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.

Shelter

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.

Sleep

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.

Clothing

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.

Shoes

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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Comments 6

  • Avatar
    Ruth Morley : Feb 27th

    I used the same Theromolite bag liner last year in October and November on my way down to Georgia. It made all the difference in the world as far as sleeping comfort. I encourage you to have it with you at least till you get out of the Smokies (assuming you’re NOBO), where I would have literally frozen if not for the liner.

    I sleep with a 10 degree EE Revalation quilt. The thing is that these temperature ratings mean quite literally that you will survive that temp, but not necessarily be warm. And even the folks st EE advised me that women tend to sleep colder than men, hence the 10 degree quilt.

    One cool trick I learned online somewhere: cold air was still sneaking in under the edges of my quilt (I wish now I had gotten a bag), so I put the liner on the outside and used the quilt as my liner. Fantastic! The liner’s mummy hood held in so much more warmth for my whole body.

    I’ll be taking the liner with me on May 1 when I head north from Harpers Ferry. We’ll see how long I carry it. It’s worth it’s weight, especially in the predawn lower temps.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    TBR : Feb 28th

    Boy, I think I’d carry that sleeping-bag liner. Good insurance on a cold night, and I’ve heard it makes for dreamy sleep.

    What the heck happened to that hiking boot?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Christy : Feb 28th

      I bruised my ankle bone when I face planted on the trail, pack and all. I could walk in socks but putting my boot on was agony, and there were a ton of water crossings so that wasn’t much of an option anyway. I had to cut the top off the boot just to walk without crying. Hiked 10 miles back to the trailhead like that! That knife is coming with me for sure, and now I always bring some kind of camp shoe and hiking poles to use as a crutch even if I never use them for walking.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Cheryl N D'Ambrosio : Mar 6th

    Regarding supplies … just curious as to how you evaluate the importance of carrying extra headlight batteries v.s. weight. What are your tradeoffs?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Christy Fairlie : Mar 6th

    I actually just yesterday switched to a headlamp that recharges via USB so I can use the same cable to charge my headlamp as to recharge my power brick. For the exact reason that I didn’t want to carry extra batteries, but didn’t feel comfortable not having them in case the headlamp died.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Cheryl N D'Ambrosio : Mar 12th

      Hi Christy,
      OK – glad you made a smart switch for power.
      According to my calendar, it’s March 12th 9am so you are officially one hour into your trip. We’ll be checking your progress. Take care, and as they say, “enjoy the journey”. Much love,
      Cheryl and The Gang

      Reply

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