Hiking and gear reviews from the Redwoods!

Gossamer Gear released 2012 Gorilla Backpack!

Hey All,

Got word today that Gossamer Gear now has their updated 2012 Gorrilla Backpack in stock and listed for sale on their website!

The Gorilla is one really popular backpack and has a nice 3,000 cubic inches (46 liters) of total capacity with a 35 pound maximum carry capacity - pretty much perfect for a thru-hiker or weekend hiker.

I have not gotten my hands on one of these yet but I really want to try to get one at some point because the way that they close the lid/top of their backpacks is an interesting one. I also want to get my hands on one because they are using some pretty sweet material that should be way more durable than my other backpacks.

The backpack averages 715 grams (25 ounces / 1.56 pounds) so as a SUL/XUL hiker it is not something I could use as a XUL hiker, and just pushing the edge of what I would use a SUL hiker - but this backpack has UL hiker written all over it!!

If you are a UL hiker or a heavy hauler hiker (which I know some of you who follow RedwoodsOutdoor are) this should be perfect for you!

The backpack comes with pretty much every feature that we are use to seeing on high end full size backpacks - including a center loop which can double as an iceaxe strap, though you would have to add a way to keep the top of it secure if you preferred to do a handle-up attachment method.

One very sweet feature of the 2012 version is that the internal stay support is now removable. This means that if you do not need to be out there with a 20+ pound TPW setup, you can pull out the stays and save yourself a few extra ounces - sadly, they have not provided any information on the weight of their stays and whether it is two individual pieces or my much preferred u-shaped stays.

The hip-pockets look very streamlined - which is nice for hiking in brushes and bushes and not getting caught on everything. They use a three loop daisy chain with a sternum strap, which even has an integrated whistle buckle. The sternum strap is removable as well. I think the three loop daisy chain is one feature I would like to see updated in a future version. I just think that limiting a hiker to only three spots for a sternum strap is to restrictive. On a few long distance hikes I have been on I have found that I relocate my sternum strap a great deal more than I ever thought I would, depending on how much gear (but mostly food) I have in my backpack and how much I am able to compress down the top of the backpack.

To me the 2012 Gorrilla Backpack is one of the most exciting backpacks that are in the 3000 c.i. range that is on the market right now. This backpack is likely going to be flooding the market for those looking for a backpack smaller than what ULA offers and not willing to go down the path of a Cuben Fiber backpack like what ZPacks offers. I expect these backpacks to sell out pretty quick - a lot more hikers are discovering the joy that comes with smaller backpacks and the 3000 cubic inch capacity is just about the perfect size for those in the Ultralight world of hiking. Again, I have not seen one of these 2012 Gorrilla Backpacks, but I very much want to get one and load it up with my gear and see how it rides - I expect this is going to be one amazingly comfortable 3000 cubic inch backpack!!

Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite + Ridge Rest == Z Lite Sol

This is one I just had to share... a match made in heavy for the long distance hikers out there!

If you look at just about any of the group photos of hikers out on the long thru-hikes  you will see at least one, if not the vast majority of the hikers in the photograph, carrying a Therm-a-Rest Z-lite sleeping pad! It has been a mainstay of thru-hikers and have been for a long time. Its ability to fold up and back really well has made it stay alive.

I recently got informed about the fact that Therm-a-Rest has taken their 'aluminized Solar coating' which is usually on their highly popular Ridge Rest and slapped it on their Z-lite, for what is now being called the "Z Lite Sol".

And I every excited about this bit of news!

Until this new "Z Lite Sol" the Z-Lite has had an R-value of 2.2 which is ok for the summer time but no where near enough for snow, which as the 2011 hikers found out all to well, there is a lot of it out there.

The new "Z Lite Sol" with the 'aluminized solar coating' now has an R-value of 2.6, a modest increase in r-value. Still not enough for deep snow conditions though. But, for the shoulder season, it is going to be a nice little bit of help.

Therm-a-Rest also played it smart and left one side of the new Z Lite Sol without the 'aluminized solar coating', so when you are in the desert regions and you are sweating at night, you can just flip it over and still have the normal padding provided without the extra r-value. Smart move Therm-a-Rest!

You can check out all of the specs of this updated Z Lite at:

I am not one to just blatantly go around posting gear announcements for gear that you cannot even buy it at your local retail story (which at this point and time, it appears you can only buy it directly from Cascade Designs), but this is one of those products that is, without a doubt, going into my shopping cart.

My intent is to combine this new Z Lite Sol with the not-yet-released NeoAir Xlite which will give a combined R-value of 5.1 at a very reasonable weight for what it will offer!

Changes for 2012 - a refocus of what I write about.

Greetings Hikers!

2011 has been an amazing hiking season for me. Hiked well over 500 miles this season, got to meet some new friends, saw a few old friends out on the trail, got to try out a whole bunch of new gear, made massive leaps forward in my backpack weights, had a great time writing articles and gear reviews and shooting videos, and had an amazing about of fun days and nights spent out on the trail and under the stars!

For me the year ends when the hiking season ends. Not being a winter hiker I am pretty much in limbo right now waiting until March to get here so I can get back out on the trails. I will do a few sub-24-hour hikes over the winter but no long extended hikes.

For the last few months I have really been feeling like the direction of RedwoodOutdoors.Com has been going in a direction that it was never intended to go. This is my own fault of course. I originally put together this website to help me share gear reviews for the average hiker. All of us often search the internet looking for gear reviews on gear we are considering buying and I wanted to share my own gear reviews for gear I had.

The problem has come about in that I have further and further moved beyond the average hiker who might be out under the stars for maybe 20 nights a year, those hikers often called 'weekenders'. That is, the vast majority of hikers. Hikers who might have a base pack weight of 30 pounds or 10 pounds, and a few in the 6-10 pound range. Just your average Joe. Somebody a few years ago I was myself.

But like in most things in my life once I get started on something I tend to push it to the extremes and thus my average-joe adventure in hiking turning into a pretty serious - and hellishly expensive - adventure.

I started off on very overnight hike with somewhere around 38 pounds of gear. Needless to say that sucked. I got back from that trip and a few weeks later I was down to the mid-20 range.

I soon realized that technology had changed since I was last a hiker and that I needed to do some homework on the matter and see what kind of new systems, theories, types of gear, and so forth was out there. So a few months later after some initial research and a few big dollar items I was down to the 18 pound range.

From there I started learning more and more about hiking theories, techniques and approaches. About a year later I had gotten down to the 12 pound range and was very proud of myself.

Than I made a critical decision that has haunted me ever since... I decided I wanted to break the 10 pound base back weight limit.

That one decision has since spiraled completely out of control lol

For me there was a fair amount of changes to the style of hiking I did in order to make the weight changes from the 12 pound BPW limit to the sub 10 pound BPW limit. It required learning whole new approaches to the type of gear I needed and thus buying even more expensive gear.

I soon reached the 6 pound range and that made me even more proud of myself. I used a 6 pound setup for hundreds of miles of hiking.

Eventually though I got thinking while out on the trail ways that it would be possible to shave an ounce here and there and maybe, just maybe, hit that elusive 5 pound BPW mark.

After spending even more money buying a lot of different setups to find the one that worked for me I was able to push down into the 4 pound range. I knew at that point that I needed to stop and really go out and spend a lot of more miles on the trail trying to make sure I could stay safe and that the gear was trail worthy. For me that is a really big thing. I see an alarming about of hikers out on the trail with gear setups that are really light weight but that the hiker is just not ready for yet. It is scary. I have been there myself before, I know. The difference for me is by this point I had moved beyond being a weekend hiker and was spending weeks out on the trail at one time. This gave me the trail time to learn through those bad situations.

After a while I realized I had finally learned the right techniques of being in the sub five pound world. It really did/does require a whole different type of thinking - and approach - about hiking gear. From there it was all a matter of research, research, research and more research. I hunted down other hikers who were in the sub 5 pound range and am pretty sure I more than annoyed a few of them with constant emails back and forth (and huge thanks to all of you who have helped me along the way!) about this piece of gear or that piece of gear, about different approaches to sleeping (for example: warmer and heavier sleeping bag, or lighter and colder sleeping bag + a down jacket), to trying to find ways to build lighter weight cooking systems, lighter weight water filter systems, lighter weight shelters, different shoes, a constant struggle to find lighter weight backpacks and different configurations of backpacks, and so forth.

Eventually I pushed past the 4 pound mark, past the 2 pound mark and reached a low of 629 grams (1.38 pounds) for a total back weight of a summer setup. Not something I personally advice, just to be clear.

So I have shared all of that to present my path to down the road from being a Heavy Hauler to being an UL hiker, to being a SUL hiker and eventually into the world of being a XUL hiker.

But more so than that I have shared this because I wanted to show how I have gotten away from what I created this website to be... a place hikers could come to check out gear that they are looking for. As I move further and further into the SUL/XUL world of hiking I am leaving behind the 90%+ of hikers out there and that is just not something that has made me feel good.

It was somewhere around August or September when I realized I needed to make a change... I either needed to change the purpose of this website (RedwoodOutdoors) and my corresponding youtube channel, or I needed to create a new one which focused specifically on the SUL/XUL world of hiking.

After a lot of back and forth discussions with myself and a few friends the idea was formed to put together a whole other website that is specific to SUL/XUL hiking and keep RedwoodOutdoors for things like trip reports, hiking gear reviews that are not specifically SUL/XUL gear, and that kind of thing.

That lead me on a hunt for a new domain name, youtube channel, twitter channel and so forth, where all three of those were not already taken - and that was rather difficult. Eventually I found a few and presented the names to a couple of friends and we all decided that "HikeLighter" was the best one.

So I am hereby announcing a brand new website designed specifically for SUL/XUL hikers called "HikeLighter.Com" and the corresponding youtube channel which I would love to have everybody subscribe to! The HikeLighter youtube channel does not have any videos uploaded yet but it will soon enough. Being the holiday season it has been nearly impossible for me to get outdoors and shot video, but soon!

RedwoodOutdoors will continue to exists and I will continue to write articles from this website. They will be targeted towards the average hiker (those 90% of you out there) who are in the 6-20 pound range for your backpacks. I still have a lot of gear sitting around that I have used over the last few years that I can write reviews on and I get new gear on a monthly basis. So hopefully along the way I can get refocused more on the type of gear all of you in the 6-20 pound range are looking for. And for those of you who are in the SUL/XUL world I very much would love to have you follow me over to "HikeLighter.Com" and my HikeLighter Youtube channel so we can talk about all things SUL/XUL!

May the 2012 hiking season be an awesome one for all of you!

John B. Abela

Product Announcement: The Black Rock Gear Vest

Greetings hikers!

Well I am very excited to be able to share with all of my readers that I have gotten an email from Black Rock Gear (the folks that make my down hat that I rated as my #1 favorite piece of hiking gear in 2011) and they let me know that they have released their very first down vest called the Black Rock Gear Vest!

This is a major leap forward for Black Rock Gear. To date they have pretty much stayed in the accessory gear department, supply hikers looking for the lightest and warmest gear out there. Items such as their down hat, undermitts, and pillows. It is amazing to see another outdoor cottage company growing enough to be able to expand on their product line!

I was pretty surprised when I got an email from the owner of Black Rock Gear letting me know that they had put together a SUL (dare I even call it a XUL?) down filled vest! When I got to the part of the email that listed the specs I was blown away.

  • SevenD DWR Coated Ripstop
  • 900fp Goose Down
  • YKK #3C Ultralight Zipper
  • Stretch Binding Arms/Waist
  • Fill Weight: 2oz (medium)
  • Total Weight: 4oz (medium)
 I try very hard to not compare products when I write so when I do it has to be pretty darn awesome for me to do so. When a person looks at the competition out there in the vest world, there is some pretty tight competition when it comes to overall weight of vests.

However I think this is one of those times when it is worth comparing products, because it will highlight just how awesome this Black Rock Gear Vest should be once it is released! This list below is by no means an extensive list of vests, but they are perhaps the best of the best when it comes to sub-10 ounces vests!

  1. Western Mt. Flash    $150 - 3.5oz Total, 20d fabric, undisclosed amount of 850fp, #5C vislon zipper
  2. Black Rock Gear Vest    $150 - 4.0oz Total, SevenD DWR Coated Ripstop, 2oz of 900fp, #3C zipper
  3. Montbell UL Vest    $115 - 5.4oz Total,15d fabric, 1.7oz of 800fp, #3C zipper
  4. Patagonia Sweater Vest    $150 - 8.6oz Total, 22d fabric, 2oz of 800fp, undisclosed zipper, but looks like a #5C
So as you can see, while the Black Rock Gear Vest might not be the 'lightest' vest out there, I am willing to stand forward and say that in the sub-10 ounce vest market, it very likely is going to be the best that is out there!

The Black Rock Gear Vest is the only sub-10oz vest in the list to be using 900fp.

The Black Rock Gear Vest is the only one to be using the crazy light weight SevenD material (I would like to point out there Montbell has moved away from using both SevenD and 15-denier - to using a heavier but more durable 20-denier for the 2012 season, on almost all of their products, which is very very sad.) I have a few items that use the SevenD material and so long as you treat it with a bit of respect it will be an amazing piece of gear for you that is half the weight of any other material used. My Black Rock Gear Hadron hat is at the top of my list of gear that uses SevenD.

The Black Rock Gear Vest, to me, just seems to have the better stats of the other ones out there. Of course I have never been a huge vest fan so I have not bought all of the other vests I listed above, but if you are a hiker you know I have listed some of the top names in the industry.

Hopefully I am going to be able to pick up one of these vests when it is released so I can give it a try! Right now I use the very awesome MontBell Ultra-Light Down Inner Parka which at 10 ounces exact allows me to get down to the 20-f range with all of my other clothing layers on. With this new vest from Black Rock Gear listed at only 4 oz (probably around 5.5-6 oz for the large size, which I will need) it should allow me the ability to either push that temperature rating down a bit further, or ditch a heavier piece of laying that I normally take and get about the same temperature rating at a few ounces lighter!

All in all I am very much looking forward to how well the Black Rock Gear Vest turns out and I hope that we in the UL/SUL/XUL world will continue to support Black Rock Gear so that they can keep pushing the boundaries and providing us gear such as this!

The Black Rock Gear Vest will be available to buy starting on December 5th 2011. Start saving your money for it!!

10 Favorite Pieces of Hiking Gear for 2011

Hello Everybody,

I felt it was time for me to sit down and share with everybody my 10 favorite pieces of hiking gear that I have used in the 2011 hiking season. This is not going to be an easy list to put together by any means. If I were to be fair about it I think my list would have to be around 15 items. But I did narrow it down to just ten items of what I feel are truly exceptional pieces of hiking gear.

Now I want to note right off the bat that a couple of these items are not necessary defined as "hiking gear", none the less there are certain items we come across in our search for the perfect pieces of hiking gear that sometimes nice surprises come from outside the hiking industry. Two of the items on my list are such.

I would also like to note that some of these items I have only used for a short period of time. In the constant quest to find better gear we often find ourselves replacing exceptional gear for truly exceptional gear. Likewise some of the items on the list I do not use anymore. But that does not mean that there are not exceptional pieces of hiking gear. In my case it just happens to be that my hiking style has changed beyond the needs of the item(s) and I rarely find myself using them, but they are still at the very top of what is out there, so I personally feel it is the just and right thing to keep them in my list.

The first four items on my list I can put in their exact spots without any thought or hesitation. The remaining six items I feel could be placed in a near parallel line with each other in how amazing I feel they are. None the less I will still list them out from five through ten just to keep my list of ten consistent and organized.

With all that explained, onto my list!

#1 Black Rock Gear Down Hat

Ask anybody that I hike with what my favorite piece of gear is and they will probably tell you the Black Rock Gear hat! Man do I love this thing. Actually, I have two of them. I have the Original (and warmer) and the Hadron (xul level light!) and neither one of them is any better or worse than the other - the Hadron just weighs less and is for the summer and shoulder season (the hadron) and the Original is a bit heavier and is beyond awesome for when it starts getting - and is - cold outside!

The Hadron uses SevenD Fabric and uses 900fp Grey Goose Down and is 30% lighter than the Original. For my review on the Hadron visit here.

The Original uses 20d DWR Coated Ripstop Nylon and uses the same 900fp Grey Goose Down.

My Hadron hits the scale at 18.3 grams for the larger version!

#2: Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants

It should come as no surprise to those that know me that the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants are at the top of my list. They are a piece of gear - that for me - have gone beyond exceptional and into the truly exceptional category.

These pants are 2.8 ounces of awesomeness! I have used them for two entire hiking seasons, plus the vast majority of the non-hiking season while I have been out and about around town. I never thought I would say that about a pair of pants but there is just something amazing about these pants.

You can read what I had to say about these at by visiting here.

#3 ZPacks Zero Cuben Fiber Backpack

Early this year I finally got my BPW down to the XUL level and thus I was able to go out and by myself a ZPacks Zero Cuben Fiber X-Small (1,000 cubic inch) backpack, made with 1.26 oz/sqyd cuben fiber, and designed by the awesome folks at ZPacks.Com, which has supplied around 30% of the gear that I carry (Montbell supplies around 30% of my gear as well, and other companies put together fill in the rest.) For a couple of hiking seasons I have been using a ZPacks CF Blast backpack which hits the scales at the 6 ounce range and is what I use for the winter season and longer hikes when I cannot resupply every four of five days.

The backpack hits my scale at 72.85 grams (2.569 ounces) and that includes a sternum strap, and a Cuben Fiber Shoulder Pouch. Here recently I added a ZPacks Multi-pack in a lighter weight (1.26 oz/sqyd) cuben fiber material so it came it at just under one ounce. It adds another 215 cubic inches (3.5 liters) worth of space to my Zero and helps perform weight off-set from the back.

I was at one point able to load up around twelve pounds worth of gear and supplies into this little backpack - but it was not fun for the first two days of hiking (until my food weight went down.) The ZPacks Zero backpack (in size X-Small) really tends to excels if you can keep your total pack weight at under five pounds. I have used it for every hike I have been on since I bought it. I would not be able to use this in the upcoming winter hiking season as it just does not have enough cubic inches worth of space. I can get all of my winter gear into it but not my food. Of course this is not really designed to be used as a winter hiking pack so lets not knock it for something it is not designed to be doing!

If you are looking for a day-hike pack this is the one to get! If you are at the lower end of the SUL and into the XUL weight levels, this is absolutely the backpack you should be using!

#4 Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3

When it comes to staying warm at night I have depended on the Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Huger #3 sleeping bag for two seasons now. It is a thirty degree bag which I have pushed down to the eighteen degree mark while wearing all of my down clothing. I have used it in the summer as a quilt and into the shoulder season as both a quilt and as a bag, and into the winter season it gets all zipped up and has done an excellent job of keeping me warm. Only once have I gotten cold and it was my feet because I did not have a third extra pair of socks with me and the temperature dropped down to around thirty - for the record I suffered frostbite on my toes so they are pretty much always cold. This was my fault not that of the sleeping bag.

I tend to be a bit larger than the vast majority of hikers at 6'1 and 200 pounds (I start myself at 210 at the start of a long hike.) While it is true that more and more guys over 6 feet tall are getting into hiking we are still yet the minority. I am also a side sleeper that tosses and turns a lot! This is the only sleeping bag I have used that provided me the stretch-factor I need as a side-sleeping-tosser. It is a hard thing to be in the hiking world because sleeping bags are just not usually designed for that. Thankfully this bag exists and it has performed its duty well.

#5 Patagonia Capilene 3 Top/Bottoms

Love these things! Patagonia Capilene 3 top/bottoms make my list because they have performed beyond expectation for me! I have had people tell me "Capilene stinks" and think I am some kind of hiker that does not know what he is doing. Fair enough. Perhaps they stunk for that person. But I know of a lot of people that wear these and feel differently - that feel the same way that I do! The Patagonia Capilene material is soft, warm, handles a tremendous amount of abuse and does not stink for me!

I have used the the Patagonia Capilene 3 tops and bottoms for over two hiking seasons (and while at home when I get cold) and they will continue to go with me for a long time I suspect. I have been tempted by other companies to switch (icebreaker approached me a couple months ago, for example) and until I actually get something in my hands that can perform better than the Patagonia Capilene I am sticking with them!

#6 Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles

Simply the best of the best! I am not going to get into the argument of whether the Gossamer Gear LT4's are better than Leki. I have yet to use a single pair of Leki poles that can match the Gossamer Gear LT4 hiking poles! Yes people break them. They are carbon fiber after all. If I wanted an indestructible hiking pole I would go with one that was not made of carbon fiber. Just seems like one of those "duh factors" to me. Does that mean I give my poles a bit of extra care than I would perhaps other poles, yes. But in the SUL/XUL world all of our gear is pushing the boundaries and therefore it deserves that extra bit of care and attention! You do not hike as a XUL hiker and not pay close attention to your gear. But enough of that, this is a gear article and not a philosophy of use article!

The Gossamer Gear LT4 hiking poles are considered by most to be the lightest hiking poles on the market. My regular size poles are 3.6 ounces (103 grams) per pole!

#7 ZPacks "Hexamid Solo Tarp"

The ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp is a truly exceptional solo tarp for those who do not like the traditional rectangle tarp! One of the major aspects of what makes this tarp so unique is its hexamid shape. This is a tarp shape that is starting to catch on throughout the hiking industry, to some varying degrees.

I have bought and used a lot of tents and tarps over the last few years and this tarp is at the very top of my list. Here recently ZPacks released a slightly taller version which will be really nice to get and try out.

The ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp uses .51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber which has thus far proven to be amazing. At 4.2 ounces (with the beak) I dare this is one of the lightest and most solid tarps I have ever used.

You can read my full review of this beyond exceptional solo tarp by going here. You can see my video review of this tarp by going here.

#8 Hyperlite Mountain Gear "ECHO I Ultralight Shelter System"

There has been a lot said about the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo I tent all over the internet! I have been one of those people saying a lot about it. I firmly believe that the HMG Echo Tents are the most bombproof cuben fiber tents on the market! They are not the lightest, they are not the cheapest, they are not the most used. But they are the best engineered, the best for harsh environments, and my go-to tent when I know I am going to be going out in some really bad weather. But even at that, for a hiker looking to invest some serious money into one single tent that can get them through anything, be it summer or hard winters, at 23.7 ounces (1.48 pounds) I firmly believe that you will not find a better tent on the market at this weight range! More and more folks are starting to buy these and talk about them and that is a very good thing.

Without a doubt I think that my reviews on the HMG Echo tents is what really got me started in gaining some respect in the hiking industry. I was willing to be straight forward about something that was wrong with this product while at the same time giving it the highest praise that I could. That one "wrong thing" was not really "wrong" per se, rather it is just the nature of the beast when it comes to gear designed for a specific purpose not meeting the needs expectations of hikers. None the less I have been attributed to the quote "the most bomb proof cuben fiber tarp in the industry". I have also had news publications use quotes of mine regarding this tent in write-ups that have been done to promote it. I have been honored by all of these facts because I truly do believe that if you want the finest quality cuben fiber tent that is made, the HMG Echo is the only option to consider. Since it was released it has shaken up the industry. The HMG is built not only to the same quality as everybody else, but above and beyond it. I heard one cottage industry business owner make the statement that "HMG is over engineered" - and to be honest I think it is too. But guess what, that is exactly what makes it the best out there! Sure it might weigh more than other cuben fiber tents on the market, sure it might have tie-outs that are over strengthened, yes it ships with guylines that could probably hold an oil liner to a dock, but all of those are what makes the HMG Echo Shelter Systems the finest on the market! The facts are simple folks, if you want a cuben fiber tent that you have to be very concerned about how much you treat it, the HMG is probably too much for you. If you are somebody who just wants to setup a tent and to hell with being gentle with it - yet still want the weight savings of cuben fiber - than the HMG is exactly what you want. I made famous the quote "the most bombproof cuben fiber tent in the industry" for a reason - because it is dead on accurate! From the (yes) over engineering of the design to the high bathtube floor (which is a personal favorite, and the highest bathtub of any inner tent I know of on the market) to the quality of gear used, the HMG Echo Shelter Systems are my go-to when I know I am going to be out in a really nasty storm.

#9 Ecowool Possum & Merino Plain Glove

The Ecowool Possum & Merino Plain Gloves Without a doubt the most unique and beloved gloves I have ever owned. I import them directly from New Zeland as they are very hard - almost impossible - to find here in the USA. They are made from a possum/merino wool mixture and are just amazing. I can stick my hand in a freezing cold river and though the gloves and my hands are soaking wet, somehow, almost as if miraculously, my hands continue to feel warm!

Now I am going to be honest and say I have no idea of the natural wonders at work with this mixture of possum fir and merino wool, but whatever it is it works! Just be careful to keep them away from flames... they sing rather easily. Trust me. lol

#10 ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava

I cannot begin to explain how much I love the ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava. It has saved me from suffering a number of times over the last few hiking seasons. Simply put, this balaclava has a unique 'ventilator' which creates a sort of micro climate within itself, helping to insure that the air that enters your body is significantly warmer than what the actual outside air temperature is. I am not going to get into the science of it all here within this article so I would encourage you to check out their website to learn about it some more.

As a long distance hiker I have found that the balaclava itself is perfect for both hiking in and sleeping in. Where the ventilator has come into use, for me, is at night. A few times I have been out on a hike and the temperatures all of a sudden dropped much lower than I had expected them too, and having the ability to put on the ventilator to help control the cold air while I was trying to sleep greatly helped me to be able to control my core temperature. It might seem like an odd thing for a SUL/XUL hiker (ok, for any hiker) to be taking along with them, but it has proven itself to me to be both a high performance piece of hiking gear and a valuable addition to my survival gear, and for those reasons it has made it into my top-ten gear items for 2011.

In Closing:

Believe me when I say I would love to keep this list going. But I doubt most folks out there would not want to read a "my top 30 hiking gear items" article. I would encourage you to read through my gear lists - I have a winter setup, a shoulder season setup, and a summer setup. Just click on the tabs on the bottom of the gear list page to view each of them.

Allow me to just close with this: please, continue to support the cottage hiking companies as much as you can!!

Helping Others Reach Lower Pack Weights

I was surfing around on youtube yesterday and discovered a fellow who I have been helping with his backpack gear for a few months mention me in his video and he took the time to thank me for helping him loose over 15 pounds worth of base back weight! Wow!!

"Redwood Outdoors... A goldmine of information for lightening your pack"
- 'tinny'  from

As a hiker, as an individual who writes articles and blogs, as a youtube video publisher, it is always a heartfelt moment when you can see others learning skills on how to lighten their overall backpack weight.

Youtube is one of those places where there are millions of people each with their own little interests in life, and it is really hard to try to find that niche which allows you to be able to attract people to watch your videos. To me that is important, because I do not post videos on youtube, nor write blogs on my website, or write articles for others, just 'to do it'. For me, all of the effort put forth is to help others. To know that there are others out there who are looking for the kind of information that I have had to learn - both from others before me and learning it myself - and if I can share that information in such as way as to help others, well that is really what it is all about.

Yes I get to work behind the scenes with some of the leading cottage industry companies in the world, and some very small ones just trying to get started, and all of that is really awesome because it allows the engineering inside of me to really blossom. It is also nice because it allows me the oppertunity to work with them to develop gear that I feel the SUL/XUL world needs, or sometimes, just a one-off product that has been in my brain for awhile. These of course help me become a better and more efficient hiker, but really it is mostly just a "me factor" rather than an "other factor", except for those times when I am able to directly help influence a product that makes it to the cottage market, that is cool of course.

But without a doubt the greatest part of writing articles, investing hours and hours into writing blogs here at RedwoodOutdoors.Com and even more hours doing youtube videos... well that is just all about being able to help others! Every few days on youtube I will be watching a video by somebody else and I will see them talking about something I had no idea you could do in the world of hiking, which teaches me something new, and that is a great feeling! I always take the time to write them a quick message on their video and say something like "hey, that is a new one for me, thanks!" because I am sure that most folks out there are like me, they just want to share what they have learned with others. In the end, for we who are hikers, that is the true power of the internet!

What is "Core Temperature" - How important is it - What you need to do and know!

A few years ago as I was developing my long distance hiking skills I realized a very important aspect of hiking which I eventually formulated into a sort of motto by which I hike - and now use as a principle teaching platform.

Managed Core Temperature + Proper Preparation + Proper Sleep + Proper Food + Proper Gear = A Successful Trip!
I am fully convinced that nearly everything you learn about hiking should be founded on those 5 skills!

It does not take a great deal of time spent out hiking to realize just how important those four skills are. The difficulty comes in learning them and learning how to keep yourself aware of each of them, and learning how to keep yourself in tune with each of them regardless of the environment  and conditions that you are faced with while out on the trail.

Why I Love Small Outdoor Companies!

If you have spent any amount of time reading my blogs, reading my articles, or watching my videos you have probably come to realize that I just really love outdoor cottage companies!

I wanted to share those outdoor cottage companies that are at the very top of my list
(in alphabetical order)


Here are some of the experiences over the last few years that I have had with each of these companies, what gear I have bought from each of these companies, and why I feel they are special and deserve to be considered when you are looking to buy some new outdoor gear!

Klymit Inertia XL - Resized & Reviewed!!

In a previous blog I compared the Klymit Inertia XL Sleeping Pad with the NeoAir Large. While many people seemed to use it as a straight up review of the Klymit Inertia XL Sleeping Pad it was not intended to be such. It was written to specifically compare the NeoAir Large with the Klymit Inertia XL - and nothing more.

Since that time I have been in contact with Klymit and talked with their CEO about their product line, future product development, and potential changes to the Klymit Inertia XL Sleeping Pad.

Perhaps the one thing I requested more than anything else was that they release a Klymit Inertia XL that is 47-inches long (typically called "3/4-length") and that an option for much lighter material be offered - my thinking there be that if it is used inside of a bivy or bag the necessity for such heavy material as it presently uses would not be necessary.

During my conversation with Nate Alder, the CEO of Klymit, we talked a great deal about the process of creating a shorter version of the XL version of their pad. In essence, for side sleepers that do not need the full length yet want a wider pad to be able to roll around on, something that most of us face as side sleepers.

Cottage Industry: How important is gear failure and target clientele?

Over the last few years I have had the opportunity, and the honor, of working with a number of the larger cottage industry companies in the backpacking world, in regards to research and development, prototype testing, post r&d testing and evaluating, and the greatest of all, helping companies take existing products back to the drawing board and redesigning flaws. I have to say that I really enjoy doing this. It helps me keep my engineering juices flowing - which is nice for my day job.

I really do feel honored to be able to help these cottage business owners, and I try my best to stay as objective as possible. I volunteer my time and expertise and trail time testing their gears. When I do write a public review of a product I say things like they should be said - truthfully. I do not write 'only' good reviews. When a product sucks, I say it sucks. This keeps me honest, helps keeps my readers knowing I am not just some guy writing reviews on gear companies have given me to write something nice about (I do not write review on gear I have not personally paid for, even if I was involved in r&d, testing, etc - if I discover I like it, I buy it from them), and perhaps greatest of all is that it allows me to stay in contact with the owners.

A few times a week I get personal emails from the owners of cottage business owners letting me know what they are working on, results of any post-testing, updates on changes, prototypes, and such. This too is a great honor.

Recently I started receiving a number of emails from different cottage industry business owners all seeming to be along the same lines of conversation. After the third or so email I realized I was saying the basic same thing to each of them, and that I figured, qualified for a blog being written up sharing my thoughts on the matter!

So the topic here today is two-fold. First, is how I feel the industry should approach the five different levels of hikers, and how important gear failures should be viewed, for each of those five different levels of hikers.

For those who typlically only visit my blog to read gear review, I apologize for the deviation, but sometimes talking about industry topics interests both myself and a lot of other folks out there :)

Here are my thoughts on part of the issue... after both personal experience, and writing product reviews for a couple of years now...

Review: Klymit Inertia XL Sleeping Pad

A few months ago I bought a Klymit Inertia XL which advertises itself as an "ultralight, ultra comfortable camping pad".

I bought it with one intent purpose: to give it a run for its money against the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Large.

A few things, right up front:

  1. I went into this challenge with an absolute love for the NeoAir Large. As a side sleeper it is near heaven.
  2. I understood that in regards to weight, the NeoAir Large and the Inertia XL were close enough to compare each other fairly.
  3. I highly doubted any claims against "body mapping" doing any good at all in the real world of being out in the backwoods.
  4. I was really hoping the Inertia XL inflated a lot easier than the NeoAir Large
 Negative thoughts on this product:
  1. My legs had a tendency to fall into the holes all night long, and that is just annoying.
  2. It is very hard to get it firm without the included hand pump, which means extra weight.
  3. At 504 grams (17.8 ounces) I could just take a NeoAir Large which is 550 grams (19.4 ounces) and have a significant amount of additional comfort and frustration.
Positive thoughts on this product:
  1. The Inertia XL inflates much easier (6 breaths + a dozen or so hand squeezes) verses the 20+ breaths that a NeoAir Large takes. But for many people, this is not a big issue.
  2. It is much thinner than a NeoAir Large and thus makes sleeping in a bivy a bit roomier.

Black Rock Gear "Hadron" Down Hat

A few years ago I bought a down hat from a company called Black Rock Gear which has turned out to be one of very few items that has gone with me on every single hiking trip that I have been on in the last two years. It was called, simply enough, The Black Rock Hat. It is hard for me to express enough how much I love this hat. I have talked about it in a few of my youtube videos (here and here for example) and it is apart of all of my gear lists, including my sub-2 pound base pack weight setup - which is pretty impressive!

After having used the Black Rock Hat for well over a year I bought one of their Under Mitts (read my review) to use in the winter season, which I loved and gave a five star rating for, and it was well deserved.

A short while ago I got an email from the owner of Black Rock Gear letting me know that they had a new model of the Black Rock Hat coming out and if I was interested in getting one to try it out, compare it to my existing hat and share my thoughts about it, which of course I was more than willing to do!

When they responded back to me with some of the changes from the Original to the newest model (it is important to note that this is not an updated version, but rather a whole new model in their product line) I was down right impressed with the statistics that they were presenting to me... and to be honest, if I had not already come to fully respect the Block Rock Gear brand, I probably would not have believed their data - it is that impressive.

So allow me to introduce to you, The Block Rock Gear "Hadron Hat"!

ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp & HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter

ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp
ZPacks HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter

It was not all that long ago when the thought of a fully enclosed bug net weighing two pounds was a mastery of feat and accomplishment! The rules have changed once again, being lead by some innovative and dedicated hikers, who also happen to be cottage manufactures, such as ZPacks.Com

At an amazingly light 10.9 ounces (309 grams) the ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp and accompanying HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter now provides us the ability to have a fully enclosed tent that requires only a single pole (or stick), can be setup in the one to two minute mark, and totally blow away over two pounds (32 ounces) [907 grams] worth of weight off even some of the lighest solo test setups on the market! The ZPacks Hexamid Solo Tarp utilizes .51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber while the HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter utilizes .7 oz/sqyd mosquito netting and .74 oz/sqyd Cuben Fiber - with an optional 1.26 oz/sqyd Cuben Fiber floor if you expect to be in rocky terrain. If you are expecting to encounter a lot of snow and rain you can add an Extended Beak to the tarp for an additional 0.9 ounces (25 grams).

I have had the opportunity to use this setup in the snow, in rain, and on nice sunny days. The Hexamid Solo has become my favorite tarp of the dozens I have - so much so that I have started selling off all of my rectangular tarps as they just do not have the wind protection and coverage that I feel a hexamid tarp has. By itself the Hexamid Solo tarp can be setup as high as your pole will go or right on the ground. I have found the need to use it both ways, but the vast majority of the time I keep it around 6 inches (15 cm) above the ground. Because of the coverage that it provides I have never had to worry about rain spray or dripping. When the bugs come out it is a simple matter of pulling the pole out from under the tarp and sliding the HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter under the tarp. The handle of your single hiking pole goes into a slot designed into the top of the HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter, a very slick and very quick way to get your bug shelter setup. Likewise, if you do not need the tarp and want to just use the HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter by itself, all it takes is a single pole or stick; no stakes required, though there are loops on the corners if you want to stake it down. It should be noted that the HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter itself is rectangular and not hexamid in shape.

My thoughts on the Inov8 shoes for hiking

I have been a huge fan of the Brooks Cascadia 5's since they came out and here recently the Brooks Cascadia 6 came out but I have not tried them. Mostly because my version 5's are still in amazing shape, but also because I love the green color of the five series - I know, shoe color should not matter, but I think they help calm me... imagine seeing some red flash every time you take a step down there were your feet are... plus almost everybody on the trails I encounter comments on how nice these green shoes are (odd, I know, but that just goes to show the impression a nicely color shoe can make.)

So here awhile back I bought myself a pair of the Inov-8 x-Talon 212 and was amazed how just how much lighter they were. I used them for a number of trips and came to really like them. By the way, I have had a few people ask about them... but not from hikers, just runners. lol

I have since switched to the Inov-8 X-Talon 190- savings of 21.82 grams [0.77 ounces] and have not noticed any comfort difference between the 212 and the 160 (though I can notice a slight difference in the weight) except if I am walking on shale and other loose sharp material. As for comments from others that I get, most hikers that I encounter just tend to laugh that I am wearing red shoes. I agree with them... red shoes should be laughed at. Serious Inov-8... red?? Make some nice green shoes for a change, sheesh!!

Weight Verses Comfort

For the past few years I have been aggressively pursuing reducing my backpack base weight. Something that most of us eventually do if we spend any time out in the backwoods - with perhaps the exceptions of the survivalists who always seem to be adding more to their pack weight - and I have to admit that while it is really great to be out there hiking, sometimes pounding the miles, with an extremely light setup, more and more I find I am willing to carry a few extra pounds for a few extra comforts.

Does this make me as much of a hiker as it could? At one time I thought it did, but having reached the XUL base pack weight (BPW) with a personal-best low of 43.6 ounces (2.725 pounds) [1236 grams] I think I can honestly say that while that is fun, it is only fun for so long. Eventually the miles are going to get to your body. Eventually the mile are going to result in bad weather. Eventually the miles are going to start working on your mind. Eventually... you are going to realize that being out there without some extra gear is just not all that fun. These days, I run a system that has a BPW of 107.44 ounces (6.715 pounds) [3033 grams] that gives me all the gear I need, an amazing shelter system, and enough cold weather gear to handle temps down into the low 20s(f).

Now I suppose most of us can agree that hiking is not always fun. In fact sometimes fun is just about the last thing hiking is. But that does not mean we stop doing it. A few bad days on a trail should not mean the end of our love and desire to go hiking - it just means we had a few bad days on the trail. If you have not had a few bad days on the trail you have not hiked enough to even begin to worry about your packweight. Many people think that the pain from carrying so much weight is the primary reason for reducing your base pack weight, but so few do not consider how things like the trail condition actually effect the overall enjoyment of being out hiking - especially if you are on a multi-day hike where you are really needing to pound out some miles each day.

Jetboil Sol Ti

Hello Everybody,

I finally got my hands on the Jetboil Sol Ti last Thursday.

I did up a video review on it here:

I had a chance to use it this weekend on a hike on the Lost Coast Trail.

Overall weight of the Sol Ti would be more than acceptable for those folks who are casual hikers, weekend hikers, and/or just about anybody who is already in (or looking to decrease too) the total cook kit weight of between 5 and 10 ounces. Obviously if you are an esbit lover than the idea of going from ~0.36 ounces to 8.5+ ounces is unthinkable, but for just about everybody else, I honestly do think the Jetboil Sol Ti is the first Jetboil worthy of making it into an UL backpack setup.

In rating this on a 1-5 system I would give the Jetboil Sol Ti a 3.

I would remove one point because there is a black rubber-like handle on the sleeve that gets very hot and feels way to rubbery. Included with this is the fact that the sleeve is just not secure enough. When the pot is full of water and you pick up the pot the entire sleeve slides up above the top of the pot.

I would remove another point because I had some rather series leakage from the fuel port - where it screws into the fuel canister - every time I have screw the stove unit onto a canister. There is this one small point when screwing on/off a canister (about one full rotation of the can) where it just spews out the fuel. At one point I had so much fuel leakage that I could feel the liquid fuel dripping off my fingers - and I was spinning fast. I have used multiple fuel cans from multiple manufacturers (including jetboil canisters) and every single one of them have had this happen.

The Sol Ti fit well within the side pocket of my ZPacks Blast as well as all ULA and Gossamer Gear and Osprey packs.

Boil times are what we would expect from a Jetboil but even a little faster due to the slightly smaller (0.80) pot. I was unable to notice any difference between water from my tap (when I first tested it in my house) and water from a cold running creek while on the trail. No noticeable difference in performance in the 60 degree temps to the 30 degree temperature range that I have tested it within.

I do wish that Jetboil could find a way to reduce the weight on the fuel stabilizer. It is not included in their published weight because it hits the scales at exactly 1 ounce. Considering how helpful it can be at times they really do need to find a way to reduce the weight of this item.

If I were to take it out with me again I would: cut the black rubber handle off, and leave the measuring cup at home.

Weights on my scale:

Pot: 4.70 oz
Stove: 3.55 oz
Lid: 0.65 oz
Fuel Stand: 1.0 oz
Pot Stand: 1.25 oz
Cup: 1.15

Review: Black Rock Gear Undermitts

In the world of hiking keeping your feet and your hands warm are a vital key in having a successful hike. While not as vital as keeping your head and your chest warm for pure survival in harsh conditions - a situations the vast majority of us will never face - the necessity of keeping ones feet and hands warm play a major role in the overall well-being, pleasure, and adventure, of being outdoors. The Black Rock Gear Undermitts go a long way to helping your hands stay as warm as possible throughout most of the climates and conditions that most of us, all but those who go into the most extreme environments, face each and every time we go out.

For many years a lot of people have been using gear made by Black Rock Gear to keep their core temperatures as stable as possible. They have been the manufacture of the highly popular - and always in demand -  Black Rock Hat which has been used pretty much around the world by those going out for a day hike to those hiking the highest mountains in the world. The Black Rock Hat ounce for ounce (0.67 - 0.88 ounces) [19-25 grams] is very likely the best down hat on the market. While Black Rock Gear does not manufacture a balaclava such as the Nunatak 'Down Balaclava' or the Katabatic Gear 'Windom' or the ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava - their Black Rock Hat fits a niche of the market that they have been able to dominate.

Early in 2011 Black Rock Gear released their first product outside of hats with the introduction of their 'Black Rock Undermitts' and I was lucky enough to get one from their initial production.

UL/SUL base weights no longer means tarp-only setups!

For many years now the primary method of dropping a major percentage of your base pack weight (BPW) has been to do away with your tent and go with a tarp. I think the time has come that we really stop and reconsider this concept.

If you regularly follow my blogs you know that I have four different setups for four different situations.

The heaviest is for serious winter conditions. The BPW for my winter setup falls outside of the SUL range, and even outside of the UL range, at 11 pounds. The setup, however, can get me down to the zero(f) degree range and below. It includes a 5 layer clothing system and enough survival gear for nearly any condition.

My second heaviest setup is what I call my "comfort setup". To me this is like driving in a Mercedes McLaren SLR verses a LandRover. It provides me the utmost of comfort and the ability to go down to around 20(f) degrees. The BPW for this setup is 6 pounds, well within the UL scale factor.

My third heaviest setup is my primary setup for most hikes these days. It is a sub-5 pound BPW - which puts it well within the SUL scale factor. This setup provides me everything I need for the longest of trips that I might encounter anywhere within the CONUS, with the exception of a few areas where I would face sub-20(f) degree weather, which is about the limit of this setup.

My fourth heaviest setup, or my lightest setup, is designed for those trips when I know that bugs will not be an issue and where the temperatures will not get much below 35(f) degrees - though I could probably tough it through down to the freezing temp range. This setup pushes me well into the XUL scale range at a BPW of 3 pounds.

Hard Decisions: Buying a Balaclava

I have been faced with a decision the last few months as winter has been around - the decision to pull my highly beloved BlackRockGear Hat out of my pack and replace it with something warmer.

The choice has been far from easy because the BRG hat is just so awesome. At 25 grams [0.88 oz] it provides exceptional warmth to weight ration. Sadly, even the large size is not large enough for me - the bottom of my ears are not covered by it. But more than that, with the weather getting down into the mid 20's I am just finding that I need a full face headgear item.

At the very top of my list have been two different products:

1) Nunatak Down Balaclava
2) Katabatic Gear Windom

Each of them have their pros and after months of going back and forth I finally decided on the Katabatic Windom.

I honestly am not sure if that is going to be the right choice. If it is not, it will mean another item of gear I will need to purchase. As much as I love gear, sometimes I get really tired of buying gear.

The Quest For Less

It seems that when I hit the 10 pound mark for my Base Pack Weight (BPW) there were very few people out there that follow me that really were all that impressed - which did not bother me at all. After all, the average hiker can get their 10+ pound backpack to under 10 pounds in a matter of minutes for very little money.

When I reached the 6 pound BPW mark I started getting folks asking me what changes I had made. I will be honest and say that going from the 10lb to the 6lb was probably the hardest achievement for me - even harder than getting down into the 4 pound base weight level. I will get into that more in another article.

When I reached the 5 pound mark I did not really tell anybody so no joy lost there.

When I reached the 4 pound mark and started telling folks about that, it seems to have made heads spin. That is kind of cool. Two years ago my head was spinning when I thought about guys with SUL (super ultra light) packs [that is, base pack weight under 5 pounds].

The next obvious level is the (XUL) Extreme Ultralight setup. Getting my BPW below four pounds. This page goes into much more detail on different BPW levels. At this time I should be able to reach the XUL mark with very little effort. I could do so right now if I choose to leave my phone/camera at home and as long as the weather would not get much below freezing. I could easily do XUL with my existing gear setup if the weather were to stay above 40 degrees (f).

So what I wanted to talk about is "the quest for less" and what it involved for me.

Do you really need all those clothing items in your backpack?

Hello Everybody,

I just got back from a short hike that I took just to test out how warm (or not warm) certain items of cloth in my backpack are.

You see, over the last few weeks I have really been questioning the amount of gear I have in my backpack.

In 2009 I had 79.16 ounces worth of cloths in my backpack. That is 4.94 pounds worth of clothing!

In 2010 I had 45.86 ounces worth of cloths in my backpack. That is 2.86 pounds worth of clothing! Getting better!

Future Gear Reviews

I thought I would take a moment to share some of the gear reviews that I have planned over the next few months. I know that the 2011 summer hiking season is getting close to starting up (about 60 days before PCT/AT starting dates) and that means a lot of folks are hitting the internet looking for what others thing about specific pieces of gear.

Some of these reviews take a lot longer than others - especially those that I do a video review and a blog review - so what I have thought about doing (considering it is close to crunch time) is pushing out some smaller reviews of most of the below products, than doing a full review of them over the 2011 summer, with real world photos and daily use journal notes, and all that good stuff. Most of the gear I have I could already do that, but I thought it would be nice to start fresh.

The gear companies listed below are in no specific order. I am not playing favorites here - I try hard not to do that - rather they are listed the way they came out of my gear spreadsheet.

Gossamer Gear - A Great Company For Product Support & Quality Control

I have always been a huge advocate of supporting the cottage industry. I do not have a problem with "the big boys" but my heart lies within the cottage industry guys. This is usually because the type of gear I usually want only comes from the cottage industry.

One of them that has recently moved up my list of top-notch companies to do business with is Gossamer Gear. In 2010 I started doing research on hiking poles (I will blog about this at a later date) and the ones I decided on were designed and manufactured by Gossamer Gear - called the "Lightrek 4 Trekking Poles" - everybody just calls them "LT4's"

From the moment they arrived I have fallen in love with hiking poles. I was initially skeptical about them helping, but I have now become a firm believer in them. They have saved me from falling on my butt a number of times, saved me from face-planting myself twice, saved me from falling off a Redwood tree that had fallen across a trail (it was about 30 feet off the ground - that is, the tree was that big around) and how much they aid in crossing streams and rivers cannot even begin to be calculated.

I reached the 6-pound mark for my base packweight!

Well it has been a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of fiddling around, but I have finally reached the 6-pound range for my backpack!!

Two years ago I was 28 pounds. Last year I was at 18 pounds. Since last year my experience has increased and thus my gear (use & product) knowledge has increased.

Sadly, some of my most beloved gear has had to be put aside in order for much lighter gear to be used, but I am sure over time I will have new beloved gear.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear - Press Release Based On My Comments

Well I thought it was time I shared this. I wanted to make sure everything worked out before I posted this.

I recently got an email from a PR firm that represents Hyperlite Mountain Gear asking if they could use some of my wordage I wrote about their very awesome Echo 1 modular tent within this comment at BackpackingLight.Com - which I thought was very awesome.

I do not want to post the entire email here by the important part was this:

{we} request your approval on using your words in a press release we are sending out to media

The terminology they indicated they wanted to use is:

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Launches Hellishly Strong

and Freakishly Light Gear For The Outdoor Adventurer

You can see the initial press release here!

This is my first type of offer from an outdoor gear company. I have had software companies and religious companies in the past use my quotes and statements due to my work but this is my first time for outdoor gear. This is very exciting because I have been working hard to try to get a name establish for myself for outdoor gear reviews. I have a lot more work to do this year in trying to produce higher quality reviews and more of them - thus the reason for this new website.

Anyway, thanks to the folks at HMG for the honor and I look forward to using your gear each and every time I go out!