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Depart: Mon, Oct 12, 8:30 PM
Return: Tue, Oct 20, 5:00 PM
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A Beginner’s Guide to Improving Your Lawn This Spring & Summer

-- PLEASE NOTE: While questions are very welcome in the comments, be sure to check the two part FAQ below this post as it gets into many of them! --

Three points of orientation:

Make sure this guide pertains to you. This guide was written for those who are growing cool season grasses. What does that mean? Well, there are all sorts of different grasses grown on home lawns but they can generally be split into two camps: cool season and warm season. Cool season grasses include fescue, bluegrass and rye, and are most often grown in the central to northern parts of the USA or in milder parts of southern California. If you live in one of these places, you very likely have cool season turf. Warm season grasses include bermuda, centipede, zoysia, St. Augustine and bahiagrass, and are most often grown in the south and southwestern parts of the country. The differences between cool season and warm season grasses are significant and just like you can’t cook a strip steak and a beef shank in the same way, this cool season plan is simply not going to work if you have warm season turf.
Have reasonable expectations. Sadly we have to begin with what for some of you will be a bitter pill to swallow: if your lawn is in really bad shape, following the steps in this guide is not going to take it from a “2” to a “10” by the end of the summer. The reason for this is simple: the time to renovate and truly transform cool season lawns is in late summer and early fall. The goal here is to make big, noticeable improvements and get you ready for fall when you can truly take your lawn to the next level.
About me and about this guide. I am a lawncare DIYer. Like many of you I bought a house and then had a realization that I had to take care of a lawn and had no idea what I was doing. This guide contains many of the lessons I learned in figuring things out. It also contains lessons learned from watching Allyn Hane (Lawn Care Nut), Pete Denny - u/gciturf (GCI Turf), Matt Martin - u/thegrassfactor (The Grass Factor) and Ryan Knorr, along with reading this sub and thelawnforum.com and listening carefully to the golf course professionals I know. That said, all of the writing is my own though I owe a significant debt of gratitude to u/SirThomasFraterson and u/Unabomber007 who generously read a draft of this guide and offered thoughtful suggestions and critique.

Late Winter (aka Where to Begin):

This is where you start. While it is obviously intended for you to complete these steps in February or early March, if you have found this guide later in the season you still want to start here. Every other step will depend on these things being done.

Step #1 - Measure Your Lawn.

This step is not optional. If you don’t know how big your lawn is there is no way you can apply anything to it as you’ll have no idea how much to apply. There are online tools you can use to get a rough idea of your yard’s size, but I have found they can be off by as much as two hundred square feet. My recommendation is to buy an appropriately sized tape measure or measuring wheel and actually walk your lawn. Unless you have a truly tiny yard, you’ll probably want to divide it up into different areas. To do this take your measurements and draw a small map of your property and identify your particular zones. Treat each area separately.

Step #2 - Get a Soil Test.

Like the previous step, this is not optional. When you are ill and go to the doctor, he (or she) performs tests before he takes any action. He doesn't just cut you open or prescribe random medications hoping everything will work out. Before you add anything to your lawn or do any work to it, you have to test your soil. You can do this at any point, I usually do mine in February. MySoil is an easy, though very expensive source for soil testing. A much cheaper option is to use your County Extension Office, which is staffed by state university employees focused on local agriculture and gardening issues. Find their site and then look around for soil testing; it’ll be there. (Once you find your office's website, it is worth bookmarking it. It will offer a lot of advice for lawncare that is particular to your state. Some of the advice might be considered conservative by the standards of many in this sub, but it is worth having, nonetheless).

Step #3 - Buy a good-quality mower, sprinkler setup, broadcast spreader, backpack or pump sprayer and a scale.

Lawncare is an equipment-driven hobby and there are tons of things you can buy but these five are are the essentials. Of course if you already have one of these items, only upgrade if you feel that your current equipment isn't doing the job.

Step #4 - Fix your pH, if your soil test says you need to.

When you get your soil test back it is most likely going to indicate that you have too little of several things, and perhaps that you have too much of one or two. Ignore everything right now except for pH. This is crucial. If your pH is out of whack it is going to affect your grass' ability to make use of nutrients in your soil. If your pH is low you'll want to add lime; something like ‎Pennington Fast Acting Lime will work. Add it according to your soil test's recommendations and in the amounts specified on the product’s label using your broadcast spreader. If your pH is too high, you'll want to add sulphur. Southern Ag Pelletized Soil Acidifier is a good product. You can apply lime or sulphur any time of the year that the ground is not frozen.

Early Spring:

Step #5 - Aerate your lawn… but only if it is necessary.

Lawn aeration is the process of pulling soil cores out of the lawn in an effort to reduce soil compaction and allow air, water and nutrients to reach the root zone of your grass. Perhaps due to the strident marketing efforts of a couple large lawncare firms, beginners tend to think that they must aerate their lawns every spring and fall. This is not true. You should only aerate your lawn in the spring if it needs it. How do you know if it needs it? Do the screwdriver test. Any day that the ground is not frozen, take a flat-head screwdriver and attempt to push it into the soil in several places in your lawn. The screwdriver should easily be able to sink into the ground. It it cannot, water your lawn lightly and try again. If it still cannot, you should consider aeration.

Step #6 - Apply a Pre-Emergent Herbicide.

A pre-emergent herbicide is exactly what it sounds like: something you put down to prevent weeds from emerging. It differs from the more common post-emergent herbicides (discussed in Step #9) that attack weeds that have already sprouted. A pre-emergent won't prevent all weeds - or even most - but it will prevent one devastating one: crabgrass, and because it can do that it is an essential part of spring lawncare. The two main options for pre-emergents are Prodiamine and Dithiopyr. Both work well and both come in a dizzying array of formulations, both brand name and generic, liquid and granular, and mixed with fertilizer or without it. The differences matter to a certain extent - and if you are new and can’t decide, go with this easy to apply granular from Sunniland - but what matters much more is getting one of them down at as close to the right time as possible. What is that right time? When your soil temperatures are approaching 55°F. How do you know when that is? Use this website, going back to 2019 and clicking around looking at the 5 year averages for various spring dates. Doing this will give you a rough idea of the right time. As that time approaches, check the website daily. When soil temperatures are consistently around 52 or 53°F - according to the 24 hour average - go ahead and apply.

Mid to Late Spring:

Step #7 - Throw down some fertilizer!

About two to three weeks after your first pre-emergent goes down you’ll want to apply fertilizer. This can get very complicated very quickly but I am going to try to keep it as simple as I can via the following sub-steps:
  1. Figure out how much nitrogen your lawn needs. Grass requires a lot of things, but chief among them when it comes to nutrients is nitrogen. What you want to do is apply between .75 pound and 1.5 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet of grass this spring in two split doses. Lean towards somewhere between .75 to 1 pound if you fertilized heavily last fall. Go heavier if you didn’t - particularly if you have never applied fertilizer to your lawn - or if your lawn was seeded or sodded in the latter half of last year. Do not exceed 1.5 pounds of nitrogen. More will not equal better in this context.
  2. Choose a fertilizer. Like lawn mowers, there are nearly endless options when it comes to fertilizer. The generalized nature of this post precludes an in-depth discussion of fertilizer brands. That said, if you are a true beginner, it is hard to go wrong with Milorganite. It is easy to apply and its iron content will give your lawn an enviable dark green color. Yes, there are cheaper fertilizers, better fertilizers, liquid fertilizers, etc. but Milo is a good place to start and available pretty much everywhere in the country.
  1. Translate this “x pounds of nitrogen per thousand feet” (from sub-step #1) into actual pounds of fertilizer. To do this you’ll need to do some very simple, middle school-level math. Any fertilizer you buy will show its analysis on its label. The first number in the trio refers to the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer. (The second refers to phosphorus, the third to potassium). To get the “pounds on the ground,” use the following formula: the amount of nitrogen you want to apply ÷ the fertilizer’s nitrogen percentage in decimal form.
  1. Take this ‘x pounds fertilizer per thousand square feet’ information and apply it to the different areas of your property.
  1. Split up your total fertilizer amount into two applications. The first application, to be done two to three weeks after your first pre-emergent goes down, should amount to 2/3rds of your total fertilizer. Your second application which should go down three weeks later should consist of the remaining 1/3rd.
  1. Apply using the same technique discussed in Step #4. As discussed there, lower your spreader setting when you are first beginning so as to ensure an even application.

Step #8 - Apply some humic acid and sea kelp.

This step is optional but I wouldn’t skip it unless you lack the money or time. Humic acid is derived from compressed organic mattter mined from the earth and in that sense it can almost be thought of as like an essence of compost. Humic acid will help improve your soil chemistry and structure and allow your grass to better take up the nutrients you provided it in Step #7. It will also encourage positive microbial growth in your soil. Sea kelp contains two major plant growth hormones that are thought to encourage root growth. There are products like N-EXT RGS and this blend from Simple Lawn Solutions that combine both humic acid and sea kelp (both are liquid products and are best applied using a cheap hose-end sprayer attachment) but you could also buy them separately: The Andersons makes an easy to apply humic acid granular and kelp4less.com offers a variety of sea kelp products. The latter two suggestions offer great value.

Step #9 - Kill your weeds.

Your lawn probably has weeds and spring is going to be a time they are going to rapidly grow. Getting rid of them is important as many weeds will outcompete your grass if given the chance. There are thousands of herbicides available but you’ll need just a couple:
  1. An all-purpose. This will be what you will use on most of your broadleaf weeds like dandelions and plantains. Bayer Advanced makes a product that is effective and available basically everywhere. Compare-n-Save makes an incredibly cheap version that works about as well. SpeedZone is a step up, a “higher power” product used by many professionals, but is not something I would recommend if you have never sprayed weeds before as over-spraying it can do serious damage.
  2. Something for clover. The above products will damage clover, but with the possible exception of SpeedZone, probably won’t knock it out. If you want to kill it - along with its “cousins,” oxalis and chickweed - you’ll need something that contains triclopyr. Your best option is the easy to find Weed B Gon Chickweed, Clover, Oxalis Killer.
  3. Specialty items for grassy weeds and other hard to kill items. A favorite of this sub, Tenacity works great on things like crabgrass, annual bluegrass, nimblewill, and yellow nutsedge. Quinclorac also works on crabgrass but if you put down a pre-emergent (Step #6) you shouldn’t have much to deal with. I’d hold off on buying either of these until you see if you actually need them.
A few details to note regarding herbicides:
How to spray weeds: This video from the Lawn Care Nut covers the basics of spot spraying. A few additional points that Allyn didn’t cover: Avoid watering or mowing for at least 24 hours after spraying. The point is to let the herbicide get absorbed into the weed and work its way through it. Washing the herbicide off with water or cutting the sprayed parts off with a mower will obviously hinder that effort.

Step #10 - Treat your lawn for grubs (if they are an issue in your neighborhood) and, if needed, treat for other insects.

Grubs are the larvae of beetles, to the untrained eye they look almost like little white shrimp. They commonly feed on the roots of grass plants and in doing so can devastate a lawn. Grubs are not present in every lawn or even in every neighborhood. I obviously can’t tell you if they are present in yours. You can ask around in your local garden center or chat with a neighbor who is into lawncare and see if he or she is treating for them. If you think grubs might be an issue for you, I suggest a two-pronged attack:

Summer:

Cool season grass has the name it does for a good reason: it thrives during the cooler days of spring and fall. And it struggles in summer, at least in any place where daytime highs exceed 85°F with any regularity. Thus, the proper approach to summer is to hang on, keep the grass healthy and prepare for fall when it can be at its best again.

Step #11 - Mow your lawn!

While I put this step in this section as it is most relevant to summer, make no mistake about it, you should begin mowing as soon as your grass beings growing in the spring. A few tips to help you along:

Step #12 - Water effectively.

If you live in a cooler, rainier place you might be able to get away without watering much in the spring but virtually everyone is going to have to water in the summer. Here are some tips to water effectively:

Step #13 - Prevent fungal diseases if you live in an area where they might strike.

While humans and animals are most often stricken with viral or bacterial diseases, these almost never occur in cool season grasses grown for home lawns. What do occur are fungal diseases. Fungi, as you might have learned in high school science, are a separate kingdom of organisms apart from plants, animals and other tiny things. Fungi that affect lawns require two things in order to grow: heat and humidity. If you have conditions where the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) and the percent humidity added together equal 150 or higher, you are at risk for disease. Things you can do to lower your risk include:

Step #14 - Plan for fall.

Fall is the optimal time to seed cool season lawns. If your lawn is thin, you’ll want to overseed it. The best time for this is when your soil temperatures fall to about 70°F. (To find out when this is use the tool linked to in Step #6). If you didn’t aerate in the spring, doing so in the fall - and then seeding - is generally a good idea. Spend some time figuring out what type of seed to plant, what type of starter fertilizer you are going to use, how you are going to control weeds and how you will handle watering. The more detailed your plan going into fall, the better your chances for success.

Plan Review:

NOW
WHEN SOIL TEMPERATURES APPROACH 55°F:
TWO TO THREE WEEKS LATER:
WHEN SOIL TEMPERATURES APPROACH 70°F:
THREE WEEKS AFTER FIRST FERTILIZER APPLICATION:
THROUGHOUT SUMMER:
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[Cheap Traveling] Cheap Flight From Dallas, TX To Denver, CO $57 (45% off)

From: Dallas, TX (DFW)
To: Denver, CO (DEN)
Depart: Sat, Dec 5, 7:10 PM
Return: Sat, Dec 12, 6:25 PM
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[Flight Alert] Cheap Flight From Dallas, TX To Boston, MA $35 (50% off)

From: Dallas, TX (DFW)
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[Cheap Traveling] Flight From New York, NY To Tampa, FL $47 (70% off)

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[Flight Alert] Cheap Flight From Dallas, TX To Denver, CO $57 (45% off)

From: Dallas, TX (DFW)
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Depart: Sat, Dec 5, 7:10 PM
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Hero Concept: Volare

Info: Equipped with silenced pistols and bladed legs, Volare is an acrobatic assassin who can close the distance between enemies and herself and really cut them up. She will ensure everyone has fallen as hard as she has... and never ascend again.
Real Name Dahlia Bartalotti
Aliases Angel, Valore
Age 36
Nationality Italy
Occupation Acrobat (former), Assassin
Base Venice, Italy
Affiliation Bartalotti Household
Relations Antonio Bartalloti (deceased Uncle), Unnamed Mother, Unnamed Father, Unnamed Siblings
Role Damage
Health 200
Movement Speed 6 meters per second

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Lore: "She Soars"

What is a dream if not the pinnacle of a child's existence? Many don't even realize the harsh realities of the future they are going to be facing, the fantasy they are living in. But for Dahlia Bartalotti, no. Born in the circus, raised by a variety of people from clowns to jugglers to acrobats and strongmen, Dahlia truly grew up in a world of laughter where the impossible was possible. Such was the beliefs of her parents and thus they became her own.
She learned to juggle like the clowns, breath fire like the performers and her favorite; the trapeze! Before she was even ten years old she was soaring through the sky, twirling in the air as the youngest performer in their circus. They would travel all over Italy and perform for crowds of up to a thousand people. Dahlia lived her life to the fullest, in a dream like life where anything was possible and all the joy she had was in the sky.
She did not just love the trapeze, she lived in. Soaring through the air in the large tent, nothing but her and the sure grip each time she needed to be reminded she was only flinging herself through the air and not flying. They called her "Angel" not just because of her youth but because of how graceful she sliced through the air as if she had wings.
That is until... the Omnic Crisis.
Suddenly, the fantastical world the girl soared through as if she were a bird with limitless energy came crashing down... and with it went her legs. The worst of the wars caught her and her parents whilst they were away from Rome, the circus having traveled farther up north to Germany. She was 8 years old when it happened, OR14 units falling from the sky and killing all the people she had loved and grown up with. In the end, she had lost several of her older siblings, friends and even her father whilst they escaped but she was reckless. Believing she could save her mother from the Omnics, her legs were hacked off by one of their heat blades.
The members of the circus were displaced when they arrived back in Italy and Dahlia was heartbroken, thinking she had lost not only her old life but her legs as well. However, with the help of her mother's elder brother, Antonio, she was given new ones. Rehabilitation was long and arduous and Antonio only aided them by a pitiful sum. War ravaged the lands and her older sisters and brothers had decided to join the cause against the omnics, leaving Dahlia to care for her mother who had never gotten over the grief of losing her husband. Despite the cheap model of her legs - sharp things that looked more like poles than they were an actual structure - Dahlia endured.
The crisis was a wake up call to the girl who had spent so long living in a fantasy, her metal legs a constant reminder of how her foolishness was a danger to herself. Just as she learned to fly through the air in the circus, she learned to fend for herself and her mother.
With the omnic crisis bringing the canals of Venice to crime and chaos, the small amount of money her uncle was sending for support and her siblings' contributions were barely enough for Dahlia to keep a roof over their heads and their bellies full. Dahlia did the chores, stayed up on nights she felt someone may see their house as a target, went out to run errands, running on the hazardous metal she called legs so that they'd have something to eat.
Then one by one, the letters came.
Each one pulled less tears from her as they came, each signalling the death of one of her siblings until she was left with no one but herself to support her depressed mother. After one terrifying night where robbers broke in and emptied their fridge, even taking the money the had received that month form her uncle, Dahlia could no longer remain idle.
Just as she learned the techniques of the performers and acrobats of the circus, she learned how to scales the roofs of the city. She made makeshift shortcuts with ropes and passages where only she and her metal legs could bare the scale. She evolved, using the acrobatic movements and quick reflexes she had gained from the circus for more nefarious deeds. While others resorted to petty theft, she emptied whole houses in the night. Where people stole some food from vendors, she took seeds as well. But no matter how grand the dinner, how comfortable the furniture and how caring she was, it was not enough to stave off her mother's grief and she perished, her last words an apology and thanks to Dahlia who risked everything for her as she did her father.
Very soon, the people of Venice had figured out who exactly the shadow with steel legs was and made for her home but during this time, Dahlia cared no more for she had lost the last thing she thought she had to lose. As they charged with steel and fire, she did so with her own as well. By the end of that dreadful night she was bruised and bloody, one of her legs torn off and stabbed into the last thug who had tried to hack her arm off. Where she was about to accept her fate as a criminal and murderer one last flicker of light shone back into her life; Antonio Bartalotti.
Her Uncle had found her on the roof along with the bodies of the last 5 men after her and smiled down on her. "Angel." he said, hand outstretched. "Your family is waiting." and with that, Dahlia was welcomed into a new home, one already surrounded by the sin and darkness she had grown accustomed to in trying to provide for her mother. It turned out that the circus her mother ran was no more than a hoax, a means of smuggling weapons and illegal trade across the country. The Bartalloti family had not approved of her mother's chosen line of work but made use of it anyway. She saw quite the amount of familiar faces in her uncles household such as a strongman named Brutis and a pyrotechnic named Stella.
Antonio had given her the option of joining his family where she would be able to live a luxurious live in exchange for her... services in Antonio's work. She was partial to refusing but being reminded of her sins simply to care for her mother, the work she was being offered seemed none to different. Being slapped by the harsh hand of reality over the last years of her life, she decided to embrace this dark new fantasy. She became her uncle's "Angel" being assigned on dangerous missions. The legs she used to kill nearly 40 people were upgraded to compensate for the difficulty of those missions; grappling hooks on each hip so that she could 'fly' again, an energy matrix so she would not tire and the design of a deadly blade reinforced with the strongest metal alloy they had access too, capable of cutting straight through stone.
Soon it was not only her uncle calling her "Angel" but every member she knew within the mafia. She was called that name in her past, but now she was called it for a different reason; the swift death from above she would mercifully bestow upon the targets assigned to her. The mission she was most celebrated for was her planting of a bomb within an Overwatch base in Rome, taking several Blackwatch agents down and truly rattling the organization.
The following week however, she was away from her uncle's mansion in Italy for it had been the death anniversaries of two of her siblings. Asking for forgiveness had become commonplace but she told them that at least they had died before they got to see their sister turn to this life of crime. But what needed to be done, needed to be done. In her hotel room, early the next morning she received the news that her uncle had been killed, assassinated by Blackwatch while she was away.
In a matter of a month, Talon had lost faith in and stopped supporting the Bartalloti's and several of her uncle's protege's were warring over who got to take his seat, some even buy his assets like a rich Talon colleague by the alias Vialli. But Dahlia would have none of it. She had lost the life she had before, the fantasy of a perfect world. This world of crime was far from perfect but it was her new home now. Cutting down the other protege's, with an iron fist she took over the company and the gang.
Though it would take years for her to fill the power gap left by Talon, fueled by grief and the pursuit of vengeance for his killers, she brought back the Bartalloti name and succeeded in reestablishing power in Italy. Setting up a base for Talon in Rome to enter the high ranks once more, she ascended as a candidate to become one of the High Council members along with Akande Ogundimu and Maximilien. Legs sharp and wit now even sharper after taking over for Maximilien, Dahlia sought to change the world, where all would be strong, not having to go through the loss of a fantasy that she had to.
Her men no longer called her "Angel" after she took up the mantle of "Bartalloti" and reigned in Talon's support once more. She was quicker, sharper, but more importantly her story and how she got up every time had been made known to the entire mafia. She was now known as "Volare". She whow as flightless, but would soar nonetheless.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Abilities/In-Game Kit:


SPACE - To the Sky

Passive: When Volare is within 1 meter of a wall, clicking space against it will allow her to press her legs on it and hold for 0.7 seconds. Pressing Space again will allow her to leap upwards and away from the wall in the direction she is being made to move.

Left Click - Broken Wings

Volare fires two of her silenced pistols in quick succession.
STATS VALUE
Type Weapon
Aim Type Hitscan
Damage 1.5-7 per bullet/3-14 per shot
Falloff Range 10-22 meters
Spread Angle Max 3 degrees
No. of Pellets 2 per shot
Rate of Fire 10 shots per second
Ammo 40
Reload Time 1.5 seconds
Headshot Yes

Right Click - Bladed Heels

Volare utilizes her legs to kick for her melee weapon, giving her extended range and more damage.
STATS VALUE
Damage 60
Max Range 3 meters
Rate of Fire 1 kick per 0.6 seconds
Area of Effect 3 meters
Cast Time 0.15 seconds
Headshot No

E - Grace

Volare drops low and swings her leg around as she slides forward, Knocking Down enemies she hits on the way for 0.5 seconds. If it is on Cool Down, dealing damage to an enemy with Volare's legs reduce it by 0.5 second.
Volare can still cast this ability while airborne, however she does not do the animation where she lowers her hitbox flat. Additionally, it's Cool Down is reduced by dealing damage with Volare's legs, thus this ability itself reduces it's own Cool Down as well.
STATS VALUE
Damage 40
Movement Speed 35 meters per second
Area of Effect 3.5 meter radius
Maximum Range 10 meters
Duration 0.4 seconds
Cool Down 9 seconds
Headshot No

LShift - False Flight

When holding down LShift, Volare switches her Right Click and Left Click's controls to her right and left hip-mounted grappling hooks respectively. Firing them at surfaces will allow them to pull her towards it. Should both grapples be loosed at the same time, the pulling speed increases and she will be sling-shot in the corresponding direction, retaining momentum.
Volare can sling-shot herself earlier if she wishes by jumping. Volare can even cast Grace while being pulled, spinning similarly to the jump version.
STATS VALUE
Movement Speed 25 meters per second (Pulling Speed)
Sling Shot Movement Speed 50 meters per second (Pulling and Sling Shot Speed)
Max Distance 20 meters
Cool Down (Per Side) 10 seconds

Q - Grand Performance

Valore amplifies the energy matrix within her legs, amplifying her Melee Attacks into piercing kicks with a small dash. False Flight's Cool Down on each side are also reduced by half whilst her matrix is running. Eliminations extend the duration.
The enhanced version of Bladed Heel can be cast while airborne, allowing Volare to dash while airborne as well.
STATS VALUE
Type Ultimate Ability
Aim Type Melee
Damage (Bladed Heel) 100
Max Range 8.5 meters (Dashes 5 meters forward while kicking)
Rate of Fire One Kick per 0.75 seconds
Casting Time 0.2 seconds initial leg raise
Duration 6 seconds (+3 seconds per elimination)
Headshot No
Ultimate Cost 1680

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Quotes

Abilities:

Grace: "Fall with me."
"On your knees."
"Can you see me?"

False Flight: "To the skies."
"Danger from above."
"I fly!"

Grand Performance: "How's this for a show?" (Self and Hostile)
"Cutting them down." (Friendly)

Chatter:

Hero Selected: "A bird's wings are not it's weapons.

During Set Up: "A job's a job."
"We shall all fly today."
"Let's pop their bubbles."
"They're saying their prayers."
"Cover me, I'll cut them down."
"Another challenge is just what I need."
"Into the fight."
"Up close and personal's not their style?"

Respawn: "I fall, only to soar again."
"Wings are overrated."
"A mistake I shall learn from."
"A mistake they will regret."
"An error was made. Not this time."
"Can you blame a cripple? Albeit, a cybernetically enhanced one."
"Promises, Promises."

Health Pack: "Ah, refreshing."
"Ready for action."

On Fire: "To be expected."
"Naturally."
"Nothing less."
"I'm on fire!"

Damage Boosted: "Talon's out."
"Morte."

Discord Orb Received: "Hmph."

Voted Epic (5 votes): "Thank you very much."
"Hah."

Voted Legendary (10 Votes): "Uncle would be proud."
"See?"
"No hands."

Resurrected: "You can't ground me."
"I will fly once again."

Enemy Resurrection: "How quaint, they're back."
"They're back from the dead."

Eliminations:

Final Blow: "Taken down."
"Fall."
"Effortless."
"Enjoy the show?"
"Talent is hard to beat."
"I admit, you made me sweat."
"The Bartalloti treatment."
"Stay down."
"You've fallen already?"
(Vs Pharah) "A mockery of flight."
(Vs Bastion, Orisa and Zenyatta) "Metal pretending to be flesh."
(Vs Reaper) "For my uncle."
(Vs Overwatch members) "How quaint, your kind killed my uncle?"
(Vs Talon members) "Change is in order."
submitted by Ruthtria to OverwatchHeroConcepts [link] [comments]

Auto Recommendation Messages Dump Post

Competitive fps headsets:
Comp FPS category just means a focus on positioning and footsteps. All recommendations still have a focus on audio quality but will make some sacrifices for better comp fps performance. The sound signatures will mostly be Bright, often with a forward midrange and recessed low end. If bright is highlighted it means it is very bright and if v-shaped is listed it means there is normally too much bass but no better available alternative.
Auto message, please respond for more info.
  1. Pure FPS (Best for comp fps)
  2. Warm FPS (Has added warm hump)
  3. Music FPS (Sacrifices performance for more music performance but can still perform very well in fps)
  4. Bassy FPS (Needs the bass turned down for fps)
  5. Do note, for closed-back I don't have all labeled as I'm still working through that all.
  6. Prices do not include the mic.
  7. VMBP = Vmoda Boom Pro
  8. HS = Headset, noting it has a built-in mic.
  9. All of the non-VMBP compatible mics should be paired with an Antlion Mod-Mic.
Competitive fps recommendations:
Open-Back
Name Recommended Price Sound Signature Notes:
Koss KSC75/Ksc75X $25USD About the only thing, I'd use for comp fps under $50. Attached Cable :(
Phillips SHP9500 + VMBP $80USD Pure FPS Good if you need a low powered all in one, other than that just ok.
Sennheiser Game One/PC37x HS $130USD Warm FPS Best overall all in one, a slightly less detailed but less warm HD599.
Audio Technica AD500x/AD700x $120USD Pure FPS Some of the best FPS headphones at any price. Attached Cable :(
Audio Technica ADG1x HS $200USD Pure FPS An AD700x(ish) with a built-in mic, worse cable. Attached Cable :(
Audio Technica AD900x $150USD Music FPS An AD700x with more bass, ore upper mid-range, and less treble. Attached Cable :(Discontinued
Sennheiser HD599 $160USD Warm FPS When on sale some of the best value headphones on the market, with a bit EQ lowering its warmth, it can be a killer Pure FPS headphone for those who are a bit treble sensitive.
Sennheiser HD58x $160USD Music FPS A cross between an HD599 and an HD650. From an HD599 you get more sub-bass and less warmth, and a more even mid-range. But loses its soundstage and images like an HD650.
Hifiman HE4xx $180USD Warm/Music FPS (Pure Music Potential) With EQ you get next-level bass at this price thanks to the planar drivers. Something about the staging can throw many off in games. It can be a great in-between option.
AKG K702 (not K7xx) $200USD Warm FPS (Wide) Super wide, like some of the widest headphones you can get.
AKG K612 $200USD Music FPS (Comp Fps Potential) A more musical take on the K702, more bass less treble, better mid-range. Less soundstage. for many, it can image better than the K702 in comp fps. Attached Cable :(
Beyerdynamic DT880 350ohm/600ohm $200USD Music FPS Fantastic bass, near-flawless mid-range, super-bright Beyer treble. Some of the highest detail at its price. Super accurate. Attached Cable :(
Pure FPS Budget Ranking: AD500x > AD700x > HD599 EQed > Game One = HD599 > SHP9500
Music Ranking: HE4xx = K612 = DT880 > HD58x = HD599 = AD900x (not taking price into account)

Closed-back:
Name Recommended Price Sound Signature Notes:
Creative Aurvana Live $70USD Warmer FPS The Legendary LIVE is the same as the new SE but slightly more warmth. I'd take the SE any day over these. Attached Cable :(
Creative Aurvana SE $80USD Warm FPS Maybe the best sub $100 headphone sound quality-wise. Not amazing for FPS but good enough and sounds great. Attached Cable :(
Cooler Master MH751 HS $80USD Takstar PRO 82 on the middle-ish bass port, slightly worse quality bass.
Cooler Master MH752 HS $100USD An MH751, with no inline controls and a cheap USB soundcard, better for PS4, PCs with bad or old onboard, or xbox one users who get interference issues.
Takstar Shade (GM200) HS Not tested yet Not tested yet Not tested yet
Takstar Pro 82 $90USD Comfort King. The bass slider allows Reduced bass, neutral bass, elevated bass. Mid-range gets worse as bass gets bigger.
Sennheiser GSP300 HS $80USD Pure FPS
Sennheiser Game Zero $120USD Pure FPS Gaming Only. Pure FPS.
Beyerdynamic DT770 80ohm $160USD Bassy FPS Bass isn't to bad just a bit over Harman, very bright. Bad amounts of unit variation, it's like a 1 in 5 chance to get a decent sounding one at best. Attached Cable :(
Beyerdynamic Custom Studio (not the other customs) $200USD Bassy FPS A DT770 80ohm with less soundstage and less treble and a removable cable. The bass slider allows Reduced bass, neutral bass, elevated bass, and overpowering bass. Mid-range gets worse as bass gets bigger.
Beyerdynamic MMX300 Gen 2 HS $250USD Bassy FPS A slightly better signature DT770. Worse quality.
Audio Technica MSR7 $150USD Bright and detailed. Overpriced in 2020 IMO. I can't speak for the new model.
Audio Technica A550z $120USD
Audio Technica AG1X $160USD Pure FPS Not for everyone, pads that don't like to seal well, hollow sound. very good for FPS for most. An A500(not A550z with a mic. Attached Cable :(
HyperX Orbit $300USD Read Mobius notes. A Mobius with no Bluetooth or head tracking. No Audeze updates so in time quality-wise the Mobius will surpass this if they use Audeze updates. But a damn cheap way to get Mobius sound quality.
HyperX Orbit S $330USD Read Mobius notes. A Mobius with no Bluetooth.
Audeze Mobius $400USD No perfect for FPS, not even always better than cheaper options in FPS. But they sound so damn good, hands down the best headset on the market bar none. Slightly higher background static. Can't be used passively. If this works for you in FPS this is the perfect closed-back all-around headphone. Bluetooth, VSS, head tracking. Constant updates by Audeze. Planar drivers.
Honestly you don't need to spend more than any of these. You can spend more and get better performance but the amount is a lot less and you may need to EQ more and performance will start to vary even more person to person amount.
Open back will offer the best performance. But if you can issue with background noise, your brain can positon well in open environments or you just struggle to focus, maybe closed back is more you.
The issue with closed backs for FPS is you'll have usually too much bass. EQ can help drop it a bit. Also what works for you in FPS for closed backs varies a lot more person to person.
If you need to use some light eq to help go for it just be careful. Maybe even VSS if you can't position with stereo. I don't recommend VSS but some need it.
* Drop links are "affiliate" links kinda. The link gives you $10 off and me a $10 credit which helps me order products from drop for review. I don't get paid and I'm not associated with drop, it's just the discount link that every account has. Feel free to not use it.
What makes a headphone good for comp fps - https://www.reddit.com/LifelongCaboose/comments/fskaql/what_makes_a_headphone_good_for_fps_ft_basic/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
* All links are for the a USA seller. Just so people can make sure it's the right product when looking at other sites.
Fun Gaming Headsets:
Immersion and fun as the priority. They may offer a bassy or v-shaped sound, some even fairly neutral so long as its fun-sounding and handles EQ well. Sound quality WILL take a hit for the sake of fun. Good for single-player games and casual immersive fps, and music if you like the sound signature. Most are v-shaped or warm. But there will be a bassy headphone or two listed.
Auto message, please respond for more info.
  1. If you don't want to sacrifice sound quality avoid this category or look for the ones marked with LC (Low Compromise)
  2. Do note, for closed-back I don't have all labeled as I'm still working through that all.
  3. Prices do not include the mic.
  4. VMBP = Vmoda Boom Pro
  5. HS = Headset, noting it has a built-in mic.
  6. All of the non-VMBP compatible mics should be paired with an Antlion Mod-Mic.
Fun Gaming Headsets:
Open-Back
Name Recommended Price Sound Signature Notes:
Koss KSC-35 $50USD Maybe the best price to performance headphone. From memory, these sound pretty much the same as the porta pros. Bluetooth model available (too much latency for gaming) Id highly recommends a Parts express headband and Yaxi pads. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
Koss Porta Pro/Porta Pro X LC $50USD Maybe the best price to performance headphone. Bluetooth model available (too much latency for gaming) Id highly recommends a Parts express headband and Yaxi pads. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
KPH 30i LC $50USD Maybe best price to performance headphone. the Best on-ear Koss if you don't want to replace the headband. Moddablity is a bit harder on this model. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
Phillips X2HR + VMBP $100USD Bassy/V-shaped Fun Sound Quality is meh, not much better than an SHP9500. BIG BASS, Sharp Grainy Treble. Only buy if you need an easy to drive all in one and its on sale. It's kinda a poor quality DT990.
Sennheiser Game One/PC37x HS $130USD Warm Fun (bass liteish) Not very fun, but if you need an all in one that is fun enough this is good.
DT990 250ohm/600ohm $150USD Bassy/V-shaped Fun Big bass, very sharp treble. For music, I wouldn't recommend this. But just fun immersive gaming sure. Hard to drive. Lots of detail. Attached Cable :(
Hifiman HE4xx LC $180USD Neutral Fun (with EQ anything you need) With EQ you get next-level bass at this price thanks to the planar drivers. Stock its a bit bright and slightly fun, EQed it can be super fun.
AKG K712 LC $250USD Wide Colored fun Not as wide as a k702 but something about the sound of this is so damn fun and in casual games there fantastic.
Beyerdynamic DT1990 $400USD A Sundara alternative is you want more V-shaped. IMO an overall step down though.
Hifiman Sundara LC $350USD The King of Sub $500USD headphones. Meh build.

Closed-back:
Name Recommended Price Sound Signature Notes:
Monoprice Retro (with BW XL pleather pads) BASSY! Huge bass! Not amazing quality but for the cost impressive. Attached Cable :(
Creative Aurvana Live LC $70USD Warm Fun The Legendary LIVE is the same as the new SE but slightly more warmth. I'd take the SE any day over these. Attached Cable :(
Creative Aurvana SE LCCompromise $80USD Warm Fun Maybe the best sub $100 headphone sound quality-wise. Attached Cable :(
HyperX Cloud Alpha $80 V-shaped A semi-improved Takstar Pro 80 (og cloud) not better in all ways but better none the less.
HyperX Cloud Alpha S $100 V-shaped A Cloud alpha with bass switches and a bunch of extra fluff that isn't really worth it. But the bass switches do make this just better and the definitive Alpha. (HyperX should make the normal alpha have the sliders)
Cooler Master MH751 HS $80USD Warm Fun Takstar PRO 82 on the middle-ish bass port, slightly worse quality bass. Better SQ than the alpha but less fun.
Cooler Master MH752 HS $100USD Warm Fun An MH751, with no inline controls and a cheap USB soundcard, better for PS4, PCs with bad or old onboard, or xbox one users who get interference issues.
Takstar Shade (GM200) HS Not tested yet Not tested yet Not tested yet
Takstar Pro 82 LC $90USD Comfort King. The bass slider allows Reduced bass, neutral bass, elevated bass. Mid-range gets worse as bass gets bigger.
Beyerdynamic DT770 80ohm $160USD Bass isn't too bad just a bit over Harman, very bright. Bad amounts of unit variation, it's like a 1 in 5 chance to get a decent sounding one at best. Attached Cable :(
Beyerdynamic Custom Studio (not the other customs) LC $200USD A DT770 80ohm with less soundstage and less treble and a removable cable. The bass slider allows Reduced bass, neutral bass, elevated bass, and overpowering bass. Mid-range gets worse as bass gets bigger.
Beyerdynamic MMX300 Gen 2 HS $250USD A slightly better signature DT770. Worse sound quality. Build-in mic and removable cable.
Meze 99 Classic/Neo/Noir LC $200
Argon MK3 LC A very good T50 rp mod.
HyperX Orbit LC $300USD Read Mobius notes. A Mobius with no Bluetooth or head tracking. No Audeze updates so in time quality-wise the Mobius will surpass this if they use Audeze updates. But a damn cheap way to get Mobius sound quality.
HyperX Orbit S LC $330USD Read Mobius notes. A Mobius with no Bluetooth.
Audeze Mobius LC $400USD No perfect for FPS, not even always better than cheaper options in FPS. But they sound so damn good, hands down the best headset on the market bar none. Slightly higher background static. Can't be used passively. If this works for you in FPS this is the perfect closed-back all-around headphone. Bluetooth, VSS, head tracking. Constant updates by Audeze. Planar drivers.
If you need to use some light eq to help go for it just be careful. Maybe even VSS if you can't position with stereo. I don't recommend VSS but some need it.
* Drop links are "affiliate" links kinda. The link gives you $10 off and me a $10 credit which helps me order products from drop for review. I don't get paid and I'm not associated with drop, it's just the discount link that every account has. Feel free to not use it.
What makes a headphone good for comp fps - https://www.reddit.com/LifelongCaboose/comments/fskaql/what_makes_a_headphone_good_for_fps_ft_basic/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
* All links are for the USA seller. Just so people can make sure it's the right product when looking at other sites.
Music Gaming Headsets:
This is the new category which is an offshoot of music and fun. This is the best category for sound quality and for people who don't care about comp fps.
Music Gaming will focus on Sound quality first while remaining close to the Harman Target. Which is why I like to refer to as fun neutral. Nothing will sound lacking and nothing will be to forward. Some of these may need a bit of EQ. Some headphones may vary off the Harman target for the sake of budget and sound quality.
So if you wanted Fun gaming but didn't want to sacrifice sound quality for that immersive sound then this is what you want. Will still be immersive enough and will position decent but will sound better technically.
So pretty much if you wanted what I consider to be the best sounding headphones are bar none this is that list. But I do weigh comfort a bit higher than normal.
Some of these you will be on other lists at different prices and that point because from this pooint of view they may be only worth it at more of a sale price.
Auto message, please respond for more info.
  1. Sound Stage is listed instead of sound signature just for now.
  2. Do note, for closed-back I don't have all labeled as I'm still working through that all.
  3. Prices do not include the mic.
  4. VMBP = Vmoda Boom Pro
  5. HS = Headset, noting it has a built-in mic.
  6. All of the non-VMBP compatible mics should be paired with an Antlion Mod-Mic.
Music Gaming Headsets:
Open-Back
Name Recommended Price Sound Stage Notes:
Koss KSC-75/ KSC-75x $20 A titanium-coated porta pro driver. Id highly recommends a Parts express headband and Yaxi pads. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
Koss KSC35 $50USD From memory, these sound pretty much the same as the porta pros. Bluetooth model available (too much latency for gaming) Id highly recommends a Parts express headband and Yaxi pads. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
Koss Porta Pro/ Porta Pro X $50USD Bluetooth model available (too much latency for gaming) Id highly recommends a Parts express headband and Yaxi pads. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
Koss KPH 30i $40USD Best on-ear Koss if you don't want to replace the headband. Moddablity is a bit harder on this model. On-Ear, Attached Cable :(
Sennheiser HD559 $80 (Wide) An upgraded HD518(not HD558). Warmer, bassier and darker than an HD599. Cant be converted into an HD599 as the HD558 can(the HD579 was the new HD558). a good budget option if your ok with the warmth or comfortable with EQ.
Sennheiser Game One/PC37x HS $100 (Mid) An HD599 with less bass and flatter mids, slightly less detail.
Sennheiser HD599 $110 (Mid) When on sale for this price, its an amazing option.
Sennheiser HD58x $150 (Narrow) HD599 detail, HD650 soundstage. A sound signature that's somewhere in between. A compromised headphone at its core but can be good for people who want an HD650 that is more V-shaped and are ok with less overall resolution.
AKG K612 $180 (Wide) A more neutral K702 or a less coloured K712. Attached Cable :(
Hifiman HE4xx $180USD (Mid) With EQ you get next-level bass at this price thanks to the planar drivers. Stock its a bit bright and slightly fun, EQed it can be super fun.
Sennheiser HD650 $200 (Narrow) Best $200 headphone for resolution, detail and for being very natural. Needs some EQ to get it out of its Darkish stock sound.
Beyerdynamic DT880 $200 (Mid) Bright af, DF-Neutral. Great QUALITY bass. Attached Cable :(
AKG K712 $200 Unique Colored fun (Wide!) Not as wide as a k712 but something about the sound of this is so damn fun and in casual games there fantastic.
Audeze LCD-1 $400USD A portable slight step down alternative from the Sundara.
Hifiman Sundara $400USD The King of Sub $500USD headphones. Meh build.
Elex $550USD

Closed-back:
Name Recommended Price Sound Stage Notes:
Creative Aurvana Live $70USD The Legendary LIVE is the same as the new SE but slightly more warmth. I'd take the SE any day over these. Attached Cable :(
Creative Aurvana SE $80USD One of the best sub $100 headphone sound quality-wise. Attached Cable :(
Takstar Pro 82 $90USD Comfort King. The bass slider allows Reduced bass, neutral bass, elevated bass. Mid-range gets worse as bass gets bigger. Sound is very good for $100.
AKG K361 $100USD (Narrow) A slightly brighter slightly downgraded K371 overall.
AKG K371 $150USD (Narrow) Best sub $200 closed back for sound quality. Comfort isn't for everyone.
Cooler Master MH751 HS $80USD Takstar PRO 82 on the middle-ish bass port, slightly worse quality bass.
Cooler Master MH752 HS $100USD An MH751, with no inline controls and a cheap USB soundcard, better for PS4, PCs with bad or old onboard, or xbox one users who get interference issues.
Takstar Shade (GM200) HS Not tested yet Not tested yet Not tested yet. It seems like an MH751 but with the same bass quality of the pro 82.
Beyerdynamic DT770 80ohm $160USD (Wide) Bass isn't bad just a bit over Harman, very bright. Bad amounts of unit variation, it's like a 1 in 5 chance to get a decent sounding one at best. Attached Cable :(
Beyerdynamic Custom Studio (not the other customs) $200USD (Wide) A DT770 80ohm with less soundstage and less treble and a removable cable. The bass slider allows Reduced bass, neutral bass, elevated bass, and overpowering bass. Mid-range gets worse as bass gets bigger.
Audio Technica A990Z $220USD Need in for testing.
HyperX Orbit $300USD (Mid) Read Mobius notes. A Mobius with no Bluetooth or head tracking. No Audeze updates so in time quality-wise the Mobius will surpass this if they use Audeze updates. But a damn cheap way to get Mobius sound quality.
HyperX Orbit S $330USD (Mid) Read Mobius notes. A Mobius with no Bluetooth.
Audeze Mobius $400USD (Mid) These sound so damn good, hands down the best headset on the market bar none and one of the best-closed backs I have heard under $500. Slightly higher background static, which may make or break it for some. Can't be used passively. Bluetooth, VSS, head tracking. Constant updates by Audeze. Planar drivers.
If you need to use some light eq to help go for it just be careful. Maybe even VSS if you can't position with stereo. I don't recommend VSS but some need it.
* Drop links are "affiliate" links kinda. The link gives you $10 off and me a $10 credit which helps me order products from drop for review. I don't get paid and I'm not associated with drop, it's just the discount link that every account has. Feel free to not use it.
* All links are for the USA seller. Just so people can make sure it's the right product when looking at other sites.

Console Controller Recommendations

This is just a temp message, these headsets are designed to work over a controller. An only feature all in one's options. Going for this option offers ease of use but worse quality for the money and fewer options. But this is because consoles have various limitations. For normal recommendations please ask.
In PS4 volume will be lower than on Xbox One over the controller.
Auto message, please respond for more info.

Competitive fps recommendations:

Closed back:
Open back:
Fun recommendations:
Closed back:
Open Back:
Music Recommendations (Sound Quality):
Closed back:
Open back:
Open back will offer the best performance.
------------------------------------------------------------
* Drop links are "affiliate" links kinda. The link gives you $10 off and me a $10 credit which helps me order products from drop for review. I don't get paid and I'm not associated with drop, it's just the discount link that every account has. Feel free to not use it.
* All links are for a USA seller. Just so people can make sure it's the right product when looking at other sites.
Wireless Gaming Headsets
Wireless headsets are such a disappointment. Bluetooth has taken off and is good, but it can't sound good and have a good mic along with low latency just yet. The only way to get low bluetooth latency is with aptX LL which isn't common right now. But a good bluetooth headphone with good aptX LL and a wireless modmic would be perfect. So I'll throw a few disclaimers here and now.
  1. If you just need wireless for portable listening, get bluetooth.
  2. If you need them for gaming and don’t need a mic, get wired headphones into a Fiio aptX LL supported bluetooth adapter.
  3. If you dont 100% need a wireless gaming headset, don't get it because you're sacrificing a lot of quality to have it.
  4. If you care about long term durability skip wireless.
  5. If you're looking for the best audio quality or best comp fps performance don’t get it.
  6. If you're on Xbox One dont go wireless.
  7. If you want price to performance don't get it.
Now let's get into what you will be sacrificing going wireless.
  1. Worse sound quality.
  2. Worse mic quality.
  3. Less options.
  4. Worse durability overall, not just physical build.
  5. Shorter life span. 5.Higher Interference issues.
  6. Higher latency. (most are at least acceptable now)
  7. Only one aspect of the headset, maybe two ever seem to be good on a wireless headset and they always come at a cost.
  8. Lower compatibility.
  9. Higher cost.
So if you're still with me and you still want wireless or you need it, here are the best options on the market, what they do well and all the issues they have. I'll start with a basic spreadsheet of them all.
If there is a wireless headset released before March 2020 that isn't on this list its because it's not recommended by me.
Also do note half of these options I wish I didn't have to add as there not great.
If you decide not to go wireless let me know.
Wireless PC/PS4 Recommendations:
Brand/Name Max Price You Should Pay USD Pros: Cons: Description
Cloud Flight $100USD Bad default sound signature, fine for the price.
Cloud Flight S Untested yet.
HS70 $100USD Good sound, very good signature stock. QC issues, bad mic, meh build, just ok comfort. Good sound, great for the price, QC issues hold it down.
MH670 $120USD Decent overall. Nothing special about it, high clamp, meh mic. Overall a decent buy. Some issues like high clamp, no mic monitoring.
G935 $120USD Very Good audio, decent comfort. Everything else. Bad build, bad mic, QC issues, more. Some of the best audio quality wireless, but kinda crap everything else.
ATH-G1WL $160USD Very comfortable, just ok audio, decent build, decent mic. Bad sound signature, exposed wires, price, range, interference, audio ques suck. Only if your going to use third party free EQ software on PC. Not worth full price.
Vurtuoso N/A Great mic quality Everything else. Only if you need a great wireless mic and are ok with bad everything else. Doesn't sound good.
GSP370 $160USD Good audio, Great Build, Amazing battery life, decent comfort. Mic, Range, Interfearance, price. Only if you want sound over everything else.
GSP670 $230USD Great audio, Great Build, Great standby battery life. Mic, Comfort, Range, Interfearance, price. Only if you want build and sound over everything else.
Arctis Pro Wireless $180USD Amazing Feature set. Everything else. Only if you want features over everything else.
MH670 is the best overall if you're on a budget. It's far from perfect but it feels like the closest thing to no huge sacrifices.
If you go higher in price you actually have to start sacrificing more to get any aspect better.
Amp/DAC/Soundcard
Link to the "AMP/DAC/USB Soundcard Guide Simplified" go here for an explanation and for platform limitations.

Recommended Products

USB Soundcard
Brand/Product Name Max Recommended Price(USD) Brief Info
Creative G1 $30 Not great quality, cheapest soundcard that offers mic monitoring.
Syba Sonic USB Soundcard $50 Has its issues, good for the price, console compatibility is limited. High output impedance
Schitt Fulla 3 $99 No gaming features, just great sound quality for the price.
Creative G6 $130 The current feature-packed standard. Driver issues, lots of bloaty software that needs to be turned off.
Schiit Hel $189 No gaming features, no optical. Best sounding USB soundcard on the market.

DACs
Brand/Product Name Max Recommended Price(USD) Brief Info
Fiio D3 $20 Bare Minimum DAC
Schiit Modi 3 $99 Best $100 DAC, USB, Toslink SPDIF, Coaxial SPDIF inputs.
Topping D10 $89 Widely available, only USB input.
Drop x GD Standard DAC $80 Just as good as the D10, only USB input.
Topping E30
Drop x GD SDAC Balanced $150 Good Budget balanced DAC. USB, and Coaxial SPDIF inputs.

AMPs
Brand/Product Name Max Recommended Price(USD) Brief Info
JDS Labs Atom $99 The $100 benchmark for sound quality.
Fiio A5 $130 JDS labs level sound before the LDS labs were released. Very impressive. Battery-powered for portable use.
Schiit Heresy $99 Near atom level performance in a smaller metal housing, matches the modi 3. Tons of power. My favorite $100 Amp.
Fiio K5 $109 Fiio K5 - dockable amp for Fiio players. Near atom level sound.
Liquid Spark $109 Easiest availability and near Atom level performance.
Schiit Magni 3+ $99 Measures worse than the Heresy but sounds slightly better. Tons of power My favorite $100 Amp.
Schiit Asgard 3 $200 Not completely neutral. It's slightly more exciting. But wow does this sound fantastic for the price. Id put it on par with the SP200.
S.M.S.L SP200 THX AAA-888 $289 Best $300 AMP, THX on a budget. Tons of power.
Drop X THX AAA-789 $400 Popular and first THX AMP.
Monoprice THX AAA-887 $529 Popular THX AMP. THX amps are extremly neutral.

AMP/DAC Combo Units
Brand/Product Name Max Recommended Price(USD) Brief Info
Fiio e10k $75 Budget option. Bass boost is bad.
Fiio Q1 MK2 $100 Portable, battery-powered.
Fiio K3 $109 Similar to the e10k but balanced.
Fiio K5 Pro $150
Topping NX4 $159 Portable, battery-powered.
Schiit Asgard 3 w/4490 card $300
submitted by LifelongCaboose to Gaming_Headsets [link] [comments]

[Song of the Depths] Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Previous

Fuck, my everything hurts. I rubbed the back of my neck as I made my way to the mess hall. Zafir had left a message for me the previous night, detailing how he wanted me to be a ‘role model’ for the other survivors. Apparently, that meant being social and actually joining them for breakfast instead of hiding away in my room. Yaaay.
“Morning, Elara,” Zafir greeted me with a smile when he spotted me. “I must say, I expected you to look like you’d been in a train wreck.”
“Close enough.” I shrugged, walking over to his table when he beckoned me. Sarah, another woman I didn’t recognize, and three groggy looking men were already there.
“You made the news already,” Zafir remarked, motioning to a nearby screen. The news channel in question was playing clips of me fighting the monster, as well as my escape up the side of a building. “The military will continue pretending they wish to arrest you for a while yet, while media outlets and the public lean on them to allow you to keep doing what you do.”
“No word on where the monster came from?” I frowned, turning fully to watch the clips.
“The surveillance footage was tampered with. It’s merely an empty park, then suddenly the monster is there,” Zafir answered. “From all angles. We tried to question the Syldrari, but they’re being understandably stubborn. They are quite angry about the military pointing guns at you and are therefore refusing to cooperate.”
“Mm…” I tilted my head, examining the footage as it panned over the crowd of Syldrari onlookers.
“What is it?”
I glanced back at Zafir. “They’re all not in human disguise. Did they get into trouble?”
“Ah…no. I advised the higher ups to make an exception, as this was clearly a shocking and traumatizing experience for all involved.” Zafir adopted an obnoxiously formal tone and continued, “It would behoove us to appear lenient, lest our citizens think us merciless monsters. If we show pity to the Syldrari, it will make them look all the worse when they turn on us.”
“Speak like that again and I’ll do to you what I did to the beast.” I shot Zafir a cold smile before taking a seat across from him at the table.
“It may be disgusting, but it works wonders with our ‘bosses,’” Zafir countered with a charming smile. “If I spoke without a filter the way you do, I would be shipped off to the nearest brothel and all of you would be stressing over who your new caretaker might be.”
“…yeah, let him keep the filter.” Sarah grimaced.
“Zafir in a brothel?” I murmured thoughtfully. “Huh. Can’t say I can picture that…”
“One of life’s small mercies,” Zafir groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Let’s not contemplate how they would have me reprogrammed, alright?”
That isn’t exactly what I was thinking…but that’s interesting too… I kept the thought to myself, for his sake of course.
“He might look cute in a dress though,” the girl I didn’t know spoke up in a surprising soft voice.
“…anyway…” Zafir shot her an unamused look. “Formal introductions are in order. Diana, Calder, Nikolai, Maelor, this is Elara—codename Lethe. She will be giving you your combat training, as well as teaching you how to control your feral.”
“Because the government wants us to be able to do…that?” Diana glanced at the TV, then at Zafir. “There’s more to it.”
“That information is classified.” Zafir shook his head. “Your options will be presented to you once you complete your training and can control the feral. It is my duty to give you a safe place to work on both.”
Is it now? I wondered, eyeing Zafir briefly before turning my attention back to the TV. “When am I going on patrol?”
“After breakfast. The uniform will cover your bruises.” Zafir handed me a plate. “There were things I wanted to discuss, but it can wait until our briefing tonight.”
“Assuming there’s no more interruptions?” I scoffed.
“A briefing huh?” Sarah raised an eyebrow.
“What about our training?” Calder one interjected, a fierce look in his eyes. “You can’t just introduce her as this badass and then not give us any time with her whatsoever!”
“Your training begins tomorrow,” Zafir answered in a placating tone. “Ideally, she needs more time to heal after the beating she took last night. The damage reports were rather concerning…it is a good thing we acquired healing technology from some of the more friendly alien species.”
“‘Friendly’ or ‘susceptible to manipulation?’” I snorted.
“Both.” Zafir shook his head, then gave me an amused smile. “I’m not your enemy, you know.”
“For now.” I crossed my arms. “It’s not anything personal. I’m just naturally cautious, and I think you already know what put me on further edge.”
“Indeed.” Zafir relaxed back in his seat and smiled. “I take no offense. I appreciate your questioning nature. It’s quite refreshing after coming from a workplace where everyone mindlessly obeyed their superiors.”
“Are you saying you’re superior to us?!” Maelor demanded.
“He’s our boss. Synonym: Our superior.” I gave the fiery man an agitated look. “Flip the waffles onto the floor and I’ll strangle you with your own intestines.”
“Y-yes ma’am, sorry ma’am.” He promptly sat, turning red to his ears.
“Now then, the rest of you will spend the day—” Zafir was cut off by the door to the mess hall slamming open, and a woman rushed in, panicked.
“Sir! We have a problem related to last night’s incident! A big one!” She waved him over frantically, then spotted me. “You! You should come too, it’s seriously bad, bad, bad! Name’s Amara, by the way. Come on!”
“You may bring your waffles.” Zafir shot me a smile and patted my head as he walked past me.
…that obvious, huh? I scooped up my plate and a drink, then followed Zafir and Amara through several corridors and into a room full of security screens and numerous other computers.
“What’s the problem, Amara? Zafir’s voice took on a surprisingly smooth, soothing quality. In an instant, the woman calmed down…a little. If she was running at a ten before, she was now a six.
“Right. So, not all cameras in Cascade Park were tampered with.” Amara sat down and swiveled her chair to begin navigating through menus. “There were some hidden cameras scattered around by someone unaffiliated with the military or media…and they’re selling the footage of how the monster got there. I uh…snatched it up before anyone else could, since they were selling it on a supposedly exclusive license. You guys need to see this. Seriously. I don’t know what we should do about it.”
Zafir released a faint sigh when Amara handed him what I assumed to be a receipt. I doubted it came cheap.
Amara hit a button on her keyboard, and a video feed of three imperial soldiers walking into the park sprung to life on the screen. After scouring the area and then picking a clearing, the man who appeared to be in the lead pulled out a device and pressed a button. Over the next several seconds, the monster I’d fought materialized in full, having been transported from elsewhere.
The creature showed no reaction at first, but then the three soldiers began antagonizing it, prodding it into a rampage. It chased them throughout the park, and eventually off-camera. The screaming and crunching a short while later made it clear what had happened, and the beast shambled back to the area where it had been summoned.
“What…” Zafir grasped the back of Amara’s chair to steady himself. “The military? But…if they were planning such an operation, I should have been informed.”
“Go back to the beast chasing them. One of the men slid close to the camera. Freeze with his face in frame, if you can,” I ordered, and Amara swiftly did as she was told. I’d thought something was off about their body language, it didn’t seem quite right.
A freeze frame of one of their terrified faces gave me the reason why. Those eyes didn’t lie.
“A Syldrari…?” Zafir breathed. “Syldrari dressing up as imperial soldiers and attacking their own kind? Are they attempting to start a war? The R’selkti have never gone this far…”
The R’selkti, huh… I frowned, thinking back on what I’d learned of the Syldrari thus far. “We can’t be sure it’s the R’selkti unless we have a Syldrari confirm who those men’s ties are to. From what I understand, they have some form of official bond to their clan that is invisible to the human eye.”
“…then go see if your friend at the cafe can identify them.” Zafir turned to narrow his eyes at me. “Amara may have broken the budget acquiring this footage, but the Syldrari need to know it was their own who attacked them. We can’t guarantee this footage won’t get sold to other buyers.
“Worst case, the Syldrari give us no helpful information or can’t help with this matter. Best case, they may handle the problem for us.”
“Mkay, I’ll make a copy real quick that she can take to have analyzed,” Amara declared as she began typing.
“Really? You’re going to let me show them this?” I raised an eyebrow at Zafir. “What happened to the whole ‘Syldrari are our enemies’ thing?”
“I have my own thoughts on the matter.” Zafir gave me a mysterious smile. “My priority is reducing the number of crimes for citizens to fall victim to, and the people in the Syldrari Sector are still citizens.”
“Uh huh…” I gave him an unimpressed look. “What am I supposed to use as a cover story, exactly? If I’m skipping patrol to go straight to asking a Syldrari for help…”
Zafir stroked his chin. “Avoid questions regarding ‘Lethe.’ You can vaguely suggest she might be an unknown Resonance Incident survivor, if you must. Say that your bosses picked you because you already have connections in the sector. That we felt it would be ill-advised to send an unfamiliar soldier when tensions are already high.”
With that, Amara gave me a copy of the footage, I got dressed in a uniform suitable for a patrolling soldier, and Zafir had a craft take me to the Syldrari Sector. I kept my helmet off so people could recognize me, and the lack of a weapon seemed to put them further at ease. Most of them were still standoffish when they saw me, but they seemed less likely to confront me thanks to my prior visits.
“Well, if it isn’t my favorite human—and this time in uniform.” Rel cocked his head. “A bit early for lunch, isn’t it?”
“I was hoping to have a word with you, privately, but I can wait for you to finish with those orders.” I glanced at the stove, then back to him. “Might be lunchtime by the time we’re done, too.”
Someone cleared their throat, and I looked over to see a rather bruised man. He sighed heavily before speaking up, “This have something to do with that weird human that killed that damned monster last night? It’s been rough. I’m a R’selkti deserter, you see. Some folks in the sector have the idea that it’s the R’selkti’s fault for the beast showin’ up…”
“A deserter, huh?” I raised an eyebrow. “I’m afraid I may not be the best when it comes to accepting R’selkti, former or otherwise, but…I’ll make an attempt.”
“Ah, you’re the Resonance survivor Rel was talking about?” The man grimaced and shook his head. “It was after that damned attack that I left. The young master killed his father, took over the clan, and had the weapon destroyed, but—”
“Wait, what?” I demanded, turning to face him fully. “There’s been seven other incidents since the first! Are you saying—”
“What? We’ve only ever heard of the one.” His eyes widened, and he promptly shook his head. “Clan R’selkti abandoned that project when the young master took over. His focus has been on finding the queen, not—”
The entire cafe went silent as the man clamped both hands over his mouth. I raised an eyebrow—they really weren’t aware? Well, they sure are now. My job just got more difficult, didn’t it?
“The what? I wasn’t aware Syldrari had royalty…” I did my best to play dumb without telling an outright lie.
“A queen?” The whispers started. “Here? On this planet? She’ll need to be found quickly…”
“Dyorsol, I suggest reporting to the elders with what you know. They will be able to offer you protection as well,” Rel stated calmly, then turned to glance my direction. “‘Queen’ is the closest translation into your tongue, but it is not a title of royalty. It is a personal matter of the Syldrari, so I hope you can forgive me if I don’t elaborate.”
“Of course.” I shook my head. “My job is to keep the peace, not pry.”
“You said you wished to talk privately?” Rel took off his apron, hung it up, then motioned for me to follow him. “I live upstairs. We can speak there.”
“Mhm.” I followed him up three flights of steps and kept my mouth shut as I did so. I’d never noticed since he was always behind the counter, but he had a really nice ass and legs.
“Do you mind if I shift back?” Rel paused at a door, his skin and hair already halfway between human and his Syldrari coloration.
“Not at all. I’m actually more comfortable when you’re not using a human disguise.” I shook my head slightly, closing the door behind us as we walked into his living room. “Now, as for—”
I fell silent as Rel disappeared then reappeared behind me, a dagger to my throat. Despite the weapon, I didn’t sense any malicious intent from him. Briefly, I wondered if I should have acted panicked…but it was a little too late for that.
“You expect me to believe you’re not here for some nefarious plot?” Rel asked quietly, his voice making my skin prickle into goosebumps.
“I don’t expect you to trust me, but my superiors and I are trusting you with black market footage we acquired of the events in Cascade Park last night.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a disc.
“What…” Rel’s dagger disappeared and he snatched the disc, giving me a brief, apologetic look. “Is that ‘Lethe’ woman tied to the military?”
“We think she’s a Resonance survivor from elsewhere, but after what that man downstairs said…” I murmured, crossing my arms. “All patrols have been told to keep an eye out for her and to arrest her on sight for illegal weapons usage. I told them they’re crazy if they think we can arrest someone capable of what she did.”
Rel frowned deeper. “You said this is black market footage? What happened to the military cameras?”
“All military cameras in the vicinity were tampered with. On our footage, the beast just appears out of thin air, as does the blood in the area.” I grimaced. “We’re estimating three humans and a single Syldrari from the amount of blood, but not enough was left in the beast’s stomach to be sure. It converted most of what it ate into energy before it died.”
“Tch, as they do…” Rel muttered with distaste. “Some species can’t help but tamper with the natural order…”
“Indeed. ‘Why wait for evolution when we can turn to experimentation and augmentation?’” I let out a heavy sigh, then shook my head. “If you don’t have a secure computer, I brought—”
“Sit. I’ll get you a drink.” Rel made a dismissive motion vaguely in the direction of a sofa. With that, he was off into some other part of his abode.
With no other viable option aside from ‘obey,’ I perched on the sofa and crossed one leg over the other. When Rel returned, it was with a drink and a jar of what looked like rock candy in the shape of stars.
Rel sat at a nearby desk before speaking up. “What am I meant to look for in this footage? It’s rather odd for the military to seek Syldrari assistance.”
“Well…we’re hoping you can identify clan bonds via camera footage,” I answered.
“Clan bonds…” Rel looked back at me, his eyes widened. “That…would depend on the cameras used.”
“Well, this footage is suspiciously clear for ‘hidden cameras,’ so I’m hopeful.” I shook my head slightly before twisting the top off the jar. “Regardless of what clan it is, it’s bad news.”
Rel fell silent aside from the occasional hiss, and what I guessed to be a few Syldran curses. He watched the footage several times before retrieving the disk and plopping down next to me on the sofa and holding it out to me. When I shook my head, he placed the disc on the table in front of us.
“‘Bad news’ was an understatement.” Rel slumped back in his seat. “They were of lesser clans, but all former R’selkti—the shadow of their old allegiance still hangs over them, so they would have recently changed affiliation. It is difficult to say that it isn’t the R’selkti pulling the strings, especially if they are searching for a queen, but it is hard to say for certain.”
“Why would a ‘queen’ make it more…reasonable? To assume they’re behind it?” I asked with a frown. “Is a queen not something to protect?”
“Clan R’selkti believes that bloodshed will please a queen and earn them her favor. As there is nothing on this planet to hunt…they will seek to incite conflict.” Rel shook his head slowly. “Every queen is different. Some demand blood, some pleasure, yet others wish for more simple things—such as a haven or protectors. They are…almost divine in their whims.”
“I see…so, the R’selkti are dangerous in their devotion,” I murmured.
“We all are,” Rel stated. “No matter the clan, queens are sacred. With all the stories and legends…every Syldrari grows up dreaming of being the one to discover a queen and become her friend and/or consort. It is the one thing that is consistent between all bloodlines and ranks.”
“Hmmm…I can see how that may be problematic.” I frowned, considering it. “Countless clans scouring the planet in search of one woman who, if they find and ally with her, it will bring them instant fame, power, and honor. Right?”
“Yes…the smaller clans may be especially desperate.” Rel nodded. “The issue is there are only so many places on your planet where a queen could be hiding. The Syldrari Sector, a handful of research outposts…if she isn’t in any of those places, she will be on one of the docked or orbiting ships already.”
“Mmm…and with Resonance Incidents continuing to happen…” I muttered.
“You said there have been seven others?” Rel asked gently.
“Mhm. Most of the survivors come from those, from what I understand.” I nodded before taking a sip of my rather sweet drink. “If that deserter is telling the truth and the R’selkti destroyed their resonance weapon, then either someone is attempting to frame them—or the imperial military is further along in their development than any of us were aware of. Or both?”
“Tell me…do you know this Lethe person?” Rel inquired, shifting in his seat so he was partially turned toward me.
“I’m under orders to neither confirm nor deny such queries.” I glanced at him sideways, watching his lips pull into an amused smile.
Rel shook his head. “A strange, magic-wielding human appears out of nowhere to save the poor, poor Syldrari from a monster attack—suspiciously soon after an odd human began befriending the Syldrari. The imperial military attempts to chase and capture the woman for illegal weapon usage.
“With slight modification, that black market footage would show mere human soldiers transporting the monster—framing that same military and likely starting a war.
“The most suspicious part of it all remains the magic-wielding human. Your kind has no natural ability, and even with magitech, feats like what I witnessed last night are unheard of from humans.”
“Thus why we think she must be a Resonance survivor. Some of the quarantined survivors exhibited elemental abilities.” I shook my head faintly as Rel continued to peer at me intently. “Some of us just seem to be lucky to have lived at all, but—”
“If you ‘run into’ Lethe, you can relay my appreciation to her,” Rel interrupted pointedly as he rose to his feet. “For now, I’m afraid I should be getting back to work. Intriguing as your company is, I do have customers waiting for me.”
I raised an eyebrow at him as I stood too. “What makes you think I’ll run into her?”
“I think you know why.” Rel chuckled and stopped me from placing the jar of candy back down. “Keep it. Perhaps some of your colleagues will find it to be an interesting treat as well.”
“Uh… thanks? But who says I’m going to share?” I tilted my head faintly. I ‘know why’ he thinks I’ll run into Lethe? What?
Rel shook his head at me. “If you eat them all yourself you’re liable to get sick.”
“Not if I spread it out over time.” I peered back at him as we left his apartment. Then, it occurred to me, and I sighed. “You should probably shift before we get downstairs, for both our sakes.”
“Hmm? Oh.” Rel grimaced. “You are certainly right about that. A soldier letting a Syldrari get away with being in his true form while in public…yes, I do get the impression that might be even worse for you than it would be for me. Will you be staying for lunch?”
“Mhm. My patrols were canceled in favor of sending me to show you that. They gave me leave to have lunch before coming back, though I was warned not to dawdle.”
Rel nodded in understanding. “I’ll make your lunch to go, then. Mind if I surprise you this time?”
“Sure?” I raised an eyebrow, and he grinned.
“Excellent. I think you will enjoy this immensely.” Rel cracked his knuckles as he headed behind the counter.
It wasn’t too long of a wait before I had my lunch in hand, said my goodbyes, and was on my way out of the Syldrari Sector. It wasn’t until I was in the craft speeding back to headquarters that it finally hit me.
…shit. Syldrari eyesight let him see something about ‘Lethe’ that links her to me, didn’t it? I gnawed nervously on my lower lip. I wasn’t sure how to pursue that line of questioning, especially when I didn’t know all the spectrums Syldrari could see. There were only so many ways I could potentially blow off similarities as a coincidence. Fuck. Or…was he bluffing to try and get an answer out of me? After all, he didn’t say or ask much of anything aside from saying to relay his appreciation…
“Ma’am, we’ve arrived.” Someone coughed. “Better get that food in you fast if you’re spacin’ out like that. …that is food, right?”
“Sorry about that—and thanks for the lift. And yes, it’s food. It’s surprisingly good.” I hurried off the craft and into HQ, making my way straight to the elevator and down to the basement levels where we lived. I needed to figure out how much to filter out of my report to Zafir—and quickly.

Next
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[Flight Alert] Cheap Flight From New York, NY To Tampa, FL $47 (70% off)

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I create free trip itineraries

Hey all! I'm not sure if this falls in the category of self-promotion and if it is unwanted please let me know. But my hobby is planning trips. Having been a digital nomad myself for five years, I love scouring the web for cheap flights, figuring out the best (usually cheap- I'm a backpacker kind of traveler) accommodation and logistics.
I started out just sharing my trip plans for my friends in the LA area and have now started a website where I send them all out for free. Obviously, because of COVID, the itineraries are a bit down the road, when we will hopefully be able to travel again :) Not affiliate links/sponsorship or any of that crap. Just my hobby and thought this might be a community with interest in free travel information.
Almost all the trips are international, but I do make some domestic itineraries as well. You can check it out here if you want: https://www.globegoals.com/escape-to-chile-argentina-in-septembe
Happy (soon to be) travels everyone!
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Cheap International Flight From Newark, NJ To Reykjavík, Iceland $258 (45% off)

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Flat Earth conspiracy

Hello . I am Dr.TimisTeodor (nicknamed: R.TSM.TT) I have a PhD in Speculative Zoology , Cryptozoology , UFOlogy, Theology and my main domain is Conspiratology.
With the recent concern from the public about Earth's shape and the increase of flat-earth movement in the recent years i have began to study the conspiracy about "HIDING THE TRUE SHAPE OF THE EARTH" Before we get starting on WHY do peoples believe this conspiracy lets have a quick look on WHO should be on it.....
Number of people in conspiracy;
There 13 countries with space agencies. All of them, and any smart person working any data would have to be in on it. Every person who receives data from space, who monitors vehicle telemetry, who monitors signal strength and direction, who builds rocket engines, who tracks flights, etc. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
533 people reached Earth orbit, 24 traveled beyond low Earth orbit and 12 walked on the Moon. Space travelers have spent over 29,000 person-days (or a cumulative total of over 77 years) in space including over 100 person-days of spacewalks. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
There are over 20 ACTIVE space probes RIGHT NOW. Two space stations (although the Chinese stations is a bit small so far) Again every engineer, every person who collects and analyzes data, every person who monitors fuel, does communications, works on navigation, etc. (I actually personally know two people who work on space probes - not part of the conspiracy....) EVERY SINGLE ONE.
There are over 80 private companies with satellites in space. Think of all the technicians, engineers who built, and monitor those devices - every single guy who mounts and calibrates them, not to mention all the work to make sure the data is sent from earth, and comes back down - tens of thousands of engineers. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
There are over 130,000 certified commercial airline pilots. Not even talking about the millions more of private pilots. They would all have to be trained in two sets of maps - the real ones (following the globe) that everyone has access to - then there would need to be a complete duplicate set of fake maps for the fake flat earth. Not only would all of the pilots have to be in on it, but all of the map makers, software updaters, people who approve two versions of the app -0 one on the public app store, and of course, apple runs a flat earth app store as well, where they "real" flat earth maps are kept for all 130,000 pilots. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Every single international ship captain - who has to sail around the world - not to count their navigators, and anyone who knows how to use any of their communication or navigation systems. There are over 52,000 ships in the worlds merchant fleet. Each ship has a captain and a at least one navigator, not to mention the support people back at home. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Every single meteorologists in the world. Yes, they would have to know how to read a map, and understand satellite images - many in real time. they would ALL have to be in on it. Every city with a weather station, every town, county, news network, local affiliate, etc. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Every single radar operator who has to be certified to operate radar for use in shipping or navigation - most have to re-certify regularly and part of and they must understand the curvature of the Earth, as radar systems can’t pick up objects that are completely over the horizon and hidden because there’s nothing to bounce the signal back from to relay the information. This is very important to navigating safely. They would ALL have to be in on it. Every one. From a simple small airport, to a tow boat radar guy. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Seismologists - they study the interior of the earth and earth quakes - and understand it is a globe. There are thousands of stations in the GSN (global seismographic network), and tens of thousands of scientists, researchers and college students working on monitoring, analysis data processing and research. They all understand how different seismic waves (p waves and s waves) travel through different materials in the earth, and how it proves the earth is round. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
Hundreds of thousands of amateur astronomers - who don't have to rely on "evil nasa" or anyone else for data. They can use the heliocentric model to make PREDICTIONS of where things in orbit are going to be - from the sun, to the moon etc. and ALL OF THEM require the globe model to work. And all of them can do it. Even with a cheap telescope and understanding how the equatorial mount works disproves flat earth. There are millions of these sold .... EVERY SINGLE ONE.
I used to work in a telescope store, and give classes and lectures on astronomy - I did not need a "big old lie" We did the research and looked with our own eyes. The heliocentric model is predictable to 100% accuracy - from transits to retrograde to eclipses for specific latitudes down to 30 seconds of accuracy. Can your model do that? Nope.
The scope of the deception would be beyond any endeavor ever attempted in human history, with billions of fake data points, pictures and millions of participants - with tens of thousands of new images needing to be faked every day.
Puting aside the impossible requirements and elaborate structure of such a hoax lets see WHY do peoples believe the Earth to be flat and why would someone make such an elaborate hoax
Atheist Flat-Earthers: Those make up about of 2.37 of the Flat-Earth movement. Why do they believe the Earth to be flat and why would someone lie about it for such a long time from their perspective
The claim(for the most part):We are in a made-up Zoo of a higher alien race by millions of years (or we either are in a simulation) . So we are esencially lab-rats from their perspective The world governments and leaders hide the shape of the Earth, getting bonus facilities from this high alien race meanwhile the rest of humanity is under an experiment for thousands of years. According to them we are under a dome that streches all around Earth and since this Zoo planet was created it reflects a fake spy everyday and we live in a controlled environment yet just few knew . The Antarctica barrier is the only way to escape out of this Zoo Earth and they guard it at all price.
Religious Fundamentalists Flat-Earthers(the claim) since the incident with the snake in the garden of Eden humanity has been under a constant satanic plot made to undermine faith in the Bible by questioning its validity. Religious Fundamentalists Flat-Earth make up 97.63 of the Flat-Earth movement , why do they believe this? Because they think their scripture conjoins with the idea of Earth being a flat stationary plane as it was created 6300 years ago by the Abrahamic God. Its a matter of interpretation of their scripture .
As a professional Conspiratologist i came to the conclusion that flat-earth is a bunk.
Claiming that we are lab rats in an extraterestrial Zoo its just plain stupid. Claiming that the God of the Bible made the Earth flat its a bunk and an insult from his own believers as this claim puts the god of the bible at the same power level as Zeus.
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The Annapurna Circuit: Trip report and guide (Intro and Part I)

Based on my July 2018 experience
This was not technically an ultralight backpacking trip. However, my experience on this trip was a catalyst to me switching over. I remember the clear difference between two fellow trekkers I met. One carrying 25kg of gear, the other only 7. The former I passed one day struggling up the trail despite him having several hours head start. He looked miserable. The latter never seemed as tired as I was and rarely stopped for breaks. My load was between the two but I wished it was much lighter.
This is also not a backpacking trip in the traditional sense. No tents or sleeping pads. Beds every night. You don’t cook your own food either. However, you could do those things on this trip as several other backpackers that I met attested. Regardless, it is an adventure that I think the ultralight community will appreciate as we all long to be back in the wilderness. Also worth noting: I am not sponsored by anyone. Any recommendation is simply based on my experience. No free gear was received in exchange for mentioning it. All of the links are for general information and are not affiliates of mine.
This is just part one of a two part series since I can't only post so much in one Reddit post. Look for part two to come out soon.
I've included several links to spreadsheets and photos:
1). Gear List. Includes gear I brought and its weight as well as what I’d bring now for comparison.
2). Cost breakdown. This is an itemized report of prices on the trek for housing, water, food, beer, transportation, and sunscreen.
3). Elevation and Distance. The third spreadsheet shares the rough distances between villages and communities along the trek along with elevation change.
4). Photos. Finally I’ve included a link to my website which has some of my favorite photos from the trip.
Please ask any questions you have. I’ll do my best to answer them. Hopefully by this fall some of you will be headed to Nepal for your own adventure!

INTRO
This is a complete guide to trekking the Annapurna Circuit in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. I did this with my partner in July of 2018 during one of two off-seasons. Summer (May-September) is the rainy season and the trek doesn’t see much traffic during this time. Winter (December-February) is the other off-season for obvious reasons.
I’ve divided this trip report into two main sections (it's two long to post in one post on Reddit). The first part talks about the general logistics such as how to get to the circuit and what you should bring. I will try to include as much exact information about what I actually brought as I can and then provide some commentary on what I’d change when I go back.
The second part will focus on a timeline of the trek. What towns did we stay in and what were they like? What were some of the things we saw along the way and what were the trail conditions? This part will basically be a long blog post about our trek divided by the villages we stayed at or passed through along the way.

BACKGROUND
Why the Annapurna Circuit and why July (arguably the worst time of year to go). I am not a mountaineer, rock climber, athlete, or otherwise elite outdoorsman. In fact, the Annapurna Circuit was really my first backpacking trip and still my longest one to date. I did, however, grow up camping and loving the outdoors and am an experienced day hiker. Travel is also something I have some experience in, having been through much of North America and over 30 other countries.
Over the past few years I’ve grown a love for photography and a desire to capture natural landscapes as I see and feel them. Combined with my passion for the outdoors and a mild case of wanderlust, I began creating an unofficial list of places I definitely want to visit in my lifetime. This list includes Patagonia, New Zealand’s Southern Alps, the Andes Mountains in Northern Peru, and the Himalayas.
In May of 2018, my partner and I quit our jobs and bought one way tickets to Singapore to start our first visit to the continent of Asia. I had researched the Himalayas enough to know that Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp, and Everest Base Camp were probably the best options for first time trekkers with epic mountain scenery. However, we made no specific plans on when we would arrive in Nepal if at all on this trip.
Fast forward through our first month in the hot and humid SouthEast part of Asia, and I soon realized that the climate differences for a resident of dry temperate Northern California were more than I anticipated. Added to that were the vast cultural differences between western countries where most of my previous travel had been and that of many SouthEast Asian countries. I found myself longing for the cool familiarity of the mountains and Nepal seemed the right choice.
So one day we bought a ticket from Malaysia to Kathmandu, knowing we would arrive during the rainy season but figuring we should give it a shot. We landed on a hot July day in the rain and were soon greeted by the chaos of Kathmandu. Here we opted to spend five days exploring the city, eating good food, researching all the ins and outs of the treks, buying supplies, and determining the best trek for this time of year. We talked to local guides and foreign adventurers alike trying to gage whether we should attempt trekking at all this time of year.
Eventually, after receiving some mixed accounts, we decided to risk it and head out the next morning for the Annapurna Circuit. We heard from both ends of the spectrum including some vehement statements that we shouldn’t trek this time of year and other trekkers who had just finished and had a wonderful time. We knew that we could always turn around and come back if it felt too dangerous.

MORE ON MONSOON SEASON
July is the middle of the monsoon season in Nepal. It’s also summer which means the lowlands are a steaming jungle and the mountains are often hidden in clouds. Due to the steep terrain, the land is prone to mudslides which can block roads and send vehicles down ravines. Leeches are also a problem at lower elevation which we soon found to be especially true when walking through dense foliage.
However, there are several benefits to trekking this time of year. Being the off -season there are far fewer tourists both in Kathmandu and on the trails. This means lower prices, easier to obtain rooms, and less crowding on the streets and trails. Along with the rain comes greenery. The flowers are in bloom and the trees are their greenest. The alpine hillsides are green as well, turning brown later in the year when trekking peaks. The nights don’t get as cold even at high altitude where guest houses are without heat, so fewer warm layers are required.
Of course, the dangers are real. Nepali people die every year in monsoon related road accidents and it's not uncommon for a few tourists to die as well. Delays are inevitable due to poor road conditions made worse by the rain. On the trail, many of the guest houses are not operating during the off season or may be more hesitant to welcome guests or have many food options. While crowds can create hassle, some comradery on the trail is welcome but much harder to find during the off-season.
NEXT TIME: Based on our experience, I wouldn’t change what we did. However, I would probably not go during this season again or necessarily recommend others to go during July. Instead I would opt for the end of the rainy season right before peak season (late September) or the end of the second trekking season right before the rainy season (late May).

PART I: LOGISTICS OF THE ANNAPURNA CIRCUIT
Almost everything you need for your trek can be bought in Kathmandu. Prices are cheaper than in the west but the quality is lower and most stores sell knock-offs of the brands they claim to sell. The neighborhood of Thamel is the primary trekkers hub in Nepal’s capital city. Here you will find more shops than you can count offering new and used gear, from real name-brand stuff to cheap knock offs. If you are coming to Nepal as part of a longer trip that includes travel to much warmer countries (as we did), you might consider buying some of your gear in Kathmandu.
We bought two synthetic sleeping bags (rated -10C but probably only good down to freezing) for $25/each. We were offered supposedly 100% down rated -20C “waterproof” sleeping bags for $50/each but were glad we didn’t get them. I purchased a decent quality “North Face” jacket with synthetic down filling for $15 and “waterproof” shell for $15. Diamox (a medication for altitude sickness) and many other meds (Decadron, a steroid, and various antibiotics) can be purchased for about $1 for a week's supply and without a prescription. The quality and purity of these drugs is unknown. I would definitely bring my own backpack as you will want something better quality than what I saw available. Same with shoes (or boots, it doesn’t matter really but trail runners are more comfortable and do the job perfectly) as you want them broken in. Everything else could be bought in Kathmandu but you won’t find anything ultralight or top quality.
NEXT TIME: Since trekking I’ve learned a lot about the value of a light backpack and minimal (but sufficient) gear. If trekking in Nepal was the only aspect of my trip from the US, I would bring nearly all my own gear. Everything would be quality and as light as possible for the task. An ultralight down quilt, wool underclothes, a down puffy, a waterproof rain shell, and a quality lightweight backpack 50 liters or less. I think a sub 10 pound base weight is reasonable even with a heavy camera.

PASSES AND PERMITS
You are required to have a TIMS card and the Annapurna Conservation Area Permit to trek. There are plenty of good blogs online describing these so I won’t go into great detail. They can both be purchased at the Nepal Tourism Board about a 20 minute walk from Thamel. Each costs about 2000 rupee ($17) and during the off season there was very little wait. I was told that you can get them in Pokhara and Besi Sahar as well but can't confirm. Bring passport photos (they wanted 4 each from us) and your passport as well as travel insurance information (required, we used World Nomads). Keep your permits handy as there are frequent checkpoints on the trek.

MONEY MATTERS
Everything is cash in Nepal. Many places that have MasterCard and Visa plastered all over their storefront window or list online that they take credit cards. This is almost always inaccurate. I’m not sure why. Mobile data and wifi are generally available and it would be helpful for tourists even if it meant slightly higher prices. Also there is a feeling of dishonesty when a business clearly advertises one thing but practices another.
For the trek you should bring all the cash you need with you. There are no ATM’s from Besisahar to Jomsom. The ATM’s in Thamel, Kathmandu usually only allow 15-30k rupees per transaction (many banks have limitations as well). You will also likely pay a fee every time you withdraw money and probably not always get the best exchange rates. I estimate that I lost about 10% on every withdrawal between fees and bad exchange rates.
How much money you need on the trek depends a lot on how much time you plan to take and what “luxuries” you want. I read blogs before my own experience suggesting $25-35/day per person. By watching our budget and going in the off-season we spent closer to $15/person and could have been quite comfortable on $20. Beer ($2-5), hot showers ($2 when available), and western food (always more expensive than Nepali food) can quickly double that. Most snacks are cheaper in Kathmandu (with the exception of Manang) but then you have to carry them all that way. If you purify your own water you save a lot.
NEXT TIME: I would probably plan to spend a little bit more to make the journey more enjoyable. An occasional beer or more variety in food choices can really improve your day. Hot showers are definitely worth it if they are gas powered but probably not if solar (they don’t actually get hot). I would also take more time on the trek, thus increasing the amount of cash I needed. That being said: the 50,000 rupee I brought on this trek would still probably suffice. If you are going without a guide or a porter the trek is automatically going to be significantly cheaper than those with planned tours.

GUIDES AND PORTERS
There are numerous options to do a guided trek including booking months in advance through large North American companies like G-Adventures or REI. For a more hassle free experience, this could be a good option. However, you definitely do not need a guide for the Annapurna Circuit. And I’ve read many stories of the guides being more trouble than they are worth.
The trek is super easy to follow with a map. Often because of the rain, we just followed the rough gravel and dirt road that nearly makes the entire circuit. During peak seasons, the trail looks very well marked and easy to follow. There are quite a few side trails, but these are easily avoided by referring to your map.
Porters are also unnecessary for nearly all trekkers, even those with guides. You need such minimal gear compared to backpacking in the wilderness or mountaineering, that your pack shouldn’t be an issue. I couldn’t believe how much stuff some people brought with them. My pack weight was over 30 pounds and 55 liters and I definitely saw a large number of much bulkier packs on the trail. Some people had a porter carrying a huge load for them on top of the oversized day pack on their own back.
Cost-wise hiring guides and porters would at least double your cost. Sure it helps provide jobs, but also may keep you from staying in that little unique guest house on the edge of town or spending an extra day somewhere that intrigues you. Guides will often direct you to stay at a specific guest house for which they get a commission even though there may be better options available. Some friends did Everest Base camp with a tour company later in 2018 and spend nearly 7 times what we did on our trek (there are no luxury hotel options on the trek and flights are not included in most tours). Having the independence to travel at your own pace and stay where you want, when you want is all something that money can’t buy.
NEXT TIME: I would definitely do this trek (also Annapurna and Everest Base Camps) on my own again. While there are some incredible guides with much knowledge and enjoyable personalities, the Annapurna Circuit is just too straight forward for me to justify needing one.

FOLLOWING THE TRAIL
There are several options for trails maps. Maps are easily available in Kathmandu for about 400 rupee. These are fairly accurate and up to date. Look for one made the same year (or at least previous) as your trek date. If you buy a map in the US before traveling, it may be slightly less up to date. For example, we ended up with the September 2017 edition of Nepa Maps NA504 Around Annapurna. Now, over a year later, the latest edition I can find online is the 2014 edition.
A road that parallels the Circuit is rapidly being constructed and the trail is constantly being rerouted when its path is more desirable for the course of the road.
Free offline apps such as Maps.Me offer downloadable trail routes for the Annapurna Circuit. Other options such as Gaia can assist with terrain but I never used it. Another invaluable source that I used for information about stops along the way, distances between villages, and what to expect, was the Wikitravel Document on the Annapurna Circuit.
The main trail is marked with red and white trail markers that are fairly visible. Some of the trail simply follows the road which isn’t a bad walk during the off season. However, in high season the dust and frequent jeep traffic would make this option uninviting. Luckily, most of the way up the path there are alternative trail options which are often on the opposite side of the valley as the road. Since leeches love foliage, we opted for the foliage free road most of the way up but outside of the rainy season this shouldn’t be a problem.

ELECTRONICS
CHARGERS: I would recommend bringing one universal adapter, preferably with multiple usb outlets in it. Outlets are hard to find and while some are universal, not all are. Some places charge you to use an outlet so being able to plug multiple devices into a single outlet saves you money. With my adapter I could charge my back up battery, phone, and camera all at once from one outlet.
PHOTO AND VIDEO: If you are a casual photographer just looking for some nice photos to show friends and family, I would recommend investing in a flagship smartphone or a Gopro rather than carrying the weight of even a small interchangeable lens camera. You just don't need all that extra weight unless you want significant zoom or professional quality large prints. The Go-pro is super light, takes decent 4k video, has image stabilization built in (much better video quality), is waterproof, and is tiny. Bring multiple batteries if you plan on a lot of videos. Also bring one SD card per day to reduce the risk of losing data.
I consider myself an advanced hobbyist when it comes to photography. Currently I use a Sony a7r II. I only brought one lens, the versatile Sony 24-240mm FE f3.5-6.5. If you are really serious I'd recommend a wide angle as well (16-35mm f2.8). This would especially be nice during drier weather when you can actually see the night sky for stargazing. The mountains are so vast and towering that a wide angle is really the only way to properly capture them without doing a panorama. I chose not to bring a tripod. If you are carrying your own gear it's a lot of extra weight to carry.
NEXT TIME: I’d bring the same camera set up and add a wide angle lens and an ultralight fold-up tripod. I would bring four batteries and probably an SD card for every other day. It’s a lot of weight but the photos are so worth it.
BACKUP POWER: I used a generic large backup battery charger with two usb ports. It was rated for 20k mAh but I don’t think that was accurate. My 10k mAh Anker is lighter and holds a similar charge . Whenever there wasn't charging available, I'd plug into this and when there was charging available I'd make sure it stayed charged. Even so I bought 4 batteries for my camera. One alternative, if going when the sun's out, is to rely on solar energy for charging.
MEMORY CARDS: I brought 8 memory cards including 4 micro SD and 4 regular. If I had to do it over I’d bring more. I had one scare where the camera said it wasn't writing the files correctly and when I went to flip back through them, I got error messages. I switched cards at that time and more frequently afterward. Turns out nothing was wrong but if you are a serious photographer you want to minimize risk of loss.
DRONES: This is a subject that has not been addressed in any other blogs I've read at all. Before going I watched numerous videos of people flying drones in the Himalayas. YouTube has several vloggers who have droned their treks and filmmakers who have made beautiful drone documentaries of these great mountains.
Unfortunately none of them address one serious problem, the Annapurna Conservatory at least (and possibly all of Nepal) has banned the use of drones without a permit (some say it's easy to get one, some say it's not). In some instances police have simply confiscated people's drones on the spot. In a country where one can hardly breathe in major cities due to dust and pollution, you'd think there would be greater issues than a couple of drones flying around. After consulting with some locals who saw my drone, I concluded that there is a significant risk that the police will take your device if they catch you. Many will find this a risk well worth taking and in some places there is limited police presence. The Annapurna Circuit has a surprisingly strong police presence in several towns (Chame for example) but not everywhere.
A drone is a lot of weight to carry if you don't feel comfortable using it for risk of having it taken. If you do plan to use it, either get a permit or exercise extreme caution and don't use it around villages or locals who might feel led to alert authorities. If you are a professional, just get the permit since your gear is likely worth a lot. If you are an amateur and want to risk it, bring a small, light drone that you can hide well if need be. I don't have specific information about getting permits, but it seems like the process isn't easy or quick.
OTHER: I brought a headlamp but never used it. For outhouse runs and power outages my phone served just fine though the headlamp would be much more convenient for longer periods of darkness. I would still recommend one.

CELL SERVICE
If you want to pack super light, aren't serious about photography or filming, but want some nice shots to bring home, I'd bring a high-end Samsung Galaxy, iPhone or similar. Since I had camera gear, I ended up using a cheap Samsung J2 pro (picked up brand new in Malaysia for $125). It takes relatively bad photos and video but was really just used to post updates to my Instagram story during those rare WiFi moments.
It is easy to get a SIM card for your global compatible phone in Kathmandu and even at some locations on the trek. There are two main providers Nepal Telecom and NCELL. We went with the private company Ncell because we heard that they were faster. Unfortunately, we soon found they didn’t currently offer much coverage on the circuit. However, judging by the number of locals using their cell-phones I’m guessing Nepal Telecom offers better service up there. Data is inexpensive and definitely worth it for navigating Kathmandu.
NEXT TIME: I would go with Telecom as having some coverage is better than none at all. I would also bring a better phone with a better battery life. One less thing to worry about charging all the time if the battery lasts longer.

WATER
Drinking water can be purchased at quite regular intervals along the trail in 1 liter bottles of filtered safe water for 30-150 rupee/liter. However, this adds up quickly (2-4 liters/day) and is quite bad for the environment. Safe water filling stations are available in many towns during trekking season for 30-60 rupee/liter. These were all closed except Thorung Phedi when I trekked this July. Bringing a 1 liter bottle to refill should be plenty when the clean filling stations are all open.
Another method is to fill up from the numerous running water stations in towns and villages along the way. Some of these are running constantly and are quite clean (coming from the mountains upstream from the village). However a village further up the mountain, animal waste, or other contaminants could still get you sick. I met trekkers who drank this water without problems but I would not risk it. While it usually didn’t appear to need filtering, I would absolutely purify it first.
I brought chlorine tablets (over iodine because chlorine also kills a virus that is a common cause of water related stomach illnesses) and a Steripen. The Steripen uses ultraviolet rays to kill pathogens. It required a wide mouthed water bottle to use (won’t work with a Smart water bottle). Also any curves or hidden areas where the light might not reach the water can leave it unclean. Mine required two ca123 batteries (not common) and can only do about 50 liters/two batteries. I carried several extra batteries.
Some sort of water purification tablets were available in many stores along the way. With a method to purify water, you save money and plastic and can even get your water from a stream if needed. We found the chlorine tablets did make the water taste somewhat undesirable so you may want to bring some sort of water flavoring. Another option is the two step water treatment drops that take more time but are arguably the most effective against the most possible illnesses with the least negative effect on the flavor.
NEXT TIME: I would bring my Sawyer Mini and add chlorine tabs if the water seemed exceptionally sketchy which is rarely if ever did. The Sawyer Mini works with any lightweight water bottle or 1 liter filter bags which are light and easy to store.

FOOD
You don’t need to bring any food from your home country (and probably shouldn’t). Snacks are available at steadily increasing prices and regular intervals as you head up the trail. Snickers, potato chips, sodas, cookies, nuts and granola bars were easy to find even in the off season. If you are on a strict budget you may want to find an inexpensive supply of snacks in Kathmandu before heading up. If you want fresh produce, you will likely have to purchase from Kathmandu or along the way as there is very little on the trek.
A helpful tip: snack prices in Manang oddly aren't much more than Kathmandu (Snickers only increased from 85 to 100 rupee despite bringing more than 150 rupees in earlier towns).
Healthy options are harder to come by. Certain times of the year you can get apples but not during the summer. Most meals included cooked vegetables grown fresh in the village. Every open lodge had food available. We generally avoided the meat due to limited safe storage options. We only had minor trouble with the food. Dal Bat is the traditional meal on the trek. Garlic soup is another popular one. We really enjoyed the Tibetan Bread with Honey for breakfast. If you are trying to eat low carb, good luck. Every meal is very high in carbs. Eating vegetarian is fairly easy to do.
NEXT TIME: We tried to eat a lot of Dal Bat as it was the least expensive way to get a lot of food. Often when you are very hungry, it just makes sense as they keep refilling your plate. However, I think it's worth spending a little more to eat more variety and change things up. With so many long days of trekking, it's a good way to keep up your morale.

LODGING
We did not book a single place on the trek in advance. I had heard that during peak season places fill up and guest houses end up packing extra people in the common areas. This was not a problem during such a slow time of year. We had more of a problem finding that places were closed due to the lack of traffic. I would not recommend booking anything in advance. If you go during peak season just try to arrive early enough to find a good spot before they are all taken.
As numerous other blogs describe, the lodges are typically referred to as tea houses although to me this implies more of a small home stay. A few of the locations we stayed in were someone’s home with extra rooms for guests. Others were more like mini hotels in which a room or two was saved for the employees. They all had kitchens and dining rooms which appeared like great places to gather if we had had other guests to gather with. Most had wood burning stoves in the middle which would have been wonderful as we increased in altitude. However, it was not cold enough for them to justify burning precious wood for just a couple of trekkers.
In every village, we first walked through the entire village (most take 10 minutes to walk through) to see where we felt the most welcome. In some places like Chame, it was easy. A kind lady called out to us upon passing by and after seeing her rooms we realized they would be perfect. Other places, like Manang were larger and had more options to choose from. Here we actually looked at a couple of rooms that we just didn’t love before settling on one. A few villages had vastly differing prices (ranging from free to 700 rupees) so if you are on a budget it pays to shop around. During peak season you may not have this luxury and may just have to take what's available.
NEXT TIME: I would still not book anything ahead. I would look for places that were clean and comfortable. A shower isn’t necessary every night. And sometimes the best places are away from the main lodges. I would also try to stay in a few of the smaller villages that aren’t necessarily on the main trek. Most likely I would do this trek slower (and in better weather) so as to experience more of the culture and hopefully meet more trekkers to swap stories with along the way.

GETTING THERE FROM KATHMANDU
We went to BG Mall (400 rupee taxi ride north of Thamel) to get our bus directly to Besisahar where the trek begins. The taxi actually dropped us off at the Gongabu New Bus Station. However, upon asking around we were directed to the BG Mall around the corner.
There are mini buses (think minivans with way too many seats packed in them) going to Besisahar directly. While popular with tourists, these appeared cramped and uncomfortable to me. They also tie all the luggage outside on the top of the van so it ends up covered in exhaust and dust. One benefit is that these minibuses go direct and don't stop to pick up more passengers along the way. I've heard they run about 700 rupee.
We chose what we were told was a tourist bus. In reality it ran more like a local bus to Besisahar from BG Mall. We didn't buy tickets ahead but simply paid the driver 450 rupees each. We had our backpacks stored underneath, had our own seats, and the bus was never full. However, I think during peak season it would have been much more crowded. Even though we stopped to pick up passengers whenever we saw them, most of the delays were the terrible traffic jam coming out of Kathmandu (3-4 hour traffic jam. Even so, we made it to Besisahar by about 3pm (9 hours) without switching buses. There are supposedly non-stop “luxury” tourist buses available for a bit more. However, you won’t find anything that approaches the quality of buses available in South America or Europe.
As with all transportation in Nepal, be prepared for longer than expected journeys and over packed vehicles that wouldn’t be up to safety standards in the US. There probably won’t be air conditioning in the summer either. And the passengers tend to be quite loud the entire trip.
NEXT TIME: I would probably still risk buying a last minute ticket. That way I can assess the condition of the bus before purchasing. The mini-buses, while perhaps slightly faster, look way less enjoyable unless perhaps you have a large enough group to book the entire bus.

SOME MORE ON GEAR
You don’t need as much gear as a normal backpacking trip. While some people do choose to wild camp, most stay at the tea houses. Even if you do camp, food is so readily available, there is no need to carry large amounts with you. Bringing a tent would allow you to wake up in some truly wild, remote locations without any other humans around. It would also require you bring a sleeping pad and a warmer sleeping bag.
All the tea houses had blankets. Extras were available if we were cold though this is not the case during peak season. I would at least bring a liner if not your own bag for cleanliness and extra warmth. I think a light 30 degree quilt would be fine unless you went in the winter. There’s no heat in the rooms, but I imagine they keep more warmth in than a tent would. The coldest mornings during the summer were below freezing, but not by much in our experience. Peak season is in the fall so it will be colder for sure.
I’d probably go with my SWD long haul 50 out of my current gear. Although it would be bigger than needed, it carries really well and rolls down when not filled. You probably don’t need a backpack with a frame. Honestly, a Zimmerbuilt style QuickStep or similar would probably do just fine if you are not camping or bringing a lot of camera gear.
Any cooking supplies are superfluous unless you really want to eat freeze-dried meals or have a cup of hot tea on a random remote hilltop. There are actually small huts which serve hot tea at some of the more popular day hikes along the trek. These are only open during peak season.
I primarily hiked in shorts but if it had been much colder leggings or pants would have been nice. There’s a lot of exposure and sun during peak season (even in the summer the clouds cleared enough to get us burnt), so long sleeve shirts and maybe a hat would be nice.
Camp shoes and night clothes aren’t necessary but sure were nice to have. A change or two of underwear and socks would suffice. I brought some running shorts that double as swim trunks. There are several hot springs on the trek which are near town and close to the river. These were mostly flooded over with river water due to the monsoon.
We brought way too many toiletries and a large first aid kit. If I recall correctly some places had toilet paper in their bathrooms and it was also available at some of the shops.

BRIEF GUIDE TO KATHMANDU
We arrived in Kathmandu near the end of June to pouring rain. The airport is a mess of chaos. One had to take a bus from the plane to get to the terminal. Visas are available on arrival for US citizens and those of many other countries. We chose a 30 day visa for about $50 but there are longer options available. We took a taxi from the airport to Thamel for about $5 and settled into a hostel for the night.
Our first few nights in the hostel were nice (community atmosphere and cheap price) but we soon realized we wanted to be in a hotel and moved locations for our next three nights before the trek. You can walk Thamel in a day or less. There are plenty of decent restaurants and lots of trekkers and tourists. A few of the streets don’t allow cars which is refreshing as the dirt, dust, and exhaust they produce is overwhelming. The shops in Thamel offer everything you could imagine related to trekking but not all of it is quality. You are under constant pressure to buy something or some service you don’t want nearly everywhere you go in Thamel.
Five days in Kathmandu was too long. I’d recommend three to get accustomed to the place, buy any last minutes good for the trek, and get some cash. We left everything we had with us at the hotel including extra camera gear and a laptop. We locked it in a bag and they put it in a second floor storage room. The agreement is that you will stay with them when you return but since they didn’t have rooms we weren’t held to that. Nothing was lost, stolen, or damaged in our experience.
Lodging:
Alobar 1000 Hostel. We stayed two nights here. It was a friendly enough place with cheap water refills available and an inexpensive rooftop bar. There were all sorts of friendly travelers here from yogis and hippies to trekkers and climbers. Our private room was ok but the bathroom was shared and not always so clean. Price was approximately $10-15 per night.
Hotel Family Home. We stayed three nights here and stored our luggage here during our trek. Cost was approximately $20 per night. The rooms were ok. Not quite up to western standards. There was a free breakfast you could pick from (pancakes, smoothies, toast and eggs). The bathroom had an open window instead of a fan and was filled with bugs.
Trekkers Home: We stayed one night here after returning from our trek. It was a great price and the owners were friendly but the air conditioning didn’t work. With the pollution and the summer heat and humidity, having air conditioning is nearly essential in July. Cost was only $12 per night but didn’t include breakfast.
OYO 120 Hotel Tayoma. We stayed here three nights after the trek. It has a Pho restaurant with good food below it. The rooms are large and clean with cold air conditioning. This was probably our favorite spot in Thamel. Price included breakfast for about $20 per night.
Dining:
Himalayan Java Coffee - Thamel Chowk. This is a popular spot with trekkers and expats alike. Great coffee for the area and many baked goods as well as specialty drinks.
Western Tandoori & Naan House. We probably ate here half a dozen times. Excellent prices and amazing authentic Indian food better than anywhere I’ve had in North America and rivaling London. Local spot with nothing fancy that can get quite hot during the day. Looks a little dirty but we never got sick and enjoyed every meal here.
Northfield Cafe. Nice outdoor cafe with baked goods and a decent breakfast.
Weizen Bakery. Probably our favorite bakery in Thamel. Great chocolate cake and pastries. Half off after 8 pm!
The Cafe With No Name. Great little bar serving local micro-brewed beer and donating proceeds to charity. We went here several times and always loved the food. Definitely geared toward tourists.
Medical:
Pharmacies. There are numerous pharmacies in Thamel which don’t require a prescription to get things like Diamox, antibiotics, pain relief, or decadron. Quality is unknown of course so use with care.
CIWEC Hospital Pvt. Ltd. This is a private hospital especially for tourists that’s right outside Thamel. Due to an accident which required suturing we actually used this location and got excellent professional service. Our doctor spoke perfect English. She and her nurses all used sterile technique, practiced hand washing, and were very skilled and thorough in their care. I don’t think we would have received better care anywhere in the US. Cost was $330 USD which is a lot for Nepal but was completely covered by our travel insurance.
Transport:
Walking. This is the best way to get about Thamel and really much of Kathmandu. It's fun just to wander. There are hidden shops, alleyways, and restaurants everywhere. End to end, Thamel is only about a 15 minute walk one way.
Taxis. I don’t think we paid more than $5 for a taxi anywhere including going to the famous stupa or the airport. We paid about $4 for our taxi to the bus station which would have been a 45 minute walk. We usually negotiated the price down a dollar or two from their initial offer.
Buses. We did not ride any city buses. The main bus station for travel around the country is the Gongabu New Bus Station. The bus to Besi Sahar actually picked up about a five minute walk from here at the BG Mall which we found out on the fly the morning of our trip after our taxi dropped us off at the bus station.

This was PART I of a two part series on the Annapurna Circuit. Stay tune for the second part where I go into detail on the day-by-day journey itself.
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