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Loren Bayles

Loren Bayles has 9 articles published.

Washington’s Highest Mountains: Basic Alpine & Glacier Routes

in Community by
washingtons-highest-mountains-1

Washington's Highest Mountains: Basic Alpine & Glacier RoutesIn her 2004 book Washington’s Highest Mountains: Basic Alpine & Glacier RoutesPeggy Goldman offers a delightful introduction to the rich mountaineering history of Washington State and the infamous Bulger Top 100 List. The Bulger list, as Goldman points out in her intro, is the brainchild of a group of Boeing engineers who, back in the 1970’s, used to palaver regularly about their personal Alpine exploits and eventually came up with a list of 100 peaks in Washington that would come to represent the new benchmark for mountaineering achievement in Washington. 

Goldman’s book is a guide to climbing 61 of the most challenging of these peaks and an excellent research tool for anyone seeking Alpine adventures on the rugged terrain of the Washington Cascades. Each of the 35 trips in the book has a detailed description of the easiest route to the summit and a suggested way of linking multiple peaks into one trip. Included in the description are elevation gain, difficulty rating, expected trip times, a map, at least one area photo from the peak or of the peak from a nearby vantage point, driving directions to trailheads, and a GPS Waypoint Route. Having ticked a couple of these peaks off my own list,  I found Goldman’s route descriptions, driving directions and maps to be accurate and the photos she chose for inclusion to be stunning as well as helpful for getting located.

Washington’s Highest Mountains only provides descriptions for the easiest routes to the summit, so if you are looking for more difficult paths you may want to consider other resources like Fred Becky’s Cascade Alpine Guide, which contains detailed route descriptions of far more technical and less traveled Alpine routes.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about Washington’s mountaineering tradition or looking for inspiration to start exploring the Cascade Alpine, you’ll find Washington’s Highest Mountains a great addition to your library. Perhaps it will even inspire you to build your mountaineering skills and join the ranks of the elite few who have completed the Top 100.

In 2003 Goldman, an experienced mountaineer herself, became the twentieth person to climb all 100 of the Bulger list. Her experience climbing all of these peaks paired with her fine research and commitment to accurate descriptions and helpful photos makes Washington’s Highest Mountains a valuable resource for any experienced or aspiring mountaineer.

Washington’s Highest Mountains: Basic Alpine & Glacier Routes

Author: Peggy Goldman

Publisher: Wilderness Press

ISBN 0-89997-290-x

U.S $17.95

Baladeo Pocket Knife Review

in Gear by
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The pocket knife is not just a tool for backpackers and outdoorsman but something far more innate. From that first exhilarating moment we hold our own pocket knife to the way we absentmindedly swipe it off the dresser before leaving for work, the pocket knife can be as routine an item as wallets and keys and perhaps just as essential to our day-to-day.

The ultralight 27 grams G-Series Baladeo pocket knife has been my go-to knife for several months now and, like a good pocket knife should be, it is simple, solid, and sharp. The knife is constructed of 420 stainless steel with the addition of a super durable, translucent polycarbonate handle slab for a more comfortable grip, and relies on the liner lock locking system, which is reassuringly secure and in little danger of failing over time. The knife’s simple design is key. Whether whittling a marshmallow roasting stick, opening boxes, or cutting meat and vegetables for a breakfast scramble over your camping stove the blade performs.

My only critique of this knife is personal in nature. For one, I have always preferred a blade with teeth. A partially micro-dented blade for easily cutting cord and other materials seems the more versatile choice. Second, the polycarbonate handle seems like more of an aesthetic afterthought than a functional addition and the handle wasn’t noticeably less comfortable after removing it. I removed the red handle slab when after a month or so I found myself tightening it down and decided instead to do away with the issue altogether.

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Pros

  • Ultralight
  • The blade cuts fruit and vegetables surprisingly well
  • Maintains a sharp edge even after some run-ins with cardboard and sharpens up like new
  • The liner lock is super solid. The locking systems on some knives I’ve owned gave out with time and became dangerous

Cons

  • The polycarbonate handle slab becomes loose with heavy use
  • It takes awhile to master opening the knife with one hand. At first I was actually a little disappointed with how hard a time I was having opening the knife. Then my wife told me to ” stop being such a nancy.” She was right. With some finesse and practice it’s a quick and painless one handed process.
  • Not ideal for cutting stronger materials such as cord

But like I said, this is all personal preference and it turns out Baladeo makes the knife to address my grievances: no handle slab with a partially micro-dented blade only slightly heavier at 34 grams and in a nice, black titanium coating. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in a pocket knife and I think this one is a handy tool and would definitely be a great first knife for your kid or an ultralight option for anyone actively pursuing high alpine adventures where such minimal weight saving actually matters. Baladeo’s G-Series ultralight knives are versatile and high quality and I’ll definitely consider them for my next pocket knife.

 

Manufacturer: Baladeo

Date available: Currently available

Manufacturer’s Website: www.baladeo.com

Product Dimensions: (LxWxH) : 9 x 2 x 1 cm

Listed Weight: 27 grams

Materials: 420 stainless steel, translucent polycarbonate handle

What’s In Your Day Bag – Loren Bayles

in Gear/Skills by
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You’re not always hiking and backpacking, as much as you wish you were. What’s in the day bag – your day bag – the one that gets you from home to work to the trail, or from kids to soccer to weekend getaway, that makes it easy to move from here to there. Here’s another in our series from SBM contributors that answers the question. So what’s in your day bag?

 

Tell us about your survival kit 

 

Whether hiking, camping, or climbing at the crag or in the alpine, the 10 essentials I’ve listed below always make their way into the appropriate day bag for the adventure. For this reason, I keep the bulk of them (minus some obvious larger, more fluid items) in a single plastic bag that gets tossed from one pack to another depending on the activity.The more obvious items that aren’t included in the little grab bag are my Camelbak with 1.5 – 3L of water, my dog’s bowl with food and treats and of course the Green Trails Maps, which I switch out depending on where we’re headed. I’ll pick up new knives here and there or add sunscreen and toiletries if I’m feeling like spoiling myself with some comforts but most of the time I’m confident with just tossing this bag in a pack pocket.
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What are your 10 essentials?

  1. Pocket knife- as light and sharp as possible. Right now that’s the ultralight 27 gram stainless steel pocket knife from Baledeo
  2. Black Diamond headlamp with an extra three AAA batteries
  3. A Bic Lighter- because you never know
  4. Climbers tape- great as make-shift bandages for minor cuts and even more severe lacerations. This stuff also burns really well and seconds as my fire-starter
  5. First Aid Kit- contents (antiseptic, alcohol, bandages, painkillers and allergy medicine) loose in a plastic bag with the addition of Chlorine Dioxide Tablets in the event I need to decontaminate some drinking water
  6. A Green Trails Map and Compass – If you live in Washington, don’t take off into the mountains without the Green Trails Map of the area. It can get you to the trail, keep you on it, and teach you to identify the landmarks around you and your position. I have a stack of them, and I’ll often pick a trail or peak off one of them at random to explore. A great way to study an area before heading out. For a compass I have the Silva Ranger. On most outings I find the compass to be more of a toy than a necessity but I’d also never want to get lost without one.
  7. Survival Blanket- 50 uses
  8. A bandanna- probably more than 50 uses
  9. Cell Phone- It’s incredible some of the places you can get cell phone reception these days. To leave your cell phone at home would be irresponsible in most cases. Granted, you should keep your texting, tweeting and Facebooking to a minimum (not at all) but why find yourself injured and cut off from the world in a place where you could easily use full-bars to call help just because of your nostalgia for what could be considered wilderness before cell phones.
  10. All things dog- I take my black lab/healer mix Ruca with me everywhere, so I have a little go bag for her too. Silverfoot has an awesome collapsible dog bowl that I’ve been using for years. I fill it with food and some treats. The waterproof material also holds water so I add a ration for her to my Camelbak. I also throw in some climber’s balm for her paws. On rockier trails her pads will dry, crack and get chewed up pretty fast and we’ve found that the balm moistens them up and gives her some minor relief.

 

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What are the most frequently used items in your day bag?

The maps are indispensable and I find myself looking over them at home just as much as I use them in the hills. I love knowing where I am and being able to identify the peaks and bodies of water around me. Not only is this essential for navigation in the mountains but it’s also extremely enjoyable to learn as much as possible about an area and cultivate ideas for other adventures.

If you could add one more thing what would it be?

I just realized that I need to add some cordelette to this kit. I have plenty in my climbing bag, but it rarely makes its way into my day pack. Being such a versatile and ultralight tool, there is no reason a good cord should be left behind. 

The Coffey Chair Review

in Gear by

The Coffey Chair from Rambling Raven Designs, Ltd has been designed to be “The True Backpackers Chair.” While the Coffey Chair lives up to its engineered purpose in some respects, it falls drastically short in others. But first let’s talk about what’s working.

The chair breaks down to about the length and width of a rolled up THERM-A-REST at 25 X 5 inches and so it’s easily packable and at only 16 oz is nearly unnoticeable when strapped onto an overnight pack. With the option to use trekking poles as the backrest support you really can’t beat how light this chair is. Also, because the seat is 16 inches off the ground there are really no worries about bottoming out in the sand and snow so the chair is a good choice to take along on just about any adventure.

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I really wanted to love this chair when I got it, but unfortunately I have to take issue with the assembly, comfort level, and even some of the concepts behind this chair. There are too many parts, all connected with wire, tangled and confused, that must be forced into place, and even after a few frustrating minutes, the comfort of the chair is questionable. However, it’s important to mention that I was first assembling the Coffey Chair using the Backrest Poles that are included with the chair (bad idea) and not my own trekking poles or the Hammock Kit that can be bought separately, both of which solve the comfort problem.

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When I first sat in the chair, I felt I was being pushed out of the sling and slipping off the front of the narrow seat. Now, because I’m 6′ 4″ I’ve become accustomed to things not always fitting or working for me that seem to work flawlessly for others so I had my wife and a few slightly shorter friends test it out as well. None of them had the issue of slipping off of the front of the seat but all shared my experience and frustration with being pushed forward by the backrest.

In my opinion, this has everything to do with the length of the Backrest Poles themselves and so an easy fix. When I used trekking poles, I simply shorted them as needed to manipulate the sling into a comfortable seat and the Hammock Kit allowed me again to adjust the height of the backrest and so the size of the seat. But because the Backrest Poles didn’t work for me, the trekking poles and Hammock Kit are not a convenient variant for assembling the Coffey Chair as intended but instead the only remaining options.

Pros

  • You can ditch the included Backrest Poles for the adjustable trekking poles you’re already taking with you!
  • Ultralight- at 16 oz, this is as light as chairs get without considerable losses to stability
  • The aluminum frame is solid and stable on most relatively flat, even surfaces
  • At 16 inches off the ground, the seat will never bottom out in sand and snow

Cons

  • Difficult and even frustrating to assemble
  • have to rely an adjustable components for comfort
  • Backrest Poles are utterly worthless to this reviewer (though cutting them down fixed the issue)
  • The Hammock Kit really limits where you can set up the chair and your ability to readily move around once it is assembled. No escaping the campfire smoke for you and if your campsite or lunch spot doesn’t have a tree to hang it from you best press on until you find one that does.

The ultralight Coffey Chair is a great backpacking chair when you leave the included Backrest Poles at home but if you don’t use trekking poles or if you don’t feel like tying yourself to a tree when you get to camp it might not be the best option for you. It may be the “true backpackers chair,” though I think that statement a bit bold, but it’s certainly not “every backpackers chair.”

Manufacturer: Rambling Raven Designs, Ltd

Date available: Currently Available

Manufacturer’s Website: www.coffeychair.com

MSRP: $94.99

Listed Weight: 16 oz

Actual Weight: 16 0z

 

Alite Mayfly Chair Review

in Gear by
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The Alite Mayfly Chair is comfortable, versatile, and easy to pack and assemble. I’ve had the Mayfly since early spring and it has served as a belay chair at the crag, a standard camping chair, a lawn chair at a bluegrass show and even as extra seating around the house when we have guests. It’s great to take on any outing where you might be lounging, whether that be a walk to the park to throw the ball for the dog or to sit beside the lake and read a book, and because it packs so small you don’t even notice you’re taking it along.

The Mayfly is the embodiment of features from two other Alite chair designs and so can be set up as a super stable three-legged chair or as a rocking chair. The rocker is great for me, at least when I’m lounging, as I constantly lean back in my chairs and rock what ought not be rocked. I often opted for the rocking chair set up as I could leave the optional leg behind, which meant less weight to carry and quicker assembly.

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The tent-pole style aluminum frame snaps together in no time. I was impressed that in under a minute the Mayfly had basically put itself together and was further pleased when the assembly got even faster with repetition. Alite even drew the assembly and disassembly instructions on the bag, though I doubt anyone will need them, so that there is no paper instruction booklet for the end user to throw away or pack around with them. Of course, nearly all fold up chairs will be ready for sitting in a shorter time but those monstrosities are much heavier and don’t pack up into a Nalgene sized bag like the Mayfly. The aluminum is of high-quality; ultralight but strong, and clips together flawlessly.

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Each end of the frame fits snuggly into the corners of the nylon sling and there it is, ready for sitting.

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Pros

  • Fast and easy to assemble and disassemble
  • Breaks down smaller than most camping chairs into an easily packable bag at 11.5 x 4.3 x 4.3 in
  • Extremely waterproof. After several consecutive backyard simulated rain showers, the water continued to bead off the nylon and pool up in the seat. The Mayfly was ready for sitting after a couple good shakes. Any water that is absorbed dries quickly. Nice if you come back to your camp after a rain shower.
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Water beads off the sling and pools up in the seat. A shake or two and she’s good to go.
  • Alite sells replacement slings for $30
  • Lifetime Guarantee
  • The removable front foot offers rocking chair capability and weight reduction
  • Lacking such silly luxuries as cup holders and arm rests, the Mayfly allows for a wide range of movement; cooking, belaying, playing instruments. Anyone whose played the guitar around a camp fire has cursed an armrest or two over the years and will a appreciate this simple yet comfortable design

Cons

  • The seat, though comfortable, sits a bit low at only 2 inches off the ground. I found that the Mayfly can bottom out in softer soil, sand and snow.

Whether your sitting around the campfire, preparing breakfast over a pocket rocket, jamming with friends, or enjoying a concert on a summer day, the Mayfly is a sure way to be comfortable, and as light and packable as it is there’s no reason to leave it at home.

Tech Specs

Manufacturer: ALITE

Date available: Currently Available

Manufacturer’s Website: www.alitedesigns.com

MSRP: $100.00

Listed Weight: 1.4 lbs

Actual Weight: 1.4 lbs

Warranty info: In their own words,”ALITE is dedicated to crafting products that embody our superior standard of workmanship. All products are covered by a lifetime guarantee. We mean it.”

The Gold Bar Boulders Approach

in Trail of the Week/Trails by
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The other day around quitting time I felt the sudden urge to explore, hike, and feel granite at my fingertips. My climbing partner and I had been talking about going out to the Gold Bar Boulders for some time but I wasn’t about to wait for his ridiculous schedule to magically open up to accommodate me, and besides the sun was shining. So after work, on an especially inspiring one of these abnormally sunny Seattle days, I threw a Nalgene and my climbing shoes into the Subuaru and started making my way towards Hwy 2. Ruca sat shotgun drooling out the window as I drove up out of the city and into the mountains. Even in traffic, it only took a little over an hour to get to Gold Bar from Seattle and only a few more minutes to get to the access road. When I arrived, I wasn’t surprised to see that the gate was closed. I’d read at the Washington Climbers Coalition site that the area is currently closed to vehicles but still open to climbers who don’t mind hoofing it. You can find out more about the current issues affecting the Gold Bar Boulders climbing area at the WCC’s website

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Ruca walking along the road to the Gold Bar Boulders

The road leads right up to the boulders. However, it relies on switch-backs to make the climb and has to be at least 2 to 3 miles of road, which doesn’t make it a very good approach for climbers on foot. I found this out the hard way, having had know idea how far off the road the boulders were. But it was pleasant enough; great views, birds chirping, and I even saw some deer before Ruca scared them off. 

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Mount Index

When I finally caught the first glimpse of my destination, I realized I wasn’t going to get any bouldering in before the sun went down. My new goal was to reach the boulders before dark and find a nice granite perch to watch the sunset. What a gorgeous area! The view of Mount Index was breathtaking and just kept getting better as I gained elevation. The air was crisp but the sun and a steady pace had me sweating and breathing hard by the time I reached the boulder field.

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A chalked out bouldering problem. Looks like a fun roof with thin hands from a sit.

After noting a couple of fun looking lines (I’ll have to try those another time), I scrambled up to an optimal vantage point and sat down to rest on a mossy slab.

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The sun starts setting over the Skykomish River Valley

I watched the sun set over the Skykomish River Valley, closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breaths as to inhale the whole experience before heading back down to the car.  

I made it back to the gate just as the whole world went full dark and the frogs started singing loud. I discovered a slightly-sprained ankle earned by my feeble attempts to chase the sun down the hillside. 

While I didn’t get to do exactly what I set out to do, my desire led to this attempt to climb, which deposited me in an awesome environment. I never would have been there otherwise. I otherwise had no business being there, and the space presented me with the opportunity to experience a moment that begged for an audience. I think that’s what I love most about climbing. In my ongoing search for rock to climb, I often find myself in phenomenal places and experience truly special moments that I’d never have had otherwise. Just another excuse to get outside, and a good one at that.

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To Get There

Take Hwy 2 east past Gold Bar and turn left onto Reiter road. When the road makes a sharp turn to the left continue straight instead. There’s a road on the left after a few miles blocked by a big metal gate. There’s a mud puddle about twenty or so feet off the road. The road leads up to a clearcut under an obvious cliff face. Boulders abound!

Map

Green Trail Map NO 142: Index.

First American Ascent of Mount Everest–50th Anniversary

in Community/Promotional by
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On May 1, 1963 Seattle native Jim Whittaker became the first American to stand on top of the world. Three weeks later, on May 22, Tom Hornbein lead a team to the summit of Mount Everest via the West Ridge. This year, we celebrate fifty years of Americans on Everest thanks to these pioneers.

The American Alpine Club (AAC) will hold its annual Benefit Dinner in San Francisco on February 23 to honor all living members of the 1963 expedition. The AAC Benefit Dinner will feature Hornbein, Whittaker, Norman Dyhrenfurth, Allen Auten, David Dingman, Maynard Miller, and Richard Pownall, and offers attending climbers a chance to dine with this incredible group of mountaineers. These living legends have inspired generations of climbers and their accomplishments mark the beginning of an era of mountaineering. Unfortunately, the event was sold out far in advance, which is a testament to its historical significance.

In related news, Whittaker will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Gear Expo at Comcast Arena in Everett on June 1-2. This event will be another chance to meet this mountaineering legend and an opportunity to hear Whittaker’s own account of his historic ascent. Don’t miss it!

SBM is planning a celebration in Seattle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Whittaker’s climb. Come celebrate this historical day with other mountaineers, hikers and enthusiasts in the Seattle area. We’re bringing together our own exciting group of local Everest climbers for the celebration. Stay tuned for more event details but save the date, May 1, now.

Until then, check out these awesome photos from the historic 1963 expedition.

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Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, Day 2

in Community by
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Also see: Day 1 and Day 3

Day 2 at Outdoor Retailer 2013 has come and gone and what a great day it was! It was a busy one. We were able to meet with the awesome people behind some of our favorite brands and got a sneak peek at some of their newest gear. It’s been a fun couple of days so far and we’re looking forward to more today! Check back in for more photos and thoughts from our SBM operatives on the floor and our final farewell from Outdoor Retailer 2013!

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Hanging out at Everest Designs with with Owner Ang Choti Sherpa and AC Sherpa, the visionary behind 7summitsfoundation.org and speed record holder of the fastest ascent of the Seven Summits.

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The owner of Zamberlan with his Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice winning hiking shoe!

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Founder and President of Gossamer Gear!

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New slim packs from Osprey!

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Keen’s great new hikers for 2013!

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The press gather at the climbing zone for an interview!

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The climbing zone!

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Icebreaker’s marino wool lined wind jammer!

The New Primal Review

in Food/Gear by

The New Primal, a small start-up out of Charleston, South Carolina, has adopted the primal food philosophy: “eat like our ancestors ate” – meaning lean meats, nuts, vegetables and fruit. It’s an especially alluring philosophy to those of us looking for healthy, high-energy snacks to take on our adventures.

The New Primal’s Grass-Fed Beef Jerky and their signature Trail Packs, which come in three dried fruit, jerky and fresh nut combinations, are a delicious, on-the-go snack for anyone looking to cut all the processed garbage out of their favorite trail foods.

Mixing jerky with trail mix is something I’ve been doing since my first backpacking trip into the Stuart Range as a child but I’m happy to see that someone took the inclination of so many outdoorsmen and ran with it. I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I have my go-to jerky from my routine plan, and despite all the additives and preservatives I’ve come to enjoy the flavor. However, I didn’t find The New Primal jerky lacking in the flavor department. On the contrary, the natural flavors were a welcome surprise. The Trail Packs are a healthy mix of nuts (raw almonds, raw cashews), dried fruit (mango, pineapple or cranberry) and jerky. The Grass-Fed Jerky is naturally flavored with gluten free tamari, honey, pineapple, lemon juice, garlic powder, liquid smoke, onion, pepper and ginger and is just right-not too dry or too tough-and further flavor enhanced by the fruit in the bag.

I’m always looking for easy, light, healthy snacks to throw into my climbing bag or to keep in my car and so the Trail Packs were a real pleasure. I’d eat one after climbing at the gym in the morning, at the crag before hiking back to the car, or with my lunch on a dayhike. A few handfuls (one pack), at 250 calories, provided the perfect pick-me-up after a workout and never left me feeling overly full or bogged down. With a few chunks of spicy chocolate from my own stash added to the bag, this is a hard snack to beat. However, the Trail Packs aren’t without their issues. The packaging could use some work – there is a lot of wasted space. The bags could be about half the size. As they are, you need a pack to carry one. I ended up re-bagging them in sandwich bags so I could carry them in a coat pocket. Also, there is a plastic-liner inside the paper packaging that the cranberries and other dried fruits love to stick to, which makes it difficult to get all the good stuff out without digging around in the bag. Here’s a quick list of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Tastes great
  • All natural ingredients
  • Gluten free
  • No preservatives

Cons

  • Space-wasting packaging
  • Sticky plastic-liner
  • A little expensive at $6.99 per pack but you get what you pay for, which in this case is a healthy, quality snack

The New Primal makes their jerky and Trail Packs “for the modern hunter gatherer,” so if you think that’s you and you’d like to be, hunting your own meat and gathering your own nuts and fruit but just don’t have the time, maybe this is the next best thing. Whether you consider yourself a “modern hunter gatherer” or not, The New Primal Trail Packs are sure to be a welcome snack on any of your outdoor adventures.

The New Primal

Date available: Available Now!

Company Website: http:/www.thenewprimal.com

MSRP: $6.99/pack

Net Weight: Just Beef Jerky 2.0 oz, Trail Packs 2.5 oz

Ingredients: beef, gluten free tamari, honey, pineapple, lemon juice, garlic powder, liquid smoke, onion, pepper and ginger, nuts and dried fruit

Available Flavors: Just Beef Jerky, Mango and Beef Jerky, Pineapple and Beef Jerky, Cranberries and Beef Jerky

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