Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Gear Repair

Repair for tents, sleeping bags, and jackets

by: Brandon Behymer

You may be reading this in your office and wondering what the dirt feels like on a local trail. Maybe you’re yearning for the feeling of take-off, on your way to places and people far away. It’s that time of year again. The time of year that the holiday hangover begins to wear off and we all begin to realize we have 300ish days before it’s socially acceptable to unbutton our pants at the dinner table.  It’s also the gear repair season. Repairs on our liver, family bonds (nothing spices up the Christmas ham like family friendly conflict), and outdoor gear repairs.  Needless to say, I wish you luck with the first two, but I can actually help with the third.

The most important part of gear repair isn’t the gear itself, it’s you. Yes, even through all the ups and downs, cursing, and joy that you and your gear share, at the end of the day the gear is selfish. You invest all this money in it, the least it could do is dry itself out and quietly make its way to a cool (50-70 degree), dry closet and hang itself up. Then patiently await the next opportunity to carry your means of survival.  Making the habit of cleaning your gear when you get home from a trip is the single most important thing you can do as far as maintenance.  Though I don’t have the numbers to back up this statement, I venture to say the number of tents ruined due to being stored wet is astronomical. Whether it be a tent, jacket, stove, boots etc., cleaning it before storage will all but guarantee a longer lifespan of the product.



Setting up your tent in the garage or front yard after a trip is important to let it dry out. This prevents mold from building up and compromising the PU coating on the nylon that keeps you dry. After years of use you may notice some ‘bubbling’ on the inside of the seams. The seams of the fly are taped to waterproof all the little holes that are the result of stitching the fabric together. Once the tape begins to bubble or turn white and brittle, it’s time to tear it off and apply a new form of seam sealer. I usually use a silicon-based seam sealer and apply it with a brush. (video)


Waterproof Jackets

Waterproof jackets. The more often you wash these, within reason and properly, the better they will perform in the long run.  (video). If holes do develop in the fabric you can patch it with the same fabric the jacket is made of whether that be Gore-Tex, Event, Pertex etc. A bit of repair adhesive and a small patch will keep water out. A repair to a seam is a little more difficult to repair but not impossible.

Down Clothing and Sleeping Bags

Down is a material that only truly works when it’s dry. The key to longevity is keeping it clean and dry. This is an impossible task due to the nature of the activities in which down is used but care should be taken to accomplish this. I recommend only washing down pieces once it is noticeably soiled (video). The most common repair on down insulated garments is patching holes caused by embers from a fire burning through the thin nylon shell. This is easily fixed with a small piece of K-Tape.

Do you have some bigger jobs, or still nervous about doing your own repair? Stop by RRT for some more advice or professional help.

The Time for Climbing Films

By: Will (Leapfrog) Babb

Climbing as a sport has been growing increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to the release of professionally made documentaries on the sport. 2018 was a landmark year for climbing films, with three climbing films out for widespread release. I had the opportunity to see Reel Rock 13, the Dawn Wall, and Free Solo in theaters and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. If any of these might interest you, my reviews of each film are below. All three were excellent and inspirational, but all very different from each other.

Disclaimer: Spoilers may be included. Probably not. These climbing films are documentaries, so there’s no plot twist endings and you know what is going to happen before you even see the movie so I can’t spoil too much, but you’ve been warned.


Reel Rock 13


Reel Rock is a series of 4 short climbing films released annually. I’ve gone to see it in theaters the past two years, and it is a wild event with the entire theatre cheering and reacting to the movie. This film is a bit different than any of the other documentaries released because it includes multiple films. This last year, the shorts were Age of Ondra, a film about superstar climber Adam Ondra, Up to Speed, which follows the growth of speed climbing and its inclusion in the 2020 Olympics, Valley of the Moon, a film about the little known climbing area of Wadi Rum in Jordan, and Queen Maud Land, which shows the onslaught of climbing achievements by a squad of professional climbers in Antarctica.

The first film, Age of Ondra, is ridiculously impressive. My palms were sweating the entire time as I watched Adam Ondra, the world’s most talented technical climber, cling to unimaginably small holds and contort his body into insane positions. This one will leave you speechless and impressed at the talent and drive which makes Ondra capable of flashing world class routes, and leave you inspired to put a bit more effort into your training.

Valley of the Moon was the most surprising film for me, one that I really enjoyed. It was inspiring to see the sport grow in an area known more for violence than exceptional climbing. Wadi Rum looks like it could house world class climbing, so it will be interesting to see how the sport evolves in Jordan, and how climbing could rejuvenate a struggling tourist economy.

Up to Speed was a comical take on an unconventional mode of climbing, but certainly one that deserves attention given that it is now an Olympic sport. I loved watching barriers be broken and watching athletes inspire entire countries through speed climbing. This was a film I wasn’t really excited about before the release, but ended up enjoying more than I expected.

Queen Maud Land was the film I was most excited about, starring athletes Alex Honnold, Cedar Wright, Conrad Anker, Savannah Cummins, Anna Pfaff, and Jimmy Chin. Antarctica is astoundingly beautiful and it was thrilling to watch these all stars conquer several first ascents and unbelievable big walls. Of course, Jimmy Chin had exceptional filmmaking and Cedar Wright brought plenty of humor to the upbeat film. The North Face team of athletes brings it all to the table in my favorite of the four shorts.

The Dawn Wall


This is the traditional inspirational climbing film, following one of the greatest climbing feats of the century as Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson attempt to free climb the hardest continuous route in the world on El Capitan. More than just a climbing movie, this film explores the series of unfortunate but life shaping events that drove Caldwell to spend 6 years of his life obsessing over a single wall. Jorgeson was an unlikely partner to climb with Caldwell, but the pair managed to overcome a series of challenges and perform exceptionally well under intense pressure.

It is difficult to perceive just how difficult it is to climb pitch after pitch of 5.14d, broken up by “easy” 5.13 climbing. Watching this film on the big screen illustrates just how impressive this feat is, and whether you know anything about climbing or not you’d be shocked at the achievement. I’ve now seen this film four times, and I went ahead and bought the digital version as soon as it was released. My parents, who know very little about climbing, watched the film with me and thought it was excellent. It is a film anybody can get behind and one that will inspire you to attack your next project with renewed vigor.

Free Solo


This film was released in theatres worldwide, and if you’re lucky you might still find a showing near you. The digital version isn’t out yet, but it’s worth seeing this movie on the biggest screen you can find. The documentary was released by National Geographic and produced and directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, the same filmmakers of the award winning documentary, Meru. As amazing as the cinematography in Meru was, the filming in Free Solo is even better. They are able to convey the magnitude of Alex Honnold’s ropeless, free solo ascent of 3,000 foot tall El Capitan in a beautiful manner. Beyond just mind blowing camera angles and a close look into the personal life and motivations of Honnold, the soundtrack in the documentary adds to every scene, a wonderfully chosen, very fitting score.

I saw Free Solo in theatres twice because I enjoyed it so much. This might just be my favorite of the 3 climbing films, which is why I saved it for last. I went in expecting to see a film about one of the most impressive climbing feats ever, and one that will probably never be repeated. I saw a film about so much more than that. It goes beyond the climbing and becomes a philosophical film, one that makes you leave the theater with questions swirling in your head. I regarded Honnold as a bit of hero before seeing the film, but left unsure of how I feel about him. As talented and athletic as he is, it’s hard to cheer for a guy that has no regard for how his actions impact those closest to him. Free Solo was excellent, another film that can be appreciated by a wide audience beyond the dirtbag community.

It is difficult to comprehend the difficulty of Honnold’s climb as well as the danger of it, but Jimmy Chin does a great job of showing these aspects. There is a shot in the film that shows Honnold approaching the top of El Cap as the camera pans out, exposing just how massive the granite monolith is and leaving you speechless at the wall he has just climbed. It is no surprise that the documentary has received raving reviews and you won’t be disappointed.  

5 Reasons To: Send Your Kids Away to Camp

By: Preston Kahn

In the past year and a half we have been taken over by the force that is Fortnite. It has become so powerful that all walks of life are now aware of the online game. You know it’s big time when my grandma is asking me, “what is this Forknight game all about.”  I have come across so many articles discussing how it is shaping the upcoming generation of kids and they are becoming less and less likely to go outside. I’ve heard more of this from parents when they ask me what made me decide to embark on my AT thru- hike. They explain how they could never get their kids to put down the game long enough to go outside and do some sort of activity even remotely similar to that. But it’s simple, all you have to do is send your kids away to camp and change their lives forever.

This is my own testimony as an “entitled millennial” who plays Fortnite but who also was once a kid that was sent off to summer camp and LOVED it. I didn’t have a choice that first summer, but every summer after I was anxiously awaiting to go back to camp. Some of today’s parents want to be aware of every movement their child makes, but then are mad when they haven’t left their room in two days… Here are five reasons why you should send your kids away to summer camp:

  • Learn how to be away from Mom and Dad earlier.

This was one of the biggest things that I was able to take away from going off to camp every summer. Having some time away from my parents to explore my independence was amazing. The sad reality is you are not going to be able to keep your kids glued to your hip forever and in fact you are doing a disservice to them by doing so. There is going to come a time when they have to spread their wings and leave the nest and you want to do everything you can to prepare them for that day.

I cannot tell you how many kids I met at college who were extremely sad or stressed out because it was their first time away from home. I felt very fortunate that my parents gave me this early opportunity to be on my own.  To know what it was like to be on my own was very important for my growth. I don’t have kids so this is simply conjecture but I would imagine that it’s nice to spend some time with your significant other without the kids around so really it’s a win-win.


  1. Hang up and hangout!

This is coming from someone who is glued to their phone so, take this with a grain of salt. I think there is a lot be said for spending a significant amount of time without your phone, especially as a young kid. When I went to camp, we had to check our phone at the front office and we wouldn’t get it back until the end of the summer. This is a tall task given the fact that many of us are addicted to our phones. The parents who are pointing to their kids screen time usually aren’t innocent in the matter either but why not do something to combat the problem. Look I get it, it’s tough to give up your phone for the summer but what I can say is that it is a freeing experience.

Having the spell lifted even if it’s just for a little bit is something that will benefit your children immensely. Many kids today use their phones as a crutch to avoid awkward encounters but what this will force them to do is step outside of their comfort zone and change bad habits. This will also help them learn what it means to make a friend without the help of technology.


  1. Meeting kids outside their immediate bubble

I have met some of my best friends from growing up and going to school together, but there is a lot you can gain from going to a place that you aren’t familiar with and having to meet new people. I had to learn to find commonalities outside of my friend zone with kids that I just met. At first I was bummed out that I was missing those daily trips to the pool but I grew so much because of friends that I met from all over the country. When I went to camp, I met people from places like Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City and even Hawaii. This helped me grow a lot because I had to make friends that didn’t have my same background and that is something that continues to serve me well as life goes on.

A few years back, I was in Lawrence, Kansas for a wedding  and was not exactly looking forward to it because I thought to myself “What is there to do in Kansas?”. Dorothy threw her house into a tornado just to get the heck out of Kansas. That’s when I remembered one of my close camp friends was from Kansas City and was attending Kansas University. During the weekend, I was able to meet up with him and he took me out on the town.We had great time and that would have never have been possible without my summer camp connection.

  1. “The School of Life”

There are plenty of things that we learn in school but are quick to forget. Some of the biggest things that I have learned and, in turn, applied to my life moving forward were life lessons that I got from camp. Without camp I wouldn’t have learned to pitch in and be a part of something bigger than myself. When we were out on our canoe trips I learned perseverance, there were countless times where I didn’t want to paddle but had to.  I’m thankful that I was able learn perseverance early on because it has served me so well in so many aspects of my life.

Another thing that I took away from camp was having to keep track of my things but if you talked to my mother she would say otherwise. Finally, just like I said above, making new friends in unfamiliar places is going to be something you can carry with you for the rest of your life and be better off because of it. All of these lessons were learned at “The School of Life” which, for me, was camp.


  1. Getting outside for crying out loud!

Lastly but most importantly, just get them outside! I always think it’s funny when I see those commercials promoting that kids get at least an hour of play in each day. The only time we were inside at camp was during “quiet hour” where we were supposed to rest for an hour after lunch. (Umm, who do I talk to about getting that back? You really don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone…) The only other time indoors was when it was time to call it a night. In the morning we were in archery, riflery, sailing, woodsmanship, athletics, plyometrics, indian dancing, and swimming classes outside. During the afternoon we’d play tackle capture the flag, softball, or football, again, all outside.

Then on top of all the things we did on the island, we would go on wilderness trips for different amounts of time based on your age group. That allowed me to be able to canoe deep up into Canada and backpack in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. These experiences shaped me into what I am today and I’m forever grateful.  

You shouldn’t have to challenge your kid to play sixty minutes a day you should try to get them to sit down for only sixty minutes a day. I would have never had the tools and mindset to complete the entire Appalachian Trail without these experiences. The camp I attended was a wilderness outdoor camp, however, there are all types of camps. I am quite sure the results are almost always the same. Just about every person I have ever met who went to camp has nothing but glowing memories of their childhood summers and that is all thanks to heading off to camp.

Check out area camps here:

If you need a couple of camp ideas I will say I’m biased. I attended Camp Kern as well as Camp Kooch-i-ching up in International Falls, MN. Their camp headquarters are located in Hyde Park, you can call the office to hear about presentations coming up in the near future.

Camp Kooch-i-ching

3515 Michigan Ave.

Cincinnati, Ohio 45208

Phone: 513-772-7479

Fax: 513-772-5673


Camp Kern

5291 STATE ROUTE 350


1-800-255-KERN / 513-932-3756


Cold Weather Layering Basics

By: Bryan Wolf

The common phrase is “dress like an onion.” But I’ve never seen an onion in clothes before.


Understanding a clothing layer system for your next outdoor adventure is critical. This includes having both the understanding of what makes an appropriate layering set but also how to use that layer set. I can barely dress myself for day to day life, but here are my 2 cents on being a well-dressed adventurer during a cold weather pursuit.

Why is layering so important in my outdoor pursuits? Being in the elements for a prolonged time, often with unpredictable mountain weather can be risky business. We want to stay warm but cool, dry but not sweat, and move but not over heat. Anytime we fail to control the above we subject ourselves to greater consequences such as hypothermia (or to lesser consequence chaffing).

A layer system traditionally consists of 4 layers. By layering correctly, we control our body temperature and protection from the elements. Each layer is intended to provide a unique purpose. We combine our layers and accessories to those layers, making changes as often as is necessary to assure that we are sweat free, warm and comfortable moving.

  1. A base layer is primarily our wicking layer. Taking moisture from the skin and dispersing it to more quickly dry is one of our most important goals. Moisture expedites heat loss by up to 20 times, so controlling evaporation is key. Try a polyester or wool for best performance. Keep your base layer well-fitting so that there is no bunching as you add additional layers. In cold conditions also consider the next to skin warmth potential of your base layer.

My Picks:

Cold Weather: Rab Merino+ L/S Crew.

Frigid Weather: Patagonia R1 Fleece ¼ zip

  1. A mid layer is added to help retain heat in cooler environments, but since you’re moving it is critical that you have some breathability to this piece as well. Typically, a heavier wool or fleece jacket works perfect. The addition of a quarter or half zip and thumb loops help add function to this piece as you can make micro adjustments to control your temperature. This piece is still best utilized without pockets and a smooth face fabric to make additional layers fit easier.

My Picks:

Cold Weather: Sherpa Karma ¼ zip

Frigid Weather: Rab Paradox

  1. An insulating layer is the third in the set. At this point we are not focused on breathability but more so maximizing our heat retention. A high loft synthetic or down jacket helps hold the heat radiating out. The amount of insulation being more dependent on your trip. This jacket needs to layer with the other two pieces. In more bitter cold trips this will be at the top of my pack for quick layering on snack breaks, summits, or even down hills. If you plan to wear this piece more while active a synthetic is preferred for its loft retention when wet.

My Picks:

Cold Weather: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisper

Frigid Weather: Rab Positron

  1. The final and fourth traditional layer is your outer layer, or shell. This piece is responsible for both being waterproof and windproof. We already know that being wet from sweat, or rain makes for a dangerous scenario. The additional element is controlling convection, the rapid stealing of heat from with-in your layers. An adjustable hood, drawcord at the hem, and pit zips all help to make micro adjustments to my body temperature.

My Pick: Rab Latok Jacket

An important distinction is that these four pieces should work in unison but also in any lesser combination. Here are a few examples for you. It’s 40 degrees and raining; I’m going to pair my outer shell with my long sleeve base layer top. At a dry 20 degrees I’ll use my base layer and fleece pull over. At camp when I stop moving for the day, I’ll switch to a new completely dry base layer with my down jacket. You can treat your leg wear the same way.

The most versatile and frequently changed pieces to the system however are your accessories. With mittens, gloves, beanies, and a buff or balaclava I can make quick and easy changes to my body temperature. Having these accessories in a pant pocket or pack hip belt make them a no brainer to add and subtract as the day’s temperature fluctuates or the terrain alters my exertion and heat output.

If I could just turn off my sweat glands for a fall or winter trip that would be easier (and terrifying) but until then I have the perfect collection of clothing layers to assure, I am comfortably and safely travelling in even the coldest or wettest of adventures. Winter continues to be my favorite time to travel to the mountains and backpacking remains the only time I care much of what I’m going to wear that day.

Hope you enjoyed the blog! Use our shop site to help us write more:

Shop Outdoor Clothing Layers and More, Click Here.

Government Shut Down and our Parks

by: Olivia Eads

With the Government shut down, many of our favorite recreation areas are closed or lacking valuable resources for access. Websites are not being updated, restrooms are closed, trash is not being collected, and many people are taking full advantage of the lack of authority in these areas. Here are a few things to consider if you (like me) have planned an adventure this winter to one of our National Parks.

Where are you going to use the rest room?

Without proper facilities many people opt to just use the ground for their excrement; this is not a great idea depending on where you are going. In backcountry scenarios in some temperate climates you can simply dig a cat hole and burry your waste. In the desert, for example, that poses a large risk to the ecosystem because there is no water to recharge the soil and wash it away. In that case, you need to pack out your waste in what we like to call wag bags. If you are setting up a base camp somewhere, a bucket works nicely as well.

How to dispose of trash?

This is a no brainer. Even though waste is not being collected from the designated trash receptacles in these parks, you have the responsibility to pack out your own trash. Follow leave no trace principles. If you pack it in, pack it out. No one wants to be a litter bug. Instead of overloading a dumpster, carry it the extra mile to a town to dispose of.

Access to Resources being limited:

Websites are not updated with helpful information which is a huge bummer. This poses many risks to those adventuring in the areas for what weather to expect, hazards to be aware of, road closures, and general know abouts. Proceed with caution to these areas. Do your own research and get your best ideas on what to expect because it is no longer spelled out for you on their web page. Rangers are also very limited and not always available. You can try calling, but without a paycheck they are likely not to be on duty. This means that search and rescue is going to have a delayed response as well. Take two for safety (two seconds, two people, two moments etc.).

Have a backup plan       

Look at alternatives in the area if your number one destination is closed. I know it sucks to put in a lot of planning towards something only for it not to be achieved. Since June 2018 I have been planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park for an epic climbing adventure leaving 1/10… The park conveniently closes that day until further notice. There are so many wonderful open and inviting natural spaces. Lucky for me, flying into Vegas, there are amazing natural wonders in every direction. Now to choose where to go that isn’t affected by the 2019 shut down. Different parks have different restrictions right now. Try doing a Google search to see what restrictions are in place where and to what extent. My back up plan: RED ROCKS!

 Don’t sweat the little things

Life is too short. There is no use in stressing over things you cannot control. I still have 15 days of vacation to find some epic climbing out west. The best way to plan is with some wiggle room for when things go wrong. Take a deep breath and we’ll all get through this together.


Every federal area will have different rules and regulations during a shutdown. These areas include National Parks, Forests, Monuments, or other government funded areas. Some are closed with potential for prosecution, some will have visitor centers, restrooms, and other amenities locked and closed, and others will have little or no staffing available. For more details please visit your park web page. For more information on how the parks have been effected and considerations you should take please consider the articles linked below.

National Geographic

National Parks Conservation Association


Answer the Call: Recycle Your Cell Phone to Save Species!

By Fia Turczynewycz, Sustainable Communities Advocate, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and RRT Family Member

Greetings, RRT Community! I am an outdoor adventurer at heart. I love to hike along trails, explore forests, paddle down rivers, soak up the sun while skipping through prairies, and climb to the tops of mountains. As much as I would love to be off the grid during these adventures, more often than not, I find myself with my phone in my pocket for a number of reasons. Safety being the number one reason, but I might also use it to access maps and directions, use a compass, check the time, and snap the occasional photograph to document the awesome adventure in progress. Did you know that when carrying a phone in your pocket, you’re also carrying a piece of gorilla habitat? Cell phones contain an ore in them called coltan, which is mined in endangered gorilla habitat in Africa. This mining of coltan causes loss of habitat, pollution, and hunting – all serious threats to gorillas, their future, and the other plants and animals that share the same habitat. Reducing the demand of coltan will help reduce these threats and save species at the same time.

One way to reduce the demand of coltan is to recycle your cell phone! In addition to protecting gorilla habitat, recycling your cell phone will also keep dangerous substances from entering our local environment. Metals such as antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, copper, and lead, linger in the environment for a long time – leaching into our groundwater and soil, having adverse effects on human health and the health of local ecosystems.

There are more than 270 million cell phone users in the United States alone, and 4.1 billion users worldwide. On average, an American buys a new cell phone every 18 months, and less than 1% of the millions of cell phones discarded each year are actually recycled.

So how does one recycle their cell phone? Roads, Rivers, and Trails is now a proud partner of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Project Saving Species. Bring your old phones and chargers to RRT and drop them in the cell phone recycling box. Once the box is full, the Zoo will pick it up and ship it to our partners at Eco-Cell, a Louisville-based company that recycles every unusable cell phone they receive under strict EPA guidelines. They reuse, resell, or donate any phones that are still functioning once all data is cleared. Phones that can’t be reused are recycled with Access FTC, and all accessories are recycled with HOBI.

In addition to recycling your cell phone, consider using your current device for as long as possible, rather than upgrading to the latest and greatest as soon as it comes out. You can also recycle other electronics such as televisions, computers, radios, and more with our friends at Cohen, who has recycling locations throughout the Cincinnati region.

Help protect the wild spaces and places we love to explore, and answer the call! Support Project Saving Species and gorillas and recycle your cell phone. Questions on this project or other ways you can help the planet? Don’t hesitate to reach out –

Join me at RRT on January 22nd, 2019 at 7pm to hear more stories about what the “Greenest Zoo in America” is doing to save natural resources and support its community.

Event on Facebook

Photo Credit to Lauren McClure and Warren Spreng