Tag: review

Gear Review – Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System

Gear Review – Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System

This past weekend I was able to review the Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System

This was a relatively inexpensive piece of gear that I think deserves a good review.   At only $23 CDN, and available on Amazon Prime, this is an easy way to add a hydration tube to your gear without dealing with a bladder.  I really like the fact that it comes with different attachments, a bite valve and a on off switch.   It is manufactured in Israel, and seems to be well made and didn’t have a funny taste.

The three different sized lids fit Nalgene bottles, and regular water bottles of different diameters.  A very simple setup where each lid ultimately stacks.   One thing I wish the kit included was a few inches of velcro material to secure it to your pack.  It works with my current ULA Circuit but it would be just a nice little bonus.

Here is what is included:

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Suction wasn’t too difficult and I found I stayed much more hydrated.   One thing I would like to try in the future is cutting the tube and hooking it up to my sawyer straw, and having it as an in-line filter.

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Happy Hiking!

Review – ZPacks 20F Sleeping Bag

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My bag and I basking in the sun in Peru!

I got the ZPack 20F bag after a trip to New Zealand with my Kelty 30 degree synthetic bag.  I was cold.   I typically travel solo so don’t share a tent, also women tend to sleep colder then guys…  especially in a two person tent!  I was so done with my sleeping bag and had recently been reading about through hiking and knew there were a lot of good ultra light gear out there.

I ordered my ZPacks 20F bag when living in Seattle, I knew I needed this bag before my hiking trip circuiting the Cordillera Huayhaush mountain range in Peru.  I would be at altitude and it would be cooler at night.  I emailed them asking if they would be able to send me one before my departure (about 3-4 weeks out).  ZPacks replied within the day and said they would definitely be able to, fantastic customer service!

The bag shipped fairly quickly and I was amazed with how tiny it was.  The bag is approximately 16 oz.  The material is thin but it is easy to get in and out of the ultra light stuff sack it comes with.  I am amazed at how tiny it becomes.   For multi day hikes, I do not use the stuff sack and just throw my sleep system in the bottom of my pack in a trash liner and let everything just squish it down.

Going from a standard REI/MEC sleeping bag, to an ultra light option was my first ‘taste’ of how awesome some of this gear could be!  (Cue sound of cash registers ding ding ding good bye money).

This bag is not your traditional mummy bag.  There is no hood portion to the bag and when you tighten the drawstring, it brings it in (for me), around my eyes… but I am shorter at 5’6″.   I found at first it was a bit tricky to get used to.  In mummy bags I always toss and turn and then wake up with the back of the hear part covering my face and just in general feeling uncomfortable and tangled.  I did not feel that way with the ZPacks bag.  I would try to sleep with the zipper under me but if it twisted or whatever I was no worse for wear.   In the summer I stick my feet in the foot box area of the bag and use it like a quilt.  I find I am perfectly toasty.

I do use a liner – ultimately I regret not going with the 10F bag.  I think the rating must be for mostly men or folks who don’t sleep as cold as I do.  I am considering emailing them to see if I could get more fill added but not sure if it can be done.  The added benefit of the liner is for stink management, I hate when sleeping bag’s smell terrible, liners can be washed easily with my regular hiking clothes.

One thing I did procure recently for my upcoming 10-12 day solo circuit hike, was GooseFeet Gear Down balaclava and booties.  I am hoping this will solve my heat issues as well make me really happy.  I will review both of those in the future as it is mid summer right now.