12 Dec 2016

A Comprehensive Sleeping Pad Report

Erik 'The Black" has just completed another comprehensive gear research report, this time on sleeping pads. His previous reports were for backpacks, sleeping bags and tents/tarps. If you missed my posting on these, they are available on his blog.

To see this current report go here: http://blackwoodspress.com/blog/30341/ultimate-guide-sleeping-pads/

He is to be congratulated on such great gear research work!  

26 Nov 2016

KS Pack

I was introduced to a Japanese ultralight cottage manufacture last week via the TA Face Book group.

The company is called KS Ultralight Gear.

Check them out at http://www.ks-ultralightgear.com/

I like their KS packs. They look very similar to the Mountain Laurel Design (MLD) packs.

I note that there are many opportunities to totally customise (build your own) your pack.

They do have tarps and some other accessories.

Now is the Time to Buy New Gear

If you are looking to go lighter or upgrade current gear to lighter options, this w/e is your golden opportunity. 

Most lightweight cottage industry manufacturers are having the traditional American Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

Check out ZPacks, Tarptent, MLD, Gossamer Gear, Enlightenment, ULA, Hyperlight Mountain Gear - the list goes on. Some have up to 50% off today only.

Use the links in the right hand column to quickly access gear manufactures to check sales. 

15 Oct 2016

Quilt Sale

I am not a quilt fan, but for those that are, Mountain Laurel Designs are having a  rare sale on Quilts - 20% Off!

Good for orders placed up until 21/10.

Quilts are shipping in only a few days. You can place your order online and make a note for the 20% sale discount in the order comments and they will refund the discount.

It's very very rare that MLD send out email specials and this is a goodie, IF you are a quilt person.

11 Oct 2016

A Video Tour of ZPacks Factory

Joe Valesko owner of ZPacks ultralight gear takes us on a video journey of his factory.
I remember when he visited me a couple of years back to do the TA Trail with his wife Sheryl, he told me he had 17 employees. Now he has 60!
Truly an impressive growth.

6 Oct 2016

First Aid Kits for Tramping

I have always though the first aid kit was a huge area of weight savings for the average tramper.

Most trampers over stock their kit and lose sight of it's intended purpose, first aid.

Chris from Green Belly foods has an interesting take on first aid kits. See his post at http://www.greenbelly.co/pages/backpacking-first-aid-kit

I agree with the first comment on this blog, but this is almost exactly my kit, except for some personal requirements (heart medication that would also benefit others).

BTW, Chris' bar are fabulous - but shipping to NZ kills the advantage of buying Em's bars.

I am interested in your comments.

2 Oct 2016

Looking for a New Backpack?

'Erik the Black' is an American thru hiker. He is best respected as a publisher of lightweight hiking guides for the major US trails (we used his John Muir Trail guide - really good!).

His blog is very informative, although I don't really rate him as ultralight. Having said this, his new blog post demonstrates his unbelievable attention to research and detail.

In his latest post, http://blackwoodspress.com/blog/28703/ultimate-guide-lightweight-backpacks/
Erik lists every backpack available (If he has missed any, email him).

He ranks his list heaviest to lightest and within three capacity groups - large, medium and small (I like that). He also provides a clickable link to each manufacture's site.

Well done Erik! A fabulous one-stop shop for a backpack.

Tip, scroll to the bottom first and work your way up. The weights are in pounds. Concentrate first on packs under 2 lbs.

28 Sep 2016

Drymax Socks

I love these socks!

These socks are designed for trail runners. In fact Drymax has a complete range of socks for all usages - office to off track.

This is my third pair. I use to have to buy from the USA, but shoe Science in NZ are now stockist. Quite expensive though, but when you add exchange rate and postage it is pretty comparable.

I love the way they keep your feet sweat free. When worn with my trail running shoes, like my Altra Lone Peak 2.5 - I recently wore out my Altra Lone Peak 2 - They are now on to version 3 - https://www.altrarunning.com/men/lone-peak-3-neoshell-lowhttps://www.altrarunning.com/men/lone-peak-3-neoshell-low  - I found total comfort, even with river crossings.

These socks dried out quickly and have great cushioning whilst not being overly hot in summer tramping conditions. I recently wore them on the Larapinta trail where day temperatures on the last couple of days got up to 32 degrees. No sweat, no stink and blister free!  

There is also the ability to wear 3/4 or turn down to ankle socks as photo shos

You can check out the specs at NZ at Shoe Science and buy on line (as I did). Go to https://www.shoeclinic.co.nz/product-55d4be268ca77327147c52fa

8 Sep 2016

The Malachowski Sleeping Bag - What?

Hi Guys - John Abela put me on to this. A new sleeping bag from a Polish manufacture that weighs in at 480 grams with temp rating at comfy level of 5 degrees, limit at 1 degree.

This equates to my Western Mountaineering Highlite (love it!). I can't track down the price or cost of shipping, but you can start your research at http://malachowski.pl/web/en/sleeping-bags/4-spiwor-puchowy-ultralight-ii-300.html

5 Sep 2016

Pick a Shelter - A Comprehensive List of Backpacking Shelters

Erik the Black is a well known cartographer and American thru hiker. We used his lightweight map and guide book on the JMT Trail - thoroughly recommended - it's all you need.

Anyhow, he has compiled a fabulous document on just about all the backpacking shelters available - both commercial and cottage industry.

Naturally I would encourage you to scroll to the bottom of each section (two person or solo) you search in - lightest weight.

Still can't beat Zpacks Hexamid and soloplex! The Six Moons Deschutes (if you could get it in Cuban Fiber) would be interesting.

Go to:


Enjoy your research - Rob    

1 Sep 2016

Macpac Verses Zpack

Just returned from Hiking the Larapinta Trail in Central Australia (pictures on trip page). Thought you'd like this 'end of trail' picture. Guess which one is the 'lightweight guy' ?

1 Aug 2016

Yak Wool Hiking Clothes

A few weeks back I posted a blog about Kora, a company that manufactures hiking clothing made out of Yak Wool. They make some pretty bold claims, that if proven true by consumers, could give icebreaker a run for their money. But speaking of money, they are very expensive!

I live in Icebreakers 150 half zip tops (got three of them!). I think winter down here in Wanaka could be a good testing ground to checkout Kora's 230 weight - same design as Icebreaker. Here's a picture.

As usual they are using a model build like very few of their customers! This makes it difficult to understand fit. I mean is this a pic of a muscle man in size small? Plus they do not state and weights .

To check out their site go to https://hikelighter.com/2016/07/31/kora-shola-230-zip-top/

9 Jun 2016

Carry Less, Visually Check Gear in Total

Last night I had the pleasure of giving a 'lightweight gear talk' to the members of the Upper Clutha Tramping Club. I took along most of my gear for members to view. One of my first suggestions was to buy scales, weigh all current gear and start up a spread sheet.

This week's Backpacking Light blog post from Ryan Jordan reminded me of another suggestion. He said, "One of the most effective ways to see how much unnecessary crap makes its way into your pack is to lay it out in a small space so you can see it all at a glance. When everything is visible, it's easier to evaluate whether or not you need it than by just looking at a gear list or spreadsheet.

I usually do this on the bed in the spare room a few days before a trip, frequently wandering in to make adjustments. 
Try it. It may help to get more weight down.

Remember, you are an adventure in paradise, not a pack horse!

8 Jun 2016

Helinox Walking Poles

I have posted in the past how great these poles are. I have tried many poles over the years and it's difficult to find ultralight collapsible poles that have a degree of strength. In ultralight gear, there is always a compromise between these two continuum's.  

Helinox poles have proven to be a good balance over the last couple of years and I have only had one breakage. This happened a couple of weekends ago on an overnight trip. The track (if you could call it that!) was muddy and slippery. I was coming off a drop and slipped. I used my right pole to break my fall and fell on heavily. braking the lower section.

I contact Helonix in Australia to ask if they provided spare sections and at what cost. To my utter surprise they replied with, 'yes, we have shipped one to you at no cost'. Covered 'under warranty' they said!

Is this customer service, will I be screaming their praises from the roof tops (and my blog), yes!

10 out of 10 Helinox - I hope you can feel the love all way from Wanaka NZ :-)

12 Mar 2016

Yak Wool

OK us Kiwis are really 'sold' on Merino. But I came across a so called better product made out of Yak wool. Lighter, warmer but more expensive! This is a British outdoor company. Check out their gear at www.kora.net 

Love to get your feedback.

27 Feb 2016

The Te Araroa Trail

It's arrived. The new 'coffee table' photo expose of the TA Trail.

What a stunning book! Mark has done an excellent job at capturing trail shots from different vistas than we normally see. I have include photos of the cover, plus a couple of internal page shots to give you an idea of the format.

Altra Lone Peak 2.5

In previous posts I have waxed lyrically about these wonderful shoes. Well, I have finally worn out my current pair, the Lone Peak 2 version (see previous post of some handy in field repair work).

My recent trip to the USA offered a perfect opportunity to purchase replacements. The 2.5 version certainly seems a bit more robust. Here are some shots straight out of the box. I did wear them everyday in the USA as we were doing a lot of street walking. So comfy!

I could resist including a shot of me modelling the Altras at the original 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign.


2 Feb 2016

Sun Protection Arm Sleeves

A couple of week's ago I wrote a review on the OR Sun Gloves. From this review, several people alerted me to sun sleeves. I think if you hike in a long sleeve shirt, the gloves suffice. But if you're a T shirt hiker, these sleeves would be great on sunny days with, say suntan lotion on back of hands.

SParms are made from 90% Meryl Microfibre and 10% spandex. UV 50+, cool and quick dry and antibacterial. They were developed for golfers and many of the Ladies PGA players use them.

I know, you want to know the weight - how does 35 grams grab you?

These come on large, medium and small sizes, standard and extra long, plus colours. I got medium and extra long as my Icebreaker T shirt has short sleeves. There is quiet a lot of stretch, so you need to take that into account. This photo shows how far up my arm the extra long goes.

The cost was $A29.95, including postage $A37.23.

The website is http://www.sparms.com.au/

27 Jan 2016

Save Able Tasman

OK, who hasn't walked the beautiful Able Tasman track?

Remember Awaroa Bay and beach? Future walkers may not be able to access this area.

Find out why and how one person has a brilliant idea to keep this track section in public hands forever.

Go to https://givealittle.co.nz/project/abeltasmanbeach2016

I've throw a $100 into the fight - Even if you stumped up $10 - every bit helps us purchase this land and gift to DOC or Trust.

25 Jan 2016

Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Shoes

I am off to USA for a conference in two weeks. This is a great time to buy ultra lightweight gear and get delivered to my hotel. Only two item on my list. A replacement pair of Lone Peaks (new 2.5 model). I love these shoes, all-time favourites (and I have had a few shoes over the years!). These are like tramping in slippers! I love the wide toe box and zero drop - With my reconstructed back, I am sure it helps (or encourages me) to walk more upright.

You can check these out at Altra's website

Oh, and yes, the other item. A Tenkara fishing rod - Fresh trout on a tramping trip appeals. This is an ancient way of Japanese fishing that is taking the hiking community is the USA by storm. Lightweigh and simple, so I want to try it. Check it out at Tenkara Bum  

16 Jan 2016

OR Spectrum Sun Gloves

Having had two 'nasties' cut out of my body recently, I have become 'sun obsessive'.

On our recent Xmas/New Year tramping trip, Kathy and Hideo wore gloves to protect the back of their hands from sun damage. I was plastered in lotion, but still felt the burn.

On my return, I pledged to do some research and get gloves. One could take the budget route and get some basic white cotton dress gloves and cut the fingers off, but getting purpose made is not expensive, $40 from Bivouac NZ. For overseas readers, go to Amazon.

I got a pair of OR Spectrum Sun Gloves. 50+ UPF. They have a long wrist, so mitigate skin expose between shirt sleeve and hand when reaching out (walking poles). They are breathable and made of wicking stretch polyester fabric. This makes them quick drying.

Another feature is the silicone grip dots on the palm. good for those (like me) that use walking poles - no slip.

Dare I mention the weight! 19 grams!

On the subject of gloves, I once saw a tramper on a wet, cold trip wearing dish washing gloves.  Not a bad idea, I'd suggest getting oversize to help get them on and off easier. I have also read about others who wear surgical gloves for wet weather travel. This might put the fear of  God into your fellow trampers who may not quite be ready for a prostate check on the trail!.

9 Jan 2016

In Field Emergency Repairs

Evidence that carrying a needle and dental floss comes in handy. I tripped and got my shoe caught on a razor sharp piece of rock (lucky it wasn't the leg!). May not look 'seamstress' quality, but it worked really well.

7 Jan 2016

Motatapu and Scotts Creek to Caples Trips

Hideo Yoshihama, Kathy Endelbrecht, Ming Lo and I just back from 7 day Xmas/New Year tramp. Go to Trips Page to see photos