Good news and some shoe hell

Unfortunately, my shoe situation is not going too well! I bought eight pairs of shoes and I’m getting close to owning half of La Sportiva by now. This isn’t a review by any means, but here’s my quick findings:

La Sportiva Bushido

Upon initial impressions, the La Sportiva Bushido is my favourite shoe of all time, with one problem… It’s got this ridiculously high arch support in it that I find uncomfortable and I think if it’s giving me a pain now, it’s going to give me horrendous pain after 200 miles of hiking. If this arch support fits the shape of your foot, I imagine this shoe would be amazing! The tongue is the best tongue I’ve seen–it’s got a thin edge to it and then it’s padded further down. The entire upper back of the shoe feels good. There’s no rub around your ankle and I don’t know why they didn’t keep this design in all their shoes.

I read one review which said the tongue is nice but it can let in debris. I’d rather a soft tongue system and I wear gaiters rather than something which tries to do all and compromises.

I found that when I followed the “thumb width rule” (measure your longest toe away from the closest piece of fabric) and then added half a size up (for extra swelling), the shoe was a perfect fit (size 13 US.)

There’s room in the toe box if I size it like this but the smaller sizes don’t have much room for my big toe at all. The other toes have room. It’s always my big toe that suffers, even though it’s not my longest toe.

They feel incredibly light, even though they’re not ultralight shoes. Moving my feet around in circular motions or anything weird, they’re incredibly comfortable.

La Sportiva Akasha

This shoe is weird. The tongue isn’t too bad but it’s not as good. The arch is really high, much like the La Sportiva Bushido, so if you like the La Sportiva Akasha‘s, the chances are you’ll like the La Sportiva Bushido‘s or vice versa.

The back rubs my ankle, is way too padded and makes this shoe a no go.

These feel pretty light too.

La Sportiva Akyra

This is the shoe I want to love the most. Its arch system is the best for me. It’s wider in the middle, it’s rugged, it feels a lot heavier than the La Sportiva Bushido but the positive is it looks more durable.

The downside is the back of the foot doesn’t clamp down very well. If I tie up the laces to clamp my foot inside the shoe, then the tongue bites into me. I don’t like the tongue, it’s really padded and jabs into me.

It’s possible that if I wore them a lot (I will be returning most of these, so I don’t want to wear them much) I would break one in. I’m not sure if the high arch would get smaller or if the tongue on the La Sportiva Akyra would become more comfortable. If you can find a fit that works for you, I really recommend looking at this or the La Sportiva Bushido. I can’t speak about the durability or whatnot. When I decide on the pair of shoe I’ll keep, I’ll use them a lot and do a proper review :).

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 4400

In other news, I’m semi-confident I’ve found a way to affix my camera to my backpack now. I spent about two hours just staring at it, trying to think of the best way. I sewed a few loops around the side belt and that didn’t quite work out but I think I’ve come up with a solution. I’m waiting for some “D Rings” to arrive and then I’ll get started.

Saving weight with USB Power Bank serendipity

As stated in my previous post, I’ve been looking for torches. I have my eye on the Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV but I’ve been thinking, hmm, 84.6 grams with a battery, plus a charger–that’s quite heavy.

Then I started thinking, what if I had a USB power bank which allowed me to use my own 18650 lithium batteries? Would it be lighter? Would there be any problems with it? The Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV would therefore be only a 39 gram weight in my backpack while not in use because I could use the 18650 lithium battery for something else.

If you buy something like a 2 cell powerbank, it obviously has way less plastic than a 6 cell powerbank. If you’re -very- lucky, said powerbank will have high quality cells in it, but it’s a bit of a lottery in some cases.

When you google a disassembly of the powerbank, you’ll often notice they’re the same batteries you’d normally buy, only they’re soldered together.

So I thought, what if I buy a 2 cell powerbank case which allows me to use my own batteries and then I’ll buy a bunch of batteries, thereby saving the weight of the plastic. Interestingly, the Tomo M2 External Power Bank Battery Charger Box weighs just 55 grams. Combine that with 4 x 18650 lithium batteries at 48 grams each (and that’s if they’re the heavier 18650 panasonic batteries) and you’re left with 192 + 55 i.e. 247 grams for 13600 mAh compared to the RAVPower 12,000 mAh at 331 grams.

This simply raised more questions…

How would I charge all the batteries without rotating them? What if the powerbank case broke? Why does it have micro USB? I hate micro USB. Will the charge input and output be enough? To answer the last question, there seems to be numerous reports that it will reboot when supplying 2 amps. This isn’t really acceptable. Whereas a lot of the RAVPower and Anker devices are known to accept really high loads.

At the moment, I’m still thinking about how I’ll solve this problem. I might buy a 4 cell lithium 18650 holder that would barely weigh anything. Modify a pre-made USB power bank, strip it of all its casing and then put it inside a small and extremely thin plastic container. Alternatively, I could buy a boost module and a cell balance module and make the whole thing myself but I’m not sure if I will run into the aforementioned problem regarding amperage.

My last question, and perhaps someone can help me here, if you remove one cell of a typical Anker or RAVpower USB power bank, will it still function as normal? If they’re wired in a way which this is a problem, that might be an issue. I’d like to add a near depleted battery to the mix and it not be an issue.

Zebralight lights for hiking

I’m currently researching torches (why do some people call them flashlights? They don’t flash :)) for hiking, and I’m pretty impressed with Zebralight so far.

I have a few plans in mind with the light and I’m left with a million questions… Firstly, imagine a mountain setting with a tent set up and the tent is illuminated from the inside. Do you match the colour temperature with the moon? Do you pick a daylight colour temperature? What if youwant a light during the day to act as a fill light i.e. a poor man’s flash?

I spent the whole day thinking “4000k is too warm” but then I had this eureka moment… The moon is 4000k, not 5000k. Well, it wasn’t much of a eureka moment. I’m stlil left with similar questions; do I get a 4000k or a 5000k light?

Zebralight make a few models worth considering, in my opinion. The Zebralight H600Fd IV is a high powered, 5000k high CRI (93-95 CRI) light with 1000+ lumens of power. I’m inclined to buy this model but it’s slightly heavy and really quite expensive. The light itself is 39 grams but with a battery you’re looking at 84.6 grams and a charger is another 20 grams.

Speaking of which, the Olight® Universal Magnetic USB Battery Charger looks great :).

The other model I have my eye on is the Zebralight H53c. It’s a 4000k high CRI light but it’s not half as powerful. It is lighter weight (about 55 grams with a battery) and can take AA’s (should you not wish to bring a charger, most shops sell AA’s.)

I hope that one day Zebralight will make a light the size of the Zebralight H53c with a USB-C charging port, it’ll accept a lithium battery, and it’ll have a colour temperature of 5000k :).

Unrelated sewing stuff

Lastly, an update about my previous post. I’ve found the Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl’s standard straight needle is a bit thick for what I want, so I have ordered a fine needle.

Sewing webbing to a backpack without a sewing machine

I’m in the middle of making small modifications to my Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest backpack, and to personalise it a bit I want to sew additional bits of webbing to the pack.

After googling for a while, I’ve decided on buying 69 nylon thread and a Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl.

I was worried I’d have to buy a sewing machine or pay someone else to do the job but from what I can tell, these two things will be enough. The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl acts a bit like a manual sewing machine. I bought some nylon webbing but it’s not very high quality, so I might just use a camera strap which came with one of my camera bags.

As previously stated in another post, I’ll provide proper photographs and whatnot when I’m done. Here’s a couple to show you the general idea. The pictures are a bit confusing, but my camera bag will probably sit below the side pocket on the right photograph. The two upwards arrows are demonstrating another point you can sew onto if you wish. The photograph on the left shows different points you can attach things too, but I wouldn’t trust all of them i.e. they might not hold much weight.

Using some webbing around the side belt, towards the back area, and then another support somewhere else, I should be able to hold my camera bag. I’m not sure if I’ll have to offload some of the camera’s weight to the shoulder strap (for no other reason than comfort.) I’m also not sure how much weight one particular point on the shoulder strap can hold, so I’ll have a look.

I don’t really want to sew anything to the backpack itself as I don’t want to accidentally sabotage it.

 

Happy new year – more travel equipment

Have a happy new year everyone :).

I’ve been buying more stuff for my trip across Canada. I was so impressed with the La Sportiva Bushido shoes I had (they were the wrong size) that I’ve decided to order a bunch of different models in a bunch of different sizes. It’ll probably cost a bomb returning them which I’m not pleased (I’m being bled dry and I haven’t even walked a mile in Canada yet), but I want to find the perfect shoe for Canada :).

I have also received more camping and hiking equipment, and I will be doing a few modifications to my backpack. I have the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest. I wasn’t sure what size to buy in all honesty… For hiking in England, I’ve always just used whatever is at hand. If I didn’t have enough bag space, I’d literally carry two bags (lol.)

I think I’ve bought the right size though. It can roll up quite small, but for river crossings I can throw all my camera gear in there. I need to find a way to attach a camera bag to the side of the backpack. I’m thinking a simple piece of nylon webbing, some paracord and some creativity will allow me to have my camera at hand.

I plan to put a cuben fibre stuff sack inside of my camera bag, this should aid water resistance but I’ll probably have to pad it with something. When I’ve thought on it a bit more, I’ll start making some stuff, photograph it and show you what I mean :). At the moment, I’m just rambling because I want to get into the habit of updating my site more frequently.

Arcteryx Skyline

Best shirt ever? I really like Arcteryx–their fabrics are awesome. I bought a thermal jacket (synthetic) and I’m in-between a medium and a large (long limbs but I’m slim.) That’s a bit disappointing because the large looks baggy on me, (that’s not arcteryx’s fault per-se; it’s mine for not being fat enough or whatever.) However, the sleaveless acteryx skyline shirt fits really well in a size medium, and the fabric is amaaaaaazing. I’m really fussy about that kind of thing; it’s stretchy like a gym shirt, and it’s really soft but it’s kind of formal looking. I wish I had about ten of them, haha.

Montbell

I decided to go against people’s advice and buy the Montbell Storm Cruiser. It’s slightly heavier than the recommended Montbell Torrent flier. My logic was that I could fold the hood away (as per a YouTube review I saw) and use it in England, as a main sort of jacket. Wrong. They’ve removed the hood hide away thing, so you’re stuck with a hood.

Ironically, it’s much lighter than I thought and it’s perfect for what I want, for hiking. I’m really glad I got this model of jacket, but for slightly different reasons. The zip pockets go above my backpack belt, which was a concern, so I’m pleased about that. Again, I’ll write a review on this stuff but that’s just my initial impression of the Montbell Storm Cruiser jacket.

The Japanese site sells it a lot cheaper, but it’s out of stock and I was unable to find out when it would be in stock. Montbell was slow to respond to emails, said the price difference was “currency fluctuation” (get out of here) and I’m not sure what to make of that… The product is great so I’m pleased but I wasn’t impressed with the customer service.

ZPacks

I bought the biggest and widest ZPacks Sleeping bag, a ZPacks Altaplex tent and a few other things. They were quick to respond, posted the items quickly and they look great. I haven’t tried the tent yet but I have tried the sleeping bag.

One concern was the girth of the bag. I have wide shoulders but as I said, I’m slim. I thought 61 inches would be okay but I went for the 66 inch model, really worrying it’d be way too big. It’s just right for me, I think. I think I am about 50 inches around my chest, and they say to add 8 inches, so 58 inches. Yet for me, I wouldn’t want the smaller 61 inch model. This was pure luck on my part :).

 

 

Great Divide Trail and have a Happy Christmas

Hey everyone,

I probably won’t be writing much here until after Christmas or in the new year but I just wanted to briefly write something. Have a happy Christmas :).

A lot of items have arrived that I ordered to be used on the Great Divide Trail in 2018 :). I’ll be doing a million gear reviews at some point but I may wait until I’ve done the trail before reviewing them. Certain things I can review here. I’m especially impressed with how soft the ZPacks sleeping bag is. I’ve still got to try a few items to check for any manufacturing errors and whatnot, plus I’m not 100% sure about the fit of my backpack yet but hopefully it’s fine.

I’m struggling to find clothes I really like, and shoes are still proving to be difficult to find in my area.

I’ve decided on an Arc’teryx Atom LT as my synthetic jacket. It’s really comfortable! I’m in between a medium and a large size but I think I’ll stick with the large.