April 23, 2013

Career Change

Two years ago this month I started a little blog titled 'Backwoods Plaid' to reunite myself with the outdoors while living in Boston. City life was missing something; this Mainer didn't permanently belong. In all honesty, it worked. The blog reminded me where I truly belong - Maine.  The Pine Tree State offers unimaginable outdoor destinations and country-relaxation that puts a soul at ease. Those of you who've followed for any length of time know that I love L.L. Bean products. Today, and tens of thousands of viewers later, I feel like I've accomplished something. I've met some great folks, provided hundreds of recommendations to viewers, worked with famous outdoor brands I couldn't have dreamed about 24 months ago, and as of today, accepted a new career offer with L.L. Bean.

I've officially earned a copywriting position in the Creative department for my dream employer. I look forward to honing my passion of writing, working with outdoor products, and learning the century old brand that is L.L. Bean. Backwoods Plaid will refocus on outdoor adventure, photography, and story-telling. I thank you all for the support, emails, tweets, and most of all, weekly page views. Here's to carrying on our love of the outdoors for another two years...


April 17, 2013

Carhartt S/S 2013

Carhartt symbolizes ruggedness and hard work. Most folks in Maine are well-versed in the strength of the clothing and the brand. The Dearborn, Michigan company sent out a few pieces from their 2013 Spring/Summer line to test. With the warmth of summer slowly encompassing Maine, we took a day off, hopped on our Harley's and hit the back country roads for an afternoon. Here are some shots of the products we tested.

Force Cotton Tee's wicks away the moisture from a warm day. What the wind on a wide open road doesn't take care of, Carhartt will, wash after wash. Whether in the gym or at work, this tee is ideal. 

6" Carhartt Work Boot - what I'll be stomping around in this summer. The boots look good and are functional for any job, whether that's a backyard chore or the construction site. From first wear - the fit is good and snug and the leather is perfectly comfortable. Most important for me, they allow my feet to breathe all day. These will last years and only better with age.

Men's Rugged Cargo Shorts fall to the knee and are fit with cargo pockets large enough to carry most essentials. The design is roomy enough for comfortability on a long bike ride, and that alone speaks volumes.

The Essential Plaid Shirt keeps up with the style of fans of Backwoods Plaid. For a soft, comfortable finish, with 8 colors to choose from at $30, you might as well pick up a couple.

April 14, 2013

Woolrich S/S 2013

Woolrich is helping outdoorsmen gear up for Spring/Summer adventures in 2013 with a great new line-up. As temperatures approach 70 across the country (if not already), I'm searching closets for my favorite short sleeve shirts from last summer. I'll be adding the Tectonic Plaid ShirtCanvas Trekking Cargo's, and Windwood Shirt to my personal collection of "go-to" warm-weather clothing. Here's a quick highlight:
Tectonic Plaid Shirt
A crinkle weave of polyester/nylon proves lightweight, cool and breathable. Colors pop for Summer from trail to backyard. Wrinkle-resistant - so when you cram it into your hiking pack at noon, you'll still look great hitting the town at night. Simple snap buttons add to the ease. A great cut allow for movement on-the-go.

Canvas Trekking Cargo's
An all-around ideal pair of shorts. Classic styling that falls above the knee, with just enough room to chase the dog around the backyard or feel comfortable in the office chair. Square trek pockets are clean cut with button snaps. I'll be picking up another pair as one simply won't suffice. Folks will begin noticing I'm wearing the same shorts everyday.

Windwood Shirt
Long-sleeve, yes. Too warm, no. The 100% ripstop nylon with a mesh back yoke is a ventilation machine. Convertible sleeves are one of my favorite features on Woolrich shirts. With a few minutes of work, most light-weight shirt sleeves come undone.The button-up sleeves hold secure all day, whether your paddling your favorite river or splitting camp wood. Add this to your seasonal wardrobe.

(Editor's note: The kind folks at Woolrich provided these items for review)

April 8, 2013

Filson Guest Post: 6 Spring Essentials

Filson asked for my take on items that would enhance a Spring trip outdoors. 

Click the image below to see my recommendations on Filson Life.  As always, thanks to my friends at Filson for the opportunity.

April 3, 2013

Review: Platypus Sprinter XT 35 Pack

                 SPRING IS HERE!

Now is the time to gear-up for your warm weather adventures. Whether a day hike, over night trip, or ultralight multi-day excursion, the Sprinter XT 35 is the solution to a problem you may not have realized you had. Packs are constantly being re-engineered for maximum comfort and functionality, but Platypus (a division of Cascade Designs, think Therm-a-Rest and MSR) truly incorporates nearly everything into the Sprinter series. Let's take a look at some of the features:

               Weight:    2 lb. 13 oz.
               Capacity: 35L
               Price:       $159

Independent Hydration Pocket
No longer must you unclasp, unsynch, and untie the main compartment to fiddle with or refill your hydration pouch. Integrating a dedicated pocket directly behind the back support, with a simple unzip you have full access to an included 3.0L hydration sleeve. Simplicity anywhere on the trail is appreciated.

Main Compartment
The big victory in my book is no longer having a main compartment synced down with buckles and straps. Platypus eliminates that excess weight by leveraging weatherproof zippers and taped seams. A quick unzip of the pack top exposes a large main compartment with a ton of room to access and grab whatever piece of gear is needed. This design allows more light to flow inside the roomy interior - no more digging through a dark pack. Success!

Ventilated Shoulder Straps & Suspension
Anything created with breath-ability, that rests against a moving body, is praised. You nearly forget the lightweight shoulder straps are slung over your shoulders. The padded back support includes a support system that promotes air ventilation - keeping you cool and comfortable. Technically they call it a BioCurve back panel with an aluminum stay. I call it enjoyable.

A large open-top pocket runs the length of the pack and provides an easy place to stow a jacket, hat, or snack - things you'll want quickly without having to stop and unzip a pouch crammed with gear, risking losing something trail side. Two mesh pockets are situated on either side of the pack. The waist belt also features two easy-access zippered pockets, large enough for an iPhone, protein bar, or bear spray.

At 2lb. 13oz, the pack is fantastically light, particularly after proper adjustment of the the shoulder, waist and chest straps. Moderate loads are nearly forgotten on your back. Heavier loads are carried with relative ease. 

Plenty of lash points are available - whether you're gear closet contains trekking poles, an ice axe, helmet, or a camping axe - your gear will have a designated resting spot without bouncing around. Crafted from Weatherproof Diamond Ripstop Nylon.

See more details or purchase, here at Cascade Designs.

(Editor's Note: The good folks at Cascade Designs provided this item to Backwoods Plaid to review)

April 2, 2013

First Spring Hike

A feeling of ill-preparedness swept over me as I spotted two young ladies at the trail-head.  Each was outfitted in insulated pants, gaiters, and winter boots. Would our journey to 3,000 ft. really have knee deep snow in April? Standing in my shorts, Timberland's, and a Helly Hansen jacket, I locked the truck door and made my way, sighing, across the parking lot.  Leaping over the snow bank, where a plow truck had cleared the lot all winter, I landed swiftly on early Spring grass. And so went today's hike - snow, grass, a bit more snow, then a nice batch of mud.
Spring outings require planning (or, so says the guy in shorts). A check on the NOAA weather station revealed a high today of 55. Without so much as a cloud in the sky, shorts seemed in order. A good wool base layer, a warm fleece, and a soft shell jacket will make up for exposed legs. I like freedom to move anyway, plus I was told this hike would have a bit of scrambling over rocks and roots.

Peeling off outer layers is nearly an immediate response to the sun beating down upon our shoulders. The elevation gain teamed up with snow just soft enough to make putting one foot in front of the other a workout on the hamstrings and quads.

The forest has a fresh look this time of year. The Spruce and Pine trees all seem to have a deep green luster standing out from that fading and dull-colored snow.

Left: Basking in the Sun. Right: Nature at it's best.

The heart of the White Mountains revealed itself to us with a 360 degree mountainous panorama. Winds picked up significantly rising above tree line, drying the hours of perspiration. The cool temperatures felt nice, for a short period of time, before we found our mid-layers again.

Fresh mountain run-off provides an ideal location to top off your Platypus water reservoir.

Kicking the snow off the boots and giving the pup a break.

Blues and greens are winning the war over white.

Before heading back down, I pause and gaze over to Mt. Washington, the jewel of New England. Still snow-capped, you can watch blowing snow whip about it's peak. For today, I'll settle for a hike involving shorts. Summer is around the corner, my tent is packed and I need some campfire for my soul.