Gear Review: Backpack

When hiking, besides boots, I feel a good backpack is essential. It should almost become a part of you. With so many options out there, I had a hard time deciding which one I would get. Seeing as we are dayhikers, I didn’t need a large pack. Price was also a concern, I didn’t want to spend too much. After some basic research I settled on the TETON Sports Oasis 1100 2 Liter Hydration Backpack.

I love this pack. It holds everything I need; keys, phone, wallet, first aid kit, rain coat, etc. with room to spare. While the pack is not large, it’s good enough for me on my hikes. It’s very comfortable to wear. The straps are comfortable on my shoulders, the chest strap and waist straps help maintain stability. The best part of packs these days? Gone are carrying water bottles, now most come with hydration bladders. The 2L hydration bladder that comes with this pack is the right size for me, I have yet to run out of water. Cleaning the bladder is a pain in the ass, but that’s the case with all bladders.

The only downsides to this pack that I can tell so far is that my back gets soaking wet. I don’t know if it’s condensation from the bladder, or poor ventilation, or both. Also, it can be small depending on what you are trying to put inside. Aside from those two things, there is nothing wrong with this backpack. It’s an excellent purchase and a great bang for the buck.

 

 

 

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Gear Review: Men’s Hiking Boots

When Jackie and I took our first hike, we had no gear. Just regular sneakers, a crappy backpack that I’ve had since high school, lugging bottled water around. After that hike, I told her I was buying us hiking boots. “Why spend the money if we’re not even sure if we are going to keep doing this?” she asked. I told her my thought process was buying some boots will give us incentive to go out and keep doing it. I was correct.

We both are looking to give honest reviews of our gear. We only want to review something if we have used it multiple times. This isn’t meant to be a guide on how to pick which gear is right for you, there are tons of resources out there already that can help you out with that. I recommend doing your own research first, if the boots I have pique your interest, than hopefully this review helps.

After conducting my own research, I decided on the Columbia Newton Ridge Plus II. What I was looking for was essentially just comfortable, waterproof, and fairly inexpensive. On paper these seemed to be the best bang for my buck.

I have worn them over a dozen times on hikes, and multiple times during the winter and at work. Here are a few things I have learned about them:

  • They are damn comfortable
  • They are lightweight
  • The soles grip very well when climbing on rocks
  • They certainly are waterproof
  • Good ankle support

My only complaint so far, and it might not necessarily be the boots fault, but my own, is that I sometimes get blisters on my heels. This is probably due to the fact that my boots are size 10.5, and with sneakers I usually run between 10-10.5, so there might be a little too much room for my feet and they keep sliding around. I also noticed on the last hike a slipped into a puddle, and it felt like my feet got a little wet. These boots do need to be waterproofed periodically, and I haven’t done it yet, so I bought some spray and will reapply. I will update later if that works.

Overall, I would definitely recommend these boots for most beginners. Like I said earlier, I was looking for fairly inexpensive, and these fit the bill. So far I’m very happy with them, would even buy them again if I ever need a new pair, and Jackie also has the same pair for women (because she’s a woman). She seems to like them a lot too, but I’ll let her write her own review.

UPDATE 7/27/17: I seem to have solved the blister issue by tying the laces really tight, and periodically tightening them while hiking. I really haven’t gotten a blister yet. I also applied the waterproofing spray, but haven’t gotten them wet to tell if it works.