Posts Tagged ‘gear review’

Last weekend my son and I spent four days at Disney Fort Wilderness.  From 7am to the conclusion of the fireworks, we ran the gauntlet of every known activity.  It is important to note how much running, lifting, and bending I did each day because I do have a recurring back pain due to a bulging disk between the L3 and L4 vertebra.  Normally, I find it difficult to fall asleep quickly.  In addition, in the morning it is slow for me to get moving due to restless sleep and having a stiff back.  I am happy to say that a new sleeping system fixed my sleepless restless nights.  I awoke with a refreshed rejuvenated back.  Moreover, my son remarked that I did not snore.

The solution to my rejuvenating sleep is the use of the Inertia O Zone sleeping pad by Klymit.  It is an inflatable ultra light sleeping pad with an integrated pillow.  It looks and works like no other inflatable pad.  The pillow has an x insert that cradles the head and the pad has support tubes strategically placed for comfort along side of holes to maximize sleeping bag loft.  I was very skeptical of purchasing this oddly shaped product.  But after speaking with staff at Bill Jackson’s I decided that the value of comfort verse the product price was worth it.

Interia O Zone

I placed the mattress under my Marmot Helium mummy style sleeping bag.  I am a cold sleeper and I was currious to discover if my down bag would be effectd by ground moisture and produce some cold spots.  

rolled up to pop-can size

rolled up to pop-can size

I’m usually a restless sleeper and I am happy to report that the pillow continued to cradle and centered my head all night long.  The x style pillow reduced the stress on my neck and pressure on my ear when I slept on my side.  The combination of holes and inflatable tubes was first like sleeping on a lumpy mattress.  I quickly transitioned from thinking of it like a lumpy bed to a series of fingers massaging the day’s activities out of my back.  Due to the holes in the pad I also discovered no cold spots during the night.  The Inertia O Zone sleeping pad is a successful purchase.  And I am looking forward to the next adventure with this new sleeping companion.

– Jeff

At times gear is the key to comfort.  Unfortunately, it can be a costly venture finding the right gear.  It takes time to research, to save up money, and then redo everything when your first purchase did not meet your expectations.  This is my problem when it comes to shorts.

I have worn multiple types of swim suits, surf trunks, quick drying shorts, rock-climbing shorts, and hiking shorts.  The recurring problem is chafing, a desire for a quick drying material, and the look of professionalism.  I have had problems with chafing in the groin and where the back band connects.  My goal has always been to find a system that I can easily wear multiple days on the water, around camp, function well under the hip-belt of a twenty pound pack, provide a great range of motion, and look presentable when I am walking around town.

It has been a long and arduous quest filled with a drawer of many failed attempts to find lasting comfort.  Until now, I can empty my drawer donate all of my old shorts to the needy and replace those shorts with one pair of Mountain Hardwear Wildlands Shorts.

These shorts made by Mountain Hardwear feature a patented, micro-chamois lined seamless conical waist.  Thus the design eliminates pressure points where a back band of a kayak and a backpack would rest.  The cloth is 100% nylon and coated with a DWR finish that sheds dirt and moisture.  I will admit that the shorts do become stiff after a few days of being in and out of salt water.  However, the stiffness has not produced chaffing.  The shorts are available in ten and twelve-inch inseam lengths.  I chose the twelve-inch inseam just because I liked the look.  There is a down side to the shorts.  It has small pockets in the front.  Consequently, when sitting in a kayak it is nearly impossible for me to get anything out of my front pocket.  Then again, I wear a skirt over the cockpit and why would I be wanting to get into my pocket.

  • Overview statistics of the Wildlands Shorts
  • Updated hand pockets and integrated belt
  • Micro-Chamois™-lined seamless conical waist for comfort under a pack
  • Integrated webbing belt with buckle closure for easy fit adjustments
  • Lots of pockets for storage
  • Mesh drain panels in pockets for river crossings and spontaneous swims
  • Full length inseam gusset for mobility
  • DWR finish sheds moisture
  • UPF 50 sun protection

All in all these are great shorts.  I have them in khaki, and I now plan on purchasing a pair in cigar brown, stone green, and black.  If you have too many clothes at home and you are looking to simplify then replace all of your shorts with this pair, for it does it all.  Happy paddling – Jeff

For Christmas my wife asked Russell at Sweetwater Kayaks to special order me a pair of Kokatat Tempest pants with socks and relief zipper.  I did not know about this gift… 😉  Unfortunately it arrived after Sean and I left for the Suwannee River.  So, during the Sweetwater Symposium I lived in them and mated them with an old dry top.

I have been told that these dry pants easily combine with a double skirted dry top to make a nearly dry system.

I combined these pants with my discontinued Stohlquist double skirted dry top.  I folded the bottom of the inner section of my dry top up.  And snugged the waist band of the Kokatat pants on top of the inner section of my dry top.  I then pulled my neoprene spray skirt on with the tunnel over the dry top.

For most of the time during my BCU L-1 coach training I was dry.  It was only after the third water rescue that water started to enter into the system.  As I floated in the water warm cold Florida water seeped into the waist.

I discovered that even with a gallon of water in my pants I remained comfortable because of my Smartwool pants and socks.  I love Smartwool.  As I sat in my kayak I also attempted to remove the water with my  bilge pump by way of the relief zipper.  It worked.

For Florida paddling these pants with a dry top are a good choice.  Granted when I travel to Sea Kayak Georgia in October I will be wearing a Kokatat GORE-TEX® Expedition Dry Suit EXP

-Jeff