Category Archives: Reviews

BearVault BV450 Solo Food Container

[xrr rating=4/5]
Price: $66.95

After many trips doing the traditional PCT bear bagging method I wanted to try something different. There are so many times where finding good hanging spots is just to much of a chore, with the growing number of locations that are starting to require bear canisters I figured I would just purchase one. I did some research and after comparing weights and features I decided the Bearvault 450 was the best canister for my starting point. At 2 lbs 1oz it was the lightest one for the money, only the carbon fiber canister was lighter.

Initial Thoughts:
Very solidly built, I like how easy it is to see where things are in the canister compared to the solid colored plastics other company’s are using. Feels a bit bulky and heavier than the standard food bag.

Field Use:
After taking this canister out on multiple trips, all I can say is I love this thing. It fits well in the top of my pack making it easy to get when I want lunch in the middle of my trip. Makes a great seat or small table to set my drink while lounging in my hammock during the day. I no longer have to worry about finding that perfect branch to hang my food from especially at night. All I have to do is walk a little ways from my camp and set it on the ground or somewhere safe. I don’t have to worry about the weather or other critters that might want to get to my food. It is added weight but the peace of mind and simplicity more than makes up for that.

If you pack carefully and are mindful of packing everything as small as you can, you could manage 5 days worth of food. I have had no trouble carrying 4 days worth. I tend to not pack my first day of food in my canister, letting me go even further. I only gave it 4 stars because it can be bulky even after you have eaten most of your food. But then again you no longer have to worry about smashed and crushed food…

When I can, I put the canister in the bottom of the holes left from a tree falling and uprooting. This way I don’t have to worry about a bear that is trying to get to it rolling it down a hill or something. Sticking it next to logs or rocks works well to.


Osprey Aether 60 Pack

Brand: Osprey
Model: OSA60
Price: $200
[xrr rating=5/5]

First let me say that no matter what, you should go into your local store and try on several packs with weight in them. Packs are a very personal thing, what is amazingly comfortable on me may make your trip less than ideal. For me Osprey packs fit me the best so far.


Product Features


  • 3,900 cubic inches (63 liters)
  • AirScape suspension – peripheral 7075 AL rods, ventilated nubbed foam backpanel and internal framesheet with single aluminum stay.
  • Welded stretch woven front pocket, convertible top pocket and dual entry stretch woven side pockets
  • Sleeping bag compartment and sleeping pad straps
  • IsoForm harness with dual density foam, IsoForm CM hipbelt, and internal backpanel hydration sleeve with dual exit ports.


With my old Mountain Smith pack being old and heavy I decided it was time to upgrade to a newer style pack. I spent a month going back and forth to REI trying out packs and slowly singling them out to come to a decision. Within a week I knew that Osprey was going to be for me. I narrowed it down to the Aether 60 (5 lbs) or the Atmos 65 (3 lbs 12oz). I really liked the Atmos ventilation system and was almost sold on it. I had been testing the packs with 30 pounds in them (at the time that was my average) I would just load it up and stand there for a while then go back to the other. It can be hard to make up my mind sometimes.

After a few weeks of this I needed to just bite the bullet as some point and choose. So I loaded up all my gear in my car and asked REI if they minded if I loaded my pack with it, they let me and I did just that. This made all the difference. I wore both packs while walking around the store for probably 30 minutes each. What I noticed was at 20 pounds I didn’t really notice any difference but at 30lbs while wearing the Atmos I tended to lean forward just a little bit to balance the pack on me. Where with the Aether I stood nice and straight… After many miles on the trail I was betting that better form would be my friend. So I purchased the Aether 60 in the tundra (green) color and had REI swap out the large waste belt to a medium which they did at no charge.

Little about me: I am on the trails 2-3 times a month during the summer and try to be out at least once a month during the winter. Anything from a nice 15-20 mile overnight trip to multi day trips where I go much further.

Initial thoughts: Well built with no loose stitching and plenty of straps to cinch it down tight so your load doesn’t sway. Love the ability to access through the top, middle and bottom of the pack. Waste belt and shoulder straps have the perfect amount of padding and are comfortable. The color is pleasant and not overpowering.

Field Testing: I have now used this pack for most of a year. Its simply the most comfortable pack I have ever owned. I never get any hot spots from the shoulders and I don’t feel sore at the end of a long day. It breaths enough that I get minimal moisture build up on my back on hot days. I carry all the gear I like to carry and still have room for my Bear Vault inside the pack with room to spare. I have gone bushwhacking with this pack on and have seen no sign of any damage.

My only complaint is the lack of waste belt pockets for carrying snacks, camera ect. The bioform waste belts just don’t come with them. Osprey makes Accessories for there packs that give you options to solve this. I bought the best one for my needs but feel its going to need a little altering to make me completely happy.

Final Notes: If your in the market for a new pack, you should at least try this pack on. Its made a world of difference for me on my outdoor adventures.


Sawyer Complete Water Filter System – 2 Liter

Brand: Sawyer
Model: SP162
Price: $99.95
[xrr rating=5/5]
Description:  Set up the Sawyer Complete water filter system and in the time it takes you to unpack your tent, you’ll have 2 liters of fresh, clean drinking water. Utilizing a hollow fiber membrane filter, the Sawyer system yields 2 liters of potable water in as little as 1.5 min. Simply fill the included gray reservoir with unfiltered water, attach the filter and filter hose and let gravity do the rest to fill the included blue reservoir. Once the blue reservoir is full, hang the reservoir from its handle and fill your water bottle, pots and pans. Or, attach the included drink tube and a bite valve of your choice (sold separately) and use the reservoir as you would any hydration system. Filter physically removes particles, protozoa, and bacteria down to 0.1 micron in size, including giardia, salmonella and cryptosporidia. All Sawyer water filters exceed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations for removal rates. Filter is fully field maintainable to ensure a fast flow of water; system includes a faucet adapter for a thorough backwash from a household faucet. Setup is simple and the system packs easily, weighing in at only 16 oz. This Sawyer Complete water filter system comes with a Million Gallon Guarantee, essentially eliminating the need to ever have to replace the filter cartridge. System includes a 2 liter gray reservoir, 2 liter blue reservoir, hollow fiber filter, faucet adapter, drink tube, quick-release hose adapter and instructions for use.


Initial thoughts: Right out of the box it apears well made and easy to understand. Everything is color coded to make things simple for the user and keep the untreated water parts seperate from the clean water parts.

Field Testing: I have used this product for an entire summer now, and it has been absolutely reliable and a pleasure to use. When I get to camp I simple fill the grey bag with water and hang it up, then attach the blue bag and let it do its thing while I set up camp.   It really is that simple. I really love the ability to pack them empty when in areas where water is plentiful, and pack them full when crossing areas where water is harder to find. This allows me to carry up to an extra gallon of water when needed. Although it does have a million gallon guarantee, I still do my best to fill it from the cleanest source of water I can find to reduce any added risks. Only complaint I have is its not really an ideal filter to use in subfreezing temps, I used it into the upper 20’s and the tubes would freeze up unless I hung it up in direct sunlight. So in that case I melt snow or boil the water

Tip:I have heard some people complain that its slower than advertised. If it seams to be flowing slower than you like, let a bit of water get to the blue bag then lift it above the grey bag to push the air from the tube. then place it back down and it will flow at a much faster rate.