Orc PCU level 5 Review

A number of years ago I got my hands on an ORC level 5 softshell. I had wanted one for a long time to see what the softshell hype was all about. The first thing I noticed about this jacket was how light it was. The Epic Nextec material is very thin, but at the same time does a great job of reducing the effect of wind.

At best, I'd say that the level 5 was water resistant, though definitely not waterproof. After a few years using the coat, and even after reapplying DWR, the jacket had trouble in the rain. For instance, the seams are not taped, but that didn't matter, because the water would seep through the material all over the shoulders and hood. However, the level 5 was never designed to be a raincoat...that's what level 6 is for, right? The idea being: if you are out and it starts to rain, the level 5 will keep you dry while you find somewhere suitable to take off your gear and change jackets. So no real complains in that respect.

The hood rolls up and stows away neatly in the collar, which is then retained by a thin strip of velcro. I had the hood deployed 99% of the time, and never felt like it got in the way. To be honest, the only times I rolled it up was when I was bored and had nothing else to do. If you are using the hood, you will notice that it is very roomy, but not so big that it becomes unwieldy. It's large enough to accommodate a helmet, but is designed so that it never disrupts your vision by hanging over your eyes. The material is also light enough that if you turn your head side to side, the hood will move with you, for the most part.

Petzl Tactikka XP Review

If you've spent anytime outdoors at night, you've probably had the pleasure of fumbling with a flashlight while trying to accomplish a task (like gathering firewood or preparing a meal). It only takes a few seconds to realize that having both hands available is better than having just the one.

I used to rely on flashlights for overnight outings and camping, but after seeing a few people using headlamps, and the freedom and versatility that they enjoyed, I knew I had to have one. After doing a bit of research, I found the Petzl Taktikka XP. One of the things that drew me in was that it was powered by AAA batteries. They are easily purchased at most stores and are very cheap, especially if you use rechargeable batteries.