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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!

BUY THE SAWYER 1 GALLON GRAVITY SYSTEM ON AMAZON

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Aquaclip Water Bottle Holder

AQUACLIP WATER BOTTLE HOLDER REVIEW


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

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Ostler Peak Towering Over Amethyst Basin

WILDERNESS PEAK BAGGING

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.

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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.

HIKING OSTLER PEAK

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.

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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.

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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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Backpacking The Little Grand Canyon – San Rafael Swell, Utah

The Little Grand Canyon is an amazing overnight backpacking trip that is perfect for people looking for a fairly easy trip that wanders through one of Utah’s best scenes. The San Rafael River starting from Fuller Bottom is a popular spot for boaters to put in and typically do a single day float of the river, but we’re going to talk about backpacking the canyon in this post.

Below you’ll find some quick info on the best season to hike this, distance, and other important sources. Then you’ll read further to see a Day 1 and Day 2 explanation of the hike and what you can expect during your hike.

Season: Best done in early to late spring, and early fall. Avoid going June through August as temps are extreme and the river may be flowing at a rate that would be unsafe to ford.
Mileage/Time: Total miles to hike from the Fuller Bottom trailhead to the trailhead near the Swinging Bridge is 15.25 miles. You will split this in two, with day one being 7 miles or so, and day two being about 8 miles.
Where To Camp: Your best option for camping is at the mouth of Virgin Spring Canyon, located 7 miles from the Fuller Bottom trailhead. You’ll have to ford the river to get into Virgin Canyon, but there are two or three great, flat, established camp spots, big enough for groups of 6-8 people.
Waste Disposal: The Little Grand Canyon is located on BLM Land and does not have restrictions on human waste disposal. But please practice Leave No Trace principles and dig cat holes, carry out your toilet paper, and do your business 200 feet from any water source.
Water Availability: You can always filter water from the San Rafael as needed. It is typically murky water and will quickly plug up any filter. Your best water source is located at the end of Virgin Spring Canyon, where you’ll find a large pool and fresh water. Be sure as always to use a filter or chemical drops to treat the water. Cattle typically graze in these canyons or Utah.
Shuttle: Most people do this hike from point A to point B. Point A being Fuller Bottom, and then finishing at the trailhead below Swinging Bridge at the mouth of Buckhorn Wash. You will need to plan to leave a car at the Swinging Bridge Trailhead, then shuttle up to Fuller Bottom.

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Route Description:

Day 1: Plan to hike 7 miles this day to make it to Virgin Spring Canyon, so an early start is good to make sure you get the shuttle taken care of before you begin your hike. The Nat Geo Trails Illustrated map is not totally correct as far as where it shows the Fuller Bottom Trailhead. See rest of description for info.

Begin your hike at the small parking lot on your left where the Fuller Bottom road approaches the San Rafael River. There is a trail register box there tat is used by hikers and boaters. Reset your GPS and start walking down the jeep road. You will cross the river after about a 1/4 mile, make sure you stay on the Jeep road as it will allow you to avoid bushwhacking through tamarisk and following cow trails.

Follow the Jeep road for about one mile, it will begin to climb uphill and seem as though you are walking away from the river and canyon. In the distance as you are walking south, you’ll see a red sign with some torn up maps on it. This is where you will turn east (left) where you will begin walking towards the canyon. The trail is easy to follow at this point as it begins to drop into the canyon.

Be sure to look for a small pictograph panel that is easy to miss on your left about 3 miles into your hike from the trailhead. About half a mile past that on your right is an old mine. To the left of a small side canyon you’ll see a trail going up to a hole in some light yellow colored rock with a bunch or yellow tailings. There is also remains of a log cabin with tin cans around this area, but we were unable to find it. As you continue walking down the canyon you will ford the river several times. Make sure to check the current flow rate via USGS. If the river is running higher than 60 CFS, then crossing the river will be difficult, and possibly dangerous.

As you approach Virgin Spring Canyon you will be on the wrong side of the river and will need to cross the river to get into Virgin Spring Canyon. About 5 minutes up Virgin Spring on your right is a very nice pictograph panel about 15 feet above you. If you walk in the wash it’s easy to miss, but follow the trail on the west side of the canyon as you walk up will lead you to a sign that says to not deface the rock. Another 5-10 minutes up Virgin Canyon you’ll come to a dry fall where a large pool of water is located. This is your best source for water and should be your refill for the remainder of the trip, unless you choose to filter water from the river.

Virgin Spring Canyon has seen a bit of graffiti and people being careless about their trash. Please pick up any trash you see, and be a steward by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Virgin Spring Canyon has two or three nice spots to camp and this is your best option since it’s so close to a good water source.

Day 2: Make sure you are all stocked up on water and begin making your way down the canyon. There is supposed to be another pictograph panel just before you make the hard right turn on the river and start walking south toward Cane Wash. Cane Wash is also supposed to have decent camping and another pictograph panel located up the wash. We did not look for it on this most recent trip. You will cover about 8 miles this day to the car. The last 3.5 miles are dry and you no longer have to ford the river. Be prepared for a couple steep climbs, but nothing too aggressive.

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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

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.

 

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!

Winter Hammock Camping – My First Attempt At It

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Last week I stepped out of my comfort zone and spent my first night ever sleeping in a hammock. Over my childhood and adult years I have spent more nights in a tent, sleeping on the ground than I would even begin to try and count. But why have I never slept in a hammock, you ask? Easy, I never thought to even try it. Plus people are always complaining about how cold they get in a hammock and how much their back hurts in the morning. Hmmm… freezing your butt off, and back pain. Sounds worse than sleeping on a futon.

I am happy to report, that after just one night in 20 degree weather, i’ll be returning to the hammock for more glorious nights of sleep. But lets back track a little and talk about how I got to this point. As you may know I have been investing a lot of time into my YouTube Channel. In that time investment comes looking at what is trending in the outdoor industry. I’ve noticed a few things trending, that being Ultralight Backpacking, and Hammocks. Hammocking is becoming the big way to save weight and simplify a backpackers setup. But if not done correctly, it won’t save you much weight or space, and that is the struggle I am seeing here. At least within a winter setup.

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So what got me to head out into the freezing temps to test out the hammock?

Couple of things: I got my hands on a couple hammocks that I have been dying to to use more, and to see if hammocking makes sense for the type of backpacker that I am.

So what was the result? Overall a good experience. I’ll admit that I don’t have all the necessary gear needed to make sleeping in a hammock ideal, but I had enough to make the trial a worthy test. I took my existing Rab Silwing Tarp and set it up over my Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost hammock. I am glad there was no weather, because the tarp is not as long as the hammock, creating a problem for rain evasion. But what’s more important is the comfort level. With my NeoAir pad in the hammock it made for a very comfortable night of sleep, arguably better than some nights i’ve had sleeping on the ground. It’s not always amazing sleeping when out in the backcountry, but the hammock setup made for a comfortable night of sleep.

At this point it comes down to making critical adjustments to the setup to make it even better. Mainly i’d like to see it get lighter and more manageable. Meaning that in order for the hammock setup to make more sense than a tent, I need to get a tarp that works properly for a hammock and probably focus hammock camping for Summer use only.

Overall I am pleased with my first attempt and plan to make more attempts at it and perfect it a little.