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Alpaca Power: Ausangate Alpacor Hiking Socks Review

PureOutside - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 07:00

Merino is all the rage these days for outdoors base and mid layers but alpaca is better in almost every respect, on paper at least.

Merino seems to be the best choice for most garments: soft, doesn’t stink, warm when wet, sustainably produced. But alpaca is all that plus some.

Today’s review is all about Ausangate socks made with what might be the outdoor industry’s next big fibre: Alpaca fleece.

What is Alpacor

The Alpacor High Calf Hiking Sock from Ausungate aren’t made with only Alpaca fibre, it’s a blend with 80% Alpacor, 18% Nylon and 2% Spandex. Cool, but what’s Alpacor?

Alpacor yarn is a blend of natural and synthetic fibres, one of them being Tencel, a smooth, wicking wood-based fibre. Tencel is a very soft fibre, good at wicking and likely a little cheaper than Alpaca so it helps bring the cost down a bit. Icebreaker uses Tencel in their Cool-Lite fabric.

Benefits of Alpaca

With the Alpacor yarn you should get performance that can top wool.

Hollow alpaca fleece fibre traps heat even better than fine wool strands without extra weight. This also contributes to the excellent wicking. Moisture is evaporated off the strands instead of reaching a saturation point like wool does.

Little barbs on wool cause the itchy factor. The merino produced today is so fine and the processes afterwards attempt to remove the barbs or fill in the gaps, creating a smoother strand. Alpaca doesn’t have these little barbs creating a very soft sock. The added Tencel to Alpacor is very smooth as well, often called softer than silk and used in cosmetic face masks.

Another irritant in wool is lanolin which is often removed through a chemical process. Alpaca is lanolin free naturally.

Merino wool is famous for it’s care and handling restrictions. Don’t dry it in the dryer or you’ll end up with a shirt 2 sizes to small. Alpacor socks can be washed and dried just like everything else. I did notice a slight shrinking when I accidentally dried one of mine. Nothing even noticeable out hiking though.

Some of the literature says Alpaca tensile strength is better as well, or the breaking strength when pulled from each end. There’s much debate about this online. Sounds like it depends on many other factors as to which ends up stronger in a sock so the jury’s still out on this one. If there’s any possibility I can get a stronger sock that doesn’t get holes in the heels then I’ll take it. I have to regularly replace my merino wool socks.

Likes for the Ausangate Alpacor Hiking Sock

Ok, so now we can finally get to the sock review.

These are technically winter socks on the website but I’ve been wearing them in a warm May. Every hike the last few weeks has been with the Alpaca socks and I’ve also warm them most days in my Blundstones to work and afterwards to get as much testing time in the socks as possible before writing this.

Soft and Comfortable.

The first thing you’ll notice is how soft the socks are. I don’t have a problem with merino wool but the softer the better in my mind. Comparing it side by side with a Hike+ Medium from Icebreaker there is a difference. Slight but noticeable.

There aren’t any seams inside, just the LIN toe seam above the toes to close the end. It’s slightly raised which I think is just because of the thicker fabric around the toes hitting the thinner material on top of the foot. The only part of the sock that sticks out all inside is the Ausangate logo. I can’t feel it when I wear them though.

Stretchy “compression ribs” around the middle of the foot and just above the ankle are slightly tighter than the rest and keep the sock in place. I have yet to have it move around much on me.

Good temperature

Hiking in the heat and sitting in the office in leather boots, I was expecting my feet to overheat. I run pretty warm most of the time, especially if I’m moving quickly in warm weather. I brought extra thinner socks to change into. I didn’t have to. I didn’t even think about it. Comfortable all day.

The breathable Alpacor with Tencel must be doing what it’s supposed to be. The thinner fabric on the top of the socks and front of the calf must help shed some of that heat as well.

Keeps shape and doesn’t shrink – much

The Alpacor is advertised as no shrink. Throw it in the washer and dryer just like everything else.

I accidentally tossed on of mine in the drier so I got a side-by-side test. Looks like just laying on top of one another the dried one is 1 centimetre shorter on the top. Not a big deal though, can’t even feel it when they’re on. Some of the merino garments will shrink inches in the drier. Seeing some of my own go through the drier, socks are less of an issue.


My only dislike out of all my testing so far is the tufts of thread around the Ausangate logo. I’m not sure if it’s just pilling there from wear or the extra thread from the logo creates the bumps. I’ve hardly noticed them at all yet. If you had a tight spot on your hiking boots just above your toes they might irritate the top of your foot. The rest of the sock is so comfortable and well-made, hopefully they can sort out the thread in the logo.

Will we see more alpaca?

Before looking into all the alpaca information for this review, I had no idea it was such a unique and high-performing material.

The alpaca wool industry is not nearly as mature as the merino wool side of things. I’m very interested to see how it grows and spreads. I have a feeling we’ll all be wearing Alpaca base layers very soon.

Get a pair of Alpacor socks

The Alpacor socks are about the same price as merino at $19.99 (USD). Find them at Ausangate or Amazon.


More Photos

Disclosure Stuff

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Alpacor Hiking Socks from Ausangate as coordinated by Deep Creek PR, an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company, in consideration for review publication.

In other words, I get these items free to review. I use these connections to get more rad gear to test so you guys get more gear reviews. All opinions on the items are my own. Honest feedback about the products are in everyone’s best interest. Gear companies can make better gear and you can get straight recommendations on which is the best for you.


The post Alpaca Power: Ausangate Alpacor Hiking Socks Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

GoalZero Flip 30 Review

PureOutside - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 10:00

GoalZero started in 2009 out of Robert Workmans work abroad to reduce poverty. He was frustrated with all the obstacles to helping people create sustainable lifestyles.

After almost giving up and leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he was helping at the time, he came to a realization:

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”

One of the issues was power. Getting reliable power opens a lot of doors for people in developing countries and helps those in need after emergencies like natural disasters.

Since the start with a focus on helping in developing countries and emergency situations GoalZero has really pushed into the outdoor market with charging, storage and lighting solutions for base camping and backpacking. Recent innovations have included partnering with tent makers for lighting and power storage built right into the tent.

The Flip 30 is another well-made power storage solution from GoalZero aimed at anyone needing extra power on the go. If you own a smart phone or tablet these days, that’s you.

What is the Flip 30?

The GoalZero Flip 30 is a USB battery pack for charging your USB devices. Charge it up with a laptop, wall outlet or solar panel and then take it on your adventures to power up other USB devices. It’s perfect for charging your phone, tablet, cameras or GPS.

How to Use the Flip 30

Using the Flip 30 is easy. Plug it in anywhere with the attached USB plug. The 4 blue lights on the side flash until it’s full. Each of the lights show 25% so 2 lights mean it’s 50% full.

When you need a charge plug in your USB device and press the charge button by pressing the USB plug into the side of the Flip 30.

If you need to know how much charge is left on the battery, click the USB plug button once and the lights will come on show a light for each 25%.


The GoalZero Flip 30 is a pretty simple device. Charge it up from a laptop, wall, or solar charger. Take it with you on adventures and use it to charge any USB device like phone, GPS or camera.

Here’s a few specs of the Flip 30:

  • flip-out USB plug
  • one 5V 2.1A USB output
  • 5V 1.5A input to charge from laptop, wall or solar charger
  • charge status lights
  • 7800 mAh (3 phones charges or 1 tablet charge)

What’s a mAh?

All battery packs will have a size rating in mAh, or milliamps. It’s the rating for the size of the battery in them, how big their gas tank is. These numbers are important when you’re taking a battery pack on a trip to charge something. You’ll need to find out how much each of your devices takes to charge.

If I wanted to charge an iPhone 7, it’s battery requires 1960 mAh to charge so if I have 7800 mAh total in the Flip 30 then I’ll get 3 to 4 charges for the phone.

4 charges * 1960 mAh = 7840 mAh

That’s cutting it close and requires the Flip 30 to be brand new, working perfectly and fully charged. Most batteries capacity drop a bit over time.

If you wanted to charge an iPad mini that requires 6470 mAh, then you’ll get 1 charge and have a bit left over.

7800 – 6470 = 1330 mAh.

The Flip 30 is a small to medium sized battery pack these days. You can get 10,000 to 20,000 mAh charges in relatively small sizes. The bigger batteries will be heavier. Add up the number of charges for each device you’ll need on your trip for the total number of battery packs you’ll need.

Built-in USB plug

The best feature about the Flip 30 is it’s built in USB plug. You don’t need to carry around a USB cable to charge it, just flip out the plug and plug it in. I’ve forgotten the charger cable for other batteries I’ve had and been stuck carrying around a dead battery. Not as useful.

This flip out plug is a mixed blessing. Trying to plug the Flip 30 into something other than a laptop isn’t great, it hangs off the flip out plug. So far nothing has broken and everything is charging properly. I feel like hanging off a desktop computer or wall charger too much puts a lot of stress on the flip out plug and might lead to issues.

Solid construction

Some electronics feel cheap and like they’ll fall apart after a few uses. Definitely not the case with the GoalZero Flip 30. The case on the battery feels solid like it would survive drops from a good distance. I haven’t tried to drop mine to see how it would survive but it’s fallen to the ground a few times on the dirt or carpet with no issue.

The flip out USB plug is the only thing I worry about. Rotating out, the wires have to move. Only long term use is going to show how long the plug lasts. So far it’s worked great.

Long USB cord issue

The only issue I’ve had with the Flip 30 is an intermittent one. One of my 10’ long USB cords causes the Flip 30 to stop charging after a random amount of time. All my shorter cords have worked perfectly.

Usually I get 5 to 10 minutes of charging with the long cable and then it stops like it’s not connected to anything and I have to press the charge button again.

Chatting with a GoalZero rep, they are aware if the issue and are working on a fix. Normal length USB cords still work perfectly.

Alternative: GoalZero Venture 30

One alternative to the Flip 30 is the Venture 30. Another one by GoalZero the Venture 30 is pretty similar to the Flip 30 with a couple of differences.

The similarities are that it’s got a 7800 mAh charge, the same capacity as the Flip 30. Outside of that it’s got a few notable differences.

The Venture 30 is waterproof. IPX6 water resistant which means splash resistant getting a bit wet from rain or snow isn’t going to phase this battery. It’s not dunk resistant though. Don’t chuck it in the lake.

There are three connections on the Venture 30 compared to the Flip 30’s one. Two of the connections are just female usb ports and one male micro-USB port.

The downside to the additional features is that the Venture 30 is more expensive at $99 US and 2 oz heavier. If you need the waterproofness or additional connections though the extra cost is worth it.



  • Solid construction
  • No cord required with the flip-out plug
  • Charge status lights
  • Compatible with any solar charger with USB out


  • Thicker than other batteries (but short)
  • Doesn’t work with some long USB cords (will be fixed soon)
  • Only one port

If you need power on the goal, GoalZero has a solution for you. If it’s waterproof then the Venture 30 is the one for you. Otherwise, the Flip 30 is less expensive and still has enough power for a few phone charges. It’s thicker than some other battery packs but much more compact. Depends on where you’re going to put it for what form factor you need.

Whether we like it or not, we’re dependent on the little gadgets in our pockets. You might have the willpower to leave your phone at home for all your hikes. I don’t. And then the battery dies. But not any more.

More Photos

The post GoalZero Flip 30 Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

How to set up a hammock: Rallt Double Camping Hammock Review

PureOutside - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 21:32

Hammocks are dangerous if you sit in them wrong. But face the right direction and you can sleep in them all night.

I set up the Rallt double hammock recently to start my testing. First time setting up a gathered-end style hammock. I’ve hooked up spreader-bar hammocks before. Easy. Hook the ring onto the hook. Done.

For a gathered-end hammock it’s not much more. Put the straps around the tree, hook the carabiner on. Done. Sit crosswise and check out the view. Done. Lean back and fall out the other side. Almost.

Apparently sitting in a hammock is harder than it looks.

About Rallt

Rallt is a relatively new outdoor company specializing in lightweight adventure products, currently only hammocks. They say everything should be packable and have a purpose. Good rules for every adventure.

About the Rallt Double Camping Hammock

Rallt currently has a Double Camping Hammock and a Single. Almost identical, they differ only in size. The single is 3m x 1.4m (10’ x 4’7”) long and 450 grams (15.9 oz). The double is a little bigger at 3m x 1.9m (10’ x 6’2”) weighing 546 grams (18.9 oz) without rope or hanging straps.

The hammocks themselves are 70D ripstop nylon gathered at the ends with non-stretch braided polypropylene rope with an aluminum wire-gate carabiner for hanging.

The Single is rated for 181 kg (400 lbs) while the double is rated up to 226 kg (500 lbs). The carabiners are rated for 1019 kg (2248 lbs) and the optional straps are rated for 226 kg (500 lbs), though they test them up to 544 kg (1200 lbs).

Right in the bag with the Single or Double hammocks are 2 lengths of 10 feet of the braided polypropylene rope for tying around the trees. You need to tie your own knots on these ones.

An optional, and recommended, accessory is the hammock straps. They are 10 foot long straps with 18 loops in each with one at the end. Wrap the strap around the tree, slide one end through the loop at the other and then connect the carabiner to one of the loops. No knots needed.

Each size is available in 8 colours and a digital camo (looks pixelated). The colours are pretty bright and show up well in photos.

Ok, those are the specs. What’s it like to sit in?

Using a hammock

We’ll just get this out of the way first. You will probably fall out of a hammock one day. They do have a warning saying don’t pitch them high off the ground in case you fall out. If you fall out of a hammock pitched high in the trees, it’s going to hurt.

The very first time I pitched the Rallt Double, the trees were too close together. The result was the hammock hanging steeply into the centre. It still worked well. I hardly had to move the straps on the trees at all. Picking the perfect trees will take some practice.

Hanging a hammock

I had to check out Rallt’s website to make sure I was hanging everything right. Their quick guide to hammock camping pointed me in the right direction.

From their guide, they suggest an overhand loop on one end of the rope to clip the carabiner too and then a Siberian hitch around the tree.

I used the ropes a couple times but prefer the straps because they’re so easy. No adjusting or trying to get it the right tightness. Just wrap the strap around the tree and clip the ‘biner where you want it. Couldn’t be easier.

They straps, though not as wide as they could be will be nicer on the bark of the tree than the rope will, spreading the load over 3/4 webbing instead of the rope.

Getting in (and not falling out)

Grab both sides of the hammock, take a couple steps back and sit down. Careful leaning back that the fabric is actually behind you!

You can lay across the hammock which will be shorter but easier to get out of. I do this when I’ve got muddy boots on and just want to chill for a bit.

Laying lengthwise along the hammock is definitely the most comfortable. Careful closing your eyes laying like this, you might be out for a while.

If you want to be more flat, hang the hammock with trees a bit farther apart and pull it tighter in between. If you want to be more upright, hang with trees closer together.


Overnighting in a hammock is getting more popular these days. It’s still a pretty unique thing to do and it does come with it’s challenges. To stay warm you can add a sleeping pad in the hammock with your sleeping bag. You can also add an overbag around the whole hammock, like a sleeping bag underneath, to keep the heat in.

Keeping the bugs out

If you need some bug protection, there are nets that go all the way around any hammock keep the critters out. Some hammocks have nets built onto the top so you don’t have to bring something extra. Having the net all around means you can leave it at home if you don’t want it for a trip.

Easy to set up

There isn’t much to setting up a Rallt hammock with the straps. Wrap a strap around 2 trees and clip on the hammock.

If you’re using the rope, there’s a bit more to do but still only tying a knot around the tree and some adjustment after. You can leave the carabiner end knot tied.


500 pounds is more than enough for 2 people to hang out in the hammock. 2 people is more a sit together or hang out for a bit kind of configuration. I doubt you’ll be sleeping 2 in a hammock all night.

With that kind of weight, I could fit another 320 pound person in there. And I’m not going to be laying in a hammock with a 320 pound dude any time soon.

Straps are rated for the same as the hammock so there’s no worry putting too much stress on them.

Space for 2 people

The double easily holds 2 people. Have fun getting in and out, it’s a bit tricky but there’s plenty of room. The single will only hold one but is lighter to carry.


Being only $25.99 and $31.99 USD on ($35.99 and $39.99 CAD on, the Rallt hammocks are a steal. You’ll pay double that price for some of the other hammocks that don’t even include all the gear to hang it.

Attached stuff sack

The Double comes with a stuff sack that fits the hammock and the ropes. It’s attached to the side of the hammock so you never lose it.

I had trouble finding it the first few times. I forgot it was nicely attached to the side of the hammock and went looking around in my bag and everywhere else before realizing, it’s attached.

Aluminum wire-gate clips

The carabiners are rated to 1019 kg (2248 lbs). Plenty for my purposes. All the edges on the ‘biners are smooth and won’t snag the thin hammock fabric. Regular ‘biners would catch. Their glossy black finish go well with the hammock.

Optional Straps

The straps are optional but well worth it. They’re $25.99 CAD ($16.99 USD). With the straps you don’t have to fiddle with any knots and they don’t press into the tree bark as much as the rope does. You can set up the hammock in about 30 seconds with the straps. They come with the little big below or just stuff them in with the hammock.


The strength and quality of the Rallt hammocks are a great value for the price. You’ll have to spend quite a bit more with other brands to get that kind of quality.

Now I just need to get the hammock stand for the stand-up paddle boards and I’m set for the summer.


I get these items free to review. I use these connections to get more rad gear to test so you guys get more gear reviews. All opinions on the items are my own.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Double Camping Hammock for free from Rallt as coordinated by Deep Creek PR, an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company, in consideration for review publication.

The post How to set up a hammock: Rallt Double Camping Hammock Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

LaceLocker Review: Tiny device keeps your shoes tied through long runs and any conditions

PureOutside - Sun, 03/19/2017 - 07:00

How do you keep your shoe laces tied running, riding or on the kids at the park? Can be tough.

Stop during the race and kill your momentum. Not notice your laces are untied and fall flat on your face.

Riding with untied laces and risk having them wrapped around your pedal and suddenly you are tied to your bike. Clipped on with no way to get out.

How often are the kids running around with laces untied. They bounce more than we do when they hit the ground but it’s still hard to watch. And entirely preventable.

Clip a Lace Locker on your shoes and you won’t have to deal with untied laces.

What is a Lace Locker?

A Lace Locker is a funky little device you stick on your shoe laces. With little hook and loop (velcro) tabs, they keep your laces all collected together. Wrapped up in the Lace Locker tabs, they’ll never untie themselves.

To put them on your shoes, slide the first table under your laces and push down, sandwiching the laces on the top of your foot in between two Lace Locker tabs. See the pictures below in the TevaSphere trail runners.

If your laces go through a loop on the tongue of your shoe, you’ll have to take them out of the loop. The tab of the Lace Locker has to have space to slide down on top of the tongue and under the laces.

Tie a single knot and then wrap the two loops and two tails together between the 2 top Lace Locker tabs. Wrap the tabs around the laces and push down to secure. Don’t think about your laces again.

What do they do?

So the Lace Lockers wrap up your laces so they don’t bounce around and untie themselves. Pretty simple. Nice to have.

Great for racing when you don’t want to have to kill your momentum to stop and tie shoes. If your shoes are covered in mud, you won’t have to touch them because they won’t come untied. Rinse or run through the wash to clean the Lace Lockers.

Perfect for kids running around with untied laces all the time. Wrap up those laces and they won’t be face planting.

Seniors or vision-impaired folks can do their shoes up once and not have to worry about seeing them or kneeling down to their shoes to tie up shoes again.

I’ve come back from trail runs with twigs and random bit and pieces of the forest hanging off my laces. Usually don’t notice. If I do notice it’s because a twig is whipping my shins with every step. Not very comfortable.

One of the stories from the Lace Locker site was from a lady who hated the feeling of her laces hitting her shins when she ran. I can relate. I had a pair of shoes that did that and it drove me nuts. Wrap the laces up in Lace Lockers. No more stabby laces tips in your shins.

Where you can get them?

All sorts of different colours are available on The basic grey, blue or black or even skull and cross bones. If you want to be seen at night, get the reflective logo. Most are $8 to $10 per pair.

Get some Lace Lockers as prizes from your event or for your running team with custom graphics.

The Lace Lockers went from a strange new product that I had never seen to a fantastic tool for better races and trail runs. The kids will be wearing them too. donates 20% of every LaceLocker to help put young girls through college. Can’t think of a better cause than that. Proceeds from some models are donated to specific things. Help a cause and keep your laces tied at the same time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the Lace Lockers for free from Lace Locker as coordinated by Deep Creek PR, an Outdoor Industry Public Relations Company, in consideration for review publication.

The post LaceLocker Review: Tiny device keeps your shoes tied through long runs and any conditions appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Vancouver Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show

PureOutside - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 21:28

Gear, tours, bikes, tourism, tents, so many tents. March 4 and 5 outdoor enthusiasts braved the crazy weather and made the trip to the Vancouver Convention Centre for the Vancouver Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show. Vendors as far as you can see made up of tour operators, gear makers and sellers, demonstration bikers and bike shops filled the floor under the sails. I  headed to Vancouver to talk to all the vendors I could about their tours and new gear. A bit of a kid in a candy shop. Some sunshine and a mini-hike in between capped off the weekend.

Adventure Pool

The show had multiple stages and even a pool for talks and demonstrations over the course of the weekend. Not sure how a SUP works or rolling in a kayak? Brave athletes hopped in the cold water and showed off their moves. You could even try scuba diving for the first time.

Climbing Wall

If getting wet isn’t your thing there was a climbing wall as well. The ropes were attached to weights on the inside to let them down gently.

Delorme (Garmin) inReach

DeLorme, now part of Garmin, has already updated the popular inReach satellite messenger with a slightly better mapping system and a new body. The body of the device looks like a 64-series GPS but with all the inReach functions. The SOS button is under a tab on the side to stay out of the way and the charging port on the bottom got a better cover. Really the only difference between the SE and the Explorer now are the maps. With the previous inReach versions if you just want the messenger you can get the SE and save a bit of money but if you want the maps and not need a GPS, get the Explorer.

Sharon Tenenbaum put together a very unique display of work for the show. Some of her beautiful photos on canvas and metal had additional painting over top.

My favourites were the skylines and mountain photos created out of bike parts and accessories printed on metal. The finished product was very impressive. You can find more of the images to buy at

Skyview Outdoors and Eureka Tents

Skyview Outdoors brought a ton of outdoor gear. Johnson Outdoors as there as well with a lot of tents. Everything from tiny 1 person tents up to massive family outdoor tents.


GnomeHomes are tiny trailers with either a double or queen size mattress inside. They’re light enough a small car can tow them around and some are under $10k. They make them to order so you can get the exact features you want. And most of the parts are sourced in Canada. Some parts, like doors, just can’t be found in Canada so they go to the US for those.

A battery and small solar panel on the roof give you tons of power during sunny periods and at least a few days worth of juice. If you watch the TV in the larger model then it’s going to drain you battery much faster.

Inside is the bed and storage.

Around the back is the kitchen. Bottom left drawer had a refrigerated cooler in it (that draws power from the battery while it’s cooling) but can also switch to keeping food warm.

Treeline Rooftents

Treeline Outdoors from just outside Calgary, Alberta is making some rad rooftents. With models for 2, 3 or 4 people and additional versions that integrate solar products from Goal Zero, Treeline can be set up so they fold off the side or back of your car. An additional Annex or set of walls for under the fold out part would keep you dry even if it was raining sideways. The Annex comes with a removable floor.

Trial Stars

Jeff and Steve from the Trial Stars demonstration group and a guest rider did a few great shows. The audience was packed as they did their thing jumping over, around and onto things both up and down. They started with a little competition to see who could bunny hop (jumping straight) and side hop (jumping sideways) over a little high jump bar they set up. The side hop competition got up to 53 inches, nearly word record height.

They proceeded to jump, over and down three, four, and five foot platforms, hopping up there in various ways. They took a break jumping on and off the platforms to jump over each other laying on the floor. Jeff jumped over Steve, at one point jumping over his face and tapping his nose with the bike tire on the way over. Some of the audience had to look away.

Rice Lake

Staying in Lynn Valley for the night between the 2 days of the show, I had to take advantage of the beautiful Saturday evening. A quick hike along new trails for me around Rice Lake was a welcome change from being inside all day.


Day 2

I spent day 2 catching up with the vendors that I missed the day before and getting in a couple of the photography workshops from Leo’s Cameras. They weren’t much of a workshop as a talk but a couple very good ones. A Leo’s staff member gave a great talk on 360 cameras for video and still photos and got my brain firing about how to use those to capture a trip into beautiful places. With the 360 cameras, you can leave it recording and don’t have to point it at anything. Afterwards on YouTube or in one of the apps, just pan around and look wherever you want in the video. You’ll see things you missed after wards since you were likely looking somewhere else. While everyone stared at the waterfall in the video, you can pan around the other way and see the beautiful old growth trees and giant ferns.

Kimoto Kafee

Kimoto Kafee is a coffee shop in Tofino that brings in coffee from Thailand. The coffee was delicious and very welcome early Sunday morning but what caught my attention was the paper and cotton page they used in the photo below to sit in the cup, ready for the water. These individual packets would make for a great on the go or camping coffee solution. I’ve never found an instant I like, Starbucks gets close, but these little coffee holders worked great. They’re working on distribution around Vancouver Island and BC.

Soup Girl

I was hoping to try out some of the delicious looking soups from Soup Girl. I missed the gluten-free one she had going on the Saturday. The small packs are just add water and could make a great backpacking meal for 2. The jars would be too heavy to talk but would be great for home. She had bigger packs as well for 4-6 people.

Big Bear Tools

The Silky hand saws that Big Bear Tools had at their booth caught my eye. A good saw for tail building is a life-saver and I usually have one in my truck, sometimes my backpack, just in case you run into something you can’t get through. We’ve had cut out a tree that had fallen across the road while we were out hiking. It was a slow process with the small saw we had but it was better than nothing. A Pocket Boy 170 like in the picture below is 6.75 inches long with super-sharp, hardened teeth on a japanese blade. It would be easy to toss in a daypack.


A boat ride home

After hating the ferry for so long because of the long wait for the other side, I’ve come to like the forced disconnection the ferry offers. The wifi exists but is terrible so there’s no internet. I try to relax and read as much as I can. I’m always running into friends I haven’t seen in ages as well so it’s a fun time to catch up.

And most of the time, there’s a a nice view to sit and enjoy.

Huge thanks to the Vancouver Outdoor Adventure and Travel show for the passes to the show and 2 sets to give away through their blogger program. I’m already excited for what’s in store for next year so keep an eye out for that!

A few other bloggers have their “Trip Report” up from the show.

7 Ways to Be Inspired at the Vancouver Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show

Going inside to have an Outdoor Adventure

15 things I learned from the Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show Vancouver

The post Vancouver Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia Backpack Review

PureOutside - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 17:55

Most companies are in business to make money. They get to continue what they do if they make money to fund it. What happens with those profits though differs for each company. Some make money purely for the owners.

Others, like Cotopaxi, are driven by a mission to use that money for a good cause. A certified B corporation, Cotopaxi takes 2% of revenues every year to fund grants around the world, helping active projects increase health, education and livelihoods in developing countries. They actively seek the best projects to fund and are transparent with exactly what they do with the grants each year.

The gear is high quality and meant to least at least 61 years, the lifespan of a person living in the developing world. “Gear for good” is their motto alluding to both their high quality, long lasting gear and their bigger mission of helping poverty all over the world.

The Luzon Del Dia backpack is a prime example of their commitment to simple, strong gear and doing this in a unique way. “Del Dia” means “of the day” so you get a completely unique, one-of-a-kind Luzon when you order. More in the colours section about that.


The Luzon Del Did is a basic pack. It’s pretty simple when it comes to features.

  • 18L pack
  • drawstring top closure
  • adjustable sternum strap and webbing waist belt
  • water bladder pocket with hose port
  • mesh shoulder straps
  • small zippered front pocket
  • no frame (very packable)

It comes in one 18L size. Being a little day pack there isn’t small, medium, or large sizes to pick. One size fits all.

The sternum strap is adjustable up and down and is thin webbing. The waist belt is the same, just a webbing strap. You won’t be holding much weight in an 18L pack

The water bladder just inside the back panel can hold a 2-3 litre water bladder and has a port out the top to route the hose to your shoulder straps. The right shoulder strap has a hose holder just above the sternum strap.

The front zippered pocket is about 2 litres with a Luzon Del Dia logo inside and the Del Dia “1/1” symbol. Your Del Dia is 1 out of 1 because of the colours.

The Luzon Del Dia colours of the day

“Del Dia” means “of the day”. The backpack you get is literally the Luzon of the day. The workers in the factories in the Philipines get free reign to pick the colours for each backpack. They take the scraps and rolls that would sit on the shelf forever and match them up into funky and bright backpacks that you get in the mail.

You don’t get to choose the colours, it’s just a surprise when you get it.

If you don’t like the idea of getting a random selection of colours in the clips and fabric, the regular Luzon backpacks have set colours that you can choose from.

Water bladder pocket

The Luzon has as water bladder pocket just inside the back of the backpack. It easily fits a 2-3 litre water bladder or other pieces of gear if you aren’t taking a bladder.

Strong clips and straps

The shoulder straps on the Luzon are mesh so they won’t be too hot in the warm weather. I was testing in the winter so that wasn’t an issue.

The sternum strap slides up and down on the shoulder straps so you can place it where you want it.

The waist belt is just thin nylon webbing. It’s not going to hold any weight on your hips but 18L isn’t going to weigh much. The webbing will be plenty to keep the bottom of the bag from swinging around too much. I’m surprised there is even a waist belt on an 18L bag but I like it. Moving fast the bag swings too much without the waist belt on.

1 small top opening issue

The only issue I have with this awesome little bag is that you can’t close the drawstring top completely. You can get the drawstring pulled really tight but there’s still a slight opening. Out on a wet day, water is going to get in.

Most of the time this opening isn’t going to be a problem. Multi -day hiking is going to require a bigger backpack. Really wet days will require a pack cover for whatever you choose. This really only applies to the times that you’re out in good weather with the Luzon and the rain rolls in. You’re stuff will get a bit wet.

Lightweight and packable with a twist

At 300 g (10.5 oz) the Luzon is nice and lightweight. There isn’t any frame or extra features to weigh it down. The fabric is thin but feels durable. You won’t be carrying much in 18L but the pack doesn’t add much too that load either.

Having no frame and thin fabric means the Luzon packs down really small. The pack would fit inside a nalgene bottle no problem, maybe smaller.

It’s not mentioned anywhere official but the whole backpack stuffs into the front pocket. The zipper isn’t double-sided so you have to use the zipper upside down to zip it up the pouch but it fits well. The “1/1 Luzon Del Dia” logo on the inside of the pocket becomes the logo on the outside of the pouch.

Since it packs down so well this would be a great day pack or travelling pack to take with you in your other gear. I travelled around Australia and New Zealand for 4 months with a Osprey Talon 33 litre pack stuff in the front of an Osprey Aether 70 pack. It fit but it was a bit big. The Talon 33 doesn’t have a frame but it’s got a stiff board in the back. A Luzon 18 that stuffs down really small would have been perfect for a packable day pack.

Buying a Luzon Del Dia

The Luzon Del Dia goes for $49 USD on Cotopaxi’s website. You can also get the regular Luzon with the standard colours from the site for $39 USD. REI is stocking the Luzon as well.


Cotopaxi is a relatively new gear company, only starting in April 2014, but already they’re making waves with how they’re approaching gear and the industry.

I love the Gear for Good slogan and the idea of the Public Benefit Corporation and feel like it’s where more companies need to go. Like a percentage of every guide we sell at PureOutside, outdoor companies have a lot of power and responsibility to give back to the community and the outdoors. Cotopaxi shows us it can work well.

The Luzon Del Dia a great little day pack that is going to start conversations and carry your day hiking gear for years. The small drawstring issue won’t cause most people any issue and the rest of the bag and features work so well you’ll forget out it. I know I’ve found a favourite piece of gear when I’m looking for excuses to use it.

Whether you need to shake up the colours in your gear closet, or just need a very packable day pack for outdoor and travel adventures, the Luzon would be a good option.

The post Cotopaxi Luzon Del Dia Backpack Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show in Vancouver Ticket Winners

PureOutside - Mon, 02/27/2017 - 21:34

3 weeks ago we announced that we’d be giving away 2 sets of tickets to the Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show in Vancouver this weekend, March 4 and 5th. It’s going to be a great show with tons of fun things to do and great deals.

We drew the 2 winners of the tickets tonight and here they are! Interestingly both from instagram.






We’ve got in touch with the winners to get their info. Super stoked to see you guys at the show this weekend. Hope to see everyone else there as well!



The post Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show in Vancouver Ticket Winners appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking

L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Hooded Jacket Review

PureOutside - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 22:33

A lightweight down jacket should be in everyone’s gear closet. The combination of minimal weight with maximum warmth is hard to beat with any kind of synthetic. Down’s issues with moisture keep a lot of people from getting one. A new down treatment from Down Decor might change all that.

This review is my results of bashing around the L. L. Bean Ultralight 850 down hooded jacket with 850-fill DownTek down.


The Ultralight 850 jacket has features that you’d usually find more expensive jackets. It’s a good combination of features and comfort without a lot of weight. Here’s the main features:

  • Helmet compatible hood (available without a hood)
  • Downtek 850 fill down
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Elastic around cuffs and hood
  • Internal pocket that you can stuff the jacket into
  • Wind resistant Pertex shell
  • Tall sizes with longer sleeves available
  • Media pocket with a headphone hole.

Overall the jacket fits a bit big. I ordered a medium regular (they come in tall sizes as well with longer arms) which should fit a 38-40 inch chest. I’m a stocky 5’7” at 175 pounds and my chest is about 39.5” around. There’s room inside for another thick layer plus some. Compared to medium’s in the Icebreaker Helix jacket and Arcteryx Atom SL, it’s quite roomy. For me I’d likely size down if I bought one. Since I will be sending this loaner back to L.L. Bean, it’s not an issue.

Zipped up completely, the neck fits nice. It’s got a nice height covering your chin but not coming up too high. Having it zipped up all the way mostly closes the neck to prevent any drafts.

There are no adjustments on the wrists and hood. They are just elastic all the way around. The wrist openings could be a bit smaller. They stayed on my wrists and didn’t flop down to my hands but could have been a bit tighter to keep the drafts out.

The hood is helmet compatible which is nice but makes it too big for just my head and my noggin isn’t small. I’d love an adjustment around the face and maybe one around the back to tighten up the hood and keep the heat in.

If you’ve got longer arms get the tall size which have longer sleeves.


The Ultralight 850 is well built. I think it’s a good balance between lightweight and durable. It clocks in at about 12 oz (340 g), so under a pound.

The Pertex shell feels very thin at first but it’s actually heavier than some other jackets with a 10 denier fabric or less. I don’t think it would stand up to hard bush whacking but scraping against rocks and tree branches here and there out hiking didn’t even leave a mark.

The small baffles hold the down in place. The 3.7 oz of down in this jacket is a fair amount for a jacket this size. The more down fill you have the warmer it will be. The baffles in the Ultralight 850 are sewn through from the outside to the inside. This does help keep weight down but it also pinches the inner and outer layers together in between every baffle. This can create spots that are cooler because the jacket is thinner there. Box baffles would hold the down in place without pinching the layers together.

DownTek Down

Down jackets and sleeping bags are amazing for being lightweight and warm but they can’t get wet. As the down gets wet it loses its loft, trapping less heat in your jacket and leaving you cold.

DownTek down has been coated with a special treatment that makes it water resistant, absorbing 33% less water and drying 66% faster. While not completely doing away with the wet down problem, using coated down certainly reduces it, allowing you to wear your down jacket in more conditions.

The Ultralight 850 uses high loft (850 fill) Downtek down in their jacket to keep it very lightweight and packable.

You can see the difference in the water-soaked down in their video:


Pockets and stuff sack

There are 4 pockets in this jacket, 2 hand pockets, a chest pocket and 1 interior stash pocket. The chest pocket has a hole for headphones to go through to keep everyone tidy inside the jacket when you’re listening to podcasts.

The whole jacket can be stuffed into the pocket inside for storing or carrying on a harness. It would make for a small pillow in a pinch.

It looks like previous versions of the jacket had fleece lining in the pockets. This 2016 version does not, just the Pertex shell.


A lot of snow came at the perfect time on the west coast to test the Ultralight 850. I’m sad to have to send it back, the weather’s still perfect for a light down jacket.

With the right size, the L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 would make an excellent addition to your gear closet for almost any kind of sport or just hanging out in the cooler weather. I’d like to see an adjustment on the hood to be able to right-size it for everyone’s head to really trap the heat in.

If you need something a bit bigger or want to add extra layers underneath then the fit would be great for you.

The extremely lightweight down and Pertex shell make it easy to carry around, you hardly notice it’s there. The DownTek down let’s you use the jacket in less than ideal weather, conditions that would send the typical down jacket running inside.

Find the L. L. Bean Ultralight 850 down hooded jacket for $229 (US) on L.L. Bean’s website for more info.

Disclosure: L.L. Bean provided me with a sample jacket for this review.

The post L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Hooded Jacket Review appeared first on The PureOutside Blog.

Categories: Hiking