Hammock camping is no longer reserved for just warm weather.
Prepare for the cold! We run down our picks for the best base layers around.
The world's first DSLR that can take all Mother Nature has to offer
We test the most bomber shells on the market, here are our picks...
Our picks for the best gear of last year.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Monday, February 9, 2015
I recently embarked on a two month long solo backpacking trip throughout much of Europe, hitting 30 cities in 10 different countries along the way - but more about that later. My pack of choice for this trip was the Cotopaxi Nepal 65L, which is deemed by the makers themselves as a "load-toting backpacking pack for international journeys and rugged mountain trails." Let's check out some of the features listed on their website and then we'll get into my thoughts on the pack. The purchase of this pack helps their humanitarian mission by providing 3 weeks of schooling for a child at Shree Nepane Primary School.
Describing the pack, Cotopaxi has outlined that "the pack's main body features a butterfly zippered opening for easy access to your gear, and two large front zippered pockets and a removable top lid stash smaller items. For quick side hikes, trips to the market, or dashes to the summit, the internal hydration sleeve doubles as a lightweight backpack." The pack has "configurable side compression straps, a top rope-compression strap and attachments for your ice axe and trekking poles." Cotopaxi proudly notes that the pack is made at their factory in the Philippines.
Additional features listed on their website:
- · Contoured, padded backpanel with adjustable torso length
- · Adjustable, padded mesh waistbelt with zippered pockets
- · Padded mesh shoulder straps with hydration clip and zippered phone pocket
- · Removable top lid with internal organizer pockets
- · Butterfly opening on main compartment for easy access
- · Removable internal hydration sleeve doubles as an ultralight summit pack
- · Two large front pockets, side water bottle pocket
- · Top compression rope strap and configurable side compression straps
- · Trekking pole and ice axe attachments
- · Included rain cover
Simplicity in design shines through with this pack. Coming in a plain cardboard box I wasn't entirely sure what this giant surprise at the front door was, however, upon its unpackaging I was blown away. Sleek and stylish with undeniably quality construction, I was excited for the trip to come. Something I thought cool of it's arrival was the "Official Cotopaxi All-Access VIP Pass" that, according to them, "grants you complete access to the Shree Primary School in Kumari, Nepal." If I ever make it to Nepal, I will surely be paying it a visit. With an MSRP of $229 through Cotopaxi's website, this pack is unquestionably reasonably priced for a bag of its size.
Some other things pros I found in this bag were the full side zipper, which made it ridiculously easy to access things stuffed into the bottom of your bag without having to take everything out. On the pack there are tons of different options for attaching items outside the pack, and overall it was very a solid side, with very little squeaky or slippery parts. With that, the design of back, being sturdy and sleek in nature, made it easy for navigating crowded streets, train stations, and trains. Another bonus of the design is that it actually fit into the overhead storage areas on most of the trains I rode throughout my excursion. The pack's quality withstood the test of 2 months of straight abuse, being thrown from hostel locker to hostel locker and random places between. Everything I had wanted to bring and more could fit in this pack no problem, and for the amount of shit I had tucked in every nook and cranny, it withstood all the tests I had put it through.
On the other side of things, I didn't find much about this bag I didn't like. Namely, the external compartments were nice, but their size and the dependence upon the amount of things packed into the main compartment for available space made them less useful throughout my expedition. Additionally, the water bottle pocket on the side wasn't all too useful, as my relatively average size bottle didn't fit into the allocated spot. This forced me to hinge it to the outside of pack, which in the end led to its disappearance near the end of my trip. However, those are all negligible. My biggest gripe with the pack was the fact that it caused some chafing on the shoulders after prolonged usage. Every now and then you would have to wander about 45-60 minutes once arriving in the city with the pack on your back to the hostel I had booked. Eventually this started leading to some tenderness on the shoulders and overall discomfort while carrying it. Another minor issue was the ease at which the suspension of the pack could be adjusted. It took me about a week and a half of messing with the straps to find the setting that was right for me.
Overall I was very content with my decision to bring the Nepal 65L on my two month expedition with me. The quality of the product was great because it alleviated any potential hardware issues throughout my excursion. I would definitely recommend this pack to friends as an affordable option for a long trip out into the wilderness or Europe. I cannot wait to test this bad boy out on a long hiking trip once the weather turns in my favor - living in these northern states can be grueling at times... A big thank you to the Cotopaxi team, namely Anders, for allowing me to test out this gear and become familiar with the outstanding quality of Cotopaxi products. I cannot wait to pick up the next installment in my Cotopaxi gear. Humanitarian missions and great products come together for a winning situation. - big things are in store for Cotopaxi in the near future.
NEPAL - Tough-As-Nails Pack, Innovative Features from Cotopaxi on Vimeo.
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
These work shoes have been on my feet everyday since I received them and they show very little sign of wear and tear. Don't get me wrong, they don't look the same as the day they came out of the box but that's to be expected in a manufacturing facility. Very little wear and tear on the laces or the leather. I did notice a small separation appearing by the sole at the spot where my shoe bends up as I walk. Threw a little superglue on it, good as new. The steel toe is barely noticeable as I move around the shop floor. With plenty of wiggle room and absolutely no pinching of my toes. Thankfully I haven't had to test the shoe's waterproof capabilities but I can guarantee they will stand up to anything I come across at work.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Small pockets on the hip belt as well as a fleece lined top pocket on the pack make for organizing your small essential a breeze and provides easy access any time you need them. Stretchy water bottle pockets on both sides and haul loops in several locations for attaching bulky rugged items.
The load is incredibly easy to carry thanks to a version of Granite Gear's Vapor Current suspension system, which is arguable the most comfortable on the market. Incredible adjustment allows for a customized fit far beyond that of your average daypack.
After a summer of testing this pack on and off trail, we are simply impressed. From day hikes to commuting to class, everyone that has put this pack on their back has nothing but good things to say. Unlike most packs in this category, you are hard pressed to think of something you'd do differently. There are a few signs of wear, but nothing that would be alarming. I do worry about the stretchy side water bottle pockets. The material seems to be holding up thus far, but when loaded I can see abrasion becoming an issue. That is pure speculation at this point.
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
In searching online, these are a bit hard to find, but trust me when I say the hunt will be worth it. As of right now you can find the Men's versions HERE for about $75 and the Boy's version HERE for about $50.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
I got regular emails from Paul as the knife came together. Filling me in as to where he was at in the process, and updating the ETA for me. He was rushing to get it done in time for our big BWCA gear test trip, which we greatly appreciated as it is the ultimate proving ground for any equipment we test. As a small knife shop, Beebe doesn't usually have much of an inventory of knives, so nearly every knife out the door is made to order. Squeezing us up to the front of the line didn't go unnoticed.
The first thing you notice when you hold it is that the balance of the knife is impeccable. It simply feels weightless in your hand. The blade is made from CPM S35VN stainless and has a matte-grey sandblast finish, which seems indestructible. The full tang handle is exposed on both sides of the slightly undersized micarta scales. I haven't tried to remove them, but the scales look to be easily interchangeable via 3 stainless steel screws should you want to give it a different look, or if you beat up the originals. A slight ramping of the spine of the knife provides great leverage for your thumb, and aggressive jibbing makes sure it doesn't slip during more aggressive cutting jobs. It came with a black leather pouch style leather sheath, and the knife stays securely inside when strapped to your belt.
I hiked, paddled and portaged all over the BWCA with this knife on my hip this summer and never once did I worry about losing it. It was always there when I reached for it and made short work of every task I threw at it. The edge stayed razor sharp only needing one light touch-up sharpening yet. From slicing through braided fishing line to grilled pork chops and shaving tinder for the fire, I felt like I had a pocket sized light-saber, literally nothing put up a fight.
We were about as impressed by Paul Beebe's knife as we have been with any piece of gear we have ever tested. Utilitarian but with a modern style that any outdoorsy type can appreciate. If you spend even a reasonable amount of time in the woods, do yourself a favor and call up Paul and have him make one of these for you. It'll be a staple for every outing going forward and one your kids will inherit one day.
Retail price: $320