The Osprey Rev 12 pack
This was our first ride with my new hydration pack and our longest ride to date. I carried 2.5L of water, plus a pound of pumpkin seeds, a sandwich, a bag of chips, a sliced apple and a handful of Halloween candy. Added to that was my wallet, my phone and my camera. I didn't weight it, but it was probably close to 13 or so pounds. I love this pack. There was no pressure on my shoulders for the entire ride. The hydration tube and nipple are easy to reach, plus Osprey uses a nipple with a magnet on it, which attaches to one of the straps across my chest. This means no flopping tubes. The pack is designed for ultra-marathoners and best of all, it did not move on my back. We could hear the pumpkin seeds bouncing in their bag, but the actual pack stayed right where it was designed to stay. The cell phone pouch in high on the left shoulder and has a clip that allows you to flip the pouch down so you can see your phone. The inside cover of the pouch is clear plastic that allows you to access your touch screen without taking the phone out. I could check speed, distance and time while still moving. I need to practice a bit with hooking it closed with one hand, but that is just a perception thing, not a flaw of the pack. I had plenty of pouches and small enclosures to pack snacks for both me and Ashke. The camera fits in one of the hip pockets and is easy to remove, snap a photo and replace one handed while still moving. Even with my lunch packed in the big compartment, there was room for gloves and a jacket (which I pulled out of the closet and stuffed into the bottom of the pack.)
My only complaint is that I should have found one in a medium/large size instead of the small/medium, because the waist belt is almost all of the way extended. Otherwise, though, I absolutely love this pack. I forget it is on.
I do need to purchase a rain proof cover and an insulated hydration tube so I can use it when it is cold. And yes, I plan on continuing to ride out whenever possible this winter. J is sure she and Coyote can manage the trails, so we are a go.
Ashke and I have been using the Easyboot Gloves on all four feet. It took me a couple of tries to figure out the size, but now that I know what size boots he needs, we are having zero problems. We are riding in a 0.5W on the front and 00 in the back, although I really think he is going to move between 00 and 0.5 in the back, depending on where we are in the trim cycle. The key to Gloves is they are a real pain to put on and off. I use a rubber mallet to hammer them on the toe, then set the glove by hammering the heel part of the boot on his foot. Once it's on, though, it stays on. I bought a new set for the fronts in April and we wore through the toe of the gloves on our last ride. I have new ones coming tomorrow. (In blue) I do wish the Velcro closures were a little more sturdy, but didn't have any issues with tearing or losing a boot this summer. I was losing boots off the back, but I know now that they were too big. If you are using gloves and you are losing boots or having your gaiters tore up, I feel pretty confident in saying you need to go smaller. He has gotten comfortable in going in them, and except for the occasional lip in a singletrack trail, he has no issues. There is no interference and he is very sure footed.
Ok, so I have mixed feelings about the bit. Ashke loves it and is really responsive in it. It is called a grazing bit and he is able to graze on trail with it in his mouth. It gives me enough connection that Ashke listens (so we don't canter downhill) and he is very relaxed at all the gaits, on trail and in the arena, without protesting the pressure. My only issue is the configuration around his mouth. Because there is only one ring to attach both the headstall and the curb strap to (stupid set up) the curb strap can slide down and pinch between the edge of the curb strap and the bar of the bit. I have tried changing the curb strap to thin nylon rope at the corners of the mouth, which worked much better, but still not as well as I would like. I am planning on seeing if The Grey Tail (consignment tack shop) at the barn still has the other bit I looked at. It is a tad bit heavier, but with the same shape to the mouth piece, and two metal rings - one for the headstall and a second for the curb strap. If they do, I plan on trying that bit out on Friday.
The rest of my tack is awesome. I can't begin to tell you how much I love my saddle.