Tag: Outdoor Gear

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 1

Granite Gear VC 60 Backpack Review

Compression, compression, compression. That is what I think about when looking at new lightweight backpacks. How do can they compress, and is the way they compress going to benefit my overall gear system. When I tried on the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 ultralight backpack, I have to say I was impressed. It’s overall design and durability puts this pack high on my favorite pack list. At 2.2 lbs this is a pack you have to consider on a long distance hike.

Capacity:

With it’s 60 liters of capacity I would find it hard pressed to fill the bag all the way. This pack can carry a full load of gear that is for sure. With it’s roll top feature, you will be able to use this pack in Winter and still keep it as a lightweight system since your layer 4 winter jacket would nicely fit on the top. Since it compresses down, I can utilize unusable space. Again, compression! 

The compression of this pack is what I truly like however. The two crisscross of of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack provides and excellent compression system. The pack design of the Linloc straps can be utilized to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. Also, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity.

Make it even lighter! The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. This takes the pack weight itself to almost a 13 oz pack.

What’s the VC stand for? Vapor Current. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling. This facilitates circulation without shifting the pack’s center of gravity away from your back. Beneath the molded foam, the VC frame has a full length (all the way up to the load lifters), HDPE die-cut sheet that supports loads up to 35 lbs.

Will this pack handle a Long Distance Trek?

I say YES! As more and more ultra lightweight packs hit the market, it will be the durability and stitching that will ultimately stand the test of time. I like the VC Crown because of it’s CORDURA® fabric. If you are like me, you are hard on your packs. Ultimately, a strong fabric will make the difference.

TIP: Ultra lightweight packs means you should have lightweight gear. The maximum weight for this pack is 35lbs. I would subtract 5 lbs to that. Light weight packs maximize their performance when you pack your gear correctly AND carry other light weight gear.

Scott Janz September 7, 2016 2

To Carry or Not to Carry the Bear Canister

Bear Canisters and the governing rule to carry them in some wilderness areas and on some parts of our National Park Trails has come to some debate recently. Are they working to keep Bears from associating people (backpackers) with food?  Each governing  agencies have different rules regarding their canister requirements in different parts of the backcountry. National Park Service, or Federal Wilderness Agencies each can post different requirements. For example: On some parts of the Appalachian Trail, Thru-Hikers are required to carry a Bear Canister IF you camp on that section of the AT. While in other Wilderness Area’s you are required to carry a Bear Canister at all times.

The question then is: Are Bear Canisters really necessary in order to protect your food, protect the bear, and protect the next backcountry user? In our opinion the answer is “NO”. We think we could make them obsolete if everyone practiced “wildlife avoidance” techniques and mastered the hanging your food bag the right way. Of course Bear Canisters were specially made so that novice backpackers could keep their food safe and have hopefully keeping a Bear alive.

Bear Canisters for obvious reasons are made and enforced to protect the BEAR, NOT YOU. After all, if a “problem Bear” get’s into your food or challenges you for your food, more than likely that bear is a dead bear. YOU on the other hand hike out hungry and probably a little scared, but alive.  All to often (especially in the Smokies) do we hear that Bears have been put down for being too aggressive for food. Which raises a different debate: Are Bears starting to learn that people in the backcountry equals food for THEM? YIKES!

The worst we witness for “wildlife avoidance” is seen on a regular basis at AT Trail Shelters. They are literally becoming a den of garbage with food everywhere. Which is why I NEVER camp in them anymore. Here are a few tips to practice “Wildlife Avoidance”.

We looked for some good tips on “wildlife/bear avoidance” and found a great article by Andrew Skurka:

Food protection techniques in bear country

“DON’T camp where you cook. Cook at least a few hundred yards away from your campsite, downwind, preferably in an airy area where there is a gentle breeze to disperse the scents.

DON’T camp in established sites or near popular trails. The bears live in the backcountry (duh!), and they know exactly where their “neighbors” live. And in heavy-use areas, it is more likely that a previous backcountry user has acted improperly and encouraged problem bear behavior (e.g. by leaving trash at their campsite, or leaving food unprotected on a log while they went to get water or watch the sunset). Bears are more likely to visit these areas regularly because they know their odds of obtaining an easy meal are better.

TRY and camp in un-designated, non-established sites. However, make sure you practice LNT and cover up your camp area when you pack up. When the bears make their evening “rounds,” they are less likely to come across you. If you are in an area where camping in designated areas is required (e.g. Glacier, the Smokies and Yellowstone National Parks), this is sometimes not possible, but thankfully there is usually good food-protection infrastructure at these sites.

CARRY food in odor-proof bags. These bags (such as the OP Sacks from Watchful Eye Designs) will help make me “invisible” to the bears.

DISPOSE YOUR TRASH ASAP. Bears have a great nose. Your trash smells and lingers odors. Again, having a Odor-proof bags for trash is a good idea also, and make sure you constantly are disposing trash regularly.”

DO NOT THINK that throwing your trash in the fire is preventing wildlife from eating your garbage. My domesticated Dog goes right to the fire pit every time we go backpacking. If my dog knows the smell of food in the fire pit so does every other wildlife that lives there. Burning your trash is bad for the environment and doesn’t work to deter bear encounters. I had a Bear right behind me one time savaging through another fire pit. Also, don’t think that just because you are caring a Bear Canister that you are safe from Bears getting into your stuff. If you are cooking next to your tent, with your Bear Canister right next to you, what difference does it make that you have a Bear Canister?  The Bear (who smells the food soaked into your nylon tent) will just make a grab for your tent. Sometimes with you in it. They’ll also (often) carry off your backpack also. But hey! your food will be safe I guess. 🙂

Having said all that: My take on canisters is this… They are heavy, bulky, expensive, and they are uncomfortable to carry their cylindrical shape that fits awkwardly in small packs. Andrew Skurka

We agree! Canisters would be unnecessary if everyone practiced the “wildlife avoidance” techniques described above and mastered the (video) PCT Bear Hang Method.

We need to be good stewards of our outdoor environment. Which means protecting wildlife from being put down because you were too lazy to cook away from a Shelter or Tent. We have it in our control to eliminate the need for Bear Canisters if we want to. Bears are usually the victims of the “food” issues. But practicing good habits, also protect your food from Mice, Raccoons, Marmot, and all other little pesky creatures lurking for YOUR food in the night.

Let us know what you think?