Showing posts with label Adventure Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Adventure Travel. Show all posts

Video: National Parks Week (April 15 - 23, 2017)

This week is National Park Week in all of America's National Parks, which means free entry into each of those amazing places. To remind us of all of the awe inspiring landscapes that exist within those parks, the National Park Service produced this short (just 35 seconds!) but sweet clip that will leave you longing for a visit soon. Spring is here. Lets take advantage of this opportunity.

Video: The Trek to Everest Base Camp

Earlier today I posted an update from the Himalaya on the progress of the climbing teams there. Most of those teams are now en route to Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. If you've ever wondered what that trek is like, or what the mountaineers see on the way, this video is a great example of that experience. It was shot last year in April and should be a good representation of what is happening in the Khumbu Valley at this very moment. Having made this trek myself, this video brings back some great memories. This is a special, beautiful part of the world and I recommend that everyone visits it at some point.

Video: Beautiful South Africa by Drone

If you want to know why I love Africa so much for a travel destination, all you have to do is take one look at this video. Shot using a DJI Mavic Pro, this short but sweet clip provides an amazing look at an amazing country. From landscapes to wildlife to breathtaking sunsets, this has it all.

SOUTH AFRICA - A Mavic Tale from Rind-Raja Picture Company on Vimeo.

Video: Eastward Through Nepal, India, and Beyond

This beautiful video condenses a three month journey through Nepal, India, Thailand, and Vietnam down to a two-and-a-half-minute clip that provides some of the most stunning highlights from that journey. And what stunning highlights they are. From the Himalaya to the shores of the Indian Ocean, across jungles, hilltops, and rivers, we get an all-too brief glimpse of this part of the world. If you haven't visited this region yet, chances are you'll want to after watching this. Sit back and savor every moment of it.

Eastward from David Struik on Vimeo.

Video: A Visit to South Georgia Island

I haven't had a chance to share any stories from my visit to South Georgia Island earlier in the month, but I'll have plenty to write about soon. As I'm busy catching up on other work however, I thought I'd share this video which provides an amazing overview of this wild, remote, and incredibly beautiful place. South Georgia is one of those destinations that you always hear others talk about in hushed, almost mythical tones. For me, it lived up to all of the hype, and then some, providing some amazing opportunities for adventure, interacting with wildlife, and history. Here's a glimpse of what this place is all about.

Gear Closet: Fjällräven Vidda Pro Trekking Trousers

My recent trip to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia wasn't just about sailing between those destinations and hopping a zodiac to shore to play with penguins and seal pups. Both places also afforded some excellent hiking opportunities as well, especially on South Georgia where I was fortunate enough to get the chance to trek a part of Shackleton's route across the island, ending at the old whaling station in Stromness. This of course gave me the chance to test more gear in the wild, which is one of the side benefits of visiting a wild and remote place in the Southern Ocean. 

One of the items that I took with me on the trip was a pair of Vidda Pro Trousers from Fjällräven. For those not familiar with the company, it is a Swedish brand that has been making excellent outdoor equipment for more than 50 years. In Europe, Fjällräven is very well respected and established, but here in the states it remains a bit more off the radar. But, I had always heard that its hiking pants were some of the best in the business, and I was eager to see if they lived up to this lofty reputation. 

Made from Fjällräven's own proprietary G-1000 fabrics, the Vidda Pro have been a staple in the company's line up for nearly two decades. After putting them on and taking a few hikes in them, it is easy to understand why. Comfortable and form fitting, without being restrictive, the pants are extremely durable. I wore them in all kinds of weather conditions on my recent adventure, including bright sunny skies and in cold, windy conditions with sleet and snow, and they came away completely unfazed by the experience. They passed over rocky trails, through mushy bogs, and down cold streams without missing a beat, and after the mud, grime, and sweat were washed away, they looked completely brand new. 

The Vidda Pros boast seven different pockets, including four in the usual places on the front and back. But in addition to those, the pants also have a dedicated map pocket, a knife pocket, and an inner safety pocket for keeping important items secure. While carrying a variety of items with me, it was nice to have all of these storage compartments at my disposal, and it helped to keep items well organized while on the trail. 

Other nice features that I appreciated were the reinforced seat and knees that helped prevent moisture from seeping through on damp ground, and elastic leg endings (complete with buttons) that helped secure the pants around my ankles. In the wet environment of the Falklands and South Georgia this was appreciated for helping keep moisture and mud out of the boot laces. The G-1000 fabrics also bring some natural water resistance as well, which made these pants a great choice for the environment I was visit. But, they also managed to still breathe quite well, so it wasn't often that I felt like I was overheating either. 

As the spring hiking season hits, you're sure to find some wet, muddy conditions out on the trail too. If you're in need of a new pair of hiking pants to get you through those conditions, the Vidda Pro is an excellent option that I highly recommend. That said, at $150 they are a bit pricy for someone who just wants to take a stroll on a local trail from time to time. More casual hikers will probably find other options that are more well suited to their budgets and activity level. However, if you're a serious hiker, backpacker, or climber, these are fantastic trousers to have at your disposal. You're likely to find that this is money well spent based on the level of  performance you'll get out of them. Additionally, because they are so durable and fit so well, you're likely to be wearing them on many adventures to come. To me, the $150 price tag is justified by the quality that Fjällräven has delivered. The company has more than lived up to its reputation as far as I'm concerned, and I think you'll feel the same way when you try them out for yourself. 


Gear Closet: The North Face Apex Flex GTX Rain Jacket

If traveling through the Southern Ocean recently taught me anything, its that the weather there can be incredibly unpredictable and can change quickly. That makes it a great environment for testing gear, and it was the perfect place to put the new North Face Apex Flex GTX rain jacket through its paces. The jacket hit the store shelves while I was away, but fortunately for me I had an advance sample to take with me. It proved to be an excellent travel companion, and became my go-to shell for all kinds of different types of weather.

Believe it or not, the Apex Flex is The North Face's first ever soft fully-waterproof soft-shell rain jacket. The company has made hundreds of different jackets over the years, but this one is marks a milestone in terms of performance and comfort. That's because it pairs incredibly soft stretch-woven fabrics with a Gore-Tex layer to provide a fit that isn't restrictive in anyway, but can repel the worst conditions imaginable.

Completely wind and waterproof, the Apex Flex not only looks good, but feels great when you put it on as well. I personally like the more fitted cut of the design, which hugs the body nicely and stays out of the way when things get active. While wearing it on South Georgia Island and in The Falklands, I used it with various base layers, insulating layers, and even a down puffy, and it worked well in conjunction with all of those items. In fact, it was a mainstay jacket that I wore on numerous hikes, visits to penguin colonies, or whale watching out on the deck of our ship. During that time, it survived rain, sleet, and snow, and even kept me comfortable in winds approaching 50 mph (80 km/h).


The secret behind the Apex Flex is that it uses Gore-Tex 3L shell material and combines it with a soft, woven facing fabric and a knit backer. The result is a jacket that feels a bit like a comfortable hoody, but with the performance of storm shell. That isn't easy to pull off, but it brings a level of versatility to the jacket that is difficult to find elsewhere. It also makes this a coat that you'll want to wear in a wide variety of conditions, ranging from perfect clear and sunny, to heavy rain showers, to near-blizzard whiteouts.

The jacket features two zippered hand pockets, as well as a convenient zippered chest pocket as well. Two additional zippers are found under each armpit for venting purposes. Those came in handy on longer hikes with a lot of vertical gain where I built up excess heat quickly. Once we started down hill, and things began to cool off, it was a snap to close them up again to maintain warmth. All of the zippers – including the main one on the front – are polyurethane coated to be waterproof as well.

In addition to providing a high level of performance, the jacket doesn't take up much room in your duffle bag or backpack either. And since it only weighs about 24 ounces (680 g), it isn't especially heavy or bulky too. That will go a long way towards making it a favorite for future adventures as well, as I see this accompany me on more outings in the near future.

For those that like technical performance in their outdoor gear, but don't particularly care for an overly technical look, this jacket will become a favorite as well. The Apex Flex has a subtle, stylish design that offers a classic look without coming across as "retro" in any way. While wearing the jacket I've had several compliments on its appearance, which is understated in the best possible ways. While for most of us performance is the key factor we look for, it doesn't hurt if the outdoor apparel we wear looks good too.

Priced at $199, the Apex Flex offers a lot of performance for the money. In fact, I was surprised when I learned the final price, as this jacket could easily have sold for more. In my opinion, The North Face has a real winner on its hands here, and this is a piece of gear that is going to have wide appeal. The fact that it offers so much performance at a reasonable price is further testament to just how well built and designed it is. If you need a new rain shell, this one should be at the top of your list.

Buy The North Face Apex Flex GTX rain jacket at REI.

Gear Closet: Goal Zero Venture 70 USB Battery Pack

My recent trip to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia in the Southern Ocean were a perfect testing grounds for new gear. While in those wild and beautiful places, I had the chance to put a bunch of new products to the test, and in the coming days I'll be sharing my thoughts on a number of new products that you'll want to have on your radar. That starts today with a look at the new Venture 70 battery pack from Goal Zero, a rugged USB charger with plenty of power and features to help keep your gadgets powered up while on the go.

As most of you probably already know, Goal Zero is one of the leaders in the field of portable power for use in the outdoors. The company has been making lightweight and efficient solar panels for years, and its line of Yeti power stations have been a mainstay in base camps for along time now. Of course, it was only natural that GZ would also get into smaller USB power packs as well, which are more convenient for the average traveler. That led to a line of lightweight chargers that have been in the company's catalog for several years as well, including the Venture 30, a ruggedized USB battery pack that features a 7800 mAh lithium-ion power cell, that is also dust and waterproof too. The Venture 70 is the evolution of that product, sharing many of the same features along with a much larger battery.

Much like its predecessor, the Venture 70 is also ruggedized for use in the outdoors. It's outer casing functions much like an armored shell, protecting it from accidental drops, while also keeping water and dust at bay. For those who want the technical specs, the battery pack is IPX67 rated, which makes it a great option for those of us who venture into remote and challenging places on a regular basis. On top of that, it functions well in cold weather, which I learned on South Georgia. Batteries often take a significant hit in the cold, but this one managed to continue to provide power, even when the temperature took a plunge.


The Venture 70 is equipped with a 17,700 mAh lithium-ion cell, which is about 2.5 times that of the Venture 30. This high capacity battery allows the device to recharge most mobile phones as many as 5 or 6 times, and it can even recharge a tablet twice. And since it comes with two USB ports built right in, you can keep multiple gadgets powered up at all times. Those ports feature 2.4A of power each, which means they can charge as quickly as plugging into a wall outlet. And since the power isn't shared between them, they can also provide a steady stream of energy to your headlamp, GoPro camera, GPS device, or anything else you might want to plug into it. While traveling, I even used it to charge a Nintendo Switch, which is a device that requires a lot of power to keep running.

Goal Zero has included "smart" circuitry in the Venture 70 that is designed to help keep our gadgets safe from overcharging, which can potentially damage the battery. When you plug a device into its USB ports, the battery pack automatically detects the highest amount of current that the device can handle and only feeds it that much power. The result is enough energy to provide a fast recharge, but not so much that it fries any of the important electronics inside or the battery itself.

As you would expect from a battery pack from Goal Zero, the Venture 70 is solar ready and can be charged using the company's various solar panels. This allows you to continue to recharge the device while in the field and have plenty of power stored up to top off your gadgets when the need arises. With such a large battery inside, it can take awhile to recharge the Venture 70 however, so a little patience is required. GZ says that it will take about 8 hours to complete that process using a Nomad 20 solar panel, and roughly the same time using a wall outlet. I found that plugging the battery pack into the wall was the surest and most reliable way to fill it up before hitting the road. A solar panel works fine, but if conditions are less than optimal it can take much longer to recharge the battery.

I've used the Venture 70 on a number of different trips over the past month or so, and have come to rely on it heavily. Its large battery is godsend in terms of keeping your electronic devices charged when you wander far from an outlet. It also provides a steady current when ever you need one, and wasn't nearly as finicky as some of the other portable USB batteries that I've used in the past. That's made it a welcome addition to my travel gear and has earned it a spot on future adventures for sure.

There are a couple of important caveats to point out with the Venture 70. First, because it is built for use in the outdoors, and has a large internal battery, it isn't the lightest charger that you'll come across.  In fact, it is a bit hefty, weighing in at 1 pound (454 g). That's a lot of additional weight to your pack, especially when there are smaller and lighter options available. That's the price you pay for such a ruggedized battery pack however. Increased weight for a device that can survive the rigors of the outdoors.

Speaking of price, the Venture 70 sells for $149.99, which is also on the higher end of the cost for a battery pack of this capacity. Once again, there are less expensive options out there, some of which even have larger batteries. Most of those aren't made for use in the outdoors, nor do they all come with two fully powered USB ports and the auto-power sensing features that this battery pack has. If you're simply looking for a high capacity charger at a bargain price, those other options will probably do just fine. But if you need a higher level of performance out of your gear, the Venture 70 is worth the asking price in my opinion.

Find out more at GoalZero.com.

Popular Mechanics Shares the 10 Greatest Wildernesses in the World

Looking to truly get away for awhile? Than perhaps Popular Mechanics can help. The site has published an interesting article that names the 10 greatest wildernesses on the planet, giving us some suggestions on where to go on our next adventure to places that few other people ever get to see.

Some of the destination on the list are classic adventure spots. For instance, both Patagonia and Antarctica make the cut for obvious reasons. Other places on the PM top ten aren't quite so familiar however, which makes them all the more intriguing. For instance, Bouvet Island in the Atlantic Ocean is considered the most remote island in the world, while Annamite Range of mountains in Vietnam are lauded for their inaccessibility as well. Some of the places on the list are a bit too remote however, as I doubt too many of us will ever see the Mariana Trench for instance.

Still, this is a fun list to look at and dream about. The majority of the destinations are certainly within the reach of most of us, given some time, planning, and money. In fact, I've actually been to a few of the places on this list already, and I have no doubt that more than a few of you have been as well. But if you're looking for some ideas on where to go on your next adventure, this isn't a bad place to start.

Read the entire story here.

Backpacker Lists 12 Big Hiking Adventures for 2017

We are almost two months into 2017 already, and I'm sure by now many of you have already made plans for your adventures for the year ahead. But, if you're still looking for a few suggestions, Backpacker magazine is here to help. In a recently published article, the mag suggests 12 big adventures for the year ahead.

This being Backpacker the list contains lots of places that you can visit and explore on foot. Each of the destinations also comes with an estimated cost, so you can get an idea of how much you might have to spend to undertake these excursions. Some of the suggestions that made the list include hiking the Grand Staircase - Escalandte National Monument in Utah, which comes with an estimated cost of $500.

That turns out to be the only adventure set in the U.S., as all of the rest take place in countries like Canada, Peru. Chile, Nepal, New Zealand, and other great adventure destinations. For instance, Backpacker also suggests hiking the Jungrrau Region of Switzerland ($1500) and the An Teallach Traverse in Scotland ($1100).

None of these suggested adventures are particularly expensive. The most costly is a $4000 trek through the Amphu Lapcha Pass in Nepal. Most are under $2000, with a couple trips priced at less than $1000.

All in all, this is a great list for those who like to hike, trek, or backpack their way through some amazing landscapes. And since 2017 is really just getting started, there is still plenty of time to get a few of these options on your list before the end of the year. Personally, there are at least four or five of these trips that I'd love to do, but I'll just continue adding them to my never-ending bucket list.

Nat Geo Lists 9 Oscar-Nominated Films to Inspire Adventure

If you're a movie buff like I am, you probably already know that the Academy Awards show takes place this weekend, with golden statues being handed out to the best actor, actress, director, film, and so on. While many of us will be tuning in on Sunday night to see who takes top honors (the odds favor La La Land), others will no doubt be wondering what all of the hoopla is about, and why I'm even talking about it on The Adventure Blog in the first place. Well, the truth is, great films can inspire us in many ways, including sending us off on amazing journeys and seeking real-life adventures of our own. As a kid, I longed to visit some of the far flung places that my favorite actors were traversing through on the big screen, and when I got older I've managed to see some of those locations myself. Now, as we prepare for the Oscars to be handed out this weekend, National Geographic has posted a list of nine films that have received Academy Award nominations that will inspire you to go on an adventure as well.

Some of the places that make the list don't seem particularly adventurous. For instance, the aforementioned La La Land takes place in Los Angeles, while Danzel Washington's Fences is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Of course, those places still have a lot to offer visitors in terms of culture, history, food, drinks, and even outdoor attractions too. But, some of the other destinations on the list may feed your need for adventure better. For instance, the locations used for shooting the movie Arrival are found near Bozeman, Montana; one of my favorite places on the planet. Similarly, the critically acclaimed Hell or High Water takes place in West Texas, not far from the spectacular, but seldom visited, Big Bend National Park.

As usual with a list of this kind, I won't spoil all of the entires. Needless to say, they offer some interesting places to visit for those who like to travel. In some cases, watching the films alone will inspire you to want to go there. La La Land is lauded for being a visual love letter to LA for instance.

Every one of the films on Nat Geo's list are from this year's crop of Oscar contenders. But, it would also be fun to put together a similar list of classic films from the past as well. For instance, Lawrence of Arabia served as the inspiration for me to visit Jordan, while Raiders of the Lost Ark sparked an interest in Egypt as well. Seeing Rick wander the streets of Casablanca in the film of the same name will certainly lure fans of that movie to Morocco, while Out of Africa is a good way to convince anyone that going on safari might be a good idea.

What are the films that have inspired you to see various parts of the world? What movies have you intrigued about some place you haven't gone yet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Three Trekkers to Walk the Length of the Great Himalaya Trail

Three trekkers are about to embark on a serious adventure that will take them across the length of Nepal, walking through the highest mountains on the planet as they go. Next weekend, the trio will set out on a journey led by World Expeditions that will see them hiking the entire length of the Great Himalaya Trail, covering more than 1700 km (1056 miles) as they go.

Made up of a number of smaller trails that have been intertwined, the GHT allows hikers to walk through the highest mountain range on the planet as they traverse Nepal from end to end. The trek is expected to take 152 days to complete, starting on February 26 and ending on July 27 of this year. The hike begins in eastern Nepal in the shadow of Kangchenjunga, and ends in the far western region of the country. Along the way, hikers will pass all eight of Nepal's 8000-meter peaks, including Everest itself.

During the trek, the hikers will stay in small mountain villages or camp along the route. They'll be greeted by locals, many of which don't see visitors all that often. The trail will take them deep into the heart of the Himalaya, to some of the most remote and wild places on the planet, with sweeping vistas, deep ravines, and beautiful peaks abound.

Walking the length of the GHT is a dream trek for many, and so far it hasn't been accomplished by too many travelers. But, World Expeditions has been supporting this trek for six years now, making it a reality for those who have the time and interest to do it themselves. If you're interested in making the hike they can help you sort out the logistics and get you on the trail. You'll find the full details on the company's Great Himalayan Trail trekking page, with info on how you can join next year's edition of this hike.

For me, this would be one of those top bucket-list journeys that I'd love to take at some point. It would be a fantastic trip through one of my favorite parts of the world. 152 days on the trial is a long time, but the experiences you would have along the way would certainly be life changing. The GHT can be hiked independently of course, but there are still some logistical challenges to overcome. Having someone help iron those out would make everything go a bit smoother.

Cloud Walkers - A Documentary About Amputees Climbing Kilimanjaro – Seeks Funding

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is a bucket-list adventure for many people, and for good reason. The tallest mountain in Africa is both approachable and a great challenge, with many rewards along the way.

Recently, a team of climbers made up of amputees from San Antonio, Texas went to the mountain to try to scale it for themselves. Over the course of a year of training, and during their time on the mountain, they bonded as a group and found strength and inspiration from each other. The team made the trek to the Roof of Africa together and now their story is the subject of a new documentary called Cloud Walkers, which was filmed throughout their extraordinary journey.

But, if you know anything about filmmaking, you probably also know it takes funds to get a project off the ground and get the final product in the can so to speak. So, with that in mind, the filmmakers behind Cloud Walkers have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help make their project a reality. They hope to raise $50,000, which will mostly go to final editing, sound mixing, music licensing, and other expenses.

To get a sneak peek at what this documentary is all about, check out the video below. It gives us a taste of what this journey was about, as well as some of the amazing views and stories that were experienced along the way. To find out more, and contribute to the cause, visit the Cloud Walker's crowdfunding page.

Video: Iceland Under a Full Moon

Just when you thought Iceland couldn't get any more beautiful, we catch a glimpse of it illuminated by a big, bright, full moon. Join a group of friends as they go surfing and kayaking in an environment that has to be seen to be believed. Along the way, you'll also get a sense of everything that Iceland has to offer. And chances are, you're going to want to go there yourself.

Iceland under Full Moon from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo.

Just in Time for Valentine's Day Nat Geo Lists the 17 Most Romantic Destinations in the World

World travelers listen up! If you're looking for a place to visit with your significant other, National Geographic is here to help. Just in time for Valentine's Day (Yes, that's today fellas'!) the experts at Nat Geo have given us a list of the 17 most romantic destinations on Earth

As you can imagine, the places that made the cut for this list are all pretty spectacular for a number of reasons. Most offer amazing views, some have a fantastic mix of history and culture, and pretty much all of them have an ambience about the setting that makes them special in very unique ways. You'll recognize some of the usual suspects, but others are a bit more off the beaten path and lesser known, which gives them an allure all their own.

So which destinations earned a spot on this list? As usual, I won't spoil the fun of finding out for yourself, but some of the highlights include the French Riviera, Bruges, Belgium, and Hamilton Island in Australia. Of course, the images that accompany the description of the places are all outstanding and will only increase your desire to visit these places even more. And as usual with any far-flung destination, there should be plenty of adventure to be had along the way too.

The 17 romantic destinations were paired down from a much longer list that is part of National Geographic book The World's Most Romantic Destinations, which is filled with even more suggestions of where to go and what to see with your Valentine. Speaking for myself, quite frankly I can't think of anyone I'd rather explore the world with. 

View the entire list here

Woman Sets Record for Fastest Person to Visit Every Country on Earth

An American woman named Cassie De Pecol has set a new world record for visiting every country on Earth in the fastest time ever, completing her whirlwind adventure in just 18 months and 26 days. Over the course of that time, she managed to see 196 different nations, averaging about one new destination every three days or so.

Cassie's round-the-world journey began back in July of 2015, and while she of course wanted to sample every culture on Earth, she had other plans in mind as well. De Pecol began traveling as an ambassador for the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism, and often met with dignitaries to discuss sustainable tourism as well. She remains committed to that goal even after her recent return home, and says that she'll plant trees to help offset some of the carbon footprint from her journey. "If you say, fly from Bangalore, India, to Colombo, Sri Lanka, you end up killing one tree during that flight, the goal is to plant two trees, for regenerative tourism, not just sustainable tourism," De Pecol told CNN.

While undertaking this goal of seeing the world, Cassie flew more than 255 times, which causes some to call her a hypocrite. She recognizes that criticism however and says that she has plans to plant trees in over 50 countries as part of her sustainable tourism efforts.

De Pecol faced more than a few challenges in visiting every country on Earth. Not the least off which was her American passport. U.S. citizens are not welcome in every country – including North Korea, Syria, and Turkmenistan. But, she found creative was to gain legal entry into all of those places, adding their stamps to her passport as she went.

Her other big challenge was funding the project. When she first started planning, she estimated that it would take $198,000. She managed to save $10,000 of her own, and raised the rest of the cash she needed by gathering sponsors. In the end, she was able to complete the trip, and in record time.

While reading this story, a couple of things came to mind. First, I'm pretty sure I could travel around the world for a lot less than $198,000, so I'd like to see how she came up with that budget. The other things is that my style of travel isn't one where I'd want to knock off a country every three days. I know she had other goals in mind, and that it wasn't about going on a leisurely trip, but I certainly would have liked to have spent more time in each of those places, speed record be damned.

That said, it is pretty amazing that she managed to get into all of these places, and I'm impressed with her persistence and dedication.

Backpacker Gives Us the Best Comfort Thru-Hiking Gear

A few days back I shared a post from Backpacker magazine that offered readers their picks for the best budget gear for making a long-distance thru-hike. Each of the items on that list were selected primarily because they are affordable, with performance being the second characteristic. Now, the editors are back with some more gear recommendations, but this time their offering options that fall into a different category – comfort.

Backpacker's picks for the best comfort thru-hiking gear includes a fantastic sleeping bag from Western Mountaineering, an incredibly comfy sleeping pad from Thermarest, and a large, quite possibly the most comfortable backpack on the market today courtesy of Osprey. You'll also find selections for the best tent, jacket, trekking poles, and even an umbrella, all of which are aimed at the hiker who doesn't mind carrying a bit of extra weight if it means he or she has some luxuries that help them to stay at home out on the trail.

Obviously this list is not for those of us who count every ounce when we're heading out on a hike. Instead, it is all about keeping your body as strong and comfortable as possible, even when hiking for miles on end day after day. If you're someone who is okay with knowing you don't have the lightest gear around, but that you'll probably enjoy your hike more as a result, this list is definitely for you.

Check out all of the items that made the cut by clicking here.

Gear Closet: SOL Escape Pro Bivvy

As someone who spends a lot of time in the outdoors, and often finds himself traveling to remote places, I'm always on the lookout for innovative new products that can make those experiences safer and more enjoyable. A piece of gear that can pull double duty by providing extra functionality is always a plus too. Recently, I've discovered just such a product in the form of the new Escape Pro Bivvy from SOL, which can serve as an emergency shelter or an extra layer that provides additional warmth for your sleeping bag.

In terms of performance, the Escape Pro Bivvy checks all the right boxes. It is built to be extremely durable, yet offers a high level of breathability as well. It is wind and waterproof, and uses a special material called Sympatex Reflextion to reflect up to 90% of your body heat back at you, helping you to stay much warmer in cold conditions. On top of that, the bivvy weights a mere 8 ounces (240 grams), which make it easy to stuff into your backpack to take with you anywhere.

Because it weighs next to nothing, the Escape Pro Bivvy is a great choice for ultralight hikers who don't want to carry a full sleeping bag on their outdoor adventures. As a stand-alone shelter, it can keep most hikers comfortable in conditions down to 50ºF (10ºC). And when paired with a sleeping bag, it adds as much as 15ºF to the overall temperature rating, while also providing the water and windproof capabilities. That makes it a more sensible choice than even carrying a more basic sleeping bag liner.


Measuring 31" x 84" (78 cm x 213 cm) in width and length, the Escape Pro Bivvy has a 24" (61 cm) zipper than runs along one side that allows for easy access. When unzipped, this also allows the user to more easily stuff their sleeping bag inside. A drawstring closure hood also allows you to cinch the bag up tightly around your head when things get especially chilly.

If you're backpacking with a tent, the wind and waterproof features of the bivvy are nullified somewhat by the shelter you're already sleeping inside. But, as more and more hikers take to the hammock camping trend, this product truly shows its colors, at least in terms of being an extra shell for you sleeping bag. If you prefer to sleep suspended off the ground in a hammock, the Escape Pro Bivvy will be a very useful piece of gear to have at your disposal, not only for its added warmth, but ability to keep wind and moisture at bay too.

Of course, it also comes in very handy as an emergency shelter should you find yourself unexpectedly caught out in bad weather on a mountaineering expedition or backpacking excursion into remote areas. It is easy to pull out and climb inside should the need arise, and it is one of those items that you'll always be glad you have with you, even if you don't need it. And scene it weights so little, there is almost no excuse for taking it along, even if you don't plan to use it an extra layer for your sleeping bag.

Priced at $125, the Escape Pro Bivvy is a bit pricer than a standard sleeping bag liner, so if you're just looking to add a few degrees of warmth to your bag, you might want to look elsewhere. That said, this product does A LOT more than a liner could ever hope to do, providing protection from the elements, and potentially even saving your life in an emergency situation. That makes this not only a far more versatile item – which alone makes it worth the money – but something that should be considered essential gear for those journeys into remote areas. If you're serious about your backcountry adventures, this is definitely an item you'll want to have at your disposal.

Find out more at SurviveOutdoorsLonger.com.

Video: Into Patagonia with Endurance Runner Dakota Jones

As most of you know, Patagonia is one massive, sweeping, and spectacular wilderness. It covers more than a million square kilometers of space, and yet is home to less than 2 million people. Recently, American mountain runner Dakota Jones visited that place in an effort to explore it for himself and meet a few of those people along the way. This video takes us with him as he goes into Patagonia and discovers all of the wonders that can be found there. This is an amazing short documentary that you should sit back and enjoy. It's well worth the watch.

The 40 Most Iconic Places on the Planet According to Outside

In 2017, Outside magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary, and to celebrate it has put together a series of lists that will look back on its history and forward to a changing environment and culture around us. The first of those lists has now gone online, and as you would expect, it is definitely an interest one. To get things started, the editors at Outside have put together their picks for the Most Iconic Places on the Planet.

To earn a spot on the list these places must be "significant, beautiful, and terrifying destinations that loom large in our imaginations." Once you get a look at the list, I'm sure you'll agree that the places that made the cut fit that description. For instance, the mountain bikers will appreciate the inclusion of the Slick Rock Trail in Moab, Utah, while surfers will find that Maverick's has made the list as well. These two spots wouldn't make the average person's list most likely, as many would not have even heard of them. But for the Outside crowd, the certainly loom large.

Other destinations that have captured the hearts and minds of outdoor enthusiasts, would-be adventurers, and explorers include Chris McCandless' bus in Alaska, Heartbreak Hill from the Boston Marathon, and Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley, which holds a special place for multiple generations of climbers.

I won't spoil the entire list. In fact, the ones that I've mentioned are some of the first that you'll find as you begin to scroll through the webpage. But needless to say, this is a great read that will bring back fond memories, inspire future adventures, and leave you plotting an escape to visit these destinations for yourself. This is a list that lives up to its name, and it is as diverse and varied as you can imagine.

Grab yourself a beverage and a snack, get comfortable in your chair, and sit back and savor this one. It is well worth a read. I've been lucky enough to visit a few of these spots, but I have my work cut out for me to see them all. Check out the full list here, and then start thinking about what Outside has planned for its next list as well.