Arc'teryx LEAF Atom LT - Review

Many years ago I learned a valuable lesson about purchasing gear from a waitress. I was out to celebrate an anniversary with my wife at a restaurant called the Lobster Trap. My wife ordered the lobster bisque and I ordered the clam chowder. I was surprised when the waitress stopped me and said, “No, you don’t want the chowder, you want the lobster bisque”. I had my heart set on the chowder, brushed off the recommendation, and was surprised with how forward our server was. Curiosity got the better of me after a few sips of the chowder though and I asked for a spoon of my wife’s soup. When the waitress came back to bring us our drinks, I ordered myself a bowl of lobster bisque. 

Camping Checklist - Prep and Packing (late summer/early fall)

When I first started getting into camping the hardest thing to do was to fit everything into one backpack. The source of my problems, I came to realize, stemmed from two problems. First, the vast majority of my gear was entry level with almost no consideration for packability and weight. Second, and this is what’s probably most important, is that I was bringing too much crap. The more I spend time in the woods, the more I realize, you don’t actually need very much! Something that holds true for me especially is that the more I bring in, the more likely I am to lose a piece of gear. 

GORUCK Selection Kit List with Stony Smith 014

The first time I met Stony was during my first Challenge, Class 524 in Toronto. I had read on another blog that he had done the Challenge the year before, and I saw the video he made of the creation of our team weight. This guy was dedicated. During the event he was quiet, except for when someone needed help. He was always willing to assist the team by carrying someone’s ruck or to lend a hand. I imagined he knew what we had in store, but instead of spoiling the surprise, he just let us experience the Challenge fresh.

Fast forward a few years, he’s still the same friendly guy. He still comes out to Challenges (Class 659 video, Class 1571 video), and works with people to help them through the events. Except now he has a glorious face forest, and his muscles are a bit bigger. When I asked him if he would mind doing a segment with me about his gear, he didn’t bat an eye. Always willing to share, and always down for telling a good story. We need more guys like Stony. Damn Skippy!

*Note - There will be another video coming out Saturday morning that will outline some of his ruck and boot modifications and what he wore during the challenge. Follow my page on Facebook, and you'll know exactly when it comes out. 

The Grand Canyon

We did our best to do as much research as possible so that our hike would be both enjoyable and efficient. We trained with our rucks, and had them packed with exactly what we would be bringing with us so that there wouldn’t be any surprises. All said and done, each of our packs weighed about 70lbs. The smiles and cheeky comments when people saw the way we were dressed, as well as how big our packs were on the way up and down made something perfectly clear; we looked fucking spectacular. 

One Shot Tactical Store

It was 10 years ago that One Shot Tactical Store first opened its doors. A few weeks ago, we made the hike from Toronto to Trenton to wish the OSTS team happy birthday. I had never been to the shop before, but I’ve certainly frequented their website to make purchases over the years. They were one of the first Canadian shops that I knew of to carry tactical products whose inventory mirrored many of the American sites I liked. The bonus was that I was able to support a local Canadian business and, of course, there were massive savings in shipping. From a professional standpoint, the store is strategically located near CFB Trenton, home of JTF2 (once they finish moving).

Legit Kit Interview

When I first started getting into gear the only place I really knew where to get good kit was on eBay. Every once and a while I’d find a seller that had a real Eagle 3-Day or an LBT Garmin pouch, not a crappy knockoff. Those were exciting days. Then I stumbled upon Legit Kit’s eBay store... I was just getting into Navy Special Warfare stuff at the time, and it was like this guy was monitoring my Google search history because his store had EVERYTHING. The really obscure stuff that I was looking for like TFSS pouches, Coyote OR pack covers, UDT horse collars, you name it, it was there. Sure there were forum boards and niche blogs where you could find this kind of stuff, but the sheer volume and frequency of his updates meant that I had something arriving at my doorstep a few times a month from his inventory. What made it even more enticing was his impeccable feedback percentage! 

Tactical Pants Faceoff

Tactical pants, or as our friends in law enforcement and armed forces call them, pants. Whatever you call them, they are a massive step up from wearing jeans or track pants when it’s time to do some PT. As a civilian, my "tactical" uses for these kinds of pants are kind of limited, but where they really shine are for range days, camping, hiking or during GoRuck Challenges. These pants are not designed to help you with your yoga class or your upcoming half marathon. These pants were designed to get dragged through the mud, dunked into a lake, and low crawled through a ditch without ripping or unnecessarily sucking heat away from your body when wet.

Outdoor Research interviews with designer Nathan Jenkin

This year at SHOT Show we were very happy to speak with Nathan Jenkin from Outdoor Research. He is one of their product designers and he was kind enough to walk us through some of their shooter specific gear. The first is their Aerator Gloves, and the second is a prototype maritime ensemble designed in conjunction with SEAL Team 4.

Layering up for winter camping

I went up to some crown land over the weekend with some friends with the objective of building some quinzee snow shelters to stay in for a few nights. On one of our day hikes instead of traveling along the logging roads, we chose a point on the map and used our topo map and compasses to walk a straight line. It took us over some decent hills and was much more rewarding than taking the easy way. Below is a video that outlines the layering system I used for the weekend.

BeastMode For The Brave

Here is our submission for BeastMode For The Brave. Please check out their page to learn how to bring more awareness and support to veterans living with PTSD and disabilities. Please share this with your friends and do your own video!

Vertx and Victory First with Matt Jacques

We were very lucky to have the opportunity to meet with Matt Jacques from Victory First at SHOT Show 2015. He walked us through some of the EDC bags from Vertx as well as some of his background in SWAT. One thing I didn't know before SHOT Show was that the name Vertx is short for "covert" and the "x" is a nod to Arc'teryx. Learn something new every day!

Crown Land Camping During The Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex Crown Land Camping
As some of you might know, each year Matthias and I put ourselves to the test and push another month into the winter. In December 2013 we did 8 days on Manitoulin Island, albeit in relatively balmy weather with the temperatures never really dropping past -5°. Checking the weather forecast before our January trip in 2014, we learned that we were going to be looking at temperatures dropping at night to -32°C before the windchill.