Another Day Spent Debating Gear Selections
To all the people who reached out to me after my last post, thank you. Your thoughtful words of encouragement warm my heart every time I think of them. I am feeling much better these days and am excited to start hiking in two weeks. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a little insight into some of the new gear I am taking with me and why. Technically, I didn’t need to buy anything new except maybe some shoes; but I’ve been sucked into the lighter, better, faster brigade, so I have been doing a little shopping after all.
Originally I bought the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1 tent in orange, but exchanged it for the olive version and couldn’t be happier. I haven’t tested it outside of my living room, but I’ve at least done that a few times to play with the interior pockets to try to decide where I want to put things, make sure I understand how the poles work, etc. The tent stakes didn’t come with any cord loops, but there was some excess cording tied around the tent when I opened the package, so I made my own. Not a very exciting gear modification, but helpful nonetheless.
If you’ve been following along, you know that I bought a new sleeping bag for the trip back in December. The sleeping pad I was using is good, the Klymit V Ultralite SL, but Mike bought a Big Agnes sleeping pad that I tried out (also in the living room) and was blown away by how comfy it is. So I picked up my own Insulated AXL Air. I opted for the regular size over mummy because the Flicker UL 20 is a strange hybrid of quilt and mummy bag and I am under the impression that once the weather warms and I’m using it more like a quilt, I will I appreciate the extra cushion space near my feet.
For Christmas I received a Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus sleeping bag liner. I’m going back and forth about bringing it for the beginning of the hike. If the temps drop below the rating of my sleeping bag I will be grateful to have it, but I am loathe to carry any excess weight. A quick trial proved that the liner wouldn’t bunch up around me and be something annoying to fidget with. In fact, it’s so soft that I think I may look forward to crawling into my sleeping bag at the end of the day. As of this moment, the bag liner is in. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.
This is probably the area I have most struggled with. I don’t want to be cold. I don’t want to be hot. I don’t want to carry contingency outfits that only work for specific scenarios. I’ve tried on, purchased, and returned more clothes in the past two months than is reasonable. But I think I might have finally settled on my uniform for the next five months.
The Patagonia Quandry pants are not all that different from the prAna Halle pants I have been hiking in for the last three hiking seasons, but they are different enough that I could justify the expense. The side pocket is roomy enough to hold my phone, even in the oversized waterproof case, and allows for easy access. The front pockets are perfectly positioned for putting my hands in while walking, and the back pockets are unobtrusive. The lightweight fabric is DWR treated, SPF 50+ approved, and they’re stretchy enough that I don’t have to fiddle with them when climbing over trees and stairs.
I already own the Smartwool 150 crewneck top in a purple stripe color, so I know that the shirt can hold its own – but I bought a new one in blue just because I had a coupon to spend at REI. I wore it on a shakedown hike this morning with just the Patagonia R1 Fleece as my outer layer and although it was only 43 degrees outside, I was never too cold in the shade or too hot in the sun. Like Goldilocks, it was just right.
Last year I wanted to be on the trail runner parade. On two separate occasions I tried out every brand in multiple sizes and widths, but ultimately kept going back to the Oboz Sawtooth. I liked them so much I bought them in a waterproof high top, although those had to be sacrificed to the hiking gods after a nasty fall left me with no other option if I wanted to get back to the trailhead before I ran out of food.
This year, I bought a new pair of the Oboz and as much as I wanted to love them, my feet seem to have changed shape since the last hiking season. I have ultimately gone with the Altra Lone Peak 4 trail runner. I think the cut/shape must be different than the 3.5 because those definitely didn’t work for me, but this year’s model feel great on my feet.
Check out my gear list if you want to see my full packing list. Inadvertently omitted from the main photo: trekking poles and pillow.
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