Two weeks ago I posted a trip report on our five week hike on the Haute Route Pyrenees (aka HRP) in France, Spain, and Andorra.
Link to the HRP Trip Report
This second HRP post is our gear list, with assessment of the gear.
In the past decade we have taken seven 3-5 weeks hikes in England, Wales and France; this HRP hike is our 8th moderate-distance European hike. We also do a lot of wilderness hiking in the US (CA and UT), and a fair bit of hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. We have been tuning our gear list over the past 25 years. Our system works very well for us, and we now are to the point where we are only making minor tweaks and adjustments.
The Gear List:
24.4 - Jim's pack: ULA Ohm (with 19x10" GG NightLight pad; shoulder strap pocket for camera)
35.0 - Amy's pack: ULA Circuit
63.0 - Tent: REI Quarterdome T2 2009, 6 stakes, silnylon bag
3.8 - Spin sheet ground cloth
17.7 - NeoAir pad x2
1.8 - GG ThinLight close-cell foam pad (60x10"x1/8")
33.4 - Sleeping quilt (Nunatak custom quilt)
JIM'S PERSONAL STUFF
21.2 - ** Jim's binoculars (Leupold 8x32)
1.3 - Plastic Bag pack liner
1.8 - 1.5 liter soda bottle- Jim
7.8 - umbrella - Jim (GoLite Chome Dome)
1.0 - Jim's wallet + contents (money, credit card, medical card)
1.3 - Jim's silnylon ditty bags (13x22 clothes, 13x17 food)
1.4 - Jim's reading glasses + sunglasses
AMY'S PERSONAL STUFF
15.6 - ** Amy's binoculars (Pentax 8x28 DCF MP)
3.7 - Trash Compactor pack liner + 2nd plastic bag (for sleeping bag) +2 rubber bands
1.4 - 1 liter soda bottle- Amy
8.2 - Gossamer Gear LiteTrek4 poles (shortened to fit in pack for airplane carry-on)
1.0 - Amy's wallet + contents (money, credit card, medical card
1.8 - Amy's silnylon ditty bags (11x21, 10.5x20, 8x12.5, 7x11)
1.6 - Amy's reading glasses + sunglasses
MISC GROUP STUFF
8.1 - Bird book: modified (cut down pages and rebound in lightweight covers) standard field guide
5.6 - Camera
5.4 - Food kit: 2 spoons, silnylon bag, spare plastic bags, bottle opener, corkscrew, lexan knife
18.0 - Info Pack: maps, guide book & route notes & bird list & pencilx2, pen & paper for notes
0.6 - 1 MSR towel
4.2 - SPOT tracker
2.4 - 3 more kleenex packs
2.4 - 2x 1.8 liter platy +spare cap
DAY-TIME DITTY BAG
0.2 - Quart plastic bag
0.6 - Body Glide
2.7 - 1 oz liquid soap resupply en route
0.5 - a few tylenol & aspirin, 2 benadryl (for bee stings)
1.3 - 1 pocket pack Kleenex tissues in pint ziplock
1.0 - Avocet altimeter watch
0.2 - Whistle
0.3 - Leukotape roll
0.4 - Chapstick
0.8 - Compass
1.1 - AquaMira water treatment kit in BPL bottles
1.5 - Sunscreen (1 oz tube topped off)
NIGHT-TIME DITTY BAG
0.3 - Silnylon stuffsack
0.9 - Pad Couplers
0.5 - toothbrush
1.0 - toothpaste (.75 once travel size good for ~13 days)
0.2 - comb
2.0 - body glide #1 + deodorant + toe rot ointment in snack ziplock
0.2 - dental floss (Dr Kens) + earplugs
1.9 - Petzl Elite x2
3.3 - More Tylenol, Aspirin, Pepto
0.5 - Allergy pills (1 claritin + 1 sudafed per day)
1.5 - 2nd tube of sunscreen (1 oz tube topped off)
FIRST AID KIT
0.5 - Aloksak 9x10" bag
2.5 - Passports
0.8 - small bag with: lens cleaning fluid&cloth, 2x hairties, 2x rubber bands, spectra cord
1.2 - small bag with: bandaids, gauze, alcohol wipes, sewing kit, thermarest patch kit
1.2 - small bag with: 19x blister pads, 3x alcohol wipes
1.8 - Gorilla Tape, McNett ClearTape, Superglue
0.8 - Leukotape wrapped around Uncle Bills Sliver Grippers
0.4 - Spare chapstick
0.4 - Opcon Allergy eye drops
2.8 - 4 spare camera batteries
47.3 - ** Boots (Vasque Breeze GTX waterproof)
2.6 - ** Gaiters (REI Desert)
2.2 - ** Socks (REI mini-crew Merino Wool)
2.4 - ** Undertrousers
12.8 - ** Zipoff Pants
5.7 - ** Wool SS Zip-T-shirt, Icebreaker
1.4 - ** baseball cap
3.2 - Montane windshirt
9.1 - Wool LS Zip-Turtleneck, Patagonia
5.5 - Wool SS Zip-T-shirt, Ibex
2.1 - Socks (REI mini-crew Merino Wool)
2.5 - Synthetic Cuffed Beanie, gloves
4.9 - Silk-weight long-johns
9.9 - Nunatak Skaha down pullover
2.8 - Rainhat
7.4 - Marmot Green Essence Raincoat
3.8 - GoLite Reed Rainpants
2.2 - evening undertrousers
3.1 - evening silk sleeping shirt
2.1 - evening Socks (REI mini-crew Merino Wool)
4.0 - evening pants: BackpackingLight Thoroughfare
7.7 - evening shoes: sandals
28.3 - ** Shoes (Montrail AT Plus w/ green Superfeet inserts)
2.6 - ** Gaiters (REI Desert)
1.6 - ** Socks (Darn Tough 3/4 mesh)
7.6 - ** Columbia Snake River Shorts (old model with all zip pockets)
6 - ** Patagonia Island Hopper SS hot-weather hiking shirt
1.3 - ** underwear (Patagonia)
2.7 - ** brim
3.7 - Marmot Chinook windshirt (~2007 model)
4.0 - BPL Thoroughfare windpants
8.0 - Icebreaker Chase 180 LS zip turtleneck
4.8 - Montbell Thermawrap Vest
3.0 - 2 extra pair hiking socks (Darn Tough 3/4 mesh)
4.8 - REI liner Gloves & Smartwool Balaclava & Smartwool cuffed beanie
5.1 - IceBreaker150 long johns
8.5 - Nunatak Skaha down pullover
7.0 - Marmot blue Essence Raincoat V2, mens XL
3.7 - GoLite Reed Rainpants
1.5 - evening clothes: 1 pair midweight short SmartWool socks
1.3 - evening clothes: underwear, Patagonia
7.1 - evening clothes: Crocs Cleo sandals
1.7 - evening clothes: camisol
TOTALS (in pounds)
36.8 - From Skin Out, total weight
18.4 - From Skin Out, per person weight
10.1 - Subtotal of **Always Worn** items (binocs and base clothes)
13.4 - Per Person Base Pack Weight (FSO less **Always Worn**)
Post Trip Notes:
We have been using ULA packs for years and we love them. We used to carry frame-less ULA packs, using semi-inflated Thermarest Pads in a tube to give structural support. But when we switched to NeoAir pads, that didn’t work anymore, so we’ve switched to ULA frame packs. Note that I tried the Ohm for a few days, but the hip-belt just didn’t work for my protruding boney hips; I really need a full wrap-around belt like the Circuit uses. Jim is plenty comfortable with the Ohm.
We’re really happy with the tent, pads, and sleeping bag, and we use this same sleeping kit on all of our trips. We did have a half dozen nights with high winds and/or torrential rains, and we were snug and comfy in our little tent. We have not made the switch to a tarp or tarp-tent, and I don’t think we will; we’re quite happy to carry the extra weight in exchange for the instant setup rock-solid shelter.
Jim carried the GoLite umbrella and used it for shade on numerous hot afternoons. One down-side of the HRP is that the snowy mountains force hikers into July-September window, but the lower altitude western and eastern sections are sometimes bloody hot. We’ve carried umbrellas on all of our UK and France walks and find them to be a very comfortable and convenient way to hike in wet weather. This is the first trip we’ve used an umbrella for shade and it worked well.
I didn’t carry an umbrella because I just started carrying poles (post knee-injury). Giving up the umbrella is one cost of using poles ☹
We carry binoculars in part because we are birders (we did see four Lamergeiers!), but I can’t imagine hiking without them. We use them to look at mammals, search for potential tent sites at distant lakes, scout off-trail routes, spy on campers in valleys below us, look at details of church architecture, etc. For you folks who don’t have binoculars – you’re missing a whole dimension!
MISC GROUP STUFF
On prior UK/France trips we often bought bottles of cider, beer and/or wine in town to have with our picnic dinners at camp, so we’ve added the bottle opener and corkscrew to our Europe hiking kit. However, on this trip, we purchased most of our wine at refuges, and we transferred it from the pitcher to a Platypus at the refuge. Once or twice we bought wine in shops, and transferred it to the Platy before leaving town. Since the shops can open bottles, we actually didn’t need the corkscrew for this trip. Next time, we’ll just carry an extra 1-liter Platy dedicated to wine.
We tossed our maps and guidebook pages as we used them, so by the end of the trip the weight of the Info Pack was down to near zero.
The SPOT Tracker is certainly not needed for “safety” reasons on this trip, it is not wilderness and we were always within a few hours of a refuge or paved road. We now carry it for the vicarious pleasure of our family and friends (and they carry it to reciprocate the favor.)
If I did the trip again, I’d carry a one-liter Platy dedicated to wine and a 1.8 liter platy for the few sections of the route where 1 liter of water per person is not enough. We did not need 2x 1.8 liters. The spare Platy cap is from the lesson-learned department – it’s really easy to drop a cap into a river and never see it again.
DAY-TIME DITTY BAG
Body Glide – We use this between toes to prevent blisters, and in hot sweaty weather to prevent chafing/rash where flesh-meets-flesh (i.e. buttocks). Great stuff.
Soap – we refill our little bottle at any shop/restaurant that has liquid soap in the restroom. Same for toilet paper.
We use the altimeter and compass for navigation. We have not adopted the GPS method yet, and for this route we found the map, compass, and altimeter were just fine.
Aqua Mira – we only used it a couple times. There is always potable water at refuges and villages, usually at shepherd huts, and often at developed springs in random places.
NIGHT-TIME DITTY BAG
I don’t think we ever used the flashlights. The sun set late enough, and rose early enough, that we were never awake when it was dark.
FIRST AID KIT
Fortunately the only thing we used from our first aid kit were the camera batteries and lense cleaning kit.
Jim would take the same set of clothing if he hiked the route again.
I would not carry the second pair of underwear. And, on this trip, I never needed the Thermawrap vest; however we were very lucky and never had cold wet weather during the day, so I’d probably take the vest along if we hike the route again in case our weather luck faltered.
We don’t carry sandals when we take wilderness hikes or shorter hikes. We do carry them in Europe. If the weather is foul (we had 14 consecutive days of serious rain on our 2009 Wales trip) and our hiking footwear is consistently wet and muddy, the sandals are good for pubs, restaurants and B&Bs. Also, after multiple days with wet feet I start to get toe rot, and being able to switch to dry sandals at every opportunity is even more gratifying than a glass of wine.
Jim’s Vasque Breeze boots were fine. He didn’t have a preference for Goretex, but these were the only boots he found that fit when he went shopping.
My Montrail AT Plus trail runners were plenty comfortable. I had to do some stitching half way through the trip when the seams started to fail, and my dental floss repairs held up. The traction was adequate, but there were plenty of times I would have preferred to have a grippy vibram sole. I’m not sure what I would do if I repeated the route.