Category: Gear

Socks That Last Forever

Vermont Darn Tough Sock

Usually I don’t like to use the words “darn” and “socks” together in a sentence, but “Darn Tough” is how Ric Cabot describes the socks his family has been making for over 30 years. Outside Blog has just endorsed Darn Tough in their Gear Army section. I like the fact that these socks are made in Vermont, and will be adding them to my gear list.

When you shell out $14 for a pair of socks you hope that they will last the better part of a season. Over the years I’ve picked up a number of high-end socks and I haven’t been disappointed. Smartwool socks are velvety-soft and have lasted me through a good year of regular use. Hot, dry, wet, cold they’ve handled it all.

Wigwam socks are the best. They are a little scratchier than Smartwool but they feel more indestructable. I’ve had my Wigwams for about two years now, and wear them daily. They still fit great. Made in Sheboygan where the median family income is $47,000 (compared to $72,000 for the Southern California area where I live), which also gives me an incentive to pay a little extra over the tube socks which don’t last or perform nearly as well.

Super Tip! Prevent Lost Socks!

If you’re going to shell out a lot of bread for socks, use these clips. They’ve made my life infinitely easier. Unfortunately the Sock Cop web page is down…has the business expired? Too bad for humanity if that’s the case. These clips are ideal for keeping pairs of bulky wool socks together through wash and dry. My only beef is that they are a little tough to pinch open and sometimes break. An alternative is the Sock Pro – if you’ve tried these, please let me know how well they work in the comments section below.

Reviews of the Garmin Dakota 20 GPS

The problem with the GPS market is that there are too darn many good units for outdoors use. Makes my head swim. The Garmin Dakota 20 is a ruggedized unit great for hiking or cycling, with a suite of additional features such as exercise management and a three axis electronic compass. A built-in track manager lets you store tracks up to 10,000 points (breaking the 500 point barrier on other devices). But it’s got some quirks so read the reviews carefully.

Via Navigadget.

Read reviews of the Garmin Dakota 20 GPS receiver:
Diary of Scott Morris

Waterproof Sleeping Bag Is Just the Thing for Ultralight Packers


In Central California it doesn’t make sense to pack a tent because it never rains. That’s also what I thought on the Green River, Utah. Only on that trip it rained four frickin’ inches in three days – all of it in the middle of the night when I was sleeping under the stars.

This waterproof mummy bag from Mammut is down-filled and rated to 15° F. The Unique Selling Proposition for the Anjungliak Shield bag is that your face is protected from the rain by a waterproof visor.

HOT TIP: For summer packing, carry a lightweight mosquito net – the kind that slips over your hat. I use the kind that has a spring steel band to keep the netting off your face. It’s a clumsy arrangement, slip the net over your head and then zip up your bag with the steel loop keeping the mesh off your face. But it works pretty well, costs less than a full-size net, saves weight and comes in handy when you stop for lunch in the middle of a fever swamp.

Link courtesy of The Goat.

Torture Test: Eddie Bauer® Virtually Unbreakable Water Bottle

Eddie Bauer© Virutally Unbreakable Water Bottle

I love my 32 oz. Eddie Bauer water bottle that I picked up at Target for under seven bucks. Except for the fact that I’m now growing man-boobs, I haven’t had a single probem. No leaks. No breaks. Barely a scratch after a year’s hard use.

But the words “virtually unbreakable” printed on the bottle–that’s like a glove in the face. So, a torture test is in order.

My hypothesis was that filling the bottle with water and dropping it on a rock from 6 ft. would cause the plastic to crack.

1. Drop Test:  We conducted this test unscientifically with a dozen teenagers at the American River. The test consisted of filling the bottle 2/3 of the way with water and dropping it on various rocks and hard surfaces. Result: The Eddie Bauer Nalgene-analog survived without a scratch.

2. High Impact Test:  This test consisted of the Eddie Bauer Lexan bottle, still 2/3 full, hurled with great force at a slab of concrete. We chose Brad to do the hurling because, as Trish noted, “Brad has guns.” Result: the damn bottle fights back! Brad gave the bottle a good 40 mph wallop to the earth. The bottle bounced right back and hit him in the eye. At this point the lid (of the bottle) shattered but the bottle was unharmed.

Crushing an Eddie Bauer Lexan water bottle

3. Jeep Test: This test involved running over the Eddie Bauer hiking bottle with a Jeep Wrangler.  Result: The bottle flattened but was unbroken. You could theoritically hammer it back in shape and be good to guzzle.
Verdict:  Yes, the Eddie Bauer Virtually Unbreakable Water Bottle is virtually unbreakable. The lid, on the other hand, breaks easily on impact probably wouldn’t survive a 30 ft drop.

Flattened Eddie Bauer water bottle

Gear Test: High Sierra Hydration Pack

I love the High Sierra hydration pack that I bought at Big 5 for $25 on closeout. I think it’s an earlier version of the Torrent, but I could be wrong.

The question that’s been in the back of my mind has always been, “how waterproof is the dang thing?” I’ve had water-resistant packs suck up water like a baby’s diaper. And I don’t want to risk my high tech camera gear in a leaky vessel.

To test my High Sierra backpack I stuffed the main compartment and the outside subcompartment with paper towels. Then I drenched the whole thing for five minutes with the garden hose.

Drenching High Sierra pack with hose

The result? Not bad. For the most part the paper towel stayed snug and dry. There was a little “bleed through” from the fabric around the zipper (See orange circle below), but the main pack fabric held up well.

Some water leaks into the High Sierra pack

This simply means that I have to drybag my camera gear if I expect to get caught in a typhoon…or when I’m using the hydration bladder. One other gripe that I have with this pack, that appears to be fixed in the current models, is that it’s difficult to get stuff out of the main compartment when the rest of the pack is loaded.