Imlay Canyon Gear Kolob

by Charles Thursday, September 29th 2011

As a Summit Hut employee since the early 2000s I have had the chance to use and abuse a number of packs from a variety of different brands. While no pack is going to work for every activity/situation my favorite all around pack has become the Imlay Canyon Gear Kolob. Imlay Canyon gear is based in Southern Utah and is run by avid canyoneer and canyon guide Tom Jones (check out his online canyon guide and Zion Canyoneering book) - these packs have been designed specifically for canyoneering, but the features make it a great pack for general use.

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Why do I love it?

Durability: PVC panels protect the sides and bottom of the pack and other external areas are 1000 denier cordura. Until this pack I never had a pack that lasted more than 2 years (often developing huge holes it the bottom of the pack) - my packs has some wear but is going strong after 5 years!

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(Deceptively) Simple, (highly) Effective Suspension: I was initially suspicious about such a simple looking system - but I have to say that this pack carries really well! The combination of aluminum tubing, plastics sheet and closed cell foam turns out to be incredibly effective at transferring weight to the simple but effective hip belt.

Bottom Cut: The squared off bottom you will find on some larger packs tends to 'catch' as you try to scoot off a ledge and can be awkward when scrambling. The angled cut of the bottom of the Kolob prevents the 'catching' - a great detail when off-trail and when scrambling.

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Canyoneering Details: If you have gone for a swim with your pack you will know that most packs hold water just as well as they hold your gear - the Kolob has mesh behind most areas of the pack body that allows the pack to drain very quickly (key in a wet canyon). Rack strap on the inside to keep your gear easy to get to. The foam back  panel comes out and unfolds - nice detail in an unexpected bivy. Quick release shoulder strap buckles - a great just-in-case feature to make it easier to get out of the pack in an awkward situation.

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The Kolob is not an ultra-light pack, comes in only one size and is a on the large size for a day hike (if you love the idea of the Kolob but it is too big check out the Imlay Canyon gear Spry) - but for me it fits great and it has become my most used pack because it is incredibly durable, carries great and has enough size to swallow technical gear (or your friend's lunch) but is small enough not to get in the way while scrambling off trail.

Gear

New Balance 110 – Preview

by Charles Wednesday, September 14th 2011

Editors Note (1/10/12): The MT110 and WT110 are now in stock!

The New Balance MT110 and WT110 are great choices if you are interested in a light weight (we're talking 7.75 oz for the men's and 6.2 oz for the women's!) low to the ground footwear with more protection and structure than you will get from the New Balance Minimus MT10 and WT10. The 110 has a a flexible Rock Stop plate in the forefoot to give you the protection you need to tear through trails without feeling every rock in your mid-foot, durable synthetic upper, Acteva foam to keep the shoe light and an internal shank for support. The lugged sole is great on trail and this could be a great choice for rugged trails - like many of the trails in the mountains around Tucson!

Summit Hut was able to get our hands on three pairs of 110’s to preview. Three staff members have done a great job of putting this shoe through the ringer – gym workouts, hiking and everyday use. Here are their first impressions:

Traci – Speedway Store Manager

tracis 110 photo 

The first thing that grabbed me about the WT110’s are the fast flashy colors and the unique lug concepts on the bottom. Being a lover of footwear, especially those with a technical edge I was game to take them for a spin. I have used many variations of the more minimalistic types of shoes and I was interested to see how the 110’s were going to be different. The beauty of a minimalistic shoe for me is the freedom feeling of the ground without the danger of the elements.

Anything I would do with a typical  gym shoe, Stair stepper, elliptical, row machine, weight machines, (and even a skydiving adventure) I did with the 110’s. I wanted to put them to the test. They performed so well and I am super stoked to wear them. They are grippy when I need them to be and I still have the feeling of being grounded. The voluminous toe box lets me wiggle my toes and feel that I am getting a good workout. The rounded up toe took a little bit of adjustment, but now I love the feel of my 110’s!

Richard – Equipment Buyer

I tried the New Balance MT110’s on a hike of Mt Wrightson.   I had recently done the same hike in my New Balance MT10 so I was eager to see the difference.  The 110’s felt a little heavier but gave much more cushion and protection.  Going uphill, the additional depth in the midsole felt great and the upper was breathable enough for me not to notice a difference from the MT10’s.  I also really appreciated the forefoot rock plate.  It allowed me to move faster over the rocky parts of the trail and have an overall faster speed going downhill.  I was wearing the same size in the 110 as I have in the MT10 and they may have been ½ a size too big but without one to try I can’t say for sure.  Overall I like the 110 and I’m looking forward to putting more miles on them soon. 

Frank – Marketing Manager

NB 110

I have worn the MT110’s as an around-town shoe. I haven’t taken much advantage of any of the awesome grippy-ness, trail-prowess or really many of the technical advantages of the 110…but I still think they’re an amazing shoe! I’ve tried several of the minimal products out there – some don’t fit my ridiculously long toes, some don’t have enough cushion for my tastes and others just don’t look cool. The 110’s pass with flying colors on all of these fronts! The forefoot is plenty spacious and lets your toes move freely. I’ve been equally comfortable in these shoes sitting at my desk as I have been on a full day running errands. The very little bit of time I spent on the trail with these shoes did offer a glimpse into their potential. They did offer more cushion than other minimal footwear while still giving that closer-to-the-ground sensation. And let’s be honest, the look of this shoe is awesome enough to warrant getting a pair as soon as you can!

So there you have it, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, and this shoe is sure to be a popular one. Keep your eye out for them in January of 2012!

Gear

Salome Canyon

by frank Monday, September 12th 2011

A few weeks ago, a group of us took a little canyoneering journey up to Salome Canyon. For those of you who may not know, canyoneering is an adventure activity that essentially entails making your way down the bottom of a canyon - by any means necessary. Sometimes that means hiking, sometimes it's sliding and sometimes there are technical rappels involved. Canyoneering is picking up steam as a mainstream activity but has long been an incredibly popular activity in the "adventure travel" realm, with canyoneering (or canyoning) being wildly popular in adventure destinations like Switzerland, Argentina, Costa Rica, and closer-to-home Zion. My first canyoneering experience came in Interlaken, Switzerland in 2007. This was definitely a tourist-centric trip but got me hooked on the sport! 

Salome is in the Salome Creek Wilderness north of Roosevelt Lake. There is only one necessary rappel – at the very end of the canyon – but there are plenty of scrambles, slides and swims! Although this was my first time down the canyon, it wasn’t Dave’s first and he was very quick to point out the water was incredibly low. Water levels here, as well as in most desert canyons, can vary drastically! If water levels are high, or if there is a chance of storms, it is probably best not to attempt the canyon.

The following video was put together using video shot by all members of our party – we had a blast and will definitely be back!


Necessary Gear: You WILL get wet! All of your stuff WILL get wet! If there is anything that needs to stay dry (electronics, wallet, etc) leave it in the car or put it in a dry bag -- or better yet, a canyon keg! There are tons of products out there made specifically for canyoneering, by brands like Imlay Canyon Gear, and all of them will make your day more enjoyable in some way. In our crew packs ranged from a pack made for canyoneering, to a simple CamelBak pack. All will get the job done! Footwear is also a matter of personal preference. I opted for my Chacos, Dave was wearing boots. About 150 feet of rope will get you through the one rappel. Also bring some webbing and be comfortable setting up an anchor at the rappel bolts. 

The Hike: The approach to the canyon is just about two miles (downhill on the way in - grueling uphill when you're on your way back, tired and hot!). The canyon itself is relatively short, about one mile, but can take some time, especially if you enjoy sliding down granite slides! We did the entire trip from car to car in just about 5 hours.

Directions: From Tucson, head north on Oracle Road (Hwy. 77) to Globe. Take Hwy. 60 west toward Superior, drive north on Hwy. 88. After 15 miles, turn right on Hwy. 288 toward Young. After 13 miles, turn left on Forest Road 60, also known as A Cross Road.  Watch for a brown forest service sign on the right side of the road. There is a small parking area next to the sign. Jug Trail #61 begins just beyond the sign.

Activities | Trails | Trips

Upper Muley Twist Canyon

by Dave Baker Thursday, September 1st 2011

Talk to just about anyone who has walked the loop trail in Upper Muley Twist Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park, and they’ll be happy to rant and rave about just how great the hike is. Hard to argue; this is certainly one of the finest and most rewarding hikes I have ever been on.

Upper Muley Twist Canyon

In Upper Muley Twist Canyon

The route includes an elegant loop which alternately pokes along the canyon bottom and then traverses the soaring rim of the Waterpocket Fold high above. There is so much to take in: a beautiful and fascinating canyon, spectacular geology, a bunch of natural arches, scattered prehistoric Native American artifacts, eye-popping panoramic views, not to mention a unique and unforgettable name – “Muley Twist”, who came up with that?

Natural arch in Upper Muley Twist Canyon

One of several arches in Upper Muley Twist

Upper Muley Twist Canyon runs just under the rim of the magnificent 100 mile long Water Pocket Fold, a gigantic geologic feature that dominates most of Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah. The trailhead for the hike is near the crest of the Fold, just off the Burr Trail Road, a great back road which runs from the Notom-Bullfrog Road in Capitol Reef to the settlement of Boulder on Utah’s highway 12.

About a mile west of the exhilarating Burr Trail Road switchbacks, turn north onto the Strike Valley Overlook Road. Passenger cars can navigate this dirt track for about 0.4 miles before it drops steeply into the bed of Upper Muley Twist Canyon. Four wheeled vehicles are needed to drive the next 2.5 miles to a small parking area at the base of the Strike Valley Overlook Trail.

Wingate sandstone in Upper Muley Twist Canyon

Wildly eroded Wingate sandstone

From the 4WD parking area, wander up the bed of Upper Muley Twist for about 1.8 miles. On the west wall of the canyon you will see Saddle Arch, and you may notice a metal sign on the east side of the wash which marks one end of the rim trail and the closing point for the big loop.

Two more miles up the bed of the canyon be alert for a bypass route marked with rock cairns leaving the wash on its east side. With this bypass, hikers avoid a narrow slot a short distance further up the canyon bottom. The cairn marked path continues up canyon until the narrows below are passed, and then drops back into the wash briefly. Not too far past the top of the narrows, watch for cairns marking the climb out of the bottom, up the east side of the canyon to the rim trail on the very crest of the Waterpocket Fold.

On the rim of the Waterpocket Fold

Walking the crest of Waterpocket Fold

Rock cairns mark the faint rim trail; follow the rim and cairns south for about 3 miles to a metal sign which marks the beginning of the descent westward to the bottom of Upper Muley Twist and the end of the loop.

Season: Fall and spring offer the best chances for pleasant outings. This area is hot in the summer and catches snow in the winter.

Water: Usually scarce; bring plenty of your own.

Note: Overnight backpacking requires a backcountry permit.

Difficulty: Moderately difficult. Those in passenger cars will park about 0.4 miles after turning off the Burr Trail Road onto the Strike Valley Overlook Road. The round trip distance from here is about 14.5 miles. Four wheel drive vehicles (and sometimes high clearance two wheel drive depending upon current conditions) can reach a parking area at the base of the Strike Valley Overlook Trail, which reduces the round trip mileage to about 9.5 miles. Elevation gain on the hike is 800 feet or so. The trail is more of a social trail than a constructed one; it pays to be watchful for the many rock cairns marking the route, especially on the rim portion of the trail.

Map:

Map

Click map for larger image

Trails | Trips

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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