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HikeLighter on Facebook

Just a reminder that you can find me on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HikeLighter   I tend to be fairly active on my facebook page, often posting two or three times a week. Sometimes I talk about gear that I am working on developing, if I see a cottage company make updates to their gear I try to post about that, sometimes it is simply sharing an awesome articles or videos I have come across, sometimes it is updates on my hiking adventures, and sometimes just about what is going on in my life. I encourage everybody to follow my facebook page if you want to keep up with what is going on. Once you have clicked the “Like” button, please be sure to move your mouse over the updated “Liked” button and a menu will drop-down, and be sure to click on the “Get Notifications” option! Thanks everybody!

Written by John B. Abela

February 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in News & Updates

Tagged with

Wind Jackets, Take 2

with 13 comments

Greetings all,

So a few weeks ago, on February 18, 2015, I published an article entitled ‘Wind Jackets: Montbell Tachyon, Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Wind Shell‘ and it appears it caused a bit of ruckus around the world.

It seems to have done so for for a few reasons:

  1. because the results where not what people wanted to hear about their favorite wind jacket
  2. because some of the results did not make sense
  3. because some of the data used was, at best, guesses due to incomplete testing
  4. because I am a horrible writer and cannot properly explain things

Now which of these issues people seemed to have issues with, or heck, all of them, the facts are the facts:

  1. Yes, some of the fabrics were not tested (specific this mysterious ‘Ventum’ fabric that zpacks is using – and I have no idea if zpacks make up that name or if the manufacturer did)
  2. Yes, some of what I explained did not make sense (and I suspect some of it will continue to not make sense – except for those who understand the crazy ways and terms that fabrics are tested – I will admit, some of it still makes me go “huh?!”)

But, as my long time readers know, I strive to make things right.

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Written by John B. Abela

March 5, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Gear Reviews

Greenbelly Meal Bars

with 3 comments

Greenbelly Meal Bars

Greenbelly Meal Bars

Greetings,

Today I want to take a moment to talk about the Greenbelly Meal Bars.

In a market that is already flooded, one really needs to ask the question, “do we really need another bar to pick from?”  — and the answer to that is, uhh, yes!!!

It seems as if the meal/bar business is just booming these days. We have companies making bars for crazy niche markets. Buffalo bars, paleo bars, vegan and gluten free bars, protein bars, and the list could go on all day.

I first heard about the Greenbelly Bars from, I think either Chad or BBB. I remember checking them out at the time but I already had a massive supply of the bars I typically eat, and the $50 price tag just to give them a try was a bit more than I wanted to spend. If they had an option to buy a trial option that was just one pack of each, I probably would have, but buying four packages of each flavor, as a ‘trial’ was just beyond what I was willing to try. If they sucked, I’d have a whole bunch of packages left over, eh. Hopefully this is something that Greenbelly can offer in the future. Gratefully they sent me a sample package that was just one package of each flavor, so I have gotten the chance to give them a try. And, if I did not like them, I would not be writing about them!

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Written by John B. Abela

March 4, 2015 at 12:44 am

Posted in Gear Reviews, Hiking Food

Tagged with

ZPacks Duplex Tent

with 14 comments

ZPacks Duplex - Redbeard (AT - Island Pond Mountain NY)

ZPacks Duplex on the AT (Island Pond Mountain, NY) Photograph courtesy Will (Redbeard) Wood

Greetings All,

Time to talk about the ZPacks Duplex Tent.

In September of 2013 ZPacks introduced the “Duplex“, a 2-person version of their 1-person “SolPlex” shelter. It has since gone on to be used by multiple thru-hikers and has gained some serious love by hikers around the world. I finally saved up the cash to buy a Duplex and have been exclusively using it ever since.

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Written by John B. Abela

February 28, 2015 at 6:43 am

Posted in Gear Reviews

Tagged with , , ,

ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff

with 9 comments

ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff & wearing the ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket

ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff & wearing the ZPacks Challenger Rain Jacket

Greetings all,

Today I would like to share my thoughts on the ZPacks Carbon Fiber Staff.

I, like I suspect a fair number of people, have been through a number of hiking poles over the years. I think my first pair of hiking poles was the GGLT4’s. They caused me too much frustration, so I switched to the Komperdell Vario 4 poles. They were too flimsy so I switched to the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork poles. They are really heavy but they are the best trekking poles I have ever encountered. Along the way I tried switching away from using poles, and back to using them, and back to not using them.

I know some hikers that have to use them. I know other hikers that cannot use them. I know hikers that swear they refuse to hit the trail without them, and hikers that have hiked tens of thousands of miles and never used them. In the world of hiking they really are a HYOH piece of gear.

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Written by John B. Abela

February 20, 2015 at 11:34 pm

Wind Jackets: Montbell Tachyon, Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Wind Shell

with 27 comments

Hike and author, John Abela, wearing the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants and Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket.

Hiker and author, John Abela, wearing the Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants, and ZPacks Arc Blast backpack.

Greetings All,

So there has been a LOT of discussion the last few months on the differences between the the “Montbell Tachyon“, the “Patagonia Houdini“, and the “ZPacks Wind Shell“.

I have gotten dozens of people asking me about which one they should buy, if there are any real-world differences between the fabrics – both for breathability and water resistance – and all those type of questions.

From a usage perspective the only one of these wind jackets that I have personally used is the Montbell Tachyon – something I have extensively used, put to the test, and reviewed.

For help with this article I have contacted a fellow by the name of Richard Nisley who is widely known and very well respected within the BPL community. He has the tools and resources to test fabrics at a level few of us have. I have often cited his research in my whitepapers and publications.

I asked him the following questions:

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Written by John B. Abela

February 18, 2015 at 10:49 am

Lightest Fully Enclosed Shelters

with 22 comments

Natural shelters – the best kind!
Sitting under a fallen Redwood tree, in Northern California, making some lunch and taking a break. This Redwood grove, the Cheatham Grove, is where parts of Endor, from the Return of the Jedi, was filmed. It is a beautiful gove that I use for fastpack training.

Greetings hikers, bikers, fastpackers, and adventurers of all types!

Back in December of 2011, after an insane amount of work, I published my “SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Shelters” article, and associated spreadsheet, and it sort of became the de facto list of the worlds lightest fully enclosed shelters on the internet.

Each winter season, usually between December and February, I sit down and invest about 10-15 hours updating the spreadsheet, and I have now finished up getting it updated for the 2015 hiking season.

This year I wanted to take a moment to push out an article on the update, mostly to note some of the major changes I have made to the spreadsheet.

The time had come to really clean things up, to have it be a bit more fair across the greater scope of things, and to get some shelters from additional manufacturers listed.

If you need clarifications on the history of this list, and why things are laid out they way they are, and all that stuff, it can all be found on my original article, along with a bunch of other good content worth reading.

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Written by John B. Abela

February 12, 2015 at 3:12 am

Posted in Comparisons

Gear of 2014

with 6 comments

Fastpacking along the 400 mile 'Bigfoot trail' I have spent four years helping to develop. Photo by Brian Doyle

Fastpacking along the 400 mile ‘Bigfoot trail’ I have spent four years helping to develop. Photo by Brian Doyle

Gear of 2014

Ah, the end of another year and another awesome hiking season. I figured this also meant that it was time to take an honest look at the gear I have used this year. Some of it I really loved and some of it I did not like at all and some of it I liked but sold or gave away because it just did not work out for my style of hiking.

In this article I am going to go into detail on my favorite backpacks, shelters, sleeping quilts, sleeping pads, jackets, shoes, cook systems, clothing, and other misc gear.

This will likely be a long article, and I hope you enjoy it.

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Written by John B. Abela

December 24, 2014 at 9:59 am

Posted in News & Updates