Is the arc’teryx beta ar really worth the price?

The price tag on consumer items like rain jackets are at an all time high. I want to chat about why that is and determine if a $750+ rain jacket is really worth it for you.

The outdoor industry grosses 887 billion dollars annually. It’s one of the fastest and largest growing business sectors in the world. The price tag on consumer items like rain jackets are at an all time high. I want to chat about why that is and determine if a $750+ rain jacket is really worth it for you. Or if it’s just a clever rouse to take your money.

First of all, if you simply want a badass jacket to wear around the city because you like the look and feel of it, that’s cool! This article is to help you navigate the features and benefits of the Beta AR and whether or not it’s really worth the price. After all, you could can travel or experience a lot of cool things with $750 dollars.

Inspired by

I recently had a good friend join me on a backpacking trip through a remote region of the Canadian Rockies. He had just about everything he needed for the trip with the exception of a rain jacket. I lent him mine as I had an extra. a few hours into the first day of the trip he explained to me that he never new the difference a quality rain jacket could make.

By the end of the trip, my friend vowed to invest in his own Arc’teryx Beta AR rain jacket. You see, with most trips or adventures, there is a cost associated to the thing you want to do. Why spend money on some costs like travel, and accommodations, but then cheap out on equipment that will keep you safe, dry, warm, and enjoying your adventure to the fullest?

The Proton FL Is Arc’teryx Most Versatile Layering Piece Yet

Beta AR Features

The “AR” stands for all around. And the series – Beta – belongs to Arc’eryx’ “all purpose” family. The alpha series is fine tuned specifically for alpine settings for example.

The hood

Not many people know this; Arc’teryx spends nearly 80% of their manufacturing time on the hood. The hood can make a break the jacket and getting it right takes a lot of time. The hood features a brim. Features an adjustable draw strings that are easy to use with gloves. It also features helmet compatibility.

The collar is probably my favourite feature that sets this jacket apart from the others in the Arc’teryx lineup. It sits comfortable against your chin when the zipper is done all the way up. I often wear the jacket with the zipper done up, but keep the hood down.

The GORE-TEX

Gore-tex is pretty transparent about their love affair with Arc’teryx. The company usually launches all their new products with Arc’teryx first. Because GORE-TEX is so great at what they do, and Arc’teryx is best at what they do as well, it’s a good partnership.

The Beta AR features a 3l GORE-TEX membrane. That means there’s an extra layer of protection on the inside of the jacket and not just the outside. This is important if you’re wearing a waterproof rain jacket for extended use. Especially in rough environments like the mountains.

The GORE-TEX “PRO” is not just more durable, it’s also noticeable more breathable. This is a great feature to have if you’re laying. It’s also great for summer objectives where you might need rain protection but it isn’t very cold outside.

The newest revision of the Beta AR includes GORE-TEX’ brand new Most Rugged Technology. This new technology makes the jacket – you guessed it – the Most Rugged.

This Camera Bag Is A Chameleon Adapting To All My Adventures

The fit

The way a jacket fits is most critical part in determining whether or not I’m going to love a jacket or not. That’s probably a pretty universal sentiment. You have to consider that you might be spending a lot of time in the rain jacket. I’ve been on a handful of trips where I hardly took the jacket of more than once or twice over the span of a week.

Make sure that when you try on this jacket, you’re trying it on with all your layers on underneath. Test out how it feels with your fleece, your insulation piece, and just a t-shirt. Make sure it’s going to work for you in every setting and circumstance. This is the Beta AR after all. Not the Beta “sometimes”.

The Cost Per Use Theory

Ultimately, if you’re exploring the mountains, or traveling to cold and wet environments where “shelter” means putting on a rain jacket… Then you absolutely need a rain jacket. Now you can buy a $200 rain jacket. You’ll save the steep up front cost. However, you will end up replacing it again and again if you use it frequently.

If you treat your Beta AR right, you can easily get 5-15 years of performance out of it. You’ll end up spending less money per use of the jacket than if you were to cheap out and get the bargain deal.

Final Thoughts

There’s tons of ways to save money and cut costs when it comes to your outdoor lifestyle. However, protection from the elements and having quality equipment you can rely on is worth the extra dollars.

I look at my rain jacket as an expensive safety item, not a fashion piece or “nice to have” item. Most weeks I’m in the mountains more than the city, and I never leave without packing my Beta AR.

How to Stay Motivated While Walking a Marathon a Day for Two Weeks Straight

Ryan and I are athletic, but we are NOT professional athletes. We have never competed in any kind of organized race including marathons, ultramarathons, nor a 10 k. So what compelled us to average a marathon per day for 14 days straight?

Desperation.

Seriously. We did not willingly choose to take on such a daunting objective. We had a goal and chose to adapt to our situation rather than have an out and calling it quits. What I’m referring to is our 420 KM Iceland expedition that ended up tacking on over 100 KM extra. Using Google Earth as our only reference, we mapped out our entire route thinking we only had a maximum of 300 KM to walk. To our surprise, and dismay, that route turned out to be incredibly off base. Hitting our pre-planned daily pinpoint targets was nearly impossible. What was supposed to take only one day often quickly turned into a two day haul, sometimes even three days.

We really did not want to ration food so we made the decision that we would just walk for longer each day. Our days went from 10 hours to 15 hours real fast. We were hauling as hard as we could and putting every ounce of what we had left in us into each step. Just when the days would start to feel long, weather greeted us and always had something in store. Sometimes we would experience all four seasons in the span of 2 hours. Mother Nature would roar her brains out and shower golfball sized hail stones down on us. It really felt like she was trying to get the best of us.

It is by no means a stretch of the imagination when I say that our Iceland expedition was the most mentally and physically tough challenge we had ever experienced.

Getting Through

So, how did we keep it together when we just wanted our joints to stop crying and the pain to end? How did we keep walking after getting cold rashes on our legs from sub zero glacial rivers or blisters on our feet bigger than our toes?

…OREOS.

No, literally oreos! Ryan and I relied on the cookies so much that we created a little acronym about how we were able to get this expedition done.

(Side story, we came across a few mountain huts along the way that sold Oreos so we would seriously eat them as some of our meals so we could preserve all of the food that we could).

Alright, enough cookie talk.

OREOS stands for Objective, Resilience, Empower, Optimism, Strength. These five words truly did allow us to complete our mission and kept our heads up when times got tough ( which was all of the time).

Objective

Not only does objective refer to the actual mission of the trip, it refers to knowing your ‘why’ and always keeping it in the back of your mind. I learned this practice from my mentor, ultra-marathoner, Leanne Richardson. Leanne always knows her why and uses it as the fuel to keep going when times get hard out on the course.

In our case, our ‘why’ was Iceland’s Highlands. It was the very environment that we were walking through. It was the ground beneath each step we took, remembering how vulnerable it is to human threat. There is nothing that compels you to protect a place more than reminding yourself you are just a passenger voyaging through a potential once- upon- a- time wilderness oasis.

We had a job to do. Not only were we walking to raise awareness, we were also filming ourselves doing it to assist the Highlands Project to create noise so their government will listen. When times got tough we no longer had to get through for ourselves, we had to keep moving for the planet.

Resilience

If I had to pick one word to sum up our expedition it would be this one. We pretty much had every obstacle thrown in our way. Going from 25 km walking days to over 50 km, injuries and unpreventable blisters, learning that there was no way to get our food supply to our pre planned drops, the list goes on. We had so many hurdles and set backs that could have prevented us from continuing.

Crossing rapidly moving glacial rivers at 2:00 AM during a rainstorm and having to camp out for 3 days to combat injuries so we could finish the last 80 km were two of my biggest obstacles. These were moments where that inner voice of self doubt came out and broke me down. It called me unspeakable names and made me question myself and my actions.

I heard and listened to the voice, but then I would get a spark of my true self and remind myself how badly I wanted to accomplish this. I knew there was no way out. I told myself that I would live off of plain Lays chips for 7 days straight if that meant we could have enough food to finish our expedition.

There was no way we were giving up.

Empower

I am so thankful to have had my partner, Ryan, with me on this expedition. I truly have an appreciation for people who are able to do these kinds of things solo. It helped having the person I love with me and we were really able to get each other through. Ryan didn’t even know how much he helped me until the expedition was over and done.

I was able to get through because of his belief in me which made me believe in myself. I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced ‘imposter syndrome’ but I felt like I suffered from it often during the trip. When the journey got difficult, I would say things like “I’m not an athlete!”, or “how can someone like me be doing something as crazy as this?”. Ryan would always respond positively with comments like “well, you did an ultramarathon yesterday, did you not?”

I would laugh and shake my head in disbelief but it was truly those comments that reassured me that someone like me CAN dream big and accomplish their goal.

Even if you don’t have a partner to empower or who can empower you, saying nice things to yourself while you’re out on your journey makes a huge difference. Treat yourself like you would treat a friend. Would you ever tell your friend that they are weak and out of their mind for attempting such a wild objective? Most likely you would not. You are allowed to experience self doubt but remember to pick yourself up and keep moving even if it’s at a slower pace.

Optimism

Optimism is a funny one. This word can make or break your expedition because if you have too little of it, it’s a game ender but if you have too much of it, things can get dangerous. A healthy balance of optimism and realism is the key ingredient to a successful expedition recipe.

Being too optimistic can lead people to put themselves in dangerous situations because they didn’t properly assess the risk. Knowing the risks, your capabilities, and being prepared will combat this.

Ryan and I are naturally optimistic people so there was never a moment where we didn’t think we had a chance of crossing the island. I appreciated this characteristic after the fact because I know how damaging negative talk and disbelief can be. If you don’t believe you will be successful, you most likely won’t be.

Strength

For this expedition specifically, it really came down to our mental strength. I personally believe that mental strength is trainable and it is something you can work on and get better at. For me, mental strength was the combination of OREO. Knowing our objective, being resilient, empowering one another, and being unapologetically optimistic truly built the foundation.

Mental strength is difficult to train without putting yourself in uncomfortable situations to achieve a goal. You know you’re mentally strong when you feel like the world is working against you but you don’t let that stop you from getting the job done.

I hope you can take this acronym and apply it to your own journeys. If there is anything I have learned from our Iceland expedition, it’s that you are so much more capable than you think you are. Whether you want to run a marathon or achieve a first ascent, you have the power within you to accomplish whatever it is you put your mind to.

All-Mountain Trail Running Shoe: Norvan VT 2 Review

Arc’teryx recently launched the ultimate trail running/ scrambling shoe. The Norvan VT 2 shoes are thought to be the best trail shoes on the market. I brought them to multiple ranges in the Canadian Rockies to field test them and see what all the hype is about.

Rocky Mountain Approved

I had the opportunity to put Arc’teryx’ new Norvan VT 2 trail shoe to the test in a couple of different Canadian playgrounds. I first tried the Norvan VT 2 shoes during a 3-day helicopter assisted trail running trip in the Purcell Range of British Columbia. I then wore them on the rugged terrain of the Opal Range in Alberta a week later.

Initial thoughts: The Norvan VT 2 can definitely take a beating while allowing you to feel agile and supported.

When I first learned that the shoe is designed for both trail running and scrambling, I almost didn’t believe it. Holding the shoes for the first time, they felt too light to be durable enough for a solid Rocky Mountain scramble. Weighing in at 10.1 oz per shoe, these trail runners are super lightweight, however, I was pleasantly surprised by how robust they are.

Purcell Range, BC

During our heli-trail running excursion, I was seriously gliding in the Norvan VT 2 shoes. I was transitioning from the new Salomon Speed Cross 5’s and my feet instantly felt at ease when I first started running. There was something that felt so right about the shoes, perhaps it was the grip or how breathable they are. It was important for me to be able to keep up with my trail running group (I’m generally a slow poke) so I could photograph them as well. We were there to do a job that required being on our feet all day, so I found that the shoes provided outstanding comfort. I was able to continue running for hours on end.

I could not stop raving about the shoes throughout the trip. I felt like a lightning bolt as I ran the narrow ridges of the Purcell Range. I loved how agile I could be while I was both running and filming.

I continuously thought to myself that these were the best shoes I had ever worn.

Opal Range, AB

A 6 hour jaunt up and down Gap Mountain in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park helped me truly determine my stance on the shoe.

Our ascent was an incredibly steep 713 m elevation gain with sheer exposure and gullies to be mindful of. There were a few sections that required conscious footing in order to pass safely. I was always confident in my foot placement and appreciated just how grippy the VT 2’s were against the loose scree.

When we were up, the narrow ridgeline made for a super fun traverse to the summit and I again felt sturdy as I glided across the rocks. When I was ridge running on Gap, there was never a moment where my feet couldn’t keep up with the ground beneath me. This is something I have found to be common in other runners that have made me feel completely defeated by the terrain.

Though the shoe is thoughtfully designed with scramblers in mind, there are a few issues that I discovered during this second adventure. For scrambling specifically, the shale and loose rock do pose a problem with such a low ankle cut. I found that there were numerous times I was taking the shoe off and dumping out handfuls of sharp pebbles. Gators could be a fix, but I also found that my ankles were getting completely bruised and badly cut up this time around by the sharp rocks. On both the ascent and descent, we had to bushwhack some of the way and in these instances my exposed ankles did not stand a chance against fallen trees and shrubs.

I have decided that the Norvan VT 2 shoes are a ‘time and a place’ kind of shoe. If you are looking for a higher ankle cut with the same capabilities, I highly recommend checking out the Aerios FL Mid GTX instead. The Aerios has similarities to the Norvan VT 2 shoes but instead is built with a collar above the ankle to seal out debris. Additionally, I felt great using the Norvan VT 2 shoes for ridge running and well mapped out trails. On the contrary, I would be wary using them for tougher alpine running objectives.

Why I Love the Norvan VT 2 Shoe

  • You can’t feel sharp rocks/roots/ or other ground objects below you thanks to the mid-forefoot TPU film which provides underfoot protection
  • The shoe has an 8 mm heel drop
  • The shoe is breathable and keeps your feet cool
  • It’s grippy as hell

Concerns

  • Low ankle cut
  • Abrasion resistance could improve

To put a bow on it: for general trail running, the Norvan VT 2 Shoe is hands down the best trail shoe I’ve ever worn. For scrambling, I personally will go with a shoe that has that higher cut next time.

I’m stoked to continue using the Norvan VT 2 shoe for some smaller mountain objectives coming up in August!

Happy trails!

The Proton FL is Arc’teryx Most Versatile Layering Piece Yet

The Proton FL is unlike any other insulation piece in Arx’teryx lineup. I’ve had the opportunity to put my jacket to the test this year. Here’s what I think.

The Proton FL is unlike any other insulation piece in Arx’teryx lineup. I’ve had the opportunity to put my jacket to the test this year from crossing Iceland, to climbing mountains in the rockies, to trekking along the east coast trail. Here’s what I think about it.

Hiking in the Canadian Rockies during late fall. -10 degrees Celsius .

Synthetic Insulation

Many years ago the military demanded a more robust insulation. Something that could effectively replace the natural insulator, down. They needed something that stays warm when wet, dries out fast, and keep its’ warming properties over prolonged abuse. That’s how synthetic insulation was born.

Every year there’s marginal improvements for synthetic fibre insulation. Making small adjustments and creating a more effective warmth to wait ratio. A ratio that down insulation still rules over.

Arc’teryx’ newest fast & light jacket in the Proton series closes that gap. The new Octa insulation was used in my favourite running jacket, the argus for men and gaea for women. I know the insulation is crazy breathable and super warm in the endorphin jackets. I knew I could expect the same performance from the comparable Proton FL jacket.

The Proton FL is the answer to 4 season layering. The jacket weighs only 320 grams, making it just slightly heavier than the comparable Atom SL jacket. The Proton FL has a few new features making it a little bit warmer and and even more versatile than the Atom SL.

Is The Arc’teryx Beta AR Really Worth The Price?

Multi-day backpacking trek in Newfoundland on the ECT. +5 degrees Celsius.

Features

Octa Insulation

The octa insulation is distributed evenly throughout the jacket, including side pannels unlike the fleece side panels found in the Atom series of jackets. This makes the jacket a little bit warmer overall. The octa insulation breathes better than the CoreLoft insulation used in the Atom series too. Making it warmer, yet more breathable.

Elastic Cuffs

The elastic cuffs feel much more robust than the Atom SL cuffs. They’re also more comfortable pulled up your forearm. The arms are also a little longer and make it more suitable for climbing. The shoulders also have a little more room in them, giving you great freedom of movement when you have your hands overhead.

Chest Pockets

The two chest pockets are great placement. They’re placed high so you can access them easily with a harness or backpack on. The pockets are also big enough to fit a large cell phone with a rugged case. I often have my phone in one pocket and a map in the other.

Tailored Fit

The athletic fit is really comfortable. When backpacking or camping I wear the jacket all evening under my down jacket and I usually sleep with both my down jacket and the proton FL on.

Versatility for All Kinds of Mountain Activities

Climbing at a crag in Ontario. +10 Degrees Celsius.

The Proton FL is categorized as a rock climbing and alpinism layering piece on Arc’teryx website. However, I think that classification is underselling its’ versatility in a much wider array of dynamic use. This would be my first choice jacket for all things mountain. Trail running, hiking, scrambling, climbing, ski touring, and backpacking.

The benefit of the hydrophobic octa insulation is that it can be totally soaked yet still retain its’ warmth. If the jacket does get totally soaked, you can wear it while it’s drying during your activity. It will completely dry while being worn within two hours. When you’re in the backcountry and weather takes a turn for the worse, this is the jacket you want to rely on for warmth.

Gear Review: Arc’teryx Gaea Jacket

I mentioned I still often pair the Proton FL with a down jacket. Down is still the warmest fibre available per its’ weight. Down’s performance in active pursuits is easily compromised however. I pair the two jackets together because the Proton FL is my “do it all” active layering piece. My down jacket is my “keep me as warm as possible” at camp piece.

Crossing Iceland in the Proton FL

Trekking across Iceland. +8 degrees Celsius.

Because of the nature of our expedition, we didn’t pack anything that wasn’t absolutely crucial. No luxury items and only equipment that we had already stress tested and could fully rely on to keep us safe and dry.

Iceland’s weather is absolutely crazy. This is coming from a Canadian. It can go from 20 degrees and sunny and within minutes of a wet fog rolling in, it can drop to nearly freezing. The cool thing about the Proton FL, I never needed to take the layer off. In 14 days of trekking, I almost never overheated, and I was never hiking cold.

Read about Crossing Iceland and North of Boundaries Film

I really believe that if we were wearing a lesser jacket and had to layer up and down more often, the trek would have taken longer to complete. Knowing the kind of pain we were in from walking nearly 50km a day with a heavy pack, the effort of stopping to take layers on and off, adjusting our pack multiple times a day, it would have been a time and moral killer.

The Proton FL is a valuable piece of equipment that just works. It allows your to forget about what you’re wearing and focus on your objective. This piece paired with my Beta AR rain jacket is my “go to” for almost every adventure, or any job.

Photos and words by Ryan Richardson

Checkout my gallery to shop prints from adventures around the world.

Five Common Beginner Backpacking Misconceptions

There’s a lot of misconceptions about backpacking! Don’t be fooled by the myths, learn from us so your first backpacking trip will be a good experience.

Spring is finally around the corner which means that soon enough we will be swapping our skis poles for trekking poles and hitting the trails!

I enjoy winter just as much as the next person but there comes a point when the -40 wind chills can get the best of us and our overall stoke level diminishes. Lately, I’ve found myself hibernating indoors and plotting out which backpacking trails I want to accomplish during the summer season.

Backpacking is an amazing way to experience wilderness, solitude, and simply explore. It is not surprising that backpacking is constantly increasing in popularity due to Instagram and other social platforms because it is just so dang awesome!

Backpacking is epic because it’s one of those activities that doesn’t require you to be an elite athlete to be ‘good’ at and enjoy. There’s no competition and the entire journey to your end destination is rewarding. All that to say, be aware that every backpacking trip is learning lesson and there will definitely be challenges especially during your first few experiences.

If you’re inching to get out on the trails but you’re new to backpacking, I hope this information will prevent you from making some common beginner backpacking mistakes and have happy trail experiences!

Backpacking Misconception #1: Opting for Hiking Boots

You might be skeptical and think ‘Hailey, are you crazy? I’m hiking, why wouldn’t I need hiking boots!’

I promise I’m not crazy and after a few experiences backpacking with hiking boots I promise the alternative is much better. I’m not here to give hiking boots a bad name by any means. There are TONS of amazing boots out there and under certain circumstances I do think boots can be the way to go.

Weight

Alternatively, it’s important to consider the weight of hiking boots. On average hiking boots can weigh 3-4 pounds versus a trail running shoe which generally weigh about 1 pound.

Personally, there’s nothing worse than carrying a backpack for hours on end whilst fighting to pick up my feet in heavy, clunky, hiking boots. I prefer trail running shoes over hiking boots under just about any circumstance. Trail running shoes are as light as they get, breathable, and quick drying.

‘But I’m scared my feet will be wet and what about blisters and ankle support?’

Additionally, hiking boots and especially gore-tex boots generally aren’t breathable. What does this mean? It means that your feet will be sweating and your boots will hold in all the sweat. This will make your feet wet and adding additional weight. Also, when your feet are wet, they are more prone to blisters. This is why even a solid pair of broken in hiking boots will cause blistering after a day on the trail- no bueno!

Pro Tip: look for trail runners that are not GORE-TEX, I promise even if your feet get wet they will dry so much faster!

My top picks for trail shoes:

Arc’teryx Norvan LD Shoe

https://lifeoutsideonline.com/2018/08/11/taking-on-alaska-in-arcteryx-new-norvan-ld-running-shoes

Salomon Speedcross 4CS Trail Running Shoe

Backpacking Misconception #2: You Can Get Away with Cheap Gear

Most of us don’t like spending money if we can save money, I get that. Right off the bat let’s address the elephant in the room. If you want to have a good backpacking experience you need good gear, simple as that!

There’s a simple formula to quality backpacking gear: light weight, breathable, comfortable. You will find these three words to be repetitive themes when you’re talking gear. All of your gear should meet these three requirements.

Take clothing for example, with a good pair of merino wool base layers, ideally, you can reuse the top and bottom for a week straight without them getting gross and stinky. This means you can pack less (lightweight), they’re breathable, and super comfortable. In contrast, cotton clothing gets stinky easily, and is not quick drying so you will go through several cotton shirts in the same time frame.

I mention the word lightweight more than anything because you really do need to consider this to be the most critical factor for backpacking prep. The grams, pounds, and ounces do matter. Weight adds up quick when you’re carrying everything on your back. I can guarantee that you will not have fun with a heavy backpack weighing you down even if you’re walking on a volcano in Iceland (been there done that!).

My Tips for Choosing Quality Gear:

  • Look for LBC (lightweight, breathable, comfortable)
  • Ensure the gear is durable and long lasting
  • Make sure your gear can be easily packable
  • Invest first in the essentials: get a solid layering system (base layer, mid layer, and shell before purchasing multiple colours, any ‘luxury’ or ‘nice to have’ items. It’s all about the basics when you’re starting out.

*See our article on insulation below

https://lifeoutsideonline.com/2018/08/28/what-insulation-you-need-for-the-outdoors/

Gear to Especially Not Cheap Out On:

  • Backpack
  • Tent, Sleeping bag, Sleeping Pad (Read our couple’s sleeping system guide here)
  • Base Layers, Mid Layer, Down/Synthetic Jacket, Shell
  • Footwear
  • Camping Stove

ProTip: If you really don’t want to invest money upfront, many outdoor destinations have a gear rental shop where you can rent solid gear for cheap!

Misconception #3: Hiker Hunger

Okay, this one can go one of two ways. You might think ‘oh, I won’t need that much food because I won’t be hungry when I’m moving’. OR ‘I’ll need so much food I’ll be so hungry all the time!’

Many backpackers either underestimate or overestimate how hungry they will be during their trip. Food is equally as important to consider when prepping for your backpacking excursion. In my experience, I almost always over pack food because I know my body and I get extra hungry when I’m doing physical activity.

Food for Thought

One of the worst things that could happen on a backpacking trip is running out of food. You definitely don’t want to be THAT guy that’s mooching off everyone else because you didn’t bring enough grub to sustain you.

My advice is to calculate how many calories you generally eat in a normal day and then calculate how many calories you’ll be burning on average per day. Pack enough food so that you’re don’t experience a calorie deficit or else you will lose weight (hey unless that’s what you’re after!).

Of course going back to my favourite word lightweight, ensure the food you’re packing is not overly heavy. Carrying cans of beans is a no-no!

Carb up

You can get a decent dehydrator for under $100 at Walmart and you can dehydrate just about anything. I often make meals ahead of time and dehydrate them for my backpacking trips. Additionally, dehydrating grains such as rice and pasta is a great way to refuel on carbs without taking up loads of space and weight in your pack (bonus: this cuts down on cook time).

Supplements and powders are also a great way to go to add in extra calories and nutrients. I always pack a greens powder and protein powder (both removed from original packaging) and have a scoop of each per day.

Misconception #4: It Will Be Easy

Backpacking is not a walk in the park. Sure sometimes the terrain is nice and flat but this activity specifically takes a certain type of physical ability that many people underestimate.

Physical Ability

If you work out at the gym and feel as though you’re in shape that’s definitely a bonus, however, it’s important to also have your endurance in check. I’m a huge advocate of weightlifting but squatting 150 lbs at the gym versus walking 25 km in a day with a 30 lb backpack at altitude are two very different things.

My advice is to incorporate endurance training in your workout routine. Get out on some trail runs, practice doing physical activity with weight on your back, and definitely acclimate before trying to take on a lot of mileage.

Mentally Tough

As I mentioned earlier, backpacking is not a walk in the park! There’s going to be days where it challenges you and you may question why you wanted to do it in the first place. Getting up day after day to walk all day long in the wilderness is certainly not for everyone and definitely takes mental strength! Give yourself some credit and keep pushing through because the journey will be so rewarding.

Backpacking Misconception #5: You Have to be on a Tight Schedule

Slow Down

Depending on your route and if you have designated campsites each evening, just remember that the whole point of backpacking is to reconnect with nature and yourself. Allow yourself time to enjoy the wilderness, have breaks, and take in your surroundings. Chances are you may hike that same trail again so enjoy the scenery!

Have Fun

You wouldn’t try backpacking if it wasn’t supposed to be fun right? So have fun! If it’s hot, jump in that glacial lake! Give yourself extra space to pack a flask of whiskey and some cards to play at camp each night. It’s easy to feel like you need to put your head down and ‘get it done’ but let’s not forget it’s the simple living that makes backpacking so awesome!

What are some questions you have about backpacking? Comment below!

Happy Trails!

Photographing Trail Running

The sports’ increasing popularity is also creating its’ demand for photographing trail running. This is what I’ve learned over the years.

Trail running in the mountains is getting bigger and bigger here in North America. The sports’ increasing popularity is also creating a huge demand for photographers well versed in photographing it. I’ve been photographing trail running professionally for over three years now. This is what I’ve learned.

Two trail runners in desert sand dunes.

Story > Everything Else.

This is universally true with photography. However, I find it especially applies to trail running. Why? It’s not high action like other sports. It’s not ripping on downhill bikes. It isn’t flipping off 100″ vertical jumps into pow. It’s running. So how do you make an endurance sport as compelling as a high action sport like snowboarding or mountain biking? Easy. The story.

The photo above was taken in the middle of the African summer in the oldest desert on earth during a huge expedition called Trans Namibia. The two runners in frame were running 1850 km across the Namib Desert. The runners were raising awareness and for their not for profit organization that empowers youth to explore the world by facilitating youth expeditions. The photo becomes instantly more compelling with just a touch of context.

Trail runner dumping rocks from shoe.

Flip the Script. Change the Viewers Perspective.

I was running in one of my favourite places on earth, Canmore Alberta. I was descending down the back side of a popular mountain in the area. Every few minutes I had to dump pebbles out of my shoe because their was so much loose, dry scree. I instantly recognized that so many runners could relate to this feeling. I pulled out my wide angle and snapped a photo of my pouring pebbles out of my shoe.

Photographing trail running in a way that takes the viewers on a journey and pulls them into, not just the landscape, but the actual experience of being there is the ultimate goal. Pulling them into your world for a brief moment. That’s special, that’s what outdoor photography is all about. And that’s what you should be aiming for when photographing trail running.

Trail runner freezing feet in cooler.

Photographing Trail Running and Its’ In-between Moments.

I shot this at 3 day stage race. The runner pictured here had his feet completely mangled from the 150 km he had just ran. His feet looked like ground beef. The photo manages to tell so much about his 3 day experience. Best part is, it has nothing directly to do with “running”. Images like this leave a lot to the imagination. Instantly you start to wonder how gnarly the trails were, to destroy his feet so badly he had to soak them in Ice.

Sometimes the best trail running photos are taken at camp. Maybe they’re taken pre race, post race, at a hut, the trailhead, parking lot, home. There are so many in-between moments that build a better visual story by bridging the gap with powerful suggestions rather than obviously visual descriptions.

Making Money with Photography – Read Full Article HERE.

Trail runner creating puddle splash.

Don’t Forget the Details.

I wouldn’t usually think to take a “detail” shot on a wide angle. It just happened that the detail of the water droplets were wide spread. The message remains true though. Whether your shooting your frame tight or wide, it’s important to incorporate little details, not just massive sweeping landscapes.

Honestly, big landscapes and little runners can sometimes be a little bit of a gimmick. Too many shots like that can dilute your ability to share the entire experience. Remember, immersing your viewer in the moment, and telling a story is the key here. Not just beauty shots and low hanging fruit. Include some details. Include a lot of details!

Female trail running in desert.

Put Away Your Camera on Blue Bird Days.

Stormy skies add are my secret specialty sauce when it comes to trail running. Like I said early, running isn’t high action. So you have to be creative to compel your viewers. Weather is always an interesting element to have in your photos. Landscapes are rarely photographed before or after storms. People aren’t used to seeing dramatic, sometimes melancholy photos with trail runners as the subject!

Two runners in trail running race.

Photographing Trail Running Events are Like Commercial Shoots on Speed.

It’s going to be easier to get your feet wet photographing trail running events than picking up commercial gigs right away. Shooting races is a great way to get involved with the trail running community, meet athletes, and give you more opportunities as a result. Commercial trail running gigs are a lot easier to shoot, but harder to come by.

If you can create “commercial-like” compositions for 200 real-life race participants running their guts out, you’ll be that much better at creating stronger compositions for ad companies with a controlled environment and model when the opportunity presents itself.

Man trail running on mountain ridge.

Manipulate Colours.

…And I don’t mean in Lightroom! Plan ahead. I knew what to expect on our trail running trip to the Yukon. I chose a jacket that would stand out against the often cloudy skies, and the green environment. Had I chosen a black or green jacket, I would have been completely lost in 90% of the photos I had taken during my trip.

Epic Trail Running in Yukon – Read Full Article HERE.

Are their specific hurdles you’re finding difficult to overcome when photographing trail running? I’d love to hear them! If you found this article helpful, please share and pass the knowledge around.
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Gear Review: Arc’teryx Gaea Jacket Women’s Review

Over the past few months, I’ve been fortunate to visit many places across North America. Having travelled from Alaska to Arizona, and being just about everywhere in between,  I definitely did not want to miss being at home in Ontario, Canada for autumn. Autumn in Ontario is honestly like nowhere else. There are millions of trees dotted along the countrysides, all changing their colours in anticipation for the heavy winter snow.

With the falling leaves though, the thermometer drops as well. A few weeks ago it was still above 30 degrees Celsius here in Ontario; today it was only a high of 5 degrees. The colder temperatures are a welcomed change.  With that change, the running doesn’t need to stop. Running in the fall is my favourite season to enjoy the trails around Ontario.

Because I had never visited the Bruce Peninsula, I was determined to spend a few days along the cliff edge trails of the Niagara escarpment, which includes the famous, Bruce Trail. Additionally, I thought it might be the perfect place to break in my new Arc’teryx Gaea jacket.

During the day, the jacket was a great stand alone with just a wool base layer underneath. Truly, the jacket is designed so well that I never overheated.   There’s a thin fleece along most of the upper and lower back of the jacket instead of insulation, which I think is really amazing because that area is a massive heat emitting zone.

 

The weather was quite unpredictable along the Georgian Bay. One minute it would be raining, the next minute there would be sun, and the all of a sudden it would snow! The dynamic weather really played to the Gaea’s strengths though. Not only did I not feel the need to ever take the jacket on or off, but the light rain and the snow didn’t penetrate the jacket’s durable water repellent (DWR). The Gaea is by no means waterproof, but it is lightly water resistant so I would definitely wear it if there’s light precipitation. 

Reasons to love the Gaea Jacket:

1. Style

The Gaea was created with a minimalist design and is offered in Black and Hard Coral. I opted for the black because most of my running accessories are bright colours so it’s nice to balance them with a neutral colour. For such a warm jacket, the Gaea offers zero bulk, is so lightweight, and looks incredibly sleek on.

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2. Intelligent Warmth

The Gaea Jacket is so warm due to the materials it’s made out of. The hydrophobic Octa Loft synthetic insulation is provided in the front of the jacket and shoulders. Arc’teryx describes Octa Loft as being extremely air permeable, allowing your body heat to dump out of the jacket instead of getting clammy and sweaty.

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3. Weather Protection

For most of us, it’s game over when you combine cold and wet conditions. There’s not a chance of going out and tolerating getting wet while in the freezing cold. Luckily, you can still get your run in even when there’s precipitation. The Gaea is completed with Lumin 100% nylon face fabric which is resistant to the wind and allows light precipitation to roll right off of the jacket.

4. Smart Features

I’m just going to put this out there… every running jacket should have thumbholes. It’s such a nice feature if you forget your gloves at home, or if it gets a little bit colder than you anticipated on a long run.

Another great feature I liked were the headphone holes running from those cozy pockets, whichever pocket you might choose.

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The pockets are also outfitted with a small smartphone pocket to keep your phone from bouncing around.  No matter where you choose to stash your personal items, you wont have any bouncing issues.

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I’ll be the first to tell you that it definitely held up its promise and made running in lower temperatures extremely enjoyable. For those of you who use the cold weather as an excuse to stay indoors and hibernate from running until spring, the Gaea will offer you no excuses and will keep you toasty during those long shoulder season runs.

Where will your cold weather runs take you this season?

Photos by Ryan Richardson of Life Outside Studio

Why I Treat My $5k Camera Like Sh!t

There’s a general misconception with camera gear and the photography community and that’s that camera’s are sensitive and fragile.

There it was…  standing in the dramatic backdrop of Monument Valley in Utah, I saw a mud puddle that was begging for my attention. I think Hailey and I knew almost instinctively that we wanted to photograph of our Jeep Wrangler ripping through the muddy puddle at high speed.

I knew for sure that the shot I wanted to create was going to get me soaked and covered in mud. I also knew that meant my camera was going to be soaked and covered in mud. Hailey and I paid for all our gear, no Sony sponsors here, and gear is unreasonably expensive. My camera body $3999, lens $1000, multiplied by two, but we didn’t even hesitate. I gave my buddy the signal, and he drove the Jeep through the water at about 50 km/h from about 2 meters in front of us.

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We got the shot. But both of our cameras were absolutely soaked and covered in mud. The thing is, creativity and vision is more important than anything else. Cameras are tools and it’s your job to find a tool that can keep up with your creativity. If your equipment is holding you back and your not creating your vision because you’re too afraid to scuff up your camera body, or get mud on your lens, then you’re going about it backwards.

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I’m not saying to throw your camera off of a cliff with complete disregard. I think you can be a responsible camera owner but also prioritize creativity at the same time. First of all, use the cameras that can keep up with you and your shooting needs. Secondly, insuring your gear will give you a little bit more peace of mind if the worst possible outcome happens.

There’s a general misconception with camera gear and the photography community and that’s that camera’s are sensitive and fragile. Some are more than others, but at the end of the day, these cameras are tools. They’re work horses. Start using cameras like the tools that they were designed to be. I think a lot of camera owners would be surprised to see how well their equipment fares against the outdoor elements, such as salt water spray, sand, dust, snow, and sun.