4 Runner Images

This is my 1995 Toyota 4Runner Limited for sale.  4×4, Tow Package, Leather, CD, Sunroof.  Interior is in fair shape for the age, no major rips/tears in seats.  Less than 150k miles.  I bought this as my 3rd 4Runner thinking I would get it past 275k miles like my previous two did, but head gasket issues and not being able to afford the fix are forcing me to sell.

Interior: Leather, pretty good shape for being 17 years old.

Body:I brought this out from Ohio where they use a lot of salt during winter and 4Runners up until the 96 model have rust issues in areas like that, so the body has some rust.

Engine:  I took the truck into a shop and they ran emissions tests and said that due to some gas in my exhaust they could tell that the head gasket was going bad.  I spoke to them and 2 other shops including a dealership, and the cost for a proper fix is $1800.

The truck runs, but the pressure from a leaky gasket caused a radiator hose on the engine to dislodge.  Once the truck runs for a few minutes you start loosing coolant so I haven’t ran the engine in a while.

I would rate this truck in Good condition other than the engine issues, but take a look at the Blue Book here

I am going based off of the Fair price of $4490 but only asking $1250.  It’s a great truck, I just don’t have the money to fix it up right now.  Currently in the Baker district

If you are still interested please email me your name and number to set up a time to take a look.


Interior is in good shape for being 15 years old

V-6 3.0L engine and not the 4 cylinder 2.4L

Tires have less than 5k miles on them.

Review: YakTrax XTR Extremes

Matt Lacuesta Gear Review: YakTrax XTR Extreme

Click Image for Larger View

Schedules have cleared up and I’ve been able to get out and finally put some miles on the YakTrax XTR Extremes that were sent to me.  I have taken them on frozen creeks and trails that were rocky, icy, and snowy.  According to my GPS they’ve also seen about 6,000′  of elevation gain.

I will start off by saying that these were provided to me for review purposes directly from YakTrax but I will report my findings as accurately as possible and I promise that my opinions are unbiased.

Initial thoughts:

Right away I noticed a few things that were different than similar products on the market.  The carbon steel spikes and chain links are thinner than their counterparts, this will be good for saving weight, but may affect durability.  If I am in terrain that I rely on solid traction to stay safe, then I may not want to put my faith in something that I think may fail at any second.  I also noticed that the front set of spikes is independent of the rear set, this was one thing I knew would affect stability and looked forward to testing it out. These also have an anti-snow balling plate in both the front and rear which seemed like a nice touch and different than its competition.  The use of steel grommets in conjuction with 10 attachment points on each foot show that there should be a good distribution of pressure and shouldn’t see any failure in the rubber strap that wraps around the foot which is advertised to be strong down to -41 degrees Farenheit.

Steep Rocky Terrain

Good traction, and the spikes stayed in place with help from rubber plates against the sole of my boot.  Rubber plates wore very slightly, nothing to worry about for that trip, but I may be worried about how the rubber would hold up in sub zero temps while constantly running over sharp rocks.  The thinner steel spikes held up just fine with no breaks or bends.  I am 195lbs and made this climb with a 45lb pack so there was sufficient weight on the XTR’s.  I enjoy the movement of the front plate under the ball of my foot as it is in two sections which conforms to my foot, but I also view it as a weak point in the design.  If that rubber were to fail, then there will be no tension in either the front or rear section of the front traction system.

Rocky/Icy – steady incline

Having 10 spikes definitely helped me keep my footing in rocky/icy conditions.  The XTR’s did really well on these types of trails and kept me on my feet the entire time.  I’ve taken a number of spills in my day and really value not having a sore elbow or tailbone for a winter backpacking trip.  Again, no breaks or bends on the spikes which I was impressed, but two of the chain links had come apart a bit and I was able to squeeze them back together with my multi tool pliers.  This gave some validity to my thoughts that the thinner steel may create some durability issues.  Though it was an easy fix, if I were to have to continue reclamping these links, over time they would fail.  I would not mind a few extra grams or an ounce or two to use a thicker gauge steel.

These were worn with Keen Summit County insulated boots, as well as Merrell Outbound GTX Mid’s, Merrell Whiteout 8’s, Keen Oregon PCT’s and 2,000 gram insulated Pac Boots.  The large size fit all boots very well and the chains fit snugly in between all the lugs to make for solid stability.  The chains are a bit longer enabling the strap to sit higher on the boots which helps with being able to use them with different size boots, keeping the rubber from coming in contact with rocks, and provides enough “give” to be able to get your fingers in between the strap and the boot to pull up to take some slack out of the chain.Boots I used with the YakTrax XTR Extremes

My only real concerns with the YakTrax XTR Extreme’s are the durability of the chain links and the rubber plates beneath the foot.  The rubber definitely helps with traction between the boot and the plate as well as keeping snow from packing up beneath your foot, but I question the durability and the design.  If the rear rubber plate were to fail, not a big deal because it is re-enforced with steel, but the front is a different story.  Now, I understand that the steel portions of the front plate are in two sections to help give them the flexibility needed to remain conformed to your foot, but that is a weak spot that I think could cause problems for some people.

These also come with a thick stuff sack as the spikes are a bit sharp.  I decided to save weight on a trip by leaving the sack and bringing beer.  Note: Don’t leave XTR’s in a backpack lid with beers…I ended up with my Arcteryx Bora 95 lid filled with beer slush.  Bring the bag.

EDIT 1/25/2011: Recently found out that the YakTrax XTR Extreme is no longer being produced.  They have taken it back to the drawing board to deal with durability issues.  An updated version should be available for the 2011/2012 Winter season.  Final thought: I am still pleased with my XTR’s and will continue to use them until something fails and am excited to see the next version.

Holiday Season is over: time to take out the new gear. (oh ya, happy New Year!)

It has been a hectic holiday season this year and it feels good to finally be able to relax and catch a breath.  Now that the travel is over and the guests have gone home, it is time to get back into the mountains to play.

In the coming days and weeks I plan to go over a few new things I’ve picked up lately.  First of all, I was able to do some testing of the YakTrax XTR Extremes that the folks at YakTrax sent over for me to review, so that will be at the top of the priority list.  The crew over at Katoohla was nice enough to send me a few pairs of MICROspikes to test out as well but I haven’t had a chance to do too much with those yet.

My wonderfully thoughtful girlfriend knows me so well that she picked up a Garmin 60CSX gps for me this year and I am excited to get out there and get things going.

YakTrax Winter Traction

I got a great package in the mail just a few days before my birthday last week: a box full of YakTrax products.  In the box were YakTrax Walkers, YakTrax Pros, and their new XTR Extremes.  Matt Lacuesta YakTrax gear testI am very excited to have the opportunity to test all these products out and will be keeping up on reviews throughout the winter.  I have also loaned some pairs out to get other opinions and to get them out in different conditions for different uses.  I recently loaned out the Pro’s to someone who is working for the next month in Northern Manitoba in sub zero temperatures to test the durability of the rubber.

I’ve got some great places I’d like to take all of these products to, especially the XTR’s.  Not sure where you can purchase them yet, but I do know that you can buy them online direct from YakTrax.

Thanks to the folks at YakTrax for the opportunity to review these products, and also thanks for all the hand warmers too!  How considerate!

Other posts I would like to get up soon: Snowshoeing and my winter sleep system.

How to shop for cheap Sleeping Pads

Depending on the trip, distance, and weather I will carry different pads and or combinations of pads.  Everyone is a little different when it comes to comfort and their sleep systems.  The problem with going on different types of trips in different locations is that you may want to have several options and different combinations of sleep pads.  I typically use a closed cell foam pad as well as an inflatable pad on colder/winter trips so I like to use something a bit warmer than my summer pad.

I have several pads that I’ve picked up here and there at yard sales, swap meets, and REI garage sales.  All inflatable pads were picked up for $10 and each had a small leak that people did not feel like finding/fixing.  I used the same $5.50 REI repair kit to repair 4 different pads.  After dipping each pad in either the bathtub or our pool I was able to find the leaks quickly, and patch them up as soon as the pad dried.  You can save a ton of money by buying these cheap pads with one tiny pinhole and fixing them up.

  • In my experience, if you see a used inflatable sleeping pad for sale, chances are: it has a leak.  This is not the end of the world, and probably why you can get it so cheap.
  • The first thing I do when I see these is to look over the whole pad to see if there are any visual punctures, slices, or open seams.  I also like to see if it has been patched before as well.  Chances are, if it was patched once it will be difficult to patch the same area again.  Also, if the person selling it went through the trouble to patch it the first time, and not this time around, it may be too much of a pain.  Skip it and move on unless you like more of a challenge.
  • Next, inflate the pad and lay on it to get a feel for if it will be something that you can sleep on.  The main thing you will be looking for is it see how long the pad holds air.  Some pads will lose air very quickly which tells you that you have a large puncture, split seam, or valve leak.  All are fixable, but I tend to have recurring issues with split seams.  They are fixable, last a few trips, and then need to be patched again.  If you don’t have a lot of options, go ahead and take it on and be sure to always have your patch kit with you on your trip.  If it loses air very quickly and you think you can patch it, point out to the seller that it has serious damage, you may be able to haggle the price down even more.

There are several links to fixing pads out there already so I won’t go into the whole process.  Once you have gotten your “new” sleeping pad at a great price, check out these helpful links on fixing a pad.  Note: if you have a Thermarest Neo Air I will have better fix info for you coming soon.

Backpacker magazine teaches you how to fix a pad

McNett makes great products, here they show you how to use their pad repair

Coming Soon: Review and uses of Thermarest Ridgeline, ZRest, Basecamp, and Prolite Z.

Mountain Hardwear and Salomon 50% off

The mountains around here just had the first dusting of snow on the 1st day of fall which is getting everyone around here excited for winter sports.

Right now The Clymb is having a sale where all Mountain Hardwear and Solomon are 50% off MSRP.  They have some cool stuff so check it out.  I am definitely getting a few more Dom Perignon hats and a power stretch jacket.  Like I said, 50% off Mountain Hardwear and Solomon, can’t beat it.  Stock up on some cool mountain sport gear before it all gets expensive again as it cools down.

New Area

On a recent trip from Santa Fe back to Denver, our GPS took us on a back way via highways 64 and 160 and we couldn’t have been more pleased.  We got home 45 minutes quicker and had a heck of a scenic drive.  I got a long look at the Spanish Peaks that I did not know existed so far to the south and was intrigued.  I will definitely have to make my way back down for some backpacking one of these days.

The aspens were already starting to change which always adds beautiful color to the otherwise drab colored mountains.  With the first snow in the mountains last night, the leaves will start to change rapidly, and I need to plan a few trips.

Good Gear, Cheap: Cooking

I have been accumulating gear and tweaking what I use and in the process have acquired a lot of gear, most of which are bargain finds, and some of it up to 90% off of MSRP.  Keep your eyes peeled and the deals will eventually come around.  Once I decide that I need or want something, (usually the latter when it comes to outdoor gear) I feel I go through a cycle:  I hunt around to no avail, picking up other pieces of gear along the way, and then forget about it until a few months later it pops up in a sale or swap meet somewhere.  Today I’ll go over some of the things I have found over the past year or so that I use in my cooksets.


Coleman F1 Powerboost

Paid: $14  MSRP: $49.99

Picked up at the Coleman Outlet, great for car camping or cooking for a group of people. Burns hot and fast at 23,900 BTU’s so also a great tailgating stove.  I also bring this along skiing sometimes so we can have a hot pot of chili while taking a break in the powder, nestled in some trees in the backcountry runs at some of the resorts here in Colorado.  Why was it cheap? Happened to be there one weekend when everything in the store was 75% off.

SnowPeak GigaPower stove with Piezo

Paid: $8.83 MSRP: Stove Alone: $49.95, Complete Set $84.95

Picked up at REI garage as part of the Snowpeak Starter kit. Kit included Stove and 700mL Titanium Cup. Missing titanium Spork and Lid. Super pumped to pick up this set for solo trips or at least trips where I am not providing for the whole group.

MSR WhisperLite & Expedition Service Kit

Paid: $19.83 MSRP: $79.99 (Stove) $24.95 (Cleaning Kit)

Super excited to pick this one up at an REI garage sale.  The note was that the kit was missing 2 rubber O rings and the pump did not work.  Luckily the Pump Seal was still in the kit and after replacing it, it works just fine.  Have not had a chance to use it in the field yet, but look forward to using it this fall and winter while camping in the snow and higher elevations.

MSR Fuel Bottles

Paid: $2 each MSRP: $14.95-$19.95

This does not come with fuel bottles but luckily I had picked up two of them last year at a swap meet and after replacing the O rings they work just fine.


REI Cookset

Paid: $14.95 MSRP: $49.95

3.5 qt and 2 qt aluminum non stick pots.  I picked them up a while ago because at the time I was just using random small lightweight pots found at thrift stores.  Good for car camping and tailgating, otherwise don’t use backpacking unless with a large group, and then I may only use one of the pots.  They were a great value on clearance from REI.

Evernew Titanium Skillet

Paid: $3 MSRP: $47.95

This is by far one of my best bargains ever.  Skillet is in great shape, handles are true and un-melted.  I picked this up from the Wilderness Exchange swap meet that they hold twice a year in their parking lot.  I came across some super cool folks that didn’t have any use for it with their style of cooking and said $3 was a fair price.  It works great with my canister stoves, but I do have some scorching issues when using it with my homemade alcohol stoves because of a lack of heat regulation.

SnowPeak Titanium Trek Mug 700mL

Paid: $8.83 MSRP Mug Alone: $39.95 Complete Set: $84.95

This came with the SnowPeak Stove as mentioned above at an REI garage sale.  Great when I am just taking care of myself or one other and rehydrating food.  This was cheap because it was missing it’s lid and spork. Luckily I already had utensils and just use a small piece of foil that I keep in the cook kit as a lid that folds up small and weighs nothing. This works just fine when just looking to boil some water.

Snowpeak Mug 450

Paid: $3.83 MSRP: $25-$32

Picked this up at an REI garage sale.  The note for being returned stated that it was too hot and burned lips when filled with hot beverages.  Since this is not good for much more than sipping a morning hot chocolate or tea (not much of a coffee drinker but I do partake in a VIA periodically) it is kind of pointless.  I tried it, and yes, it gets very hot.  I can see how someone would return it after spending $30 of a coffee cup, but for me, I can wait 2 mins to let it cool down and for what I payed for it, not that bad.

Sea to Summit Alpha Utensil set.

Paid: $.83  MSRP: $14.95

I picked up two of these sets super cheap at an REI garage sale one day and am pretty satisfied.  The reasons they were returned was because after being washed they changed texture.  This is true, and it may be due to the aircraft-grade 7075-T6 aluminum alloy construction.  On the shelf they seem smooth and shiny but after a washing (in the dishwasher I’d bet) they because a flat metal color/texture.  It does change the eating experience but I found that all you have to do is dip your utensil in the food you are eating first to coat it and it works just fine.  Again, this is another time where it works for me because of what I paid for it.  Had I paid full price for the set I would have returned it as well.


Alohol Stoves

Unless you plan on just buying a titanium alcohol stove you should take the time to play around with them. They are fun and kind of addicting.  There is a lot of entertainment in learning how to make these if you like tinkering around and enjoy the satisfaction of building something and doing it enough where you try to perfect it.  Soon enough you will find that you have a plastic tub full of working stoves all with different flame patterns, flame size,flame height, boiling times, etc…

They are cheap to make, don’t require any major tools, and the materials used are things you have around the house that you would otherwise throw away (but hopefully recycle).  Seems like a win win hobby to me.  Although I don’t use them as much as I used to, I still carry one with a bit of fuel on long day hikes in my “just in case” stuff sack.

The best DIY resource for alcohol stoves is Zen Backpacking Stoves. This will give you an idea what is involved and how easy it is.  For the best “homemade” alcohol stoves you need to visit Tinny at Mini Bull Design.  I say “homemade” because Tinny has taken DIY alcohol stoves to a new level and is, in my opinion, the king of the alcohol stove world.  Be sure to check out his “How its Built” page.

If you catch the DIY gear bug like so many have, there are a ton of sites out there, but I enjoy Gear Talk with Jason Klass.  Also, check out his Homemade Backpacking Gear blog as well.


I have been collecting the spoons from my local Yogurt Land.  They are very sturdy and hold up to washing, being stepped on, and bent.  They are made of some plastic type material that is plant based so they are biodegradable.  The fact that they are biodegradable is cool, and I don’t seem them disintegrating into nothing in between backpacking trips as I’m sure they will take quite a while.

Winter Gear Deals

I started this blog a while ago on the premise that I would start keeping an online record of outdoor gear bargains I have been able to find.  In the coming weeks I will try to load up my bargains along with reviews.  I have had a couple good finds on winter gear recently since people are still not thinking about the winter with the 90 degree weather we have been enjoying.  Lucky for me that means good deals!

Marmot Alpinist Glove

Paid: $45 MSRP: $180

I had been looking for a light pair of gloves for light duty hiking and wet weather during the summer and had not been able to find anything I thought was a good deal.   I came across these puppies one day at Wilderness Exchange in the Used Gear section.  They are GoreTex on the outside, and have an inner liner glove that is GoreTex as well.  I am in love with the liners by themselves because of their breathability and the fact that they’re waterproof.  The liners are kept in place within the shell with a Velcro system, and when the liners are worn by themselves there are great fold over tabs to cover the velcro.  When the shell is added you get a lot of wrist coverage, which I love.  We spend a lot of time in backcountry bowls during the winter, and tend to take quite a few breathers in the middle of the trees, and sometimes getting off your butt in 3 ft of powder is a bit tough and I can see these gloves eliminating the dreaded cold, wet wrists.  Typically I would not spend $45 on gloves, but the way I see it, I am getting 2 sets of gloves for the price of 1.  Sure you can do that with a lot of other gloves, but when you are someone like me who sees the $180 price tag and then gets them for $45, there is at least the perception of value.

The only thing that I can see about these gloves is the fact that there is a “biner loop” on the back of the middle fingers so you can hang them up.  If I were a stickler for weight I would cut them off and I don’t see any real use for them other than it makes them seem more “technical.”  Finally, there were tags on the inside stating  “2010 Fall Demo, Not for Resale”  so I tried to see if that would save me some money at the register but I got shot down.  Still, super pumped about this purchase.

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Jacket

Paid: $40 MSRP: $140-$250

I had been looking into a Patagonia down sweater as my insulation layer but just haven’t found the bargain to make me pop on one. Amidst my search I found an 800 down fill Patagonia jacket at the Wilderness Exchange swap meet.  It is much warmer than the down sweater that they make, and a classic in the Patagonia repertoire.  I have seen them going new in stores for $199-$250 and now see that Patagonia has dropped the price to $140 at their online store which tells me they are phasing it out.

My particular jacket has light wear  and abrasions but still seems to be in good shape, the fill holds its loft and doesn’t appear to be loosing any fill at the seams.  The folks had lots of  high end apparel and it all seemed appropriately  priced for what it was and what kind of condition it was in so I thought I got a fair price after bargaining down $10.

I plan on using this as a cold weather jacket around town and as an insulation layer while skiing and camping on a regular basis in the Rocky Mountains this cold weather season.  I think it will also make a great substitute to a down quilt as I continue to test my hammock camping skills this fall. It will also act as my pillow or foot warmer while in the tent this coming fall/winter.  I feel this was a solid purchase because it is a warm, insulating jacket, it can also be used in many other ways depending on the situation.  I do wish it would have had a hood and come down further in the back, but beggars can’t be choosers when the price is right.

Cloudveil Troller Gloves

Paid: $10 MSRP: $79.95

I was able to pick these up from a guy at: you guessed it, the Wilderness Exchange swap meet.  They were moderately worn and broken in when I brought them home and only needed a 5 minute leather conditioning to make them just like new.  Not much I can say about these other than the fact that I’ve always wanted them, the price was right, and they will be great while chopping wood at winter camps this winter.  They will also be useful when cooking over a fire since I wont have to worry about any synthetic material melting which is always a plus.

Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

Paid: $14.83 MSRP: $89.95

These trekking poles will be used as in all seasons and I plan to beat the crap out of them, which I understand may take a few seasons.  I am including them in my winter gear post because they came with powder baskets on them.  These were found at an REI garage sale and were the trekking poles they include with their snowshoe rentals.  There are so many reasons I grabbed these and am kicking myself for not getting 3 more pairs because the price was so good.  These are great because they have the extended foamgrip below the handle which can help when adjusting to inclines/declines without having to adjust pole length and generally making them more versatile.  The big thing that makes these so great are the Flip Lock system that Black Diamond was been working on.  It is so much more convenient to adjust these poles than my others because they have eliminated all the twisting I used to have to do.

I splurged on full price Black Diamond Trekking Baskets ($4.95) at another shop so I’m in for about $20 for my poles that I will use snowshoeing, winter camping, backcountry skiing, year round hiking, backpacking, and as tent poles for my Sil Tarp.  I hope they last.

Successful Trip

Our trip to Moab, UT was a huge success.  We saw some awesome terrain, went on some nice hikes, and had a good time with the crew that came along.  We didn’t get any mountain biking in this time around, but I think it was best for everyones safety as only 1 out of 9 of us were experienced mountain bikers.  We found an amazing site at the slickrock campground in site C-2 (you need to camp there, just not while we are trying to) which gave us a great 360 view of the area and looked down on the Slickrock mountain biking area.  Sunsets were beautiful and the beers and campfire with friends was as good as it gets.

We were able to hike out to Corona Arch which is not in Arches National Park so we were pleasantly surprised to see people rappelling down the arch which I guess is legal since its not in the park.  I think we will try to bring out the proper gear to do this next time we are out there.  The hike is a moderate hike about 2 miles off of the road near a big group campground near the river.  Normally I am pretty good about directions and where we were, but was so taken in by the surroundings that I was unable to pay attention. 

We also found our way to a few nice swimming holes in some canyon which I cannot remember, although I will always remember how cold the water was.  We were not far from the mountain where the snow melt was creating the stream we were in, but it was FREEZING.  I’ve been in some extremely cold water before, but this was by far the coldest.  I would say it was probably around 40 degrees or so and very refreshing.  All of these images were taken by people on the trip, and I will be working on putting together a photo album or something so everyone can put in the rest of the images.

The only other thing about the trip that I can think of was that I was able to pick up a 6 gallon Blitz water jug here in Denver at the Army Surplus store for about $12 which was $5 cheaper than the ones at REI.  It came in really handy while in Moab, especially for the group.  We went through 6 gallons per day which seems pretty amazing considering how much other liquids were consumed.  We were able to refill our tank in town each day at an awesome shop in town called GearHeads.  If you are ever in Moab, this is one shop you need to go.  They have all the gear you see in outdoor gear shops here in Denver, and then some.  Its amazing the gear they pack into the space that they have, and whats more, their prices are competitive with any other place I’ve seen the stuff they carry.   It’s nice going into a “touristy” area and not be subjected to obscene pricing.