Archive for the 'Evaluations: Hiking & Camping Gear' Category

Jun 07 2014

The SteriPEN Reconsidered by Farwell Forrest


Some time back (OK, a looong time back), I wrote a piece for that I subtitled “The Virtues of Simplicity.” It concluded with a ringing call to arms, in which I argued that, since “self‑reliance and simplicity lie at the heart of what we [paddlers] do,” we should “heed the warning implicit in the note, ‘Batteries not included.'” The unstated implication, of course, was that we’d all be better off if we left most of our electronic gadgets at home. Good advice, that. Or so I thought at the time. But times change, and change comes increasingly fast. Today, it’s almost impossible to imagine any right‑thinking paddler heading out to the backcountry without a small arsenal of electronic aides: cell phone, GPS, e‑book reader, personal locator beacon

And I’m no exception. Which is why I figured it was high time to revisit another topic from the past — water disinfection. Here, too, change has come fast. A for‑instance: In my most recent foray into the subject, a column optimistically titled “Water Purification Brought Up to Date,” I pooh‑poohed the idea that portable ultramicrofiltration (0.02 μm) systems would soon become available. But now, only five years on, they’re … well, not commonplace, exactly … but widely advertised. It’s true that field reports are mixed, with some users complaining that flow rates are dishearteningly slow. Still, the technology to filter even the smallest pathogens from water has indeed left the laboratory and ventured out into the backcountry.

Me? I’m not likely to embrace this particular advance any time soon. You can put my hesitancy down to impatience, if you like. Or simple laziness. In my experience, filters are fiddly things, and I blanch at the prospect of maintaining an ultramicrofilter in the field. I do use a gravity‑feed microfilter for bulk‑treating water in camp, but even this comparatively coarse (0.2 μm) filter requires a certain amount of coddling. Which is just one manifestation of a larger problem…Read more…

This article was originally published on June 16, 2011.

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Oct 05 2013

Trekkers Take a Licking and Keep On Kicking

These Boots are Made for Walking

Some years back I retired my last pair of rubber wellies. And what took their place? A pair of NEOS Trekker overshoes. I made the change with considerable reluctance. In fact, it was Hobson’s choice. The inexpensive L.L. Bean Wellies that were a mainstay of my backcountry wardrobe simply disappeared from the catalog. In the stead, L.L. Bean offered only pricier branded boots, many of which offered “improvements” that I didn’t need, like insulation and camouflage color schemes. Moreover, I was — and still am — reluctant to spend a hundred bucks or more on a pair of boots that probably wouldn’t see me through more than a couple of seasons.

The upshot? If I wanted rubber wellies I’d have to take what was offered and pay the price. Hobson’s choice, like I said. Take it or leave it. So I left it, opting instead to buy a pac in a poke: a pair of NEOS Trekkers. They cost more than my old L.L. Bean Wellies, but less than the Wellies’ branded counterparts, and while I had doubts that any pair of fabric boots would stay waterproof through even a single season, I decided I’d give the Trekkers a fair try. And I did — for going on four years now. With this result: Two thumbs up!… Read more…

May 21 2013

The Think Tank Glass Taxi: A Camera Bag for All Reasons
A Review by Pat McKay

If you’re a “serious” photographer, you’ll probably pick up lenses like a gun dog picks up ticks. And you’ll likely find yourself taking them everywhere you go, too. Which is where camera bags come in. Lenses — and here my “tick” simile breaks down — are fragile things, easily put out of action by vibration, dust, or moisture.

So your camera bag is your (and your lenses’) first line of defense. To be honest, I’ve never had one I was entirely happy with. But TNO Contributing Photographer Pat McKay may now have found The Answer. Let’s let him tell the story:

I needed a good bag to carry [a new] lens around and settled on the Glass Taxi. It's proven to be a great camera bag. (I'm a big fan of Think Tank products. I own three of their bags.)

There are a lot of things to like about the Glass Taxi. First of all, it can be configured in any number of different ways depending upon what you want to bring with you. Second, it's very comfortable to wear even if you carry a lot of weight. And third, it doesn't scream camera bag when you're walking around or on your bike. It looks more like a daypack or hydration pack.

Currently I have the bag configured to carry the DSLR and the new telephoto with hood attached, along with several other zoom and prime lenses, as well as a flash. The bag handles all this with aplomb.

Pat’s glowing endorsement doesn’t leave much room for doubt, does it? But let’s take a closer look at some of the fine points:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

The bike is Pat’s Long Haul Trucker, and he occasionally wears the Glass Taxi as a backpack on short rides. Mostly, though, he carries it when afoot in the field. Not that it wouldn’t look good on the boulevard, too. Check this out:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

Of course, a pretty face isn’t everything. A backpack is only as good as its harness, after all. And here, too, the Glass Taxi comes up trumps:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

Nor do the appointments disappoint:

Pat McKay Glass Taxi Camera Bag

The padded partitions can be reconfigured to accommodate just about any lens inventory, and there’s also a handy mesh pocket inside the flap to hold those essential bits and bobs that would otherwise get lost in the dark corners.

Bottom line? The Glass Taxi is ready and willing to take you (and your camera kit) almost anywhere you’d want to go, swiftly and with style. Thanks for the heads-up, Pat!


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