Review: Ultimate Direction SCRAM

The Ultimate Direction SCRAM is a large-capacity running vest that’s been toughened up and given storage capacity for all-day missions, allowing you to take it anywhere to help in supporting you doing essentially anything.

  • Pros: Classic Ultimate Direction Running Vest Design, tons of storage, tough materials, minimalist.
  • Cons: Maybe too minimalist for some? Not perfect for a dedicated running vest: if you don’t need the storage, this isn’t the best vest for you.
  • Weight: 445 grams / 15.7 ounces
  • Storage Capacity: 23.5 Liters
  • Interesting To: mountain runners, skimo, fast-and-light climbing missions, bikepacking
  • Best For: those needing a lot of capacity, but not yet Fastpack-capacity; people who are very tough on gear
  • Price: $134.95
  • More information: The Ultimate Direction SCRAM | Adventure Collection
  • Purchase at Ultimate Direction | REI | Backcountry
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Review: La Sportiva Spire GTX

La Sportiva Spire GTX


In September, I started working with Andrew Skurka on his guided backpacking trips and was looking for a light hiker that would work well for this task. I was offered to try out the La Sportiva Spire GTX, so here’s my review.

My usual advice for anyone doing a long-distance backpacking trip would be to pick a trail runner that you really enjoy, and find that you can wear all-day. The days of extremely heavy, overbuilt, inflexible, high top boots for backpacking are over (save them for special purposes, like full-on Winter conditions).

My pick for both my all-time favorite trailrunner and what I would usually pick for backpacking is the the La Sportiva Mutant. Sized correctly, they hit the sweet spot for me as a more than viable trail runner (I would run an ultra in these, without hesitation), kicks for fastpackinglike my time in the Weminuche, and even for a scramble a low/moderate pitch of alpine rock when the great majority of the time is on the approach – like the Maroon Bells traverse. I personally stick with low to mid height shoes, because of my ankles – I want the mobility that a lower shoe gives, as I want to keep my ankles constantly challenged by terrain – it’s the only way they became, and remain: strong. And believe me, I’ve had some serious challenges with ankle injuries.

But, all shoes exist on a spectrum and no one shoe will work for everything. For a wishlist, I would certainly want:

A more bulletproof upper. Off-trail hiking can cause a number on the uppers of a pair of well-ventilated trail runners.

A tough outsole. I’ll be carrying a lot more additional weight than I usually do – even when I’m on my own fastpacks.

Generally, I want to make sure that whatever shoes I use will last me until the end, and I’m not hobbled – I’m workin’ here.

Enter the Spire.

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