Backpacking gear

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

  1. Jon Bial

    Jon Bial Chasing the Magic

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    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
     
  2. shawn k

    shawn k Member

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    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.
     
  3. luckybalbowa

    luckybalbowa Member

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    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?

    http://www.merrell.com/Shop/Product....G-HIK&SID=9021

    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.

    http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?memberId=12500226&productId=39199326
     
  4. Adam Taylor

    Adam Taylor Member

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    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.
     
  5. kosel80

    kosel80 Native Trout Fan

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    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!
     
  6. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    You're getting some good advice here so I won't reiterate most of what's already been said.

    But it's worth restating that a good pair of boots is indeed your most fundamental purchase, and the one you're most likely to regret making if you get it wrong.

    I wasn't able to open the link to the Merrell boots you selected. But from experience, most Merrells tend to be a crossover design that combines real boots with running shoes, hence all the pointless panels, decorative stripes and colorful stitching along the sides. Take this to the bank: the greater the number of stitches in a boot's upper, the greater the chance of water getting in and your trip being ruined by wet feet.

    There are many options for good quality boots, but my strong suggestion would be to look for an all-leather, one-piece upper. A one-piece upper mean minimal stitching, and thus minimal opportunities for water penetration. Look hard at one-piece upper models from Vasque, Asolo, Merrell (the Wilderness or Perimeter GTX), REI and others. Steer clear of anything that even remotely looks like a running shoe.

    Just because a boot says it has Gore-Tex doesn't mean you can use it like waders. Gore-Tex or not, all boots will leak to some degree. A boot with a one-piece upper will almost always keep your feet drier than some sporty looking model with fancy stripes and stitching and Gore-Tex.

    Take along the socks you plan on wearing (and any orthotics you may need to wear) and try on every boot in the store that meets the criteria above. Go to several stores on different days and shop hard before you pull the trigger. To the extent your budget will allow, ignore price. Good boots will cost money so plan on spending $150 to $250.

    I was in the boot market a couple falls back and must have tried on 30 different models over several weeks before settling on Vasque Wasatch GTXs. At $190 or so out the door, they weren't the cheapest ones I tried. But like Cliff, I've got wide feet and they were one of the few models that come in widths, making my toes sing with joy. Many miles later, they're easily the most comfortable shoes I own, period.

    If your feet aren't happy, your trip won't be happy either.

    K
     
  7. Jason

    Jason Trout Bum

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    I second the Big Agnes Encampment Bag and I have the insulated REM pad that goes with it. Best combo out there in my mind.

    I have a pair of Vasque boots as well, way better then my old Merells.

    Good luck and be safe.
     
  8. Cliff

    Cliff Member

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    This cannot be stressed enough. Spend as much attention to your feet and boots than all of your other gear combined. I have very hard to fit feet and was almost ready to go the custom-boot route, but I finally found a boot that works for me, with the help of the head boot guy at Seattle's REI. I can highly recommend him.
     
  9. salt dog

    salt dog card shark

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    Take Kent's advice on boots to the bank. Any boot properly fitted with Vasque soles and at least a 1/2 or 3/4 shank will make long weekend hikes easy on your feet when carrying a heavy pack.

    When your health is up to it, look up the local Mountaineers Club or their counterpart in your area for their courses. You will learn from professionals about orienteering, and all the latest in food, clothing and hiking, climbing, avalanche, and emergency skills to enjoy yourself with confidence, proficiency, and safety for anyone in your party. You will look back on the course as one of the wisest investments of your time, and the knowledge gained as your single most important piece of outdoor equipment.

    Of course if you’re up for a unique experience, you might want to try fly fishing while hanging from a climbing harness 10 feet above the water after rappelling down a vertical cliff wall in order to get to the otherwise inaccessible fish in the deep part of a high mountain circ lake. :cool:
     
  10. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

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    Someone mentioned duct tape (partial role). Definately do this. Make sure it is the good quality stuff that sticks to just about anything.

    When you hike, at each break, inspect your feet. Look for signs of blisters forming. If you catch them early enough, you'll be one happy camper. Just dry your foot of any water\sweat, and apply a small patch of that duct tape. Put your socks and boots back on and go. Check at the next stop for others and ensure the tape is still in place.

    I did a trip with a group of friends and I did this at each stop - catching those spots that are rubbing just a little and starting to get sore and duct taping them. I never did get a full blister. My buddies were all dying by the end of the trip from their nasty blisters...

    I've gotten by fine for years without a GPS and purifier. Save that money for a decent ultra light tent (or bivy), pack, boots, a nice compact stove, and a light packable sleeping bag.

    Try to stay away from packing heavy cotton clothes like jeans and shirts. Go with light fleece that is warm and some packable nylon shells that are light, durable, and dry quickly.

    Consider bringing along 'camp shoes' or something to wear that are light to pack, but you can walk around camp, maybe even do short day trips, while your heavy boots are being dried out from that stream you had to ford. Or, take Teva type sandles, put them on when you ford that stream, and use them around camp, and save your dry boots for the trip in and out...

    I have a book on Mountaineering put out by the Moutaineers (who'd of thoguht?) that is simply awesome. It covers things from summer vs winter clothing, packs and other rear, orienteering with map and compass, survivial, first aid, to technical climbing....
     
  11. WPEB

    WPEB member

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    Sock: Smartwools are great. Sturdy and comfortable. I have worn mine a ton, and the stank washed right out. As with any socks though, while out on the trail, wash them every few days. The salt from your sweat can build up and scratch the hell out of your feet.

    Stoves: As others have said, the pocket rocket burns food. It takes some skill and patience to properly cook a meal with one. I would take it back if I were you. if you plan on getting an MSR, spring for the whisperlite international. It will burn just about any fuel. If your in the market for a something else, try the stoves that fit the camping gaz: less mess than white gas, boils water in 2 seconds flat, and temp. control. Less weight too.

    Water: I mostly use purifiers, but if you want to go the chemical route, use Aqua Mira. No taste or smell. Follow the directions and in 30 minutes you got drinkable water. Unlike iodine, Aqua Mira kills both crypto and giardia.

    Clothes: DONT use capilene. The stuff takes stink and holds it. I can wash mine and it smells like a fresh mountain meadow, but as soon as I put it on it reaks. Maybe its just me, but everyone I know who has used it says the same thing. Oh and Pattigucci underwear is the shit.
    Several non cotton layers and a good lightweight rain coat and rain pants work great.

    Feet:Bring camp shoes so you don't have to walk in your boots around camp. Chacos or other sandals work great
    Personally, I think moleskin sucks on its own. Get some Moleskin foam and duct tape for the big blisters. The moleskin turned upside down with the fuzzy side on the blister is good for small blisters. Just slap some duct tape over the top to hold it on.

    Food: some people like freeze dried some like fresh. I bring some of both. Freeze dried is light weight and can taste pretty good if you know what your doing. Buy a NOLS cookery and study it. You can make all sorts of things with that book on hand.
    Bring spices- pepper, salt, garlic, curry, tobasco. Whatever ya fancy. They can save a nasty meal
    Bring oil- A little bottle will do and you can cook trout or whatever.
    Fresh cheese, cracker, salami, fruit, onions, etc are all good.
    Bring a nice slab of bacon for that first night out.

    Like others said, learn how to read a topo and compass. More fun and less likely to fail.

    Just a few add-ons
     
  12. salt dog

    salt dog card shark

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    The Mountaineer's Bible:
    Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills by The Mountaineers (Author), Steven M. Cox (Editor), Kris Fulsaas (Editor)
     
  13. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Good points all.

    MSR stoves are about the best available. but the Whiperlite has one key problem: it's flame is either completely off or completely on with no setting in between. While that's great for boiling water, sauteeing or frying with one is an invitation to dishwashing hell. The MSR Dragonfly has a fully adjustable flame and will throttle down to a level that will make any camp cook's heart throb with glee.

    Just about every brand of MTS underwear (moisture transport system) ends up stinking. That's because most are made from polyester which reacts unfavorably with the wearer's chemistry and results in the most incredible skunk smell imaginable. New experimental materials are just coming on to the market with embedded charcoal or other odor-absorbing additives. It's still too early to tell if they're effective or not, but the additional cost starts to make Smartwool's base layer shirt look better and better at $80. But given the laundry care wool requires, I'm afraid I'd shrink it down to doll size in no time.

    Finally, camp shoes are the ultimate in luxurious foot care. Try Crocs slip-on clogs, which combine light weight, durability and low cost.

    K
     
  14. WPEB

    WPEB member

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    Maybe I'm just used to the whisperlite, I have made some great meals with it. But your right, the lack of temp. control is my main complaint. I have some friends who have the dragonfly, and it does saute, simmer, and fry like a dream comparatively.

    I have tried the crocs and they are comfortable and light. Just make sure you don't wear them rock-hopping or on a long day hike. I have had the strap fall off on me. They are great if you are just sticking to camp with them.

    Oh and I forgot to mention, the water bladder is a life saver. While you may not run into it around here, water fill up points can get kind of scarce in some places in the west. Where two one liter nalgenes aren't enough, a 3 liter water bladder and a nalgene will get you twice as far. And they are good for shower if you feel the urge.
     
  15. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    I've been trying to reduce weight and bulk in my pack for a few years. First I replaced my bulletproof TNF 7# backpack with a Golite at 2#. I'm happy with a 2.5# synthetic bag and prolite thermarest. I'm OK with leaving my 4 or 5# tents home in favor of the 12 oz tarp, plus a few stakes, but the GF prefers the "security" of the tent.

    I don't fix fancy meals, so the pocket rocket can't be beat for being simple and handy. Every friend but one has had the frustrating experience of their MSR Whisperlite going gunnysack and not being able to make it work when it counts. I still like my ancient Svea 123 for white gas use, but it doesn't simmer either. I know a couple guys who keep it simple and light using a pop can alcohol stove, and I bought a titanium one (2 oz) just to play with, but I haven't got the guts to depend on it yet.

    I agree that nothing beats the comfort of camp shoes, but they're extra weight and bulk. I've got a real light pair of flip flops that I think might be an OK compromise.

    The next step is a 3" diameter titanium fly reel spooled with shooting line, and I'll just carry a floating and two sinking shooting heads. Meanwhile the Berkley graphite/plastic fly reel is the lightest reel I've found. 2 small fly boxes, one dry, one for wets, a couple spools of tippet, and nippers. I made an 8' 4 piece 5 wt rod with cork and sliding band reel seat, and finally found a light but reasonably strong plastic tube to carry it in. That and the 2# Curtis raft completes my high lake fishing gear. Oh, of course the thermarest does double duty as raft seat cushion and PFD.

    Once steelhead season is over I'll be looking forward to some alpine lakes. I was injured last summer and didn't get to do any serious hiking, so I know the feeling.

    Sg