PCU Submersion Test

A few years ago, I read somewhere that while wearing the Protective Combat Uniform (PCU), you could jump in a lake and walk yourself dry in an hour. Challenge accepted. Last Sunday in Toronto it was -5°C, average humidity of 60%, and wind between 28 and 44kph . We put PCU to the test by doing a full submersion test in Lake Ontario. Twice. For those of you not familiar with PCU, I wrote a short history of the system a while back. As well at the bottom of this article is a video overview of the clothing system by Mark Twight.

I need a bigger pack

It hit me like a ton of bricks as I walked across the slippery rocks on the shore of Lake Huron last December, "I need a bigger pack". Three of us had made the trek from Toronto to Manitoulin Island, and had to deal with many parts of the highway being closed due to ice. By the time we got our packs on, we had about an hour of sunlight left. Within that time we had to find a suitable place to set up our camp on crown land and that was proving to be difficult. The forest was too thick to walk through quickly, and the route we took on the shore over slimy rocks was only slightly more palatable.

Tough Mudder Toronto Fall 2013 - After Action

Tough Mudder was an interesting experience on a number of levels. Everyone that I asked, told me that it was going to be a breeze. I toyed with the idea of rucking the entire thing with six bricks, but having dislocated my shoulder a few times whilst stubbornly attempting to surf in California a month before the event, I was hesitant. Running it without my Camelbak HAWG was not an option though. I carried with me 1L of water; a few energy gels, gummies and Cliff Bars; a change of clothes in an OR dry bag, and a first aid kit.

The Mogadishu Mile 5km

In late September I was browsing some of the articles on ITS Tactical. One of the posts in particular caught my eye, the Mogadishu Mile. Of course I was familiar with the reference after reading Mark Bowden's book and seeing the film Black Hawk Down. What really surprised me was that this year was the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu. I remember vividly a photograph in the Toronto Star portraying a dead and bloated American soldier being dragged through the streets. I was horrified to say the least. That was a lot for a pre-teen to handle. What I didn't know at the time was that there were Rangers only six years older than me that had fought in that battle.

Arc'teryx Axios 35 - Review

About a year ago I contacted Arc'teryx in hopes of finding a pack that would be rugged enough to survive the GoRuck Challenge. With the recommendations of the Axios 35 and the Nozone 35 I had some good alternatives to the GR1 that GoRuck sells. Why wouldn't I just use the GoRuck branded rucks? I didn't like the idea of not having a waist belt, load-lifter straps or sternum strap. Sure it would be tough as nails, but I figured I'd want to be as comfortable and as efficient as I could, so distributing the load to my waist was definitely appealing.

Shopping at Triple Aught Design

If there was only one store I could go to whilst I was in San Francisco it had to be Triple Aught Design. I have been following their work for some time now and was eager to see what the store was all about. To tell you the truth, I don't know what to expect. The surrounding stores were hip fashion shops so I figure in its own right TAD fit right in, albeit to a different demographic. I was two steps into the store before the guy behind the cash pointed at my shirt and said, "GORUCK! I actually have that up on my screen right now!" I immediately felt at home.

Lessons learned from the downtown Toronto flood

On July 8th, 2013 about 126 millimetres of rain fell on downtown Toronto in two hours. I have been in a few downpours in my lifetime and didn't think too much of it as I was biking from my office in Liberty Village to Harbourfront Centre pick up my daughter from day camp. Luckily it was about 25°C because I had forgotten my Torrentshell jacket at home. I did however have my level 6 Goretex pants and boot covers with me.

Shadowing GoRuck Toronto Class 659

I had the opportunity to spend a night and part of the morning shadowing Class 659. Here is a short sample of what they endured for 13 hours.

Gear Guide for Surviving the GoRuck Challenge

Cadre Jason instructed us to get in the water before I ever even saw his face. I didn't want to overheat, and had made the decision to take off my level 5 softshell once we got started because standing around in the wind was pretty chilly, but I never got the chance.

Jason instructed us to start moving with "a sense of urgency", and we all knew he wasn't messing around. I cinched some of the straps on my pack as I moved with my team and felt the familiar weight I had trained with over the previous six months. After everything was said and done, my pack weighed in at 49.2lbs, but that was dry, and now it was soaking wet. My inventory was as follows:

GoRuck Training

The thought of being unprepared for GoRuck is something that weighs on me daily. I know that on their website they say, "Don't take the Challenge so seriously, Go for a run or two, have fun, and just do it. It's all mental." However after seeing all the videos on Youtube and reading some blogs, I think I'm going to have to do a little more than that.

Grenadier Pond in High Park

First snowy ride of the year

When I checked the weather report last night, it said -22°C with the windchill. As my wife groaned, I smiled and walked towards the hooks that hold all of my PCU. After getting used to biking in cold weather and seeing patterns in my cold weather clothing diary, I knew that I'd need more than just a grid fleece and a softshell.

On the inside I made plans to wear what I was going to wear to work, a T-Shirt, a pair of Volcom pants and a normal pair of socks. The next layer was a thin thermal hoodie from MEC. My insulating layer would be my PCU level 3 fleece. My vapour barrier would be my PCU level 4 wind shirt. My outer layer would be my level 5 softshell pants and jacket.