Archive for the ‘MEC’ Category

Christmas treeThe christmas trees are up in some homes and more are on its way. It is that time of the year again…I read the other day on Canadian Tire Flyer cover – just 3 weeks to go. Wow time is flying by….Here are some ideas for you to help you decide and pick out the right gift for your hiker friend(s).

Lets start with the small ones under $30.00 –  mesh bags,  a watch that clips on your daypack, a good whistle,  a compass,  a hat,  sunglasses pouch,  a memory card for the camera, re-chargeable batteries,  sunscreen, insect repellent,a  tree book, dry pouches or dry bags,  maps, a pair of smart wool socks, a small knife, waterproof matches, pack biners, pedometer,  a stainless steel waterbottle,  gloves,  DVD spindle,  Turtle Light (MEC), a first aid kit,  gaiters, a bird book,  a wool toque,  a one year subscription to Backpacker, Explore or Outside magazine, and a nature or landscape photography book.      

Some bigger and more expensive gifts ($40.00 & over) –  baselayer, mid-layer,  fleece jacket, rain jacket & pants, daypack,  headlamp, trekking poles,  gps, water filter,  photo organizer & editing program, a pair of hiking pants/shorts that you can zipper off the legs, hiking boots,  a $50.00 gift card and registration fee for a photography course.   

I hope this list provides you with some ideas to help you with your christmas shopping. Good Luck and Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas


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With just two weeks before the Hike the Highlands festival, now is a great time to check your equipment out.  Here is a checklist of what you need for the festival : hiking boots,  hiking socks,  gaiters – protect your legs from branches, thorns etc along with keep your boots dry,  hiking pants/shorts,  daypack, water bottles,  hat,  trekking/hiking poles, insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, digital camera along with camera case, extra batteries, charger and memory cards, rain gear,  mid-layer (fleece), base layer, bear bell, …. 

One of the most important pieces of equipment when hiking today is trekking or hiking poles. Below is a short video to explain the benefits of using poles.

Deuter Futura 28 AC Daypack

Deuter Futura 28 AC Daypack

Hike the Highlands has a number of 3-6 hours hikes and a few longer…So it would be wise to have a daypack in the range of 20-20 litres as you will need extra food , water  and layers for longer hikes…. The pack to the left is a Deuter Futura 28 litre, a  popular pack that MEC sells that has a number of compartments- see the bottom compartment- not many have this as well this daypack has a rain cover.

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Backpacker Magazine - Sept. 2010 issue

Sept. Issue Backpacker features Best raingear, baselayers and fleece

If you avid hiker – you have learn through trail & error, the importance of dressing in layers for hiking. Hot weather, cold weather and rainy weather required different strategies.  There is baselayer, mid-layer and raingear/jacket. As well, there are a number of different materials out there – merino wool, polartec, powerdry, silk and polyester.

The Sept. issue of Backpacker Magazine features an article on the best raingear, baselayer and fleece. Always important to read reviews and try equipment on first before purchasing.

Baselayers come in short or long sleeve as well zip -T.  Baselayers absorb the moisture from your skin and keep you warm.  Baselayers are designed to be worn close to your skin.  The zip- t allows you pull the zipper down if you get too warm. Polyester, silk, Polartec and Powerdry are cheaper than merino wool.  

Mid-layers are generally fleece, provide relief from the wind, and can assist in absorbing moisture from raingear and base-layer. An important layer when stopping for long breaks or wearing in the evening.

Rain-gear is  lined ( late fall & winter)  or unlined (summer &  early-mid fall).  There are a number of brands out there for rain gear – North Face, MEC, REC,  Columbia, Helly Hansen, Marmot, Sierra Design etc.  Rain gear is breathable – mesh plus zips under the arms but always expect a little condensation.

The real test is for you to hike in all types of weather. To learn from each experience, what layers &  material (brands) work  for you and adjust accordingly.

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May 2010 Issue of Explore

The May 2010 issue of Explore – Canada’s Outdoor Magazine is out and two articles that caught my attention were Riding the New Wave  by Masa Takei and Best Gear for 2010 by Ryan Stuart.  Riding the new Wave was a story of  of four individuals paddling standing up on a paddleboard into BC’s remote Great Bear Rainforest.  

The Best Gear 2010 sections looked at Hiking Boots, Light Hikers, Trail Runners, Day Packs, Multi-Day packs, sleeping bags and tents. Lets start with Hiking boots – Salomon Wings Sky GTX  was one of the four boots mention in the guide along with Le Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 GTX, Keen Pyrenees, and Asolo Powerlite-ERGO. Interesting Backpacker Magazine has given the 2010 Editor’s Choice Award to the Salomon Wings Sky GTX.  Check out Backpacker’s video on the review of the Salomon Wings Sky GTX  in the 2010 Editors Choice awards.

My nephew has a pair of Salomon Quest 4D GTX Day Hiking Boots and loves them. MEC had 13 reviews on the my nephews boot and rated 5 out of 5 stars. So Salomon boots are well worth taking a long look at especially if you are in the market for a new pair of boots this year. 

In the Daypacks section, Deuter Spectro AC 32 was one of the four daypacks that made best 2010 list with Explore. I am familiar with Deuter daypacks as I own a Futura 28 that has a bottom compartment. The Deuter Spectro AC 32 is top loading pack with great reviews.

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Merry Christmas

Lots of great gifts for hikers out there that won’t hurt the pocketbook.  Here are some ideas for you :  1) a pair of smart wool socks, 2) a bear bell, 3) small mesh bag, 4) drybag, 5) a whistle, 6) a trail map, 7) a compass, 8) a watch with carabiner that hooks on to the daypack, 9 ) a memory card for a digital camera, 10) a memory card case – Staples has one for $5.99 holds 6 cards, 11) batteries for camera, 12) battery charger, 13) a first aid kit, 14) bear spray, 15) a rain cover for daypack, 16) a national park pass, 17) a pair of trekking poles, 18) a hiking book, 19) a hiking hat,  20) sunscreen, 21) insect repellent,  22)  carabiner, 23) stainless steel water bottle, 24) a pedometer, 25)  headlamp, 26)  binoculars, 27) a camera tripod, 28) a swiss army knife, 29) a roll of duck tape, 30) rope,  31) a travel towel, 32) an emergency blanket, 33)  moleskin for blisters, 34) a trowel, 35) lip palm, 36) a hip pocket all weather note pad, 37) a tick plier, 38) camp suds, 39) waterproof gloves, 40) a toque, 41) a subscription to Explore Magazine and or Backpacker magazine.

Hikers are easy to buy for Christmas. Surprise your hiker friend with a small gift at Christmas time….The above items can be found at most outdoor stores such as MEC,  and box stores – Canadian Tire, Walmart, Home Hardware etc.

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You have probably heard this phrase before – dress in layers for hiking. Does it work, yes and proven by thousands of hikers around the world.  I have been testing my equipment lately getting ready for a busy fall hiking season with Hike the Highlands Festival and hiking the West Highland Way.

There are three layers – base layer, middle layer and outer layer. The base layer – next to the skin layer is probably the most important layer as it regulates your body temperature. I found this layer important in long hikes, hot hikes, and hiking in the rain. There are several products out there – silk, wool, and synthetics – Polartec Power Dry, CoolMax polyester, GoLite, REI MTS etc.  

The middle layer insulates you from the cold and keeps you warm.  Some middle layer products include fleece and soft shell jackets that are made of moisture wicking fabrics that also keep you dry.  Outer layer protects you from wind and the rain.  Generally they are waterproof and breathable. You will find out soon most products are not totally breathable. You will not get wet from the rain but rather from sweating inside. Important to buy a rain jacket with pit zips vents and of course wearing a good base layer.

Below is a short video on layering –

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As part of the Walk for Wildlife weekend at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, a Leave No Trace workshop was held at the Jack Pine Trail.  This workshop was sponsored by Hike Nova Scotia.  Andrew Dunn and Ben Parsons were our instructors from MEC – Mountain Equipment Co-op in Halifax. They did a great job explaining the seven principles of Leave No Trace.  All hikers should follow these principles.

Seven principles of Leave No Trace  are –  1) Plan ahead and prepare, 2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, 3) Dispose of Waste properly, 4) Leave what you find, 5) Minimize Campfire Impacts, 6) Respect Wildlife, and 7) Be considerate of Other Visitors.  For more information on Leave No Trace visit their website.

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