The North Face Verbera Lite Mid GTX Boots ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (July 23rd, 2014)

North Face Verbera Lite Mid GTXTo call these “Lite” is an understatement.

The North Face Verbera Lite Mid GTX Boots are about a pound per shoe (size 8.5). You may never have thought of weighing your shoes before but try it. You likely don’t have any hiking boots that come close to that weight.

It’s because of that weight that these will be one of (likely) two pair of boots that come with me on the Snowman Trek in September.

Why? Well, my biggest needs from a hiking boot during the Snowman Trek will be:

  • Boots that provide a fair amount of ankle support. A low-cut boot won’t do.
  • Ones that have solid soles (in this case, Vibram) as we’ll be traversing a lot of uneven terrain, at times quite muddy.
  • Waterproof. There’s going to be a lot of rain, maybe a little snow, and likely times when we’re crossing streams. It’s imperative my feet stay dry.

I took these out on a test hike to Mt. Rainier recently on the Eagle Peak Saddle hike. Though it was a beautiful sunny day–conditions I can only hope for in Bhutan–for a breaking-in hike, these proved to be a great pair of boots.

The light weight is not something that was initially on my wish list for hiking boots but I was totally wowed when I picked them up at The North Face store. Seriously. I could not believe how light these boots were.

While it may not be a big deal for shorter hikes, imagine how much nicer it will be for my feet to be lifting a boot that’s only a pound in weight during a trek that will be 25 days and 220 miles North Face Verbera Boots Mt. Rainierlong.

The folks at The North Face store did mention that with a synthetic boot like this, it won’t last as long as a pair of leather boots. While I hate throwing things out prematurely and appreciate longevity over convenience, I have to say that for a boot this light, I’m willing to concede to a shorter shelf life.

What I Love

  • The light weight, of course
  • The extra toe bumper that protects my toes when I smash ‘em against a rock
  • The fact that they are waterproof

Not So Much

  • I did come across one little issue both when I tried these on in the store and with the pair that got shipped to me. There seems to be a seam or grommet that rubs one spot on my ankle just a bit. When I hiked Mt. Rainier, it bothered me for a few minutes but then I didn’t notice it afterward. Once I removed the boot at the end of the hike, however, I noticed I had a little spot on my ankle bone that had been rubbed from something inside the boot. It never blistered over, it was just a slight rub. But it’s something to be aware of.

As I mentioned earlier, these are definitely coming with me on the Snowman Trek. It’s been suggested I have a second pair as a backup so I’m working on figuring out exactly which ones those will be (to be reviewed later).

The North Face Verbera Lite Mid GTX are available through The North Face site for $170.

Travel Well,

Beth

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Snow Peak Gear for Camping ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (July 16th, 2014)

Snow Peak isn’t your usual camping gear company. Au contraire. They are quite unusual. Though their products are items you definitely need for a camping adventure, their gear is one, OK maybe five, notches above most manufacturers of similar products.

Why?

Well, for one, the company was started in the 50s by Yukio Yamai from Japan. He began creating products because, as a mountaineer, he couldn’t find what he wanted from other companies so he created his own. To this day, the Snow Peak products all have a Japanese aesthetic quality to them.

These are not throw-away items meant to be enjoyed for a season or two. Rather, these items are meant to last a generation or more. Beyond quality, each item is also innovative.Hozuki Lantern Snow Peak

Here are two that I will be bringing with me on the Snowman Trek in September.

Hozuki Lantern
The Hozuki Lantern is a hanging light that can easily be used in a tent or outside at a campsite. It throws quite a bit of light. Enough to see around your tent, to read by or enjoy a campfire meal in front of.

There are numerous settings for the light so you can vary the brightness. But not just high, medium or low. You can stop the brightness anywhere in between so you have more control over the amount of light. You can even put it in candle mode so it provides a bit of romantic flicker. Depending on the brightness, you’ve got eight to 80 hours of battery life.

The shade is silicon so it’s pliable and easy to pack. And there’s a low battery light that will come on when it’s time to change them.

Available from Snow Peak for about $90.

Mola Headlamp
Probably one of the coolest inventions ever is the Mola Headlamp. Sure, there are a number of headlamps you could buy. But what makes the Mola Mola Headlamp Snow Peakso fantastic is that it follows the angle of your eyes (not just your head).

What?

Yup. If you already own a headlamp, it likely adjusts with a tilt adjuster so you can physically angle it up or down depending on where you’re looking (up or down) and what you’re doing (reading, starting a campfire, setting up your tent, hiking in the dark). But those headlamps are a bit limited in their mobility.

With the Mola, rather than the tilt adjuster, there’s a floater device that automatically moves with your head. The idea being that when you move, your eyes move at a greater angle than your head – so there’s a wider range of light needed. The Mola adjusts to follow this wider vertical angle of your eyes.

Like the Hozuki, the Mola also has a variety of brightness levels that can be set using the power button. There’s also a calibration button that allows you to tile the light based on your needs at the time.

Available from Snow Peak for about $45.

What I Love

  • Both items are innovative beyond any similar products I own.
  • They are durable, built to last.
  • They each have their own fun and funky factors.

Not So Much

  • I found the LED portion of the Hozuki to sometimes be painfully difficult (on my fingers) to twist and remove to get to the batteries. It really takes a hard twist and I can imagine that in a super cold environment, it would be even more painful on my hands.
  • I could never get the strobe to work on the Mola. Although I can’t imagine a situation when I would want to use this, pressing the power button in a certain order (per the instructions) didn’t seem to work.

Overall, there’s much more to like about both of these than not. Definitely keepers.

Travel Well,

Beth

Related links:
Jaybird Bluebird Wireless Headsets
Sea to Summit Travel Adaptors

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Changes to TSA Security Rules Overseas – Power Up!

by Beth Whitman (July 14th, 2014)

TSA Airport ScreeningI’ve written quite a bit about TSA rules, the use of body scanners and the rights of airline passengers.

It’s difficult enough to keep up with all the changes implemented by governmental agencies and airlines. But it’s no wonder this one slipped by me (and most of the media, apparently) because it was quietly announced on July 2, when no one’s thinking about much more than fireworks and BBQ’s.

Here’s the lowdown.

The TSA changed their security measures once again by enhancing screening at some overseas airports. For direct flights to the U.S., you may be asked to power up electronics. No power? The electronic item gets left behind.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve boarded a flight with little-to-no juice left on my cell phone or laptop because I have used up most of the power in-flight during a long trip and couldn’t find a power plug at the airport during my layover.

According to the TSA website, “…officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.”

The TSA added this new requirement based on information that terrorists may have a way to mask explosives so they aren’t detected by scanners or pat downs.

Unfortunately, they have not specified at which airports you can expect this new security measure. So at this point, you won’t know in advance whether your electronics may be checked.

Best thing to do is make sure you’re carrying power cords in your carry-on bag. Here’s one more thing to add to your bag subject to size and weight limits.

Not that I don’t appreciate the TSA looking out for the safety of all passengers, but the randomness and lack of consistency and information at this government agency is frustrating and does nothing toward making travel a better experience.

Add the TSA to the list of organizations/companies I wish Richard Branson would take over :-).

Travel Well,

Beth

Related links:
Customs May Seize Your Electronics
TSA Body Scanners

Photo credit:
Airport Security – Dan Paluska

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