New Gear in Mark's Closet

Part of Mark Verber's The Great Outdoors Pages

I learned that several people watch my pages to see what new things I am trying out so I thought I would make it easier.

Westcomb Focus LT Hoody (Dec 2012). A minimalist, 9oz rain jacket made from eVENT DVL (2.5 layer rather than the more traditional 3-layer). Weights more that advertised, but very nicely made.

ArcTeryx Atom (Dec 2012). Called an insulated windbreaker. Modest synthetic insulation with PowerStretch side panels and excellent tailoring produces a jacket that doesn't bind and provides a great sense of freedom of motion and just the right about of insulation for me. Perfect for walking around town when it's 35-50F, and great for cold weather aerobic activities.

Patagonia Cap 4 Hoodie (Sept 2012). Quite warm if air flow is blocked but can really vent heat because it's as air permeable as some of my summer mesh shirts. Should be very usable in a wide combination of conditions.

Swayers Squeeze Water Filter (Sept 2012). Replaces my DIY gravity filter that got lost. Easy to use.

Inov-8 TrailRoc 245 (August 2012). I LOVE these shoes. From the moment I put them on they just felt great! These are the only shoes I wear except went facing deep snow or when I have to wear a suit for a formal event. They fit me perfectly. I have a fairly low volume foot (A-B width) but need a large toebox. The TraiRoc is one of the few shoes I don't have to pull the laces so tight that there is a fold in the uppers while still having room for my toes to move. They have just the right amount of cushion while still giving me good ground feel. While I like the theory of zero drop heels, I found a model (in the 245 case, 6mm) is ideal. I found that with true zero drop shoes my hip would be sore after several long days, but that doesn't happen with shoes that have a very modest heel. My only complaint is the bright colors. Which their color was more like the 295

Gossamer Gear 2012 Gorilla (Summer 2012). An updated and refined version of the Gorilla pack I have been using for several years. Shoulder straps and hip belt improve on what was already a very comfortable pack for me. Purchased because I needed an extra loaner pack. I use the new Gorilla, and have the older Gorilla as a loaner.

Therm-a-rest XTherm:purchased to replace my daughter's BA Insulated Air Core which wore out. I get to use it when she isn't :)

Rab Momentum Jacket eVENT Jacket. Only used this jacket for part of a season. Was getting tired of babying my DriDucks, and the how the cuffs / lower arm would start to accumulate water after the jacket was a bit worn. Really loved the fit of this jacket when I got it and the hood is great. Alas, I have dropped 30lbs since I purchased it and so now it's rather baggy. Sold it. Was planning to replace it with a smaller size, but now I think I might give the Westcomb Focus DVL a try when it ships.

Vertex ColdBlack Tactical Polo Shirt - Black color (May 2011). Mostly used around town and travel rather than backpacking. Very comfortable to wear. Still not as good as a white shirt when it comes to staying cool in the sun but better than a normal dark colored shirt. Have worn it several days in a row -- good odor control, and felt comfortable not icky.

MLD Superlight Bivy (Jan 2011). Provides wind protection and helps me keep my quilt off the ground and has an eVENT foot which is useful because I have a tendency to move a lot at night which often ends up with my feet more exposed that is ideal. I have been very happy using this bivy, especially when it is colder. The blocking of drafts and having a more constrained space lets me use my quilt in colder conditions than if I didn't have the bivy.

New Balance MT101 Trail Running Shoes (Jan 2011)... More minimalist than my Inov-8 Flyroc 310.  Some of the people who recommended the Flyroc to me years ago are using the MT101 now, so thought I would give this more minimalist shoe a try. Love the lighter weight, but toebox is a bit smaller than ideal for me, and traction of rock and other slick surfaces not as good as my beloved Flyroc. I also decided I like a very slight heel rather than a pure, zero drop. After around 100 miles I got rid of them and went back to my Inov-8 295 (near town) and 310s (back country).

LightHeart Gear Awning Solo (Xmas 2010). Demo of first prototype.  Really liked it except in strong wind. Folks report that velco for the spreader pole which is now standard seems to have addressed the issues I saw.

Exotac nanoSTRIKER (Xmas 2010), .5oz ferrocerium fire-starter.  One of the lightest and most compact firesteel starters. For someone who wears a "emergency kit" on a necklace this it the fire starter for you. Mine lives in my pocket where a bit of extra bulk isn't a problem. I prefer the Sparky for it's easier and one hand use.

Steripen Traveler Mini UV Water Purifier (Nov 2010)... easy to use, mostly for travel rather than backpacking, but will likely try it out on a few trips. LED indicator is a bit non intuitive and I found the button very hard to push.  This is my second Steripen. I tried a first generation which failed on the second trip it went on.

Zebralight H51 (Aug 2010) pretty much a perfect headlamp for me. Reasonably light, using a single AA battery, great range of brightnesses with decent regulation and throw. Some people report durability issues with earlier Zebralight models, but mine (and my H501) has been fine so far.

MSR Folding Spork (July 2010), .4oz.  which replaces my GSI telescoping foon. The GSI folds up a bit more compactly and was a bit lighter, but the MSR is easier to clean and has a longer reach which is useful on the trips we take the make in the bag freeze dried desserts.

Snow Peak HotLips  (July 2010) which makes it much easier to drink tea made in my pot/mug.  Before using the hot lips I would either drink lukewarm tea, or periodically burn my lips.

Rab Alpine Pull-on (Apr 2010) - 9oz softshell made from Pertex Equilibrium. Replacing my worn out Rab Vapour Rise Jacket. Water repellent, wind resistant, good feel.  Nice hood with wire & foam stiffener. Only down side is that the sleeves only have elastic rather that loop and hook so it doesn't seal as well as the Vapour, nor is it as easy to push up over the elbows when I want to maximize ventilation.

eVENT Packa (Feb 2010) - 16.3oz rain jacket / pack cover. Pack cover is grey sil-nylon with red eVENT for the body with huge pit-zips. Though a bit heavy, seems ideal for trips with a lot of rain. I tried a sil-Nylon Packa a few years ago and didn't think the ventilation was able to compensate for the the non breathing sil-Nylon.

ZPacks Hexamid (January 2010) - 8.3oz shelter used with 6-8 stakes, 1 hiking pole, and ground sheet. Plenty of room for 1 plus gear. Two friendly people could share in moderate weather. A winner for three season trips in California.

iTP A3 EOS Upgraded AAA Flashlight (Christmas 2009) - Amazing little light that weights 17g (.6oz) including single AAA battery. Decent runtimes for such a light weight flashlight: around camp - 1.5 lumen (40 hours), hiking - 18 lumens (3.5 hours), wayfinding - 80 lumens (50 minutes) at a very reason $20 price point. Need longer runtimes?  Carry extra AAA(s).

Fenix HL20 (Christmas 2009) - Seems to have the high quality regulation I have come to expect from Fenix, but not the elegant design and high quality finish. Size is a bit larger than expected and the shape is somewhat awkward and it uses some plastic parts. A replacement for the EOSR that was misplaced on a trip in Yosemite (and rediscovered nearly a year later).

NeoAir Matress (Christmas 2009) - A bit more than half the weight and packing size of the BA Insulated Air Core. Somewhat firmer to sleep on. Seems like it will be a good 2-3 season pad.

UL Caldera Cone + MLD 850 + Gram Cracker Esbits Stove (Nov 2009).  Packs compactly. Used mostly with esbits.

MLD DuoMid + Solo InnerNet (October 2009). Great size for a solo use in nasty conditions. Easy to manage camp life with heavy rains and wind and does well with snow. Beautifully made with great attention to detail. Found the InnerNet a bit to short for my taste. Usable, but not luxury I was hoping for.

Mountain Hardware Hiking Kilt (October 2009). A gift after I had borrowed a kilt in that past and commented that it seemed to perform well. It's a bit heavy and doesn't really match my fashion sense but it has been useful, especially in hot conditions and work well in transitional conditions because I can put on and take of a layers while protecting my modesty.

Canon S90 (October 2009). A pocketable camera that has a sensor that is a cut above most other compact cameras. Alas, the lens isn't a good as the LX3... but it has replaced the LX3 in my kit due to it's compactness.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pack (September, 2009). Great size and carry comfort with  <25lb loads. The stay could be bend to fit my curves makes a huge difference and the wrap around hip belt seems to be working well, even though I tend to prefer a more substantial belt.

Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Cyling Jacket: (September, 2009): eVENT rain jacket with pit zips. Picked up for winter riding in the bay area. I don't like the fit for walking around... too much fabric under the arms, but seems fine when riding (arms extended in front of me).

Ex Officio Neo-Tartan Shirt (July 2009): Light weight button up shirt. Good sun protection which is more air permeable than my Rail Rider Adventure shirt and wicks a bit better. Would be nice if it was 100% white or treated with ColdBlack... but it has worked pretty well in hot conditions. Worked ok in cooler conditions 40-50F / damp... but Powerdry base was much more comfortable and didn't start to feel clamy like the Neo-Tartan.

Zebralights H501 (June, 2009): It's actually a light for my wife, but I borrowed it for a bit. Really great when you want a work light with a broad flood pattern. Light, comfortable head band, good battery life, good select of output levels. While the flood pattern is great for area work, I found this a very poor light for night time navigation when I wanted a decent distant throw. Some people have reported failure with the H501, mine is still fine.

UST Sparkie (June, 2009): One hand use. An effective fire starter provided you have good tinder. Not ideal for lighting stoves. Works when wet. Father's day gift.  Replaces a old magnesium bar and striker that I have carried for years and used periodically.

DriDucks Poncho (May, 2009): Purchased for my daughter... she needed a more natural colored poncho for a trip and we hope that the breathable material will be more comfortable than the coated nylon of her normal poncho. Besides, it was on sale at STP... if she doesn't like it, it can become material for a DIY project. Used a couple of times. First time I have used a poncho and not ended up with a huge spot on my chest and the ventilation was very nice in warmer conditions... convinced me that I am just not a poncho person.

Patagonia R1 Hoody (May, 2009): I used a the original R1 Hoody until it disappear and then got a R1 Flash since Patagonia stopped making the Hoody for several years.  A few years ago I realized that the flash didn't seemed to leave the closet so I sold it.  I was using either a  Patagonia R.5 or a Montbell Inner Fleece.  After Richard's best clothing combinations I thought I would give the R1 another try... I started looking for another R1 hoody at the Patagonia Outlet.  Finally got one at the memorial day sale.  Most likely won't be using it a lot until this winter.

PrincetonTec EOSR (May, 2009): Great quality light, ok regulation, good user interface. Highly recommended. Nearly convinced me to give up the Fenix flashlight I have used for the last two years. Headlamp at work died so I move my older EOS to work an picked up a  EOSR to go into my toolbox at home (and try it out for backpacking).

Vibram Five Fingers (May, 2009): Interesting shoes. Like them, but they don't have enough traction for many situations so I mostly wear my Flyroc 310s on the trail.

ULA Ohm: (Feb, 2009): Very attractive looking and nicely made. Light weight, good volume for my typical load, and durable materials considering this is a light pack. Much more comfortable than frameless packs for 15-25lbs but not up the standard set by my Vapor Trail. The combination of the strait stays and the minimalist wing hip belt didn't work well for me. The pack was ok comfort wise, but was noticeably less comfortable than my vapor trail. After half a year I concluded that given the choice, I would stick with the Vapor Trail. I sold the Ohm in late August.

Caldera Cone and BPL 550 Pot (Dec 2008): This was an impulse purchase during BPL's sales event.  Nice system. The Caldera cone protective case fits snugly  inside the 550 pot... just need to figure out what to do with the lid. Easy to use.  The Caldera Cone boiled water significantly faster than my Ion stove. I found that my Ion stove + Evernew pot is more energy efficient, nearly as easy to use, easier to pack, and has more water capacity if that is needed. I sold the Caldera cone shortly after I got it because it wasn't sufficiently better that my Ion, and had a better resale value than the Ion. If I lose or damage my Ion system, the Caldera Cone would be be my choice as a replacement stove... or if I decide I was something a bit simpler than the Ion when on the trail.

Inov-8 RocLite 295 (Sep 2008): Comfortable, light, good breathing. The only downside is tread life is poor, worse than the Flyroc 310. Has more cushion and slightly stiffer than the Flyroc 310. I like the 295 more than the Flyroc for street and hard pack use, but the 310 is still my choice for general backpacking on mixed terrain. Picked at the recommendation of ZombieRunners when I was restocking my Flyroc-310 supply.  I think I am now of my third part of 295s.

GSI Lexan Folding Foon  (Aug 2008): Folds up small enough to fit into my Evernew .9 pot. A friend reported that his broken during his first use but mine has been fine so far though it does feel a bit flimsy. Lost my GSI Tekk Lexan Fork & Spoon and this looks like a good alternative because it was small enough to fit into my pot, but longer and more conmfortable when extended.

QuikClot Pads (Jun 2008): Haven't had a chance to use... but other's field reports are very positive.

Platypus BigZip SL 3L (Apr 2008): Pretty much perfect. Light, easy to fill, doesn't leak, quick release tube is convenient, the drinking tube has an on/off value that stops the accident leaks if the pack is leaned against the bite value. The handle that insures the zip is fully sealed. Works great.  Use as a hydration system and also as part of a gravity filter with a filter and tube that snap into the quick release.

Gossamer Gear The One (Feb, 2008): A 3 season solo shelter that's only 1lb. Good protection. A lot of room considering the weight. Fairly easy set-up, but hard to get a perfect pitch. Was to replace Spinnshelter to get a bug free space, a bit more room, and a  simpler/faster setup. Most likely not keeping.