Gear Review: Field Trip Jerky

Trail snacks are not my forté. I need them and I usually devour some while out on the trail. I would like to say that I make lovely lunches and snacks at home but really, I have a large Tupperware tote in my cabinet (or in my shed) full of miscellaneous bars, tuna packets, and some single serve powdered drink mixes and tablets that I can just grab and shove in my backpack. I am kind of picky about what I choose to eat though and try to allot my (few) dollars towards natural foods whenever possible.

At Winter Outdoor Retailer, I met Todd of Field Trip Jerky. Field Trip doesn’t use corn syrup as a sweetener (common in many jerky products), it’s gluten free, and delicious. The folks at Field Trip were kind enough to send me a package of their different flavors to sample and truthfully, I liked them all.

They make both beef and turkey jerky. I loved the flavor of the Crushed Chiles Turkey Jerky (ummm…and I would love it in beef, hinthint) and enjoyed the Cracked Pepper as well.

The beef flavors were my favorite, however with Roasted Sesame and Teriyaki leading the way with Original and Honey Spice just barely behind.

The packages are resealable which I really appreciate when I just want a little something to chew on but don’t want to eat the whole package. (If you open one with a friend around though, don’t expect to have any to put away.)

As I mentioned before, the folks at Field Trip do it right. Check out their ingredients in their scrumptious Roasted Sesame:

I totally recommend Field Trip for your next hike, roadtrip, or couch snacking. Many Starbucks location carry Field Trip and you can buy it on their website or on Amazon.


Field Trip Jerky provided me with jerky for sampling but all opinions are my own. Some links in this post are affiliate links that help support 3Up Adventures.

Gear Review: Columbia Peakfreak Hiking Shoes

Last January I bought a pair of Columbia’s Peakfreaks–I was in desperate need of new hiking shoes since my old running shoes were not doing a very good job of protecting my feet from the rocks found in desert hiking. I spent a ton of time browsing Columbia’s offerings and rejected most as either too lightweight or too heavy.

I spend a lot of time traveling off trail and therefore are always weighing the pros and cons of a lightweight trail running shoe with something a little more robust that protects my feet and ankles from rocks. I found that the Peakfreaks really fit the bill. The “welded synthetic overlays” took a little bit of abuse and are a little bit frayed but nothing has impacted the use of the shoe at all. I had a blog post all written up to tell you about how wonderful these lovely shoes were but then I went to Columbia’s webpage to get a link and they were gone.

I retired the post to the trashbin of the internet and pouted a bit. I should have stocked up!

A few months ago, however, the new version: the Peakfreak XCRSN XCEL showed up. I immediately set about procuring myself a pair. (And not just any pair but one in this AMAZING non-girly “corange/fission” combo.)

They arrived, I marveled at their beauty and then they sat in my closet waiting for me to quit it with the #damselNOTindistress nonsense and get back out in the mountains. Just like their predecessors, they’re amazing. First, I get complements on the good looking shoes all the time.

Second, and most important, they’re exactly what I was looking for: they’re comfortable, lightweight, and my feet do not take a beating when I’m scrambling around on talus or rocks. I haven’t made a direct comparison between the soles of the two versions but in my handful of hikes in the new ones (and many hikes in the old) I think the traction is improved a little bit.

I didn’t make the jump to the version with Outdry, mostly for the above mentioned awesome color reasons, which I might wind up regretting. Some of my fall hikes have had just short sections of snow where my feet stayed mostly dry but if I would have had the waterproofing power of Outdry I probably wouldn’t have gotten damp at all.

I have a foot just a touch on the wide side and these fit me great. I found that they run pretty true to size (I often have to size down a half size in Columbia footwear).

These will be my go-to hikers for all of 2015 (and yes, I’m thinking about buying more, including a pair with Outdry) and I totally recommend them for most, if not all, of your hiking needs.

These shoes were provided by Columbia Sportswear to 3Up Adventures as a part of the #omniten program for use and review. All opinions are mine. (Seriously, I do love these shoes.)

Gear Review: Columbia Women’s Vixen 22L

I’ve been trying to find a good day pack over the last year or so. My beloved Jansport is starting to show wear in the shoulder straps and I decided to leave it packed away in Colorado. I’d begun to use my Teton Sports Summit 1500 as a default daypack after I got it in August but gave it away to a friend in need leaving me essentially daypack-less. When I opened my duffel bag of Columbia Sportswear goodness in Park City and found the Vixen, I was delighted.

Over the last month or so, I’ve been using it on all of our hikes. I’ve never had a pack that had an air gap between the back and the pack and was excited to try it. The gap is supported by two metal rods. This does create a pretty narrow tunnel to the pack which I find a bit annoying sometimes. The gap is nice but I still sweat plenty at the hip strap & support. Inside the body of the pack is a pocket for a hydration bladder. Beyond that, it’s one big space which is plenty of room for my day hiking needs.

The hip belt is too big for me. I wear the pack with the straps all the way tightened and it’s still not quite snug enough around my hips with just a t-shirt. Similarly, the straps on the shoulder straps are really long—I’m planning on cutting them down next time I’m around a sewing machine.

Signal Peak

The outside water bottle pockets are the perfect size to hold a Nalgene; too many packs have pockets that are too small to hold one well. If I really want to I can reach around and pull them out without taking the pack off. It also has a large open front pocket. I wasn’t really sure what I would use this for but Sprocket’s trail bowl lives here so it’s always available (and if it’s still a little damp it doesn’t get my stuff wet). At the very top of the pack is a small pocket that I use for keys and a cell phone.

One of the biggest downsides I can see to this pack is durability of the light stretchy material that makes up the water bottle and front pockets. Mine has numerous “snags” from being dragged through desert brush—although for primarily trail hikers this would not be a concern. The low profile does do well when it comes to scrambling around through the brush though!


This pack was provided by Columbia Sportswear to me as part of the #omniten program for review. All opinions are my own.

Gear Review: Teton Sports Summit 1500

source: The Morning Fresh

On the #hikerchat adventure during Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, Forrest and I both got a Teton Sports Summit 1500 to test out. My old Jansport was too bulky to for a comfortable all day mountain pack (and it was reaching the end of it’s life) so I’d been in the market for a new daypack. It wasn’t long before I was more than happy to adopt the Summit 1500 as my go-to pack.

I used it on several 14-ers hikes last year, often carrying everything for both F and I on long days. The pack was comfortable to wear on hikes as long as fifteen miles. The nylon construction seems to hold up well to abrasion from rocks and vegetation.

The pack has tons of pockets for a daypack which can be nice to stash rarely used items like first aid kits, a compass, etc. I’m a really big fan of having a “hood pocket”: a great place for stashing a map and other regularly used items. The velcro gear loop can help to carry many types of year but I’ve used it several times to carry a tripod:

I even packed for non-camping weekend trips with it to avoid checked baggage fees (it’s even small enough to evade carry on fees with some budget airlines!). At $59.99 on Amazon, this pack is a great value that I can recommend to nearly anyone looking for a new day pack.

Gear Review: climbOn! Lotion Bar

Although I’m not a climber (yet!), I bought a climbOn! bar last fall when I had dry hands that just wouldn’t heal. I’d tried all sorts of lotions but they just weren’t getting better. Finally, I broke down and ordered climbOn! because I had a sneaking suspension that chemicals and additives weren’t helping my situation. ClimbOn!’s philosophy is “if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin” which totally works for me.

The climbOn! bar comes in a small metal tin. The bar comes out, you roll it around on your hands a bit working the beeswax and oils on to your skin and then you put the bar away and work the oils into your hands some more. I was afraid that it would feel a little waxy on my hands but I found that it is absorbed pretty quickly and didn’t bother me at all. After months of battling dry, cracked hands, within just a week or so, my hands were back to being nice and smooth!

At about $10 a bar, climbOn! might seem a bit expensive but I’ve found that it lasts a long time and is totally worth the price. I’ve also heard amazing things about their lip tubes and sunscreen. ClimbOn! is available at many outdoor retails and climbing gyms. You can also order directly from SKINourishment.

Adventure Vehicles: Box Truck with Garage

No, don’t worry, we haven’t switched vehicles again! Instead, we’ve been talking about the many different versions of vehicle dwelling we’ve tried in the last couple of years and remembered F’s old box truck. This is what he was driving when I met him, filled with toys! I suppose I should have known what I was getting into…

Way back in 2008, F bought a partially converted UHaul truck and turned it into a total bachelor pad box truck, complete with roof top driving range and a shifter cart on the wall.

When he purchased the box truck, the garage/living space wall and bathroom were already installed. The walls were also insulated and wired. F purchased the cabinets at a thrift store. (The trophy was earned by F at a motorcycle trials event.)

Prior to the Mom’s Attic days, this UHaul’s cabover only had room for a twin bed; perfect for a confirmed bachelor. Ottomans formed the seats for the “dinette.” Not pictured is the couch that was opposite the dinette.

The garage had enough space for his adventure bike, trials bike, shifter cart, and a mountain bike. I wish he still had the Easy Rider poster.

Immediately behind the curtain is an RV toilet. To the right of the toilet is a 3×3 shower stall. This kept the toilet segregated from the living space to cut down on any possible smells from the black water tank. On top of the shower is a small “under sink” propane hot water heater.

And of course, the roof top driving range:

Gear Review: Exped SynMat UL 7

F and I don’t sleep in a tent too often because we do most of our travel in one of a variety of vehicles and it’s a bit more comfortable for Forrest than the tent. However, I really like backpacking and would take Forrest along sometimes so I insisted that he find a sleep system that works for him, regardless of the cost.

Having picked out his sleeping bag, he turned his attention to a sleeping pad. The 3/4 length REI self-inflating pad wasn’t doing enough to keep his hips off the ground and made sleeping really uncomfortable. On the way back from the wedding we stopped at the Missoula REI and tested everything they had but kept coming back to the Exped SynMat UL 7.

Retailing at $165 for the medium (Forrest’s choice at 72″ x 20″), this isn’t a cheap sleeping pad. However, it is really comfortable (I know, I stole it for my trip to Behind the Rocks) and almost 3″ thick. When I used it, the temperatures fell into the high teens and in combination with my 15 degree bag, I was cozy and comfortable.

One of my reservations was a mat that had to be blown up but it really doesn’t seem to be a problem. Plus, since it tips the scales at a scant 16.2 oz, blowing it up seems like a small price to pay. It isn’t the easiest thing to fold back into its stuff sack but it seems to be getting easier with practice (I think the trick is to make sure you really roll all the air out of it before trying to pack it away). The stuff sack measures in at 9″ x 3.5″.

Is the pad worth the $165 price tag? Maybe. If it’s the difference between being happy sleeping in your tent or choosing to stay home on the couch, absolutely. If you’re okay on what you’ve got and just want a bit of a comfort upgrade, I’m not sure: I’m coveting a comfy full length pad now but am happy enough that I’m not sure I need to spend the cash on a second one (but I’m taking this one when I go solo!).

I’d love to hear more about someone’s experience with the REI Stratus Insulated pad at $79.50 as a comparison!


Jansport Warranty

My first hike with my pack, 2003.

When I was in high school, I went to REI and bought a day pack. I remember explaining to the salesperson that I’d be using it for a school pack as well as for hiking. They helped me to pick out a Jansport Equinox 33. The pack has seen plenty of use as a school bag (like seven years worth). It’s also seen its fair share of day hiking and after nine years, it was starting to break down in some small ways: the buckles were starting to get brittle and crack but worst of all, the main zipper would work its way open leaving my stuff free to fall out.

Summit of Mt. Ellinor (WA), 2005.

About three weeks ago, I sent my pack off to Jansport for some warranty work. I was really worried that they’d replace it with a pack of inferior quality. I needed my decent hip belt, sternum strap, and packing space. Instead, when the pack arrived yesterday, I got my old pack back with all new zippers and buckles! The whole process took just three and a half weeks and it looks like I’ve got something that is as good as new!

Hiking Katahdin, 2007.

Thanks to Jansport for making this such a painless process. I received an email when my pack was checked in, called the number in that email once to check on it’s process and was provided with a tracking number when I called. All this on top of getting my pack back all fixed.

Mt. Thielson, 2009.

I’m looking forward to taking it out to test it out soon and having more adventures!

Hiking to the cabin. March 2012.

Ruffwear Grip Trex

A few weeks ago, I was tweeting with Heather about dog booties and mentioned we’d put a Ruffwear set on our wedding registry. I thought it was pretty cool to get a tweet back from Ruffwear asking when our big day was. When I received an email from their marketing department that said they wanted to be the ones to send us a set of boots I was  totally astounded!

They sent them in red to match his pack!

When the package arrived in the mail, we couldn’t wait to test them out. Sprocket wasn’t so sure to start but he warmed up:

Sprocket finally got a chance to try wearing them for about four miles last weekend. I should have put them back on when we were playing around in the rocks but for just walking down the trail he didn’t seem to mind at all! (Nor did the boots seem to spin around like they did when we were taking the video…I must have been too gentle when I put them on the first time!)

Thank you so much Ruffwear! Sprocket is excited to put these to good use; he’ll be especially happy to have these when we get to Moab in a couple weeks, his poor paws took some cacti abuse last year!

Big Agnes Sleeping Bags? Advice Needed

F and I have been looking around for some new sleeping bags. His bag is only a quarter zip which he really dislikes and mine is rated to about 40 degrees. This is ridiculous because I am always cold. 

Our plan for now is to find f a different bag and let me give his a try although I suspect that eventually I will want one warmer yet (see: I am always cold). We’ve been sort of interested in the Big Agnes sleeping bag system for a couple of years now. These sleeping bags don’t have any loft on the bottom but have a sleeve to hold your sleeping pad in place. The theory is that your body compresses the loft on the bottom anyway so it is better used on top as insulation and if your sleeping pad is held in place you should stay warm enough.

After talking with a salesperson at REI we discovered that Big Agnes appears to be the only major manufacturer that doesn’t use the EN rating system to quantify how warm their sleeping bags are which made us a little bit nervous. From what I can tell there isn’t any reason that would prevent these bags from being put through the same paces as Marmott, REI, Kelty, North Face, and others.

Yesterday, I put a query out on Twitter yesterday seeking real people who have used a Big Agnes sleeping bag system hoping to get a better idea of the bad and the good things about these sleeping bags and haven’t heard anything back yet. Do you use them? Do you know anyone who has?