At Backcountry Treks, we really have never dabbled in the professional or serious uses of axes.  Although, the axe toss has been won a few times by Cally and Tyson up in the Thompson Pass parking lot in Alaska.  Tyson’s experience of using an axe is made up of the axe toss game and the year we lived in a house with a wood-burning stove.  We didn’t pay for the electric baseboard heat, so Tyson ended up chopping a lot of wood.  Eight cords to be exact.

Without knowing much about the technology that goes into the build and design of an axe, we were in awe of how beautiful the Wetterlings Axes looked at the OR show.  After admiring them for a few minutes, Julia, an axe expert, took the time to explain the effort and thought that went into a Wetterlings axe. She soon explained that the Bushman Axe was the perfect, all-around, lightweight axe.

There are some basic features to this axe that anyone would enjoy and benefit from. First of all, the quality of this axe is absolutely incredible and so obvious to the eye and to the touch.  The sheath alone is designed carefully and with high quality and durable leather to ensure protection for years to come. I forgot to mention that Wetterlings has been hand-crafting Axes in Sweden for over one hundred years.  They are the oldest and most traditional axe manufactures around today (made by real people).  So needless to say, they know what they are doing.

Les Shroud, the famous surviorman, collaborated with Wetterlings to create the ultimate tool.  Wetterlings manufacturing skill combined with Shroud’s wilderness experience ensures amazing features in this piece.   It’s weight, 2.45 pounds, makes it easy to add this axe to your backpacking gear list.  It’s large enough to use with two hands, but small enough to use with one hand.  The design of the Bushman Axe also includes an inlet in the blade where one can hold their hand for delicate and detailed work.  The versatility of this axe is incredible and ensures that you’ll need one tool for all work.  This sentence explains it perfectly: “an axe that is versatile enough for chopping, splitting, hammering and carving, but light enough to be carried long distances.”

If you want to become a genuine bushman, have the right tools when you go into the backcountry, or simply want to impress your houseguests with a beautiful axe, this is the one for you.  The Bushman axe is versatile and built with amazing quality and experience.

Links

The Bushman Axe By Wetterlings

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When I am out and about I to want to look nice and still be able to move and function. I have a lovely felt peacoat that looks nice but it restricts my movement so I never want to wear it. It’s a bummer because then I am left with a sweatshirt or fleece that collects dog fur.

This is where the Bettona Denim Jacket comes in. It is beautiful, makes me feel good and I can move and be athletic. I have ridden a unicycle in it, walked, reached up high on shelves (which seems lame but I dare you to try it in a peacoat, good luck). To look nice, be warm and move is a luxury and in this case luxury is called the Bettona Denim Jacket.

Athleta

Athleta Bettona Denim Jacket

Links

Athleta Bettona Denim Jacket

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We’ve already raved on how much we love the style, durability, and affordability of Optic Nerve‘s current line of men’s sunglasses.  Well, ladies, you can have some too!  They’ve got some super cute women’s glasses out right now including the Clover.  I like the Clover for a few different reasons.  First of all, the square and medium shape is perfect for a medium sized face.  They are not too large or goofy looking.  I got the Shiny Driftwood Ocean color and I think it’s great.  It’s not too flashy but it’s not just plain glossy black like most light weight and durable women’s sunglasses.

That brings me to my next point.  The durability is incredible.  I’ve bought sunglasses for $100 plus (yes, I know kind of ridiculous) and was scared to put them on my face.  Not that they were fragile but if anything ever happened to them I’d be upset and out $100.  You can literally, as done in the video, bend these things.  And they will not break!

Those $100+ sunglasses, they were not even polarized.  Most people, like myself, would be blown away by the fact that you can get polarized glasses for $65.  UV protection is perhaps the most important reason for wearing shades but let’s be honest ladies, we are concerned about look too.

Between the UV protection, price-point, and durability, these glasses are perfect for my outdoorsy, active lifestyle.  That and the fact that Optic Nerve is a Colorado Native company and let’s be honest, I’m a little bit biased about supporting CO born companies!

Links

The Clover

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I haven’t had a new CamelBak in years.  I remember 10 years ago when I had to have one, because they were the cool thing to have when you’re out hiking around.  They weren’t just the cool thing though, they made sense.  It became so easy to stay hydrated when you’re outside doing the things you love.  It also became easier to pack for a day trip.  Now that I’ve had a chance to try out a couple of the newer design CamelBak’s I’m thoroughly impressed and will soon find myself using nothing but them when I’m hiking or biking.  Usually when I’m in the backcountry on my skis I’m wearing an Avalanche Airbag backpack.  Taking a day trip to a hut secluded in the Southwestern Colorado mountains, I found myself using the Phantom (coming Fall of 2014).  It was the perfect pack for the day.

I really like the new packs for a couple of reasons.  The first thing, and it may seem minute and ridiculous, is the fact that for every strap, CamelBak has provided you with an elastic containment strap.  Once tightened and adjusted correctly, tuck the straps through the elastic and they are out of the way the rest of the day.  So simple, but will make or break how much I love a pack! Another amazing feature is the fact that the largest pocket zips down almost the entire length of the pack.  No more losing stuff in the pack or forgetting what you brought on your trip.  It makes for very organized packing and unpacking.

This particular pack includes a 3 liter water reservoir that is housed in an all new designed lumbar compartment. Overall, the pack’s size is right at 20 liters which is large enough to fit daily necessities, extra layers, food, etc. but not so big that you will have empty space or a load too heavy.

The Lumbar reservoir is absolutely amazing!  I’ve always loved having the majority of the weight on my hips, who doesn’t, and now with the lumbar reservoir I can ensure the water weight will be supported by my strong hips and not my weak, easily tired shoulders.  Plus, the release system and the ease of getting in and out of the storage pouch makes it that much better.  The easy release system is brilliant because now you just unlatch your reservoir, fill it up, latch it back in, zip the pocket back up and you’re ready to go.  No more hose and reservoir hassle!

I talked in the video about ways in which you can assemble your skis or snowboard to the pack, and it’s great that CamelBak decided to give you options.  Choose a-frame or diagonal for your skis or vertical for your snowboard. Also, the front snowboard straps are great for an extra layer or extra gear.

Going from this pack and then back to my Avy pack is really depressing for me.  These packs have so many useful and beneficial options for the ski/snowboard enthusiast.  My Avy pack was built around the airbag, without much thought in the pack itself.  It is a bummer because I could really use some of CamelBak’s features when I’m high in the backcountry.   Whether you’re in the sidecountry or backcountry, this pack is the perfect solution to carrying all of your daily necessities and more.  It’s comfortable and so very logical.  Thanks CamelBak!

Links

The Phantom by Camelbak

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I was lucky enough to try out two powder skis this year that were both extremely fun, delivering different performance in different environments.  Both Moment and Surface are building some unique and fun shaped skis.  We are not trying to compare the companies in the proceeding review, but to highlight the great features on some different skis that one should look into for their one choice powder ski.  Moment is out of Reno, Nevada, where they produce and manufacture everything in their facility.  Surface is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and while the designs and ideas come from there, their skis are manufactured overseas.

The Deathwish by Moment

The Deathwish is the ultimate one-quiver ski.  They float phenomenally in the powder but because of the unique “Dirty Mustache” rocker, you’ll be able to easily schralp the groomers at the bottom of the hill.  At a resort, I often find myself getting to the back bowls where there is pow and then soon after chopped pow and I stay up there all day.  But when it’s time to leave, I have to ski groomers to the base of the mountain.  From the freshest turns in the morning, to the icy groomers at closing time, these skis prove ultimate performance.  That’s why they’d be a great one-quiver ski.  If you ski park a ton, maybe not.  For someone that goes out and has a great time on the groomers and loves the powder days, these skis will make you love your turns even more.

The Dirty Mustache Rocker defines this ski and the unique shape Moment uses.  With rocker at the tip and tail, the dirty mustache shape comes into play with the overall camber and then two sections of micro camber in front of and behind the binding.  While this shape is sweet and the name sweeter, there is a reason for the shape of the ski.  The camber and rocker ensure float on top of the powder while the micro camber guarantees edge pressure and pop. Still not sure about the shape? Well, this ski has won four industry awards and is here to stay.

The performance of the ski is outstanding, solid build is evident, and poppy graphics apparent. Moment easily made the ultimate one-quiver ski when they rolled the Deathwish onto the floor.

The New Life by Surface

The New Life skis are, for me personally, used for totally different applications than what I use my Moments for.  These are the ultimate deep powder, sled skiing, fresh lines all day, kind of ski.  They are big. No, they are huge.  I decided to get the longest size made (194cm) because I knew that whenever I’d be on these it’d be deep powder.  I also knew the weight would be up a little bit but since I ordered these with the sled ski role in mind, that didn’t bother me at all.  Not only are these skis huge underfoot at 122cm, the tip and tail, which are perfectly symmetrical, are 151mm.

I boast the size of these skis because it makes for a fun and floaty ride in the powder but the shape plays a role in the fun too.  These skis are a pretty stiff ski (8 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the stiffest) which make the drops fun.  The most visibly drastic shape feature of the ski is the rocker.  The 6-degree rocker profile both in the tip and tail give these skis a unique shape.  At first glance, there is no question that these skis are built for the deep.

As I mentioned in the video, these skis would be pretty big to take up to the top via skinning.  If you’ve got a ride for your skis, these will be the perfect skis when you’re at the top of steep and deep fresh lines.

If you can or need or want, it’s always great to have different skis for different purposes.  Both Surface and Moment make some great skis for all skier types.  Whether you stay strictly in the backcountry, dabble in the backcountry but mostly ski the resorts, or only ski the resorts, you can surely find a ski for your purpose(s).  Of course, there’s something amazing about those deep powder days and if you’re on the right ski on the right day, you will have the time of your life.

Links

The Deathwish By Moment

The New Life by Surface

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I’m already a huge fan of Kinco’s leather ski gloves and mitts.  In fact, we’ve reviewed both on our site and you can find the mitts here and the gloves here.  They are outstanding and last for a long time.  Probably the most unique feature of Kinco’s products is the fact that these gloves are affordable.  I’ve found that the Lined Cold Weather Gloves (#2051) are made with the same durable and functional features of the gloves and mitts I’ve worn in the past from Kinco.

These fabric gloves are perfect for warmer winter days when you still need waterproofing, warmth, and durability.  Weather you’re working outside, backcountry skiing, or just spending time in cold and wet environments, these gloves will do the trick.  Packed with features like AquaNOT! Waterproof Lining, High Dexterity, Reinforced Material, Spandex Back, Thermal lining, and XtremeGRIP Gripping Power, these gloves actually appear much simpler than they really are.

I think if I were wearing these skiing on a cold day in the dead of winter, my hands would be a little bit chilly.  If I were working outside on the same day, however, these would be perfect. They are going to keep my hands warmer than not wearing gloves but because of the design I would actually be able to work and use my hands as if I were not wearing gloves.

Kinco’s coming out with some really cool products integrating high quality technologies, the outstanding Kinco price, and lasting durability.  Kinco knows that women work hard and play hard too, so they’ve also developed a women’s version of these.  They are called the Women’s WinterPro Lined (#2060W) and include some of the same amazing technologies and features of the men’s gloves! For under $24 a piece, your whole family can have a pair of gloves for the warmer winter days.

Links

Lined Cold Weather Gloves (#2051)

Women’s WinterPro Lined (#2060W)

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