Merrell® Chameleons3 Ventilator Mid was my choice of boot as I started down into the Grand Canyon for a rim to river to rim day hike. This was my third trip into the Canyon but my first with a pair of “lightweight” boots. I was a little concerned how they were going to withstand the rough terrain because on past trips I always used full leather boots.
Taking the Chameleons on a few short day hikes was more than enough to break in these light but incredibly durable boots. My feet were held securely in place by the Merrell® air cushion system that is surrounded by a not too aggressive Vibram® sole. The Vibram® sole traction was able to handle the steep and rocky South Kaibab trail with ease. My feet were free of stone bruises because of the comfortable Merrell In-Board foot frame.
After 17 miles of hiking in the heat of the Canyon, I could not even fathom how much moisture my feet were expelling with temperatures reaching above 100-degrees. But with the breathable mesh that has been treated with Aegis® Antimicrobial solution and the Artholite™ Anatomical foot bed, it wicked all the moisture away from my feet and socks keeping them very dry.
The Merrell® Chameleons3 was able to keep my feet stable, dry and comfortable on one of the most brutal hiking trails I’ve been on. Crawling out of bed the next day, my legs were sore but my feet were still fresh and ready to go.
Pros: Easy to break in; allow my feet to breathe, overall great foot protection
Windshirts are a stable piece of equipment that everyone has in their pack as that emergency piece of gear. Normally made out of lightweight nylon the design goals were to keep wind and a little rain off you while heading back to the car. The biggest problem has always been the durability of lightweight nylon shell as well as the breathability of the fabric. With the Forrosi Hoody Outdoor Research put a new spin on the windshirt concept that eliminates the above problems.
When you first put the Ferrosi Hoody on for the first time your mind will race with all the possible uses; climbing, done in a day adventure, mountain biking and trail running were my first thoughts. Weighing a little over 15oz this jacket replaces that light weight wind jacket plus much more.
The fabric is durable enough to handle the wear and tear of climbing but also breathable enough to handle that spring backcountry ski tour. Using a combination of two different types of stretch soft shell fabric, a durable Cordura® / Lycra blend for the heavy wear areas and a 4-way stretch nylon / Spandux® blend for the main body gives this jacket a level of durability that you normally would not see in a windshrt. The stretch allows for great movement as well as the ability to layer underneath.
The off-set center zip at the neck is done cleanly and does not interfere with the visual look of the jacket like a lot of off-set zippers do in the industry. The detail pattern work that creates the subtle zipper curve allows for the zipper to remain flat. The wrist cuffs are a simple and clean construction that gives you the ability to wear a watch without being too bulky. Hood covers your head nicely but not too big to catch the wind.
The Ferrosi Hoody offers the features of a wind shirt and the durability of a heavier soft shell jacket in one lightweight package. Ideal for high aerobic activities when you need some protection from the elements and compactable enough when you may or may not need it..
Pros: Multi-purpose uses, lightweight, breathability and durability
Cons: Chest pocket needs to be larger, single hand draw cords on the hood would be helpful.
Softshell are quickly becoming my jacket of choice for all my outdoor activities. However, I haven’t been able to find that one Go-To piece that I can use for everything.
Recently I came across the Sierra Design, Vapor Jacket that fits all my needs. The Vapor is the perfect name for this jacket that is lightweight (13oz) and very compactable for a jacket that uses windproof fabrics. Sierra Designs is using “Fully Fused PVC-Free Seams that eliminates bulk and gives the jacket a “clean” look and comfortable fit.
The Vapor is a high-end jacket for a low-end price, using Water Resistant Polyester shell fabric that features two chest pockets and two hand pockets there is plenty of storage space for everything from gloves, hats, headlamps, Clif Bar and cell phone.
When running out the door for a quick trip to the store or heading out for a Done In a Day adventure the Vapor Jacket will soon become a Go-To piece in your quiver of jackets.
Pros: Price, Lightweight, compactable, pockets, multi-purpose use
Cons: Cuffs could be a little lower profiled, needs larger zipper pull for use with gloves
In the world of sleeping bag construction new ideas only come along once in a while and most of the time there not noticeable because all the details are in the inside. Until know. Even thought all the secret stuff is on the inside, the new look of the Insotect “Flow” construction is noticeable right away. Baffles that run from head to toe give the bag a fresh look but the vertical baffles allow for inner shell to contour to a person’s body better which creates a warm sleeping system. The vertical baffles also remove the bulk of traditional horizontal system to create a lighter weight construction.