Blog Post Headlamps

Headlamps & Batteries: What does Regulated lighting mean?

There is a massive amount of choice in headlamps these days. A lot of companies like to throw numbers around to get the sale. The race to advertise a higher “lumen” count has led people to focus on this, but there is a whole lot more to be concerned with when purchasing a lamp. One of the biggest things to look at is most often ignored. Is the lamp regulated or traditional lighting?

Most headlamps traditionally run out the battery on a curve. So while your 200 lumen lamp will output the full 200 lumens when initially powered up with fresh batteries, it will quickly decrease to 70-80% of this power level within the first hour or two, and steadily decline in power beyond that. The reason for this is to prolong battery life, and make sure you do not have to use 10 liters of your backpacking pack for those extra AAA’s. This is how you see lamps with quoted battery life well in excess of 50+ hours.

With a regulated lighting system, the lamp will output its maximum power for a defined duration. This is beneficial in performance/aerobic activities, short duration night missions where full power is essential. So when heading out for that two hour, mid-winter, after-work trail run in the dark, you can know that you are getting your full 200 lumens and 100m beam for the entire duration of the run. So what is the downside? When regulated lamps reach the end of their battery life, power drops dramatically to a very minimal reserve level (Near or below 10%), that gives you about 30 minutes of dim light before the lamp goes dark.

“There is more to the quest for en’light’enment than it seems!”

These are two big differences that cater to two different types of user. The backpacker heading out for a weeklong trip will likely value battery life over performance, so as to not carry all those extra heavy (and wasteful) batteries up and down the West Coast Trail ladders. The trail runner or night hiker will likely value the short duration / maximum power scheme of a regulated lamp to ensure they are getting maximum bang for the buck for the short time they are out on the trail.

Petzl takes this one step further with their reactive lighting system, found on the Reactik, Reactik+, and Nao headlamps. These lamps offer a regulated lighting system, as well as what they call ‘reactive lighting’. The lamps contain a sensor that measures both ambient light and reflectivity and automatically adjust the headlamps power accordingly. This means that when looking straight out into the dark, the lamp will shine its full power spot beam at maximum power, but when you glance down at a map, it will instantly dim to low-power proximity lighting without the push of a button, or blinding the wearer. In addition, these lamps can be programmed into different profiles with Petzl OS software (free on the Petzl website). For instance, setting one can be the full power, 2.5 hour setting, while the second setting can be your 20 hour, slightly lower power setting for when you need it to last for the duration of a long weekend camping trip.

Ultimately there is no shortage of choice out there, and the marketing can be really confusing. The “lumen-race” is on, and brands like to highlight the biggest numbers on their marketing and the product packaging. But there is often more to the story than just the maximum output of the lamp. In some situations, the more powerful lamp may not be the best option if it only last for an hour. In other cases, you only need that maximum power for brief moments, and prioritize battery life. As with most things: the decision will ultimately come down to the old “what are you using it for” question. Are you going out for a short duration run on super technical terrain with difficult route finding? You probably want a regulated light with high power. That way you know it will be at x-lumens for a determined time-frame. Are you doing the north coast trail in the winter and looking for a battery to last a week? Then a traditional lamp that prioritizes battery life may be more what you are looking for. In any case, there is more to the quest for en’light’enment than it seems!

Find here all Headlamps on VPO Online.

Montane Alpine Pro Jacket reviewed

Josh Strauss, working at Valhalla Pure Abbotsford, has been testing the Montane Alpine Pro Jacket. He went to Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park for 4 nights, 5 days. This is his review!

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Left in the picture is Josh wearing the Montane Alpine Pro Jacket, size Medium.

I had all sorts of weather just because I camped at 2100 meters and hiked to 2700 meters.
1st & 2nd day: 14 degrees Celsius and sunshine
3rd day: high of 4 degrees and rain with 70 km/h gusts
4th day: 10 degrees and windy
5th day: -1 and snow

I went to Cathedral Lakes Provincial Park for 5 days in hopes of experiencing all the weather with all the views and this trip did not disappoint. The jacket I took along to test out was the Alpine Pro Jacket which I used in all the weather conditions. It is a heavier jacket so it did well with the windy, cool, wet weather. In the cool windy weather the jacket especially came in handy as a windbreaker over my merino wool t-shirt. The pit zips were a great help in not over heating as well as the breathable 3 layered Gore-Tex Pro. I never felt too hot in the 4 hours of hiking with it on. The area where this jacket really shined was in the 4 degree wind and pouring rain on day 3. Three hours of hiking in the wind & rain and I was perfectly dry with a merino t-shirt and a polyester mid-layer on underneath. Once again, the pit zips coming in very handy for not overheating. One big thing I liked was how thick and sturdy the rim of the hood was. It fit around my down jacket nicely and kept the rain out with the snow I got on day 5.

+ Durable
+ Fit is perfect for winter layering
+ Large, stiff, and fully adjustable storm hood
+ Pit zips are easily accessible especially with a pack on
+ Very breathable

– Heavy
– Noisy
– The drawstrings at the bottom of the jacket aren’t easy to adjust with all my gear on.
– I would have like a zippered (waterproof?) pocket on the inside rather than just an open mesh pocket.

This is a perfect jacket for any hiking or climbing trips in the fall/winter months.
My overall rating: 8.5/10

Find the Montane Alpine Pro Jacket in more colours and other styles at VPO Online.

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Montane Alpine Pro Jacket – mens                       Montane Alpine Pro Jacket – womens

Outdoors IS International

The popularity of what we describe as non-competitive “zen” sports exploded in the late sixties and early seventies, driven by the shifting culture. By the time the late 70s rolled around, Outdoors had reached a tipping point. Large populations backpacked, paddled, skied, hiked and camped just for fun. And it’s grown from there!

Prior to “zen” sports, most athletic endeavors were organized in local leagues or clubs, with regional, provincial and national advancement for those who excelled. In Canada at least, hockey remains a great example of a sport organized in a competitive hierarchy with the NHL at the top of the pyramid.

The companies that built the early Outdoors supply chain were primarily from Colorado and California – the North Face, Marmot, Sierra Designs, Patagonia (or as they used to known – Great Pacific Ironworks) and Osprey. Canada had a few contributors: Far West in Vernon and much later Arcteryx in Vancouver. For those of you with a really good memory, let’s add Banana Equipment, Synergy Works, and Class 5 to the early incubator list. These three were also From California and Colorado.

Much of the tech materials that have driven the innovation of premium recreational solutions for humans going outdoors was invented in the 1970s: Gore-Tex, Polartec, Primaloft, seam sealing, core-spun stretch yarns, rotomolding for boats, injection molding, high tenacity synthetic yarns in ever diminishing deniers, and powerful permanent gluing. A list of core outdoor innovation since 2000 would include carbon fiber, lithium batteries and LEDs, satellite communicators and digital mapping, photovoltaics, and all the new technology to lessen or eliminate enviro impact.

As new, optimistic and forward looking as “the suburbs” were after WW2, the burbs were basically about moving indoors – outdoors was paved and lawned in rectangular chunks. By the time the 60s arrived, young people desperately wanted to get back outside – away from all the pavement, stop signs and “ticky tacky boxes all in a row”. To the wilderness!

The Great Globalization trend that began in the 1980s that started blending people and cultures, also moved manufacturing offshore. For the past 40 years, the Outdoors supply chain has delivered better and better products every year, at ever lower prices.

Today, humans have become hybrids, mostly human and part digital – completely immersed in connectivity and technology. Connectivity has extended each of our voices to be global, our formative travels and journeys are global, and even our empathy and politics are becoming global. We may relate closely to people in Africa, spiritualists in India, listen to inner city musicians, or sympathize with distant refugees more than our neighbours next door.

Local food supply, music and culture here in Canada are easy to take for granted. But when we return from our travels to exotic distant lands and cultures, what we have grown up with locally comes into focus as being likewise remarkable, unique and valuable. Distant travel gives us context and perspective.

The Outdoor choices Valhalla Pure offers reflect these macro and social trends – this blending of local with distant. We have a mix of Arcteryx and Delta boats from Vancouver, Icebreaker from New Zealand, Norrona, Helle and Kari Traa from Norway, Montane from the U.K., Mammut from Switzerland, DPS skis, Black Diamond and KUHL from Salt Lake City, Petzl and Black Crows from France and LaSportiva, Garmont and Scarpa from northern Italy. And our shop staff include folks from Holland, America, China, UK, and Switzerland.

Those original legacy Outdoor brands from California suddenly have some serious competition. We ARE International! And still the mountain wilderness touches people’s lives as powerfully as ever. Bit by bit, we are doing it better, more safely, and with more awareness each passing season.

Waiting for snow in New Denver,

David Harley

Gore-Tex 101

When Goretex originally launched in the 1975/6, we were there. As one of Goretex’s very first customers in the world, we manufactured 650 Goretex jackets every 8 hours in Vernon BC. And so what have we learned in the past 40+ years?

Firstly, Goretex works WAY better now than it did back then. By changing their PTFE-laminate formula, the scientists at Goretex simplified their chemisty – making it more breathable AND much lighter AND vastly less likely to leak over time. If you haven’t had a Goretex jacket in the past 4 or 5 years, you will be surprised! Waterproofness is much higher, and Breathability is likewise much, much higher than is the old days. No comparison really.

The mega-improvement in breathability is immediately noticeable once you spool up and start to create heat inside your jacket. Heat and moisture moves through the film much easier than earlier generations. You stay drier and more comfortable. You can’t help but notice. This has encouraged companies to start designing insulated Goretex jackets, using treated goose down or Primaloft. This wouldn’t have been possible before because of the moisture trapped inside the jacket.

Imagine two toothbrushes – a soft and a stiff. The only difference is that the bristles vary in flexibility – the stiff toothbrush bristles have higher “tenacity” than the softer one. Likewise the yarns being used in the woven exterior textiles on today’s Goretex jackets are much higher tenacity than before, increasing “tear strength” and ” surface abrasion resistance” and reducing weight. You can still destroy your jacket, but it will be more difficult than it was before.

Waterproof zippers are standard features these days on Goretex jackets. These zippers can be glued into place for pockets, pit zips and centre front openings – they eliminate extra flaps and stitching making all the zips more waterproof, snag less and the overall jacket lighter and more compact in your backpack.

Look inside a new Goretex jacket – because the fabric is stronger, they can use narrower seam allowances and narrower seamseal tape, eliminating weight and expense. Hems and cuffs are now glued instead of sewm, eliminating weight and expense. Everything is optimized to enhance performance and minimize weight.

Overall, there has never been a better time to invest in a Goretex jacket. You’ll get more years of use, carry less weight, and perform closer to your theoretical maximum performance. We’re jazzed to continue to lead the “arms race” boasting Canada’s best Goretex lineup from the world’s best brands – Arcteryx, Montane, Norrona, Patagonia, Mammut, Black Diamond, OR, and Marmot.

Exclusively at VPO – Montane

Montane is brand new to Canada in 2016, and exclusive to Valhalla Pure Outfitters shops.

We chose Montane over other brands because we love their “Further, Faster” mantra. Their focus concentrates on endurance pursuits – they are the banner sponsor of the “Tor des Geants“. Their sponsored athletes are some of the best ultra distance runners in Europe and the World.

Founded in the early 1990s, Montane is almost the same age as Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Neither of us are legacy brands from the 1960s and 70s, we’re much more contemporary to today’s advanced outdoor marketplace. But you’ll quickly notice that Montane, like Valhalla Pure Outfitters, designs for specific authentic outdoor pursuits, and both of us leave fashion fluff for other brands.

Just a hop and a skip from the extreme mountain conditions of Scotland, Montane stands for rugged durable sensible design. Here are some examples…

Montane has a brand new Goretex collection – each piece is designed for the specific end market: mountaineering all features mens, backcountry ski mens & womens, urban casual mens & womens, and trail running mens & womens.

Have you ever wanted to put an uberlight windshell in the bottom of your pack just in case? Montane makes the lightest shell in the world!!! – weighing in at a crazy 47 grams – the FEATHERLITE7 full front zip jacket.

Are you headed north from Red Deer or Prince George or Iqualuat mid winter? Montane offers an arctic parka called DEEP COLD DOWN PARKA that pulls every trick out the bag, incuding blending blown primaloft and treated goose down together, to ensure that it’s virtually impossible you will get cold.

Or take a look at the BLACK ICE PARKA. This one features baffled-wall down, silky smooth fabrics, 4″ longer than normal body length for ballistic warmth in February.

Need a hooded goose down sweater that boasts treated goose down and durable ultralight Pertex shell fabric? A great layering piece for anyone who is active outdoors 3 seasons of the year. Check out the FEATHERLITE DOWN SWEATER.

Watch for more cool gear from Montane in the years ahead!

How High Have You Climbed? Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Humans push their limits. It’s in our DNA. Maybe that’s what Adventure is?

If anyone is considering climbing a big mountain, consider Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania East Africa. It’s one of the 7 summits, maybe a good one to start on. If you’ve skied in Colorado, you’ve come close.

Getting there is simple- we chose Delta to Amsterdam, then a 9 hour flight to JRO Kilimanjaro Airport and a 40 minute drive into Moshi. Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341ft) towers over Moshi (3,000ft). It’s powerful to be sitting in the heat of the Union Cafe in Moshi, while contemplating Kili’s ice so closeby.

Unlike a lot of other mountains which are peaks, or shoulders of other peaks, in a long ridge, Mt. Kilimanjaro juts up (almost) on its own out of the savanah. Elephants and zebras over there, glaciers right up there. Just south of the equator.

One problem: there is about half as much oxygen at 20,000ft as at sea level. Don’t get winded or start gasping for breath. Luckily you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, you can just 1/ acclimatize and 2/ go very slowly. Diamox helps too.

Endurance athletes with onboard oxygen are running up Kili in under 9 hours. We took 8 days. It’s a very cool place to hang out. And the guides and porter are likewise good guys and gals. I’m sure there are problems, but we booked with African Scenic- owned by an Australian married to a Tanzanian. They understood managing customer expectations and logistics as well as anyone we’ve met in the tourism business. They have a good website and are very responsive. We recommend them highly.

There are various world class game parks within a half day drive of Moshi, including Serengeti and Tarangire. Big African animals are in abundance, excluding the rhino- they are around but hard to find. Day or multi day trips are easily arranged, either booked ahead or spontaneously while there. The guides get as excited as anybody when they spot new animals to view.

Zanzibar and Dar-es-Salaam are an hour flight away. They are much more urban, beach inspired versus the mountain and big game focus of Moshi. We didn’t go. It was fun to just hang in Moshi (and recover from walking down from 19,000′ to 5,000′ in 10 hours).

Like someone who has seen the movie you are lined up for, this is deliberately vague.

Is the mountain impressive? Yes, it’s huge but well worn. Kili is a gigantic stack of calderas one on top of the next. It must have been quite the volcanic show way back. But there is no climbing or scary stuff on most of the routed treks. The final push to the summit is still just a walk. Pole, pole!

Is there ice? Yes, lots of 40-60′ deep, glowing blue glacial remnants. But no sulphur or gas smell, the mountain is dormant.

Should you expect cold on top? Definitely. You’ll start off in the tropics, but for the summit push you’ll need good base layer, fleece, down sweater, rain shell with hood, winter gloves, rain or ski pants, a toque, a warm sleeping bag.

What other gear should you bring? The Diamox pills will make you pee so take it first thing in the am, and if you’re lucky you’ll only get up once at night. Headlamp is imperative, bring spare batteries. I felt safer with my Steripen. Check the various gear lists online. Sun block and lip balm for altitude. Hiking poles are useful going up, but necessary coming down.

We started our climb of Kilimanjaro on Christmas Day and summited on New Years Eve, 2015. We returned in good shape, with a bit of a sunburn and legs ready for skiing, and a much better understanding of the challenges facing our new friends in Tanzania. Thank you Ami, Doudi, Moses, Sam, Eman and Thomas! You are welcome in the Great White North any time.

Vikings

The Vikings were the greatest northern civilization the planet has ever seen.

The Vikings were our kind of folks. They adventured all over their world, from Newfoundland to central and southern Russia, the entire UK, from the Arctic to the Middle East. We have a soft spot for adventurous travelers, and the Vikings were inspirational!

While the Vikings, both men and women, were great horsemen, they were also amazing sailors. Sailing from Norway to Newfoundland well over 1000 years ago was an incredible accomplishment.

As we explore the Norse civilization, we are also fond of the Viking’s taste for fish and mead drinks, appreciation of fine music, crafts, and artisan metalwork- especially the axes and swords! We love their respect for unique Viking traditions and beliefs that carry on even today.

Valhalla Pure Outfitters was born next to the Valhalla Range in southern BC.  In the surrounding country, Norse peak names are frequent. The conditions in our inland rainforest alpine are lush and spectacular, but the weather can occasionally be punishing and cruel.

Like the Vikings, we appreciate good gear- top to bottom, inside and out. We seek and support brands that craft solutions from around the world and design innovative, ground breaking products we can offer forward with confidence. We push the leading edge of the outdoor gear arms race.

You will see “Welcome to the Valhalla Kingdom” signage in our stores and on the website. The Valhalla Kingdom is not a specific place or time- it’s an attitude that values Adventure for its own sake, a theme inspired by the ancient Vikings, and a state of mind honoring Nature’s profound elegance, reborn deep in the Selkirk Range of British Columbia.

David Harley

New Denver, BC

Taking the path less traveled makes all the difference

Valhalla Pure Outfitters is set up unlike any other outdoor retailers on the planet.

Each shop is locally owned. And each owner and staff organically respond to their local culture, and buy uniquely. Believe me- the cultural differences between towns in BC and AB are amazing.  Revelstoke and Red Deer, Victoria and Medicine Hat- way different. Which is really, really cool.

All VPO shops are likewise similar but different. After 10 years of morphing into each individual market, brands and categories may differ but there is a familiarity to VPO store policies, how our staff are somehow both chill and really well informed, the vibe is small town, and specialized to outdoors. Even our big VPO shops know their core customers by name, conversations get picked up from the last visit. It should be fun, right?

Having owners in the shops, directing the traffic and responding day to day makes a huge difference. Most chains are pyramidal- layers of “command and control” rise to the top of the pyramid, just like the military. But at VPO, our decision makers and folks with primary responsibility aren’t in a distant office- they’re in your town, down the street. Our org chart looks more like a bike wheel than a pyramid- Head Office at the center provides IT and Online coordination, but each spoke connects the real decision makers in the stores. Or maybe a donut?  Either way- but not “command and control”.

Our shared IT is critical- it’s the 21st century- innovating is key. Our home-baked (and amazing!) software is self designed for our weird organizational structure. Gift Cards, Adventure Bucks, product pricing, and Warranties are shared, but secured behind permission access. Online order fulfillment is a shared group effort between Head Office staff and each and every VPO store- sometimes parts of an order will be shipped to a customer from 4 different VPO shops. Because our IT is slick, our staff have time to write notes to put in boxes, and if you call in, you can chat up our staff.

Keeping track of 50,000 SKUs is tough- but comes with bragging rights. VPO.ca has the largest outdoor selection available in Canada. We match or beat the big guys every day, and our customers earn Adventure Bucks on every purchase, all the time- that’s like icing on the cake.

Even though we’re small, we’re way more agile and way more customer- centric. We believe our systems and our philosophies are the way you would want us to do business – not just great product at great prices- but because we’ll assist you make better choices in a chill relaxed manner. And we’re your neighbours. And we’re not putting the squeeze on to jack our stock options- we don’t have any!

The Valhalla Pure org chart may be how NOT to do it in some circles, but we’re proud of how well it seems to be keeping us focused on our customers and helping them out.  And that makes all the difference.

David Harley

New Denver, BC

Trust.

Trust.

synonyms: confidence, belief, faith, certainty, assurance, conviction, credence

Hmmm. Credence sounds interesting.

When we find something on the Internet, do we trust it to be true? Are we confident?

That’s a hot subject right now. Sometimes it seems more than half of what I view, within a couple months turns out to be either false, fake, deliberately biased and manipulative, or just irrelevant.

Today’s modern journalists are renown for not only failing to check their facts, but also deliberately using misleading titles in order to have their articles found by search- ranking higher on search is how the media gets paid- not by truth. Huffington Post, Rolling Stone and Fox News are very profitable, but can also be considered highly suspect sources of misinformatIon and downright fabrications- all to grab attention online.

The media problem is sooo pervasive, combined with 24/7 government surveillance of private email, cell phones, your GPS location and behavior patterns, surely the Internet is having its own authenticity undermined. For some people, who invest sooo much of their time online, they feel loss of privacy, vulnerability, isolation and loneliness. Once trust is lost, there goes confidence, belief, conviction.

Three big brands that have also recently destroyed their brand’s trust are VW, FIFA and the NFL.

Does anyone believe that professional soccer and football, and diesel engines from VW are not dishonest and corrupt? Maybe the diehards are hanging in there, but the mass majority has moved on to trust other things.  There are lots of additional examples:  politicians and their political parties, lobbyists, celebrity lawyers, Monsanto, Scientology…

There is easy money to be made on the Internet misleading and manipulating people because anywhere you click is worth money. In our personal lives, we can likewise attract a lot of attention online. But for a young teenager who makes some mistakes, negative consequences can last a lifetime.

My kids call some of today’s most visible online personalities “attention whores”. Sure, it attracts the clicks and therefore pays, but their end is often loneliness and loss of trust and respect by their friends, family and wider audience.

 

Trust doesn’t scale…

Bigger is often considered better in business, education, government, athletics- bigger means more management, more financial rewards, more talent retention, more financial critical mass.  But “Trust” doesn’t scale- the bigger an organization grows,  the less people trust it.

Here at Valhalla Pure, we find “trust, assurance, authenticity and credence” outdoors. It’s that easy. Go for a walk, a hike, a ski, or a stand up paddle. Be amazed at what you see, hear and feel. Watch your kids and friends relax and light up – the further from the road you go. I’m pretty sure we can trust Mother Nature and learn from her, she’s the real deal.

Valhalla Pure’s Founder Story

David Harley graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1976. After considering taking a corporate job, he instead hitched to California and chilled for a couple months. The SoCal beaches, combined with the jazz clubs in Hermosa and Redondo Beach were a great distraction before heading to Montreal for the summer to try to learn to speak French.

Eventually the summer faded to Fall, and like all dedicated skiers, plans for the winter needed to be made. Returning to BC [hitching across Canada once again] David stopped to work at the Banff School of Fine Arts- as a dish washer. Hiking every opportunity possible, David got into the best shape of his life. On the vertical walls of the Bow Valley, he encountered a revolutionary new product on the climbers he met from Colorado- Goretex fabrics.

Returning to his hometown of Vernon in the Okanagan Valley, including an epic hike from Sandon to Kaslo via Mt Carlyle, David set to designing and building the first Goretex clothing in Canada- using his new brand Far West Mountain Wear. First it was in the attic of his family’s fabric shop, then a series of increasingly sophisticated factories in Vernon and Vancouver. The explosion in performance outdoor textiles fed the business through the 1980s. David and Far West found themselves accidental architects of what would eventually become Canada’s outdoors industry.

In the early 1980s, David opened a small Far West retail shop in Vernon. Although insignificant at the time, it was the seed that soon grew to become Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Inspired by the healthy mountain lifestyle, Valhalla Pure became the go-to place for locals who loved the outdoors.

Each Valhalla Pure store is locally owned and built around the community it serves. Revelstoke, Vancouver, Nelson, Medicine Hat, and Canmore have very different local cultures. Valhalla Pure shop owners are notable outdoors people in their own right. From this diversity and expertise, grounded in BC and Alberta, our unifying theme has always been: offer authentic, cutting-edge outdoor gear and clothing in a knowledgeable and laid-back way that inspires trust.

After 40 years, David remains an active member of the team shaping the future of Valhalla Pure Outfitters. He is a backcountry skier, hiker, sailor and kite boarder, and lives with Kelley in the tiny village of New Denver- on Slocan Lake across from the Valhalla Park. He and his youngest daughter are hiking Kilimanjaro this winter. You can email him anytime president@vpo.ca