GearToons

Hiking gear reviews for hikers with short attention spans.


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The Hiking Dead: Pacemaker Stix Expedition poles

 

 

 

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A few weeks ago, I received a pretty rad little package in the mail from Brian at Pacemaker Stix. Inside was a pair of their Expedition trekking poles. This has been a busy time of year for me, but I finally managed to find a time to get out in the woods and put them to use.pm00

 

I used to hike without poles, but after I started backpacking (instead of only dayhiking) and carrying heavy stuff on my back, I noticed how quickly my knees started to ache when tackling hills. So, I started using poles and quickly saw the benefits of them. Now, I never hike without them.

My first pair was some cheapo poles I bought at Walmart. After one of them failed and nearly sent me toppling over a steep bluff, I got something a little better. I picked up some Mountainsmith poles that I’ve been using for a while and never had a problem with. They were kinda heavy, though, and were the ‘twist lock’ type of poles. These Expedition poles have a great feel to them and seem to be a much higher quality product, based on my initial impression, which was very positive.

Also, Pacemaker Stix is a US-based company, which I really love. They stand behind their product with a one year ‘Tip to Grip’ guarantee and include replacement accessories with every pole order. At the time this review is being written, they offer free shipping on orders of $50 0r more.

These are the ‘flick lock’ type, which are really quick and easy to adjust the length with, which I can appreciate. These telescope from 27 inches out to 54 inches.

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One thing I like about the Expedition pole is the weight. Only 10.5 ounces per pole.  The shaft is constructed of aircraft grade 7075 aluminum. The cork grips  are ergonomically designed and comfortable and I like them better than a molded plastic or rubber handle, personally. I usually take the straps off of my poles because I don’t really use them much. Anybody else do that?

The tips are tungsten steel with a removable vulcanized rubber boot. Mine came with an alternate set of boots that look really weird, but help to grip the ground even better. ( They kinda remind me of that strange looking monster that appears to Freck in ‘A Scanner Darkly’, with all the eyes on his head. You’ve seen that, right? )

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Also, there are two different baskets you can attach, a small one and a larger one, that are much easier to detach and reattach than other ones I’ve messed with. Rather than slipping the basket on, then twisting it into a locked position, like my other poles, you can just push them on and they are held in place by three little ridges. I really like this, because I can easily take them off when I use my trekking poles to support my tent.  I normally don’t put the baskets on my poles unless I know I’m going to be stomping through water or mud, but since they are easy to take on and off, I’ll probably keep them on now.

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I try to cut weight where I can , and had tossed around the idea of going with some UL poles like those made by Gossamer Gear. However, I have read more than a few reviews that mention how they are somewhat easy to snap if you are rough on them or fall on them…which I am prone to do. So, I believe I’ll stick with these.  After a few uses, they have been durable and dependable. As with anything, time will tell how well they stand up to use and abuse, but these poles feel anything but cheap to me.   And, should I ever need to dispatch zombies that I meet on the trail, perhaps they will keep me alive.

Disclaimer thingy: Pacemaker Stix provided me with a set of Expedition trekking poles to review with no obligation. They didn’t ask me to say positive things about their product, nor did I promise them I would. My thoughts expressed in this review are my own opinions. Have a nice day.

 

About ‘The Hiking Dead’ comic….

First of all, let me say that these poles are to never, ever, ever be used to as a weapon against any living thing. Or dead thing for that matter. Okay?

I really wanted to have some fun with this GearToon, so I drew myself into a TWD style comic. I probably spent close to 20  hours on this one. A lot of it was experimenting and goofing off, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. I’d like to do another one like this but will probably wait and see how the response is. There’s no feeling quite like working on something for a week and getting a lukewarm response to it. So, if you enjoyed the comic and would like to see ‘Part Two’, send me some feedback. As always, thanks for reading my blog.


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The Hiking Dead (or ‘How I Spend My Downtime Lately’)

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A couple of weeks ago, I hurt my foot while on a Sunday afternoon run. (Turns out, my Vibram FiveFinger running shoes are mighty comfy for running but offer very little protection from smashing your foot on harder-than-diamonds sidewalks.) So, I went to the doctor and found out that I had a contusion on my tarsals (or was it my metatarsals? I get those mixed up so often) which means no running or hiking for several weeks. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed. Especially since the weather has been really nice lately and, therefore, perfect for hiking.

I’ve been spending my weekends sitting inside with my foot in a cast, propped up, and sitting on the couch. Which kinda sucks.

However, I’ve been using my time to brush up on some of my artistry and whatnot, so I guess there’s a silver lining to that cloud. So, blah blah blah, here’s a piece I finished recently. My plan was to do a comic strip with a ‘The Walking Dead’ theme, since it’s my favorite show in the whole universe. I am still gonna work on it when I can because I think it’s a fun idea and I’d really like to finish it, if I can.

So here is the cover to a fake ‘The Hiking Dead’ comic I did last weekend. This probably took at least eight hours or so to finish, because it was an experimental piece. I tried things out to see if they worked, and if I didn’t like how it looked, I’d delete it and start over. It’s a sheer miracle that I didn’t get bored with it and move on to something else. I tried out using halftones and experimented with blending colors rather than leaving hard borders on contrasting colors. I put a whole lot of bloody gore in there at one point, but when I had finished it all up, I decided that it was a bit over-the-top and took it out. Also, I didn’t want to spend hours working on my coloring, only to cover it up with a layer of bright red splatters.

So, anyway, here it is. Comments welcome.

 

FYI: For those who don’t know, Keith Stone and  Frank Patriot are the same person. (Me.) Frank is a pseudonym I use(d) when drawing comic.


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Eagle Creek Pack-It Sac

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I found the Eagle Creek Specter Pack-it Sac on Steepandcheap.com a few weeks ago at a bargain basement price. I already had the Pack-it Specter Quik Trip, which you may have read about on Brian’s Backpacking Blog a while back. (That’s where I saw it, too.). I really liked it and have used it both for backpacking trips as well as business trips, so when I found the Pack-it Sac (hereafter referred to as the ‘Sac’), I grabbed it up.

The Sac weighs barely over a half ounce (0.6oz) and measures 10” x 8” and is constructed of Ripstop Silnylon. I know that this is several times heavier than a quart sized ziploc bag, which is normally what I use, but this is a bit more durable and not very transparent. (If you are carrying along something potentially embarrassing, like anti-foot fungus cream, you may not want other folks in your group to see what all is in your personal items bag. Not that I have foot fungus, mind you. I’m just trying to get my point across. I swear.)

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The Sac has a zipper with a small pull cord to help you open it up easier in  case you’ve got gloves on.  Also, there’s a plastic spring carabiner on a swivel that’s handy. However, you could cut this off and save a fraction of an ounce or replace it with something lighter and smaller, I suppose. Since the whole thing weighs barely over a half ounce, I haven’t bothered to replace the carabiner, which I like having on there.

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I used the Sac to pack my first aid kit, toiletries, wallet and a few other things in. I’ve also used my Pack-it Quick Trip for this purpose and had room to spare. ( If you like having zippered compartments, the Specter may be better suited for you. ) I liked being able to clip the Sac onto my backpack, so unless I can’t stuff all my things into it and need more room, I’ll continue to use this and leave the ziploc bags for freezer bag cooking.


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The (Long Distance) Walking Dead papertoy: ‘Caboose’

Okay, so maybe I’m a little narcissistic, but I just had to make myself into a papertoy. I thought I’d make it just a little different, though. The Walking Dead is my favorite tv show, so I thought I’d make myself into a ‘walker’. Why? Because, I like to think that in a zombie apocalypse, I’d be one of the gang holed up with Rick and Daryl; packing double .45’s like a character in a John Woo movie, leveling zombies left and right and storming into Woodbury shooting up the place like the Wild Bunch. But honestly, I’d probably be just another hungry rotting corpse stumbling through the woods in my Marmot jacket and FiveFinger shoes. So, that’s exactly how I drew myself.

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So anyway, Here’s the template. We’ll call this the “Caboose'”. My trail name is ‘Caboose’, appointed to me by myself, quite accurately because I am usually at the end of the line of hikers in the group.

This papertoy is an older design that I did a while back and it’s just slightly more advanced than the last one I designed.

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Here’s the PDF files:  LDWD Page One  LDWD Page Two

Just for funsies, these are some ‘Desk Zombie’ paper toys I’ve also designed.

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Note: All the paperboys seen here are copyrighted material and property of Keith Stone, so don’t try to sell these or make a buck of someone else’s work. Print and use these for personal use all you want, but if you share or post it somewhere else, be sure to credit Keith Stone or GearToons blog as the original author.


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The Official Limited Edition Brian Green Papertoy

brianpapertoyOkay, this thing has gotten quite a few positive comments since I posted it on Facebook, so I thought I’d post the template so you guys can print out and assemble your very own Brian Green papertoy. Carry him wherever you go!

It’s so small, I probably wasted the time it took to draw the knife clipped in Brian’s pocket because you can barely see it, but I just get excited about putting in little details (even if I’m the only person who knows). However, there is an iPhone on his side (visible in the template below) and I tried to draw the Suunto and Fitbit on his wrists. (I told you I enjoy details.)

I should have created his sidekick, Coco the Hiking Dog, but I had a hard time finding an appropriate dog papertoy template online. Perhaps that will be part of the BG 2.0 Playset released just in time for Christmas 2014?😉 Kidding.

For those who haven’t noticed, this is a 3D representation of Brian’s profile pic on the Brian’s Backpacking Blog Facebook page. 

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And here’s the templates in PDF format, both the figure model and the background picture display.

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I know a paper toy model isn’t normally what you expect to see on an ‘outdoor blog’, but when I started GearToons, I decided that I wanted to do something unique and looked at hiking and backpacking from my perspective in life and included the things I love, like art, comics and humor. I plan to continue doing my little blog thing here as long as I’m having a good time and everyone else is, too.

BTW, if any of you are interested in commissioning a personalized papertoy for yourself, email me at geartoonblog@gmail.com or PM me at the GearToons Facebook page.

Thanks  for following GearToons.


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Borah Gear Stuff Sacks

Just a quick post here about stuff sacks. I know it may be odd to see a blog post about stuff sacks, but when I find a good deal on something, I want to share it with others. Is that so wrong???

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So, anyway, I picked up two Borah Gear cuben fiber stuff sacks about a week ago from Borahgear.com. I got a Small (4″ x 8″/1.5 grams/ $4.50) and a Large (6″ x 12″/3 grams/ $5.50) for only $10, shipping included. They make stuff sacks in cuben fiber, silnylon and no-see-um mesh. The silnylon and mesh stuff sacks are cheaper ($3.25 for small, $4.00 for large) but weigh more. I was surprised to find the cuben fiber sacks priced so low, since similarly priced CF stuff sacks are at least twice that on other sites. The seams are double stitched and are not waterproof, just so you know. Also, the bottoms are flat.  The drawcord is nylon and pretty thick. It’d be great if they came with a cord lock, but fortunately,  I had a couple medium sized ones I bought from Zpacks a while back. I slipped one on and it worked great.

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I was able to squeeze my Sawyer mini filter kit (seated inside a cut down water bottle) into the small bag.

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And I decided to store my Goosefeet Gear medium down pillowcase and small NeoAir pillow into the large one. I’m sure I could have stuffed more down into it, but I didn’t want to compress the pillowcase too small.

I inquired about custom sizes, since I wanted something smaller than the 4″ x 8″ small sack, to use as a bag for my Ti tent stakes and also something that would fit my cook kit a little better, since the large size was just a little too tight. They told me ‘Custom sizes? No problem!’ So, once I figure out exactly what dimensions I want, I’ll place an order.

So, anyway, to sum up this invigorating review of stuff sacks: They’re dirt cheap and they seem to be made well.


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Contest rules (plus the Papertoy “Stick” template)

I’m  running a contest on the GearToons Facebook page in which I’m giving away not only a sweet Epicurean Titanium solid fuel stove from Flat Cat Gear, but also a custom papertoy. (The contest runs from Feb.24-March 3, 2014). If you’re curious what a papertoy is, its just a modernized form of origami. I love to draw just as much as I love to hike, so when I’m not outdoors, I’m sitting in front of a Macbook and Wacom tablet.

CONTEST INFO

All that’s required to be entered to win is go the GearToons Facebook page, then LIKE and SHARE this picture: contest-papertoy

In order to get a good likeness for the papertoy, the winner will need to email me at least two good (read: not grainy or pixelated) pictures of their face. I use a combination of rotoscoping and plain ol’ comic book inking techniques to draw these, so a good photo is critical. To receive the papertoy, I will either email it to the winner, so they will be able to print it out on their own choice of paper and assemble it themselves OR the papertoy will be printed on thick card stock paper, assembled by me and mailed to the winner.

IMPORTANT: Continental US mail delivery only for the prizes. Sorry. Please don’t hate me. If you have any questions, just ask.

To get a better idea of what the custom papertoy will kind of like, here’s a picture of one I did for my buddy Chad (“Stick” of Stick’s Blog) recently. I used the logo I did for him a while back, as a foundation.

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Designed in Photoshop & Illustrator. Printed on card stock paper. Stands about 5″ tall.

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The trekking poles are made from bristles from my kitchen broom, tiny strips of duct tape (for the handles) and polyester cord I got from Zpacks.

If you like the ‘Stick papertoy’ above and want to print and assemble your own, click on the image below or download the template in PDF format here: ===> stick-papertoy-rev1.

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COMMISSIONS

If you are interested in having me design a personalized papertoy for you, email me about doing a commission. Or I’ll draw you a personalized comic. Heck, I’ll draw you as a pink Sasquatch beating up Spiderman, if you want. Give me a holla @ geartoonblog@gmail.com.

-Keith