Tag Archives: Tent

From www.bigagnes.com

Gear Updates

I realized it has been a while since I discussed my gear purchases, and since I know how much everyone likes to talk about gear, I figured I would fuel the conversation some.  Here are a few of the decisions I have made so far.

Water Filter

After a long day hike where I had need to pump two bottles of water, I decided to replace my existing PUR Hiker water filter with a lighter (and slightly faster) Sawyer Squeeze.  I debated between the two Sawyer products – Squeeze vs Mini – and made my decision based on numerous online and in person reviews.  While the Mini works just fine, I was told it has a slightly slower filter rate.  Quite a few people also told me that the Mini clogs up a lot more than the Squeeze, due to its slimmer design.  For less than an ounce of weight, I decided to go with the larger of the two.

From www.sawyer.com

From www.sawyer.com

Those same reviews also told me to find a replacement for the Sawyer water bags that comes with the Squeeze, saying that they do not hold up to the rigors of the trail.  I have heard mixed results about the Platypus bags, some saying that the threads are different than those on the Sawyer.  However, I did find a YouTube video exclaiming high praises for the Evernew Water Carry bags, so I purchased a 2-liter bag from Amazon to use as my dirty-water collection bag.

Let me tell you this – these Sawyer filters are GREAT!  So much easier to fill a bottle than the old fashioned pump filters.  Think of it as going to the garden hose vs having to use an old cast iron well pump to get a bucket of water.  No real comparison.

Tent

There really was not a decision to be made when considering whether to buy a new tent or not – the two tents I had were either very confining inside, or extremely heavy.  After a lot of review reading and visiting a few different stores to actually see specific tents, I decided on the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2.  I considered the UL1, but the weight penalty for the two-person version was negligible to me, and was outweighed by the comfort given with some extra space.  Besides, if someone I am hiking with needs a dry place to sleep (or needs to escape the bugs for a while), I will have space for them.  Regardless, compared to my existing tent, this one saves me over 5 pounds!  Yeah, that old tent is heavy…

From www.bigagnes.com

From www.bigagnes.com

From www.bigagnes.com

From www.bigagnes.com

I have set it up a couple of times, to familiarize myself with it, but have yet to spend a night in it.  Soon, though.  One noticeable difference between old and new was the material used.  This new tent uses an extremely thin fabric, and I would be lying if I said I had no hesitations about it.  But numerous people have told me that it is far stronger than it seems it could be, and the sales figures show that it is a popular model.  Nothing stays popular without a good track record for quality.  So we shall see.

I SPOT You

Thanks to an early birthday gift from my mom, I have purchased a SPOT device.  There really was not a debate with this, either, as I know it will help calm her down while I am out in the woods.

From www.findmespot.com

From www.findmespot.com

For those that are unaware, the SPOT device is a GPS enabled device that sends a predefined message to your personal network page, a private website on the SPOT site, dedicated to you.  This message includes your GPS coordinates and a web link to view your location on Google Maps.  It can also send a text message with this information to those whom you deem worthy of tracking your progress.  Where this device shines, though, is when you have an emergency.  When you activate the distress signal, your GPS coordinates are sent directly to the GEOS Rescue Coordination Center, who then arranges to get help to you as quickly as possible.  As is typical of modern technology, though, the service contract actually costs more than the device.  But if it makes mom feel better, it is worth the money and the 6 ounces added to my pack.

Clothing

Anyone who knows me knows I despise clothes shopping.  Even for my hobbies.  I hate trying things on and due to my height vs weight, I inevitably either end up with something made for floods (pants too short but fit in the waist) or for someone twice my weight (decent length, but enough space in the waist to put two of me).  But it is a necessary evil, I suppose, so I sucked it up and tried on a few things.

For pants, I have purchased and tried out a pair of The North Face Silver Ridge convertible cargo pants.  While I will probably not use them as shorts much, the pants are made of a thin material that breathes nicely, moves easily and feels cool and comfortable.

I found a nice Patagonia Down Sweater (aka my puffy jacket) on the clearance rack, so I grabbed it.  Just wearing it around the store, I am guessing this jacket will become my winter jacket this year.  I just hope I do not wear it out before I even get on the trail!

During the same clearance sale, I was able to pick up some Patagonia Capilene 3 mid-weight long-sleeve and long-pant base layers.  I have not used them personally, but have a friend who swears by them, and since they were on clearance, they were no more expensive than the store brand I was planning to buy.

As I wrote about in a previous post, I am nearly committed to the ExOfficio boxers for my underwear.  I will most likely throw a loose pair of boxers in, for in camp, too.  I am still trying out all the different socks I have out there but I will most likely not be buying anymore.  I have two pairs of Point6 socks, three pairs of Darn Tough socks, and a pair of REI hiking socks.  I think I am set.

Still in the Works

Obviously, there are still a lot of things I am not decided upon.  Or just have not purchased yet.  While at REI, the salesman showed me a nice summer sleeping bag that was real inexpensive, which may be my solution for the middle of the hike, but I am still contemplating what to do about a winter bag.  I own a 35-degree bag, but it is older and heavier than what is out on the market now.  While I hesitate to spend the money for something new, I like the thought of shaving of nearly two pounds with just one purchase!  (Update:  Since originally writing this, I have gone on a quick overnight trip… and my current sleeping bag does not even fit in the sleeping bag compartment of my backpack.  Fail #1.  So it MUST be replaced…)

Similarly, I am still looking at all the different sleeping pads out there.  Mine still works, but I am trying to not have anything strapped to the outside of my pack, and my current pad will not fit inside, even with summer gear packed.  Maybe Santa will be kind to me this year.

My last big purchase item under review is a camera.  I am still contemplating what system I want to bring, and whether I need to upgrade before my trip.  I have an old digital SLR camera, but it is heavy and not always the most reliable camera I own.  If I decide I want a dSLR with me, I will most likely need to upgrade before I leave.  But if I am content with a point-and-shoot camera, I already have a decent one, and would only need to buy some more memory cards.  Decisions, decisions.  I am trying to get a sponsorship with a local camera shop, and that deal may make or break my decision of camera.

If you have any comments, advice, or suggestions, please use the comment box below or use the Contact Me page up top.  I would welcome anything you can offer!

Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”

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Current Gear

I have started to research and collect data and opinions on gear that I will need for a successful Thru Hike.  As such, I figured it would be good form to list out the gear that I currently have, along with some of my thoughts on it.  My goal in preparing my gear is to make sure everything has as many “uses” as possible, while limiting my base kit weight (without food and water) to less than 25 pounds.  I am sure this will all be tweaked as I hike.  Obviously, a lot of this list is incomplete or outdated, but you have to start somewhere.  Also, keep in mind that most of my backpacking experience was done with a group of 4-12 people, so some items here are too large or heavy for a single hiker, but when not so bad when spread across other hikers.  Try not to judge just yet, this is still evolving, but here is what I have in my gear box as of right now.

Backpack – Jansport Middleton external frame

Weight:  Unknown

Jansport-External-Frame_small.jpg

This pack has seen a lot of miles.  And it shows.  Unfortunately, the bag is starting to break down and crumble, so a new pack is certainly in my future.  But I will miss this old hauler.

Backpack – dad’s Jansport Klamath 75 Internal Frame

Weight:  4 lbs. 13 oz.

Jansport-Internal-Frame_small.jpg

This is my dad’s backpack, which he has loaned to me.  I plan to try it on a short hike soon, to see how well it suits me and my needs.  I have never really used an internal frame pack before, so the actual stuffing of it has me a bit intrigued.

Tent – Eureka Timberline 2

Weight:  5 lbs. 13 oz.

Eureka Timberline 2_small

This is a great 2-person tent.  I first used this style while at Philmont.  It has great interior space,  is very quick to set up, and is freestanding, which comes in mighty handy in rocky areas.  However, at over 5 pounds, it is a pretty heavy tent for a single hiker.  Two people can easily split the tent and tent poles, etc.

Tent – Eureka Solitaire

Weight:  2 lbs. 9 oz.

Eureka Soloist_small

I bought this tent with the intentions of using it when I was hiking solo, but the interior feels so small, that I tend to only use it on short trips.  Other than how small it is, it is a good tent.  It is a little heavy for the size, though.

Sleeping Bag – old Slumberjack (Unknown temperature rating)

Slumberjack_01_small.jpg

This bag has seen more miles and nights in the woods than most people can imagine.  It has been on every backpacking trip I have ever taken, including all preparation trips for both Philmont Treks.  And it still works, albeit it should come with a nose plug if you plan to burry your head inside.  I would like to retire this old bag, but my heart strings are wrapped tight.  But my nose may win.  Phew!

Sleeping Bag – Slumberjack Superpacker 20-Degree Bag

Weight:  3 lbs. 6 oz.

Slumperjack-Superpacker-20_small.jpg

This bag was a gift from my dad, years ago.  I have used it a few times as a non-backpack bag, and it is comfortable and warm.  It is stuffed with synthetic fillers, so it is a bit heavy, and does not compress down as small as a down bag would, but with the addition of a bag liner for a few extra degrees, this may be my starter/finisher bag when it is colder.  I will most likely try it once on a weekend backpack trip, so see how it packs and carries.  But I do have my eyes on a nice new winter bag from Nemo.  If I win the lotto.

Sleeping Pads – ThermaRest and RidgeRest

ThermaRest Weight:  30 oz. +/-

RidgeRest Weight:  14 oz.

ThermaRest on the left in orange; RidgeRest on the right, in black.

ThermaRest on the left in orange; RidgeRest on the right, in black.

Sleeping-Pads_02_small.jpg

Sleeping-Pads_03_small.jpg

Yep, I have two pads.  No, I do not normally carry both.  I used the ThermaRest self-inflating pad for both of my Philmont treks, and pretty much every camping trip since purchasing it.  The RidgeRest was a cheap pad used as extra insulation during cold months.  I have backpacked with both, when hiking in the winter, but do not foresee that being the case for my Thru-Hike.  I am still considering purchasing a new ThermaRest, as they fold down much smaller and lighter than this “original model”, which only rolls up and would need to be strapped to the outside.  Since it is a non-essential upgrade, I will most likely wait until closer to my trip to see how the funds are flowing.

Stove – Coleman Exponent Feather 442 Dual Fuel Stove

Weight:  24 oz.

Coleman-Exponent_small.jpg

Again, this was a stove that we first used at Philmont.  Yes, it is big.  And yes, it is certainly heavy.  But it is the most reliable stove I have ever used.  Plus, it is a dual fuel stove, which adds to its versatility.  There is a small capacity fuel tank on the stove, but most people carry a red MSR bottle with extra fuel.  Unfortunately, that is more gear and weight to carry.  This stove would be great for canoeing trips or car camping, but is a tad heavy for backpacking, especially if you are a solo hiker.  It was used with good outcomes during a Philmont trek, when there were a dozen people carrying all of the “shared” equipment.

Stove – MSR WhisperLite International

Weight:  11 oz. (not including MSR Fuel Bottle; 6 oz. plus fuel)

MSR-WhisperLite-International_small.jpg

Another Philmont item.  We used this stove a lot on our prep hikes and on the actual trek.  It is small, lightweight, and uses the same fuel as the Exponent, so together, we had two stoves.  The one thing I do not love about this stove is the “bottle on a line”, as the fuel bottle has a habit of tipping the stove if it is not on level ground.  Easily overcome, but was a learning experience.

Stove – JetBoil Sol

Weight:  10.5 oz. (not including fuel canister)

JetBoil-Sol_small.jpg

This is a recent purchase, based on lots of reviews and feedback.  I have not used it, and am not sure if I will take it on my Thru Hike, but ultimately, I wanted to see if the product was worth the hype.  It uses canister fuel cans, which offers some convenience as long as you can find replacements when needed.  The mug holds 0.8 liter of water, and reportedly boils that in 4 minutes.

Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket

Weight:  3 oz. (not including fuel canister)

MSR-Pocket-Rocket_02_small.jpg

I bought this stove about a year ago… mostly because it is a 3 ounce burner!  It uses the same canister fuel that the JetBoil stove uses.  I have used it once and was impressed with the output from such a small little thing.  Reportedly, it can boil a liter of water in 3.5 minutes.  If the JetBoil does not work out, this will most likely be my Thru Hike stove.  Plus, it offers a bit more flexibility as to which cup/pot I use than the JetBoil does.  Ironically, the JetBoil mug can be used on this burner, it just does not lock in like it does on its own burner.

Pot – GSI Halulite Minimulist Pot

Weight:  6.3 oz.

MSR-Pocket-Rocket_04_small.jpg

I bought this a while ago for use on the Pocket Rocket.  It is a nice lightweight single person pot that can double as a cup.  It comes with an insulating sleeve to keep food warm, and a travel cup style lid to minimize spills.  Again, if the JetBoil does not make the trip, this will be used with the Pocket Rocket.

Utensil – Sea to Summit AlphaLight Long Spoon

Weight:  0.4 oz.

SeaToSummit-AlphaLight-Spoon_small.jpg

Seriously, this is feather-light.  At 0.4 ounces, I could carry a dozen of them and not notice.  Do not worry, I am only going to carry one.

Hydration – PUR Hiker Pump Filter

Weight:  11 oz.

Pur-Hiker_small.jpg

I was first exposed to this filter at Philmont and shortly after returning, bought my own.  I have used this throughout Michigan, including a week-long backpack trip on Isle Royal National Park, where it was used to supply all three hikers with all the water needed.  It still works like new and shows no signs of wear.  But it is a bit on the heavy side, so I am researching a few other options, just to see.  I am not against using this pump, though.

Hydration – Water Bladders vs Nalgene Bottle vs Gatorade Bottle

Hydration_small.jpg

I have always used a water bottle for all of my outdoor adventures.  Recently, I acquired two different hydration packs, one from Osprey and one from Camelbak, and am learning how to drink from them without choking.  I also like the no-cleaning-required Gatorade Bottle option, where you just toss it out and buy a new one at a resupply when one gets nasty.  Still not sure what will accompany me on the trail.

Hiking Boots – Unknown Vasque Hiking Boot

I have long been a Vasque fan, and have owned easily a dozen pairs of their boots.  This pair is ok – not too heavy, but still offering me some ankle support.  But they are old and need to be replaced pretty much as soon as I find a replacement.  I am just undecided on whether I want to stick with “hiking boots” or if I want to try the lighter trail shoes.  More testing required before that decision is made.

Camp Shoes – Holey Crocks

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Yep, I own a pair (two actually, but the other does not have holes so does not count here.)  Yep, they are ugly.  Yep, they are the most comfortable after-hiking shoes I have ever found.  And they are lightweight, waterproof, float, and can be strapped to the outside of the pack, if needed.  And since fashion is not one of my fortes (just ask my sister…), these WILL be in my pack.  So there.

Socks – Lots of them…

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I have not found a specific sock that I am in love with, and am enjoying trying the different brands and styles and lengths.  I am sure I will settle on one or two, but for now, I have a box full of socks to pick from.  Not really.  I have like 4 pairs.

LEKI poles

Leki-Trekking-Poles_01_small.jpg

These are a new addition to my gear closet.  Following surgery, my physical therapist recommended I start using dual hiking poles when taking day trips in my local area.  She said it would help ease the stress placed on my still-recovering knee muscles.  I have used them a few times, and can already see the benefit.  Just wish she would have written a prescription for them so health insurance would actually pay for something.

Headlamp – Energizer

Headlamp_small.jpg

This is a Wally World special, bought as a quick solution to some nighttime motorcycle maintenance I was trying to perform.  It worked perfectly for that, using three AAA batteries.  It has a red light, and three different brightness settings for the white light, but it is a bit heavy compared to other headlamps out there.  Again, since it is only a weight issue, I will consider this category filled for now… unless someone wants to donate the funds for a new Petzl.  Please.  My knees will thank you for every once saved.

 

This is just a starting point.  Obviously there are some key components missing or undecided, and a few items that could be upgraded to something newer and lighter.  This list was something I created more for me than for you, so I know what I have and what I need.  I just decided to post it here to feed your curiosity.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any gear you have taken with you or have any direct feedback on.  Please use the comment box below or the Contact Me page up top.

Until next time, remember to “Spin the Compass.”

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