Wild Drake Product Development and Testing at the Grand Canyon

This season’s Grand Canyon adventure began with an impressive no-sleep marathon that included waking at 1am and departing home at 3am, a ritual that’s worth its value in gold, intuitively avoiding the bustling morning traffic traveling through Phoenix via Interstate 10. I know, from experience, that if I can manage to reach Interstate 17 before the heavy traffic morning commute it’s clear sailing all the way to Flagstaff. Mission accomplished as we blasted through Phoenix reaching the land of plateaus, mesas and the Mogollon (pronounced: mug-ee-yun) Rim just as the sun began to rise. And what’s a vacation without a detour through the fabulous city of Sedona, a hot cup of coffee and a 360º view of Arizona’s stunning red rock country? Following our quick respite we continued on our journey from Sedona up through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. This was our first time traveling through Oak Creek Canyon (highway 89A) since the Slide Fire that began in Slide Rock State Park back in May and we were pleased that at least most of the canyon was spared of the 21,000+ acre (8500 ha) burn damage. Once in Flagstaff, we enjoyed a bit more downtime before heading up to the Grand Canyon. We arrived at Grand Canyon National Park at approximately 11am and went immediately to the El Tovar hotel restaurant to enjoy the canyon view and culinarily begin celebrating my (David) birthday with a quick lunch. Following our meal we made our way to Mather Campground to begin setting up camp where we excitedly spent the next 4 days of our lives.

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park

At 3pm, now well awake for 14 hrs, we had our campsite set-up and decided a few minutes of rest were well earned. No more than a few moments later, Janice jumped up and suggested, “if we’re going to hike the canyon Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) why don’t we begin now while your birthday is still relatively young”, also giving us an opportunity to test our nutritional products with less than adequate rest, expecting to hike for a straight 24 hrs. Always game for an adventure and an opportunity to test our products, I agreed. Thus, with little sleep and several hours earlier than our 11:30pm planned departure, we quickly consumed our Hike™ nutritional supplement, packed enough nutritional products to carry us the next 48 miles, and hit the Bright Angel Trailhead on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at 5:30pm and began descending into the canyon. Before long, Janice and I, along with our nutritional therapy and the Black Diamond brand Icon headlamp (highly recommended) and its 200 lumen ferocity, purchased the day before, together were mercilessly guiding us down the trail towards the mighty Colorado River. We both felt like a million bucks! Along the way, Janice and I stopped many times to enjoy the scenery, replenish our water supply, ingest more Hike™, snap a few photos and tangentially enjoy a few quick canyon side riffs. By the time we arrived at the Colorado the Moon was high and bright enough to partially guide our way to Phantom Ranch.

Bright Angel Trail
Both Janice and I make an appearance in this photo
Bright Angel Trailhead
Bright Angel Trailhead
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail

Ten mi (16 km) into our R2R2R hike we reached the Phantom Ranch at approximately 11:30pm, quite a bit slower than our projected 2 mi/hr (3.3 km/hr) strategy. Janice suggested that my habit of tangentially exploring off-trail should be left for times when we didn’t have any time restraints. As we relaxed down at the Phantom Ranch, prepared more Hike™ and Hydraulic™, and replenished our water supply I looked up to notice that Janice fell fast asleep on the picnic table. Thinking to myself, not a bad idea and since we’ve been awake for a straight 22.5 hrs, I found a second picnic table. An hour and a half later and no longer my birthday, after waking I proposed continuing our night hike back out of the canyon since we were now never going to accomplish our goal of hiking R2R2R in 24 hrs. With both of us in agreement that our R2R2R hike should be attempted within a 24 hr time frame we decidedly ascended the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail arriving once again at the South Rim just before sunrise, stopping, resting and replenishing our nutritional products and water just once at Indian Garden.

Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs

Now, back on the South Rim and with just 90 mins of sleep in the past 29 hrs, we both felt absolutely wonderful, knowing our products and without a question the lack of ambient daytime heat, powered our way from the South Rim down to the Phantom Ranch and back, a total elevation change of approximately ~2 mi (~3.3 km), ~20 mi (~32 km) in length and in unfortunately more time than we hoped considering my meandering, but we had fun.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

For a period of time just greater than one year we’ve been developing and testing our many products, including and particular to this trip our premier natural hydration champion, Hydraulic™, and both our stimulant and recovery beverages, Hike™ in two different mediums. At camp, on the trail and at home, including our daily living, we’re always refining our many fabulous teas (introducing our newest tea, AZTea™), energy bars, Bru.Ja.Va™ coffee beverage(s), natural stimulants and healthy paleo meals and we believe we have quite a few winners ready for public introduction.

Grand Canyon, South Rim
Grand Canyon, South Rim
Janice
Janice

After returning to camp, without any further rest, we both ran over to the shower facilities, prepared breakfast then ran back out to the rim for canyon viewing, walking, photo opportunities and discussion. Conversation was actually Janice lecturing me that I need to focus and remain on the trail rather than wandering off on my little side excursions so that we can actually hike this hike within a 24-hour period. I agreed but it was in fact my birthday and I was fortuitously given a pass. We thus discussed when we figured we’ll make it back out to the Grand Canyon to complete this elusive 24-hour R2R2R hike and we’re hoping to do so this coming Spring, 2015.

Grand Canyon, South Rim
Grand Canyon, South Rim

Between September 10th (my birthday) and September 11th, we completed our ascension out of this immense canyon, must have been the longest day of our lives. After arriving back at camp, showering, eating and running back out to the rim, we realized that it had been only 12 noon when we both thought we were surely cozying up to at least 4pm, all still with only 90 mins of rest behind us and still feeling great. We spent the rest of our day walking the rim, talking and shopping. Finally, 9:30pm, following dinner, a roaring camp fire and product discussion, we crashed. What a fabulous day and a wonderful birthday!

Hang on
Hang on

We may not have accomplished our goal, this time, hiking the Grand Canyon R2R2R but we have something to look forward to for our next Grand Canyon journey. Unlike every other time I’ve hiked Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch (this was my 5th time) we hiked the dark side of day. The temperatures were cooler and travel was slower. The nighttime experience was so pleasurable I would never hesitate to night hike again. Our only regret was missing out on the wonderful views the canyon has to offer. Although I’ve performed this hike many times prior, this was Janice’s first and she would have enjoyed the view. Considering a R2R2R hike entails all of 24-hours, covering close to ~48 mi (~77 km) of hiking and ~21,000 ft (~6400 m) of elevation change, she’ll get to see it soon enough, probably more knowing that I’ll never be able to resist my flanking curiosity and adventure.

David
David

Incidentally and/or to reiterate, the Grand Canyon R2R2R hike from Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim following through to the North Kaibab Trail heading up to the North Rim and back is approximately 48 mi (77 km) of hiking with approximately 21,000 ft (6400 m) of elevation change (sorry for the redundancy), and temperatures that may easily fluctuate from the low 40’s ºF (0 ºC) to much greater than 100 ºF (40 ºC) at the river and within the canyon walls during the hottest part of the day. In fact, within the canyons the temperature rises and varies quite a bit considering a combination of direct, reflective and radiant heat, making night hiking quite pleasant.

Bright Angel Trail / Rim Trail
Bright Angel Trail / Rim Trail
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail

Note to self: For your next R2R2R attempt, be sure to get enough sleep prior to hiking, try as hard as possible to deflect every urge to traipse off-trail (David) at every inviting possibility and walk as fast as possible (Janice) past the oh-so-inviting Phantom Ranch picnic tables.

Note: Because our canyon hike was predominantly during nighttime hours the majority of our posted photos were taken from the rim during our many rim walks.

Reach Your Summit!

Hike… Take One!

Hike…Take One!

This is not a statement telling you to get lost although that is occasionally exactly what we recommend. Hike™ is the most recent development in our Wild Drake lineup and David and I are extremely eager to share it with everyone. After countless hours of research and rounds of testing, we have finalized several versions and they are ready to be released!
What is Hike? It is a highly functional and synergistic mixture that may be added to water, juice, smoothies, yogurt, or whatever you like, and is available in specifically targeted blends for different applications. Our flagship compound is Hike Endurance and we are certain that it will help you Reach YOUR Summit. After consuming this tasty combination, our testers all noticed improved endurance, less fatigue, reduced muscle soreness, and a number of secondary effects such as increased awareness and attention to detail. All this and NO caffeine!

This isn’t an energy shot/drink knockoff. This is authentic, feed your body nutrition that is backed by science. We will be posting a complete breakdown of ingredients soon but ultimately, Hike is a combination of herbs, fruit and vegetable juices, amino acids, and other active constituents like d-ribose (helps with energy production and the ATP cycle). As always, we have blurred the boundaries between traditional herbalism, bodybuilding stacks, athletic supplements, and nutrition to bring you a superior option for supporting your endeavors.

Allow me to regale you with an account of one of my personal experiences of taking a Hike. I simply mixed the contents of an Endurance packet with about twelve ounces of water and drank half of it approximately half an hour before getting on the spin bike and sipped the rest while riding. Normally, I put in 30-45 minutes at a decent pace because I want some cardio and am not necessarily looking to burn extra calories but after consuming the Hike Endurance, I was still going strong at 75 minutes and my legs did not get tired or burn at any point. Additionally, I was able to finish my regular workout and then later David and I had a brisk five-mile walk to enjoy our warm evening. I felt great, not wired or jittery, not all jacked up and pacing, but rather like I had energy reserves that were untapped.

Endurance is only one choice in our expanding Wild Drake Hike family. When I know that I have a demanding day ahead, I rely upon Hike Focus to keep my mind working in an optimal state and to enable me to concentrate for longer periods of time. We offer our Hike Rush for times when you need a power spike and this one does contain green coffee bean extract (caffeine) along with other ingredients for those who need or want extra stimulation. After a strenuous adventure, we recommend Hike Revitalize to address post-workout damage and we have Hike Foundation (joint/arthritis) in the testing phase. Wild Drake also features Hike Vitality and Hike Immunity and we have several more still in development. Even on the days that you aren’t on the trail or on the go, you can give yourself some nutritional sustenance to keep your foundation strong.

We are gearing up and are on a non-stop trajectory to full release of the first wave of products. It is exciting and exhausting and I’m glad that we have created Hike to help support our bodies during this exhilarating marathon. From meeting labeling requirements to sourcing ingredients and getting feedback from our testers, we continuously have a pile of things waiting to be completed or addressed. And speaking of details, we need to make sure that we touch upon the topic of safety and effectiveness. We find our products to be both and wouldn’t release them if they weren’t. While we have discussed our ingredients with medical professionals and we have many scientific articles and sources that we used in designing our products none of the statements that we make about them are evaluated or approved by the FDA. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition, please consult your doctor or practitioner before taking a Hike.

Whew, glad we got that out of the way and can get back to work. If you are interested in ordering Hike, Hydraulic, our Lame Duck oil for sore muscles, sprains, and bruises, AscenTea, DescenTea, Strawberry Mint Toothpowder, Vanilla Sugar Scrub (for removing trail grime), or our DEET-free, natural bug repellant, please let us know. Our food selections will start to become available in the near future and we should have the full ecommerce website set up for purchasing soon but until then we have some alternatives and we know you are going to love our Wild Drake products as much as we do! What are you waiting for? Take a Hike!

Reach Your Summit!

The Dappled Shade was a Refreshing Change from…

Saturday has arrived. We’ve been incredibly busy, too busy in fact to post our last hike in a timely manner. But today is indeed Saturday and time to relax, time to consider the past week’s events, time to lean back and enjoy the progression we’ve made with WildDrake.com and, time to blog. Last Sunday we completed an all-day ~18 mile loop hike and as we were taking our final steps back to our vehicle at the trailhead (the trail had seemingly generated much enthusiasm, energy and exuberance), we were pondering our next great adventure, a magical difference from the rather than expected exhausted feeling one would normally experience following an entire day-long hike. We had so much fun we were already planning our next hike before returning to the trailhead and back to our vehicle. What a spectacular day we had…

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Oracle Ridge Trail / Trailhead
Oracle Ridge Trail #1 to Catalina Camp Trail #401
Oracle Ridge Trail #1 to Catalina Camp Trail #401
Northwest View from Oracle Ridge Trail
Northwest View from Oracle Ridge Trail
Northeastern View from Oracle Ridge Trail
Northeastern View from Oracle Ridge Trail
University of Arizona's Biosphere
University of Arizona’s Biosphere
Catalina Camp Trail #401, which is a Portion of the Arizona Trail (AZT), passing Catalina Camp and Continuing on Red Ridge Trail #2, also a Portion of the AZT.
Red Ridge Trail #2 Intersection Awaiting Us Near the Bottom
Red Ridge Trail #2 Intersection Awaiting Us Near the Bottom

The dappled shade was a refreshing change from the scorching blast that radiates from the blond sands of the open desert. Hiking along the Canada del Oro (CDO) trail was a supremely pleasant surprise and we’re certain that we will soon return to this charming destination. Perhaps we should have begun our blog post beginning with the trailhead, however, because the entire route held a variety of unexpected treasures we could have commenced at just about every turn of the trail, a trail that quickly became one of our favorite hikes, and one we will gladly repeat.

We did not arrive at the starting point of the Oracle Ridge/CDO circuit until 7am (in spite of waking at 3am) because we wanted to have a good breakfast, a pack full of delicious snacks and a nutritious lunch, and we have to filter all of our house water because of the high mineral content and taste. We may have been a couple of hours behind schedule but later in the day, as we perched on boulders near a small meandering stream and enjoyed our meal and replenished our bodies, it was worth the time invested. Considering that our planned route was 18.6 miles, keeping fed and hydrated was vital to our success in completion.

The Oracle Ridge Trail is part of the Arizona Trail and we started at about 8000 feet in elevation, before winding our way down to the valley floor, dipping to just under 5000 feet at the lowest point. The ridge enables expansive views of the San Pedro Valley and the north side of the Catalinas with the town of Oracle only about 12 miles away. Other than the Coos deer that was nibbling on greenery, the trail was bereft of other travelers and actually, we did not see anyone else until we crested Mt. Lemmon, nearly at the end of our trip.

Coos Deer
Coos Deer

As we twisted our way down from the Oracle Ridge Trail, we could see remnants of mines tucked in along the hillsides and upon nearing the bottom, there was a heavily traversed trail that seemed like a random spur but the amount of traffic it had sustained made us want to explore it further. This led us to a heap of deserted old mining equipment, including rails, a water pump, and assorted fuel cans and tools, and just around the corner was the mouth of the mine itself. Intrigued, David clambered down the entrance to have a better look (of course he did) with me following right behind. There was a vent that allowed light into the tunnel and air circulation, and we could follow the connected pipes for water movement into and out of the mine, and there were lines of mining rail that extended in several directions into the darkness of the mountain’s inner sanctum, in addition to deeper passageways we didn’t dare venture further with our limited headlamp lumen. The temperature change was remarkable and the coolness was a striking change considering that the mouth of the mine was only feet away. We were inspected by several members of the local bat population but their brief forays and flybys were not frightening and merely added to the atmosphere of the moment. We were seized by the spelunking bug and by using our headlamps, we could see that there were many offshoots and an implied maze of tunnels, beckoning further exploration. I must admit that I was singing the Hi Ho song from Snow White to myself, but we knew that we were not adequately prepared and would have to return at a later date.

Mining Equipment and Dreams of Yesterday
Mining Equipment and Dreams of Yesterday
I’m Not Going First, You Go First. I’m Not Going First, You Go First. Well, Someone Has to Go Into the Deep, Dark Mine First? Hmmm…
Equipment Residing Inside the Entrance of the Mine
Equipment Residing Inside the Entrance of the Mine
Catalina Camp. Now a Hikers Retreat.
Catalina Camp. Now a Hikers Retreat.

Resuming our trek, we passed by several old miner’s shacks, one of which has been commandeered by hikers and campers and is a very quirky and creative stop. There is a register inside and after taking photos and signing, we wondered what else the day would have in store for us. As we reached the valley floor, walking through fairly typical Sonoran Desert terrain, the heat was increasing and it was very warm, even at 5000 feet. The trail was well-kept and easily traversed and soon we welcomed a break and our lunch. As we sipped on a bottle of our refreshingly energizing Hydraulic™ hydration beverage, we reached an intersection of the CDO Trail and headed back towards the interior of Catalinas, which brought us through dramatic changes in vegetation as we climbed in elevation.

More Mining Equipment from Another Abandoned Mine.
More Mining Equipment from Another Abandoned Mine.
The Intersection of Catalina Camp #401 and Red Ridge Trail #2. We Begin Red Ridge Trail here with the CDO Trail in our Sights, 1.5 Miles Ahead. At this Intersection the Red Ridge Trail will also Lead You 3.1 Miles into the Town of Summerhaven.
Janice Preparing a Wonderful Lunch.
Janice Preparing a Wonderful Lunch.
Bark Scorpion and our Guest of Honor at Lunch.
Bark Scorpion and our Guest of Honor at Lunch.
No Complaints whatsoever from our Party Crashing Guest of Honor.
No Complaints whatsoever from our Party Crashing Guest of Honor.
A Face Only Mother Could Love.
A Face Only Mother Could Love.
Red Ridge Trail #2 Intersection to Samaniego Ridge Trail #7 Via the CDO Trail #4. Our Journey Via the CDO Trail Winds through a very Healthy Deciduous Forest and Past the Attractive “Reef of Rock” Ridge.

This section of the loop was slated at 6.1 miles and for both of us, it was the most enjoyable trail by far. The path traced the CDO Creek which tumbles and flows through a boulder strewn bed and requires crossing numerous times, and surprisingly, it contained a fair amount of water considering this is a very dry season. This constant supply of moisture has given rise to many bordering deciduous trees the entire length of the stream, a very pleasant and attractive feature. It is such a rarity to hike in this kind of environment in Arizona and we both thoroughly appreciated our surroundings. We made plans to return for a more extended period and potential campsites were plentiful. This went on for several miles, slightly gaining elevation and we startled three more deer who were imbibing of the cool creek water. Eventually the trail separates from the creek and begins to get steeper and leads up to the ridge where we connected to the trail that brought us up towards the summit of Mt. Lemmon. At this point, the rustling leaves had given way to pine forest and the smell was refreshing (except for when we encountered Pepé Le Pew) and the pine needles provided a fabulously cushioned carpet on which to trek. Breaks in the trees provided a glimpse of the valley behind us and we were slightly amazed at how far we had travelled in what seemed so short a time period since our last compass change.

"Reef of Rock" Ridge
“Reef of Rock” Ridge
The Lower Elevation of Mt. Lemmon on the Left and the Samaniego Ridge on the Right, We're Hiking South on The CDO Trail #4, Beginning at an Elevation of 4880', through a Healthy Deciduous Forest up to  Samaniego Ridge Trail #7 and this Saddle, 7680' in Elevation and 6.1 Miles.
The Lower Elevation of Mt. Lemmon on the Left and the Samaniego Ridge on the Right, We’re Hiking South on The CDO Trail #4, Beginning at an Elevation of 4880′, through a Healthy Deciduous Forest up to Samaniego Ridge Trail #7 and this Saddle, 7680′ in Elevation and 6.1 Miles.
Purple Lupin
Purple Lupin
Intersection of the CDO and Samaniego Trails Looking North Down the CDO Trail and at the Beautiful CDO Valley from which we came.
Intersection of the CDO and Samaniego Trails Looking North Down the CDO Trail and at the Beautiful CDO Valley from which we came.
The 0.7 mile CDO Shortcut Trail #4A completing the 6.1 Mile CDO Trail #4 up to the Samaniego Ridge Trail #7.
The 0.7 mile CDO Shortcut Trail #4A completing the 6.1 Mile CDO Trail #4 up to the Samaniego Ridge Trail #7.
Prior to Reaching the Mt. Lemmon Trail We're Rewarded with a Great Southern View of Cathedral Rock (on the left) and the Southern Most Perimeter Ridge of the Santa Catalinas
Prior to Reaching the Mt. Lemmon Trail We’re Rewarded with a Great Southern View of Cathedral Rock (on the left) and the Southern Most Perimeter Ridge of the Santa Catalinas
Now on the Samaniego, We're on our Way Up to Mt. Lemmon Trail #5.
Now on the Samaniego, We’re on our Way Up to Mt. Lemmon Trail #5.

As we approached the top of Mt. Lemmon, we were rewarded with incredible views of Oro Valley and the southern most perimeter ridge of the Catalinas including Cathedral Rock, the sun eagerly and effortlessly lighting the western sky, reminding us that we still had miles to cross before completing our day-long circular adventure. Soon we found ourselves at 9080 feet, the highest point that we traversed that day and as we began to negotiate the peak, we caught a spectacular view of Lemmon Rock and the fire lookout cabin that we’ve seen many times from the Wilderness of Rocks area. Fortunately, we reached all of the best scenic portions of our adventure as daylight waned and the final leg of our trek meant walking paved roadway, but as nightfall enveloped us, we knew that while we both would have desperately preferred to avoid roadways, it was a sensible choice. Now at our vehicle, following a few well deserved stretches, we rolled down the mountain continuing with our discussion of, when and where will our next summit adventure be?

The Summit of Mt. Lemmon, 1.5 Miles Ahead.
The Summit of Mt. Lemmon, 1.5 Miles Ahead.
Lemmon Rock
Lemmon Rock
View Southeast from Mt. Lemmon Trail. Rincon Range and Rincon Peak Visible (right center).
View Southeast from Mt. Lemmon Trail. Rincon Range and Rincon Peak Visible (right center).
Last Glimpse of Cathedral Rock as Sunset Approaches.
Last Glimpse of Cathedral Rock as Sunset Approaches.

Reach Your Summit!

The USPS creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom…” may have been close, but they apparently weren’t referring to the Tilley LTM6, otherwise known as the Airflo Hat, when their proposition was adopted. It would have more closely resembled, “Bring on the blinding snow, drenching rain, and scorching heat…”

The USPS creed, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom…” may have been close, but they apparently weren’t referring to the Tilley LTM6, otherwise known as the Airflo Hat, when their proposition was adopted. It would have more closely resembled, “Bring on the blinding snow, drenching rain, and scorching heat…”

I’ve respectively boasted upon many hats in my day; the Tilley LTM6 Airflo Hat (Airflo) has outperformed each and every one!

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Cochise Stronghold Hiking

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Oak Creek Canyon, Bassett Peak Hiking

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Aravaipa Canyon Backpacking

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Aravaipa Canyon Backpacking

Handcrafted in Canada, with “persnicketiness”, adds Tilley, of nylon, polyester mesh and polyethylene foam, this hat is designed to perform with outstanding results, or it will be replaced, free of charge! That’s right, if you wear it out you’ll be wearing a new one, on Tilley! Don’t believe me…

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The Finest in All the World! Insured Against Loss, Guaranteed for Life

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Fine Workmanship and Materials

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The Airflo is Easily Reshaped

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Crown Pocket Demonstration, and Wind Cord Tucked into Crown

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Wind Cord Reshaping Brim for Cool Weather Wearing

Consider Tilley’s warranty and guarantee for a moment. Has any other company ever made such a promise? I’m not aware of one. This is truly an investment that you will enjoy for your entire life! They want you to wear their product until you wear it out, and talk about it, such as my cheerful, unpretentious boast. And, that’s exactly why I’m boasting, because I love this hat and, when or if I wear it out, they’ll replace it, free of charge. That is incredible customer service! Without question, Tilley has virtuously won my loyalty, and it’s because they stand behind a product that performs as stated. How great is that? I’ve put this hat through it’s paces and still, I have a hat that performs today, as it did the day I received it. OK, enough celebration, but before I cease, remember the USPS creed? Tilley’s may just be, “it floats, ties on, repels rain, blocks UV rays, won’t shrink, and comes with a four-page owner’s manual”. If only it could calm a vigilant canine…

How Functional is the Airflo

By far, this is the coolest wearing hat I’ve worn in the desert, and it has respectfully and successfully facilitated many more adventures I otherwise may not have made. Prior to this hat, I was often too hot to venture into the wilderness as temperatures approach 105ºF, regardless of sun protection. Now, I’m cooler, comfortable and able to withstand heat beyond my previous limits. My head and face are fully protected, with unrestricted vision, and the hat easily conforms, with the assistance of wind cord, to allow more air and sunlight circulate about my head, if desired.

The Airflo does not overwhelm, nor stick to my head, wearing quite comfortably without undue restriction. I’m able to wear sunglasses without discomfort, an issue I’ve had with many hats, and the chin straps keep the hat taught, on my head, in high winds. When I desire a temporary reprieve from the hat, I’ll either slide it off my head, allowing the wind cord to hang on around my neck, or I’ll take it off completely, roll it up and stuff it in a pocket. When the Airflow is once again desired, simply unroll, give it a quick stretch/reshape and it’s back on your head, like it never left.

This hat offers the benefit of warmth when it’s cool and refreshing cover when it’s hot. I find it perfectly suitable for all weather conditions, including dry heat and high humidity.

The spacious, velcro-enclosed storage pocket inside the crown is plenty large enough for my modest wallet, including contents, and a spare key.

The Airflo Takes its Fair Share of Abuse

I’ve rolled it, folded it, crinkled it, stuffed it, tossed it, thrown it in the lake to see if it indeed floats (it did), sat on it, travelled with it, slept with it on, chased it, dropped it, loaned it, and washed it, all numerous times, which, by the way, numerous washings, in particular, are highly recommended to prevent considerable damage due to perspiration build-up. The Airflo takes it’s fair share of abuse and begs for more.

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A beautiful Day in Bisbee, Arizona

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Janice & David, Wilderness of Rocks

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Pack-off Break in Aravaipa Canyon

It’s All About Us

The balance between material, workmanship, care, warranty and a pleasant North American company, makes the Airflo a very desirable hat. Once they’ve finished with it, they seem to extend their deepest wishes and offer the public their finest product, to make our journey more enjoyable!

Visit Tilley here… http://www.tilley.com/LTM6-AIRFLO-Nylamtium-Hat.aspx

Airflo Features Include

  • Constructed from 100% supplex nylon and 100% polyester mesh.
  • The fabric is certified to block 98% of harmful UVA/UVB radiation and deliver an ultraviolet factor (UPF) of 50+, the maximum rating given.
  • Although it blocks 98% of UV rays, some rays COULD enter through ¾” mesh.
  • ¾” polyester mesh permits quite a bit of air to circulate in and out of the hat.
  • Hand-sewn using very strong thread; all seams are lock-stitched so they won’t unravel.
  • The brass is from Britain and is the best there is.
  • Dark under-brim to reduce glare from water, sand and pavement.
  • Brim repels and channels water away for improved foul-weather protection.
  • A layer of closed-cell foam in the crown, and in the brim, providing positive buoyancy.
  • Tuck-away, adjustable, fore and aft Wind Cord, for wind protection when needed.
  • After washing, smooth and reshape by hand and set it out to air dry. When the Hat is dry, simply re-stretch it.
  • Will not stretch or shrink.
  • Four-page owners manual.
  • A Hydrofil anti-sweat band, which is wicking, soft and comfortable.
  • Hidden velcro-closure pocket in the crown for concealing valuables.
  • Available in thirteen sizes.
  • And, according to Tilley, “those who wear the Airflo usually have innate good taste, creative minds and uncommon intelligence”.

I Prefer to Wear My Airflo

All the time! In fact, there are very few instances, save the necessity for evaporative cooling, I may not need to wear it?

I wear this hat when I leave my home, just about every time, and I particularly prefer to hike and backpack with the Airflo. In fact, hiking and backpacking without it would be a serious misfortune. Head cover is essential in the wilderness, preventing hyperthermia and exhaustion, and the Airflo will always be THE hat I reach for to accompany me! The Airflo wears well, feels wonderful, functions by circulation air superbly, and considering the abuse this hat has endured, it continues to look fantastic. Shopping, fishing, boating, trail running, fitness walking, riding horses, etc., and for attending any local outdoor or out-of-town event, I love this hat, wear it often, and I’ve received many revering compliments.

Specifics

I received the Airflo as a gift, following many months of whining and pining. You could, too!

The Airflo has been worn in all climates and conditions associated with Arizona, from desert, to grassland, spruce/fir forests, both rural and urban events, and throughout all five southern, Arizona seasons (some, including I, consider monsoon a season of itself in southern, Arizona).

Summary

There’s a good possibility that the Airflo may fly off my head, when wind cord have not been engaged, and down into a canyon, lost forever. In such an event, I’m no longer warranted for loss and will, in fact, rush right out to purchase another Tilley! I have no reason to believe that another hat may serve me better, as much as I have shopped. The Tilley Airflo is, in my humble opinion, the best hat on the planet. I’ve worn the Airflo in desert extremes including heat well above 100ºF, freezing temperatures, and for protection against drenching summer monsoon. I’m more than happy to endorse a product that performs phenomenally! The Tilley Airflo is that hat, a hat for life!

Reach Your Summit!

All photos, copyright, WildDrake!

I have no, nor have I ever had any affiliation with Tilley, now or in the past.

The Injinji Performance Sport PED-Length Toe Sock, Composed of Coolmax, Nylon and Lycra, is about as Functional and Hydrodynamic as a Synthetic Sock can be… Especially so with the Laws of Nature Assisting in the Process…

The Injinji Performance Sport PED-Length Toe Sock, Composed of Coolmax, Nylon and Lycra, is about as Functional and Hydrodynamic as a Synthetic Sock can be… Especially so with the Laws of Nature Assisting in the Process…

Injinji on the Web… http://www.injinji.com/sport/sport-original-weight-ped.html/

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

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The Injinji® performance sport PED length toesock® (PED) are structurally produced to perform with the utmost respect of functionality and with as little material as possible. These are PED length socks! This means that they are meant to be hidden below the collar of your shoes. The PED’s feature a welt that is about as flat as possible and maintains as much posture as possible. They simply do not want to be seen and are meant to be hidden from sight.

According to Injinji, These Socks Have a “Five Toe Fit System” with Benefits Including

  • Anatomical five-toe design properly aligns toes (natural toe splay)
  • Seamless, five-toe-sleeve with anti-friction interface
  • Elastic dual welt band with increased compression that holds sock in place
  • Superior moisture management
  • Prevents blisters and promotes proper posture & balance
  • True L/R anatomical secure fit
  • Toe mobility, which allows stronger, healthier feet
  • Reinforced heel and toes to increase durability
  • Better gripping and balance inside shoe
  • Designed to support arch

Fabric/Composition

Injinji combines a mixture of 75% Coolmax® performance polyester, 20% Nylon and 5% Lycra®, a conglomerate of synthetics, to produce the PED, designed for the sole (no pun intended) purpose of seizing perspiration from the surface of your feet, to the exterior of the sock, where your perspiration is exPEDiently precipitated, keeping your feet cool and dry in the warmer months, warm and dry in the cooler months.

The PED is an integral part of my footwear system, and one I’d soon not go without. I’ve been wearing Vibram FiveFinger (VFF) footwear, when I wear footwear, 100% of the time since April 2013, and the PED’s have been worn along with them, each and every time. Considerable discernment has been initiated, over the years, for a sock that would function better for me than the next. With all due respect to the VFF’s, these socks are a perfect functional companion. And, with all due respect to the brand of sock, Injinji, which I’ve been wearing for many years, I probably would not have purchased the VFF’s if Injinji’s PED toe socks didn’t exist. Prior to the VFF’s, I wore a fairly strong hiker, a Kayland hiking boot to assist me in my adventures with not a single blister, in 6 years, credited entirely to Injinji brand toe socks! Prior to toe socks, in general, I suffered enough blisters to dramatically consider a change that would once and for all make a difference, including comfort and function!

Structure, Fit and Performance

Coolmax structural properties, that is, the architectural integrity of the fiber, contains channels, micro-channels that are specially designed to extract, transport , displace and disperse your perspiration over a wide surface area, wicking perspiration while at the same time positioning the perspiration to expeditiously and precipitously expunge perspiration from the surface of your foot. This process continues efficaciously throughout the use of the product, every moment, during performance, while in use, repeating the entire process cyclically, allowing the wearer to, essentially, perform more efficiently, functionally, and comfortably, during exertion and whenever your feet require moisture control.

These PED’s hug my feet! With a very low profile and superior fit, accredited to the seamless design, these toe socks, literally, fit beyond expectation. Once they’re on, they fit me perfectly, like a glove, so to speak, with no shifting. Right out of the package, I never thought they would, just looking at them. There is no loose sock to be found nor is there excess anything. And, because they fit each toe so well, seamlessly, there’s practically zero chance of sock movement, migration and chafing that would otherwise cause blisters. In addition to being a low-profile sock, structurally these fit below or at the crest of my VFF’s, and they are a thinner sock so there’s no bulk to control or behave badly. If these socks have, at all, broken down, after all these months/years, that is, the individual fibers losing their ability to perform as expected, I have not noticed. I continue to use the same PED’s I have since their addition to my sock line-up in April 2013, in conjunction with my VFF’s, with no noticeable wear or damage, with the exception of a small insignificant hole in one single pair. I rotate, the best I can, the same three pair that were originally ordered along with my VFF’s. Quite honestly, there doesn’t seem to be much complexity to this sock, and looks are very deceiving. They are indeed thin in nature but seem to perform as if passion was guiding their way.

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Performance and Temperature Regulation

Why, you ask, if the body’s cooling mechanism is the process of perspiration, do we need a product to transport the perspiration from our body? Wouldn’t the benefit be the perspiration and cooling effect of the resulting solute(water and constituent molecules)? Great question! By transporting accumulated solute, water, sodium and other minerals, from the body, the Coolmax fabric is effectively relieving the body from an over-accumulation of solute that may lead to decreased performance, and particularly, comfort. Coolmax transports solute by-products from the skin, assists in the evaporation of water while, unfortunately but unavoidably, decreasing in performance, over time, due to build-up or accumulation of solute residue. This accumulated, abandoned residue is also the odor we smell as a result of prolonged period of wear, due in part to this accumulated residual residue once part of the solute, additional solute and, while in use, generated body heat, and added organic material kicked up while in motion. Let’s olfactive further into this…

What’s that Ungrateful Smell?

Coolmax, like polypropylene and other natural and synthetic fibers will absorb your perspiration. Once the water is precipitously expunged and evaporated from synthetic performance fabrics you’re left with nothing but, as stated above, solute residue clinging to the garment, in this case, a sock. This resulting build-up of solute residue with the addition of more solute causes odor! Natural fibers, on the other hand, tend to retain more water, significantly diluting or dissolving the solute, preventing as much odor, in my opinion. Natural fibers are, however, by nature, more odoriferous to begin with, but their ability to retain solute is greater, causing dilution. Odor is essentially unavoidable, however, there is a bit more odor with synthetic fibers than natural, I have experienced. The good news is that I find synthetic fibered clothing to clean well, perform well for the entire length of it’s lifespan and, for that matter, survive, in tact, for many many years more than its natural fiber counterpart. The PED is no exception. The only way to avoid a savory synthetic fabric is to wash it! Thus, for example, if I’m on an extended backpacking trek, I may bring two sets of PED’s. I’ll quickly wash a pair and hang them on my pack to dry while wearing the fresh pair. Also, when you’re experiencing a soaking rainfall, a synthetic fiber performs considerably better, overall, greatly liberating the garment of excess water, far more efficiently than a natural fiber, and synthetics dry dramatically faster.

Following a single day of use, my sport PED’s seem to take on a life of their own, more closely resembling a rigid plank than the tiny ball of synthetics that was pulled from the washer and dryer. This, once again, is the residue that has accumulated in the material that cannot escape or precipitate, unless washed, asap. If worn continuously, without washing the accumulated material from the garment, the sock’s structural integrity may begin a process of severe disenchantment, inducing a conditional form of back flow that you may find closely resembling a concrete pad rather than a sock that is a PED. All of us may have experienced this a time or two, of course you have. I know I have, following a few long-distance endurance events and all-day exPEDitions.

More (or Less, Briefly, Off the Subject) on Accumulated Organic Material

Incidentally, to sway slightly from the immediate subject, this is also why we should indeed protect our footwear, and for that matter, our clothing and gear from destruction by utilizing a protective barrier from harmfully grinding organic material that may either induce damage or cause complete breakdown of performance. For the same reason we wear a synthetic sock to protect our feet and shoes, we also need to protect our clothing fibers from incidental damage by utilizing a sit pad such as when we’re resting on the trail, please click link, https://wilddrake.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/therm-a-rests-z-seat-should-be-standard-equipment-in-your-pack-functional-as-a-protective-seat-while-resting-it-may-also-be-useful-for-several-other-innovative-means-while-on-the-trail/, and gear, such as our tent floor by incorporating a ground sheet resting directly on the ground taking the brunt of punishment rather than our expensive tent floor. Respectively, a sit pad will protect and prevent dirt from damaging the fibers of your hiking pants, and a ground sheet to protect and prevent dirt from damaging the fibers of your tent floor. In all instances, preventative measures are always an inexpensive alternative to complacent behavior and avoidably, necessary replacement! Which is why I always wear the PED’s with my VFF’s, and I’ve been asked why a number of times. I care enough to protect my gear, protect my VFF’s from over-exposure. The act of conserving may just be the ultimate in function!

Wearability

I began wearing Injinji’s, in general, this is pre-PED, in approximately 2008, strictly for blister control (once again, I began wearing the PED length socks in April 2013). They were outstanding in performance and fit my feet well, toes well, and with little movement inside my boot, and they rarely or never caused a blister. They performed far better than every other toe-less sock, without question, and my feet couldn’t be happier, that is until the PED’s arrived in 2013. And, the PED’s are so much better… no shifting, no creasing, and, no complaining (for my part). That’s the best part!

And, according to Coolmax, the reviews were similar to mine. Wearers reported a significant degree of moisture control, performing “much better” than rival counterparts, hence, Coolmax is a “much more desirable” product. And, in regard to Coolmax, I, personally, have been using Coolmax products since its introduction in 1986, including running and cycling apparel, with a fairly good feel for the product. The transition to socks, therefore, seemed natural. I do, however, feel more comfortable in a natural wool product, in my experience, but find the quick-natured performance of the Coolmax products to keep me, as stated earlier, warm and dry during cooler months and cool and dry during the warmer months. That’s a hard act to beat.

Can You Say, “Culture Shock”

So, as you could probably imagine the PED’s aren’t too bad as a daily sock. But, how do they perform on the trail? Well, they perform just as well on the trail as they do everywhere else! In fact, on the trail, their reduced weight helps considerably. I went from a Kayland, over-the-ankle, hiking boot, and wearing a far more substantial, above-the-ankle, Injinji sock, to VFF’s and Injinji PED’s. Can you say culture shock, or is it culture sock? What an amazing difference and transition! I was, prior to VFF’s, a firm believer in supportive over-the-ankle, backpacking boots. Now, I will not hike or backpack, with any other foot wear than the VFF’s/PED combination! They’re that comfortable for me.

And, my PED’s have performed flawlessly, with just one complaint. As form-fitting and as well-constructed as they are, at the collar, they still tend to allow the smallest bit of material in. However, these socks are well below my ankles and this must be fully expected considering the shape of our anatomy below our ankle. I can not expect the collar on the Injinji’s to fully fill these vacancies, it would simply defy all laws of dynamics. Despite this, the PED’s are the best sock I have ever worn, and I’ve experienced no other issues, whatsoever!

In the near future, I do intend on making a trail gaiter, compatible with my VFF’s to avoid all material entering through the cuffs of both the VFF’s and PED’s. This will be a fun, do-it-myself project.

Size

My foot size is a US size 10.5, slender with a high arch! The model PED I wear is Injinji’s “OW”, Original Weight and Moderate Interface. Injinji’s medium size is reported to fit US sizes from 8 – 10.5. The medium fits me well, almost tight, with little or no room left, if my foot were slightly larger. The PED has virtually no wiggle room and, in fact, it’s designed not to. Therefore, I find the sizing chart, accurate! Injinji also claims these socks to be quite supportive, and deservingly so. They are indeed, I must admit, very supportive.

Injinji produces socks in several weights and interfaces. My initial preference was not necessarily the PED and was chosen only to correspond with my VFF’s, which seemed a plausible possible fit, coinciding together. I believe this has been a fantastic choice, to begin with, wearing PED’s with my VFF’s.

In general and specifically, for each and every functionality, I’m overly pleased with my PED’s and fully support this choice of toe sock!! You’ll love them as much as I do!

Climate

Since my initial PED purchase back in April 2013, I’ve worn these PED’s  everyday whether I’m in the house, working, walking about town, hiking and backpacking. The climate in southern, AZ, where I live, is a hot, dry heat during the warmer months, cool and dry during the cooler months. Therefore, as much as my feet may perspire, the climate is assisting in the process of evaporation. PED’s are, therefore, not as much a requirement as they may be in a more temperate, humid environment.

My PED’s have been introduced to temperatures as low as freezing, but no less, and temperatures above 100ºF, never experiencing temperatures greater than 110ºF. During the summer months of Monsoon, my feet get wet and the PED’s assist in the process drying quickly!

I’ve hiked in rain, snow and on ice with no laborious drying-out required. These PED’s really have performed well for me!

Price

$10.00/pair

Summary

Thus, the Injinji Performance Sport PED Toe Sock, composed of Coolmax, Nylon and Lycra has performed well, functioned as expected and wears comfortably. The PED’s have kept my feet dry, prevented blisters and have caused no unexpected issues. They have not broken down, nor have they failed to perform. Following more than 11 months of everyday use, the PED’s will remain on my feet, weather permitting, and will continue to be an integral part of my footwear for many months/years to come.

For your convenience, I’ll continue to submit updates in regard to future experiences.

Reach Your Summit!

This is an independent review of the Injinji Performance Sport PED Toe Sock. I am not at all affiliated with Injinji nor am I affiliated with Coolmax or Lycra, or any associated entity. I paid full retail price as a consumer for this product!

All photos, copyright, Wild Drake!

Change can elicit numerous reactions when presented to the human spirit. We might respond by…

Change can elicit numerous reactions when presented to the human spirit. We might respond by firmly planting our feet and struggling against it; sometimes we may be a bit more cooperative, and it assuredly feels like we are moving in the proper direction. David and I are going through a moment of prolific growth, and experiencing a sense that we are aligning with our principles and desires, and through our expansion, goal orientation and project creativity, we are discovering our true selves.

Our recent name change is one of those realignments and becoming WildDrake was a natural and authentic transition. Additionally, we are both indulging in our personal pursuits and have decided to incorporate them into our business as a means of sharing more of ourselves, and as a method of living a holistic and synergistic life.

As demonstrated by our recent posts, David has been occupied with product reviews and this has earned him the honor of February 2014 Reviewer of the Month on @Trailspace. He thoroughly expands on his personal interactions with each product and crafts outstandingly comprehensive and honest reviews. The best part is how much he enjoys doing them and the positive feedback and comments of appreciation that he is receiving. As outdoor enthusiasts and cautious consumers, we have scoured product reviews before making a purchase, and understand the critical importance of the experiences and opinions of people who have used the products and can articulate the pros and cons. David is conscientiously devoted to offering information that is impartial and not impacted by vendors and, adequately expresses his conclusions as assistance to those considering an investment.

I love to be in the kitchen and experimenting with ingredients and while this satisfies some of my creative tendencies, it doesn’t fulfill them entirely. Healthy food is a vital centerpiece to my ideology but I also am a stalwart believer in the importance of what is applied externally as well. My background in natural medicine and years as an herbal practitioner, combined with my innate love of research, has left me with an expansive base of knowledge and resources, and a passion for developing the highest quality and most effective line of body products and teas. We knew that several of our teas would be coming to market with our foods and beverages and have decided to come forth with some additional offerings that we frequently use and believe will be enthusiastically welcomed by other travelers and trekkers. We are still finalizing our selections and trying to decide upon names but are happy to say that our WildDrake Travel Savvy™, all-purpose salve will be one of the items. The other candidates include our natural bug repellent, our Savvy Recovery™, moisturizing body butter to compensate for our exposure to the elements, and several more contenders.

David and I have decided to open our WildDrake Gallery pages, as well, and you can now see a selection of David’s photos with many more to come. Some of them will be available for purchase and he has been working on his custom framing ideas and will offer both prints and ready-to-hang options. There will be another page that is devoted to my found object/assemblage/mixed media artwork which is based on pieces that we have found during our forays and journeys. The wild variety is consistently amazing regarding the unusual objects that we can find miles away from anywhere, and my recent work towards my Master’s in anthropology enables me to view them from a perspective of both the humanistic side of what is essentially trash, to the shared geography of space through time. How did a pen labelled Anchorage Police Department get to an isolated section of the southern Arizona desert? I am fascinated by the old railroad campsites and early homesteads, which are laden with rusty metal pieces and one day, David brought home half of a corroded and partially crushed bicycle from a spot near the tracks. I like imagining the stories behind our finds and we regale each other with embellished tales of the people who left them behind. Nearly every outing provides evidence of undocumented migrants and at times we have found more than half a dozen discarded backpacks and bags.

It all really comes back around to change. People and communities are not static and even when we seem mired in inertia, there are continuous alterations going on around us. David and I tend to embrace change and find it to be somewhat exhilarating and liberating. We enjoy new adventures and the unpredictable aspects of our hiking and backpacking. David records the metamorphosis of our environment and the beauty and seasonality of our natural world through his inspired photos, and I lean towards displaying the transformation and movement of our cultures and beliefs in my art.

But not to worry, we haven’t wandered too far from our kitchen and will have the first of our edible selections available very soon! Our food is the axis of everything that we do, and by adding our other endeavors to our site, we are striving to be fully engaged in our complete lifestyle and to not have compartmentalized limits. What we do, the manner in which we choose to live, is an integral part of bringing the very best in trail and travel products to market. It is about integrity I suppose, and of living your principles and by sharing a wider vision of ourselves, we hope that you will see our inspiration and standards. We are trying to live a healthy, active, and creative life which leaves a very light footprint behind. Our name change and the evolving appearance of our blog are reflections of refining our presentation, a more adequate representation of who we are, and a demonstration of our fundamental hope that we can reach our summit in every aspect of our existence.

The “Tied” and True, Bear Discouragement, Food Containment System, the Ursack Spectra 29 (S29) AllWhite, May Very Well Be Your Best Available Option For Your Safety, Food Containment, Food Protection, and Food Safety, as Well as, Ease of Use, Weight and Volume Consideration, While On the Trail…

Ursack Spectra 29 AllWhite Bear Containment and Protection Bag

The “tied” and true, Bear discouragement, food containment system, the Ursack Spectra 29 AllWhite, may very well be your best available option for food containment, food protection, and food safety, as well as, ease of use, weight and volume consideration, while on the trail…

Pros

Trail-Necessary Weight, 242g

Strongly Voluminous, 10.65L, with Little Mass

Compressible & Malleable

Simple to Use, Easy to Pack

Cost, Not Too Bad with a Price Tag of $67.89

Functions Well with LOKSAK’s OPSak bag

Cons

Proprietary system… not all that bad!

For Best Results the Ursack Must Be Combined with LOKSAK’s OPSak bag

If you opt-out of using the LOKSAK OPSak bag you may very well attract vermin

If Optional Aluminum Liner is not used, Food Stands the Risk of Being Crushed

Sharp, Lengthy, Small-Diameter Teeth May Find Their Way Through the Spectra Material

Bag is not IGBC Certified, and Not Approved in Certain Wilderness Areas

Update May 13, 2014…

April 11, 2014… The IGBC test of the S29 passed.

April 18, 2014… “We are still awaiting the official certification letter and number from the IGBC, but can share some of the details. At IGBC insistence, we baited an Ursack S29 AllWhite, knotted it securely and placed it on the ground with no aluminum liner and not tied to a tree. The first two grizzlies went at it for an active 57 minutes. One of the bears was nick-named “The Destroyer,” but neither he nor his sister were able to compromise the Ursack. The Grizzly Wolf and Discovery Center rotates bears in and out at approximately one hour intervals. So the Destroyer went back to his quarters and five, count ’em, five more grizzlies came out to work on the same Ursack. The IGBC testing protocol requires a total of 60 minutes of active bear encounters, so even though we needed just a few minutes more to pass the test, there was no way to get the Ursack out until the five bears finished their shift. Not to worry. Ursack made if for another hour. A total of seven grizzly bears and two hours of active clawing, biting and scratching–yet Ursack survived. After washing the Ursack one could barely (bearly?) tell that it had been attacked.”

More information here… http://www.ursack.com/ursack-update.htm

To date, I continue to enjoy the convenience, security and functionality of the Ursack S29 to keep myself and my food safe, and my S29 has yet to be attacked by any woodland friend!

end May 13, 2014 update. More coming when available.

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No wildlife attacks, to date, and counting…

Whether I’ve suspended this bag from a branch a couple fathoms from the ground, or a bush several feet above the ground, this bag has yet to invite a single visitor, as far as I can tell…

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Finger Rock Saddle, Santa Catalina Range
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Wilderness or Rocks Santa Catalina Range (S29 hung from a tree, in a wash, ~12′ from the ground).

In comparison to a canister style containment system, the Ursack Spectra 29 AllWhite (S29) has performed very well, and far exceeded my volume expectation, an innately, categorically, unpretentious concern, which incidentally is 10.65L (650 cubic inches). The S29 exhibits enough volume, I’ve found, to accommodate a considerable amount of food, for one person, for ~7 days, pushing hard and consciously eating!

The S29, purchased early April 2012, was indeed acquired based entirely on two factors… First, and specifically, Bear, particularly, but all fauna in general, population and their investigating curiosity have reportedly been getting quite comfortable with campers in Arizona. Of course, though, why else would you purchase one? In fact, I’ve spent many nights listening to wildlife rummage and/or sprint by the tent at night prompting this necessary safety assurance purchase. Second, and this one is personal, I needed an additional prop for exercising while on the trail and the Ursack is a good fit.

Propositioned with the decision that I must now research and purchase a bear-proof food protection and containment system, the S29 kept rising to the top of my analytical discussion and benefit spreadsheet. These were my concerns… and, for further analyzation, “bear” with me while I discuss each of these criterion in greater detail…

  • Volume Control and Capacity for ~7 days… check
    • Sporting a volume greater than 10L, I felt the S29 would serve me well for better than ~97% of my backpacking expeditions. Even on a thru-hike, I may be able to compensate with hermetically sealed packaged goods, before they’ve been opened, by storing them in my pack overnight. This allow’s me to use the S29 for hanging food that has only been opened and in danger of attracting wildlife. By these means, I may be able to thru-hike consistently and conservatively using nothing but the substantial volume of the S29 and whatever available space I have in balance, in my pack.
  • Soft-Sided, Malleable S29 vs. Leading Rigid Brand Containment… check
    • The S29 can be stuffed, rolled, compressed, dropped, washed and converted into anything else (if need be, to your imagination). Try doing all that with a rigid canister.
  • Closure Comfort and Security… check
    • “Tied” and true! Tied well, and to a tree, a bear may submit to defeat before he makes a meal of your meal. Who knows where your can of food, if utilizing a rigid container, may be after the bear is done playing with it (may I suggest GPS).
    • The Included LOKSAK OPSak Odor-Proof bag (further discussed below) closes tightly and securely with care. I have yet to have a problem with Ravens or rodents damaging this system, or for that matter, even discovering/recognizing it as a source of potential food.
  • Ease of Use… check
    • The S29 is easy to carry, adds relatively little bulk, concedes forgiveness inside your pack in consideration of other gear, lightweight enough at 207g, molds to the volume of food within it and compresses and/or molds in any position you need it when not in use, is not at all easily damaged, and the knotting/securing procedure is… easy! Ursack makes it even easier, offering knotting guides and instructions on their website. And, I really like this… you may purchase the S29, online, directly from Ursack without going through a retailer (however, you’ll probably not get a sale price)… easy!
  • Weight vs. Volume vs. Compression vs. Malleability… check
    • In lieu of all benefits discussed above, highlighting is necessary without repeating.
  • Ease of Carry… check
    • Compared to a rigid containment container, the S29 may be you best option considering all cited benefits.
  • Strength/Weight Ratio… check
    • Ursack uses a Spectra material to create the S29. Spectra, similar to Dyneema, is a thermoplastic polyethylene, specifically, an ultra high-molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), also known as high-performance polyethylene (HPPE) and high-modulus polyethylene (HMPE), which evidently claims to boast the highest strength-to-weight ratio, 8 to 15 times higher than steel, than any other thermoplastic. Has anyone informed their resident wildlife of this unbeatable fabric?
    • The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) is currently testing this theory at the time I’m posting this review… so, keep yourselves informed. Ursack has a news link on their site (link below).
  • Damage Control… check
    • How easy is it for vermin to make a meal of your meal? Not likely, considering the information offered above.
  • IGBC Approved… negative
    • According to Ursack, the IGBC is currently re-evaluating the S29 due to previous ambiguous information, and may be releasing their findings as early as April 2014.
  • Approved for Additional Use or Actions… check
    • Yes, although this one is personal. I use the bag as a fitness training tool while out on the trail and it works perfectly for me! I carry three gallon size ziploc bags, fill them with sand or stones, place them in the S29 and I’m ready to go. I’ve noted no profound damage, whatsoever, from using the S29 in my fitness routine.
  • Options… check
    • The S29 features the LOKSAK OPSak Odor-Proof bag, a 35g, 12.25″ x 20.75″ odor barrier bag, locking similar to a Ziploc, that LOKSAK claims is 17,000 times more odor resistant than HDPE and, is 100% water and air tight (when correctly closed, LOKSAK adds), preventing curious olfactories from discovering your stash. A 3-pack from Ursack sells for $13.99. One OPSak bag, not a 3-pack, is included with the sale of the S29.
    • Purchased separately, I love that fact that if I needed further critter protection I can purchase Ursack’s aluminum liner, a 306g addition, also adding some degree of crush resistance to the S29.

Prior to my S29 purchase, I foolishly kept my, although packaged well, food inside my tent. Finally, after hearing too many stories of bears attacking tents, I knew a containment system was next in line for gear necessity. In fact, I had the oh-so-foolish attitude that if I package it well enough it won’t attract wildlife. Once again, I have never experienced any problems regarding wildlife and food, but further risk was not my best option, nor was this a position I decided to chance. Besides, our primary objective is to explore our wonderful woodlands, deserts, waterways, flora and fauna, and without capriciously becoming a victim, an attitude that will eventually fail if well exploited.

The S29 is a system, a good system! I have not employed the use of Ursack’s aluminum liner and have not needed to. If I’m heading into wilderness that may require or suggest a need to do so, or the IGBC reports otherwise, I may or may not make the purchase, considering my particular experience, and further discussion and contemplation. With that said, you could heed any safety warning and dependably warrant, if geographically permissible, an OPSak with your S29, and I truly believe it would behoove you to do so, if at all you’ve decided the Ursack is a good choice, but ziploc’s are efficient enough. I have, fortuitously, not recognized any sign of attack upon the S29 and believe it may be because of the performance of the OPSak; I have moved to completely trust LOKSAK Sak’s! Ursack has indeed produced quite a significant food containment, protection and safety system and I’m proud to carry it! As an added bonus, Ursack is “1% for the planet”!

Finally, the Ursack, made in the USA of Spectra “bullet-proof” fabric, and a clear, considerable alternative to rigid containment, remains, to this day, a choice I would not hesitate to competitively conceive again.

Colossal Cave Mt. Park. First Night During a Four Day Section-Backpacking Adventure on the Arizona Trail (AZT).
Rincon Mt. Range, Quilter Trail. Second Night on the AZT. Rincon Peak in the Background.
Ursack S29 AllWhite; Resting on the S29 is the 650ml Capacity Vargo Ti Water bottle with Ti Lid (http://wilddrake.com/2014/02/08/one-bottle-to-rule-them-all/).
Ursack… “Don’t keep food in your tent, store food near your tent or cook where you camp. If you do, you’ll have company.”
OPSak Odor Barrier Bag – Incorporated to be Used, as a Team, in Conjunction with the S29.
Dimensionally, the S29 is 13″ x 8″, with a Capacity of ~650 Cubic Inches. It Will Fold Down to This Impressive Size, However, Folding the S29 in This Manner May Damage the OPSak inside. I Recommend Folding Only Once In-Half with the OPSak Inside.
S29 Exhibiting Their Optional Aluminum Liner. Photo Courtesy, Ursack! I Do Not Personally Use the Aluminum Liner!

Reach Your Summit!

A Few Important Links from Ursack

http://www.ursack.com/ursack-catalog.htm

http://www.ursack.com/product8.html

http://www.ursack.com/ursack-faq.htm

Interesting News and Updates You May Wish to Consider Before Purchasing

http://www.ursack.com/ursack-update.htm

S29 Recommended Closure Knot and Hanging Technique

http://www.ursack.com/ursack-knots.htm

http://www.ursack.com/proper-hang.htm

Ursack recommends a figure 8 knot around a branch because it is easy to untie even after S29 has been pulled on by a 500 pound bear. At this time, I am unsure of the exact tensile strength of the rope, however, I’m sure it yields the maximum strength-to-weight ratio, and most likely in the thousands of lbs. range. I’ll bet the rope withstands a Bear far sooner than the damage a Bear may cause the branch I’ve tied it to. The rope is easily replaceable if needed!

The LOKSAK OPSak Odor-Proof Barrier Bag is an Integral Component of the Ursack

http://www.loksak.com/products/opsak

OPSak Specifications

  • Certified waterproof to 60 meters / 200 feet
  • Tested and approved by Scuba Schools International (SSI)
  • Safe. Our medical grade film is FDA approved
  • Temperature rated -40F to 170F
  • Ecologically smart. Highly reusable and 100% made of recyclable Polyethylene.

http://www.loksak.com/about-loksak/performance-test-certifications

http://www.loksak.com/pdf/MarketingSheets_2013%5Benglish%5D.pdf

Interesting Facts

Spectra 29 (S29) contains 29 yarns per inch!

LOKSAK claims food may be rehydrated, using boiling water, in the OPSak bag, however, they also state the bags cannot withstand temperatures above 170º… thus, I phoned LOKSAK customer service… LOKSAK informed me the inside temperatures of the 5ml OPSak bag will, indeed, handle temperatures of 212º for rehydrating food. Of course the temperature begins to drop rapidly following initial introduction of boiling water to food. They also informed me that it is the exterior layer of the 5ml, five thousandths of an inch, OPSak bag that cannot handle temperatures above 170º. In regard to the exact type of polyethylene film, when asked, LOKSAK customer service had, no idea, he “didn’t know”! Now, 5ml would imply a measure of length so I’m not positively sure if he meant there are 5 layers, or the bag is in fact 5ml, considering his answer regarding the “outer layer”. In any case, the bag is meant to and has been tested to boiling temperatures. Whether it is safe to do so, avoiding chemical leaching, at this time, I don’t know either, considering his answer. I’m not holding this against Ursack, as it is LOKSAK customer service that I spoke to. I, unequivocally, will never be rehydrating food in any polyethylene bag, for safety reasons, unless I have no other choice!

Ziploc bags, if you’re still considering using these because they’re cheaper than the OPSak, and they indeed are, are composed of a mixture of low-density and linear-low-density polyethylene (LDPE), plastic grade/recycle code 4. The OPSak, according to LOKSAK, can be used to rehydrate food with boiling water. I would NEVER do this with a Ziploc! Not only are Ziploc’s not designed to withstand boiling temperature but you will emphatically run the risk of harmful chemicals leaching into your food.

Significant Analytical Data:

1 cubic inch = 16.38ml

1 ounce ≈ 28g

650 cubic inches = 2.4gal (dry) = 2.8gal (liquid) = 10.65L = 360oz

 

Purchased April 2, 2012 for  $67.89 + shipping! I’ve utilized the Ursack only in the State of Arizona at temperatures ranging between freezing and the high 80’s, ºF; and elevations ranging from ~2500′ through 9000″.

 

All photos, with exception of one noted, copyright WildDrake!

 

This is an Independent Gear Review of the Ursack S29 AllWhite. I paid full retail price for this product as a consumer and, I am not affiliated, whatsoever, with Ursack, LOKSAK or Ziploc, or affiliates!