Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Good To Get Away

Sometimes it is good to get away from the business that is life.  Living out on the east coast (Philly) life seems to go a thousand miles an hour.  There are times when I need to just get away from the hustle and bustle and detox from everything.  On this occasion I found myself hiking around Tyler State Park in Bucks County, PA.  It was good to get away and something I realized that I need to make a habit of.  If it is fishing, hiking, cycling….something to get away from everything.  If we do not slow down in life we can easily miss these little moments that can inspire us.

This post was originally posted on The Silent Pursuit.....still do not know if I will keep that blog up.  I LOVE the layout of that site, but I already have an audience here.....why try and build another one when I will just post the same videos over here too?  I am still up in the air about that site.  I have a ton of gear reviews I need to get working on.  Keep a look out for reviews on the Fishpond Yampa Guide Pack and Westwater Messenger Bag, Umpqua Toketee Vest and Surveyor 1100 Backpack, as well as a book review.  Looks like I have a lot of work to do.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Who Needs Fishing.....

I had the chance to go fishing today.  I has all my things packed, got in the car, and drove an hour and a half to the stream.  I was just sitting in my car for a good 10 minutes watching the water go by and others try to fool a trout with their offerings.   I decided I would walk up to the stream bank and just look.  I always seem to walk up to the stream and check it out before I gear up.  This time.....I got back in my car and drove the hour and a half drive back home.  When I got there I was greeted with a huge smile and a big hug.  We played and played until she could not play no more.  My daughter won't always be a little one and a half year old bouncing off the walls and running through the apartment.  Even though today was a beautiful day outside it was well worth skipping.  Fishing can wait.

all wore out!  Love this little girl!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Topo Designs Mountain Bag

I have been on the hunt for a bag that I can use as a work/play bag for a while.  I wanted something that screamed outdoors.  Even though what I was using it for was mainly work, I wanted something that would let people know that I love the outdoors.  All the packs by Topo Designs accomplish this.  They are very functional and stylish.  Before I received the Mountain Bag I was using an Osprey Quantum backpack as my every day carry bag.  I was looking for a new bag that I could use to haul my gear to the office, meetings, coffee shops, or just a quick trip on the trail.  I liked the Opsrey pack, but there were a few things that annoyed me about it.

When I received the Mountain Bag I was super impressed.  This bag is going to last forever.  It is made out of 1000d Cordura and made in the USA.  The bag is feature rich and offers a sweet vintage look.  I am not going to lie.  I got a ton of compliments on this bag when I started to take it to the office.  It holds a ton of stuff.....and I mean a ton!  I have taken it on video shoots where I would add a DSLR and lens to my already full load and it handled it all well with room to spare.  I will never out pack this bag because it holds more stuff than I own and it holds it all well.  The layout is awesome and is easy to remember where you put your things.

Again.  This bag is made of 1000d cordura that will last you forever.  The zippers....the freaking zippers are awesome.  They are huge YKK brand zippers that are hands down the best zippers I have ever used on anything.  As much as I love this pack....the zippers have to be my favorite feature of the pack.  They have huge zipper pulls that make it easy to just grab and open the pack.

Filming in Philly
This bag has 1200 cubic inches of space.  A ton of room for a ton of gear.  You have a pocket on the top flap that you can store you most needed items so you do not always have to get into the main compartment.  I usually keep an iPad mini, wallet, phone, chapstick, glasses, etc in this top pocket.  Once you unbuckle the top flap you have access into the main compartment which is laid out beautifully.  You have a padded laptop sleeve that fold my MacBook Pro very well.  On the outside of that pocket are your little pen/accessory pockets.  You have enough room in the main compartment for at least five books and even a Canon 7d with a Canon 24-105L lens.  I mean.....its huge.  Then you have a slash pocket on the front of the pack that I keep a hard drive in and all the charging cables for everything.  I could easily add more to that pocket, but I do not have enough stuff to put in there.  All the pockets are lined with a bright yellow fabric that makes finding all your stuff easy!  I also really like the fact that it has side compression straps for when the load is not that big and you want to slim down the profile. Little things like this make this pack awesome!

My one complaint on this bag is the water bottle pockets.  They are made out of the same fabric as the bag and make it hard to slip in my Klean Kanteen Insulated water bottle.  It holds a normal plastic bottle, but I normally carry my water in some other stainless bottle.  I wish that they were a tad bigger, or made out of a stretch material.

My other minor complaint is the black color.  If I could pick again I think I would have gone with the Coyote Brown.  The black though is sweet and has really grown on me.  The issue is that it really shows pet hair and dirt.  I just have to make sure I brush it off every time I pick it up to run out the door or pick it up off of the floor.  I am really digging the packs from Topo Designs and am hoping to get my hands on a backpack of theirs.  As much as I love the messenger bag style, I still don't know if I like it more than a backpack.

This bag makes a great grab and go day hiking bag.  I like to take this out on the trail if I just want to get away and journal or take a camera and snap pictures.  It is easy to sling it around and grab what I want without having to take my pack off.  This bag is meant to last.


again....more zipper porn

Topo Designs made in Colorado
The liner fabric


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Osprey Stratos 34 (2014 model)

I have been looking for a pack for a little while that I can use in a variety of ways.  Not only am I hiking, but I also plan to use whatever pack as a fishing bag as well.  I was needing a bag that I could load up with not just backpacking gear, but fly fishing gear as well.  I needed a pack that would be able to handle the rocks that usually like a stream that I am fishing.  I had originally looked at a ZPacks Zero bag but was afraid that the heavy use and conditions this pack would face might make quick work of the light cuben fiber (granted cuben fiber is easy to repair).  I also needed to realize that the gear I was going to be taking with me was not ultralight in the least bit and figured the suspension of this pack would help distribute the weight.  This bag weighs in at 2 pounds 12 ounces and has about 2075 cubic inches of space.  The size I ended up with was the M/L so it is indeed the full 34L.  I believe the S/M is 32L.  This pack is a great fly fishing bag as I can store rod tubes in the side water bottle pockets as well as waders in the sleeping bag compartment.

Looking at the face of the pack you will notice that it is very clean looking.  There are not a ton of pockets for you to lose your gear in, but the pockets that are there are very useful.  There is a top (brain) pocket that is meshed lined with a key clip in there.  This is a great pocket for those little things that you do not want to have to go digging around for.  There is another small slash pocket that is large enough for a folded up map or your sun glasses.  That is it.....the only other pocket is the main compartment which is HUGE.  As I said....this is a tad large for a day pack, but when you pack it full of overnight gear, or add fishing gear to your hiking gear it holds it all well.  There is of course a hydration bladder as well that had ports on both sides for the hose.  

What really drew me to this pack was the fact that it has a sleeping bag compartment and sleeping pad straps but was a panel loading pack instead of a top loading pack.  In a panel loading pack I can easily find my gear without having to search around.  I found that the sleeping pad compartment is great for waders or a wet rain jacket if I am using it for a day hike.  It helps separate the wet gear from the dry gear.  I can also stash rod tubes in the sleeping pad straps as well if I do not want to take a sleeping pad.  There is so much versatility with this pack.  The main thing that I wish was added to the pack was a front stretch mesh pocket.  I understand that it would add weight to the pack, but I really do use this pocket a lot on my other Osprey packs.  This was not a deal breaker, and I could have found a pack that had this, but the 2014 Stratos just offered so much more.

I can clip on my custom Vedavoo chest pack to the back of the pack using the top compression straps to hike in with, or I can have the chest pack on the sternum strap if I want to fish as I hike in. This pack seems like it will last a while and hold up well to the rocks that are usually found along the streams I fish.  I would not be worried to take this pack off and toss it on the ground to fish a stretch if I wanted.   I am not planning on using this pack every time I fish, but for those times I have to hike into a stream, or when I plan on hiking up a stream for 8 hours plus in a day and will be nowhere near my car.  I plan to take with me on these trips a cook kit (review of that to come), rain jacket, snacks/food/water, first aid kit, a tarp shelter (never know what weather will pop up), gear for the tarp, camera, change of socks, fly boxes, other fly gear (tippet, leaders, etch), and possibly a net.  This pack will easily hold that and allow me to also take a down quilt, NeoAir pad, and other gear if I want to make an overnight out of it.

If you have any questions on this pack that I did not cover in my video, or in this short first look review let me know and I will answer as best as I can.  Here are a few close up photos of parts of the pack so you can get a better idea of what it is made out of and the quality of this pack.  Osprey is known for making solid products, and this pack is no different.  This post is just a first look at this pack.  I plan on updating this as the year goes on about this pack.

Fabric on front of Pack

Zipper Pull

Zipper Teeth



Zipper and Double Stich

Inside of Pack

Rain Cover

Rain Cover Fabric