Posts Tagged ‘gear’

I’ve been gradually refining my hiking/backpacking gear selections.  For the past 15 years, I’ve been hiking in the legendary Italian Vasque Sundowners.  Last year I replaced the insoles after pounding the heck out of my feet doing a 3-day section of VT’s Long Trail.  On most summer hikes I’ve taken to wearing my old Tevas (not sure which model it is), and occasionally barefoot.  I’ve got a set of Vibram FiveFingers that has seen minimal usage due to the fit (though I’m going to try them without the Ininji socks this year).

I’ve usually worn my GoLite Wizard shell when I go hiking, but I find I dislike the hand things and rarely use the integrated balaclava.  I also dislike the watch port because it ends of fogging up and I rarely wear a watch anyway.

My backpack has seen more significant variation: first I had a huge Vortex 5800, then moderated that down to a ULA Circuit (which I still consider to be a good pack).  I’ve been swayed to try the Aarn Mountain Magic (about the same capacity as the Circuit) going forward, however.  I have yet to take it out.

A few years ago I purchased a Hennessy Asym backpacking hammock, which in turn prompted me to purchase a Seaside Hammocks Double Jewel for my bedroom (which I have been sleeping in every night for about half a year now).  I ended up replacing the tarp on the Hennessy with a MadCat tarp, since the coverage on the stock one was pretty weak.  I find I dislike the fact that the bugnet can’t be removed and getting in and out of the hammock through the bottom slit is kind of a pain, which is only exacerbated when you use an underquilt.

So I ended up getting some new gear:

  • Golite Wizard ==> Marmot PreCip: Smaller, lighter, without the fuss.  I considered getting something like an eVent Packa, but I hear that doesn’t work well with the Aarn.  Plus I wanted something suitable for everyday wear as well.
  • ULA Circuit ==> Aarn Mountain Magic: “Weight is nothing more than the force gravity exerts on your body” — John Peterson, paraphrased.  The reason to lower weight is to have a more pleasurable time hiking, and this design gives you that and allows you to carry more weight for less exertion with greater comfort.  I’m not talking about going overboard, but at the end of the day oz for oz this is a better, more agile design.
  • Hennessy Hammock ==> Warbonnet Blackbird 1.0 double: Another recent untested purchase.  Has innovative footbox for a better lay, integrated hanging storage, unzippable noseeum mesh, and a double fabric design that allows you to put a CCF pad in between the two layers so you can’t slip off it at night (this design also allows you to add dry leaves as an ad-hoc form of insulation).
  • Vasque Sundowners ==> Innov-8 RocLite 312 GTX: Lighter trail runner with DWR.  The Sundowners are listed at 1531g, whereas the RocLites are 624.  Shoe weight is supposed to be 5x more important than pack weight, so this should save me the equivalent of 10 lbs pack weight (in terms of energy consumption).
  • Big Agnes synthetic ==> Big Agnes Zirkel SL down sleeping bag: better compressibility and features.
  • Wal-mart CCF ==> JRB Nest: Better performance, comfort, and packability.  I use it when at home on my bedroom hammock, as well.
  • Old Leki trekking poles ==> New Leki trekking poles: The wrist straps on my old poles were kind of a hassle.
  • Camelbak MULE ==> Osprey Talon 11: Daypack.  Nice hip-belt pockets, integrated trekking pole bindings, good overall design.

I’m looking forward to going on more more moderate weekend excursions this year, perhaps some slightly more extended (long weekend) trips.  Ideally I’d like to get together with other hammockers so we can stop where-ever rather than having to plan to make it to a shelter.

Another piece of pseudo-gear I’m interested in getting is the ScottVest Men’s Lightweight Vest.  I like my SEV Revolution for it’s integrated headphone cable routing system, but size large is honestly a little too big for me to wear by itself.  Last summer I ended up wearing it and kind of overheating due to wanting to have those headphones.  A lighter, smaller vest would be a great asset to me in warmer weather.  Plus it’d be easy to wear under another coat.  I’m waiting for a sale on this one, though.  If one doesn’t come by the time I’ll really want to use it, then I’ll end up picking it up at normal price.


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