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Archive | Backpacking Know-how

Final side pocket. Clean and functional, but less durable than pack fabric, and no lock-out.

Room for improvement: Self-critique of the Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack

Recently I highlighted seven standout specs and features of the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack. Today, I’ll do nearly the opposite: identify its imperfections. Since I co-developed the Flex Capacitor with Sierra Designs, naturally I want to see strong sales of it. But I also want prospective buyers to understand its optimal applications and […]

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The easy-gliding #10 zipper offers annoyance-free access to the pack's main compartment.

Sales Pitch: Seven reasons the Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack stands out

Earlier today I filmed the product video for the new Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack, which with the High Route Tent 1FL currently constitutes SD’s “Skurka Series.” To develop my script, I had to prioritize and succinctly describe the pack’s must-mention specs and features. Later I’ll write a self-critique, as I did for the High Route, but for […]

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My waterproof telemark ski boots were overwhelmed by the melting snowpack and open creek crossings in the Alaska Range in April. Cold and macerated feet ensued. Photo by Michael C Brown.

In what conditions will I hike in “waterproof” footwear?

For extended wear in 3-season conditions, I strongly discourage the use of “waterproof” footwear. When it’s dry, they trap excessive heat and perspiration. When it’s wet, the waterproofing will eventually fail. And after getting wet, the shoes will dry very slowly. For a more in-depth analysis of waterproof footwear performance, read this post. The paragraph […]

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Shrunk to 40 liters, using the adjustable gusset

Reviews & commentary: Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack

As third-party reviews and commentary about the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 Pack gets posted, I’ll be compiling them here. Gear Junkie First Look: Expanding ‘Flex Capacitor’ Backpack From Sierra Designs Overall, [the Flex Capacitor] is a sweet-carrying, versatile backpack. [It] stands out thanks to a clever expanding design that lets it carry between 40 and 60 […]

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Tie-off to a horn-like growth on a cottonwood tree

How-to video || My guyline system for tents, tarps, and hammocks

The guyline and tensioning systems normally found on backpacking shelters (including tents, tarps, and hammocks) share two flaws: Insufficient cordage is provided. This limits stake-out locations, which is especially problematic in rocky or hard-packed ground. Natural anchors like trees, downed logs, exposed roots, and large rocks cannot be used, nor can deadman anchors in the winter. These anchors […]

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After getting wet, my waterproof shoes dried extraordinarily slowly. After 24 hours of dry conditions, the exterior fabric was only partially dry. Meanwhile, moisture was unable to escape from inside my shoe.

Complete failure: I gave “waterproof” Gore-Tex shoes a second chance

My skepticism of waterproof-breathable fabrics (like Gore-Tex) and products that utilize them (like rain gear and “waterproof” footwear) is no secret. For a history, read: Why I’m hard on Gore-Tex, the King of Hype Breathability: an explanation of its importance, mechanisms, and limitations Core 13 Clothing: Rain Jacket & Rain Pants Occasionally, however, it’s healthy […]

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