Posts Tagged ‘dynamo’
Earlier this year I set out to find an alternative way of hiking in the hot sunny weather of Southern California. Something that did not involve me getting sunburned or carrying the heavy 8.11 ounce GoLite Umbrella that I and many other long distance hikers have used for years. Granted I turn a rather nice shade of golden brown when I get a nice bit of sun on me, but living under the Redwood forest canopy of Northern California for the better part of two decades has not allowed me to keep that nice suntan that I always had while growing up in the Mojave desert. Recently I have been hiking different sections of the PCT in SoCal, and spending time in Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley, trying to find the best route for my Highest to Lowest trail/hike I am planning.
I was able to find a number of different companies claiming that they provided SPF clothing that was in the 15-30 range, but the real stand-out in the sun clothing world was a product line called “Solumbra” from a company called Sun Precaution. This is a company that designs and makes all of their clothing in Seattle Washington USA.
What really makes their clothing stand out from the rest is that their clothing is 100+ SPF.
As most of my longtime readers know, I rarely write reviews on pieces of gear (clothing, shelters, backpacks, whatever) that I have not tested a lot and for a long time. I will typically spend an entire hiking season (or sometimes three or four) before I contemplate writing a review for a piece of gear – this is what makes me stand apart from other authors and gear reviewers in the outdoor community, along with the fact that I traditionally only focus on SUL/XUL hiking. There have only been a few rare exceptions when I have broken that rule of mine, and I think with this clothing from Sun Precaution it is going to be one of those times — the reason being: sometimes a product just proves itself from the very get-go, and this clothing proved itself to me within the first two weeks of me using it. Truthfully, it proved itself within a matter of hours, but I gave it a good three or four days before I allowed myself to whisper to myself “wow, this stuff actually works!“
I received word yesterday from the North American Operations of Montbell that I have been accepted as a sponsor of Montbell. This is a very exciting new sponsorship for me. Montbell is one of the leading companies in ultralight hiking gear and to be accepted by them is truly an honor and I want to extend a huge thank you to those involved in this decision at Montbell.
I have never made it any secrete that I have a special place in my hiking heart for Montbell. I have done extensive testing and publication on their gear over the last few years and their gear has continued to stand up to all that I have demanded of it.
One of the most popular articles I have written has been on the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants – a truly amazing piece of gear that I have worn for over two thousands miles of hiking. Dozens and dozens of hikers have read my article on these pants and bought them and sent me an email saying thanks, and I have even come across a few hikers on youtube that have mentioned my article when talking about them buying these wind pants. I can honestly say that I have never encountered any other pair of pants I would prefer to be out hiking with… be it sunny and hot, raining like crazy, or even in the snow. These pants have been with me everywhere.
I have also written a Long Term Review: MontBell U.L. Super Spiral Hugger – a sleeping that I have over 250-nights of use with. I recently bought my second U.L. Super Spiral #1 sleeping bag and have been using it over the winter season with a huge smile on my face.
Just before the start of the 2012/2013 winter season I purchased the Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka. It has been one of the best parkas I have ever purchased. I acquired mine just before their Mirage Parka came out, so I look forward to giving it a go over the 2013 hiking season. Those I trust the most have been telling me the Mirage is a dream come true jacket for them.
And of course my long time readers know all to well my long standing love with the Tachyon Wind Jacket. It was the wind jacket that introduced me and a lot of other hikers I know to the fact that wind jackets have a serious place in a UL/SUL/XUL hikers backpack. Their new 2013 version has hit the scales at an insane sub 50 gram mark.
When talking with other hikers I have often said that Montbell is one of those rare companies that exist that have given me the means to reach the weight levels that I have over the last few years. As a primarily SUL hiker I have used a lot of gear over the last few years and there are very few pieces of gear that have made it from one season to the next season — and not because I am hard on my gear, far from it, but rather because so much of the gear made today by companies claiming to make SUL gear, have simply not been able to design, develop, test, and bring to market gear that actually meets the needs of my style of hiking. I can truly count the companies that I consider to be top end companies for SUL hiking gear on one hand. Montbell is among them.
To be granted the opportunity to be a sponsor of Montbell is a huge honor for me. I am going to keep using their gear that I have already proven to be solid, test their new gear to see how it holds up, and I will continue to invest the time to write articles where I share my honest thoughts about the gear I use from Montbell. I have never bought a piece of gear from Montbell where after using it I went “Hmm, I wish I had not bought that“. That alone pretty much says it all.
Again, to those of you at Montbell, thank you very much and I look forward to developing a further relationship with Montbell over the years ahead. Continue to strive to make the gear that you make!
I figured with it being mid-June that I should probably start putting some thoughts into the 2012 shoulder and winter hiking season. If you have been following my articles for very long you know I am not a big fan of that white stuff that so many others seem to enjoy so much, and thankfully here in the Redwoods of Northern California we do not get a lot of it.
Earlier today I was catching up on some fellow hiker articles and one of my favorite hikers from New Zealand posted a article about his planned base-layer for the rest of the year, and that is what got me thinking that it is getting close to that time of the year where I need to start planning my own setup.
So below I will outline what I am planning at this point in time for my 2012 shoulder and winter hiking season clothing setup. I would love to have other hikers out there who are planning and writing up their own shoulder/winter gear lists drop me a comment with your own setup! Each year the hiking industry is getting larger and larger and I am sure there is gear out there that some of you are using that I have no idea even exists and could be better than what I am planning to use!! Read the rest of this entry »
Well I just got back from a 5 day (115 mile) hike and figured I would share a few thoughts and photos and a rather short and low quality video, as so many of you who follow me keep ragging on me for not taking pictures and videos of my hikes in the beautiful Redwood forest. So, this time I carried the additional 137 grams (4.8 oz) and carried along my iPhone. Sadly for reasons I do not yet understand no videos from day 4 or 5 got saved to the device, even though I know the record button was pressed. Sigh/Oh’well.
You can view my gear list for this hike if you are interested in such things.
My base pack weight was 3.22 pounds, which included the weight of the iPhone which I begrungingly took, otherwise I would have been at 2.91 pounds.
My consumables were 3866 grams (136.3 ounces / 8.52 pounds) of which 7.6 pounds where food, following my standard 1.5 pounds per day rule.
Food for this trip was primarily OvaEasy Powdered Whole Egg and Nido mixed together for breakfast, along with one packet of Nestle Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials. Lunch and dinner was Santa Fe Bean Co, Instant Southwestern Style Refried Beans (cold lunch, hot for dinner) mixed with Roadkill Summer Sausage and dried cheese. Snacks was fresh fruit (first 2 days) and a combination of more summer sausage and a mixture of Macadamia and Cashew nuts.
Daily mileage was 27, 22, 25, 16, 24, for a total of 114 miles, plus probably another mile for side trips. Total elevation change was around 4200 feet, with one day a bit over 3,000 in elevation change. Decent mileage days consider it is the first 5 day hike for me for the 2012 season. I have done a few two and three day trips so far, but to go out and do a 5 day trip with a three pound setup is always a trial and a fun time to push yourself. With the exception of not having a wind jacket I think that the gear that I took with me was perfect for the trip. Average day time temps were 56-58 (f) and night time temps were 45-48(f) so I was able to get away with not taking a lot of heavy cold weather gear. Read the rest of this entry »
Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants
I have been looking forward to writing a review about the Mont-Bell Dynamo Wind Pants for a rather long time. This month I passed the 365-day mark for wearing a single pair of the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants through snow, rain, hail, fog, beautify sunny days, more fog, and more snow and hail. They have been used as my primary pants on every hiking trip I have been on since 2010, have wore them for well over 1200 miles, and encountered every conceivable type of abuse I could think of to try to destroy these pants.
After 1,200 miles of use, an entire year of wearing them (I am at around 375 days as of today’s hike) they have suffered the following damage:
- The little metal rings for the draw cords on the waist ripped out of the fabric. The first one happened while I was hiking at Gold Bluff Beach in Northern California (see my video) and the second came off when I was on a trip up into the Trinity Alps (see that video). Nether of there were a rush of the draw cords getting caught on a branch or bush or such, they just ripped off on their own. Thankfully it did not result in any additional rippage of the material and all I did was tie a knot in the draw cord to keep the cord from pulling through the slightly larger holes. This is the only ‘defect’ they have suffered, the below two issues were/are my own fault!
- A small section of threads came loose in the crotch region at around the 200 day mark. It was my own fault. I had them pulled down right against my shoe (thanks to the elasticize drawstring in the ankles that allow you to pull the ankles tight and than put the elastic down around your foot inside of your shoe – love this feature!) and than I proceeded to sit down indian style and caused the slight thread pulling to happen. Thankfully was not big enough to reveal anything ;)
- Lastly, one small fire hole happened about four inches from the bottom where an ember from a fire ember somehow got lucky. Now I do not think it is wise to stand in front of a fire in a pair of 12-denier rip-stop Ballistic Airlight nylon, but lets just say that on multiple occasions it has been documented that I have stood right next to a fire with these pants just getting nailed my sparks and such and they took it all in style. Again, I do not advise that, just felt like I should explain why the pants might have happened to suffer a hole from a spark from a fire ;)
I think it is beyond fair to say that I have put these pants through much broader conditions than they were ever designed to be.
They may not be as light as the Mont-Bell U.L. Wind Pants (which are 0.4 ounces lighter) and they are made with slightly less abusive resistant material, but these Mont-Bell Dynamo Wind Pants have more than proven themselves to me. They received my #2 award for my “10 Favorite Pieces of Hiking Gear for 2011” and to be honest, they could have just as easily be listed at #1 and maybe should have been.
I have had them on in 102 degree weather and they did not get clammy on me or start sticking to my legs, which I expected them to do at that temperature. I have also had them on down to 18f with a base and mid layer on and was able to move freely without any problems at all.
I have slide down snow fields, walked through blackberry bushes (probably the worst thing ever for ul/sul/xul hiking cloths), walked through fields of 6-8 foot tall ferns (if you did not know, ferns when they get that big, are about as nasty has blackberry bushes), I have posthold with them, I have crossed raging rivers with them, I have strolled along the beach and even done some bushwhacking with them. I have had to crawl up than down Redwood Trees that had fallen across trail, scrambled up and down bolder granite faces, slept in them, washed them in rivers, and waded through mud and muck that I wish I could forget I had waded through. No matter what I have done these pants have been spectacular. They have totally and completely gone beyond my expectations.
Whether you are a heavy hauler, a weekender, a devoted ultra lighter hiker, or somebody that has moved into the super ultra light and extreme ultra light world of hiking, the Mont-Bell Dynamo Wind Pants receive the highest level of praise I can given any piece of gear I have ever bought.
John B. Abela
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