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Thoughts on gear for long-distance hikers
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pocket Rocket no problems on 03/20/2013 14:37:55 MDT Print View

"I have the MicroRocket now, it is loud."

Yes, isn't it great?

It kind of reminds me of its big brother, the MSR XGK.

It serves the dual purpose of an alarm clock for everybody else sleeping nearby.


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Pocket Rocket on 03/20/2013 15:10:41 MDT Print View

I think if you took the washer off the Pocket Rocket then the pin would go down further and engage the Lindal Valve better. It comes off easily.

Like Roger said recently, it's difficult to have two washers both seal at the same point

Remember the shuttle that had two O-rings? That didn't work so good. Maybe better to have just one washer/O-ring that works.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Pocket Rocket no problems on 03/20/2013 17:18:54 MDT Print View

Can't recall totally, seems first issues were with some Coleman branded canisters. May have been a MSR branded canister too. I like my older MSR stoves making noise, did not expect the MicroRocket to be noisy which I don't care for as I thought if might be used around others at times. Seems my Snow Peak GS100 was quieter.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pocket Rocket no problems on 03/20/2013 17:21:15 MDT Print View

"did not expect the MicroRocket to be noisy which I don't care for as I thought if might be used around others at times."

Don't worry. If you use it when others are nearby, they won't be for long.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Problem with Pocket Rocket on 03/20/2013 22:27:50 MDT Print View

Theory is that all screw thread canisters and all screw thread stoves are identical in the dimensions of the screw thread.
Practice is that they are all different, apart from the nominal thread. Yes, it can be a problem.

As for the aluminium thread on a few stoves ... come in sucker. Even brass gets worn out quickly enough; aluminium wears out much faster. Stupid idea.

But the PR is an old stove with a poor design anyhow. There are far better - see
for an update.


Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Thoughts on gear for long-distance hikers" on 03/21/2013 18:46:53 MDT Print View

That was a great post, thanks. It was interesting reading not just what you use but the experience that led you to that decision ultimately. The only area where I really differ with you is that I started out using synthetic sleeping bags for the reasons you suggested and have switched to down because the bottom line is a wet bag sucks no matter what it is made of and both take effort to dry. But I agree that if I were in an always wet or humid environment, I would not choose down.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
I Love Snythetic Too! on 03/21/2013 19:17:15 MDT Print View

Thanks for the post. On my only longish hike (Colorado Trail) I used a BPL 240 quilt and loved it. Several times it was pretty wet from condensation but it always kept me warm. My down quilt works on shorter trips but if weather is questionable or I'll be out longer I reach for the synthetic quilt.

I also used a synthetic sleeping bad on my big canoe trip. When our canoe went over and the dry box leaked it was nice to have a bag that would dry out quickly.

I liked my snythetic jacket too. Several times after a day in the rain I pitched camp and was wet, tire and cold. I just put on my synthetic jacket and went to bed soggy.

The Prolite has worked well for me too. I used to us a foam pad on all trips but I had to be more careful where I slept. With the Prolite I don't care what the ground is like as long as its flat and dry. I can sleep on rocks with the Prolite and be fine.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: I Love Snythetic Too! on 03/22/2013 10:00:34 MDT Print View

Have you considered putting your sleeping bag in a dry sack. I always have my bag and my spare cloths dry sacks no matter what the season. I cant tell you how many creeks Ive expolded in. Atleast thats what it looks like when I slip flale around till I hit the water with a giant splash. I dont really see the point in not having them.

just Justin Whitson
Re: "Thoughts on gear for long-distance hikers" on 03/22/2013 11:13:45 MDT Print View

Nice write up, and thank you. RE: packs, you said that silnylon and dyneema type packs have different kinds of failures with holes and tears being more silnlyon and abraison resistence being more a problem with dyneema.

Am just wondering if you have tried attaching some light weight silnylon outside and onto key areas of a dyneema reinforced pack? That way, at least theoretically, once in awhile you would just need to "re-patch" it with some cheap silnylon, though it probably could only be done a few times before the stitching holes started to become a problem? But that might extend a bag to at least a few years, at not much cost or weight.

Christine Thuermer
(GermanTourist) - F - M

Locale: in my tent
Thoughts on gear for long-distance hikers on 03/22/2013 17:30:32 MDT Print View

My sleeping bags/quilts are always in a dry bag. But it is a myth that this method prevents your down bag from getting damp. The big problem is during transport, but at night while you sleep in it. This is when it will get damp from condensation and/or touching wet tent walls.

Good idea, but I am afraid that it would not help that much. Abrasion happens from the inside and the outside.

Jan S
Down vs Synthetic on 03/22/2013 18:13:52 MDT Print View

I prefer synthetic bags too. One more problem I've had after buying a 3 season down bag for quite a lot of money was that by the time the weather got hot I started too sweat and the down broke down from the inside. I suppose I could buy more down bags and always use the right one for the expected temperature – and I will once my lottery win comes through. The underside and breast region have lost considerable loft after about 2 years of regular use. And I tried to dry it after every night and keep it in a waterproof stuff sack in my pack.

I also noticed for me there is a psychological thing with down bags. If the weather turns foul I start to panic a little wether or not I can keep the bag dry enough or wether it's too humid. With synthetic bags I know I might loose some warmth but it won't break down completely or get down lumps and cold spots.

As for the breaking down of synthetic insulation. Yes it does do that, but that just makes the bag heavier for the amount of warmth it gives (as long as you bought it with reserve warmth). I have used my TNF Snowshoe winter bag with Polarguard Delta for about 13 years now (very mild use mostly) and tried not to overly compress it. I guess it lost about -10 C of it's warmth rating but is still perfectly useable and still my favorite winter bag here in Germany – not very cold but very wet.

Edited by karl-ton on 03/22/2013 18:16:39 MDT.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Thoughts on gear for long-distance hikers on 03/22/2013 22:16:00 MDT Print View

G.T. wrote, "@Justin
Good idea, but I am afraid that it would not help that much. Abrasion happens from the inside and the outside."

Yeah, but i would think it would be worse from the outside. It might add too much weight (for your use and consideration), but a silnylon pack liner (or even the much lighter fabrics like M50, M90, the Nobul's, etc), plus patches on outside combined might work. That's at least what i would do if i was trying to correct this problem, despite the weight penalty. I tend to the frugal, and since i have a GoLite Jam pack which i'm mostly saving for hard and constant use, i may try this very methodology since it's easy and cheap to make sacks. The sewing it on on the outside would be difficult, if not impossible, with my machine, but i can always do hand sewing too, and maybe a little silicone adhesive might help too.

If 4 to 7 oz made the difference between 1 year of hard pack use, changed to 3 or 4 years, well at least count me in.

Thank you for making me think about this issue more thoroughly, as i suspect it will be a big concern for me for the nearish future.

Christine Thuermer
(GermanTourist) - F - M

Locale: in my tent
Thoughts on gear for long-distance hikers on 03/23/2013 03:06:36 MDT Print View


I could not have said it better: The psychological problem you describe is what has ultimately driven me away from down. You gave the perfection description! Synthetic just gives me peace of mind no matter how foul the weather is.

I would go the way you suggest. Although it will not prevent the problem entirely it will certainly help. Just keep in mind that the Dyneema will deteriorate in all places. If I look into my Dyneema pack I can now see light shining through everywhere. The fabric has become almost see through. The inside coating is almost completely gone everywhere. Depending on what sort of bushwhacking accidents you have you will get holes and cuts all over the place. But a hole in the collar is by far not as problematic as a whole on the bottom the your system will help.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Interesting neo air comment on 03/23/2013 08:43:49 MDT Print View

I was interested in the OP's comment about the Neo Air all season. I've done quite a lot of miles in original Neo Air's and never had a puncture. One delaminated somewhat, so it's a bit less comfortable to sleep on, and another now has such a slow leak that I've not been able to find it to fix it (end up re-inflating once or twice during the night). But I figure I can get at least one thru-hike out of an original Neo Air model, and the All Season is supposed to be more durable. So that comment was unexpected.

I suspect the problem with conclusions even by folks who hike quite long distances is that we ultimately still have a pretty limited set of gear that we have experience with, and like everyone else we tend to settle on particular solutions and figure that they're the best choices for us. If I had had an early puncture with a Neo Air, I'm sure my conclusion now too would be "bad choice" but it still seems like a good choice from my own experience base.

Packs too --- I've worn out a couple of Gossamer Gear packs, and it wasn't the sil-nylon body that was the issue. Duct tape plus dental floss stitching can fix such issues for a good while, depending on where they occur. For me it was the waist belt area that got wonky.

The comments about down vs. synthetic bags have me thinking, however; I'm exactly the person described in terms of doing standard thru-hikes using (WM) down bags. Perhaps if I go on more unstructured and less supported long distance trips I'll consider the synthetic quilt approach. FWIW, however, I live in WA state and it gets pretty rainy and humid here, but I haven't done more than a few weeks at a time near home.

Maybe something like the TT Rainbow too, though I've put up tents a number of times where the ground wouldn't hold or allow stakes, to include a time or two on $%^&! tent platforms on the AT. But if you have to have a freestanding tent, the TT Rainbow is no doubt a great choice.

In fact, I'm going more the other way, towards more structured hikes --- my wife is a strong hiker, but likes to sleep indoors more often than I. So we're hiking the Camino in northern Spain later this year, and I'll be looking for other long-ish trips that she's happy to go on. Such trips will not require a whole lot of new gear analysis! :-)

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Down bags on 03/23/2013 19:56:11 MDT Print View

Goes to show there is more than one way to skin a cat.

I did the BMT as well during the last part of winter with a down sleeping bag. My AT hike was also at the tail end of winter. Rain, snow, sleet, you name it on both trails. Heck my AT hike had 17 days straight of rain.

FWIW, my formative backpacking was in New England where I used a down bag. Must more wet than my current location here in CO.

Find a down bag works for me..but again, that's me. :)

As for foam pads, I like the KISS principle and never really got into inflatable pads. Even on long hikes. But I am more of a minimalist and actually prefer a firm mattress. OTOH my wife loves her NeoAir (and lobbied, and won, a softer mattress for our bed. ;) .

Otherwise, like you, I mix and match my gear depending on what I am doing, who I am with , the goal of the trip, the season and so on.

As I always like to say "There ain't no such thing as the best gear!"

As always, YMMV.

Edited by PaulMags on 03/23/2013 20:05:06 MDT.

Christine Thuermer
(GermanTourist) - F - M

Locale: in my tent
Neo Air All Season on 03/24/2013 01:59:51 MDT Print View

let me elaborate a bit more on the NeoAir All Season and my harsh verdict on it. First of all I agree with you that I might just have had bad luck. I also concede that a puncture in a Neo Air is very easy to repair. The big problem with the NeoAir All Season is that it is promoted as a pad for winter use. But if you get a puncture in winter you are facing the problem of how to detect it. What is easy in summer turned into a nightmare in winter conditions. I was hiking the Pinhoti Trail in a very cold spell when my Neo Air broke. First I had to find water that was running and not yet frozen. That water had to be deep enough to submerge the NeoAir. This whole procedure is awfully painful in freezing temperatures as your wet fingers will freeze. If you are lucky to find the hole you have to dry the pad - at least the area where the puncture is. Again very difficult when it is raining/snowing/sleeting. Depending on how long it took you to find the puncture the rest of your pad will also be wet. In my case I basically gave up when I could not find the hole after 15 minutes and hitched out into a trail town to find and repair the hole in a nice motel room - but you might not always have a choice.
What I wanted to point out is that the Neo Air All Season is a very RISKY choice for its main use in winter. If it fails, you are in big trouble and that is not worth it for me. I think for winter use you are better off with a Prolite Plus because it is definitely more robust and if it fails the foam inside still offers some insulation - whereas a flat NeoAir is completely useless. When you develop a hole in the beginning of the night in winter you might even end up in a dangerous situation or at least a sleepless night if you cannot find the hole in the dark.
The NeoAir can be a great choice for warmer temperatures when a hole is not that problematic. Or you can use it in combination with a close cell foam pad as a back up - but that combination is not very lightweight any more and very bulky.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Neo Air All Season on 03/24/2013 06:07:25 MDT Print View

Great points GT!

I love my NeoAir - have for some time. But your points are what I fear if I allow myself to think about it!

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
neo air trade-offs on 03/24/2013 17:08:13 MDT Print View

Great logic. I used my neo air in temps into the teens (F) on the AT and on the CDT as well (lots of snow there), but as you suggested I coupled it with one or at times even two thin ccf pads (GG thinlights). For me this was a flexible system insofar as I could mail home a thinlight pad when I didn't need it any more, and put the thinlight on top of the neo air when I needed max R-value, and under it otherwise to hopefully reduce wear. Even two thinlights together would be pretty minimal if a blowout had occurred, but --- I think I would have survived, and that's generally an acceptable thru-hiker trade-off!

As with so many things in backpacking, there's more than one valid approach with differing factors to trade-off. What I sometimes find hard to sort through when talking to people about gear is sort of the opposite of "buyers remorse", rather we humans tend to exhibit a bias towards whatever gear items we chose to buy. I hope I don't do that (much) but unconsciously I probably do at times.

Jan S
NeoAirs on 03/24/2013 17:23:04 MDT Print View

I've actually had the puncture experience with about every inflatable mat I've ever owned. Sadly usually at temps around 0 C. I have switched for a couple of years to simple foam pads. I now have a NeoAir XTherm. One of the reason I chose that one is that if it goes flat it still is supposed to have an R value of 1.5. I also carry a torso length zLite. Combined that should give an R value of about 4 if the XTherm goes flat. That is not enough to sleep comfortably on snow but should be enough to sleep at least a bit. And the zLite piece also makes a great seat. It adds 150 to 200 grams (depending on your size).