Ultralight Cooking – Shave Weight By Going Titanium

Recently i’ve been putting a lot of effort into creating an ultralight backpacking setup that not only achieves the status of ultralight, but remains consistent with the system that works well for me in the backcountry. This includes not compromising safety, comfort, or some of the aspects of being in the backcountry that make it worth while for me.

One of the more important items for me when it comes to being in the backcountry is eating good meals. I like to cook and I like to eat things that I would eat at home. With that said, I know you can get tasty meals from Mountainhouse, Backpacker pantry and others, but I typically do not like to rehydrate food, I prefer to cook.

Part of what I wanted to achieve is a simple cooking setup that would allow me the kitchen comforts without adding too much weight.

One of my favorite cooking pots and stove has been the GSI Pinnacle Soloist and MSR Superfly. In the case where I am trying to save weight, these had to go. It was time to go with Titanium. I spent a lot of time looking at many different brands. MSR, Snow Peak and Toaks seem to be the buzz in the ultralight community, so they were my first to look at.

My criteria for going ultralight was to get a pot that allowed me to nest a 100 gram fuel canister inside, and my stove. So I found myself with two issues. A pot small enough to satisfy the fuel nesting and to be able to store a stove too. I looked at a Pocket Rocket, Snow Peak Giga, and even considered going alcohol. But after more research I stumbled upon the Olicamp Ion Micro Titanium stove. So I was set for one of the items, now just needed the pot. I looked incredibly hard at a 750ml pot from Snow Peak, but the price kept keeping me from buying. That’s when I found Toaks.

$40 and a few days later I had the Toaks Titanium 650ml pot at my door step. This was the perfect size and weight I was looking for. Between two purchases of a new pot and new stove, I dropped my cooking setup by 15 ounces. Now my Toaks pot, Ion Micro stove and a fuel canister weigh a simple 12 ounces, as opposed to the 27 ounces I used to carry, not to mention the weight.

Going ultralight doesn’t have to take a lot of money. I managed to get a new cooking setup for less than $75. Spending that to save a pound off my back was worth it all the way. Check out a little video about the items I bought below. Happy ultralighting!
Buy these items on Amazon and support Backcountry Exposure!
– Olicamp Ion Micro Stove http://amzn.to/2dhlOnW
– Toaks Titanium 650ml Pot http://amzn.to/2dCZF2C

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Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent – First Impressions

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I’ve had my eye on the Sierra Design tents ever since they rebranded and made critical design changes to their line up of tents. The biggest aspect of design change that caught my eye the most was the removal of the traditional vestibule and the addition of functional gear closets. Although released in 2014, I finally got my hands on the Flashlight 1 tent just a few days ago, in March 2016.

I am the type of person that spends hours and hours researching and comparing outdoor products. I look at all my options within my budget and decide what will be best for me and the application of the product to the type of outdoorsman that I am.

Ultimately I decided on the Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 tent for my solo backpacking trips, in the scenario where a tarp or bivy are not the most practical. Sometimes having a dry place to take cover and stay away from the bugs is necessary.

Here are my first impressions of the Flashlight 1 tent as i’ve set it up before I take it out on the trail in a couple weeks and prepare for a full review of the tent.

Sierra Designs has obviously put a lot of attention to build quality in their tents. After setting the tent up for the first time, it was one of the first things I noticed. Reinforced seams, taped seams, stitching in obvious areas that may receive most wear and tear.

As mentioned before, they have removed the traditional vestibule from the tent and created an awning over the door that allows for better ventilation and breathability in the tent. The tent features one door, but two large windows that allows you to escape the elements in inclimate weather but still allow you to feel like you are outside and not stuck in a nylon dome. I’ve not tested this awning yet, but I am still excited about the single wall/double wall design that will allow for ample ventilation but keep me dry at the same time.

Let’s talk about the gear closet. What a genius idea for making a place for gear to be kept and protected from rain after you remove a vestibule. This truly is genius. I never liked how a vestibule is awkward and makes storing your gear even harder. Argue with me if you will, but I think Sierra Designs has hit a massive home run here. The gear closet on the Flashlight 1 is just large enough to stand about a 65 liter backpack up that holds the gear not being stored in your tent. For me this is adequate.

Check out the video below to get a full glimpse into my impressions of this tent.

 

Black Diamond Orbit Lantern Review – Backpacking Lighting


Check out the full video review here

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Having the right gear makes all the difference in your backcountry experience. Black Diamond has been a leader in the climbing and ski industry for many years now, but even the products directly unrelated to skiing and climbing they excel at. The Orbit Lantern is the perfect example of functionality and reliability when it comes to needing light around camp.
Weighing in at 2.9 ounces without the batteries, it is an impressive little light that gives off 105 lumens of light. With the ability to dim the light by the press of a button, you are able to secure over 70 hours of usable light. New for 2016, the Orbit has dual function as a lantern and a flash light. They have embedded a 50 lumen flash light into the base of the lantern giving you even more versatility for your evening adventures.
We love to hang the Orbit from the gear loops in the tent and use it for easy reading, getting changed, or simply to play a round of cards on a dark stormy night. Needless to say, the Orbit is a great option for any backpacker looking for a little more functionality over the standard headlamp. No blinding your friends with this when in the tent, like you would with a headlamp.
Happy Trails my friends!

Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2 – Room With A View

Video information here: Sierra Designs Nightwatch 2
When Sierra Designs rebranded and made some major adjustments to their products a couple years ago, they reintroduced themselves back into the spotlight of innovation and smarts for the everyday outdoorsman. For the backpacker who isn’t concerned about going ultralight, the Nightwatch 2 person tent is a great addition to the Sierra Design line up of tents.
Overview:
A room with a view! The Nightwatch tent is new for Spring 2016, allowing the user to roll back the rain fly exposing the stars and creating awesome ventilation, yet keeping you away from the bugs.
Sierra Designs has made some major adjustments that give them an edge and separate them from the highly competitive field of outdoor recreation. Introducing the awning style rainfly and removing the traditional vestibule is the noticeably major difference in the new Sierra Designs tents, but there’s so much more. Ultimately focusing on the end user helps them stand out above the rest of the competition.
Nightwatch 2 Features:
When Sierra Designs rebranded they made changes to the design that every other company has been doing for years. Removing the traditional vestibule to make the entry to the tent more inviting and less awkward. We’ve all been in a tent where it’s raining, you’ve zipped shut the vestibule keeping you out of the rain, but you find yourself adjusting your backpack stashed under the vestibule making sure it’s not getting wet.
Sierra Designs has solved the issue with this, creating gear closets accessed from the inside of the tent removing your gear from the door of the tent. The other benefit of removing the vestibule is the ability to slightly zip down the window giving ventilation and being able to look outside and see what’s happening.
The other main feature of the Nightwatch tent is how it gets its name. Being able to roll back the rain fly exposing the night sky and creating excellent ventilation. This feature is important because one might argue how it differs from other tents. Being able to keep the rain fly attached and quickly rolling the fly down in inclement weather, rather than looking for a place to stash the unattached fly and scrambling when weather arrives.
The Nightwatch 2 also features 2 additional small doors the act as doors when the rain fly is rolled back, or as access to the gear closets when the fly is fully attached and covering the tent body.
Technical Specs:
Minimum Weight: 4 lbs, 7 oz
Packed Weight:  5 lbs, 0 oz
Internal Peak Height: 43.5 in
Interior Area: 30.50 ft
Overall this tent is a well designed piece of equipment that any backpacker would be happy with. There are some drawbacks to the design that may not suit a few people too well. A valid concern is dragging muddy, wet boots through the tent to place in the gear closet. The drawbacks around the design are minimal to the overall benefits of how it creates a better outdoor experience for the everyday backpacker.

Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost 2 Hammock Review

What do you think about when you hear the word Hammock? It’s probably coupled with words like solitude, relaxing, and comfort. Hammocks seem to be on the rise as a great backpacking addition or replacement to a traditional tent. All over YouTube you’ll find outdoor gear channels talking about camping with a hammock and how to sleep comfortably in a hammock. Are all hammock’s the same? Will you get the same level of comfort from any hammock you choose?

These and other questions are something to think hard about when it comes to whether or not your body is going to be able to recover after many miles of hiking. Here at Backcountry Exposure, we’ve been doing a lot of research on the various popular hammock systems available. We’ve been able to spend time with a few options, and have set our hearts on the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost Hammocks and the included Litespeed Suspension System. For the price and what is included, you just cannot beat the setup that Wildhorn has put together.

Lets face the facts here people. A camping/backpacking hammock made from nylon is the standard across all companies whether it’s Hennessy, ENO, Grand Trunk or any other. They all feature high quality triple stitching at the seams, and have a gathered end with a loop of some kind of cordage or dynema material with a biner or loop system. Then there’s various tree strap suspension systems that are available, whether it’s simple 1 inch webbing you purchase on your own, or sophisticated straps like the Atlas straps from ENO. All of the options on the market though don’t hold a candle to the ease of use and simplicity that is the Litespeed System.

The Litespeed tree straps and suspension system is so easy to use it takes what feels like seconds to setup. The gathered end of the hammock is put together with Amsteel and wrapped around a metal cinch buckle. 200 pound rated nylon straps, 11 feet in length are fed through the buckle making it a simple grab and pull to tighten. So easy that you may question if you did it right, but don’t worry, it’s right and it’s awesome!

The Outpost hammocks come in two sizes, the Outpost 1 a single and the Outpost 2 a double. Both of them are 11 feet in length but are different in width, with the Outpost 2 being 6’4″ wide, it’s plenty big for two people to hang, or for sleeping.

If it we’re me buying a new hammock or my first time buying a hammock, my recommendation would be the Outpost before looking at any other options. It’s a great product at a great price!

Arcteryx Gamma LT Hoody – Gear Review

I feel like I say this all the time, but having good, high quality gear, makes all the difference when going, hiking, camping, or backpacking. There are endless options for outerwear for the outdoor enthusiast, but few companies are capable of creating outerwear the way that Arcteryx does. In this review, we introduce the Arcteryx Gamma LT Hoody, a light weight, breathable technical softshell, perfect for your everyday outdoor activities. 
I recently bought this jacket to add to my ever growing list of technical jackets. Arcteryx is a brand i’ve known for a long time, but have not owned until this year. But I am overly impressed by the jacket and know that it will be one of m favorite for a long time. 
Some specifics about the Gamma LT Hoody that make it a quality jacket. The Gamma LT has a really nice brushed soft shell fabric that creates a high level of durability, that also gives confidence that the jacket will last a long time. Arcteryx has made some improvements to the sleeves and created a nice stretch gusset that stays tight around a pair of gloves, but allows for proper stretch. No need to worry about a velcro sleeve to keep tight around the wrist. 
The hood of the Gamma LT is also very well designed. Large enough to wear with a helmet on for ice climbing, but incorporates the proper elements to make the hood fit snug on the head when not wearing a helmet. The Gamma is also the perfect soft shell for layering a light weight synthetic or down jacket underneath for added warmth. 
Really, the Gamma LT Hoody is the perfect soft shell, that will not only keep you dry, but will protect you from the wind, and it looks good. I mean, you gotta look good when out in the backcountry, right?!

Rab Equipment – AL Pull-On – The Best Base Layer

A good base layer? Seems like everywhere you go to find a good base layer you have what seems like hundreds of choices and dozens of brands. To be quite honest, I am kind of a gear snob and end up paying more for a piece of outerwear than I probably should be. However, i’ve learned that paying good money for a piece of outerwear really is, you get what you pay for. I’ve found that to be the case with the Rab AL Pull-on base layer. I bought two of these a few years ago, and it’s been worn more times than I could count. I feel like so many of the photos from my backpacking, climbing and hiking adventures I am wearing this base layer. It really is my go to base layer. 
With all that aside, lets get into what I love about this piece of clothing. The AL Pull-on is made from the Power Dry fabric by Polartec. A great wicking fabric that breathes incredibly well when worn right next to skin, and yet keeps the body warm. This particular base layer is a half zip that makes regulating temperature a breeze. 
I’ve worn this layer so much that it’s become a staple to my backcountry outerwear. Not only is it extremely comfortable and fits well, it’s been a reliable layer that i’ve always counted on. In March 2015 I wore this layer on a six day backpacking trip through the Paria River Canyon. Basically it was the perfect light weight, base layer that made sure I didn’t get too much sun on my neck and arms, and yet kept me cool when in the sun, but also warm in the cold shadows of the canyon. 
If you are in the market for a great base layer, this is one to make part of your gear list.  

Sea To Summit – Traveller Light Day Pack Review

If you are going to be doing what I call, destination backpacking, then having a good day pack to bring along is a necessary item. Lets say you are going to backpack several miles into an area of lakes that are within pretty close proximity to each other. You camp at one of the lakes, but you want to see the others. You are unlikely to pack up your 60 liter pack for a simple day hike. Why not take something so light and small that you almost forget you have it. 
The Sea To Summit Traveling Light Day Pack is the perfect option for a light weight, simple day pack. Weighing in at only 2.4 ounces, it takes up virtually zero space in your pack, and makes the day hikes more enjoyable. 
The good about this pack i’ve already mentioned. It’s small, light weight, and is easy to carry. It’s roughly 12 liters in capacity, so you can load a bunch of stuff in it, but be careful. The shoulder straps are nice and wide, but if you load it with more than 8 pounds of stuff, then it’s going to get a little uncomfortable. The straps have zero padding in them and they can collapse into a smaller strap when too much weight is put into the pack. Be smart and don’t carry more than you need. 
Made from high quality, ripstop, sip nylon, it’s tough, light weight, simple and the perfect addition to your backpacking system.

Backpacking Essentials – Backcountry Exposure Youtube Series

One of my favorite things about backpacking is the preparation that comes with the anticipation for a trip. I remember getting prepared for my trip down The Paria River with a school class. That trip involved a lot of planning, preparation and mental preparation. Knowing how to get ready for backpacking experiences is vital to whether or not you enjoy yourself out on the trail. 
This has lead me to create a series of videos to share with you all about the Essentials of Backpacking. Everything from gear to use, what to buy, and even the ethics behind being a good person in the backcountry. I love to share my knowledge with people and look forward to seeing the evolution of this series. It will primarily be contained on my Youtube Channel, but I will update with each video here as well. 

Outpost Hammock Review – Wildhorn Outfitters

Here in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah we just received our first blanket of snow. It seems a little odd to be reviewing a hammock in November, but when a really awesome new product comes out, you have to share the love.

Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost 1 Hammock
I am fairly new to the whole Hammock epidemic that seems to be overruling the photo world of instagram, but when a new product comes out that changes your perspective on the product in general, you pay attention. 
Wildhorn Outfitters is a new company to me, but they are doing awesome things to improve products in the world of the outdoors. What they have done to the hammock world is, in one word, AWESOME!
After doing a bunch of research and from previous experience with other hammock companies, there’s a few things that Wildhorn has done that makes their product stand out among the others. 
– Litespeed Suspension System: Of all the research that i’ve done on other hammocks that fall into the same category, none of them have a strap system as good as what Wildhorn has done. Not only are the straps included with the hammock, but they are incredibly bomber. They use amsteel cord to attach the hammock to the tree straps. Amsteel is incredibly strong and is super light weight. The Litespeed straps are 11′ long and have a cold rolled steel cinch buckle that showed zero signs of slipping when weight was put on them. The straps also include a 12kn rated wire gate carabiner to attach the strap to a tree, post, or whatever you attach it to. This is the biggest win on this hammock. 
– Length of the Hammock: The hammock is 11′ in length, which compared to the ENO Single Nest Hammock is over a foot longer. Why is this important? Having more fabric on hammock allows you to lay flatter after setup. This just simply makes the hammock more comfortable. 
– Light Weight: The Outpost hammocks are made from 100 percent ripstop nylon. The Outpost 1 comes in at just under 3 pounds. 3 Pounds for a hammock is light enough to take backpacking and camping. 
If you’re looking for a hammock to add to your gear stash, this is the hammock to buy!
You can get yours here: Outpost 1 Hammock