Sawyer 1 Gallon Gravity Filtration System

Sawyer 1 Gallon Gravity Filtration System

Over the years i’ve used a lot of different water filters, and in the past my go to has always been a pump style filter like the MSR Mini Works. Recently however, i’ve branched out and looked at other types of filter systems including gravity filters. Over the summer i’ve been able to get quite a bit of use from the new Sawyer 1 Gallon Gravity Filter System and can say that it has been an awesome addition to my backpacking system. I love the ability to filter large quantities of water without having to return to the water source several times. The 1 gallon bag allows for me to fill water one time when I get into camp and have enough to drink, cook and clean up.
Lets talk about weight and just general convenience of the 1 gallon system. On my scale the filter, bag, hose, and accessories comes in at just over 8 ounces. This is a fantastic weight for this type of system, and given that it weighs such a small amount means that it’s easy to carry as well. The bag folds up to a fairly small package and it’s large opening allows for the included items to be placed inside the bag for carrying convenience.
One of the things to consider about the 1 gallon system is that the handle for carrying is in a strange location. When I hang the bag from the carry handle I am unable to get the full amount of water out of the bag, so I have come up with a hack to tie a clove hitch around the large opening of the bag, which allows the bag to hang in such a way that allows the bag to fully empty. Overall this filter system is a total win in my book!



Aquaclip Water Bottle Holder


It’s always nice when you find an accessory for backpacking that makes your hike a little more convenient. For this conversation, insert the Aquaclip Water Bottle Holder. These clips are made from a rigid plastic and allow you to clip a standard water bottle neck to your backpack. The obvious benefit to this is that your water bottle is not accessible from the front of your pack versus being stuffed into the side pocket of your pack.
I definitely recommend these clips for anyone that wants to add some convenience to their backpacking system. Check out my full video review below and check out Aquaclip here!

My Go To Backpacking Shelter and Sleep System

Choosing a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad for backpacking isn’t always an easy process. There are so many products out on the market that choosing the right product can seem impossible at times. So how do you choose, and how do you know you’ve bought the right gear?

I am going to give you the easy answer and you’ll not be surprised by it. Whatever you choose to buy is the right gear for you. I know, I know, that is not what you expected, but in all seriousness if you buy backpacking gear that you are excited about, then that is the best gear you could be using at that time.

Recently I teamed up with a few other YouTube channels to showcase our go to backpacking shelters and sleep systems. If you’re looking for some ideas on gear that is out there, and the application of that gear, then check out these videos.

My list of go to shelter and sleep system items are as follows:
Sierra Designs Flashlight 1 Tent
Paria Outdoor Products ReCharge UL Sleeping Pad
Cocoon Pillow
Paria Outdoor Products Thermodown Quilt

Ostler Peak – Amethyst Basin – Uinta Mountains Backpacking


Ostler Peak Towering Over Amethyst Basin


It was the middle of August and the time had finally come for me to embark with my good friend Dane on a backpacking trip I had been planning for months. Dane had been doing a lot of peak bagging over the summer and we decided that ticking off Ostler Peak needed to happen.

I’ve spent year after year hiking around the Uinta Mountains Wilderness, but Amethyst Basin is a section of the Uintas that I had never been to before. Everything I had been told was that it was a magical place that was an absolute must! So finally the day arrived and Dane and I set off on a Friday afternoon to spend two nights at Ostler Lake.

The Christmas Meadows trailhead was packed full of cars as we arrived. There was a large scout group that was waiting by a couple trucks as leaders prepared a large pile of GORP for the group. They had rifles and all sorts of unnecessary things on their packs. A sight you’d almost expect to see from a group of scouts in the Uintas. We casually greeted them as we walked past to sign in to the trail register. By 5pm we were off and making good time down the trail. Within a short amount of time we covered just over 2 miles and ran into a group of guys that were resting on the trail. We made small talk for about 20 minutes after one of the guys asked me how I was carrying such a light load. I told him that I was focusing heavily on ultralight backpacking and it led to some fun discussion about saving weight on gear and not carrying too much stuff. One of the guys mentioned he was carrying 60 pounds. My load came in at 19 pounds. Not sure what he had in there, but 60 pounds is a lot! We shook hands and continued down the trail.

Once you reach the junction for Amethyst Basin, you take the left fork and immediately the trail begins to gain elevation. Over the next mile you gain several hundred feet, and for the lack of food in my stomach at this point, my energy level was dying off. Dane surprised me with his tenacity and hiking ability. It had been years since he and I had hiked together. He definitely kept me moving.


Beautiful waterfall just off the trail.

By the time we had got to the large meadow before Amethyst Lake, the sun had already fallen behind the ridge to the west. Dane looked out over the meadow and saw a large group of people standing at the edge of the creek. Two moose had moved into the meadow to feed for a bit and to put on a show, even though they surely weren’t there to entertain. We watched the moose for a few minutes, but knew that we needed to make our way up the hill to Ostler Lake.


Dane and I woke up Saturday morning with the purpose of summiting Ostler Peak. Turns out it was a perfect weather day to get high on mountain. Ostler Peak sits at 12,718′ and gives amazing views of the Uinta Mountain Range.

Our approach to the peak was to gain a “small ridge” to the north and then follow the ridge up to a large scree slope. The approach to the ridge wasn’t too bad, it was steep, but nothing compared to the steepness of the scree slope to approach the saddle of the peak.



Once on the saddle of the peak, there are a few false summits that deceive you into thinking that you are closer than you really are. Turns out after you crest the slope and reach the saddle you’ve got another 1/4 mile of hiking to do before the summit. Thankfully the hiking at this point was fairly simple.

Within a few minutes Dane and I were on the summit of Ostler Peak and enjoyed almost a full hour of just hanging out and eating food as we were the only people on the summit. We snapped a few photos, and then started making our way down.




Coming down off the peak took all we had to get down. With how steep the route was it took a toll on our knees. We took my dog Cooper with us as well, and the poor guy had ripped open some pads causing him to start limping and he could barely walk. Overall, Ostler was an incredible peak to hike and one I would do again. The views were amazing, the company even better.

Backpacking is an incredible thing that allows you to forget about the complexity of everything happening in our lives, and gives us clarity and freedom. That is what I love about being in the backcountry.

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GIVEAWAY – Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus

I am very excited to have teamed up with Goal Zero to giveaway a brand new product from them, the Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel. The Plus is an upgrade to the ever popular Nomad 7, that has been a staple to many backpackers looking to keep cameras and devices charged while in the backcountry.

Here is your chance to win one for yourself. Just watch the video below!

Backpacking Essentials – Cooking Systems and Cooking Gear

Throughout my childhood and early years as an adult I have spent a lot of time in the backcountry, and i’ve cooked a lot of “backpacking meals”. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a Blacklite Cooking set from MSR when I was 14 years old, and still have that set today. My wife and I use that Blacklite set in our car camping kit now, and it’s one of the best backpacking items i’ve purchased. 
There are so many different types of cooking systems out there, that choosing one over another can be difficult. GSI Outdoors, MSR, Snow Peak, Frybake, and so many others have been making high quality cooking gear for many years. They are all good, and all have pros and cons. 
When I started studying Outdoor Recreation Management at Utah Valley University, I was introduced to the Frybake. My backcountry cooking experience had been changed forever! 
Having a good cooking system in the backcountry is all about simplicity, ease of use, light weight, and budget friendly. My current system is a GSI Pinnacle Soloist for boiling water and will soon get my hands on an Alpine sized Frybake. It makes putting together a meal so simple and enjoying my food faster. 
When you are looking for a cooking system, find something in your price range. You absolutely do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on titanium pots and pans to enjoy a good mean in the backcountry. Go to REI or a backpacking equipment store, and find something that works well for you. A great option for the price as it’s all inclusive is the Jet Boil Products. Jet Boil is a great company making high quality gear that works well for the beginner backpacker. Really, just find what works well for you and go with it. As long as it gives you a good meal in the end, the investment was worth it!

Being Smart In The Backcountry… Making Good Decisions

I am in no way a risk management expert, or claim to know everything there is when it comes to analyzing an accident. But, there are a fair amount of accidents happening everyday in the backcountry. Information from the National Ski Areas Association states that on average 41.5 people die skiing/snowboarding each year. Is it just me, or does that number make you sick. With all that said, there are things to do to be smart about being in the back country. Watch these few videos real fast and then lets really get into the dirt. 
This girl became famous in Utah over the past weekend when she got incredibly lucky in a slide up Little Cottonwood Canyon in an area known as Grizzly Gulch. From her blog, where you can read about her entire account, she says, “When it comes down to it, we didn’t check our blind spot. I have always thought I was too smart to make that mistake, but I did. At some point we all have. I am truly grateful that the situation was not worse. I am grateful that from the moment everything went wrong, everything went  right. I am forever thankful to my rescuers who were smarter and more prepared than us. Most importantly, I am grateful that this can be a wake up and a lesson in humility for me, and everyone one like me, to stay smart, not forget to use our brains and to always check our blind spots.”

Of everyone in her party, she was the only person who was carrying avalanche gear. To my understanding her and her party made the choice to go up above the resort to the gulch to get some powder photos. She was the only one in her group that had a beacon, and any other type of avy gear. She got lucky because of others that were in the area. They were able to ski to her, and get out in a matter of minutes. More on this decision making later. 
Rock climbing in Utah has seen some scary accidents this year, and just climbing in general. Simple mistakes that have caused a lot of pain could have easily been avoided for so many people. One of the most common mistakes that I hear of when it comes to climbing, is people being lowered off the end of the rope. If you would simply tie a knot in the end of the rope, your life would be so much better than getting lowered off the end. This video shows how incredibly vital it is to just make good decisions. I am sorry if the language offends anyone. 


It’s no doubt that we find ourselves as humans seeking thrill. The internet has only escalated our need for thrill. We see professional athletes doing amazing things everyday on the internet. Alex Honnold has brought the sport of free solo climbing to the forefront of everyone’s minds. We get ourselves into scenarios that can turn from good to REALLY bad with a simple choice.

So where do the choices start?

Think about a time that you got into a position in the backcountry where you made one bad choice, or even a series of choices that ended up not being the best. It then put you into that cliche, “stuck between a rock and a hard place.” Just like our outdoor movie star, James Franco, oh wait, isn’t his name Aron… who got famous and made a bunch of money off of ultimately a series of bad choices.

Some choices start from the very beginning of an outdoor experience. Where you plan to go. What you plan to do. Long before you ever step foot into the backcountry. One of my favorite stories is of climbers Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, and two other friends, who ended up being kidnapped by Islamic militants in Kyrgyzstan. While doing some big wall climbing there, they were sleeping in their portaledges, and woke up to militants shooting at them. The rest of that story is incredible, and the fact that they were able to get home to America alive. As extreme and uncommon as this example may be, it does illustrate how easy it can be to make a simple choice, and then evaluate the course of events that take place after that.

No need to beat the horse anymore than I already have. But think about it. Think about the series of choices that you make when you go into the backcountry. How often do you stop, think, and analyze a situation before you execute, or even step away. What’s the risk factor? What heuristic elements influence your decision making? What’s more important, getting the rush of adrenaline or making sure that you come home at night unharmed and safe? What risks are worth taking?

With the upmost respect for the events that took place, I leave major details out. A good friend of mine, and a legend in the Utah climbing scene, Shingo Ohkawa recently suffered from a fall in Little Cottonwood canyon, in Utah. Through a series of events, he is lucky to be alive, and continuing to share his love for the outdoors. A series of events that lead to him being lowered off the end of the rope and a 30 foot ground fall. Even the professionals have the worst happen to them. Were just glad Shingo is alive and well, after a very scary accident.

Long story short, just be smart out there my friends! Make sure you look at all the angles and weigh all probable cause. One simple choice could be the last choice you make. We love the outdoors because it’s what fuels us, it’s what we live for. But in order to continue to enjoy that feeling, and love, we just need to be smart about being back there and do it right the first time. Be safe my friends!

Avalanche Awareness – Weak Layer, Slab, Trigger = Avalanche – Utah Avalanche Center

Came across this awesome video yesterday featuring a friend of mine who works for the Utah Avalanche Center. They are the people who give the forecast when it comes to avalanche danger and such. Trent is super knowledgable and this video overviews the current snow pack conditions that Utah is seeing. There have been several avalanches already, and with the weather we’ve been having, there are bound to be more. 
I am no expert on the backcountry when it comes to snow, skiing, and avalanche danger. I am a resort skier, but I still feel like the education is important. Just like educating ourselves for backcountry expeditions in the summer, we must be prepared in the winter. Enjoy this video and have fun out there in the snow, and be safe!

Weak Layer, Slab, Trigger = Avalanche from Trent Meisenheimer on Vimeo.