ULA Ohm 2.0 Review – My go-to Pack for Ultralight Backpacking

A Detailed Review of the ULA Ohm 2.0 Backpack.

Specs etc, as per ULA:

Volume Breakdown
Main Body: 2,100 cc
Front Mesh Pocket: 500 cc
Side Pocket: 400 cc each
Ext. Collar: 500 cc
Hipbelt Pockets: 100 cc

General Guidelines
Recommended Maximum Load: 30 lbs or less
Recommended Base Weight: 12 lbs or less

Pack Weight (Torso-M, Hipbelt-M)
32.5 oz (add about 2 oz for camo cordura version)
Weight includes all removable items, which is about 5 oz.

Total Volume
3,960 cu in (about 63 liters)

For more info visit ULA’s official website product page.

Link to my favorite pack cover, seen in the video: Dutchware Argon Pack Cover


Grayson Highlands Route Planning – Solo Winter Backpacking Trip Pt 3

Creating a Backpacking Loop for my upcoming winter solo camping trip in Virginia’s Grayson Highlands.

For part three of this series, I’ll be going over my specific route selection for my solo backpacking loop, including trails used, potential parking / starting points, and expected camping areas for each night.  The map I chose to purchase for this trip, based on viewer feedback, was National Geographic’s Map #318 for the Mount Rogers High Country Grayson Highlands State Park region of Virginia.

A good portion of this loop will utilizing the Appalachian Trail, within the Mt Rogers National Recreation Area, as well as several other connecting trails within the Lewis Fork Wilderness and Little Wilson Creek Wilderness areas.

I will be doing continued updates throughout the whole process of planning this winter hiking trip. All the way from location selection, specific route planning, packing, food choices, getting there, doing the actual trip, and whatever else may come up in between, so check back for updates!

A Tour of Texas – Hiking Big Bend & Mexican Border Road Trip

Join me for a Tour of Texas, from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to a Hike in Big Bend NP, via an adventure along the Mexican border. 

For this adventure, I’ll be travelling (via air) from Philadelphia to San Antonio, Texas.  After landing, the plan will be to grab a rental car and immediately travel 7 hours west, following a route along the Mexican boarder, to Big Bend National Park.  Big Bend holds the distinction as America’s largest protected swath of Chihuahuan desert.  Another of Big Bend’s unique distinctions is that around 118 miles of the Mexican / American boarder lay within it’s boundaries, hugging the deepest point of the Rio Grande.

My plan is to arrive at Big Bend National Park before sunset on day one and make a mad scramble for the Window Trail, which is said to boast some amazing sunset views across the Chisos Mountains.  Assuming I pull this off, my next task will be to awake just before that burning globe comes back around again, and make way for the tallest peak amongst the Chisos Range – Emory Peak.  After that – a quick retreat to the car, a modest rehydration and clean up, and then it will time to hop back in the rental car once again.

Just to keep thing interesting, my plan will be to take an alternate 7 hour route, further to the north, to return to San Antonio.  At that point, I’ll scoop up Sara and head an additional 3 hours west to the Gulf of Mexico.  More specifically, the Corpus Christi region, for some beach front camping, which would be a first for us.

Of course, all of these plans assume that everything goes as expected.  I mean, they never get unexpected or sever weather on the Gulf Coast, do they?  Wait…  do they?

Red River Gorge Revisited – Kentucky Hiking, Hammock Camping & Backpacking

Join the crew as we revisit the Red River Gorge for 3 days of hiking, hammock camping and backpacking in Kentucky.

The Red River Gorge a unique Geological Area within Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest.  This area hosts an impressive collection of natural arches (or natural bridges, as they’re often call), spread across some relatively young forest in the hills of eastern Kentucky, about 1 hour shy of Lexington. The Red River Gorge has the highest concentration of rock arches east of the Rock Mountains (over 100). This makes Red River Gorge a visually impressive hiking area, as well as one of the world’s top rock climbing destinations.

This is actually my second exploration of the RRG.  My first backpacking experience here was a solo hammock camping trip in October, a couple of years back.  On that trip, I covered more ground and saw a nice sampling of the area’s more well known arches, but helpful feedback from some of my viewers who were more versed in the area alerted me to the fact that I had missed out on some pretty cool unofficial trails and spots.  In fact, I had walk right by a few of them.  I made a mental note to get back down to the Red River Gorge some day and give it another go.

Finally, the opportunity arose for that trip, and to sweeten the deal, I managed to round up an outdoor posse for this renewed exploration the RRG. This time around, I’ll be joined by my wife as well as my friend Mike and his wife Danielle.  And while my last trip was a 2 day, higher mileage affair, we decided to extend this backpacking trip to 3 days and to drop the mileage back a bit to create a trip with more emphasis on time to relax at camp.  Actually, our night two camp site was one of the very areas that several viewers had suggested I check out on my next visit – an unofficial (but completely legal) camping spot called Hanson’s Point.  The actual point has an amazing view out into the gorge, and the nearby camping opportunities are large, flat, and nicely shaded.

The route we chose for this trip starts out at the same trailhead as my previous Red River Gorge trip video, but shortly after starting, it deviates onto an unofficial spur trail for another viewer suggested feature, called Indian Staircase.  This area offers an impressive view into the gorge as well.  It also boasts a pretty cool feature that gives it it’s name – a series of foot and hand holds carved into it’s sandstone face to assist with traversing it’s steep grade.  As the name would suggest, legend says that local Native Americans originally created these features, but who actually created these carvings remains a mystery and the source of some debate.  Regardless of the true history, it’s a very cool place and well worth checking out.  While I didn’t personally find the route overly steep or exposed, it should be pointed out that this trail could be a bit nerve wracking for some sensitive to heights.  Leaving you pack stashed at the base is certainly helpful and will save you a few ounces of sweat as well.

GPS track data along for each day’s hiking route, along with waypoints for campsites and other points of interest, can be downloaded on my Trip Data page.

Trails Used, in order (with Trail Numbers):

Park at Bison Way Trailhead 37.83685,-83.609546

Day 1
Bison Way Trail 210
Unofficial Spur Trail to Indian Staircase at GPS coordinates
Sheltowee Trace Trail 100
Cross State Road 715 and River via suspension bridge
Rough Trail 221
Set up camp along Chimney Top Creek
Stats for Day: 9.2 Miles ; 1,413 feet of elevation gain
RRGR Elevation Profile Day 1 - Sintax77

Day 2
Rough Trail 221
Hanson’s Point Spur Trail (unoffcial)
Set up near near Hanson’s Point
Stats for Day 2: 3.2 Miles ; 731 feet of elevation gain
RRGR Elevation Profile Day 2 - Sintax77

Day 3
Hanson’s Point Spur Trail (unoffcial)
Rough Trail 221 (short segment towards Sheltowee Tr )
Sheltowee Trace Trail 100
Road Hike along Red River back towards Bison Way parking area.
Stats for Day 3: 5.9 Miles ; 377 feet of elevation gain.
RRGR Elevation Profile Day 3 - Sintax77

Grand Totals for Trip: 18.3 Miles ; 2,521 feet of elevation gain

First Look – Apex Tarp Shelter by GO! Outfitters

Taking a look at my second item from GO! Outfitters, the Apex Tarp Shelter.

This is an 11′ x 9.5′ 70D Polyester Tarp that comes standard with 6 aluminum stakes and 8 guy-lines which can be configured in a variety of ways in conjunction with the Apex tarp’s 20 tie-out points. Personally, I’ll probably tie permanent lines to the 4 main corners and use removable a removable setup (either via larks head or hardware, like Dutch Hookworms) for the remaining lines for maximum adaptability on the fly.

**A note on the side middle side tie-outs: The official production model has the middle tie-outs on each side, unlike the configuration seen in this video. I believe this was simply due it being a pre-production model.

The tarp itself weighs 20 oz. Included guy-lines and aluminum stakes weigh a total of 8 ounces. I can see this tarp work great with any of my current camping hammocks, or as a nice stand alone shelter for minimalist ground sleeping situations. Color options are Forest Green, as seen and Slate Grey. There are also plans for an additional door kit as well, which may shed some light on the importance of those extra tie-out points on each side.

For full specs and the latest details, check out their Apex Shelter Kickstarter Page.

First Look – GO! Outfitters Hammock System

Taking a look at a new hammock I’m testing out, the GO! Hammock by GO! Outfitters.

This is an 11 foot by 70 inch wide, netless, 70D camping hammock, available with or without the cinch buckle and nylon webbing strap suspension system. They also make a full bug net version as well, but I’m looking forward to giving it a spin for some cooler weather and winter backpacking, so netless should work out just fine for now.

For full specs and details check out the official GO! Outfitters website.

Or their original Kickstarter page by clicking here (funding complete).