The Narrows on the Blanco River in Texas

Some friends and I took a trip to The Narrows on the Blanco River in Texas. It is a gem.
However getting there was no easy task. 
This trip is physically, logistically and legally challenging. The Narrows is on the Blanco River, but is surrounded by private property. There is no trail. The route traverses dry riverbed, sand, rocks, brush and water. The journey can take between 12 to 16 hours, cover 6 to 8 miles in and 6 to 8 miles out and may require swimming 1 to 3 miles in and 1 to 3 miles out depending on the flow of the river. The route and conditions may vary at different times of the year. One must be prepared and equipped for self-rescue, there is no cellular service near the access points nor along the river.
There are two ways to access The Narrows. 1. Obtain permission from one of the property owners with land bordering the river. Or, 2. Access the river via a public right of way and hike and swim the entire route.
Texas Navigation Law specifies access to inland and coastal …

The Canyonlands - A Backpacking Journey in Utah

A car ride + airplane flight + car ride and we stepped into another world.

I found the perfect place to cowboy camp and sleep under the stars on this backpacking trip to Utah. During this trip we visited Dead Horse Point State Park, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Inside of Canyonlands NP we hiked through The Needles district which is only accessible by foot.

What I used for cowboy camping:
Thermorest Parsec 20 sleeping bag
Thermorest Neo Air Xlite sleeping pad
Sea to Summit Ultrasil Nano poncho tarp
Canyonlands cave

Skinners Sock Shoe Review

I recently acquired a pair of Skinners. What?

Skinners are a new type of sock shoe that the company claims are useful for traveling, walking, running, hiking, biking, workouts, yoga and water sports. 
I decided to put these Skinners to the test on a recent trip hiking and fly fishing. Check out the video.

Skinners are basically a sock covered on the sole with a durable polymer. They offer the comfort of a sock and the protection of a minimalist sole similar to an ultralight barefoot style shoe. 

The sock shoes are made in Europe with an inner layer that is a combination of natural and synthetic fibers woven together into a durable sock. The inner layer material is wicking, insulating and comfortable like a sock. The outer layer is made of a 2mm anti-abrasive polymer that forms a light thin grippy protective barrier.  Each pair weighs about 2.8 ozs. and are machine washable.

I first tried on the Skinners in the comfort of my home. I walked around on my hardwood floors and realized tha…

How To Save Money on Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day is promoted as an epic day of deals. The online retailer releases special offers throughout the day and posts notifications on their website and app. To get the best deals you have to follow along, check back often and purchase quickly before the deals expire.

Here are a few of my tips for approaching Amazon Prime Day.

1. If you don't need anything, don't buy anything. Don't visit the website. Don't open the app. And don't respond to other retailer offers that will try to match the frenzy. This is the surest way to save money. Instead, take a friend out to lunch, read a good book or go for a hike outdoors. You'll likely find more enjoyment in these experiences.

2. If there is one item that you have been waiting to purchase, only shop for that one item. Use the search feature and not the browse feature. This will hopefully help you to stay focused on the task at hand - to get that one item.

3. If you can't resist, join in. But set a budget…

Campfire Alternatives - When you feel that burning desire, but...

Summer's here! Ready to create some memories of camping, roasting hot dogs, munching on s'mores and gathering around the campfire.

You feel that burning desire, but...

What! There's a fire burn ban! No campfire!
With many wilderness areas experiencing dry conditions and prime conditions for forest fires; some national, state and municipal parks have fire burn bans in effect during the summer months.
Here are some tips and alternatives when it is not possible to have a traditional campfire.

1. Prevent forest fires. Smokey Bear is 70 years old and still spreading the word about fire safety. There are fire burn bans for a reason. In recent years we've seen massive forest fires devastate wilderness areas as well as some towns. Take Smokey's advice, "Only you can prevent forest fires."

2. Go for a night hike and star party. Plan your hike in advance. Take a flashlight or headlamp (a light with a red light feature is even better). Use a navigational device lik…

Durston X-Mid Tent - Setup and Overview

I'm pretty simple and typically enjoy hammock or cowboy camping. However, there are certain circumstances where a tent is simply more pragmatic or needed. Therefore, I recently acquired a new ultralight tent about which I'm pretty excited - the Durtson X-Mid Ultralight 1 person tent.

The design, production and distribution of this tent was a collaborative development between the online community commerce website Massdrop and hiker/designer Dan Durston. The full name of the tent might be the Massdrop Dan Durtson X-Mid Ultralight 1 person tent.

I have not had an opportunity to fully test this tent on an adventure, but I wanted to demonstrate the setup and provide an overview.

This tent has some unique features and specifications that I try to highlight in the following video. I stated some incorrect specs regarding the material (40D should be 20D) and weight (40 ounces should be 30 ounces), so please see the spec list below for the proper info.

Here's a detailed list of the s…

The New Kammok Mantis and Mantis Ultralight Hammocks

I dropped by the Kammok store in Austin, Texas to check out their new Kammok Mantis and Mantis Ultralight Hammocks. 
It's an All-In-One hammock which includes the hammock, insect screen, ridgeline, bag, guy-lines, stakes, straps and rainfly. The Standard Mantis weighs in a 2 lbs 12 ozs and the Mantis UL weighs in at 2 lbs 3 ozs - crazy light!

This isn't a full review, because I haven't had a chance to actually test the hammock. It's more of an overview in which I highlight a few of the unique features of each hammock.

Check out the video...

For more information visit their website at

Mantis Specs:

Best Use Case: Backpacking
Unpacked Dimensions (hammock): 120" x 56"
Unpacked DImensions (fly): 136" x 88" (tapers down to 72" at foot end)
Packed Dimensions: 10" x 6"
Packed ‘Compressed’ Dimensions: 8" x 6"
Packaged Weight (oz): 2lb 12oz
Minimum Trail Weight (oz):
*Trail weight w/out rainfly: 1lb 11.8oz
*Trail weight w/…