In This Issue
La Sportiva Helios SR: The La Sportiva “Impact Braking System” outsole consists of U-shaped lugs oriented in opposite directions for traction while climbing and braking while descending, steep terrain. One scenario where I really noticed its effectiveness: hiking or running on trails that were steep, dry, and dusty, with a loose “ball-bearing” type surface of grit and pebbles.
A neutral trail shoe with a sticky sole that is designed to be used on technical trails.
- Forefoot rock plate
- Hydrain mesh on upper for breathability
- 8.1 ounces or 230 grams
- 2 mm drop
Shoes with a wide forefoot, like the Altra Lone Peak (my staple for trail hiking for the past several years), have their place, but steep, technical terrain is not one of them. I’m constantly on the lookout for an ultralight trail shoe that has a slipper-like fit, low drop, a sticky and well-designed sole that can be used in both loose crud and bare rock, and is narrow enough for technical placements but wide enough for a decent fit without being sloppy.
I (Ryan) have had my eyes on the La Sportiva Helios SR since it was announced and have been eager to try them. I finally had the chance to put them through their paces on a recent trip to the Tetons. Here are my first impressions:
- On the steep, dry, dusty, and pebbly city trail network flanking Snow King Mountain, I found the lugs to provide some of the best traction I’ve ever experienced in a trail shoe. They brake, and I felt sure of my footing on these types of trails, even running at moderate speeds. La Sportiva calls it the “Impact Braking System” – i.e., “a proprietary technology in outsole design where the lugs of the soles are oriented in opposing slanted directions. This opposition increases braking power by an average of 20% and decreases impact forces by an average of 20%.” I have no way to measure it but can certainly say that it works – at least on dry, loose dirt.
- La Sportiva is well known for their sticky rubber, and the Helios SR offers it in spades. Traction while scrambling on steep, Class 3-4 rock in the Northern Tetons was terrific.
- Having a full-length rock plate is not always necessary, and it adds weight. The forefoot rock plate of the Helios SR, however, is a welcome addition to the shoe, and dramatically improves my confidence while moving fast on rocky trails, especially while carrying a heavy pack.
In short, the La Sportiva Helios SR is very light, well-cushioned, sensitive to the terrain underfoot, protective (due to the rock plate), and offers effective traction on a variety of terrain surfaces. It’s very low cut is unobtrusive and its last shape provides a positive balance of forefoot room (size up one size for more comfort) and technical control.
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
A lightweight, small and simple water filtration system that can screw onto many threaded bottles.
- .1 microns filter
- Removes 99.9999% of bacteria (salmonella,cholera and E. coli).
- Removes 99.9999% of protozoa (cryptosporidium and giardia).
- Exceeds EPA recommendations for removal rates.
- No chemicals or batteries required.
- Weighs 3.4 ounces with total kit.
There are so many ways to filter or clean your drinking water. The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System makes the process fairly simple. It comes with a 16 oz. collection bag that the filter can screw directly onto. A straw to connect to the bottom of the filter if you only had a large mouth container, like a pot. The filter itself which is clearly labeled for ease of use. Finally, there is a large syringe provided for backflushing the filter. The filter can also be attached inline on a hydration system, or it can be screwed directly onto another bottle of common size like a standard water bottle. The manufacturer says that it will filter 100,000 gallons. I (Jonathan) have had no issues with using the filter while connected to a bottle, but I have not tried to install the filter inline on a hydration bladder type system. This may not be a winter solution for everyone since you cannot let the filter freeze. I think there are preventative measures one could take to keep the filter from freezing, like keeping near your body while on the move and while sleeping. The specs listed above are provided from the manufacturer, I have not performed any laboratory testing on this product. I have used the filter and have not gotten sick from using it, so I am pleased with the results.
Nalgene Flask: Shown with all pieces together and taken apart.
A BPA-free flask that comes with a sleeve and 1 oz. shot cap.
- Weighs 4.2 ounces with all pieces, 1.8 ounces with just bottle and cap.
- BPA free.
- 12 ounce capacity.
- Outer sleeve is removable.
A flask is not on my top list of priorities when I (Jonathan) am backpacking. However, I was gifted one of these recently and decided that I would find out the different ways I could use it (aside from the obvious). The flask does have some handy features. The cap is a two piece construction. The outer cap is a 1 oz. shot and the inner cap is similar to a standard water bottle cap but sturdier. The standard threads mean that you can replace it with the cap of almost any regular water bottle cap if you accidentally lost it. The outer sleeve is also BPA free and serves nicely for water collection and it also has a measurement mark on it showing 1 oz. and 1.5 oz. My Sawyer mini will also screw right on to the neck of the flask. If you wanted to use it just for water, the outer sleeve and shot cap being removed brings the weight of the flask down significantly from 4.2 ounces to 1.8 ounces. The flask also has measurement marks on it showing ounces (counting by two’s) and milliliters. I find this helpful if you like to keep track of how much water you are consuming while you are on the go. The shot cap is initially somewhat hard to separate from the inner cap after a few uses it becomes easier to remove. The outer sleeve does not provide a positive friction that holds the sleeve on by itself, so I would say that it is best to carry the flask inside your pack or on a side pocket. If you are looking for a flask that is somewhat lightweight and don’t want to worry about leaks, consider trying the Nalgene flask.