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Vasque Skywalk GTX Review

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Hitting the trail in a shiny new pair of hiking boots is akin to driving a new car off the lot: The rush of adrenaline, the boost of confidence, the fractional increase in speed that can only convey Yeah, I look pretty good right now.

Vasque’s new Skywalk GTX backpacking boots basically look like Corvettes coming out of the box: They’re aesthetically clean cut, pleasingly slim but weighted fairly heavily (2 lbs 13 oz.), so they rest satisfyingly in the hand. Vasque aimed to revive the design of the original boot from the 1980s while modernizing the technology to compete with the best boots on the market today. The result is a gorgeous shoe with all the specs to make the most backcountry-bound packers green with envy.

Skywalk GTX

This is a sturdy boot; I was pretty accustomed to my ol’ faithful Keens, which have worn in to basically slipper-quality over time. Subsequently, the first time slipping them on sent a little nervous thrill through my mind. The body is stiff leather (tanned in the U.S., according to Vasque) with a polyurethane midsole and Vasque’s Pyrenees rubber outsole. It’s highly stable, but takes a lot of breaking-in. My first time out with the Skywalks was a simple 5-mile roundtrip hike up the sloping switchbacks of Icicle Ridge outside Leavenworth. I was nearly blistering by the summit, but I could already feel the gradual softening off the heels.

Skywalk GTX Review
Photo by Carley Schmidt

I have notoriously weak ankles which, in addition to squandering my childhood dream of being a figure skater, makes rocky ascents a treacherous undertaking. Luckily, the Skywalks more than compensate for my biological disadvantage; they’re fully supportive throughout the ankle, making rock scrambles significantly less dangerous.

The summit of Icicle Ridge was blanketed in about three feet of snow. The Skywalks have a sturdy tread, and combined with the waterproof Gore-Tex lining, traversing banks didn’t create much of an issue. They braved mud and creeks without slippage.

Skywalk GTX
Photo by Carley Schmidt

The only issue that arose when it time to descend. Downhill tends to wreak the most havoc on my legs; I step fairly heavily, which puts pressure on my toes and knees. I’ve lost many toenails due to this bad habit. The Skywalks have a fairly narrow toe, and while I loved the aesthetic value of this feature, it did create an issue when marching back down the switchbacks. I had sore feet by the time we reached the trailhead again, and was starting to lose feeling in a few toes. This may just be something that has to be worn in over time, and even now it’s not unbearable, but it does play into my planning process.

Skywalk GTX
Photo by Carley Schmidt

Vasque’s Skywalk GTX is overall a great boot. It’s durable, stylish and undoubtedly long-lasting. For those seeking a classic look and a trustworthy design, the Skywalk is a solid choice. For a student like myself, $200 is a substantial investment, but like a new car, I plan on racking up some hard miles.

Skywalk GTX
Photo by Carley Schmidt. Sandwich by Grace Lindsey.

Features:

  • Leather tanned in the US
  • GORE-TEX® with Extended Comfort Technology
  • Comfortable yet stable
  • Polyurethane midsole
  • Weight: 2 lbs 13 oz.
  • Available now
  • Price: $200

Perfect Weight Vest Review & Exercises

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Perfect Weight Vest Inside Weight Pockets
Perfect Weight Vest Inside Weight Pockets
If you are looking for different ways to train for your backpacking adventures, then you should try the Perfect® Weight Vest. It comes in two sizes: a 20 pound or 40 pound vest with the ability to adjust the weight from 1 pound up to 40 pounds. Pictured is the 20 pound vest (the 40 pound vest is longer).  This vest is much slimmer than other brands I have tried and more secure with the double-belly Velcro band.  This is important because you want the vest to stay snug to the body and out of the way while you are moving.  Other bonus features include reflective material for safety in low light situations, a pocket for a smart phone or MP3 player and soft padding that makes it comfortable for the shoulders.
Perfect Weight Vest MP3 Player Pouch
When training with a weight vest, you can help build your cardiovascular endurance (which you need on a hike) or you can use it to build strength.  Your body must first be conditioned enough without the vest. This is extremely important, because you obviously want to reduce the risk of injuring yourself. If you can easily perform movements (hikes and exercises) without any added weight or resistance, then you are ready to add the weight vest.  You should first start with a vest weighing no more than 5% of your body weight. See how you feel with your training, and increase weight as you are successful with perfect form.  Perfect form means good posture with abs contracted, chest open and shoulders retracted and depressed (able to keep spine in a neutral position while performing various exercises). The core exercises (such as planks and weighted triangle) should always be performed with lighter weight.
Perfect Weight Vest (1)
The only negative I have found with this weight vest (and all weight vests) is that you get really warm.  Even though it has a breathable shell, once you put the weights in the pockets, you get warmer than you would just holding dumbbells or weights in your hands or having a pack on your back.  With that said, it’s nice to change it up and have the weight evenly distributed on your body.  This challenges your body differently and may even help you break through fitness plateaus.
Specs:  Depth 2 in. / Height 16.5 in. / Width 17 in. / Total Weight = 21 pounds
*Here’s some strengthening exercises for backpacking using a weighted vest:
1 Legged Deadlift (Targets core, legs, and glutes)
  • Stand tall on one leg with knee soft.
  • Slowly reach towards your knee as you hinge forward.
  • Keep your spine straight with your abs contracted and chest open.
  • Raise back up slowly and repeat 30-60 seconds on each leg.
  • Make easier:  Tap back foot down.
  • Make harder:  Reach towards shin (don’t round your spine).
Plank (Targets core muscles)
  • Start in a tabletop position on hands and knees.
  • Push your hips forward with your shoulders directly over your hands or elbows (also known as modified plank).
  • Straighten legs to increase difficulty and hold 20-60 seconds.
  • Make harder:  Add rotation by slowly raising arm out to side and overhead.  Slowly lower back down and repeat on other side.
Side Squat (Targets legs, glutes and hips)
  • Stand tall with feet together.
  • Step out to side with your right foot and press your hips back into a squat with your chest open.
  • Push off your right foot to bring feet together standing tall again.
  • Repeat for 30-60 seconds on each leg.
  • Make easier:  Modify your squat by only bending your knees slightly.
  • Make harder:  Increase your range of motion with thighs parallel to ground.
Alternating Front Lunges (Targets legs, glutes and hips)
  • Stand tall with feet together.
  • Step forward with the right leg.
  • Keep weight on your right heel as you lower down into a lunge.
  • Push off your right leg to stand with feet together again.
  • Repeat sequence with the left leg.
  • Alternate front lunges for 30-60 seconds.
Triangle (Targets core, hip and leg muscles)
*This is a great way to work your abs and back without doing crunches.
  • Start in a wide stance, feet wider than shoulders.
  • Turn your right toes out with weight even on both legs (don’t let your left foot cave in).
  • Squeeze your quads as you open your chest and pinch your shoulder blades.
  • Slowly hinge from the hips as you tilt your torso to the right with chest open.
  • Only lower a couple inches, hold 2-3 seconds and slowly raise back up.
  • Repeat 3-10 times on each side.
  • Make easier:  Plant your back foot (left foot) at a wall for more stability.
  • Make harder:  Increase range of motion (as shown in photo).
Perfect Weight Vest Exercises for Backpacking
*Always start exercises without the weight vest first.  Consult your physician before starting this or any new exercise program.

Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Review

in Gear by
Klymit pad in use

Buying a camping pad is a complex gamble that will often take an avid backpacker years of expensive trial and error to win. Every pro has its con; foam pads are cheap, light and durable, but at the same time are bulky and are often uncomfortable. Inflatable pads are light, compact and can be extremely comfortable, but they are expensive, delicate and cold. Rarely do you find a pad that does everything right, yet does not cost the moon. In the Klymit Insulated Static V Lite, I have found that balance.

Klymit Pad with ferns

I am a restless sleeper, and there are few pads that can contain my thrashings. If I’m lucky, I’ll wake to find that only my head and shoulders remain padded. However, the Kylmit’s clever system of ridges does a marvelous job of cradling me in its center. I was also surprised by how warm it was, the insulation being good enough to keep my back from freezing too badly in the middle of a 15 degree night that left my tent coated in frost.

Klymit pad in tent

The Klymit is a cushy pad, despite its minute dimensions when packed. Lumps and bumps beneath me just disappeared. This is especially impressive considering the comparatively minimal amount of breath it takes to inflate it (a big deal to anyone who has had to inflate an oxygen greedy pad after a long day’s trek).

Klymit pad in forest 2

In the time I used it, I never experienced a puncture; the material seems hardy enough even when put to the test by my clumsy treatment. To test its durability, I tried sleeping on it on the floor in leiu of a mattress at home for almost a month. Not only did I sleep well, but I inflated and deflated it every day without any trouble. An included puncture repair kit means that you won’t lose the use of your pad mid-trip even if it does come into contact with the business end of a sharp stick.

Klymit pad in use

In all my time using the Static V Lite I couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. Even the list price of $100 is cheap in comparison with other high-end inflatable pads which can easily go for twice that sum. I can’t think of a pad that I could recommend more highly than this.

Klymit pad packed (1)

In conclusion, this is a fantastic pad in every way. Whether you’re on a budget or looking for high end comfort you can’t go far wrong with the Klymit Insulated Static V Lite.

 

 

 

Technical Details:

Weight: 19.6 oz

Inflated size: 72 X 23 X 2.5 in

Packed size: 5 X 8 in

Material: 30 D polyester fabric.

R Value: 4.4

What’s In Your Ditty Bag?

in Community/Gear/Skills by
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dittybag1

If you look at your list of backpacking equipment, it breaks down into relatively few items grouped by activity: There are shelter items which will range from a tent to a simple tarp or hammock. Sleeping items may include a sleeping bag or quilt, bag liner  and a pad of some sort, either inflatable or otherwise.  For cooking you will include a stove, fuel, cooking pot, a cup and a spoon and a food bag. Finally, clothing will be customized to suit the season.

The list of individual items, however, gets longer when you start to consider all of the small items you bring along.

Why do we have these things?  Typically it is because at some time in our experience, we have wished we had X-object, and it wasn’t there.

Good example: Try doing anything without duct tape!

This is where the ditty bag comes in. I use a nylon zip top bag (in my case a medium Outdoor Research product) with all items inside in clear zip locks. For tiny zip lock bags to hold small items (such as pills or AAA batteries), I go to the craft section of my local dollar store. The bag then goes with me into my tent at night.

The items I carry break out into three categories: Hygiene and health, repair and miscellaneous.

  1. Hygiene and Health
  • Small first aid kit containg antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, alcohol pads, anti-diarrhea, antacid, sunscreen, sting relief, moleskin, band aids, surgical tape (I wrap some around a small dowel to avoid the whole roll), small wound dressing pad and steri-strips.
  • Toothbrush and paste. I have tried to make dried paste dots many times, but haven’t mastered it, so I use a small travel tube. Folklore says to saw the handle off your toothbrush if you are a weight weenie.
  • Toilet paper. Pull the tube out of a half-used roll, then flatten.
  • Wet wipes (separately zip-locked and in the same bag as the toilet paper along with the antibiotic ointment)
  • Water purifying tabs
  • Liquid soap (in a small drop bottle)
  • Ear plugs. For others – I snore.

Ditty bag 2

  1. Repair
  • Patch kit for pad & a few squares of nylon
  • Crazy glue
  • Tenacious tape
  • Cord locks
  • Pencil (a 4.5 cm stump with eraser)
  • Paper

I also roll 6 or so metres of duct tape onto one of my hiking poles.

Ditty bag 3

  1. Miscellaneous
  • Compass. Mine has a mirror so I can see how terrible I look after a week out.
  • Headlamp
  • Spare batteries (I try to use the same batteries for all lighting)
  • Small lighter (in addition to the one in my cook kit)
  • Windproof matches
  • Small knife (Leatherman Style). I look for scissors on a knife.
  • 10 metres of 2.5mm paracord
  • Sil nylon throw bag (for hanging food)
  • Pencil flare gun with flares
  • Money and I.D
  • Book / glasses

Ditty bag 4

Total weight:  869 gms

 

Your ditty bag will include some of the same items and, no doubt, items that you come up with yourself. For some great ideas, look at the many videos on YouTube by searching “ditty bag”.

 

WoolX X303 Daily Boxer Briefs Review

in Community/Gear by
boxer1

The most experience-heightening change I ever made to my gear set was switching to a  good pair of athletic boxer briefs. Gone were the days of chaffed thighs and cotton-gathered. Here to stay were the days of smooth strides and dry nethers. I wore my first two pairs of spandex running shorts beneath my pants until the seams wore out and there were holes in inopportune places. My wife made me switch to a pair of Champion polyester-blend briefs, but I’ve been wearing those on every backcountry outing for four years. While they’ve held up well, I was excited to test the Merino wool WoolX X303 Daily Boxer Brief in hopes that I was about to make a new, intimate friend.

Out of the bag, the WoolX X303 Daily Boxer Briefs are beautiful. Boxers aren’t typically on public display, but the Cobalt blue Dailys I received to test are so shiny and luxurious, I wished I could show them off. The fabric is so soft and smooth, you feel like they ought to cost three times what they do.

boxer1

Wearing the Dailys was a somewhat less luxurious experience. The fabric does feel as nice against the skin as it does to my hand, and they are as moisture wicking and odor eliminating as we expect Merino wool to be, but the pleasantness of wearing the briefs stops there.

The waistband is fine. It is comfortable, but WoolX advertises the Dailys as having a “non-rub interior label.” This is not true. There is a tag in the waistband of the Dailys that is immediately irritating. Technically, it is on the outside of the waistband, but it loops around to connect to the inside. I tried wearing them without removing the tag my first couple of trips out in hopes that it would soften over time. It did not. After I cut it out, the problem was solved.

Also, legs of the briefs began to ride up on me after about two hours of activity. Once I removed, washed, and redonned the briefs, the legs regained their elasticity. For short, day trips, this wasn’t an issue, but when I wore the briefs on overnight trips, I was sorry I did.

boxer2

WoolX advertises the Dailys as being good for all seasons and for all outdoor activities. I wore the Dailys in temperatures ranging from the single to the triple digits in the summer, fall and winter while hiking, biking, running, climbing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. They performed similarly each time. I stayed either cool or warm and dry regardless of what the weather was like outside my shorts. I preferred the Dailys for activities when my range of leg movement was less intensive (climbing and snowboarding), as this alleviated the issue I had with the legs riding up.

In summary, the WoolX X303 Daily Boxer Briefs are an enormously comfortable pair of undergarments to wear for short periods of time in all seasons and for all activities. They are reliably moisture wicking and odor repellant, and they are one of the softest garments I have ever worn. Remove the waistband tag before you wear them on the trail, and be prepared to pull the legs back down after a few hours of use.

 

Tech Specs

 

  • Date available: now
  • MSRP: US $34
  • Listed Weight: 5.6 oz (large)
  • Materials: 100% 7.5 micron Australian Merino wool
  • Size/Model tested: Large, Cobalt Blue
  • Colors Available: Black, Charcoal, Cobalt Blue

Numinous 65L Travel Pack Review

in Community/Gear by
numinous4

When searching for a pack, a specific use generally stays at the forefront of my purchasing decisions. Whether it be for day use, extended backpacking journeys or destination travel, having a well-proportioned carryall can be as essential as any other component of a trip. But what of those in-between times, when perhaps there is business travel within spitting distance of say, a National Forest? Or headed to a foreign land to explore its urban culture quickly turns into a day in the mountains? If you’ve found yourself in the awkward packing scenario of placing your day pack into the bottom of your suitcase, or worse still, traveling with your favorite weekender pack and either having items stolen from it or just generally feeling insecure about your stored belongings, the Numinous 65L Travel Pack may just be the right choice for your next multi-day, multi-function journey.

numinous1

With capacity as deep and cavernous as any duffel twice the size of Numinous’ 65, even the least discerning or scrupulous packer will find comfort and convenience with its open layout. Once the frame backing has been unzipped, a well-thought-out meshing with multiple organizers and zippered compartment is fitted to the frame’s back panel. The opposing cargo area is as large as any mid-sized suitcase or duffel, but packs very deeply– I was easily able to load the Numinous 65L Travel Pack to 50 pounds, which only required a firm elbow drop as it was being zippered closed. Naturally, each time I did this, a fist pump and a satisfied expression ensued.

numinous2

Where the Numinous crew’s ideology comes forward is in its innovative security system. With an obvious and serious nod towards keeping valuables safe in uncharted territory, the 65 comes equipped with Ziplocks to secure packed items, as well as a nifty retractable cable locking system, which allows any adventurer the ability to leave their pack behind while fastened to a sturdy stationary object, much in the same way a bike would be locked to a rack or pole. I simply did not come across an opportunity to leave the pack unattended in an area I may have found unsafe. However, I could clearly see where the Wire Lock might come in handy say, on a road trip when headed into a restaurant and a laptop (or one of a zillion high-priced gadgets we’re coupled to these days) could be locked away inside 65’s laptop compartment, with the Wire Lock secured around the under-framing of a driver’s seat. Perhaps a highly motivated thief might find a way to unhinge the cable, but given a (more likely) opportunistic smash and grab scenario, I’m willing to bet the cable would deter such an event from panning out. The same would likely hold true for a “divey” hotel or hostel, as the Numinous 65L Travel Pack can easily be secured to a bed post, as indicated on the Numinous website.

numinous3

When it came time to leave a few packed items behind and head out on a predetermined (and in this case, Christmas cookie calorie reducing) hike around family members’ immediate out-of-door expanses, the Numinous dutifully rose to the occasion. Being that its soul is rooted in a “do all” travel range and made with additional protective Kevlar material, this travel pack definitely feels heavier and bulkier than your average mid-sized backpack, even with nothing in it. However, once its chassis is securely fitted with use of an adjustable back, lumbar, and sternum system everything feels quite sturdy and comfortable. I found both straightforward and moderately technical trekking to be entirely doable, with the only difference (as compared to typical multi-day backpacks) in its outward girth. Perhaps it’s not the best pack for turning down-canyon to a friend when penalty is high (dropping off a cliff) and then possibly smacking said friend squarely in the shoulder.

numinous4

Throughout my journey, I appreciated the secure and industrious nature of this well-thought-out travel companion. I like how the backpack-style straps could be flattened neatly and concealed with a simple zip of the outside liner. I checked it in multiple airports, with nary an issue, mostly as a result of so much Anti-Slash fabric used throughout its design. Please note that the 65 cannot be considered for any kind of carry-on travel as, at the time of this review, it exceeds overhead standards. However, all locks are TSA-approved, for worry-free travel.

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

Icebreaker Cool-Lite Strike T-Shirt Review

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Icebreaker Manufacturer's photo

When I’m going camping, I usually throw a bunch of regular, old, cotton t-shirts in my backpack. The moisture-wicking tees that I buy at sports outlets to wear jogging stay at home in a drawer. The feel of my pack straps against cotton/poly blends is just a little too slick for me, even if that means my shirt is hanging off me, weighed down with sweat by the end of a long climb.

Icebreaker Manufacturer's photo

But the Cool-Lite Strike by Icebreaker splits the difference. It’s an excellent crossover that feels like a light tee, and performs like activewear should.

I put mine through its paces. I wore it on long day-hikes. I ran half marathons in it. I took it kayaking and SUPing. It didn’t take long for this to become my favorite shirt for sweat-related activities.

Icebreaker Kayaking photo

While some of my other moisture-wicking tees have become pungent over time, inducing all the fragrant flashbacks of my high school locker room, my Cool-Lite Strike still smells and feels like a fairly new shirt. The natural anti-bacterial fleece of the merino sheep helps with that.

That’s right: The shirt smells better because it’s more sheep-like. Go figure.

The fleece of merino sheep is a great cooling fabric. It’s what protects these alpine sheep from biting winters. When pure merino wool is used in outdoor gear, it’s usually to keep the wearer cool and protected from UV rays. But Icebreaker’s blend of merino wool and other fabrics makes the Cool-Lite Strike 40% cooler.

If these sheep ran half-marathons or spent a day kayaking, they’d want the same blend.

 

Tech Specs

MSRP: $99.00, but has been $59.99 (40% off) off through icebreaker.com.

Fabric type: 61% Merino wool, 19% TENCEL®, 14% Nylon, 6% LYCRA®

Colors available: Monsoon/Black/Fuse (gray, black, yellow), Aquamarine/Admiral/Fuse (turquoise, dark blue, yellow), and Spark/Metal/Lunar (orange, dark gray, light gray)

Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL

 

 

New Cairn App — Trip Safety and Cell Coverage

in Community/Gear by
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trip safety cell coverage
Photo credit: Stacia Glenn, Cairn Beta Tester

We all know that you should tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return. It improves your chances of being found quickly if you are lost or injured. But it’s also imperative that you know how you’ll contact 911 while on the trail in the event of an emergency. Getting help within 48 hours has shown to dramatically improve odds of survival for those in trouble in the wilderness.

Although many of us like to unplug in the wilderness, there are times when staying connected makes sense. The majority of wilderness rescues in the last decade have been initiated by a call from a mobile phone.

The new Cairn app for iOS allows you find coverage in the wilderness and makes it easy to keep your safety contacts updated on your whereabouts. Once you tell Cairn where you’re headed, you’ll see where others have found cell coverage in that region.  That information is downloaded to your phone for offline use. Cairn also tracks your location at designated times (you control the frequency of this to allow for battery conservation) and collects your cell signal. This information is added to the Cairn map of where there is (or isn’t) cell service on the trail and is shared anonymously with other Cairn users. In the event that you don’t check in, your safety contacts will receive an overdue message with your last known points and instructions for what to do (e.g. call 911).  Since the overdue notification comes from the Cairn server, it will still trigger even if your device breaks or battery dies.

trip safety cell coverage

You’ll find Cairn coverage points for over 300 popular trails in Washington including Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Olympic National Park and the entire PCT trail. (Not to mention trails in California, Utah, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park.) The community benefits from each trip where Cairn is active, as coverage points are added with each use. Download the Cairn app and help map your part of the world!

Ali Alami is a prior USAF Wilderness Survival Instructor, avid hiker, mountaineer, with a degree in in Survival & Rescue and is the CEO for Cairn.

Vaude Asymmetric Pack Review

in Gear by
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.

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