The 3 Rules of Warmth

jMost northerners know what it takes to stay warm on those cold winter nights, and I’m not talking about that magical liquid in the flask. Im talking about the gear you’ll need to hang out in the cold and not even notice that it’s -30 degrees. I’m a Texan that went to live in Colorado for a year to be a ski bum and I only wish a wise man had told me the 3 rules of warmth before I was months into freezing my butt off. A lot of people have their own recipes for staying warm. Momma always said, “wear some layers,” and I’m not going to contradict Momma (I was raised better than that), but that advice is a little vague when you find yourself leaving the house in a blizzard.  Continue reading The 3 Rules of Warmth

Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset – Employee Review

ACK Employee Colter MacKenzie took a three day weekend as part of ACK’s Go Play Day Initiative to get employees adventuring outside and he hit some campsites by the lake with some new gear. One of these items included the Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset from GSI Outdoors and he wanted to share his thoughts about the product here:

The Cookset.
The Cookset.

I really found that my Bugaboo Backpacker Cookset performed well on this trip. It has cups, mugs, plates, a boiling pot, and a frying pan, all of which fit together into a collapsible water bucket. It is compact and very lightweight. This thing is a must have for backpackers!

The Bugaboo Camper Cookset in action.
The Bugaboo Camper Cookset in action.

It does everything. I used it to boil water for dinner, then added noodles to the water and finally strained it with the built in strainer. The lid is made of rubber so it doesn’t get hot and it fits on the frying pan as well as the boiling pot. The mugs were great as well – they kept my coffee hot longer than expected and came with lids that have drinking spouts built in. It also includes a collapsible pot gripper, a sturdy handle which fits on the frying pan as well as the boiling pot. I give it a 8 out of 10, the only downside being how difficult it was to clean the mugs using the outside liner as a sink, forcing me to store it wet. Still, I definitely recommend giving it a look if you’re considering some backpacking that involves camp cooking!

Solar Photon 2 – Employee Review

ACK Employee Colter MacKenzie took a three day weekend as part of ACK’s Go Play Day Initiative to get employees adventuring outside and he hit some campsites by the lake with some new gear. One of these items included the Solar Photon 2 Tent from Terra Nova and he wanted to share his thoughts about the product here:

The Solar Photon 2
The Solar Photon 2

The Solar Photon 2 was by far my favorite tent used on the trip (the other tent being a Kelty Trail Ridge 4). This insanely lightweight, compact tent was so easy to put up and seemed to be very well thought out. The tri-pole support design was unique and it’s easy set-up impressed me. It comes with 15 micro stakes that to my surprise were incredibly effective. I found that you only need 10 of them for the tent, so there are 5 spares. Other than the fact that the stakes were so small and could be lost easily, I want this technology with all the tents I use in the future. The fabric of this tent was seriously mind blowing. It was so thin and light, yet it seemed very strong and rigid. It was easy to put up although the staking process seemed to take the longest due to the fact it has 10 points of contact with the ground. As the wind howled the tent didn’t budge, no flapping or shaking, it was solid.

Once inside this tent I quickly noticed it was a lot less spacious than our Trail Ridge 4, obviously, but it seemed ok for a two person tent but I still felt that it was difficult to move around inside once all the bedding was in place. The interior is a vibrant yellow which was amazing in the morning when the sun came up because it gave the inside of the tent a nice yellow glow. I would recommend this tent to anyone who is looking for a ultra-light backpacking tent for a winter or summer environment. The tent was warm at night and breathed very well in the morning, I never got too hot or too cold inside. There was also more than enough room for 2 people once we laid down. I give this tent a 10 out of 10 because I was so impressed with the design and technology. It truly made the camping experience a bit less stressful knowing this thing wasn’t going anywhere no matter how hard the wind blew.

See more about the Solar Photon 2 Tent in this video from Terra Nova:

Trail Ridge 4 – Employee Review

ACK Employee Colter MacKenzie took a three day weekend as part of ACK’s Go Play Day Initiative to get employees adventuring outside and he and some friends hit some campsites by the lake with some new gear. One of these items included the Trail Ridge 4 Tent from Kelty and he wanted to share his thoughts about the product here:

The Trail Ridge 4
The Trail Ridge 4

The Trail Ridge 4 is a four person tent that was extremely easy to put up. The poles were strong but easy to put in place and used the classic X formation to support the structure. I was really impressed with the attachment design of how the rain cover attached at the base of the poles with a simple squeeze clip and webbing design. It was a cold night at first and the tent held up really well with the wind and cold. It did a great job of holding our body heat inside the tent with all the panels closed and rain cover on. Inside the tent there was plenty of mesh bag compartments that came in very handy for a bottle of water and other valuables.

The fabric of the tent was thick and durable. The seams and seals on the tent also seemed very durable. And as for clean up, the tent packed up just as quickly and it was put up. All the pieces fit into the carrying case with ease and there was no struggle trying to get the zipper closed once everything was in the bag.  As cons go, the tent held our body heat in almost too well! In the morning when the sun came up it started to feel like a sauna. But that was quickly fixed by opening the fly and exposing the mosquito net walls to let air in. I would recommend this tent for a small family (3-4 people) that want a sturdy, yet simple tent. I give it a 9 out of 10.

See more about the tent in this video from Kelty: