Isaac Tait

Isaac Tait has 101 articles published.

Salewa Alp Flow Mid Boots Review

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The Salewa Alp Flow Mid Boots are a “…tough trekking boots made of nubuck and ballistic mesh with a protective rubber edging. Innovative GORE-TEX® Surround™ Technology creates a shoe that is completely waterproof and features 360° breathability – keeping your feet at the right temperature whatever the weather.” I thrashed these boots on several long and dusty hikes up and down Mount Fuji. From hot summer days to surprise sleet storms, the boots performed very well by keeping my feet dry and comfortable.Salewa Alp Flow Mid Boots 1

“The Vibram Hike Approach sole with coarse tread ensures traction on a range of terrain. For all kinds of outdoor adventure. Features the 3F System for firm ankle and heel support, and Climbing Lacing that stretches all the way to the front of the shoe for a very accurate fit.” While the Salewa Alp Flow Mid boots did provide excellent traction and support on the trail when the going got very wet, I found the shoes did a lot more slipping than sticking. I also found the shoes offered a snug performance fit, which was great when climbing on vertical rock but was less than comfortable for my extra wide, high-arched feet.

Salewa Alp Flow Mid Boots

Vaude Asymmetric Pack Review

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Vaude Asymmetric

The Vaude Asymmetric 42+8L Mens is touted as a great pack for “…hut to hut adventures, technical touring pack for multi-day alpine hiking and journeying.” I found this to be a true statement as the pack isn’t quite big enough to carry a full compliment of gear (unless you’re going ultralight but if you are then you’re probably looking at a lighter pack than the Asymmetric which comes in at 3 pounds 7 ounces)

Vaude Asymmetric
With a body contact back for a stable, body-hugging fit – the newly developed suspension system with an integrated frame provides efficient load distribution and great stability. To meet the needs of different torso lengths – and for a perfect fit on your back – the suspension system, the load positioning straps and the shoulder straps feature continuous adjustability. The lightweight hip-belt is very flexible providing excellent mobility in alpine terrain.” During several backpacking trips I was very impressed with the load carrying and stability that the Asymmetric offers. It was a very comfortable pack and handled loads up to 30+ pounds with ease.

Vaude Asymmetric 2

“In addition to the front entry main compartment, this touring backpack also has a map pocket. The adjustable and detachable lid features an inner safety pocket and an easy-access outer pocket. The pack can be compressed using the side straps as well as the strap under the lid. Everything that should be close at hand can be stowed in the side mesh pockets.”

Overall, I really liked this pack it is stylish, offered an expandable main compartment, and the harness/suspension made it very comfortable to wear and carry heavy loads over rough terrain. However, it wasn’t all a rose garden. The side compression straps were a little awkward to use and the bungie cord that held my water bladder tube in place ripped off on the first day.

Badger Tenkara WISCO Tenkara Rod

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japan-yamame-fallfish tenkara

The folks at Badger Tenkara are big proponents of chasing big bass and other warm water species with fixed line fly fishing rigs a.k.a. with a Tenkara rod. As they like to say “Not everyone can live near picturesque mountain trout streams. Heck, not everyone even likes to fish for trout!” I learned how to Tenkara in the warm rivers of Maryland and can attest the excitement of catching Bass, Bluegill, and Fallfish on a Tenkara rod. The good folks at Badger Tenkara also believe that fixed line rigs (e.g. Tenkara rods) have been vastly underestimated in their ability to manage bigger cold water prey and felt it was time to introduce a rod specifically designed for larger fish (I couldn’t agree more). And so they developed the WISCO Rod.

Photo Courtesy of Badger Tenkara
Photo Courtesy of Badger Tenkara

So your first question may be “What’s with the name?” (I thought the same thing too and lucky for us the answer is right there on their site). “After introducing the classic, [Badger Tenkara] decided to name their future rods after bodies of water in Wisconsin… The Wisconsin River is a premiere small mouth bass fishery, is affectionately referred to as “the Wisco”. The “CO” is also a nod to the Colorado River, where the guides and Tenkara fanatics at Harcourt Fly Fishing 3G guide service provided some great feedback on what would make a good fixed line rig.” So they combined the name of these two “big” rivers that inspired the rod, and landed on the WISCO!

japan-amago-fallfish tenkara
Amago ©Fallfish Tenkara
  • The WISCO is a 13’6” (~412cm) rod weighing in at five ounces (142 grams – my scale reported 129 grams). It is the second heaviest Tenkara rod I own but I hardly notice the weight when casting. The rod has plenty of backbone yet maintains a great level of flexibility. It is one of the nicest rods I own in terms of the feel of the cast. It’s hard to describe the cast but a hot knife through warm butter is a step in the right direction. The balance is perfect and it makes the WISCO an absolute joy to cast and fish with.
japan-yamame-fallfish tenkara
Yamame ©Fallfish Tenkara
  • The cork grip runs nearly the full length of the base section which is a feature I really like. Tenkara is all about precision fly presentation and being able to move my hand around and still have plenty of room to hold the rod with two hands when battling bigger fish is a great benefit. Plus it just looks nice.
japan-iwana-fallfish tenkara
Iwana ©Fallfish Tenkara

I’ve been using the WISCO on not only some great backcountry Tenkara trips in search of Iwana but I’ve also been taking it out and specifically targeting Carp in the Sagami and Tama Rivers near Tokyo. I also caught my first Amago with my WISCO rod. Through all these outings I have not found one thing that I dislike about this rod. It’s a great rod for all types of fish both big and small, warm and cold water alike. However, if you’re fishing water where you run the chance of hooking into some monsters you want a rod that can rise to the challenge. Armed with some good technique and the WISCO you’ll have what you need to land a trophy fish, the rest is up to you. Like they say at Badger Tenkara – “If it is time to go BIG, go with the WISCO!”

Motion Distillery Interview

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Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Brian Davis – founder, creator, and visionary for Motion Distillery. Motion Distillery is ‘… a handcrafted film company inspired by the untamed wilderness, the unplanned road trip, a fresh powder day and you’. Here at Seattle Backpackers Magazine we have created a thriving community and budding business from the pastime of human powered travel in the wildplaces. So we teamed up with Brian Davis and his crew at Motion Distillery to tell the world our story, what drives us, and what has kept Seattle Backpackers Magazine going strong for over half a decade. 

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

SBM-Brian can you explain to our readers what Motion Distillery is?

Motion Distillery was founded on the premises of visual storytelling. The idea being that everybody has a story, whether it’s a person, a brand, a non-profit…the idea is to take these stories that are already written and capture them in a cinematic way. Filmmaking is our way of doing that.

SBM-Looking through your portfolio it’s pretty obvious that your passion is telling stories through the video and visual medium. What made you start Motion Distillery?

I had been doing commercial production work in Los Angeles. It taught me a lot and working on set and was great but I wanted to be out telling real stories. It has kind of become a new way of advertising in a sense – making a small short films about a brands. This goes a long way in the culture we live in and I saw potential in that. So I started to dream up Motion Distillery and purse that passion.

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Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

SBM-I completely agree with you, it seems that short videos about everything from brands to trip reports have been exploding lately. How many years has Motion Distillery been making videos?

We are coming up on two years. It’s been an exciting two at that, challenging at times but also truly filling when we get to do what we love for a living.

SBM- Let’s talk about our collaboration for second – I think it perfectly captures what drives the crew at Seattle Backpackers Magazine and what we are all about. First let me say that I was surprised at how much work went into the creation of this video. From writing the screenplay, choosing shots, audio recording, mixing, etc… It has given me a whole new respect for the industry. For you though what is the most challenging aspect of telling people’s stories through video?

Well for me it’s doing my best. As you mention there is a lot that goes in to producing video, but it ultimately comes down to getting their story right. These brands or Non-profits I have worked with are all important to me and I want to send them the final cut and be just as excited as they are when the get it. The challenge really comes when I’m out shooting there’s a lot that has to come together at the right moment to get those great shots, because when you get home to edit and you don’t have the shot you need or it is out of focus them that affects the story. It’s challenging especially when working outdoors because there are so many variables involved.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

SBM-I can imagine the difficulties of film are magnified in the outdoors. A lot of the time a second chance to get a particular shot is just not possible. I think our readers are going to enjoy watching your handiwork. Before we wrap things up though I am curious – do you have any upcoming projects or trips that you are excited about?

Well as you know I have a huge love for for the outdoors, so I’m always on the hunt for those types of projects. My next project is a little different, and it is still under development. What I will tell you its about something that a lot of people enjoy drinking in the morning, or anytime for that matter. I know for a fact the people in the Northwest particularly love it. I’m excited to get that project under way and I’ll be sure to send some fresh beans you way once it’s completed. 

SBM-Oh that sounds awesome! I can’t wait to get some samples in the mail. Where should our readers go if they want to stay abreast of your adventures and projects?

You can find Motion Distillery on Facebook, Vimeo, Instagram and Twitter for all our latest projects and adventures.


LL Bean Stowaway Ultralight Waders Review

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LL Bean Stowaway Ultralight Waders 2

LL Bean Stowaway Ultralight Waders 2

The LL Bean Stowaway Ultralight Waders are touted as “Waterproof in the river; ultralight in your pack and as LL Bean’s lightest, most-packable waterproof waders.” I was intrigued and put them to the test to find out if all the hype was true.

“LL Bean claimed that you’ll never find an excuse to leave [their] lightest, most-packable waders back at camp. And at just under two pounds, [they] are equally lightweight and hardworking.” I had these waders in mind for some backcountry streams where I’d be carrying all my supplies in on my back. Packed they measure just 13.5”x9”. So if the water temps are going to be too cold to wet wade and you know you’ll be getting wet stuff these in the bottom of your pack. You’ll hardly notice they are there!

LL Bean Stowaway Ultralight Waders

“… Durability wasn’t sacrificed either to achieve a lighter weight [they] just eliminated the stitching. [The] Super Seam® technology joined the seams with a super-adhesive to greatly reduce the chances of a leak, for the most watertight seams [LL Bean] has ever made. This new construction method creates a more flexible wader    allowing you to move more naturally in the water.” While I can’t attest to the new tech making these seems the most watertight LL Bean has ever made I can attest to the fact that they were a very comfortable and flexible wader. I normally wet wade, as I hate the cumbersome nature of having on to much gear. However, with the onset of fall the water temps in Japan have plummeted and I’ve been quite happy with the LL Bean Stowaway Ultralight Waders. While I can’t say that “I hardly notice I have them on” they are comfortable and I don’t feel like I’m wearing a space suit in the river.

“A simple-to-use three-point shoulder harness provides easy on/off. Secure, waterproof and removable interior pocket holds phone, cash and keys. Our lightweight PerfectFit wading belt is the fastest adjusting belt on the market. 3 mm ergonomic neoprene booties are form-fit with a ‘built-in gravel guard.” The harness and belt help these waders wear comfortably but allow plenty of layering during inclement or sub-freezing temps.

I would be remiss without mentioning LL Bean’s excellent customer service. On one trip I accidentally threw away the waterproof removable interior pocket. I contacted LL Bean and told them my tale of woe and within a few weeks I had a new interior pocket delivered to my doorstep (and in case you were wondering I did not mention that I was testing and reviewing the wader for

Victoria Clark Interview

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Victoria Clark, a Seattle local, has been invited to compete on the US Team at the IFSC World Championships in Arco, Italy later this month. After she gets back from the Worlds she will be studying aeronautical engineering at the University of Washington. Seattle Backpackers Magazine had a chance to catch up with Victoria about her upcoming trip to represent the United States in the Worlds.


What is the IFSC World Championships? The iFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing)World Championships is sort of like the junior Olympics, only the competitors compete within their specified age groups. This is actually the first year they have combined bouldering, sport climbing and speed climbing all together for one World Cup. I personally will only be competing in sport climbing, because that is what I qualified for. I’m not sure if the scoring system is exactly the same as the one we use in the US competitions, but basically the higher you climb the more points you accumulate. For sport climbing you only get one shot at the route for that day, so that makes it harder.

How did you get into rock climbing? My family had just moved from Southern California to Olympia, Washington, and I was kind of bored and I didn’t really have any friends. I had played soccer in California, however when my sister and I found out that the teams up here play in the rain and throughout the winter, we weren’t so keen on playing anymore. One of our family friends mentioned that there was a climbing gym in Olympia, my Mom took me to the climbing gym to try it out and after that I was hooked.

Where is your favorite place to climb? For most of the year I’m kind of a gym rat, and I don’t particularly like leading hard stuff outdoors. However, I think my favorite place I have ever climbed is in Waterval Boven in South Africa, because the views are amazing. Waterval Boven is set on the edges of this huge valley, and there are over seven hundred bolted routes.

You’ve been climbing with Vertical World Climbing Team for how long? How did you get involved? I have only been climbing with Vertical World for the past year, before that I was on the team, Warehouse Rock Gym, in Olympia for seven years. Last year I attended a training camp for the SCS Nationals (sport and speed climbing) at the Seattle Vertical World and it was something I really needed to improve my climbing and endurance as the walls are 65 feet high with overhangs. I was also aiming to attend the University of Washington in Seattle and since I had another year in competing in the youth categories, it seemed like a good idea to switch team and I think it has really paid off.


Where do you see yourself in four years? Hopefully finished with my Bachelor’s degree, and having a job at Boeing. I would like to continue to compete in climbing; however it will probably not be in the same scale as what I have been doing these past years.

Why do you enjoy rock climbing? One of my favorite things about rock climbing is it’s intellectually stimulating, every route is a puzzle and if you figure the puzzle out then you have a better probability of making it to the top. Another thing is its always changing, old routes come down and new ones go up and it’s time to figure out a new puzzle. Rock climbing has also helped me make amazing friendships with people.


What is your biggest goal or dream as a rock climber? To represent the USA at the Olympics for rock climbing, but that’s kind of more a dream considering that rock climbing isn’t part of the Olympics yet.

Who are your sponsors? I don’t have any personal sponsors, although we have quite a few team sponsors.

Sunday Afternoons River Tripper Hat Review

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Sunday Afternoons Hat

River Tripper Hat

Sunday Afternoon specializes in sun protective clothing for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. Their River Trippers Hat is a comfortable and functional accessory with several smart features that make it a great item to have in the outdoors or on the river.

ThRiver Tripper Hate bill of the hat is a clam shell with two hinged pieces, so that the hat can fold flat for easy packing. The bill is a good size for blocking the sun. The hat dries quickly, breathes well and fits very comfortably on my head.

Inside the hat on the crown is a pocket that is secured with a small velcro tab. It is a great place to keep a small map, your ID or a fishing license.

On the rim of the hat are two small slots, one on each side, that you can slide your sunglass arms into. This helped keep my sunglasses on my head when I wasn’t wearing them. While the slots are fairly big, they did a great job of gripping my sunglasses.

The hat comes in Khaki and Brown.

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a comfortable, easy-to-pack hat that offers certified sun fabric that blocks 98+% of UV rays, check out Sunday Afternoon. They offer a wide range of headwear and clothing for men, women and children.

Tech Specs:

Availability: Available now

MSRP: $29.00

Colors: Khaki and Brown

Materials: 100% Nylon

Sun Protection: Certified sun fabric blocks 98+% of UV rays

Mountain Hardwear WayCool Sun Gloves Review

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Mountain Hardwear Gloves 2

WayCool Sun Gloves

The WayCool Sun Gloves from Mountain Hardwear are lightweight gloves designed to help keep you cool, protect your hands from the sun and protect your hands from the soreness and chaffing that comes from gripping trekking poles on long hikes. These gloves utilize Mountain Hardwear’s Cool.Q ZERO technology, which I found to be surprisingly effective. Here’s what Mountain Hardwear has to say about the Cool.Q ZERO technology in the gloves:

Cool.Q.ZERO’s little blue circles position an active cooling agent next to your skin that reacts with your sweat to lower the temperature of the fabric and accelerate wicking, creating an instant and prolonged cooling effect. Those little blue circles embedded in the fabric use energy from sweat to actively cool the wearer and enhance performance. Cool.Q.ZERO is a visual technology and it feels great next to the skin.

I used the gloves in a variety of environments – from Tenkara fly-fishing in the mountain streams of Japan, to backpacking in the High Sierra and San Gabriel National Monument. 

WayCool Sun Gloves

I found the gloves to be surprisingly durable. When I first pulled them out of the packaging, I didn’t expect them to last very long due to their lightweight construction. But after many months of rigorous use, climbing up and down cliffs, scrambling, hiking and repeatedly soaking the gloves to handle fish or just to cool myself off, the gloves look just as good as they did when I first got them.

The gloves have a durable coating on the palm to help prevent blisters when gripping trekking poles on extended hikes. Despite my best efforts to rip or damage the gloves, I did not succeed. The seams are reinforced, and I had no issues with fraying or threads coming loose.

Bottom Line:

Many years ago, I used to scoff at trekking poles: I could not see their utility. Now I swear by them and hardly ever go hiking without them. The same thing happened with trekking gloves. I’m now a die-hard fan.

These gloves were designed for backpacking, hiking and trekking to protect your hands and to keep them cool. In that regard, they functioned quite well. They are durable, quick drying and comfortable. I tested the size L/XL and found them to fit my hands quite well. The sizing chart on Mountain Hardwear’s site is less than helpful, but, with only two sizes to choose from, your odds of getting the right size are high just by winging it.

Tech Specs:

Colors: Khaki and White

Weight: 20 g

Price: $28.00


Body Fabric: Cool.Q™ ZERO Stretch Softie Jersey

Fabric Palm: Switchback Softshell

Icebug Zeal-L RB9X Review

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icebug 5

Icebug Zeal-L RB9X

When the weather turns snowy or icy, most runners worry about slippery roads and trails and head indoors in search of a treadmill or an indoor track.

With a pair of Icebug Zeal-L RB9X, indoor running is absolutely unnecessary; in fact, these shoes are so good in wet, snowy and icy weather that they will make you want to run through the gnarliest terrain in the worst weather that you can find.

Icebug Zeal-L RB9X

My initial impression of the Icebug Zeal’s was that they were intense, and maybe even a little too fancy for me. With sharp orange rubber studs on the sole of the shoe, these shoes are designed for traction. I also thought the shoes looked rigid, stiff and uncomfortable.

But then I put them on my feet, laced them up and took them for a test run in a rainstorm. I tried to hit every mud puddle that I could and go out of my way to look for things like slick rocks to climb and slippery slopes to traverse.

Icebug Zeal-L RB9X

What I found was that, despite their minimalist design, the shoes were surprisingly comfortable. Water also seemed to roll right off of the shoe’s non-absorbing fabric – my feet stayed dry, but were still able to breathe. The shoes also felt incredibly stable without being heavy or bulky. But, it was the traction that made these shoes really stand out.

They gripped the muddy, dirty road like studded snow tires grip an icy road.

Icebug Zeal-L RB9X

After my initial test run, I was determined to try to find a place where the traction on these shoes would fail. I wanted to see if I cold find terrain that could overpower the shoe.

Thankfully, an incredibly wet and snowy spring here in Wyoming made it easy to put them to the test both running and walking on snow, ice, sleet, slush, rain and even hail. I even gave them a shot on dry trails, but the traction was and is always amazing.

The shoes aren’t perfect: they aren’t cushioned enough for me to want to run in them everyday, and, honestly, I don’t need mega traction all the time. In fact, right now, they are in my closet, and they’ll probably stay there through the summer until it starts snowing again. But, you can be sure that as soon as the first snowflakes fall, these shoes will once again find a home on my feet.

Icebug Zeal-L RB9X

Bottom Line:

If you’d rather run or walk outside through a snowstorm than inside on a treadmill, these shoes are a necessity.

Tech Specs:

MSRP: $119.95

Weight: 210 grams

Cushioning: Medium

Drop: 6 mm

Torsion: Medium Flex

Outsole: Rubber 9 Extreme

Midsole: Lightweight EVA with HGMS2 technology

Lining: Half Lined with QuickDry Mesh

Upper: Nylon Textile

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Drummond Short Sleeve Shirt Review

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Mountain Hardwear Drummond

Men's Drummond Short Sleeve Shirt

The Men’s Drummond Short Sleeve Shirt by Mountain Hardwear is a piece of stylish and functional everyday wear that is just at home on the trail as it is at the farmers market or office.

The shirt buttons up in the front with seven buttons and has one pocket on the left breast with a “secret” zippered pocket inside for valuables. The collar stands up to protect your neck from the sun and also lays flat for a modern and classy look.

The fabric is quick drying and durable. Despite around one hundred days of wear and countless cycles in the washing machine, the fabric has not faded or shown any signs of wear. The material wicked effectively and did not chaff or cause any discomfort.

Men's Drummond Short Sleeve Shirt

My only complaint with the shirt was with the cut under the arms. I have broad shoulders and found that the shirt was tight in the shoulders and across my upper back. This tightness restricted my movement slightly. I especially noticed the restriction when seated. The cut didn’t bother me too much, though, and I didn’t experience any limitations in movement when rock climbing or Tenkara fly-fishing (sports with a lot of upper body movement). I tested a size medium – a size large would have alleviated this issue, but I prefer the length on the torso of the size medium.

Bottom Line:

The Drummond Shirt is stylish (I really like the Python Green color), functional and, despite the tight fit in the shoulders, quite comfortable. I prefer hiking in shirts with either a full zipper or a button closure, so that I can vent or catch a breeze – a feature that hiking in a t-shirt doesn’t allow. The fabric effectively blocked the sun, too, which is especially appreciated on full-day Tenkara fishing trips. I have worn this shirt almost everyday for the last three months – I like it that much, even with the tight fit under the arms.

Tech Specs:

Colors: Redwood, Desert Gold, Collegiate Navy and Python Green

Sizes: S-XXL

MSRP: $65.00

Materials: Polyester Oxford Plaid

Weight: 231 grams

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