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Gear |Trips | Food | Technique | Reading

Entries in this blog

Wind River Trails by Finis Mitchell

I’ve dreamed about flyfishing for golden trout in the Wind River Range ever since I picked up a flyfishing magazine when I was about 13 years old that had a short article detailing a backcountry trip in pursuit of the elusive golden trout. Even at the time I was an avid fisherman, but what I read about in that article was the polar opposite of the type of fishing and the type of outdoor experience I was familiar with. While the magazine has long been misplaced, and internet searches to track dow

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Reading

Trail Tested by Justin Lichter

Earlier this month, Justin Lichter (Also known by his trail name Trauma) released a collection of insights, tips, and stories detailed across more than 200 pages in his new book Trail Tested. If you haven’t heard of Justin yet, he’s quite famous in the long distance backpacking and hiking community - Having hiked over 35,000 miles in his career. Not only has he completed the Triple Crown of the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails - He’s done it twice. Throughout his tr

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Reading

Maps

One thing that I seem to love are maps. When I’m not on the trail backpacking or hiking I’m most likely planning my next adventure, or when I head home from a trip I always seem to find myself staring at sets of maps to find out what the name of that peak that I saw in the distance was, or just where that other trail lead from a fork when I went right and the other trail went left. Usually, this results in maps spread out across the house for days - Once I find out just what the name of tha

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Technique

ZebraLight H31w Headlamp Review

For the past year or so I’ve been testing out the H31w headlamp from ZebraLight, a company that makes a wide selection of higher-end LED flashlights and headlamps. Prior to picking up this light, I had always been a dedicated follower of a few of the more mainstream headlamps that are out there, and even though I had heard a lot of great things about ZebraLight, I had my doubts that it would end up making it to the #1 spot on my gear list for backpacking trips. But with all the good feedback tha

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

By Men or by the Earth - By Tyler Coulson

In the spring of 2011, and after leaving his life as a corporate lawyer, Tyler Coulson set off from the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware coastline to undertake a western journey across the United States with Mabel, his adopted dog and companion. Destination: Pacific Ocean. Method of travel: Foot. After 3500 miles and millions of footsteps, Tyler recounted the journey in By Men or By the Earth. Of course, there’s a deeper story to most long walks, and Tyler dives into not only the day to day exper

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Reading

Gear - The T.R.I.P. Process

The gear list. It might be written on a piece of paper, typed into a spreadsheet, read from a book, or all in your head. But most of us probably have one somewhere. In its simplest form, a gear list can really help with those “I can’t believe I forgot that” moments when you’ve just hiked 20 miles from the trailhead and are setting up camp in dwindling evening light. In other forms, a list can help you identify things you really don’t need, help you reduce your pack weight, and help you identify

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Technique

Marmot Precip Shell Gloves Review

With colder weather officially in place over the Rockies, I recently found myself plagued with chilly hands again as fall moved to late fall and on towards winter. Normally to combat the issue while backpacking, I’ll go to the waterproof eVent Rain Mitts from Mountain Laurel Designs that we reviewed in Issue #2, combined with a pair of DeFeet Duragloves for warmth as a liner. With the eVent mitts seam sealed and with the liner gloves thrown in, this combination comes in at 3.9oz altogether. (Siz

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Vivobarefoot Ultra Pure Shoes

Recently I picked up a pair of superlight minimal shoes made by Vivobarefoot – The Ultra Pure. I’ve been into minimal footwear for a while now, but the Ultra Pure is definitely the simplest and lightest footwear I’ve had a chance to check out that still offers something close the feel of a real shoe. The entire shoe, including the sole, is made from EVA foam. They cut out a lot of material in the upper for ventilation and to save weight, and utilized a stretchy shock cord and cord lock lacing sy

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Exped Air Pillow UL Review

I’ve always wished I could use the spare clothes in a stuff sack method to create a pillow while backpacking, but like a lot of other lightweight backpackers out there I’m usually wearing the majority of my clothes in my sleeping bag at night to increase warmth. There might be a rain jacket and pants still packed away, (Though sometimes I wear those for warmth too) but they just don’t have enough bulk to really offer much support, and I might be utilizing those in an attempt to keep my dog warm

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Powermonkey Explorer Solar Charger Review

After reviewing the PowerFilm USB+AA solar charger back in Issue 7, I thought I’d take a look at a different lightweight solar charging solution, this time from Powertraveller - a UK based company that offers an assortment of solar and other electronic products. Their Powermonkey Explorer kit consists of 2 main parts – The battery (Powermonkey) and the solar panel itself (Solarmonkey). The solar unit is comprised of two separate solar panels encased in plastic that fold together in a clamshell a

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Review: MSR Carbon-Core Tent Stakes

Listed at just under 6 grams /.2 ounces per stake and costing $30 for 4, the MSR Carbon Core stakes come in as some of the lightest and most expensive tent stakes on the market. After breaking a lot of different types of stakes, or having them fall apart, I’d come to rely on utilizing titanium shepherd’s hook stakes all around. They’re light, aren’t made up of multiple pieces that can come apart, and are generally reasonably priced. The drawbacks: They can be easy to lose, can bend, and don’t ex

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Hiking Buckskin Gulch: A Belated Trip Report

Back in April, Ted Ehrlich and I spent a few days hiking and camping in southern Utah – One highlight of that trip had to be our hike through Buckskin Gulch, one of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world. With a snowy drive through Wyoming and then a whiteout in Colorado, the drive wasn’t a fast one and I met Ted at a deserted trailhead near Grand Junction around 10pm. From here we’d carpool into Utah. We drove west in the night, eventually moving past the snowstorm and into Utah, whe

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Backpacking in the Maze, Canyonlands National Park

In mid-March, Ted Ehrlich and I spent a few days backpacking in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Maze is frequently referred to as one of the most remote spots in the lower 48, and though I’m not sure how exactly it ranks on that scale, it did require some significant of amounts of off-highway driving to reach. The Maze is located in southeastern Utah, west of the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers and bordered by the both to the east. Though bordered by wa

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion Socks

Keeping your feet comfortable in the backcountry is a big step towards an enjoyable trip, and after hiking this summer in a pair of the aforementioned socks from Darn Tough they definitely deserve a closer look and review. I’d always heard good things about the Darn Tough brand – Made in the USA and with a lifetime warranty that you might not even need since they supposedly last forever. However, I never really expect socks to last quite that long, and other than that fact it was diff

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Bikepacking the White Rim Road, Canyonlands National Park

Last month, my brother and I met up in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. My brother is more of a biker than a hiker, and as such our goal was to bike the White Rim Road that runs throughout the district and loop back to our starting point, a mountain bike ride totaling 103 miles. We’d brainstormed a few ways to tackle the trip, from trying it in one very long day to taking things very easy over many days. Eventually, we settled on 2 nights…We'd be carrying o

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

The Lookout - A Snowshoe Trip to an Abandoned Fire Tower

It is one thing to conceptually understand that you have the gear to bivy at 7,500 feet in the Northern Rockies with a forecast of six degrees below zero. It is another thing entirely to find yourself in circumstances where you end up having to do exactly that. And it was in such circumstances that I found myself on the last night of 2015. Perhaps I shouldn’t have turned down that invitation to a New Year’s Eve party after all. I left home that morning later than I would’ve liked and

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

Mountain Laurel Designs eVent SuperLight Gaiters Review

No matter your outdoor recreation activity of choice, for most any type of winter activity in deeper snow some type of gaiter is desired to keep snow from entering through the top of your footwear and causing an uncomfortably chilly situation, or even eventually worse, predicament for your feet. Although of a shorter design I’ve been utilizing the Mountain Laurel Designs (MLD) SuperLight Gaiter for the past several years as my gaiter of choice anytime snow is present in shoulder seasons, and thr

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Favorite Hiking Apps & Smartphones on the Trail

Although I resisted bringing technology in the backcountry for many years – whether that be a simple watch at one time to today’s smartphones - one trip that left me stranded on the side of the road for hours changed my mind. A simple call would have resulted in a quick ride, but on that day getting a ride after 5 days in the mountains resulted in a failure even with my best smile. My phone lay in the car back at the trailhead – on the other side of the Continental Divide, and that burger I'd be

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

Overnight Ski to Section House at Boreas Pass, Colorado

They say fire warms the soul, better yet when that fire is in a potbelly stove set inside a historic cabin atop the spine of the continent burning wood you didn’t have to chop! Rachel and I decided to celebrate my 31st birthday and our recent move to Colorado by booking an overnight stay at one of the over 30 backcountry huts for rent in Colorado through the 10th Mountain Hut Association and the above scenario is exactly what we found. Based on some advice from fellow TrailGroove writer @PaulMag

HikerBox

HikerBox in Trips

Hiking Mount Kumotori, Japan (in the Rain and Mud)

The trail before me had become a treacherous, muddy mess. My backpack felt like a sodden weight pulling me down, and my shoes squished and oozed water with every step. I was looking down at what would have been a sharp descent, now transformed into a muddy slide. As I debated between simply sitting down on the trail and letting gravity carry me along or staggering forward and attempting to remain upright, I thought again about how I had let this happen. The answer involved a series of

MattS

MattS in Trips

A Backpacker, a Wolf, and Wilderness: Labor Day Weekend in Boulder Canyon

There’s something puzzling but incredibly satisfying about arriving at an empty trailhead on a sunny Saturday morning during Labor Day weekend. While some national parks are setting records for visitation and crowded campgrounds and packed trails are the norm, I had an entire canyon in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of Montana to myself for 24 hours. Ten miles of well-maintained trail passed through lovely coniferous forest and beside a delightful waterfall to reach four subalpine lakes. This

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

Hiking Mount Iwaki & the Importance of Proper Planning

In the summer of 2009 I was sitting in a hotel room in Hirosaki, a small city in the far north of Japan’s main island of Honshu, eagerly anticipating my upcoming hike. It was to be the second big hike I’d ever gone on in Japan, and I was determined that unlike my first journey into this country’s wilderness, this one would be perfect. Unfortunately for me, though, neither of the two friends I was traveling with seemed particularly enthusiastic about hitting the trails, and we had yet to make the

MattS

MattS in Trips

Evernew Ultralight Titanium Review: 1.3 and .9 Liter Pots

While the potential exists to makes one's backcountry cooking setup nearly as complex as the average home kitchen, albeit hopefully a bit more miniaturized and lighter, in most cases the average lightweight backpacker only needs to boil water for freeze-dried dinners, freezer bag style cooking, to heat and hydrate a basic meal within the pot, or to heat water for things like coffee and tea. For these backpackers – like myself - the Evernew Ultralight Titanium Series have been a fairly popular op

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

MSR Titan Kettle Review

Some of the best things in life are the simplest. For backpackers, there is a pleasure in sipping hot coffee, tea or cocoa from a sleeping bag that borders on the divine. And behind such a simple pleasure is a simple piece of a gear: a kettle, pot or some other means of warming water. I upgraded from a lidless, stainless steel pot leftover from my brief time in Boy Scouts to the MSR Titan Kettle fairly early in my backpacking days and it has proven to be one of the best gear-related investments

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Gear

Helinox Chair Zero Review

After an introduction to lightweight backpacking chairs a few years ago, my philosophy on this admittedly somewhat superfluous (but many times well worth the weight) camp comfort item has generally remained unchanged; on longer trips where I’m moving daily and pack weight is of more concern the chair stays behind and any rock or log will do. For the amount of time that you’re actually in camp – and not inside your tent – carrying the weight is simply not worth it. But mental and physical comfort

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Gear

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