Gear Review: Eagle Creek Systems Go Duffel Pack 60L

by Joslin Fritz
( August 1st, 2014 )

Eagle Creek Systems Go Duffel Bag 60LI’ve been on the road now for almost a month, with only one bag to cover a wide range of climates and activities. I didn’t want to use a rolling suitcase as I knew I’d be “off-roading” it more often than not. This has been an excellent opportunity to test out Eagle Creek’s Systems Go 60L Duffel Pack.

I like variety. This pack works well for my diverse needs. It’s one of the more versatile I’ve used, due to its ability to be a backpack or a duffel. With a capacity of 60L, the bag is more than big enough for a long weekend trip to another city, while it’d be perfect for a outdoor oriented weeklong adventure. Systems Go Eagle Creek 60L Duffel Bag

Accessibility is one of the best features of the bag. The 3/4 front panel load gives full access to the main compartment, which let’s me easily unzip the bag so it’s completely open. This way I can get to things I stuff at the bottom of the bag. There is a separate, lockable, zippered compartment below the main chamber which I kept my shoes in.

 
Eagle Creek Systems Go 60L PackSomething I tried for the first time with this bag was the Pack-It Cubes. The Systems Go Duffel Bag was designed to hold five Pack-It Cubes. Pack-It Cubes are lightweight, zippered bags that help you to organize your pack. There’s a number of ways to use Pack-It Cubes to help tidy things up, such as having different outfits for each day in each cube, or, the way I did it, putting shirts, pants, dresses, and underwear into separate cubes. I kept one empty cube to put dirty clothes in. I loved this way of packing, and I think I’m a convert to the cubes. I’ll be using them for future trips most definitely.

Eagle Creek 60L Systems Go Duffel

The detachable straps were such a bonus, I really loved being able to switch wearing the bag as a backpack, to swinging it over my shoulder as a duffel. The attachment points are numerous and strong, the buckles are easy to clip/unclip, and the multiple grabbing points made picking my bag up a breeze.

 

I found the compression straps on the side and bottom to be very handy. When I was wearing it as a backpack at times it felt very tall in height, though once I strapped my hip belt on, it felt much more secure.

 

What I loved:

  • Accessibility. Long zippers and separate compartments made it easy to get to all areas of the bag.

  • Variety. I loved the detachable straps that let the bag be used either as a backpack or a duffel.

  • Durable. The material of the bag is built to withstand major abrasion. It’s not going to rip.

Not so much:

  • When worn as a backpack, the pack feels a bit tippy and high. Once I put the hip belt on though, this issue is minimized.

If you’re looking for a versatile, accessible pack, the Systems Go 60L Duffel is a solid choice. The pack also comes in 35L, for those looking for a smaller pack. The 60L Duffel can be bought for $160 here on the Eagle Creek website.

 

Adventure On,

Joslin

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Hiking in North Cascades National Park

by Joslin Fritz
( July 29th, 2014 )

Hiking in North Cascades National Park

“The wilderness is a place of rest-not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure, after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance. ” -David Douglas

North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite National Parks in the country. On that same note, hiking in North Cascades National Park is one of my favorite things to do in the park, as it’s easy to do and doesn’t require too much planning compared to backpacking or climbing.

Located just about two and a half hours away from Seattle, it’s not exactly a day trip, but it can be an excellent weekend getaway. I took on Cascade Pass recently with a friend, a reasonable high alpine hike that’s very popular for weekend warriors. We missed the crowds since we started rather early, and we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

This quote was on the trail map handout that we picked up at the Visitor’s Center, and I found myself reflecting on it while climbing the never-ending (but easily doable) switchbacks. Isolation from distraction. How true. I head to the mountains to clear my head and to better listen to my heart. In wilderness I realize just how small I am, and I remember just how magnificent this world truly is. Everyday we get bombarded with news of bloodshed, war, financial turmoil, and global climate distress. When I’m in wilderness all of this goes away, and it’s just me, the mountains and my steady breathing in and out. I just focus on my breath and taking in all of the beauty that’s around me. Everything goes still, but yet everything is moving continually.

Almost equally as satisfying as the actual hike is the drive leaving the park. I have the music loud and the windows down, I’m snacking and drinking something delicious, my endorphins are high from my activity, and I’m feeling much more centered than when I came into the Park. Chances are, as I drive away, I’m already planning my next adventure in the wilderness.

Adventure On, 

Joslin

Photo by Joslin Fritz

 

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Gear Review: Salomon X-Scream Trail-Running Shoes

by Joslin Fritz
( July 10th, 2014 )

Salomon X-Scream Trail-Running ShoesI’ve been loyal to Salomon for years as my go-to trail-running shoes. They’ve consistently fit my slightly wider feet well, and their colors are bold and bright,  just the way I like ‘em. The lug pattern on the soles provide excellent traction when jogging on the trail, as I mentioned here in my review of the XR-Mission shoes last year.

Being loyal to Salomon for their trail-running model, I was curious as to how their X-Scream trail-running shoes would hold up. Specifically designed for more of an urban environment, these shoes are a crossover between a pavement running shoe and a trail-running shoe. I tested the X-Scream in both environments, both hitting the paved trails in Boston and the dirt trails just outside of the city, to really get a feel for how the shoes held up.X-Scream Trail Running Shoes Salomon

As I hit the paved trail along the Charles River in Boston, I pulled the single lace to tighten the shoe, tucked it in the small lace pocket, and and quickly found my stride. The shoe is designed to cradle my foot and create a tight fit once I pull the single lace, which makes sure my foot won’t slip in the shoe while running. They were lighter than my XR Mission and the heel base was narrower, more like a traditional running shoe. The lug pattern on the bottom was also more refined and not as chunky as previous trail-runners, designed for smoother surfaces.

Salomon X-Scream ShoesWhen I reached the dirt trail for a jog in the woods, the shoes again held up well on the uneven surface. I jumped over roots and my foot didn’t move around nor did my footing feel unsteady. I was aware of the lack of ankle support on my trail run, but that is always a factor when running with ankle height shoes. I was aware as well of stepping in mud or wet surfaces, as the shoes aren’t Gortex-lined, but I had no problem doing this.

I did find that the shoes were a bit large for me than usual, which was a surprise, as I’ve had Salomon shoes for a number of years, and have always had a perfect fit with a 9 and a half. With the X-Scream model, I was much happier with a size 9.

What I loved:

  • Bold, bright colors. Very bright. (Did I mention they’re bright shoes?)

  • Single lace adjustment easy to use and supportive to entire foot

  • Lighter, more traditional “running” shoe than the previous trail runners.

  • No worry for pronation, strong support for heel to toe running style.

Not so much:

  • Needed a half size smaller than I normally do, shoes run a bit large.

 

Overall, the Salomon X- Scream trail-running shoes fit my running needs well, in particular if I was running more in the city than on the trails.

You can buy the Salomon X-Scream shoes for $110 here on the Salomon website. 

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