Showing posts with label Trekking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trekking. Show all posts

Missing Trekker Survives 47 Days in the Himalaya

The Himalayan Times has published quite a story of survival. The newspaper is reporting that a trekker who had been missing in the mountains of Nepal has been found after 47 days, although his 19-year old companion has died. The duo were traveling in the Langang region of the country without a guide when they disappeared, leading to what must have been a harrowing month and a half in the wilderness.

21-year old Taiwanese traveler Liang Shang Yuen and his companion Liu Chen Chun had come to Nepal to trek in the mountains there. On February 21, they had gained the permits necessary to enter Langtang National Park, and were part of a home stay program for three days in early March, before setting off on the next phase of their trip. Unfortunately, heavy snow set in and the duo hadn't been seen since.

According to the story, it seems that the two young men took refuge in a cave, and may have gotten disoriented and lost. Over time, they ran out of food and were surviving just on drinking water, while they waited for rescue.

Search and rescue teams spotted Liang a few days back laying unconscious on the banks of a river. The body of Liu was nearby, with rescuers saying they believed that both travelers had fallen from a cliff. Liang is understandably in poor condition, but has been airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment. His family will be arriving there from Taiwan tomorrow.

At the moment, the young man can't recall much of what has happened over the past 47 days. His story is likely to be quite a tale of survive however, as it isn't easy to live in the mountains without food for so long. It must have been quite the ordeal to say the least. Thankfully, at least one of the trekkers was found alive and he'll be going home soon.

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.

Want to Take Part in A Groundbreaking Study on Kilimanjaro This Year?

Kilimanjaro is one of the most alluring challenges for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers from around the globe. Each year, thousands flock to its slopes in an effort to reach its lofty summit – the highest in Africa at 5895 meters (19,341 ft). But, many of those climbers never make it to the top, and some even experience serious health issues along the way. There are even a surprisingly high number of deaths not he mountain each and every year, usually due to complications with altitude.

This year, a the University Hospital of Gießen and Marburg in Germany is conducting a study of how our bodies react to altitude in an effort to learn about how to threat this suffering from altitude sickness. To do that, researchers are looking for 25 people to participate in a study that will take place on Kilimanjaro this September. But, the study isn't looking for just your average trekker. Instead, they would like to find mountain bikers or mountain runners who are willing to join them on the mountain and consent to being tested throughout the climb.

The Kilimanjaro Summit Challenge will take place from September 24 through October 1, and will begin with a three-day training camp prior to the start of the climb. This will allow participants to acclimatize to the altitude and for the researchers to study how the altitude is impacting their bodies.

Rainer Braehler, who is organizing the event, tells adventure sports journalist Stefan Nestler "Up to now, pursing sport seriously on a mountain like Kilimanjaro was a dream limited to just a few elite athletes,but with this study, ambitious amateur athletes can now test their limits at very high altitudes – with the reassurance of full medical supervision.”

If you think you'd be interested in joining the study, you can find all of the information you need, including price, dates, and full agenda, and how to apply by clicking here. Not only will you be going on an adventure of a lifetime, you'll also be helping science find ways to help us be more efficient at altitude. 

Outside Shares the 7 Best New Trails in the U.S.

Now that spring is here, I'm sure that many of you are ready to get back out on the trail and resume hiking after taking a break for the winter. But if the same old local trails aren't inspiring you to lace up your boots, than perhaps Outside magazine can help. They recently posted an article that lists the 7 best new trails in the U.S., providing some good suggestions for alternative places to explore on foot.

The seven new trails can be found in places as diverse as California, New York, and even Austin, Texas where a new 30-mile (48 km) urban route is starting to take shape. Other options on Outside's list include the Captain Ahab Trail in Moab, Utah; the Wild Rogue Loop in Oregon, and the Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado.

No matter what kind of trail you like to explore, chances are you'll find something that will spark your interest here. For example, the Colorado route mentioned above takes trekkers to the top of one of the state's famous 14ers, while the Captain Ahab is built specifically with mountain bikers in mind and reportedly features some epic downhill. The trails vary in length greatly from as few as 4 miles to as much as 750 depending on which one you choose, although most are considerably shorter than that.

Since most of these trails are almost completely new, some of them are not entirely complete yet. That means you can probably expect some rough spots along the way but also less traffic as well. Chances are, some of these will be almost completely empty depending on when you go.

If you're ready for some inspiration to help you get started on a new adventure this year, this article can help. Check out all of the trial options by clicking 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.

Gear Closet: Garmont 9.81 Speed III Light Hiking Shoes

Looking for some new hiking shoes as spring starts to inch a bit closer? Looking for something lightweight, but stable, that can offer plenty of protection for your feet? If so, then the Garmont 9.81 Speed III hiking shoe just might be what you're looking for. Recently, I've had the chance to give these shoes a go, and now find myself wearing them almost daily. Although, I wasn't sure that would be the case when I first put them on.

While I had met with Garmont over the past couple of summer Outdoor Retailer shows, this was the first time I'd actually gotten the chance to test a pair of their shoes. I always liked the style and design the company's boots displayed, but good looks don't always translate into a comfortable fit. Still, I was very intrigued with what I saw, and was eager to put them to the test. So, when my test pair of the 9.81 Speed III arrived, I eagerly put them on to get a feel for what they were actually like.

I was immediately impressed with how good they felt on my feet. The polymer heel inserts and EVA midsole gave the shoe a stiff – but comfortable – ride that offered a solid level of protection without much bulk. The wide toe-box was great too, especially when wearing a thicker sock, while the mesh upper was durable and breathable at the same time. The 9.81 Speed III felt a bit like a nice cross-over shoe, straddling the line between a trail runner and a light hiker. For my money, that's not a bad space to fill.

But then, I started to walk around in them and my perception of the shoes soon changed. You see, while I really liked they way they looked and felt, as I wore them around the house and while taking the dog for a walk, I started to notice that the shoes were rubbing against my ankle, creating a bit of a hot spot. I soldiered through, keeping them on my feet for a few hours, before giving up and reverting to something in my closet that wasn't causing me pain.


To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I really wanted to like these shoes, but for some reason they were consistently rubbing my ankles, causing them to become quite sore. Thankfully, no blisters actually developed, but it was annoying and painful to say the least. Still, I was determined to give the 9.81 Speed another chance, so over the course of the next few days I wore them several more times, for shorter periods while wearing socks that were a bit thicker around the ankle. Gradually, the shoes started to loosen up a bit, and over time the rubbing on my ankles lessened. Now, it's to the point that I don't have the same issue any longer.

Regarding this issue I would say two things. First, everyone's feet are different, so it is entirely possible that you could put these shoes on and never experience the same level of discomfort that I did. My ankles just might be shaped in such a way as that they were not immediately compatible with Garmont's light hiker. The other thing to keep in mind is that every shoe requires a bit of a break-in period, and for these it took a few days to get them just right. Now, they feel great with no hot spots whatsoever.

In addition to being very comfortable to wear, the 9.81 Speed IIIs also offer a nice level of traction on a variety of surfaces. Garmont has equipped them with a Vibram Fast Trail outsole that is designed to allow the wearer to move quickly and agilely on mud, dirt, sand, and even light snow. These shoes perform well in both wet and dry conditions, and even though they aren't advertised as being waterproof, I found that my feet stayed dry in pretty much everything short of dunking them in a stream, and even then I wouldn't be surprised if they came out just fine.

As I mentioned, this was my first go around with a shoe from Garmont, and ultimately I came away quite impressed. They are very comfortable to wear, provide a nice level of stability, and seem extremely durable so far. In fact, other than being scuffed up with dirt from the trail, they still look brand new and fresh from the box, even though I've been wearing them a lot over the past couple of weeks. During that time, I've found them to be an excellent walking shoe, both on and off the trail. Garmont says that these shoes were designed for fast hiking, subalpine trekking, and Nordic walking, all of which I think they would be excellent for. I also think they'd make a good approach shoe for those who like to move light and fast, although they are a bit heavy for pure trail running.

Priced at $140, I see the 9.81 Speed III shoe as an affordable and versatile option for use in a variety of outdoor activities and settings. The fact that they happen to look good is a nice bonus too. Find out more at GarmontNorthAmerica.com.

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.

Belgian Explorer wins European Adventurer of the Year

Last week, the award for European Adventurer of the Year was announced and I'm happy to say it went to someone whose expeditions we have covered many times here at The Adventure Blog. The award, which was handed out at the ISPO sports show in Munich, was given to our friend Louis-Philippe Loncke for his solo treks across some of the most challenging deserts in the world.

The award has been given out every year since 2009, and past winners have included the likes of mountaineer Simone Moro, Amazon walker Ed Stafford, high-altitude skydiver Felix Baumgartner, and mountain runner Kilian Jornet, amongst others. The awards is given to "a person for outstanding performance in the concept of adventure. The purpose of this award is to clarify the adventure as a phenomenon and highlight the human desire and motivation to implement and achieve their dreams."

Loncke embodied this concept by taking on his Three Deserts Challenge, which involved trekking solo and unassisted across the Simpson Desert in Australia, Death Valley in the U.S., and the Salt Flats of Bolivia. To do this, he carries an extremely heavy pack filled with all of the water and supplies that he needs to trek for days in environments that are hostile to life. After years of perfecting his strategies for surviving in these desert places, he has now been able to accomplish multiple long distance treks that have never been done before.

According to a press release announcing the awards, Lou-Phi has plenty of plans on where to go next. He is reportedly contemplating solo crossings of the Namib and Atacama Deserts, as well as trekking across Iceland and Antarctica too.

Congrats to Louis-Philippe on receiving this honor. It is well deserved my friend.

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.

British Adventurer to Walk the Length of Japan for Charity

At the end of February, British adventurer and photographer Richard Dunwoody will embark on a major undertaking as he sets out to walk the entire length of Japan from south to north. The expedition will see him traveling completely unsupported as he seeks to raise funds for charity.

Dunwoody, who has previously skied to both the North and South Pole, will cover more than 2000 miles (3218 km) as he treks across Japan's three largest islands – Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido. The plan is to cover somewhere between 20-30 miles (32-48 km) per day, while spending most nights camping out. The journey should take a little more than three months to complete.

The plan is to set out form Cape Data on February 27 and continue moving north to the furthest point on Hokkaido, a point he hopes to reach by early June. Throughout the trip, Dunwoody – who is also a former champion jockey – will share photos and stories from the road. While most of the journey will be done solo, Richard does hope that some friends will join him throughout the hike as well.

In the past, Dunwoody has raised more than £250,000 ($312,000) for a variety of charities through his adventurous activities. This time out, he's hoping to raise funs for the Sarcoma UK, a nonprofit that provides support for individuals suffering with these forms of cancer. Richard's nephew George has been battling the disease for the past few years, and has undergone a number of therapies in an effort to overcome it. He is just 21 years old, and represented the U.K. Junior World Rowing Championships back in 2014 before taking ill.

If you want to give to the cause, you'll find a Just Giving page has been set up here. The goal is to raise £25,000 and every contribution counts. You can follow Richard's progress through social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

30 Scary Trails From Around the World

We all know that there are some truly difficult and downright scary trails to be hiked in just about every corner of the globe. Some climb straight up sheer cliff faces, while others are twisty mazes that are surprisingly easy to get lost in. Some, straddle a line along a narrow knife-edge ride, while the rare trail combines all of these elements into a single adrenaline-inducing experience that no one who ever hikes it can forget.

I'm sure we all know a few trails that match that description, but if you happen to be looking to add a couple more to your collection, Active Junky has quite a list for you. They've compiled a list of 30 terrifying trails, and have included some amazing pictures to back up their claims.

Some of the trails that have earned a spot on this dubious list include the Narrows on Longs Peak in Colorado, the Half Dome Route in Yosemite, and Rover Run, which gets the nod do to the frequent bear activity that occurs around the route. Unsurprisingly, the via ferattas of Italy also make the cut, as does Aokigahara, Japan with a trail that passes through the "suicide forest."

This is just the tip of the iceberg however, and there are plenty of other weird, wild, and down-right scary trails to learn about from this list/slideshow. If you're looking for some suggestions on where to hike some freaky trails, Active Junky definitely has you covered. Check out the full list, and start planning your treks, by clicking here.

Backpacker Maps America's Best Long Distance Hiking Trails

Everyone knows about the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and even the Continental Divide Trail, but did you know there are a number of other great long-distance hiking routes in the U.S.? In fact, there are numerous other options for those who like to trek for days on end, covering hundreds – if not thousands – of miles in the process. And now, thanks to Backpacker magazine, we have a comprehensive map of the very best of them.

The map, which you can view in its larger format by clicking here, shows dozens of different trails scattered across the entire U.S., many of which most of us probably aren't all that aware of. For instance, did you know that there is a Centennial Trail that stretches for 111 miles (178 km) through South Dakota? Or that the Buckeye Trail covers 1445 miles (2325 km) on a circuit through Ohio? Heck, there is even a Florida Trail that stretches for 1400 miles (2253 km) across the entire length of the state, including the panhandle.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of course, as there are plenty more interesting long-distance hiking routes all over the U.S., stretching from one coast to the other. That includes the American Discovery Trail, which literally does just that, covering some 6800 miles (10,943 km) in the process. The point is, no matter where you live, chances are there is an epic trek to be had somewhere near by, and Backpacker wants to help you find it. This map is a great place to start.

As the magazine also points out, these trails wouldn't exist if it weren't for the tireless efforts of dedicated volunteers and conservation advocates all over the country. We get to reap the benefits of their hard work, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. Hopefully in the years to come, there will be even more impressive trails to add to this map.

Pursuing a Speed Record on the Hardest Mountain Trek in the World

A few months back, a team of endurance athletes set out to Bhutan to attempt to set a new speed record for trail running along the Snowman Trek, largely considered to be one of the toughest trekking routes in the entire world. The goal was to complete the entire route in less than 14 days – fave days faster than the previously best known time. Along the way they faced tough trails, lots of altitude gain and lost, the thin air of the mountains, altitude sickness, brutal weather conditions, and more. Now, a few months after the expedition wrapped up, National Geographic Adventure has the story of this daring adventure in the High Himalaya.

The team that set out to run the length of the Snowman Trek consisted of endurance athletes Ben Clark, Anna Frost, Tim Olson, and Chris Ord. They had a support team with them as well to help carry gear and supplies, but even getting a group of locals to help with the logistics was a challenge. No one wanted to join the team, as all of the experienced guides in Bhutan thought that their plan was impossible to complete in the time that they had set for themselves. The original trek leaders and support crew quit right before the team was preparing to embark on their quest, leaving them scrambling to find others who were at least willing to try.

But the finally did get underway, and the details of their story are fascinating and at times harrowing. I don't want to spoil too many of the details, as the Nat Geo story – written by veteran endurance athlete Mat Hart – is incredibly well done. I will say this however, the group did manage to set a new speed record on the Snowman, and in the process redefined what can be done on that intensely demanding route.

Read the entire story here. It is a good one, and well worth a look. I'll be thinking about this group of runners when I set out for my own nightly run later today.

Video: Climbing Kilimanjaro with a Drone

Want to get a great look at what it is like to climb Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak? Take a look at this video, which comes our way courtesy of Madison Mountaineering. It follows a group of trekkers as they go up the mountain, capturing some outstanding footage with a drone as they go. The group took the Machame Route, which is one of the most popular paths to the summit, and along the way they had some amazing views of the mountain and the surrounding landscape.

Belgian Adventurer Becomes First to Traverse Bolivian Salars on Foot

I'm a little late in posting this story, but better late than never. Back in October, Belgian adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke became the first person to traverse both the Salar de Coipasa and Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia on foot, covering some 250 km (155 miles) in just seven days, completely solo and unassisted.

The Salar de Uyuni is the the largest salt flat in the world, stretching out over 10,582 sq. km (4086 sq. miles) on the Bolivian Altiplano. While smaller, the Salar de Coipasa is no small area of land either, covering 806 sq. km (311 sq. miles). Adding to the challenge was an average altitude of over 3700 meters (12,139 ft) and plenty of rough, dry terrain as well.

This was Loncke's second attempt at crossing the two salars. Back in 2013 he made a similar trek, but had to abandon the attempt six days in due to a lack of water. But since that time, he has crossed both Death Valley and the Simpson Desert in Australia in foot, using the experience he gained in those environments to help him survive this one too. Those expeditions have helped him to perfect the load he carries, which includes enough water to complete the trek, but few other amenities – including no cook stove or communications gear.

While trekking in Bolivia, Loncke spent about 14 hours a day on the trail. He'd walk from 6 AM to 8 AM most days. Temperatures ranged from 0ºC (32ºF) at night, to 19ºC (66ºF) during the day. But, because of the altitude, thin air, and the reflection of the sun off of the salar, the temperatures typically felt more lie 40ºC (104ºF). Add in winds that regularly approached 60 km/h (37 mph), and you start to have weather conditions that can be very taxing on both the body and mind.


The Belgian adventurer's approach to crossing deserts has evolved considerably over the years. On past expeditions, he would often employ a specially built cart that would carry all of his gear and supplies, including water. But, that cart was often very heavy and ponderous to use, so instead he now carries everything in a backpack. That pack starts off quite heavy, as it is filled with lots of liquids, but as he consumes food and water over the course of the trek, it lightens up considerably, allowing him to go faster. At the start of the salar crossing, the pack weighed in at 43kg (95 pounds). That's a tremendous amount of weight to have strapped to your back, and a big reason why he only managed about 2 km/hr (1.2 mph) at the start of the trek.

This expedition was the third in an epic year of travels on foot through major desert. In November of 2015 he completed the Death Valley crossing and in August of this year he wrapped up the Simpson Desert. It also mores the confusion of 10 years of adventures, with 15 total expeditions, and 10 world firsts. Loncke isn't sure what will come next however, as he has a number of idea, but also plans to write a book or two, and work on documentaries of his previous journeys.

Whatever comes next, I'm sure it'll be adventurous and interesting.

Gear Closet: CamelBak Franconia LR 24 Backpack

When it comes to staying hydrated on the trail, CamelBak pretty much wrote the book on it. After all, it was that company that first introduced the concept of the hydration pack way back in 1989 when founder and cyclist Michael Eidson was searching for ways to easily take on fluids while in the midst of a race. His humble designs have evolved greatly over the years, becoming lighter, more efficient, and more durable too. Today, CamelBak has diversified its catalog in a number of different directions, and yet it still continues to look for new ways to improve the product that first launched the brand more than 25 years ago.

One of its latest creations is the new Franconia LR 24 backpack, which just began shipping this fall. This bag is designed for hikers who want to be able to carry everything they need with them on the trail, and of course need to stay hydrated while they are out there. As such, it has a number of excellent touches that make it an outstanding option for trekkers and day-hikers, as it provides ample amount of storage space and is comfortable to wear, even when it loaded down with a lot of cargo.

The Franconia is the first pack in CamelBak's line-up to use its new Crux LR hydration reservoir. Completely redesigned to make hydration easier than ever, it delivers 20% more water per sip than previous models. This translate to getting more water while staying active, and speaking as someone who has used CamelBak packs for years, I can tell you that it is a noticeable difference when taking a drink. The idea is that over the course of the day, you'll have more water intake in general, keeping you better hydrated as a result.

The Crux also features a wide cap that helps you to fill it much more quickly and easily, as well as a built in handle for carrying it around and getting it slid into place. The Franconia has a special hydration bladder compartment that is designed to hold the Crux nicely, without taking away storage space from the interior of the bag. The bladder also sits lower on your back as well, creating more stability while hiking and making it more comfortable to carry. There are even integrated reservoir compression cinches that reduce the movement of the bladder both when it is full and as you drink from it. Those cinches can be adjusted on the fly as you hike too.


In terms of a hiking pack, the Franconia is very nicely designed. It features 24 liters of internal storage space, as well as a number of organizational pockets and stashes too. This helps to keep all of your important gear well organized easy to find, while providing a lot of cargo space for hauling everything you need with you out on the trail. I've stuffed the pack to the gills with camera equipment, food, extra clothing, a headlamp, and a variety of other necessities, and it swallowed everything up nicely. And that was after I had already filled the Crux LR reservoir with water.

Better yet, the pack's suspension system, ventilated back panel, and well-designed hipbelt all make carrying a full load much easier and more comfortable. There are a variety of load lifters, compression straps, and other fine adjustments that can be made to help the wearer dial in just the right fit. The result is a daypack that not only carries everything you throw at it, but keeps you hydrated and comfortable on the trail too.

Other nice touches include trekking pole and tool loops, a magnetic tube trap to keep the bite valve securely in place, and twin bottle holders for when the Cruz hydration bladder simply isn't enough. All of those pieces add to an already excellent product, and hikers are sure to be happy to see those small details were included.

Over the past few years, CamelBak has focused mainly on other markets rather than hiking. They've added more bottles to their line-up, and have revamped its running and mountain biking lines. The Franconia is a nice return to the general outdoor market however, as it is a bag that can be used in a number of different ways, although it certainly excels at its primary focus – hiking. I am personally impressed with how much care and attention went into making this pack, which is durable and well built. It doesn't seem as if CamelBak has missed any details when creating the Franconia, and it even has some features you might only expect on a larger pack designed for longer hikes or backpacking trips in the backcountry.

That said, this pack is a bit on the hefty side when it comes to weight. It tips the scales at 2 lb. 10 oz. (1.2 kg), which is heavier than most other competing daypacks. The Franconia makes up for this added weight in durability and comfort, but anyone who is looking to travel light will probably want to consider other options, some of which will come in at half the weight of this pack.

On the other hand, if you don't mind a bit of extra bulk, the Franconia is a fine pack that you're likely to love. It does have a comfortable fit and ride, and offers a lot of features as well. The new Crux LR reservoir is included for instance, and its load carrying capabilities for fantastic too. Throw in a nice suspension system with a ventilated back panel, and plenty of options for getting the proper fit, and you end up with a product that delivers nicely on most people's needs. And at $160 is is well priced for everything that it delivers too. Sure, there are less expensive packs out on the market, but not many of them deliver everything that this one does.

Find out more at CamelBak.com. For now, the Franconia LR 24 backpack is only available at REI. That will change in January of 2017 however, when it will be sold in other outlets as well.


19 Facts About Mt. Kilimanjaro - The Highest Peak in Africa

As the tallest peak in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro always draws a lot of attention from trekkers and climbers alike. Many travel to Tanzania to nab one of the Seven Summits, while others are lured by the challenge that comes along with hiking to the iconic "Roof of Africa." But no matter what reason you have for going, it is truly an adventure of a lifetime, and one that will leave a lasting impression for sure.

With that in mind, a blog called Altitude Treks has posted an article listing 19 Kilimanjaro Facts that offers some interesting insights into the mountain. Whether you've been there in the past, are planning in the future, or just want to know more about this amazing place, you're likely to learn something that you didn't know before about Kili. 

I've to the mountain twice, and have written about it many times, and I still learned a few things from the story. For instance, the article goes into detail about the various climate zones you'll pass through on the way to the summit, which total five in all. It also offers insights into the history of the mountain, including some of the earliest attempts to climb it. You'll also learn about the East African Mountain Club, which led early expeditions to the summit, and find out who the oldest and youngest summiteers are. You'll discover how the mountain got its name, why certain areas on its slopes have their own monikers, and even gain insights into the death rate on the mountain. According to the story, about 5-15 people die on Kili each year, with 2-3 of them being visitors and the rest porters. That number is relatively small when you consider thousands attempt the climb in any given year, with about 60% of those making it to the summit.

If you're a previous Kili climber or have a trek to the mountain on your bucket list, you'll want to give this article a look. It is fairly long, but a very interesting read for those of us who love this mountain. You can check it out by clicking here

And thanks to Clare Groom for sharing the story. 


Video: Trekking to Mt. Roraima in South America

At just 2810 meters (9220 ft.) in height, Mont Roraima isn't even close to being the tallest mountain in South America. Still, it is quite an adventure to get to its table-top summit, which rises above the lush forest below. At the top, there is an ecosystem unlike what is found nearby, including some species of animals that aren't seen anywhere else on Earth. In this video, we make the trek along with some other adventure travelers to explore a place that was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. This part of the world remains beautiful and largely untouched, and is on my bucket list of places I'd like to visit myself at some point. For now, I'l have to settle for this video like everyone else.

DRONE DA MONTANHA - MONTE RORAIMA from DRONE DA MONTANHA on Vimeo.

Reminder: Don't Forget to #OptOutside This Friday

We are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., and as such I'll be shutting down the blog over the next couple of days to enjoy some time with friends and family, as I'm sure many of my readers will be doing too. But, before I step away I wanted to remind everyone that Friday of this week is also "Black Friday," that annual ode to consumerism in which many people flock to shopping malls and department stores in search of the ever elusive big sale. But, just like last year, there is an alternative – you can #OptOutside instead!

Last year, gear retailer REI made headlines when it elected to close all of its stores on Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Instead of luring in customers, the company decided to give all of its staff the day off and encouraged them to go outside to pursue the activities they love. They offered the same encouragement to us – their customers – as well.

Needless to say, the promotion was a big success, so REI is doing it again this year. Their stores will be closed – including the website – and the company's employees will once again get the day off. But this year, more than 500 other organizations are joining the #OptOutside campaign, including the national parks and many state parks as well. If you're looking for a place to go to get outdoors, check to see if the parks near you are offering free entrance to celebrate the day.

I'm happy to see that this movement has continued for another year. Hopefully it will become an annual tradition, not just for REI, but other stores as well. Most of all, hopefully it will be a tradition for most of us too. After celebrating Thanksgiving with the family on Thursday, gather them all up for an outdoor adventure on Friday. You won't regret it for sure.

How will you #OptOutside this year?