Gear | A Backpack for All Weather…

Outdoor Products recently asked me to take a look at their weatherproof backpack, the 30 L Shasta Weather Defense Backpack. They were kind enough to send me one of the packs so I could put it through it’s paces on the trail, on the water and in the crazy Arizona monsoons to see just how weatherproof this backpack really is.

The 30L Shasta Weather Defense Backpack

Arizona summers are oppressively hot and miserable with scorching temperatures reaching above 115 degrees in the lower desert. Most of the summer we avoid the heat and head for water or cooler temperatures. Instead of hiking and climbing as we do the rest of the year, my wife and I usually get an early start and head out to the lake for some kayaking and paddleboarding. On the weekends, we’ll head up north and hike in the shade of the pine forests or along canyon creeks. High country or low country, summer is also storm season and I have yet to have a single trip up north that didn’t rain on me at some point. What’s the common thread here? Wet. Kayaking, paddleboarding, creek hiking and rain storms all end up making it a challenge to keep our stuff dry.

Enter the Outdoor Products Shasta Weather Defense Backpack.

weather resistant backpack

I have a couple of dry bags from my whitewater days, and I’ve picked up a waterproof duffel for my camera gear, but we really didn’t have a casual backpack to handle short day trips with a high potential for getting soaked. Admittedly, the Shasta, at 30L, is a bit big for day trips. The Outdoor Products 20L version, the Amphibian, would be much more appropriate. The Shasta is deceptively huge and can carry a ton of stuff. For a beach day or paddleboarding morning it might be great with extra clothes, beach towels, snacks, etc. all stuffed in it’s generous roll-top main compartment.

The Shasta also has a convenient and sizeable front zippered pocket for quick-access items like a phone, map or sunscreen. The zipper is a nice weatherproof zipper that performed well keeping most moisture from contents inside the pocket.

The bungee cordage on either side, meant for carrying trekking poles, is handy for quickly strapping other items to the pack as well. We found it convenient to tie down wet shoes that we definitely did NOT want inside the backpack with our dry gear.

Dimensions: 20.5in x 10in x 10in / 1,654 cu in

  • Made from 420 Denier fabric with TPU coating
  • Welded seams
  • Watertight, roll top seal
  • Reflective accents
  • Articulated padded shoulder straps with sternum handle
  • Top carry handle
  • Front access pocket
  • Trekking pole holder
  • Padded waist belt

The Test Conditions

Poor Merelyn get’s all the glamorous model work when we have something like this to test out. After spending some time on the trail and on the water with the Shasta backpack she was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was to carry. Not loaded to capacity we didn’t really test it with a ton of weight, but with a moderate load it sat comfortably, rested well on the back and felt balanced as a backpack should. Even rock hopping in a wet and muddy creek the pack was stable, secure and kept things dry (and clean).

The backpack comes with a removable padded back support and adds some rigidity to the pack and would make heavier, bulky loads much easy to handle. It also comes with a removable waist belt. We removed them both to test out the pack, but they do offer up a bag that truly fits the backpack mold and isn’t just “another drybag”.

We spent an afternoon in the high country using the backpack for short hikes and playing along the creeks. I’ve had the backpack with me a couple of times as summer storms set in and was glad to have it. We also took it with us for our lake excursions where it stowed in the kayak, on the deck of the paddleboard and on Merelyn’s back as she paddled. We wanted to push the limits of the bag’s intended function to see how far it’s water resistance would go.

weather resistant backpack

weather resistant backpack in creek hike

testing weather resistant backpack on paddleboard

The Good, the Bad and the Wet…

The 30L Shasta Weather Defense Backpack is a really nice hybrid of a classic roll-top dry bag and a multi-use backpack. It has all the features one expects from both with little compromise. It’s roomy, comfortable and (when used properly) does a great job keeping the weather out. The TPU coated 420 Denier with welded seems essentially creates a waterproof bucket and it’s well made. This bomb-proof construction means there aren’t a lot of pockets that would require extra seems and there is only one way in or out of this bag. At about $80 retail, it’s a decent deal for a backpack of this size and comparable to a lot of similar sized drybags.

Being a roll-top bag it suffers the same limitations as any roll-top dry bag: it has to be full to work. Roll-tops require compression to work properly and make a strong seal against the elements. Like all roll-top bags, if you can’t roll the top tight enough and cinch it down, the roll loosens and water slips in. Being a 30L bag, we had to stuff a lot of gear into this bag to get the roll-top to close tightly. Sometimes, for a short while at least, you can trap enough air inside the bag to achieve a tight closure but it’s not an airtight bag and eventually you loose enough air to collapse the resistance you created. This is important to remember when choosing the bag size. Not a lot of gear, consider the 20L instead.

The outside pocket was impressively resistant to water. We had it strapped to the wet deck of the paddleboard as we bounced around in choppy water for a good 2 hours or more before the pocket showed any signs of letter water in. Splashing water and light rain didn’t make it through the pocket, making it a successful and secure weather resistant feature.

The hard part here is that the product description refers to the bag as “water tight” and it’s not. Not without a full load in the pack. Anyone who has worked with roll-tops would know this but many people may not. What it IS though, is weather resistant and and nicely designed and constructed. It serves it’s purpose well and, aside from the roll-top, keeps the water out effectively. I put this pack in my backyard pool, careful not to submerge the roll-top, and it successfully keeps all water out. I’d recommend this bag for paddling, canyoneering and backpacking in rainy conditions with complete confidence.

Just don’t treat it like it’s a sealed waterproof bag and you’ll be very happy with this backpack.

 

Committing to be Motivated…

getting back in shape

For anyone who hasn’t followed my blog (ever) I’ll recap the last 14 months or so.  The last race I ran was the Tillman Run in April 2013.  I shouldn’t have run it as I was dealing with some serious foot pain but, you know, “muscle through it, pansy!”  The next week I tried a hike (painful) and some sprinting (really painful) and by the end of the week was in to the doctor where I discovered I had been trying to push through a double stress fracture in my foot.  Fast forward a few painful months and I was finally able to walk on my foot but as soon as I started trying to get back in shape I busted my knee.  Before the knee completely recovered I injured it again, sidelining me completely for a good long time.

I went through 8 weeks of physical therapy once the doctors decided I had healed enough to do so.  A lot of ice and a lot of ibuprofen later and I was finally ready to start using my knee again.

I’ve been on my bike, slowly building up muscles I haven’t used in a long time.  I’ve been practicing yoga, gaining balance, core strength and control of my breathing.

But I’ve been afraid to run.

I’ve dealt with a lot of pain and injuries in my life, but this last year was amazingly miserable and I have to admit that I am scared to be in that position again.  But I can’t afford NOT getting back in shape.  I have gained weight (weight I have already worked hard to get rid of), lost muscle, lost confidence and lost the lifestyle of outdoor exploration, hiking, climbing that I had been enjoying.  I hate the risk of re-injury but life without the risk is no way to live.

So last week I made a commitment to run several races, signing up for 3 races all at once to give myself something to train for.  I’m shooting for a 10k in November, a half marathon in January and another half in March.  I may look at other, smaller races in between but those are my big ones.  Those lay the groundwork for the goals I must achieve.  Now I am motivated to get out and do the work.

This morning I ran for the first time since April of last year.  I expected it to feel as miserable, slow and painful as it did when I first started running 4 or 5 years ago.  I expected to feel like I was completely starting over…and it didn’t.  The biking and yoga I’ve been doing as part of my rehab has helped me build up enough that this run actually felt pretty good.  Still slow, but not nearly as slow or painful as I expected it to be.  It was a confidence builder.

I feel like I can do this.

My Plan for Staying Motivated:

Commit to Something!

Signing up for a race gives me a firm goal and a reason to set up a training program and stick to it.  I have committed to 3 races so far, two of them half marathons and the other (the first one) a 10K.

Find a Partner

Having a friend who is willing to sign up for the same race is perfect.  Training with someone who has a similar goal allows you to be accountable to each other to stay on course.  My wife will be a great running partner once I get in shape, she can run circles around me now.  I also have a friend signed up for the half marathon who is closer to my level and we’ll train together when we can.

Announce your Intention

I’m telling everyone!  My goal is to run a half marathon by January and the more people that know it, the better I will be at holding myself accountable.  I’ve written this post, shared my race goals on Facebook and encouraged friends to sign up for the same races so there’s no way I’m going to allow myself to fail.

Don’t Over Train

When I get into training I tend to push too hard and go too fast.  I want to avoid injury so I can make it to my goal, I will focus on getting my rest days in and cross training where I can so I can stay on task.  I will take my rest days and use yoga, swimming, biking and hiking as cross training components to avoid overuse injuries and over training.

 

Teton Sports Mammoth 20° Double Sleeping Bag Giveaway…

Teton Sports has been working with Trail Sherpa and the Trail Sherpa Network to promote a couple of their sleeping bags.  The Mammoth Double Sleeping bag was the focus of the spotlight, but I also got to review the Super comfy Fahrenheit Sleeping Bags.  These are a great line of camping sleeping bags that offer plenty of warmth and creature comfort.  They are by no means backpacking bags, unless you’re into carrying your own bodyweight on the trail…no judgement here, have fun with that.  But for car camping, where the tent is a stone’s throw from your trunk, these are perfect.

mammoth sleeping bag

Tim’s review of the Mammoth shows how well the Double Sleeping bag works for families with smaller kids, “We took the three kids (my buddy and his daughter were camping with us) into the tent, got them snuggled in the bag, and started a movie for them.  The three of us sat around the fire talking about what had just transpired.  We talked for 45 minutes about it in fact.  To the kids, it was probably the coolest fort ever…I asked Tater the next day what he thought of the bag.  He said it was ‘way soft and super cushy’.

Amelia also had a chance to review the Mammoth with her young ones, “Nothing like taking your cozy bed from home camping with you.  The Mammoth does just that with a plush interior, great sleeping weight and the option to make it as big as your family needs.  It is made for the camper that doesn’t want to sacrifice comfort in a tent…

Teton Sports makes a nice sleeping bag.  Check out this video from Shawn at Teton Sports discussing the technology and design behind the Mammoth and Fahrenheit bags:

If you would like to win a Mammoth Sleeping Bag of your own, use the Rafflecopter widget below for multiple entries into the giveaway.  The contest ends soon, so get your entries in and Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway