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Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested
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Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/10/2013 17:10:35 MDT Print View

Hey everybody!
I don't usually do this, but I have created a monster here in the wake of my latest trip to the mountains:

Here's what's going on here -- I don't manage to have a "real" good long mountain trip more than 1-2 times a year. At that rate, it's easy to forget the little nuances and improvements I'd like to make, the mental adaptations and tricks I've grown into, etc. For that reason, sometimes getting out again feels like starting over.

Well no more! This time I decided to take detailed notes while the memories were still fresh, and go over these periodically as I grow closer to my next trip (whenever that may be). So I started taking notes, in a haphazard / brain dump kind of fashion, and it turned quickly into a long list of mini gear reviews with some subjective (not objective) evaluation on each piece.

If you have any interest in this, I would LOVE for you to skim through this list, as much as you wish, and offer any comments or suggestions. You may feel free to comment on the document itself (using the Comments tool, wherever it is). However, commentary in this thread itself will probably be better for overall discussion and community enrichment :-)

Forgive me if at times it grows long, whiny, contradictory, or boring. As I said, this is just a brain dump. If it does manage to be more than 75% coherent, I think I have hit my goal.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: trip post-mort on 07/10/2013 18:45:30 MDT Print View

I like what you did there Ian. Familiarity is very helpful for trip planning, something I'm always reminded of when the seasons change and I forget things and make small dumb mistakes on the first hot/cold/snowy/etc trip of the year. To be blunt, this has to be worse for people who don't get to backpack particularly often. Anything which lessens the chance of small lessons forgotten is good.

Obviously, I'm with you on the Darn Tough socks. I've experienced the boardy behavior on longer trips as well. The high nylon content doesn't seem like a sufficient explanation for this; I'm honestly not sure why they do it.

I've been curious about the airframes for a while now, but haven't jumped due to cost and concern that the lack of any lumbar contour will limit their utility to weights which can be handled by a foam pad anyway.

Dimension-Polyant fabrics are very stiff, and the way they help packs stand open is rather nice. Hybrid cuben does this to a much smaller extent.

"...some nights I found myself wishing for the simplicity of a more-shaped tarp such as a pyramid or hex. What one gives up in versatility with those types of shelters, one gains back in the sense of being dead easy to set up, set it and forget it." Amen. Sell the Trailstar to fund a sil Duomid.

When I carry a bladder it's my old Dromedary. I try to pack my pack so that there's a nice horizontal shelf at shoulder level (often on top of my food bag) where the Drom can rest. Ideally minimal and light stuff goes on top so accessing it is easy-ish. I find this a good place for water weight to sit. This past weekend I brought two bottles and a platy for hauling a gallon along a waterless ridge, and was wishing I had brought the Drom instead. Much simpler to pack and use.

Edited by DaveC on 07/10/2013 18:47:03 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Easy to use shelter on 07/10/2013 19:07:31 MDT Print View

I have been using a very nice BBL cuben Stealth nano tarp for the last few years. It is the best shelter, at eight oz, that I don't setup. But it is so painful to set up after a long day on the trail. Because of that I rarely set it up unless it is actually raining. Other than that I cowboy camp and through the tarp over me if it starts to rain in the middle of the night. Sound familiar?

I just completed a build of a mid shelter only for the quickness and flexibility of setup. It doesn't save any weight but I can set it up very quickly, fiddle free in a very small area which will allow me to use it more often. So bottom line, I'm in the same boat as you. I made the leap, not for weight but for efficiency.

Edited by gg-man on 07/10/2013 19:09:28 MDT.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: re: trip post-mort on 07/10/2013 20:43:49 MDT Print View

Thanks Dave,
This is great feedback!

Some takeaways and thoughts ...

1) I'll have to get some Activators or Wooleators and try them out. Or *something* different at least. Maybe for the next day hike.

2) As you saw, bit disappointed by the airframe. I think if I could do this trip again, I probably would have taken a trimmed piece of corrugated polystyrene (or HDPE? can't remember) and just fold a scrap of CCF around it for a likely just-as-light and-probably-more-effective back panel. It would have been roughly just as fiddly as I found the free-floating airframe to be. Granted, GG intended their airframes to be firmly situated within their integral pad pockets, so this is at least 35% user error. Shrug ...

3) One day I will have my wife teach me some basic sewing, and then it will all be downhill from there because I will start building packs and shelters and bivies and stuff sacks and probably spend way more money in the MYOG vortex than I might have just buying off the shelf. Heh, but UNTIL THEN ... I don't suppose there's any light <1.5# ~40L pack that uses X-Pac or such, is there? I didn't think Dimension Polyant stuff showed up much in commercial gear.

4) That's confirming. Been poking around and surprised to find the Trailstar is now priced similar to the Duomid (and they're both much more expensive than they used to be). (And they're within 0.5oz of each other)
... (and I want one now) ...

Will have to shed my Trailstar soon or trade for a Duo, I think I'm convinced.

5) That suggestion about creating a horizontal shelf and dropping the water on top is so stupid it's brilliant. Or more accurately, so brilliant that I feel stupid. I just never imagined that putting the water high could be an ideal place for it. But I suppose if it's high AND as close to your back as possible, the leveraged weight ain't no big trouble, is that about right?

If so, I think that will be my next gambit.


Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate the confirmation about the overall brain dump idea. Yes, on your bluntness -- you're quite right. I sure wish I lived somewhere closer to the mountains. My wife and I dream about it, but as yet it's not in the plans. :-/

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: Easy to use shelter on 07/10/2013 20:46:46 MDT Print View

I totally get ya. Haha, I love this "... the best shelter ... that I don't set up." That's when you know you're carrying something just to have it checked off the list, rather than to actually use it and enjoy it, eh?

But anyway, yes I follow you. A couple times on my trip I enjoyed the expansive coverage and bomproofness of the Trailstar but ... ONLY once I actually had finished setting it up. And getting it really dialed in, in anything but a pristine flat wide space, takes me about 15 minutes of work, spread across like an hour of getting into camp. Pitch it once, walk away and do other chores. Come back and I notice some slack in the geometry, make more adjustments for 5 minutes. Come back later and the moisture has slightly changed the shape again, or the wind has shifted direction, so 5 more minutes of re-staking, re-tightening, giving it the old shake-and-observe test, etc. You know how it goes. If you ask me it's even worse with A-frame tarps like yours.

Anyway. Yep. Agreed.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: packs and water on 07/10/2013 21:11:25 MDT Print View

"I don't suppose there's any light <1.5# ~40L pack that uses X-Pac or such, is there?"


With regards to water weight, or anything heavy, I think anything between the top of the hips and bottom of the neck is kosher, so long as it's close to the back. A bit high in that range often feels better than a bit low. For me.

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Re: wet feet on 07/11/2013 06:36:43 MDT Print View

Anybody who lives in New England can sympathize with you: its been raining here for weeks!

i wear Vasque Pendulumn shoes, which drain well but don't actually get DRY even overnight if it's humid. The sock solutino that works for me is old-fashioned ragg socks from REI- 80% wool and on sale for $6.93 right now!

I'll usually carry two pairs, and swap them out at lunchtime most days, hanging whichever pair I'm not wearing outside my pack to air out and "dry." if it seems like it's going to be cold-ish I sometimes carry another pair of "night-time" socks for in camp and sleeping.

+1 on the bladder-across-the-top-of-the-pack approach.

David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Re: Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/11/2013 07:23:34 MDT Print View

I haven't read through the entire post-hike gear reflection yet, but can you say more about the actual trip? The Indian Peaks Wilderness is one of my favorite Colorado wildernesses, but I've never backpacked there (only day hiked).

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
re: stuff on 07/11/2013 15:52:41 MDT Print View

You'll be in trouble with my wife once I do some research on ZB packs and want to buy eight of them. Thanks for the tip though. Already in touch with Chris and I'm having trouble being restrained about it ... but honestly a $200+ pack is probably meant for next year ... or never.

Thx for the recommendation though, and again about the bladder thing. Good simple counsel.

Are you saying you actually hike in the old school ragg socks? That's interesting. Thanks for the +1 regarding the bladder.

Wow dude, it was awesome. I've done a scattering of trips in the New Mexican Rockies and at Big Bend, and a lot more short trips in the TX hill country. But this trip was a true, classic, quintessential high mountain summer trip. Mostly big blue days, with an interspersing of thunderstorms and clouds on occasion, as noted in my summary doc.

We started at Brainerd Lake and headed north toward Coney Flats on day one, camping right where the 4x4 trail from the east comes in and meets the wilderness boundary. Camp that night was peaceful and had a great view up to the Divide at Buchanan Pass to the west.

Second day we took way too long to get moving (not *my* fault :-) and didn't get up to Buchanan Pass until about 3:30pm. The hike up there was nice with a few crossings of small snowfields and gradually more impressive views as we climbed up. When we finally got up to the final cirque right below the pass, we got hit with a momentary LOUD, STRONG storm cell, so we made a break off and trail for some small boulders, used my TrailStar as a big bothy bag, and laughed and gritted our teeth in close quarters together for 10 minutes while the storm passed over. It took about 5 extra minutes for us to realize the storm was gone, birds were singing again, sky was clear, before we came out and forced ourselves up over the final climb :-)

On the other side of the pass, things got beautiful, green, and the scenery was big. We descended quickly because some of our group was battling altitude and exhaustion, and found a really picturesque campside on a raised bar in the middle of a zone on the map called Fox Park, just west of Buchanan Pass and on the northern fork of upper Buchanan Creek. It was gorgeous. We felt like we earned that campsite and it was beautiful with gigantic trees and wide open meadow spaces. Everyone slept great that night.

Morning of the third day, woke up happy and descended quickly through the remainder of Fox Park, which was personally my favorite venue of the entire trip -- just a huge series of skipping green meadows flowing with late spring melt, and the morning had perfect clear skies -- it was like an Austrian fantasy world. We headed rapidly down Buchanan Creek in high spirits and met up with the Cascade Creek trail around noon, where we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the company of many passers-by and dayhikers coming in from the west edge of the wilderness -- by far the most people we had seen since getting on trail 80 hours before. From lunch that day we began the climb up Cascade Creek under increasingly cloudy skies. The waterfalls in Cascade Creek are TOTALLY NUTS. We stopped every five minutes to admire the falls -- some were huge, others just gorgeous. The creek is aptly named there you see :-)

Camped that third night up Cascade Creek, a little ways before the junction with the Crater Lake trail. Our campsite again was fairly well used and had some established dirt pads, which my friends enjoyed and of course I purposefully avoided. We had terrible mosquitos that night.

Fourth morning, woke up and completed the climb out of Cascade Creek to arrive at Pawnee Lake by around noon. Everything was serene and beautiful up there, with only a couple other small parties sharing the lake with us peacefully. We set up my TrailStar in a sky-high pitch for a shade / lunch shelter, had a great rest time with shoes off and skipping rocks on the lake. Half our party went 200 feet up the trail to scout out our last campsite for the trip (which was a good one) while I and another adventurous member of our party spent the afternoon scrambling as high up the basin walls as we could, with daypack loads on. We got about halfway up before storm winds started to threaten and we felt way too exposed to continue.

That last night we had a super LONG sunset due to the high elevation and a perfect view out from the basin walls toward the west. We watched the sun go down for two hours after dinner, it was great.

Final morning, woke up and immediately hit the Pawnee Pass trail up out of the basin, gaining the final ridge of Pawnee Pass in about 3 hours. It was a heck of a hike, with ridiculously high winds, steep switchbacks, and totally incredible views with each passing stage of elevation -- mainly back to the west, behind us.

Got over the ridge and out of the wind, took some pictures of Lake Isabelle, descended quickly, and found ourselves in a sea of dayhikers coming in from the east. Decided we didn't need to camp one more night so close to the cars, and decided to hike the last couple miles out back to Brainerd, catch an early dinner in the town of Nederland, and head back to Golden.

Super great trip. You probably got more detail out of this reply than you wanted, but anyway ... it was awesome. It felt like a storybook backpacking trip, with all the normal good things you want. Serenity at times, scary thunder and wind at times. Great community and camraderie on the trail. Great food. Good wildlife sightings of deer, ptarmigan, pika, marmot. Awesome scenery. Decent mileage.

It was a blast. Thanks for asking!

Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Ragg socks (cont'd.) on 07/11/2013 16:19:56 MDT Print View

Are you saying you actually hike in the old school ragg socks? That's interesting. Thanks for the +1 regarding the bladder

Yeah, almost all the time. They have a lot of cushioning which is good, and don't slide around so i never get blisters whether I'm wearing trail runners or Big heavy Asolos. They soak up a lot of water but they seem to hold onto it so my feet never feel particularly wet (and you have to remember that In NH and VT it's often like hiking in a stream!) and never bother me. Sometimes I swap back and forth between two pairs each day, but more often I put them on still damp in the morning and roll with it all day. I've found that if I take good care of my feet I the evening they'll take good care of me all day.

Did I mention that rag socks are wicked retro-bitching' and that chicks dig 'em?

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Rag wool socks retro on 07/11/2013 18:17:08 MDT Print View

If what you mean by retro is:

1. Fast wearing
2. Itchy
3 uncomfortable after a long day, especialy when wet ( yet warm)
4. Too warm in summer

Then I agree completely.

Wore those REI socks for many years given the price. I've switched to VDT most recently and lots of other brands (smart wool, other REI, Patagonia). Have not run in to the issues you describe with VDT but have not had very wet conditions. Most comfortable were Patagonia but durability was low

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: Rag wool socks retro on 07/12/2013 08:09:14 MDT Print View

>>> If what you mean by retro is:

1. Fast wearing
2. Itchy
3 uncomfortable after a long day, especialy when wet ( yet warm)
4. Too warm in summer


Haha, maybe that's what he means :-)

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/12/2013 10:59:51 MDT Print View

Hi Ian,

Sounds like you guys had a great time on the Northern Loop. This is one hike I never get tired of doing. Love your description of Fox Park. Hope your friends didn't get too wiped out lumbering under those heavy packs up the west side of Pawnee Pass.

I wasn't going to read your whole google doc, but you pulled me in with the passage you highlighted in yellow. You and I are have similar philosophies in regard to gear.

Basically, I want gear that is so easy use that I don't have to think about it out there. Gear that has to be fussed with or babied is out. Reliable in all weather conditions I'll encounter is also important. Reasonably light is also key. Who wants to carry a heavy pack?

Switching out your Trailstar for a Duomid sounds like a good idea. Being budget conscious, I chose a Shangri-La 2, but think I'd be just as happy with the Duomid.

A Polartec 100 pullover weighing 7.7 oz. is part of my kit whenever there is a possibility of rain. As you know, the rain in the Colorado high country is cold. When my rain jacket wets out, as it will eventually, fleece provides reliable, breathable, cozy warmth. On a number of summer trips in Colorado, it's the only insulation layer I carry.

For extra warmth, I also carry a puffy vest on some trips. It's great for hanging around camp on cool mornings and evenings and for boosting the insulation in your sleep system without getting those sweaty armpits.;-)

Anyway, just back from a trip and am putting gear away and doing laundry. My first focus is on processing photos and writing up a trip report. But your post inspired me to go the extra mile and write up an "About the Gear" post on my blog. So thanks!

Edited by Dondo on 07/12/2013 11:00:46 MDT.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/12/2013 11:32:21 MDT Print View

Hey I'm real glad you found this post! Actually it turns out that, weeks ago when we were trying to decide where to go on our backpacking trip, it was YOUR very own trip report that got us excited about the Indian Peaks / Northern Loop. Cool huh? So thanks :-)

I'm curious to hear your thoughts about the GoLite SL2. It's a fair bit cheaper than the Duomid from what I recall, though also a bit heavier -- right? I'm being lazy right now and not opening another browser tab to answer these questions.

Let me know how you've liked the SL2, though. Curious for your thoughts.

As for the fleece pullover, man that's a great and simple idea. Here's my question, and this is a totally subjective question -- can you compare the relative warmth of these two systems?
1. Lightweight fleece pullover or hoody + puffy vest
2. No fleece but full puffy pullover or hoody

Let's just say something like "all else being equal" meaning I'm trying to get an idea of where the relative warmth of these two systems is roughly equal. So for instance my Hadron Anorak is super lightweight, like 7.5oz or so. Obviously a fleece pullover is about 7-8oz already, PLUS a puffy vest which might make the total system 14oz or a pound. So the question is: would this be equal in subjective warmth to just the lightweight Hadron Anorak? Or might it be closer to something the heavier MB Alpine Light Parka?

Hope that question makes sense. Just trying to get more of an idea about subjective warmth, comparing fleece against a traditional puffy jacket.

Finally, regarding the idea of writing a trip post-mortem / gear analysis as I've done here: I'm glad you're encouraged! When I look at the results here, it occurs to me that maybe our community would benefit from more people doing these kinds of inventory survey reports more often. Given that this kind of report deals with the subjective experience of using the gear (and feelings about it) as opposed to the objective performance / weight / function / design ... well I suppose what I mean is, in our community we seem to have plenty of the latter but not very much of the former. We've got a lot of engineers and few poets, perhaps :-)

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/12/2013 11:57:45 MDT Print View


I enjoyed your gear-review, too. I haven't gotten out even one night this year (just day-hikes) so far due to kids' schedules, so I keep tinkering with my kit list, but really need that real-world reminder of what works and doesn't that can only come with feet on the trail. I don't have anywhere near the experience of the fine gentlemen above (especially Dave C. and Greg G.) but I have some of the same pieces of gear, so I have a few thoughts:

1. Wool shirt: I also have the Indie Hoody but haven't been wearing it much and think it would have been hot in Colorado with the hiking you were doing. I tend to wear a wool t-shirt and my mid-layer right now is a Cap 4 Hoody, which I think pairs well with the wool base t-shirt. You seem happy with the GoLite shirt but mentioned venting. One option I sometimes take is a wool t-shirt and Ibex Indie arm-warmers (these are the thinnest 150g wool I've found). Arm-warmers tend to be more form-fitting than long sleeves but you get a lot of "choice" moving them up or down, getting air into the armpit area and even have quick "gloves" by pulling them over the hand.

2. MLD Exodus: this is my main pack, too. I'm wondering how you used the GG AirBeam; was it inside the pack, in an outside pad sleeve? My pack is old enough that it doesn't have a pad sleeve like the Exodus FS, so I was curious. I carry a 1/8" CCF pad but this is too floppy to provide much structure to the pack, both when carrying and when sitting on the ground. Sometimes I use a 3/8" pad, cut so it provides a simple cylinder for the pack. Coleman (of all manufacturers) makes a cheap pad called the EasyRest, you can find at a lot of box stores. It's only $10, is light green so it helps a little with seeing inside the pack and is rigid enough to keep the pack "open". It adds a few ounces but it's lighter than some other structure options, is dirt-simple and can be a sit pad in the evening. I'm not sure if it really helps with carrying the load. I think you'd need some support rods for that, like on the FS.
Also, I've added small cuben shoulder pockets from ZimmerBuilt, modeled after Jhaura Wachsman's pack. To me, this seems an easier place to carry small items as hip pockets tend to curve around the hip, especially built-in ones. My Exodus just has the standard hipbelt and I don't have the bungee cords on the back either.

3. Socks: I'm still having good luck with some older Smartwool Trail running socks, but like the Wooleator, too. Cycling shops can be good places to find thin wool socks, like DeFeet, Pearl Izumi or Swiftwick.

4. Trailstar: I just sold my Trailstar this past spring for the same reasons you mention. It is a great shelter but just a little too much footprint and tinkering for a solo shelter, especially if you don't need a full-on storm-proof tarp. I replaced this with a silnylon Locus Gear Khufu (no reason this over a DuoMid except I was curious about the Khufu). I haven't used it yet, so nothing to add there. I keep thinking about a cuben DuoMid but I like that sil is so compact and the weight difference for a shaped tarp isn't that great between sil and cuben. I will say, I dragged my feet on selling the TS.

Finally, I used to live in Boulder and INdian Peaks was a main place to day hike. Such an amazing wilderness area with easy access.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - MLife

Locale: Central TX
Re: re: 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/12/2013 12:26:43 MDT Print View

Thanks Steven!

1) I like the idea about arm warmers -- however this would introduce complexity into my system that isn't currently there, so I think I'll probably skip this. Though if they work for you, I can imagine they'd be very convenient and comfortable. Might not *feel* like complexity if they stay on your arms all day and all nights long, but still ... In my eyes, total number of items = total number of items.

2) I may have to check out that Coleman pad, that sounds like the kind of cheap, light, and kind of stiff option that I'm looking for. Might also see if I can find a thin / stiff old Walmart blue foamy or some modern day equivalent. In both cases I believe they'd help the load distribution, as this is the trick I used in my old 1st generation Jam a while back, with some moderate success (as long as the load was light). Good call. Will have to try that before I ditch the Exodus completely. Maybe.

3) Thanks for the tip, will check out cycling stores in my area -- we have a lot of those in Austin.

4) Yep, agreed, I feel ya. I don't want to get rid of my TS because it's such a big beautiful work-of-art kind of shelter. But I think like you, I've made up my mind.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/12/2013 18:21:49 MDT Print View


Glad to hear that my blog had a role in inspiring your trip.

Regarding the SL2: Mine is the older version with the heavier fabric and without the taped seams. I cut off the stock tie outs and installed triptease cord about 2.5 ft long to the six main tie out points using bowline knots. Anyway, this version, with the triptease but without the stuff sacks and stakes weighs 21.5 oz. Maybe duomid users can chime in with the actual weights of their shelters.

A while ago, I use to write up my impressions of the gear I use on my blog. You can probably find what I wrote about the SL2 by googling "Dondo Shangri-La 2".

Layers: My guess is that the warmth would be somewhere in between Hadron and
Alpine Light, depending on the vest you choose. I'm partial to synth, and use the Golite Cady which weighs about 10 oz. What you would be gaining for the weight trade-off is a lot more versatility and the comfort of being able to hike in cold rain in fleece rather than in a puffy layer, which isn't a lot of fun.

Though I'm not that technically oriented, I really do enjoy reading the gear analysis part of trip reports. Right now I've culled down and processed my photos and am busy writing up the narrative of my latest trip. The gear analysis will be for another blog posting. I'm looking forward to doing it. Should be fun.

Edited by Dondo on 07/13/2013 00:13:10 MDT.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Dense stuff on 07/12/2013 22:50:38 MDT Print View

>I just never imagined that putting the water high could be an ideal place for it. But I suppose if it's high AND as close to your back as possible, the leveraged weight ain't no big trouble, is that about right?

Imagine something small and heavy in your pack. And assume your upper body weighs nothing. Obviously, if the weight is further from your back, you need to lean further forward to balance it over your feet. Also, even if the weight is close to your back, if it is low in your pack, you need to bend further forward to get it over your feet than if it were high in your pack - then you wouldn't need to bend as far forward.

Since most of our miles of comfortable walking are upright, not pitched forward, I find it more comfortable to backpack in an upright posture. So I put heavy things close to my back and high in the pack.

Pro-tip: when your pack gets really heavy (after a food trip, being the family sherpa or carrying a pack for an injured companion), wear one pack on your chest (ideally a day pack) and the other, normally, on your pack. I think of it as loading a burro or horse. You wouldn't put all the weight on one side. This is easier for beginners than putting the load very high. But many actual Sherpas and local porters do just that - they put massive loads (150% of body weight) quite high so (1) they can walk upright and (2) they can recover from little upsets - to recover, you can't move the load suddenly; you must move your feet to be under the load. The further from your feet the load is, the easier it is to move your feet to make a correction. Back when I carried double loads, I'd strap the second pack high on top of my first pack. It works far better than strapping it to the back of the first pack.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Suggestion... on 07/13/2013 15:06:25 MDT Print View

I looked at this with two points of view:

1. A tool for you to go back and review before your next trip.

2. You looking for feedback on your gear choices/experience.

If you use a spreadsheet as checklist, you can use it to help yourself on future trips. My spreadsheet has all kinds of gear in it; every single piece I own. I use it mainly as a checklist to make sure I don't forget anything. It can also do other things like calculate base weight, total pack weight, FSO weight, etc -- only because it is Excel and it is easy to do the calculations.

After each trip, I make a copy of the sheet (new tab in the workbook) and save it with trip description (i.e. Anza Borrego Nov 2011). If I need to make notes on my trip, I enter a comment next to a piece of gear). The next time I go to Anza Borrego during the fall, I just print out this gear list and use it, unless there is a note to change something. There are dozens of trips in my workbook.


One of the problems with feedback is that people here have different skill levels, different styles of hiking, and different hiking goals. Also, many have favorite pieces of gear they try to always recommend. Often feedback may not be applicable to the person seeking it.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Big list of mini gear reviews / 5-day trip post mortem / suggestions requested on 07/14/2013 08:56:02 MDT Print View

I understand precisely what you are doing with this b/c I do a debrief of every trip I take wrt gear choice, function, and ideas for improvement. Unfortunately I don't have experience with most of what you were using, but I wanted to applaud the systematic approach to incremental improvement b/c I think it offers a lot of benefit for folks who can't get out as often as they'd like.