Dress Rehearsal Was Wet, but Didn’t Dampen My Spirits

Nineteen days until go time! I have been doing day hikes like crazy, so physically, I’m in great shape! I have 90 percent of my gear purchased and laying on the floor in an orderly fashion. But grounded gear is no fun so I’ve been itching to test it all out.


Solution: Solo backpacking AT dress rehearsal.

Destination: North Fork Catherine Creek trail near Baker City, Ore.

Weather: Sporadic rain during the day, hail and light snow at night.

Gear Tested:

  • Sawyer Squeeze: Overall I liked the system but I did not like the water reservoir bags it comes with. I’ll be switching out the bags with Platypus bladders.
  • Enlightened Equipment 0-degree quilt: Loved how lightweight it is. I had all the snaps and clips secured to make it more of a mummy bag, and at first I did feel some drafts, but quickly figured out if I used my bag of clothes to cover the gap, I stayed warm. Plus, I’ll use my liner during the cooler seasons.
  • Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite: Loved it! Found it to be much more comfortable than my previous Trail Series Therm-a-Rest. I was worried about how noisy it would be based on reviews, but I didn’t notice the sound at all. Blowing it up manually was no big deal for me, either.
  • BUFF headband (Insect Shield, UV-High, Coolmax): Not a fan. It was one size, but it was too tight and gave me a headache. I’m going to trade it out for my Buff headband without the insect shield since it’s not as tight.
  • OR Helium Rain Coat: Awesome! Kept me warm, dry, was breathable, and light. Worth the money I spent on it.
  • Keen Voyager Mid hiking boots: Kept my feet warm even when my feet were wet. Comfortable, light, and good support.
  • Smartwool PhD gloves: Nope. While using trekking poles in the rain, I definitely need to keep my fingers dry or else they turn into icicles and become useless. I’ve already ordered some waterproof gloves.
  • Osprey Aura Pack: Made me a happy hiker. Comfy fit. Good design. Roomy. I get why it’s such a popular pack with thru-hike.

So, the trip was a success. I got some rainy hiking miles under my belt, tested my gear, and enjoyed the Oregon scenery.

AT, I’m ready for you!

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Comments 2

  • Puddle Jumper : Jun 19th

    Word of caution with Platypus bladders the newer ones no longer thread tight on the Sawyer Squeeze and can leave you screaming on the trail. Evernew bladders are the way to go and fit nice and tight and are super durable.

    • Rochelle Sorenson : Jun 20th

      Thanks for the heads up! I have old Platypus bladders that I plan on using first, but when they wear out, I’ll check out the Evernew.


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