Had the honor of working with Pavel Tsatsouline and Eric Frohardt on this article.
If you are active, then you know how important it is to have healthy fascia and muscle tissue. There are several kinds of tools you can use to keep these tissues healthy and resilient. We picked a few of our favorite handheld self-myofascial release tools that work to help you stay active and recover for your next adventure. Check out the video and then read on below for more info and links.
Trigger Point GRID STK Hand Held Foam Roller and STK X Hand Held Foam Roller
Trigger Point has been making a wide variety of good self-myofascial release tools. I’ve used the GRID Foam Rollers for years and the TP and MBX Massage Ball (links) are always in my backpack. Trigger Point even offers professional education course to show you how to use their products and learn how to perform SMR (Self Myofascial Release). Trigger Point is well established and deliver a lot of education on the subject.
The STK and STK X are semi hard foam rollers with a “GRID” surface and “AccuGRIP” handles to hold onto. The GRID surface is designed to mimic a massage therapist’s hands and there are two different “Distrodensity Zones” on the roller. Meaning, there are two different patterns on the roller. The roller is easy to clean and very well made. The STK X is made of a firmer foam and designed for more advanced users. Trigger Point has very helpful “how to” videos and gives good instruction on best practices with their products.
Does the Trigger Point STK Roller work?
Personally, I think the STK Roller is overbuilt and does not feel as good as other hand rollers. It could be user error on my part or just a preference to using a smoother surface to roll with. I did find that using the MCT (Myofascial Compression Technique) was helpful on trigger points. Though you can do the MCT with all these products. So, as much as I wanted to like it (as I like their other products) the STK and STK X were not my top pick. The firm foam and texture did not mix with my body.
The Stick Body, Stick Travel Stick, and Little Stick Roller
The Stick has been around for over 30 years and offers a range of “Sticks” from small (Travel Stick – 14”) to big (Big Stick – 30”) and from flexible (Flex Stick) to firm (Stiff Stick). The Stick takes a different approach to hand held rolling tools. Each Stick has several “rollers” that slide and rotate over a semi flexible “core” then attach to plastic handles to hold onto. Their idea is the user can bend the Stick and apply as much, or as little, pressure as they need. It is very nice that they have a wide variety of sizes and flexes to suit the needs of the user.
Does The Stick work better than the Trigger Point STK?
The Trigger Point STK and The Stick are two different animals in the same zoo. Both can work for you but personally, I like the Stick better. I kept a Travel Stick in my backpack and used Body Stick as my daily driver for years. We use the Stick at our gym and PT clinic and the clients seem to like them. If you want a firm foam hand roller with a massive grid pattern and handles that would be just as well suited on a mountain bike, then Trigger Point STK is for you. If you are very muscular than the STK X would be even better. If you prefer to have a uniform rolling surface and more pliable tool, then The Stick is for you. Plus, there are 12 different versions available, so you are bound to find one that suits your needs.
Tiger Tail Classic and Tiger Tail Roadster
Tiger Tail is a hand foam roller that is right in the middle of the Trigger Point and The Stick. It is firm like the Trigger Point, yet smooth like The Stick. There are three models to choose from: Classic, Roadster, and Long One. Roadsteris 11” long and fits into a backpack with ease. The Classic is 18” long and The Long One is 22”. Each Tiger Tail is built with a firm cushioned foam roller that spins over a solid bar and has rubber handles. Bonus – Tiger Tail is made in USA and Woman Owned.
Does the Tiger Tail perform better than The Stick or Trigger Point STK?
Yes, I think it is the perfect combination of many things:
The foam is firm and easy to clean.
There is no texture on the foam, so the feel is consistent. Unlike the STK with the aggressive patterns.
No rollers to pinch skin or make noise. The Stick makes noise when you travel with it and every once in a while you can pinch your skin (or body hair).
The rubber handles feel good. The Stick’s handles are hard plastic and the STK handles feel like they should be on a mountain bike.
The travel size is perfect.
Any of these products will help you recover faster than nothing at all. They all work on very similar SMR principals and each company does a good job of showing the user how to use the product. Whether you use one of these products, a foam roller, lacrosse ball or softball, make sure to use best practices and stay consistent with your recovery program.
BulletProof Products Review
The Entire 2017 Lineup of Supplements!
Biohacking, Bulletproof Coffee, ketogenic diet, MCT, BDNF and smart drugs. You may have heard of these things and have lots of questions on them, such as. Does BulletProof coffee really work? Does BulletProof Coffee really have butter in it? How do you make it BulletProof Coffee? What is ketogenic diet? What is BDNF? Can you make more mitochondria? Can you bio hack your life with supplements? We are going to do our best to walk you through these questions (and much more) as we review all the BulletProof supplements and give you some background on how they may (or may not) work. Grab some coffee (and butter?) and get ready to learn!
What is BulletProof Coffee?
BulletProof coffee is a combination of a few things. There are actually BulletProof coffee beans (called BulletProof Coffee) that are basically single origin coffee grown at high altitude. The beans are tested to make sure they contain no mold or other toxins. The coffee is actually high quality and comes in 4 roasts in whole bean or ground. There are also some decaf versions. You do not need the BulletProof brand of coffee to make “BulletProof Coffee” though. Though we did use it the “BulletProof Mentalist” medium roast for this review. It is important to use good quality coffee when you make the recipe though. Dave has spent much of his time talking about mold and how dangerous it can be and one of the many sources for mold is actually in coffee. $19 for 12oz
How to make BulletProof Coffee
First, start with your coffee (again, it does not have to be BulletProof brand). Brew the coffee using your favorite method. We often use a pore over with a metal filter. Next, add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter. Yes, butter, but not any butter will do. Make sure it is organic and preferably non-salted. They recommend Kerry Gold. Add the butter to the coffee and mix it in a blender (or use a hand mixer) to froth the two ingredients together. It actually tastes good and fills you up. The theory here is that you are supplying your body and brain with fats and not affecting the fasted state. There are many theories on this and you can come to your own conclusions. To ramp up the BulletProof coffee, add 1-2 Tablespoons of MCT oil or Brain Octane (will cover that in a separate review below). If you really want to make the turbo charged you can add collagen (BulletProof Collagen reviewed below) and even some Cacao. Check out the video below to see how to make BulletProof Coffee.
Does BulletProof Coffee work?
Yes, I think it works. Personally, I have been drinking versions of BulletProof coffee for several years. Though I don't use BulletProof brand for all the ingredients. We have access to a local roaster and source out our own quality coffee beans. I usually use Great Lakes Collagen and a Tablespoon of organic cacao powder. I have been using Brain Octane and Kerry Gold butter for years. So, the perfect BulletProof Coffee for us is - 2 cups coffee + 1 tablespoon Brain Octane + 1 serving collagen + 1 tablespoon butter + 1 serving cacao powder. It is legit! Others might use coconut oil instead of the Brain Octane or MCT oil. While that can be ok, it will taste like coconut and have a different ratio of beneficial fats. Personally, I would recommend a good MCT oil or Brain Octane. Warning - do not start off with 2 tablespoons of MCT oil or butter! You will crap your pants. Seriously though, it can be hard on the stomach and cause loose stool. Like most things in life, start low and work your way up.
MCT Oil and Brain Octane
What is MCT oil?
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides. There is a lot of research out there regarding MCT and the benefits of them. We will not go too deep into that, but rather give you the nutshell version. MCTs are unique in that they can be used as fuel a bit faster than other fats because they don't need to be processed by the liver (except possibly Lauric Acid C12, so there is debate as to whether this is actually an MCT or an LCT). BulletProof brand MCT oil is called XCT oil and is mostly Caprylic (C8) and Capric (C10) acids. These are more beneficial than Lauric Acid (C12) in most cases.
Is Coconut oil the same things as MCT oil?
Not necessarily. Coconut oil is great to cook with and use on your body. However, it is 50%+ Lauric Acid (the least beneficial of the MCTs) 10% Capric Acid and 5% Caprylic Acid. The rest of the fatty acids in coconut oil are C14 and above. One could say that there are beneficial MCTs in coconut oil, but really it is just ~15% or so. The rest of coconut oil is much like long chain fatty acids.
Does MCT oil work?
Yes. MCT oil provides beneficial fats that the body and brain can use quickly as fuel. There are many brands of MCT oil out there. Do not cheap out on quality. BulletProof brand XCT oil is as good as any brand, if not better. They claim to filter out some of the solvents by-products that could cause an upset stomach. What I like best about their version is that they only use coconut oil to extract the MCTs. No palm is used. This is a big deal to many of us as the palm industry is not very good for the environment. We will leave it at that. Feel free to look into the palm industry to see why. XCT Oil $30 for 32oz, $15.50 for 16oz
What is Brain Octane?
Brain Octane is pure Caprylic (C8) the most beneficial of the MCTs. It would take 18 times the coconut oil to get the same amount of C8. You do not want to eat 18 times of any fat!
Does Brain Octane work?
Yes! I prefer Brain Octane over XCT or MCT oil. I have been putting Brain Octane in my coffee for years. Of all the food and supplements in this BulletProof review, Brain Octane is at the top of my list. In fact, it is a core staple of my daily biohacking regiment. Again, start with a low dose and work your way up. I find that 2 tablespoons a day are the right amount for me. I feel clear headed and energized when taking it. Sometimes I take a few days off, to see if I can feel a difference, and the answer is always yes, I can feel a difference in cognitive performance. $46 for 32oz, $23.50 for 16oz
Collagen is found in animal bone broths, organs, and fish bones. Do you eat those? Probably not, unless you are drinking bone broth (which has made one heck of a comeback!) you are probably missing out on some of collagen’s helpful properties. Collagen mixes easily and has very little flavor. Collagen differs from gelatin as it is hydrolyzed. This helps keep it from thickening as it cools. Collagen is a protein source and is especially high in glycine. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, comprising 1/3 of our make up. It is used to make connective tissue, skin, and bones. Studies have shown it to help in wound recovery, arthritis, and skin appearance.
Does Collagen work?
Yes! Is the Bulletproof Collagen better than other collagen brands? Could be. After using the Bulletproof brand Collagen for 4 weeks I did not notice much if any difference over the collagen I usually take (Great Lakes). Bulletproof sources their collagen from grass-fed, hormone free, pasture raised cows. So you can feel good about that. $39 for 16oz
Collagen Protein Bar and Bites
BulletProof really nailed it with their protein bars and bites. The Collagen Bars and Bites come in 3 flavors - Lemon Cookie, Fudge Brownie and Vanilla Shortbread. All of them taste amazing. They are made of organic cashew butter, BulletProof Collagen, XCT oil, Brain Octane oil, chicory root fiber, stevia, sea salt and either vanilla, cacao or lemon. I loved these! $35 for 12 bars $29 for 15 bites.
Coconut Charcoal Capsules
Activated charcoal has been used for detoxing for a long time. Do you have a water filter on your fridge? That probably has a charcoal base to it. Charcoal absorbs toxins by attracting them with its negative charge and porous surface area. Bulletproof brand Upgraded Coconut Charcoal is made from coconut shells.
Does Bulletproof Coconut Charcoal work?
Yes. I have personally been using charcoal for years to help with detoxification from bad food or even alcohol. One of my secret weapons is to take 2 charcoal capsules before going to eat at a questionable restaurant. We all have to eat at some crappy place sometimes and taking the charcoal beforehand helps me tolerate the “less than ideal” food. If I know I am going to have more than a few beers, I take a couple capsules before hand. I cannot say it completely negates a hangover, but it certainly does help! $19 for 90 capsules.
Ketogenic diet is basically a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet. It has been shown to help with epilepsy and many people are claiming it has helped them think more clearly and operate at a better performance. Fasting is usually part of the diet as well. You can look into the Ketogenic diet more and make your own conclusions. Many of the BulletProof products are beneficial for a ketogenic diet. Dave Asprey's books delve into this in great detail and offer many recipes and success stories.
Personally, do not follow the ketogenic diet so I cannot speak fully to its benefits nor how some of these supplements below might work better on this kind of diet. What I can offer is a history of biohacking for 25 years and a background in fitness and nutrition. I have tried more supplements and smart drugs than I can count. I will do my best to give honest answers regarding the supplements bellow.
KetoPrime is a lozenge that you let dissolve in your mouth for about 10 minutes. The 3 main ingredients are 80mg Vitamin C, 1mg B12and 100mg Oxaloacetate or OAA for short. The basic idea is to take KetoPrime when you want to think clearly, perform at your best and spark the Krebs cycle.
Does KetoPrime work?
Not sure. It might work better if I was on a ketogenic diet. I like the flavor quite a bit though. They say it mimics the effect of a calorie restricted diet and helps your body create new mitochondria. I have no quantifiable way of proving this. I used it before many kettlebell sessions and tracked HRV to see if it helped. It is quite possible that it did as the HRV was slightly elevated (a good thing). $59 for 30
Forbose is billed as a supplement that can help you recharge your ATP “batteries” aka mitochondria. The main ingredients are 678mg D-Ribose, 50mg Coleus Forskohlii, and 30mg Magnesium. Note - ribose can lower blood glucose, so take with food.
Does Forbose work?
Not sure. Again, it is hard to prove that this works (for me). I did not notice any positive or negative effects while taking it. $25 for 60
NeuroMaster, besides sounding like an 80s movie about a giant brain, is a supplement based on coffee fruit extract. Yes, the actual fruit that surrounds the coffee bean. There are studies showing that there are beneficial properties to this coffee fruit. The ingredients are 200mg NeuroFactor whole coffee fruit extract and 71mg Coffeeberry energy coffee fruit extract.
Does NeuroMaster work?
Yes. Well maybe. I can feel it ramping me up, but it also contains 71mg of caffeine, so that could be what I am feeling. I respond well to caffeine and take in 300-400mg a day from coffee and other sources. Keep in mind the caffeine contact if you are sensitive to caffeine! Does NeuroMaster increase BDNF as it claims? That is hard to say. Caffeine is a wonderful drug and is proven to help improve physical and mental performance. Is this better than a caffeine pill of coffee? Debatable. $56 for 30
Unfair Advantage is a liposomal PQQ and CoQ10 supplement that is sold as an energy wave inducing, brain enhancing supplement. The liposomal delivery system is unique and the supplement comes in a mini shot vessel. The ingredients are Active PQQ and CoQ10.
Does Unfair Advantage work?
Yes. It took awhile for me to notice the benefits of this supplement. When I did realize it was doing something was on a long mountain bike ride that usually kicks my ass. After using the BulletProof brand for 30 days, I tried a less expensive version and noticed similar results. Now PQQ is a daily supplement for me. $59 for 30
Sleep Mode is obviously a sleep aid. Yes, it has melatonin, but only .3mg. That is a lot less than most over the counter melatonin products (often 1-10mg) The melatonin they use is also plant sourced so it is bio-identical. It also contains a small dose of Brain Octane and 400mg L-Ornithine the is supposed to help lower cortisol and improve sleep patterns.
Does Sleep Mode work?
Yes. I have battled insomnia my entire life and take sleep aids often. The first time I took SleepMode, I zonked out for 10 hours. I am usually a 5-6 hour of sleep kind of guy. I tried it out several more times and was able to stick to the usual 6-hour sleep cycle. It did not make me drowsy at night, nor the next day (like most melatonin products do). What I noticed most, was an increase in lucid dreaming right before I would wake up. I often have lucid dreams, but they are usually in the middle of the night. It was surprising to have the just before waking up. What I did with the lucid dreams was go back into the dreams and figure out what I needed to tackle for the day. Then I would wake up, already having brainstormed angles of approaching my work. I found that pretty interesting! I am not saying that will happen to you, but it might be worth a try. $36 for 60
5-HTP is naturally formed from tryptophan in your body while it is creating serotonin. The idea of supplementing with 5-HTP to help with serotonin and decrees desire for sugar has been around for a while. Bulletproof version contains 1.3mg B6 and 50mg 5-HTP.
Does Bulletproof 5-HTP work?
Maybe. I don’t believe I have issues with producing serotonin so this supplement may be lost on me. I also do not crave sugar so I did not notice a benefit from that angle either. $20 for 90
Zinc with Copper
Zinc and Copper are two important minerals that help your body do a lot of important functions. When combined they can form copper-zinc SOD, an antioxidant.
Does BulletProof Zinc with Copper work?
Yes. I take zinc already, so I stopped taking my usual zinc supplement for a few weeks before taking this combo. One thing I notice when I don't take zinc, is I feel slightly out of hormonal balance. How do I quantify this? Morning wood. That’s right. It is like a natural barometer on my testosterone. Make of that what you will. I have my hormones checked at least every 6 months for the last 10 years and have dialed in a pretty good regiment to keep levels in the healthy range. Zin has been part of that plan. I have never had my copper levels tested so I cannot say that it needed attention. After reading about zinc supplementation, it made sense to take copper with the zinc. $13 for 60
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps with the production of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It is also supposed to help you handle stress more effectively. 500mg of L-Tyrosine per cap.
Does BulletProof L-Tyrosine work?
Probably. I did not notice much when I took it. It is possible that I did not take an effective dose. Research has shown doses of several grams (up to 13grams for a person my size) before stressful events have been effective. However, I am going with the recommended dose from BulletProof so I can keep the review ethical and consistent. $15 for 60
Calcium D-Glucarate is billed as a liver supporting detoxifier that helps increase glucaric acid. This helps regulate metabolism and hormone function.
Does BulletProof Calcium D-Glucarate work?
Not sure. I have taken other brands of this before and noticed no difference as well. Maybe I am not in need of liver detoxification as much as I though? I think that is a good thing! If you were looking for a detoxing supplement, I think you would be better off with the Activated Charcoal. $40 for 90
Methyl Folate or 5-MTHF is an upgraded version of folic acid. Up to 60% of the US population has difficulty converting folic acid to the active version - 5-MTHF. Pregnant women are often recommended to take folic acid and Methyl Folate may be the answer for those who do not process folic acid properly. BulletProof Methyl Folate from Quatefolic provides the equivalent of 800mcg Folate.
Does BulletProof Methyl Folate work?
Not sure. I am not pregnant, nor do I plan to be. Hope that made you laugh a little. Seriously though, I can see this being a real life saver for someone who has a problem processing folic acid effectively. $19 for 100
Methyl B-12 is a spearmint lozenge that provides 5mg of B12 (208,333% of the daily recommended dose) That was not a typo. Yes, over 200k %.
Does BulletProof Methyl B-12 work?
Not sure. It does taste good though! I have never been diagnosed with a B12 deficiency. $15 for 60 lozenges
After using the BulletProof supplements and food products I can honestly recommend the following products:
BulletProof Coffee - It does not have to be their brand of coffee beans, but this is something you should try.
Brain Octane - This is a daily staple for me. If you are just starting out, then XCT oil would probably be sufficient. I have been taking MCT based products for years and can definitely tell the difference from other MCT to Brain Octane.
Collagen Bars and Bites - These are super helpful and healthy. Plus, they taste amazing!
Activated Charcoal - This has helped me through many dinners at restaurants that have questionable food quality and/or for nights when I know I am going to have several drinks.
Collagen - I have been using collagen for the last few years to combat arthritis and have noticed it made my skin look younger. That was not the intent, but a very nice side effect!
Those would be my everyday supplements. Notice how all of them are actually macro nutrients? Meaning, they are food products. Start with your eating habits and then add supplements from there. That would be my advice. Not that you asked, but I am offering it from a fitness professional as well as a fellow biohacker perspective. If you want to delve into supplements, it would look something like this:
PQQ (Unfair Advantage)
caffeine (if you tolerate it well)
zinc with copper
Hope you found that helpful! Go stick some butter in your coffee and kick some ass!
Sean Sewell FMS1, NSCA-CPT, TRX-Force Trainer
You don't need fancy machines to get in shape. For under $200 you can build an effective home gym. Check out the video below, I show you what to get and how to install it. Your home gym does not need to take up lots of space either! You can purchase all of the equipment on our Amazon Store. Check it out!
Free Ebook on how to get started splitboarding - what gear you need, how to train for the mountains and what safety education you will need.
4 Simple Moves to Improve your Golf Game with FourPoints using a TRX and TRX Rip Trainer
These 4 simple exercises using the TRX and TRX Rip Trainer will help improve your swing, core strength and shoulder and back muscles. Do 10-15 per side for 4 rounds each. Let us know how much your golf game improves!
What is a splitboard? Why would you want to use one? How do you go about gearing up for doing it? Is it safe? I get these questions often, so I am going to do my best to write about what splitboarding is to me, how to get started and what tools, education and gear is needed to make the most of the backcountry experience.
What is a splitboard?
A splitboard is a snowboard that is converted into a backcountry tool to ascend mountains then snowboard down them. Basically, it is a snowboard cut down the middle to form two backcountry skis. Much like an alpine touring or telemark ski set up, skins then attach to the bottom of the split “skis”, this allows traction on the snow and therefore allows getting up the mountain. Also, like a backcountry ski set up, the bindings will hinge at the toes, allowing for ankle articulation. The rider skins up the mountain and then takes the skins and bindings off the skis, attaches the skis together to form a snowboard, puts the bindings on and is ready to shred. With me so far? I will go over what you need and what I use below.
My passion for splitboarding goes beyond just the sport. First, my love for the outdoor Colorado lifestyle drives most of what I do. For me being outside is where I find peace, clear my head, fill my soul with joy and enjoy the beauty of the wildness. So when winter hits and I can not go hiking, I happily strap on my splitboard skis and head up the mountain. Second, it is an incredibly effective fitness tool. You can easily burn a few thousand calories, improve endurance, cross-train for other sports, and improve cognitive function. It his not a secret that exercising outside is good for the body, mind, and soul. Third, you can connect with friends, meet new backcountry enthusiasts or go solo. When touring for hours, there is a lot of time to really connect with you partners and be among others in a similar state of mind There are several groups dedicated to splitboarding. Just go on Facebook and find a group in your area, you will find plenty of people that will want to share the trail with you. Finally, getting to shred in powder! If things go well, there can often be unlimited pow runs (until the legs give out!) No waiting on chairlifts, no ducking ropes - it's just an open canvas of nature waiting to be explored. If you have grown bored with the ski area and have a sense or adventure, then splitboarding is for you.
Before heading up into the backcountry, many things must be addressed. Proper education, gear, patience and humility of utmost importance.
There are several books on avalanche education (Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is a good one) that are very insightful, but nothing will be as helpful as taking at least an AIARE 1 course. These courses are offered at many locations and can be obtained over a long weekend. The AIARE 1 course is an introduction to what avalanches are, how they can trigger, how to observe terrain, trip planning and how to use your beacon, probe, and shovel in rescue situations. Very useful stuff! I think it is essential to get at least this level of education. The first time I took the course I was scared that everything in the backcountry was going to kill me. It kept me very humble and made me rethink what I knew about snow. The Level 2 course is much more involved and covers things like SWAG (Snow, Weather, and Avalanche observations Guidelines), more advanced snow science, weather, forecasting and multiple burial rescue practice. I took it last year with a group of badasses, one of whom trapped bears in Canada. One of the days we witnessed an R2 D2.5 avalanche just up a bit from us. No one was injured and it was a perfect opportunity to put the newly learned SWAG to use by reporting the avalanche to CAIC. There is a lot of information covered in both levels and I am still re-reading the materials and practicing procedures. Level 3 would be for professional guides and advanced backcountry users.
Avalanche Safety - Every backcountry skier or splitboarder needs to have an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel and know how to proficiently use them! I really like the Mammut Barryvox Pulse beacon. A good ski or snowboard specific backpack is key to hauling the kit. I prefer bigger packs around 40 liters or so. This should be enough space for the shovel, probe, first aid kit, survival kit, repair kit (everything breaks) food, water, puffy, beanie, extra gloves, goggles, and helmet. There are several avalanche safety backpacks out there. Many use compressed air (ABS system). Personally, I like the Black Diamond Saga JetForce 40 because I can practice using it as much as I need to in order to feel comfortable. Just needs to be charged back up after 4 uses. We put together a video on how it works:
Collapsible trekking poles - These are ski poles with powder baskets that become smaller by either compacting into themselves in 2 or 3 sections or by folding up like an avalanche probe. Many are made of aluminum, which is strong and dependable. Some are adjustable, making them versatile for smaller or taller riders. The BCA Scepter is both aluminum and adjustable. I prefer the Black Diamond Carbon Compactor as it is lightweight, folds up nice and has lasted several seasons of use.
Skins - There are splitboard specific skins from many brands. I have had good luck with the G3 Alpinist and High Traction skins. They are nylon fibers so they are durable and grip well. When looking for more glide and lighter weight, the Jones Nomad are great. They are mohair and pack up smaller.
Bindings - Currently there are three major brands out there right now. Spark R&D offer the Arc and Surge bindings in men's and women sizes. They are hand made in Montana. The Arc is lightweight but more playful, the Surge are stiffer. Voile has the Lightrail bindings and they also make the plastic pucks that both Spark and Voile bindings mount onto. The Karakoram has a different baseplate system and there are several models in the lineup, from the Prime 1 up to the Carbon Prime. Their bindings are handmade in Washington state. I use both the Karakoram Prime and Spark R&D Surge on my boards. Check out this comparison video to see the differences - Spark R&D vs Karakoram:
Boots - I use the ThirtyTwo Jones MTB boot for long days and situations where I might need to use crampons. I use the Burton Tourist for days when I want a comfortable boot for touring. On really mellow days the Ride Insano boot does the trick. The benefit of splitboard specific boots is that many of them have additional articulation in the ankle, allowing for a more elongated and comfortable stride. They also have a stiffer and more aggressive sole that is crampon compatible and can kick into the snow with.
There are a lot of splitboards out there and I have been fortunate to test many of them as the splitboard reviewer at engearment.com For the money, the Arbor Coda, Voile Revelator and Prowder ATK Carbon are good choices and easy to use. For more intermediate to advanced riders, the OZ OZsym and Never Summer Prospector and Swift (out next year), and Jones Solution are all very capable. Prior and Venture hand make their boards and are usually flat base of camber. It is all personal preference on what the best board is. One way to try out different boards is to attend a Splitfest. These are events that manufactures put together at cool spots to showcase their products and offer demos. I just went to the Baker Splitfest and had a great time. Silverton has a great event too. One of the awesome things about the splitboard community is the people in it. The manufacturers are riders and down to earth. I have shared lots of skin tracks (and lots of beers) with many of them, none of them were unapproachable or arrogant. They all got into this sport for the love of backcountry snowboarding and it shows.
Riding at a resort is a whole lot different than earning your turns in the backcountry. It requires a lot more energy to get a run in. Most of the time is spent skinning up the mountain, often on a skin track that can be steep and on uneven ground. Touring takes a lot of strength and endurance as well. Conditioning for it can be very helpful and will allow for a better experience. Touring is often at a higher elevation, so keep that in mind. Out here in Colorado, most of our tours are 10K and higher. That can be pretty humbling! As a personal trainer and splitboarder, I have put together some training programs for backcountry skiing and splitboarding conditioning. A resilient core, leg strength and good flexibility and mobility will help avoid injury as well. Bodyweight exercises like planks, Davies, pushups, pull-ups, lunges, squats, and one leg deadlifts are helpful. Kettlebell exercises like goblet squats, kettlebell swings and Turkish get ups are golden. No need to crush it in the gym, training is practice for real-world activities, so treat it as such. Check out this video for a simple conditioning program that you can do outside, with minimal equipment:
The backcountry is no place for a diet! It is easy to burn a lot of calories (800+ an hour) so it is essential to keep fueled up. I keep several nutrition bars handy (FourPoints Bar is my favorite) and nuts, chocolate, sandwiches or other easy to eat foods are very helpful. Hydration is paramount too. Lots of salt is displaced on a tour and dehydration can keep up quickly. One trick I use is to look at the color of my pee. Seriously! If it is darker than normal (normal pee color is light yellow - like straw) then it is a sign of dehydration. Being dehydrated in the backcountry is not good. Sometimes I take an electrolyte replacement product if it's going to be a big day, or if I don't feel like I am fully hydrated for the tour. Some people bring hot coffee or tea, but I leave it out and use that space and weight for more water.
Make sure the first aid kit is stocked with nonexpired supplies. Throw in a knife, tenacious tape (or duct tape) NSAIDs, and a SAM splint. Check the local avalanche forecast daily. Colorado Avalanche Information Center - CAIC - does an incredible job of providing daily reports on the snowpack for different areas in our state. Check out http://www.avalanche.org for other states. Backcountry adventures are usually out of cell range, so I use BCA Link radios to communicate with my partners and a satellite-based communication device for emergencies. A device like the InReach or Spot can save a life. Map skills and knowing the terrain are key. I like having a plan B and C, as there are often unforeseeable issues that pop up (weather, snowpack, gear malfunction, human malfunction) As much as I like the famous line from Yvon Chouinard “When everything goes wrong, that is when adventure starts” I don't want that something to go wrong and harm someone, or myself. One thing that I run into, and this is probably common among many other sports, is knowing when to call it. When to say no to a line, when to let others know that I am not feeling the conditions or have a bad feeling about the terrain. It can be hard to do, but it is a must for safety. Communication is key and the mountains are not going anywhere.
Splitboarding is a lot of fun and can be a soul enriching experience. It can be a time to share smiles with friends, make new friends and shred some pow! Nature provides us with an unlimited energy source for us to tap into. If you are like me, you already know this and embrace that. I hope the info is helpful. Drop me a line anytime to talk gear, fitness, stoke and beer. Cheers!
Sean Sewell is the Co-Pilot for engeament.com - and covers the splitboard, backcountry and fitness reviews. He is also a certified personal trainer and owner of Colorado Personal Fitness. When not testing (and breaking gear) or training clients, he can be found in the mountains with his wife and their dogs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or to chat about gear or email@example.com to talk about fitness.
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TRX Rip Trainer Push Press in the Backcountry
TRX Rip Trainer Backcountry Workout - Push Press
TRX Rip Trainer Push Press in the Backcountry. All you need is a TRX Rip Trainer and something to anchor it too. In this case our 4Runner.
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