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Be gentle, extreme Newbie.
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Doug Ericson
(douglaspericson) - MLife

Locale: Middle of NC
Be gentle, extreme Newbie. on 06/10/2014 18:42:23 MDT Print View

Ladies and Gents:

Very new to the hiking scene. Gear list posted. Need critique. Will be starting my Backpacking Journey in Western North Carolina this summer with some 2 and 3 day hikes to iron out equipment and food.

Have been lurking here for a while. VERY HELPFUL PLACE for the neophytes.

Be gentle, this is a brand new hobby.

54 years old. 5 foot 9 inches. 159 lbs.

Exercise 6 days a week.

Practicing up to 16 miles a day with 12 pound pack in our local State Park (Umstead), which is VERY flat.

Read Skurka's book early on. Found it helpful as well.

Have several shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad options but I think the posted one is what I will start with if it passes muster with the experts.

Doug Ericson, MD
Extreme Newbie to Backpacking

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 06/11/2014 10:34:48 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 06/30/2015 10:06:33 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Be gentle, extreme Newbie. on 06/11/2014 12:36:11 MDT Print View

Looks like a pretty nice set up, Doug. The sleeping bag will limit you to mostly summer type trips if you are in the mountains, but that is what you are doing.

There are several things you can do to cut a little weight. For example, I wouldn't carry 2 extra shirts. There are several other tings you can do to shave off a little weight, but that will come best with experience in my opinion.

You just need to get out to the mountains. Experience is what you need most and it weighs nothing.

Maybe I'll see you out there sometime soon.

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Be gentle, extreme Newbie. on 06/11/2014 13:46:47 MDT Print View

Hi Doug,
Looking at your gear list it is obvious you have done your homework. Quite impressive for a 'newbie'. I think you will do well. Some experience on the trail will help you dial in your kit. I would be a little concerned about the choice of footwear. Have you considered some light trail runners? I have hiked in Chacos before and found the Z2 footbed to be extremely limiting. Also, you may find Deet, while an effective repellent, to be somewhat repulsive as well as being quite toxic. Consider a lightweight, permethrin treated hiking pant for repelling biting insects. Have fun and welcome to the forum.

Doug Ericson
(douglaspericson) - MLife

Locale: Middle of NC
Thanks Gents on 06/11/2014 16:42:36 MDT Print View


Thank you. I have a Katabatic Palisades quilt and a Zpacks 20 degree quilt for colder weather.


Thank you as well. All my outerwear is permathrin treated. Small amount of DEET for exposed skin if necessary. Prefer not to use it.

As to the foot gear, have spent several hundred dollars working on this. I also use Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra CS WP's. The Salomon's require a thin toe sock and a medium weight Smartwool PHD to be comfortable and reasonably blister-free. Have worn out 2 pairs practice hiking with numerous different sock and liner combinations. They work very well and are my second choice warm and first choice cold weather hiking. Have some Seal Skiz coming this week to evaluate which could change this though.

The Chaco Unaweep Z/1's with medium weight Smartwool PHD's are always blister free and more comfortable. Have logged a couple hundred practice miles with these in the woods with rocks and roots. These could be a problem for some people but they fit me perfectly.

Thank you so much for your time. Keep those critiques coming! Love this web site.

Doug E.

Jay Vance

Locale: New England
re: on 06/12/2014 09:35:01 MDT Print View

Hi Doug,

Your list looks very solid. Here are the only suggestions I have:

1) Lose the extra t-shirt and embrace the filth.
2) Try packing without using the stuff sacks. At 19oz, I'm assuming your backpack is the Arc Blast 60, so you should have plenty of room without the marginal amount of compression the sacks offer. Your pack liner will keep your clothes dry.
3) Use a stake for digging your cat holes so you can ditch the trowel.
4) Especially for summer trips, consider going stoveless. Sure, it's nice to have warm food when it's near freezing at night, but during the summer I've found it's not worth the hassle when you're exhausted after a long day of hiking. It's pretty easy to find no-cook backpacking meal ideas online.

Also, if you have the time, could you shoot me an email at jvance08(at)gmail(dot)com? I'd like to pick your brain about two things: (1) I'm applying to medical school right now, so I'm curious how backpacking fits into the life of a physician, especially during the training years and (2) I have a trip planned to western NC at the end of the month, so I'd love any suggestions you have for must-hit trails. Thanks!

Doug Ericson
(douglaspericson) - MLife

Locale: Middle of NC
Thanks. on 06/12/2014 13:40:47 MDT Print View


You are correct about the pack. It has plenty of volume to forgo stuff sacks. Interesting idea.

I like the no cook thoughts and will begin some searching to that end. Should be fine on short trips if it is not too boring. If you have any specific recipes that you find wonderful, send them to me. Email sent.

Medical school and time to do anything else is probably not possible unless you are one of a very rare breed with an eidetic memory and no need for sleep. If you are a mere mortal, you will desire sleep more than hiking, but even that will be difficult to do. Probably will have to put hiking on the back burner for 8 to 10 years depending on area of medicine you pursue.

Doug E.

Doug Green

Locale: North Carolina Piedmont
NC backpacking on 06/12/2014 21:57:29 MDT Print View


You must live near me. My wife and I hike a lot at Umstead. There are certainly a few sections there that are not completely flat. Its too bad there is no primitive camping there.

If you are looking for a place to shake out your gear with an overnight trip the Uwharie national forest is a nice place that is 1.5 hours from Raleigh and there are definitely hills. Not a huge vertical but they skipped the switchbacks so it is fairly steep. I just returned from an overnight hike doing the Standing Indian Mountain loop (24 miles) near Franklin NC which is a nice two day trip, with some stretching it into 3 days. We did it on a Friday afternoon and Saturday.

Doug Ericson
(douglaspericson) - MLife

Locale: Middle of NC
Thanks on 06/13/2014 06:04:21 MDT Print View

Doug G:

Great input!!

Small world. My age and same town.

I live 2 miles from Umstead and love it. It's difficult not to be able to camp there but I would manage it the same way if I were in charge. Smack in the middle of a city of a million would be a disaster for them if they let people camp there easily.

Uwharie is at the top of my short list to test it all. Looks like the national parks are much better suited for dispersed camping. Linville Gorge is also on the list but doesn't look like you can readily escape if you fail. Probably will hold off on this a bit. Grandfather Mountain, (Profile Trail) was a blast as a day hike and has a gorgeous little camp site at the top, but again, no escape route other than 911.

We should chat sometime. Would love to buy you coffee and pick your brain.


Doug E.