Return Of The Dana!

In the mid-90', Dana Design was the backpack for thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail.  I liked mine so much that I bought a second one two years after my thru-hike despite the steep price of $400+

And Dana Gleason, founder of his namesake Dana Designs, has returned to the market!  After selling his company and watching a series of outdoor companies fumble with a once dominant brand – Dana is back (and so is the Terraplane).

The U.S. Military and U.S. Forest Service “hot shot” fire-fighting crews have been the beneficiary of Dana's skills over the last few years – but the packs are once again available to the public.  There is a great article about this at, and hopefully I can land a N2Backpacking podcast with Dana in the future.  That's how passionate I am about both my Dana backpacks – which after 20+ years I still use to this day!


Preparing for your next hike? Don’t forget these apps!


Hiking is a great physical and leisure activity that can be enjoyed by people of varying fitness levels. Statista documented there is currently 34.38 million active hikers in the U.S. alone, demonstrating the popularity of this outdoor activity as a pastime. But whether you are an experienced hiker that has an impeccable sense of direction and dependable instincts, there are still several mobile apps that you should consider downloading before your next adventure.

Smartphones are the compasses of the 21st century.

Owners and operators of mobile casino brand PocketFruity revealed that there were one billion smartphone users by the end of 2012, a number that’s said to surpass the two billion mark in 2016. The explosion in smartphone accessibility usage is all thanks to the advances in mobile technology, and now that smartphones are equipped with accurate GPS tracking capabilities, hikers can safely make their way through trails without getting lost.

While you’re out there in the wilderness, you’ll need an offline navigation system because being connected to your 3G network will quickly eat up your battery, and it’s not like you’ll find any charging stations throughout your hike, nor will you have access to WiFi. For Android users, BackCountry Navigator PRO GPS provides of good selection U.S. topographical maps for $10. iOS users have a cheaper option with MotionX GPS since it only costs $1, but maps will have to be downloaded prior to the trip.


AllTrails is a free app that will be good addition to your smartphone. It has over 50,000 guides for trails in North America and is the most popular reference for hikers with its more than 1.5 million users. With this app, you’ll be able to find various kinds of trails at different difficulty levels within your proximity. You may also track your own trails and share it friends and other fellow users.

There is a wider selection of hiking apps that will enhance your experience with the great outdoors, but having these apps on your gadget is sufficient enough to turn your hiking trip to an amazing adventure.

REI Alpharetta – Over 800 people waiting in line at 10am

REI opened their 5th store in the Atlanta metro area today in Alpharetta, GA and clearly their marketing folks have figured it out.  There were over 800 people waiting in line at 10am when the doors opened.  

Yeah …. people love free stuff, and REI delivered.  The first 200 in the door received a water bottle with a $25-100 gift card inside.   I opted to head back to work rather than line up as shopper #804.  How in the world did so many people get off work mid-morning on a Friday anyway?  


The Movie Wild And Reece Witherspoon’s Early 90’s Backpacking Look

The filming of the movie Wild has begun, and both Cheryl Strayed and Reese Witherspoon are tweeting photos from the set.  As you recall, the movie is based on Stayed’s best selling book which chronicles her adventures (or mis-adventures) on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995.  The wardrobe team got this one right, because they have Witherspoon decked out in a vintage external frame backpack and old school leather hiking boots (complete with colored laces).

The movie is set to release in 2014 and you can see more photos here.  Is she hiking with a dog in this movie?

Salomon Footwear: The Brand for all Occasions

Salomon Footwear: The Brand for all Occasions

Salomon is a UK based footwear brand that has operated for years, building a strong and loyal consumer base in the process. Renowned for producing a mass range of products to suit every outdoor need, it is also a trailblazing brand that has stood at the forefront of market innovation and technological advancement. Salomon shoes are extremely popular within the consumer market, with the brands choice in hiking, running and trekking footwear particularly well received.  Available at FitnessFootwear

So what is it that distinguishes Salomon branded footwear from other products on the market? Consider the following: –


1. Advanced Design and Manufacturing Principles: In terms of Salomon’s range of trainers and trial running shoes, there is a clear emphasis on advanced design and manufacturing principles. Crafted from durable materials that feature moisture wicking and water resistant design innovations, they guarantee comfort and longevity like no other shoes. They also incorporate soles that can help you to tackle the most difficult terrain, while supporting your feet and lower body muscles.


2. Achieving the Difficult Balance Between Cost and Quality: With an economic decline continuing to pressurise UK households, there is an inclination to cut spending and live a more frugal lifestyle. This leaves consumers facing a difficult choice between cost and quality, as lower value items are often not as reliable as higher priced products. The Salomon brand have strived hard to help you negate this difficult choice, by marketing their superior products at extremely competitive price points.


3. The Choice of Building an Outdoor Footwear Wardrobe: Once you identify a brand of footwear that is comfortable, it is only natural that you should wish to buy all of your shoes from there. This is especially relevant with outdoor footwear, as the variable types of terrain and conditions can cause significant discomfort to your feet if you wear inferior products. The wide and diverse range of outdoor shoes at Salomon enables you to purchase a number of alternative and suitable products, without forcing you to compromise on your budget.

GPS units v’s Smartphone apps

I have used both stand-alone GPS units and Smartphone apps on the trail and have yet to resolve which is better.  For short day hikes – the Smartphone apps win hands down for convenience and their instant access to trail databases from companies like the North Face.  But in the backcountry?  I tend to agree with this assessment by Backpacker Magazine gear editor, Kristin Hostetter:

In a nutshell, here are the pros of using a smartphone with a navigation app: great for local hikes, daily activity mapping like runs and bike rides, perfect for snapping and georeferencing photos on the go. Maps are seamless and less expensive that what you will pay for expensive map packages from the standalone GPS dealers.


And here are the cons: Like with most smartphone, you can’t swipe the Defy with gloves; in direct sunlight the screen washes out; and the BLUR social networking software is a bit intrusive. And let’s face it: if you’re going for a week or more on a backcountry jaunt, you’ll want the convenience of replaceable batteries for your handheld GPS. Solar panel chargers need to pick up the pace to match the development of the phones they hope to power.


I only sporadically use my Smartphone as a GPS in the backcountry, but the software is improving and with some extended battery life – my stand-alone GPS may soon become a thing of the past.

Backpacking Sleeping Pillows w/ Glenn (aka The Helmet)

In this video, Glenn (aka The Helmet) shows us two camping pillows that are compact, lightweight, and suitable for the backcountry.

You can follow this link for more information on backpacking sleeping pillows, or click here for more information on this hike along the Benton MacKaye Trail near the Toccoa River.

Some Advantages of Lightweight Backpacks

As a backpacker, you can travel further and faster by packing lighter with lightweight backpacks. Many who have jumped on the lightweight bandwagon find they can wear light running shoes when carrying a 15 to 30 pound backpack instead of the heavy-duty hiking boots they must wear when carrying the 45 pound plus heavy-duty pack. This means that the backpacker can travel more miles in a shorter period of time and may even equate to a higher safety level. The comfort level is often greater because less weight means you will be less sore at the end of the day.

Traditional backpacking has a few disadvantages that are overcome by using lightweight backpacks. First, when you backpack with heavy equipment, there is less freedom of movement. You can’t simply run off the trail to see what is there because speeding up that much with a heavy pack would be terribly exhausting. If you put down the pack so you can run and see what is over the hill, you leave your equipment behind and have to backtrack to get it.

Carrying heavier gear means that you are more apt to be tired or even exhausted at the end of the day. More sore muscles will be evident and a greater likelihood for such things as blistered feet, knee injuries, sprained ankles or even back problems is possible. With too much weight on the back or the legs, the soreness can cause the camping and backpacking trip to be less fun than it would otherwise be.

Another disadvantage to the traditional heavy backpack is that packing time is often increased. Time must be spent to pack the backpack carefully for proper weight distribution. There is the additional time spent in taking the pack off and putting it on. If you want to quickly reach your adventuring destination, you may really appreciate the benefits of lightweight backpacks when it comes to ease of packing.

Another disadvantage to the traditional heavy pack is when you are caught in a storm. The heavy pack will weigh you down and keep your pace to a minimum as you seek shelter. Another problem may be if an injury occurs, you will be weighed down by your pack as you head toward civilization to get help.

Basically, lightweight backpacks counteract all of the disadvantages of the heavier packs. You have much more freedom of movement because you don’t have a heavy pack weighing you down. You can zip off the trail any time you have a fancy to see something different and head across country without a trail until you meet up with your original trail. If you lose your balance, you are less likely to twist or sprain an ankle because the load on your back weighs less and won’t pull you down as quickly. This means that you won’t have as many aches and pains at the end of the day. The lightweight backpacks are easier on your legs and back and you won’t be as stiff. Getting to your destination faster may mean that you have more time to relax and work out any sore spots before you go to sleep so that you will have a more enjoyable experience.

If you needed to quickly get to civilization because your hiking companion was hurt, your light pack would not slow you down. Basically, using lightweight backpacks can be more comfortable because you will have quite a bit less equipment to haul around. You can find lightweight versions of all the camping gear you like and use, so you won’t have to sacrifice the gear you used for the weight limits of your pack. You will have to be very organized and efficient if you plan to go lightweight backpacking, but it is very enjoyable.

Learn more about Lightweight Backpacks at and find Scout and Outdoor tips and resources at

How to Find Inexpensive Hiking Gear

I love hiking, I love hiking gear and I start getting pretty excited when spring is only a short while away and we can get into our hiking mode with more gusto. Admittedly I am not a lover of winter hiking for more than a day hike so I really look forward to the warmer weather, especially since we live along the Pacific Westcoast.

I don’t love hanging out in malls or shopping endlessly for clothes but put me in a camping, hiking and outdoor store and I feel right at home and my adrenaline starts rushing at the sights of new gear and gadgets. The smell of the latest and greatest, what new pot set has MSR got this year? What are the new features on the Osprey backpacks that mine doesn’t have? Maybe we need more titanium kitchenware?

But the truth is that investing in hiking gear can really add up and add up quickly. Especially brand new gear that’s just been released and you happen to be shopping during peak hiking season. So how can you save some money but still get great gear? Check out these tips for having top notch gear and pay less for them, nothing could be sweeter than that.

Tip #1: Buying Used Gear. There’s nothing like recycling and helping out our environment at the same time. A lot of people buy great gear, hike a few times and give it up or want to trade in their gear for newer hiking equipment. You can find super gear, barely used, in great condition at a fraction of the original price. Places to check for used gear are online with Craigslist in your area, gear swap sites which can often be found through local outdoor stores such as MEC in Canada (I have found great kids gear this way for our family camping and hiking trips) and even the classifieds in your local paper. Also check out the bulletin boards inside your local outdoor store, they are usually filled with people offering to sell their equipment for very little.

A lot of hikers are like me and want the latest and greatest but need to trade in what we already have so selling off gear that isn’t too old helps to justify buying newer gear each year. We’ve also found great gear that we wanted this way and as long as you inspect it for any wear and tear most really good quality gear should last a very long time.

Tip #2: Buy Off Season. Another great reason to head to your outdoor store between hiking seasons if you are a seasonal hiker. The outdoor stores need to clear their inventory after the peak season to make room for the upcoming season’s new models of just about everything. Sometimes the only difference in a backpack or tent may be a colour change or the addition of a zipper but everything else stays the same. You’ll find prices slashed for brand new gear if you search regularly during the off season.

Stores such as MEC and REI sell their gear online as well and you can check weekly for sales, special deals and discounts. It’s a great way to stock up on your favourite pieces of hiking equipment.

Whether you hike year round or only part of the year these two tips will help you save money on some of the best gear you can have. What will you do with the money you save?

Happy Hiking!

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Video: How To Stay Warm in a Sleeping Bag