Friday, July 29, 2016

Gear Review: Kylmit Static V

Cost= $55-$120 (depending on insulation rating/length)

After years and numerous nights of sleeping on my ragged, old Thermarest sleeping pad, it was time to upgrade. My bony back agreed. When cowering over my go-to online outdoor gear stores and many trips to the local REI, I knew that the next sleeping pad I get had to be way more comfortable, not razor thin, compact enough to backpack with and not over $100. That's when I stumbled up on this pad made by a small company based out of Utah- Kylmit.

They make an affordable, durable and super-comfortable sleeping pad called the Static V that costs under $60. Sold, I'll try it out. Like any gearhead does, when my package from The Clymb arrived at my apartment doorstep days later, I ripped it open in excitement. There's nothing wrong with setting up a tent in your own apartment right? Right.

Let's start with the the most paramount characteristic of this sleeping pad, comfort. The Static V wins this thanks to its unique body-mapped V chamber design (which you can see!) that controls any air movement inside the pad. When fully blown up (after about 15 or so big breaths), the Static V inflates to a size that's 72in long by 23in wide. I'm 6'2 tall with very broad, wide shoulders and I can lay down happily on it, without falling off in the middle of the night after rolling and tolling around. thanks to the side rails that almost 'hug' you. It's thick too, at 2.5 inches you'll be off the cold, hard ground and snoozing effortlessly. Even amidst unexpected temperature swings, the Static V keeps its air and doesn't lose form. After hours of hiking, kayaking or climbing, it's a relief to know I'll return to my tent and have a good, comfortable night's sleep.
 I've relied on the Static V for dozens of trips now since I've owned it. From dry desert backpacking in Utah's incredible The Needles District' in Canyonlands National Park, to quick overnights at our granite crag that is Devil's Lake State Park, the Static V is durable thanks to the 75D polyester it's made out of. It's been dragged, had stuff dropped on it, stepped on with hefty hiking boots and had snowshoes thrown on it. Never once has there been a puncture or worrisome damage. It even comes with a patch kit for worst case scenarios. Size matters when I'm backpacking and even car camping. I don't like to bring a ton of stuff, especially things that are just cumbersome and large. The Kylmit Static V sleeping pad weighs only 18.1 ounces and compresses down into a compression sack that's about the size of a Nalgene water bottle. While it may take you a few tries to roll-it up, once compacted, it fits snug at the bottom of my Gregory Baltoro 65 pack.

Klymit's Static V passes the winter camping test too with a big thumbs-up, which is another reason I constantly recommend this sleeping pad to people. This past January, on an impromptu snowshoeing and camping trip to Mirror Lake State Park outside of the Wisconsin Dell's, the Static V stayed fully inflatable and provided full comfort even as temperatures dropped down to the low digits. Having it covered in thick snow when entering and exiting the tent's vestibule didn't harm it either.

Bottom Line:
I've tried out other sleeping pads on the market that are two or three times more expensive, lighter and smaller, and sure they're great but I can't see myself spending more than $100 on a pad. I'd rather save that money and put it towards a bomb, down negative-rated sleeping bag or plane ticket somewhere. The Kylmit Static V is the sleeping pad you have to buy, seriously. It's cheap, crazy-comfortable, tough and durable for all four seasons of camping and backpacking and compact enough for any kind of outdoor adventure that gets thrown at you.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Iceland 2016: Comparing and Choosing the Rental Car

As the countdown clock starts to roll down...almost three-and-a-half months until I leave for my grand Iceland adventure! Advance preparation and planning is exhausting along with time consuming, but oh it's so fun. Last week, my new Lonely Planet travel guidebook to Iceland arrived at my door step and I find myself reading it every night before awaking in the wee hours in the morning to scramble out the door for work. Obviously I'm way excited. And I was just as excited this afternoon to finally book the rental car for the expedition- a Suzuki Jimny. Look at this little box on wheels, with its manual-transmission and a burly four-wheel-drive system approved for travel along northern Iceland's F Roads during the late-fall and winter. Hah, to think I could have had some lame Ford Escape or other wannabe 4x4. I spent hours comparing different prices across the rental car company spectrum, probably some five or different services' sites. This exact same car, was through some companies nearly $200-$300 more expensive. 

For an 11-day loaner, I went with GoIceland Car-Rental, charging a cool 77,000 ISK (Icelandic Krona) or $626 USD onto my credit card. This includes unlimited mileage for those eleven days which is perfect for the massive amounts of on-and-off 'The Ring Road' driving I plan to do. Choosing to walk five minutes to their pick-up counter at Iceland's Keflavik saves me almost $33 all together. Plus, knowing how to drive a manual with three-pedals and a gear shifter saves some cash too. Like I did with the new Fiat 500x rental I had in Colorado a few months back, I'll be blogging a review about this Suzuki Jimny as well.

So, do your homework and shop around.Make sure to read the rental agreement and terms of rental. 

To compare prices at different car rental services in Iceland, for this exact model for those exact eleven days:

GoIceland Car-Rental: $626
Budget Car Rental: $902
Reykjavik Cars: $802
Cars Iceland: $902