Articles for August 2015

Exo Undies Test

High-Tech Undies

My dear friend Andrew Pate and I, Zach Miler, have many things in common. We both have over 30+ years of musical experience between the two of us, we love the outdoors even more, we were both started at The Backpacker the same day, and we have both been wearing two pairs of underwear each for the past six weeks.

Now before the dread-headed tie-dye hippie accusations pour in, let me set a few things straight. ExOfficio’s underwear has a tag line “17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of award-winning underwear. (Ok, maybe two.)”. This has been a laughing matter between the two of us for a while, but then one day we decided that it was time to challenge the matter, each other, and ourselves.

Now there is no wager or prize, in fact if the other quit it would not have been a big deal, however, the pride to try and spoof such a boisterous tag line was what really drove us. What might come of defeating such a claim? This was it, it had to be done. The ground rules were set:
-Two pairs of underwear each; no more, no less
-Wash one pair in the shower and wear the dry, clean pair
-Be honest about it
-Stay mindful of health issues (an unfortunate reality)

 I’ll admit that it was tough finding a routine of washing and drying. Seems simple enough but it really can be hard to not instinctively throw the dirty pair in the hamper. Now as for washing, I recommend anti-bacterial bar soap, however, my all time favorite soap to use is Dr. Bronner’s soap. Dr. Bronner’s is an all purpose soap I discovered in The Backpacker’s camping section and have fallen in love with. It cleans very well, is all-natural, and has a pleasant smell that makes you feel clean. Now, get in there and scrub like you’re playing the washboard for a zydeco band. Since the material is synthetic, don’t use a dryer. Ring out as much liquid as you can and hang dry.

Just like anything else, we began to fall into a routine with the challenge. We didn’t realize what the difference between our cotton underwear and these high-tech skivvies really were. I’ll spare the details, but just know the difference really was in what I wore. South Louisiana has thrown a lot at me in my day, but I now feel as if I have a tool that really helps me fight the high heat and humidity.

In the end, we like this product for several reasons.
-Washes and dries easily
-Aegis microbe treatment
-Give-n-go nylon/lycra spandex blend is highly breathable and mobile for active
-Comes in a variety of colors and styles for men and women
-Perfect for the outdoors, travel, recreation, and anything you throw at it
-ExOfficio holds true to their claims

Whether or not anyone else chooses to challenge ExOfficio’s claim, it is definitely worth having a few pair in your arsenal for travel, outdoor life, and just everyday loving. I have put this test through the ringer and have even failed to mention an intense climbing trip with just the two pair, but I’ll spare the details. When the weather cools off, Andrew and I will have a cotton underwear bonfire. We’re converted and those who want to join are comfortably welcome.


Andrew and Zach have both worked at The Backpacker at Bocage since January 2015. They are both gear heads for music, climbing, and camping.

Eric In Wyoming

Wyoming Trip

Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15- I purchased this sleeping bag specifically for a late September photo trip in Wyoming. I’ve used and have been happy with my Phantom 45 for a while now and I was not let down by my Phantom 15. After finding out all the campsites were full, I first used it while taking refuge in my SUV on a cold night in Yellowstone NP. The temperature dropped to around 18 degrees that night but it was no concern to me tucked away in my Phantom 15. The following night I was able to use the bag more appropriately in my Marmot Pulsar 2p. The temperature was similar to the night before and I ended up unzipping my bag some to let some cool air in! The smart wool base layers and down jacket may have been helping a bit too. The bag stuffed down to a comfortable size and the weight of the bag is in its name.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp- This has been and continues to be my favorite headlamp I have ever used. This headlamp is reliable, easy to use, and is able to put off a solid stream of light for a considerable amount of time. I purchased this headlamp for hunting and photography applications. For photography, besides helping me walk around at night while taking photos of the stars, it also allows me to “paint” objects with light during long exposures. When the camera is taking the exposure I can switch to the red light option so that I don’t mess up the photo with the standard bright white light.  The locking feature is a helpful bonus. The on/off button is sensitive and the light easily turns on when in a backpack. The user has the ability to lock the light so that the headlamp’s batteries do not get drained while tucked away in the backpack.

Osprey Airporter- The airporter was a life saver on my last trip to Wyoming. I had never traveled by plane with so much climbing and photography equipment. Not only was I able to fit my 65 liter backpack in the airporter, I was also able to fit a good bit extra when one of my checked bags was overweight. I was able to disperse the weight between the airporter and my luggage bag to avoid the insane overweight baggage fees. The airporter comes with plenty of room for your backpack and whatever else you may need. The bag also stuffs down to a manageable size for storage when not needed. The aiporter also allows for a better “insurance” policy for contents “inside the bag”. If anything happens to my bag while the airline is handling it, my backpack turns into the contents of a bag because of my trusty airporter. Last but not least, the airporter also does the conveyer belts a big favor. All of those straps that hang down from your backpack don’t always agree with conveyer belts. The airporter is a clean bag with one shoulder strap. This is an extra bag that is worth the investment for traveling with an excursion backpack.

Eric Svendson is the Store Manager at Backpacker River Ranch.

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What’s in my backpack? Susie Backpacks Yosemite

Being invited to a mountain meadow California wedding was the perfect excuse to take a few extra days of vacation to visit one of America’s best National Parks: Yosemite. I knew about Yosemite because of my experience with rock climbing, and the inspiration to visit became urgent after seeing the Reel Rock movie, Valley Uprising, that The Backpacker hosted at The Varsity Theater last year. With over 800 miles of backpacking trails, I was fortunate to have a friend, who is a seasoned Yosemite visitor, help me pick a three day backpacking trail. We decided to hike the Ten Lakes Basin area which ended up being a perfect choice for moderate terrain but amazing views!

 What’s in my backpack?

My Pack: Gregory Jade 50

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– Sleep System: Thermarest Women’s Prolite, Thermarest NeoAir pillow, TNF Cat’s Meow women’s sleeping bag

– Cooking Utensils: Sawyer Filter, Nalgene, MSR Dromedary, Eagle Creek Small Sac “spice kit” (containing oil, cumin, salt, lighters, sporks, etc), MSR Pocket Rocket & Ignitor, 1 Spatula, 2 pots, 1 lid, 1 Nalgene brand “tupperware,” French Press, Metal coffee cup

– Meal Plan: Breakfasts- PB & J on torts, boiled eggs, summer sausage, egg, & cheese torts, coffee! Lunches- summer sausage & cheese torts with mayo & mustard, tuna torts, PB & J torts; Snacks- trail mix, boiled eggs, cheese; Dinners- Chili Mac, PB pasta with soy sauce and broccoli, Tuna casserole with cheese

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– Clothing: Merrell Capra Hiking Shoes, Smartwool socks, Backpacker T-Shirt, TNF Synthetic T-Shirt, Mountain Khaki Poplin shorts, Prana capri leggings, Patagonia R1 fleece and Down Sweater Vest, Smartwool Beanie, Buff neck gaiter,

– Other Essentials: Suunto Compass, Map, LaSportiva Women’s Tarantula climbing shoes, sunscreen, oil of citronella, chapstick, camera, rain cover, Camelbak resevoir


His Pack: Osprey Atmos 65

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– Sleep System: Thermarest Trail Lite (from the 1990s that we bought at a garage sale – built to last), Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed, Marmot inflatable pillow

– Tent & Hammock: Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 person, Grand Trunk Double

– Bear Can: Elbow Pasta, Peanut Butter, Trail Mix, Tortillas (lucky to find homemade Naan flatbread at the Chico farmer’s market), Packets from restaurants and gas stations (jelly, soy sauce, chalua, mayo, mustard, creamers), Can of chili, Tuna packs, Boiled eggs, Summer sausage, Cheddar cheese, Broccoli, Onion, Coffee, Trash bag

– Shoes: Vasque Mantra hiking shoes


– Other Essentials: Binoculars, Margarita mix, travel size tequila and whiskey flasks, rain cover, Camelbak resevoir

What did we learn?

– Research Yosemite permit process and find guidance on picking a trail.

– Make reservations about a month or more in advance.

– Wilderness permit stations open at 8:00 am and close at 5:00 pm. You have to rent a bear can from there.

– Ten Lakes is not 40 degrees at night in August, as suggested by the website, and our sleeping bags were too hot.

– Rangers instill a fear of bears, but we didn’t see any.

– The water tastes as good as BR water after filtering with our Sawyer.

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Susie Weeks has been with The Backpacker since 2009. She enjoys hiking, biking, and dancing the night away.