Yoga Practice for Hikers: Benefits of Yoga in Endurance Training…

This is an addendum to the multi-part Backpacking Training series “Hiking and Fitness: Training to go-big” Pt1-Pt2 by Bob Doucette at ProactiveOutside:

Any of us who have been out on the trail for more than a few days understand that backpacking is an endurance sport.  Whatever your reasons for being out there, whatever your mindset or perspective regarding the activity, your body understands backpacking as an endurance activity.  Most backpackers, and trainers who work with backpackers, focus on 5 primary fitness aspects: Aerobic Endurance, Anaerobic Endurance, Upper Body Strength, Lower Body Strength and Flexibility.  In his previous posts, Bob has focused on cardio training and weight training as it relates to hiking and backpacking…but I want to talk about the benefits of Yoga.

Tree Pose at the Grand Canyon...

Yoga Breathing and Aerobic/Anaerobic Endurance

Aerobic exercise is typically lower intensity, higher endurance type work and uses available oxygen in the bloodstream as fuel.  Anaerobic exercise is higher-intensity, but significantly shorter bursts of activity usually recruiting much more overall muscle fiber and feeds primarily on glucose (and glycogen reserves).  Both Aerobic and Anaerobic endurance rely on the body’s ability to access fuel (oxygen and glycogen) more effectively and to use the fuel more efficiently.

Controlled, focused, mindful breathing is an integral part of any Yoga practice.  Yogic breathing teaches us to control our breathing throughout the physical exertion of holding and transitioning between postures.  With regular practice it opens the lungs, chest and diaphragm and deepens our breathing capacity.  In a study of the cardiopulminary effects of Yoga published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2002, it was reported that,

The intense stretching and muscle conditioning associated with attaining and holding yoga postures increases skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and decreases glycogen utilization.

The reason behind this increased efficiency was described here, “The slow breathing rates associated with yoga breathing have been shown to substantially reduce chemoreflex response to hypoxia, probably through the improved oxygen delivery to tissues…” and “The slow increase in lung capacity associated with well-practiced yoga breathing recruits normally unventilated lung and helps to match ventilation to perfusion better, thereby increasing oxygen delivery to highly metabolic tissues (e.g., muscle).

The findings in these studies (referenced below) show that regular Yoga practice, when combined with proper Yogic breathing techniques, increases lung capacity and muscle efficiency.  Allowing your body to not only store and deliver greater amounts of oxygen to the blood stream through more controlled and deliberate breathing, but also reduce the amount of glycogen your body needs in Anaerobic metabolism.  In short, Yoga breathing adds fuel to the fire and your fire burns less fuel.

From her article, Going the Distance, published at YogaJournal.com: Nancy Coulter-Parker says,

” The greater your aerobic and anaerobic endurance, the better able you are to sustain exercise for a prolonged period of time. Improving your endurance can make your cardiovascular and respiratory systems more efficient and decrease both your resting heart rate and stress levels…

…one of the keys to endurance is to better utilize your oxygen intake.”

Clayton Horton, director of Greenpath Yoga Studio in San Francisco and a former triathlete and competitive swimmer suggests,

“Being conscious of the breath allows our body to breathe better.  Conscious breath teaches you to pay attention to the quality of your breath, and you learn to observe and perhaps even manipulate your breathing during physical activities.”

For improving endurance through better breathing, Horton suggests asanas that enhance both range of motion and lung capacity by opening the chest and rib cage. These include Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Facing Bow Pose), Ustrasana (Camel Pose), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose), as well as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged Pigeon Pose).

Yoga and Strength Training

Upper and lower body strength is also highly important in endurance training.  Not mentioned, but implied, is the development of a solid core.  We are not talking about muscle development and growth necessarily, too much muscle can be a liability in endurance sports.  Large amounts of muscle mass require large amounts of fuel and are, typically, less efficient.  What we want to develop is the ability to recruit more muscle tissue in each movement.  This delivers more power, with less muscle mass, utilizing less fuel.

Body weight exercises are especially good when it comes to engaging more overall muscle during your workout.  A simple push-up, as most of us know, not only works the chest and triceps but also works the legs, abs, back and shoulders.  Further, performing asymmetrical push-ups throw your balance off and engage even more of your core muscles.  Many Yoga postures are designed specifically to engage multiple muscle groups and fire your stabilizing muscles at the same time.  Holding a typical standing pose like Warrior I or II, will engage almost every muscle in your body and holding the posture challenges the smaller core stabilizing muscles used to maintain your balance.  This whole-body muscle recruitment, combined with the deep breathing, builds stronger, more efficient muscle tissue.

Challenging arm balances and inversion poses are very effective for building muscle strength,” says Yoga Expert Rodney Yee, “because they flex groups of smaller muscles — not just the major muscles you work with a weight machine — to support the body’s weight during the pose.

Holding standing poses such as the warrior poses and triangle pose,” he adds, “is great for strengthening the leg muscles. And in balance poses such as tree pose, one leg has to hold up your entire body. So you’re increasing your strength just by putting your weight on that leg.

When it comes to using yoga to improve muscle strength and endurance, Horton (mentioned above) recommends focusing on any asanas that promote a lengthening of muscles in the body, such as Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), as well as stabilizing and strengthening poses that develop core strength, such as Navasana (Boat Pose).

Yoga and Flexibility and Balance

The idea that Yoga can improve our flexibility is pretty common knowledge.  Even those with no Yoga experience at all would tell you that Yoga can improve flexibility.  Yoga asanas work by safely stretching your muscles, releasing the lactic acid that builds up during intense (Anaerobic) exercise causing stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion in joints reducing the risk of injury. Yoga stretches not only stretch your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body including ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. According to a WebMD article on the Health benefits of Yoga, “…you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time. In one study, participants had up to 35% improvement in flexibility after only eight weeks of yoga.(Personally, I have seen improvements in my flexibility after only a few sessions)

This from an article on Flexibility Training at RunnersWorld.com,

Yoga involves static-active stretching, making it a hybrid of the other forms of stretching. As in static stretching (whose proper technical name is static-passive stretching), you assume and hold positions in which certain muscles are lengthened. Like CR (Contract-relax), yoga also involves isometric contractions, but with a crucial difference: In CR, you contract and relax the same muscle in a coordinated sequence; in yoga, you hold one set of muscles in isometric contractions while relaxing and stretching the muscles opposite them.

Yoga is seen by many as a complete form of exercise. It increases passive and dynamic flexibility as well as balance and coordination…

Balance is a particularly important asset in backpacking and is often overlooked in training.  Good balance out on the trail can be the difference between an innocent stumble and a serious injury.  I’ve seen many hikers/runners take a spill simply due to poor balance.  Many of the standing postures in Yoga are performed on one leg (or some other isometric position) for the purpose of practicing balance.  Yoga also teaches the mental side to maintaining good balance, achieving some standing postures takes great focus and control (Mindfullness).  If you haven’t worked on your balance in a while, try a posture as basic as Vrksasana (Tree Pose)and see how long you can hold the pose.  For most it’s a matter of seconds.  When you feel comfortable balancing in Vrksasana, try to transition directly into one of the more challenging standing poses like Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose) or Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose) without letting your raised foot touch the ground.

The amazing thing about Yoga is, for all it’s fitness benefits, it’s also restorative.  Many elite athletes and trainers have incorporated regular Yoga into their fitness training because it helps restore flexibility, speeds muscle recovery, reduces stress and helps prevent injury.  If you haven’t incorporated Yoga into your training, you are missing out on an amazingly fruitful fitness resource.

 

Sources:

  • Article written by JAMES A. RAUB, M.S. for the THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE

CARDIOPULMONARY STATUS: EFFECTS OF HATHA YOGA ON LUNG FUNCTION AND OVERALL CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE IN HEALTHY ADULTS

1) “For example, Joshi et al. (1992) followed lung function in 75 males and females with an average age of 18.5 years during yoga breath-control exercises. After 6 weeks of practice, they reported significant increases in forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), maximum voluntary ventilation (MVV), as well as a significant decrease in breathing frequency (fB), and prolongation of breath-holding time.”

2) “Rai and Ram (1993) compared an active Hatha Yoga posture (Virasana or Warrior pose) to chair-sitting and to a resting, supine posture (Savasana) in 10 healthy men, 25 to 37 years of age. The active posture induced a hypermetabolic state, as indicated by increased minute ventilation, heart rate (HR), and oxygen consumption (V.O2), compared to either the chair-sitting or resting posture. In a similar study, the same authors (Rai et al., 1994) compared an active sitting posture (Siddhasana) to chair-sitting and supine relaxation and found the same results, indicating that the yoga “activity” and not the body “posture” was important for cardiovascular “conditioning.””

3) “Telles et al. (2000) reported that a combination of yoga postures interspersed with relaxation improved measures of cardiopulmonary status in 40 male volunteers to a greater degree than relaxation alone. Cyclic meditation (stimulation plus calming), consisting of yoga postures and periods of supine relaxation, was better at decreasing V.O2 and fB, and increasing tidal volume than sessions of Savasana (calming) alone. Konar et al. (2000) reported that the practice of Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) twice daily for 2 weeks significantly reduced resting HR and left ventricular end-diastolic volume in 8 healthy male subjects. Birkel and Edgren (2000) reported that yoga postures, breath control, and relaxation techniques taught to 287 college students (89 men and 198 women) in two 50-minute class meetings for 15 weeks significantly improved FVC of the lungs measured by spirometry. In a similar study, 1 hour of yoga practice each day for 12 weeks significantly improved FVC, FEV1, and PEFR in 60 healthy young women, 17 to 28 years of age (Yadav and Das, 2001).”

4) “Finally, a number of published studies have reported significant improvement in overall cardiovascular endurance of young subjects who were given varying periods of yoga training (months to years) and compared to a similar group who performed other types of exercise.”

  • Going the Distance By Nancy Coulter-Parker
  • Using Yoga To Prevent Injuries And Accelerate Recovery By Sabrina Grotewold Published Feb. 28, 2012

 

Manly Mac-n-Cheese…

My buddies and I have a long-standing tradition of getting together one night a week specifically to grill up some thick-cut steaks, drink and hang out.  It’s a way for us to break away from our busy schedules, limited budgets or restrictive diets and just have an awesome, perfectly-grilled steak with friends.  Originally, there were only a couple of us and I hosted Steak Night at my house.  Since then the attendance has grown.  Steak Night is now hosted at my friend Ian’s house and we all take turns buying the steaks.  We’ve also started to introduce side-dishes.

Side dishes are tricky when the focus is put so heavily on the steaks.  We started out with simple side dishes that could not compete with the amazing slabs of beef we would serve.  Then things got serious.

Our Steak Night Mac-N-Cheese Recipe has undergone it’s own storied evolution, but the final outcome has become a staple of Steak Night.  We’ve progressed from a simple mac-in-a-box side dish to something truly extraordinary.  Though it started as a joint venture, Ian gets full credit for coaxing this recipe through it’s evolutionary process and perfecting it.  It was adapted from a couple of different recipes we found online and modified to our tastes.  THIS is the kind of Mac-N-Cheese you tell your grand-kids about…

mac-n-cheese

 The Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb rotini macaroni
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves , rough chopped
  • 5 drops hot sauce (or more depending on preference)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • course, ground pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs , beaten to blend
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (additional cup for topping)
  • 1 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 medium boneless chicken thighs, marinated and grilled (we marinate them in Italian Dressing)
  • 1 lb thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled (should be enough to let you snack on some while cooking)
  • 2-5 medium jalapenos (chopped, diced or sliced…cook’s preference)

Directions:

  1. Boil macaroni in plenty of salted water until al dente. Drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small processor or blender, combine milk, cream cheese, mustard, garlic, hot sauce, eggs and salt.
  5. Pour drained pasta and milk/cream cheese mixture back into pot pasta was cooked in.  Allow to ‘sit’ in pot for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is an important step and must not be left out as it allows the sauce to start thickening and be absorbed by the pasta and not just settle in the bottom of the baking dish. 
  6. After 15 minutes, add various cheeses, jalapenos, grilled chicken, pepper and crumbled bacon and mix well altogether.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish, cover with foil and place in preheated oven.
  8. Bake until bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  9. Remove dish from oven, remove foil and add an additional cup of grated cheddar cheese to the top.
  10. Return dish to the oven (without foil) and broil until the top is melted and starting to brown.
  11. Remove from oven, recover with foil and give it about 15 minutes to cool enough to eat.

 

Wet ingredients in a blender

Wet ingredients in the blender...

 

Boiling the pasta

placing a wooden spoon over the pot will keep it from boiling over when cooking pasta...

 

cheeses, jalapenos, bacon and chicken

cheeses, jalapenos, bacon and chicken in mixing bowl...

 

adding pasta to the mixing bowl

pasta added to mixing bowl...

 

pouring mixed ingredients into making pan

Once all ingredients are mixed together, pour in to baking pan...

 

mac-n-cheese in baking pan

level out the mac so it will cook evenly, do not overfill the baking pan...

 

finished mac-n-cheese in baking pan

finished mac-n-cheese should have a crusty, cheesy, golden-brown top...

Gear Review: Merrell Barefoot Sonic Glove…

Merrell Sonic Glove barefoot training shoes

Nature Shop UK was gracious enough to participate in the Spring in to Adventure Giveaway with a couple of pairs of Merrell Shoes.

The Merrell Siren Breeze was review by Tiffany at ALittleCampy.com and I received a pair from Merrell’s new barefoot training series, the Sonic Glove.  I had been considering barefoot training and had read many articles and research about the benefits of barefoot running for foot health and muscle strength.  There is a huge trend in running circles toward a more natural zero-drop, barefoot style of running that focuses on natural bio-mechanics.  Merrell has jumped into this trend with both feet (pun intended) and launched a whole campaign and product line around barefoot running here.  This new section of their website encourages you to “Go Barefoot” and “Run Naturally” with their new line of minimalist shoes and offers a huge resource of good information for those who want to start.

I studied up on the mechanics of barefoot running and took my Sonic Gloves out for a spin.

Shoe Details:

UPPER/LINING
• Textile upper
• Microfiber footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor
• Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing System provides a precise, glovelike fit

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE
• 4 mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
• 1 mm forefoot shock absorbtion plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
• 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
• Vegan friendly footwear
• Vibram® Trail Glove Sole/Rubber Compound TC-1
• Men’s Weight: 6.5 ozs (1/2 pair)

My very first run in the Sonic Glove was uncomfortable.  I guess I expected it to be.  Most of the articles I read stated something to the effect of “it will take some getting used to…” which usually means, “it will hurt!”  My first run was slow, very focused on mechanics and a little painful.  The shoes worked as they should, it certainly had the feel of running barefoot.  The Vibram outsole was actually pretty nice and the tread gave me enough protection while still letting me feel connected to the ground.

Merrell Sonic Glove barefoot training shoes...I wore the shoes without socks.  The Sonic Glove (and all of Merrell’s barefoot shoes) have a permanently bonded anti-microbial shield embedded in the upper material and the footbed to protect against odor, staining and deterioration caused by bacteria and fungus.  My skin did not handle the direct contact with the shoe well and my feet were rubbed raw after only a short 1-mile run.

The next time I tried them I went barefoot again, but taped up the parts of my foot that had been rubbed raw on the previous run.  I wanted to wear the shoes as intended and, by all indications, that meant no socks.  I put 3.5- miles on the shoes on my second run.  It took a couple of miles of awkward, uncoordinated running for me to find my barefoot stride.  Unfortunately it also took a couple of miles for the shoes to wear through the tape.  So just as I was starting to feel comfortable with the movement of barefoot running, I was starting to feel the rub.  I pushed through and finished the 3.5-miles and, bleeding aside, felt good about the run.

For the next few days I was sore in places that running had never made me sore before.  I took this as a good sign that barefoot running was working muscles and joints in a way (hopefully a good way) they hadn’t been worked before.

I avoided running in these shoes for a little while afterward because I wanted my skin to heal before trying them again.  The next couple of runs in them I decided to wear my thin Injinji toesocks to provide a little protection.  This helped.

What I liked about these shoes is that they are lightweight and do, near as I can tell, offer a very close-to-barefoot running experience.  Even the shape of the Vibram outsole mimics the natural shape of a human foot.  I also like that the anti-microbial coating and feel like with regular, long-term usage these shoes would be a nightmare without it.  My footing felt secure, but there was not so much protection that it was comfortable to run on the extremely rocky Arizona trails I usually run.  I do feel like if I had the softer trails of the Pacific Northwest to run on I would enjoy these as trail runners much more.

My biggest disappointment was that I really wished the upper was more comfortable.  With a softer, more comfortable upper it would have been a much better and more realistic “barefoot” experience.  But the upper was stiff and rubbed my feet in a way that constantly reminded me I had a shoe on.  Perhaps, with time, I could break-in the upper a bit more and build callouses in the right spots to make this a non-issue.

I do like the support system that Merrell offers for the barefoot running community.  The literature that comes in the box has tips and instructions on what to expect with minimalist, barefoot running and how to get started.  Their website also has a great deal of information for the beginner and seasoned barefoot runner.  I find this encouraging to keep it up and work barefoot running into my regular training.

All in all, it’s a decent shoe and at $125 retail, it’s a little on the high side but still competitively priced.  I would definitely recommend getting fitted properly and trying on several different pairs, brands and styles before making a decision.  Having a resource like the Nature Shop can be your best path to finding the right barefoot trainer for your feet.

Nature Shop has this pair currently on sale for $87.50 (30% OFF) here.

Thank You…

Well, the Spring in to Adventure giveaways are over.  I know, I’m sad too.  I wish they could happen every week for you guys!

I want to officially and sincerely thank each and every one of you who participated in the giveaway.  You guys have made this fun and exciting for all of us.  I especially thank all of you who were so generous about sharing, tweeting, liking and generally “spreading the word” about our giveaway.

This was the first ever giveaway for WildernessDave.com and I’ve learned a lot about the technical side of running a campaign like this as well as the logistical side of managing and executing something this big.  It’s been a great experience and will, hopefully, lead to more like it in the future.

I also MUST thank our amazingly generous sponsors for their donations and support.  We’ve showcased some pretty amazing gear and have developed some great relationships with some of these brands.

From myself and my amazing fellow outdoor bloggers, we thank YOU for making this a great experience.

There’s talk of doing something this Fall…you won’t want to miss it.

Gear Review: GearPods Backcountry Kit…

GearPods Backcountry Kit...

If you haven’t heard of GearPods, you’re not alone.  They’re a relative newcomer to the outdoor/survival gear markets.  The company was established in 2008 in Polson, Montana and launched it’s Adventure Series Kits and Connect System in late 2009.  For those of you not familiar with the product, the GearPods Connect System is a semi-lightweight, modular gear storage system comprised of different sized, durable plastic tubes than can be connected in a chain (or used separate) to organize your gear.

James Davies, GearPods CEO, describes the product here:

“GearPods provides the best of both worlds – highly compact yet capable adventure gear but without the weight and bulk downsides you’d associate with traditional backcountry gear.”

With 4 different tube lengths and 7 different colored lids, it is a very versatile and easy to organize storage system.

Using the modular Connect System, the GearPods Individual Kits are pre-loaded with the kind of emergency and survival gear that these containers are suited for.  Individual kits include the Stove system, Shelter, Health and others.  GearPods goes one step further and offers Multi-Kit Systems combining essential Individual Kits into “integrated Adventure Systems” like the Backcountry Kit in this review.

Their Multi-Kit Systems range from $75 to $250 and offer everything from basic emergency shelter to full-scale rescue and survival systems.

GearPods was gracious enough to send me one of their Backcountry Kits to try out in addition to the kit they donated for this week’s giveaway.  I took the  kit with me on an overnight trip out to Lake Pleasant and tested out the stove system.  But first, let’s take a look at what’s included:

The GearPods Backcountry kit:

Size:

  • Weight: 1.25 lbs (20 oz)
  • Dimensions: 3.2″ diameter, 9.25″ length

Features:

  • GearPods Health: Compact but comprehensive first aid kit for treating minor wounds and injuries.
  • GearPods Survival Pro: Range of survival tools for starting a fire, navigating, signaling, purifying water, fishing, and repairing clothes or gear. Includes the GearPods Stove, GearPods CookMug (with snap-in lid), GearPods Windshield and solid fuel tablets for boiling water and cooking.

GearPods Health:

The Health Pod is a basic emergency first-aid kit including all the necessary items to treat most common injuries or ailments on or off the trail.  I was pretty impressed with how complete the first-aid kit is with one-time-use packages of everything from sun screen to sting-relief to burn ointment and a huge variety of bandages.  This kit alone is a very useful and essential part any emergency kit.

GearPods Survival Pro:

The GearPods Survival pro is a combination survival kit and cooking system (mainly for boiling water).  The kit includes an incredible assortment of survival gear including an ultra-light blade and saw, emergency fishing kit, multiple firestarters and tender, a tiny LED flashlight, signal mirror and weather-proof writing pad (see pics below).  With the addition of the small, lightweight, ingenious little stove and cook-pot I couldn’t think of a single thing lacking from this survival kit.

Impressions:

Unpacking the kits for the photos above I was immediately impressed with how much gear is actually crammed in to these Pods.  In fact, there seems to be room for a few more items if you have some specific personal item that you’d want to add (or beef up the medical kit with extra bandages).  My initial thought was, “I want one of these things everywhere!  I’d keep one in the house, one in the truck and have one handy for backpacking trips (at least the medical kit)”.  The size is perfect for stashing just about anywhere and the fact that everything is stored in these durable, water-proof tubes makes them perfect for a variety of different conditions.  I do believe that they are a little bulky for backpacking, especially if you travel light.  But they do pack easily if you don’t mind the weight.  When I took mine out on the trail I initially stuffed it into one of the side pockets of my pack, and on the return I rolled it up with my sleeping pad and strapped it to the bottom of my pack.

In the Field:

I brought the Backcountry Kit with me to camp overnight at Lake Pleasant.  I had a couple of goals in mind.  One, I wanted to test the cooking system and see how easy it is to set up and take down as well as test how effective it is at boiling water.  Second, I wanted to test the firestarters.  To me, those are the most important aspects to a survival kit (fire and water).

This is my field test of the cooking system-

The fuel tabs worked well once I got them lit (it was suggested that breaking apart the fuel tab would make lighting them easier). It took nearly a full single fuel tab to heat 9-11oz to boiling.  The cup is still very hot to the touch even with the fabric strip around the top.  The snap on lid worked well and would make for a nice drinking cup if you wanted to make tea, coffee or broth directly in the cup itself.  The  cooking system was very easy to set up and take down and was very lightweight.  As an emergency stove or backup, it’s perfect.  I would even consider it as my primary stove on short trips.

Getting fire started was a snap, the Tender-Quick lit without issue and allowed me to get my fire bundle going easily.

I will admit, in putting the kit back together in the tubes, I did have some trouble getting everything to fit just right.  I had to unpack and repack it several times to get the Pod lids to screw back on properly.  This, more than likely, is entirely a user generated problem.  It clearly fit just fine when I got it.  There is little room for error in the Survival Pro kit though, so pay attention when unpacking it so you can insure that it gets repacked properly.  If the fit is off or you can’t get the lids screwed on right, the Pods are no longer going to keep out water.

When everything is put together properly and the lids are screwed on tight, the Pods feel indestructible.  I felt comfortable tossing the Pod around camp, leaving it out overnight, tripping over it and kicking it out of the way without ever worrying about the contents.  I submerged it at one point in the lake without leaks and had to force it below water verifying that it would float if dropped out of a boat.  This made me think it might be useful to store electronics on boating trips.  The Pods are big enough inside to store a cell phone (even my massive HTC Thunderbolt 4G WITH a case on it fit inside the tube), batteries, cables, etc.

In the morning I played around with making a make-shift fishing pole. Using the line, hooks and sinkers provided in the kit along with a float I found on the beach, I tried my hand at fishing.  The system worked, even if I wasn’t able to land any fish.

All in all, I was very impressed with the Backcountry Kit.  It has nearly everything you would need for most any survival situation or backcountry emergency.  I would put serious thought in to adding the Shelter Kit to make this a perfect, all-around survival system (the GearPods Wilderness Kit includes the shelter kit).  If you spend much time on back roads, or live in areas where the weather can turn bad and  leave you stranded I would definitely get one of these for your vehicle.  They would also make an indispensably addition to your camping, boating or off-roading gear.  Or use the Pods to make your own kit, keeping everything safe, dry and organized!  I am considering getting a Pod to make in to a small tackle-box for creek trips.

-

As mentioned above, the Backcountry Kit was provided to me from GearPods at no cost in order for me to review the product.  My opinions are my own and are in no way influenced by the company providing the gear.  I have tested the gear under my own standards and offered my free and unbiased opinion based on my own personal experience.

 

Spring in to Adventure: BACKCOUNTRY Week…

(strobe lights, loud dramatic music, confetti, fireworks and a deep announcers voice says…)

THIS IS IT!  THE FINAL GIVEAWAY!

This one is huge!  An amazing collection of backcountry outdoor gear from companies like Trek Light Gear, GearPods, Buff USA, Purificup and MORE!  Get as many entries in as it will let you!  This week is truly….EPIC!

 

BackCountry Week Giveaway participators logos...

As you know, for the last couple months Wilderness Dave along with: My Life OutdoorsThe Outdoor AdventureA Little CampyHiking the Trail and Trail Sherpa have been working together with a whole bunch of popular outdoor companies to bring you guys more than a month of giveaways.

This is the LAST WEEK of the Spring in to Adventure EPIC Giveaway!  Click on the entry, complete the action, and then hit ENTER!  Don’t miss your chance on this one…it’s a HUGE prize pack!

As a reminder, here’s what’s up for grabs:

April 12th: BACKCOUNTRY Week

First Place Prize Pack:

Second Place Prize:

  • Alpine Aire Food Kit
  • Merrell Shoes

[Read more...]

Interview: Seth Haber – CEO of Trek Light Gear…

This week’s giveaway will feature products from Trek Light Gear.  As an introduction to Trek Light Gear, I conducted an interview with co-founder and CEO, Seth Haber.  Trek Light Gear is one of the leading companies producing high-quality lightweight hammocks today.  Designed to be used anywhere, the company is built around Seth’s personal revelation,

What better way to get outside, relax and take a break from a busy life than to lay in a hammock? And, what if you could easily take that hammock, that little piece of heaven, with you wherever you went?

Based out of Colorado, Trek Light Gear has made the rounds to countless shows, conventions and festivals to spread the noble philosophy that “no matter how crazy your life is, you are never too busy to take a few moments and relax.”

Trek Light Gear Logo

Interview with Seth Haber, CEO, Trek Light Gear:

Seth Haber CEO

Hello, Seth.  I’d first like to thank you for allowing us to do this interview with you and for generously donating to the Spring in to Adventure Giveaway for Backcountry Expedition Week.

Q:  First, can you tell us a little about the products that you’ve sent in for this giveaway?

We’re giving away one of our Double Hammocks along with our Go Anywhere Rope Kit which makes it easy to hang the hammock anywhere you go.  The Double is our most comfortable and most popular hammock model, weighing only 20oz and holding up to 400lbs.   We’re also including a pair of our ultralight carabiners which can be used to hang the hammock or for anything else – they weigh less than an ounce each and are rated up to 1100lbs.

Q:  The description of the Double Hammock on the website lists it as weighing in around 20 ounces.  About how much space does it take up in a pack?

The hammock itself packs down into its own pouch which only measures about 5”x8”.  And because the material packs so well, that pouch can then be compressed even further when stuffing it into a pack – the entire Double Hammock packs down to about the size of a softball when compressed.  Another great feature is that the carry pouch itself is permanently attached to the hammock and functions as a pocket while using the hammock – a great, multi-use feature that means you’ll never lose it and there’s no extra weight to carry.

Q:  What material are the hammocks made out of?  What made you decide on this fabric?

The hammocks are made out of a nylon material that’s commonly referred to as ‘parachute nylon’.  After checking out a variety of different ways to make a hammock, I found that the parachute nylon offered the perfect combination of the 5 factors that are most important: durability, breathability, strength, weight and comfort.  The material won’t rot or mildew which is a major problem with other woven cotton or cloth hammocks.  It breathes extremely well in the heat and doesn’t stretch during use.

Q:  With so many different styles of hammocks out there, what inspired you to take the direction you have with the design of the hammocks?

I’m a big fan of simple design and the ‘less is more’ philosophy.  When you get into more complicated hammock designs you’ll often find that there’s more to break, repair, etc. and the improvements offered are often appealing to a smaller set of people.  When it comes to the hammock, I discovered that the same basic hammock design that’s been in use for centuries around the world is ultimately pretty perfect in its simplicity.  It’s not something I invented by any means, it’s simply using a traditional design with different materials.

By traditional design, I’m referring to the woven string hammock design found commonly in Central and South America, not the wooden spreader bar style hammock that’s common in many backyards in the US.  Those are an unfortunate departure from what a hammock should be and if you’re curious to know what I mean by that I highly recommend reading this blog post: “These Aren’t The Hammocks You’re Looking For: How You’ve Been Hammock Brainwashed

Even though we’re using a modern material instead of woven strings, the basic design principles of a Trek Light Gear hammock is really as old as the hammock itself.

Q:  In your experience, how long should someone expect their hammock to hold up to regular use?  When do you know it’s time to start looking for a replacement?

The best answer to that question is that we’re still at 9 years and counting for a number of our original customers.  It honestly amazes even me but people continue to stop by our kiosk in Boulder and let us know that they’re still using their hammocks they bought during our first summer in business.

That being said though, I’ve definitely seen hammocks that people have put through the ringer so to speak.  Holes or small tears in the hammock can be pretty easily repaired (we sell a great repair patch through our site) but a growing number of holes or a major tear in the material is a sure sign that it’s time for a new hammock.

What’s most encouraging is that just about every time I hear from a customer who’s worn out their hammock, they follow it up by telling me how happy they are with how long it lasted and the abuse it took and that they can’t wait to get a new one.

Q:  What do you recommend for taking care of our hammocks to insure they last a long time?

The hammock is built tough but the key is really just to remember that it’s made with a lightweight material that needs to be treated with respect.  Be aware of what you’re wearing when you get into it, you don’t want to hop into your hammock with something sharp or abrasive on your clothing or shoes that could tear the material.

If you’re camping, be mindful of how close to the campfire you setup your hammock.  It’s no different than how you would think of any other camping gear in that regard – embers can have a certain knack for seeking out your favorite pieces of gear and burning holes through them if you’re not careful.

Last but not least, the hammock is designed so you can put it up and take it down literally within seconds.   Like flaming embers, UV rays can be gear-killers, so you don’t want to leave the hammock outside in the direct sun for long periods of time.  By no means does that mean that you shouldn’t use your hammock in the sun or that you should ever worry about having it out while you enjoy a fun day in the sun.  It’s long term exposure that does the damage and over time those powerful UV rays are going to fade the colors and eventually weaken the material to the point that it can tear much easier.  A few extra seconds to bring your hammock in when you’re done will likely have the biggest impact on how many years of enjoyment you get out of it.

Q:  I love that your site has a guide to sleeping in a hammock.  Do you find that a lot of people have trouble sleeping in hammocks simply because they don’t know how to properly lay in one?

Absolutely.  The Sleeping In A Hammock Guide has been the most viewed blog post on our site since I published it.  I didn’t start a hammock company because I was a hammock aficionado or expert, I discovered the benefits of a hammock and eventually found myself learning more about it and spreading that message to others.  As part of my job I’m often at festivals and trade shows talking to thousands of people about hammocks and I started to realize that there are a lot of misconceptions about hammocks and how to properly hang them and use them comfortably.  Telling someone how to properly setup and use a hammock may sound ridiculous if you think there’s nothing to it, but it’s amazing how understanding a few simple concepts can make such a big difference in the experience.

It took me a while to funnel what I’ve learned into a guide that I could publish but since I posted it I’ve gotten hundreds of emails and phone calls from people who tell me I’ve literally helped them get the best sleep of their lives – definitely not something I ever expected when I wrote it. Without rehashing it here you should just read the guide!

Q:  How long has Trek Light Gear been in business?

The first event I did was in 2003 at a street festival in Boulder.  At the beginning I felt like I was simply sharing a cool idea with other people and if it earned me some summer beer money I was happy.  It wasn’t until 2005 that I actually formed an LLC, launched a basic website and started focusing on what it really meant to have a business and where it could go.   In 2008, I finally walked away from my full-time job to focus on Trek Light Gear and it’s been a wild ride ever since.

Q:  Your website, and your company philosophy in general, seem to be all about not just getting outdoors, but finding the moments that make being outdoors special.  This is a great message to have woven into the core values of your business.  How does Trek Light encourage this philosophy in their customers and the community?

I love the question because you really nailed one of the important aspects of what the Trek Light brand and the hammock in particular represents to me.

I see our hammock as a vehicle for experiencing life.  When you lay back in the hammock things slow down – you have a chance to breathe, relax, think, and appreciate your surroundings.  You’re suddenly blissfully comfortable and it has the interesting effect of making you feel at peace and lucky to be where you are.  It’s those moments when you can’t help but think ‘life is good’ even when you’ve got stressful things going on in your life.   You mentioned the outdoors and that’s obviously a huge focus, but it doesn’t even have to be outdoors – a hammock setup indoors is incredible and helps you find those moments just the same.

The idea that ‘life is better in a hammock’ is something that I felt early on and it’s woven into every aspect of the company.  I’ve been so touched by the emails and calls I’ve gotten from people who have told me that the hammock has actually changed their lives or made one of their adventures what it was.  It’s incredible when you think about it – a backpack won’t make your life more memorable.  Neither will a tent, clothing or so many other outdoor gear products out there.  But I hear it all the time from people who’ve discovered the effect the hammock has on them and it’s something I’ll never take for granted as a business owner.

Q:  Your site also talks about hammock camping being a more “environmentally friendly” way to experience the outdoors.  Can you elaborate on this a little for us?

It’s hard to talk about all the positive effects and benefits of camping with a hammock without coming across as anti-tent.  I grew up camping in tents and have lots of great memories hanging out with groups of friends in the backyard or in the woods.  Comfort aside, one of the truths about tent camping is that you’ve got a pretty large footprint where you’re crushing the soil and any plant growth underneath you.  There are studies that show that even one night of having a tent on the ground can kill the grass, wildflowers, etc. underneath.  If you’re camping in a group night after night or other people will be camping in the exact same spot when you leave, you can see how much of an impact it can have over time.   Camping with a hammock minimizes the impact that you have on the soil a great deal. Instead of rolling around on the ground all night your only real impact to the ground is your footprints.

I also believe that one of the best ways to get people to care more about the environment is to get them to connect with nature.  It became apparent to me that sleeping in a tent when you’re camping actually disconnects you from your surroundings – you’re in the woods but you’re practically indoors in your tent.  When you’re in a hammock you’re literally sleeping under the stars (or under a tarp if there’s rain) and that ‘life is good’ feeling kicks in quick.  You’ll realize that you feel a much stronger connection to your surroundings and anything that helps you feel that connection to nature is going to help make you more mindful of your impact.

Q:  Would you consider Trek Light Gear a “Green” company?

I don’t let myself get hung up on the whole ‘green’ company thing.  What we do speaks to how important environmental issues are to the brand and me personally.

We’ve got our ‘Buy A Hammock, Plant A Tree’ program which has planted thousands of trees around the country over the last few years for every hammock we’ve sold.  The impact the program has had is incredible, there’s areas all over the world that desperately need reforestation and I’m immensely proud of the difference we’re making.

We’ve been promoting our Eco Totes (reusable shopping bags) since long before all the plastic bag bans started coming about in grocery stores around the world.  I was reading an article one day that opened my eyes to just how bad the plastic bag pollution problem is – learning that something as disposable and commonplace in our culture as the plastic bag takes over 1,000 years to decompose and often winds up in our oceans.  Suddenly I realized I could use the material we make our hammocks out of to do something about it.  Considering the average person uses about 500 plastic bags a year, every single Eco Tote we get out there makes an incredible difference.

My goal is simply to promote the philosophy that if you enjoy the outdoors we all need to do our part to protect it, one small step at time.  I want people to think about their impact on the planet – that’s definitely a big part of what the Trek Light name represents.  It can be overwhelming for people or businesses who feel like they can’t possibly live up to the high standards of doing everything that being considered ‘green’ might cover.  Just do your best – something as simple as recycling a bottle or using a reusable bag on your next grocery trip can have an incredible impact when enough of us simply care enough to do it.

Q:  I think most of us would suspect that selling hammocks for a living has got to be one of the most relaxing jobs in the outdoor industry.  What does the average day look like for the CEO of Trek Light Gear?

Of course the answer is that it’s not as much time spent lying around in a hammock as you’d think.  But, there are lots of perks – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been somewhere hanging out in a hammock, out on a photo shoot or even just talking to someone about hammocks and had that amazing “I love my job” feeling.  Realizing that while I’m relaxing in a hammock I’m actually at work, it never really gets old.

Right now I love being involved in every aspect of running a business – on any given day I’ve got a million things on my plate: marketing, accounting, customer service, graphic design, blogging, business development, you name it.   The CEO in my title stands for Chief Everything Officer and it’s been an incredible learning experience for me.  It can be pretty overwhelming most of the time, but it’s a great feeling to love your job and not have the same work routine to do day after day.

In February, I signed a lease on the first Trek Light Gear office space that isn’t in my living room or garage.  It’s in a funky warehouse space in Boulder and we’re busy turning it into a showroom complete with hammocks hanging from the ceiling and lots of space to demo all of our products.  There’s a few more projects to complete and then I can’t wait to show it off and invite people in.

Q:  What do you look for when you are looking for the right place to hang a hammock?

The view is definitely the easy answer to that one.  There’s something incredible about hanging a hammock with a beautiful view you can take in as you fall asleep or first thing when you wake up.  To sit near the edge of a waterfall or watch the sunrise on the side of a mountain, those are the moments that are hard to beat.  But, the beauty of having a portable hammock is that it also really doesn’t matter where you are.  When you lie back and close your eyes or look up at the sky it doesn’t matter whether you’re on your back porch or on the edge of the Grand Canyon – life is good.

Q:  Your Facebook Page has some great shots of Trek Light hammocks in amazing locations.  One of the recent REI photo contest winners was a Trek Light hammock photo.  Where was your favorite, or most memorable place you’ve hung your hammock?

There are a lot of spots that compete for a favorite in my mind, but if I had to choose it would probably be on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.  Lying in a hammock and listening to the waves crash on the beach as you drift off to sleep, you could call that my happy place.

The hammock has actually created powerful enough memories for me that I can often just close my eyes and put myself back in a particular spot – even around the office I can lie down in a hammock and suddenly remember the sounds or the way the breeze felt during one of those magical hammock experiences.

Q:  I once spent a week camping in my hammock along a creek.  I woke up in the middle of the night with something repeatedly bumping against the underside of the hammock.  When I finally got my headlamp turned on and looked, there were dozens of tiny frogs making their way across my camp and as they jumped, some would hit the hammock.  It was a very strange and memorable experience for me and one you really wouldn’t get sleeping in a tent.  Have you ever had a strange or unique experience that would not have happened if you were NOT in your hammock?

That’s a great example of why I love being in a hammock instead of a tent whenever I can.  One of my favorite experiences is just waking up in a hammock and watching the sunrise.  You don’t have to go to the trouble of getting out of your tent, putting your shoes on or anything at all – you can just float in a hammock and watch nature come alive right before your eyes.   I’ve woken up to see marmots running around my hammock, fish jumping in a nearby lake, bighorn sheep silhouetted on a mountain range – you realize why you’re out there camping in the first place.  When I sleep in a tent, most of my mornings are spent complaining about the rock or root that kept me up all night and not wanting to really get up until it gets too hot in the tent to force me out.

Q:  Trek Light recently added the Eco Totes to the product line.  Can you tell us a little about what inspired the new product?

Contrary to the note on our website that still refers to them as being recently introduced (I need to update that!) they’ve actually been in our lineup for a number of years now.  I talked about the Eco Totes while answering the ‘green’ question but it’s hard to say enough how important they are.

We’re all used to just showing up at the grocery store and getting paper or plastic bags, I definitely understand that the idea of bringing your own takes a little getting used to.  But, we’ve got to educate ourselves on what’s actually happening every time you get a plastic bag – incredible amounts of oil and other valuable resources go into making something that people use once (twice if you’re lucky) before disposing.  You use it for less than 20 minutes and then it sits around as waste for 1,000 years – that’s a no-brainer.

The idea behind the Eco Totes is that they make it easy to make the switch, they pack up into a tiny pouch so you can easily leave them in your car or have them with you when you need them.   They’re also stronger than just about any similar bag out there because they’re made with the same material as our hammocks.  There are lots of examples of things being sold as ‘reusable bags’ that look like they’ll wear out after only a few uses.  I don’t see the point in calling something a reusable bag if it doesn’t hold up for many years of use.

Q:  What’s next for Trek Light Gear?  Any new projects in the pipeline you’d like to tell us about?  Anything exciting coming up?

There’s lots of exciting things happening here right now.  One thing I’m most excited about is a new backpack design we’ve got coming out soon, it’s a small daypack which can pack down into itself just like our Eco Totes and hammocks and it only weighs about 3oz.  I’ve been testing one for the last few weeks and I’m amazed at how much I’m using it on a daily basis.  It’ll be called the PackBack™ and you heard it here first.  Look for it in Late Spring/Early Summer.

There may be a few other exciting product additions this year, but the big focus for me is in spreading the word even more about our current product line and building a strong retail presence in 2012.  I’ve been focusing on grassroots marketing and building the brand through direct sales for the last 9 years and I’m excited to build on that foundation now by getting Trek Light Gear on as many retail shelves as possible.  I’ve got competitors who have focused solely on getting into stores from the start, so there will be some fun challenges there but our passionate fan base speaks for itself in many ways.  I’m looking forward to making it easier for people to discover Trek Light Gear in their favorite outdoor stores.  It’s a whole new direction for the company but it’s really just an extension of what we’ve been doing all along.

Q:  And finally, I have to ask: I noticed in your FAQ page someone has asked “Can the hammock be used as a parachute?”…how often do you really get that question?

You’d be amazed.  

Slideshow from TrekLightGear.com Gallery…

Spring in to Adventure: DIGITAL Week…

It’s our fourth Spring in to Adventure Giveaway!  This week is DIGITAL Week featuring prizes for the tech-centric outdoor types.  We’ve got prizes from StikPic, Yodel and Trail Sherpa!  Check out the awesome list of what’s included in the prize package below.

Spring in to Adventure Digital Week Logos

As you know, for the last couple months Wilderness Dave along with: My Life OutdoorsThe Outdoor AdventureA Little CampyHiking the Trail and Trail Sherpa have been working together with a whole bunch of popular outdoor companies to bring you guys more than a month of giveaways.

You guys know the drill!  Click on the entry, complete the action, and then hit ENTER!  It’s so easy a drunk, blind-folded, one-armed monkey could do it!

As a reminder, here’s what’s up for grabs:

First Place Prize Pack:

Second Place Prize:

  • Survival Strap

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Gear Review: Eagle Creek Duffel Bag…

Eagle Creek Duffel Bag...As most of you who read this blog know, I travel often.  My fiance and I currently live in different cities and I find myself getting on a plane at least once a month.  Originally, I traveled with an old roller bag but it was too big to use as carry-on.  I then borrowed a smaller roller bag for a couple of trips but it just didn’t hold enough for a week-long trip.  I also HATE roller bags.  I can’t stand using them.  I do, however, love a good duffel.

I am also big fan multi-use items.  So when I started looking for a duffel for my trips, I wanted something that could be used camping, road-tripping, or as a gym bag in addition to air travel.  We found the Eagle Creek No Matter What Duffel bags at the local REI and really liked them.  The price was pretty good ($75) and it’s lightweight (1lb 12oz) and compactable.  I found that the Medium size was plenty big and actually carried more than my larger, heavier roller bag (59L/3600 cu. in. capacity).  I’ve taken it camping and tossed it in the truck for road trips with no worries.  The baggage handlers at the airport would really have to work hard to damage the heavy-duty 420D Helix Ripstop fabric.

Product Features:

  • Medium duffel bag is a travel carry-on
  • Storm flap protected, main compartment opens with two-way lockable, self-repairing zippers
  • Top external compression straps secure and stabilize the load
  • Removable padded shoulder strap adjusts for a comfortable carry
  • Non-slip laminated top carry handle and super durable oversized webbing straps for an easy hand carry
  • End and center haul handles
  • Front exterior zippered pocket for quick access items
  • Reusable “stuff” pouch stores this duffel bag and works as an internal packing accessory for shoes or gear
  • Meets most airline carry-on requirements
  • No Matter What™ Warranty

I use this bag all the time and I love it.  I have packed everything I need for a two-week trip in this bag without too much trouble.  Sometimes I have to strap my jacket to the outside under the compression straps, but otherwise everything I need fits and it’s the perfect size for easy carry.

Gear Review: AMK SOL Escape Bivvy…

I’m hosting my first Guest Post Gear Review!  This review was sent in from Tim B. of the Outdoor Adventure Team.  Tim and his friends explored the Ozette Triangle on the Olympic Coast in the Pacific Northwest, US.  I’d like to thank Paul and Tim of The Outdoor Adventure Team for letting me host this review of Adventure Medical Kit’s SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer) Escape Bivvy.  The Escape Bivvy was donated for review by AMK.  Click here to read more from The Outdoor Adventure Blog.

GUEST REVIEW: AMK SOL Escape Bivvy…

This past weekend a group of buddies and I went on a 9.4 mile overnight backpacking trip to the Ozette Triangle on the Pacific Northwest Olympic Coast. Early Spring is a beautiful time of year to explore the trails that are packed with hikers only a few short months later. When embarking on such adventures it is prudent to carefully asses one’s gear in order to avoid being too cold. Being freezing cold while out on an adventure can not only make one grumpy, but one could get frostbite or hypothermia and ultimately lose an appendage or two. It ain’t pretty. I’ve been that grumpy guy, and no one wanted to hang out with me, and certainly no one wanted to spoon me to keep me warm.  But, not this time. This time I packed the SOL Escape Bivvy.

The SOL Escape Bivvy is a light and compact sleeping bag-like sack, weighing 8.5 oz and measuring 36″ by 84″ rolled out flat.  The proprietary fabric is designed to release moisture created by your body, while external moisture from the elements remains on the outside. The inner lining is created from a reflective type material which helps to retain body heat.  Waterproof seams plus a drawstring hood closure and side zip mean you can seal out the elements entirely or use the bivvy like a traditional sleeping bag. In a survival situation the high-visibility orange exterior makes it easy for rescuers to spot you even in areas with high tree cover.

AMK SOL Escape Bivvy bagBeing an early Spring backpacking trip, I was concerned at first that I would become too cold at night. I’m a Texan boy, who grew up with the belief that 50F was freezing temperatures. While I have toughened up in my last 7 years in the Pacific Northwest, I still usually get cold at night while camping. I have found that I need to wear multiple warm layers in order to achieve any sort of comfort level for sleeping. Because the SOL Escape Bivvy doesn’t take up nearly any room in my pack I still packed my usual brigade of warm clothing just in case I needed them. I doubted something with material that thin could keep me warm at night.

I decided to test out the SOL Escape Bivvy in my usual backpacking setting inside my tent. I wore only one thermal underwear layer, socks, and a beanie and decided if I was cold I could add another layer, and then another if it became necessary. I slid The North Face Cat’s Meow sleeping bag into the SOL Escape Bivvy and slithered inside, zipping up my sleeping bag and the SOL Escape Bivvy once I was all snuggled inside. While the length was great for fitting my 6’5” body, it was a little awkward zipping up as the SOL Escape Bivvy zipper is on my right, while my sleeping bag zipper is on my left. I did not draw the SOL Escape Bivvy pull cord to tighten the hood around my head, as it was too frustrating to manage from inside my sleeping bag. As I lay there I could immediately notice a significant decrease of wind chill that was prevalent in the tent from the large gusts of wind blowing in from the ocean. I then quickly fell asleep.AMK SOL Escape bivvy bag...

I woke up the next morning, having slept well all night warm and cozy in my sleeping bag and the SOL Escape Bivvy. I was then surprised to find out that the others in my group had not slept well at all. My tent buddy is a natural warm sleeper; in fact, there was one trip where he was sleeping on top of his sleeping bag in his boxers, while I shivered and shook in my sleeping bag with every layer of clothing imaginable. There were others with the exact same sleeping bag as me, who also felt a certain chill throughout the night.

I had no condensation build up inside the SOL Escape Bivvy, and there were visible beads of moisture on the external layer from the condensation build up inside the tent. I could see this proving to be a beneficial outer layer for those with down sleeping bags for this reason, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Instead of packing a silk or fleece liner or excessive layers of clothing, packing the SOL Escape Bivvy would also be a wise multi-use alternative for retaining heat. It is certainly less bulky than my usual brigade of extra items.

When it came time to pack up, I was able to quickly fold and roll up the SOL Escape Bivvy from a standing position and easily slid it back into the little sack. When I came home, I hung it up to dry and found it to be ready to pack away in less than half an hour while my tent and other waterproof items were still drying an hour later.

AMK SOL Escape bivvy bag...The SOL Escape Bivvy is designed as an essential piece of equipment in your survival pack, and I definitely can see where it would prove great benefit in an outdoor survival situation. The Outdoor Adventure team member, Paul Osborn, will be putting the SOL Escape Bivvy to the test in a similar scenario in a few months, and I certainly look forward to hearing his review.

Have you used the SOL Escape Bivvy before? We are interested to hear your experience with the SOL Escape Bivvy, and maybe you have a few tips for Paul before he heads out on his survival trip with this piece of gear. We look forward to hearing from you so please comment, tweet, and share on Facebook!