Product testing is really important. This is how we make sure we create the absolute best best tools for the self-propelled person. It’s also how we have fun in the mountains with friends.

Last weekend, Peter Bakwin, Anton Krupicka and I went up to do the classic Kieners Route on Longs Peak. This involves a 5 mile trail run starting at 9,382′ and ending at the iconic Chasm Lake, where one scrambles the boulders around the lake then up to the base of Lambs Slide, a nice snow gully tucked into the shadows of the towering East Face of Longs. The juicy part of the route is the traverse across Broadway, an absolutely spectacular narrow ledge slicing across the near-vertical East Face. Kieners proper starts up from there, a 5.4 rated climbing route that culminates on the 14,255′ summit of Longs. We then would descend the Cables route (now actually called the North Face), where we would pick up the trail again.

The perfect outing to test the new Ultimate Direction Adventure Vest!

We started up the trail, then immediately left it – there is a direct route that cuts the switchbacks of the trail; dubbed the “Reveley Route”, in honor of Chris Reveley, the two-time winner of the Pikes Peak Marathon, a former Longs Peak Ranger, and the record holder on Longs Peak with an astonishing 2:04:27 that held up from 1979 to just last August. Since Anton is one of the worlds best mountain runners, Peter and I needed to show him this steeper but quicker route, knowing he would be coming back to test himself against the running greats. Peter also is the Admin of “Fastest Known Times”, which has an excellent thread on Longs Peak running.

Lambs Slide was in good condition, and with Kahtoola Crampons – which are designed to work with running shoes – and lightweight ice axes, we easily scampered up the steep snow. Broadway was outrageous as usual – the juxtaposition of a relatively easy line slicing thru a very difficult face is more extreme than any place I’ve ever been – and our spirits were high.

The Adventure Vests were really working well – there was plenty of room to store the crampons and ice axes – yet the pack weighed mere ounces, and didn’t shift dangerously around as we started free-soloing the rock pitches above Broadway. Equally important, we kept the weight down by bringing minimal water, and instead filled bottles from meltwater, which would not have been possible with the usual bladder system – these new packs are specifically designed to carry water in bottles on the front, for optimal weight distribution and ease of filling.

Anton was super-solid on Keiners – he is a true mountain man and eagerly picked up the technique and feel for moving efficiently on steep and exposed rock – which some pure runners are totally unable or unwilling to do. At this point we also caught up with and blew past a roped party who had signed out of the trail head register at 2:00am (we left the trailhead at a leisurely 7:30am).

We relaxed on top for awhile, them scampered down the Cables which were super easy, because someone had – inadvertently or not – recently left a fixed line, that we just clipped into and rappelled down. The trot down to the car was mellow, and we were very happy that the new packs rode so well, with no pressure points or the dreaded bouncing. Bouncing is the worst – when a pack or it’s contents bounce while running, the effective weight of the load triples, leading to greater expenditure of energy, in addition to being really annoying.

Your Comments welcome. Stay tuned for more product testing!