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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

Favorite Winter Gear, 2013/2014

with 6 comments


Greetings All,

Seven months ago I published my Favorite Summer Gear, 2013 article and in it I indicated that I was going to two two articles on gear used in 2013, the summer gear I was talking about within that article, and I promised that I would publish a winter gear after the winter hiking season came to an end.

This winter ended up being the driest winter within the Redwoods of Northern California in the 19 years that I have lived here, so I got very little use out of my rain gear.

We did get a lot of colder nights than in the last few years, so that allowed me to break out the winter gear and use it for 25-30 nights on the trail.

The lowest I recorded was 16°(f) / -8.88°(c) so by no means really cold, and had a few nights it was probably a bit colder and I just did not record them.

I just do not think this is really going to be a “favorite winter gear” list… all of the winter gear I used worked and performed as expected, none of it failed and I was not out enough to play around with different sleeping bags or such. So, just going to list the few things that I ended up using and/or taking to help me keep warm on this winters hiking trips.

Montbell U.L. Super Spiral #1 – This was renamed the “Down Hugger 800 #1″ for the 2014 season. Awesome sleeping bag. Crazy comfortable. Overall volume and weight are a bit higher than other comparable bags, but the comfort makes up for it.

Montbell Mirage Parka – One of the best weight-to-down performance jackets on the market. Total weight of 12.8 ounces, with a whopping 5.3 ounces of that being 900fp goose down.

Nunatak Down Balaclava – Unquestionably the best down balaclava on the market when you want your head to stay warm! Not the lightest on the market but it has  2+ ounces of 800fp goose down!

Black Rock Gear, Expedition Grade Liner Mitts – Not these exact mitts, but the prototypes that lead to these being brought to market. Crazy comfortable and uber warm liner mitts!

Feathered Friends Down Booties – I carried the inner down booties a few times (but not the outer shells) but never needed them.

Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 Tech Top – I have come to very much love this shirt! Can be used as a second-layer for the mild weather or as a third or fourth layer when the nights start getting cold. Used this shirt more than any other shirt over the last few months, both out on the trail and at home.

Jetboil Sol Ti – If you haven’t noticed it yet, I have become a fan-boy of the Jetboil. I have gone through over 20 canisters of fuel this winter. It has not failed me a single time.

Mountain Laurel Designs eVENT Rain Gloves – I did not use them very often, but when I really needed them, they were there for me and did their job! That is exactly what I expect of my gear.

ZPacks Arc Blast – All the extra winter gear meant breaking out the larger backpack and the Arc Blast was my go-to backpack this winter!

SteriPen Freedom – The much beloved Sawyer has to stay at home in the winter, so out comes the Freedom! Performed without any problems.


Well I think I will leave it at that. Sorry for a brief article, but as I have mentioned in the past, trying to not publish much anymore these days. I got reminded from a good friend that I promised to write up my winter gear list, and wanted to keep that promise to everybody.

The first of my big hikes this year has been completed and a lot of effort into making #4 happen is going well. Trip #2 and #3 will be happening here pretty soon. I hope to be able to share about some of my adventures later this year. I am still trying to be active on my facebook page so I invite you to follow me on there if you are on facebook. Also, I have decided to stop uploading videos to youtube… youtube is just getting more and more horrific, so I will be posted videos on my vimeo page and invite you to follow me there.
Thank you,
+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Gossamer Gear, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46.

Written by John Abela

April 6, 2014 at 5:51 am

Jetboil Sol Titanium vs Jetboil Sol Aluminium

with 12 comments


Over the last few years there has been a lot of discussion regarding the differences between the Jetboil Sol Titanium and the Jetboil Sol Aluminium, mainly centered around the fact that most feel the titanium version is overpriced and not worth the extra money for the weight. That discussion is all good-and-well, but within this article I want to focus more on the performance aspects of each of this awesome cook systems.

With a large percentage of the Western states of the USA facing laws being put into place that prohibit the use of alcohol and esbit stoves during the 2014 hiking season, I felt it would be important to come out of not writing much anymore and share my research and thoughts on the performance differences between these two Jetboil setups – as I have a feeling a massive amount of hikers on the PCT, JMT, and other trails on the West coast are going to be faced with the decision over the next few months of which canister stove they should buy.

This article will not go into detail or analysis of the Jetboil versus other canister cook systems, rather it will focus purely on personal, non-laboratory, performance testing that I have done myself, both at home and out on the trail. I began testing for this article over a year ago and recently finished up all that I wanted to test, and feel I have enough data to hopefully make a worthy article.

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Written by John Abela

February 22, 2014 at 1:08 am

Posted in Comparisons, Gear Reviews

Tagged with

Suluk46 “A-Pod” – an ultralight camera-pod!

with 2 comments

Hello All,

I am very happy to announce that an awesome new product for the hiking community, that I have been co-designing since the middle of 2013, has just been made available for purchase!

It is called the “A-Pod” – and it is a 6 grams (0.21 ounce) ultralight camera-pod for those looking for the lightest of the lightest for their point-and-shoot camera or phone!

The A-Pod is used by placing it over the tip of an inverted hiking pole (or a stick off the ground) and using 3 (or more) pieces of cord that are tied onto the top stabilizing disc and using stakes (or sticks pick up off the ground or even tied to other surrounding objects) that provides stability for the upright hiking pole/stick/whatever!

It is a brilliantly simple camera accessory and designed to be the absolute lightest weight possible to get the job done!

It is designed specifically for point-and-shoot cameras (or mobile phones with cameras if you have a Glif, which is how I use it) and it is not really able to handle the big DSLR cameras. Please do not hate me or the A-Pod for that… it is just that I designed this for thru-hikers and SUL hikers that rarely, if ever, carry a full size camera – and chances are those folks that do carry a full size camera are going to have a tripod capable of supporting a 3+ pound camera.

This is my sixth product I have designed and brought to the hiking community over the last five years and my first time working with Suluk46 to bring a product to market. Steve Evans, the owner of Suluk46, has been an exceptional person to work with on this product! Suluk46 brought me on as a sponsored hiker in early 2013. After a few months I just knew that Suluk46 was going to be a company that would be perfect to approach with the idea for this product – an idea which I had been working out in my head for about 8 months while out hiking.

It only takes a few grams of cordage and when not in use you wrap the cordage around the lower part of the A-Pod. One of the neat things we have discovered is that the A-Pod is awesome for giving you a very stable monopod while out on the trail. If you just want to take a really quick and stable photograph, flip over your pole, graph your camera (I keep my A-Pod attached to my Glif) and it can give you an incredibly stable monopod!! The vast majority of the time I have used the A-Pod has been without using the cordage (thus making a quasi-monopod) and just using it in the monopod/stabilizer mode.

The A-Pod works really well if you carry a small camera and do youtube or vimeo videos! Just setup the A-Pod staked to the ground, attach your camera/phone, and you have yourself a 6-gram way to hold up your camera/phone for shooting that next awesome youtube video!!

I have used both the super small 1.25 mm cordage from zpacks and the much larger 2.38mm Glowire from Lawson without any problems at all.

We have tested the A-Pod on all the major hiking pole manufacturers that are used within the hiking community… and a whole lot of sticks we just picked up off the ground for that super fast point-and-shoot photo!

Those of you that follow me on my HikeLighter facebook page have been able to follow the progress of this new accessory over the last six months, it has been fun!!

Available Now!!

The A-Pod is available for purchase right now!

A Few Photos:

Small - Compact, Light Weight!

Small – Compact, Light Weight!
(cordage not included)

A-Pod, using a very quick and light three cordage setup!

A-Pod, using a very quick and light three cordage setup!

A-Pod, for max load or heavy winds, add on as many cord lines as you need!

A-Pod, for max load or heavy winds, add on as many cord lines as you need!

The white A-Pod!

The white A-Pod!

Written by John Abela

February 1, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Posted in News & Updates

Tagged with , ,

Signing off

with 38 comments

Thank you to all of those who have sponsored me, supported me, and followed me, over the last few years!

Thank you to all of those who have sponsored me, supported me, and followed me, over the last few years!

The time has come for me to hang up my keyboard and step away.

The last few years that I have been blogging, writing white papers for the industry insiders, writing articles for the masses, and posting videos, has been a mixture of pure fun and intense focus on details.

Pre 2010 was learning all there was about UL hiking.
2010 & 2011 was spent learning all I could about SUL/XUL hiking.
2012 was me pushing the boundaries of XUL in every possible way.
2013 was about doing big mile days for 200+ days.
2014 is about expeditions!

What I have planned for the 2014 hiking season is just going to require so much of my focus and effort out on the trail, and here at home in front of a computer, maps, and reams of paper, that I just need to sign off for the foreseeable future. I might be back and start writing articles again, but at this point I am thinking the time has come for me to pass along the movement to other folks.

When I first started posting and writing about SUL/XUL almost nobody in the hiking community was talking about SUL hiking, and I only knew of 4 guys on the internet writing about XUL hiking – and none of them were still actively writing. Times have certainly changed over the last few years and that is just so great to see!

To the thousands of hikers, runners, adventure racers, rock climbers, summit baggers, and those doing huge expeditions… everybody that I have had the amazing pleasure of being able to help in some small way… keep going at it! Keep getting out. Keep learning. Keep learning both the hard way and the right way. Those who are able to, keep pushing the boundaries of both adventure and technology!

I have updated my hiking gear list to include the setup I will be using as the core setup for all of my 2014 expeditions. Each expedition will of course vary a small bit but it will be the core set of gear that I plan to use for most, but not all, of the trips. They are by no means going to be SUL/XUL adventures, but what I have planned is taking me into locations that are at the highest risk of the hiking world – and doing it all solo adds even greater risk to the already risky.

I am ready for the challenge. I believe the last few years have taught me what I needed to learn, have put me into situations that I needed to experience, and have allowed me to push myself and my gear to the point of failure and beyond – all things I am going to need for this next phase of my hiking life.

None of my trips will be the “OMG” type of hikes that guys like Nimblewill Nomad (my true hero in the world of hiking)  and Andrew Skurka (the modern day master of non-polar expedition) have done over their time out on the trail, but rather the type of shorter hikes that put you into very high risk places – and that really is all I am going to say for the safety of myself and those involved, beyond: One expedition involves attempting to hike a trail in one of the most deadly places in the United States, for a hiker, that has not been transversed in over 200 years, is all but lost and forgotten, and that I have spent the last 2+ years trying to piece back together. Another involves over 21,000 feet (6.4 km) of elevation change in just under 150 miles (241 km) and is something that has never been done before. And three other trips I am just not willing to share anything about until, and unless, I accomplish them and feel safe sharing about them – because all too often hikers without enough experience want to do what other hikers with far greater experience have barely been able to do – I have learned this the hard way the last two or three years while building a 500 mile trail in Northern California.

It was sometime in mid-2013 that I decided to put aside the big miles and massive amount of days out on the trail (223 days in 2013) and instead put my focus towards something new… higher risk trails that have never been done and/or are ones that all but forgotten about. If even one of the five I have planned succeeds I am going to hopefully be filled with joy by this time next year!

To all of those companies that have helped me out over the last few years, I owe you a lot of my success. Thank you for what it is that you do and thank you for helping me.

If you are on facebook I invite you to follow my HikeLighter page, as I will still be keeping it going and trying to post throughout the year.

If you are not on facebook and want to drop me a message, you can do so here.

Thank you so very much for all of the amazingly wonderful comments!

Signing off,
+John Abela

Written by John Abela

December 16, 2013 at 4:12 pm

JetBoil Sol Ti (titanium) Cup Resizing Modification

with 24 comments

EBY265, Resized 400ml Jetboil Sol Ti. Full size Jetboil Sol Ti.

EBY265, Resized 400ml Jetboil Sol Ti. Full size Jetboil Sol Ti.

Greetings hikers, adventure racers, alpinists, runners, and all other outdoor enthusiasts.

In April of 2011 I was the first person to post an online review – both a video and article – of the then brand new “Jetboil Sol Ti” which has become one of the highest awarded cooking systems the outdoor industry has seen in the last decade. Before the Sol Ti was released I had used their aluminium “Personal Cooking System“, the original Jetboil, and had extensively used the Jetboil “Helios” system. In May of 2013 I posted an extensive review sharing my overall thoughts on the Jetboil Sol Ti as well as numerous modifications that I have made to my Sol Ti.

Since the very first day that I held the Jetboil Sol Ti there was this thought in the back of my mind, “I wonder what it would weight, and how fast it would boil, if the volume of the cup was not 27 oz (0.8 Liter)?

Two years later, I have finally taken the time to find out these two questions.

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Written by John Abela

November 27, 2013 at 11:20 am

Posted in Gear Modifications

Tagged with

ZPacks Rain Jacket

with 17 comments


Hiker, and author John Abela, wearing the ZPacks Rain jacket in the Redwoods of Northern California. On this hike, a sub-24-hour hike, in temperatures in the low 40′s(f) I wore the jacket all day long as a thermal layer to help keep the chill off.

Greetings hikers, adventure racers, alpinists, runners, and all other outdoor enthusiasts.

The time has arrived for me to review the latest version of the ZPacks Rain jacket. If you have not yet read my reviews of the previous generation of this jacket and would like to do so you can read my initial review, my 2-month use review, and my 1-year review.

In July of 2013 the company that makes the fabric that the ZPacks Rain jacket uses made a change to their manufacturing process which resulted in a massive increase of MVTR of the fabric.  I would encourage you to read this article that I wrote on the changes made to the fabric. Suffice to say, the jacket went from a rated 20,000-25,000 g/m2/24hrs range up to a range of 40,000-41,000 g/m2/24hrs. These are based on the JIS L 1099 testing method.

Such a drastic change in breathability of the fabric has changed the way that this jacket performs. It also places this jacket up in the highest rated MVTR of any rain jacket on the market. It would be foolish of anybody to dismiss this jacket as a legitimate rain jacket simply because it has the “cuben fiber” fabric associated with it.

Now I often hear a lot of outdoor folks say “there is no such thing as a breathable jacket“. Let us just be clear here, what they really mean is “when you really start working up a sweat, a rain jacket causes you to sweat more“.

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Written by John Abela

November 7, 2013 at 3:00 am

Posted in Gear Reviews

Tagged with , , ,