The Ten Essentials: Part 3 of 3

okokokWelcome to the 3rd and final portion of the Ten Essentials series, providing insight into wilderness preparedness since March 13, 2015. If you are just visiting us without having seen the previous two posts (The Ten Essentials: Part One, The Ten Essentials: Part Two) do whatever catching up you feel appropriate for expanding your own outdoor education.

As stated in The Ten Essentials: Part One “The group that originated The Ten Essentials in 1930 was a Seattle-based organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers called “The Mountaineers”. The list was constructed by the team to help like-minded individuals with preparation in case of outdoor emergencies. Throughout the years the list has been reconfigured and today it is currently in its eighth edition.”

The final four items on our list include: Repair Kit and Tools, Nutrition and Extra Food, Hydration, and Emergency Shelter. Here, I will go into detail on why these items are so important for backcountry trekking and everyday life as well as unveil the best products for each category.

kjnkjjn7. Repair Kit and Tools

Emergency repair kit‘s are important for obvious situations, but also when you plan on preparing food like fresh caught fish your kit can prove to be the difference between eating and going hungry for the weekend. Creating your own kit designed around your specific adventures is also an available option. When weekend camping or fishing, a simple and basic kit is typically more than enough, and opting for this simple yet inclusive kit will save you weight and time in the long run. Some people will choose to add duct tape, super glue, and their own personal hunting/fishing knives depending. The repair kits are significantly different from medical kits in the way that they are more oriented towards dealing with gear related matters as opposed to medical issues.

glkdsm8. Nutrition and Extra Food

Freeze-dried and dehydrated foods don’t typically sound appealing unless you are backcountry-level starving, and this may not be my opinion alone, but more of a universal standard. If you are out on the trail for a long enough period of time where fresh food will begin to spoil, Backpackers Pantry is the industry standard and best place to go for all of your hunger needs (mostly because you’ll grow ill if you attempt to live on trail mix and candy bars for more than a day or so). When you have the option of choosing between Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms, Chicken Cashew Curry, and Mocha Mousse Pie, you’ll never go back to ordinary freeze dried options again. The only ingredient you need beside the packet itself is, of course, water. No-cook items including energy bars/gels, nuts, dried fruits, or jerky are always great snacks for before and after mealtime.

water-poured-into-glass9. Hydration

Depending on the length of your trip we typically recommend bringing with you a Water Purifier Stainless Steel water bottle, and a Reservoir. When planning out your journey it’s important to chart out oasis’s where there are available sources of water beforehand so that you have an idea where to fill up and if bringing your purifier is necessary. Typically, if you are off the grid for more than a weekend, you should consider bringing your purifier for safety purposes, just in case the “available water sources” no longer exist or are not functional. In everyday life Stainless Steel bottles are the way to go if you are looking for high performance taste, durability, and if you seek something that has proven to withstand the test of time stylistically.

jkjkn10. Continue reading The Ten Essentials: Part 3 of 3

Outfit Your Expedition with Exped Equipment

Heads up, Outdoor EXPEDition-ers, you can now find a new line of products at ACK to Outfit Your Adventure from Exped, an innovative company that’s been designing products for the casual hiker to the technical climber since 1997. Swiss based, Exped has slowly been making a name for themselves in the States and we aren’t surprised if you haven’t heard of them.

Exped prides themselves in their long list of industry firsts, awards and patents and have a history in ingenious simplicity in all of their products. Need some examples? The Exped Orion Tent is one of their first creations. The Orion combines the styles of a tunnel tent with that of a dome tent into what they call a ridge tunnel tent. If you’re not familiar with the different styles of tents, what this really means is that the Orion combines usable space and freestanding capability unlike most tents. If you’re looking for a new lightweight tent with plenty of storage space for gear that can also handle some tough weather – check this one out.

And anyone can see the innovation of Exped’s DreamWalker Sleeping Bag. Ok, sure, it kind of looks like an oversized snuggie and you’re probably asking yourself why anyone would think to bring this on a real camping trip. First impressions aside, this thing is packed with function that we bet anyone can find useful out in the field. Just watch this video:

Of course, these aren’t the only two products from Exped that we have picked up, and we encourage you to familiarize yourself with our full line of tents, sleeping bags, hammocks, sleeping pads, footprints, camping pillows and more here. I hope that you’re as excited as we are to find these unique products at and be sure to comment below with any Exped experiences you’ve had in the past or questions about the new gear!

Joseph @ACK

ACK Kayak Camping Gear Guide: A Visual Presentation

We’ve written several articles highlighting what you need to know when kayak camping. This time, we took a different approach featuring the camping gear you should consider taking along with you through an easy to follow one page visual presentation. See below or download a high res PDF version for printing and to reference it at a later time. Both versions contain clickable links that will lead you to detailed information about each product or product category. Enjoy! – Roland & Joseph @ACK

Quality Gear…Because it’s worth it.

Lately I’ve been on a binge of purchasing products THAT ACTUALLY WORK! For years, especially in this economy, I spent my money on bargain products only to discover that these products either didn’t work well or simply didn’t last.

One item that quickly comes to mind are my shirts. My closet is lined with clothes that I can only wear for specific activities because they got ruined or stained at some point. One of these activities of course is fishing which ironically is the root cause of many of those stains.

When I learned that we would be carrying Columbia brand shirts, I was quick to get some for myself and what better line than the Columbia PFG Blood & Guts Shirt. They repel liquid like nothing else — even the disgusting stuff like fish blood and guts (hence the name). Sure, I specifically bought them for fishing but quickly discovered that even after a long day of fishing and quick wash they are good as new! In fact, you’ll often see me wearing them while cruising around town, at family holiday events and yes, even as dinner attire. Nothing can stain these shirts as long as it’s less than 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The shirts repelling ability was actually tested in a tub full of fish blood and guts but don’t worry, we sell them fish-smell free.

Another product that comes to mind is a tent. I have at least 6 tents in my collection, however I refuse to use four of the lower end designs since they have a number of problems including inadequate pole structure, leaking seams and susceptibility to condensation. Instead, I rely on my Mountain Hardware Lightpath 3 as well as my Kelty Trail Ridge 4 tents. I’ve used the Mountain Hardware tent more times than I can count on both hands since I’ve had it for well over 6 years. Both of these tents have proven themselves time after time, which says a lot coming from me — I’m not gentle with my equipment.

Good equipment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg but you’ll find that by spending a little more, you’ll save a lot in the long run. Speaking of good equipment, what higher-end products have you purchased that have proven themselves? Maybe it’s somehting we should be carrying. We want to know, comment below!

Dave Graves
Assistant Manager
ACK – San Marcos

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.