Category Archives: Gear Review

Black Diamond Firstlight – Long Term Review

The Black Diamond Firstlight is a two-person, self standing tent produced by Black Diamond. Its simple design makes it light and easy to pitch in adverse conditions. Steep walls allow it to shed snow like a champ and provide ample interior head space. This is my go-to tent for winter backpacking in deep snow or bad weather. I also use this tent for quick camps the night before a three-season backpacking trip so that I don’t have to unpack and repack my primary shelter.

Black Diamond Firstlight
Black Diamond Firstlight 2P Tent
Continue reading Black Diamond Firstlight – Long Term Review

Patagonia Houdini Wind Shirt: Long Term Review

I purchased my Patagonia Houdini Wind Shirt a few weeks before starting a week-long section hike in 2013.  I needed a lightweight jacket for cool mornings in camp and windy hikes along ridgelines. Seven years later, I’m on my second Houdini and it is still one of my best pieces of gear. The Houdini is lightweight, packable, durable, and breathable. It has proven to be one of the most versatile and functional layers in my arsenal.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_3525-769x1024.jpg
Continue reading Patagonia Houdini Wind Shirt: Long Term Review

Tent Platform Anchors

Guyot Campsite Platform
Platform at Guyout Campsite

If you do enough backpacking, you will probably run into tent platforms. These wood platforms are constructed in overused back country sites, where constant use has eroded away the soil. Tent Platforms are OK if you have a self standing tent, but they are pose a problem for tents that need to be staked down. I carry Tent Platform Anchors whenever I expect to use a platform platform.

Continue reading Tent Platform Anchors

Tarptent Stratospire Li – Long Term Review

The Tarptent Stratospire Li is a two-person, trekking pole tent produced by Henrey Shire’s Tarptent. The unique geometry of this tent makes it capable of fending off harsh winds and rain and moderate snow loads. The double wall design and numerous venting options offer excellent breathability. Dyneema fabric makes this tent extremely waterproof. The Stratospire Li is my go-to tent for solo trips when don’t expect campsite space to be an issue or when I may need to share, or if I want the option to linger.

Tarptent Stratospire Li
Tarptent Stratospire Li
Continue reading Tarptent Stratospire Li – Long Term Review

Intro to Backpacking – Recommended Backpacks

Intro to BackpackingThis last weekend, I hosted an Intro to Backpacking workshop with Hudson Valley Hikers.  The idea of the event was to allow future backpackers to see and feel real gear in the real world.  Our hosts brought several popular backpacks loaded with common equipment. Each pack was fully loaded as if for a weekend-long backpacking trip. The equipment ranged from “bought everything I saw in the store” to “who needs a toothbrush anyway?”  The students had the opportunity to carry each of these packs and experience the impact of weight and pack design. Here are some of the packs that were present: Continue reading Intro to Backpacking – Recommended Backpacks

Tarptent Notch – Long Term Review

TarpTent Notch
TarpTent Notch

The Tarptent Notch is a single-person, trekking pole supported backpacking tent produced by Henry Shire’s Tarptent. With lines resembling a stealth fighter, the Notch is a 3+ season tent capable of fending off harsh rains and winds and light snow conditions. Its double wall design offers excellent breathability.  The Notch has been my “go-to” shelter for the past 3 or 4 years. Continue reading Tarptent Notch – Long Term Review

Gossamer Gear QuikSak: Long Term Review

A Minimalist (left) and QuikSak (right.)After making the change to a lightweight style of backpacking, I started using my Gossamer Gear Gorilla all the time, even for day hikes.  I liked it better than my old CamelBak hydration pack.  Unfortunately, all of these day hikes started taking their toll.  I needed less-expensive, lightweight daypack that could handle everyday use.  Enter the Gossamer Gear QuikSak. Continue reading Gossamer Gear QuikSak: Long Term Review

MSR Lightning Explore Snow Shoes: Introduction

MSR Lightning Explore Snow Shoes

I recently purchased a pair of MSR Lightning Explore Snow Shoes.  I have been thinking of purchasing snow shoes for several years now.  Until a few weeks ago, I had never gotten further than staring at them on the wall in Campmor.  Each time, I ultimately decide that it wasn’t worth the money for the limited amount of snow we get in New Jersey. This year I finally took the plunge. Let’s take a look at these together. Continue reading MSR Lightning Explore Snow Shoes: Introduction

Coghlan’s 12-in-1 Scissors Review

Coghlan's 12 in 1 Scissors
Coghlan’s 12-in-1 Scissors

I’m a firm believer in always carrying the 10 Essentials into the woods with me.  Being prepared with a basic kit is crucial for maintaining safety when the unexpected comes up.  Each of the items must be chosen carefully to fit the conditions you expect to face.  One item that I carry consistently on every trip is a pair of Coghlan’s 12-in-1 Scissors.  This item serves as my knife and multi-tool, and I feel it provides superior functionality.

Continue reading Coghlan’s 12-in-1 Scissors Review