A Stranger in Zion…

The late afternoon light was stretched low over the horizon casting long shadows in Zion National Park.  I had unpacked my gear from the dusty truck in Watchman Campground and quickly set up my home for the weekend next to another small tent quietly occupying the same campsite under a large cottonwood.  I didn’t know much about my mysterious campmate yet.  Less than an hour earlier, I had received a single text message – all set in F4.  They have a parking permit for you as you enter watchman campground.  If I’m not in camp, I’m off exploring.  Sounds like we’d get along just fine.

View of Watchman from the Campground in Zion National Park

The National Parks and Monuments of Utah have always called to me, especially Zion National Park.  I don’t normally make a huge effort to visit the National Parks, preferring instead to explore Wilderness Areas where I can find quiet and solitude.  There are exceptions.  When my dad passed away in 2005 we were in the planning stages of several trips together.  We were on the wait-list for a private trip down the Colorado River, we were just starting to plan a trip through Yosemite along portions of the John Muir Trail and we were talking about touring the Utah Parks of Zion, Bryce, Arches and Canyonlands.

In Fall of 2007 I was able to raft the Colorado through Grand Canyon on a private boat trip with several of my dad’s closest river friends.  This Summer I’ll finally be hiking most of the John Muir Trail through Yosemite with a small group of backpackers.  And for years I had been patiently looking for opportunities to visit Arches or Zion…when I received this message on twitter:

The timing seemed to fit perfectly into my jigsaw puzzle of a travel calendar.  I managed to scrounge up some petty cash for fuel, take the weekend off and drive 7 hours across Arizona and Utah to meet up with a fellow adventure seeker after nothing more than a handful of Twitter messages.  Twitter has been funny that way, especially when it comes to the outdoor community.  I see it happen all the time with messages like, “Anyone up for climbing near SLC this weekend?” or “I want to do Humphrey’s next time in Flag.  Who’s in?”  Social Media allows us to connect with like-minded people for outdoor adventures that just wouldn’t be as fun (or safe) alone.

This time it was Minnesota native David Wherry, hell bent on making the most out of his first whirlwind trip to Zion National Park in the shortest time possible.  David would have one day, sun-up to sun-down, to doggedly chase down as much adventure and general badassery (yes, it’s a word) as law would allow…and he was looking for a partner to help him run it down.

As I organized my gear at Workman Campground I knew we were staring down the barrel of a long sunrise-to-sunset day of steep, sweat-stained canyon hiking.  So when Dave came strolling into camp after a casual 7 mile trail run, I knew he’d be the guy pushing the pace the next day.

That night we sat around the campfire and discussed our strategy for the next day.  We didn’t know each other before that night but we both seemed very much on the same page about our agenda.  We listed out our priorities starting with Angel’s Landing at sunrise and worked our way from there with every intention of hungrily devouring as much of this amazing park as we could stomach before sunset.  We would not be content to shuffle along with cattle-like tourists.  We would push hard, move fast and end every trail with an eager and emphatic “What’s next!?”

David turned out to be a great trail companion and bad-ass adventure partner.  Hopefully his work continues to land him in parts out west so we can pull off another epic slam-dunk in another amazing location.  The sooner the better…

The Epic Day in Zion National Park…

Angel's Landing at Zion National Park

Echo Canyon at Zion National Park

Observation Point at Zion National Park

The Narrows at Zion National Park

 

To see more of my images from Zion National Park visit my gallery.

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!!

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Amazing Sedona – Part I: Gear testing, Sunset and New Friends…

I haphazardly packed the back of the truck in the cold, dark pre-dawn hours Saturday morning as the dogs looked on through the glass front door.  I’m sure they were just as curious as I was about what possessed me to be up this early on a Saturday after only a few short hours’ sleep.  Friday night I had been out with friends enjoying our annual Christmas Party and had stayed longer than I had planned.  I had double-booked my weekend and needed to be in Sedona by sunrise to meet a new friend for a weekend of camping, hiking and gear testing.

Tim had arrived in Sedona early Friday afternoon ahead of me and claimed our campsite at the tiny Manzanita Campground along Oak Creek.  We had planned this trip on the spur of the moment realizing that we both were planning outings to field test new gear and figured it was the perfect opportunity to meet.  After a few phone calls and a handful of emails back and forth, we had reservations for a campsite and a loose itinerary.

I was in charge of figuring out our hike for Saturday since I am more familiar with the area.  I noticed that there was a nice, strenuous hike very close to our camp that would take us to one of only a few natural rock arches around Sedona.  Vultee Arch is a small natural rock bridge named after the owner of a small aircraft manufacturing company.  Jerry Vultee and his wife got caught flying in a severe blizzard over Wilson Mountain in 1938 and crashed on the north end of the plateau.  Between the crash and the resulting fire, neither survived.

Tim and I had both discussed our increasing focus on photography in our outdoor pursuits so the arch was a great fit, but I wanted to make it even more interesting so I proposed we plan our hike so that we’d hit the arch at sunset.  This would mean an afternoon hike, a nice pause while we waited for the light and grabbed some shots, then a night hike over the pass on our return.  Tim responded with, “Sounds good to me.  Night hikes are awesome.”

Between last minute packing, a longer than expected stop for coffee and fuel as well as not accounting for the extra distance from the my new house, I was running late.  I realized I wasn’t going to make it to camp before day break, but hoped I would at least make it to the lower end of Sedona’s Red Rocks by Sunrise.  I barely made it to the turn-off as the sun was getting ready to crack the horizon.  I stopped for a few pictures of first light and found a great old tree to use as foreground.

my sunrise shot near the turn-off to Sedona

I continued toward Sedona and made it as far as Bell Rock before I decided I needed to stop and capture more images of the sunrise.  I managed to take some really nice shots at Bell Rock as the sun climbed higher.  I decided to skip a stop in Sedona and head straight to camp, knowing I was running late.  There was really no reason why I needed to be to camp so early except that I had specifically told Tim that I would be.  That was enough reason for me to worry about being late.

Sunrise at Bell Rock, Sedona

When I got to camp, Tim was up and had been down by the creek.  After a handshake and an apology I unloaded my gear and set up camp as we visited like old friends.  We spent the better part of the day talking about gear, the outdoors, family, food and life in general.

Tim is one of a small handful of people I’ve now met in person after getting to know them through Social Media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.  It’s the modern version of finally meeting a pen-pal you’ve written to for years.  There is an instant familiarity, comfort and friendship that is merely extended by the shaking of a hand and the sharing of a meal…even more so when done around a camp fire.

more Oak Creek at sunrise at Manzanita Campground

It eventually came time to head out for our hike, we needed to make it over Sterling Pass and down to the arch by 4:30 if we were going to have a chance at being in position by sunset at 5:15.  I had studied the times and angles of the sun against the topography around the arch to insure that we wouldn’t lose the sun early due to some distant peak.  It looked as through we’d have light at the arch until at least 5pm.  We headed out at 2:30 to give us plenty of time to hike the pass and make it down in to canyon below the arch.  I did not have an exact idea of how difficult the hike up to the arch itself would be so we needed a little padding in the schedule.

Dead trees along Sterling Pass Trail

The marked trailhead for Sterling Pass was almost directly across the street from camp where we began the steep climb up and over the rocky pass.  Much of the area was still recovering from the Arch Fire that devastated this canyon in 1996.  The blackened skeletal remains of the formerly thick forest jabbed skyward through the lush new growth optimistically trying to regain it’s footing.

The rock and vegetation changed at the pass before we plunged back down the steep switchbacks on the other side.  The forest was much thicker on this side of the pass where it had clearly been protected from the fire.  My knee was reminding me throughout the descent that it is still not 100% and I was relieved a bit when the trail leveled out finally along the bottom of the canyon.

Sterling Pass on the way to Vultee Arch

We were on the lookout for the side canyon containing Vultee Arch and, with the sun chasing toward the horizon, we were getting short on time.  Finally we reached a point where we could see the arch, still drenched in the glow of the setting sun.  As we approached the rock ledge that house the plaque describing the arch’s namesake, I noticed we were not going to have light on the arch for as long as I had estimated.  This was going to significantly shorten the window for getting the photographs I was after.

I was feeling the pinch of time and when we found what appeared to be the small trail leading to the actual arch, I took off leaving Tim to find his own pace.  I aggressively scrambled through brush and cacti along the overgrown trail before finding the right spot to venture off-trail in an effort to find a unique angle for shooting Vultee Arch.  I waded through thick Manzanita and danced around prickly pear cactus and agaves as I climbed under and around the arch.

Sunset light on Vultee Arch, Sedona

The sunset light was well worth the effort and I was glad that we’d made the decision to visit the arch when we did.  The sunset that evening gave us an amazingly warm orange glow that accentuated the red rock of the arch.  Even the vegetation took on a supernatural glow as the sun cast the last of it’s fading light across our little canyon.  Tim caught up and found a perch atop the arch to watch the sunset and nibble on some trail mix as I scrambled precariously along all points collecting my shots.

Long view from below Vultee Arch, Sedona

View of the late sunset from the base of Sterling Canyon

When light had faded from the arch we hiked back down to the rock vista, made hot coffee and watched the remainder of the sunset.  Once darkness had pushed the last traces of light from the horizon we packed up and headed out.  The cold was kept at bay with the exertion of climbing the switchbacks back up to Sterling Pass.  As we crested the pass we were greeted with a rich, black, moonless desert sky deeply punctuated with brilliant stars.  We sat here for a while, with headlamps off, taking in the night sky.  Both of us live in larger cities where the night is never truly dark and stars never laid out so thick.

Some time later we strolled back in to camp and started dinner.  We ate well and talked late in to the night around the camp fire.  This is the perfect example of what I love about being outdoors.  We encountered very few people on the trail and all of them had bailed before light ran out.  We had the arch entirely to ourselves and experienced it in a way that very few ever would.  The desert was our playground and I reveled in it with a giddy, childlike joy.

When it came time to head home the next day, we said our good-byes and vowed to do this again soon. With any luck, the next excursion will include our wives and another amazing location.  I left Sedona that afternoon tired, happy and hoping for another adventure very soon.  Little did I know at the time, that I would be back to this very same area in only one week…

…but that’s another story.

Trip Gallery:

For more pictures from the hike check out Tim’s gallery here.

Lessons about knowing your outdoor gear…

Have you ever made a mistake?  A stupid mistake?  The kind of mistake that makes you kick yourself for doing something you KNEW you shouldn’t have done?  No?  Then stop reading, this isn’t for you.  Piss off.

We all make mistakes from time to time.  We get complacent, or hurried or distracted and we do things we otherwise wouldn’t do.  Sometimes these mistakes make us laugh at our own folly, but (particularly in the backcountry) mistakes can be very dangerous.

I’ve had my share of mistakes.  One night camping in the mountains around Mount Graham outside Safford I hurriedly tossed the rain fly on my tent in the dark as a storm was starting to move in.  It wasn’t long into a pretty solid downpour that I discovered I had put the fly on upside down.  Turns out those waterproof-breathable fabrics they use for protection only work one way.  I knew that, I just missed it.

Another time, on luckily just a short hike, I had performed a quick check of my small pack, checked the hydration hoses, filled the bladder, packed a snack and shortly thereafter shot out the door to make my hike.  It wasn’t until I arrived at the trailhead and picked up my unusually light pack that I realized I had left the full hydration bladder on the counter, right by the sink, right where I had set it after filling it up.  A stupid mistake because I wasn’t fully paying attention to the process.

There was also the time I loaded my tent for a quick backpacking trip and discovered, a day’s hike in to the middle of nowhere, that I had grabbed the rain fly, not the tent.  Luckily I was able to easily make a bivvy shelter with the fly and it wasn’t a total catastrophe.  I’ve also packed my tent with the wrong set of poles before…that was fun.

This most recent mistake learning experience was a result of simply not paying attention.  I even remember second guessing myself and some little voice telling me, “nah, it’ll be FINE…”

My Snow Peak 450 Insulated mug on the SoloStove cook system - outdoor gear

I had just built a nice little fire in my new SoloStove.  I had received one to test out and was anxious to put it to use.  I prepped my fuel, built a beautiful little top-down fire (as instructed) and had quite nice burn going.  Now I just needed to boil some water, time it, record it and round one of the testing would be in the books.

I’m in the process of moving so I don’t know where half of my stuff is currently.  I could not find a camp pot anywhere with which to boil a little water.  In haste, I grabbed my Snow Peak Titanium mug and filled it with water.  There was a piece of me that hesitated, but I couldn’t put my finger on why and dismissed it.  I set the mug on the stove and watched the flames lick at the titanium.

Now, this is for a review, so I’m taking pictures, recording a little video, talking about the technology of the burn system and why the fire was built top-down…so I’m distracted.  The nagging hesitation was set aside so I could focus on the review.  Then it hits me!

The Snow Peak Titanium 450 Double Wall mug is an insulated mug.  The outer shell of the cup is made up of two walls of titanium with air space in the middle to serve as an insulating layer.  This helps reduce heat transfer through the wall of the cup.  This means it will NOT heat efficiently, it is not a good cooking vessel.  More importantly, and the reason for my sudden anxiety, is that the super-heated air trapped between the two layers of titanium will expand when heated and can cause the weld seam to burst.  Depending on how well the seams hold, this could be a pretty dramatic rupture or simply a small hole to let the air escape.  Once I realized this error I pulled the cup off the heat.

Luckily, my seam held and the only real damage (aside from severe discoloration) is a slightly bulged and rounded bottom on the mug.  Not the end of the world.

In the privacy of my own home, I can simply kick myself for being stupid and potentially ruining an expensive piece of gear.  In the backcountry, we can’t afford to make those kinds of mistakes.  This sort of thing is a reminder of how easily, and innocently, mistakes can be made.  It’s a reminder that we really do need to slow down, pay attention and think through our actions…especially in the field.  It’s also a reminder to know your gear.  Know it’s intended uses, it’s limitations, be familiar with the technology and why it works.  The proper gear can save your life, but only if you know how to use it properly and do so with thoughtfulness.

I’d love to hear about YOUR gear related mistakes.  Comment below if you’ve ever made a mistake with your outdoor gear…it’ll make me feel better about my own stupidity. ;)

Winter Outdoor Giveaway – Week 2…

Week 2 of the Winter Outdoor Giveaway is here so you get a second chance at some awesome winter gear.

We’ve added a new entry option called Refer-A-Friend.  Use this entry option to score up to 10 bonus entries!  Here’s how it works:

After you enter using any of the options, a box will appear at the bottom of the widget that will give you a unique URL that you can share with your friends. For each friend that enters the giveaway, you will receive +1 entry into the giveaway. You refer up to 10 people.  Cool, right?!

Win lots of great winter gear

Entering is easy, just click on the entry options below to secure your chances.  The more you enter the better chance you’ll have to win this fantastic gear:

And don’t forget to show your support for our fellow outdoor bloggers who have put in considerable time and effort to pull this outdoor giveaway together.

What are you waiting for?  Enter the Winter Outdoor Giveaway now!

 
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Winter Outdoor Giveaway – Week 1…

Winter Gear Giveaway

Let’s get this party started, folks!  Winter is upon us and you KNOW you want some fancy new gear to play with this season.  We had great participation last Spring and we’re hoping to give even more people a chance to win this time around.

Entering is easy, just click on the entry options below to secure your chances.  The more you enter the better chance you’ll have to win this fantastic gear:

Week 1 Prize Package:

And don’t forget to show your support for our fellow outdoor bloggers who have put in considerable time and effort to pull this outdoor giveaway together.

What are you waiting for?  Enter the Winter Outdoor Giveaway now!

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NEW Winter Gear Giveaway starts Thursday!

HEY! It’s Winter Gear Giveaway time!

Winter Gear Giveaway

 

You guys remember last Spring, right…a bunch of us handed out piles of awesome gear!  Well, it’s time to do it again and we’ve got 3 weeks of killer winter gear giveaways starting this Thursday from:

You know the drill, we will give you tons of chances to enter.  The giveaways are even bigger this time around.  But don’t worry, you can accumulate entries over the week leading up to each drawing.  The more you enter the greater your chances are to win this fantastic winter gear.

Here’s what we have to giveaway this time:

Week 1

  • Backpackers Pantry Freeze Dried Meal Set
  • Teton Sports Trailhead Ultralight Sleeping Bag
  • GU Energy Packs
  • Patagonia Men’s Scree Shield Boots
  • Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets by Clean Ethics
  • Klymit Sleeping Pad
  • Injinji Toe Socks

Week 2

  • Hillsound Crampons
  • Hillsound Gaiters
  • Chaos Sports Balaclava
  • GU Energy Packs
  • Hydrapack Day Pack
  • Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets by Clean Ethic
  • Injinji Toe Socks

Week 3

  • Tubbs Mountaineering Snowshoes
  • Terramar TXO 3.0 Half zip top
  • Terramar TXO 3.0 pants
  • Terramar TXO 3.0 beanie
  • Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles from The Gear House
  • JetFlow Hydration Pack
  • Eco Vessel Water Bottle/Filter
  • Chaos Sports Gloves
  • GU Energy Packs
  • Chaco Tedinho Waterproof Boots (unisex)
  • Bottle Bright Cleaning Tablets by Clean Ethic
  • Injinji Toe Socks

Stay tuned and DON”T MISS this giveaway!  In fact, if you subscribe to WildernessDave.com in the form at the top of the page you won’t miss a thing!  Just drop you’re email in and you’ll get all the updates straight to your Inbox!  It starts Thursday so GOOD LUCK!

Gear Review: ENO Doublenest Hammock…

ENO Doublenest Hammock

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows I’ve been talking about hammock camping a lot lately.  That’s one of the reasons I was lucky enough to review a copy of Derek Hansen’s book, The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping.  Hammock camping is something I dabbled in years ago, without really knowing what I was doing, and now have returned to exploring.  There are so many more hammocks and accessories on the market now that I’m really excited about testing out a lot of this new gear.  But what got me back in to exploring the Hang was a fluke contest win last year.  I managed to win an ENO Doublenest Hammock kit (including their slap-straps and some other accessories) on Facebook!  Now, I was looking forward to getting outdoors for some overnights with my hammock.

It took a while, but I finally managed to start planning trips that would specifically put me in locations where I knew I could set a hammock.  I’ve now had the ENO out a half-dozen times and I have to say I am really enjoying it.  The Doublenest is pretty small packed into it’s own attached stuff sack (about 4x4x5) and weighs about 22oz.  It’s not UltraLight but it’s lighter than my tent.  The size of the hammock unfolded is 9′-4″ x 6′-8″ which is a little short compared to most hammocks designed for camping.  I would admit that the ENO is designed to be an all-purpose hammock.  It’s not long enough to be considered a true “camping” hammock or “expedition” hammock but it’s a comfortable size and it’s portability means you can take it almost anywhere.

The lightweight parachute nylon material has held up well so far.  The carabiners that came with the ENO were heavy, so I have replaced those with lighter, stronger carabiners (also lightening the overall load by a few ounces).  The seams are all triple-stitched and the gathered-end design translates into maximum strength at the attachment points.  The load capacity on the Doublenest is somewhere in the neighborhood of 500lbs, making it possible for two people to sit in the hammock.  This really isn’t practical for anything more than a nap as two people trying to sleep together overnight in the same hammock will lead to two people not wanting to see each other gain.  The load capacity is effected by the angle of the hang (as illustrated in Derek’s book) so if you are planning on pushing the weight limits of the product, make sure you achieve a solid 30 degree hang.

This is a great starter hammock.  For those new to hammocks, or hammock camping the ENO would be a good place to start.  It’s versatile, light, small, packable and easy to set up.  ENO has tons of accessories on their website like the Slap-Straps, tarps, bug-nets, LED lights for your ridgeline, even speakers so you can have tunes while you hang.

Enjoying the Hang in PrescottFor me, I love the low-impact nature of hammock camping.  I also love having the ability to camp in places where you just can’t with a tent.  I will be exploring more hammock options and looking into some of the more lightweight, expedition hammocks for backpacking trips.  I’ve got a few in mind and, thankfully, Derek has been a great resource for getting deeper into these products.  But I will always love my ENO and I’m sure it will find it’s way along on many future adventures.

 

 

Campsite Impact comparison

Hydration Summit – Week 3…

Hydration Summit

Week 3 of the Hydration Summit has come to a close and we’ve got some great new material!  Last week we got in to some great discussions about how hydration needs change as you get old and tips for keeping your kids hydrated.  We also some new perspectives on the hydration systems themselves.  If you are just discovering the Hydration Summit, check out my round-ups of Week 1 and Week 2 then get involved!

June 18th -

Tiffany looks at the GeigerRig pressurized hydration engine from a new angle…what does it offer as a camp tool?  How many jobs would be easier at camp with a little water pressure?  From sharing water, to cleaning, to putting out fires…a good spray of water can be very useful.  Check out her article and chime in with your thoughts on how you would use a pressurized system at camp.

We also got a nice review from Melissa, looking at the GeigerRig as a Family Friendly hydration system.  She looks at how effective the spray technology is in sharing and caring for the entire family on the trail.

June 19th -

Ever the Boy Scout, Adam takes a look at the history and importance of hydration in the Boy Scouts of America.  He takes us back to his early days in the Scouts when old surplus canteens were all the rage.  Now, with hydration system technology so easily acquired, keeping the Scouts hydrated is a less daunting task for Scout Leaders and parents.

Ryan offers us a nice breakdown of the hydration systems and compares them by taste.  Those of you have have been using hydration systems for a while are very familiar with the odd, plastic-y chemical flavor your water absorbs in the reservoir…especially after sloshing around all afternoon.  Adding flavored, sugar drinks like GatorAid also can leave a residual flavor and odor in the reservoir. Ryan takes a look at which brands are the least offensive and gives some tips on how to reduce the offensive flavoring…hint: keep it clean!

June 20th -

We are seeing a huge increase in the over-50 set exploring and enjoying the outdoors.  On my hike up to Kendrick Peak, I would say that the large majority of the people I saw on the trail that day were well over 50.  Many of us have learned to enjoy the outdoors from our parents and quite a few of us still get to enjoy their company on our adventures.  The importance of hydration is amplified for those more experienced explorers and adventurers.  The body’s ability to recover and deal with outside stressers, like dehydration, is diminished with age.  Erika covers this topic well in her article on Hydration for Adventurers over Fifty.

Brian takes his GeigerRig 1600 for a spin and has a chance to test out the main advantages of having a pressurized system.  He walks us through using the GeigerRig to irrigate a wound, wash dishes at camp and share with his awesome trail pal, Coco.

June 21st -

We bounce from worrying about our parents’ hydration needs to considering the hydration of our children in Melissa’s article.  She discusses the factors, besides heat, that can cause dehydration in children then discusses ways to monitor your child and make sure they stay sufficiently watered down.

Katie’s review is a no-nonsense look at whether or not the pressurized system is really all that necessary.  For those of us who have used the traditional systems and the pressurized systems, it’s obvious that there are some benefits…but does it really become a necessity?  Go read Katie’s article for yourself and let us know what you think.

Week4!

Week four is kicked off with another 4-system comparison, this time by Whitney.  Be sure to check out Whitney’s video review of the four different hydration systems.  I agree with her criticism of the Osprey’s tube attachment…I really wish it was a quick-release tube like the others.  About 5 1/2 minutes in she discusses the GeigerRig’s in-line filter and demonstrates it’s use.  (about 12:15 into the video Whitney admits to being a “weirdo”….her words, not mine! hehe)

Go check out the Hydration Summit and keep checking back since new content is being added every day!  Make sure you register and join in the conversation for a chance to win a GeigerRig Hydration System of your own.

 

The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping…

Over the years, in my back country adventures, I’ve tried hammock camping several times.  I have two hammocks I hang in my backyard when the weather is nice.  I have a hammock that picked up specifically for my (formerly) annual trips to Mexico.  I have tried many hammocks in a variety of locations and I’ve always had a great experience, even when it wasn’t ideal.

Cascade at Havasupai…Imagine hiking 12 miles into a picturesque oasis of fantastic waterfalls and crystal-blue creeks.  High red-rock cliffs rise on all sides dripping with verdant greenery creating welcome shade in the normally warm temperatures of Northern Arizona in late Spring.  After the long, hot hike in to camp you set up a luxurious hammock under the canopy of group of shade trees next to the cool creek water…  This was the setting of my first hammock camping trip, a nine-day hang in the heart of Havasupai just above Mooney Falls.

On that trip, I packed in a very heavy cloth hammock.  It was warm in late May and I did not bring a sleeping bag.  Nor did I bother with a tarp, bug net, or any of the other fun accessories available for hammock camping these days.  I was a little cold the first night there, but was otherwise comfortable the entire time in the canyon…and I was hooked!

Since then, I’ve hiked in to various locations around the state with a hammock and have even taken it on some whitewater trips.  Hammock camping, in general, has always been a warm weather adventure for me but as I work to get out in the wilderness more often I’ve looked for ways to make my hammock a more year-round setup.

The Ultimate Hang BookI recently mentioned getting to use the ENO Double Nest Hammock I won last year to do some camping up near Flagstaff.  One of the comments left on that post was from Derek Hansen.  I soon discovered that Derek was the author of a new book called The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide to Hammock Camping.  After a quick back-and-forth, Derek offered to send me a copy of the book to check out and I happily accepted.

Derek was introduced to hammock camping at the age of 14 at a Scouting event in Utah.  Later, volunteering as a Scout Master himself in Virginia he began experimenting with hammocks again.  He became a very active voice at the worldwide hammock community, HammockForums.net.  Here, his talent and skill as an illustrator played a major roll in his ability to share his experiences and techniques with the Forum.  Eventually, Derek decided to parlay his talent, skills and experience into a concise, self-illustrated guide to the art of Hammock Camping.

Page samples from The Ultimate HangAs soon as I received my copy of Derek’s book, I leafed through it to get a feel for the presentation, expecting it to be a dry read of knots and gear lists.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a fun, well organized, beautifully illustrated, interactive book that reveals a real passion for the subject.  Derek’s writing style is easy and informal offering a fun read.  It’s organized such that you could read it cover to cover, or jump in to any chapter you want.  The illustrations are a fun mix of diagrams and comic-strip style cartoons, making the book entertaining and informative.

Illustration from The Ultimate HangAs a former freelance illustrator myself, I was very impressed with the consistency and continuity created with the illustrations.  The book has a great, relaxed look and feel but presents you with an amazing amount if information.

Another fantastic feature of this book takes advantage of a fairly new innovation just recently finding popularity in marketing circles.  The book is sprinkled with QR codes, allowing you to scan them with your smartphone for more detailed information, a custom “Hang” calculator, links to web pages mentioned in the text, among other things.  This feature I found to be great fun and a beautiful use of the QR code technology.

How to Layer your Hammock from The Ultimate HangThe best part about this book is that it walks you through many of the basics of hammock camping as well as technical knots and DIY projects, making the book relevant for beginners and experienced hangers alike.  Whether you’ve never owned a hammock before in your life, or you are a regular weekend Hang Champ, this book is bound to teach you something that will make your hammock camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

Have you been out hammock camping, or thought about hammock camping, but just don’t feel confident in trying it on your own?  Well, here’s your chance…not only will this book help, but I’ve got a copy to give away!  Derek was gracious enough to send me an extra, autographed copy of his book to give away to one of YOU!

Check out the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions for your chance to WIN your own copy of this book.
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