Thursday, October 28, 2010

Double Dippin in the Winds

Mark and Janelle are back home after completing Phase One (27 routes) in their quest to complete the Fifty Classic Climbs. Their last routes we both in the Wind River Range of Wyoming - Wolf's Head and Pingora. Check out their video, I was definitely biting my nails as they soloed the ridge of Wolf's Head.

Double Dippin In the Winds from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.

The Smiley's are busy getting ready for their winter guiding season and are penciling out 2011's schedule for completing Phase Two, which includes some serious alpine routes like the Cassin Ridge on Denali, Mt Waddington, and the West Ridge of Hunter.

Connie and I were talking about the Smiley's this morning and agreed, they just seem like people you want to be friends with. True to their last name, they're always smiling and having a good time being outdoors. And that's what it's all about.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Next Stop: Wonderland

It’s not all rainbows and butterflies when you’re out hiking. Last time Suzanne and I went out for a long backcountry hike (JMT in September 2008), we had 18 days of glorious weather and sunshine. Our latest gear testing trip on the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier National Park brought 5 consecutive days of rain – some drizzle, mostly endless downpours—followed by 3 days of brilliant weather which made our memories of soggy shoes, soaked gloves, and hypothermic temperatures evaporate just as quickly as our clothes drying in the sun. Great weather for gear testing (we brought a new ultralight tent Obi 2P and a new sleeping pad for 2011 called Zor), but not so great for basking in the glory of one of the most scenic trails in the U.S.

The Wonderland Trail is one of those trails that seems to be mentioned in every issue of Backpacker Magazine. It’s all true—you get more bang for your buck than almost any other trail with lush Pac-NW rainforests, alpine meadows, glacier snowfields, raging rivers, frolicking wildlife, all within arm’s reach of The Mountain.

Amidst with so much rain and fog, we actually never saw Rainier for the first 5 days, even though we were within mere miles of the summit. In a way, it made us appreciate the small things that were right in front of us.

The moss on the trees reminded us of billy goats and old men.

The columnar andesite near South Puyallup was awe-inspiring... perhaps climbable when dry??

We were quick learners of indigenous berries.
Salmonberries: look good, taste bad
Huckleberries: look good, taste good
Thimbleberries: look bad, taste good

In a 10 minute pause from the rain, we stopped to pick huckleberries and found these guys doing the same.

When the sun came out on Day 6, it was spectacular.

And when you're sitting pretty, eating snacks with views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, the Cascades, and the Tatoosh range, life is pretty good.

Back home, we reconvened to talk about our gear decisions and the trip. A couple lessons were reinforced:
  1.  Packcovers are worth every penny you pay and every ounce you carry (thank you Barry from S2S for getting those over to us). 
  2.  Resist wearing your down jacket underneath your raincoat no matter how cold you are.
  3.  Yes, you can still get trench foot. And I’m pretty sure we had it. 
  4.  Weather is always a crapshoot. Sure, we were hit with 5 days of rain, but it could have easily been 8 or 10 days. Or it could have been 8 days of sun. 
  5.  Having gear you can depend on can make or break a trip. The first morning we woke up to our entire campsite being under 4 inches of water and our shoes floating away. Tapping on the floor, I could see the concentric rings of water underneath the floor radiating from under my finger. Not good, but could be much worse if you didn’t have a tent you could depend on.


Friday, October 22, 2010

The Future of Bike Helmet Design?

I am blown away by the Hövding bike helmet (via Core 77). Specifically, I'm enjoying watching all the different crash scenarios in the video below.


Flying with Fillo: a Physics Lesson

Traveling with the Fillo pillow on an airplane, I've noticed something interesting. I'll often fall asleep with it before the flight takes off, and when I wake up (in the air, at altitude), the pillow will be super pressurized and rock hard.

I usually let out a bit of air, and all is well and squishy again. But what is going on here? How pressurized is this pillow getting while I'm flying? This all sounds like a homework problem for a physics class that I once fell asleep in.

It turns out that airplane cabins are pressurized when the plane is flying above 3000 m (9800 ft). Since air is thinner at these high altitudes, planes pump in compressed air to maintain a pressurized environment as close to sea level as possible (As a side note, the reason that they don't maintain exact sea level pressure while flying is that the fuselage is not designed to handle that pressure differential). So for example, at 39,000 ft, the cabin will be pressurized to 6,900 ft (thanks Wikipedia!), which is equivalent to a ambient pressure of 10.9 psi instead of the sea level pressure of 14.7 psi.

If you're a numbers person, follow this line of reasoning. Before the plane takes off, you inflate your pillow to about 1.5 psi. Note that this means your inflated pillow is at 1.5 psi greater than the atmospheric pressure (which most of the time is 14.7 psi, sea level pressure, unless you're flying out of Denver or SLC). As the plane is flying, say at 39,000 ft, the pressure inside the cabin drops to 10.9 psi. This makes the air inside your pillow push out on the fabric walls even harder, since there is less air inside the cabin to push back. So when you're flying, the air in your pillow feels like it is at 5.3 psi instead of the 1.5 psi that you started at, due to the relative pressure difference. When your plane lands, the pressure should go back down to what it originally was.

A free NEMO sticker pack to the first person who can tell me what pressure the pillow is at once the plane is at 39,000 ft when you take off from the Denver airport!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Run Across NH This Weekend

What better way to enjoy the end of the fall foliage here in NH then by running across the state! NEMO ambassador 'Sherpa' John LaCroix will be running his annual Run Across NH this weekend.

There are opportunities to crew (help out at the aid stations) and run/hike along with John. You can run anywhere from 2.2 miles to the entire 128.8 if you're feeling so inspired. The mission of the run is "to provide inspiration and encouragement for the general public to engage in the outdoor arena." Now that's something we can get behind! So, if you find yourself looking for a new challenge and want to meet some new like-minded folks and see the beautiful remains of NH's foliage this weekend, get on up here!

For more information, contact Sherpa John's crew.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The One Gear Closet to Rule Them All

NEMO Customer James O. owns a Moki tent, and sent in this picture of his gear closet to our customer service to illustrate what good care he takes of his tent.

Seriously? I'm feeling instant pangs of guilt just thinking about the 5 sleeping bags crammed in the bottom of my closet. Everyone in the office was instantly jealous of his stash (and organization). If you think you have this beat, send in a pic to journey (at), and we'll send you a cool Ditto Luggage Tag if deemed worthy.


Rippin Chix Mtn Bike Camp with Alison Gannett

We just finished another successful Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camp, this time at our new sustainable farm in Paonia, Colorado. The farm is my latest attempt to take "walking the talk" to a whole new level, which has added a significant, but rewarding load to my already full plate! The weekend’s events benefited Save Our Snow, Save Our Singletrack and the local farmers’ cooperative online grocery, Local Farms First.

The first day of the camp was held in our 1880’s cherry orchard where the gals learned to maneuver over roots, rocks bridges, and through switchbacks along with bunny hopping. Janae Prichett, of Colorado Backcountry teamed up with me to teach this camp and Women’s Adventure Magazine joined us.

That evening, professional chef’s Dana Zobs and Stacee Vanaernem cooked an exquisite five-course feast for 55 folks, all harvested by yours truly out of our garden and orchard. Dinner was served on white linens set up in the orchard beneath the fruit trees and surrounded by gardens and running water. I even made special treats like homemade mozzarella, sun-dried raisins and Concord grape and Bartlett pear juice that supplemented the gourmet feast created by Dana and Stacee! My favorites were the Aranchini - a ball made of rice, bacon, mozzarella which is then quickly fried tempura-style. I also loved the spicy bean fries - purple pole and haricot vert green beans rolled in chilies and bread crumbs and served like french fries. Dana and Stacee also made the most wonderful winter squash mashers.

After a night of camping and tent demos from NEMO in the orchard, a well rested crew set out for more adventure. We headed across the street from the farm to the BLM trails on Jumbo Mountain, a well-hidden gem that reminds me of riding in Fruita. Those of you who ride there know and love the spiny desert ridges, so add some gnarly 1,200 year-old Juniper forests with much more mountainous climbing, and voila, you have Paonia's Jumbo trails. We put our new cherry orchard skills to the test in the whoop-de-doo’s, rocks and roots on the many trails.

Thanks to all my green sponsors, including NEMO, for making this fundraiser happen. We look forward to this being the first of many new Rippin Chix Camps and events here on the farm, both for skiing and biking, as well as sustainability classes on how to reduce your carbon footprint. The Rippin Chix Silverton Steep Skiing Camp is already sold out, but I have just added a Rippin Chix Steep Skiing camp at the infamous Aspen Highlands. Visit my website for more information!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

October Nor'easter = Snow

Here in the Northeast, we're getting hit with a little Nor'easter. For those of us who live on the coast, that means rain and some decent wind. For those who like to call the Mt. Washington area home, it means snow. The summit of Mt. Washington is expected to get up to 9" of the white stuff this weekend. And since I like to slide on snow, we're going to focus on that today.

The KGB boys in Jackson Hole, WY have been working for the past 2 years on their next movie, Wyoming Triumph, which will be released via film tour next fall. Their impressive skills in front of and behind the lens, coupled with a backcountry focus is what drew us in. Armed with a few Tenshis and Mokis to keep them warm and sheltered on their overnights, they've been hitting areas like Togwotee Pass, Yellowstone National Park and The Gros Ventre Range. Check out this webisode and others on their YouTube channel.

Just bought my new boards, the Icelantic Oracle and I am getting ready for ski season. Let the dry land training begin!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Homathko Bound

Thought we'd pass on this paddling video featuring Rush Sturges, Charlie Center, Katie Scott, Darin McQuoid, Jonas Grunewald on the Homathko River in northern BC. Rush has a big fan club (see Nicole in Customer Service) here in our office. Paddling action gets going around the 2:00 mark. And yes, yet another outdoor adventure video using Band of Horses.


Asheville Action: 2010 OIA Rendezvous

Last week a few of us from NEMO has the distinct pleasure of participating in the 2010 OIA (Outdoor Industry Association) Rendezvous. Hosted at the Grove Park Inn in the pleasant city of Asheville NC, titans of industry gathered to discuss, collaborate and inform each other on their perception of the outdoor industry and what it will take for a business to survive in the coming years.
If I could summarize in a few words: innovation and cautious optimism.

After a few days of discussions were over, it was time to give a little back to the Asheville community that graciously accepted us. Timberland hosted a service project where those that attended the Rendezvous could offer a few hours in the afternoon on various beautification projects. Ranging from building a labyrinth to cleaning out the French Broad River, participants gave their all to the projects and had a little fun in the process.

What is amazing to me, is the amount of man hours of accomplished work in a single afternoon. Roughly 200 people working for roughly 3-4 hours. How long would it have taken to get ~700 hours of volunteer work without this concerted effort? I don't know, but I assume a while.

And of course, local delicious beverages beer at the end.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

21 Years on the Appalachian Trail

It's important to note that it wasn't 21 continuous years on the trail.

The Boston Globe reports that Jim Haskell of Ipswich, MA finished the AT this past Sunday after section hiking 100 mile chunks each year since 1990. Cheers to achieving life goals.

In related news, ramen noodles have been found to lead to chronic illness...


2011 Sneak Peek: Pentalite 4P

We've been looking at designs for single pole supported pyramid-style tents for a while here because you can have extremely low weight-to-sleeping capacity ratios. These types of tents also tend to give you a lot of flexibility in order to tailor the shelter to your specific needs. The downsides of these tents are often related to the pyramid shape -- you usually have a wall hanging right over your head or at your feet.

When we designed Pentalite 4P (coming out in Spring 2011), we patterned a tent that can be set up as a traditional pyramid or guyed out to create nearly vertical walls. The idea behind the shape was that everyone could sit up in their own sleeping space without feeling crunched by the pole or tent wall.

We experimented with all sorts of different shapes and sizes for the footprint (a previous version of the tent had a square footprint). In the end, the pentagon shape (where the name of the tent comes from) gave the most versatility for living and storage space.

Each wall of the tent has a vent that can be guyed out. By doing this, you fully expose the mesh vent, and pull the tent wall away from the inside of the tent. This makes a big difference in creating the largest possible usable space inside the tent.

You can make Pentalite into a fully protected shelter (no bugs, no 'elements') by adding the Wedge, not to be confused with the OTHER Wedge. When decoupled, the Wedge is a mesh wall that zips into the Pentalite shell while the floor attaches along the remaining three sides.

There's a pretty cool detail about the Wedge that let's the pole pass through the floor so that it doesn't rub or abrade the floor fabric. We're calling it the Pole Port. Notice the cord lock cinch at the top of the port that prevents six or eight-legged 'friends' from entering the tent.

Our professional kayak ambassadors like this style of tent because at the end of a long paddling day, they like to get a bunch of them inside of the tent, zip up the door, close every single vent and transform the whole thing into a sweat lodge (presumably to sweat out the funkiness of being in a kayak all day?). Note: while it is possible to fully seal up the tent, high and low vents normally keep lots of air moving through the tent when they are open. Kayakers can substitute their paddles for setup instead of the monopole (or hikers can lash together 2 trekking poles).


P.S. For this tent (4 person), the tent shell alone is 3 lb, 1.5 ounces, the monopole is an additional 14.6 ounces.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fun times at night

I had been jones’n for a night hike most of the summer and just never made time for it. Since we are getting into fall now and the temps are dropping daily, I figured the window of opportunity was closing. I was already up north climbing some rocks during the day so I picked a hike that I was more or less familiar with and wasn’t too far from where the climbing day ended; Franconia Notch, Falling Waters to Old Bridal Path.

I packed what I thought would be too much gear for those “just in case” situations. I grabbed a Losi 2P, Tuo Standard, and a Fillo from the office along with my sleeping bag and I was off, thinking to myself, “Oh yeah, the moon is at 50%. That should be enough light to hike by moonlight on the ridge.” Right…?

Turns out, my lunar awareness is sub-par. The moon, as Steve explained to me in the office on Monday, isn’t always in our vision for the entire night. And on top of that, the amount of reflected light isn’t always what you think it will be. Facts I have now learned by experience, but didn’t really acknowledge before my little adventure.

While I didn’t see the moon at all during my entire hike, I couldn’t stop looking at the stars. Each time I took cover from the wind, I turned off my headlamp and basked in the beauty of the cosmos. I am not a stranger to seeing stars, but I have never seen the night sky as dense with them as I did on Little Haystacks, Lincoln and Lafayette. The Milky Way was an undeniably clear band of stars above me, Orion clearly low on the horizon and you could clearly see twinkling. It was at that point that I wished I knew more constellations and could pick them out. Alas, the cold kept creeping in so I was forced to move.

Here is the only reasonable picture I was able to capture during the hike. It is at the summit of Lafayette at about 1am.

I managed to get down by a little after 3am and promptly fell asleep in my car.Good times, good learning experience and a great view.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Rain (Chamber)

After a week of rain, it's all bluebirds and sunshine over here...

... except for the rainchamber, where the only sign of bluebirds is the shade of the prototype fabric we're currently testing. Nothing better than playing Mother Nature for an afternoon...


Thursday, October 7, 2010

2011 Sneak Peak: Cosmo Air and PIllowtop 2P

Sneak Peaks are back and we are starting off with the king of comfort. This is a personal favorite for me. It's not hard to guess from the name that this new pad is essentially our ultra comfy Cosmo Air and Pillowtop, built for two.

But here's the surprise - Instead of the pad just being double wide, 2P utilizes two Cosmo Air sleeping pads and integrates them into one seamless full size pad (50" wide) so you still have the option of using just the two lightweight sleeping pads when you are carrying your home on your back (or boat, bike, moto, etc.)

The whole shindig is covered with an inch of cushiony foam and another wedge of foam to fill in that annoying crevasse between the pads. Then topped off with a washable microfiber cover. Same great integrated foot pump and dump valves in the Cosmo Airs as last year.

I've been testing it mostly on the car camping circuit, but noticed the other night that it makes a super handy travel mattress on a friend's wooden floor. (WAY more comfortable than an air mattress...but that's just my opinion.)

The whole system comes in a little under 8 lbs.

Stay tuned for the next installment.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Long Treks on Skate Decks Episode 8: Alpacas

Welcome to Episode 8 of the Peru y Boliva long distance longboarding trip. Watch our favorite longboarders get a sugar overdose in Negromayo, and leave the dreary town with stomach aches. They climb their 3rd mountain pass and are overly stoked on tons of alpacas and downhill. The alpacas don't show the same stoke back. Check out Episodes 1-7 in our blog archives.

Cruising at 14,104 ft and it is about to hail.

Aaron dieing for lack of nutrition.

Local Kid that fell in love with our skateboards.

We love downhill; Paul's rocking it in his boxers to let his hip wound heal.

We are a dirty team of gringos.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hey There, Leaf Peepers!

It is many a New Englander's favorite time of year -- the heat has leveled off, mosquitos are gone, surf's up, our favorite fleeces and jackets are back in the rotation, and the leaves are a-changing.

This year's foliage report comes to you right as the leaves are peaking in Western Mass/NH-VT Upper Valley/Inland Maine. However, it is not too late for you to sign up to become a foliage ambassador for your region. I did a little hike near Holt's Ledge last week and was rewarded with this cornucopia of color.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Award-Winning Tents 25% Off This Weekend

As a salute to Fall and the beautiful weather that still lies ahead, we’re offering select tents, pads and accessories at 25% off this weekend to NEMO insiders. Here’s what you get to choose from:

Gogo LE
Gogo EX
Espri 2P
Espri 3P
Losi Storm 2P
Losi Storm 3P

Tuo Standard
Tuo Luxury

Accessories for the above tents are also on sale. Enter discount code 2010NFP. Additional shipping charges apply. Sale ends Sunday, October 3.

Get out there and enjoy that Fall foliage!