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The newest flagship model from BOA & K2, the ORTON 2021-2022 Snowboard Boot.

K2 ORTON 2021-2022 Snowboard Boot

K2 has been one of the most innovative brands in snowboarding. In 2021 they released a new boot with a dial system that gives you more control over your boots, letting you customize how tight or loose they suit your needs. The BOA H4 is great for anyone who wants to keep their heel back and feel secure on the mountain.

The new K2 Orton Boot is a freeride and freestyle boot design. It has a BOA H4 system that lets you make the most of the mountain regardless of what type of riding you’re doing. The Burton Iron Boot is a favorite among big mountain riders and park riders alike because it offers versatile use through its BOA H4 system.

The K2 ORTON is the boot for you if you’re looking for a solid all-mountain, downhill boot without breaking the bank.

K2 ORTON 2021-2022 Snowboard Boot

K2, the ORTON 2021-2022

This season we tested out the most affordable boot with the H4 Dial and M3v2 Dial in the new K2 Orton boot released in October 2021 for an MSRP of $399. K2 Orton was surprisingly comfortable for an all-mountain boot for $200 less than Burton Iron Boot.  After three solid days of riding, the BOA H4 felt like a more reliable connection keeping my heel back in the boot and making me think solid when riding. 

The K2 Orton boot is the next evolution in snowboard boots. Combining a new dial platform and BOA’s first textile lace allows for a variety of fit configurations, ensuring you have the perfect setup every time. If you’re looking for a stiff boot that transmits movement quickly, then this is your best bet.

For many snowboarders, a good pair of boots can be a deciding factor in whether or not they can enjoy their favorite sport. K2 has been a leading company in snowboarding equipment since 1972, and now they’re introducing their newest product: the K2 Orton Snowboard Boots. These boots are designed with a medium flex shell that provides support and natural flex with its articulated upper cuff. The shell has been reinforced with rubber to increase durability and lifespan.

The H4 dial adjusts the upper boot while the M3 dial adjusts the lower boot. BOA laces are strong, usually made with steel; however, K2 has used a softer rope lace which is just as strong but provides a better fit over the shell. The best thing about BOA is that you can use them with your glove or mittens on.

“The Orton snowboard boot has everything you need for a perfect day on the slopes. With cushioned comfort and responsive support, it’s easy to carve down the pack or plow through powder in these boots.”

The H4 Dial was designed with durability in mind and underwent over 9,000 hours of testing before being released on the market.

Performance Fit

The dual dial allows for the perfect fit in any condition, locking in your heel for top performance while snowboarding. The comfort dial allows for a snug fit around your foot without compromising performance.

Fast Installation

The Breakaway design is engineered to defy force and can take a beating. The dial cartridge ejects on severe impact without damage and is easily reinserted back into the boot. With a custom fit and easy adjustability, these boots are designed to meet your needs on any type of terrain.

The H4 Dial Platform has been a must for top performance, fit, and durability since its first introduction in 2017. Snowboarding boots are my top choice because they can handle any conditions on the mountain. To learn more about BOA’s H4 Dial Platform, visit BOA or K2.

The Perfect Jacket for Backpacking

One of the challenges with backpacking in cooler / cold weather is the back sweat.

I’ve rarely had a hike where I’ve been in at a comfortable temperature for the duration of the hike.

And it’s always on my back. I’m either feeling too hot in that spot where my back connects to my pack or I’m cooling down and you get a nice chill in that same spot.

Or I’m shedding layers. Stopping on the trail, taking my pack off, taking my jacket off, stuffing it in my pack, putting my pack on, and then feeling freezing a few minutes later and reversing that process.

It’s a horrible cycle to be stuck in, which is why I have avoided winter backpacking.

Until now.

Pak-Jak: The Best Backpacking Jacket

Pak-Jak took on this exact case study to create the best backpacking jacket.

The Swappable Back Jacket

Their jacket is designed for ultimate flexibility on the trail with an interchangeable and flexible back.

  • Puffy jacket back
  • Mesh jacket back
  • Or no jacket back with connectable straps to secure your pack.

With this flexibility, it is entirely possible to start your hike with the puffy jacket back and swap out the back when you feel too warm. And I think that’s a great option for long, all-day or multi-day hikes.

When I tested this feature, it took around 90 seconds to swap out the back for the mesh back and just over three minutes to fully remove the back and connect the straps to the jacket and the pack.

Which isn’t bad. When I swapped backs, I didn’t go back to the full jacket. Because I swapped before my base layers were sweaty, I was able to manage my temperature. Plus, my backpack provided enough coverage from the cold on my back.

Options, Options, Options

I don’t call the Pak-Jak the best backpacking jacket easily.

But this jacket earns that title because of it’s flexibility.

I can’t tell you how often I am planning a day trip and I am standing there, staring at my gear closet, trying to decide what to take with me.

Part of that is because I am trying to account for all scenarios.

When you’re above tree level, weather can change very quickly, and I want to be as safe as possible.

But I also want to be comfortable.

On top of the ability to change out jacket backs, the Pak-Jak also had a detachable hood.

The hood itself adds 2.1 oz. to the total weight of the jacket.

With the full back, the jacket weighs in at 15.7 oz; the mesh back is 16.4 oz; and without any back is 11.8 oz.

Now, while there are three options, I do suggest trying out the mesh back versus the no back prior. That way for your hike, you’re only carrying one option to swap out to instead of two.

Features

The Pak-Jak features Primaloft Gold Insulation; one of the best highest performing synthetic insulations.

It has a great warmth-to-weight ratio, which is why the Pak-Jak is so light.

During one of my test hikes, it was snowing. And even with a heavy, wet snow, I found that the jacket had great water-repellency and wet protection.

The jacket also has a no-chafe guard at the top of the zipper near the neck. During my cold weather hikes I really appreciated this feature because I could keep the jacket zipped tight and not feel like my chin was going raw.

For the puffy back and the mesh back, they are connected with zippers. There are guards on the bottom that fold over the zipper so that your backpack doesn’t accidentally loosen the connection.

Pak-Jak Back Strap

If you swap to the no back option, the straps that are included synch the back of the jacket so that it isn’t blowing free. But the jacket also comes with universal shoulder straps to help keep your backpack connected to the jacket and minimize bounce.

Conclusion

I think the Pak-Jak is the best backpacking jacket on the market.

It’s a new company and I think this product is going to shake up this category.

The product designers were very intentional with everything they put into this jacket.

I should note that this jacket does come in Men and Women sizes. I test a Large and I’m 5’11” and 185 pounds.

Tasc Performance Apparel Review

When I stopped at the Tasc Performance booth at Outdoor Retailer, I knew I had stumbled onto a pretty special and unique brand.

Tasc Performance clothes are made from a bamboo fiber blend, which is great for any type of activity due to its moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and wrinkle-resistant properties.

At Outdoor Retailer, it was immediately noticeable how lightweight and comfortable their clothing was. The bamboo fiber blend made it extremely soft and I knew I had to try them out on the trail.

Field Testing

Tasc sent me a handful of products to review. In this post, we’ll break down two products: the Carrolton Tee and the Recess Short.

The Recess Short

Tasc Performance Recess Short

With the Tasc Performance Recess Short, the softness of the bamboo fiber blend was immediately apparent. It might TMI, but I have been have some chafing issues in the nether region. During the field test I took them out on a mountain hike and several runs and I never experienced any redness or soreness down there. I also through in a handful of home workouts and yoga sessions.

When comparing them to my other go-to running shorts, they also weighed in 2 grams lighter.

The shorts have several pockets for storage. I was able to easily hold a few gels and a flexible water bottle in the side pockets, and my keys in a zippered side pocket. On the bamboo liner, it has a cell phone pocket that easily held my iPhone 12 Pro.

The pockets kept things secure enough so that there wasn’t too much bouncing, but ideally on longer runs, I would store a majority of those things in my running pack.

Not getting chafed by itself made these shorts a winner. But I’ve also just lounged around the house in them. The liner isn’t too tight or constrictive. It kept everything in it’s place while giving me room to stretch out.

I also found that they are suitable to nearly every workout activity I could think of. While doing jump squats or downward-facing dog, I never felt that the shorts were slipping in a way that would expose my butt crack. But I also didn’t find myself constantly adjusting the liner.

The Carrolton Tee

Tasc Performance Carrolton Tee

To say that the Tasc Performance Carrolton Tee is as smooth and as soft as butter may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. I wish all my shirts were this soft.

While on my mountain hike, I had my go-to running back slung over it, and what I noticed was that I really liked the collar.

The collar sits a bit higher than my other running shirts. And what’s great about it is that I didn’t experience the normal chaffing I would get around my neck from my running pack. It’s the little things that make a difference.

The bamboo fiber also lays a bit different than a normal running shirt. It is heavier and because of that, I didn’t experience the typical riding-up I normally would have during yoga or HITT workouts.

The Bottom Line

Truth be told: I’m a big fan of Tasc Performance.

Not only were they really comfortable during my activities, but I put them through the ringer to test out the other bamboo proprieties: moisture-wicking and anti-odor.

I spent around 15 hours of heavy activity in them and they passed the smell test. I mean, it was a little funky towards the end, but it didn’t have the normal funk of my workout and running clothes.

If you’re looking to upgrade your running apparel or needing something that you just want to be comfortable in, look no further than Tasc Performance.

The Best Lanterns for Camping: BioLite’s AlpenGlow

One of the standouts from this year’s media event at Outdoor Retailer was BioLite’s innovation in the camp lantern market. They debuted their AlpenGlow Series, featuring USB-rechargeable lanterns, and I was excited to have received them to test out in the field.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


The AlpenGlow models offer 250 and 500 lumens. It utilizes ChromaTeal LED Technology, providing surprisingly accurate color rendering in lowlight conditions. But the coolest feature is the built in accelerometer that will activate “Candle Flicker” mode or “Fireworks” mode.


I brought these lanterns with me to a recent Cub Scout camp and the Fireworks were a hit; the colors quickly cycling between red, blue, purple, green, and orange.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


As for the functionality inside the tent, it provided adequate lighting (especially with the 500 lumen model) to go about setting up our bedding, changing clothes, or doing some light reading.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


The bottom of the BioLite AlpenGlow has a hook that can easily hang from the ceiling. And it also has a USB outlet that allows you to plug your phone in to charge or attach a series of SiteLight String Lighting for additional illumination. 


Once my son was asleep, I was able to sneak out of the tent with one of the lanterns and sit at a nearby picnic table with some of the other parents to converse. The lighting modes were easy to navigate back to a warm light that wasn’t so bright it would disrupt our sleeping children.


The next morning, while it was still dark, I navigated the campsite (lantern swinging next to my side) to start preparing breakfast. As the sun was coming up, it provided able illumination so I could make sure the pancake batter wasn’t too think and the bacon wasn’t getting burnt.

BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern
BioLite AlpenGlow Lantern


I was really impressed by these lanterns and the technology they are infused with. I’ve been a fan of BioLite for years and these lanterns didn’t disappoint.

As the days get longer and colder, I look forward to sitting out on my porch with these for illumination.

OLITA Sunscreen – Product Review

Having a solid sunscreen for your outdoor adventures is key.

When I look for the best sunscreen, it’s looking for one that will provide amble sun protection, but will also stay on in the water, but also won’t run into my eyes when I sweat.

That’s why I was excited to get a free sample of OLITA’s SPF 30. It checks all those boxes. Plus it is super gentle on the skin when applied; easily rubbing and blending in.

OLITA’s SPF 30 is an organic mineral sunscreen that is made from non-toxic, fragrance-free, water-resistant, and reef-safe ingredients for up to 80 minutes. 

I’ve tried other sunscreens in the past that were natural, organic, and reef-safe, but I always ran into challenges with them rubbing in and running into my eyes. And my skin is very important to me. Now that I am in Colorado and spending more time outdoors, exposure is high and I don’t want to look 60 when I turn 40. And I’ll avoid rubbing a sunscreen on my face if I know it’ll run into my eyes. There’s nothing like your eyes stinging when you’re trying to crush a 50K.

But I have been very happy with this product, as well as OLITA’s mission to help the environment through their product development.

Lems Version 2 of the Trailhead is versatile and stylish

Lems Trailhead

I am a big fan of companies that listen to feedback from their customers and use it to actually make changes to products! That’s exactly what Lems did when outdoor enthusiasts let them know that their women’s Trailhead shoes were not quite perfect yet. 

I reviewed the first version of Lems Trailhead back in June. I enjoyed the shoe but did find it to be a bit narrow. A lot of Lems loyalists also found the shoes to be narrow, as well as stiff with its rock plate.

So, Lems took the shoes back to the drawing board. They redesigned them to make adjustments where needed while maintaining the functionality that attracted me to this shoe in the first place. The alterations range from practically non-noticeable removal of the bunion area overlay to ahhhhh-inspiring increases in toe box width (read the full list of changes HERE).  

One difference from the original Lems Trailhead design is that the lacing system. It used to have two loops, but Lems reduced it to one to release pressure on the top of the foot. I noticed that with this change, the tongue has a bit more tendency to shift to the side. By paying a bit of attention when lacing up, I can ensure it stays where it should.

They also widened the toebox, but if you have wide feet, these may still be too narrow for you. Even with the increased width in the toe box this shoe is narrower than others in Lems product line.

Flexibility has increased from the first design to the second with the removal of the rock plate. There is adequate tread and cushioning on both of the designs to provide comfort while trekking. The biggest difference is your foot feels more of the impact and terrain with the newer version. I would limit this shoe’s use to walking around town or for day hikes where the added flexibility increases comfort. I appreciate rock plates in my shoes for backpacking to minimize foot fatigue on longer multi-day hikes.

These shoes have become the workhorse of my footwear. They are comfortable for the mundane mile-long walk to school with the kids in the morning, and stylish enough for travel to far-off places where we are on our feet exploring all day long.

I recently took them on a four-mile hike in the foothills of Boulder, Colo. I was pleased with their grip on the sandstone boulders we climbed over. The onyx color does have a tendency to show dust after hikes. But, I can are easily restore them with a quick wipe down. They also pair as easily with leggings as they do jeans or even a casual dress.