Helly’s LifaLoft jacket – my review

Kraig Becker sent me an early prototype of a Helly Hansen LifaLoft jacket for my 2019 trip to Patagonia. I wore it non-stop for a couple of months cycling and hiking in wet, windy and sometimes cold weather.

LIFALOFT™ is not down. It’s arguably lighter and warmer.

The idea is to trap a maximum amount of air in a small space. And due to the hydrophobic properties of LIFA®, LIFALOFT™ has an inherent water repellency that should keep you warm, even when wet.

It worked for me as advertised.

Glacier Vinciguerra, Ushuaia, Argentina

Cerro Guanaco trail, Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina under a rain shell

The best test came when I got caught in a surprise downpour while hiking without my shell. I was worried.

But next morning the LifaLoft looked and felt 100% perfect.

Kraig sent me this to replace my FAILED Columbia OutDry down jacket. It was useless after 7 months.

The Helly Hansen is far superior. The Colombia failed — I think — because it couldn’t handle being frequently compressed into a stuff sack. The HH LifaLoft seems much more durable.

In Patagonia Helly Hansen is the go-to brand for serious sailers and outdoors-people. Developed in Norway, HH is tested under the worst weather conditions.

For future hikes in moderate weather where weight is a big consideration, I’ll be carrying the LifaLoft and just a waterproof ultra-light Frogg Toggs shell.

biggest problems for multi-day hikers

The John Muir Trail is one of our top 10 in the world. It ain’t easy.

Overall, the top health problems reported were blisters (57 percent), sleep problems (57 percent), pack strap pain (46 percent), knee/ankle pain (44 percent), and back/hip pain (43 percent).

Another 37 percent reported altitude sickness. Given that the trail is almost entirely above 8,000 feet, and finishes at 14,505 feet at the summit of Mount Whitney, altitude issues are not surprising …

Here’s What It Takes to Hike the John Muir Trail

A survey of backpackers’ tactics on the 220-mile high-country route offers insights on what works and what doesn’t

Details:

In 2014, 771 people filled out the survey, all of whom planned a trip of at least five days along the trail—a pretty reasonable sample from the total of roughly 3,500 permits issued that year. A group of researchers led by Susanne Spano of the University of California San Francisco Fresno analyzed the data to look for patterns and insights.

Huemul Route, Fitz Roy, Argentina – day 4

trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | info

Day 4 was my walkout back to El Chaltén. Everyone hikes counter-clockwise.

Here’s the whole circuit visiting the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

Circuit map via Travel 2 Walk

Very atypical for me, I didn’t sleep well.

And it rained on and off through the night.

Happily the sun came out about the time I got out of the tent.

Despite my efforts of the previous day, I’d only saved about an hour by hiking past the designated campground. I could still see the glacier. And there was again a rainbow. 🙂

The trail continued in parallel to the Lake Videma shoreline thorough dry grasslands.

Though still beautiful, this was the least impressive day, I’d say. Not much variety.

The highlight was rabbits more rabbits. And one non-rabbit. He may have been a Patagonian mara.

When I caught a glimpse I assumed it was a plains viscacha, but it was more likely a mara.

I was looking forward to the second Tyrolean Traverse.

Arriving alone, I found the pulley was at this, the far side of the river. 😕 There SHOULD have been a slim rope attached to pull it over to the start on the other side.

What to do?

I knew I could walk to the lake and (probably) wade the river mouth. But figuring a way across was more fun.

My alternatives:

1. Attach my pulley carabiner directly to the cable (rather than the pulley)

2. Use ONLY my steel carabiner (normally a redundant safety system). This is what the guide did once on our first Traverse.

I went with #1 thinking it was the safer option. That worked. But I had to pull myself every inch with friction from the carabiner resisting. It was exhausting.

Here are some guys wading.

Walk Patagonia

From there it was easy to find my way down to the Bahía Del Túnel dock.

This boat takes tourists to the Videma glacier.

I saw no people. No vehicles. So stayed on the ‘trail’ headed towards a ranch.

Actually, my hiking map showed the trail ending at the dock. Some probably walk the (much longer) road to town.

I could find no trail. Instead I worked my way through more grasslands in the direction of El Chaltén.

Ready to be done, I stumbled on to this calf. It was the second dead cow I’d seen.

When I hit the first fence, being a polite Canadian, I tried to walk around the ranch.

That was a mistake. In the end I hopped about 5 fences and opened one gate. It wasted at least another hour. I should have hopped the first fence and headed directly to the highway.

It was with satisfaction and relief that my final fence hop delivered me to this roadside lookout.

From there was an easy 3km to town on pavement.

I dropped my registration form at the Parks information office. They seemed happy to see I had survived.

With a big smile on my face I returned my rental Tyrolean Traverse harness to ‘Camping Center’ in town. That was the only gear rental store I could find that doesn’t close for siesta.

It was back to the hostel for a long, hot, long shower. 🙂

YES my hostel had a 24 hour a day restaurant! It’s popular with the late night partying backpacker crowd.

All I’d consumed this day was coffee. At 6:30pm I splurged on a huge meal. Breaded chicken a lo pobre.

The Huemul Route out of Fitz Roy, Argentina is superb. Some of the best vistas of my life. One of the very best hikes in the world.

____

If you are worried at all about the Traverses … and navigation, consider signing on with a guided group. Chalten Mountain Guides, for example.

related:

For a MUCH BETTER trip report – Travel 2 Walk: El Chaltén – Fitz Roy and Huemul Circuit, March 2017. (They did it again January 2019!)

bookmundi – Argentina 2019 – Huemul Circuit Parque Nacional Los Glaciares of Argentine

If you prefer your trip reports in video format, here are a few to check out.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Huemul Route – day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | info

Pumalín, Chile – Caleta Gonzalo Cascada trail

trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles

Hike to a spectacular waterfall.

Duration: 3 hours round trip.
Distance: 5,6 km round trip.
Return: Same route.
Difficulty: Low-Medium.

Parque Pumalín

This hike is very challenging. Calling it Low-Medium is insanity. 🙄

There are many sections where you need to use your hands. Scrambles.

The river crossing could be dangerous / impossible at high water. I slipped in with both feet while boulder hopping.

You can quickly see why this temperate rain forest was so inaccessible before superb trail builders got here.

There was a ton of work done to put in this trail. Plenty of boardwalk, most made from local wood onsite.

Check this natural park bench.

The crux of the hike are these two ladders.

Made it. This is what I expected at Pumalín.

For me it was 3 hours round trip. Finishing at 8pm I had only about 2 hours of daylight left to get set-up at the nearby campground and to cook up a BIG dinner.

Cascada was my first hike in this sector of Parque Pumalín.

Jenny Tough 650km solo in Bolivia

“No tienes miedo?” – Aren’t you afraid?

It’s the first question I got asked in every pueblo as I ran through the Bolivian Andes. For 17 days, I battled with the fear inside my head – and reflected in the people I met – as I ran solo and unsupported across the Sierra Oriental, the third range in my global challenge to run across a mountain range on every continent.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Huemul Circuit, Patagonia

My New Year’s Resolution is to hike the Huemul in 2019.

A loop hike around Cerro Huemul in Patagonia, near Cerro Fitz Roy, Los Glaciares National Park.

Usual itinerary:

Day 1 = El Chalten to Laguna Toro, 15km, 4 hours
Day 2 = Laguna Toro to Paso Viento Refuge, 12km, 5 hours
Day 3 = Refuge to Lago Viedme, 18km, 5 hours
Day 4 = Lago Viedma to Bahia Tunel, 18km, 4 hours.

Plus another 8km (1.5 hours) to El Chalten

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.