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G sure as heck don't stand for "Georgia", Dorothy. The Gear Junkie's forum.
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
It's about the gear, dudes on 10/06/2004 00:41:02 MDT Print View

If you need a formal introduction on what you should talk about here...I may not be able to help :)

Jerold Swan
(jswan) - F - M
WPB shell for mountain running on 10/06/2004 08:43:08 MDT Print View

Last year, I got caught out in a big storm 14 miles into a 20 mile backcountry run with only a Montane windshirt and no bailout options. It never reached the point of being dangerous, but it was quite uncomfortable--I swore I'd never do a big backcountry run again without a waterproof shell.

I've been using my old Lowe Alpine Adrenaline jacket, which weighs about 15 ounces and doesn't pack particularly small.

I had been planning on getting the new 6.x ounce 2005 Patagonia Specter pullover to replace it, when it comes out. I probably only wear a waterproof shell 3-4 times a year, so I'm leaning toward absolute minimum weight rather than breathability.

Any opinions on the Patagonia vs. the slightly heavier Integral Designs eVent jacket?

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
re: WPB shell for mountain running on 10/07/2004 22:17:04 MDT Print View


Why not consider a Rainshield Jacket? Excellent breathability for around 5 oz and $30! The durability isn't great, but for occasional use I don't think it can be beat.


PS -- I added some velcro dots to the zipper flap of mine to improve its weather resistance.

Edited by MikeMartin on 10/08/2004 10:49:22 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
a "newbie" with a few questions on 10/08/2004 15:48:18 MDT Print View

just read BackPackingLight's "Lightweight Primer".

since it's downhill to 100 for me, i need to lighten up (25-30 lbs of gear).

1. NB805's - have them. have used them for trail running. haven't used them on any treks. how do you keep your feet dry on rainy treks using Trail Running shoes? VB socks?

2. frameless packs - can you really fit a week's worth of light gear (25-30 lbs) in a pack like the Vapor Trail or smaller?. i'm making the transition to light. currently using a Kelty Storm 3600 (60 L) weighing 4.5lb empty. so i could see how a virtual frame is "built up", have tried loading it with the RidgeRest pad inside (cut down to 62"), and the W. Mtn. Highlite and MSR MicroZoid (with Ti stakes) inside of the unrolled pad, (just to see how it all fits). not much room left inside for food, etc. hood pocket & back mesh pocket have Rx, headlamp, rain gear, and misc. items. 1L platypus is also on outside, and a couple of water bottles in the side mesh pockets. a pack like the Vapor Trail is apparently a bit smaller, not based upon advertised volume, but based upon advertised dimensions. i don't see how this gear will fit in a smaller pack. what am i doing wrong?

please, "enlighten" me.

many thanks,

Edited by pj on 10/08/2004 15:52:09 MDT.

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
A few questions on 10/08/2004 16:29:41 MDT Print View

Paul, let me try and answer these questions for you.

1. Your feet will get wet on rainy days wearing trail runners like the NB805. Trail shoes like the Adidas Banshee or even more so Solomon Amphibians (which I'v enot used though they worked well for many people on the recent Beartooths and Yellowstone trip that we just did). Wet feet can be a problem if they don't get a chance to ever dry over the long-term, but if you can keep them dry at night things will be alright. There are times when a more waterproof shoe may be the way to go, but for general 3-season hiking unless you are going to be out a long time such shoes are probably actually overkill. Bring an extra pair of of socks for sleeping and make sure you keep them dry.

Note that this changes somewhat for winter camping, but that is a topic for another time.

2. a 60 liter pack is, if my math hasn't failed me, just over 3,600 cubic inches in volume. That's more than enough for a week long trip. When you unroll your sleeping pad into the pack do you est to spread it out all the way. It's tough at first, but you'll get the hang of it. Try different configurations. For example, when I used to use a Gossamer Gear G4 (back then they were GVP Gear) for AT section hikes I tended to place my sleeping bag down in the bottom of the pack and then create my "virtual frame" over that. I also just made the "virtual frame" and shoved everything in. Some itmes will pack better than others. Tent poles can be notorious space hogs. Try placing them outside the "virtual frame" perhaps in an outside pocket or strapped on the pack. Play with it. I used a Gossamer Gear Mariposa on the Beartooths trip and although that trip only required about 4.5 days of food I have no doubt that I could have carried several days more had I wished. Weight still would have been pretty low.

Most of the current frameless packs should have no trouble carrying 25-30 pounds. I sometimes carried over 30 on hot summer days in the south where I need lots of water (a green draught). It wasn't ideal, but it worked and that was back when I knew much less than I do now (and packs are better now).

Stephen Parmenter
(parmens) - F - MLife

Locale: OH
Patagonia R2 vest on 10/11/2004 16:10:52 MDT Print View

This is a question for Ryan, although I would appreciate anyone else's feedback also. From reading Ryan's trip reports, gear lists etc, it appears as if the Patagonia R2 vest is often a part of his gear. Is this a true perception. If so, why? When there are lighter weight choices in synthetic high loft vests and down vests, what is the draw to making the R2 vest a standard on your trips?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
RE: Patagonia R2 Vest on 10/13/2004 22:14:00 MDT Print View

>> From reading Ryan's trip reports, gear lists etc, it appears as if the Patagonia R2 vest is often a part of his gear...why? When there are lighter weight choices in synthetic high loft vests and down vests, what is the draw to making the R2 vest a standard on your trips?

Steve: because of the breathability of the vest.

This makes it superior insulation when it's real cold and you need to move hard, great especially for stop and go activities.

I really fell in love with it as a fringe season piece climbing Texas Pass in the Winds last year. I wore a thin wool shirt and windshirt (my normal cool weather hiking outfit). Then, reaching the base of the pass, the weather unloaded and turned awful, with high winds and snow.

So here's the situation: you have a very steep and tough climb up big boulder talus in an open couloir being blasted by winds blowing uphill, it's snowing hard, and the temp is 25 degrees and falling.

You certainly need more insulation than what the wool shirt/wind shirt combo provides, or you can add a waterproof breathable shell (and you know the fun in that once you start a steep climb), which I did not take with me (I had a poncho). The last alternative as you say, is a high loft synthetic or down insulating vest or pullover, etc. (I did have a WM Flight Jacket, and often, I'll have the Cocoon instead of that). But there, you have two tightly woven "wind shirt" fabrics sandwiching a ton of insulation, and breathability is going to be hindered and you'll overheat quick.

So, see the benefit of the R2?

I also find that simply an extra thin layer (think base layer, I like the GoLite C-Thru lightweight Zip-T for this purpose) works well in this situation, or a lined wind shirt, like a Patagonia Stretch Zephur or Marmot Driclime or Rab V-Trail Top (one of the latter 3 would replace your normal wind shirt and R2 layer).

What I really like about a fleece vest over, say, the lined wind shirt or second base layer, is the cozy warmth it gives when you have to stop - you don't cool down quite as fast as when wearing fleece, so you can buy some time and rest here and there, or snack, or drink, without having to don another insulating layer.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Bivy Sacks on 10/15/2004 11:05:09 MDT Print View

I'd go with the Integral Designs bivy. I had a Salathe that I liked a lot (especially the way the top was backed with mesh down to almost the waist, for hot weather in bug country). I paired it with either a 5x8 or 8x10 tarp (the smaller when there was a chance of rain; the larger when I was pretty sure I'd have to spend significant time living under cover.) It had a loop that you could tie off to a limb to get a little headroom; I never used it. Never had a problem with it, or got anything wet inside it. No complaints at all. My son has a Unishelter (I think - is there another one that offers a little headroom?) that he used on the last trip we took together; he was equally impressed with it.

However, it sounds like I'm making the opposite migration from you: I'm now back to using a Zoid 1 tent, primarily because of the headroom for not much additional weight. A secondary reason is that I've found I really prefer hiking without poles or, at most, 1 pole. This made it a lot less convenient to pitch a tarp, so I decided the tent with its own poles were worth it. The downside: it raised my base weight from 12 pounds to almost 13. (Deciding that my 54-year-old joints couldn't do a closed-cell pad and sitting on rocks and logs any more, I also added a Prolite 4 and the accompanying chair kit, bringing the total base weight I now carry up to about 15 pounds. Total weekend weight is still under 20, though, so I'm quite happy.)

I'd get the Integral Designs bivy - I think you'll be very happy with it.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Thanks for Replying on 10/16/2004 03:37:10 MDT Print View

Mr. Roberts,

thanks for replying so quickly to my initial post on bivies. it is greatly appreciated, and i will take your advice and go with the ID eVent Unishelter.

if you have the time, would you mind replying again and detail your weekend 15lb base weight gear list, with items and their manufacturers, so that i could learn something (and probably duplicate, to some extent, your gear list for my own use)?

unfortunately for me, my gear weighs quite a bit more.

pack weight - just what is in the pack - is 30.9 lbs using a GoLite Gust including 7.5 lbs of food for 5 days & 4L of water - carrying too much water right?

this weight is even more shameful considering that i don't carry a stove & fuel - i eat dry on the trail.

also, i'd be too embarrassed to say what else i'm carrying in the 9 pockets of my nylon trail cargo pants! if i'm ever unexpectedly separated from my pack, my cargo pants serve as my survival kit - sort of like a downed military pilot (no..., i don't carry a .45 or 9mm like the pilot, so i can't blame any weight on the weapon/ammo!). what this means is that items/weight which many might carry in their pack, i'm carrying on my person, so my pack weight is even more deceiving than the 30.9 lbs might indicate.

as i mentioned before, i'm learning to make the transition to light (not ultralight).

if it doesn't violate the rules of this forum and you prefer to reply in a less public fashion, please email me at

note that the Gust carries this weight (30.9 lb) well, in my humble opinion. the 48" RidgeRest pad is further supported by the Microzoid poleset, functioning as internal stays, arranged between the pad's "rolls" thus making a fine virtual frame when compressed tightly. there still are some "rolls" with the pad unrolled inside the pack so that the poles can be "sandwiched" between them closest to my back. the "sandwiching" keeps the pole end froms damaging the pack fabric.

the problem of the weight then is not with the Gust, but with me getting too old (its downhill to 100 for me) to carry this much weight over very uneven terrain with near constant ascents/descents for 10-12 hours (maybe i should get in better shape?). furthermore, this much weight simply violates the philosophy of "light", does it not? i would really like to get down to 20-25 lbs (closer to 20lb if possible) including the 5days food and a more reasonable amount of water (2-3L???).

well, enough of my ramblings. thanks again for your help, and i hope that you have the time to reply once more so that i may become more educated in the "light" philosophy.

many thanks,

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
My gear list on 10/16/2004 13:24:15 MDT Print View

First of all, it's Glenn, not Mr. Roberts (being an ex-Air Force lieutenant, many moons ago, and having an ex-Navy type as a business partner, I try to avoid the Navy lingo!) I'm also on the downhill slide to 100, at age 54.

Next, a couple of general comments: I began trending toward lightweight packing because I wanted to simplify my hiking experience; I was tired of messing with gear: packing, unpacking, organizing, setting up, cleaning it after the trip, and generally keeping track of it. The lighter weight was a bonus. I tend to use main-line manufacturer's gear; some may be cutting edge, but none is really bleeding edge. I probably settled for more comfort than most light hikers, but I also never developed a taste for high-mileage days, with lots of goal-oriented hiking. (My biggest goal is to get back to the truck sometime Sunday morning; what happens in between Friday night and then is always good, even if the plan gets changed midday Saturday. I'm a CPA by trade; I come out here to get away from that regimented, targeted life I lead all week.) Finally, I hike exclusively in the lower Midwest: Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, with occasional trips to Isle Royale or Shenandoah National Parks. That influences some of my gear and especially clothing selection. Now for the gear:

Granite Gear Vapor Trail pack with a GG Cloud Cover silnylon pack cover - hands down the most comfortable pack I've ever used. The back pad, when the pack is under my legs, does a dandy job of extending my 3/4 Thermarest. However, I'm also experimenting with a Granite Gear Virga, using the Thermarest pad, lightly inflated, in its chair kit. The set is rolled just enough to fit down the back of the pack, in such a way that the stays in the chair become the equivalent of pack stays. It works great under 20 pounds, and OK up to 25. However, space is a problem on cool weather or long trips. (I've just about got figured out how to lash a few things - mostly clothes in stuff sacks - to the outside to solve the problem.) It saves a pound over the Vapor Trail.

MSR Zoid 1 tent, no groundcloth: I also tried the Microzoid, but found I wanted a little more headroom and room for gear. I usually swing my food (raccoons, etc., not bears), but everything else comes inside.

Marmot sleeping bag: depending on temperature, it's a Trails liner (summer) or Helium or Hydrogen.

Thermarest 3/4 length Prolite 4 pad and Lite 20 chair kit: as mentioned earlier, I decided the comfort level was worth it. In spades.

MSR Titan Mini-cookset - usually just the lifter, lid and 1.5 quart pot. The smaller pot stays home as extraneous. I've also found anything smaller doesn't do a good job as a sink for washing up or a reservoir to let silty water settle before filtering. A Lexan spoon always goes, and an REI lexan cup (the kind with measuring marks) sometimes goes if I'm having cocoa. (Usually, I just use the marks on the water bottle for measuring.) A butane lighter or matches in a small nalgene bottle (better than a matchsafe) and a hand-sized Paktowl for cleanup completes the kitchen.

MSR Simmerlite stove and 11 oz. fuel bottle, which I never disconnect from the stove. Both fit in the stove's stuff sack nicely and, so long as the system stays closed, there's really very little chance for crud to get into the fuel line. Lately, however, I've been experimenting with a Trangia Westwind and .5 L fuel bottle. I like the idea of a renewable fuel source, and no fussing with priming. The fuel isn't as efficient (but I don't take long enough trips for the weight to really become an issue), and it does take longer to boil water - but what else have I got to do? The jury's out on which stove I like better at this point.

MSR Miniworks filter, 1-quart Lexan Nalgene bottle, and 2-quart MSR Dromlite bag. The Miniworks has never given me the first moment's problem; it field-cleans in a very simple operation, and the direct attachment to the bottle makes it a breeze to use. I'm lucky that I can plan my water stops so I rarely need to carry more than a quart; I usually drink heavily at each stop, then fill the bottle again. The Dromlite is for carrying water to a dry camp (I like ridgetop views at supper); filled with air, it makes a dandy pillow. A second Lexan bottle goes along if I think I'll need to carry more than 3 quarts of water. (I know Platypus and Nalgene Cantenes are lighter than Lexan bottles; I've tried them, and had no problems. But there's just something about that bombproof rigid bottle that makes me regret it every time I've left it home. Strictly illogical, but I do it anyhow.)

Standard summer clothing: my clothes are 100% Patagonia, not because of the snob appeal, but because they fit me well and are comfortable. I've tried various house brands and other labels, but couldn't find stuff that consistently fit well. Patagonia does, for me; that doesn't mean everyone should use it. Go for fit. For summer, I wear a pair of Baggies shorts with a nylon liner, a Capilene silkweight T-shirt, Capilene liner and midweight socks in my Vasque Sundowner Classic boots (again: fit drove the selection.) I also carry a Dragonfly pullover, Specter rain jacket, and Supercell rain pants on every trip, plus a spare set of socks. As the weather cools, I'll add some or all of: a long-sleeve silkweight T-shirt, R.5 pullover, R1 flash pullover and pants, R2 Pullover, R1 glove liners, Digitshell gloves, and R1 balaclava. I may eventually add a down sweater for truly cold weather, but we don't get much of that here, and I don't go out in it when we do. (Tax season, not lack of desire.)

I also carry a minimal first aid kit (Motrin, Advil, bandaids, Bacitracin, and moleskin), toilet paper, and a sample-size bottle of hand sanitizer. I use a Princeton Tec Scout headlamp, Leatherman Micratool, and Silva Companion compass. I usually don't take a watch (again, trying to escape regimentation) and never take a cell phone, PDA, GPS, MP3 or other alphabetic electronics.

My menu for 2 night trips is: 1 packet of oatmeal for each breakfast, a package of Uncle Ben's Flavorful rice with a 3-oz. foil pack of chicken mixed in for each supper (or a 1-person freeze-dried entree), a Snickers Marathon bar, Clif bar, and 2-oz. pack of beef jerky for each lunch, and a Tiger's Milk bar for each morning and afternoon snack. I drink water as my only beverage (except, once in a while, I'll give in and take a packet of hot cocoa for the evening.) I normally take no emergency food; the woods around here aren't big enough that you'll end up lost for days and days, and I rarely if ever stray off a trail. The food may be a little light, but I've found that I don't eat as heavily as I used to and this keeps me plenty full. I don't seem to have any problem with sustained energy, or energy boom-and-bust cycles either.

The weight for a summer weekend, including food, water, and fuel, is 19.5 pounds. Base weight is 15. (Both weights are for the Vapor Trail pack; with the Virga, deduct a pound from each.) Hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

Edited by garkjr on 10/17/2004 21:40:02 MDT.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
One more comment on 10/16/2004 13:30:18 MDT Print View

The low weights I gave were for a summer weekend. However, just to show that this really does work for me year-round, I recently took a fall trip to Isle Royale: 6 days' food plus all the clothing I listed (and a spare pair of shorts and T-shirt) and the Hydrogen sleeping bag. The total weight at the beginning of the trip was about 26 pounds, and 18.5 when all the food and water was gone.

Edited by garkjr on 10/16/2004 13:42:48 MDT.

Colin Thomas
(fullofadventure) - F
Re:WPB shell for mountain running on 10/16/2004 19:35:28 MDT Print View

Hey, Jay Swan

I bought the ID eVENT jacket on Oct 5 from a local store and you can read my initial review plus pics at the link below. It seems bomber and packs small but I have not tested it yet in the field yet. Hopefully soon, I just need rain pants.

As to the Patagonia jacket I tried on the old Specter pullover when I was at the store in Seattle and liked it for its pure simplicity/minimalist approach but I did not like the way the draw cords worked on the hood. The new 05 might be a little different though. The only thing that would be a concern on the 05 is the durability. I hear the whole jacket or most of the jacket is laminated together (correct me if I am wrong) but only time will tell how it holds up. If you only need a jacket for just a few days a year it should be a good choice although there are cheaper jackets out there.

Another jacket, which should be great, is the 05 Montane eVENT Air jacket that is in the 10oz range too. Might be costly though.

Edited by fullofadventure on 10/17/2004 12:36:13 MDT.

cold weather canister stove on 10/21/2004 21:36:06 MDT Print View

I'm in Alaska and planning on doing some cold weather 2-4 day hikes. I'm tired of using a heavy, messy, high-maintenence liquid fuel stove and wish to switch to canister. Is the only downside of using a canister stove in sub-freezing temps fuel waste? I read the Summer 04 article by R.N. Caffin and got the impression that below 31 degrees a canister stove will burn up it's propane and the butane will be left in the canister. Thus, using coleman canisters that are 40% propane, will I just lose 60% of my fuel due to the temp (all other things--like wind--being equal)? Or are there other downsides to using a canister at 0 or -20 degrees?

In sum, can I take a 3 day trip in sub-freezing weather with two people using, e.g., a giga power stove? A jetboil?

Note: Caffin's article mentions a coleman stove that can use upside-down canisters, thus solving the wasted butane problem. It seems like the Coleman stove weighs so much as to be impractical. Has anyone tried this stove? Is it feasable?

Many thanks.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: cold weather canister stove on 10/21/2004 22:55:05 MDT Print View

I've used the Coleman liquid fuel stove - it's well engineered and offers great performance - close to a white gas stove. In cold weather, it works very well.

It's weight, however, makes it a little heavy for weekend length trips solo (for me) but might be OK for 2 people for 3 days, if you need to melt snow.

Otherwise, the stove I prefer in that situation, and what I think is more efficient from a total weight standpoint, is the MSR Simmerlite, which is a white gas stove that can be paired with a small titanium fuel bottle (also from MSR) and an Antigravity Gear 2L pot to make a great little cold weather/snow melting system for either 1 or 2 people.

The Simmerlite is still overbuilt and seems 3 oz too heavy. Isn't anyone going to make a truly ultralight liquid fuel stove for us gram whiners? :)

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Re Cold Weather Canister Stoves on 10/22/2004 18:05:01 MDT Print View

For cold weather, I suggest using canister fuel that is a mixture of propane and iso-butane. iso-butane has a boiling point of 12F and propane is -43F. Avoid canisters that contain n-butane. n-butane has a boiling point of 31F; that's why it stays in the canister and the propane burns off. MSR IsoPro, Snow Peak fuel, and Jetboil JetPower are all propane/iso-butane mix.

Even with these fuels, a canister stove will burn slower when it is cold, but will get the job done. I have had no problems down to around 15F and haven't used a canister stove below that. It helps to warm the canister in your sleeping bag or pocket.

BPL will be publishing articles on canister stoves and fuels in a month or two, which should answer a lot of your questions.

Happy hiking!

Colin Thomas
(fullofadventure) - F
Merino wool base layers on 10/25/2004 11:44:51 MDT Print View

Hey Ryan I have a question for you. Is there any reason you choose Smartwool base layers over other brands like Ibex or Icebreaker. I own an Icebreaker LS Crew from their skin200 line and like it a lot except neck opening stretches out after a day of use and becomes too big and it does not use flatlock seams like smartwool products do, however the cut is nice. I ask because I will be buying more merino wool base layers in the next few weeks and I am looking at other brands but nobody carries Ibex or Smartwool in my area. Any help from you or others is welcome. Thanks.

Stephen Parmenter
(parmens) - F - MLife

Locale: OH
Merino wool base layers on 10/30/2004 09:40:52 MDT Print View

Additionally Ryan, in several gear lists you mention merino wool leggings. I've tried to google that and all I come up with is what I would call long underwear done in wool. Is there a distinction between them and "leggings"?

Colin Thomas
(fullofadventure) - F
RE:merino wool base layers on 10/30/2004 18:04:06 MDT Print View

Leggings is what New Zealanders say instead of bottoms or pants. Has anyone tried smartwool or Ibex. Is there any reason to choose them over Icebreaker.

Meir Gottlieb
Gear selection: winter backpacking in Shenandoah on 11/01/2004 15:11:00 MST Print View

I've never gone backpacking in the winter, but I plan on going this winter. I live in Maryland so my destination will most likely be the Shenandoah. In the hills, the low in January is 17 degrees and the average snow on the ground is 6 inches (but there could, of course, be heavier snowfall). Based on these conditions, I have the following questions about gear selection:

1. What sort of boots are recommended?
2. Is it necessary to use a dome tent or can I get by with a tarptent?
3. At these temperatures, can I use an alcohol stove?
4. Will I be ok with the following layers: Thin wool base layer and R2 vest (or V-trail top without wool base layer), lightweight insulating layer (MEC Northernlight Pullover), and a soft-shell jacket?

Thanks for your help,

Jason Shaffer
(pilgrim) - F
Boots for snowshoeing – advice? on 11/01/2004 17:44:47 MST Print View

Snowshoe gear newbie here, chiming in along the lines of Meir's post (above). After deciding on a pair of Northern Lites snowshoes, I’m now researching footwear options (a bit backwards, perhaps? but…) Something suitable for at least weeklong trips, temps down to -10F. On mild winter trips sans snowshoes, my asolo fusion 95s have worked nicely, but I hesitate to push them too far out of their element. I’m still pretty open-minded (read: boggled by choice) at this stage -- NEOS Overboots, Baffins, Scarpas? Any guiding principles, etc?

I’m guessing that the lack of reviews on footwear here owes to personal issues of fit, but any recommendations would be much appreciated. -Jason

Edited by pilgrim on 11/02/2004 01:08:18 MST.