It’s Time… Gear Time That Is!
It’s time… gear time that is! Yes, yes it certainly is. That magical time when I get to share my take on the boat loads of wisdom out there as it pertains to gear. Now not all of my choices are the top quality option, and I am yet to see how they will work. However, I am pretty confident that they will at least keep me alive.
Now, anyone who has ever considered a long distance hike, be it the Appalachian trail, Pacific crest, or even something shorter like the Camino De Santiago know that gear is crucial, it will literally be your only line of defense against mother nature and her wrath. At first glance the seemingly endless amount of gear advice on the web can be quite daunting and the fear of making a wrong choice can weigh heavily upon you. No one wants to end up being that person carrying everything down the the kitchen sink with a pack weight totally 65 lbs, but neither do most people have the funds to buy that super special sleeping bag that’s rated at 20 degrees and weighs 15 ounces but cost $2500 (totally making that example up so ill save you rich people with the funds the time by saying to my knowledge it doesn’t exist). The fact is its not about always choosing the best gear, its about choosing the gear that is best for you and balancing the weight, quality, and cost. And you wont always know what the best for you is until your hiking, the number of people who undergo drastic gear changes while on the trail are many, but that doesn’t mean you cant make some educated choices on gear before hand.
I started buying gear about 6 months before my hike and now only days from leaving have still been picking up little things that I will need to bring with me, and because of that I would say that gear is probably one of the more time consuming logistical problems that you will have to deal with before your hike, especially for first time hikers. Anyways, here are my choices and some thoughts on why I chose them, if any more than the item was what was readily available.
Pack – ULA Circuit – $225
This was probably one of my harder choices, there are just so many! Finally after hours of reading reviews I finally settled on this one, a choice that I am actually pretty happy with. Besides having phenomenal reviews it seems rugged, only cost $225 and weights less than 39 ounces. Those are wins in my book.
Sleeping Bag – Karakoram 20 Down Sleeping Bag $349.00
Well, what is there bad to say about this bag, really nothing. It is an 850 fill European goose down bag, is constructed of a 20 denier Pertex, and is coated to shed rain and snow and resist abrasion, all while weighing in at 2 lbs 4 ounces. Although the price tag can be a little high at $349.00 if you are patient it can often be found on sale for as little as $240.00, which is the price I payed.
Tent – Eureka Spitfire 1 – $129.90
One of my cheaper options in the category of my major gear but the reviews are good and I have moderate hopes it. It was a great price at $129.90, weights 2 lbs 12 ounces, and adding the custom footprint tarp that can be bought separately to go underneath will only add another 5 ounces, but will certainly help save the bottom of the tent from sharp sticks and rocks making it a necessary option I would say.
A sleeping pad can do a lot in the way of improving a nights rest on the trail, weighing in at 1 lb 6 ounces the self inflating thermarest prolite pad is not a bad option
Water Purification – MSR Miniworks EX Microfilter – $89.95
There are many schools of thought when it comes to water purification on the trail, and none of them are necessarily wrong but this is an area where again, it is important to choose the option that is right for you. Many people opt for the very light chemical purification option, this will kill those nasty bugs that want to kill you, but they do nothing to remove harmful chemicals in areas that there may be any, plus you have to live with the lovely chlorine or iodine taste. With all this in mind I opted for the MSR miniworks, It weighs 1 lb and can screw directly on top of a Nalgene bottle if you have not gotten rid of those on your efforts to lighten up. Katadyn also makes a comparable filter for about the same price.
Stove – Jetboil Flash – $99.95
Like water purification people have many ideas on what is right when it comes to a camp stove, some choose canister stoves like the jetboil stoves, some choose alcohol stoves and some go without a stove at all. That said I have a Jetboil flash, it is by far one of the easiest options, weighs 14 ounces, and uses fuel canisters, but most of all I was lucky enough to have a very generous man donate one to me so that pretty much set my mind on it.
Socks – Darn Tough Socks $22
Darn Tough, buy them, not only are they darn tough and have a lifetime warranty, but their also darn comfortable, they are made from merino wool and cost about $22 a pair, a small price to pay for happy feet.
Underwear – Exofficio Give – N – Go -$32
A comfortable, light, and reliable option. While helping prevent chaffing, they are also antimicrobial and anti odor.
Lower Thermal Base Layer – Ice Breaker Everyday Leggings – $59.99
Merino wool, naturally odor-resistant and breathable while adding ample warmth for those cold nights or days.
Upper Thermal Layer – Outdoor Research Radiant – $95.00
A comfortable light jacket that can be worn to add a moderate amount of warmth without springing for your full on fleece or down that you will probably only ever wear in camp.
Fleece – Mountain Hardwear Monkey Man – $150
A technical, lightweight, warm, and comfortable fleece. Comparable to the Patagonia R2 fleece that many people wear.
Pants – North Face Paramount Peak Convertible Pants – $75.00
There are many pants out there but the north face paramount peak convertible pants are rugged, lightweight, convertible from pants to shorts, and comfortable, all around making for a good choice.
Rain Jacket – Outdoor Research Helium II – $150
Some people may opt for a cheap rain poncho but if you want something that is comfortable, stops water, and is dang light I mean like 6 ounces light the Helium II is the way to go. Plus unlike a dollar store rain poncho it breaths keeping you cool yet dry.
Rain Pants – Red Ledge Men’s Thunderlight Pant – $39.99
For the price they cant be beat, they are light weight, breathable and will fit over your pants well and if your looking for something to wear while everything else is in the laundry they will do nicely.
Foot Wear – Merrell Moab Mid Ventilator – $100.00
I’m not going to get into the argument of boots vs shoes but there is some wisdom in avoiding “waterproof” shoes, they will eventually get wet and it will take FOREVER for them to dry. Plus they generally do not breath as well as another shoes might. All of that said I chose the Merril Moab Ventilator which with a change of insoles are quite comfortable, and for a boot decently light, however if I decide that under trail condition I dislike them I will probably buy a pair of trail runners.
Trekking Poles – Pace Maker Expedition – $59.95
This is one area where I wish I had sprung for those super nice Leiki poles I wanted but at this point what I have will do just fine. They have cork grips, flip locks, and a number of different heads you can choose to put on them.
Headlamp – Petzl TacTikka Plus – $45.95
With three brightness settings and a blink mode the batteries can last up to 150 hours on economy mode or 400 hours on blink mode.
Miscellaneous – Here I will list a number of other things I am bringing but not necessarily with links or descriptions.
-Mosquito head net
-small ultralight technical towel
-ULA pack rain cover
-Outdoor Research Gaiters
-AT guide book
-Dr. Bronners Bar soap
-mini set of playing cards
-titanium fork spoon combo
-Cocoon silk mummy liner (very light and helps keep sleeping bag clean)
-role of medical tape
-role of gauze
-a sundry of dry bags to keep things in
-and as per Zachsquach’s advice on how to keep it real I am bringing an Ocarina to make some sweet tunes and generally lift the mood when I feel like some music.
It is likely that I am forgetting a few things but that concludes most of what I will bring pictures of everything individually can be found on the links provided for each item.
If you have made it this far congratulations! Because now you get some exclusive info first heard here! My official start date is set and coming fast! My mother, father, sister and I will be driving to Katahdin on Friday June 20th, I am set to hike Katahdin with my mother and sister on June 21st and then continue my way south alone on June 22nd.
Thanks for reading everyone. Peace out.
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