Backpacking gear

Discussion in 'Camping, Hiking, Cooking' started by luckybalbowa, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. This last year was tough because of some health issues, so this year I'm trying to fix that with a better diet, suppliments and exercise. I thought that if I can incorporate fishing with my exercise, I might actually do it :), so I thought some high country fishing trips were in order. Getting outfitted has been quite a task. I'm lucky to work with some knowledgeable people and the internet is a pretty good resource, but throwing some feelers for gear info on here would help.

    I'm looking to get some good gear, but I'm not looking for the absolute best stuff. We're talking uintas/boulder mtns etc, in the late spring, summer, early fall out for 2-3 days at a time. I'm on a bit of a budget, so I'm really looking for mid range price, but fairly decent quality stuff.

    For any of you with experience with this gear please chime in. Pros and cons etc. or any units you really like.

    These are some products I'm looking at

    Garmin etrex series gps systems.

    Katadyn water purifiers.

    Thermarest pads.

    kelty sleeping bags.

    Kelty tents.

    Merrell boots.

    Any sock recomendations (this has been the toughest to get a consistant recomendation on)

    So far this is the gear I have bought

    Backpack- kelty tornado 4900
    stove- MSR pocket rocket
  2. get a water bladder for sure! i like the NTG ones that joes sells, works as a day pack too. or the platypus bladders, both are great.
    thermarest pads are good. get the long one, that will fit your whole body. i made the mistake of buying a short one. feet and legs get cold.
    for socks, anything wool, or the hiking socks. wear the wool against your skin, and a layer of cotton over the wool ones. that way the socks will rub on each other, and you will not get blisters.
    the pocket rocket will be good for boiling water, but be very careful when cooking food. they burn really really hot, so it burns food very easy. cook it on low, and keep the food moving.
    the katadyn filters are good. i prefer the filter type, and not the chemical ones, water tastes better, and the chemicals are not very good for you.
  3. I agree with the socks. Miltary style cushoin soled wool socks, I would differ in having the outer sock be a nylon dress sock, it slides better than cotton across the wool.

    Make sure you a have good insoles in your boots. Life is miserable on long hikes if you don't think of your feet first.

    The thermarest will probably work well for you, but I prefer the military style isoform mats, you can't pucture them, and they are verry light. If only one leaves you uncomforatable carry two.

    Finally, if you are getting out in cold weather, get some polypropolene underwear. They stay warm no matter how wet they are, and they breath.
  4. I have a thermarest sleeping pad but i'm not sure exactly what model. It isn't full length. I only fit on about 2/3 of it and it's still great. It saves on weight if that is an issue as well.
  5. Lucky-
    Just my opinion on a few items. I prefer MSR water filter products, don't know if they're any better or worse than your choice but it's what I've been using without any problems for quite a while.

    For sock choices, I wear a polypro liner against my feet then a Merlino wool sock on top of the liner. I change the liner when it gets wet with sweat to keep my feet dry and happy. The liners are easy to wash if you're on an extended trip.

    Buy a couple of "Platypus" (sp?) collapsing water containers to haul cooking and drinking water in. They weigh almost nothing and roll up pretty small taking up very little space in your pack. You won't have to pump water so often. I usually keep 3-5 liters of water in camp when I'm on a multi-day trip.

    Use flashlites and headlamps of LED design, you won't need to haul extra battries.

    Take a little duct tape (small partial roll) and aluminum foil. They can fix a multitude of boo boos. Don't forget a well stocked first aid kit, you can build one yourself that's more useful than what you can buy.

    I could go on but won't, it's better to leave room for others to comment and share.

  6. Congrats on getting back into shape and all that.:thumb: I was kinda in the same place this time last year. I went on a 4 day hike with my 19 Y.O. son to the upper elwha last summer. My advice would be to pack all your stuff and go for a few walks. You'll probably find some stuff you can do without.:) Have fun!

  7. I do a lot of backpacking/flyfishing trips, and have found that the lighter my camping gear, the more fishing gear I can bring.

    I use a Bota water bottle filter. They are cheap, lightweight, and do the job. $20

    As for tent/shelter I love my Hennessy hammock. It is an all in one shelter and at under 2 lbs, you can't beat it. $189

    As for a thermarest, go for the prolite 4. I use a regular and have no problems. Keep in mind, if you decide to buy the hammock, bring a thermarest to insulate you from below. Your body weight in your bag eliminates the loft below you and reduces the effectiveness of the insulation.

    As for a bag, go down, 700 fill minimum. The space and weight savings is HUGE.
  8. Thanks for all of your replies so far. I really liked the recommendation of the water fill tank. Also walking with a full pack is good advice.

    Keep it coming. When I'm done, I'll fill in what I bought and later rate my equipment
  9. Some things. A GPS is awesome but learning maps and navigation is fun without them.

    LaSportiva makes wonderful boots.

    Bivy sacks rule!

    and i can NOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! get a super awesome amazing LED headlamp!
  10. We're talking uintas/boulder mtns etc, in the late spring, summer, early fall out for 2-3 days at a time.

    Well, that's not quite Northwest, but it still is great country. There is a chance I might see you there this summer. So many places, so little time.

    The stove is great.

    Forget the GPS.

    Buy a Silva Ranger Compass and the book "Be Expert with Map and Compass". Learn to use the compass. You don't need a GPS in the mountains. It is handy in urban areas, along roads, and in flat country.
    It is just extra weight in the mountains. Learn to read topo maps and you will never be lost (as long as you have the map with you).
  11. First off,remember to bring the 10+ Essentialsfor backpacking. Compass,Map,Extra Food,Extra Clothing,Firestarter,Waterproof/Windproof Matches,Sunglasses,Sunscreen,Bug Repellant,Knife/Leatherman,First Aid Kit,Whistle,Signaling Device,Water Bottle& Filter and LED Flashlight.
    As for what you are looking at.
    Tent-get a freestanding 3 -4 season tent with aluminum poles(not fiberglass) that comes with a Full Coverage rainfly.This will keep almost all rain out and some models will allow you to set up just the rainfly only for an ultralight shelter.Kelty tents are not bad for the price.Also look at the dimensions of the tent.Depending on your size of body ,a 2 man tent may only be big enough for 1 ,you do not want a tent not long or wide enough so nothing you have in the tent touches the sides of the tent(they will get wet from dew,rain,humidity...)
    Etrex GPS are good for the price but get a compass & map and learn how to use them,batteries & satellites do not work 100% of the time
    Thermarest pads are great for uneven rocky terrain but get a repair kit because if they go flat they do not cushion you,closed cell foam pads work well,just not as comfortable.
    Water purifiers,only have used a First Need Water Purifier for the 20+ years,they have always been rated high by experts.Katadyn I understand are very good also.You just want to compare what each model does get rid of and to how microscopic it filters.Giardia sucks
    Sleeping bags go for synthetic, down is best for below freezing conditions,for what you are using it for and time of year a 30 degree bag will do you fine since it is really rated for 40. Nothing wrong with Kelty bags, just look for a synthetic that retains its loft and is lightweight for its size.Make sure you try it before you buy it so it is long & wide enough to be comfortable in.
    Boots-Merrel? do not really know,just know I like them with a Vibram sole,stitched sole not glued,full one piece leather and Gore-Tex liner is also nice but not needed if you always keep your leather treated.
    Socks- I like the Smartwool with a polypro liner sock underneath.Always bring an extra set so you always have a dry set
    If you like to take along special beverages,get an aluminum fuel bottle to store it in ,they work very well keeping it protected and its lightweight just make sure its marked so you do not drink the wrong fuel.
    moleskin & secondskin for in case you get a blister
    Polypro underwear as mentioned before is a very good lightweight insulating layer that when worn under rain wear will keep you warm in case you encounter adverse weather.
    Hope this helps you , Mike.
  12. I think you can get away without a water purifier here in the Cascades, but I am ignorant of the water quality in the areas you're planning on heading to. For years I used a PUR Hiker water filter (now owned by Katadyn) and got along just fine. The year before last I purchased a Katadyn Guide ( and I've been really happy with it. It pumps water much faster than the Hiker model. A little on the heavy side, though.

    I can't comment on the Kelty tents and bags, since I've never owned any (except for an ancient external pack).

    I've heard Merrell boots are good. I wear Asolo's because I have wide feet.

    Insoles: Very important to me. I use Superfeet in my hiking boots. They made a huge difference in how tired my feet became.

    T-Rest: I've had a 3/4 length ultralight for several years now and it's fine. I have no problems with the length because I pad the ground or tent floor with extra clothes, etc. A full length version is more comfortable, but the 3/4 length is lighter and and rolls into a smaller size. Last year I bought an inflatable mattress with insulation (Insul Mat) and it is better on my back, but the t-rest will work fine. They don't make the model I have any longer. I think another person mentioned the Prolite model, which I believe is the updated version of my older t-rest. If you fish high lakes from a small inflatable raft you can use the t-rest as emergency flotation and/or butt-insulation from the cold water. It also provides something of a back rest for you.

    Socks: I started using the Smartwool a few years ago and love them.

    GPS: I have a low-end Magellan Explorist which does the job in open country, but I lose signal in the Cascades. I've researched GPS's to death over the last couple of years and if I ever pop for a new one it will be Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. Many of my hiking buddies use this GPS and it's the only one I know of that won't lose signal in the Cascades.
    It's expensive, though, which is why I've held off on the purchase. I agree with another respondee about learning map & compass.

    Here's a couple of links that may be of interest to you:

    Good luck with your new passion!

  13. I own a ton of gear and have packed quite a bit so here's my 2 cents....

    PUR/Katadyn filters good.
    Don't buy a Kelty bag...have owned them and they held up worst of
    all I have owned. (buy Marmot or Mtn. Hardwear or TNF)
    La Sportiva boots all the way.
    Costco has good socks (similar to smartwools) and they are 4 for ten bucks! They don't last quite as lonng but considering you get four pair instead of one it's worth it.
    If you can return the stove for an MSR Whisperlite or Dragonfly do'll save a ton of money on fuel in the long run. They will burn car gas, alcohol, white gas, butane , propane, etc. and you can carry just the amount you need instead of a full carttridge. (Also if you ever fly with your gear you can't take cartridges) I first started with the cartridge stoves and soon had a dozen or so half used ones laying around because you never want to gamble that the amount in it is enough so you buy a new one each time as opposed to carrying two or three old ones.
    Thermarests are a must have...if you can find a deal on the guidelite series they are great. I have found the long version to be much more comfy and worth the extra few ounces in weight but I am 6'3".
    GPS isn't necessary unless you plan to bushwack so use the cash on quality boots.
    Definitely get a pair of treking poles! They have saved me more than once and help a TON !
    If you plan hike in wet country buy gaiters...they will save your socks and feet from getting wet as well as grass burrs etc.
    A good led headlamp and a candle lantern are good ideas too.
    A hydration bladder is a must too.
    Don't waste money on the freeze dried meals. They are expensive and don't taste as good as what you can find in the grocery store. PM me if you need ideas on food.

    One thin piece of surgical tubing with a tiny copper tube inserted into the end (about 8 inches sticking out) for fire starting if you plan to hike in cold weather or where you can light small fires. Trust me, you'll thank me later. Just blow in it and you 'll see the magic. (learned from an old man on the Appalachian Trail)

    Sierra Designs tents (one of the convertible type which are three or four season tents)

    Quick dry clothing (no cotton)

    Thats all I can think of for now...hope it helps.
  14. Read, read, read, read, read and then read some more. And not just the internet; you need to read several entire books on the subject. Seems you're on the right track with that already. Internet's great and all, but talk to knowledgable people all you can. And you'll get lots of opinions, all of which won't agree - as evidenced already by responses to your post. As for opinions, here goes:
    1. Budget is fine, and we all have to budget unless we're made of money. But, good gear that does its job without fail is not cheap. So go cheap only where it makes sense, and upgrade it later if you need to. Example: Buy the $5 plastic spork instead of the $30 titanium one, but don't buy a tent for $50 less if the more expensive one really is better/lighter.
    2. Since you're starting from scratch, you're in a good position to do it right the first time. MANY hikers buy gear and then replace it with something else later because they didn't think of the whole as a system. Lack of experience makes this harder, but that's combatted with all the reading and talking. Everything in your pack, and the pack itself and everything you wear is a system. It all works together. I know it's hard to see how your shirt works with your tent or headlamp, but it does. Every single item you carry has to be carefully scrutinized. Details are important! I'm a little worried about this because you've already bought some gear without working out the rest of it.
    3. Light is right. If you haven't already, search for "ultralight backpacking" and you may discover some amazing things. All else being equal, a lighter piece of gear wins every time. It might mean having to learn to do something a different way to utilize lighter gear, but if you can it's worth it. There's a lot of good reasons to go ultralight, and the reasons against it are usually resistance to change and perception you're not prepared enough. You can do multi-day trips with a fifteen to twenty pound pack- comfortably. This becomes especially important when you're looking at adding a few pounds of fishing gear to the load. Thankfully, flyfishing gear is already very lightweight. Even so, look at it as critically as all the rest of your gear.
    4. Have fun! Personally I'm a gear junkie and can have way too much fun buying new stuff. Using it AND liking it on the trail is even better.
  15. $9.99 wind up LED flashlight at Fred Meyer. Will charge a cell phone (or GPS too).
  16. Lucky,

    Boots - buy what fits your foot the best and has the properties you are looking for (i.e. goretex, leather, vibram). Go to a place where they know how to fit your foot. Wear them around the store. Test Test Test. Do not rely solely on, it feels good. Ask the pros advice, that is what they are their for. They should be able to tell you how it should feel like. Even better if you can walk up and down a slope during the test. I know many folks are anti REI, but the downtown store will be a good place for information. (some of the outlying ones are a little more yuppie focused). Make fit your guide, not price. Spend more here for quality boots if they fit you better. After you buy them, wear them. To the grocery store, to the mailbox, to the fly shop. Breaking in boots is less about the boot and more about conditioning your feet. Do a good job here, and your trails will be blister free. Used is not a good idea.

    Backpack -
    Fit Fit Fit. Again, find a professional who will fit the pack to your frame, fill it with weight and let you wear it around for 45 minutes to an hour. Within reason, make fit your guide and price a secondary concern. Used is not a good idea unless you can get a pro fit.

    Sleeping bag - Sounds like for your use you want a synthetic bag. The main differences in price will be durability and weight. You can buy a cheaper bag and the trade off will be it's a little heavier and you'll have to replace it sooner. You can go budget here. Used is a little odd here, but with a properly cared and washed bag, it's okay.

    Thermarest -
    an absolute must. They come in a number of styles, you'll pay more for light weight and coverage. Used would be okay.

    Stove - You can save dough here if you buy used. A whisperlite was considered a standard for its field serviceability. I have two that are over 15 years old and still performing wonderfully. I also own the jetboil system which is really great for boiling water but not much else. MSR is the leader here, but some others are catching up. Make sure you can fire it up at home easily, because it's always more difficult in the woods with wind and rain. The pocket rocket is a hot stove and you won't be able to cook anything that requires a simmer. If you can take it back, I'd put the money towards something else and buy a used stove.

    Tent - I agree that a freestanding tent is generally easier. It's tough enough to find a flat spot without worrying about tying into trees, rocks and getting solid stakes. Kelty, TNF, Mountain Hardware, REI, Marmot and Sierra Designs are all good companies with good tents. Look for sealed seems and features that fit your intentions. Buy the lightest you can afford. Used tents can be a bargain. Set it up a few times before you go out.

    Headlamp - I have Petzls, but there are a number out there that are meant for the woods. Buy one sturdy enough that it won't break in your pack.

    Water filter - buy new. There are plenty on the market that will fit your needs. Some require more elbow grease. Determine how much water you will need and that will dictate the filter.

    Some things I generally take are:

     Headlamp
     Batteries
     Knife
     Compass
     Map
     First Aid Kit
     Water filter
     TP
     Chapstick & Sunscreen
     Sunglasses (with strap)
     Insect Repellent
     Camera & Film
     Handiwipes
     Watch
     Towel
     GPS

    Best of luck.

    /s/ a gear hound
  17. I have a big agnes sleeping bag. The cool feature of this bag that sold me was . It has a pouch on the back of it to put the sleeping pad in. That way you cant roll off of it in the middle of the night. Also IMHO mummy bags suck get a rectangular bag.
  18. Thanks for all of the comments so far guys.
    It looks like boots are a THE big deal, and here's to boots I'm looking at. They are light and have the vibram sole with good support. Do they look like they are worth the purchase?

    Also, do any of you guys wear a thin under sock? When I was in the army, we would wear nylon/panyhose socks under our issue socks to keep from getting blisters. I've seen some newer age technology in undersocks and was wondering if they are worth it.

    As far as packs, I already bought one. I got this 50% off at sportsman's warehouse because it was discontinued. It was what started me up, but it sounds like I may have made a mistake in getting it first.
  19. not trying to hijack the thread but has anyone out there had any experience with
    Optimus Nova Plus by Brunton?

    Great info on this thread.
  20. Merrel makes some good boots. Katadyn filters are really nice as well. I disagree with some folks though,I take the chemical water purifier tablets and some sport drink powder to mask the taste. Saves a lot of weight. Also rectangle bags are more comfy but a good mummy bag will save a lot of weight as well. Don't skimp on the tent though,whatever design you go with! As for socks I like smart wool or thorlo . Thorlo are a bit nicer but more expensive. #1 tip is use your boots as much as you can before you hike or you will hate life. Last time I didn't I walked the last 2 miles barefoot :p Also the collapse able water bottles are nice to have as well.Good luck ! The Mt. lakes are well worth the effort!

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