Congratulations to community member Earth Pig, Trailspace's newest Reviewer of the Month!
Each month we recognize and get to know a different member of the Trailspace community, and this month it's Nebraska backpacker Earth Pig (aka James). Earth Pig's reviews of his Outdoor Research VersaLiner gloves and Trail Designs Caldera Cone System were among the highest rated by the community in October.
While he made the move from Trailspace reader/lurker to gear reviewer fairly recently, Earth Pig has been hiking and backpacking for more than 25 years and has 23 years of service in the Army (where he says hiking and backpacking are called long-range patrolling).
Congratulations, Earth Pig! You win this month's featured Reviewer of the Month prize, a Gerber MP1 multi-tool with 12 professional-grade components ($115 value). Plus, you get a goodie pack from A3, Clif, Kind, and Trailspace for your contributions.*
Join the Trailspace community in recognizing other helpful reviewers by voting up the reviews you find most useful. Write your own helpful gear reviews and you could be our next Reviewer of the Month.
Meet Earth Pig
How did you get started exploring outdoors? Any favorite stories, memories?
Some of my earliest and fondest memories come from when my grandfather would take my siblings and I camping. He assigned us all chores to get the camp set up, and once that was done we could go explore the surrounding area. I was always more adventurous and tended to stray farthest.
James/Earth Pig in Nebraska's Indian Cave State Park.
What do you enjoy doing outdoors?
Just being in the moment out in nature. I still get tremendous joy out of arriving at the trailhead, and making that first step out onto the trail.
It’s as if another part of my brain kicks into high gear and I become much more attune to things – sights, sounds and smells of the backcountry, the weather, making sure to stay oriented (i.e., “staying found”), etc.
And I also think there’s nothing quite like that feeling of having trekked all day, and being a bit sore in the legs, tired and hungry... and then setting up camp and eating that nice meal. Man, that’s as good as it gets.
I’m always adding to my list of places I want to hike. Once I complete a trek, I start planning my next one. I’ve hiked extensively in the Midwest, upper Midwest, and even some in the Rockies.
The Black Hills in South Dakota stand out as one of my favorite treks, completing a thru hike of the 110-mile Centennial Trail a couple of years ago. Challenging terrain, scenic views, and panoramas — it had it all. The fact that I got to do it with my Marine son who had just returned from Afghanistan made it extra special.
What’s your perfect outdoor day?
It may sound corny, but any day I get to spend outdoors is a perfect day. I’m thankful for being employed, don’t get me wrong, but any day I can get away from the office, not working at a desk, and not confined to being indoors is a great day to me.
What are your favorite pieces of outdoor equipment? Why?
For me, backpacking begins and ends with taking care of my feet, so I have to go with my footwear and socks.
For footwear I really like my lightweight Inov8 Terroc 330s. Durable, comfortable, and quick drying, I wear them when the terrain is less rugged.
For more challenging terrain, I go with the Merrel Moab Ventilator. It has great support, awesome fit, and is still somewhat quick drying.
I pair these with Darn Tough socks, which are, in my opinion, the best socks ever made for hiking. It’s been years since I’ve had a blister and I owe it these socks. Look for some future reviews on these items!
James/Earth Pig hiking in Indian Cave State Park.
Have any stories to share about your favorite (or least favorite) gear? Good, bad, funny gear experiences?
Never forget to pack toilet paper. It’s a mistake you’ll only make once, believe me.
What motivated you to share your Caldera Cone and OR VersaLiner reviews with the Trailspace community?
Well, I lurked on Trailspace for some time, coming here when I was researching a piece of gear I was interested in. In fact, I always came to Trailspace when looking into the purchase of my gear. The reviews, for the most part, were always informative, useful, and unbiased.
I decided to join Trailspace this past summer because I really enjoyed the reviews written by HornRimmedHiker/Eric and wanted to drop him a note saying so. He's the one who encouraged me to write some gear reviews of my own. So, thanks for the nudge, Eric!
Where does your username come from?
It’s a tag from my days of serving in the Army. As a group, infantrymen live and operate very close to the ground and, as a result, become some of the grungiest, smelliest, and downright dirtiest creatures on earth, whether during training exercises or conducting combat operations.
Anything else you'd like to share with the Trailspace community?
It was a distinct privilege to serve my country for 23 years as a soldier, including numerous deployments. I’m proud of those I served with and all that we accomplished.
Featured Reviewer Prize
Earth Pig wins a Gerber MP1
multi-tool with 12 pro-grade components ($115 value)!
Great job, Earth Pig!
*Besides Trailspace appreciation, Earth Pig wins an MP1 multi-tool, thanks to Gerber, plus a goodie pack with bars from A3, Clif (including a rare seasonal bar), and Kind, and a Trailspace Trail Runner Cap, Pint Glass (for après-backcountry use), and stickers.
Wondering how you can be as lucky as Earth Pig? Write some great gear reviews of your own. Next month we'll recognize another reviewer (who'll win a prize from Keen), and it could be you!
Help recognize the best reviews on Trailspace by clicking that up arrow whenever you read a truly helpful review. You'll not only recognize good reviewers, you'll help highlight the best reviews of products for other members looking for outdoor equipment.