Gregory Baltoro 65 Backpack

The Gregory Baltoro Backpack  is the perfect storage and carrying system for backcountry trekkers and travelers alike. After I explain the main features of this pack, you will come to understand why it’s the perfect luggage transport system for both a Euro-trip as well as a week long 14er journey.

The backpack comes in three different sizes (small, medium, and large) and all are meant to withstand any climate and terrain equally. The pack is made with durable yet extremely lightweight materials that allow for the backpack itself to weigh only a light five pounds. The suspension and molded back panel are what set Gregory packs apart from the competition. Both features are meant to fit the shape of any lumbar spine, making it feel less heavy on your lower back and instead, it distributes weight throughout your entire body. Continue reading Gregory Baltoro 65 Backpack

Top 4 Backpacks For The Gear Savvy Student

Get Ready for School With One of ACK’s Top 4 Backpacks

The best gear not only performs well on the trail or on the water but also meshes with your everyday life. For students getting ready for back to school, a perfect example of this would be your backpack. Investing in pack that performs well on the trail and on the way to your classroom is a great way to kill two birds with one stone and save money while you’re at it! Check it out as we go through the Top 4 Backpacks for the Gear Savvy Student this fall.

Top 4 Backpacks - Thule Sling Pack
Thule Sling Pack

Thule Crossover Sling Pack

The Thule Sling Pack is an old favorite for students looking to keep things simple. Made with water resistant, durable fabrics and sturdy aluminum hardware, it’s ready to take anything you can throw at it. Plus, with it’s sleek, low profile design & ventilated back, it’s perfect for cyclists and light trail running. The one drawback this pack suffers from is its lack of space compared to other day packs, however it makes up with it’s interior compartments geared toward keeping you organized. It even has a protective sleeve for your laptop. Of the four packs, the Thule Sling is the least built for being on trails and more set up for urban use.

Top 4 Backpacks - Columbia Drifter II Backpack
Columbia Drifter II Backpack

Columbia Drifter II Backpack

Next on our list is the Drifter which comes from a brand we all know and love very much here at ACK. The Drifter comes packed with all the features you need for serious day tripping  and features Columbia’s Backdraft ventilated back panel and their Omni-Shield water-shedding exterior. It is equipped with a removable hip belt for heavy loads, extra strong straps & a rugged exterior making this pack perfect for short weekend trips on the trail as well. During the school week,  it has plenty of internal organizer pockets, a padded 15″ laptop sleeve & an electronics pocket.

Top 4 Backpacks - The North Face Recon Backpack
The North Face Recon Backpack

North Face Recon Backpack

Well organized &  well designed, the Recon is a 29-liter day pack favorite that functions great outdoors or on campus. While it’s on the pricier side, it is jam packed with features like a stow-able waist belt, iPhone compatible pocket and a padded laptop sleeve that doubles as a pocket for your hydration bladder. It even includes a cleverly placed hose port. One downside to this pack would be it’s lack of ventilation making it a much better fit for lighter adventures around town or commuting to the classroom. If you are looking for a durable & organized pack for urban adventures – this is one for you.

Mountain Hardwear Lander Backpack

Last but not least, the Lander pack is more ready for the trail than the classroom, but it can certainly handle both. It is constructed with tough, durable 210D HexRip and 420D nylon panels to ensure a long life on the trail or off. What’s nice about the Lander is how much thought was put into the design to keeping the wearer comfortable. It has a fully padded back panel, shoulder straps and weighs less that most similar day packs. Like the Recon, the Lander is equipped with a multi-use laptop/hydration bladder sleeve as well as plenty of internal organizers for gear & school supplies.

Top 4 Backpacks - Mountain Hardwear Lander Backpack
Mountain Hardwear Lander Backpack


Camping the Kelty Way

An appreciation for one of America’s most sought after camping gear manufacturers.

Kelty LogoTo my delight, I was recently introduced to the Kelty brand and after my first experience, was quickly converted to a loyal user. Since 1952, Kelty has built affordable, reliable outdoor gear that enables everyone, from the first-time camper to the experienced mountaineer, to embrace the outdoors with confidence.

Kelty Tetoon 2 Tent
Kelty Teton 2 Tent

My first experience included the use of the Kelty Teton 2 Tent for an overnight paddling trip on the Colorado River. I needed something that was light but with plenty of room since I am 6′ 2″ and if you know me, I like my space. While I could have easily shared this with my wife, I would have probably considered the Kelty Yellowstone 4 Tent if she had joined me on this particular adventure. Setup of the Teton 2 was a breeze. I typically follow directions when putting something together for the first time but noticed that three quarters of the way through, I hadn’t even opened up the instructions. I also took notice of the craftsmanship with tight seams, a zipper that actually didn’t snag onto anything and the use of quality materials. That is where it all began.

I began researching Kelty products and found that they carry more than just tents. They also design and manufacture anything from pillows, mattresses and pads to folding chairs, backpacks and camping kitchens – just to name a few items. Lucky for me, I am employed at Austin Canoe and Kayak, which gives me an opportunity to not only look at the products in person but also “test-drive” them.

Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair
Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair

One of those products in particular is the Kelty Deluxe Lounge Chair. It may seem like your average folding chair but you’ll quickly notice that it comes with a variety of unique features. For instance, it provides a three-position backrest that can convert the chair into something more like a recliner. After sitting in it for a few minutes, I was tempted to just stay put for the rest of the day – very comfortable. This chair almost hugs you with a seat bottom, back and headrest that are padded and oversized. You’ll also notice that there are two beverages holders and each one is much larger than average with a secondary area for your snacks, or they can be adjusted to fit large one-liter drinks. The side mesh pockets are also huge and convenient for stashing things like flashlights or bug spray and I personally like the fact that it comes with its own bottle opener. Of course, quality is key and they didn’t cut corners with this product. You’ll never look at folding chairs the same way again.

Speaking of comfort, after paddling or hiking for hours, a good nights rest is priceless but when storage and/or carrying capacity is an issue, you can always turn to Kelty’s Light Year sleeping bags. The XP 20 is great for this region as it can get and stay pretty warm throughout the entire camping season. When it does get too warm, I like the fact that you can unzip the foot vent that cools down your feet. However, this is a 3 season sleeping bag so even if a mild cold front unexpectedly hits, this will keep you warm enough to enjoy a good night’s rest. When it comes time to packing or paddling out, you’ll find that it compresses into a small bag, which can easily be stowed in your backpack, kayak or canoe.

Kelty Deluxe Pillow
Kelty Deluxe Pillow

Combine the sleeping bag with a Kelty Luxury Camp Pillow and you have a match made in heaven. This little pillow provides big comfort. It has a stuff sack on the bottom that allows you to…well, stuff clothing or towels into the pillow creating a thicker more comfortable headrest without loosing space in your pack. I also like the fact that it compresses into a tiny little bag that weighs nothing. This pillow is ideal for camping but can also be used in airplanes, auto or even at the office – if you can get away with it.

Another favorite of mine, which is essential for those overnight hiking trips, is the Kelty Red Cloud Back Pack. This backpack provides all the durability you would expect but at an affordable price. The backpack features a lightweight aluminum frame, a variety of easy access compartments, pockets and lash tabs to carry and attach all of your gear. Along with other camping essentials, I was also able to fit my Kelty sleeping bag, pillow and tent into this backpack.

Kelty Basecamp Kitchen
Kelty Basecamp Kitchen

Taking the family camping? You know how difficult it can be to comfortably cook for a group when you don’t have access to a table. The Kelty Basecamp Kitchen not only provides a table for preparing meals but a surface area to place your stove and a pantry to store your cooking utensils and food. The kitchen is foldable and stores inside a transport sack. I see why it won the 2008 Editors Choice Award by Camping Life Magazine.

Kelty Kitchen Sink
Kelty Kitchen Sink

I wanted to say that Kelty makes everything except the kitchen sink but in this case, they actually do! I haven’t personally used one yet but I think it would be a great product to take with me when camping with my family; it’s the Kelty Kitchen Sink. It features a compact basin with retractable drying racks to hold plates and other dishes while drying. Need a place to put some cold drinks? When not in use as a sink, it also works as a handy cooler. Fill it up with your favorite beverage and sit it right next to your Kelty Folding Chair for a relaxing evening.

I can go on and on but figured I would just highlight a few items. I invite you to check our website to see other products by Kelty. You’ll be surprised to see what they have to offer.