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Archive for September, 2011

How to Fit a Backpack, and Choose the Best Pack for You

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Ever use something for a while and convince yourself it’s either too large or too small, only to later learn you never adjusted it correctly in the first place? Knowing how to fit a backpack is one of the reasons local gear stores like us at Tahoe Mountain Sports are so valuable. We don’t just carry backpacks from the brands you love – we also know how to properly fit them. These instructional videos and descriptions will help you pick the perfect pack for your next big off-road adventure, as well as adjust all the straps so it fits just right. For the interview, we called on Andy Yorkin of Gregory Packs to answer some FAQs about fitting and choosing a backpack. We’ve also embedded some videos on proper pack fitting, so be sure to watch those for more information. For even more info, our Backpack Fitting Videos go into even further detail on how to properly fit backpacks, specifically several different styles from Deuter Backpacks.

Interview with Andy Yorkin of Gregory Packs

TMS: What’s the #1 most important fit feature in a backpacking pack?
Andy: The number one, most critical fit feature on a backpack is the frame size. The size of the pack must match the torso length of the user. All too often we find people who have the wrong size and find the pack uncomfortable. The key to the Gregory fit is to transfer the load of the pack onto the hips through a lumbar pad and waistbelt.

The Gregory fit video (above) lists the following as how to tell you have a proper fit… any others? 45-degree angle in shoulder straps, curve in harness lined up with crease in underarm, waist belt with at least four inches between padding, bottom of waist belt level with top of thigh when leg lifted.
That pretty much covers it. But be careful with the shoulder strap angle – 45 degrees is good for larger packs over 75 liters but for packs that are between 65 and 75 liters, this angle comes down to 25 degrees and continues down to 10-to-15 degrees for 35-65 liter packs. Shoulder straps should wrap ‘around’ your shoulders, 2” below the C7 vertebrae.

*Our women specific backpacks, which we have one of for just about every pack series, are built explicitly for the female anatomy with appropriate curves in the harness as well as slightly thinner waistbelt and harness widths. In addition, most of the back-panels are cut to be a little more narrow to accommodate the typical female body type. Ladies love Deuter’s women-specific backpacks. Here’s an informative article all about ’em: Deuter Slim Line Women’s Packs

If a pack shopper does not have access to Gregory’s Fit-O-Matic, what’s the best way to figure out torso length?
You’ll need a friend to help, but it’s not too difficult. First start by finding the C7 vertebrae at the base of your neck – it’s the big bump and can easily be found when you look down at your toes to stretch your neck. Next, find the top of your iliac crest, the most prominent bone on the top of the pelvis. Find this by placing your thumbs on your sides at your waist. From here, run an imaginary line across to your spine and measure up to the C7. We’ve found that the majority of men are in the 18” – 20” range and women within the 16” – 18” range.

What pack capacities do you recommend for different trip lengths?
The appropriate pack capacity is a tricky one as it depends a lot on the individual as well as the time of year. Some people looking to be light and fast might pack smaller loads while others might prefer bringing along additional creature comforts and thus require more space. In general, a 30-50 liter pack will be sufficient for one to two nights on the trail and 50-75 liter packs will hold what’s needed for 3-5 nights out.

What do you look for in a pack? Which little features make the big difference for you personally?
For me, I like well thought out organization without too much clutter. I prefer a clean look on the outside with select pockets on the inside. Basically, a streamlined pack without all the bells and whistles.


Bonus: In case you’re craving even more backpack knowledge, here are a several videos regarding proper pack-fitting and adjusting with Deuter packs, the brand that takes up most of our backpack inventory: How to Fit a Backpack with Deuter Packs


Now that you’re equipped with knowledge on how to fit a backpack, shop for backpacks online and hit the trail! In addition to Gregory packs, we have a huge selection of Deuter backpacks, Boreas Gear, The North Face backpacks, Osprey packs and more.



Boreas Erawan 70 Backpack
Boreas Erawan 70 Backpack
MSRP: $159.95
The North Face Banchee 65 Backpack
The North Face Banchee 65 Backpack
MSRP: $238.95
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Backpack
Deuter Aircontact 75+10 Backpack
MSRP: $288.95
Osprey Exos 48 Ultralight Daypack
Osprey Exos 48 Ultralight Daypack
MSRP: $189.95

Fall Classic is a home run for The Gang, Pedal There

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

This week’s Adventure of the Week comes from Aaron Gaines, founder of North Tahoe volunteer group The Gang and Porters softball team player. If you haven’t been out to a Tahoe City D League softball game, you need to make it happen next season. It’s crazy out there!!

WHO: Friends of Pedal There and The Gang

WHAT: Fall Classic softball tournament

WHERE: Conner’s Field, Tahoe City

WHEN: September 8, 2011

GEAR: Patagonia Down Sweater for keeping the throwing arm warm between innings, headlamp for the bike ride home

All of the best elements of small-town Tahoe life were on display on a recent Thursday in Tahoe City, where a large group of friends gathered for an evening of softball, bbq, and fundraising for a local cause. Conner’s Field was lit by both the stadium lights and a bright pinkish alpenglow as four of Tahoe’s most colorful D League coed softball teams sang the National Anthem, threw out the first pitch, and unveiled a custom-made trophy to kick off the first ever Fall Classic.

The Gang, a North Tahoe volunteer club made up of hardworking, hard-playing locals who pitch in for local causes they care about, presented the event as a fundraiser for Pedal There. Most of the Fall Classic’s players were members of The Gang themselves, so inviting them to help a local cause by playing softball was something of a ‘no-brainer’! (more…)

prAna yoga, prAna climbing clothes now in stock

Monday, September 26th, 2011

prAna clothing is known for its zen style and function for rock climbers—they’ve got Chris Sharma backing them to prove it. But now the brand is becoming a huge force in another athletic realm: prAna yoga.

We’re happy to bring a little bit of everything to the shop so you can kick it in some streetwear, flex it on your mat, or work your body up some rock.

Try a signature prAna yoga piece that’s functional for all walks in your life: the prAna Rylee pant. I am loving the bottom hem’s henna print, and the relaxed, stretchy fit that feels so free on your body.

For men, my top pick is the prAna Privet Hoody. I can’t resist a man who wears color well, and this hoody has the perfect touch of color in an classic, mellow stripe pattern.

Are you a prAna yoga wearer, or a prAna climber? Tell us about your favorite piece and we’ll work to get it in stock if we don’t already have it.

Tahoe Mountain Sports 5th Annual Pro/Am Disc Golf Tournament, Oct 8-9

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

It’s that time of year again! Join us for our 5th annual Pro/Am Disc Golf Tournament on October 8-9, 2011 at the North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista.

Whether you’re a pro who came for the King of the Lake and never left, are a die-hard local hitting the course three times a week, or are a beginner, this tournament offers something for every skill level.

Registration and check-in kick off on Saturday at 7:30am, with rounds starting at 9am and lunch included. Play continues into Sunday starting at 9:30am, with awards and BYO BBQ one hour after the last group finishes.

Don’t miss the action, and great giveaways from this year’s sponsors: North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, NutSac Disc Golf Bags, Vibram, Merrell Footwear, Hostel Tahoe (with special lodging rates for players!), Ferrari’s Crown Resort, Tahoe Dave’s Skis & Boards, Faux Pro, Tahoe Valuation Services, Plumas Bank, Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort, Alpen Software, Brimm’s A Catering Co., LOKI, North Tahoe Public Utility District, Kavu and Tahoe Adventure Company.

For pre-registration and full tournament info, visit our website, and the tournament’s Facebook event page.

Down Hoody Roundup: Our favorite layer for staying toasty in cold temps

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Down hoody jackets are a great layering option year-round — whether you’re bundling up in the middle of winter, or need that warm layer when you get to camp in the summer. Down can’t be beat for warmth, weight, compressibility and longevity — perfect for packing along on a lot of different adventures.

Down hoodies are particularly nice because the hood adds a lot of warmth for a little weight, and can take the place of a beanie or warm hat. Layer it under a shell in the winter while skiing or snowboarding, or wear it into your sleeping bag at night backpacking in the summer in the mountains when the temperature drops.

Here are a few of our favorites, from the ultra warm to the ultra light, the fashionable to the affordable. We think once you check these down hoodies out, you won’t want to leave home without one either.

Patagonia Down Sweater Full Zip Hoody

The men’s Patagonia Down Sweater Full Zip Hoody (also in women’s) set the mold for down hoodies, combining warmth, light weight and packability into one great piece. Combining top-quality down with light-weight, recycled content fabric and topped with a water-resistant finish, this down jacket is a great all-rounder. Hand warmer pockets and an internal mesh pocket the whole jacket can be stuffed inside round out the Patagonia’s features.

“You can’t get me out of this jacket in the winter, and it rarely stays on its hanger in summer too. I love how lightweight the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody feels, all while keeping me the perfect temperature. I’m rarely too hot in it. The fit is on the boxier side, so I’d opt to size down. I’m 5’4″ at 128 lbs and wear a women’s small in this jacket. It’s the perfect fit, with a cinch cord around the waist to keep drafts out. I can even layer it under a waterproof jacket when the temps really drop and it’s wet outside.” –Lis, Tahoe Mountain Sports blogger

Average weight:  15.2 oz (430 g)

Insulation: 800 Fill Power Goose Down*

The North Face Catalyst Down Jacket

The North Face Catalyst Down Jacket is the warmest of the bunch, part of The North Face‘s elite Summit Series and aimed squarely at serious expeditions — but great for anybody looking for a lot of warmth. The classic quilted design, with more durable, water repellent material on the shoulders, sleeves and hood with lighter material at the core are all hallmarks of a classic mountaineering design. The two-pull front zipper lets you unzip from the bottom for ventilation or passing your belay device through when you’re partner is climbing.

“This is a Great Jacket. I live in Wisconsin where the the winter weather is severe quite often. This jacket has kept me warm and dry in below-zero snowy weather. It is breathable and so snazzy, I have had numerous compliments on its appearance and still I have a hard time believing how light the jacket is compared to the warmth it provides.” –Customer Review from

Average weight: 18.77 oz (532.01 g)

Insulation: 800 Fill Power Goose Down*

Mountain Hardwear Nitrous Hooded Jacket

Want ultralight? Check out the Mountain Hardwear Nitrous Hooded Jacket, light enough to blow away under a slight breeze, yet still warm for four-season layering. The contoured hood wraps around your head to maintain a low profile, and the fit is athletic to eliminate extra material flapping in the breeze. This one will disappear into your pack when you don’t need it, but steps up with serious warmth when you do.

“No matter what I’m packing, or for what, this down hoody is always on the list. Day hiking, climbing, backcountry skiing or just heading to work on a cold Tahoe morning — it’s so light and packable there’s no good reason to leave it behind. It’s got a hood, two handwarmer pockets, and that’s it – no unnecessary bells or whistles weighing it down.” –Greyson, Tahoe Mountain Sports Web Editor

Average weight: 13 oz (377 g)

Insulation: 800 Fill Power Goose Down* (more…)

Tall bike cross country Odyssey with Rex Hazard

Friday, September 16th, 2011

One day in July, Rex Hazard, a 25-year-old (now 26) 6’3″ blond haired ex-Marine woke up in his New York home with an idea. Within 7 days, he’d have gotten rid of  most of his possessions and would be pedaling a bright orange two-wheeled behemoth — an over 100-pound custom-made tall bike — across the country.

Rex Hazard "surfing" at Kings Beach.

A month and some 2,000 miles later, he found himself in Sterling, Colorado. No small task, since he lost half a lung to bronchiectasis, a rare condition normally confined to infants and the elderly, in the Marines. That’s an average of over 60 miles a day — “like riding a tandem with the other person not pedaling across the country,” Hazard said — through the Mid West in 115 degree temperatures and over high-elevation roads in the Rockies.

“I decided to do it because I wanted to; I like challenges and adventures and the unknown. Real adventure starts when you run into trouble. I wanted to do it because … why not,” Hazard said.

Rex Hazard with his custom tall bike.

In Colorado he was picked up by a guy with a small armory in the front seat of his truck, met random people headed to Burning Man, and picked up enough work to buy himself a portable MIG welder — now strapped to his bike with the rest of his possessions, bringing the weight up closer to a thigh-burning 150.

“Burning Man was sold out of tickets, but some friends got me tickets at the last minute and I got a job making $13 an hour on the same day,” Hazard said, recounting just one story of the luck he’d had on the road.

That kind of help from people has been a constant for Hazard across the country, he said. He’s only camped a handful of times, otherwise taken in by strangers he meets at gas stations and restaurants along the way.

“One couple gave me the code to get into their home while they were camping,” Hazard said. “I did not expect at all the amount of people willing to bring me into their homes.”

He eventually made it to Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, meeting fellow freak bike riders, welding creations, and enjoying the experience. (more…)

Darth Vader balloon launch video, and photos from the Great Reno Balloon Race

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Oh yes, we were right up front for the action at the Great Reno Balloon Race this year. Check out our video footage and photography from the highly attended 2011 event, which featured the Darth Vader hot air balloon and drew in a record-breaking 200,000 spectators to Rancho San Rafael Park this past weekend.

Since it was then 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, special programming went on throughout Sunday morning. The most touching moment right came after the missing man formation flyover, when a flock of geese (5, the same number as the plane formation) flew right over the crowd at San Rafael Park, and then one spit off (the same one as in missing man). Absolutely awe inspiring. I managed to get a far-away photo of the geese, which I zoomed in on below.


A Chico Flumes Adventure

Monday, September 12th, 2011

WHO: Lis and other stragglers from the Discos Calientes ultimate frisbee tournament

WHAT: Floating the flumes, jumping off cliffs and swimming in holes

WHERE: Paradise flumes on the Feather River, outside of Chico, California

WHEN: Late August 2011

GEAR: Not much! Just my Lole bathing suit, Chaco Flips and Patagonia board shorts

Oh how I love Chico… even in the hot hot heat of summer. It’s all about bike riding and swimming holes. On my most recent trip to the town a few weeks ago I headed out to the Paradise Flumes with a few folks after a long weekend of playing ultimate frisbee and partying to the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit.

To get to the Pardise Flumes you drive about 30 minutes west of Chico to Paradise, park at the hospital’s lower lot (off Pentz Road), and hop on the trail down to the Feather River. A steep downgrade flanked on every side by poison oak, the trail is not to be messed with. The flume (pictured above) provides a nice intermission as you hike on top of it on the way in, then float in it on the way back. I’m not sure the mileage, but it probably took us 30 to 45 minutes to descend to the Feather River.

Once you reach the river, it’s pure swimming hole bliss, with cliff jumps and even a rock slide—see the smooth patch in the center of the right side of the photo below (just pour a little water on it and weeee!). This picture doesn’t do the hole justice… it’s pretty epic with deep pools, shallow spots to lounge and lots of features to climb around on. The highest cliff jump is just to the right of where the photo is taken.

After an hour or two of relaxing in the river, we hiked back out and floated our way home. The flume’s water is fairly swift, but nothing too scary, and it’s just deep enough for a decent float. My float was assisted by a pool toy noodle, which I highly recommend.

[photos by John Matthews]

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, surf, climb or Chico flumes float) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

GORE-TEX back in Patagonia’s Best

Friday, September 9th, 2011

GORE-TEX has long been held as the gold standard of waterproof breathable materials for technical outdoor clothing. Many brands, including Patagonia, have made their own waterproof breathable materials, but GORE-TEX was always what their materials were measured against, and has the track record to back it up.

So when Patagonia announced it would be bringing GORE-TEX back to its best ski and snowboard jackets and pants, we here at Tahoe Mountain Sports were stoked. Now that it’s here in the store and we’ve been able to check it out first-hand, we’re even more excited. They say when something is working right you shouldn’t notice it at all, and so it is with these Patagonia winter pieces. Pockets are where you’re hands expect them, the fit moves with your body, and the fabric sheds moisture from the outside and wicks it from the inside. All stuff you don’t want to have to think about, whether you’re trying to catch up to your buddies down the ski run, or topping out on an icy peak.

Let’s start with the Patagonia Triolet Jacket, a 3-layer bonded GORE-TEX jacket designed for uncompromising functionality, and serious durability. Three-layer construction protects the waterproof membrane so it won’t wet through. The Triolet carefully places the pockets so they’re easy to access, even if you’re wearing a backpack or climbing harness, has a helmet compatible hood (perfect for skiing or climbing), and pit zips for ventilation.

The Patagonia Piolet is a 2-layer GORE-TEX jacket that protects the membrane with a “hanging” lining that saves a few bucks over the Triolet. This jacket also has a easily adjustable hood that fits over your helmet, and all adjustments come from Patagonia’s new Touch-Point drawcords. This could be the one shell to go from backpacking and climbing in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

On the flip side, an all-time favorite here at Tahoe Mountain Sports, the Patagonia Powder Bowl Pants, gets the GORE-TEX treatment this year. In bounds or out, these great fitting, durable, easy breathing pair of ski or snowboard pants are really the gold standard for snow riders everywhere.

So if you’re looking for dependable, high performance outer layers that look and feel great, the reunion of Patagonia and GORE-TEX should make your decision a whole lot easier.

Escape to the Eastern Sierra and Solitude in Yosemite

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

WHO: Greyson

WHAT: Road tripping, rock climbing, grubbing

WHERE: Eastern Sierra, Yosemite

WHEN: Labor Day 2011

GEAR: Mountain Hardwear Sleeping Bag, Nemo Fillo Pillow, Suncloud shades

It’s been pointed out to me that driving three hours to mountains is a little peculiar when I live and work in the Tahoe-Truckee area. But as with many folks around here, the Eastern Sierra has a special draw — one I can only resist for so long. Without a south-bound trip under my belt since June, I found myself hurriedly throwing a sleeping bag and a few other essentials in the back of my car after work, with no clear plan in mind.

The way winds along the turquoise waters of Lake Tahoe’s east shore, down into Nevada’s rural Carson Valley, into the rocky canyon of the Walker River, past the dramatic (and still snow-laden) Sawtooth Range above Bridgeport, and down to Mono Lake, a crossroads of Eastern Sierra destinations.

Looking down on Mono Lake.

The Tioga Mobile Gas Mart in Lee Vining — or more specifically, the Whoa Nellie Deli inside it — is known among backpackers, climbers and skiers, as a dirtbag destination, or congregation, at the doorstep of Yosemite National Park, just off the shore of Mono Lake. Thursday nights bring live music, and draw a crowd accordingly. I’ve never been there without running into a fellow Tahoe resident, and this last trip was no exception. Justin, our Mountain Hardwear sales rep, was there, refueling after a few days of climbing in Yosemite.

A fire near El Portal on the western side of the national park had unfortunately blocked the band from arriving, but if the Mobile Mart is anything, it is a scene. Mango margaritas flowed, and fish tacos were doled out in stacks. A perfect summer evening in a unique slice of California. Only a hint of smoke had made its way east from the fire, and the air was warm.

Above Saddlebag Lake Road, Conness on the right.


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