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:

Devil’s River Part 2

This is Part 2 (click here for Part 1)  of my series on our Devil’s River kayak trip.

I think one of the worst things about any trip, vacation, or adventure is not knowing what to pack or getting there and wishing you had brought something.  Since I just went through this experience on a recent trip down the Devils River in West Texas, I wanted to share with you what gear worked and didn’t work for us.  Remember what worked for us may not work for you.  Bear and I were Marine Corpsman and Kevin is smarter than MacGyver, so do your homework before setting out into the wild.

When planning a trip, I make sure food, water, shelter, fire, and safety are covered first and foremost.  For food, I first find a Tupperware like container with a lid that seals really nice for a bowl.  This way you can also use it for a semi-dry storage container and you don’t spill anything while you eat.  I also picked up this handy new super spork by Light My Fire.  This was a great piece of gear and survived a pretty harsh trip.  Since you can’t have a fire along the river, we took parts from an old Whisperlite stove I had.  After realizing the burner was missing, I had to pick up a new one.  It worked out great because we found out the fuel mechanism can’t be submerged for long periods or it might not work.  So make sure you put it in something that will keep it nice and dry.

The water containers we carried were Nalgene and Camelbak bottles along with Camelbak packs.  They all worked perfect.  Even though the river has fresh water springs and aquifers pumping into it, we took a water filter that stopped working halfway through the trip.  Go figure.  Get a good water filter!  I also happened to leave my emergency Iodine tablets in the truck.  Drinking river water is not ideal, but I would rather get Giardia than a heat injury.  As for shelter, I have a high-end Kelty tent that has worked great over the years for me.  Any tent will work, however, you really want a tent that has a lot of ventilation, light weight (preferably under 10 lbs), has a great rain fly, and will fit in/on your kayak.

Unless you’re some one of the caliber of Bear Grylls (the guy from Man vs. Wild) you’re going to need a mat to sleep on.  I used a basic $30 Therm-a-rest which worked fine, but a more compact and softer one would have been nice.  As far as a sleeping bag, I recommend you make sure you have a higher end bag that is quick drying.  A cotton or down bag is worthless because they are bulky and if they get wet it acts more like a weight than a sleeping bag.  I also keep it in a waterproof Sealine bag to keep it extra dry.

When doing a long trip through a harsh and dangerous environment you will also need to make sure you have enough medical supplies.  Those dinky medical kits that have Band-Aids, cheap plastic tweezers, and chap stick are not going to cut it. Make sure you have proper medical supplies to treat multiple injuries for multiple days and that you know how to use it.  We had a couple of close calls and the opportunity is there for some pretty gnarly injuries.

In the next blog, I will go over additional gear we took and talk about what worked and didn’t work.  I would also like to say one more thing.  We met some pretty fantastic people on our little adventure that went out of their way to help us.  Kevin, Bear and I would like to say thank you to all those folks.  As for everyone else, make an effort do something nice for someone.  Not only will you bring happiness into their life, but also into your own.  In these times who couldn’t use a little extra happiness.

Marcus Harleson
ACK Pro Staff