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HikeLighter on Facebook

If you are on facebook and would like to follow me, head over to: 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

Ramblings: February 02, 2016

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Six Moon Designs 'Cuben Haven Tarp' + Haven NetTent + 4 Suluk46 stakes + 2 Groundhog stakes + SMD carbon fiber poles

Six Moon Designs ‘Cuben Haven Tarp‘ + Haven NetTent + 4 Suluk46 stakes + 2 Groundhog stakes + SMD carbon fiber poles. A new double wall shelter setup I am using.
Check out more photos here and here, over on facebook.

There have been a few exciting updates within the cottage industry over the last two weeks, as well as some hopefully insightful other topics, to share in this Ramblings update.


I would like to share that I have joined a small group of other hikers and adventurers, that I highly respect, that are Sawyer Ambassadors! You can check out my bio on their website.

I have been a huge fan and user of the Sawyer products for years.

At least twice a year, sometimes three times, I treat my hiking garments with Sawyer Permethrin Premium Insect Repellent, it has been amazingly successful at keeping ticks away.

I have, of course, been using the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter since it hit the market. My initial article on the Squeeze, way back in 2012, has been one of my most popular articles/reviews since I started hikelighter.com and it is still one of the top referenced articles on the Squeeze. Over the next year I wrote about the 2013 version of the Squeeze and a thoughts/tips follow-up to that.

In July of 2013 I was the second person to post about the Sawyer Mini, a lighter, smaller, and less expensive version of the Sawyer Squeeze. Props go to Brian Green for being the first, and for sharing with me and allowing me to use a photograph he took of the Mini before it even hit the market. I think it was at an OR event. The Mini was released in September of 2013 and I got one the day they were released, and subsequently updated my article with photos and all the details anybody would want to know about the Mini.

Needless to say, with the Mini water filter Sawyer had an even bigger success. What few things hikers had to negatively say about the Squeeze were put to rest with the Mini. The lower price point, a reduction in weight, small form factor, all of these equated to a massive migration away from the Squeeze to the Mini.

Interestingly, over the last two hiking seasons, a fair number of long distance thru-hikers that bought the Mini have, like myself at times, moved away from the Mini and back to the Squeeze for the higher/faster flow rate.

But regardless of which one you like, there is no questioning that the Sawyer Squeeze and Sawyer Mini, have dominated the non-virus level water filtration market for most ul/sul hikers.

My long time readers know that I am all about being apart of companies that are making the best of the best within the hiking community, and being apart of the Sawyer Ambassadors team is an honour. It is not about promotion, though that is obviously a part of all ambassador/sponsor programs, but rather being able to be apart of something that is leading the way in the hiking community, and Sawyer is at the pinnacle of the market when it comes to insect repellents and non-virus level water filters!

Mountain Laurel Designs:

Mountain Laurel Designs has brought to market their second FKT product, now up: the FKT Quilt.

The FKT Quilt has a dual insulation design. At the lower part of the quilt it has 4oz sq/yd Climashield Apex insulation, and at the top part of the quilt it has 2oz sq/yd Climashield Apex insulation.

This approach of dual insulation allows the hiker/ultra-runner the ability to not have to carry thermal bottoms, and use their thermal tops to keep their core body warm. In other words, this approach of dual insulation allows you to not have to take thermal bottoms (note: thermal bottoms does not mean next to skin base layers, such as patagonia cap 4 bottoms, rather it means synthetic/animal down pants, such as montbell thermawrap pants) by having a heavier weight insulation on the bottom of the FKT Quilt, and the lighter weight insulation at the top is off-set by your existing thermal top (such as montbell ul thermawrap jacket) which almost everybody already has with them.

I have used a similar method in the past with the Nunatak  Arc A.T. Quilt, and a heavier thermal top, but it just did not work for me. Not saying it does not work, it just did not work for me. I have some strange thing in my brain that demands I have my blanket/quilt wrapped around my shoulders, whether I am at home or out on the trail, so that approach just did not work for me.

Anyway, I have one of these new MLD FKT Quilts heading my way and once I get it and get some use on it I will post up some photos and any thoughts. Also will have the poncho head slot, so I can give that a try and see how that works out.


TarpTent has announced a two person version of their quickly becoming popular ProTrail, called the MoTrail.

The MoTrail is a 52″ wide tent! Yes, that is right… 52 inches! That means you can get two 25″ wide sleeping pads inside of it. That has been a huge complaint of mine against a lot of two person shelters out there. If you have two people, each with, say, a Large XLite or XTherm, they cannot fit inside of a ZPacks Duplex or a Six Moon Designs Haven NetTent or a host of other two person shelters. So, huge props to Tarptent for making a two person shelter that is actually wide enough for two large sleeping pads!

Priced at $259 and hitting the scales at 36 ounces (2.25 pounds), the MoTrail is looking like a really great shelter for those looking for a two person (or massive solo) shelter that does not have the omg price factor of the current cuben fiber two person shelters on the market.

The MoTrail looks to have about as much ventilation has a solo head-entry shelter can have too. Great to see a shelter with as much ventilation that the MoTrail has!


Here are a couple of articles worth checking out if you have not already:

cenazwalker did up a really nice review on the MLD Burn.
lady on a rock, middle of last year, did a write-up on hiking with essential oils.


Here are a couple of videos.

This first one is for all you folks that enjoy having food-fun out on the trail!


This second one I have shared in the past, but I keep coming back to it. There is just something about this video that speaks to me in a really deep way.

Written by John B. Abela

February 2, 2016 at 5:39 am

Posted in Ramblings

Questions & Answers, #004

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Questions & Answers

Wow has it really been a week already?

Here are responses to four questions that I have received over this past week. I have had more but want to keep this weeks Q&A short, as my answers will be a bit longer.

Hope they provide some help and insight.

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Written by John B. Abela

January 28, 2016 at 2:31 am

Questions & Answers, #003

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Questions & Answers

I hope some of you enjoy this third Q&A post. Instead of digging into my older emails I am just going to post some questions I have received over the last month, since my last Q&A.


slackpackhiker: Hey John, As a brand new backpacker hiking the AT April ’16, I’ve appreciated learning lots from your various posts. I’m very much leaning toward the ZPacks Zip Haul pack, there’s so much to like and I certainly like the clean look, but I’m concerned about carrying damp stuff w/o an external net. What’s the best way to hike with damp items?

When I designed the Front Panel Loader (later renamed “Zip” by ZPacks) it was intentionally designed without a mesh front pocket.

Why? Because it has a dedicated front pocket on the outside of the front panel. The idea of going with a mesh outer pocket went against the design that I was after with the FPL/Zip.

My original desire with the FPL was to be a pocketless backpack. Check out this previous article for more on why.

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Written by John B. Abela

January 21, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Ramblings: January 20, 2016

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Outbound Clicks from HikeLighter.Com

Outbound Clicks from HikeLighter.Com

Another week, another Ramblings post.

Thought the image I have attached is rather interesting. It shows how many people have gone from HikeLighter.Com to different websites. The first one (wordpress media) is folks clicking on photos, so ignore that. And clearly I have linked to a lot of products at amazon. And the docs.google is to my gearlist. But putting aside those three things from the list, it looks like zpacks is by far in the lead of what people seem to be interested in. Granted I have published more about their products than anybody else in the list, but still, almost 2x as many clicks. wow. SMD use to be in second place, mostly due to my Skyscape X article, but that seems to be a shelter most folks have lost interest in. Use to be a time when it would sell out in 24-48 hours, but not anymore. Unlike other companies, SMD has always priced their CF products at a point where they should have been priced at and not marked low just to help sell them. Could be the price tag on the SMDSX has hit a price point that shies folks away. Or, maybe it was the change in pole configuration due to that patent by LHG. No idea, just continue to be surprised that it is not selling like it use to. I think if SMD could get some real bathtub walls on the shelter, it could be the only shelter on the market to give the ZPacks SolPlex a real run for its money. Once I get some miles on the SMD Flight 30 and Fusion 65, and publish some thoughts on them, I suspect SMD will move back up the list. My recent review of the MLD Spirit Quilt accounts for it taking over second place. Montbell is of course on the list due to the Dynamo Wind Pants.

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Written by John B. Abela

January 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Ramblings: January 14, 2016

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This is the second of my “rambling” series.

Without a doubt, the last week the hiking community has been going psychotic about two things:

  1. DSM changing the name of “cuben fiber” to “dyneema composite fabrics
  2. The #DyneemaProject video

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Written by John B. Abela

January 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Ramblings

Solumbra, Ultra Athlete Shirt and Pants – Long Term Review [600+ consecutive days]

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Sun Precautions "Ultra Athlete Shirt & Pants"

Sun Precautions “Ultra Athlete Shirt & Pants”, stone colour

Greetings Adventurers!

This is my first long term review of the Ultra Athlete Shirt and Ultra Athlete Pants sun protective garments made in Seattle Washington by Solumbra.

I first reviewed these two garments in August 2013 and in mid 2014 I decided to start wearing these two garments full time, until they gave out, I no longer like them, or I decide to start testing something else. So far, now 600+ consecutive days later, none of those three things have happened. When combined together with my original white colour non full zip, and my current stone colour full zip shirt, I have over 800 days wearing an Ultra Athlete Shirt.

Most of the specifics of these garments, such as weight, can be viewed in my initial review. I am not going to rehash through all the specs and such within this review, instead I want to focus on these two garments from the perspective of wearing them daily over the course of a year and a half.

The purpose of this long term usage test was not to see how the garments would perform in regards to thermoregulation – that is already known, but rather how the fabric and construction would hold up to long term use. As I have mentioned previously when talking about Solumbra garments, I have encountered other hikers that have been wearing the same Solumbra shirt for twenty plus years while out on the trail. Getting used on-trail for four or five months by PCT hikers is a great testament – but getting used for 500+ days at a time, well that puts things into my world of usage and testing.

So, how have these two pieces of garments lasted? Read on!

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Written by John B. Abela

January 9, 2016 at 6:30 am

Posted in Gear Reviews

Tagged with

Ramblings: January 04, 2016

with 18 comments

As I have previously indicated I am going to try to post more here at the HikeLighter.Com website instead of only at my facebook page.

Doing this is likely going to result in posts that are not gear, safety, or educational, specific, so I am going to categorize these posts as “Ramblings” :: “A meandering talk with no specific topic or direction” – and I have no idea where they are going to lead too over the course of the 2016 year! Drop me a comment if you feel like these type of ramblings have no place within the confines of what you feel hikelighter.com stands for and represents itself as to you.

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Written by John B. Abela

January 4, 2016 at 4:21 am

Posted in Ramblings


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