Welcome to the first of hopefully many interesting,
entertaining, and sometimes useful articles on unique outdoor gear. I have been
a member of the Club Tread community for almost five years and active in the outdoors
most of my life. My passion for backcountry equipment has made me a few useful contacts
in the outdoor industry, which I hope to call upon once in a while. When generously
offered this opportunity to have my own little column on this great site, I couldn't
refuse. Be warned that I am quite opinionated and I have a bias that leans towards
As well as featuring some gear I will be reviewing, I hope to be able to use this
commentary to help answer any mainstream or otherwise questions and suggestions
you are curious about. I may not know the answers but I will do my best to research
what I can. This is a collaborative effort so I am asking you, the Club Tread community,
to please help by emailing your questions or suggestions for topics to
A Minty Blast from the Past
Romney's Kendal Mint Cakes are a predecessor to the energy bar and are still
quite popular locally. I find it a refreshing change from the usual boring, bland
For Optimus Nova stove owners who have been experiencing problems with fuel line
connector couplings and sticking fuel control valve issues. A newly redesigned Powerline
control valve has been added as an extension to the fuel
line on the new Nova + stove. Hopefully it won't be too long before an upgrade kit
is available here in Canada.
Mont-Bell Thermawrap Jacket
If you're looking for something to replace that bulky layer of 200wt fleece with
something that will give you a similar warmth rating in a third the volume and half
the weight, this might be the answer. As a bonus, the Ballistic Airlight nylon shell
on this synthetic jacket is windproof and water-resistant.
Mont-Bell is a Japanese company that specializes in lightweight alpine gear. Mont-Bell
is also a very popular brand amongst the adventure racing crowd. The jacket I have
been using, is a basic liner jacket with a microfleece lined collar, no external
pockets, and very little loft despite its insulating power for ~ $140 US. The newest
version comes with two hand warmer pockets. I have been wearing a Thermawrap Jacket
for the past year and don't regret benching my old and faithful Marmot DriClime
Windshirt in the least. My jacket is size XL, 288g. There are also a matching Thermawrap
pants but they are very hard to find as they appear to be currently sold out everywhere.
Hint: After you have trimmed weight from your "big three" (Pack, Shelter,
& Sleeping bag), look to your clothing as the next logical step.
Some Reviews Will Be Negative
I don't know about you but I hate magazines, which consistently put out only positive
reviews. Well I'm not afraid to let you know when I have found a piece of gear that
has not performed to my expectations. Here is an example, the Vargo Triad XE Titanium
I am an ultra-lite hiking practitioner not only in gear but in practice as well.
The appeal of the Vargo Triad XE to me was its dual-fuel capability as well as its
weight. 40 g.
Hint: Whenever possible, make every piece of gear you carry capable of being
used for more than one purpose.
I often use an Esbit solid fuel stove in the winter and an alcohol burner in the
summer. I also carry a solid fuel tab for when conditions are too cold to get the
alcohol to burn well.
When I received this stove, the first thing I did was test it at home. I could not
get two cups of cold tap water to boil no matter what I did and I spent a lot of
time tinkering with the lid of the alcohol burner to get the fuel to vaporize properly.
Despite my failures, I decided to field test the Vargo Traid XE a few weeks ago.
Out of the five times I lit the stove using alcohol fuel, I got 2 cups of water
to boiling twice. It seems to work well enough for lesser volumes.
In Esbit mode, this stove performs well. Although the Vargo Triad XE is built well
with sturdy folding pot supports, I would not recommend this stove over the cheaper
homemade popcan alternatives.