New Year – New Plans!

As the 2017 year comes to a close, and we are full on into the dead of winter, I feel it is time to reflect on a few things, and maybe check in and see what we have in store for 2018.  Do you ever stop and think “Holy Crap, its 2018… Y2K was 18 years ago!!??”  I do 😛



So… what have I been up to while we wait for hiking season to begin again?  Well my last hike was around the Thanksgiving weekend (the Canadian one, late October),  we were graced with about 8″ of snow while camping.  Our plans to summit Mt John Carter were squashed, so move that adventure to next year’s bucket list. This is the photo when we first arrived at our tent pad in Kokanee Glacier Park.  We still had a fun time in the snow; it’s always fun to do some colder weather camping!


We also managed to do some nice local day hikes, as the shoulder season was upon us.


But now, as temperatures are commonly hitting around 1°F/-17°C over the various mountain passes, it’s ski season!  I picked up a pair of on-piste ski’s and boots for $50 in the classifieds – perfectly fine shape to learn on! Me, enjoying some time on the hill:


Looking into the new year, I have a few big plans in the works.  I’m going to try my hand at getting a Wonderland Trail Permit for later in the summer/early fall.   Also, I am looking at hiking the Chilkoot Trail in three days in late summer.  This trail connects Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.   I have already scheduled one half-marathon for the end of May, and probably will do another one later in the summer, as well as a 10K trail run.  I look forward to providing posts surrounding planning to the bigger hikes.

In the gear front, I have gotten some pretty awesome stuff over the past month!  I cannot *wait* to have a few nights in my new tent to review the Six Moon Design Lunar Solo – this tent will be my first single wall and the price point is really decent!

I also bit the bullet and just ordered an Enlightened Equipment Enigma Quilt for 0F (I had a -20F bag, and a 20F bag – felt I was missing that middle range).  This bag is my first quilt ever and I look forward to reviewing it after several nights.

Happy New Year and Happy Hiking!

Let me know what you have planned for 2018!

Review – ULA Circuit

At one point I had five packs.  I have finally paired it down to three, but there is one pack I keep going back to over and over again for day hikes, weekends and longer trips.  The 55L ULA Circuit.    This pack looks a bit different, especially if you typically buy the standard Osprey, Deuter or Gregory packs at MEC or REI.  I love my Deuter 70L and my Deuter 35L but this is the one I keep reaching for…


What makes this pack unique?

  1. 41oz (1100g) – most packs you normally find in this size are 50-70oz.
  2. Roll top closure – most packs cinch and have a bran that sits on top.
  3. Lots of straps and huge side pockets.
  4. A front pouch that seems at times to be a  bottomless pit.
  5. Option at purchase to pick size and hip belt shape.

This bag is not for everyone, it does not have a frame.  Instead it has a carbon fiber hoop and an aluminum stay that is curved.  Also, it has a weight limit suggestion of 35lbs which means you should be a pretty light packer.

For my big twelve day trip recently, I went over the recommended weight limit of 35lbs as I had 12 days of food at 16lbs.  Day one, 12 miles, 4500ft and 41lbs of gear, was it comfortable? No.  Did I make it? Yes.  By day two, I had figured out that packing my inflatable sleeping mat folded between my back and my bear can prevented the discomfort of the bear can poking into my back.  By day three, I was probably around 38lbs and was feeling no discomfort.  Every day after that, I had zero issues and I became the master of packing that pack.


How I Packed my bag changed as I learned what worked, here is my final system with a full Bearikade Expedition:

  • Put all my down gear, sleep clothing, and down bag loosely in a garbage bag and stuff to the bottom.
  • Slide in the canister but ensure to position it in the middle (there will be a lot of space on either side.
  • Take the sleeping mat and fold it into a large rectangle and slide it down the back of the bear canister to keep it off your back
  • Slide different gear down the sides of the canister (like rain gear etc;) taking care to make sure the canister stays center.
  • Tent in one side pouch
  • Tent stakes in other side pouch with 1L smart water bottle and optionally filled 1L platypus also fits there.
  • Every other odd and end in the front pouch (fuel, map, first aid).  Foam mat and flip flops were under the para-cord
  • Solar panel tied using back up laces to the roll top enclosure to hang off.

Note: Future me has switched from a two person tent to a one person Six Moon Lunar that is a) smaller and b) uses a stake.  I might try to put it in the bag.

Note 2: Future me has procured some ultra light smart water bottle holder that can hang off the front straps of the pack.  Again freeing up one of the side pouches – so many possibilities!

As I go lighter and lighter in my gear this pack is everything I ever wanted ❤


Update: Gear Review – Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System – Inline System!

I did a gear review recently for the Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System, that was very favourable.  I decided to go ahead  and order a second one to modify for use as my inline system for my upcoming Big SEKI Loop (which I have now dubbed the Big Sexy Loop 🙂 )

I measured the tubing so the portion in the bottle would fit in both my 1L Platypus and my 1L SmartWater bottle (used and recommended because it is super light and the shape fits very nicely in packs, as well as durability), all the way to the bottom.  I then left a small amount to go through the bottle cap thread connector, and made my cut there.

The tubing fit easily over my Sawyer Mini, on the “dirty” side, and then I shortened the tube so that the distance from the Sawyer Mini to my mouth was reasonable (it’s a bit too long to start).  The mouth piece side of the tube slid easily but firmly over the Sawyer Mini clean side.

The beauty of this set up, is the ease of just grabbing “dirty” water and continuing on. The suction through the Sawyer mini is perfectly fine and sipping water has no issues. Removing the hoses from the Sawyer Mini can be a tad challenging (I use the non sharp side of the knife to pry it down).  Fortunately, if you keep your water sources choosy, you shouldn’t need to back flush too often.

I have tried it now on a couple weekend hikes and day hikes with no issues. I will be taking this setup with me on a 10-14 day trip to really test it out.

Happy Hiking!

Gear Review – Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System

This past weekend I was able to review the Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System

This was a relatively inexpensive piece of gear that I think deserves a good review.   At only $23 CDN, and available on Amazon Prime, this is an easy way to add a hydration tube to your gear without dealing with a bladder.  I really like the fact that it comes with different attachments, a bite valve and a on off switch.   It is manufactured in Israel, and seems to be well made and didn’t have a funny taste.

The three different sized lids fit Nalgene bottles, and regular water bottles of different diameters.  A very simple setup where each lid ultimately stacks.   One thing I wish the kit included was a few inches of velcro material to secure it to your pack.  It works with my current ULA Circuit but it would be just a nice little bonus.

Here is what is included:


Suction wasn’t too difficult and I found I stayed much more hydrated.   One thing I would like to try in the future is cutting the tube and hooking it up to my sawyer straw, and having it as an in-line filter.


Happy Hiking!

Review – ZPacks 20F Sleeping Bag

My bag and I basking in the sun in Peru!

I got the ZPack 20F bag after a trip to New Zealand with my Kelty 30 degree synthetic bag.  I was cold.   I typically travel solo so don’t share a tent, also women tend to sleep colder then guys…  especially in a two person tent!  I was so done with my sleeping bag and had recently been reading about through hiking and knew there were a lot of good ultra light gear out there.

I ordered my ZPacks 20F bag when living in Seattle, I knew I needed this bag before my hiking trip circuiting the Cordillera Huayhaush mountain range in Peru.  I would be at altitude and it would be cooler at night.  I emailed them asking if they would be able to send me one before my departure (about 3-4 weeks out).  ZPacks replied within the day and said they would definitely be able to, fantastic customer service!

The bag shipped fairly quickly and I was amazed with how tiny it was.  The bag is approximately 16 oz.  The material is thin but it is easy to get in and out of the ultra light stuff sack it comes with.  I am amazed at how tiny it becomes.   For multi day hikes, I do not use the stuff sack and just throw my sleep system in the bottom of my pack in a trash liner and let everything just squish it down.

Going from a standard REI/MEC sleeping bag, to an ultra light option was my first ‘taste’ of how awesome some of this gear could be!  (Cue sound of cash registers ding ding ding good bye money).

This bag is not your traditional mummy bag.  There is no hood portion to the bag and when you tighten the drawstring, it brings it in (for me), around my eyes… but I am shorter at 5’6″.   I found at first it was a bit tricky to get used to.  In mummy bags I always toss and turn and then wake up with the back of the hear part covering my face and just in general feeling uncomfortable and tangled.  I did not feel that way with the ZPacks bag.  I would try to sleep with the zipper under me but if it twisted or whatever I was no worse for wear.   In the summer I stick my feet in the foot box area of the bag and use it like a quilt.  I find I am perfectly toasty.

I do use a liner – ultimately I regret not going with the 10F bag.  I think the rating must be for mostly men or folks who don’t sleep as cold as I do.  I am considering emailing them to see if I could get more fill added but not sure if it can be done.  The added benefit of the liner is for stink management, I hate when sleeping bag’s smell terrible, liners can be washed easily with my regular hiking clothes.

One thing I did procure recently for my upcoming 10-12 day solo circuit hike, was GooseFeet Gear Down balaclava and booties.  I am hoping this will solve my heat issues as well make me really happy.  I will review both of those in the future as it is mid summer right now.

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