Gear Reviews

Bellow you will find some gear reviews for pieces of equipment I've used.

Patagonia M10 Jacket

When it comes to staying dry in the middle of nowhere I’m extremely reluctant to try anything new.  One pound Goretex jackets have always been a staple on my backpacking gear list. When I came across the M10 in all of its 8 ounce glory I took a leap of faith and have been basking in the free fall ever since.  I was slightly reluctant about Patagonia’s H2No 3 layer water repellant but after months of use I would recommend it to anyone. The M10 has withstood about everything a shell needs to stand up to. I’ve traversed 14,000 foot ridges in Colorado during hail storms and was blown around by a dust storm in Wyoming.  The M10 was there for me every time and kept me warm and dry.  Most importantly it’s so light I hardly noticed it when I had to carry it in my backpack. As an ultralight hiker I’d say it’s a must for your gear list.

Here are Patagonia’s stats from their website. This is the spring 2015 model, lucky for you the spring 2016 model has pockets at the expense of 1.5 ounces!  I’d trade up if I could.  I’m lazy so here are all the technical specifications and info regarding H2No.

The lightest H2No® Performance Standard waterproof/breathable 3-layer nylon hard shell we’ve ever built, the M10 Jacket is a study in minimalism and performance – a must-have for both our alpine and rock climbing ambassadors.

For monster alpine routes, trimming your gear to the bare essentials requires calculations. But it ain’t rocket surgery (fortunately), and our M10™ Jacket tidily solves the equation. It’s the lightest 3-layer waterproof/breathable shell we make, and the soft, pliable H2No® Performance Standard nylon ripstop fabric yields surprising durability for its weight while protecting against monsoon-season precip and summit ridge gusts. We’ve kept the design simple – no pit-zips or handwarmer pockets – our climbers didn’t want ’em – and gave it a single exterior zippered chest pocket that doubles as a stuffsack (with reinforced clip-in loop). Details include sonically welded seams with the narrowest possible tape, watertight zippers, a microfleece-lined neck and chin, and cuffs that adjust with minimalist hook-and-loop closures. A single pull adjusts the helmet-compatible hood (with laminated visor), and a drawcord hem blocks out spindrift backdraft. Slim fit for technical use over light-to-medium layers.

H2No® Performance Standard shell is built with 3-layer waterproof/breathable nylon ripstop, with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish

Full-zip jacket has coated, watertight zipper with a DWR finish
Single-pull adjustable hood with laminated visor is helmet compatible
Microfleece-lined neck and chin for comfort
Exterior left chest pocket has coated, watertight zipper with a DWR finish
Self-stuffs into chest pocket with carabiner clip-in loop
Self-fabric hook-and-loop cuff closures; drawcord hem
H2No® Performance Standard shell: 3-layer, 2.2-oz 15-denier 100% nylon ripstop, with a waterproof/breathable barrier and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
229 g (8.1 oz) Made in Vietnam.


Extremely light weight
H2No works well and keeps you dry
Hood fits nicely and doesn’t obstruct vision
Useful chest pocket for storing maps/cell phone
Slim fit for an athletic build
Long sleeve design
Velcro strap around wrist
Patagonia warranty


Fabric is very sensitive to chemicals
Limited color options

Honestly, like most of the gear I use there just aren’t a whole lot of cons.  Like most ultralight gear this jackets needs to be taken care of to promote a long life.  If you want something to roll around in the dirt in and withstand a slide down a scree field this jacket’s not for you.  I used to for 4 months of extreme conditions and it lasted me to the end.  If you’re a weekend warrior or planning on tackling the John Muir trail and need to lose a few ounces this is the rain shell for you!

A little disclaimer, I hiked the Continental Divide Trail in 2015, a few months after I returned I got a job working for Patagonia.  These were my feelings before working there and I still feel the same way about the M10 currently. Until something better comes along this is my go to backpacking shell.

ULA Ohm 2.0 

Since I’ve been using the pack for almost a month now I figured it was time for a review.
Here is the info from ULA’s site so you don’t have to go click over. ULA Equiptment

The Ohm 2.0 is the pack for the fast folks, the ones who travel light, but still take a prudent amount of gear in order to be safe and comfortable. The 2.0 uses the same belt and shoulder strap system as our larger packs, so comfort and weight transfer are as good as it gets. Also, like our larger packs, the hipbelt can move up or down in its sleeve, allowing you to fine-tune the torso length
The Ohm 2.0 is a full featured, full suspension (active) ultralight pack that offers exceptional load control, on-trail functionality, and full body compression.
Combining a 1.2 oz carbon fiber/delrin active suspension hoop and near full body compression, the Ohm 2.0 maximizes load control, weight transfer, pack compression, and overall pack rigidity in an ultralight package.
1.9 oz ripstop nylon, ULA 210 Robic, and ULA's proven construction methods insure the Ohm 2.0 is built to last despite its minimal weight. The Ohm 2.0 Backpack is now available in four colors, standard green and purple blaze in the ULA 210 Robic, and Woodland and Multicam in 500 Cordura.

o    Suspension Hoop
o    Internal Pad Holster
o    Contoured Padded Hipbelt
o    Hipbelt Pockets
o    Contoured Shoulder Straps
o    Front Mesh Pocket
o    ULA 210 Robic Pockets w/ Elasticized Top
o    Non-Stretch Compression Cordage
o    Top Compression Straps
o    Ice Axe/Pole Retention Loops
o    Drawstring Extension Collar
o    ULA 210 Robic

o    Hydration Sleeve (~1.4 oz)
o    Internal Stash Pocket (~1.1 oz)
o    Water Bottle Holsters (~0.8 oz)
o    Handloops (~0.8 oz)
o    Foam Pad (~1.5 oz)

Volume Breakdown
o    Main Body: 2,100
o    Front Mesh Pocket: 500
o    Side Pocket: 400 ea
o    Ext. Collar: 500
o    Hipbelt Pockets: 100

General Guidelines
o    Rec'd Max Load: 30 lbs or less
o    Rec'd Base Weight: 12 lbs or less
o    Pack Weight (Torso-M, Hipbelt-M): 31 oz (camo cordura will add about 2 oz) all weights are as shipped and include all removeable items, in the case of the Ohm, about 5 oz.

Total Volume: 3,960 cu in //about 63 liters

The description sums it up. My backpack is the black version with a medium hip belt and extra large torso. I've carried, at times, more than the recommended weight of 30 lbs due to excess water or food.  While it carries okay I tended to notice that my pack was really heavy. I chose the S straps and after a life of using J straps I still can't really tell the difference.  The concept is cool but I'm not sure if they change anything.

The pack...
Since hiking in the deserts of New Mexico I've noticed that the black fabric tends to heat up everything inside the pack. I would keep that in mind if you don't like your pack contents to get too hot. The over all shape of the pack is unique. Instead of your traditional wide design the Ohm 2.0 is a tall cylinder.  Since I'm 6'7" the design works well for me. The two side pockets hold enough gear but could probably be a little taller.  The back mesh pocket does not have enough stretch too it and I often find myself wishing it was larger. There is a tie down system on the sides of the pack that I use but don't trust 100%.  There is a chance gear can fall off of it if you don't cinch it down. Lastly there are the hip belt pockets. While they are fairly close to the hip belt I could see someone without trekking poles hitting their arms on them while walking.  The ripstop nylon fabric is durable enough to withstand the desert and everything in it that tries to kill your gear. It's about to get snow tested and I'm fairly confident that it will do great.

All black makes me look awesome.
Hip belt pockets are great to store gear and never have to take the back off
Carries light loads extremely well
Multiple adjustment options to keep everyone satisfied
Lightweight - less than 2 lbs

Mesh in back isn't stretchy enough
Front of hipbelt is a single small buckle
Back of hipbelt gets scrunched up and doesn't always stay flat
Foam pad in backpack isn't secured well and can move around and bunch up if you're not careful
I'm about to suffer in the snow carrying extra gear, keep it light!

Overall I'm very pleased with the backpack and recommend it to anyone that can keep their pack weight to 20-25 lbs.  It was difficult to switch from my 8 year old Granite Gear Vapor Trail but I feel that I made the right decision. If you're looking for a pack that can carry a little more weight ULA has a couple other great options.

Western Mountaineering Alpinlite

This is my first gear review ever…  I’ve had to think very hard about what piece of awesome gear I wanted to review.  It’s a close tie between my Tarptent Contrail and my Western Mountaineering Alpinlite sleeping bag.  Both items have been reviewed hundreds of times and I’m pretty sure everyone knows they are top notch pieces of gear.  For the sake of hard working geese everywhere we’re going to go with the sleeping bag.

When shopping for my first sleeping bag to take on my PCT thru hike I originally went with the Western Mountaineering Megalite.  After trying it out and realizing it was a little tight around the shoulders I sent it back in exchange for the Alpinlite, a warmer and broader sleeping bag.
I love it, pretty simple.  This bag kept me warm and my pack light.  Like any down bag you need to keep it dry like your life depends on it, because it does.  I suggest investing in a waterproof stuff sack.  The bag is designed well and allows me to roll from my back to side and back to my back… over and over.  The mummy feature, with collar, also works really well for those nights it’s just a wee bit cold.  As I lost weight I realized I started to sleep a little colder so I ended up keeping a jacket in there with me on nights closer to 20 degrees.  I think the bag is probably best for 30 degree nights and up. Again, the extra width helped me keep my security blanket in there with me.  My dad purchased one and had WM add some extra down to make it a bit warmer, if you’re a cold sleeper that is always an option.

As far as durability I’ll give it a 10/10.  It has never let me down, the zipper has never broken, the pull cords are as good as day 1 and the Velcro is still sticky.   On a side note, the zipper will jam pretty easily if you’re not careful when zipping up the bag.    I’ve spent hundreds of nights in the bag in all sorts of terrain, it has withstood all of it.  The bag doesn’t have any holes and the loft is pretty close to the day I purchased it.  I have made extra efforts to take good care of it and occasionally get it professionally washed.

Here is a link the Western Mountaineering’s website and the stats for the sleeping bag.

If you’re looking for a top quality bag with some of the best down available look no farther.  It’s an excellent summer bag, especially if you plan on venturing above tree level and might have some cooler nights.  I’ve been using it for 7 years, 2 thru hikes and another one this year. I recommend you give it a try.

Timberline Eagle water filter

I thought I would throw this guy in there.  Getting ready to hike 770 miles through New Mexico the subject of water keeps going through my mind.  I’ve hiked in the desert before and live in a high desert, but for some reason I have this feeling I’m going to be drinking some nasty water on occasion.  With that being said I would like to introduce my water filter.

While hiking the AT in 1997 my dad came across this guy, the Timberline Eagle.  From what I understand some doctor decided to use his medical filters to make a backpacking water filter.  The Eagle filters water down to 1 micro and only weights 6 ounces!!!  It gets rid of all of the nasties, giardia, cryptosporidium, amebas, tapeworm eggs, etc.  Since my early years hiking in the scouts I’ve had other people giving me dirty looks for filtering my water so quickly.  It’s basically a submergible filter attached to a ketchup pump.  It’s sturdy and there are no complex moving parts to break.  I’ve never gotten sick when using this pump to filter my water.  The only time I’ve had trouble is trying to filter water full of glacier sediment.  That stuff tends to clog it up.  For all other instances of murky water I’ve just used some panty hose or a bandana to prefilter the water.  Best part, it’s inexpensive and you can get it on Amazon!

Check it out.

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