What’s Happening Now? Update Part III

Interlude – Got in a run yesterday – 2 miles, pace 8’39”

I had to run through two walls of discomfort, but all-in-all it felt good and I felt super after the run. Some Wolfmother and RPG were right there to pick me back up when I needed it. I am still anti-shuffle in normal life, but I am digging it for running. I do still have the same thing that happens every time I am not listening to an album – I start to hear/sing the next track – but for running, those mental jolts can be good.

Hiking Part II –
Bag –

I have had the same bag since about 1996. It has been great, but there are issues – which are my fault. In the category of “you don’t know stuff until people tell you” – I have always kept my bag stored in it’s stuff sack inside my pack. Sure, it wasn’t a compression sack, and the bag is synthetic – but 14 years of storage in a small sack will take it out of any bag. The bag still works, in fact it has been an integral part of my nightly bedding since at least October 2010. But it is rated 20 degrees and it no longer performs anywhere near that level. I can’t sleep in it just in shorts even inside the house.

I still have to decide for the next bag – down vs synthetic.  I think I will stay in the same temp zone since I don’t do snow camping on purpose, but do encounter near and below freezing temps. Hopefully I can get a lighter and better performing new bag and
maintain the current bag for a loaner.

Tent –

Frontal - the one stage right

I have a great two-man tent. My only issue with it is that it too is from 1996. It works great, is fairly light, and it has as much no-see-um netting on the walls as a tent could back then. The newer tents can have almost all no see-um netting so that you have an unobstructed view (and airflow) in all directions until you put up the rainfly. That issue alone would not get me to replace my tent. But I am looking into one-man options.

Side View - the green one

I have done and probably will continue to do a lot of solo hiking. Also, most of the folks that I know have their own gear. While I will keep and maintain the two-man for the right time, I think I can lose weight and volume and gain some features in a one-man set-up.

I am definitely going to see if I can be happy in a biv sac. I have been researching them and the next step is to try them out in the store and then on the trail. I am not worried about feeling confined as I have slept in mummy bags since I can remember. Some models require many extra steps to secure from the rain, and some require you to rig up lines to hold the netting off your face. More importantly, some take a little while to get in and out of. The simple fact is, I pee a lot – especially at night. If I can’t easily get in and out of whatever it is, it ain’t going to work.

I do like the freestanding tents and there are several good one-man options out now also. I am very excited about the designs that have the door in the side instead of at the end!

Pack –

I have not done much on the pack research yet, but I may have to step that up. I remember really hating my pack the last two times I went out. I have researched enough to know that the GoLite packs will not work for me. I believe I need more support and padding than they offer. Other than that, I don’t know yet. While I will still be researching packs, I do need to get a few more things nailed down before I can make a great decision there.

My hope is that new job comes through and I can replace/supplement all my equipment at one time. We shall see…  Don’t scramble your eggs before you get chickens and all that…

– –
I have been to the local shop (EMS) for some hands-on gear time and talks with the clerks since I started writing this, as well as having spent loads of time reading reviews.

The stove is settled.  I am going to get a pocket rocket. I probably will still build and play with denatured alcohol stoves, but that is more to satisfy my curiosity and internal tinkerer.

A better shot of the DragonFly in action

Bag – Part II
I still need more intel and some product testing (part of which is on my docket for this weekend in NOVA being near to REI!).

That said, I am really interested in GoLite’s 3-Season UltraLite. It looks like a good fit. The specs are good.  The weight is intense at less than 2 pounds! And it gets great reviews. But I am concerned.  I would prefer to find one in-stock somewhere so I could actually get in it and see how it feels. If that proves difficult to impossible, I am not sure what I will do. Similar bags by other manufacturers are generally at least 1 pound heavier. This is why I need to go talk to the experts.

Tent – Part II

Tent talk is another reason for the research trip to REI. I want to get inside a few Biv Sacks like this one and I want to check out and talk about these:

Big Agnes Copper SpurGoLite EdenMSR HubbaBig Agnes Seedhouse – Big Agnes Fly Creek
Just looking and reading specs – the Seedhouse and the Fly Creek seemed most appealing. But after loads of reviews, it seems that these two are more cramped inside in practice for those over 5’10”. Reviews for the Copper Spur and of course The GoLite indicate that these actually perform as advertised. But, can I find a GoLite to test out? And the door design on the Copper Spur does look appallingly stupid for such an otherwise well designed tent. There is no zipper across the bottom so the door must fold on the ground inside or on the ground outside for you to get in/out. This does appear to be the only drawback to the tent however.

I am also surprised by the number of outstanding reviews of the MSR Hubba. I have heard that they are good tents, but by the specs they are both heavier and have less floorspace than all the others listed above. But it seems that in use, they are less cramped than some other models because of better design. Also, they have a nice vestibule and the door is designed better than the door on the Copper Spur.

Again – I need testing and experts!

Next Up in Update IV:

The Weekend trip to NOVA

Hiking part III – the tent of Lucas

Tent of Lucas

What’s happening Hot Stuff? – Update Part II

Random Goodie –

I decided to search again and I found the version of my favorite opera that I have been looking for on and off for years. I had one of those awesome “greatest moments from” $3.99 tapes from a bargain bin and I have wanted to get the full recording ever since. This is Verdi’s La Traviata – Pavarotti, Sutherland, Bonygne, New York Met Orchestra and Chorus.

iTunes and amazon US only have the version with the London Opera Chorus and Orchestra.  That one is good too, but the recording is not as clear, and I came across the other one first and it simply moves me more both for its own sake and for associations I have with that version.  Amazon UK has dispatched (which does not mean killed) this version right on out to me and it should be here in early April (for less money than the download of the version I did not want…)

Hiking Part I –

I have gone back through my gear the past week.  Cleaning this, re-organizing that, and tightening up my list of required goods and desired goods. I got 2 new stuff sacks, a collapsible lightweight trowel, a tiny swiss army knife, and my first Nalgene bottle (and yes I did get the orange). After some mishaps and some advice from my hiker pals, I only use Sea to Summit stuff sacks. I generally buy the compression sacks, but the other models have their uses as well.

I am stoked about the knife and the Nalgene. I love knives. I have loved knives for as long as I can remember. But, I am trying to adapt and learn newer ways of being in the woods and carrying less weight. I came up in the climate of metal frame packs, hiking in with axes, canned goods and freakin’ potatoes – so I am definitely making progress. This allows me to have a knife, scissors, and tweezers – all of which are regularly useful, without carrying a giant leatherman or other assortment of tools.

The Nalegene is also great. I have never had one. I use Gatorade or Powerade 32 oz jugs in my daily life for water. For hiking, I take my 3 liter camelback, another 1 liter bladder and round out the supplies (when necessary) with my daily jugs (simmer down).  Part of the whole “lightweight” hiking thing involves food and cooking.  I don’t measure at home, but if you are on limited water and gas resources, you want to get your food right the first time, so I measure when I hike. I have used the Nalgene of my hiking companions to measure in the past, but now I have my own.

I also noted that many folks use their Nalgenes as a place to carry a few feet/meters of Duct tape. The folks at GSI noticed that too, and designed that into this bottle.  Since I have already loaded mine up with about 2 meters I can tell you – it works great! The tape wraps in that recess (they call it a “dog-bone” design) and then you slide that mesh thingy overtop for added protection and grip.  I am also pleased with the lid design. Easy to open even in gloves and uses nice (and replaceable) cord instead of plastic as a lanyard.

This is all exciting. It gets me excited to go out backpacking again. It also is exciting that I am nearing the goal I set that must be met before I get a new pack!

A good buddy and AT through-hiker advised me about pack replacement – if you want a new pack, first replace everything else that you think you might replace. Then take all that crap with you to the store and buy the smallest pack all that stuff will fit into.

Good rule of thumb I believe.

So I am close. I have to do some more experiments with stoves/cooking/eating gear. What I have now works great, but it is bulkier and heavier than I need, and difficult to gauge for fuel consumption.

Dragonfly in action at The Priest shelter

Also, I have given up coffee and not replaced it with other hot beverages since I last did a trip. My needs have simplified.  I am thinking of moving into a self-made denatured alcohol stove (just one of many info sources out there, but I like the Pirsig reference)- but I am also looking at Jetboilthe pocket rocket (simmer down), and other stoves.

I have always been an “eat from the pot” guy in the woods. Without the need for hot beverages, I think I can get this down to a much simpler, more compact, and lighter system.

After that – it is time for the big three: bag, tent, pack.

Note – there are some better hiking and equipment pics coming in Hiking Part II – i can’t find them on my computer (grrr) and Facebook totally changed the image download rules and procedures (grrr) so i have to figure out how to use photo grabber or some such to get the darn pics back onto my computer. If you are burning with desire and cannot wait – check out my Facebook album “Little Sluice Mountain”.