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Published on December 6th, 2011 | by Rita

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Patagonia, Camelbak, and Exotac: Great Gifts For Outdoor Enthusiasts

I’ve been an avid hik­er for years, and liv­ing in Hon­olu­lu has giv­en me plen­ty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to sat­is­fy my wan­der­lust and ex­plore a va­ri­ety of land­scapes in sim­ple week­end ad­ven­tures. Late­ly, I’ve been mean­ing to plan a week­end hik­ing and camp­ing trip to Haleakala, the 10,000 foot shield vol­cano dom­i­nat­ing the Maui land­scape. Un­like most hikes in the Hawai­ian is­lands, tem­per­a­tures at the crater can drop be­low 40°F, so cold-weath­er gear is re­quired if you plan on spend­ing a night near the sum­mit. Since I re­cent­ly ac­quired a Patag­o­nia Men’s Ul­tra­light Down Jack­et, I fig­ured a long week­end camp­ing and hik­ing trip was in or­der to let me see how well it pro­tect­ed me from the el­e­ments.

Sat­ur­day morn­ing af­ter work, I smashed all 8 ounces of the Patag­o­nia jack­et down in­to its tiny stuff sack and packed it in­to my trusty Camel­bak Van­tage 35 pack for the short flight from O’ahu to Maui. The Van­tage is my go-to pack for week­end trips, since it of­fers the per­fect mid-range bal­ance be­tween size and weight. Dy­nam­ic sus­pen­sion sys­tem makes longer hikes pain-free, since the pack can be ad­just­ed to fit your back and shoul­ders, as well as the gear you’re car­ry­ing. The hip belt is se­mi-load bear­ing, and has use­ful pock­ets to store the things that are fre­quent­ly used, like cell phones.

Side note: it’s worth men­tion­ing that it’s amaz­ing­ly easy to pack full and ac­com­pa­ny you on a plane, since it’s small enough that you can take it as a car­ry-on. Just re­mem­ber to leave the 3L reser­voir emp­ty to make it through your screen­ing check­points.

Our des­ti­na­tion was the Pa­liku camp­site, 6,380 feet above sea lev­el, and reached by a 10 mile hike along the Slid­ing Sands Trail that de­scends in­to the crater. Af­ter our flight, we were dropped off at the Haleakala Vis­i­tor Cen­ter (9,700 feet) by some (very gen­er­ous) friends, and set off at a brisk pace in the over­cast and cold weath­er. At the start of the hike I was glad to have my ul­tra­light down jack­et, since we were high enough to be above the cloud lay­er. I was even more glad for the durable wa­ter re­pel­lent fin­ish that helped to keep me dry and warm.

I kept the jack­et on dur­ing the de­scent in­to the crater, and the ver­sa­til­i­ty of the jack­et’s Eu­ro­pean goose down con­struc­tion re­al­ly shone through with a great bal­ance be­tween breatha­bil­i­ty and warmth dur­ing pe­ri­ods of high ex­er­tion. In Hawai’i, even the rel­a­tive cold of Haleakala or even Mau­na Kea on Big Is­land will nev­er be cold enough to ne­ces­si­tate lay­ers of cold weath­er gear. The Ul­tra­light Down Jack­et is low-pro­file enough that it can be used as a base-lay­er, un­der a Gore-Tex shell, for for­ays in­to cold­er and/or wet­ter cli­mates. When us­ing it as a top lay­er, do re­mem­ber that be­cause it’s slim-fit­ting you’ll want to choose gar­ments that are al­so form fit­ting.

Af­ter about 10 miles, we reached the Pa­liku camp­ground, safe, warm, and tired. My hik­ing com­pan­ions were prop­er­ly im­pressed with the amount of gear I was able to car­ry in my Van­tage, which has 40L of in­te­ri­or space. One item I had on me that bare­ly took up any room at all in my pack was the Ex­o­tac NanoS­trik­er, which turned out to be dead use­ful in the ex­treme­ly hu­mid Hawai’i air. This tiny strik­er looks a bit like a lightsaber, and packs a mighty punch. A fer­ro­ceri­um rod in one com­part­ment and a stain­less steel rod in the oth­er cre­ate a re­li­able com­bi­na­tion for start­ing fires, even when ev­ery­thing around you is damp. Weigh­ing on­ly half an ounce, you won’t even know you’re car­ry­ing it.

Once set­tled around a warm, crack­ling fire and a good meal, con­ver­sa­tion drift­ed to­ward the next ad­ven­ture ahead of us. This is where my love of hik­ing and camp­ing comes from, and I hearti­ly en­cour­age all of you to get out, get mov­ing and find what you’re pas­sion­ate about as well!

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About the Author

Professionally in healthcare, and semi-professionally a photographer, former student at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and full-time student of human nature, Rita has been writing for Truly Net for many years. Born and raised in the Midwest, she spent years on Oahu, and has formed some very strong opinions about all things knitting, pie, and the best places to climb. She really enjoys good food, music and friends, and is perfectly willing to write about, and photograph any or all of those things.



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