- Uses AA batteries which are still the most common for multiple devices. Two way radios, GPS, camera strobes, DSLR battery grips, and the few remaining non rechargeable point and shoot cameras all take AA batteries. This means I only need to carry AA batteries and not multiple sizes (usually AAA is second most common). A second factor for AA batteries is the availability of AA Lithiums. These are not cheap, but they are easily found at any big box store and they work in extreme cold. they also negate the weight advantage of AAA vs AA (based on 3 AAA alkalines vs 4 AA lithiums).
- Has a seperate battery compartment and lamp housing for balance and comfort. True, while front mounted lamp/battery combos are usually smaller and lighter and you can lay down with them on, they aren’t as good for active pursuits. They tend to bounce and sway and usually lack a 3rd over the head top strap for security and stability.
- Rugged and waterproof. My Petzl Duo was fully submersible down to several dozen feet, and while I never went snorkeling or diving or underwater caving with it, having piece of mind that a little rain or snow or even the unintended flipping of a canoe wouldn’t be the death of my light source is very important.
- DEDICATED POWER SWITCH AND MODE SWITCH. With all the good options for the first 3, this was and still is perhaps the hardest option to find and thus it’s in bold. One of the things I liked about my Petzl Duo was it’s simple two switch lever setup. Up/Down/Middle. Up and down were for either lamp (halogen or LED module), middle was for power off. In the middle setting the switch locked out so the headlamp couldn’t be accidentally turned on, and this was a feature that made the Duo a favorite of mine. The Duo lever switch worked extremely well with gloves and mittens. Unfortunately, most LED headlamp makers like to have just a single switch that controls all the various settings. So with many headlamps you have to cycle through 6 modes (or more) to get from power off back to power off. Ideally, in a dual switch setup, one switch controls power on/off and one controls output adjustment.
- Power output. At least 100 lumens on high with a lower setting of 10-20 lumens.
- Battery life. Something that would last 3-4 days of intensive use at low to medium power.
- Beam quality. Lumens are one factor in quality of light output, but the type of LED bulb and it’s color balance, the reflector (collimator in LED tech), and the throw of the beam all make for better and worse beams.
- Cost. Under $100.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
There is no doubt that for most people a $1000 SLR is expensive. However, in the grand scheme of camera prices, $1000 is relatively middle tier and the thought of losing one to the forces of nature or in pursuit of adventure is somewhat bearable. But should your camera be at the mercy of nature?
I've been using Pentax gear for almost 20 years. I've owned and shot top end Nikon SLR cameras and glass, as well as owned a handful of various brand high end digital compacts in that time, but never have I felt like my money was better spent then when I was using Pentax gear.
Pentax SLR cameras consistently offer top notch image quality. They also offer rugged build and sealing to go with a solid lens lineup, including sealed zooms and pancake primes.
Because Pentax doesn't battle for dominance in the professional photo journalism market, it isn't forced to hold back technology for top end cameras, and it is able to concentrate on system size and ergonomics that professional outfits might not care about. This simplified technology structure allows consumers to get professional level equipment at relatively bargain prices.
Below is a great example why Pentax gear is ideally designed for outdoor adventure in a mountain environment:
Posted by Justin Serpico at Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Perhaps a pertinent example was this past weekend, I did just under 5000ft of gain in 7.5 miles, which is an effort ratio of 3.73:1, in comparison the Great Range is about 2.8:1 (both ratios are versus flat land hiking). I estimate that I only consumed about 750-1000 calories while hiking and was strong right to the end, with no hunger, crashes or weakness. In fact, in spite of the extremely warm weather and intentionally going into the hike tired from hard workouts the previous two days, I either set or matched personal best up both trails, which are among the steepest in the region. So, even pushing the edges of the fat burning heart rate zone, I never bonked.
- Coconut oil/MCT oil (a great source of easy burning fat calories, coconut oil is about 62% MCT, so it is a cheap way of getting expensive MCT into your body)
- Dark chocolate (85-90%) (an excellent mix of fats, protein, carbs, fiber, and antioxidants. Aside from melting, almost a perfect hiking food)
- Almond or hazelnut butter packets (calorie dense, mostly fat and protein, my replacement for sugar based energy gels...brand name I prefer, Justin's)
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds (calorie dense, mostly fat, high source of magnesium)
- Raw almonds (calorie dense, something crunchy, same as the above nutrients)
- Foil packed tuna, salmon or sardines (good protein source, almost real food)
- Beef jerky (salty, chewy, almost required for a day on trail, protein dense)
- Frozen guacamole packets (depending on temps...high in fats, calorie dense, can be sucked down on the move...brand name is Wholly Guacamole)
- Chia seeds (in a gel form or mixed into coconut milk...an excellent mix of fats, protein, fiber...but they stick to your teeth for those summit photos)
- BCAA’s (branched chain amino acid tablets or powder, these can be used as fuel and are necessary for endurance activities lasting more than a few hours, they will prevent your body from cannibalizing itself to get the amino acids needed for long duration endurance)
- Canned coconut milk (good source of fats, high in MCTs which are a great source of energy, powdered option is available, but with sugar added, can be dumped into a Nalgene before starting to avoid lugging a can around. Ideally it should be kept refrigerated, so don't let it sit out of the can too long)
- Powdered Coconut Milk (definitely should be avoided when possible, instead of 100% fat content, it's is about 80-90% fat, with a good amount of added sugar, but definitely an option)
- High quality whey protein powder (don’t buy the junk at big box stores...mostly as a addition for coconut milk, but full of amino acids)
- Boiled eggs (a complete protein source that is somewhat hike stable)
- Boiled/baked potatoes (starchy carb, with a little salt on top a great trail snack, real -solid- food)
- Turkey breast and goat cheese in a nori wrap (mmm, real -solid- food early in the day...downsides, low trail life)
- Oat based granola bars (sort of wheat/gluten free, complex carbs, something different...consider it a comfort food)
- Kind bars and Rise Bars(the almond and coconut Kind bar fits in with a ketogenic snack profile, plus a few carbs....the Rise Bar has 3 ingredients, Almonds, whey protein, honey; but like a Kind bar is not quite ketogenic and contains 20g of carbs per ~3oz bar)
- Cocochia bars (lots of fats, some protein, and a negative net carb profile, almost perfect, too bad they are pricey and hard to find)
- Homemade candied ginger with or without 90% dark chocolate coating (definitely not ketosis promoting, but ginger has more digestive enzymes than just about any single natural product on earth. It can cut gas, bloating, and an upset stomach. Plus, it has strong anti inflammatory properties. Oh and it tastes good!)
- Coconut water mixed with green tea (a good way to replenish potasium, and the catechins and flavinoids in green tea are anti-inflammatory. The small amount of caffeine can offer some energy boost, but is probably insignificant to anyone who regularly drinks caffeine. Coconut water contains about 20g of sugars per 12 ounces, so this is definitely not a no sugar drink. It is, however, a much better alternative for those hiking slow enough that solid food is the primary source of calorie intake)
- Carrots and broccoli (both of these have a decent trail life and are pretty durable when stuffed in a pack, only downside is they are a little heavy in terms of calories to weight ratio. Eat them early in the day to shed the weight)
- Beanitos bean and flax chips (this is one of a few areas where I diverge from a Paleo diet, I think properly processed legumes are generally positive in moderation, and Beanitos are a great example of that. Salty -but not too salty-, crunchy, packed with energy and plant based proteins. They are low glycemic load, and have absolutely no corn or wheat in them. )
- WATER (as Dr. Stacy Sims makes clear, you can recover from low blood sugar but not from dehydration)
- S! Caps (Reading the book "Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports" by Dr. Tim Noakes has really opened my eyes to the LACK of need for electrolytes under normal drinking conditions. However, when hiking we don't always get to "drink plain water to thirst" as Tim Noakes recommends we do. More often than not when hiking, we are drinking as much as we can at water sources because they are few and far between. S! Caps are only used to help move water from the stomach to the body and avoid sloshing around in the stomach, and to avoid potentially deadly hypernatremia when I am forced to down large quantities of water at water sources)
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
|Tethered balloons were grounded due to fog.|
|Inside of the envelope (balloon) from the basket.|
|South Queensbury Fire truck detail.|
|Flames from the basket burner into the envelope.|
The hike into Lilian Brook took us about as long as it did a few weeks before, when we had full multi-day backpacks and had to navigate the immediate aftermath of the hurricane Irene flooding and blowdown.
|Aim and Colvin on the Beckhorn.|
|Dix Mountain's ridgline perfectly split by cloud cover, with Aim and Colvin on edge of the unknown.|
|Moments like this remind me that every day in the mountains can be special.|
|Original survey bolt from the Adirondack Survey of the 1870s.|
|Sunset below the Beckhorn|
Posted by Justin Serpico at Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
|January views of the High Peaks from the summit of West Crane Mountain. The photo is deceiving, as there was only about 7-12in of snow on the ground, much of which melted in the following days of warm rain.|
March and April are historically the biggest snow months at elevation in the Northeast, and over the last few years winter hasn’t really stuck around until Presidents Day weekend, chiefly because of arctic highs forcing moisture snow) south into the coast and southern mountains. However, unlike this year, we’ve had a few false starts in those years. Plenty of snow, then a warm rainy spell with it's accompanying meltout. Enough that snowshoes and skis would have seen some justified use by Presidents Day, even if skiers and climbers weren't completely happy with conditions.
Friday, January 13, 2012
At some point over the last two years I really began to notice how badly a traditional USDA endorsed carb based diet was for me, and then many months of research and tweaking my own diet and lifestyle affirmed my hypothesis. Unfortunately this flies against conventional wisdom (or stupidity), so you feel like it can’t be right. That said, this isn’t some fad diet, but a real science based lifestyle change that centers around eating unprocessed foods high in fats. For those that need some sort of planogram to eat correctly, it's essentially a very loose variation of the Paleo diet. For me it's pretty satisfying and easy to stick to, provided I have access to the foods.
Bear in mind that weight isn’t necessarily evil. It is, in my opinion -and based on studies-, often better to be 15lbs over weight and fit, than at your ideal weight and BMI and be sedentary. However, weight isnt good for connective tissue and joints, nor is it good for an ailing spine. Not to mention that you need to work harder for the same performance results when hiking or climbing. I guesstimate that at moderately elevated BMI, every 10lbs of extra weight is worth 1 YDS scale grade on rock. Thus, if i weight 190 when i should weight 170, i am probably climbing 2 grades lower. 5.8 vs 5.10 is a big deal, at least to me.
Science shows that a high fat and protein diet, in connection with a reduction of wheat and grain based carbs, is the ideal diet for endurance athletes. A mountaineer is an endurance athlete and should train and eat like one.
Sure, it cost more time, effort and money to eat good, unprocessed grain free food, but with a little planning you can cut cost and effort to assure that something satisfying is always readily available.
Like with anything in life, it’s not enough to have a good plan, it's all about execution of the plan. Time to execute.
Best wishes in 2012 and best of luck with your own goals!