Wednesday, May 15, 2019

13 Day Via Jacobi Trek Across Switzerland: Photo Album and Initial Gear Review

Article by Sam Winebaum and Dominique Winebaum
Dominique and I just completed a 13 day trek across Switzerland from Lake Constance (Bodensee) to Romont where we first met through a running club when we both worked there in the 1980's.

The trek was 200 miles (320km) across the center of the country through magnificent meadows, forests, and lots of miles of narrow tarred roads with views of the mountains (when weather permitted).

We tested gear from Mammut (a Swiss brand), Hoka One One, REI, Smartwool, Salomon, and Oofos.
Watch a brief (and scenic) description/review of the
Mammut Trion and Trea Spine packs and Masao Light shells we used

We will be preparing our gear reviews and full trip report in the next few days.
In the meantime a link to an extensive photo album is HERE with a few selected photos below.

We followed the Via Jacobi, Swiss National Hiking Route 4 which traces the ancient pilgrims' route to Compostele in Spain. We used the excellent free Switzerland Mobility app which has every trail and bike route in Switzerland, over 32,000 km worth over highly detailed topo maps.

We had all kinds of weather but mostly it was cool and great hiking weather.
We did have a "snow day" which was great fun.

Mammut Trea and Trion Spine 35 Packs and Runbold Pants. Hoka One One Sky Toa boots. REI Flash Carbon Poles
The Mammut Trea and Trion Spine 35L  mountaineering packs were extremely comfortable and stable.
Using Mammut's Active Spine tech the belt there are two pivot points which move with motion of the hips and legs as well as with the shoulders making motion very natural climbing, descending and on the flats.
Despite loads of 10.5kg or 22 lbs, we never noticed the load, had great and stable mobility or had sore backs or shoulders.
Hoka One One Sky Toa boots, Dirty Girls Gaiters, Mammut Trea Spine 35L pack
The Mammut YouTube illustrating Active Spine Tech

The Hoka One One Sky Toa boots were super light (close to run shoe light) and blister free.
After 200 miles
Their Vibram MegaGrip outsoles are barely worn after 200 miles of hard hiking and gripped on everything from steep wet grass to snow and mud. The uppers show some fuzzing at the flex point but otherwise held up well. Note that they are a roomy fit after some initial break in of the sock liner which felt low for the first few hours. I sized down half as size for thinner hiking socks and Dominique could have to.
Mammut Masao Light HS & Runbold Pants, REI Sahara Bucket Hat, Salomon Sense Ride 2
On two days where the segments had lots of pavement I also wore the Salomon Sense Ride 2 trail runner which had plenty of grip and especially plenty of cushion for the road segments. They lacked a bit in support while carrying our 22 lbs packs.
When it wasn't super cold and wet, or warm, so most days, Dominique wore the Smartwool Merino Sport UL Hoodie.
The Merino Sport UL is highly vented with Merino inserts for breathability, a touch of warmth, and odor resistance. Subtle reflective highlights are printed on the back and hood.
Very light, packable and durable it is a great option for trekking, running, nordic skiing and every day use.
Buff Merino, Smartwool Merino Sport UL Hoodie, Mammut Runbold Pants (his and hers), REI Sahara Shirt and Hats
REI supplied us their fantastic Sahara and Bucket Hats which were on our heads just about every day, and in all conditions. Light and airy they protected from the sun and even rain.
We always use paddling gloves for trekking not only to prevent blisters but for sun protection as the top of the hands always seem to sunburn without and this trip we used Sea to Summit Eclipse Paddling Gloves which show zero wear after 13 days of use. When it was cold and snowy Dominque paired her Sahara hat with a Buff Lightweight Merino Wool Buff.

Dominique used and tested the REI Flash Folding Trekking Poles . They held up without issue and she refused to swap for my Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Trekking Poles.
I wore the Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Tech T Shirt most days on its own or as a baselayer. It is very light with bar tacked ventilation slots on the upper back and a more mesh like wool blend in high sweat areas. It handled a broad range of temperatures and was nicely stink proof! Amazingly there is no visible wear on the shoulders from the pack straps.
Dominique most often wore the REI Sahara Long Sleeve Shirt. It has two big front pockets (large enough for her phone) and a comfortable, stretchy fit.

Our Mammut  Masao Light hard shells were our go to outerwear gear for many days when  it was chilly and windy. Incredibly light with strong water resistance and breathability they were the ideal outer layer for a touch of protection yet uphill comfort. Unlike many ultralight shells they have 2 big side zip pockets, welcome pit zips and a great wired brimmed hood.

Dominique wore her Mammut Runbold pants almost every day and I did too. Stretchy and light they dry very quickly. We especially appreciated the many zip pockets for incidentals. 
While beautiful the short segments with ancient "paving" were tough on the feet!

Dominique tested the REI Flash Folding Trekking Poles and refused to swap for my Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Poles.
We always use trekking poles as they take some load of the legs and use the arms for a touch of propulsion, particularly on uphills.

Immediately at the end of each day we slipped into our OOFOS Oomg Shoes
Super soft, light, and stable enough for staggering off to dinner they are dressy enough for more "formal" occasions and everyday use. 
We will be preparing our gear reviews and full trip report soon.
 In the meantime a link to an extensive photo album is HERE
The product reviewed was provided at no cost. The opinions herein are the authors'.
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Please shop REI's Biggest Sale of the year for most of the gear we used on the trek through 5/27. Many of the items used linked in the article to REI are on sale!


David said...

Wow! What a wonderful adventure. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to hearing more about your gear. We are going to Iceland and were told it may be a good idea to wear waterproof shoes. I was thinking the Topo Hydroventure - reasonable? Can you tell us more about the Hokas you wore (perhaps that is upcoming). Again, thanks for sharing your journey.

Sam Winebaum said...

HI David,
It was indeed an incredible trek. Minute by minute interesting and beautiful things to see. Topo Hydroventure would be a good choice as would any waterproof breathable as they and the Hoka Toa is. I found the Toa excellent as it has that great Vibram Megagrip under a softer than hiking boot usual midsole. I think a mid height as Toa is is a good idea for hiking especially if carrying a pack. I also wore Salomon Sense Ride 2 a few days and while yet more comfortable under foot with a load I needed more upper support as the Toa has. One real key is a good light shell and the Mammut was outstanding. Never to warm, plenty of pockets and pit zips and a great hood.
Have fun!
Sam, Editor

Hamilton, Jennifer said...

I feel relaxed after those photos. Thanks.

John Smith said...

Great Post & Enthralling Images! It seems you had a great time. I am visiting Switzerland next month on Switzerland Schengen Visa. Would surely undertake trekking with my better-half! Looking forward making some ever-lasting memories in this beautiful nation!