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My ownership experience of the Gregory Palisade from 2007 till now. I have used the pack on some long hiking trips in the Himalayas and have lived out of it for close to 3 years in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
I bought the Black Diamond Tripod Bivy specially to use on my winter trip to Ladakh. I wanted the bivy for 2 main reasons.First. I read online that a bivy sack can add some 7 to 10 degrees (C) of warmth inside the shelter. My sleeping bag was rated to only 0F (-18C) and i was worried that it might not be enough to keep me warm in the extreme cold of the Ladakhi winters. I could not afford to buy a new -30 C or -40C sleeping bag. So I bought the Tripod Bivy for 160$, hoping that its added warmth would help me.Second. My other tent was rated only for 3 seasons. I wanted a true 4 season shelter inorder to survive in the Ladakh winter. And once again, owing to my budget constrains, I could not buy a proper 4 season tent and settled on this bivy instead.I took the Tripod Bivy to Ladakh this win
I got to use my Hestra Heli gloves (purchased 4 years back) on my winter trip to Ladakh this year. I was in Ladakh from 14-Feb to 31-March 2015. Having used the gloves for some 6 weeks in extreme cold conditions, i believe that i can finally write a proper review for them. Design The Hestra Heli attempts to combine the warmth of a mitten with the dexterity of a regular glove. The outer has regular fingers for the thumb and the forefinger. While the remaining 3 fingers are joined together to make a mitten like glove. What is strange is that the inner liner has a regular 5 finger design. Ideally the inner and outer should have used the same 3 finger semi-mitten design. The whole idea of mittens is to keep the fingers together for extra warmth. By separating the fingers in the liner i beli
I purchased a pair of Timberland's Washington Summit Hiker boots from Amazon.com back in Oct-2011. I purchased the boots specifically for my then upcoming 6 month trip to the Himalayas starting Apr-2012. I was happy with the boots for the initial few weeks of the trip. The boots looked good, comfortable to wear, had adequate grip, waterproof and generally a pleasure to wear while hiking in the mountains. Just what you would expect from a top of the line hiking boot from a reputed company such as Timberland.The only complaint i had during the initial days was that the boots did not have any sort of toe protection. IMO all good hiking boots should have good toe protection as it can be very painful when you slam your foot on a rock or boulder while hiking. Apart from a couple of painful incid
As a backpacking adventure travel photography enthusiast, i've realized over the years that having the right equipment matters, especially in extreme conditions i frequently find myself in.Take my tripod setup for example. For the past few years, i've been using a Benro Travel Angel tripod and a Benro J0 ballhead. This light setup was perfect for me during the initial days. But the moment i stepped out of my 'normal' environment and went somewhere a bit extreme, like a night out on the Great wall in late November for instance, the equipment began showing its shortcomings. And these shortcomings were only amplified as time went on.I'll highlight some of the complaints with the Benro J0 ballhead here. The shortcomings listed here will apply to similar ballheads like the Markins Q3 as well. E
Back in 2009 i bought in to the hype surrounding the Zeiss lenses and purchased the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZE lens. This little lens easily exceeded my expectations with its image quality, color rendition and sharpness across the field that it quickly replaced the Canon 24-105 f4L as my primary travel and walk around lens.At first i was a bit circumspect about getting a fully manual focus lens, but over time i've actually grown to enjoy it more and i find that i get better focus and more keepers with my manual focus lenses than my auto focus (AF) lenses. Ofcourse, for moving subjects i still prefer to use the AF lenses but in all other scenarios (probably 90% of my photography subjects) the manual focus works just fine for me.The most impressive aspect of this lens is its sharpness across the fra
Anyone buying the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 Planar (ZE, ZF, C/Y) should be aware of its Focus Shift issue. It is a well documented issue with this lens (and several others like the Canon 50 f1.2 L, Zeiss 85mm f1.4 etc) which can render this lens pretty much unusable for closeup shots. Fortunately with the right technique and a little bit of practice this issue can be mitigated easily.Focus Shift Explained :So what is this focus shift issue exactly ? Basically it means that means that that lens's focus shifts as you stop down. Normally (with any lens) you will focus with the aperture wide open and then while pressing the shutter the camera will stop down the lens to its desired aperture value to take the shot. But sometimes (with some lenses) stopping down shifts the focus to a different point result
I've bought my Sierra Designs Lightning 2 ultralight Tent back in 2007. The lightweight tent accompanied me on quite a few adventures from trekking in the high himalayas to touring around Ladakh. It performed flawlessly in all kinds of weather.. cold, wet and windy.After a few years, i noticed that the seam sealing on the underside of the tent had started to peel off. And the tent started leaking in wet conditions. So it was imperative that i fix the tent before my next trip.After a bit of research, i ordered the McNett water based seam sealer from Amazon and asked one of my friends to carry it for me from the US (to India). Here are my impressions using the seam sealer to fix my tent. First i vigorously rubbed off the old peeling sealant coating on my tent using a wet rag and then let it
I have a tripod L-bracket always attached to my camera (as it allows me to use the tripod at a moments notice, easily attach the camera hand strap, and provides extra protection for the camera against bumps and nicks). Removing it inorder to connect a (Black Rapid type) sling strap was never an option for me and i assume most other L-bracket owners would also feel the same.On the flip side, i like carrying my camera in the sling position but the regular camera straps are not ideal for this purpose. So naturally i wanted some manufacturer to come with with an ideal solution which would allow me to use the sliding sling straps with an tripod L-bracket without having to remove the strap to use the tripod and viceversa.Unfortunately the solutions that the manufacturers came up with were all pr
I have to admit i was very impressed the first time i saw the You Tube video where a Hoya sales representative banged the Hoya HD filter against the corner of a desk and tried his best to scratch the glass on the filter without any success. They looked indestructible in that video. I was so impressed that i decided to buy the Hoya HD CPL for my 6 month trekking trip to the Himalayas. I ordered the filter from Maxsaver, an online store in Hongkong which sells original Hoya & B+W filters for cheap prices and has a very good reputation among photographers worldwide. The filter arrived promptly with 2-3 weeks of ordering and on first impressions i was quite impressed with the build quality of the filter.The polarizer functioned as it should, albeit adding a warm tinge to the pictures (the
Back in 2010 I reviewed the Kingston Elite Pro 32 GB 133x CF Memory Card. The 32GB CF card cost about 70$ at that time. It was a bit slow but roomy, reliable and perfect for my needs.Fast forward to 2013, and my needs have expanded a bit. I now try to short short videos during my travels and the Kingston Elite Pro is just not fast enough for 720p videos. I could shoot only 3 to 5 seconds of footage before the card starts buffering and abruptly ending the video. So i started looking for a new faster CF card and the Transcend CF400x Premium 32GB seems to perfectly fit my needs. The Transcend costs only about 45$ and is more than 3 times faster than my old Kingstons. It has a read speed of 88mb/s and write speed of about 62mb/sec, perfect for shooting Hi Def videos.I will order the card soon
I went to the Shanti Cafe because of its free Wi-Fi and its great location right above the busy promenade of Old Manali. The one good thing i like about the tourist restaurants in Old Manali this year (2012) is that most of them have started offering free Wi-Fi to attract customers, but the food still remains bad and the Shanti cafe is no different.The cafe has a nice relaxed atmosphere. Its great to sit by the railing and watch the colorful characters walking along the promenade of Old Manali. I ordered a lassi and started working on my computer, checking Facebook and updating Kettik. The owner is from Keylong, a Nepali originally but born and bought up here in India. He spoke good English and we chatted for a while.Everything was nice until i ordered my main course. I was in mood for som
Located on Mission Road, just off the main Mall Road in Manali, this quiet little restaurant does not attract many tourists. But dont let that fool you into thinking that the food here is no good. Its great. In my 3 visits to Manali, i must have eaten at the Mayur restaurant some 5 or 6 times and the food has been great each time. The interiors of the restaurant are bright and clean. And very quiet since it was located in a side street of the main Mall road and attracted very little visitors.I especially liked the Chicken Saagwalla (Chicken cooked with green spinach) and their Biryanis. The prices were also reasonable, about 50% less than that of the Sher-E-Punjabji restaurant located on the Mall road (i found that the restaurants on the Mall road all charge exorbitant prices compared to r
At 75$, this was one of the best gear purchases that i ever made. I live in South India and i wanted a sleeping bag which i can use in a variety of conditions from hiking in the tropical jungles of South India to backpacking around China to summer/autumn camping in the high Himalayas. Over the course of the past 4 - 5 years (i purchased it mid 2007) this bag has proven itself to be perfect for my needs.Before i go into the detailed review of the sleeping bag, i just want to list out some of the different conditions that i've used this bag in. Although the bag is rated as -1C, i've used it at much lower and much warmer temperatures. Granted it was not always very comfortable when the temperatures dipped below 0C, but i lived to tell the tale. Slept out in the open on the Great Wall. -15C, n
When i visited Maan back in October 2010 there were no signboards advertising homestays or guesthouses. I asked around, and villagers pointed me to a local home (check the map above for the exact location of the house).The host is the wife of the headmaster of the government school in Maan. She spoke good hindi and was friendly and hospitable. They did not have a separate room for vistors and i ended up staying in their common 'glass' room and had my dinner in their kitchen with the family. Overall it was a typical homestay experience in ladakh, warm and friendly.Tourism is relatively new to the Maan village, the villages of Maan and Merak were opened to tourists only in 2010. Few of the enterprising locals are scrambling to cash in. My hosts were also building a couple of rooms to accomod
I visited the TsoKar lake back in October 2010 while cycling the Manali - Leh highway.The Tso Kar lake is located close to the main highway and one can always do a short detour to the lake before continuing on their way to Leh (or to Manali). It is well worth the effort.The approach:To reach the Thukje village one has to take a diversion at Debring (at the base of the climb to the TangLang La pass) and follow the asphalt road for about 15km to reach the village. There are a few dirt tracks available before Debring which lead towards the lake. We (me and 2 other cyclists) followed one of them, only to realize later that they do not lead to the Thukje village but to a campsite near the lake's wetlands.By the time we realized our mistake, we were too far in to turn back, and we could see the