Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!!
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ahren Grunow
(atticusace84) - F
Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!! on 03/22/2011 13:58:44 MDT Print View

Hello, my name is Ahren Grunow and I used to work for REI in their camping department. Please read my bio for the details. I would like to provide anybody with questions with some advice about gear they might have on anything related to camping, travel, whatever. Ive fit over 200 backpacks, know the ins and outs of tents, sleeping bags, and pads, and especially GPS technology. You name it I probably have an answer for you. If you want a no BS approach to camping gear, please feel free to ask. I've been teaching this for over three years now, and I know there are a lot of people out there with questions.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: jong on 03/22/2011 14:07:06 MDT Print View

Just wanted to get the first response to what is sure to be the best thread ever.

OP, not sure if you're serious. If so, you might want to sus the place out a bit first. Or not Spam.

Joseph Ainsworth
(jainsworth123) - F

Locale: Greater LA area
Re: re: jong on 03/22/2011 14:17:00 MDT Print View

If it doesn't closed down, minimum 5 pages?

Larry M
(Maethros) - MLife

Locale: Mid South
O.o on 03/22/2011 14:19:12 MDT Print View

Epic thread?

I'm in.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!! on 03/22/2011 14:21:02 MDT Print View

What is your "skin out" weight for 30° temps at 10,000', 5 nights?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!! on 03/22/2011 14:21:46 MDT Print View


How does your REI experience relate to ultra-light hiking?

How many through hikes have you done?

How many hikes in the last year?

Any international trekking?

What is your base weight?

Do you have a gear list published?

Any first aid/SAR experience?


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!! on 03/22/2011 14:23:10 MDT Print View


(honestly speechless)

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
love it on 03/22/2011 14:25:17 MDT Print View

darn man I just wrote this really long post about my experience with REI sales persons and their gear knowledge for lightweight backpacking....then deleted it...whats the point.

But I am going to bookmark this for days when I need cheering up.

It ought to rank right up there with the mchale threads when he is all fired up about something.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!! on 03/22/2011 14:28:19 MDT Print View

Please be aware that this site is called Backpacking LIGHT for a reason! I have bought very little gear at REI over the years because most of it is too heavy and they don't carry the brands I prefer, such as Montbell and Western Mountaineering. Nearly all of what I've bought at REI has been socks, fuel cartridges and the occasional gear item that I am dubious about and think I might have to return after a trip or two. And my gear (base weight 12-13 lbs.) is quite a bit heavier than most on this forum!

My own experience with "advice" from REI has not been good, so I'm afraid you will have to work pretty hard to convince this skeptic! However, this thread may have some entertainment value!

Edited by hikinggranny on 03/22/2011 14:33:00 MDT.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Its a decoy on 03/22/2011 14:30:38 MDT Print View

to get off the cuben thread

Kevin Tjaden
(ktjaden) - F

Locale: West
Wow, cut the guy a little slack... on 03/22/2011 14:31:08 MDT Print View

He is just offering his advice. You may have a beef with REI, but that doesn't mean everybody employed there is signing up to be your whipping boy.

Why not wait and judge on the advice he gives?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Wow, cut the guy a little slack... on 03/22/2011 14:33:04 MDT Print View

Waiting for advice....

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
i cant resist on 03/22/2011 14:34:13 MDT Print View

My base weight is about 240 lbs if I put both feet on the scale!

Christopher Graf
(cgraf) - M

Locale: So Cal
Friendly expertise on camping. Please READ!! on 03/22/2011 14:35:32 MDT Print View

What's REI?

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Need help with bear spray on 03/22/2011 14:39:06 MDT Print View

Great to have another resource on the site! I hope you can help me with some questions about bear spray.

I've been carrying a bottle of "Counter Assault" to use as a non-lethal bear repellent. I've heard good things about this product, but it doesn't seem to work for me. The grizzlies I've tried it with don't seem at all fazed by the odor and I just can't understand why. To make matters worse, I find the product very uncomfortable to use.

Can you tell me what I'm doing wrong? Am I holding to can too close to my face when spraying it? Should I spray it over my clothes or directly on my bare skin? Why does it burn when I pee now?

Thanks in advance!

Ahren Grunow
(atticusace84) - F
Advice on 03/22/2011 14:40:02 MDT Print View

Well I hope that I can provide enough information for anyone who asks.

How does your REI experience relate to ultra-light hiking?
Working there, you always start out with buying all the stuff possible, then after so long, and so many trips you start thinking of ways to go lighter. Working there has allowed me to see the most up to date products that come out and what makes them or breaks them out in the field. I have heard many compliments and complaints about A LOT of products out there.

How many through hikes have you done?
Haven't done any yet. Getting ready for a portion of the PCT this year, done parts of the SHT, lots and lots of BWCA.

How many hikes in the last year?
With vacation limited and getting married last year, funds and time were pretty limited. I try and do at least two big BWCA a year, one big one out west, and a handful of weekend trips up north.

Any international trekking?
None yet, would love to though. Want to hit up NZ at some point. Mordor here I come!

What is your base weight?
I weighed my gear at 17 pounds.

Do you have a gear list published?
I am working on one right now.

Any first aid/SAR experience?
Was certified in WFA and CPR. Have a buddy who is SERE trained who Ive talked with. Most of my experience comes from out in the woods and a lot of reading.

Thanks everyone for the support of this thread. Im a noob on here, why whould it close down?


Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
. on 03/22/2011 14:40:44 MDT Print View


Edited by ChrisMorgan on 03/22/2011 18:46:47 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
REI backpacking checklist on 03/22/2011 14:48:30 MDT Print View

Chris, your list is woefully incomplete. REI's list is below (

Somebody sit on Mike Clelland-- he may have a major medical event with this list :)

Backpacking Checklist

Note: This list is intentionally extensive; not every backpacker will bring every item on every trip.

(for safety, survival and basic comfort)
1. Navigation

* Map (with protective case)
* Compass

* GPS (optional)

2. Sun protection

* Sunscreen and lip balm

* Sunglasses

3. Insulation

* Jacket, vest, pants, gloves, hat (see Clothing)

4. Illumination

* Headlamp or flashlight (plus spare)

* Extra batteries

5. First-aid supplies

* First-aid kit (see our First-aid checklist)

6. Fire

* Matches or lighter
* Waterproof container

* Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)

7. Repair kit and tools

* Knife or multi-tool

* Kits for stove, mattress; duct tape strips

8. Nutrition

* Extra day's supply of food

9. Hydration

* Water bottles or hydration system

* Water filter or other treatment system

10. Emergency shelter

* Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket

Beyond the Ten Essentials

* Backpack
* Daypack or summit pack
* Pack cover
* Tent, tarp or bivy sack (with stakes, guylines)
* Tent-pole repair sleeve
* Footprint (if needed for tent)
* Sleeping bag
* Stuff sack or compression sack
* Sleeping pad
* Pillow or stuffable pillow case
* Whistle (plus signaling mirror)
* Multifunction watch with altimeter
* Trekking poles
* Ice axe

* Meals
* Energy food (bars, gels, chews, trail mix)
* Energy beverages or drink mixes
* Stove
* Fuel
* Cookset (with pot grabber)
* Dishes or bowls
* Utensils
* Cups (measuring cups)
* Food-storage canister (or hang bags)
* Nylon cord (50 feet for hanging food)
* Backup water treatment (e.g., halogens)
* Collapsible sink or container
* Packable lantern

Clothing options: Warm weather

* Wicking T-shirt (synthetic or wool)
* Wicking underwear
* Quick-drying pants or shorts

* Long-sleeve shirt (for sun, bugs)
* Sun-shielding hat
* Bandana or Buff

Cool weather (insulation in Ten Essentials)

* Wicking long-sleeve T-shirt
* Wicking long underwear (good sleepwear)
* Hat, cap, skullcap, balaclava or headband

* Gloves or mittens
* Rainwear (jacket, pants)
* Fleece jacket or vest, and pants

Footwear; assorted personal items

* Boots or shoes suited to terrain
* Socks (synthetic or wool) plus spares
* Gaiters
* Sandals (for fording, in camp)
* Camera and memory cards
* Binoculars
* Permits
* Route description or guidebook
* Field guide(s); star identifier
* Notebook and pen or pencil
* Credit card; small amount of cash
* Music player with headphones
* Toilet paper
* _______________

* Sanitation trowel
* Hand sanitizer
* Insect repellant
* Headnet
* Toothbrush and/or toiletry kit
* Biodegradable soap (and shower bag)
* Biodegradable soap
* Quick-dry towel
* Two-way radios
* Cell or satellite phone
* Post-hike snacks, water, towel, clothing change
* Trip itinerary left w/ friend + under car seat
* _______________

Ahren Grunow
(atticusace84) - F
update for chris on 03/22/2011 14:48:30 MDT Print View

Hi chris, thats quite a loadout you have there.

First off, Im going to ask what year the Palisade is. If it is newer than 08, you prob will want to return it and get fitted for a different pack. Gregory is a great pack brand up to 70L (the Baltoro in mens). The reason being is there is an adjustable cant system on there that when slammed down, will break. Ive seen many returned for that reason and I never recommend them.

The Half dome is a great tent, just a little heavy. work at some point at getting a lighter one. But keep that one for an extra (I have 4 tents!)

As for your filter, it is a paper filter. It is lighter than most but will crap out after a short time period. You cant clean paper filters regardless of what they say on the box.

switch to an LED headlamp to conserve weight and extend battery life. And of course hands free operations.

Thats just half of your list. Ill update the rest after I get home from work. Thanks everyone. Ahren

Levon Jensen
(LevonJensen) - MLife

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Spot on 03/22/2011 14:50:38 MDT Print View

I will be hiking in the Desert this year, and would like to know if i Should get a Spot rescue system, im unsure if i will be able to find water frequently. I hear they helicopter in water if you need it.