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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.

All I Want For Christmas: Huck Adventures Holiday Wish List

The holidays are right around the corner and I wanted to share with our dear readers some of the products that are at the top of my list.

Faherty Good Feather Long Jacquard Knit Robe

Faherty Good Feather Long Jacquard Knit Robe

When I was at Outdoor Retailer in August, I had the opportunity to chat with the folks at Faherty. I had been getting served Instagram ads for the past couple of years and had fallen in love with the aesthetics of their brand.

Being able to chat with them solidified how darn awesome their company was.

And being able to see and touch their products in person solidified how darn awesome their clothing was.

At the top of my wishlist, is the Faherty Good Feather Long Jacquard Knit Robe. It is part of their Native Designed project where they partner with indigenous native artists on product design. This robe was designed by Doug Good Feather. He’s an artist, veteran, author, and teacher from the Standing Rock Lakota and Dakota Nation and is the founder of the Lakota Way Healing Center.

While this robe looks and feels super duper comfy and would be perfect to lounge around the house in, my ideal use is for putting on after my daily ice bath.

United By Blue Recycled Wool Hawk Sweater

United By Blue Wool Hawk Sweater

We’ve featured United By Blue in the past. They are still one of my favorite brands; mostly due to their mission: removing a pound of trash from our waterways with every product sold.

Their Wool Hawk Sweater is a standout in their new products for Winter.

The design is pretty darn cool.

Plus, the symbology of the hawk, definitely speaks to my journey over the past year and my quest for spiritual awareness.

COROS VERTIX GPS Adventure Watch

I’ve had the Coros Apex for almost three years. Throwing out (not literally) my Apple Watch was one of the best decisions I ever made for my fitness journey. And, while the Apex is still performing as if it’s brand new (review forthcoming), a part of me is ready to upgrade. Because ’tis the season, right?

COROS VERTIX GPS Adventure Watch
Coros Vertix

The Coros Vertix GPS Adventure Watch is an upgrade, for sure. Longer battery life. Longer battery life with GPS going. If you’re looking for a new adventure watch and you’re looking at other large watch manufacturers, compare the specs. I don’t think you can beat Coros on battery life.

With GPS use on the Apex, I typically charge once every 14 days. Sometimes every 7 if I am putting long hours on the trail. I have a friend that has a watch brand that starts with a G and he’s charging his once every 48 hours with light use.

Why do I want to upgrade?

Well, in part for the longer battery life the Vertix will provide.

Second, because I want to continue taking my fitness to new levels, their 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring can help me reach new heights.

Finally, their Vertix in the Mountain Hunter colors (pictured above) is pretty darn sweet.

Gnarly Nutrition Sample Box

You already know: I’m a big fan of Gnarly Nutrition.

But there’s still products I haven’t tried.

Gnarly Sample Box

That’s where their sample box comes into play.

You get a mixture of protein powders, collagen, greens, BCAAs, pre-workout, and their hydration mix.

If you’re looking for a new workout partner, try their sample box. You won’t be disappointed.

United By Blue Dog Products

Okay, so this one really isn’t for me. But it’s for my pup, so it is still sort of for me.

United By Blue this Fall came out with some of the awesomest dog products: leashes, bowls, toys, harnesses. And I want them all.

United By Blue Dog Harness and Collar

At the top of my wish list is their matching leashes, harnesses and collars. The colors on these are fantastic. My pup is all white, so he needs some color in his life.

But one important piece I’ll highlight on the harness is that it is a no-pull harness. It clips in the front and will keep your dog, no matter how big or enthusiastic, from pulling.

“Oh sure,” you might say, “they’ll still pull.”

I’ve been using a cheap one (that is partially chewed and falling apart) over the past month and my puppy has never walked better. Clipped to the leash or on the back of the harness led to a lot of pulling. And he is almost 60 pounds. That is a lot of pulling.

You see, that’s why this is really a gift for me.

Vuori Ripstop Climbers and Aspen Shirt Jacket

I love Vouri.

They make some of the most comfortable activewear on earth.

When Huck Adventures first started, we featured their Ripstop Climbers in a brand feature. They are still one of my favorite pairs to wear and honestly, I really want another pair, especially their blue Ripstop Climber Pants.

Ripstop Climber Pant | Indigo
Vuori Ripstop Climbers

I’ve also had an eye on their Aspen Shirt Jacket for a while.

Aspen Shirt Jacket | Ink
Vuori Aspen Shirt Jacket

I work remotely in my basement, so I am always layering up. Plus, I also spend a lot of time outside walking the dog. Having something nice and warm like this would be amazing.

Your Head Needs This Hat

Tilley T3 Cotton Duck Hat
Tilley T3 Cotton Duck Hat

The Tilley T3 Cotton Duck Hat is my new favorite outdoor adventure hat. It offers a style that helps me embrace my inner Indiana Jones, but also protection from the sun on long days on the trail.

I really like Tilley’s hats in general. They are durable and long-lasting. There are other hats that are more breathable or offer more sun protection, but Tilley’s hats are meant to last a lifetime, not just a season.

Protection

The T3 Cotton Duck Hat provides a brim that is between 2 3/4″ in the front and 2 3/8″ on the sides. It has a UPF rating of 50+, so you don’t have to worry about sun coming through the fabric. The sides also have snap buttons that allow you snap the sides up.

The brim isn’t as large as I’d like for long days in direct sun, but it is great for hikes around Boulder when I am in tree coverage for most of the hike.

Tilley T3 Cotton Duck Hat
Tilley T3 Cotton Duck Hat

Comfort

The hat is made from 100% cotton duck. When it arrived, it was a bit stiff. But after working it with my hands a bit, I could tell that it started loosening up.

True to their brand, this hat doesn’t sit low, but “floats” on top of my head. It also has wind cords for windier days.

I didn’t find the fabric very breathable. During a long hike, after working up a decent sweat, I found my head hotter than normal, but that wasn’t a bad thing. I wouldn’t wear it during the heat of Summer, but it is a great companion during the Fall or Spring seasons when it’s a bit cooler.

Summary

I loved this hat. Really appreciative that Tilley sent this to me to test.

It’s been a companion on hikes, but also randomly at home. The other day it was raining and I was going in and out of the house to check on some meat that was on my smoker. It was an easy hat to grab and put on to avoid getting my hair wet.

The T3 Cotton Duck Hat comes in a variety of colors and sizes and is available for $80 USD.

Jack Wolfskin JWP Atmos Jacket Review

As the days are getting cooler, finding the right insulated jacket for your next outdoor adventure is key.

Jack Wolfskin sent us their new JWP Atmos Jacket to try out and we’ve had a blast on and off the trails with it.

Jack Wolfskin JWP Atmos Jacket
Jack Wolfskin JWP Atmos Jacket

The timing of getting the JWP Atmos Jacket couldn’t have been better. We recently added a puppy product tester to our crew, Parker, and I have found myself outside during the coolest parts of the day. The JWP Atmos Jacket is light-weight and easy-fitting for a quick throw-on for those walks.

But besides just walking Parker, I had the chance to get the jacket outside on a few hikes.

The jacket itself is lightweight; a men’s medium only weighing 410g.

It’s also incredibly stowable. Mid-way through my hike, I was feeling warm enough to slip it off. The jacket was able to be stuffed down into my backpack.

The JWP Atmos Jacket is made with Jack Wolfskin’s Flex Shield Exosphere material making it wind resistant and water repellent.

Inside, the jacket has lightweight insulation made of recycled synthetic fibers with stretch properties. I’m fairly certain that it’s the stretch properties that allows the jacket to pack so tightly into my backpack, but still retain it’s original shape without the insulation bulking up in one particular spot.

Jack Wolfskin JWP Atmos Jacket
Jack Wolfskin JWP Atmos Jacket

The jacket also has a hood, which is a great addition. It provided able protection when I was caught out in the rain, but also kept my ears nice and toasty on a cool morning walk with the puppy.

This jacket is also pretty stylish. It looks great on the trails, but is also a nice jacket to wear around town.

I am 5’11” and 195 lbs and I tested a men’s large.

If you’re on the hunt for a new Fall jacket, I highly recommend the JWP Atmos Jacket.

Wear KAVU Brand On Your Next Adventure

KAVU clothing is designed for fun. Whether that’s at work or in the outdoors. They sell a variety of outdoor wear and amazing bags to encourage you to “spread your good-time attitude.”

KAVU Petos Shirt Jacket
KAVU Petos Shirt Jacket and Scrag Pants

Recently, KAVU sent us a few products to test.

The Scrag Pants

The origin of the Scrag Pant dates back to the late 90’s. This Fall, KAVU took this pant out of the archives and redesigned it.

KAVU Scrag Pant
KAVU Scrag Pant

It’s made with organic cotton and has an elastic stretch waist. The pant also comes with a webbing belt built in, making minor size adjustment a cinch.

The Scrag Pant is designed with a regular fit, which I found to be very comfortable on the trail. The elastic waist band also moves easily creating a comfortable fit.

For our field test, I took them on a hike up a local mountain. There were spots that I had to scramble up and I never felt that the pants were in the way of my movement.

They also look great too. I have found myself wearing them around town or at work and they feel chill, more than anything else.

The Petos Shirt Jacket

Also new for Fall is the Petos Shirt Jacket, or Shacket.

KAVU Petos Shirt Jacket
KAVU Petos Shirt Jacket

It’s made from 100% cotton corduroy creating a really soft and fun look.

I’ve worn this over another t-shirt or sweatshirt and it is really comfortable. Compared to other “shackets,” the Petos is less bulky and sits on my frame in a more tapered way. In other words, I don’t feel like I look fat in it.

On colder days, the collar snaps up to protect your neck from the cold.

KAVU Petos Shirt Jacket
KAVU Petos Shirt Jacket

The shirt also includes two chest flap pockets and hand pockets on the side. The material in the hand pockets are incredibly soft and warm.

I was hiking early in the morning with the Petos Shirt Jacket and had forgotten my gloves and the hand pockets kept my fingers suitably warm.

Bottom Line

I had a blast testing out these products from KAVU. Their brand is about fun and these were fun products to wear.

But they have a lot more to choose from besides these two products, including a full line of men’s and women’s clothing, bags, and accessories.

Go Rogue With New Cycling Pants from Showers Pass

This Fall, Showers Pass launched a new line of pants for cycling: The Rogue Pant. They sent our team at Huck Adventures a pair to take on the trails.

Showers Pass Rogue Pant
Showers Pass Rogue Pant

First, these pants aren’t just for MTB. They work great on the bike, especially for extended periods. But I took them recently on an all-day hike in the mountains and they outperformed any other pair of pants in my gear closet.

The Rogue Pant is water-resistant and have a slim feel all the way down the legs. It’s made of a breathable nylon spandex that has a four-way stretch—very similar to their Gravel Short—and a DWR coating.

Inside the pants there are silicon grippers to keep the waist in place. There is also an adjustable velcro waistband for easy sizing.

The pockets are mesh for additional breathability and a clasp on the back pocket for added security.

Showers Pass Rogue Pant
Showers Pass Rogue Pant

On my mountain hike, I found these pants to be extremely comfortable. The slim fit wasn’t a problem. The four-way stretch kept things moving easily and provided ample coverage for my legs. As I was scrambling over rocks I didn’t have any issues with the waist exposing my butt crack. And likewise when I was coming down, losing my balance, and sliding on rocks, I found that the material held up well.

For biking, these are great pants for the trail, but also a great commuter pant. As long as you don’t have mud splattered up the backside, this is a great pant to wear on the bike and in the office.

With the Rogue, I wear a size 36-inch waist. With other brands, I am a 34-inch, so these fit a bit small.

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.