Outdoor Products Shasta Weather Defense™ 30L Day Pack – Gear Review

The Shasta Weather Defense™ Backpack by Outdoor Products is a great all around pack. It is tough, weather proof, comfortable and you can pack up to 30 liters of your gear into it.

Outdoor Products for whatever reason is a highly overlooked brand of gear that should not be anymore. A stigma has been assigned to the brand simply because of the stores that the products are sold in. Just because the brand is sold in a general big box location as compared to one that is more focused should not matter. Read More….

Jambu Tundra – First Look

I really like testing new technologies especially when it pertains to footwear. The Jambu Tundra is a new shoe that is full of innovative tech. Fit for a trail running shoe but strong enough to be considered for long distance backpacking. So a mesh shoe is not considered new tech however the traction on this pair of shoes is something I have never seen before and I have tested and looked at my share of outdoor footwear over the years.

Read More….

Ahnu Men’s Mount Tam Air Mesh – First Look

Over the past few weeks I have been testing out the Ahnu Men’s Mount Tam Air Mesh shoes. Ahnu has been overhauling their shoe designs to allow the shoes to be worn in the city, but be rugged enough to hold up to anything the trail might throw at them. The Mount Tam Air Mesh shoes have the Numentum® Hike system.  “This platform provides stability, security and comfort for spending all day on your feet whether you’re hitting the trails or walking around in a city.” Read More….

What to do with your used outdoor gear!

With lighter weight gear and new technology changing gear all the time, what do we do with our old gear? We have used and abused our favorite gear but some of it just does not measure up. We spent the time researching it, finally purchased it, and it was not what we liked.

More and more people are trying to go green and downsize their lives to focus less on stuff and more on the experience.  The up-cycling and recycling movement is growing stronger every day. Even big gear companies have joined and are now buying back used gear and reselling it or recycling it into new gear.

It seems silly to just throw it in the trash and move on. Someone else out there could use that right? So what do you do? Where do you offload a bunch of gear that will not just end up in a dumpster a few days later?

Have you ever thought about recycling, up-cycleing, repurposing, donating, or selling? We have put together a list of places or ways you can do all of this.


There are lots of places where you can sell your slightly used gear.


  • Pass down to your younger siblings, your children, or friends children as they grow.
  • Freecycle.org
  • Many companies have or are starting a recycling program. Many of the local outfitters and gear stores have donations boxes.
  • Give the gear to programs like Boy Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and other youth oriented organizations. Make sure you contact them about their policies and what products they accept before showing up with a box full of stuff.
  • Give the gear  to local Sierra Cubs, Hiking or Climbing Clubs.
  • Give the gear to local non profits that sell products and then use the money to help others.

Recycling, Up-cycleing, Repurposing

The opportunities for these are only limited by your imagination. How many of you are already thinking of things or headed to Pinterest for ideas?  What can you reuse from the tents the packs, etc. Can you create your own gear or simply create something useful for around the house?

How would you reuse your gear?


Tips for choosing a proper fitting backpack – Part 2 Packing and Adjusting

In part one we discussed how to measure yourself or a friend to help choosing a properly sized pack. The next step in making sure the pack fits is to fill the pack with weight and adjust the straps.

Packing the backpack!

When packing a backpack especially for long hikes you will want to make sure that the weight is distributed evenly so that when wearing the pack it is not top heavy.  Here is a handy diagram for packing  a backpack to ensure comfort.


Your most heaviest items such as water and food need to be packed so that they are the closest items to the middle of your back. Sleeping bag, clothes and lighter items are best packed furthest from your back. Also make sure that if you put weight on one side of the pack the other side has the same amount of weight. If your pack is heavier on one side you will notice that there is more weight on one shoulder strap than the other. Having a lopsided pack can cause shoulder pain, back strain and even muscle and joint discomfort in your hips and legs.  Many gear shops will allow you to pack up a backpack full of weight bags or even test gear to help you find out if the pack you are looking at fits your frame and needs.

Adjusting the straps for a comfortable fit.

Before you put the backpack on your back make sure to loosen all of the straps. Hip belt strap, sternum strap, shoulders, load lifters and any other straps that you find. Put the pack on and you will instantly feel all of the weight on your shoulders. To get the pack seated properly on your back following these adjustment steps.

Step 1. Clip and adjust the waist belt.
Step 2. Adjust your shoulder straps to bring the pack up against your back.
Step 3. Clip and adjust the sternum strap.
Step 4. Locate the load lifter straps.
Step 5. Pull the load lifter straps out and down. This will shift the entire load from your hips to your shoulders.
Step 6. Release both load lifter strips until you feel the shift of weight from your shoulders to your hips. (There will be a noticeable shift if the pack has weight in it)


If you try to adjust the pack while empty, you will end up adjusting it again once pack it. It is also recommended that you adjust all of your straps before any big trip. However, it is not necessary to adjust the straps daily unless you find hot spots from the straps. As you use your pack more often you will learn and adjust to the pack’s quirks.

When you pack your backpackpack do you find you pack certain items in the same places all the time? What do you find works the best when packing your backpack?

United by Blue The Ultimate American Sock – Bison Down Socks – Gear Review

In the middle of winter it seems that I can never keep my feet warm. Also if you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I really like my footwear and socks. The past several years we have seen a big surge of small cottage companies who are making socks. High performance socks are being made from more than just standard wool. We are all familiar with the synthetics and Merino Wool but Alpaca Wool and Bison Down are latest additions. The newest product to hit the shelves is made of Bison down. Yep! BISON! United By Blue has come out with the The Ultimate American Sock. These socks have been gaining popularity following after the completion of a successful Kickstarter Campaign.


The socks are 100% made in the United States. One of the coolest things is that United By Blue does is that it shares the journey of the socks.

The Journey
Philadelphia, PA: Socks and packaging are designed
North Dakota: Bison down collected from ranchers
Uxbridge, MA: Bison down blended with American Merino Wool, combed, carded and spun into sock yarns
Osage, IA: The Ultimate American Socks are knitted and packaged

Everything from packing materials to the socks themselves lives up to a high standard that United By Blue has for all of its products.  Made from 56% Merino Wool, 24% Bison Down, 18% Nylon, and 2% Spandex these socks will keep even the coldest of feet warm.  I have had to take off the socks on several occasions because my feet were getting too hot.


United by Blue claims that the socks are “Softer than cashmere and warmer than wool, we created a sock from Bison down that will keep your feet warm and dry all winter long.” They do exactly as advertised and they are incredibly comfortable. One thing I will warn you is that you will want to wash the socks before wearing them. I found them to be a little itchy for the first couple of times worn but after several washes this has since gone away. Also you may want to wear a thin sock liner if you are prone to having itchy skin.

Washing and Drying Tip: Wash in cold water and do not use bleach or fabric softeners. Hang dry is preferred but drying on low without a dryer sheet is will keep the socks from wearing out quicker.

At present the socks come in several different colors and two sizes. The socks sell for $38 and will begin shipping in March 2015. To learn more about these socks please head over to the United by Blue website.

Full Disclosure: The Ultimate American Socks used in this review were provided to me by United by Blue at no cost to me. This did not influence my review in any way. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own and were not guided in any manor.

Celebrating on the summit! What to take to celebrate in style!

We all have our traditions of what we take up to the summit to celebrate. For those of you who like to celebrate in style but do not wish to carry the extra weight. We have a few products that will help you celebrate in style!

You have pulled out all of the corks and those ready to celebrate with a nice Cabernet or Pinot Grigio. How do you get that wine to the top of the mountain and celebrate without lugging around glass in your packs? We have a couple of simple solutions.


Transporting Solution 1. Buy a boxed wine and pull the plastic bag full of wine out of the box and you are ready to go. We suggest putting that bag-0-wine inside another bag to keep it from leaking into your pack.

Transporting Solution 2. Buy a soft sided wine carafe or a soft sided wine preservation system.

Drinking Solution 1. Drink directly from transportation vessel itself.


Drinking Solution 2. Pick up a set of plastic backpacking stemless wine glasses or a set of stacking wine glasses.

For those who would prefer a nice nip of whiskey or bourbon. Here are a few classy ways to remove the glass out of your pack but still allow you to keep your man card.


A trail flask is a must have for celebrating on the trail or the summit. Depending on your style you can choose a Nalgene plastic flask or a light weight Stanley stainless steel flask. You can also skip all the fancy flasks and simply pour some into an empty water bottle. We never said that dirtbags did not have class but sometimes its nice to celebrate with some extra style.


We did not forget about all of you beer drinkers out there. The most common way to pack in a few beers is to grab some cans and throw them into your pack. The other option is to simply brew your beer on the trail. Yes we said brew your own beer on the trail. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages has their portable beverage carbonation system. It uses a very concentrated syrup that you carbonate creating beer or even soda. We were able to check it out at the summer Outdoor Retailer in 2014.

How do you celebrate your summit?

Fresh Balls – Hygiene for your groin area – Gear Review

FreshBallsYes that is really the product’s name. Believe it or not the name of the product is exactly what the product does. Fresh Balls is a quick drying lotion that provides freshness, anti-chafing, removes excess moisture and bacteria. Fresh Balls is free of all aluminum, parabens, and talc. For all you ladies out there they also make a Fresh Breasts.

Without getting into that “TMI” zone Fresh balls works especially for those who are prone to chafing. It dries quickly into a non smelly non sticky powder. It works as advertised and worth giving it a try. The only downside of the product is that it comes in a very large tube that is not conducive to backpacking.

It is worth putting it into a smaller bottle for your day hikes, weekend trips, or even long distance treks.

“9 out of 10 guys suffer from sweaty balls… And 1 out of 10 lie!”

To learn more about the Fresh Body line of products please visit their website!

Full Disclosure: The Fresh Balls used in this review was provided to me by Fresh Body as part of the Hell Hike and Raft product sponsorship and was provided at not cost to me. This did not influence my review in any way. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own and were not guided in any manor.

Tips for choosing a proper fitting backpack – Part 1 Sizing

Having a backpack that does not fit properly can potentially make any backpacking trip painful and not very fun. Today we are going to take a look at how to measure your torso and your waist to ensure a proper fit. All major retail stores and outfitters who specifically cater to outdoor sport like hiking and backpacking should know how to properly measure you. This may not be the case at every store and if you know the sizes you need you can make shopping for your next backpack a breeze.

Measuring your torso.

MeasuringTorsoTo measure your torso you will need to first ask a friend or family member to help you. You also need a piece of string, shoelace, or a flexible measuring tape.

Step 1. Place your hand flat on your neck. Slide your hand down your neck until you find a bump. That is your C7 Vertebra.

Step 2. With your hands extend your thumb and pointer fingers to create an L in your left hand and a backwards L in your right hand. Place your “Ls” on your waist at your hip bones.

Step 3. Make sure you are standing up straight and lower your head to look at the floor.

Step 4. Have your friend place the measuring tape or string on your the C7 Vertebra and create a straight line down the middle of your back stopping where your thumbs meet.   If you you are using a measuring tape have your friend tell you the number they measure. If you are using string or rope measure that with a ruler. That number will be your torso length.

Backpack Size Measurement Chart.

Men’s and Women’s
Pack Size Torso Length
Extra small Up to 15½”
Small 16″ to 17½”
Medium/Regular 18″ to 19½”
Large/Tall 20″+


Measuring your waist.

Using the string, rope, or measuring tape have your friend measure your waist making sure the measuring tool is going around  your waste just above your hip bones.

Now that you know your measurements you can take that information to your local outfitter and try on some packs.  Having the proper measurements to provide you with a proper fitting pack is key to comfort when on the trail. 80% of your pack weight will be transferred from your shoulders to your hips and if not sized correctly you will experience pain and could potentially harm your back with prolonged use.

In our next post we will discuss a few tips on how to get the pack feeling perfect for the trail.


Sign up for our Newsletter


Never miss an update! Subscribe to the Hiking The Trail Newsletter Now!