Best Duffel Bag – The North Face Base Camp Duffel

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag

The North Face Base Camp Duffel Bag

I recently purchased a North Face Camp Duffel Bag (Large) and absolutely love it.

Key Features:

  • Solid D-shaped zippered opening allows easy access to main compartment
  • Includes shoulder straps so that you can carry the bag as a backpack
  • Most of the bag is made out of durable water resistent denier polyester


  • Our rating: 
  • Very durable and water resistent
  • Simple and lots of room for your gear

Where to buy?

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TOP 10 Backpacking Tips

Planning on going backpacking outdoors? Here are some things I have learned on my trips:

  1. Pack light: The less things you bring the less you have to carry and the further you can go. You will be amazed how little you need.
  2. Leave valuables at home: Just bring some cash for emergencies. That way you don’t risk of loosing your wallet on the trail.
  3. Let someone know about your plans: In case something happens to you, it is important to share your trip plans with a friend or family member. Let them know where you are planning to go backpacking and when you should arrive at your planned destinations.
  4. Stay hydrated: Make sure to bring enough water and a water filter in case you run out of water. And remember to drink enough water while hiking. The general rule of thumb is that you will need 100 oz. per day for personal consumption plus another 10-15 oz. for cooking dehydrated foods. I own a water filter made by MSR that works great.
  5. Pace yourself: Do not waste all your energy in the beginning of the hike. You don’t want to find yourself out of breath in the backcountry and you might need some extra energy on hiking uphill the next day.
  6. Leave no trace: Respect nature and leave the trail and campsite exactly how it was before you got there. Nobody wants to see a trail covered in trash.
  7. Bring a map and compass: A physical map still works when you do not have GPS or cell phone reception.
  8. Bring a first aid kit: So you can respond quickly if you get injured. REI sells a great kit that covers the needs of up to 6 people for 8 days while traveling in the backcountry.
  9. Bring a cell phone: If you do have cell phone reception, you can call for help in case of an emergency. You will be amazed where you have cell phone reception these days.
  10. Familiarize yourself with the area before you go: Study the topo map and get an idea where your sources of water are. Try to find a trail description online. They might share valuable information on where to camp, what areas to avoid, etc.

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Chumash Wilderness Hike in the Los Padres National Forest

Over Memorial Day weekend, Dana and I did a 3-day backpacking trip in the Chumash Wilderness and hiked the Tumamait trail. We entered the Los Padres National Forest on highway 33 near Sespe Wilderness. From there, we drove through Los Padres National Forest for about 1.5 hours and started our backpacking trip near Mount Pinos peak at 8,300 feet elevation. I highly recommend taking the time and driving through Los Padres National Forest, rather than taking the 101 south and driving up the 5 freeway. The roads are empty and you will see some amazing scenery.

The first leg of our trip peaked at about 8,800 feet elevation (Mount Pinos). From there we descended for about 6 miles to about 6,000 feet elevation and set camp at Mesa Springs campground. The views at Mesa Springs were breath-taking.

The next morning, we started our journey from Mesa Springs in the west and hiked east to Sheep Camp where we set camp for the night. Unfortunately the only trail that goes back to Sheep Camp is the trail we came from. Therefore we bushwhacked east for about 3-4 miles to Boyscout Road (see trail map). It was fairly cold and we welcomed the hot chocolate from a boyscout group that we met at our campsite.

The last leg of the trip was a 4 mile hike from our campsite back to the car near Mount Pinos peak. It was a great adventure!

Backpacker Magazine has another great recommendation for a backpacking trip in the Chumash Wilderness (it inspired our trip).

Trail Map:

Chumash Wilderness Trail Map

Chumash Wilderness Trail Map (click to enlarge)

Trip Highlights:

  • Length: About 18 miles
  • 5,000+ feet in elevation gain (get ready for a workout)
  • Don’t miss the amazing views from Mesa Springs
  • Due to the high elevation, you can expect snow as late as in June (bring warm clothes)
  • Overall Difficulty: 

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Photos of Mammoth Mountain, CA

Title says it all! Enjoy the pictures from our last trip to Mammoth Mountain, CA.


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View height of mountains on your iPhone with

While hiking through the local mountains here in Santa Barbara, I was thinking about how cool it would be to have an iPhone App that could tell you the elevation of all the mountain peaks.

I pulled out my iPhone and searched for “peak” in the App Store and voila, I found the free app from Salzburg Research.

Below a screenshot of in action, showing the elevation of some of the local mountains here in Santa Barbara, CA: works pretty well and does exactly what you downloaded it for: Displaying heights of mountain peaks. The peak symbols on the display sometimes don’t exactly overlay with the image of the camera, but that’s pretty much the only complaint I have.

Go download and check out your local peaks!


  • Our Rating:
  • Price range: FREE

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Mammoth Mountain California – Santiago Bowl

Outpost, Mammoth Mountain California

Outpost, Mammoth Mountain California

This is one of my favorite shots of Mammoth Mountain in California. I took this picture on the top of Santiago Bowl and it overlooks the Outpost on the backside of the mountain. Looking at this picture makes me want to go to Mammoth right now!

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Best Day Hiking Backpack – Osprey Manta 25

Osprey Manta 25

Osprey Manta 25

Are you looking for a day hiking backpack? In my opinion, the best backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Manta 25 – hands down! I took this backpack on multiple day hikes and I absolutely love it. It is very durable, light and really comfortable to wear.

The Osprey Manta 25 is slim & long and fits snug onto your back, so that your arms are not scrubbing against it while hiking. This also makes it a great backpack for trail running.

My back tends to start sweating quickly and the Osprey AirSpeed suspension offers a great amount of ventilation between the pack and your back.

Check out another great review of the Osprey Manta 25 at

Key Features:

  • Packing Volume: 25 Liters / 1,300 cu.
  • Weight: 11 oz. (empty)
  • Pack includes a 3 liter Nalgene Hydration Reservoir with a 180° on-off pivot bite valve
  • Integrated rain cover and pole stowing system
  • Magnetic sternum strap buckle
  • Elastic stretch woven front pocket
  • Light alloy frame suspension
  • Tensioned breathable mesh fabric provides superb airflow through back contact zone.
  • Side crescents for side ventilation


  • Our Rating:
  • Light-weight, comfortable and very durable
  • Price range: $97.98 – $139.70

Where to buy?

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Best Backpacking Boots – Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

Looking for a great hiking boot? I recently purchased a pair of Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX hiking boots at our local outdoor store, Real Cheap Sports in Ventura, CA.

I tested them on a hike to Inspiration Point in Santa Barbara, CA. It rained quite a bit the week prior and the terrain was slippery and muddy. The boots offered great traction on the wet ground.

My ankles tend to get tired quickly and the slightly raised boot offers great support.

One of my considerations for purchasing the Salomon hiking boots was that I could wear the in the snow (water protection), but also during the summer (light weight).

Key Features:

  • Water resistant. Full GORE-TEX® construction to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Gusseted tongue to keep debris out.
  • Heel foam for cushioning.
  • Protective rubber toe cap with mud guard.
  • Molded EVA midsole provides cushioning and support.
  • 3D Advanced Chassis™ construction provides maximum stability and protection over harsh terrain.
  • Ortholite® sockliner cushions, is breathable, and is anti-odor/anti-microbial.
  • Contagrip® rubber outsole is a mix between density, compounds, and geometry in order to optimize grip and durability.


  • Our Rating:
  • Lightweight (16 oz.) and water resistant
  • Price range: $102.98 – $169.00

Where to buy?

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Warren Miller’s Wintervention

A few weeks ago we saw the 61st Warren Miller movie: Wintervention. I very much enjoyed watching all the skiing and snowboarding scenes, but I thought the story -  winter/ski addiction – was rather lame.

My favorite part of the movie though was the Southern Utah scene with Zach Crist. Skiing and snowboarding in that kind of terrain looks absolutely phenomenal. Below a short clip from that scene to get you amped up for the season. Enjoy!

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My Favorite Run on Mammoth Mountain

My favorite run on Mammoth Mountain is Scotty’s. Scotty’s is a wide run with a fairly steep vertical drop that is located towards the top of the mountain. You can take chair 1 (Broadway Express) from the main lodge or chair 2 (Stump Alley Express) from Mill Cafe. Both of them connect with chair 23 that brings you to the top of the mountain.

The upper part of Scotty’s is fairly steep, but it flattens out about half way down. Since Scotty’s is a wide run, you do not need to worry too much about running into people and you have plenty of space to do your turns. To the left and the right of Scotty’s you usually find a lot of un-groomed terrain, which makes Scotty’s my favorite run.

If you stay towards your left when you are coming down, you will find some of my favorite terrain off-side the groomed runs. Lots of powder with a few trees make going that route down a lot of fun.

Costco is currently offering a 4-day lift ticket voucher for $239.99. This saves you between $32.01 and $128.01, depending on how early you would purchase the lift tickets online (just make sure you are aware of the black-out dates).

Below some pictures from my last Mammoth trip. Enjoy!

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