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Help with wife's gear.
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Jason McElyea
boots vs shoes on 07/05/2012 18:25:58 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the help once again. She has a lot of information now to digest and dig through to help her select gear. I am really trying to get a feel for the quilts without ever using one. Also, the boot vs shoe issue. It seems everywhere I read, not wearing properly fitting boots while walking down into the GC will cause the lose of toenails from feet sliding forward and hitting the front of shoes or boots. Thus the reason I mentioned getting boots. Is this not the case? Has anyone used runners to hike rim to rim without this complication?

Jen Churchward
(mahgnillig) - F
Re: boots vs shoes on 07/05/2012 19:47:55 MDT Print View

I think the key here is "properly fitting", rather than the design of the boots/shoes. I used to have that issue in a pair of boots I had about 10 years ago... the problem was solved by buying boots half a size larger than street shoes in order to leave room for my feet to expand during the day. The only problem I've had since was when I spent a whole day downhill skiing in boots that were too large... I ended up with "toe bang" and lost the nail on my big toe :(

The key is finding shoes or boots that keep your heel seated in the heel pocket. I suspect this is easier to accomplish with boots because you can customise the lacing better. Having said that, since trail runners are softer than boots, the penalty for a sliding heel will be less severe. The best way to assess whether the shoes/boots are going to keep your heel planted is to walk up and down a very steep section of slickrock (sandstone or granite work particularly well). Failing that, the fake rock slope thing at REI will work.

As for the whole quilt thing... the best way to try that out is to try sleeping for a night on a sleeping pad with an unzipped bag over you. That's something you can test in the house or back yard before you go. My hubby was all set to buy a quilt but decided it wasn't for him after trying this experiment. It's down to personal preference... personally I hate drafts and sleep cold, so I stick to my mummy bag.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: boots vs shoes on 07/05/2012 20:21:42 MDT Print View


+1 for Jen's comments. "Black toe" has nothing to do with shoes versus boots. It has to do with your foot wear being so loose that your foot slides forward and bangs the front of the shoe. Just get your correct size and fit for what ever you choose and alter your lacing pattern for a more stable fit in the heel cup when doing a prolonged down hill. Your choice of sock also plays a role in it as well because if your sock retains moisture, your foot will also tend to slide forward.

Get a merino wool, drifit or coolmax type sock that wicks the moisture to the surface and keeps your feet dry. Another plus for trail runners is that the moisture can then evaporate from the mesh rather than staying inside like with heavy leather boots that give you clammy feet, which also plays a role in creating friction and blisters.

Regarding a quilt versus a bag. Think about it. When you go to bed every night, do you sleep in a fabric tube (perhaps stuffed with some insulation material) or do you have a piece of fabric draped over you? A bed spread or comforter is essentially a quilt. If the comforter or bedspread on your bed at home keeps you warm, why would a similar piece of insulated fabric not work just as well when sleeping while you're backpacking?

From that regard, it's not rocket science. Think function first, then form - for all your gear choices. What you want is a warm insulation layer over you. That's a quilt. Just get the proper size so you can tuck it under you, especially if you tend to toss a bit in your sleep. I toss around a bit and usually sleep on my side or stomach and I have no problem using a quilt because if fits me properly. With all the manufactured and custom cottage industry guys out there, you should have zero problem getting the correct size for you.

Hope this helps. If you're investing in gear that you will use repeatedly, with your stated budget, you can afford a few quality pieces like a good quilt. One mistake I made was getting a few lower end pieces of gear to save money, only to be unhappy with them, having to sell them for less than what I paid and then buying the UL gear pieces I really wanted in the first place.

Have fun.

Jason McElyea
I see... on 07/06/2012 01:35:40 MDT Print View

That really clears up the shoe/boot issue. Also the quilt makes more sense now, I like that experiment and will give it a shot. Thanks to both of you for the quick replies.

Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Gear For Wife on 07/10/2012 09:55:28 MDT Print View

Some of my reccomendations:

Backpacks: Granite Gear womens small sized backpacks with the "S" straps. Lightweight, comfortable, easy..low fiddle factor.

Shoes: Go to a running store and get the computorized fit-they sell trail runners. Make sure you are wearing your hiking socks-NOT running socks. You will learn alot about your foot. Merrills work well with wide feet, Keen's have a higher arch, Salomons are worn by many different feet and expand well with your feet when they swell.

Sleeping Pads: Smart move on buying an inflatable. Other pads are great for young invinciple dudes or experienced hikers shifting to lighter packweight.

Sleeping Bags: Most women sleep cold. Most sleeping bag ratings are about 20 degrees of fiction. Spend your money on a Western Mountaineering that fits her height and width. Get the warmer one and when it is hot unzip it and use it like a quilt. They are very light and excellent.

Having a easy to use comfortable pack with shoes that fit makes for a good day on the trail. Having a inflatable pad with an excellent bag makes for a good night. Choose this gear well and no matter what happens she should come back for more.

Michelle A
(mauhler31) - F
Finding small shoes on 07/10/2012 12:34:58 MDT Print View

Sorry I'm a little late to this thread, but I'd thought I'll offer some advice on finding small sized shoes. I'm also a size 5 so it's very difficult to find any shoes in my size, especially at REI. I've found it almost impossible to find shoes in a physical store, so I've resorted to getting and trying out all my shoes online (and potentially returning a lot too).

I've had a little bit of luck finding shoes at Altrec. They also have a similar lifetime return policy like REI, except you have to pay return shipping, which is not horrible if you send back a bunch of items at once. I've also had some success finding shoes at zappos and endless, which have free return shipping but the shoes can only be worn around the house.

In other cases I've managed to still be comfortable in size 5.5, as long as I test out inclines to make sure my foot doesn't slide inside.

Emily B
Help with wife's gear. on 07/24/2012 19:23:51 MDT Print View

Maybe you have bought all the gear by now, but just in case--
Like some of the other folks here have said, women often sleep colder than men, and also everyone is different. For me, the most important gear choices are about sleeping comfort, and for me, that is all about staying warm and being able to sleep in the same sleeping positions as I do regularly at home.

For both of these things, I LOVE my Montbell UL Super Spiral Down Hugger sleeping bag. It expands to whatever position I am in, which in addition to letting me sleep in a normal position, also means that my knees etc are not pushing the bag to its max width thus making a cold spot where they are touching the bag. Then, the bag sort of contracts back again to snug around me, thus reducing cold air pockets. I use the #3, PLUS puffy insulated jacket and pants and footies, for the lower end of the temperatures you describe. Unless your wife is a warm sleeper, perhaps she would like to start with version one step warmer,the #1. I sometimes use it unzipped down to about knee or calf, to resemble a quilt.

I also have a Western Mountaineering Sycamore and love that too; the semi-rectangular shape allows for tossing and turning, it is a little warmer than my Montbell #3, and can be unzipped all the way to be a square blanket. Not everyone needs to toss and turn, though.

As for size, it helps to look at girth dimensions as well as length. Personally I find that the "hip" girth is not nearly as important as the knee girth (which is usually not listed) but that is just because I stick my knees out.

Another option is to get bags that you can zip together to share body heat, if you will not keep each other awake by tossing and turning.

Finally, for me, staying warm at night is in large part about getting warm BEFORE getting into the sleeping bag. I put on my sleeping clothes as soon as I stop sweating after arriving to camp. Puffy down or synthetic garments are most effective, for me. If I am wearing non-puffy sleeping bottoms, it can help to have an additional layer of something over the seat area-- and puffy socks are also fantastic! (Can be made by cutting sleeves off an old or cheap secondhand light puffy jacket and closing off one end with a rubber band.) But if your wife has something in the temperature range of the #1 montbell, she may not need all of that.

As for sleeping pad, if the thermarest is not comfortable, maybe the small size of one of the Exped pads would be good. I tried a small Exped Downmat UL7 and a regular size thermarest Xtherm (same form as the Xlite) at the store, and the Exped felt nice and wide comparatively, even at the places where their widths appeared to be the same according to my measuring tape.

As for a backpack, though there are lighter, I find the Granite Gear Vapor Ki really comfortable. But I make a little modification-- I use my bandanna to rig up the bottom so that there is no bottom panel. The frame of the Vapor Ki is not a your standard frame with metal stays; it is very flexible. I sort of weave the bandanna around the ice axe loops and under the back panel so that the back panel meets up almost directly with the outer walls in sort of a V shape, like some of those small hydration packs. This gives the pack more of a form-fitting curve that rides better and is less restrictive to the stride, once the pack is loaded up with some weight. In fact, I think the fact that I can do this is why I find it this pack more comfortable than others-- most framed packs would not allow this much flexibility of backpanel shape, and the Vapor Ki still has most benefits of a framed pack. It sounds confusing, but it is pretty easy, and if your wife gets the chance to try a Vapor Ki in person, maybe she will be able to see what I mean. I often see them for cheap online. (For even more comfort, I pack my sleeping bag or puffies loose on the bottom, for some extra cushioning from pack contents.)

Edited by emilyb on 07/24/2012 19:56:56 MDT.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Help with wife's gear. on 07/24/2012 21:31:10 MDT Print View

Chiming in a little late. I'm a woman and I've done about a dozen hikes in the Canyon, half in the fall (Oct/Nov) and the other half in spring (April). When exactly in October is your permit for? (i.e. beginning, middle, end...) You said a R2R but where are you spending nights? Are you planning to camp on either rim?

If you're not camping on the rim, I doubt that you'll see 40*. I've *never* taken a 20deg bag on any of my hikes; I've done two hikes with a 30deg bag and the rest with a 45deg bag. You don't need an insulated pad. I currently hike with a regular NeoAir.

I think I've worn a real rain jacket once in 10 years. October is one of the driest months. I would only take a rain jacket if there is any chance of rain in the forecast. If not, I used to take one of those $1 disposable ponchos (I now have a 3oz silnylon anorak that I take.) You absolutely don't need rain pants.

If she's not an experienced backpacker, I think she will appreciate hiking poles. The corridor trails have sections with constructed "steps" that are, for me, almost knee-high (I'm 5'2"); not a big deal on the ascent but descents with a pack feel much more secure with poles.

I wear trail runners now but did my first GC hikes in boots. If she's comfortable in boulder-field type conditions, trail runners/shoes should be OK. Otherwise she may be more comfortable in mid-height but flexible boots. Lots of newbies are happy in something like a Keen Targhee. I hear the advice that you won't get canyon-toe with "proper" fitting boots/shoes but, personally, I have TWO pairs of my Sportiva Wildcats; my "GC Wildcats" are a cm bigger.

If you're interested in seeing my gear list, PM me and I'll be happy to email it to you (MS Excel sheet.) My trailhead packweight for my last 3-nighter in the Canyon was about 21.5lb and I was at-large camping (not on the corridor) so had some extra things like a bucket, filter, food protection, etc. and I was solo, so no weight savings for shared gear.

ETA: Btw, I find it more realistic to talk about "total packweight" in the Canyon rather than "base weight" because water is usually a significant weight item. October is a great time to hike in the Canyon, warm and dry, which means you don't need much gear and your base weight can be super low. But you almost never carry less than 2L of water and a gallon isn't unusual...

Edited by DetroitTigerFan on 07/24/2012 21:43:14 MDT.

Jason McElyea
Re: Re: Help with wife's gear. on 07/24/2012 23:35:52 MDT Print View

Thank you for the reply's. The plan is to go to zion park and try to camp somewhere near there on the 9/30 then heading over to the north rim (by car) and camp two nights there 10/1, 10/2. On 10/2 the rental car is getting shuttled to the south rim so all gear used that night will have to be carried through the cannon.

Night by Night Itinerary:
4. 10/06/2012 OUT Hiking Out

I have bought quite a bit of stuff for the both of us(upgrades for me) just still haven't decided on her bag, trekking poles, and sleeping bag. After doing more research on the rain fall I returned the precip gear and already decided just to carry a poncho.

I bought all this stuff at places that I can return the gear to if something doesn't work out.
Got this gear list off backpackinglight and modded it for us.
Three sheets at bottom make sure your viewing HERS.
The red numbers under weight is just my estimate so I have a goal to shoot for.
The yellow boxes are just stuff I haven't weighed yet on my scale; so it's manufactures weight.

Edited by rxfragmentation on 07/24/2012 23:59:16 MDT.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Re: Re: Help with wife's gear. on 07/25/2012 06:55:19 MDT Print View

Just had a quick glance at both of your lists and a couple of things I saw right off.

I understand that you want the puffy insulation for that last night on the rim (I assume you can't wait until 10/3 to have your car shuttled?) and they can double as pillows for hike. Once you get below the rim, it's going to be warmer than you think. Probably downright hot that early in October. Your clothes are way too warm. Frankly, I think you're going to want T-shirts and shorts once you're hiking. Nix the softshell pants and windshirts. All you need are light hiking pants, shorts, T-shirts and the baselayers for sleeping. In the Canyon, the coldest temps are in the early morning, just before dawn. If its too cool for your baselayer in the morning, you have your puffy jackets.

No need for insect repellent.

Corridor campgrounds have ammo boxes for food storage which you must use. There's no need for a bear bag or any other protection.

Can the Losi be set up with just the fly and footprint? You don't need any bug protection. The Canyon is ideal for tarp-style backpacking but you may want a little more privacy in the corridor campgrounds, so a full fly + footprint setup would work well.

You're taking more than 1/2-liter capacity for water, right? (I can't tell from your list.) I would take enough *capacity* to carry a gallon in the Canyon and assume that you'll be carrying 2L most of the time. The water pipe breaks on occasion, so be prepared to carry enough.

Jason McElyea
Will make those adjustments on 07/25/2012 11:58:41 MDT Print View

I am the one shuttling the car so I need to have it there before we leave. Its a group of 4 of us going and the logistics just work better this way.

I will delete off the insect repellent, bear bag, and windshirts. Guess we will get convertible or roll up pants? She also got herself a short sleeve merino wool shirt, I will just change the Smartwool long sleeve one to that on the list.

Can I also take off the beanie's and gloves?

I increased the water weight to 2000g for 2L of water. I was planning on getting 2l hydration bags for both of our packs. Just forgot to add that. That really makes her bag heavy now. Any more suggestions on saving weight.

Would you suggest we both go with 30degree bags? One night in zion park and 2 nights on the rim. I was planning on using the pawprint as a cover when we got down in the cannon since it doubles as a sheet and just sleeping on top of the bags.

Not sure how to pm for gear list. But my email is jbmcely at gmail.

Edited by rxfragmentation on 07/25/2012 13:37:18 MDT.

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Will make those adjustments on 07/25/2012 14:04:32 MDT Print View

>> Can I also take off the beanie's and gloves?

You won't need them below the rim but freezing temps are a very real possibility on the North Rim. Average lows for September is 39, October is 31. Good news is that you can eat and hang out in the lodge during the evening if it's really cold out.

>> That really makes her bag heavy now.

19lb is too heavy?? I hope she's not as fragile as you're making her sound. If she can't hike with a 19lb pack, you should question whether she's capable of hiking a R2R. My 10 year-old son weighing 80lb hiked with a 20lb pack.

ETA: I just went back to your spreadsheet because the total weight seemed a little too heavy for what you have listed. You seem to have the shelter and stove included on both of your lists. I don't think that what you intended...?

How much water to carry at any time depends on temps that day and status of the spigots. If the pipe is broken and you're relying on chemicals, you technically don't have water immediately, so you need a little more of a buffer. Average high temps at the river are 97 in September and 84 in October, so you should plan on high 80's through the Box and Devil's Corkscrew, both areas can be pretty hot.

If you're hiking up on Bright Angel Trail and all the spigots are on, you should only need a quart of water from Indian Gardens on up since you can top off at 3-mile and 1.5 mile resthouses while temps are getting progressively cooler.

You can save some of the weight of food by grabbing meals at Phantom Ranch while at Bright Angel Campground. You need advance reservations and they're booked through Xanterra (888.297.2757) Reservations by phone only and they sell out way in advance. You can also purchase a la cart items like bagels & cream cheese, fruit, bars, etc.

One back-up plan you might want to consider is to reserve a lodge room for the North Rim in case you hit a cold spell. I only suggest this because you sound concerned about your GF's comfort and a couple of below-freezing sleepless nights before the hike won't do much for your cause. You can keep an eye on the forecast and cancel the room at the last minute (usually a 24-48 hour cancellation deadline) if it looks good. I've done this for November hikes from the South Rim and was glad to have a lodge room instead of weathering snow and sleet and temps in the teens under a tarp and a 45-degree bag...

Edited by DetroitTigerFan on 07/25/2012 14:31:45 MDT.

Jason McElyea
Cool on 07/25/2012 16:19:48 MDT Print View

Thanks for all of those suggestion. We will definitely consider those as options. I am not overly worried about my wife carrying 20lbs she is young, active, and fit. I just meant it was too heavy to be considered a light pack. I will get it all figured out though. We will go camping a weekend or two prior to going in order to see what gear is redundant or just not needed.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: Cool on 07/25/2012 19:11:59 MDT Print View

Being from northern AZ, I'm plenty familiar with the 'Big Ditch'. The north rim can be cold in October. Snow is easily possible. If you can get a cabin reservation you might want to try. It's better than killing her desire to hike by freezing those two nights. The reservations fill up really early in the year , but it's worth a shot.

#20 isn't really that heavy for what appears to be a 4 day trek. I havent looked at The gearlist, but you used to be able to have a really nice stew dinner at Phantom Ranch for a decent price, right next to Bright Angel CG... dropping the weight of those dinners. You can buy breakfast foods like bagels and stuff threr too, IIRC.
I've never seen the water sources out of order, I personally think that 2L each is overkill for your distances hiked each day,, but it's your choice. I guess better safe than sorry. Shrug.
Looking at your CG list, it seems like you're only hiking 6-8 miles a day, the first two days are downhill and flat. For reference, I've done The whole rim to rim in about 14 hours. I'd guesstimate you're in for 4-5 hours of hiking per day. The only hard leg is Indian Gardens to the South rim. Pace yourself, it'll be fine.