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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.”