Video: Norway as Seen by Drone

Norway has been a regular subject of many of the travel videos I post here on The Adventure Blog, and for good reason. Not only does it have some oft he best landscapes found anywhere on the planet, it has some of the most spectacular wilderness environments as well. Ranging from beautiful fjords to high mountain peaks to arctic environments, Norway is an adventure traveler's dream come true. And in this video, we catch a glimpse of what the country has to offer from a drone's eye view. Flying over these settings is utterly captivating, so sit back and take it all in.

NORWAY - a great Holiday trip from Marc on Vimeo.

Video: Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is home to some of the most outstanding landscapes found anywhere in the American west. It is also home to one of the most spectacular hikes as well. The walk out to Angels Landing is beautiful and challenging, making it difficult for some to reach the breathtaking view found at the end. Thanks to this video – shot on the new DJI Osmo camera – you won't have to. Sit back and enjoy, it is a jaw-dropping experience.

ANGELS LANDING (SHOT ON DJI OSMO) from Baris Parildar on Vimeo.

Gear Closet: Body Glove 3T Barefoot Warrior Water Shoes

We live in a great time for the outdoor industry. Not only is our gear getting better all the time, it is getting more technical and specialized too. Case in point, over the past few years I've gone from a guy who had just a few pairs of shoes in his closet to someone who now owns the perfect shoe for whatever outdoor activity I'm heading out to take part in. But recently, I added a new pair of footwear to my growing collection in the form of the 3T Barefoot Warrior water shoe from Body Glove, which have delivered lightweight versatility for all of my favorite waterborne adventures.

If you read my article yesterday about whitewater rafting in Quebec you know that my recent trip to that part of Canada was all about spending time on the water. In fact, while I was there I not only went rating, but canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding too. All of those activities were an opportunity to test the 3T Barefoot Warrior in a variety of different aquatic settings, and I can honestly say after using them for a week on the water, I came away very impressed.

These shoes feature a unique design that somewhat resembles Vibram's popular Five Fingers line. But where those shoes require you to jam all of your toes into individual slots, Body Glove has taken the wise step of using a three-toed design instead. As a result, I found it much easier to get the 3T Barefoot Warrior on than I ever did using the Five Fingers. That's because by big toe and second toe can easily slide into place, while the remaining three fit nicely into a larger compartment. On Vibram's offerings I always had to force those last three toes into their proper slots, which felt a bit unnatural to me.

Once the 3T Barefoot Warriors are on my feet, they feel far more natural and comfortable too, providing plenty of protection while still maintaining a good sense of balance too. In fact, up until I had these shoes I had always gone stand-up paddling barefoot as it helped to create the surest connection between my feet and the board I was using. But with Body Glove's shoes I was able to still keep my balance, even on a board that was not amongst the most stable that I have ever used.

As with any water shoe, drainage is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, Body Glove did a great job designing this shoe to allow water to move in and out quickly and easily. That same drainage system also serves to create ventilation for the foot when you're not in the water too, helping it to stay cooler while on land. As a result, you can easily transition in and out of the water without missing a beat.

Made from lightweight, quick-drying materials the 3T Barefoot Warrior are durable and comfortable enough that you can wear them all day without fear. Other water shoes have tended to chafe my feet at times when I wasn't in the water, but I didn't experience that at all here. And while you may get some strange looks wearing them around town, if you do have to wear them in that environment, you're feet won't complain one bit.

If you're in the market for a lightweight and versatile pair of water shoes that you can use in a wide variety of activities, the 3T Barefoot Warrior is an excellent option. I personally really like how they fit on my feet and how well they hold their grip, even on slick surfaces. The fact that they are also highly comfortable is a nice bonus, while the three-toed design makes them easy to get on and off and aids balance too. At $59.99 I think these shoes are a steal, and I believe anyone who takes part in water sports with any regularity will agree. Whether you kayak, SUP, swim, snorkel, or raft, this is a shoe that you'll want in your closet too.

Find out more at BodyGlove.com.

Nat Geo Gives Us 20 National Park Leaders Under the Age of 30

As most everyone knows by now, last week the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. In the days since then, we've seen a lot of celebrations across the country, with thousands of people saluting the government agency tasked with protecting the parks while at the same time making them accessible to the public.

The celebration will continue throughout the rest of the year, but it is also a time to begin looking forward to the next century. There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the national parks will be around for future generations to enjoy as well. To that end, National Geographic has selected 20 scientists, filmmakers, activists, and educators who have dedicated their lives to protecting the parks, both in the U.S. and abroad. Oh yeah, and each of these men and women happen to be under the age of 30 as well.

Amongst those making the list are Ben Masters, a filmmaker and horseman who is working to protect wild mustangs. He's joined by Cassi Knight, an NPS scientist who is searching for dinosaur remains in Denali National Park, and Elizabeth and Cole Donelson who spent the past 12 months visiting all 59 U.S. national parks. Others include Jen Guyton, a scientists helping to protect animals from poachers in Mozambique, and cartographers Ross Donahue and Marty Schnure, who are mapping remote areas of Patagonia.

As you can see, this is a diverse and interesting group of individuals, each of which is playing a vital role to help promote national parks both at home in the U.S. and in other countries around the world. The concept of creating public lands that are set aside for future generations to enjoy too has been called "America's Best Idea," and these young men and women are helping to spread that idea further. Hopefully in another hundred years we'll be continuing to celebrate the National Park Service, and the effort that these individuals have made along the way.

100 Years Ago Shackleton's Men Were Rescued From the Ice

Yesterday marked an auspicious day in the annals of exploration. It was exactly 100 years to the day since Ernest Shackleton's men were rescued from the ice in the Antarctic after a months-long ordeal that would eventually go down as one of the greatest tales of survival ever. The rescue brought and end to their struggles on that particular expedition, but returned them to a world gone mad by war.

Shackleton's tale is a well known one at this point. In August of 1914, he and his men set sail from London for the Antarctic where he and several of his men had hoped to launch an attempt to cross the frozen continent. As they left Europe behind, the first shots of what would become World War I were just taking place on that continent as well.

In December of 1914, Shackleton's ship – the aptly named Endurance – departed South Georgia Island for the Weddell Sea off the coast of Antarctica. Once there, the crew discovered more ice than they had expected, and by January 19, 1915 the ship was fully enveloped in ice, not allowing it to move forward or backward. For months, the Endurance and her crew were stuck in place, until the ship finally succumbed to the pressures being applied to its hull and sunk beneath the waters on November 21, 1915.

But the ordeal for Shackleton and is men were far from over. For weeks they camped on an ice floe before it cracked and broke up, forcing them into the Endurance's lifeboats in a desperate attempt to reach Elephant Island. They reached that point and stepped foot on solid ground for the first time in 497 days.


Knowing that he and his men couldn't hold out forever, Shackleton came up with a desperate plan to make an open water crossing to reach South Georgia again. On April 24, 1916 he and a few hand-picked men set out once again, surviving high seas, storms, and frigid conditions to reach their destination on May 8. They then made a harrowing trip across the island on foot to reach a whaling station on the other side where they could begin mounting a rescue operation at long last.

But once again the conditions in the Southern Ocean thwarted their plans and poor weather prevented them from going back to Elephant Island. On two separate occasions rescue missions were forced to abandon their attempts, although Shackleton persisted in his efforts to save his men. It took until August 30, 1916 to complete the rescue operation, retrieving 22 men who had remained in that desolate place for five more months. But in the end, not a single man perished on that expedition, which remains a remarkable feat to this day.

It took until May of 1917 for Shackleton to return to England, but but that point the war was at its most brutal. A small conflict that was breaking out when he and his men left for the Antarctic had turned into the bloodiest and most costly war that the world had ever seen. Millions had lost their lives since the Endurance had set sail, and hundreds of thousands more would perish before it was through. Some of them were men who had survived all those months on the ice.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The story of Shackleton and his crew is one of the greatest stories of adventure and survival that we've ever seen. It is a testament to his leadership skills that they managed to stay alive at all, and I can't even imagine what it was like to be stranded under those conditions for so long.

Major thanks goes out to the Adventure Journal for reminding me of this important date in history.

Video: A Drone's Eye View of Australia's Uluru

If there is one iconic image from Australia's outback that is famous the world over it is probably Uluru. This giant stone monolith rises above the surrounding landscape, etching an imposing profile against the horizon. It is a place that has been held scared by the Aboriginal people of that continent for thousands of years, and it is a wonder to behold. In this video we get a look at Uluru that we've seldom seen before – from the air. Shot using a drone, the images in this short clip are gorgeous and impressive. It's the next best thing to going to the Red Center to see it for yourself.

Video: Learn the "Shepherd's Leap" on the Canary Islands

On the hilly slopes of the Canary Islands, the shepherds that once roamed the countryside had to get creative with how they moved across the islands. Most used a technique called "Salto del pastor" which translates to roughly "the shepherd's leap." Essentially, it is a bit like pole vaulting and it was used to cross streams, descend from heights, and slowly make their way to their destination. Today, it is a bit of a dying art, but a few still practice it, as you'll see in this wonderful short clip from National Geographic.

Canadian Adventures: Whitewater Rafting on the Métabetchouan River in Quebec

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to travel back to Quebec, Canada for some summer time adventures. If you're a regular reader of The Adventure Blog, you may recall that I had visited the province in February of this year when I not only had an unbelievable encounter with wolves, I also went dogsledding and snowshoeing in the breathtaking Valley of the Phantoms. But during that visit it was extremely cold (-40ºF/C) in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region so I was anxious to return to see the area for some warm weather exploration too. I did not come away disappointed.

The theme of our trip was "Much Love Water" as many of the activities revolved around exploring the region by some kind of watercraft. In fact, on our first morning in Quebec we decided to get things started by stand-up paddleboarding on lovely lake near La Cooperative O' Soleil – a rural destination about an hours drive from our starting location in the town of Chicoutimi.

Most of the folks I was traveling with had paddleboarded before, so after a brief get acquainted session with our SUP gear, we set off down a placid river that fed out into a large lake. The morning was quickly warming up, but a nice breeze coming off the water kept us cool as we spent about an hour or so getting a morning workout. For those who haven't been on a SUP before, it is a good way to not only test your balance, but also work your core.

Unfortunately, our stand-up paddleboarding experience was an all too brief one, and we were forced to come off the water sooner than we would like. But, there was a good reason for that, as we had to grab a quick lunch before launching into our true adventure for the day – whitewater rafting on the Métabetchouan River.

After turning in our SUP boards we headed over to Microbrasserie du Lac Saint-Jean, a local microbrewery where we had a chance to enjoy a tasty lunch and a flight of beers that are brewed right at the establishment. Both the food and the frothy beverages were delicious, surprising us with their rich and complex flavors. If you're in the area, and you're looking for a great place to grab a bite to eat, this is a spot that comes highly recommended.

Once we had our fill, it was off to H20 Expeditions for our whitewater experience. The company has been leading travelers on whitewater excursions for years, and the level of professionalism and experience showed. Not only were the guides personable and knowledgeable, they did everything they could to get us ready for our river adventure in as short of time as possible. That included safety demonstrations, training us on the best way to paddle, and what to do should you be thrown from the raft at some point.


We had signed up for their three-hour rafting trip down the Métabetchouan, which was still running surprisingly fast even late in the summer. The river passes through a hydroelectric dam which controls its flow, and while we certainly weren't visiting during a major release, the water levels were still at good levels and the rapids were plentiful. After donning our wetsuits and pfd's, gathering our rafting paddles, and completing our orientation, we were all eager to get started.

The Métabetchouan rafting tour with H20 Expeditions covers about 7 km (4.3 miles) of distance, passing through some beautiful landscapes along the way. All around you are towering hills and lush forests that help convey the sense of paddling through a remote region, even though you aren't necessarily all that far from town. This particular stretch of the river includes 12 major rapids, and a couple of smaller ones just to keep you on your toes.

Unfortunately, the put-in for the river isn't particularly easy to reach. We hopped a shuttle over to the starting point, only to discover that we had to actually carry the raft about 500 meters down a hill just to reach the river itself. The path was easy to follow, and there were wooden stairs at the steeper sections, but lugging a bulky raft through the forest while wearing a neoprene suit in the middle of summer has a way of getting you warm very quickly. Thankfully, it didn't take us too long to cover the distance, and once you hit the water you cooled off quickly.

It didn't take long to realize why wetsuits are needed, even in August. The Métabetchouan runs cold and stepping into it was quite refreshing following the warm descent while carrying the raft. Once our boat was in the water our guide ran us through a series of drills on how to paddle forward and backwards that helped get everyone on board operating like a team. Once that was out of the way, we were free to begin our descent of the river, which started with a wild rapid right out of the gate.

I was one of the lucky members of the crew who was chosen to sit up at the front of the raft, which is not always an enviable place to be. Anyone who has been in that spot will tell you that the bulk of the big splashes hit that section of the boat, dousing the paddlers who are there. That would be my experience throughout the afternoon as big rapid after big rapid deposited hundreds of gallons of water into the raft. Fortunately, its self-bailing floor whisked it out again quite quickly as we all had a rollicking good time on our aquatic adventure.

The first rapid of the day was actually one of the biggest, and it set the tone for the rest of the trip. By the time we passed through, most of us were already soaked as the cold water washed away all memories of the sweaty hike through the woods that we made on the way to the put-in. And once we had run that bubbling cauldron of whitewater, were able to turn our rafts around, paddle back into the rushing river, and actually surf the rapids for a bit. This had the effect of dumping even more water into the boat, but by then no one cared any longer.

Over the course of the three-hour trip, H20 Expeditions had a few nice surprises planned for us. The first of those was the option to leap out of the raft and body surf the second rapid on the river, a challenge that I eagerly accepted.

Upon rolling off the side of the raft, I was quickly caught up by the rushing river. Quickly I moved into the safest position to proceed down river, which involved going down feet-first while in a seated position. My pfd helped keep me afloat has I – and a number of my companions – bobbed through the water. It was a thrilling way to run the rapids, and a good reminder of just how powerful the forces of nature can be. Had that particular rapid been much stronger, it would have been difficult to fight your way out of it.

At other points of the excursion we would also stop to allow brave members of the team to leap off a high cliff and plunge into the refreshing waters below, and to body surf some other rapids that we passed along the way. Each of those were exhilarating experiences and a lot of fun. Each time I was thankful I was wearing a wetsuit though, as the water remained chilly the entire time we were paddling.

Each of the 12 rapids has its own name – such as The Dungeon, The Sphinx's Eye, the Great Wall, and so on. This helped us to remember them as we passed through, as they all had their own unique characteristics and personalities. Some were fast and wild, inducing an adrenaline rush. Others caused you to have to work harder to avoid rocks which threatened to stall progress or up-end the boat altogether. Some were a bit tamer, while others provided massive waves that would splash the entire raft from stem to stern. They ranged from Class I to Class III in terms of intensity, but they were all a lot of fun and helped make the rafting trip a true highlight of my second visit to Quebec.

After running all 12 of those rapids our raft was deposited out into a wide stretch of river that was positively serene. We spent the last 20 minutes or so leisurely paddling towards our take-out point and enjoying the lovely scenery that surrounded us. It had been a truly epic day out on the water, and one that none of us would soon forget. We were all happy to get out of the raft when we were done, but the excitement of the day remained a topic of conversation for some time to come.

As a travel writer, I occasionally get access to some amazing places and experiences that not everyone else can do. But, I'm happy to say that this is definitely one experience that you can take part in as well. H20 Expeditions operates throughout the summer and heads out on the water several times a day. If you'd like to experience a run down the Métabetchouan River yourself, I would highly recommend joining them. The entire staff was highly professional and the experience was great from beginning to end. You can find out more on the company's website.

For me and my traveling companions this was just the first of several waterborne adventures to come. But, it was a great start to a fun trip that reminded me of just how wild and beautiful Quebec can be. I'll share more from those adventures in future posts that will hopefully give you some idea of what to expect when in this part of Canada, and possibly plan a few adventures for yourself there too.

NDP 2016 - “Building our Singapore of Tomorrow”

NDP 2016 - "Building our Singapore of Tomorrow". My last live NDP preview was 3 years ago when bf got the tickets. This year, my brother was lucky enough to win the tickets - I have to admit that I have been consistently balloting for NDP tickets with all my families' particular and have not been win once with my name. Ironically, the preview date was coincidentally fell on my wedding day -.-" (dont know wanna cry or wanna laugh). I managed to exchange tickets with one kind soul on carousell. YAYs! This year was a little bit special as it was held back to our National Stadium.


Belgian Adventurer Completes Solo, Unsupported Trek Across Simpson Desert

A couple of weeks back I wrote about Belgian adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke attempt to cross the Simpson Desert in Australia on foot and without the use of a cart to carry his supplies and gear. At the time, he was just preparing to set out for Oz to begin his odyssey, but now just a couple of weeks later, the expedition has come to a successful conclusion, breaking new ground in the process.

Just as polar explorers pull sleds filled with gear and supplies behind them when they head to the North and South Pole, desert explorers often use specially designed carts. These contraptions are built to roll over sand and dirt, and have enough capacity to hold all of the important supplies – including water – that are needed on such an expedition. They are also incredibly difficult to pull for prolonged periods of time, but are a necessary component for anyone traveling "unsupported" in those types of environments.

Loncke, who first crossed the desert back in 2008, was determined to prove that it was possible to walk through the "Dead Heart of Australia" without using a cart to support his efforts. To that end, he elected to use a backpack instead. This forced him to get creative with how he packed and approached this trek, as he had to carry 40 liters of water with him for the journey.

His water alone weighed 40 kg (88 pounds), which didn't leave much room for other gear. In order to save weight he eschewed the use of a stove and carried only 8 kg (16 pounds) of food which consisted mostly of muesli bars, figs, and chocolate. He did carry a tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag however, as well as a video camera, several battery packs, and two 360º cameras that captured the Simpson Desert in a way that is hasn't been seen before. All told, his backpack tipped the scales at  60 kg (132 pounds), when he set off on the journey.

While in the desert, Loncke managed to trek 300 km (186 miles) through one of the most inhospitable regions in Australia. The walk began at Old Andado Station and ended at Poeppel Corner, passing through the geographical center of the desert in the process. He had hoped to continue another 135 km (83 miles) to Birdsville, but when Loncke reached the ranger station in Poeppel Corner he was low on food and water and didn't have enough supplies to continue pressing on.

In addition to the usual challenges that the Simpson Desert poses, Loncke experienced something completely unexpected - rain! He says that it rained hard for three days and two nights, with tremendous lightning strikes across the region. The unexpected precipitation made it harder to walk each day, slowing his pace dramatically. He also reports that it led to soaked clothing and wet feet for those three days, which made for a cold, miserable experience at times. But the unexpected rain also brought a wild flower bloom, something else that was unexpected but much appreciated.

You can read more about Lou-Phi's experiences in the Simpson Desert on his blog site dedicated to the expedition. He is currently en route back home to Belgium, but will likely update it with more information going forward.

Congratulations to Loncke for achieving this impressive feat. He has potentially shown us another approach to desert exploration, and it will be interesting to see if anyone else follows suit moving forward.

Travel Channel Announces Six-Part Mini-Series Focused on Everest Rescue Operations (Updated!)

Everest will once again be the center of attention for an upcoming documentary television series set to air this fall. Yesterday, the Travel Channel announced that it will begin airing Everest Air on Wednesday, October 26 at 10:00 PM EST/9:00 PM CST. The show will be an hour in length and run for six weeks.

Everest Air will reportedly take a look at what it takes to climb the highest mountain on the planet, as viewers meet the men and women who traveled to Nepal this past spring to make an attempt on the summit. But beyond that, the show will focus on a high altitude emergency response team called Alpine Rescue Service that led by Jeff Evans, who is described as "an Everest expert mountaineer, adventurer and medic." Evans and his team conducted a number of rescues on the mountain this past spring, some on foot, but most through the use of a helicopter.

The show promises to provide viewers with awesome views of the Himalaya and Everest in particular, while giving them an inside look at expedition climbing in Nepal. But the main focus will be on Evans and his team of helicopter pilots and rescue Sherpas who work on the mountain. Over the course of the six episodes, I'm sure there will be no shortage of drama as the crew goes about rescuing stranded, sick, and injured climbers.

I've spoken to several people personally who were on Everest this past spring, and two who had to be helicoptered off the mountain from Camp 1. Both indicated that when they were loaded onto a helicopter to be brought down to lower altitude they had cameras shoved in their face with someone asking if it was okay to interview them. Neither was in a really good mood to be interviewed at that point, and indicated as much to the television crew. Obviously others were more than willing to share their stories however, as the show has enough footage and content for its six-episode run.

We're still about two months from the show hitting the air, so I'm sure we'll learn a lot more about it the closer we get to its debut. On the one hand, I'm curious as to how the producers of Everest Air handle the mountaineer aspects of the program, while on the other I'm a bit dismayed that the focus is on rescuing those who were unable to complete the climb. All too often the mainstream media takes an alarmist/extremist view of Everest, playing up the danger their for ratings. In reality, the mountain is indeed a dangerous and difficult climb, but it is one that hundreds of people do successfully in any given year. Usually, the general public only hears about the climbers who die during that attempt. Will this show alter that approach in any way? We'll have to wait to see, but at the moment I remain dubious.

Update: I've heard from several people that wanted to clarify that the camera crew that was so invasive on Everest this past spring was actually from the Discovery Channel and not the Travel Channel. I'm told that Everest Air will indeed be a legitimate, and well made, show that isn't as sensationalistic as I have feared. Hopefully that will be the case. We'll find out in October.


Video: The Pacific Northwest in Timelapse

This two-minute clip takes us to America's Pacific Northwest to capture some of the stunning landscapes that exist there. Filmed mostly in Oregon and Washington, the video gives us a beautiful look at some of the snowcapped peaks, pristine mountain lakes, and thick forests that punctuate his part of the U.S., leaving us a little breathless along the way.

Pacific Northwest from ELEMOTION Photo on Vimeo.

Video: Clever Seal Avoids Death by Jumping into Boat

What's a desperate seal to do when being hunted by orcas? Why jump into a passing boat to avoid certain death of course! That's exactly what happens in this video, which was shot by an amateur filmmaker (witness the use of vertical video) who caught a pod of orcas hunting a seal who ultimately decides his best course of action is to leave the water altogether and hitch a ride on their boat. Warning: some of the language in the clip is a bit salty, but it is still amazing to watch nonetheless.

Gear Closet: Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch

As an Apple Watch owner I've come to rely on my smartwatch more than I ever thought possible. Not only does it give me the date and time, but it also provides access to my calendar of events, quick viewing of texts and alerts, the ability to control the music on my iPhone right from my wrist. It also tracks my workouts, provides weather updates, and gives me scores of my favorite college and NFL football teams. Heck, it even holds my boarding passes when I'm traveling, providing a very convenient way to whisk through the airport.

But for all of its strengths, the Apple Watch has plenty of faults too. For instance, its battery life is limited to about one full day of use, which makes it a challenge to keep charged while traveling. It is also designed to be more of a fashion accessory rather than something that is truly built for adventure travel or outdoor activities. In fact, it is rather on the fragile side, which is why I recently used the Apple Watch Case from Catalyst while traveling through Quebec. So, while I love the idea of wearing my smartwatch everywhere, it just isn't always practical to do so. That is, unless you happen to have the Smart Outdoor Watch from Casio, a timepiece built specifically with the outdoor enthusiast in mind.

Officially designed as the WSD-F10, this smartwatch was built from the ground up for adventure travelers and the active outdoors person. As such, it comes equipped with a host of sensors and features that will make our life in wild and remote places much easier. For instance, the watch has a built-in electronic compass, altimeter, and barometer. It also comes with a database of the current times for sunrise and sunset based on your current location, and it even has a tide chart to help you plot the movement of bodies of water. Casio's device even serves as a fitness tracker too, closely charting your movement and calories burned throughout the day.

Despite all of that functionality baked into the Smart Outdoor Watch, there is one feature that is glaringly missing – GPS. Most high-end outdoor watches today come with some GPS capabilities that allow their users to track their routes, follow trails, and keep track of speed, distance, and direction. The WSD-F10 does all of those things, but it uses the GPS chips on the smartphone that it is tethered to in order to accomplish those feats. That means you'll need to carry your smartphone with you everywhere you go, including the backcountry. Considering how many of us already do just that however, it seems like a small price to pay, even if you now have to keep two gadgets – your phone and your watch – charged.


Speaking of keeping a device charged, if Casio's smartwatch has an area that needs improvement, it is probably battery life. Don't get me wrong, in standard operating mode, it will easily outpace the Apple Watch, lasting for as many as three days between charges. But, turn on a host of features, interact with apps on a regular basis, and have it track your movement while out on a hike, and suddenly the battery life begins to drop significantly. In fact, it is possible that you might not even be able to make it through a full day of usage if you turn all of its features on and leave them functioning for an extended period of time. As with most smartwatches that are currently available, this one could use a bit more juice.

Those issues aside, the WSD-F10 is a great watch for use while traveling and in the outdoors. It is rugged and durable enough to take anywhere, including into the water. This watch is waterproof down to 50 meters (164 ft) and it is both dustproof and hardened against drops according to the MIL-SPEC 810G standards. That means that you can take this watch on a trail run, mountain biking, and paddling and never worry whether or not it's going to survive.

Casio has used a unique two-screen system on this watch that not only allows it to show the current time at all times, but it can do so without wiping out the battery. The first display is a simple monochrome option not unlike something you might find on a Kindle. This particular screen is used to give users the time and date at a quick glance, even in bright sunlight. This low-power display sips energy from the battery, which is what allows it to be on all of the time. The second display is a full-color screen that is used for interacting with apps, reading text messages and alerts, and providing other information to the user. It is bright and vivid and on par with pretty much every display that I've seen on a smartwatch to date. This two-screen approach works seamlessly to the person wearing the watch and brings some versatility to the WSD-F10 that isn't found in its competitors.

While Apple uses its own proprietary Watch OS to power its wearable, Casio has employed Android Wear to run its device. This lightweight operating system has been designed specifically to run on devices such as the WSD-F10 and as a result it is fairly snappy in its execution and provides a solid platform for creating unique apps that can run on the device. Android Wear doesn't have nearly as many apps for it as Watch OS, but most of the big names that you would expect are there, and can be used with the Smart Outdoor Watch too, provided you use an Android phone. The WSD-F10 will pair with an iPhone, but its functionality is severely limited due to the restrictions that Apple places on access to iOS functionality.

One of my favorite features of most smartwatches is the ability to customize the face of the watch to display exactly the information that you want to see. The WSD-F10 has this same functionality built-in as well, but with a nod to its particular audience. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate that with a quick glance they can check their current altitude, direction they are moving, speed, route, and more. The sheer amount of customization that can be done is a bit surprising at first, but you'll soon discover that it is very nice to have that level of versatility right at your fingertips.

Priced at $500, the Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch is about on par with similar products from both Suunto and Garmin. However, those watches all tend to come with GPS built-in and have longer battery lives, which will make them more appealing to many customers. But, they also lack most of the "smart" features that make Casio's device so intriguing. If you don't mind recharging your watch more often, and are already carrying a smartphone with GPS capabilities, the WSD-F10 may just be the more full-featured option.

Personally, I really like this watch. The fact that it is a smart wearable designed for those of us who venture out to remote locations on a regular basis makes it a great option for adventure travelers and outdoor lovers. I appreciate its high quality construction, excellent built-in features, and expanding app ecosystem. This is a watch I can wear on daily runs and bike rides, as well as trips to the far side of the planet. That alone gives it a leg up on my Apple Watch, and makes me wish Apple would crate something similar. That will never happen, but thankfully Casio is here to fill the void.

Buy the Casio WSD-F10 Smart Outdoor Watch at REI.





Czech Traveler Survives for a Month in the New Zealand Wilderness After Partner Dies

Here's a harrowing tale of survival that will probably make a great book or film at some point. Last week, authorities found a Czech tourist who had been missing for more than a month in the wilderness of New Zealand. The woman was discovered living in a park warden's hut along the Routeburn Track, one of the country's popular trekking routes. She is said to be in reasonably good physical condition, although she is understandably suffering some physiological stress from the ordeal.

The woman, and her traveling companion set out to hike the trail back on July 26. The Routeburn Track typically takes about three days to complete, but the duo became lost when the trail markers they were following became buried in deep snow.

Things went from bad to worse when the woman's partner fell off a cliff, dying as a result of his injuries. She then spent three long, cold nights out in the open before locating the cabin, which became her home over the past few weeks. During that time she suffered some minor frostbite and hypothermia, but for the most part is in good condition.

Nearly a month past before the Czech consulate contacted authorities in New Zealand, who up until that point were unaware the couple was missing at all. They organized a search party, but held out little hope since it been so long, and so much snow had fallen along the trekking route. But, the couple's car was discovered near the trail head, which initiated a longer search that resulted in the rescue.

In addition to the cold weather and snow conditions, the woman faced a serious threat from avalanches. Most hikers are advised to avoid the higher altitude sections of the hike during the winter months for that very reason. It was because of those dangers that no other hikers discovered her living in the cabin over the past several weeks. She was found last Wednesday and transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Quite a story indeed. She is obviously lucky to be alive. Thankfully this one had a mostly happy ending, although condolences go out to the friends and family of the man who perished on the trek.

Karakoram Summer 2016: The Final Summit Score of the Season

When last we checked in with the summer climbing season in the Karakoram there was team still working hard to complete their climb. That team consisted of Czech climbers Marek Holecek and Ondra Mandula, who were hoping to summit Gasherbrum I along a new route. But poor weather conditions stranded the two men high on the mountain, leaving them waiting for days for a chance to either move up or down. Ultimately they would have to abandon their attempt, which they finally did last week, officially bringing the curtain down on the 2016 season. 

Now that everyone has left Pakistan for home, we can step back and take a look at how things actually went this year. As usual in the Karakoram, there were some triumphs and some disappointments, but thankfully there were no tragedies. 

ExWeb has posted a post-mortem for the climbing season that just wrapped up, providing some insights into everything that went down over the past few months. One of the highlights of the summer was the return of climbers to Nanga Parbat after three years of no teams attempting that mountain. Climbers have mostly steered clear of Nanga since the 2013 attack in Base Camp by a group of terrorists that left 10 people dead. But this year they started to return at last, and three people actually managed to summit.

Over on K2 it was another frustrating season, which is typical of the world's second tallest mountain. Weather often dictates when climbers can go up or down on K2, and this year was no different in that regard. But the real difficult came when a major avalanche destroyed Camp 3 on the mountain, wiping away a large cache of oxygen bottles with it. That left most of the teams no choice but to call it a day and head home. So, while 2016 will be remembered as a year that commercial climbing on K2 increased dramatically. In fact, there were more than 100 climbers on the mountain this year. But in the end the results were typical for the "Savage Mountain" – zero summits on what most believe to be the toughest 8000 meter peak to climb. 

In the end, there were only a handful of summits for the entire season. In fact, ExWeb says there were a total of 21. The final tale of the tape indicates that Gasherbrum I and II each had 8 summits, while Nanga Parbat had 3 and Broad Peak had 2. Those numbers are fairly typical for the Karakoram, where the climbing is always difficult, although on occasion we'll have some surprisingly successful years such as 2013 on K2 when more than 40 people reached the top. 

Now, with the Karakoram season all wrapped up, our attention will turn towards the Himalaya where the fall climbing season is now getting underway. There will be a couple of attempts on Everest from the North Side in Tibet, but for the most part it looks like a typical year there as well. Many climbers will be attempting Manaslu in the days ahead, with a few expeditions heading to Lhotse, Dhaulagiri, and a few sub-8000 meter peaks too.

Stay tuned in the days ahead, as we'll be keeping a close eye on those expeditions as they unfold. 

Video: The Northern Lights as Viewed From a Drone

What do you get when you fly a drone into the Northern Lights? Why this spectacular video of course. Shot on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, where the stunning landscapes found there are illuminated by the otherworldly light given off by the aurora borealis. This is a fitting way to wrap up another busy week, and a two-minute video that everyone should see. Enjoy!

Northern Lights shot with a Drone from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo.

Video: Grand Teton National Park as You've Never Seen it Before

We continue our theme of sharing videos from America's national parks today with this amazing clip from our friends over at Teton Gravity Research. They take us deep into Grand Teton National Park to give us a look at the place at it has never been seen before. As you'll see, it is wilderness playground unlike any other, and due to its proximity to Yellowstone, an often overlooked destination for adventure.

Gear Closet: Victorinox Traveller Lite Swiss Army Knife

In terms of outdoor gear, there are few pieces of equipment that come close to being quite so iconic as the famed Swiss Army Knife. This handy tool can trace its roots all the way back to 1891, which is when the company that would eventually go on to be known as Victorinox would begin producing their first knives. Since then, those products have continued to evolve and are now shipped all of the world, with just about every outdoor enthusiast owning on at some point in their lives.

Recently, I carried the Victorinox Traveller Lite with me on my trip through Mongolia, and as usual, it proved itself to be a handy companion. The knife comes equipped with everything you need, and a few things you didn't even know you wanted, making it a useful item to have in your pack or pocket at just about any time.

Sorting through the incredibly long catalog of knives on the Victorinox website will probably leave your head spinning. There are so many choices to examine that it can be difficult to find the one that best suits your exact needs. But, the Traveller Lite was certainly a good choice for me, as it features just about every tool imaginable, including both large and small knife blades, a can opener, screw driver, a bottle opener, a corkscrew, scissors, and more. In short, it has about every tool you wold expect from a Swiss Army Knife, and they are all squeezed into a small enough space that it can easily be slipped into your pocket.


One thing that does set this knife apart from the scores of others that Victorinox makes is a small LCD screen that can be found on its translucent case. That screen displays the time, temperature, altitude and barometric pressure, all of which are handy features to have in the backcountry. The tiny screen is powered by a small watch battery that slides into a specially designated slot. That slot was kind of challenging to gain access to at first, but thankfully you shouldn't have to change the battery too often.

In terms of build quality, the Traveller doesn't disappoint. It feels solid in your hands, and as with most other Swiss Army Knives it has been designed to survive in demanding environments. Using the various tools doesn't give you the sense that anything is about to break, nor does it seem like any corners were cut in designing and assembling this product. I can't always say the same about similar knives I've used in the past, some of which have failed me at the most inopportune times. As with all knives from Victorinox, this one comes with a lifetime warranty as well, which means if something should break, you'll get it replaced for free.

I carried this knife with me everyday while in Mongolia, and even I was surprised at the number of times I pulled it out to use one of the various tools. The knife blades were probably the ones I needed most often in that setting, but others such as the integrated tweezers and toothpick came in handy from time to time too. At times, it felt like I was carrying a full tool box in compact form right in my pocket.

The Traveller Lite is one of the more expensive knives in the Swiss Army collection. At $111 it is probably a bit pricey for most outdoor enthusiasts who don't need all of its features. For those folks, I'd recommend something like the Huntsmen, which has many of the same tools – minus the electronic gadgetry – and sells for just $40. But, if you're someone who ventures into the backcountry often, or does a lot of mountaineering, the Traveller Lite is a good option. It's LCD screen displays some important information, and it provides plenty of good tools to see you through some demanding trips. For those folks, the $100+ price tag is worth the investment, and you'll likely have a tool that will accompany you on my future adventures.

Check out the entire line of Victorinox knives and other products at Victorinox.com.

Adventure Travel Briefs: A Cruise Ship in the Northwest Passage and Is Adventure Travel Endangered?

There have been a number of interesting stories to come out of the adventure travel industry lately, not all of which are worth their own post, but together they make an interesting story to share with readers. For those of you out there who enjoy pursing some adventures of their own, here are a couple of things to have on your radar.

Luxury Cruise Ship Sails the Northwest Passage
In recent years, climate change has allowed the famed Northwest Passage – an area of open sea in the Arctic Ocean above Canada – to become far less treacherous and more navigable by boat. In the past, the ice would either stay locked in place even during the summer months, or the route would remain dangerous due to large ice bergs choking the path. That isn't the case any longer, and for several months each year it is possible to sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Arctic.

Now, a luxury cruise ship by the name of Serenity has embarked on a 32-day journey across the entire passage. The ship set sail from Seward, Alaska last week, and is now making its way towards New York City. While small ships have made their way along the legendary route in recent years, this is the first time a large ship has done so. The Serenity can carry more than 1700 people.

Hopefully the cruise goes off without any major issues. The Canadian Coast Guard estimates its response time to an emergency at 11 hours. That's a long time should anything go wrong. Fingers crossed this doesn't become a major trend either, as the Arctic Ocean is still a very fragile ecosystem.


Richard Bangs Takes Us to Madagascar
Mysterious and enchanting, Madagascar is high on my places to visit that I haven't been lucky enough to get to just yet. I'm even more intrigued after reading Richard Bangs' recent article for The Huffington Post, in which he delves into the history, culture, and people that live on the island country just off the coast of Africa.

In the incredibly well written piece, Bangs paints an impressive picture of the place, which is at a crossroads environmentally, and yet is still a fascinating ecological preserve filled with creatures that aren't found anywhere else on Earth. Amongst those creatures are Madagascar's famous lemurs, which are held in high regard by the locals and it is strictly forbidden to kill. But in his travel through the land, Richard goes in search of a rumored restaurant that allegedly serves lemur on the menu. Does he find it? And what other wonders does he discover there? Read on to find out.

Is Adventure Travel an Endangered Species?
Our final adventure travel story come from the blog at Tusker Trail. The article was written awhile back, but still asks an intriguing question – Is adventure travel an endangered species? In the article, the author indicates that fear and a desire for safety and security are causing many travelers to abandon their hopes of living an adventurous life, with many now playing it safe and sticking close to home.

With terrorist attacks taking place all over Europe, strange diseases like Ebola and Zika, striking Africa and South America, and other potential threats making headlines, it is easy to get caught up in the belief that danger is lurking around every corner when you start to wander too far from home. But, in reality, we all know that isn't the case, and that these are mostly isolated incidences that are far from the norm.

Yes, travelers do accept that there is always the potential for danger when setting out on an adventurous excursion. But, isn't that a part of adventure travel? As the Tusker article says, adventure travel may be compromised, but it is far from dead. There are still plenty of amazing places to go, things to do, and sites to see. As the author says, study your destination thoroughly, do your homework ahead of time, and know what you're getting yourself into. Chances are, you'll be better prepared to deal with situations as they arise, and probably avoid danger altogether. At the very lest, don't let fear keep you from traveling the world and seeking out adventure.

Something I agree with wholeheartedly.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Busy Season Ahead in Nepal

It looks like the fall climbing season in Nepal will be a busy one. After seeing a resurgence of climbers on Everest and other 8000 meter peaks this past spring, it now appears that the trend will continue with a slate of climbs scheduled for the fall as well. And with the official start of the season just a few days away, scores of mountaineers are now arriving in country.

According to this story from The Himalayan Times Manaslu will be the favorite target for the climbing teams this autumn. About 100 foreign climbers have received permits to attempt the 8163 meter (26,781 ft) peak, with the first 40 mountaineers departing from Kathmandu yesterday. They'll spend a few days trekking before reaching Base Camp, but should get there sometime late next week, just as the fall season – which traditionally runs from September to November – starts to get underway.

Other mountains that will be seeing some traffic this fall include Dhaulagiri and Lhotse, as well as non-8000 meter peaks Ama Dablam, Himlung and Putha Hiuchuli. Those mountains won't have nearly as many men and women on their slopes however, as Manaslu remains the big draw.

As has become typical for this time of year, there are no reported attempts on Everest from the South Side at this time. That could change as more climbers apply for their permits, but as of now Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet and Japanese mountaineer Nobukazu Kuriki are the only ones who will challenge the world's highest peak this season. Both will make their ascent from the North Side.

According to the story from the Times, some of these groups will be quite large. For instance, Seven Summits Treks will lead four groups consisting of 60 climbers on Manaslu themselves, which may be as much as half of the number of foreign climbers heading to Nepal this autumn.

Following the tragic earthquake last spring, it was good to see mountaineers returning to Nepal this year. By most accounts, the spring climbing season was a highly successful one, and the fall looks to continue that success. Of course, all of these expeditions employ Sherpa guides and high altitude porters, which brings much needed cash to the economy of Nepal as well. We'll of course be keeping a close eye on the proceedings there, and will report any news moving forward.

Gadd luck to everyone heading into the mountains. Stay safe!


Video: Powerful Yellowstone in Timelapse

Most of the videos I've shared this week have centered around America's national parks in some way, and this one is no exception. This time we travel to Yellowstone – the first national park in the entire world – to catch a glimpse of the powerful forces at work there. Through timelapse video you'll see some of the park's famous geothermal anomalies at work, as just below the surface sits one of the most powerful super volcanoes on the entire planet. This is part of what makes Yellowstone so special, and seeing it captured in this manner is incredibly impressive indeed.

SKYGLOWPROJECT.COM : HADES EXHALES from Harun Mehmedinovic on Vimeo.

Video: Celebrating 100 Years of America's National Parks

If you've been reading The Adventure Blog this week, you know that today is the 100th anniversary of the founding of America's National Park Service. This video comes our way courtesy of CBS, and it was made with one purpose - celebrating 100 year of the national parks. This is a momentous occasion indeed, so sit back and enjoy this four-minute clip that will remind you of why these places are so special.

Gear Closet: Catalyst Apple Watch Waterproof Case

I have a confession to make. I absolutely love my Apple Watch. In fact, I pretty much wear it every day. It isn't just a watch for me, but also a fitness tracker, communications device, and a way to keep tabs of my calendar. It also holds my boarding passes when going through the airport, discreetly displays text and alert messages, and controls my music and podcasts when I'm out on a run. In short, it has become an important part of my daily life. 

All of that said, there are times when I wish the Apple Watch were a bit more rugged. Sometimes I'll wear it on my outdoor adventures, and it seems a bit fragile for use in the backcountry. Especially if I'm doing anything that involves being out on the water. Don't get me wrong, the Watch can survive a dunking, but Apple falls short of actually declaring it water proof, and you're on your own if you go swimming with it. Which is why I was eager to try out the Apple Watch Case from Catalyst, a product that promises to add rugged protection to the smartwatch and even protect it from water.

The Apple Watch Case is certified to the IP68 standard, which means it will keep your watch waterproof down to 50 meters (165 ft). It has also been built to the MIL-SPEC 810G standard for protection against drops as well, giving your Apple Watch a suit of armor that protects it from the elements. Those two factors alone make it a worthwhile product for anyone who like to wear their smartwatch in the outdoors, as you'll definitely feel more confident when it is wrapped up in this protective shell. 

Installing the Apple Watch Case is surprisingly easy. There is one tiny screw to remove (Catalyst includes a proper screw driver in the packaging) to gain access to the interior of the case. Before doing so, you simply remove the current watch band that you have on the Apple Watch – a process that takes seconds – and then place the watch housing itself inside a thin rapper seal that provides an extra level of protection from moisture. Then, you place it into the case and reseal it using the same screw and screw driver. 

When it clicks into place, the housing is completely sealed tight, yet you lose no functionality. The watch face remains just as responsive to your touch as it was before and the device can continue to monitor your heart rate, provide haptic feedback, use the speaker and mic, and connect to its magnetic charger. Catalyst has even cleverly designed buttons and a digital crown to fit over the existing versions on the Watch itself, allowing full interaction with all its features. In fact, after installing the case on my Watch I almost forgot that I had made the change, as it felt just as natural interacting with it as before, and the case felt incredibly comfortable on my wrist at all time. 

Last week, while traveling in Quebec, I had the opportunity to truly put the Apple Watch Case to the test. Many of the activities took place on the water, so I spent my days stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and even whitewater rafting. Throughout all of those activities the case performed exactly as advertised, keeping my precious Apple Watch fully protected. I even jumped out of the raft and body surfed some rapids on my own, and my device came out completely unscathed. It was an impressive display to say the least, and it convinced me that the case would keep my watch fully protected just about anywhere. 

As mentioned, the case is quite comfortable to wear, and doesn't add a lot of bulk to Apple's sleek smartwatch. In fact, after my trip was over I debated as whether or not I should just leave it on permanently. In the end, I did remove it (also a simple affair) in part because I enjoy the versatility of being able to change up the look of the Apple Watch on a moment's notice. But, knowing that I have Catalyst's case at my disposal for future adventures makes me very happy.

The Catalyst Apple Watch case is available for the 42mm version only and costs $59.99. To me, it is a worth investment if you like to use your Apple Watch while traveling or exploring the outdoors. It definitely adds a great level of protection that isn't there out of the box, and will allow it to survive being immersed in water without any fears. 

Find out more at CatalystCase.com

Use of Helicopters on Everest Rises Dramatically

If you followed the spring climbing season on Everest with any regularity this year, it was evident that the use of helicopters on the mountain had risen dramatically. But a new report gives us an even closer look at the numbers, that now show not just a surprising number of flights to the mountain, but that many of them were unauthorized. 

According to this story from The Himalayan Times, there were more than 150 helicopter flights conducted to Everest Base Camp and higher during the spring 2016 climbing season. Sources at the Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla say that six companies operated at least 151 flights above 5000 meters (16,404 ft) in April and May without properly reporting their activities to Nepal's Civil Aviation Authority. Of those, about 30% (roughly 45 flights) were to locations above Base Camp, most notably Camp 1 and Camp 2 on Everest.

Regulations state that helicopter flights are to go no higher than BC unless they are conducting emergency rescue operations. Those types of flights are monitored closely by Aviation officials, but it seems in this case many pilots were indicating that they were flying to Base Camp, only to go higher up the mountain later on. Authorities say that by going to higher altitudes the pilots are risking their own lives and those of their passengers, warning that there could be a fatal accident if such operations continue.

Representatives of the six companies that conduct the flights insist that they only went to the higher camps to rescue climbers who requested assistance and that they weren't doing anything outside of the regulations. The fact that so many of those flights went unreported however would suggest otherwise. If all of the flights were conducted above board, there would be no need to not report them. 

The cost of a flight to Everest is not cheap. Most companies charge $5000 for a trip to Base Camp, $7500 to go up to Camp 1, and as much as $10,000 to reach Camp 2. Some of the costs of those flights are covered by the insurance companies for climbers who do have to be rescued, but one has to wonder just who is paying for the other flights. 

There have been some suggestions of increasing the use of helicopters on Everest to help shuttle gear up from BC to the higher camps. This could potentially reduce the number of trips that climbers – and more importantly Sherpas – would have to make through the dangerous Khumbu Icefall. This is the section of the climb just above Base Camp that is widely considered the most dangerous section of the mountain. In 2014, the collapse of an ice serac on this section of the climb killed 16 porters who were carrying gear to Camp 1. 

By using helicopters to do that work instead, it would help alleviate those dangers, but there has been no official go-ahead to begin doing that on a large scale. It seems that some of these flights were being made to ease the process of moving gear, even if no one is necessarily admitting it. 

Will the trend of using helicopters on Everest continue to rise in the years ahead? Almost certainly. Will it make things safer? Possibly. Only time will tell. All I know is, that is a lot of unregulated flights to dangerous altitudes, which seems like a recipe for disaster in and of itself. 

U.S. Creates New National Park on Centennial of Park Service

Today is a landmark day for America's National Park Service. It was 100 years ago to the day – August 25, 1916 – that the NPS was created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, who charged the organization with the monumental task of preserving the country's best wild landscapes, and making them accessible to the public. That has been a duty that the men and women of the Park Service have taken very seriously for a century, and they are already planning for the next 100 years.


6 Tips to Give Your Home a Charming Vintage Look

Planning to redecorate your home and add some vintage charm to it? Well, it doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive, and you don’t have to visit antique stores to get your hands on vintage decor. Start with things like old frames, metal baskets, old cartons, and suitcases. Paint the rooms right—choose pastel shades like vintage blue, along with shades of silver and gold for that perfect vintage look. Here are some simple tips to help you give your rented apartment or house a rustic look:

Video: Amongst the Ancients in California

In need of two-minutes of pure bliss? Than this video ought to do the trick. It is a timelapse clip shot in the Sierra Mountains of California that give us some breathtaking views of that part of the world. Utterly spectacular, I'm sure you'll agree that this is a video that is worth watching beginning to end. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Among the Ancients - California Timelapse 4K from Michael Shainblum on Vimeo.

Video: The Best of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We continue our salute to the National Park Service this week with another great video from America's National Parks. This time, we travel to the Great Smoky Mountains to explore the most visited park in the entire U.S. system. More than 10 million people visit this place every year, and after watching this video, you'll understand why. Wild, remote, and beautiful, and yet still accessible, this is truly a great adventure destination.

Gear Closet: Dog & Bone Locksmart Mini Bluetooth Smart Padlock

Keeping your possessions safe and secure while traveling can be a real challenge in this day and age. It seems no matter where you go, someone is looking to steal your stuff. That's why it is a good idea to carry a padlock with you when you hit the road, as it gives you the ability to secure your bags when they aren't in sight. But if you're like me, remember a combination to such a lock can sometimes be difficult, particularly if you don't use it often. And sure, you could always use a lock that requires a key instead. But, in the age of constantly evolving technology and increasingly smarter devices, there seems like there should be something better. Allow me to introduce you to the Locksmart Mini from Dog & Bone.

At first glance, the Locksmart Mini looks like most other padlocks you might come across. It has a thick, durable hardened steel shackle that connects to whatever it is you want to lock up, and its body feels durable and tough in your hand. The exterior is coated in a protective covering that also give is a unique, colorful look too. But upon further inspection, you'll start to notice a few things that separate this lock from others. For example, there is an LED light on the front, and no key hole whatsoever.

Yep, you read that right, this is a lock without a key or combination of any kind. Instead, the Locksmart connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and is controlled by an app (available for iOS and Android). That app allows you to unlock the device when you need access to your belongings, but also gives you the ability to control multiple locks or even share access with someone else from anywhere in the world. That means that even though you're away on a trip, you can still allow someone back home to unlock the Locksmart should the need arise.

Paring the lock with your smartphone takes just a few seconds, and couldn't be easier. The real power lies within the app that you must download and install on your mobile device. It is from there that you can name your locks and turn off and on certain features. The app also allows you to add other users, giving them full or temporary access to your Locksmart.


The device comes with a built-in, rechargeable battery that Dog & Bone claims is good for 3000 uses before needing a recharge. In my testing, I haven't come anywhere close to that number, but can tell you that device still registers as having 100% battery even after unlocking it dozens of times. That bodes well for its long term use, but before you set off on a trip somewhere, you may want to check to be sure the lock has plenty of juice in its battery.

To unlock the Locksmart you simply tap a button on the bottom of the lock that wakes it from sleep mode. The LED on the front will turn on and change to a green color. Next, you launch the app and select the proper lock for your list. Once the smartphone and lock have connected (which takes a few seconds), you simply tap the Unlock icon on the screen and the padlock opens. It really is as simple as that.

Dog & Bone does give you a "Location Mode" option which allows the Locksmart and your phone to connect to one another automatically when they are within range of one another, allowing you to bypass the step of actually pushing the button on the lock, but that comes at the expense of battery life. In order to achieve the feature, the lock wakes itself up from sleep mode every 30 seconds, which means you'll have to monitor its battery a lot closer. The convenience of this mode is nice though, as you can open the Locksmart from across the room at just about any time.

The Locksmart has a couple of other nice features that come in handy as well. For instance, you can track its location at any time, with its current spot highlighted on a map. That makes it easy to find should your bag get stolen. There is also a Tracking Mode that will give you an alert on your smartphone every time the lock passes out of range. This comes in handy in case someone picks up your locked luggage and attempts to make off with it, although it also comes at the expense of decreased battery life.

For me personally, the Locksmart is a great option when traveling. I love that it is very durable and secure, and yet doesn't require me to remember a combination or carry an extra key. It is important to remember that this lock is not TSA approved however, which means you can't use it on luggage that you are checking at the airport, and you might have to remove it while passing through a security checkpoint. But other than that, it is a great option for travelers who are looking to keep their gear more secure, but want the convenience that comes along with using a smart lock instead.

The Locksmart does cost a bit more than most padlocks. It carries a price tag of $69, which is a far cry from other travel locks that can be had for under $20. But, I will say that this lock is more durable than most other travel locks I've tried, and the added conveniences it brings makes it worthwhile to me.

Find out more at Dog & Bone's website.

Gear Junkie Gives Us 10 Gear Trends to Watch for in 2017

It's hard to believe but 2016 is already starting to wind down. Sure, we're still in the midst of the dog days of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, but the final days of August is in sight, and we're only a few short months from the end of the year. With that in mind, our friends over at Gear Junkie have peered into their crystal ball and looked into the future, giving us 10 gear trends to watch out for in 2017.

For anyone who attended the Summer Outdoor Retailer convention a few weeks back, most of these trends won't come as much of a surprise. Walking the halls of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah, it was clear where the industry is headed. But, those same trends aren't quite as clear to the outside observer who wasn't lucky enough to see all of the major outdoor brands collected under one roof.

So what can we expect from our gear in 2017? I won't spoil the entire list, but there are certainly a few items that are worth mentioning. For instance, there is definitely a concerted effort in the outdoor industry to make our gear more "green." Companies are searching for ways to use recycled materials for instance, and they are changing the way they manufacture their products so that they use less water and have a decreased impact on the environment. We've seen a few efforts in this direction in the past, but it is really picking up steam now. Over the next few years, those efforts will not only increase dramatically, they'll also become much more common place.

Other trends that Gear Junkie says we should watch for include more sophisticated drones, boots that grip ice better, and performance apparel that will help keep us cooler. The other items on the list are equally intriguing, and definitely reflect the same things I saw at OR.

If you're a gear nerd like me, you'll probably find GJ's list very interesting. The industry is definitely moving forward with some new initiatives and we'll all get the opportunity to benefit from it.

Himalaya Fall 2016: Japanese Climber Nobukazu Kuriki Heading Back to Everest

We're in a bit of a lull in the mountaineering scene right now. Yes, Kilian Jornet is in Tibet and preparing for his speed record attempt on Everest, but for the most part this is the time of year when there is a brief pause between the summer climbing season in Pakistan and the fall climbing season in Nepal and Tibet. Most of the teams that are preparing for a Himalayan summit in the next few months are waiting for the monsoon to subside before heading to the mountains. Once that happens over the next few weeks, we'll begin to see climbers arriving in Kathmandu once again.

In recent years, the fall season in the Himalaya has mostly concentrated on 8000 meter peaks other than Everest. A lot of mountaineers use this time of the year to gain valuable experience ahead of an Everest attempt next spring, so you're more likely to see expeditions to Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, or even Ama Dablam. But, there are still some climbers who will focus on the world's highest peak, most notably Japanese Nobukazu Kuriki.

If that name sounds familiar it is because this fall Kuriki will be making his sixth attempt on Everest, once again looking to summit solo and without oxygen. He has tried this same feat in the past, and it hasn't always gone well for him. Back in 2012, the Japanese mountaineer ended up getting stranded high on the mountain and head to be rescued, but not before he suffered severe frostbite in his hands and feet. He ended up losing parts of nine fingers in the process.

That hasn't deterred him from attempting Everest however. He climbed on the South Side last year and made a valiant effort before ultimately having to call it quits. This year he'll have a go at the summit from the Tibetan side of the mountain, where he hasn't climbed before. It is unclear whey he decided to make the change, but it could have something to do with Nepal's recently discussed new restrictions, which ban solo climbers altogether.

Kuriki, who is a popular figure back home in Japan, has crowdfunded his latest expedition, easily surpassing his goals to get the money he needs for this climb. He'll now prepare to head back to the Himalaya this fall, most likely sometime in September. That's about when Jornet hopes to be wrapping up his speed attempt, so the two might not even be on the mountain at the same time.

As German adventure sports writer Stefan Nestler points out, there hasn't been a successful fall summit of Everest in nearly six years. That's when Eric Larsen topped out along with five Sherpas as part of the Save the Poles project. Lets hope Kilian and Nobu have more luck this year.

Video: Yosemite Ranger Meets the True Owners of the National Parks

As we edge closer to the 100th anniversary celebration of the National Park Service later this week, this video gives us a good reminder about what those parks are all about. The clip, which comes our way courtesy of NBC News, introduces us to the true owners of these parks – the American people themselves. The national parks have been called "America's Best Idea" and for good reason. Prior to the designation of the world's first national park – Yellowstone – the idea of setting aside lands for the greater good of the public was completely unknown. Now, there are thousands of national parks around the world, with more being created on a regular basis.

Video: Mountain Biking Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming is one of the truly great adventure destinations in the American west. Not only does it offer great skiing and snowboarding in the winter, there are plenty of trails to hike and ride during the rest of the year as well. In this video we travel to Jackson with pro mountain bikers Curtis Keene and Jared Graves where they discover some epic singletrack mixed in with the breathtaking scenery that this part of the country is so well known for. Enjoy the video, but be warned: You're probably going to want to ride these trails yourself.

Gear Closet: Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Hiking Shoes

A couple of weeks back I took a look at the new Altra Superior 2.0 trail running shoes, and found them to be an excellent choice for runners. At the time I mentioned that I was testing another pair of shoes from the company as well, and was eager to put them through their paces. Last week while visiting Quebec I had the opportunity to do just that, and ended up coming away just as impressed.

This time out I was testing the new Altra Lone Peak 3.0 NeoShell Mid, a hybrid shoe of sorts that blends the best elements of a trail runner with a lightweight hiker. It features Altra's proprietary Foot Shape technology that allows for more room in the toe box for a more natural fit, and its Abound materials that allow energy to return to the foot when walking. They also have a zero-drop sole that allows both the forefoot and heel to strike the ground at the same time, which encourages better form throughout the length of your run or hike.

This being the "mid" version of the original Lone Peak shoe it comes with more ankle support built-in. This not only comes in handy when hiking demanding trails, it also gives the shoe a look that more resembles a hiking boot as well. Since I was using them more in that capacity rather than as trail runners, I appreciated the extra support, even on routes that weren't especially demanding.

When compared to other hiking shoes, the Lone Peak 3.0 Mid is extremely lightweight, tipping the scale at just 10 ounces (283 grams). That made them extremely easy to pack for my Canadian adventure, and helped to reduce fatigue when wearing them for extended periods of time, both on the trail and walking around town. In fact, I'd say that these shoes are more on par weight-wise with the trail running shoes I wear from other companies, rather than most hiking shoes. In other words, if you're in the market for a new pair of hikers and are looking to shave off some ounces, this just might be the shoe you've been looking for.


In terms of comfort, the Lone Peak feels more this a sneaker than a hiking shoe as well. They are very comfortable on your feet while still managing to provide a high level of support in all the areas you need it – most notably the arch, ankle, and footbed. I will say that my feet did get a bit warm at times thanks to the Polartech fabrics used in their construction, but not so much that they were actually uncomfortable. My feet tend to run warm most of the time anyway, so this wasn't completely surprising considering they were being worn on a summer hike.

The other important factor for a trail running or hiking shoe is traction on a variety of surfaces, and the Lone Peak doesn't disappoint here either. It uses Altra's new MaxTrac outsole and TrailClaw lugs to keep you sure footed even on rocks, mud, water, and fine dirt. I suspect they'd be fine on snow – and to a lesser extent ice – as well, although I haven't had the opportunity to test them in that environment just yet.

If there is one complaint I have about these shoes it is a minor one. They can be a bit tough to get on at first, as they have a narrow opening that can be difficult to slide your foot into without taking the laces out of the first few eyelets. The more I wore them however, the easier they were to get on my feet, in part because they started to loosen up some, and because I also learned the best way to get them into place. Still, I was put off by this at the beginning, so it is important to point out. Your first foray with these shoes may have similar results, so don't write them off based on that first impression.

That said, these are one of the more comfortable pairs of shoes that I've had the opportunity to try out in a long time. I really love the wide toe box that gives my feet plenty of room, and I appreciated the amount of cushioning and support that they provide too. On top of that, they are super versatile, transitioning from trail to town without missing a beat. I even wore them on a 35 mile bike ride and came away feeling great too. That makes them a nice set of footwear to have in your closet and a great choice for travelers too.

Priced at $160, these are the perfect shoes for fast packers, lightweight backpackers, trail runners looking for some extra ankle support, or hikers who just want a lightweight, yet durable option. Buy them now at CampSaver.