Boot Shoot III – Allen Edmonds, Truman Boot Co, Alden

From left to right:

  • Allen Edmonds Higgins Mill in 7563 Natural (size 13D). Wisconsin, USA. $350. Purchase.
  • Truman Boot Co Marrone Horse Rump Pull Up (size 13D). Colorado, USA. $530. Purchase.
  • Alden 5 Eyelet Plain Toe Commando in Brown Chromexcel (size 12D). Massachusetts, USA. $593. Purchase.

The third installment of the Lithic Goods Boot Shoot is under way with three premium pairs of Made in the USA boots. The first Boot Shoot featured: Alden, Oak Street, Red Wing, Wolverine, and Timberland and the second shoot: Eastland, Frye, Woolrich, & Chippewa.

Truman Boot Co is a charging young company based out of Boulder, Colorado. They’ve been gaining traction through word of mouth and social media, where they enjoy sharing behind the scenes photos of their boot production, material selection, and experimental designs. Their boots caught my eye last year and I’ve been itching to review them ever since.

Allen Edmonds has been around since 1922, but IMO haven’t put forth a worthy contender to the casual boot market until now with the Higgins Mill.

Alden has been in the casual boot market a long time with their cult classic indy boot and various permutations of boots built on the Barrie last such as this plain toe 5-eyelet design.

Boot Photos »

Everlane Waffle-Knit Cashmere Zip Hoodie

Everlane Waffle-Knit Cashmere Zip Hoodie in Navy (size L). China. $165. Purchase.

This hoodie both caught my eye aesthetically and piqued my curiosity. It looked great, but was expensive for a “hoodie” and was made of cashmere a fabric I’ve only heard about.

It turns out to be a wonderfully soft and quite versatile cashmere sweater: slip it on over a t-shirt or toss it on over a button-up for a casual Friday look. Pair it with a windbreaker for breezy days or easily unzip it when the sun breaks through.

First though, prior to pulling the trigger I had to delve into why cashmere has it’s luxurious reputation and if it’s still running on reputation or truly holds its own against merino wool, another soft and popular wool. Merino has become very popular in both business and outdoor wear, but cashmere has not. Why is this?

Deep Dive & Photos »

Seiko SKX007 Dive Watch & Seiko 5 SNK809 Automatic

Seiko SKX007 Automatic Diving Watch (Rubber Dive Band). Malaysia. $175. Purchase.
Seiko 5 SNK809 Automatic Stainless Steel Watch. Malaysia. $60. Purchase.

The Seiko Diver SKX007 and Seiko 5 SNK809 are two incredibly popular watches—and for good reason. They’re stylish, affordable, and built to tight tolerances by a brand with a tremendous history of competence. When compared to other watches in their categories they’re frequently hundreds of dollars less expensive than the competition, while keeping time to the same degree of accuracy. As a product with these attributes it’s no wonder they have become the go-to watch for an individual gaining an interest (or addiction) in mechanical watches. Add to this the popular modding community and not only are they affordable entry level watches, but ones that can be heavily customized with affordable options that include: hands, dials, chapter rings, bezel inserts, full bezels, crystals, cases, and even movements.

I started with the smaller SNK809 and recently added the SKX007 to my collection. This was primarily due to the increased water resistance, superior lume, a rotating timer bezel, and a collapsed lung that gave me far too much down time. Many folks think that the SNK809 is too small, however I have large wrists (6’6″) and still find the watch to be elegant and similarly sized to most vintage watches. If you like the SKX007, but find it to be too large, take a look at the SKX013, which is an identical design with a 5mm smaller case.

At their core the SKX007 and SNK809 are the same: they both house a 7S26.1, 2 The movement has three hands, a day & date window in the three o’clock position, and the crown in the 4 o’clock position (good for left hand wearers). The movement is non-hacking, which means the second hand doesn’t stop when the crown is pulled, but that level of precision is unnecessary in an era of cell phones and quartz watches. If you’re buying one of these automatic time pieces, it’s likely partly for the romance of strapping on a totally mechanical watch that winds itself—no batteries involved—and will last for the rest of your life. It’s almost a novelty, products lasting for the foreseeable future.

Photos & Descriptions »

Ultralight Thru Hiking Gear List

Note: This post is a work in progress

Gear used on the 220 mile John Muir Trail, 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, and 93 mile Wonderland Trail. It turns out I don’t photograph my gear on the trail, so I don’t have photos for lots of items. This is also a fairly extensive list for a single post, but for now it’s pretty lightweight without photos. I’ll continue to update this post as I use more gear (such as the terrific 49g Olicamp Ultra Titanium Stove I brought along on Tahoe Rim Trail).

The Gear List »

A Guide To Ten Days On The Tahoe Rim Trail

Tahoe Rim Trail Hiked: June 24th – July 3rd, 2016

Note: From the early season into July the mosquitos are ferocious on the SW & W portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Bring DEET bug spray and a tent with netting rather than a tarp. There are also long stretches without water: the longest on our trip, at 17 miles, was from Watson Lake to the spring at the old Western States Trail junction just East of Mud Lake.

The Tahoe Rim Trail, like the Wonderland Trail, is a circumnavigation around a popular point of interest. At 165 miles in length and a little under 62,000 ft of cumulative elevation change it’s a bit less rigorous than the John Muir Trail or Wonderland Trail, but still an excellent challenge with incredible views.1

When first hearing about and visualizing the TRT I was near the shore of Lake Tahoe and simply looked around, imagining a trail atop all the ridges in sight. While a common assumption, this is not the case. Instead the trail meanders around the lake to and fro, reasonably far at times in the south and north, with at least one full day in Desolation Wilderness without a view of Lake Tahoe. Of course those who have been to Desolation know that this is an incredibly beautiful section and that some of the best views end up being of lakes and vistas other than Lake Tahoe, such as Lake Aloha featured in the header image. The larger diameter of the Tahoe Rim Trail was likely chosen, at least in part, to keep a reasonable distance from the well developed shores and towns surrounding the lake. While there are certainly times when homes are near the trail, given what’s nearby, very little is visible, which helps suspend the disbelief of a trip into the “wilderness”.

The trail is maintained by the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and traverses various state parks in both California and Nevada, as well as three wilderness areas: Desolation Wilderness, Granite Chief Wilderness, and Mount Rose Wilderness.

The footing varies from powdery dust to rooty forest, swampy mud, packed scree, fire roads, to, if it’s early to mid-season, snow. The scenery surrounding these trails is also constantly in a state of flux, ranging from sparse grand forests, to scrubby brush, to meadow, to large exposed hillsides covered in the flowers of alpine shooting stars and woolly mules ears. Notable fauna include: a six-point buck, a black bear, many marmots and chipmunks, black-billed magpies, western tanagers, robins, and many other birds names unknown. Surprisingly we saw very few birds of prey, which may have been due to the unusually calm days and the Trailhead Forest Fire that began halfway through our trip and at times significantly impacted visibility in the basin.

Many portions of the trail are open to mountain biking and horseback riding, so be alert in popular areas such as near Mr. Toads Wild Ride in the southern section and near Painted Rock and Mt. Baldy in the north. Our favorite section of the trail was the north eastern area around Mt Baldy and Relay Peak, which has some of the best views of Lake Tahoe with hardly any mosquitos.

Summary: Call 530.543.2694 for your Desolation Wilderness TRT Permit & print your passing of this Campfire Permit Quiz. Buy this map and download this app (iOS & Android). Have enough capacity to carry 3-4 liters of water (depending on your size) and use the app to determine when this will be necessary. Drop off your resupply at the Tahoe City Post Office and then park at the Kingsbury Grade North Trailhead, check the ten day forecast at South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City and hike clockwise.

Photos & Trip Logistics »

Altra Lone Peak 2.0, 2.0 with NeoShell, 2.5, and Dirty Girl Gaiters

Altra Lone Peak 2.0 (size 13). China. $120. Purchase.
Altra Lone Peak 2.0 NeoShell (size 13). China. $150. Purchase.
Altra Lone Peak 2.5 (size 13). China. $120. Purchase.
Dirty Girl Gaiters (size XL). USA. $21. Purchase.

UPDATE 8/2/2016: I’ve now completed the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail in the Lone Peak 2.5’s and their outsole rubber is superior to the Lone Peak 2.0’s. The tread no longer tears off in chunks–not even one chipped lug. The 2.0 NeoShell doesn’t have issues with the sole either. Only the 2.0.
Last summer I hiked the John Muir Trail (JMT) and, though very selective in my choice of shoes, was still plagued by blisters and had numbness in my left big toe for months after the hike (due to downhills with shoes that were too narrow). On the hike I encountered many folks on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) who had various recommendations for footwear, but most of those who were moving light and fast were wearing Altra’s. I’d heard about them from a Bishop / Yosemite trail running friend prior to my trip, but was unable to find them in my local REI. I wanted to be able to try on the shoes I’d be wearing on the trail before committing to the trip, so Altra’s were out due to lack of availability. Upon returning from the JMT, with my feet in sad shape, I promptly ordered a pair of Altra Lone Peak 2.0s.

Continue reading “Altra Lone Peak 2.0, 2.0 with NeoShell, 2.5, and Dirty Girl Gaiters”

Four Days On The Wonderland Trail

“My feet feel as though I’ve jumped off a three story building”
— My hiking partner four days after completing the Wonderland Trail

While hiking off Mt. Rainier in 2009, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the forest had been on the approach and descent. As I gushed about the incredible glacier to meadow to forest vegetative zones, a guide informed me of the existence of the Wonderland Trail. I immediately knew that one day I would have to return and hike around the magnificent mountain we had just summited. Fast forward to August 2015, shortly after completing the John Muir Trail (JMT), I was once again itching for another medium length trail to thruhike. The top two choices were the 165 mile Tahoe Rim Trail, for it’s proximity to my home of Oakland, and the 93 mile Wonderland Trail, for the aforementioned reason compounded by my friends’s recent move to Portland, OR. The window was closing on the Rainier permitting season, but targeting the last possible weekend, I was able to get a plane ticket and he was able to take a couple days off work, so we committed to the Wonderland Trail. Only three hours from Portland, we headed north on Thursday night, camping near Longmire for an easy, early morning visit to the Ranger Station.

Trip tips & more photos »

Greats Royale High & Oliberte Bokoroo

Greats Royale High in Triple Black (size 13). Italy. $179. Purchase.
Oliberte Bokoroo in Bold Black Full Grain (size 13). Ethiopia. $140. Purchase.

Initial Impressions | Sept 03, 2015

Two pairs of black hightop sneakers from young web-based brands trying to break off a piece of the industry. Greats Brand focuses on Italian leather and production, while Oliberte uses Ethiopian leathers and Fair Trade Certified production.
Both pairs of shoes appear to be free of manufacturing defects (the crinkly look to the leather on the instep of the right Greats shoes is nothing, it’s very soft and supple and has already disappeared as the wear creases have begun). The Greats obviously have a cleaner aesthetic both in the all-black look, as well as the smooth leather, flat waxed laces, high stitch count, and partially hidden stitching on the tongue and cuff. They’re also a bit narrower, which creates a sleeker look, but might not be as comfortable in the long term. The Oliberte’s have a more rugged aesthetic with the exposed edges at the cuff, zigzag stitching, and pebble grain leather, but are still one of the simplest pairs of shoes offered by the brand. Thus far I’ve worn them more than the Greats, and find them to be super comfortable and durable as I beat them up doing yard work and biking around town.
Ethical Note: While I have written this post objectively, both pairs of shoes were purchased at a discount and I stand to benefit if Oliberte succeeds.

More photos »

Blind Bully Is Now Lithic Goods


Given the frequency of my posts, it’s unlikely many of you have been here before, but for those that have been to in the past I’d like to inform you that I have changed the name from Blind Bully to Lithic Goods. As is common when names change, the mission remains the same, it’s just the name that is changing.

Why change the name? Blind Bully was created with the idea of being “Blind to trends and preconceptions + Bullying for responsible consumption = BlindBully.” It was a strong assertive name, but a bit too confusing to explain all the time and also made me too aware of the possibility of reviewing a product I don’t like and feeling like I’m being a bully in some way when I critique it. With Lithic Goods I won’t have that constraint and Lithic also sounds nice and strong and is rooted in stone. My ideal products are those that are truly built to last, not unlike the first tools made of stone.

I’ve set up redirects and updated many aspects of the site, but if you find any loading errors or outdated items please let me know.

I’ve also made numerous improvements to the site for mobile users and will continue to refine the design as I find time over the next few weeks.

Ten Days on the John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail’s 220 miles are the prize of the Sierra Nevada and many say of the whole PCT. It’s not surprising given that there isn’t a wasted moment from when the trail rises above the calamity of Yosemite Valley till topping out on Mt. Whitney and descending down the 99 switchbacks to Whitney Portal. The trail winds it’s way through an all-star roster of parks and wilderness areas including: Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Wilderness, Inyo National Forest, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sierra National Forest, Devils Postpile National Monument, John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon Wilderness. The mountainous landscape lends itself to panoramas, but there are also plenty of critters in the mountains. On my trip the most notable sightings were a white-tailed jackrabbit, an american pika, many mule deer and yellow-bellied marmots, a few grouse, and plenty of birds and trout. There were also a good number of fellow hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail hiking north who were always willing to trade details on the conditions at their last pass.

Trip Logistics and Training »