Gear Review – Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners

I’m back!  I kind of lost interest in the blog over the winter and made the (mistake?) of purchasing Red Dead Redemption 2.  That game is a HUGE time suck but amazing and I don’t regret it.

I also got hooked on some new YouTube channels* over the winter and it’s rekindled my desire to be outdoor more often.  I already enjoy cycling and kayaking but haven’t really been camping/backpacking/hiking since I was in Scouts.

After a long winter of watching these channels I could not help but be ready for better weather and a chance to get outside again.  Several of the YouTubers are through hikers and have either hiked the Appalachian trail or are in the process.  While I think that would be an amazing accomplishment It’s not something I see myself doing in the near future.  I’m just fine with shorter adventures.

A piece of gear that’s critical when hiking is footwear.  I’ve always worn traditional hiking boots.  They provide great ankle stability but they’re heavy and, if waterproof, make your feet hot and sweaty.  They also really suck if you happen to get water IN them.

A new category of footwear called the “Trail Runner” was introduced to me over the winter.  These are a hybrid between a boot and a running shoe.  The most popular appear to be from a company called Altra and the model mentioned more than anything else was the Lone Peak 4.

Altra Lone Peak 4

After a few hikes around Indy in my traditional hikers and a pair of low rise boots I realized my feet were going to be an issue.  I already have a pair of custom orthotics that I wear in some of my shoes but they’re not very comfortable to walk in for miles at a time.

A review in Outside Magazine help me decide to purchase these shoes and then it happened…  REI had one of their big sales & I was able to pick up a pair of Lone Peak 4’s for 30% off!  I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the sale.  REI was selling these things like deep fried Oreos at the State Fair.

In the store the Lone Peak’s felt a little weird at first because the front (toe box) of the shoe is very wide and they have what’s called a “Zero Drop” which puts your foot level with the ground vs raised in the back.  They also fit different and I ended up going 1.5 sizes larger than I typically wear.  I was a little concerned this was going to be an issue and worried about blisters which I got a lot in Scouts with traditional hiking boots.

Altra Lone Peak 4

Following the advice in the Outside review I ordered a couple of pairs of Merino Wool Socks for breathability and the ability to keep your feet warm and dry.  I’ll detail it more in an upcoming trip report but let’s just say the combo worked better than anything I have ever tried.

I decided to try the Altra’s out on a 6-mile rugged loop at Turkey Run State Park (I’m planning on a trip report soon).  As soon as I started walking I could feel an immediate difference.  The Merino Socks were a little slippery and the shoes were “Squishy” (technical term).  

After the 2nd mile on the trail I was a fan.  My feet felt amazing and the rock guard build into the sole kept the bottoms of my feet protected and comfortable.  I usually have issues with rocks (gravel especially) bothering the balls of my feet when trail walking.

Then came the ultimate test.  Time to get my feet wet as the trail went up, through, and along a stream (several in fact).  The Outdoor review was totally right.  As soon as you leave the water the shoes pump the water out and the wool socks help you feet dry out and stay warm.  I’ve NEVER had so much FUN getting my feet wet!  Normally this is something you want to avoid when hiking but I was stomping through the water like a little kid and enjoying every minute of it.  

Traction was excellent and after finishing the loop my only complaint was some knee pain which I later found was a result of descending the numerous hills, and something I can help with some more conditioning and maybe some better insoles.

I’m pretty much sold on the Trail Runner concept and I look forward to putting a few more miles on these shoes this weekend. If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional hiking boots you should give these a try. They make different versions for different situations but I’ve found the Loan Peak 4’s to be a great all around shoe for my needs.

*The YouTube Channels that hooked me (in no particular order):
Outdoor Adventures
The Outdoor Gear Review
Dan Becker
Homemade Wanderlust
Darwin on the Trail

Amazon Prime Benefits You Might Not Know About

Found this video on YouTube the other day and learned about some features of my Amazon Prime subscription I didn’t know I had!

I use the unlimited photo storage (offsite backup) and it’s one of the best deals out there. Hopefully you’ll learn something about your Prime Subscription or get one after seeing what all is included!


Weekend of Activities

If you know me you know I have a lot of hobbies.  Some would say I have too many…

This past weekend I took the boy to Ohio and introduced him to Briarwood Sporting Club in Bellefontaine and a really amazing  Loose Meat sandwich at the original Maid Rite sandwich shop in Greenville.

Briarwood is located on almost 500 acres of immaculately cared for property and offers 16 lakes with 11 different fish species as well as hunting opportunities in the fall.  I was the lucky winner of a discounted 1-year membership at a Ducks Unlimited auction last fall.  It’s not a cheap membership but after spending some time there I think it’s going to be a place we escape to many times a year.

Greenville Ohio is the home of Kitchen Aid and it has an amazing store that carries just about every make, model, and color the company currently makes in its factory down the road.  It also has a little museum in the basement that helps tell the history of the infamous mixer the company is known for.  I always have to stop in and usually end up bringing a new product or accessory home.  This time around I picked up some replacement parts for my stand mixer as well as a cold-brew coffee maker (future review in the works).

The Maid-Rite restaurant is about as old school as it gets.  Loose Meat sandwiches, chips, and drinks are the only things on the menu.  Somewhere in its history people started sticking gum on the building and after all these years it’s practically covered in it.  A little gross but it’s a tradition evidently.

Although the weather wasn’t the most cooperative we really enjoyed our day-trip to Ohio and are looking forward to the next one!

Indy – Saraga International Grocery

I decided to take the boy on a little trip to the NW Side of Indy to check out a place that’s been on my to-do list for a while.  We’re HUGE fan’s of the Jungle Jim’s stores in Cincinnati and visit often when in the area.  Until now I haven’t really found anything remotely close in comparison in Indianapolis.

Nothing can really beat JJ’s but we were pleasantly surprised with the Saraga experience.  The store is mostly grouped by country of origin and it has a nice selection of cooking equipment too.  While waiting in line we saw a couple of people carrying out a multi-tier wedding cake, I didn’t expect that at all.

The produce, meat, and seafood departments were VERY impressive and they were the most crowded areas of the store.  The produce department was awesome and everything looked fresh and clean.  The seafood area had HUNDREDS of seafood selections both fresh and frozen.  Finally, the meat department had hard to find items like whole pork shoulder, pork belly, and sliced short ribs.  Next time I fire up the BBQ I’m going to visit Saraga for the meat.

Along the back part of the store are rows and rows of refrigerator and freezer cases stocked with items from all around the world, especially asian foods.  If you’re looking for a speciality ingredient for a recipe there’s a good chance you’re going to find it here.

We got caught up in all the snacks from different countries and ended up with a handful of favorites and new things to try.

Saraga International Grocery has a lot of online reviews and was a very popular place on Saturday afternoon.  If you’re into checking out foods form around the word it’s worth checking out Sagara.  If you’ve been there or end up going there let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Saraga International Grocery
3605 Commercial Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46222
http://saragafood.com/main/store-locations/

Review – Baileys Almande

It’s tough being a self-described foodie and suffer from lactose intolerance.  In my case it’s pretty easy to manage the symptoms with over the counter supplements as long as you remember to take them early in the dining process.  It’s not a fun experience to digest dairy and realize you don’t have a Lactaid available to counter the future “effects” of your poor decisions.  Milk products are in a lot of things you might not expect so it’s important to be prepared.

As someone who loves Baileys Irish Cream over ice, especially in the winter time, I was excited to learn they made a dairy free version.  Evidently what’s available now is the 2.0 version.  Version 1.0 was released in 2016, labeled as Vegan, and contained Bees Wax (a big no-no in the vegan community).  Hands were wrung, Birkenstocks were kicked off, and the Paddington Bottling Company (maker of Baileys) was taken out back and scorned for their misgivings.

The 2017 2.0 release is now “certified” vegan and gluten free to boot!  I’m not really interested in either claim but the dairy-free aspect piqued my interest so I bought a bottle to try out.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, Baileys Almande is pretty nasty.  From the appearance, to the smell, to the taste, it’s NOT a substitute for the real thing.  I’m not sure what they were going for with this product but I think they need to go back to the drawing board.

I’m going to fix a small glass over ice right now, just for you, and try to explain what it’s like:

Appearance – Baileys Almande is very watery, similar to plain almond milk.  Maybe that’s what the beeswax helped improve?  It’s almost thinner than water!

Smell – Slight almond smell that’s not entirely pleasant or natural.

Taste – The first sip is the worst.  You’re expecting that warm and creamy mouth feel that comes with regular Baileys.  You don’t get any of that here.  It’s like a clammy limp-wristed weak handshake from a mortician at a funeral.  Yeah I’m sorry for my loss of $20 too.

Aftertaste – OK it seriously gets worse after you swallow.  You’ll experience a bitter taste followed by what I can only explain as chalky and slimy.  It lingers way longer than you want or expect.  Another sip only amplifies the first experience and the aftertaste builds upon itself.

I’d love to know how many people make a subsequent purchase after their first experience.  I know I’m staying far far away from this stuff and I’ll take my chances with the original.

Have you tried Baileys Almande?  What was your experience?