Gear Review- Fjallraven Barents Pro Trousers

10 May 2014

With summer nearly here, and with my focus on the desert, this may not be the time to write about a pair of pants that are more cold weather oriented. The Barents Pro trousers are described on the Fjallraven website as “durable trekking trousers for many adventures in the mountains and forests”, which to me translates to cold weather desert treks. I have yet to try them in hot weather, but I will try them this summer in the heat. But after stopping in to the Fjallraven store again yesterday (they are right across from my own shop on the West End of Pearl Street in Boulder), I am once again thinking about the quality, durability, functionality, comfort, and color of Fjallraven products. And especially the Barents Pro trousers.

The Pants
I bought a pair of these pants last fall, and have used them on two trips so far. On the first, last November, I wore them for 8 days. On the most recent trip I wore them for 12 days. And when I say that I wore them I mean that I never took them off. I hiked canyons, through thick brush, climbed around in canyons and on slickrock, waited out a couple of rain storms, tracked and viewed lots of artifacts (on my knees a lot), and slept in them. In both cases not only did the pants show almost no wear, but they hid all the signs of having been out for so long very well. I should note that I have the olive drab colored pants.

The Fjallraven Barents pro trouser in dark olive

The Fjallraven Barents Pro trouser in dark olive.

These are some of the best fitting bush pants that I have ever owned. They have a low waist, and carry no excess fabric anywhere. The knees and seat are double thick, with the knees being pre-shaped so that you do  not notice the thickness. The double knee fabric also forms a pocket which accepts a knee pad- perfect for the tracker. Knee pads are available from Fjallraven, or you can simply cut up a piece of closed cell foam pad and slip it in.

The Barents Pro trousers are made of wind and water resistant G-1000® fabric which comes waxed and can be re-waxed when it starts to wash out. The pants have 7 pockets including a large map pocket (which I am really happy with), and an axe pocket (which I do not have a use for.) The pockets have large, easy to manage snaps for closing them. They come in European waist sizes and one length which they call “raw length”. This means that you will have to get them hemmed- a benefit as I see it since they will fit me exactly. Even with all the features, they are a lightweight pant.

Barents Pro trousers pocket configuration.

The Barents Pro trousers pocket configuration- right side and left side. The axe pocket is the long pocket on the left side, down the side of the leg.

Colors in the Bush
And finally, while color may not be important to most people, it is very important to me, and can set me off on a rant quite easily…. When I am in the bush I must blend in; I cannot and will not use red, yellow, or orange clothing or gear. To me it is a form of pollution, just like people talking in loud voices as they walk down the trail, or leaving their trash in a campsite. I do all I can to buy gear in subtle, subdued colors. My goal in the bush is to blend in, to mentally and physically become part of my surroundings. Wearing blaze orange or its equivalent, unless I am hunting, is not an option.

Most Fjallraven products, including the Barents Pro trousers, come in natural, subdued colors that blend in with nature. The Barents Pro trousers are available in dark olive, dark grey, and sand. Unlike the vast majority of gear makers who apparently make gear for the campus, the club, and the mall, Fjallraven makes gear for the bush, for hiking, for outdoors. Point of note- I asked a couple of different REI employees why clothing is so bright and was given the stock, ridiculous answer that it was a safety issue. Americans apparently get lost a lot and bright colors help them get found. (Does this mean that Europeans don’t really get lost?) I asked a few employees at Golite about the color issue as well. They were quick to say that, unfortunately, colors are what the market wants. The three people I talked to also stated that they had trouble with the colors themselves and wouldn’t use them in the bush! End of rant.

For more on our desert adventures, and the occasional rant, visit the Desert Explorer website.

Gear Review- Primus Profile Propane Stove

8 February 2014

On nearly every trip we make to the desert there is usually a new piece of gear along. I often try to mention some of them, and write reviews about the gear if I have the time. The Swedish gear maker Fjallraven has recently opened a store in Boulder and I have acquired a couple of pieces of gear from them that are worthy of note. I have a pair of their G1000 Trekking Pants, which I will review in a future post, and a Primus Profile 2-burner propane stove, the focus of this blog.

Primus stove in action. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Our new Primus stove in action at breakfast. The stand is our own- an old folding stool that fits the stove perfectly.

Th Primus Profile stove is something I have been thinking about for a long time, especially for river trips. Until its purchase, and for the last 25 years, I have been using a basic 2-burner Coleman stove. We are on the second one now; the first gave out after about 20 years. There is nothing wrong with the Coleman stove- it does its job- you fill it, light it, and cook. But it is a bit tedious with the pumping and lighting sequence, especially if there is wind. They are fairly inexpensive to operate, with a gallon of white gas costing around 12 dollars and the stove costing about 100 dollars. For reference, we use about 3-4 liters of white gas on a two week trip, depending on the time of year and how much time we are at the truck.

Primus Set Up
The basic Primus Profile 2-burner costs just about the same as the Coleman, right at 100 dollars. It is available at many stores, including NRS online. The Profile is the basic model stove; there are others in the line with additional features.  The Primus takes about the same amount of time to set up as the Coleman, just a couple of minutes, but lights much easier. Setup requires opening the top, swinging out and locking the side wings into place, and connecting a hose to the stove and to a propane canister. This is where it gets easy- there is no pumping or priming- just open the gas valve to the burner then twist the electronic piezo igniter knob and you have a flame to set your pot on. The Coleman requires preheating, longer in the cold and wind, and there are often flareups to deal with, taking more time before you can start cooking.

Basic Coleman stove and Primus propane stove. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Basic 2-burner Coleman white gas stove and Primus Profile 2-burner propane stove side by side.

Both stoves are near the same size and weight, with the Primus being a little sleeker and thinner, a bit longer, and with rounded corners. It also feels a little stronger and better built than the Coleman.

Propane Canisters for the Primus
The primary, and really only drawback to the Primus has to do with the cost of disposable propane canisters, near 4 dollars each. On our fall trip we had just started on our fourth canister on our way home, so fuel for the trip was about 15 dollars, about twice the cost of using the Coleman stove. They feel a little bulkier than carrying a few MSR fuel bottles full of white gas. Also, they may not be recyclable, something I consider another negative.

But this problem can be worked around with the purchase of a refillable, one gallon (about 4.2 pounds, equal to 4 or 5 disposable canisters) propane tank. The initial cost is high, around 55 dollars. You will also need an adapter that will fit the disposable one pound canister hose end to the refillable tank. This will cost about another ten dollars. Now you start saving- instead of buying 5-one pound disposable canisters at near 20 dollars, the one gallon tank can be refilled for about four dollars, depending on where you live and where you get it refilled. That is considerable savings, and makes the Primus unbeatable.

End view of Coleman and Primus stoves for comparison. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

End view of both stoves for comparison- Primus is thinner and more rounded in design.

I have only come across one issue so far with the stove. On cold mornings during our November trip, with temperatures around 30 or 35 degrees, the piezo ingiter knob was almost impossible to turn, and lighting required the use of a lighter. Once the stove warmed, it would light with every turn of the knob. I am hoping this may have something to do with the stove being new, and that the igniter will work in the cold once it is broken in.

To summarise, the Primus Profile is quieter and easier to light than the Coleman stove. It is also considerably cheaper to operate as long as you buy a refillable tank. The simmer adjustment allows you to save fuel and really put a burner on simmer. The Primus Profile is sleek and thin, but strong and well-built. A final point of note that made me quite happy was that the Primus Profile doesn’t rattle constantly in the back of the truck the way the Coleman does.

For more about the gear we use and where we use it, visit the Desert Explorer website.

Thoughts About My Chacos, and Help From Leki

2 November 2011

I have been wearing Chaco sandals for about 7 years now, in fact I have been wearing the same pair of Z/2 sandals. Granted, I have had them re-strapped 2 times now, and had them resoled last summer. I am a big fan of the shoes- in my opinion there are none better. But I have some bad news about the shoes for fellow Chaco fans and supporters of small, local business. It appears that Chaco has sold and the shoes are no longer made in Paonia, Colorado. Any guesses on where they are made now?

Part of me wants to complain about it, find another locally made shoe to wear, move on. But I don’t think it is going to happen- even though they are now made in China, and even though I see a difference in the quality of materials, there are no other shoes made like Chacos, not even close in my opinion. And I guess I should congratulate those who started the business- this is the goal of starting a small business after all- to build it, and then sell it for millions. I just hope the sandals do not follow the route of Teva- which used to be the “only” river sandal about 15 (20?) years ago. Their manufacture left the US, they were redesigned, and redesigned more, reinvented their image, and came out with fluffy slippers, and dress “boots” for the yoga-mom cult, and that was their end in my book. Unfortunately I have already received a couple of Chaco poster “catalogs” in the mail, complete with smiling yoga-moms perched on rocks, fluffy slippers and dress “boots”, and dog collars even. (For the record: I have nothing against smiling yoga-moms.)

I also want to mention that I did have a problem recently with my resole job from last summer. I sent my sandals in for a re-strap earlier this summer. The day after we got on the river on our recent San Juan trip the soles of both of my sandals began delaminating (glue interacting with cleaning fluids used during re-strapping?).  By the end of the trip both soles were nearly off, I was out of duct tape, and my feet and sandals were sticky with duct tape glue. As soon as we got back I gave Chaco a call, sent the shoes back at their expense, and had them back with new soles, free of charge, within about a week. So their customer service  and repair have not changed, although it has also left Paonia.

Leki Super Makalu Trekking Poles
Another piece of gear I have sworn by over the years are my set of trekking poles made by Leki. I have been using the same pair for about 11 years now and have finally had a small issue with one of them. A small crack developed in the lower pole section right where it tightens down into the middle section. I called Leki to see about buying a new piece, and within minutes they had my information in their computer and the problem had been taken care of. I had a new lower pole section about a week later free of any charges. The Super Makalu poles apparently have a lifetime guarantee. It took me about 2 minutes to swap the part out, and the poles were as sturdy as the day I bought them. There is something to be said for buying the best gear on the market.

For those who are skeptical about trekking poles, and have not tested a pair, I recommend giving them a try. From the first few minutes of my first hike with them, I swore I would never hike without them again. For me they have become indispensable to me. Most important to me based on some of the “trails” I hike and the endless river crossings on some of my adventures, they aid in maintaining balance.  Trekking poles help with weight distribution as you hike. At the end of the day you’ve had a bit of an arm workout, but your legs and knees and back feel better and you’ve walked a little further. They also double as tent poles if you use any of the Golite shelters or are setting up a poncho shelter. One note about my poles- I have rarely used the webbing loops attached to the trekking pole handles. I cut the straps off and lightened my load by another few grams! And the straps were no longer in my way.

You can see the poles at the Desert Explorer website, and read about them and other gear recommendations for desert hiking.

Escalante Trek, May 2011- Gear Reviews

29 May 2011

This post is a continuation of my post from 27 May, which outlined a recent trek down the Escalante River. In this post I will discuss some of the new gear that I tried out on this recent backpack trip. I should state that I am not paid nor sponsored by any of the companies whose products I am writing about. With the exception of Rokit Fuel, I purchased all products reviewed here and was not contacted by any of the companies. Rokit Fuel is a semi- solicited review- I received the products from the company for free for my own trial use.

Golite Malpais Trinity Rain Jacket
My most important piece of new gear on this trip, based on the cool and sometimes wet conditions that I encountered, was the Golite Malpais Trinity Jacket. In packing I hoped for warm weather, but was prepared for anything- and that is where this jacket comes in. Normally I carry only a silcloth poncho which serves as my rain gear, pack cover, and shelter. I also carry a Golite Wisp wind shirt to add a little more protection if it’s windy. On this trip, based on the potential for cool and wet weather, the amount of time I would be out, and the distance involved, I switched the Wisp out for the Malpais. I pulled the jacket out on about day 3 and I barely took it off until I got back to the trailhead. I even slept in it on one particularly cool night.

Golite Malpais jacket

The Golite Malpais Liteshell jacket.

I make every attempt to travel as light as possible and in doing so I haven’t carried rain gear in many years. But this jacket has changed my way of thinking, and I’ll keep it in my pack. The Malpais jacket weighs only 7 ounces, about 3 ounces more than the Wisp shirt. The jacket is made of Golite’s ultralight 3-layer Trinity material, a waterproof, breathable fabric and is the lightest that Golite makes. Besides the Trinity fabric, to get to such a light weight they did away with pit zips, most of the cordlocks, hood stowage, and made the interior pockets out of a super thin mesh material. After days in the jacket, and hour upon hour of rain on one occasion, I was comfortable and dry underneath. Without question, if you are looking for a lightweight rain jacket that will really protect from the elements, this is it.

OTB DesertLite Boots
Next on my list of impressive new gear is the OTB (Over The Beach) DesertLite boot. I needed strong, comfortable footgear for this trek that would perform well on land and not fall apart being wet for 4 or 5 days straight. These boots were designed by U.S. Navy SEALS and are engineered and manufactured by New Balance. Those two facts made me take a closer look at the boots.

The OTB line has in it two 8 inch boots that I looked at- the DesertLite boot and the JungleLite boot. The boots are exactly the same in every respect, except in color and leather finish. The DesertLite boot is available in a tan upper with suede tan leather finish, the JungleLite boot comes in olive drab or black upper with polished black leather. I chose the DesertLite simply because the color fits in better in my area of operation.

OTB DesertLite boots. Photo by Gerrald Trainor.

OTB DesertLite boots.

The boots feature mesh ventilation holes on the instep and the outside of the boot, 3 on a side. These holes function as drain holes when working in a wet environment. The uppers are mesh and drain extremely well and quickly when stepping out of water. I was concerned that the drain holes might let sand in, either in the water or when walking on dry land. I did find that a small amount of fine silt did make its way into the boot, but the amount was negligible. I was also concerned about drying. But each morning when I put the boots back on they were comfortably dry, enough so that if I were on dry land for the day, my feet wouldn’t feel wet. I did set the boots out in the sun on a slab of sandstone one afternoon to see how long they took to dry completely. In about two hours they were dry to the touch, inside and out.

I wore these boots for 8 straight days, they were wet for 6 of those days, and I traveled just over 100 miles in them. The only visible wear in that time is on the “reinforced climbing rubber” on the inside of the toes. A small piece tore off on the upper corner of both boots- I did do a large amount of scrambling up and down and over sandstone boulders and rocks. Other than that, it is hard to tell that I just put a very tough 100 miles on the boots.

As far as I know there are no other boots or shoes out there that are anywhere near comparable to the OTB DesertLite boot. I have tried other “water shoes” (see the reviews from the first part of the Escalante Trek) and found them woefully inadequate- fine for frisbee in the park, but nothing beyond that. The OTB DesertLite boot gets the job done.

Rokit Fuel Endurance Foods
I am constantly refining, amending, and otherwise changing my packing lists, the gear that I carry, and the foods that I carry and eat while in the bush. I make most of my own meals by the way- see our Backpack Foods pages for more on that. I was recently emailed by a representative of Rokit Fuel, a local, Utah company, and asked if I would try their products. As I am always happy to try any new outdoor product on the market, I heartily agreed.

Crystal from Rokit Fuel supplied me with three of their products in various flavors- Stud Muffin and Cherry Almond Cereal Cups, two prototype Energy Bars (not yet on the market- but coming soon as Booster Bars according to the Rokit Fuel website), and four flavors of their Cereal Pouches. I can summarise my experience with all of them in one word- delicious!

Okay, so good taste is obviously important, but what about the energy part of the foods? I have to admit that it is really hard for me to tell sometimes how an energy bar, or endurance food in this case, actually affects me. I can say that I specifically tried the products at a time when I needed a boost, on longer parts of the walk, and in between meals. Based on this I can say without a doubt that I got the boost that I needed. The highlight of all the products is the fact that they are made with whole foods- grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits- and that these foods in minimally processed form are better for you and are digested and absorbed faster by your body then processed foods. The products range in calorie content from about 250 calories for the Cereal Pouches to about 350 calories for the Cereal Cups. There are plenty of carbs, protein, fiber, and other good things you need when out there pushing yourself. See the Rokit Fuel website for a complete nutritional breakdown of all their products.

On to the products- the Cereal Pouch comes in a small bag and requires water. This could be an obvious problem if you are in a race or on your bike for example, but for backpacking it becomes a non-issue. In fact it only took seconds for me to tear the pouch open, squeeze water into it from my Camelbak tube, mix it up and enjoy it. I was concerned about how it might mix up, how long it might take. But again, it wasn’t an issue. Once the water was in it took a few seconds of massaging the pouch until all the ingredients were saturated. And the outcome- imagine a quick few bites of tasty granola cereal in milk right on the trail. Or maybe a liquid granola bar. Either way, it tasted great and I was on my way in a couple of minutes. My favorites were the pumpkin chocolate and the stud muffin.

The Cereal Cups come in some of the same flavors as the Cereal Pouches. If you are using those oatmeal breakfast packets from the grocery store shelf, the ones that require 3 or 4 to fill you up, and end up being a gooey mess, you should look into the Cereal Cups. I dumped mine into pint Ziplock bags. In the morning I poured enough hot water into the bag to moisten the contents, closed it up for a few minutes, and my breakfast was ready. Each cup makes a decent sized, filling, and not-too-sweet trail breakfast. Give the cherry almond a try.

Rokit Fuel Cereal Cup dumped into Ziplock bag for backpack breakfasts. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Rokit Fuel Cereal Cup dumped into Ziplock bag for backpack breakfasts.

Finally, the Booster Bars were a welcome change of pace to my usual peanut butter Clif Bars, not that I will shun them forever. But change is good. The Booster Bars will come in four configurations- two chocolate covered and two without. I try to stick with bars that are not chocolate covered; the desert heat and chocolate in foil always ends up as a mess. But excluding this fact, the chocolate covered bars will please your taste buds and give you the energy to keep moving.

Unfortunately at this time these products are only available at a few outlets and online. But once you give them a try you probably won’t have an issue ordering a big box of them online. And I’ll bet we will see them in stores in the near future.

Part Three
Check back in a few days for part three of  my Escalante Trek post. I’m still planning to touch on the geology and rock art that you might see while walking down the river, discuss a bit of the flora, and relate my methods of getting in some tracking practice while hiking. I’ll also go over LNT, or Leave No Trace principles while backpacking. For more on ultralight desert backpacking and associated gear, backpack foods and making your own meals, water, and desert adventures, visit the Desert Explorer website.

Utah and Arizona- March 2011

21 April 2011

Nicolai and I left Colorado on 15 March and headed for our usual special camp just across the border in Utah. We expected- or at least hoped for- warm weather through the trip. We ended up with cool weather, some rain, some snow, and wind nearly every day. Knowing that this can happen in the early spring of the desert, we were prepared with plenty of winter clothing, our Sorrel boots, and goggles for the sand storms. And plenty of fire wood.

Poison Spring Canyon
We began our trip by spending 4 days down Poison Spring Canyon south of Hanksville. We tried our hand at gold panning, did some exploring up side canyons, drove down to the ford at the Dirty Devil, looked at some rock art, and made a tamarisk bow and willow arrows for Nicolai. Both of these materials worked well for his purposes. We rounded the arrow shafts the best we could and straightened them on the fire. Our next step will be to make a shaft straightener and get them really straight.

Nicolai trying out his tamarisk bow and willow arrow.

There was a lot of activity in the area while we were there. It seemed that quite a few groups were floating the river, or at least trying to, around that same time. As we understand it, some people opted out in the end, others pushed on, even while on the verge of hypothermia, and another group had to cache their equipment, hike out, and return to finish the float a couple of weeks later. We are looking forward to hearing more about everyone’s trips.

Shield figures fighting, Poison Spring canyon, petroglyph

Shield figures fighting, Poison Spring canyon.

A Drive Down to Arizona- Canyon de Chelly
After our time in the Hanksville area we headed south towards Arizona. We made our usual stops around Moki Dugway for a night, and in Mexican Hat at the San Juan Inn for breakfast. Next we visited Chinle and Canyon de Chelly. This is an amazing canyon, full of history and prehistory, being occupied for over 5000 years. The canyon was the final stronghold of the Diné people against forced relocation by Kit Carson and his troops in 1864. This was known as “the Long Walk” to the Diné, as they were marched to Fort Sumner in New Mexico over 300 miles away.

Monument Valley off in the distance, on the drive south to Chinle.

The canyon is worth a visit even for a quick look if you are traveling through the area. There are driving tours on both the north and south sides of the canyon with viewing overlooks into the canyon along the way. There is only one location where you an enter the canyon without a guide, and that is to see the White House ruin. You can visit other places in the canyon by hiking or driving, even backpack there, but a guide must accompany you on the trip. Guides can be found in Chinle, and complete information can be found at the Canyon de Chelly visitor’s center.

The Hubbell Trading Post
Our drive took us on towards Ganado and the Hubbell Trading Post, where we spent and afternoon, an inadequate amount of time for a place so rich in history. While nothing can make up for the Long Walk and forced relocation, John Lorenzo Hubbell did more to help the Diné than anyone in his day. He is largely responsible for making the Navajo weaver known to the world. He helped create the craft at least in a commercial sense through the design and marketing of the “Ganado Red” rug, the quintessential style of Navajo textile.

Hubbell was a friend to the Navajo and to the artist as well. His house is full of drawings, paintings, weavings, baskets, and collections of art bought by him and given to him by many a famous artist. You can tour the house, and will find it in exactly the state lived in by the Hubbell family- it was sold to the Park Service by the Hubbell family in the 1960’s as is. Some clothes were packed up, the door was locked- this is how you will find it. The trading post itself is still in operation. You can buy supplies there, as well as contemporary weavings, baskets and other works of art. I have to mention that Teddy Roosevelt visited the place, and we saw the room and very bed where he slept- Nicolai was fascinated by this, as he is a big fan of Roosevelt.

Window Rock and the Navajo Nation Museum
We stayed the night in the Navajo Nation capital, Window Rock. There we visited the arch which gives the town its name, saw the veteran’s memorial and Code Talker memorial under Window Rock, stopped by KTNN, the nation’s radio station, for stickers, and toured the Navajo Nation museum. The museum is not to be glossed over. It is in new, modern structure whose form is after the hogan, the traditional Navajo dwelling, and of course it is entered from the east, as the hogan is.  The museum houses displays of contemporary Navajo art, historic and prehistoric artifacts, and a number of weavings of the “chief’s blanket” style that shouldn’t be missed. The museum is another “must see” if you are in the area.

Navajo Code Talker memorial, Window Rock, Arizona.

Navajo Code Talker memorial, Window Rock, Arizona.

Exped SynMat 7 Sleeping Pad
After Window Rock we headed back north for some camping and exploring in Cross Canyon, near Hovenweep National Monument, and further north around Blanding and Monticello and then to Moab. As we didn’t plan much in the way of backpacking for this trip, knowing it would be more of a road trip with plenty of tent nights, I finally took the plunge and invested in a new sleeping pad.

Eped SynMat 7

The Eped SynMat 7

The SynMat 7 by Exped is one of my favorite new pieces of gear in years. It has an integral pump that is operated by placing your hands over valves in the pump. I opted for the size medium-72 inch long, 20 inch wide, synthetic version. It comes in a down-filled version- the SynMat 9 Deluxe, giving a higher R value, and both are avail able in various widths and lengths. The SynMat 7 can be inflated in a couple of minutes without much effort. I had some of the best sleep I’ve had on the ground with this pad, and while it is not something I would carry in my backpack due to the weight (just under 2 pounds) and size, I will not sleep on anything else if I am at my truck or on a river trip. If you are in the market for a new pad make sure you take a look at this one.

For more gear recommendations and reviews, visit the Desert Explorer Gear Shop pages.

I am off to the Escalante in just under 3 weeks. I will be in the bush for 12 days or so, on a solo from Moody Canyon down to Coyote Gulch and back out. Check back for a trip report towards the end of May.

In the meantime, for more on our adventures, the Dirty Devil, primitive skills, and recommended gear, visit the Desert Explorer website.

Photos Posted, Planning, and Dirty Devil Updates

6 May 2010

We have posted a selection of photos from our recent trip to Utah. These are posted on Picasa.  We have tried Flickr and Picasa recently, and Picasa seems to be the better of the two. Most of the photos are just snapshots, but capture the feel of the desert. We usually carry only a small digital point and shoot, an older Sony Cybershot. The camera is small, fits in my pocket, and weighs little. For what it is, it takes great photos and has held up very well through river floats, sand and rain storms, countless miles in canyon bottoms, being beaten on canyon walls while climbing, and more drenchings than it should have survived. The latest version must be up to around 10 or 12 megapixels. I am sure it can be found at or at B and H Photo.

We are currently in the process of doing truck maintenance and planning and packing for our next trip.  We will leave the first of June for some exploration of the area north of Arches National Park- we have heard there are dinosaur bones and tracks visible in that area. From there we are planning 4 or 5 days of backpacking in Grand Gulch, then we’ll head south to Kayenta for mutton stew and Navajo National Monument to see ruins there.

For those floating the Dirty Devil, many people have been posting on our original Dirty Devil trip report blog post.  There is information there from recent floats for those planning on floating soon. Every time I get a comment I start thinking about floating it again. You may see a planning post for it here soon, with some luck. The river is flowing at about 30 CFS this morning for those interested.

For more on visiting southeast Utah, visit the Desert Explorer website.

A Phone Call to SPOT Regarding Their Product

25 February 2010

Yesterday I gave SPOT a call to check the status of their SPOT 2, the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger (their number is 866-651-7768).  I called about a month ago and they said to try back in a few weeks regarding the availability of their SPOT 2 model.  It has recently been recalled, and they have asked retailers to stop selling the units at this time.  Apparently you can still buy them from some retailers, but SPOT is not allowing them to be registered until the problem is fixed.

It sounded like the problem is still not completely worked out; the person I spoke to said to call back again in early March.  She seemed to think that everything should be worked out by then, and that the unit would again be available for sale and registration.

The SPOT website states that replacement units for those who have returned theirs due to the recall will be shipped beginning 18 February.  So this is a good sign at least.  Maybe the units will be back on the market as soon as they say.

For those unfamiliar with the recall, their website states:

Updated Important Notice: If you have a SPOT 2 unit with an ESN number equal to or less than 0-8053925, please complete the simple Product Return Form below to return your SPOT 2 unit for replacement. All units need to be returned for replacement and to be eligible you need to fill out the form below before March 31st, 2010.

You can read more about the recall, and find the form, at

The SPOT and the PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) are two very different devices with somewhat different applications. Be sure you know what each does and choose the one that is right for you. I personally plan to buy a SPOT and try it out, but will most likely end up with a PLB in the future as well. As a final note, ACR now offers an optional message service on their 406 MHz PLB’s, giving you a true PLB with the ability to communicate “okay messages” from the bush. For those unfamiliar with the SPOT device or PLB’s, which SPOT is not, see our recent blog posts on the subject or visit the Desert Explorer website.