Gear Refresh for the John Muir Trail & Beyond
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
Gear Refresh for the John Muir Trail & Beyond on 05/18/2011 16:51:04 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I'm essentially at a point where I'm frustrated with traditional backpacking, kind of stoked on ultralight after reading a few books on the subject, and about to do the John Muir Trail in late July. I have money enough to refresh my gear (reasonably (3 ounces isn't worth my $200, e.t.c.), but on the higher end).

I'm looking for a new sleep system: Tarp, Bivy & Mat. I have a nice down sleeping bag (not a quilt, I know) that I'd like to keep. I'm 6'3" for reference (need long versions of everything). I currently use a black diamond mesa II with a z-lite mat.

I'm looking for a new cooking system. I'd like to go with alcohol stove / caldera / ti-pots. I currently use a jetboil.

I'm looking for a new pack. I currently have an osprey atmos 65.

Honestly I'm knee deep in home made spreadsheets, but would love some advice. I'm leaning towards:

MLD Superlight (long) $185, 7.4oz OR TiGoat Raven w/full mesh mask$150, 8.2oz

Thermarest NeoAir (Small (to cover my back) but worried the thickness will be hard to make up for with feet/head) $103, 9oz

sleeping bag - Marmot Arete - $0, 24oz, keep.

Tarp - ?

Cooking System - cat stove + ?caldera? + alcohol fuel

Backpack ULA Ohm $175 - 27oz

What do you guys think? Any specific recommendations? I realize this could be about seven different threads, but I was thinking someone might just have a recent "this is what I'd get" list, mental or otherwise =)

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
so far on 05/19/2011 17:52:58 MDT Print View

So far

To Buy:
Bivy : MLD Superlight all net – Large - $185 – 7.4oz (cheaper alt: TiGoat Raven Full hood - $150 – 8.2oz)

Tarp: Any suggestions for a guy who is 6’3 210lb?

Pack: SMD Swift- $160 - 27.5oz (Also Maybe ULA Ohm – Large - $175 – 23.6oz? Confused)

Cookset: (?) I’d like to use an alcohol stove (I have a cat stove, not sure if there’s something I need to get beyond that for heat). Also I was looking into getting a Ti pot for cooking, with a lid, wondering if anyone has a suggestion. I was wondering if I need a caldera, or if that’s for wood fires? Also I’m assuming I should buy/make a windscreen, any advice on this?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: so far on 05/19/2011 18:03:52 MDT Print View

"I was wondering if I need a caldera, or if that’s for wood fires? Also I’m assuming I should buy/make a windscreen, any advice on this?"

The normal Caldera Cone is made of aluminum, and it is an efficient windscreen plus pot support. The titanium version will also stand up to the temperatures of a wood fire.

--B.G.--

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: so far on 05/19/2011 18:10:15 MDT Print View

Michael, when are you on the JMT....I am heading out from Silver Lake Resort on July 25th, I might see ya out there

Soul patch
(mtblack) - F
SMD Swift 2011 on 05/19/2011 19:35:28 MDT Print View

The current model of SMD Swift weighs 19 ounces/538 grams with the wing belt and 14.8 ounces/420 grams without it. This is for the medium pack with medium hipbelt. the pack holds more than 50 liters including all pockets and the roll top. I haven't had a chance to really hike with mine but it carried well loaded up in the house. the pad pocket is nice but will definitely not take a Ridgerest 3/4. I am using a Gossamer Gear Nightlight torso pad in the pocket and it fits perfectly and feels good against my back. It appears you are using the total weight and price, including the hoop stay. There are several reviews of the pack on this site and it rates quite well.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
follow up on 05/19/2011 20:04:17 MDT Print View

Thanks for the info bob. Is a caldera worth it do you think (compared with a windscreen)? If you're not having wood fires I mean.

Ken I plan to be out there starting July 29th. So I'm lagging behind a bit, but if you're taking it leisurely I hope to see you!

Matt you are correct, I had figured on wanting the hoop stay and wider wing belt. I was thinking of taking a small neoair (I sleep way better with inflatables), so I'm thinking the hoop stay might be big time beneficial for me. I wish I had one of the things to play with to figure out if that's needed! I figure the max I'll carry is 30lb. So maybe I'm good without it. I figure I can buy them and then decide to take or not to take.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: follow up on 05/19/2011 20:12:49 MDT Print View

"Is a caldera worth it do you think (compared with a windscreen)? If you're not having wood fires I mean."

I assume that you are asking about the aluminum version Caldera Cone. It is an efficient windscreen, but it is a pot support if you have a matching pot and cone.

However, I own the titanium version.

--B.G.--

Soul patch
(mtblack) - F
SMD Swift 2011 on 05/19/2011 20:38:29 MDT Print View

I think your strategy is good. I bought the wing belt hoping I will never use it but not the stay. The flexibility you'll get with all the pieces should be great and the shipping would eat into any savings if you later find you need the stay. It is a nice, modular system and I look forward to having mine on the trail, hopefully the JMT as well later this summer.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
thanks on 05/19/2011 21:05:44 MDT Print View

Thanks Matt, I'm now settled on the Swift. I know it may not go with UL philosophy, but I look forward to those stays! Thanks!

Bob, you sold me on the Ti caldera. I don't want to buy another if I decide I want to burn wood, also any way I can shave weight is a plus. Thanks!

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: follow up on 05/19/2011 22:01:47 MDT Print View

Michael, I am about a week ahead of you with a tight schedule. Enjoy the trip!

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
So Far.... on 05/20/2011 16:42:23 MDT Print View

Item Specifics Ounces Cost Own? Other Option Ounces Saved Cost Per ounce
Backpack SMD Swift 27.5 $170 Yes
Cook System TiGoat 550 9.6 $100 No
Fuel Heet ? $2 Yes
Shelter/Tarp Etowah 9 $70 No
Shelter/Bivy TiGoat Raven 8.2 $150 No
Sleeping Bag Marmot Arete 29.6 Owned Yes quilt 22 7.6 240 31.57894737
Sleeping Pad Neo - Regular 14 $120
Water Filter Drops 1 $20
Rain Pants Arc'T 10.2 Owned Yes
Rain Jacket Arc'T 13 Owned Yes
Gaitor Spandex? ? ?


What do you guys think? I'm set on the backpack, and thinking I'm set on the full neo-air (I'm just SO much happier with a full air pad, it's worth it to me). The rest of these items have not yet been purchased, other than the Arc'T rain pants/jacket and the sleeping bag (all purchased a long while ago).

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: So Far.... on 05/20/2011 16:57:09 MDT Print View

Michael there is no wrong in getting a good nights sleep. I too use a blow up mattress. 2.5 inches of luxury.

Check into a Steipen Opti..6 ounces with no bad water taste