Reflecting on the Past Year and Planning for 2015 – Guest Post

It’s the time of year when many backpackers are trying to squeeze out those last few trips before the cold winter months arrive. But when the snow starts falling and the gear is stored away, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop thinking about or improving on some backpacking skills. As part of the routine to clean and store gear, it’s a great opportunity to add time to reflect on the past year, focus on skills to develop or improve up, and start planning for 2015.

Taking time in the off-season to reflect is more than remembering the good times. Reflection is important because it provides an opportunity think about the challenges that were faced, what went right and what can be improved upon, as well as thinking about new learning that took place. Finding a quiet spot and writing down some thoughts or even looking at photos are great ways to jog a few memories loose and reflect. When looking back, focus on two areas, challenges/obstacles and successes to make the time worthwhile.


Ausangate Alpacor® Performance Hiking Socks – Gear Review


As hikers and backpackers we have experienced merino wool in many types of clothing especially our socks. The most common is Merino is wicking, quick drying, and antimicrobial. There is a new sock contender in the market. The entire line of socks are made from Alpaca yarn. Cleverly named Alpacor® the Ausangate sock company is adding new fibers to the sock industry.

What is Alpaca yarn and how is it different from merino wool?

The obvious would be that the yarn comes from an Alpaca and not a sheep. They both grow fibers that can be farmed to create many different types of products. Just like merino wool they are antimicrobial natural fibers that comes from a renewable resource.

What is Alpacor®?

Alpacor® Yarn was created by using a  unique patented process for the yarn itself and the yarn manufacturing process. This process blends the unique alpaca fiber with other natural and synthetic fibers.

Testing the socks!

Many of you have figured out by now that I am a big fan of socks and sock technology. This may seem weird to you but keeping your feet dry comfortable and comfy is extremely important when in the outdoors. Especially if you are on longer adventures. When Testing socks I have several factors that I examine to determine if I will wear the socks again and if I will like them or not.

Determining Factors:

  • How comfortable they are without shoes or  boots
  • How comfortable they are with shoes or boots
  • How Quickly or slowly they dry
  • Do they prevent or create blisters under normal daily life conditions
  • Do they prevent or create blisters under hiking and backpacking conditions
  • How badly do they stink after any use.

 The Results!

After wearing the socks during the Hell Hike and Raft adventure as well as a few times since then as every day socks I am comfortable providing a truthful review on these socks. They are very comfortable with the right amount of stretch but also allowing for a snug fit. They are not the fastest drying socks on the market but they also do not claim to be. While wearing them in both hiking boots and trail runners I found that they allowed my feet to breathe and did not leave my feet and socks soaking wet post hike. They did not leave any unwanted blisters or hotspots after wearing them.  Overall they are a great quality sock and I am excited to see how Ausangate continues to refine and grow their current sock lines.

To learn more about Alpaca yarn and Ausangate socks please visit the Ausangate website.

 Full Disclosure: The Ausangate Socks used in this review was provided to me by Ausangate 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.

LifeStraw® GO by Vestergaard filtering water bottle – Gear Review

One of the products that I received as part of the Hell Hike and Raft Epic Social Adventure was a LifeStraw® Go by VesterGaard. They have taken their LifeStraw® technology and adapted it to be built into a water bottle. I normally only take soft bottles with me into the backcountry however I will make an exception for this bottle. With its built in water filter all you have to do unscrew the lid dip the bottle into the water replace the lid and drink. No extra time needed to filter because it filters as you drink. The amazing thing is how much water one filter can filter before it needs to be replaced .


From the first day on the trial in Idaho we were all dipping our bottles into the lakes, and streams filling up our bottles. All of our other filtration and purification products never left the backpacks the entire trip. These bottles are great for any application not just backpacking and white water rafting. Everything from everyday use to remove nasty taste at the office to Epic Adventures. I was not sold at first and hesitantly tried the product. That is what gear testing is all about right? Finding things that really work and then share the best stuff with all of you! The LifeStraw® GO is now part of my every day gear arsenal.  You never know when you will need clean water and this is one of the easiest ways to get it.  A huge thank you to Vestergaard for sending all of the Hell Hike and Raft Crew one of the new bottles. These bottles are so new that we had them before they hit the stores.

The LifeStraw® GO sells for around $30 and can be purchased online at or at your local outdoor retailer.

The Features

  • BPA-free water bottle
  • Flip-top bite valve
  • Lanyard for attaching to a backpack
  • Uses hollow fibre microfiltration technology
  • Removes bacteria, protozoa, and turbidity from contaminated water
  • No after taste as it contains no iodine or iodinated resin chemicals (and is BPA-free)

The Specifications

  • Filters up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water
  • Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria (>LOG 6 reduction)
  • Removes 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites (>LOG 3 reduction)
  • Reduces turbidity (muddiness) by filtering particulate matter larger than 0.2 microns
  • Lightweight

To learn more about the LifeStraw® GO or any of the other products Vestergaard please visit their website.

Full Disclosure:  The LifeStraw® Go by VesterGaard bottle used in this review was provided to me by Vestergaard  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.


WOJO Wallet Review and Giveaway!

The Wojo wallet is a light weight compact wallet that keeps all of your cards and cash together when you are out for an adventure. You could be climbing a mountain, fishing for the big catch, or even just camping for the weekend. The wallet is made up of two bands that provide a place for your cards, cash, and key. The card holder can snugly hold one or hold up to twelve. The Wojo wallet even floats if it is accidentally dropped into still water. The wallet is made from silicone and neoprene that keeps the wallet sturdy and light enough to float. Wojo1

#AdventureMonday 10/13/14

Welcome to another awesome #AdventureMonday. This week like always we have some awesome photos to share. Please make sure to tag your photos with #hikingthetrail to have a chance to be featured next week. Happy Adventuring


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