Venture: Gear Review

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Brand: Eureka

Product: Spitfire 1

Price: $110


Three initial factors determine the quality of a backpacking tent: weight, price and space. Often you'll find a cheap, lightweight model that's about the size of a matchbox, or another that's big, wispy and more expensive than your monthly rent.

Eureka's Spitfire 1 won't claim the top spot in any category, but its composite score is off the charts. It weighs only two pounds, 12 ounces, costs just more than $100 and is roomy enough for one tall dude and his gear.

It shed water extremely well in a consistent, soaking rain last weekend in Wildcat Hollow. And in drier conditions, you'll see plenty of stars and get a nice breeze with an airy, mesh-heavy chrysalis design.

Aside from the bothersome tent poles, which are pretty tall even when broken down, this is a fantastic tent for Ohio backpackers.

Brand: High Peak

Product: Alpamayo 55

Price: $110


High Peak has had success in Europe, and the outdoor brand is boosting stateside presence with its line of packs, tents and sleeping bags. They're targeting weekend warriors, and those after a good value should take notice.

The Alpamayo 55 is a solid internal-frame, entry-level pack with 3,500 cubic inches of space, plenty of pockets and the EZ Hook system, which allows you to change pack length for a better fit on the fly.

The bag was very comfortable with about 25 pounds of gear. It offered good back and hip padding, while a large main compartment, long side pockets and a versatile lid made organization a breeze.

Though clocking in at three pounds, 15 ounces, I found that the Alpamayo had lots of bells and whistles that could be modified (read: cut off) to reduce weight. Just don't snip before your first trip.

Brand: Eureka

Product: Silver City

Price: $90


Three-season trekkers like me, who only want to own one sleeping bag, face a conundrum: You're either sweaty in June or frosty in October. Screwed either way, right?

Well, not quite.

The Eureka Silver City, rated for temps to 30 degrees, is a pretty good way to sleep soundly in spring, summer or fall.

During one nippy night, I tucked deep into the comfy, mummy-style shell and pulled tight the attached hood. It was roomy enough to change positions but snug enough to insulate.

When things got a little steamier last weekend, a dual zipper allowed me to open the side for ventilation while keeping the top section closed for comfort.

Its packed weight of two pounds, one ounce is impressive for the price, and a great stuff sack is included. A longer model is available for lankier campers.

New on the Ohio Adventure Map: Old Man's Cave

Hocking Hills State Park is the most popular in Ohio, and one reason it draws the masses is Old Man's Cave, a large recess cavern that no outdoor adventurer should overlook.

This mammoth sandstone handiwork, carved by thousands of years of erosion, explodes anew each season - frozen waterfalls in winter, blasts of color in fall, a cool, shady respite in summer. Right now, you'll find warblers nesting in resident hemlocks, wildflowers and those awesome, panoramic views.

For a slideshow of the cave and info on other places to hike, bike, camp, fish and paddle, click to