Hiking has been a Briggs’ family activity for many years. My father and I often hiked in the Cascade Mountains near our home in Seattle while I was growing up. Now my son Benjamin and I carry on the Briggs’ hiking tradition each summer. For the last two years a motley crew consisting of Ben and I, assorted brother-in-laws and strapping nephews have set off on arduous five-day hikes. In August of 2010, we hiked up to the base of the Blue Glacier in the Olympic National Park.
Last month, we hiked up to the Enchantments in the Alpine Lake Wilderness in the Cascade Mountains just outside the faux Bavarian Town of Leavenworth. The lakes in the Enchantments are, well, enchanting.
While you can get away with some fairly dodgy hiking gear on a day hike to some beautiful lake or summit, I have discovered that a five-day hike is an entirely different customer. In particular, sleeping in the great outdoors for four nights in a row with lousy gear can make a fella fairly grumpy. A crummy sleeping bag can be compensated for by putting on more clothes if you get cold during the night. The same drill can not be used with a sub par sleeping pad. Given my creaky 51-year-old spine, four nights on hard ground is simply not an option. But luckily for me and for you, we can avoid this fate by buying the best sleeping pad there is, which just happens to be manufactured by members of our extended American family right here in my home town of Seattle.
I simply will not go backpacking without my trusty Therm-a-Rest® sleeping pad. Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads are made by Cascade Designs which is located in Seattle. You may have been introduced to Cascade Designs if you had the good fortune to watch the ABC World News “Made in America” series hosted by Diane Sawyer. If you haven’t seen the series yet, I really urge you to watch it as soon as you can. While my old Therma-a-Rest® sleeping pad has given me years of great service, I have my eye on a new Therma-a-Rest® sleeping pad, the NeoAir Trekker.
Photo courtesy of Cascade Designs
This beauty only weighs 1 lb 4 ozs and yet is 2 1/2 inches thick. Just think of it, 2 1/2 inches of sublime comfort at the end of a long day of hiking. Sounds like a little bit of heaven. And that little bit of heaven is made by American workers at a plant that I could walk to in about ten minutes from my office.
Founded in 1972, Cascade Designs is the parent company for Therm-a-Rest®, MSR® (Mountain Safety Research), SealLine®, Platypus®, Tracks®, PackTowl®, and the newly launched Hummingbird line. I always use an MSR® Miniworks® EX Microfilter to filter water while hiking to avoid the dreaded Giardia. Take a pass on Giardia if at all possible. Just trust me on that one. Just like its Therma-a-Rest® sleeping pads, Cascade Designs manufactures its MSR® Miniworks® EX Microfilters right here in Seattle.
So, before heading out on a multi-day backpacking trip, do yourself a favor and visit the Therm-a-Rest® website. There you will find the sleeping pad of your dreams.