Why Do It?

Why Do It?

Why do we do what we do?

It seems like a simple enough question on the surface, but this is actually misleading. Upon closer inspection it is much more complex, as layered as the earth beneath our feet. What does it even refer to? Why do we eat, why do we sleep? Because they are biological necessities.  But I digress.

I believe that most people go through the bulk of their lives doing what they do because it is expected of them, because it is the next logical step. Go to elementary school, go to high school, go to college, get a job, get married, get a promotion, have children, get another promotion, have grandchildren, retire, die. There is really no physiological reason to explain why so many Americans’ lives follow this trend, or one similar. For me it is clear that they do what is expected, but perhaps not only because it is expected. It is also comfortable, known, safe, secure. Humans seek comfort and safety above all things. Perhaps this is biological. I believe that most people never even stop to consciously examine or question the process. Put one foot in front of the other, check this box, turn left at the light, and the next thing they know: promotion, grandchildren, retirement, death.

For those who stop to contemplate these things, the result tends to be quite uncomfortable, a sensation strong enough to send most scurrying back to the road more traveled. But where does that leave those of us who choose to stay in this newly discovered, uncomfortable new world?

For me, it leads back to the original question. Why do we do what we do? Why do I do what I do? I strive to make decisions that I will look back on happily in my dying moments, and avoid the ones that would leave me with the dying wishes of most Americans: that I’d worried less, and loved and adventured more. I believe the key to this is embracing the discomforts along the way: the sideways glances from family members who know that you left a full scholarship to a prestigious four year university to bum on the beach and work at a bar in Florida. To shrug off the skepticism of those who gawk at your decision to walk away from a life of security working in the nation’s capital, to run away with your love to the West Coast, with no prospects, no money, and no chance.

We live this life because we embrace the discomfort and the lack of safety and security that the more comfortable, more traveled road provides. We seek out adventure, seek out stories to tell children when we are too old to adventure, so that they will be inspired to cast about for a road less traveled, one filled with peril and wildness and freedom.

If one can grow accustomed to the discomfort, grow to embrace it even, which many do, it might be easy to fall into another trap. Far too easy to glorify the narrow road, to take it to its very edge, which often lies near sharp rocks, crumbling cliffs, and waves that, in the blink of an eye, snuff out the very life of adventure that drew us to them.

So perhaps I have answered the question. At least as it pertains to myself, but if that’s the case, then a follow-up question begs to be asked: Where to draw the line? When does life upon the narrow path stray too close to the crumbling cliffs? When does the perfect wave brake too close to the rocks? Is a life of adventure worth losing for adventure’s sake? If not, then why adventure at all? If there is no risk, then surely there is no adventure.

In my late teens I gave up racing motocross. This may seem like a small thing to a stranger, but it was life changing for me. My first intelligent noise as a baby had been the sound of a motorcycle. I would make the sound and drag my father’s helmet, larger than I was, around the floor, begging for him to take me on a ride, using my entire single “word” vocabulary. All I ever wanted was a life on the road, racing. The first time I told my dad that I wanted to quit motocross I must have been about 17. I cried. The following years were tough, saying I was done multiple times only to come immediately out of retirement, unable to walk away from the only thing I’d ever known, the only thing I’d ever wanted.

Why did I quit? I often tell people that I quit because of the dangers, which were growing greater as the sport progressed. I don’t think this is really true though. As a child, people had asked if I was afraid of dying or becoming paralyzed while racing. I responded honestly that I only wanted to live because of motocross, so in the event death or paralysis, it was the only thing I would really lose. With age I lost this outlook, and seeing my friends get paralyzed, others killed, took a toll on me. I couldn’t justify the risk, once I felt the losses accompanying it outweighed it the reasons I took it. This tore me apart psychologically and, combined with a series of nagging injuries, took the fun out of racing.

And in the end, I think that is why I quit. It just wasn’t enough fun to justify the risk anymore, and in my 19 or 20 year old mind, there was no middle ground of proceeding along the same path with a bit more caution.

Now, as the mountains hold me captive, and I put my toes into the waters of mountaineering and alpine climbing, craving the life of adventure that has always called to me, I find myself again a bit closer to the crumbling cliff at the edge of the path less traveled. I try to keep my eyes more open to the world than I could as a child, where my world existed of motocross, or death. I must tread this path until it reaches its end, or my own. But I weigh each step closer to the ledge and the wildness it brings, against my love of the path, and my companions on it. I temper my eagerness with a respect for the cliff that I couldn’t know as a child.

I tread this wild path because my eyes are open to the fact that its joys and discomforts are what give meaning to my world, because I know that returning to society’s acceptable, comfortable path would be my death.

Why do you do what you do?

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

Logan here with a review of the all new for 2017 Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2.

We recently purchased the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 backpacking tent and had a chance to try it out in Joshua Tree National Park. Our Initial thoughts? We were very impressed. We intend to use it on longer backpacking trips soon, and will update this with any new findings about the tent as they come. In the meantime, here are our thoughts after unboxing and our first use.

What is It?


 

The Copper Spur HV UL 2 is a brand new redesign of Big Agnes’ best selling Copper Spur UL series. An ultralightwieght, double wall, three season tent, the new design features more vertical walls to make a much roomier tent than its predecessor, without adding floorspace. At the same time, the new HV series of the Copper Spur features Big Agnes’  “proprietary patterned double rip-stop nylon fabric,” which makes the tent a hair lighter than the previous version, and claims to do so without sacrificing durability.

Price, Weight, Comfort Paradox


 

When it comes to tents; price, weight, and comfort operate on a sliding scale. You can typically have two, but forget about getting all three. I do think the new Copper Spur strikes a good balance in this department though, with price being the main casualty of the three. It may not set you back the 1,000 dollars that some tents might, but with prices starting between 350 and 400 dollars, it is hardly a budget item.

Weight and Livability


 

As for weight, the Copper Spur HV UL 2 comes in at a lean trail weight of two pounds twelve ounces. This surely qualifies it as an ultralight tent in anyone’s estimation, and it surely does in mine. With that said, the “trail weight” that manufacturers list is typically a misleading number. The tent body, rain fly, and stakes weigh in at 3 lb. If you add in the rain fly to go with it, the total weight is 3 lb. and 6 oz. I would guess that this is more like the actual weight you will be carrying on the trail, and at just over 1.5 lb per person, this is still extremely lightweight. More than likely, you are using this tenet to sleep two, so split the poles and body between the two of you and you will hardly notice it weighing down your pack. Speaking of your pack, the poles break down to just 19 inches, so fitting them in your pack is a cinch. (Weights include all the stuff sacks that come with the tent and rainfly.)

 

While I mentioned earlier that I do consider price to have been something of a casualty in achieving the ultralight weight of this tent, the same cannot be said for livability.  Often times, backpackers opt for a tent that claims to accommodate one more person than they intend to sleep in it, to ensure a comfortable living situation. This is not necessary with the Copper Spur HV UL 2. Indeed, this tent really does live up to the  “high volume” in its name. Michole and I had more than enough room, whether we were settling into our sleeping bags to go to sleep, or just passing time reading. For us, it is important to be able to sleep with our heads at the same end of the tent, and the Copper Spur HV UL 2 easily accommodates this arrangement. There are also a number of pockets to place gear in throughout the tent, as well as places to hang things like lights.

Rain Fly and Doors


 

In our Zero to Outdoors: Complete Gear Guide, I said that livability was more than floor space and headroom. It is also about having enough gear storage so that you are not taking up your precious floor space and headroom with that gear. The Copper Spur HV UL 2 excels here as well, offering a rain fly with two Vestibules: one for each door. Oh yea, did I mention it has two doors? Some might point to a second door as an extra ounce, but I think it is more than worth it. I find this particularly true if you are both sleeping with your heads at the same end of the tent. No one really wants to be crawled over in the middle of the night. But back to the Vestibules: Each one zips down the middle, allowing you to open either half of it, while leaving the other half in place. This feature, and their ample size, allows you to keep your pack, boots, and other gear stored on one side, while you enter and exit through the other, not having to crawl over your gear to get in or out of the tent.

 

The rain fly also sits with plenty of room between itself and the main tent body. This gives plenty of room for condensation to exit the tent at night, and keeps the two tent walls from flapping together in the wind, making for a peaceful dry night.

 

The doors are actually one of my favorite things about the tent. They zippers work well, and the doors are well thought out. For starters they are huge, and open to one side, which works perfectly with the vestibule, allowing you to keep your gear covered while crawling out the other side. Furthermore, this setup does not allow the doors to hang on the ground when unzipped like some tents do: We are looking at you Sierra Designs.

Setup


 

While I could say this about most of its features, the setup is one of my favorite things about the new Copper Spur. Utilizing a 1 pole, hub style system, there is not much guesswork when it comes to setting this up. And to top it off, the poles are even color-coded to match the holes they go in! One person can easily accomplish the entire setup in 2 minutes, allowing your partner to start cooking dinner!

Fast Fly Setup


 

For those in arid climates looking for an ultralight setup, or for those caught in a downpour trying not to get their tent soaking wet, the Copper Spur HV UL 2 offers a fast fly setup. This allows you to pitch the tent using only the rain fly and the footprint.

Final Thoughts and Features


 

Beyond all of the obvious things to love about the Copper Spur HV UL 2, is the way the little details make it feel. Nothing about the tent feels shabby, or flimsy, which I think is quite impressive considering how lightweight the tent is. The poles feel sturdy, the zippers are smooth, and so far the paper thin fabric has lived up to its billing. The fact that most of the main tent body is mesh is great for stargazing when camping on isolated mountain tops, but people using the tent in more crowded confines may see this as a negative. It does allow great ventilation though.

 

Overall, we are extremely happy with our new Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2, and we can’t wait to take it on a very long trip in the future. If we have one gripe about this tent, it is that you have to buy a footprint separate. This isn’t much of a deciding factor, as almost no manufacturer sells includes footprints with tents, but for the price, we think they should.

 

The Obvious question: Is it a worthwhile upgrade over the Original Copper Spur to upgrade? I can’t honestly answer that, as we have never used the older model. I do feel that it is a better all around tent. So if money is no object, then go for it! Otherwise, You will probably be fine in your original Copper Spur for the foreseeable future. While the new HV offers a few improvements, that tent was not ridiculously popular for nothing.

Check back soon to see our video review and setup demonstration. If you would like more information about choosing the tent that is right for you, head over to our Zero to Outdoors: Complete Gear Guide.

Manufacturer Claimed Stats


 

Vestibule Area 9 / 9 sqft / 0.8 / 0.8 sqm
Trail Weight 2lb 12oz / 1.25kg
Packed Weight 3lb 1oz / 1.40kg
Packed Size 4″ x 19.5″ / 10 x 50cm
Number of Seasons 3
Number of Doors 2
Footprint Weight 6oz / 170g
Floor Area 29 sqft / 2.7 sqm
Fast Fly Weight 964g

Did you find this article helpful? Missing information? Do you use a Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 or have additional thoughts on them?  Let us know in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear from you! Otherwise, just stop in and say hi, we can’t wait to hear from you!

 

And as always, if you like what you found here at Greenwoods Uncharted, follow and/or share us on social media!

Jetboil MightyMo

Jetboil MightyMo

It’s late; you are just finishing up a long day on the trail. Maybe you are arriving back at basecamp after an 18-hour summit push. You are exhausted, maybe hot, maybe cold, but definitely starving. So you need something to cook up that delicious Mountain House dinner on. Enter the MightyMo, by Jetboil. If you are looking for a compact, lightweight canister stove, then read on. The Jetboil MightyMo just might be what you are looking for.

What is it?

 

The Jetboil MightyMo is a lightweight, ultra-compact canister stove that weighs in at just 3.3 oz. and only costs around 50 dollars.

 

“So what?” You might ask. At its weight and price point, it fits comfortably among other canister stoves, but really does nothing special to stand out. Its features, however, are what set the MightyMo apart from the competition.

Features


Non-Integrated

 

This is the first canister stove by Jetboil that was not part of an “integrated system.” Integrated canister stove systems come with a single pot that connects to the stove, and no other pots or pans can be used with the stove. By contrast, the MightyMo is compatible with virtually any pot or pan that will fit on its burner.

Adjustable Flame

 

Most canister stoves have two heat settings: wide open, and off. For this reason, they have historically been relegated to the job of boiling water for freeze-dried meals; a task they excelled at. This is also the reason that having a single compatible pot wasn’t much of an issue, as you would only be using the stove to do one thing.

 

Historically, the two main complaints against canister stoves were: 1. There was no way to simmer or cook anything on low, and 2. Cannister stoves lost pressure and heat in cold weather and at high elevations. The MightyMo fixes both of these problems by allowing you to adjust the heat of its flame. With a maximum of 10,000 BTU, the MightyMo boils a litre of water in about three minutes, making it extremely competitive at that task. What sets it apart though, is that you can turn that flame up or down, depending on your needs. This means that you can scale it back if you are a backcountry gourmet who needs to simmer a bit of sauce, or make sure you don’t burn your pancakes. It also means you can crank up the pressure to use this stove in cold weather and at higher altitudes. Jetboil claims consistent performance down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and we can verify this down to just below freezing, as that is the coldest temperatures that we have tested it in so far.

Stability

 

The arms that fold away for a tiny packed stove fold out to offer a fairly solid stovetop. It is still a small surface though; so don’t expect to just throw a full sized skillet on there without extremely careful balancing and placement. It also comes with a foldable tripod base to sit your canister on. This is a nice feature, but some ultra lightweight backpackers will leave it behind, not feeling that it offers enough added stability to warrant the extra half an ounce in their pack. Personally, we use the GSI Halulite Microdualist Cookset, and there is enough room for the stove, tripod, and fuel canister to pack away inside it, so bringing it along is totally worth it for us.

Cons


So far, things have been pretty rosy when it comes to my feelings toward the MightyMo. And overall, I do feel pretty rosy toward it. That all comes with one big caveat.

 

If you are familiar with the MightyMo, you are probably wondering why I never mentioned its piezo lighter, which Jetboil describes as a “convenient, reliable push-button lighter.” The reason I did not include it as a feature? I don’t consider it one. Period. Piezo lighters are known for being unreliable, and the one included on this stove is no exception, whatever Jetboil may claim. Virtually all of the negative reviews I found for this stove were aimed not at the stove itself, but at the push button piezo lighter. It failed us on our third weekend long trip, and it will fail on you too: maybe on your first use, maybe after a year, but it will fail, and probably nearer your first use than one after year.

 

For us, this is not a deal breaker. Many of the MightyMo’s competitors don’t even offer a starter. Instead, they simply rely on being lit with a match or an external lighter, which is how stoves have traditionally been lit. I honestly don’t understand why Jetboil did not go this route with the MightyMo, as it would have eliminated virtually all of the complaints about the stove, and saved a half of an ounce to boot. So if having an auto-igniter is a must, then don’t buy this stove, it isn’t auto-igniting, and shouldn’t claim to be.

Conclusion


 

Overall, I love the Jetboil MightyMo. I don’t really care that it is not an auto-igniter stove. I just carry a lighter and matches, which you should always carry in the backcountry anyway, and light it manually. In my mind, this is a small tradeoff for a great little stove that offers big features. I highly recommend the MightyMo for anyone looking for a lightweight, ultra compact stove with excellent simmer control and high performance in cold weather and at high altitude. Just don’t expect an auto-igniter.

We hope you found this review helpful. A video review is coming soon. Head over and like us on Facebook to be notified when it comes out! You can also follow us on Instagram @greenwoodsuncharted to see what we are up to!

Skydiving

Skydiving

I am afraid of heights. There, I said it. It’s nothing new, nor is anything that I’ve ever been shy about admitting. But more so than ever before, it’s something that I have been overcoming. My fear is largely irrational, which bothers me because I consider myself a very rational person, for the most part. Furthermore, a fear of heights is in direct conflict with so much of what I want to do with my life, namely: climbing mountains. I have come a long way in dealing with it, top roping, leading sport climbs, climbing the Baldy Bowl, even just climbing to the top of a 12 ft. bouldering wall in the gym, which terrified me not so long ago. Yesterday though, my fear of heights was put to the test in a completely new way: I jumped out of a f***ing airplane.

 

Michole has often mentioned wanting to go skydiving, and I have always thought it would be awesome…in an extremely hypothetical way. I even think it would be incredible to squirrel suite fly. But thinking something would be incredible and actually doing it are two totally different things.

 

Without even knowing that it was literally a lifelong dream of hers, Michole’s coworkers graciously bought her a skydiving package from http://www.gojump-oceanside.com/. She only found out at the last minute, and was extremely excited. I was a bit torn in regards to how to feel about not going. On the one hand, I would have loved to share the experience with Michole, but on the other, it sounded really freaking scary and expensive. As it turned out, Michole was having a few mixed emotions as well. While she was excited, she was really bummed that I wouldn’t be going up with her. So the day before her jump, we called to see if we could add me on, found out we could, and it was all downhill from there.

 

We were both incredibly excited as we made the hour trip down to Oceanside. I tend to have a lot of nervous energy to start with, so you can imagine how amped I was by the time we got there. I explained to Michole that I wasn’t really afraid. I handled it like getting a big tattoo: Just don’t think about it until the needle is in the skin. Of course, she didn’t need any tricks like this, Michole isn’t quite fearless, but she isn’t afraid of much, and she is certainly not afraid of heights.

 

At Gojump, we waited around for about an hour before they finally called our names and strapped us into harnesses, giving us brief instructions on what to do when we exited the plane. Michole, ever true to her inner gymnast, asked if we could do backflips out of the plane, a request the instructors happily obliged.

 

Once the plane door shut, the nervous excitement veered decidedly toward the nervous end of the spectrum. It was both of our first time in a single engine aircraft, and that experience was pretty cool in and of itself.

 

As the time to jump neared, the fear kicked in. Strangely though, when the door opened and it was actually time to jump, it pretty much went away. I was the first one to go out in a tandem jump, but several people solo jumped ahead of me, and seeing them happily fling themselves out the doors of, what I hope was, a perfectly good airplane made it seem like a more reasonable thing to do. Then, my legs were hanging out, and suddenly I was falling, then flipping, then flying. Any traces of remaining fear were completely erased as we plummeted for 60 seconds, from 13,000 feet to 5,000 feet. The adrenaline, the relief, the sheer joy (as evidenced by my idiotic smile), was one of the most amazing, blissful experiences that I have ever had.

 

Back on the ground, I celebrated with my instructor, and then with Michole, when she landed just moments after. I am so glad that I overcame my fears and had this experience with my wife; I can’t even put it into words. A video of Will Smith, talking about skydiving, danger, and fear had been going around, and I saw it just before we went. In the video, he says, “The best things in life are on the other side of terror,” and I could not possibly say it better myself. So don’t take my word for it, don’t take his. Go out and face your fears, climb your mountains, jump out of planes, talk to strangers, love other people. Find the best things in life.

Skydiving

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.