Q&A With Cris Rothfuss of The REAL Ride

Follow the team on our REAL RIDE Tracking Hub!

Cross-country road trips are hard, even when you’re in a car. Biking across the country? You’d better have a pretty good reason. Cris Rothfuss and the rest of The REAL Ride team definitely do. On August 1, this small group of cyclists will head out from Seattle and spend a handful of months crossing a minimum of 14 states, stopping in three other major cities en route to Boston. They’ll be living on two wheels, spending days in the saddle, and pedaling through rainforest, rocky mountains, dry desert, great plains, fertile valleys, and bustling metropolises. Luckily for them, they have a good motivator acting as a tailwind.

We sat down with Rothfuss to hear a little more about her plans.

Rothfus during a practice ride. | Courtesy: The REAL Ride
Rothfuss during a practice ride. | Courtesy: The REAL Ride

goEast: Cycling has been a pretty big part of your life. What drew you to that?

Cris: I grew up in Coventry, Rhode Island, the oldest of three sisters in a tight-knit family. I went to Yale and then UConn School of Law. I grew up playing team sports, including basketball and track and field at Yale. I’ve always cherished being part of a team, and consider those experiences as among the most meaningful and formative of my life.

After tearing my ACL playing basketball in college, I bought a 10-speed bike as part of my rehab. I loved it. Later on, I raced bicycles in three disciplines: road, mountain bike, and cyclocross. Cyclocross was my strongest event, and I ended up racing at the national elite level.

goEast: What do you do when you’re not on your bike?

Cris: Outside of competitive sports, I’ve enjoyed hiking and mountaineering, including having summited all 48 White Mountain 4,000-footers, Mount Katahdin, and Mount Rainier. I also have enjoyed sailing with my family, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, all manner of water sports, and really anything that gets me outdoors.

And, I like giving back. I consider myself a fortunate human being, and am deeply interested at this point in my life in paying forward. I designed The REAL Ride to be something not only bold and ambitious, but something that could make a positive impact for others. All of us on the team view The REAL Ride as existing at the intersection of seeking adventure and making the world a better place.

bushwhacking

goEast: But, biking across the country? That’s a big step. What made you think that was something you wanted to do?

Cris: My family had a rough year in 2014. In the span of five months, we lost both of my parents and my uncle to a series of illnesses and accidents. In early 2015, one of the things I found comforting and therapeutic was to ride my bike. I had stopped racing by then, and started riding longer and longer distances, usually on gravel.

In early 2016, someone sent me an article about a cross-country bike ride, and I was struck with a compulsion to do something similar, although, I realized almost immediately, I wanted the ride to mean something bigger than myself—to honor my parents and all the boldness and ambition they had instilled in me and my sisters, and to make some positive impact in the world. The seeds for The REAL Ride had been planted.

Cris' bike with Ortlieb bags

goEast: You went beyond your own personal story for motivation, though. What was the rest of the “bigger meaning” you were able to assign to The REAL Ride?

Cris: We are raising awareness and funding for the efforts of a group of alternative high schools—Boston Day & Evening Academy (in Boston), Interagency Academy (in Seattle), Emily Griffith High School (in Denver), Milford Success Academy (in Cincinnati), and C.B. Community Schools (in Philadelphia)—as well as the students, who make their way to the doorsteps of these schools, having recognized that an education is the key to changing their futures.

goEast: Who are these kids?

Cris: They are young adults who have had a rough time in life, including in getting through high school. They got off track, often due to circumstances not of their own making. And, yet they persevere, and find their way to a high school degree, the alternative, rigorous way. Their own words more powerfully describe who they are.

Dan-Perri-Jay-Erin at team training camp

goEast: So, you talk about the route you chose to take across country as being somewhat “unconventional.” How did you come up with it?

Cris: Instead of following one of the established (i.e. paved) routes, we chose to pioneer a new route across the country, focusing as much on dirt as possible. The route tracks through the locations of our five partner schools in Seattle, Denver, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Boston, and is unconventional for that reason alone. It’s not the most direct route!

Starting with those points, and without the ability to scout in advance, we then researched “validated” segments that connect those points: Sections of dirt routes already established by others that we could stitch together between our target cities. We then filled in the gaps with our own mapping.

We’ll start on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and the railroad beds that extend contiguously from it further east, all the way to Missoula. After some “gap filling,” we’ll pick up Adventure Cycling Association’s excellent and well-established Great Divide Mountain Bike Route almost all of the way to Denver. There’s a bit of “gap filling” we worked out with the help of local friends between Kremmling, Colorado, and Denver.

In the Midwest, we’ll spend over 500 miles roughly tracking the historical Pony Express Trail, on a route under development pioneered by Jan Bennett, with whom we connected through Ride With GPS. We followed this approach to stitch established and “fingers crossed” segments all the way home.

We’d be lying, however, if we didn’t admit that we’re scrambling to finish up the eastern portion of the route! We expect to hit snags and surprises on this route, but that’s the nature of pioneering. We’ll adjust on the fly.

team at party

goEast: Who’s “we?”

Cris: Four other riders who fit the bill of being deeply experienced and capable of such a ride, able to make it work in their lives and jobs, able to contribute positively to team chemistry, and crazy enough to say yes to this. In particular, they are Erin Abrahams, a veterinarian and Army veteran, with the world’s most infectious smile; Perri Mertens, a fellow ex-cyclocross racer and graphic and web designer extraordinaire, responsible for our digital presence and ride logo; Dan St. Croix, a visual display artist for Urban Outfitters, a fine artist, [and] a throw-back soul with a heart of gold and legs of steel; and Jay Vasconcellos, owner of Solstice Skateboarding in New Bedford, MA, a boarding legend, [and] salt of the earth [person].

goEast: The grit that it takes to be on the road for that long has to be pretty serious. What are you expecting that to be like?

Cris: We will be averaging 65 miles per day riding (some days more, some less), and we are equipped to camp much of the time.

Each team member has a Big Agnes tent, either the Copper Spur or the Fly Creek; these make terrific anchors for our individual sleeping systems. We have a mix of JetBoil and MSR WhisperLite stoves for personal cooking. While we have a SAG vehicle that will find us at the end of most days, we’re prepared to ride “fully loaded” and be self-sufficient in some of the more remote regions where van accessibility is not guaranteed. Ortlieb USA generously provided full bike-packing bag and rack set-ups for our frames, and we’ve been blown away in our testing with how excellent they are.

That being said, the van gives us a “base camp,” so we’ll also have a two-burner camp stove, a GSI Outdoors Base Camper cook set, a huge supply of freeze-dried food generously donated by Mountain House, and other amenities to ease such a long-term trip. Oh, and we’ve budgeted rest days and some nights in motels, so we’re not totally crazy!

Cris' Seven Cycles Evergreen

goEast: Is there anything you’re really worried about?

There is an inordinate fear of bears and snakes on this team! We were looking forward to the two-mile-long Snoqualmie Tunnel before someone mentioned aggressive gopher snakes. Just what the heck?

We’re also extremely mindful of nutrition. Sourcing and consuming the appropriate fuel and hydration for this extended, arduous ride is going to be a full-time focus. We have good guidance and help in this regard, but still…it’s a concern.

goEast: What are you most excited about?

Cris: Experiencing vast western vistas—practically a foreign land for this band of New Englanders. Taking in the diversity and breadth of this country, from an off-the-beaten-track vantage point, at a pace that allows absorption and contemplation of the experience.

 

Follow The REAL Ride on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and visit their website to learn more and find out how to support them!

Then, check back to goEast later next month to follow their progress!


The Top 8 360-Degree Adirondack High Peak Views

You’ll see a lot of things from the top of an Adirondack High Peak—endless summits, gray slides scarring mountainsides, alpine lakes, and deep gouging passes. But, aside from the stray ski jump peaking up above the thick carpet of trees, one thing you won’t see much of is civilization. More than any other range in the Northeast, the Adirondacks are alone, set far away from the region’s cities and towns. As a result, this makes the views from these bare (or not) summits all that much better.

No two summits offer the same perspective, however, so which ones are the best? See them for yourselves below, and then, start planning your next hike to one of these high alpine islands.

1. Mount Colden

There’s no quick way to get to Mount Colden, but the longer hike definitely pays off. You’ll climb into the heart of the High Peaks Wilderness, an area completely surrounded by giant summits, including the state’s two highest—Marcy and Algonquin—directly east and west of you, respectively. Peer down into Avalanche Pass and Lake Colden, and then out to the Flowed Lands, located just north of the Hudson River’s beginning. The hike from the Adirondack Loj will take you past the former site of Marcy Dam, where a clearing offers views down Avalanche Pass as if it were a gunsight.

 

2. Mount Marcy

Not having anything above you definitely goes a long way to making a mountain’s views memorable. In New York, Mount Marcy is the place to do that. The summit is completely bare and rocky for a few hundred feet up, meaning absolutely nothing obstructs your view of just about all the other High Peaks. To the east, gaze 1,000 feet down into Panther Gorge and Mount Haystack beyond. Catch views of Lake Placid to the north, and the river valleys to the south. Plus, the hike via the Van Hoevenberg Trail offers a smattering of worthy views, like Marcy Dam and Indian Falls.

 

3. Gothics Mountain

The Great Range peaks make up a continuous line extending from Marcy and Haystack all the way into Keene Valley. Here, Gothics sits smack in the middle. The summit has the best views of the Upper Great Range, including Haystack, Basin, and Saddleback, all lining up and pointing to Marcy. The Dix Range dominates the southeast, and Big Slide’s bald face sits alone across the Johns Brook Valley. Hike it from the Ausable Club and past Beaver Meadow Falls.

 

4. Mount Skylight

Marcy’s next-door neighbor to the south, Skylight has similar panoramic views from its bald summit, with one notable addition—Marcy herself, rising from behind Lake Tear of the Clouds. For reference, this article’s header image was taken on Skylight at sunrise. You’re pretty close to the High Peaks’ southern edge, which means, as you’re looking out, the mountains slowly shrink away and give you great views of the Upper Hudson River Valley. Hike this one from Upper Works, tracing the Hudson River’s path to Lake Tear, the river’s highest source.

 

5. Cascade Mountain

Cascade is one of the Adirondacks’ most popular “first-timer” peaks, and for good reason. For starters, while it’s a relatively quick and easy hike up from Route 73, the views from the top are spectacular, making it one of the 46’s best bang-for-your-buck treks. The rocky summit lines up with the rest of the peaks to the south and Lake Placid and Whiteface just down the road to the north. Make it a two-fer by adding the less-impressive Porter Mountain to your itinerary.

 

6. Rocky Peak Ridge

In this area, Giant Mountain gets most of the attention. But, its smaller neighbor, Rocky Peak Ridge, has arguably better views. Unlike Giant, they’re nearly 360 degrees. Plus, the view of Giant itself is impressive. Look down toward Keene Valley with the Great Range beyond, or try to pick out the fire tower on Hurricane Mountain, located on the other side of Giant. The bummer is there’s no quick way to get here. So, climb over Giant and through the deep col between the two, or approach RPR from the ridge to the east—longer but with consistent views all the way to the top.

 

7. Algonquin Peak

From Algonquin, the state’s second-tallest mountain, the views of the Trap Dike and slides on Mount Colden dominate. Beneath that, Avalanche Pass and Lake Colden slice a deep gorge into the valley. Above Colden, Mount Marcy’s bare summit towers over everything, with the Great Range extending to the left. Algonquin is part of the four-peak chain known as the MacIntyre Range, and thus, you can also tag Wright and Algonquin in one long day, with views extending across all three summits. Keep in mind that the range’s final peak, Marshall, isn’t connected by the same ridgeline trail.

 

8. Whiteface Mountain

Far to the north, Whiteface offers a unique perspective of the region. Immediately south, scenic Lake Placid is laid out, surrounded by smaller mountains. Beyond that, the High Peaks’ center, a jumble of jagged summits, clusters together. The views here are so popular that a road goes up to the top. But, for a handful of viewpoints on the way up, hike it via Marble Mountain from the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center.


Win a One-Night Stay for 2 to the Mount Washington Observatory!

Spend a night atop the Northeast in the home of the “World’s Worst Weather!”

When it comes to hiking in the Northeast, Mount Washington is a crown jewel. Aside from being just the regional high point, its rugged alpine beauty, a network of multi-sport trails and routes, and its sometimes-ferocious difficulty make it one of the premier adventure destinations anywhere. But, with all the people that travel over the mountain every year, there’s one way very few get to experience the mountain: at night.

In cooperation with the Mount Washington Observatory, which staffs a weather station on the summit 24/7, Eastern Mountain Sports is offering you the chance to spend a night on top with the observers and see Mount Washington like you never have before.

You’ll have the opportunity to see what goes into weather recording and forecasting, which go a long way towards keeping hikers and explorers safe in its notoriously volatile conditions. EMS is a sponsor of the Observatory’s annual Seek The Peak event, which helps raise money for the weather station. Sign up to help out here!

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What you’ll get:

Winners will receive a trip for two to the Mount Washington Observatory, scheduled from Thursday, August 31 through Friday, September 1. In total, this includes:

  • Transportation to the summit of the mountain. (Winners will need to provide their own transportation to the base of the mountain in Jackson, New Hampshire.)
  • Lunch, dinner, and breakfast served at the Observatory.
  • A hike with the Observatory’s staff.
  • A tour of the Observatory’s weather station.
  • Sunrise and sunset viewing from the top of the Northeast.
  • Transportation back to the base of the mountain.

Enter here:

A Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Header image credit: jwardell


How to Pack Your "Seek the Peak" Daypack

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Whether you’re “Seeking the Peak” on Mount Washington, climbing an Adirondack High Peak, or taking on some of New Hampshire’s hardest, one thing you’re likely to bring is your daypack. But, having all that extra stuff inside won’t do you much good if you’re not packing it the right way, with everything easily accessible, organized, and distributed correctly.

For a day hike on Mount Washington, you’ll want to make sure you have the following things:

3L reservoir

Especially during the summer, having enough water to climb Mount Washington is vital. Usually, three liters will be enough to get you up and down, but it won’t do you any good if you’re not drinking it. Storing it in a bladder against your pack’s back panel will keep it within reach and help ensure you’re staying hydrated.

First aid kit

Anything could happen on Mount Washington. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but if you do, you’ll be glad you had your first aid kit. Store this in the pack’s main compartment.

Rain jacket

Mount Washington is known for its unpredictable and wild weather. It could be raining at any minute! So, keep a quality, breathable rain jacket easily accessible in the outside stretch pocket.

Extra Techwick T-shirt

After a long, sweaty climb, it’s sometimes nice to have a clean, dry shirt to put on top, especially in Mount Washington’s winds. Store this at the bottom of your main compartment.

Fleece

At over 6,200 feet, Mount Washington can be cold on top! As preparation, always carry an extra layer, even in the summer. Store this at the bottom of your main compartment, with your T-shirt.

Pack cover

If it starts raining, you don’t want everything in your pack to get wet, so throw a pack cover on top. Some have them built in, but if yours doesn’t, keep a separate one close by in your main compartment.

Stuff sack with lunch

Climbing Mount Washington is a full-day endeavor. To prepare, bring plenty of snacks to eat along the way, along with a larger lunch to have on top. Keep most of it in a stuff sack in your main compartment, but it’s also nice to have a Clif Bar or two in your hip belt pocket for easy access.

Multi-tool

You never know! Have this in your other hip belt pocket in case you need it in a pinch.

Headlamp

It’s always a good idea to have a headlamp in your pack, even if you don’t plan on hiking in the dark. Again, anything can happen, and you’ll be wishing you had one if you end up getting down a littler later than expected.

Trekking poles

Mount Washington is rocky and steep, so these will be in your hands more often than not. However, for Osprey packs, if you need to free your hands up in a pinch, you can strap them under your arm in the dedicated trekking pole holster.

Compass and Map

Keep these handy and know how to use them! Mount Washington is a maze of trails, but if the conditions change quickly, you might not be able to see them at all.

GPS unit

This is always a handy thing to have in addition to your map and compass. Keep it in a hip belt pocket or clipped to a shoulder strap to follow along on your hike.

GoPro

There are several awesome things to see on the Northeast’s tallest peak, so take pictures and video! Keep this handy in a side pocket.

Bug protection

Especially down low, bugs are a staple of Mount Washington’s summers. Apply this before you leave in your car, but keep it in your main compartment in case you need more.

Sunscreen

Just like bug spray, apply this before you leave, but save it in case you need to reapply, especially on the exposed summit.

 

Do you have everything you need to Seek the Peak?

Mount Washington from Mount Monroe. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Mount Washington from Mount Monroe. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

No-Stove Backpacking With the Hydro Flask

Camp stoves are overrated.

They’re finicky, take time, burn fossil fuels (well, most of them, anyway), and are heavy. But, even for the simplest of backpacking meals, hot water is a necessity. So, what if, instead of carrying all this extra equipment to boil water on-location, you could just heat your water up at home, take it with you, and, then, add and serve later?

If no-stove backpacking seems ridiculous, it’s for good reason. First off, stoves now-a-days are efficient, fast, and lightweight. Secondly, in situations where you have a nearby stream or another body of water, it’s far easier to just bring along a stove and find, carry in, and heat up your water on-site for dinner.

But, it’s also a curious plan. Is it possible to boil your cooking water at home in the morning, store it in your pack during your hike, pull it out in the evening, and still have it hot enough to cook your Good To-Go meal?

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

The Test

I already have a collection of Hydro Flasks that I love. So, even though I’ve never tried using using them in such a long-term and high-stakes situation, I decided they would give me the best shot at success.

Before heading out on a quick overnight to a spot on the Adirondacks’ Northville-Lake Placid Trail, I boiled enough water to fill both 32 oz. Wide Mouth and 20 oz. Standard Mouth bottles, as well as a non-double-walled steel bottle and my trusty Adirondack Nalgene, all for the sake of comparison. Then, I hit the trail!

As the most obvious thing right off the bat, the Nalgene and stainless steel bottle were hot to the touch—almost too hot to pick up with my bare hands. Comparatively, the Hydro Flasks felt like nothing had changed.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

But, after a full day of hiking, with camp set up and my stomach calling out to me, I was only a little surprised to see steam come soaring out of both Hydro Flasks when I took off their insulated lids. This made rehydrating my dinner a snap, and I was chowing down quicker than I ever have! Needless to say, the other two bottles didn’t make the cut. By dinnertime, the water was only slightly above an ambient temperature.

While boiling dinner water at home is definitely an option for some backpacking situations, storing water in a Hydro Flask might be more useful while cooking at night. With the stove already running, heat enough water for the next morning’s breakfast cereal or oatmeal, and hold onto it overnight just to save time in the morning. But, however you choose to take advantage of it, a Hydro Flask’s insulating prowess will get you a long way toward a delicious backcountry meal.

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

10 Tips to Tackle the New Hampshire 48

Some of us are goal-oriented hikers. It’s nice to have some larger objective to work on and have something to guide and motivate us to get out more. If you live in the Northeast, and especially if you enjoy hiking New Hampshire’s peaks, making your way to the top of all of them is a seriously worthy objective.

New Hampshire has 48 peaks at 4,000 feet or more in elevation, all of which are serious undertakings individually. But, put them all together into one big to-do list? That’s a goal that takes some serious dedication and hard work.

Each year, hundreds of people hike their way through these lists, exploring different routes and trails and getting well-acquainted with peaks and places that had only been names on a map before. And, at the end, it would be hard to deny finishers are some of the most experienced, expertise-packed hikers in the state.

Interested in starting your own checklist of the New Hampshire 48? According to our experts, there are just a few special things you should know:

Credit: Hannah Wholtmann
Credit: Hannah Wholtmann

1. Buy the AMC White Mountain Guide

The most recent copy of this essential guidebook has all of the most up-to-date information on trails, great views, time estimates, mileage, and other key factors. It also comes with folding maps that are helpful to check out before the hike. And, in the back, you’ll find a complete checklist of all 48 peaks for you to tick off. You can also find the official list here

2. Join a Facebook group for local hikers 

A page like “Hike the 4,000 footers of NH!” is a constantly updated, crowdsourced resource. Recent information like road closures and trail conditions is always easy to find. Plus, the group serves as a massive community and a great, experienced pool of people to ask questions and get advice.

You can also use websites and forums like trailsnh.com, newenglandtrailconditions.com, and vftt.org for up-to-date trail conditions.

3. Check the weather

Keep an eye on it a week before, a day before, the night before, and the morning of your hike. The White Mountains’ notorious weather can change in an instant, so it’s best to monitor it as much as possible to avoid surprises and keep you safe if it looks like it might turn ugly. 

Courtesy of Hannah Wohltmann
Courtesy of Hannah Wohltmann

4. But don’t always be deterred by it!

If you wait for good weather on every hike, however, you’d never finish. As long as you have the right gear, getting after it in inclement conditions, like rain, can be just as fun. And, it will show you a whole other side of the mountains you’re climbing.

Obviously, don’t go hiking when it’s stormy or too rough, but a little rain never hurt! Similarly, don’t let the winter slow you down. For this latter point, get a pair of snowshoes first, and take to peaks like Mount Pierce and Mount Hale to make the leap into winter hiking.

5. Take on your list with friends

If the motivation for completing all 48 peaks isn’t enough, having friends with which to work through the list adds an extra level of excitement and drive. Encouragement when the trail gets tough or even when you’re not feeling up to hiking can go a long way. Plus, an adventure with friends, especially when you complete such a major accomplishment, can be extremely rewarding.

6. Pick a mountain to finish on

Your final hike is a big day, so plan ahead to make it special. Do some research to figure out which mountain you want to do your celebrating on.

7. Don’t forget other peaks!

They may not be as tall, but New Hampshire (and the Northeast at large) has plenty of other mountains just as enjoyable as the New Hampshire 48. Hike a shorter one like Mount Cardigan or Mount Willard, or even head over to New York and start ticking off their Adirondack 46. Don’t lose sight of all the other great things to do in the region!

Supermoon
Mount Washington during a Presidential Traverse under a supermoon. | Credit: Ryan Wichelns

8. Double-, triple-, or quadruple-up!

48 mountains don’t have to become 48 hikes. Lots of these peaks are close enough together that you can (or might even have to) swing through multiple ones in a day, thus saving you time.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, think about taking on something like the Presidential Traverse. With one very long day, you can bag eight of the largest on your list, plus a few extras, and it’s as rewarding of a day hike as you’ll find anywhere. For longer trips, the route also makes a great weekend overnight.

Peter Barr, all smiles as he finishes four lists at once on top of Mount Carrigain. | Courtesy of Peter Barr
Peter Barr, all smiles as he finishes four lists at once on top of Mount Carrigain. | Courtesy of Peter Barr

9. Join the community!

Aside from being recognized for your major accomplishment, as well as getting a scroll and a cool patch to sew on your backpack, joining a club of hikers more than 10,000 strong is a solid opportunity to contribute to a great organization and support group.

They also offer recognition if you go on to complete all of New England’s 67 4,000-footers or if you complete New England’s 100 highest peaks. They also recognize those hearty souls who brave the elements and dare to climb both lists’ peaks in winter.

Once you finish one of these lists, following just a couple of steps will make it official:

  1. Simply visit the AMC Four Thousand Footer Club’s webpage, and fill out an application.
  2. Be sure to include the date of your final peak, as well as a brief account of one meaningful hike you had along the way.
  3. Submit a $10 application fee, so you can receive your scroll, which is personalized to include your name and completion date, and your patch. 

NH48 Patch

10. Get recognized!

Each year, the Four Thousand Footer Club has a reunion and recognition ceremony for list-finishers at the end of April in Exeter, New Hampshire. This year, EMS is supporting the event, giving away dozens of raffle prizes and celebrating alongside hundreds of accomplished hikers. Not a finisher? No problem: The event is free and open to all, and is a great opportunity for meeting aspiring hikers to get into the game.

Please visit their website for more details, and come to the event at Exeter High School on April 22nd to see what hiking the New Hampshire 48 is all about!


10K, 20K? What Waterproof and Breathability Ratings Really Mean

You don’t want a waterproof jacket.

You heard me right. Believe it or not, you’re probably going to get wet wearing one.

If your jacket lets in absolutely no water, ever, you’re sacrificing something else pretty important. Take a fisherman’s stereotypical solid-rubber yellow rain slicks, and if you were to zip into one of those, you might as well be wearing a plastic bag or scuba diver’s dry suit. Nothing’s getting in. You could sail through a hurricane or dive 100 feet down and come out bone dry.

Rain Jacket

Why Isn’t My Jacket Waterproof?

But, if nothing’s getting in, that mean’s nothing’s getting out. If you’re standing on the crow’s nest of a ship or doing another stationary job, that might not be a huge deal, but the majority of us prefer to keep dry without being forced to stand like mannequins. While we’re hiking, skiing, or paddling, we’re also creating moisture and heat on the inside of the jacket. Thus, when you’ve got a 100-percent waterproof jacket on, that buildup can’t escape. Very quickly, we end up just as wet as if we didn’t have a jacket on at all.

Thankfully, very few jackets are actually completely waterproof, even if we refer to the category as waterproof/breathable or if we seldom get to the point where water actually makes it inside. More accurately, these garments should be called water-resistant.

Water resistance and breathability are two forces constantly at odds with one another. As a rule, to have 100 percent of either, you have to have zero percent of the other, so most jackets find a balance in between.

Both water resistance and breathability are key indicators of how well a jacket will work and how comfortable you’ll be in it, especially for active outdoor adventurers. Thankfully, metrics exist to make it easy to compare both, so you know how well it will perform before you even try it on.

Rain Jacket

Quantifying Water Resistance

Manufacturers typically rate jackets using two numbers. The first, in millimeters, describes how water resistant it is. If you were to stand a 1 in. by 1 in. tube over the jacket’s fabric, and then fill it with water, doing so would measure how high the water would have to be before it started leaking through.

In the case of a 10K jacket (or 10,000mm), you could stack a 1 in. by 1 in. column of water 10,000mm high before it even started to seep through the fabric’s other side—that’s almost 33 feet!

A rating of up to 10K is enough to handle light to average rain for a short amount of time. Ratings between 10K and 15K can handle a moderate amount of rain for much longer, and jackets rated between 15K and 20K or higher are serious shells for heavy, intense rain over a prolonged period.

Quantifying Breathability

The second number, normally following the water-resistance rating, indicates how breathable a jacket is. Expressed in grams, it represents how much water vapor can move through one square meter of fabric, from inside to out, in a 24-hour period.

Up to 10K is adequate for the daily driver traveling to his or her car and back, running errands, and generally not breaking a sweat or spending too much time with the jacket on. Jackets between 10K and 15K are well-suited for someone more active or spending more time in his or her shell, like skiers.

Jackets above 15K are best for anyone doing anything active, like hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, or ski touring. For someone working hard or breaking a sweat, anything less will feel like a garbage bag, and before long, you’ll be swimming in moisture, regardless of how water resistant it is.

So, a 20K/20K jacket, like EMS® Storm Front, can withstand 20,000mm of water per square inch from the outside, and be able to release 20,000g of water vapor per square meter from the inside—an ideal mixture for the mountain athlete.


Tearing Up Attitash

Don’t overlook your own backyard, especially when it happens to be the majestic mountains of the Granite State. Pat Noonan, one of the North Country’s best riders, and friend Corey Smith, who has been living the Vanlife for four years, tackle an epic ride at the Bike Park at Attitash Mountain Resort in New Hampshire’s storied White Mountains.

Corey and his girlfriend, Emily King, have been crisscrossing the continent living, working and exploring in their 1987 VW Vanagon, with thousands following their adventures at Where’s My Office Now on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. They’ve explored rides from the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of British Columbia.

When their travels returned Corey and Emily to their New England homes this fall, Corey connected with good friend, Pat, to navigate the 20 miles of Attitash’s amazing downhill and cross-country trails he had overlooked during his youth. Loading the van up, they pointed north for an awesome, wild day of roots, loam and granite, lots and lots of granite.


Highlight: No Compromises with New Good To-Go Breakfast Meals

Credit: Ryan Wichelns
Credit: Ryan Wichelns

Dehydrated foods can get a bad rep. Let’s face it: There’s a reason our cabinets aren’t filled with them for at-home meals. But in the backcountry, where your stove is so small it fits inside of your slightly-less-tiny pot, something nutritious that’s also simple and easy to prepare is invaluable.

Harvard Cabin, below Mount Washington’s Huntington Ravine, isn’t one of those locations. Between the six-burner gas stove, pots and pans to cook for more than its 14-person capacity, and the tools to make your meal as fancy as you want, it’s easy to put gourmet over convenience. And, sometimes when you carry just-add-water meals up there, while everyone else is whipping up filet mignon or fresh seafood, it might garner a few laughs.

But, not when your breakfast is Good To-Go.

When we whipped these out after getting an early start in search of Huntington’s ice, the laughs never came.

The Maine-local brand’s new breakfast menu items—Granola and Oatmeal—take compromise out of the equation. Thus, you’ll spend a fraction of the time getting to your morning meal without losing homemade taste.

When we whipped these out after getting an early start in search of Huntington’s ice, the laughs never came. Perhaps, it was because of how quickly we were eating after getting out of our sleeping bags, or because of how good the food looked, or because we never had to dirty any pots or bowls.

The oatmeal is made from whole-grain oats and quinoa, with chia and hemp seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, and cardamom. The granola, on the other hand, features almonds, nuts, seeds, flax, whole-grain oats, blueberries, figs, real maple syrup, and honey, all mixed in a powdered milk that rehydrates instantly with either hot or cold water. As a side note, when it’s single digits in the world’s worst weather, hot was the obvious choice for us.

Available exclusively from EMS, these new offerings add Good To-Go’s signature home-cooked flavor to your mornings, whether you’re waking up to stay warm around a measly camp stove, you’re looking for something quick to eat in a fully stocked cabin, or you’re pulling breakfast out of your kitchen cabinets at home.

Credit: The Expeditioners
Credit: The Expeditioners

Video: Hiking & Happiness

One of our employees discovered the benefits of being outdoors. What does hiking do for you?

 

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