It seems it is time for the hiking blogosphere to start posting their “Christmas Lists” – I have already seen three or four just in the last week.
I had an article about 95% of the way written, and decided to delete it and do something different. The idea pop’ed into my brain to write up ‘my favorite piece of gear from my sponsors‘, but the more I thought about that, the more I realized I just could not decide on a single piece of gear from a couple of my sponsors. For instance, I have over 2000 days of use with the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants and my absolute love for the Montbell U.L. Thermawrap Jacket would make it impossible for me to pick between the two. (opps, guess I just gave away that companies two favorites, doh!). The same could be said of companies like Six Moon Designs and ZPacks. So I figured the only way I could make this happen is if I picked two pieces of gear from each company that sponsors me!
It is not very often that we get a new tent on the market that is worth talking about.
Rumors have been floating around for a few weeks that Gossamer Gear was bring back ‘The One”, which I think most folks that have been in the hiking world for any length of time should remember… it was one of the original ultra light solo shelters from a cottage maker that really had a major market impact – it was highly loved by many, and there are a fair number of shelters on the market right now that are based on The One design!
I had my doubts about the rumors, and I am so very glad to hear that I was wrong.
I have a rather long history of writing about wind shirts and have been a huge advocate of them over the years – even in times when big name hikers were saying they have no place in a hiker’s backpack – yet through it all, when I hit the trail, be it for a long hike, a day hike, trail running, or just a speed walk through my neighborhood, a wind jacket is something that goes with me. Really, why not. They are stupid light, pack down crazy small, and perform the job which they are designed to do.
The wind jacket that has been going along with me, for almost a year as of the time of this article (May 2016), has been the ZPacks ‘Ventum‘ Wind Shell Jacket. On my calibrated scale the wind jacket from ZPacks is an amazing 54 grams (1.9 ounces) and that is with a hood and a full zipper!
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!
The ZPacks Arc Haul Zip, the latest backpack to be released by ZPacks, is a full featured backpack for those looking for the ability to carry a heavier load than the ZPacks Arc Zip.
If you are not familiar with the “Zip” backpack from ZPacks, I recommend reading my ZPacks Arc Zip review of this great front panel loader, it will go into detail of all of the features of the Zip, along with some of the history of the three years I spent developing the Zip, now being manufactured by ZPacks.
The “Haul” came about, as I understand it, as a result of ZPacks getting a lot of feedback from long distance hikers about the desire to carry heavier loads (thus the name “Haul”) for those longer stretches between resupply towns. The Haul increased the load capability of the standard Arc Zip from 30 lbs (14 kg) up to 40 lbs (18 kg).
I think it was in early 2013 that ZPacks introduced a set of neat little zippered pouches designed to hold things, such as glasses, passports, wallet content, and so forth. I ordered a few and over the last two years have used most of them at one time or another – and have used one of them every day as my primary wallet.
I did not expect for it to become my daily wallet, but over time it just proved to be the perfect size and meet the requirements I obviously wanted, but did not know I wanted, in an enclosed wallet – my first enclosed wallet in my life.
Earlier this year I upgraded to an iPhone 6 Plus and it does not fit into the ZPacks Pouch I have been using – my iPhone 5 did fit – and now, thankfully, ZPacks has released a new zippered pouch called the ‘ZPacks, Phablet Zip Pouch‘ which is suppose to fit an iPhone6+, so I just bought one of those. I just hope that it is big enough as I have a Mophie iPhone 6 Plus Juice Pack attached to my iPhone6+
Ok… seriously, how much can be said about a zippered pouch? Some I suppose could say a lot, but I am not one of them, so, moving on, here are some photos of the pouch I have used for around 800 days, to show how amazingly well it has held up, both out on the trail and at home / around town.
In September of 2013 ZPacks introduced the “Duplex“, a 2-person version of their 1-person “SolPlex” (now the Plexamid) 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.