For almost 90 years La Sportiva has been designing high quality footwear to get you to, up, and in the mountains. We’ve been rocking the Nucleo High GTX Boot (La Sportiva’s most breathable boot to date) since April, and we’re smitten. We’ve put these boots to the test in the rolling mountains of the Appalachian Trail, the craggy peaks of Colorado, and the swamps of South Carolina. Each time we’ve been more impressed with the versatility of these leather, medium duty hiking boots.
One of our favorite features of these boots is how breathable they are. Gore-Tex has been used in hiking boots for a long time, but the Nucleo features a material called ‘Gore-Tex Surround’. It consists of a polyester mesh insole that allows air to pass under the Gore-Tex bootie insert, negating many of the complaints users have when wearing Gore-Tex. The boots have full waterproof protection, while also BREATHING. It’s like yoga for your feet. We literally walked through the swamp of Congaree National Park and our feet were happier for it. These boots, when used with warm socks, offer good protection in the high snowfields of Colorado. At a pound each (5 ounces under the average weight for leather boots) these lightweight champs are still kicking in the final round.
The breathability and waterproofing of the Nucleo, while extremely important to us, were outshined by their most important feature—durability. The Nucleo is made from rugged Nubuck leather and La Sportiva’s proprietary Nano-Cell mesh that makes the boot feel indestructible while offering the breathability that you would expect from a synthetic option.
We also like how well the boot grips on different types of surfaces. La Sportiva has a long history of making particularly sticky shoes—it’s their specialty. The Nucleo’s Vibram Nano Sole with Impact Brake System is no exception. This sole was designed to help cushion and stick to terrain when moving fast down hill. The downward push into the front of your boot after a long descent where you end up with hot blisters on the ends of all your toes just doesn’t happen here. Between the Brake System and the lace system, you’ve got a boot that fits like a glove.
We like this boot a lot. If you are interested, we’ve written a blog solo dedicated to the Nucleo High GTX that you can read here.
We do a lot of driving and we can say without a doubt that the United States is best seen off highway. Smart phone GPS is great, but when you’re on a road trip, the windows are down, and the tunes are playing, you want a real map in your co-pilot’s hands. Nat Geo Maps has made an incredible adventure atlas for just these times. The Adventure Atlas holds up to the accuracy and detail that you would expect from Nat Geo Maps, but takes your road trip to the next level. It covers all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
First and foremost this book acts as an incredibly detailed road atlas. It has all of the major roads and highways, but also digs a little deeper with back roads and forest service roads to help get you into the backcountry. All road types are clearly identified so you know what to expect. Major cities and metropolitan areas are shown in high detail with inset maps.
Nat Geo Maps had “spontanious road trips” in mind when they put this atlas together. It shows campsites, national and state parks, BLM land, rivers and mountains ranges. It features an exceptionally accurate topographical profile. They even profile and offer additional information on America’s most visited national parks.
We also like how durable the atlas is. Unlike most atlases on the market this one is actually made to be abused and passed around the car on countless road trips. It’s spiral bound and printed on high quality paper. It also has plastic covers to help prevent stains from spills while your headed down your new favorite road.
We wake up plenty of mornings cold, hungry, and far too tired to pull out the entire kitchen cooking setup. That’s when we praise Mountain House for making the breakfast skillet—a warm, lightweight, easy to cook meal, that you appreciate and need when you live in a van.
Mountain House has been around for 50 years and you can find them in most major outdoor retailers. Their freeze dried meals are ideal for camping, backpacking, or just having on hand in case of emergency. They’re also perfect for groggy van-lifers who need to eat something wholesome before they can actually get anything accomplished. When you open your pouch you’ll find scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, peppers, and onions… everything we want in a breakfast before our adventures.
Freeze dried food has come a long way since it’s inception. People tend to turn their nose up at the thought of freeze dried eggs but somehow Mountain House has figured out a way to make them taste home-made. All of the ingredients re-hydrate perfectly and make you forget that five minutes ago it was sealed in a pouch. The process is easy– just open it up and add in the recommended amount of boiling water directly into the pouch. Take a second to stop and smell the coffee and BAM, you have a delicious, homestyle breakfast ready to be devoured… straight out of the bag. No mess or dishes—just happy, full, van-lifers ready to get to their next adventure.
Mountain House also guarantees the taste of their meals for 30 years. You read that right… 30 full years. That’s the longest proven shelf life in the business. That’s also why it’s always a good idea to have some on hand in case of emergency. They won’t go bad even when your power goes out a decade from now. You’ll be able to have a tasty breakfast right before you stub your toe in the dark on your way out the door.
You can snag Breakfast Skillet in four different sizes depending on what type of adventure you need to fuel. Feed up to ten humans with one container! Perfect for backpacking with a group. Pro tip: throw some Breakfast Skillet in a tortilla and add a splash of hot sauce for a gourmet backcountry breakfast burrito!