Best Chile-Tested Travel Gear: Rainwear, Matches And Headlamp

June 04, 2015

  • by
  • Peter Reese

Bolting across continents, countries and climates requires solid gear choices.  Chile’s Lake District requires carrying a select group of specialty items to overcome challenging weather conditions. Active Junky dove deep into the Lake District and came back loving these three products.

UCO Titan Stormproof Matches:  Time is on Your Side

Uco stormproof matches UCO Stormproof Matches - 2 Boxes Starting at: $6.37 Lighters have limits.  Flint-and-steel fire starters take skill and patience.  UCO puts a torch in your fingers to redefine the match option.  Testers in Chile’s Lake District (filled with volcanoes as well) found Titan’s prowess almost hypnotic.  In damp conditions or when locating tinder or primer fuel pan took time, this one continued to burn strong.  Surpassing already-generous 15sec burn times of other UCO matches, this new 25sec model kept pushing when winds kicked up or materials needed pre-heating to ignite.  Few products in the $10 range provide such clear-cut advantages to frequent or remote trekkers as this one.  Extra strikers come in each box in the event wet conditions neutralize the heavy-duty cardboard sleeve.  Caution is advised as Titan is serious medicine for balky stoves or campfires and deserves respect when handling.

Best For: All-season ignition insurance, impressing at backyard barbecues

Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule:  Go Long, Stay Dry

Sierra designs cagoule03 Sierra Designs Elite Cagoule Starting at: $103.55 At 6.5oz, this stretch version of a rain jacket is pure protection.  Active Junky appreciated the full-length, stand-sit-kneel flexibility attached to an old school style.  Of note was a stiffened brim that defies winds and horizontal rain, complimenting the anti-incursion cuffs.  Pass-through access into base or midlayer pockets makes Elite more credible, while underarm and hip belt vents manage perspiration.  Not simply for taller backcountry trekkers, this piece is a worthwhile addition to the international travel arsenal; activities such as fire building, fishing, paddling and rafting in South America became possible with Sierra Designs.  Pair with the highly adjustable, supremely adaptable 5oz Rain Chaps for world-class downpour defiance.

Best For: Rescuing spring/summer trips in damp and squall-prone locations

Olympia EX550 Headlamp:  The Beauty of Illumination

Ex550 large Olympia EX550 Headlamp Starting at: $69.66

With 550-lumen max output, this new offering from Olympia meant no surprises in Chile’s Lake District.  Between jungle-like forests and nearly limitless volcanic plains, the headlamp’s five lighting modes suited changing conditions.  A corrosion-proof aluminum body satisfied testers in fog, rain and mist, as did the IPX-7 waterproof rating for temporary submersion to 1m.  Critical was the power lockout function to preserve batteries during intercontinental travel and in-country transit.  While the lighting head tipped to the heavy side, EX550’s balance was solid; an infinitely adjustable, rubberized tilt system avoided ratchet breakage common to other options.  At under $70, Olympia musters solid value.  Testers recommend a beefier headband on future iterations, as the top strap is required to prevent shifting.

Best For: Expedition-grade lighting, route-finding under challenging conditions

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