Just returned from a pleasurable 3-day hike at Pt. Reyes, north of San Francisco. Moderate weather ranging from sun-hot to fog-wet, highs near 85 and lows around 55. Here are a dozen pieces of gear that impressed me the most:
1. Polycryo (window film) ground sheet. It did double duty throughout the day as a place to sit during breaks, giving us a large, clean area to perch and lay packs. I started carrying it in the outside pocket of the pack, I used it so frequently. Very handy. I need to make a larger version that includes the vestibule of my Hubba tent, and it'll be perfect.
2. Smartwool Outdoor Light wool socks. Performed like champs. Never wanted to wear anything else. I have had "burning balls of the feet" problems on training hikes, and had not a single issue with the Smartwools. Looking to get a second pair. Adding a polypro liner didn't help comfort, so just wore the Smartwools alone.
3. Patagonia Nanopuff Vest. Surprisingly light and warm once the sun set. Allowed me to leave all my fleece at home.
4. 20-oz Gatorade bottle, graduated by ounces. Super-handy kit, and turned upside down, its bullet-shaped head slips easily into the side pocket of the pack. Could not want a better water bottle.
5. H501w Zebralight headlamp. Never needed to see into the distance, so the flood worked great around camp and in the tent.
6. Scissors from Victorinox Swisscard. Put these in at the last second as a "luxury" item and used them several times where a knife would have done a poor job.
7. Zyrtec type allergy pills. Really helped cut the dust and sleep well the one night I used it.
8. 3M Transpore Tape, which I use on the balls of my feet. Slick on the outside. (Leukotape is also good but not as slick.)
9. Exped Airpillow Medium (Red). On my third pillow purchase, finally, a good pack pillow. Well worth the 3 oz for a better night's sleep.
10. Reynolds Oven Roast Bags as stuffsacks. Super light, very durable, CLEAR (so you can easily find what you're looking for) and reasonably waterproof if closed properly (twist, bight, and cinch). I used NiteIze Geartie closers which are colorful and easy to spot.
11. PVA AquaDry "towel" or chamois. Great for a wipe-down of the dripping wet fly of the tent, allowed faster drying and faster breaking of camp. These found at Target in the automobile section, cut to preferred size.
12. Baby Wipes for bathing. I cut several in half, but next time, I'm taking them whole. Well worth the weight and the psychological lift from being cleaner afterwards.
Gear Failures: Nothing failed outright.
1. Had difficulty lighting my Cat stove one windy morning, and couldn't do it until I surrounded the stove with my sit pad. May have to rework the windscreen I made, which is short.
2. For an hour one morning, the food locker (supplied & mandated at the camps) was left open by mistake and a mouse made quick work of the opportunity, chewing through an Oven Roast Bag containing my food, raiding my granola and bread, and pooping prodigiously in my cook pot. Not really a failure of the food bag. Still--it made me wonder if it would be wise to put food in something a little more resistant.
3. Ran out of coffee and would carry extra next time. Got tired of eating jerky. Next time I'll carry extra coffee, chocolate & cheese, the "three Cs."