Gear Updates: May 2016

Here are some updates on different gear that I have been using and testing. As previously mentioned in a few different past articles, instead of waiting until I have 200, 500, 1000, or even 1500+ days of use with a specific piece of gear to write up a detailed review, I would instead post minor updates on the gear in shorter durations, so, here are some gear updates.

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Suluk46 – Miksa Pot Lifter

Suluk46 - Miksa Pot Lifter

Suluk46, one of my long time sponsors, has brought to market a very neat, finger size, extremely light weight pot grabber, called the “Miksa Pot Lifter“.

It hits the scale at only 6 grams (0.21 ounces)

To compare this to others on the market:

MSR ‘LiteLifter’: 28 grams (0.98 oz)
Vargo ‘Titanium Pot Lifter’: 23 grams (0.8 oz)
GSI ‘Microgripper’: 14 grams (0.5 oz)

You can purchase this little guy, and a lot of other truly exceptional extremely light weight backpacking products at:

[Photos] Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 & Groove Stereo Waist Belt

I just got these yesterday, woot!

Below are photos of the 2016, version 3.0, of the most beloved Ultimate Direction PB Vest and the new Groove Stereo double water bottle waist belt.

Loaded them up and went on an eight mile (12.8km) run around my area last night. I have 1000+ miles (1600+km) on my original PB Vest (also shown below, the red colour one) and it is still going strong, but an additional 5 liters of volume on the new version pretty much made me go buy it. It is going to take some getting use to, a few significant changes to it.

I will share additional thoughts in the months ahead after I get some miles on it. As for the Groove Stereo, well, that darn thing I have to say highly impressed me. Cannot lie that the price tag was a sticker shock, as they say, and I was crazy hesitant to buy it, but I really, desperately, wanted to see how it would pair up with the new PB vest, specifically if they would hit each other or not while running down the trail.  Thankfully they do not. But anyway, yeah, that double water bottle waist belt, just in the eight miles I did, impressed me big time. What a sweet method this will be to carry a serious amount of water. My ZPacks multi-pack might have finally meet some real competition!

Anyway, enough yapping, here are some photos for ya. I will likely get a video out on these two new items in the months ahead. I am not a big video guy anymore, but I will try to get something pushed out to my youtube channel, and I will absolutely be sharing more about them on my facebook page.


March 16, 2016 – Added two additional photos to show soft and hard water bottles inside of the ‘burrito’ pocket.

Kora ‘Shola 230’ Leggings

Kora Shola 230 Leggings - 000Greetings Adventurers!

Recently I was able to acquire a pair of Kora ‘Shola 230’ leggings. This will be an on-going article as I use them over the next few hiking seasons.

Kora, a company based out of Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, manufacturers base layer garments made from Yak wool, rather than the all so popular sheep wool. The company goes into great detail of the superiority of Yak wool over sheep wool on their Yak Wool Fabric page, it is very much worth checking out.

Statements such as this are enough to get the attention of most folks:

It’s 40% warmer weight for weight, 66% more breathable and is 17% better at transporting water vapour away from the skin. Just like merino, it’s soft and naturally odour-resistant.

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Questions & Answers, #003

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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ZPacks Multi-Pack

ZPacks Multi-Pack (Closed)The ZPacks Multi-Pack has been, for over four years, one of my most beloved pieces of gear – I have used my original one for well over 5,000 miles of hiking – and have bought and use others for use around town, as a BOB that stays in my truck, and on vacations to keep all kinds of stuff in. It has been, without a doubt, the most versatile and used piece of gear that I have used in my years of hiking.

The very first Multi-Pack was made way back in February of 2011. After sending Joe Valesko a little sketch of what I was after – what I called, looking back in my emails, a “chest bag for water bottles” – and asking if he would be willing to make me one,  he ran with the idea, and as memory serves, his wife got involved and offered the idea to include three clips on each side (I only thought of having one, having three was a brilliant idea!) so it could be used in a much broader and more versatile manner. A short time later the first “Multi-Pack” was made and shipped my way. It soon thereafter made it onto the ZPacks website and has remained pretty much the same ever since – proof that our original design was a pretty dang good one, eh!

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Black Rock Gear Releases Another Batch of Down Vests!!

Hey All,

For those of you who have been looking to score one of the Black Rock Gear Vests – and I have been trying the last two batches of them – this is a very quick alert message to let you know that BRG has just released another batch of them!

Every single time they have put a batch of them up for sale the size large sales out within under an hour. Crazy!!

I am totally excited to be able to get one this time!!

No idea how many they have left but I suspect they are going to go very quickly.

No, I do not work for Black Rock Gear… and, Yes, I freaking LOVE their gear!!!

A 4.2 ounce vest with 2 ounces of down inside of it – it simply does not get any better than that!!