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5 Christmas gifts for the savvy adventure traveller

  
  
  

There are two kinds of holiday wish lists. The gifts people think you want, and the gifts you’d like to get. I learned sometime around kindergarten that those two lists do not always include the same items.

On this year’s wish list, I’ve included the kinds of gifts that my family might think an adventure traveller like myself would want - and then the harsh truth of whether or not the item would make my own wish list.

#5 Ever wish you had a little more comfortable way to work while in the airport? I sure do. The Traveler 101 from Tripad attaches to the extended arms of your suitcase or roller bag to make a handy workstation, or just sit it on your lap to support the computer.tripad

Would I include the Tripad on my wish list? Probably not. I’m a freak about travelling with the least amount of stuff necessary, to the point of making my life miserable sometimes.  I’d rather buy a coffee and sit at a table in a chair to take care of business.

#4 As a photographer, I’m a sucker for photo tools. These futuristic video sunglasses from Zion Eyez are equipped with a 720p HD video camera and three hours of memory. They can be equipped with prescription lenses, and look like just another pair of Ray Bans.video glasses

Would I include them on my wish list? Reluctantly not. The way I treat sunglasses, I’d drop them in a lake on my first day using them, but I’d sure give them a try if somebody left them under the tree with my name on them.

#3 Photo storage is an issue for every photographer, regardless of skill level. Being able to remove photos from a camera and then store and edit them without using a computer sounds pretty sweet.  Epson’s P2000 and P4000 are appealing storage devices for just such a purpose.

Photo viewer P 4000Would I include a P4000 on my wish list? Absolutely - if I wasn’t a professional photographer.  The last thing I want as a gift is something for work. Ugh. If I want one, I’ll buy my own with a tax write-off.

#2 The endless quest for the perfect cup of coffee, in all conditions, is a worthy mission. While camping, the REI French Press Mug will deliver a tasty brew anywhere beans and hot water can be found.

REI coffee press

Would I include this on my wish list? Definitely - if it came with a cute barista. But as is? Hmm. I love coffee, but usually just take black tea on adventures for the ease and simplicity.

#1 What about a gift that isn’t a material good? A slice of precious time away from the rush of life? A trip to a dream destination with an award-winning program and without too many other people? A daily experience that includes lots of fun, relaxation time, great food, just the right amount of exercise and moments I’ll never forget?

gift of experience

Would I want this dream trip to the Canadian Rockies left for me under the Christmas tree?  Without a doubt! Experiences don’t break, lose value, or clutter our lives.  Sure, nice things are, well, nice, but experiences are the ultimate gift.
 

The Gear out Here: Hiking boots for Summer Adventure Guests

  
  
  

Boots can make or break your hiking vacationHiking boots are the direct point of contact between hikers and the mountains. The wrong footwear can easily ruin a great hiking trip.  Many guests new to CMH Summer Adventures are surprised when they learn that CMH provides quality hiking boots, rain gear and day packs.  I admit the vision of ratty 1790s bowling shoes came to mind when I first heard this. So I had to investigate and I learned that this myth couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Turns out, both the Bugaboo and Bobbie Burns Lodges have a cross section of boots from industry leaders Salomon, Tecnica, Garmont and Asolo.  Sizes range from kids to adult 14 medium width. The boots are regularly cleaned with a motorized brush to remove dirt and mud before a weather proofing shoe polish is applied, as you can see in this video.

There are many advantages to using the boots that CMH provides. 

1) On any trip, packing is almost always a struggle.  Having the luxury of leaving your boots at home will leave you with more space to take home t-shirts for your nieces and nephews.  However, many hikers are very attached to their boots and are sceptical of using anything else.  If you’d prefer to bring your own you can still try ours and have your own for back up. 

2) Quality hiking boots can easily cost $300-$500.  If you don’t already have them this will save you both the time and cost of a shopping for a new pair.  A new pair of boots can also take time to work in so previously worn boots can be a great advantage in the war against sore feet.

What else does CMH provide?

Knowing the importance of staying dry and comfortable in variable weather conditions, CMH supplies heli-hikers with waterproof jackets and pants. The rain gear provided is produced for us by Marmot.  Day packs water bottles are also provided.  All of our gear is replaced periodically or as soon as it shows signs of wear,

Gloves and toques (wool hats) are not supplied but are great things to pack and hope that you won’t need to use them.  Staying dry and comfortable is a huge contributor in ensuring that hikers get the most out of the mountain paradise that we have to offer them.  Mother Nature occasionally challenges us with a bout of undesirable weather and having the right gear will keep you a happy hiker.

What are some of the things you always carry in your daypack?

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Hiking Gear: Is Merino Wool a Good Choice for Summer Adventures?

  
  
  

Heli Hiking  the perfect environment for Icebreaker Merino woolLast month I posted an article on The Heli-Ski Blog about Icebreaker clothing.  Our guides and guests have been raving about the performance of this amazing clothing ("keeps me warm", "Doesn't stink!" are the sorts of comments I keep hearing).  So I thought I'd explore the practicality of Icebreaker for heli-hiking, climbing and other summer adventures

After discussing the value of Icebreaker clothing for heli-skiing and ski touring, I asked Kent Hawkins of Icebreaker to switch gears to summer...

JC: We see our hiking and climbing guests moving away from cotton t-shirts as well.  What would be the best garment for our summer guests hiking at 8000 feet under endless blue skies?

KH: Well merino sheep often “hike” in these exact same conditions.  In the high alps of New Zealand merino sheep live up to 7000 feet above sea level and enjoy bright sunny days.  In the valley the temperature can get into the 30’s and so they need to be able to stay cool in the heat. If the fibre did not breathe, the animal would die in this environment.  Icebreaker is a great choice for summer hikes for three reasons:

  1. Icebreaker clothes provide UV protection from the sun so that you won’t burn. 
  2. The breathability that helps in the winter also helps keep you cool in the summer. 
  3. And as mentioned before, the same moisture management and odor control play an even bigger factor in the summer than the winter.  Staying dry and odor free make your fellow hikers want to hang out with you that much more.

And for those of you that shop for ethically produced products and gear, Icebreaker is a company that you can feel good about supporting. They have solid relationships with only 30 farmers who grow the wool, they have chosen a small number of manufacturers who ahere to a strict code of conduct and produce an exceptional product, have a transparent supply chain and ensure that the animals that provide the wool for their products are treated ethically. Learn more about Icebreaker's commitment to quality product on their website at www.icebreaker.com. 

Photo:Icebreaker's merino wool is perfect for Heli-Hiking at CMH on long hot summer days!

Perfect Fit: A guide to purchasing hiking boots

  
  
  

By Lyle Grisedale, Hiking Guide, CMH Summer Adventures

Hiking boots - finding the perfect pair for your CMH Summer AdventureAlthough here at CMH Summer Adventures we provide great quality hiking boots (and jackets, packs and rain gear), you may still be in search of a new pair of hiking boots.  CMH Heli-Hiking guide, Lyle Grisedale has put together a few tips to aid you in your quest for the perfect fitting hiking boot.

If there is a good outdoor store near your home they will walk you through the process and help you find a pair that is right for you, but how do you know what they have suggested is going to work?
 
Here are some tips and guidelines for selecting a pair of hiking boots that will give you years of hiking performance and satisfaction.

Consider the purpose
At CMH Summer Adventures we don't always walk on designated hiking trails such as those you will find in your local parks. We explore a wide variety of terrain from alpine meadows to rocky scree slopes, and even rock slab. We do walk on game trails through forested areas and often we cross streams, walk in wet grasses and snow left over from the winter. If you're planning to hike similar terrain elsewhere, you will need a boot that is sturdy and waterproof that covers the ankle and offers good support to that area. There are lots of boots from many brands that will meet these needs.

Material
The boots you purchase can be all leather, a mix of leather and synthetic, or completely made of synthetic materials. All three choices are good ones. Regardless of the material for the top of the boot, make sure your boot has a Vibram sole.  This is a rubber that provides excellent traction on rocks. Some excellent brands to explore are: Merrell, Salomon, Asolo, Scarpa, Garmont, Vasque and La Sportiva to name just a few.
 
Purchasing and fitting tips.

Socks
Bring a pair of hiking socks to the store you visit to purchase your hiking boots. Try on boots using the same type of sock that you will be wearing out on the trail. Wool or synthetic socks are best.


Use

Explain the sort of terrain you will be using your boots on so that the salesperson can make the proper recommendations. It is wise to find out if the boot you purchase can be resoled after long term use, and any other factors that you think will be important in the purchase of your boots.
 
Finding a good fit

Size is not as important as fit. I wear different sizes depending on the brand I have selected so start with your normal shoe-size but don't shy away from a larger or smaller size. 

  1. Place your foot in the boot and stand up. Don't worry about lacing up the boots yet.
  2. Stand up straight and push your foot forward into the toe of the boot. You toes should just touch the front but not be jammed against the front.
  3. You should be able to slip your index finger between your heel and the back of the boot. Do this for both boots. Having this space will allow your feet to fit comfortably in your boots and will help prevent your toes from being smashed into the front of your boots when walking downhill.
  4. Sit down and lace both boots. As you do so, make sure your heel has move backwards filling the space your index finger created.
  5. Stand up and walk around.  Do your toes touch the front of the boot? If so, go for a larger sized boot. Also make certain that your toes do not touch the top of the boot. If they do then you will need a boot with a larger (front-side) volume. As you walk, the heel of your foot and the heel of the boot should move together in harmony. If not then your boots are either too large in size or the shape of the arch and heel cup are incompatible with the shape of your feet, or the sole is too stiff. Start over with another boot until you find the perfect fit.

In my next post I'll provide a few tips on how to break your boots in and you’ll soon be ready for a lifetime of happy hiking. 

Feel free to bring your boots on your next CMH Summer Adventure, or use ours.  The glory of having your own is that you'll get to enjoy the many great hiking trails in Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper National Parks before or after your CMH trip!

CMH's Vacation Planners are happy to assist you in crafting the perfect Canadian Rockies vacation incorporating as much, or as little hiking, horseback riding, dining, rafting or spa-ing as you like! Contact Audrey at 1-800-661-0252 today to get planning!

An Adventure Traveller's Holiday Wish List

  
  
  

By Ellen Barone - www.EllenBarone.com

Adventure has always been synonymous with wish lists. Whether it's a dream destination, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the latest gadget or gear, it's all about getting out there.

As if you needed a reason: here are ten irresistible holiday gift ideas sure to inspire you to pack up and play.

Adventure Wish List: GoPro HD Hero1. YOUR LIFE IN HD: GoPro HD Hero 960 Wearable Camera

Relive the high-adrenaline excitement of your heli-ski vacation, mountain bike adventure or scuba holiday (it's waterproof!) with this tiny, shatterproof GoPro HD Hero 960 camera. It can be mounted on ski and cycling helmets, handlebars, dive gear or just about anywhere else you want the hands-free ability to capture the fun. ($179, www.gopro.com)

2. PERFORMANCE NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD: Arcteryx Sabre SV Jacket

This stylish, high-performing GORE-TEX® soft shell jacket is wind and waterproof giving you full alpine protection without weighing you down. Blending form and function, the large cuffs fit over, or under, gloves, and a generous Storm Hood™ covers helmets and allows easy layering with hoodies. ($450; www.arcteryx.com)

Adventure Wish List: Luggage3. ROCK N' ROLL: Eagle Creek Switchback™ Max 22

You simply can't go wrong with Eagle Creek's lifetime, no-matter-what guarantee. For a multi activity trip when a backpack and wheels are essential, the Switchback™ Max 22 is the ideal traveling companion. Carry on your back or roll down the street - whatever works. Best of all, the zip-off daypack is a perfect solution for your daily needs once you get where you're going. Team it with the Eagle Creek pack-it cubes, folders and sacs and you're more than good to go. ($300; www.eaglecreek.com)

Adventure Wish List: PlatyPreserve4. STOP WHINING: PlatyPreserve wine preservation bottle.

Who says you have to rough-it when you adventure? Bring along your favorite wine without the weight and worry of glass. On the go, or at home, the PlatyPreserve bottle is the smartest way to keep your opened wine tasting fresh. These collapsible containers, from Seattle-based Cascade Designs, the makers of Therma-Rest, offer an easy, lightweight alternative to pack and enjoy wine wherever you go. ($9.95; http://cascadedesigns.com/platypus)

5. READY, SET, ADVENTURE: Olympus Stylus Tough 8010

Hurtling down a rugged trail. Plunging underwater. Balancing on your snowboard. This is a go-anywhere, do-anything pocket-sized camera that snaps amazing photos, records HD movies, and can handle any adventure — wet, wild, or freezing. The freeze-proof, crush-proof, drop-proof STYLUS TOUGH-8010 is engineered to play as hard as you do. ($379.00; http://www.olympusamerica.com/)

6. TOUGH, COOL, ESSENTIAL: ExOfficio Insect Shield® Halo™ Shirt

Male or female, no matter where your adventures take you, the ExOfficio Halo shirt is the ultimate travel essential. Lightweight, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant, anti-insect and UPF 30+, with hidden security pocket and roll-up sleeve tabs, this shirt makes you feel like a super hero in your own life. Don't leave home without one. ($59.91; www.exofficio.com)

Adventure Wish List: Travel Tech Protection7. TRAVEL TECH PROTECTION: Otterbox Defender Series

For the adventurous techie in your tribe whose play-hard lifestyle requires serious protection, these rugged multi-layer cases withstand any environment and provide added protection against the scratches, drops, bumps, and shocks of an adventure lifestyle. Available for Apple®, HTC, BlackBerry, Motorola, Samsung and others devices. ($49.95; www.otterbox.com)

8. BEST IN SNOW: North Face Nuptse Knee-High Boot

Cold, wet, and wintry? Bring it on! This super warm goose-down knee high boot is filled with a plush 550 fill down, and features a full zip from the Achilles tendon to the calf for easy on/off access. Stretch elastic binding at calf. Durable TNF™ Winter Grip™ outsole and Ice Pick™ technology sole for traction, bites into slick, icy terrain. ($170; www.thenorthface.com)

9. LIFE IN THE BIKE LANE: Montare Dual Sport by Gary Fisher for Trek

Adventure Wish List: BikeTake legendary bike guru, Gary Fisher, and Trek passion, brains and brawn. Add in a spec package to rival top-tier mountain bikes, but in a more versatile package. Then top it off with engineering that not only allows off-road riding, but great on-road performance, too, and you have a sweet all-purpose dual sport bike to ride into the New Year. ($989.99; www.trekbikes.com)

10. THE ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST: The Adventure Collection

Dream it. Do it. The Adventure Collection brings you over 300 collective years of experience bringing you 1,000 journeys to all 7 continents. A ten-member alliance of the world’s best and most imaginative adventure travel companies (including CMH Summer Adventures), The Adventure Collection offers experiences from the Himalaya to the Sahara, from Provence to Patagonia, from South Sea paradises to glittering mega-cities. Whether it's rock climbing or wine tasting, globetrotting private jet extravaganzas or fly fishing idylls, they've got you, and any adventure-loving friend or family member on your list, covered.

See you out there!

 

 

Travel expert Ellen Barone did what many of us only dream of doing: at the age of 35, she traded a successful academic career for the wild blue yonder and set out to explore the world and herself. In the dozen years since that intrepid decision, she has turned passion into profession journeying to more than 70 countries in search of evocative images and life-enriching adventures. Learn more at EllenBarone.com

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What to look for in a great pair of hiking pants.

  
  
  

 

There are still some great hiking days ahead in the season. Heck, there are even still some great Heli-Hiking days left in the season before the snow starts to dust the peaks surrounding Banff as well as the Bugaboos and Bobbie Burns.  I find myself in need of some new hiking pants so I checked in with Bob Krysak, Retail Services Manager here at CMH to see what advice he has to offer.

Bugaboo Spires, August 26, 2010 by Lyle Grisedale

JC: Bob, are good hiking pants worth it?  What's wrong with wearing a pair of comfy old jeans or shorts?

BK: Jane, hiking pants are worth their weight in gold (and then some)! To go hiking in jeans today is like going for a long, hilly bike ride with a one-speed bike instead of 20.  You'll get there, but you'll be very uncomfortable and it will take longer.  Jeans and shorts offer little to no protection from the elements, do not move with the body and do not dry quickly.  Today's pants offer a variety of soft-shell fabrics that are nylon/ elastane based.  They are super-light and durable, water repellent and breathable.  With zippered hand and thigh pockets you can safely store your gear and the elastic waist and cuffs make the pants very comfortable.  Some pants even come with a soft lined waist area to prevent pack chafing.  Another benefit of most hiking pants today is that they are street friendly.  You can wear them all day hiking and show up at day's end at your favourite drinking hole and not look like you just crawled out of the woods.

JC: What about zip off pants?  They seem to have evolved quite a bit over the last few years.  What are the big advantages?

BK: Zip off pants used to be the rage, but you do not see as many around as in the past. The advantage is you can zip off the legs and convert to shorts on a hot day, but you have to be careful of the fit. Some zip offs have the zipper located mid thigh, so if you are muscular this can be very uncomfortable when going uphill and your legs are flexing. Most suppliers, if they have 6-7 styles of pants will now only offer one zip off/convertible. I prefer good lightweight pant in a light color that does not heat up on those bluebird days in the Alpine.



JC: Like anything, hiking pants range from inexpensive to quite expensive.  What will I get with the Cadillac of hiking pants that I wouldn’t with a less expensive pair?

BK: Well,the main difference from less to more expensive is the fabric. If you want water resistant with more breathability the fabrics cost more, as you add more pockets with zippers the costs go up also. In the end you can pay from $100-$250 for a pair of pants. The $250 will be more durable, and may be able to crossover into the Winter for use as a touring pant. We deal mainly with Arc'teryx and Marmot and they both offer a good range of styles, fabrics and price points.

JC: That seals it. I'm going shopping!

What about you?  What are your favourite hiking pants and why? Share your expertise here!

Photo of the Bugaboo Spires taken Aug 26, 2010 by CMH Summer Adventures Guide, Lyle Grisedale

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Hats Off to Outdoor Research (OR)

  
  
  

Radar Pocket CapThe one item I never heli-hike without is a good hat to keep the high-altitude sun off my head.  What makes the perfect hiking hat?  To find out, I chatted with Dave Mahoney from Outdoor Research (OR).

JC: Dave, CMH has been selling OR gear in our shops for a couple of years now. Can you share with our readers some insight on the company and your philosophy around keeping people comfortable in the outdoors?

DM: Here at OR our company mission statement is “we build functional solutions for human powered adventures”. Every product has to perform perfectly for the intended end use or, we do not develop it. This simple function test insures all our products not only perform at their very best but, keep the user doing what they love longer.

JC: Can you tell me a little bit about the OR Lab Rats and what this has done for product innovation over the last few years?

transit hatDM: The OR Lab Rat program is another way for OR to gather feedback at the consumer level and apply this feedback to future products. We have taken individual feedback and updated a current style, or added a new style all together. An example of this is the Transit Hat made from Organic Cotton Canvas. This product was suggested from a consumer in the desert south west who encouraged us to expand our synthetic styles to include cotton. Cotton hats can be dunked in water and placed on your head for an “active” evaporative cooling. The Transit hat is one of our top sellers now.

JC: In addition to great pants, jackets, gloves and gaiters, OR makes some great hats. We recommend to all our CMH Summer Adventures guests to make sure they take a hat with them each and every day. My Mom told me this too and I practice the theory with my kids…but why can the right hat really make or break your day in the mountains?

DM: At OR we build all products with a specific end user in mind. From the top of Everest, to a hike with the family all products must function correctly. Placing Gore WINDSTOPPER in our headwear in the fall/winter allows the user to enjoy a warmer piece of headwear in the worst of conditions. Adding a full brim with foam insert to our sun hats, keeps the sun off your head, face, shoulders, ears, and allows the hat to float in the event you are participating in a water sport. From Waterproof sombreros to sun hats with proper brim dimensions and materials we always have you covered….literally. Chosing the correct piece of headwear can be the difference between frost bite, sun burn, sun glare, temperature regulation etc.

What about you?  What's your favourite hat that you never leave home without?

CMH Summer Adventures provides 3 and 6 day mountain adventures based from remote mountain lodges in western Canada.  Professional guide service, distinctive hospitality, exhilarating helicopter flights and adventures ranging from the serene to the extreme.  Learn more by visiting www.cmhsummer.com.

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