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 Gear.com.

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

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Light-weight, comfortable and very durable
  • Price range: $120 – $139

Where to buy?

Backpacking Boots – Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX
Salomon 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX

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).

Unfortunately after using the boot on several hikes, I don’t find it very comfortable. On multiple occasions, the boot gave me some severe blisters and that’s why I cannot recommend it.

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.

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Lightweight (16 oz.) and water resistant
  • Price range: $102.98 – $150

Where to buy?

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!

Comfortable Women’s Ski Boots – Rossignol Electra Pro

I’ve considered myself a snowboarder for the last 15 years.  When I started working at a ski resort last year only to be informed that I would not only be teaching snowboarding but skiing as well; I was a little hesitant to trade out my cushy snowboard boots for rigid plastic ski boots.

I endured several weeks of gnarly blisters and moleskin before I decided there must be a better way. That’s when I came across my Rossignol Electra Pro boots.

Electra Pro Rossignol Ski Boot
Electra Pro Rossignol Ski Boot

These boots are comfy enough to make any snowboarder think twice about scoffing at putting on ski boots.

Key Features:

  • High performance women’s ski boots that offer comfort without sacrificing power and feel.
  • Compatible with both Alpine and “AT” (Apline Touring) bindings
  • Rich, great fitting liners, made to deliver the highest performance combined with an amazing out-of-the-box fit for aggressive and expert women skiers.
  • Engineered with F.I.T. (feminine Intuitive Technology) which incorporates a true women’s upper cuff which is lower than a unisex boot to accomodate a woman’s calf muscle.
  • Gecko rubber soles for extra grip while hiking for those extra turns and cruising around the lodge decks.

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Compatible with Alpine and AT bindings
  • Price range: $529.95 – $530.00

Where to buy?

These boots made for a great season and happy feet. They proved to be very durable and I should be able to enjoy them for many seasons to come.

Women’s Hardshell – Arcteryx Scarabee Jacket

I recently purchased the Arcteryx Scarabee jacket as a hardshell layer for skiing and snowboarding. I’ve been on a search for a great jacket for several years and so far have been very happy with the way this jacket fits and performs.

Women's Arcteryx Scarabee Jacket
Women’s Arcteryx Scarabee Jacket in “Volcano”

Key Features:

  • Made with Gore-tex Softshell fabric which has been engineered to pass the mostaggressive rain tests while still being soft to the touch and maintaining comfort and freedom of movement.
  • Adjustable powder skirt
  • Invisible Recco reflector rescue system
  • Helmet compatible stowable hood
  • Lots of easily accesible pockets with watertight zippers
  • Women’s specific design with a flattering fit and a longer torso

The first thing most people see with a technical hardshell is the price tag. Most hardshells seem to range anywhere from $200 to $600 dollars. I suppose this is what long deterred me from purchasing a hardshell, however after looking into all of the options I think investing in a hardshell is well worth it.

Hardshells are much more versatile than your average insulated ski/board jacket.

  • Quality of the fabric, seams, and zippers are unmatched which not only will keep you dry but also protect everything you want to bring with you on the mountain. It’s no fun to get home from a long day on the mountain to find your camera or phone completely waterlogged.
  • Gore-tex fabrics are engineered to be breathable so not only do they keep the water out they allow you to breathe and keep the sweat off your back which is key when your working hard at the resort or hiking a line in the back country.
  • The most obvious benefit is that the shell can be worn alone or easily layered for a variety of conditions. The Scarabee jacket provides full protection from wind and water on its own and for your average day at the resort you won’t need much more than a solid baselayer to keep you warm. For those extra cold days add a fleece or a light down liner and you will be good to go without adding too much bulk.

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Waterproof and very flexible
  • Price range: $299 – $329.97

Where to buy?

With all of the rain we have been receiving in Southern California I have also found that my Scarabee jacket makes the most stylish and functional rain jacket yet!

Great medium priced ski goggles – Anon Helix

I picked up a pair of Anon Helix Ski Goggles recently and tested them on my first snowboard trip this season over Thanksgiving at Mammoth Mountain in California. The goggles are comfortable to wear and are reasonably priced around $50. Some of the other brands I considered (Oakley, Dragon and Electric) all had similar models at a slighter higher price.

One thing that I do not like at the Anon Helix ski goggles is the reflection in between the two lenses. So far I have only noticed those with the mirrored pair of lenses. I need to check out the extra pair of lenses (orange) that came with it to find out if the reflection only happens with the mirrored lenses.

Anon Helix Ski Goggles
Anon Helix Ski Goggles

Key Features:

  • Injection-molded lenses allow clear, undistorted views of scenery and terrain; Shield Technology™ lends superior resistance to scratching
  • Channeled top venting optimizes airflow
  • Air Mesh Ventilation™ system provides unrestricted breath-ability and repels snow and water
  • Plush Fit™ face foam conforms to face contours and provides a soft, comfortable seal against the elements
  • Antifog treatment combats lens fogging, delivering clear vision in changing weather conditions; dual lens venting helps keep fog from building up
  • Amber lens color is made for partly cloudy to flat light conditions and is the most versatile color available

Highlights:

  • Our Rating:
  • Inexpensive and comfortable
  • Price range: $34.95 – $78.53

Where to buy?

Anon Optics is a subsidiary of Burton Snowboards. So all-in-all a solid pair of goggles in the medium price range.