Thursday, October 28, 2010

Medoc Mountain State Park, N.C.

I had made a trek to this park with my family a while ago,
just for a day hike and some time away before school started.
Its a great park, that is well kept and just close enough to make it
It has a HUGE kite flying field, several trails varying in length
and difficulty(most of which loop to ease tensions about getting lost),
a great camping area that divides the RVs from the tents, and rangers
that are very helpful and friendly. (note: there were several RVs
in the tent loop for some reason during our latest stay...does a
generator really need to run...ALL NIGHT!?)
The weekend we were there they
had a series of races through the trails that kept them pretty well
off limits till later in the afternoon. We hit the trails with no map and
were able to navigate through the Discovery Loop Trail as well as the
Stream Loop Trail. After a long haul we crossed the Little Fishing
Creek and started onto the Summit Loop Trail, but by that point
the day was ending and we had to make it back to camp.
The trip was a great success and we decided that a return trip
would definitely be in the near future. Part of what made it such a
great spot...LOCATION! It's a mere 2 1/2 hours from home.
Far enough to get the new scenery and get "away", but close enough
so the return trip gets you home by late morning or noon at the
latest. If you get a chance check it out, you won't be disappointed.

Next Up: MSR PocketRocket

This was not my first camp stove cooking option.
I had originally planned on getting the Jetboil Flash. However,
the local shop was out of everything related to it (usually a sign
of a great reliable product). So while I sat there trying to figure out
option #2 it dawned on me that I could get the MSR PocketRocket
with a GSI Outdoors: Soloist for about the same price and have
essentially the same thing. The only gripe I had was that the
stove would not actually pack into the Soloist like it showed on
the box (GSI: a call-out on the diagram on the box of what stove
actually fits in there would be SUPER HELPFUL!).

Now this was not my only means by which to cook on this
particular trip, but we wanted to get better prepared for an
actual hike in trip in the early part of next year. I picked up
some instant oatmeal as well as three Mountain House Meals
to use this with (more on Mountain house later). Set up of both
was super fast, and easy. The PocketRocket lit up and burnt
like a jet engine. My brother's Jetboil was able to bring water
to a boil in what seemed like a minute. The PocketRocket was
neck and neck, taking maybe a minute and a half...two minutes tops.
When you're done, cut it off, let it sit (the supports actually glow orange),
and then pack it all away. I love it! I could honestly not be
happier with my purchase. There are only 2 things that set it apart:
1- The stability of a pot on the top is not totally secure, a balanced,
level base must be utilized.
2- There is no internal/incorporated igniter. This is a pro and a con.
Pro- You can actually use a pot on my stove direct without having to
but any additional bases, or stabilizers.
Con- You need an external flame source to light it (lighter, match, etc.)
I can only see wind as being the main issue on this, as most hikers don't
venture into the woods without at least one fires source, if not 2.

All in all I am happy. With what I spent if a Jetboil presents
itself as a better option, I am realistically only out about $40.
I don't see the need to change at this point though.

First up- Eagles Nest Outfitters' Double Nest Hammock
My brother came across this gem a while back while I was still
toying with getting a Hennessy Asum Hammock system. The main
deterrent for getting the Hennessy was the price $180-230 up front
all at once for a sleep system just seems steep. Especially knowing
that I have no idea HOW I'll be sleeping in a hammock. Enter the
ENO Doublenest. For about $70 you get a hammock that packs into a
softball sized bag, weighs about nothing, and is super strong. We both added
the Slap Strap Pro hanging system as a given for our uses. So rather than
going ahead with purchasing the
Pro Fly. I decided to see if I'd enjoy sleeping
in a hammock and figured I
could make a more educated decision based on my
experiences afterward.
Nathan went ahead and pulled the trigger on the
Dry Fly since he had already tested his hammock out earlier.

All I can say is this: Eagles Nest lived up to every expectation.
Our camp was up and running in under half an hour, the hammocks
hanging in minutes, but the my tarp and his dry fly took a little time to
get hung right. Their attachment to the trees was cake,
but figuring out the best placement for the tie lines was trial and error.
After the first night two things became abundantly clear:
1- Unless you get two wraps around a tree trunk, your strap may slide
slightly as you are getting comfortable/situated in the hammock and over night.
2- When the temp drops below 50 degrees your body really does compress
your sleeping bag making for cold spots at the points where the majority of your weight is distributed to (in my case the shoulders and back side) The Ember Underquilt fixes this as it covers the outside of the hammock in a quilted cocoon.
In the morning however, my legs swung around, hit the ground and I stood up.
NO BACK PAIN at all! Full mobility and a sound night of rest.

We took our lessons from night #1 and made the changes we deemed
necessary for night #2 and it was even better.
Neither one of us will be using a tent again.

Thanks, Eagles Nest expecting a
check for a Pro Fly for myself and
Ember Underquilt , Guardian Bug Net from both of us.

A Long Time Coming...

Well, it's been a LONG time coming, but alas...another post. This past October 15th my brother and I made a trek back to Medoc Mountain State Park, N.C. This trip was a bit of a conundrum.
We had been planning it for months, but the actual location wasn't decided until the morning we left. All in all we decided that the park is a great place to visit. It doesn't have hike in camping available on the trails, BUT it has a good balance of comforts, with some nice hiking and scenery.
This trip we used as a field trial for a ton of new gear. My thoughts of the gear, of course will be shared here. So sit back, check it out and find out what I thought.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Well, I am back. The long dormancy that accompanies the winter is drawing to a close and I find myself drawn back outdoors.

This year our family is trying out Occoneechee State Park.
We'll be staying in the cabins this go around and it appears that the Crappie and Bass (Large and Small Mouth) are both starting to come out of their winter dormancy as well. I haven't stayed here before and know nothing of the area, but it appears like there is plenty for us all to do and I personally, can't wait to get back into the woods. Most of the trails are moderate and the grade should be manageable for everyone. We'll be doing some fishing, a lot of hiking, possibly some boating, and any other available activities that don't require batteries, electrical plugs, adapters, etc. I am really looking forward to this unplugged, extended weekend.

Once back I'll have pics to post, a review to write and input for any other folks that may want to check it out .

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vibram Five Fingers: KSO's

This is going to be my maiden post here at Ren Outside (RO). Please feel free to leave a comment or add some input as you see fit.
I plan on giving some unbiased gear reviews, as well as reviews on various outdoor activities, locations, etc. The reviews that I post here will not only be my own, I also plan on calling upon friends and fellow outdoor enthusiasts from time to time. I hope that this will put a spin on things and offer varying views and different takes on similar subjects. My goal will be to help other folks that are researching different aspects of the outdoor lifestyle.
So, sit down, take a load off bear witness to what I have to share today:


I came across these unusual shoes about a year and a half ago. I had stumbled across the VIBRAM name as I was watching videos and footage from a Parkour training camp (an amazing display of balance, finesse, and agility). Then October of last year I finally received my first pair.
WOW. Every blog and review I read about these "shoes" offered tales of altering steps and strides. I had no idea how right they were. It took a while to get used to the feeling of "barefoot" walking and running without the pain associated with uneasy terrain. But once I was able to get past the tender footsteps, I could notice a more natural stride and a more comfortable jogging and walking cadence. I plan on trying these out on more varied terrain. With this I anticipate that there should be almost no difference, aside from sheer impact when traversing from grass to hard trails and finally to asphalt. I should have a follow up in a few weeks with more in a more in depth review. Stay TUNED.