Monthly Archives: September 2010

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.

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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.

Stoves:

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.

Pots/Cups/Utensils:

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.

Free/DIY

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.

Utensils

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.