TrailGroove Blog

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Entries in this blog

Custom Hybrid Cuben ULA Circuit Backpack

Custom Hybrid Cuben ULA Circuit Backpack

I’ve tried a few packs over the past couple years, including the larger Catalyst (also from ULA), but keep going back to an old standby – The Circuit from Ultralight Adventure Equipment (ULA). The volume (4200 cubic inches total) and carrying capacity (~35lbs) have been versatile enough for 10 day trips and shorter trips alike across all seasons. 2013 Hybrid Cuben ULA Circuit Though for some shorter excursions it might be a little on the large side, if I end up with extra space I

Aaron

Aaron

10 Ways to Sleep Warmer on Your Next Backpacking Trip

10 Ways to Sleep Warmer on Your Next Backpacking Trip

It's always hard to enjoy a backpacking trip when you don't sleep well, and sleeplessly shivering throughout the night is one way to guarantee a rough next day. Here's a list of 10 tips, ideas, and considerations that should help the next time your backcountry trip coincides with those colder nights. A Nalgene Bottle. Trapping your heat utilizing your sleeping bag and insulating yourself from cold ground using a warm enough sleeping pad are highly efficient, but sometimes nothing beat

Aaron

Aaron

Backpacking in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

Backpacking in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness

Earth Day was a perfect day, in regards to both weather and spirit, to embark on my first backpacking trip of the year. The destination, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, seemed particularly fitting as well as a bit daunting. Covering over 2.3 million acres, this area is one of the wildest places in the Lower 48. With the high country still covered in snow, I would limit my hiking on this trip to a mere five miles on the Lower Salmon River Trail and a short way up the Horse Creek T

Mark

Mark

Ursack Major Bear Resistant Food Bag Review

Ursack Major Bear Resistant Food Bag Review

The Ursack is a bear-resistant backpacking food storage bag that's both light and more packable than typical hard sided bear canisters - like the BearVault BV450 we reviewed in Issue 30. The Ursack has been around a while, and the latest version, the Ursack Major (Previously referred to as the Ursack Allwhite S29.3), features a tighter more tear resistant weave than previous models and is IGBC certified. The Major comes in a standard, 650 cubic inch model that holds about 5 days of fo

Aaron

Aaron

ULA Equipment Photon Backpack Review

ULA Equipment Photon Backpack Review

For many years, I’ve been a big fan of backpacks from ULA Equipment, as they always really seem to hit the nail on the head when it comes to a balance of convenience, durability, weight, and price in a pack. For all of my backpacking trips I use the ULA Circuit - review here - and while there’s another pack or two on the market that I’d like to try at some point, the trusty Circuit always handles the job so well with no complaints from me that no other backpacking pack really gets a chance in my

Aaron

Aaron

Helinox Chair Zero Review

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

Aaron

MSR Titan Kettle Review

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 i

Mark

Mark

Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter Giveaway

Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter Giveaway

Note: This giveaway ended 2/22/16. With an eye on the upcoming arrival of spring next month, we're giving away a Platypus GravityWorks water filter system - similar to the system we reviewed here in Issue 25, just in the 2 liter reservoir kit version, plus your choice of shirt or hat from the TrailGroove Store. The GravityWorks filtration kit is an easy to use .2 micron water filter system that we've found to be well designed and easy to use, and it's a great choice for anything from a day

Aaron

Aaron

ZPacks Multi-Pack and REI Gift Card Giveaway

ZPacks Multi-Pack and REI Gift Card Giveaway

Note: This giveaway ended 7/12/16. For summer, we're giving away a new ZPacks 4-in-1 MultiPack filled with a $50 Gift Certificate to REI and a choice of shirt or hat from the TrailGroove Store! If you're not familiar with this versatile storage solution from ZPacks check out our Multi-Pack Review from back in Issue 17 for all the details - I personally use one as a ~3 ounce solution to keep my camera easily accessible (in chest pack mode) on every hike. Just make sure you're subscribed

Aaron

Aaron

BearVault BV450 Food Canister and REI Gift Card Giveaway

BearVault BV450 Food Canister and REI Gift Card Giveaway

Note: This giveaway ended 10/31/16. For fall, we're giving away a new BearVault BV450 food canister filled with a $50 Gift Certificate to REI and a choice of shirt or hat from the TrailGroove Store! Check out our full BV450 review in Issue 30 for more info on the BearVault, and just make sure you're subscribed to TrailGroove and then like this blog post to let us know you'd like to be included in the drawing. Full details below. Photo credit Mark Wetherington How to Ent

Aaron

Aaron

How to Wash Your Down Jacket or Sleeping Bag by Hand

How to Wash Your Down Jacket or Sleeping Bag by Hand

After a season of hiking, sleeping and sweating in your down jacket or sleeping bag things can get a little stinky. You might even notice a slight loss of loft as body oils compromise the fluffiness of the down feathers. Or, as in my case, the jacket is just grubby. Fortunately washing your jacket or sleeping bag is a lot easier than you may fear. In this article I’ll go step by step through washing one of my down jackets but the same process can be used for nearly all down sleeping bags. The on

HikerBox

HikerBox

REI e-Gift Card & TrailGroove Giveaway

REI e-Gift Card & TrailGroove Giveaway

Note: This giveaway ended 5/16/16. This month enter to win a $100 REI e-Gift Card plus your choice of a shirt or hat from the TrailGroove Store! Just make sure you're subscribed to TrailGroove and then like this blog post to let us know you'd like to be included in the drawing. Full details below. How to Enter 1) Like this blog entry in the lower right hand corner of this post. Simply login with your TrailGroove account and like this blog entry in the lower right hand corner

Aaron

Aaron

Backpacking in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Montana

Backpacking in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Montana

Hiking from one beautiful place to another on pleasant and well-maintained trails is a great way to spend five days. Doing so with a good friend and cooperative weather makes a great experience even better. Throw in a few synchronous strokes of good fortune and you end up with an incredibly rewarding and memorable adventure.  Neither John nor I had been on a four-night trip since March 2011 when he, myself, and my girlfriend at the time did a trek through the Chiricahua Mountains in s

Mark

Mark

Hiking Buckskin Gulch: A Belated Trip Report

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 int

Aaron

Aaron

Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Review

Altra Lone Peak 2.5 Review

After a quick first look and comparison to the previous model here, and with the updated Altra Lone Peak 3.0 on the horizon, I’ve now been doing everything outside from hiking to backpacking to running in the Lone Peak 2.5 trail running shoe for a nearly a year and wanted to share what I’ve experienced with this version of the popular Lone Peak trail running shoe from zero-drop shoe manufacturer Altra.  Although initially undecided on the fit of the 2.5 compared to the 2.0, I’ve grown

Aaron

Aaron

Scenery on the Trails of Sedona - A Sampler of 5 Dayhikes

Scenery on the Trails of Sedona - A Sampler of 5 Dayhikes

“What are some of the more scenic trails in the area?” my friend Joan asked a local man at a hiking store in Sedona, Arizona. “All of them. They’re all scenic. Everywhere you look is scenic,” he said with a well-practiced manner, unable to hide his weariness with such questions. Even the trail map on display at the store was marked in bold black ink with exclamatory statements: “It’s scenic!!” “The views are amazing!” To say the least, it became apparent that we weren’t the first out-of-tow

Susan Dragoo

Susan Dragoo

Powermonkey Explorer Solar Charger Review

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

Aaron

Aaron

2 Nights in the Wind River Range

2 Nights in the Wind River Range

Last month, Ted Ehrlich drove up from Colorado and we hit the Winds for a 2 night backpacking trip over the Fourth of July Weekend. We’d originally planned a point to point hike from the Scab Creek Trailhead on the southwest side of the Winds back to Lander, but logistics were a bit of a concern as well as the driving that would take time away from a weekend Winds trip. In the end, we weren’t too fast getting ready the morning of our start day either, so we quickly scanned the map and

Aaron

Aaron

Springtime Solitude - A Wyoming Red Desert Overnight

Springtime Solitude - A Wyoming Red Desert Overnight

The Red Desert of Wyoming holds a unique appeal no matter your approach – it’s a country just as suitable for backpacking as it is for exploring and camping beside your vehicle off a rough and long forgotten dirt road. Either way, you’re likely to be in the middle of the nowhere. Adding to its allure, to begin the year the desert can only be comfortably explored for a short time each spring after the roads have sufficiently dried from melting snow to make passage by vehicle (just to g

Aaron

Aaron

New TrailGroove Sticker Stash

New TrailGroove Sticker Stash

Our free TrailGroove sticker offer continues to be a big hit and has been so popular that our old sticker stash was quickly exhausted. A new load of freshly printed stickers have now arrived - These are high quality waterproof stickers with white lettering and a clear rectangular background for easy application. A single sticker is always free to a good home - Just fill out this form with your mailing address and we'll get one right out! Need more than 1? Check out the TrailGroove Sto

Aaron

Aaron

Fall Giveaway

Fall Giveaway

Note: This giveaway ended 10/30/15. For fall, we're giving away a brand new Helinox Ground Chair, (Reviewed here in Issue 23) a ~22 ounce chair that's great for those more relaxed backpacking trips, day hikes, or even while car camping or just about anything else you can think of. We'll also throw in a TrailGroove hat or shirt of the winner's choosing! How to Enter: Leave a comment below on this blog entry describing the single backpacking/hiking luxury item you'd never l

Aaron

Aaron

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack - a 3,000 Mile Review

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack - a 3,000 Mile Review

Gossamer Gear has been refining their ultralight oriented backpacks since 1998, including multiple iterations of the Gorilla – their medium volume framed pack. The newest version was released in early 2015 using gray Robic fabric instead of the white Dyneema Grid fabric as seen on older packs. The shoulder straps are now unisex, more contoured, thicker,and slightly narrower than the previous version. The hip belt was also redesigned to have more padding with a mesh inner face to wick sweat. Trek

HikerBox

HikerBox

10 Best Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

10 Best Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Let’s be honest; not every backpacking trip provides the time for us to prepare a nightly gourmet meal, and not all of us are ready to embrace, or perhaps we have yet to have a discussion with, our inner hidden chef. While I like to create backpacking meals from scratch at times and when I can, if you’re like me, after a long day on the trail I simply often find myself wanting a sufficient amount of calories that taste great, and I want that meal as quickly and as easily as possible with minimal

Aaron

Aaron

Backpacking in the Maze, Canyonlands National Park

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

Aaron

Backpacking in the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Backpacking in the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

A few weeks ago I was able to return to Canyonlands National Park, but this time stayed on the opposite side of the river from the Maze to join up with Ted Ehrlich and Christy who drove in from Colorado to backpack through Salt Creek Canyon and the Needles. Our respective drives late on a Thursday night resulted in a noon-ish start from the Cathedral Butte trailhead the next day after shuttling a vehicle. The weather was slightly sketchy, overcast with what looked like rain in the dis

Aaron

Aaron