We have two dogs, Ripley a three year old German Shepherd (the Trail Doggo) and Lilly a six year old Siberian Husky. We love hiking with our dogs but there are a few things we have learned that can make the experience a lot more enjoyable. So here are some tips for hiking with dogs.
Similar to how we organize all of gear, you can read about How I Organize my Hiking Gear here, we have a Magpul Daka Pouch full of dog specific gear that we bring along with us anytime we take one or both of the dogs with us on a hike.
Gear You really don’t need a bunch of extra stuff to take your dog hiking but there are a few useful items and several must haves. First up poop bags. I don’t know if it is just the Trail Doggo or all dogs but someone poops on every hike. So we keep a roll of poop bags on her leash and in our dog hiking bag we carry a second roll so that no matter what we are covered. We also take a large gallon sized ziplock baggie. The purpose of the baggie is to put the poop bags in after they are full of poop. It is just a second layer so that there are no mishaps, that would be a shitty day, and you don’t end up smelling dog poop for the remainder of the hike. After the hike we stuff all of our other trash into the ziplock baggie and toss it.
After poop is covered the next thing is water. We carry a collapsible 400ml Sea to Summit bowl for watering the pups. Usually we just keep the bottom most bit collapsed so that it make the bowl a little wider proportionally to its’ height. Fill it full of water from a water bladder or bottle and the doggos are happy. Then collapse it back and it stows away taking up almost no room.
I also keep a locking carabiner in the bag that I attach to a metal d-ring on the Trail Doggo’s leash. This allows me to clip her to small trees, my pack’s hip belt, or my pants belt if I need to go hands free for a minute. It might not sound like much but the carabiner is extremely useful and they are pretty cheap. A lot of times it is just much easier to get things accomplished with two hands and a dog not tugging on your wrist.
Lastly, we carry a few items specifically for K9 medical care in addition to our normal first aide kit. This includes two soft muzzles and a K9 Quick Reference Guide from Ready Warrior LLC. Most people get kind of weird when you talk about pets and muzzles but they are extremely important for medical care. A soft mesh muzzle allows you to provide first aide treatment to your dog when they are not in their normal state of mind. After a dog sustains an injury they are in pain and might bite their owner especially if you have to cause more pain in the course of treatment. It is best practice for both you and your pet to apply a mesh muzzle prior to providing treatment. And for anyone who is concerned a mesh muzzle that is properly sized for your dog will not restrict breathing at all. There are a couple of circumstances when a muzzle should NOT be applied such as heat related illness so it is important to know some basic first aide for dogs.
The K9 Quick Reference Guide from Ready Warrior LLC is a medical quick reference specially for dogs and it is phenomenal. It covers literally everything related to medical first aide for dogs. It covers the treatment procedures for K9’s similar to TCCC for humans on catastrophic injury as well as treatments for bloat, snake bite, K9 CPR, vitals, and even drug doses for K9s. It is designed for working dogs but the treatment procedures are the same whether it is a police K9 or the Trail Doggo.
Trip Planning In addition to bringing a few items we take a few extra circumstances into account when choosing hikes to take our dogs on. The biggest factors are usually distance and elevation gain. Our Siberian Husky has arthritis so we usually cap any hike for her at about 4 miles. The Trail Doggo has no issues with distance but she is extremely strong and if she is feeling stubborn can unintentionally turn a difficult descent into something that is downright dangerous. So with her we usually try to either go after routes that are flatter or that include a more moderate descent. We also try to avoid large off route sections with either dog. Although we do them from time to time, it can be a pain trying to navigate brush while also keeping your dog going the right direction and not catching their leash on every single little branch.
For any trip that includes the dogs we usually up our water about a liter or so. They can go through a surprising amount of water so bring extra especially in a dry climate such as New Mexico.
Summary That about sums up our dog hiking kit. All of the items I mentioned above are easy to come by online, links to several are below, and can make a hike with your puppies a little more enjoyable and safer. Although it weighs 317g the convenience of having one bag with everything in one place trumps the weight. Not to mention 317g is definitely worth it for the safety of your four legged family member alone.
After a big last couple of weekends hiking and a hectic holiday weekend I decided to do a solo trip on Sunday. My goal was to take my hiking doggo, Ripley the German Shepherd, and just get in some easy miles. So I went looking through Alltrails for something that would fit my criteria and settled on the Stripmine Extended Trail Loop, that’s the spelling on Alltrails but the trail is actually Strip Mine #51. It is listed at 5.6 miles with 1,059’ of elevation gain. The route is located on the northern edge of the Sandia Mountains by the town of Placitas. I have never been hiking in this part of the Sandias before so why not.
Ripley and I got up out of bed around 7:30am without an alarm. Like I said my goal was a relaxed day of hiking. We ended up leaving right around 8am and made our customary Starbucks stop for a coffee and a pupcup. Then we made the 25ish minute drive up to the trailhead which was empty except for two other cars. I grabbed my pack and got out my new Patagonia R2 Techface Hoody-which I was excited to use. We set off and didn’t make it 100 yards before someone, aka the trail doggo, decided she needed to use the restroom. Great, it was going to be a blast carrying a poop bag for the next three hours.
We went a short distance down the Strip Mine Trail #51 until it intersected the High Voltage Trail #59. The trail was pretty easy with a gradual undulating uphill course punctuated by a few short, steep sections. After a few switchbacks we scrambled up a small hill for a view that was sadly nothing special then continued on our course. After winding through the desert scrub landscape the High Voltage Trail again intersects the Strip Mine Trail in a T. The Strip Mine goes back to the north to complete the loop however, there is a small out & back section that goes up a “hill.” So of course we went up the hill.
Weirdly enough the trail doesn’t go all of the way up the hill. Who hikes part of the way up a hill without making it to the top? The answer to that rhetorical question is not the trail doggo. So we made our own trail through small bushes, trees, and a bunch of cactus. For some reason the trail doggo just doesn’t get the whole cactus concept and my attempts to keep her out of them more often then not backfired with her all but sitting in them. I think I pulled one cactus spine out of her snoot and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 more out of her feet, not to mention the countless I would eventually pull out at home. It added 300’ of climbing through a couple inches of snow but we made it to the top of our unnamed hill.
After enjoying our view for a few minutes we descended back down the hill which was much easier going thanks to the unexpected snow making our trail still visible. Back at the intersection of the High Voltage Trail and the Strip Mine Trail we took the Strip Mine Trail back around to complete our loop for the day. The route back was rocky and pretty unimpressive. Plus wherever the trail wasn’t rocky it was super muddy. I guess on the way out earlier when the temperature was around 27 degrees the ground was nice and frozen but by the time we where on the way back it thawed out and turned into a mud pit. It felt like I put an extra couple of pounds on my feet in mud.
With our extra off trail section the trail doggo and I did 6.2 miles with 1,453’ of elevation gain in two hours and seventeen minutes. It was nice to get out for a while and just hike but honestly I wouldn’t recommend either trail. The High Voltage Trail was the better of the two and I think it would make for some solid mountain biking but rather uninspiring on the hiking front. This is especially a factor when there are so many great trails in the vicinity. But hey a bad day of hiking is still pretty solid in my book and the trail doggo is now passed out so that’s definitely a positive.
I have had the Osprey Stratos 24L for right at a year now. In that time I think I have taken it on around 100 miles worth of day hikes. So I think I am at the point where I feel comfortable writing my rather detailed review of the Osprey Stratos 24L.
Overview The Stratos is available in two sizes: 24L and 36L and four colors. I have the 24L liter version which obviously has a volume of 24L and is in black. Osprey claims a weight of 2.7lbs for the Stratos 24L and on my scale it came out to 2.79lbs with the included rain fly. Osprey recommends a load range of 10-25 pounds. I think the heaviest I have ever loaded my Stratos 24L is to right at 8 kilos so right at 18ish pounds. The Osprey Stratos 24L retails for $130 and I’m pretty sure that is what I paid for mine. I would consider this to be more of a “technical” daypack. All around I love this pack and I think it is a great setup for longer day hikes or when you need to carry a little more gear for something more technical or adverse weather conditions.
The Basics The Osprey Stratos 24L is an internal framed pack with a mesh back suspension system. The back mesh flows seamlessly into the mesh hip belt. I like that it is one continuous piece so it doesn’t bunch, catch, or rub. The hip belt has two pockets that are solid for storing snacks or other “useful” stuff, I prefer snacks. I can wedge my iPhone X into the pockets but with a slim Otterbox on my phone it is more a pain than it is worth. The shoulder straps are height adjustable to the back panel via a huge section of Velcro. There is also an adjustable sternum strap that slides up and down the shoulder straps via a track. It has a handy dandy safety whistle built into the buckle!
Moving around to the main storage area. It is accessible via two zippers that run about two thirds of the way around the pack. It is nice to have them go down that far so that I can stuff things like gloves or gaiters down towards the side at the bottom but still get them out without having to unload the entire main compartment. The main compartment does have a bladder pouch along with a hole to route the tube out through. The system is set up with a clip to work with Osprey’s Hydraulics water bladders but it works well enough with others like Camelbak. However, routing the tube out of the pack is a tight fit and honestly a pain in the ass. Also, of note the Osprey Stratos 24L does not include a hydration bladder with it.
Hanging down into the main storage compartment is a mesh zippered pocket that is accessed through a zipper at the top of the pack. It is a great place to store small items that you want to be able to get to relatively easy like car keys. The pouch actually has a bright red lanyard clip for just that purpose. However convenient it is the mesh pocket is also on of my few complaints on the Osprey Stratos 24L. By hanging down into the main compartment it completely covers the hydration bladder pouch. It is inconvenient when the pack is empty and you’re trying to put the water bladder in and route the hydration hose. I can only imagine it would be a complete nightmare with a full mesh pouch obscuring your view as you try to take the bladder out to refill it. Luckily, I use the Osprey Hydraulics LT 2.5L bladder which I have never had to refill on a day hike.
On the back side of the Osprey Stratos 24L there are three more pockets. At the top is a small storage pocket that is good for storing headlamps and such items. It could easily fit sunglasses or extra snacks as well. Running the length of the pack is a big zippered pouch with Velcro at the top. This is my favorite place to stuff my rain jacket as it keeps it accessible but also separate from the rest of the stuff in my pack if it is still a little wet. Lastly, at the bottom is a small pocket for the built in rain fly. It attaches via a little toggle lanyard to the pack but still fits over so you won’t “misplace” it. If you don’t feel like bringing the rain fly along it can easily be removed but it doesn’t really free up any extra room in that pocket as the items from the main compartment will just push further down into the pack.
There are a couple of technical features on the Osprey Stratos 24L that I want to make note of. On the back right side is an ice axe loop that secures via a bungee strap. It held my Black Diamond Raven 65cm ice axe in place while hiking Mount Taylor. On the left side of the Stratos 24L is Osprey’s stow & go trekking pole attachment system. It features a bungee loop covered in plastic at the bottom of the pack where the points of the trekking poles go through. Then the handles go through another bungee loop with a cinch point on the left shoulder strap. The system seems kind of flimsy but actually works rather well. I don’t think I would leave my trekking poles there for an entire hike but while I had my ice axe out for a mile or so of uphill hiking the trekking poles stayed in the stow & go system without issue.
There are mesh water bottle pouches on either side of the Osprey Stratos 24L. Each water bottle pouch has a compression strap but one runs below the mesh while the other runs over it. Honestly, I think it could have been a good way to store more bulky/non-compressible items in the one pouch but the compression straps really don’t work all that well. They are just hard to tighten down. There are also compression straps at either top corner of the Osprey Stratos 24L that work much better and actually seem to make a difference when it comes to compressing your load.
Load Carrying One of the most important aspects of any pack is how does it carry a load and how much can it reasonably be expected to carry. I have filled the Osprey Stratos 24L up to its max size and hit around 18lbs and hiked without issue. I carried right around 16lbs in it for a 16 mile hike up Santa Fe Baldy with 3,570’ of elevation gain. Between the shoulder straps, padded hip belt, mesh back panel, and load lifter straps the Stratos 24L is pretty adjustable mid hike. So, as you tire of carrying the weight on your hips you can adjust it more onto your shoulders and so on to share the load around. Although, it really does carry pretty well and only starts to become uncomfortable after long days of continuous use.
Size wise I think the Osprey Stratos 24L is solid and versatile. It can definitely fit everything you will need for a lengthier winter day hike when you have to have room for extra layers. I have only maxed out the Stratos 24L by making sure it can fit my entire layering system in it if I end up much warmer than expected and need to go all the way down to my baselayer. I think it could carry more weight easily I just really haven’t had a reason to put anymore in it.
The Bad or Annoying My complaints with the Osprey Stratos 24L are pretty limited. Like I mentioned before I am not a fan of how the mesh pouch hangs down into the main compartment covering the water bladder pouch. The routing for the water bladder is also a pain to deal with. I wish the hip belts pockets were just a tiny bit bigger so my iPhone would fit in them but that is really not much of a problem. I also wish the compression straps at the bottom by the mesh water bottle pouches worked a little bit better but honestly most of these complaints fall into the annoying not bad category and I’m really scrapping the bottom of the barrel to come up with even these.
Summary Overall I really like the Osprey Stratos 24L and at $130 I think it presents a pretty solid value. Size wise it is almost perfect for longer day hikes and is still compressible for shorter hikes. On winter trips it will carry quit a load although our recent trip to Mount Taylor in the winter pretty much maxed it out with three different jackets, spare gloves, crampons, gaiters, water, med kit, food, and a survival pouch. I have hiked as little as 4 miles with the Stratos 24L, as many as 16 miles, and completed 8 miles of kicking trail in the snow. Covering those extremes makes this an all around versatile pack at a reasonable price. The Osprey Stratos 24L also seems to be quite durable. I have scrapped it against rocks while scrambling without any issue and plopped it down in lots of dirt and sand with nothing more than a few small stains on the hip belt to show for it.
There are loads of other great packs out there and many that are better than the Osprey Stratos 24L especially in more niche functions. But as a great all around daypack that can be called upon to do more when needed the Osprey Stratos 24L really does knock it out of the park.
For this review I purchased an Osprey Stratos 24L from Backcountry.com
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This last weekend we decided to try something new for us and hike in the snow! Coming from Arkansas snow hiking wasn’t really an option so we haven’t ever done it before. Pair that with a recent set of snow storms that swept through New Mexico and we figured it was an opportunity to try something new, the only question that remained was what trail. When we hiked Mount Taylor via the Gooseberry trail back in late October we ran into another hiker, Mac, who told us about a trail that runs along the north side of Mount Taylor which he strongly recommended. When I looked at the forecast I figured we were in for an interesting day with several inches of snow and temperatures anywhere from the low 20’s up to freezing.
We left Albuquerque around 7:45am after our obligatory coffee stop and headed towards Grants, New Mexico which is about an hour away. After leaving Grants we drove up into the Cibola National Forest and the highway turned to snow covered dirt road. Then it was down Forest Service Road 453 to the trailhead. The route I found on AllTrails.com recommended one location but we ran into some hikers at the trailhead who inquired about our route. After telling them where we were heading they said our original route was doable but about 2 miles longer for no reason and gave us directions to the “normal” trailhead for our route which was about another mile up the forest service road. So we headed up there and found a nice trailhead with a picnic area and a vault toilet.
When we set off our on hike the Jeep said the temperature was 28 degrees! The trail had about 3-4” of snow at that point. Surprisingly, we actually got hot really quickly. Cold weather hiking is new to us but we were both expecting to deal with cold temperatures however it wasn’t an issue at all. We hadn’t been going for more than 20 minutes before we were both down to only our thermal base layers. The first mile or so was a consistent but very manageable uphill through the pine and aspen forest. We were able to get some really great pictures of the winter weather. Around the mile mark the trail opened up into a huge meadow that had phenomenal views back out over the plains to the west of the mountain.
Around this point the amount of snow had started to increase to 4-6” and the incline stayed a consistent uphill so we went ahead and threw on our Hillsound Trial Crampons for some extra traction. Over the course of our hike I was really impressed with the trail crampons. As long as they continue to hold up well they will be a great piece of gear. Around mile two the trail intersects with Forest Service Road 453E but not before a nice steep little section that really gets the heart rate going. Our route continued to the east down FR 453E for another mile until it intersects the Gooseberry Trail. This section of the trail was completely untouched and although it was beautiful it was tiring work to break trail through six or so inches of untouched snow. FR 453E continues east from that intersection to hit FR 453 which goes up to La Mosca Overlook. Originally heading to the top of La Mosca along with Mount Taylor had been part of our plan but we were moving rather slower than we had anticipated so we decided Mount Taylor was enough.
We took Gooseberry trail back towards the southwest and the summit of Mount Taylor. The route hugs the edge of the mountain for a half mile and feels very much like an alpine climb, just hugging onto the edge with a big drop off. After that half mile Gooseberry again intersects FR 453E but the summit route continued uphill. We found out later that the route is called Heartbreak Hill and I can definitely understand why. The switchbacks to the summit are relentlessly uphill and the snow definitely didn’t make it any easier. But we made it up the summit at 11,301 feet and got to enjoy some stunning views that were only improved by the snow. I don’t know why but mountains, especially snow capped mountains, have always fascinated me.
After 10 minutes at the summit to take some pictures we headed off down the west ridge. AllTrails showed a trail that led down the ridge and linked up with the Continental Divide Trail and some forest service roads to make a loop back to our trailhead. However, after half a mile of hiking in 12-18” snow drifts we couldn’t locate any sign of the trail. Obviously, the trail was completely obscured but we saw no mounds that could have been cairns or any blazes. So after we ran into FR 453E we decided to change plans and follow it back to Trail 02421. I had really been looking forward to hiking on the CDT as I have done a short day hike on the Appalachian Trail before. But we figured without being able to locate the actual trail and how long we had already been out it was more prudent to take the more direct route back to the car. Plus I was getting tired of breaking trail and someone had already snowshoed down FR453E so the going was noticeably easier.
We made great time on the way back down Trail 02421. It was actually crazy to see how much snow had melted just since we had started our hike. Most of the trees below the meadow had sloughed off their snow and on the trail it was starting to compact which made it much easier. Funny enough we actually ran into Mac, the hiker who had recommended the trail to us a month earlier. He was heading up Trail 02421 to Mount Taylor and remembered giving us the recommendation. We thanked him again for recommending the trail and he seemed pretty happy that we had taken his advice.
A short while later we made it back to the car. According to Strava on my Apple Watch we covered 7.77 miles in a moving time of 3:39 which comes out to an average speed of 2.1mph. We were definitely slower than expected in the snow but to be fair there was a lot more snow than we had anticipated. I had expected four or so inches. But we consistently were in 4-6” and broke trails through sections that were well over 12”. In hindsight some snowshoes would have been really helpful especially on the sections on FR 453E and down the west ridge of Mount Taylor. All in all it was a great trip and we got some great pictures. It was also really cool to be the first people to summit Mount Taylor in the snow for 2019.
We definitely found the temperatures much easier to handle than expected. When we started the car read 28 degrees and when we finished it was 33. I really have no clue what it was on the hike or at higher elevations. It was a phenomenal weather day though with a clear sky and almost no wind at all. I really need to get my hands on a small thermometer to take hiking. It is good to know going forward that temperature won’t really be the limiting factor this winter but instead it will be snow conditions and wind. We definitely still have a lot of learning to do this winter about how the conditions will be throughout the season but we aren’t to keen to just kick up our shoes for the next 3-4 months. If anyone has some advice for great winter hikes in New Mexico please let us know!
We have gone back and forth over our time hiking about how best to remember our hikes. Way back in college when I first started hiking I went out and purchased a black moleskin notebook. In it I wrote the stats of each hike and a little synopsis almost like a journal. It is safe to say that I was rather poor at keeping it updated even though I kept it for years. Then there was scrapbooking which my wife loves. She used to make scrapbook pages for all of our hikes but the more we hiked and the busier we became with life. It quickly became an unsustainable system. We have used digital systems like the All Trails app which is convenient but not a great way to look back on your trips.
The whole purpose of creating this site is to share how we manage to go hiking and outdoors while still maintaining a “normal” or traditional life. We both have normal full time jobs, with a mortgage, and car payments. So to that end the way we remember our hikes reflects that. We maintain a hiking photo collage.
Instead of it being on your traditional canvas print or in a frame we decided that it would be more fun to display them on a larger and ever evolving scale. Our gear closet is located under our stairs- think Harry’s room from Harry Potter- so we had the brilliant idea to install a roll of cork on which to display our pictures. After each and every hike we go through and pick out our favorite picture or the picture that reminds us the most of that hike, sometimes this can be difficult as we both take a ton of pictures. We print the winning photo and write on the back the trail we hiked, the date, elevation gain, and mileage. Then the picture gets pinned up on the board. So every time we go into our gear closet we can see all of the memories we have made out hiking.
The Canon MX 492 is a little pricier for a printer but we wanted one that supports wireless printing via iPads. The Canon Glossy Photo Paper on the other hand is super affordable at only ten cents a page. So after each hike we go through the pictures we took and do some editing. We then pick our favorite and directly from my iPad I send it to the printer. Then the wife writes the info on the back, I have crappy handwriting. The picture goes up on the board and in about five minutes we have a way to remember our hike or trip.
Our hiking photo collage just seemed like an economical, efficient and fun way to keep our memories somewhere that we knew we would look at on a regular basis, we even hang up our dog leashes in there so we literally get a look every night. We easily take 30-50 pictures per hike so even keeping the pictures organized on our iPads is starting to become a bit of a task. There are other ways that would better showcase all of our trips such as printed photo albums or scrapbooks but those would quickly become more time consuming than the hikes themselves. With our photo collage we keep the focus on the hiking and making the memories not memorializing them. Plus with our memory board in our gear room the best time to remember is as we are planning out our next trip to add to the college so the focus stays on making memories. It is a really fun, easy, and quick way to remember our trips.
After a couple of big weekends in a row we decided to take it a little lighter. We also had “normal” life stuff going on Saturday so we decided to make the drive up to Sandia Crest on Sunday and do a short hike. The Sandia Mountains are an interesting place. Along the west side of the mountains are some of the area’s most famous trails such as La Luz which is about 13 miles and 3,500’ of elevation gain up to the top. But what makes it kind of funny is that you can drive to the same point via the east side of the mountains.
Our trip got off to a rough start right from the beginning. We slept in pretty late after festivities the night before. I think we finally left the house around 9ish. We went to make our quick trip to Starbucks for the customary pupcups for the dogs. Well Ripley, the German Shepherd, has gotten pretty accustomed to her pupcups and a little impatient. As I was pulling out of the Starbucks she climbed up on the center console to try and reach her pupcup. At almost the exact same time someone cut me off so I had to slam on the brakes. Which equaled a flying German Shepherd who exploded one of our coffees all over the front of the car. Of course we had to turn around and get a replacement coffee. Then it was back to the house to clean the car up and try to restart the trip.
Once the coffee was cleaned up as best as we could manage we took back off to the Sandia Crest. It was right at an hour drive in most of a circle to go around the mountains and then back up to the crest. Once at Sandia Crest we found colder temperatures than expected and some significant wind. The car said it was 36 degrees out but it felt well below freezing and colder even than our day on Deception Peak. We went to use the facilities at the trailhead before starting our hike with signs on the door stating that they were maintained by the shop at the crest. I am not sure why they claimed them because even for vault toilets they were literally the nastiest I have ever seen.
So several minor tragedies managed we finally got to set of our hike. We planned to follow the North Crest Trail (Trail 130) a short two miles north from Sandia Crest, the high point of the mountains, to the North Sandia Crest which is a point at about 10,430’. The hike really wasn’t the best and was solidly rock and with plenty of tree roots. Tree roots were all over the trails in Arkansas but are a rarity in New Mexico. I don’t know if the dogs were just fired up from being cooped up while we were gone the day before or what but they were not good hiking companions. Ripley managed to apply just the slightest pressure on her leash that caused me to trip over a rock or root.
The trail really wasn’t that good but it did have a bunch of off shoots to lookouts from the mountain back over Albuquerque. The North Sandia Crest actually didn’t have much in the way of views due to trees but several of the lookouts before provided a great background for some nice photos. We turned around and covered the short mileage back home including a small side trail adventure. All in all we ended up doing 4.6 miles with 733’ of elevation gain in 1:42. On the way home we stopped at Brickyard Pizza and grabbed a green chili Lobo Pizza for lunch which might have been the high point of the trip.
Sadly this hike was meant to just be a nice easy one that we could fit into an otherwise busy weekend but it really didn’t deliver. I guess you can’t win every weekend and we have had some great trips over the last couple of months. Usually our dogs are solid on hikes. Lilly the Siberian Husky has a knee issue so she is capped at 4-6 miles but they pups did not make this an easy trip. Hopefully we can turn the luck around next weekend and have another great trip.
I have worn Saucony Kinvara running shoes for about five years now and they have been my favorites. So when I recently saw the Saucony Peregrine ISO trail running shoes which are a very similar pair of shoes to the Kinvara just for trail running I decided to give them a try. I am glad I did because I absolutely love the Saucony Peregrine ISO train runners. Now that I am nearing 100 miles I think I can do a detailed review of the Saucony Peregine ISO trail running shoes.
Overall Specs The Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners are a neutral shoe with a mid arch. The heel stack height is 22.5mm with a drop of 4mm to the toe. The basic specs of the Peregrine are almost identical to the Saucony Kinvara that I still wear for paved running. My pair is a size 10 and I think they Saucony Peregrine ISO runs pretty true to size as 10 US is my most common shoe size. I think the toe box is definitely adequate but I don’t have wide feet by any means. I definitely wouldn’t say the Peregrine has the “oversized” foot box that is common on some trail runners. Saucony claims 298g for the Peregrine ISO and my shoes come out to 304g and 298g each without any insoles. I removed my custom ones for the weighing but have no clue where the originals are now.
Sole If there is a single selling point of the Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners it is the sole. Saucony has names for their technology in each section of the sole with the EVERUN topsole, PWRFOAM midsole, and the PWRTRAC outsole. I can’t exactly explain how you can feel all of these different technologies while running or hiking but I can tell you the Saucony Peregrine ISO has a great feel. They have a nice flex to the shoe and a little bounce to each step while still providing enough cushioning on uneven terrain. There is not a rock plate on these shoes but I have yet to have an issue with that even while hiking some decent mountains in New Mexico. I have used the Saucony Peregrine ISO for just shy of 100 miles so far which has been a mix of trail running, road running, hiking, and casual wear.
The sole has huge 6mm lugs that provide phenomenal traction. I have literally never slipped or lost traction while wearing the Saucony Peregrine ISO. I would not call them a great all around runner as they definitely feel over built for normal surfaces but the moment you get off the asphalt the Peregrine comes completely into its own and I have really enjoyed running in them. So far, the Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners seem to be standing up pretty well. There is a little wear to some of the outside lugs on each shoe but nothing I consider out of the norm for being 20% through their lifespan.
Upper The upper on the Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners is exceptionally comfortable. Through 100 miles it has survived several accidental rock scrapes without any damage. The upper is also the weak point for anyone who wants to use the Saucony Peregrine ISO for more of an all around trail hiking shoe. Saucony calls the upper ISOfit dynamic. I would call it almost a sock upper. The tongue on the Saucony Peregrine ISO is attached on the sides so that when you lace them up you end up with a sock like wrap around your foot, it is pretty comfy.
The heel cup is rock solid and I’ve had no movement issues from the heel and therefore 0 blisters while wearing the Peregines even on big days. Around the toe there is a lot of mesh which does allow good air flow and I haven’t had any issues with overly sweaty feet. The mesh does tend to let in a decent amount of sand/dust but that’s a fair trade off. The Saucony Peregrine ISO is not a Gore-Tex shoe although Saucony does still offer a Gore-Tex version of the predecessor Peregrine 8 trail running shoe. Personally I am not a fan of Gore-Tex for running shoes. I always end up with hot sweaty feet wearing Gore-Tex so I might as well have just soaked my feet anyways, plus if they do get wet it takes FOREVER for them to dry. Overall I am actually pretty happy that Saucony chose to forgo the Gore-Tex for the Peregrine ISO.
Where the upper leaves a little to be desired is lateral support. I have worn the Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners for several loose scramble climbs and they do great on the way up. But on the descent you feel like your foot might roll off the side of the shoe under load. I would really like to see a bit more of a locked down feel to the upper through the mid and front of the foot. I think for most trail runners this won’t be much of an issue but for someone who is looking for a bit more of an all around trail shoe, like the Salomon XA Pro 3D, they would fall short. To be fair I know these shoes are in completely different categories but I love the overall feel of the Saucony Peregrine ISO that I wish it could be my go to shoe for all hikes.
Insole I simply mention the insole because this is one thing that I change out on every pair of shoes I own and the Saucony Peregrine ISO was no exception. I use SuperFeet semi-custom insoles that get fitted to your feet at running stores. This means I can’t comment at all on the insoles in the Saucony Peregrine ISO because I never used them.
Final Thoughts I really can’t say enough good things about the Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners. I wish I could make them into all around trail shoes but that just isn’t what they are designed for. But for trail running and light, fast hikes they perform perfectly and are extremely comfortable. These shoes are wonderful on every unpaved surface I’ve taken them on. The tread is overkill for paved running but provides a great grip on everything from loose dirt, to snow, to rock. They aren’t horrible on the wallet at $120 and are available online and in stores. The Saucony Peregrine ISO is also available in a women’s model under the same name.
For this review I purchased a pair of Saucony Peregrine ISO trail runners in a men’s size 10 with my own money from my local REI store.
After my hike of Santa Fe Baldy on Saturday we decided to take a day trip up to the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area or as it is more commonly known Bisti Badlands. This trip was actually our furthest one to date as Bisti Badlands is about two and half hours from Albuquerque up in the northwest corner of New Mexico. We got up about 7am and got all of stuff including our Siberian Husky, Lilly, and our German Shepherd, Ripley, loaded up and ready to go. We had to make a customary stop at Starbucks for pupcups, little espresso cups full of whipped cream for the dogs, and then we headed off to Bisti Badlands.
The first trail we went to was the De-Na-Zion section trail that was on the south side of the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. The trail was okay but mostly just followed a dry creek bed or arroyo. It wouldn’t have been a bad hike but it was a pretty common hike that can be found all over the southern half of New Mexico. I thought our trail came right next to another one so that instead of the out-back route that was on All Trails we could turn it into a loop. Well I didn’t zoom in enough on the map to realize that they two trails didn’t connect. So we set off on our own to find a way to reach the other trail; which actually ended up being the best section of this trail. We reached the top of the canyon above the arroyo and the view was much better. There were also some interesting rocks that Bisti Badlands is famous for.
We followed our new path down a dirt road back towards the car. Somewhere along the way we missed a turnoff, probably at the point where we saw some deer lounging in the sparsely shaded area, and our dirt road took us out to the main road and not the parking lot. Rather than retrace our steps we climbed under a barbed wire fence and followed the main dirt road that runs along the southern edge of Bisti Badlands back about a quarter of a mile to the trailhead.
It was safe to say we were rather unimpressed with our first taste of Bisti Badlands but we figured we drove a long ways to get here we might as well check out the rest and I’m glad we did. We drove roughly 30 minutes to another trailhead on the west edge of Bisti Badlands to hike the Bisti Badlands Trail. Although calling this a trail is definitely a bit of a misnomer. There really isn’t a trail at all. Basically this section of Bisti Badlands is like another planet. It is barren and interesting shades of red, white, black and brown that you don’t normally see. Spread throughout this crazy landscape is a bunch of unique rock formations and you basically just wonder from rock formation to rock formation in whatever pattern pleases you.
The best part is that outside of the special rock formations you are free to climb up and over whatever you want. We basically spent most of time in Bisti Badlands climbing through a series of canyons that reminded me of a smaller version of Tent Rocks National Monument. In hindsight it might have been a bit more on the rough side than we had meant to do with the dogs in tow. There were a few times that I had to perform pup lifts, in particular with Lilly the Husky who was not a fan of the crevices. We then hiked a little further into the Bisti Badlands before looping around the outer side to head back towards the car. We then piled everyone in and started the drive back to Albuquerque.
It was cool to see another side of our new home state. One of the biggest selling points of New Mexico is the crazy number of vastly difference landscapes. New Mexico has everything from desert to alpine environments and everything in between. I would definitely recommend skipping the first area we went to and going straight towards the Bisti Badlands Trail area. We hiked around 3 miles at each location but I think 6 spent at the second would be a much better use of ones time. All in all it ended up being a solid trip but one that I’m not sure I would feel the need to do again.
I recently picked up a pair of the Black Diamond Mont Blanc lightweight gloves from REI. I was looking for a comfy pair of light, cell phone functional gloves for chillier hikes. It seemed like the BD Mont Blancs might check all the right boxes so I really wanted to like them but I just can’t.
Fit and Comfort I have small hands so a size small in the Black Diamond Mont Blanc fit well. I had chilly not cold temperatures in mind so I was leaning more towards function and to that end I really like the fit of these gloves. They are form fitting but not tight so that I have good dexterity and I can actually get them on and off. The Mont Blancs are also comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The back of the hands has a wind proof layer while the palm has silicone strips for grip.
Cellphone Usage The index finger and thumb pad of both gloves have sections that will work the screens of smartphones. I have used them on both my iPhone and my Apple Watch and both work just fine. Pinching and zooming on topo maps can be a bit of a challenge but is still doable while basic tasks are easily done with the Black Diamond Mont Blancs. I haven’t had issues with accidentally tapping the wrong icon even on my smaller Apple Watch.
Warmth So far my review has been pretty positive and like I said, I actually really wanted to like the Black Diamond Mont Blanc gloves. Sadly everything falls when it comes to their warmth factor. According to the packaging the intended temperature range for the Mont Blanc’s is 25 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They don’t even come close to that. My hands feel cold after 30 minutes out in the high 30’s. I have used them on my hikes such as Deception Peak and Santa Fe Baldy but also while taking my dogs for their nightly walk and ended up with some very cold hands. I wouldn’t trust the Black Diamond Mont Blancs below 40 for hiking.
Summary Like I said I am really disappointed with the Black Diamond Mont Blanc gloves. They seemed to have so much potential. I really like the lightweight design and fit. The cellphone fingertips work well and at only $25 they seemed like a steal. But they just don’t accomplish their primary function which is to keep my hands warm. I will probably keep them around for hikes that have a low around 40 or so but with temps expected to warm up. However, I will definitely reach for a different pair for any activity that has consistent temperatures below 40 degrees.
A Busy Weekend Part 1 With a weird schedule this weekend we actually managed to get in a couple of trips. As someone had to work on Saturday, I went for a solo hike to the peak of Santa Fe Baldy. Santa Fe Baldy is a 12,632’ peak in the Santa Fe National Forest. My planned route was to hike the Winsor Trail (254) to the Skyline Trail (251) then to the summit of Santa Fe Baldy. At a distance of 13.5 miles with 3,517’ of elevation gain it was going to be a long day. My planning was slightly complicated by unknown weather. Depending on which source I looked at I found everything from 28-38 degrees for the day to 38-58. Twenty degrees might not sound like a lot but it really can be in those ranges. Also, the area had received 4” of snow two weeks prior and with relatively cool temperatures I was unsure how much would be left or if it might have turned to ice.
The Trip I got up at 6am and made a quick trip to Starbucks for a little morning pick me up then made the hour and a half drive up to the Ski Santa Fe area inside the Santa Fe National Forest. The drive was pretty easy and I was able to start hiking right after 8am. My car said it was in the high 30’s when I started so I was pretty sure I had more stuff in my 7.6 kilo pack than I was going to need.
The first mile or so is uphill until you cross through a fence and start back downhill. The decline lasts about 2 miles then the route becomes a gentle uphill for a while. This section had a decent amount of snow but it was mostly packed down and a bit crunchy. Traction wasn’t really an issue. I did get out my gaiters to prevent any snow from getting down into my Salomon’s. I had really wanted to use my Saucony Peregrines for this hike but decided against it at the last moment because I thought they might soak through from the snow, it was probably a smart call. This section of the trail was solid but nothing super memorable. There were a couple of creek crossings-one was flowing but the other two were frozen. It was cool to hear the water flowing underneath the ice as you walked right across the stream. Water features are one thing I have definitely come to appreciate in New Mexico as they are few and far between.
From mile 3 to mile 6 the trail continued uphill at a solid incline but nothing that raised the heart rate too much. However, that all changed when I found the signpost and left the Skyline Trail to start the route up Santa Fe Baldy. From the transition from one trail to the top was right at a mile with almost exactly 1,000’ of elevation gain. So safe to say it was a steep mile. The highlight of the trip though was a wildlife spotting. I was just a couple hundred feet from the summit of Santa Fe Baldy when I came over a point and a huge big horn sheep was just standing in the middle of the trail. Then I realized he had a bunch of buddies. There were about 8 or so big horn sheep all over the trail and to the sides. I also realized I was rather close, probably no further than 50 feet or so but the sheep didn’t seem to mind me at all. I thought of the potential newspaper headline of man dies after being rammed off of cliff by sheep... My wife would not have been amused. After taking a bunch of pictures I slowly walked towards them and they just meandered off of the trail to let me pass. A short trek later the incline leveled off and I was at the summit of Santa Fe Baldy.
The views were impressive and I relaxed for 10 minutes or so to have a snack. Right as I was getting ready to leave the sheep got spooked by another hiker’s dog and took off running down what seemed like a sheer cliff. It was pretty amazing to watch and seemed right out of a National Geographic special. It had taken me 3 hours and 20 minutes to summit Santa Fe Baldy so I was hoping to go a little faster on the way out as I still had a 90 minute drive home to deal with. I did a bit of a trot/jog down the steepest sections and tried to stay around 3 mph down the decline. It worked for an hour or so but towards mile 11 or 12 I just lost all momentum and I was ready to be done. The uphill section back to the gate was just a slog. I ran into several rude hikers including one lady who was having a speaker phone conversation while hiking. That really seems to defeat the entire purpose of hiking to me. Safe to say I was worn out and happy to make it back to the car. My trip ended up being 15.1 miles with 3,522’ of elevation gain in a moving time of 5:45 according to Strava run on my Apple Watch.
Summary All in all I would say Santa Fe Baldy is a great climb. The final mile is steep but the views are constant and the summit is pretty satisfying. I will say my hike was helped by phenomenal weather. It probably warmed up to the high 50’s so I was doing sections of hiking through snow while wearing a t-shirt. At the summit there was almost no wind at all. The little wind speed meter I bought off of Amazon for $17, super reliable, was between 1-3.8 mph. I will say the approach miles are a bit rough. It isn’t a bad hike by any stretch but definitely not the most scenic and trudging back 7 miles with nothing to motivate you can be a bit rough mentally. The climb is great but the approach mileage not so great. I would definitely recommend the hike but just be aware of what you are biting off. I got back to my car around 3pm so it was pretty much an all day event. I ran into a lady right below the summit who said it took her 5 hours to reach the top and she was hoping to finish the return trip in 4.5 more.
It definitely felt like a solid achievement to summit one of New Mexico’s 12,000’ peaks. This hike actually ended up being my highest mountain summit to date and the longest hike by mileage and by time. Definitely a big step for me as a hiker. To be Continued...