for other gear before and most things are somewhere in the middle.  Luke wrote me an e-mail within a little over a week to say that the jacket was ready to ship.  A few hours later, I got another e-mail apologizing saying that he didn’t feel the jacket he made entirely met my specs after measuring it and didn’t feel comfortable sending me a product that wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  After a little more than a week, I received another notice of shipping and a few days later the package arrived.  Luke even mentioned he was going to send me a free cuben stuff stack for my inconvenience, even though I felt no inconvenience and was merely happy that he cared enough about his product to ensure that I was completely happy.

In the package was an excessively neat and small pouch with my jacket inside.  As an experienced backpacker familiar with how small all of my clothing packs, this jacket easily packed smaller than any other shell I had.  It was also very light in my hand.  I immediately felt like my purchase was going to be worthwhile when I noticed how well the stuff sack was made and it even included a little mitten hook at the end of the cinch which is a nice touch and helps it become a multi-use item.  Stitching was clean and there was even a little eyelet for the stuff sack cord to ensure the fabric wasn’t damaged while adjusting which is a step 99.9% of other cottage manufacturers don’t take.


This shell was already just fine in design as-is and needed only tweaking for big-boy size and a drop tail which I desired.  It layers excessively well with cold weather gear or hangs loosely in the warmer months which is entirely what I wanted.  For options, I elected for armpit zippers and taped seams.  Naturally, as my trail name sake suggests, I went with moss green.  After putting it on, despite it being fairly warm, I immediately felt like it was breathing.  After ensuring the armpit cuffs, waist cinch and wrist cinches were open along with the collar, it felt just fine to me and better than most every other option in my gear closet.

I honestly can’t say enough nice things about this product or the service from Luke.  Hands-down, this is my favorite purchase for 2013 and my favorite apparel item.  It’s outstanding to finally have exactly what I wanted and even at a fair price.  Kudos to  Highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

County Comm

Ever heard of County Comm?  I’ve purchased a handful of things from them over the last three years and they never cease to amaze me at how small and well made many of their offerings prove to be.  They imply, or outright claim, that they are a vendor of goods to the U.S. Government, many of which may very well be used by U.S. intelligence.  Therefore, of no surprise, what they sell is sturdy and effectively miniaturized.  The pictures on the site don't do the products justice as you can't get a real sense of size.
As a point of reference, take a look at this photo.  I purchased a couple of items for both backpacking and life.  The two items for backpacking were a mini signal mirror and a mini compass.  I also purchased a small hacksaw, a metal box the size of an Altoids tin and a small metal box that had a top which smoothly slid in a channel. 

The size and quality is what is important.  As a frame of reference for the signal mirror, it is literally half the size and weight of the one I typically carry which was previously the lightest one I could find.  I find a mirror immensely helpful to spot ticks and for general hygiene, not to mention being able to use it in a pinch for signaling is wonderful.

Now take a look at the button compass I glued to my orange whistle.  This is the whistle I typically carry with me around my neck and use the compass for quick reference while hiking in case I feel confused about direction.  Well, on top of the larger signal mirror is the button compass from County Comm.  It is encased in brass with a glass top.  It is 1/4 of the size of the already tiny "button" compass.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

In December I wrote an article about Dave Collins of from Portland Oregon who was working on a series of tutorial videos concerning lightweight backpacking.  If you are an avid reader of backpacking blogs, you’ve likely seen a handful of articles recently about his series.


So why does deserve any airtime, or more clearly, your attention and contributions?  This is a personal answer for which I’ll do my best herein to identify.


I’ve often described backpacking as “putting one foot in front of the other”.  In fact, I’ve used this analogy more than once to describe why I personally don’t often blog about trip reports.  I find it odd that people want to read what has been said a seemingly infinite number of times in other articles, “it was cold, it was hot, we didn’t get much sleep, there wasn’t much water, we saw animals, we saw mountains, etc.”.  I think my interest is in the photographs and gear, and I generally ultimately read more when the narrative deviates from the norm or discusses an epic journey of great distance, hardship or generosity.


But backpacking really isn’t as simple as describing it as “putting one foot in front of the other”.  I reflect on the number of times that I personally needed to end a trip early because of some injury, hardship or the fact that I was underprepared.  I also reflect on the fact that less than 25% of long distance hikers finish their journey.  Over the weekend I read an article which said that during a lifetime, the average American will walk the distance equivalent to three times around the earth.  Most of us walk each day and arguably we’re quite proficient at it.  Yet, strap on a pack of any weight or put a mountain in our way, and the very thing that we do on a daily basis becomes insurmountable to many of us. 


The more a person backpacks, the more I’m guessing they begin to think and even obsess about gear.  They quickly realize that the amount, type, quality, function and weight of their gear is often directly proportionate to their happiness.  Aside from all the weekend warriors and REI-outfitted hikers who come and go, I’m reminded of watching NOLS students going through their paces.  To me, they look no different than soldiers in boot camp where the payoff to them is the end of the journey and not the journey itself.  That seems a little odd doesn’t it?  I mean if the purpose was just to get somewhere – then drive and be done with it.  But backpacking is about the journey and lugging excessively large and heavy packs with an abundance of dysfunctional or unnecessary gear seems to make little sense. 


While offers more than this simple synopsis, the entire purpose is to encourage the lightweight backpacking style because less weight means less stress on the body and more energy enabling someone to hike further and faster in greater comfort while their pack is not only lighter, but the contents takes up physically less space.  To be clear, lightweight hiking is equally about being safe and compromises in safety is a misconception of lightweight backpacking.


Offering direction on how to become a successful lightweight backpacker is where shines.  It took me quite a few bad experiences and a lot of independent research over many years to gleam the same information that has bundled into a wonderful video series and eBook package.  If you want experienced opinions, tips, techniques, and fair gear reviews, then check out


To explain what is, I must first explain what it is not. 

·         It is NOT a video series shot with a camera phone in someone’s backyard with traffic whizzing by leaving the viewer left with grainy images and incomprehensive audio.  Instead, it is a high-quality, HD, professional effort with excellent scenery, sound, transitions and images. 

·         Secondly, it is NOT a rehashing of what is already available in blogs and on YouTube.  Instead, it is a comprehensive, thoughtful and fair review of gear, tips and technique from a team experienced enough to have an opinion worth hearing. 

·         Thirdly, this series was NOT put together overnight and dialogue does not exist merely to fill the air with anything that comes to mind.  Instead, it is clearly a thoughtful and scripted production carefully organized and prepared with a strong focus to the viewer’s experience. 

·         Fourthly, this series is NOT a compilation of anyone’s gear closest thereby limited in scope.  Instead, gear discussed is dynamic, comprehensive, broad and likely useful to most anyone.  More importantly, the tips and suggestions are beneficial to allow the viewer to pick gear of their choosing.  One key point is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Basically, start with the heaviest gear and work your way lighter.

·         Finally, it is NOT a hope and a promise of questionable quality where you fail to receive a benefit from your investment.  Instead, the quality is top-notch, unsurpassed in what is already “out there” and it is a product that is already available and ready for your use.  The best part perhaps, is that there is more to come.


The eBook is a surprisingly thorough look at specific lightweight gear currently available right now offering direct size and weight cost comparisons which nicely complements the techniques discussed in the video.  It’s nice to see a broad range of options singularly focused on lightweight backpacking gear to expose the user to more gear than what may be available at their local REI or what they may know to exist online.  A separate gear checklist and suggested gear list is a good summary of what should be in a backpackers pack and always helpful to prevent from leaving something behind.


While these things are all good to know, the biggest benefit to me is how it can help others.  I’ve given a fair share of product reviews and tips to friends and groups trying to help speed along their learning curve by offering my own experience.  I’ve often wondered how I personally could improve this process dynamically without spending a ton of time developing a program myself or pointing someone interested to a stack of books, videos, blogs and webpages.  With my two young sons looking towards the Boy Scouts in the near future, I’ve often envisioned how to quickly set them and their troop in the right direction by putting to bed many unhelpful sentiments practiced by Scout troops nationwide who are often convinced that backpacking comfort requires every piece of gear one can get their hands on.  It’s fair to say that fills this need naturally, comfortably and cleanly. offers a 10-part video series on how to lighten your load which I can easily argue is a quick method to greater trail happiness.  The obvious topics are covered from sleep systems, backpacks, shelters, trail food, cooking, water treatment, clothing, first aid, etc. and most every other pressing topic.  I very much appreciate the spirit of the coverage which is instructional and non-judgmental.  While others may offer a “do-it-my-way-or-else” philosophy, encourages you to rethink your gear, habits and your perceptions of benefits, and to ultimately do what makes you feel comfortable which can be achieved without breaking the bank.  Going lightweight is a process of understanding gear, performance of that gear and gaining experience to feel comfortable.  If viewers take the time to review the series, they will likely save considerable time, money and effort.  Each video of the 10-part series is about 5-minutes.


Bottom line – whether you are novice or expert, consider making a purchase of the video or eBook.  Whether you simply want to help out a fellow backpacker gain traction in an industry which could use some professional marketing to get many of us off the couch, or to learn something new or offer others the same, this is a great product.


Lastly, and something you won’t hear of from anyone else that I’m aware of offering this kind of similar format, offers a 110% money-back guarantee.  Yes, that means they will return your money, plus “a little extra” just for giving them a try.  And other huge plus is that there is more to come.

For a preview, check out YouTube:

(Disclosure:  This product was provided to me free-of-charge and I am under no obligation to review it or make any claims about it.  Any information contained herein is my personal opinion without bias.)