2017 – Where Did Jan Jaunt?

Map Notes:

  • Links to blog posts can be found by clicking each pin. My summer/fall posts are current; sadly I haven’t completed most of my spring posts (with the exception of Idaho).
  • Use +/- buttons to zoom for more details, or click on bracket in top right corner to open in full screen mode. The window looking icon in top left corner shows the list of hikes.
  • Map Legend:
    • Orange is Winter/Spring 2017 trip (78 days)
    • Purple is Summer/Fall 2017 trip (93 days)
    • Blue is other 2017 wanderings
  • This is my first time to use the map format in my annual review post. Please let me know what you think!

2017 Factoids:

  • 173 days spent OUTSIDE hiking, walking, snowshoeing, etc.
  • 51 nights spent in my tent
  • 85 nights spent sleeping in my car
  • 15,000 miles driven
  • 1,500-2,000 miles hiked
  • 20,000 blog visitors (WOW!)

Travel Summaries:

Miscellaneous 2017 Posts:

Popular Posts:

2018 Goals:

  • More time in Colorado, including possibly hiking the Colorado Trail
  • Late winter/early spring trip to include Southern California, Southern Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and possibly Texas.
  • Time in Glacier National Park is still high on my list
  • More J&J adventures
  • More PCT and CDT adventures
  • Possibly fall in the Sierra; maybe early summer on the Tahoe Rim Trail if this continues as a low snow year.
  • MORE time OUTSIDE, MORE HIKING, MORE BACKPACKING, less driving!!!!

Backpacking Gear Choices:

Clothing Choices:

Specialty Gear:

Car Camping/Travel Gear:

Disclosure: Some items include Amazon Affiliate links where I might get a small financial kickback if you buy through the link.

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Backpacking Gear List – First Aid / Emergency Preparedness Jabber

My BASE WEIGHT is about 14 pounds, with my EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS gear representing 5% of the weight at .7 pounds.

Click on graph for a better quality image and to activate the product hyperlinks. Right click on each hyperlink to open in new tab or window.Blog - firstaid1

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Emergency Preparedness is my Insurance Plan. I pay insurance premiums and hope to never need the coverage. I carry the weight of my kit and hope to never need the supplies.

My objective is being self-sufficient for a few days in the wilderness should a first-aid or emergency situation arise. Pushing the SOS button on my InReach will not be for lack of preparedness, nor should it be for you.

This incident happened while snow hiking. The first photo is 4-6 hours after the incident. Sutures were an option but I elected to use steri-strips instead. I initially elevated, applied pressure with a bandanna, added snow to the bandanna, and hiked on with hand elevated. Had this happened on the second or third day of a five day backpack trip, I would have been prepared. Would you?

Customization:

There is no single perfect kit. Everyone is different. Create one that works for you!

  • What level of risk are you willing to take?
  • Do you have any medical conditions? allergies?
  • How well do you tolerate pain or discomfort?
  • Are you more susceptible to hypothermia or dehydration?
  • Will you be in wet or cold conditions? or scrambling off trail?
  • Will you be hiking with others? will you share?

My kit has evolved with time and experience. It’s an area I constantly evaluate as it’s easy to add an item after an incident and never need it again or find you have duplication. Even after I created this list I realized I’d added Gorilla Glue when I was having shoe problems the Superglue wasn’t fixing. No need for that duplication now that my shoe issues have been resolved. I found the mini flashlight weighs less than headlamp batteries, but most likely I’ll be ditching it in favor of my phone flashlight given I carry both an external battery and solar charger.

These are pint-sized freezer bags

Additional Considerations:

  • Emergency List (add to your hiker wallet)
    • Your personal info
    • Emergency contacts
    • Medical insurance info
    • Allergies
    • Medications, herbs and supplements taken
    • Medical and surgical history
    • Vaccination history (especially tetanus & hepatitis)
    • Physician name and contact info
  • First Aid App (add to your phone)
  • Education & Training (i.e. Wilderness First Aid, Navigation, Snow Safety, 10 Essentials).  Nothing in your kit is as valuable as knowledge and experience!
  • Emergency Device (i.e. SPOT, InReach or Beacon)
  • Multitool (scissors, knife, tweezers)
  • Paper Maps (electronics will fail, get broken or lost)

Tips:

  • Pill packets – For rarely used medications such as antibiotics, include tiny printed instructions of what color pill for what purpose, frequency of use, date of expiration and any risks such as sun exposure.
  • Resupply packages – The items I’m most likely to use I send to myself. If I don’t need them I’m happy to donate to a hiker box.
  • Single useMinumus.biz and Amazon are both great places to find single use packages of first aid supplies such as triple antibiotic ointment and alcohol pads.
  • Inhaler – Instead of bringing the housing just bring the canister. Protect the nozzle with a chapstick cap.
  • Giardia Treatment Meds – I’ve been told by several doctors it’s best to be diagnosed before self treating since many diseases and illness match giardia symptoms. They recommended I carry an anti-diarrhea medication and get to town.
  • LeukoTape Prep – The tape comes in large heavy rolls. It doesn’t seem to work as well as duck tape to roll onto itself. I’ve found using the backing of labels or postage strips works well as does unwaxed parchment paper.
  • Emergency List – I had an incident where I went into shock. The emergency personnel kept asking questions such as my address and allergies but I couldn’t remember. I had a friend knocked off his bike by a car, he was unconscious. It’s much easier to have the list. Treatment will be expedited.
  • Emergency ID – Another opportunity is Road ID. You can get a bracelet or dog tag and either register your medical info online or include emergency contact info.
  • Phone ICE Contacts – Emergency personnel are trained to look in our phones for our ICE (in case of emergency) contacts. They are usually accessible without security access.

Lightening My Load

YES, I know there are ways I can lighten my base weight. In fact in this area I could lose significant weight. I know which items I carry items others would choose to forego. My kit works for me. It’s custom, it’s mine, so for now I’ll carry the weight.

Links

Grams = Ounces, Ounces = Pounds, Pounds = Pain

Choose your pain wisely!

 

Backpacking Gear List – Sleep System Jabber

My BASE WEIGHT is about 14 pounds, with my SLEEP SYSTEM representing 16% of the weight at a little over 2 pounds.

Click on graph for a better quality image and to activate the product hyperlinks. Right click on each hyperlink to open in new tab or window.

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Sleep System

This is probably the most important decision you will make. Finding yourself cold miles from a trailhead makes not only for a long, miserably night, but can also be life threatening. Of course, like any important decision, this one is complicated and includes many considerations.

Sleeping Bag Decisions

(1) Insulation:

DownType of down, fill weight,  baffle construction and fabric choice will affect price, temperature rating, weight and compressibility.

Water Repellent Down – Many bag manufacturers now offer this as an option, the downside is that as compared to down it is a bit heavier and has reduced breathability.

Synthetic – On the positive side, as compared to down, synthetic bags are usually less expensive and insulate better if damp; the negatives are breathability, compressibility and weight.  Tip: Based on my experience, if you prefer natural fibers and wear primarily cotton or wool, and sleep with a down comforter or cotton/silk/wool blankets at home, you won’t like a synthetic bag. I bought one, trialed it one night, found myself sweaty, and immediately exchanged it for a down bag. The cost savings wasn’t worth it.

(2) Temperature Rating:

Historically bags have been rated based on outside temperature (i.e. 25-degree bag), but since there was never a uniform method established to measure bag to temperature, this was an unreliable sales tool and a bit like comparing apples and oranges. We are starting to see labels using the European Norm (EN) 13537 testing protocol which divides temperature into upper limit, comfort, lower limit and extreme, with the comfort rating most applicable to women who usually require an extra 10 degrees of warmth. Tip: Unless you are going to have multiple bags for different conditions, I recommend a 0-20 degree bag. It’s easy to use as a quilt or go without in warmer temperatures. If you are using down, it’s important to fluff your bag well and redistribute feathers before going to bed to maximize thermal benefits. Proper storage and cleaning of down bags is also keep to maintaining loft.

(3) Shape and Dimensions:

While the most common shape may be mummy, other choices include rectangular, female-specific, hooded, wide, tall, short . . .

I’m a bit claustrophobic so when I found a wide-width, female-specific, hooded bag I thought I struck gold. The integrated pad sleeve was a bonus, or so I thought. Lessons learned: (1) the pad sleeve prevents side sleepers from being able to snuggle into their bags and positions the hood at an awkward angle; and (2) wide bags for smaller people create lots of dead space impossible to keep warm.

I was concerned initially when I switched to a mummy bag without a hood. Although I’d prefer it a tiny bit wider so I could sleep in fetal position, I’ve adapted and sleep much warmer than in my previous bag. ZPacks bag length is intended to reach your chin; they recommend increasing by a size if you want to cover head. However, it’s best not to breathe into bag as it will increase condensation. A better option is using your down puffy to regulate head/face temperature. I bought up one size so I have room to shelter my shoulders and neck.

(4) Weight and Packed Size:

Your budget will most likely affect this choice and one of the reasons you should select your pack last. Sleeping bags can take up a lot of room. Tip: Except in inclement weather, I don’t pack my bag in a compression sack, electing instead to use it to fill space around my other packed items.

Additional Resources:

REI blog on bag selection (excellent very detailed article)

Options to a Sleeping Bag:

Don’t feel married to using a sleeping bag. There are several other choices to be considered.

Quilt – These have become more popular the past few years (be aware of drafts)

Fleece Liner – For those camping in warmer climates this could be an option

Blanket – This is a great option for those on a budget

Space Blanket – Don’t laugh, I’ve heard it works

Accessories:

Pillow – Most use clothes in a stuff sack as their pillow, but lightweight inflatable pillows are now a very viable option. Tip: under inflate for improved comfort.

Liner – If you need a little extra warmth, you might consider a silk or fleece bag liner.

Sleeping Pad Decisions

The sleeping pad industry has been busy coming up with lighter, more compact, and more comfortable pads. There is nothing like a bad night’s sleep to ruin your trip. Previously I always experienced hip pain, as I’m a side sleeper, but when I found the right pad, it became a thing of the past.

(1) Type of Pad:

Closed-Cell Foam – These are a solid foam type mattress. What you see is what you get! Definitely more durable and since not inflatable, no worries about leaks. Very popular with long-distance hikers. The least expensive option.

I’m currently using the Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight Pad in conjunction with an air chamber type pad.

Open-Cell Foam – This is probably the most popular type of mattress. They usually self-inflate.

Air Chamber – These will remind you of pool blow-up mattresses. The benefit is they are light and pack very small. They are the most expensive option. Tip: underinflate to improve comfort.

While I’d prefer to use the very popular Thermarest NeoAir XLite, I can’t tolerate it’s surface noise (think potato chip bag). Thus my compromise pad is the Gossamer Gear Air Beam Sleeper mattress.

(2) Size:

Length – To save weight and space, some campers will use a torso length pad. The trade-off is contact with cold hard ground. Pads also come in regular, petite, tall and wide. Dimensions of those sizes vary by manufacturer. Tip: you can elevate feet on pack to lengthen your “pad”

Width – You’ll want to take note of the manufacturer specs. My regular size is quite narrow thus requiring me to be mindful as I switch positions.

Height – Varies considerably from about 1/2″ to 4″. Your level of comfort may be affected by the thickness of pad, but not necessarily.

(3) Temperature Rating:

This is probably the most important decision second to comfort. Look for an R-Value rating (0-6). The higher the R Value, the warmer the pad will be. Temperature transfers directly from the ground through the pad. Technology has improved the weight and size of the higher R-Value mattresses. Good resource: Section Hiker’s Blog

The Air Beam Sleeper mattress I’m using has no R-Value, thus I use the ThinLight pad on top of it when warmth is needed. To my knowledge this pad has not been rated, but it doesn’t seem to transfer cool temperatures.

(4) Weight and Packed Size:

As with your everything else, your budget will affect these variables. Pads can take up considerable space in your pack, another good reason to purchase your pack last.

Additional Resources:

REI blog on mattress selection (excellent very detailed article)

Other Decisions

Having the right bag and pad will help keep you warm and comfortable, but there are other factors which will affect a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Clothes – Having warm dry clothes to sleep in will not only help keep your sleeping bag clean but will eliminate chill from perspiration absorbed into your hiking clothes during the day. I’ve heard slightly loose-fitting clothes keep you warmer than tight fitting, of course I’ve also heard naked is the warmest.

Layering Options – Items such as hat, gloves, buff and jacket will help regulate your temperature

Shelter – Drafty shelters require more warming options (Tip: use your umbrella to shield wind, use a solar blanket on the floor)

Experience – Learning to sleep warm is a skill. The lessons I’ve learned include:

(1) Don’t go to bed cold (run around camp, do jumping jacks or sit ups, eat something fatty such as nuts, drink something hot, etc)

(2) Don’t wait to pee (if you wake up with a full bladder, you’ll make yourself colder trying to make it go away, to say nothing about ruining your sleep)

(3) When it’s really cold, fill your water container with boiling water and place in your bag

(4) If your feet are cold, place the foot of your bag in your backpack.

(4) Campsite selection can make a huge difference (shelter in the trees, away from water, avoiding low spots and ridges)

Lightening My Load

YES, I know there are ways I can lighten my base weight. But in my sleep system department, I’m about as low as I can go except for eliminating my pillow at 1.5 ounces.

Links

Grams = Ounces, Ounces = Pounds, Pounds = Pain

Choose your pain wisely!

Backpacking Gear List – Hydration Jabber

My BASE WEIGHT is about 14 pounds, with my HYDRATION gear representing 5% of the weight at .7 pounds.

Click on graph for a better quality image and to activate the product hyperlinks. Right click on each hyperlink to open in new tab or window.

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Water is one of those necessary evils of backpacking. We can’t hike without it, but dang it weights a lot. In fact one liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds, a serious addition to your pack weight. If only dehydrated water was an option 🙂

There are two primary considerations when it comes to hydration: Vessel & Treatment

Vessel:

There are four primary categories of vessels in which to transport your liquids. Many hikers will carry more than one type. You’ll need to consider capacity and function when making this decision.

  • Hydration Bladder – Very popular, but they come with some challenges.
    • Placement in pack – Most packs include a compartment along your spine for this purpose. The challenge is knowing when the bladder needs to be refilled and how to refill without unpacking your bag (reference Sawyer Fast Fill Adapter). Tip: When I carried a bladder, I placed it on top of my pack liner with my down jacket covering it to keep it cool, and opening/hose insert face down for improved flow. 
    • Potential Leaks – Plan for the inevitable by placing all your gear in a pack liner except the bladder.
  • Bottles – Nalgene bottles are probably the most popular, followed closely by Gatorade and SmartWater bottles.

I typically carry a 700ml SmartWater bottle. I use it for my flavored beverages and for gulping or glugging water (otherwise I drink from a hose).

  • Collapsible Bags – These have become extremely popular over the past few years as a lighter more compact way to store water and are especially helpful when additional vessels are needed for long dry stretches.

I’ve tried several brands and found I prefer Evernew. The 1500ml (or 1.5L) capacity works best for me as I use the bag in conjunction with the Sawyer Squeeze filter and have a harder time squeezing larger bags.

Water Treatment:

There are five primary categories of water treatment. With plenty of opinions and choices, your choice may be somewhat dependent upon your water source and somewhat upon your concerns about water-borne illnesses such as Giardia, E. coli  and Cryptosporidium.

  • Filter – The most popular types of filtered treatment are pump and hollow-fiber membrane. You will want to compare the specs on filters to ensure you are receiving the protection expected. In my opinion, Sawyer is at the forefront and in my opinion their specs should be used as a measurement standard.
    • Pump Filters – This method was the first in modern treatment. It is labor intensive, but one of the benefits is that it can be used in very small pools of water, where filling containers for other treatment may be a problem. While pumps tend to need more cleaning and maintenance than other options, the positive is that they can be taken apart easily for infield repair and maintenance. They are also heavier and more bulky than the other options.
    • Hollow-Fill Membrane Filters – This type of filter has become very popular over the past few years, primarily because of weight, size, reliability, flexibility and ease of use. Initially the cost was about the same as pumps, but cost is continuing to decrease. In fact, the Sawyer Mini is a mere 2 oz, 0.1 micron filter that fits in the palm for your hand, with a 100,000 gallon guarantee,  for less than $25. The flexibility of hollow-fiber technology is that these filters can be used several ways:
      • Squeeze Method – Sawyer invented this technology and it has revolutionized filtering. A “dirty bag” is filled with water from the source, then connected to the filter and squeezed into your clean vessel. You can use the Sawyer PointOne or Mini for this purpose. I’ve tried both Sawyer filters and found I prefer the efficiency of the PointOne, even though it’s slightly larger and more weighty.
      • Gravity Method – I believe MSR or Platypus were the first to create this method. A “dirty bag” is filled with  water from the source. The dirty bag is hung from a tree or elevated on a rock or log, the filter is attached between two sections of hose and your clean vessel is quickly filled with no effort on your behalf. You can also use the Sawyer filters as a gravity option (tip: loosen the connection coming out of the bag to stop the flow).
        • In-Line Method – With this method, your hydration reservoir becomes the “dirty bag.” It is filled with water from the dirty source, the filter is spliced in your drinking hose. I use this method as I find it a very efficient way to filter on demand. The flow through the hose may not be quite as efficient as without the filter. Most filter manufacturers sell an adapter kit, if not, it is fairly simple to create your own, and with the new Sawyer Mini, an adapter is no longer needed. I use the in-line method as I don’t like to take time to filter. I’d rather filter on the go.
  • Chemical – Many hikers choose this method due to cost, weight and simplicity; however, there are trade-offs. If you are interested in this option, I encourage you to do some research, especially regarding time to treat, process to treat, and what waterborne illnesses you may not be treating. The main categories of chemical treatment are:
  • Ultraviolet – SteriPen is the only brand I’m aware of offering an ultraviolet solution. There are several models and just like chemical treatment, there are similar issues to be researched.
  • Boiling – This is really not an option for backpackers unless you plan to always have a campfire. The amount of fuel required to boil water for sufficient time offsets the benefits of not carrying a filter. CDC Guidelines
  • No Treatment –  There are plenty of hikers who have not gotten sick from drinking untreated water.  Decide for yourself if the risk is worth it.

Other Considerations:

  • Scoop – sometime it’s challenging to fill your vessel directly from the water source. I’ve created three light-weight scoops that all worked.
    • Capri Sun flask (top cut off)
    • SmartWater bottle (top 3/4 removed)
    • Platypus .5L bottle (bottom cut off)
  • Pre Filter – There will be times you’ll want to remove debris prior to filtering. I’ve used the following systems:
  • Field Cleaning of Filter – Sawyer provides a syringe to backflush the PointOne and Mini filters. A more efficient option is to use the blue fliptop from a SmartWater bottle.  Tip: Remember to use clean water in a clean vessel. Be aware of pressure applied).
  • Inline Option – I’ve created a system using the collapsible bottles. See below.
    • Flexible Silicone Tubing – When making your own drinking tube (1/4″ inside dimension ID, 3/8″ outside dimension OD, 1/16″ wall)
    • Insulated Hose Cover –  helps keep water cool when hiking in hot temperatures and from freezing in cold temperatures
    • Bite Valve – it’s a good idea to keep an extra in your emergency kit
    • Sawyer Adapter – attaches to both sides of the PointOne Filter. If using the Mini, no adapter is needed.
    • Jan’s Adapter – Drill a hole in the middle of a soda bottle lid. Insert a 1/4″ dual barbed connector with superglue.

Lightening My Load

YES, I know there are ways I can lighten my base weight. I could forego treatment, or replace my filter with Aquamira, and eliminate my scoop and inline accessories, but I like these items so for now I’ll carry the weight.

Links

Grams = Ounces, Ounces = Pounds, Pounds = Pain

Choose your pain wisely!

Backpacking Gear List – Electronics Jabber

My BASE WEIGHT is about 14 pounds, with my ELECTRONICS representing 20% of the weight at 2.8 pounds.

Click on graph for a better quality image and to activate the product hyperlinks. Right click on each hyperlink to open in new tab or window.

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Electronics are probably one of the most controversial gear-related topics. You’ll find lovers, haters and a full spectrum in between.

With these devices representing a whopping 2-3 pounds of my base weight, I’ve obviously decided they are an important part of my backpacking and hiking gear. Without these devices, I would be less likely to explore, especially solo, as I do not have a good internal compass and am not as proficient as I should be with map and compass navigation.

Phone

This is my all-purpose utility device. I keep it on airplane mode and use it for:

  • GPS
    • Halfmile and Guthook Apps (I use when hiking on the PCT)
    • Trimble Outdoor Navigator App (I use for navigation and tracking)
  • Resources
    • Maps (saved as PDF or as off-line document)
    • Information & Guidebooks (scanned, photographed or saved to Pocket App)
    • Fun/helpful apps (compass, identification of scat and tracks, wildflowers, constellations, peaks)
  • Entertainment
    • Music
    • Audio and E-Books
    • Camera
  • Connections
    • Instagram/Facebook Updates
    • Texting/Phone

Tips: Go prepared for phone failure. Mine has malfunctioned, I’ve broken the screen, and one time I even lost (and found) my phone on trail. Know how your apps work and practice, practice, practice. Learn the best way to conserve battery life. 

Camera

Photography plays a huge role in my hike (as evidenced by my blog). It is not unusual for me to take a few hundred photos per day. Not only do I prefer the quality of photos taken on my camera, the battery life and storage capacity is much better on my camera versus my phone. When selecting a camera, besides functionality, the other things I consider are:

  • Battery – I prefer the lithium-ion battery packs as they can be recharged in the camera (vs AA or AAA)
  • Recharge Port – Since I have an android phone, I’m able to bring just one USB/micro cord to charge all my devices

Tips:

  • The GGS DC LCD Screen Protector is a great solution for preventing scratches on non-touch screens. These are not like the cheap protectors. They are a harder plastic that doesn’t scratch, tear, peel, and is easy to clean without any degradation in visual quality. I’ve used them on my last 3 cameras and never allow myself to use my camera until one has been installed.
  • Consider WiFi memory cards (i.e. ezSh@re) if you want the convenience of transferring photos from your camera to phone for upload to your blog, instagram or facebook (without internet access).
  • If your photos are as important to you as they are to me, you may want to bring along a second battery (in case the primary battery fails), and a second memory card (in case your primary memory card fills or fails). I call this insurance!

Emergency Device

There are basically two types of devices.

  • Personal Locator Beacons (PLB)
  • Satellite Messengers (i.e. SPOT and InReach)

I purchased the InReach SE in summer 2014. I can’t say enough good things about this device. It has given me freedom and security. What do I like about this device?

  • I can send out customized “I’m okay” messages via email, texting and to my map
  • All my messages have my location embedded
  • I know whether the message was sent or not
  • My family and friend network can text me and I can reply (and visa versa)
  • I can use it for non-emergencies (i.e. coordinating transportation or to say I’m going to be late)
  • When SOS is activated, dispatch can text me for more information (i.e. type of emergency) and I can reply
  • The plan cost is reasonable and flexible (InReach Subscription Plans)
  • The battery is extremely long lasting when the device is turned off when not in use
  • It has a micro plug for recharging which allows me to carry one USB/micro cord for all my devices
  • You can receive weather reports based on current location
  • Although I don’t use this feature, it connects via bluetooth to my phone for easier texting and use of DeLorme maps

Tip: If you want to carry a standalone GPS you might want to consider the InReach Explorer which combines GPS and SOS devices.

GPS

Standalone GPS units tend to have many more features than phone apps, but can also be more complicated to use. The two most popular brands for outdoor activities are DeLorme and Garmin. There are lots of reviews and options; I don’t love mine so can’t share any recommendations.  Carrying a unit you don’t know how to use or a dead one, is just worthless weight. On the other hand, they can be lifesaving, very helpful on finding trails, staying on trails, going cross country off-trail, etc.

Entertainment

While I use my phone for my music, audio and e-books, you may prefer an electronic reader and music player. Just like everything else in backpacking it’s a personal decision.

Recharge Solutions

There are three options:

  • Device Batteries – You could bring extra batteries for each device
  • External Battery – This is the most common solution and there is a huge variety to choose from based on size, weight, capacity and price. The two most popular brands are New Trent and Anker.
  • Solar Panel – While these are not a perfect solution, they can be a good option. I’ve been using the Suntactics5 model since 2013 with satisfactory results. Considerations:
    • Works best if exposed to the direct sun (i.e. breaks)
    • When attached to pack, the device being charged needs to accept trickle charge otherwise you’ll lose the benefit as the device turns on and off when traveling under tree cover or through shaded areas. Most external batteries accept trickle charge.
    • If hiking in shaded areas (i.e. canyons) or in cloudy areas, it’s probably not worth the weight.
    • I drilled holes in the four corners and inserted Nite Ize S-Biners to attach to my pack.

Additional Tips

  • Carrying electronics on hiking or backpacking trips most likely will result in accidental damage to your device. I consider myself careful and I take extra precautions to protect my devices, but yet I’ve still had more than my share of electronic accidents. I dropped my camera in a creek, cracked the screen of my camera when I sat on it, scratched the screen of my phone on granite, scratched my camera lens . . . . So now I buy SquareTrade Electronics Accident Protection Plan for my phones, cameras, GPS units, etc.
  • Go prepared to protect your electronics in inclement weather, during freezing temperatures, in extreme heat, down scree fields, through water crossings, etc.
  • The weight and purpose need to be considered when packing electronics. If not careful, soon your devices plus batteries will add pounds to your pack.

Lightening My Load

YES, I know there are ways I can lighten my base weight. I could eliminate either the external battery or the solar charger which would save 9 ounces. I could also eliminate my camera which would save another 10 ounces. BUT I love having my camera and want the insurance of having both my solar panel and external battery, so for now I’ll carry the weight.

Links

Grams = Ounces, Ounces = Pounds, Pounds = Pain

Choose your pain wisely!

Backpacking Gear List – Shelter Jabber

My BASE WEIGHT is about 14 pounds, with my SHELTER representing 17% of the weight at 2.5 pounds.

Click on graph for a better quality image and to activate the product hyperlinks. Right click on each hyperlink to open in new tab or window.

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To shelter or not?

If you prefer “Cowboy Camping” or sleeping under the stars,  you can enjoy a few less pounds of weight in your bag and a lot fewer decisions, that is unless a thunderstorm comes along . . .

Types of shelter:

  • Tent
  • Tarp
  • Hammock
  • Bivy

Tent decisions:

(1) RATING:  3-season tents are most common, with 4-season reserved for those doing winter camping. You definitely want waterproof vs water resistant.

(2) SIZE:   Interior dimensions are usually a much better indicator of size than the generic “one or two person” label. I recommend you pay special attention to floor or footprint dimensions, as well as height dimensions, especially if you are tall, large or claustrophobic. Tip: Tape out the dimensions on your floor then lay down with your mattress and gear to get a better idea of size.

(3) SET UP:  I prefer free-standing tents as they can be set up anywhere, can be relocated easily, and are usually quicker and easier to set up than stake-dependent shelters, which tend to weigh less and pack smaller but can be problematic in rocky and hard soil areas.  Tip: If you’ll be hiking in inclement weather, consider tents that allow for dry set-up.

(4) ENTRY:  Side or front entry is really a personal preference. For me this is one of those “line in the sand” decisions. It’s side entry or nothing!  The reason for this preference is ease of getting in and out of the tent. Front entry requires crawling, while side entry allows for swinging your legs out of your sleeping bag and into your shoes, as well as plopping your fanny on the bag (and pad) upon return to remove your shoes, and with a quick swing of the legs your back in your bag. A wonderful luxury especially for those middle-of-the-night escapades.

(5) CONSTRUCTION:  My preference is double-wall (aka rain fly) construction; however, the weight and packed size of single-wall construction make it a more difficult decision. The negatives of single wall can be condensation problems, resolved primarily by lots ventilation which can result in drafts, chillier sleeping, plenty of dust or sand during storms, and needing to avoid the sides of single-wall silnylon tents to avoid water penetration. Single-wall tents are usually only sold by cottage manufacturers. Tip: Look for taller bathtub walls to minimize drafts and rain splash.

(6) WEIGHT & PACKED SIZE: Several factors affect weight, most significant are size, fabric, construction and frame. Packed size is based on similar parameters. The most common waterproof, lightweight fabric today is silnylon (silicone coated nylon). Cuban fiber is lighter, but is also significantly more expensive. Denier nylon, taffeta and polyester are the mainstay of medium weight backpacking tents. Single-wall silnylon will have sealed seams (many times done by user), while cuban fiber and double wall have taped seams.

(7) STORM PERFORMANCE:  I can’t emphasize enough my recommendation to read reviews about the performance during a storm. Wind, rain, hail, thunder and lightening WILL happen in the mountains. Go prepared!

Ground Cloth Decisions:

(1) You can save weight and space by going without one. Most tents have fairly tough floors, but you’ll need to be more careful about site selection.

(2) Most big name manufacturers will sell matching footprints. These tend to be expensive, and weigh a bit more than other options but they may allow for a dry-tent setup and/or an option to forgo the tent body and use the fly and footprint for shelter.

(3) Tyvek is an extremely durable choice and many times can be picked up for free from a construction site, can be purchased at your local home improvement store, and from many of the ultra-light tent manufacturers. Tip: To soften the Tyvek, wash and dry in your home washer and dryer.

(4) Polycro is the lightest, most compact option and it’s surprisingly durable. It’s also quite inexpensive.

MY tent experiences:

My first backpacking tent was bombproof, but at 5lbs it was not a feasible long-term solution. I replaced it with a Tarptent Rainbow. The reasons I selected this tent were weight, size, and it’s free-standing option. I used this tent for about five years but never grew to love it. The drafty ventilation at shoulder height was my biggest complaint. I also wasted time futzing with the guy lines trying to get perfect corners. I don’t think it’s a good option for perfectionists.

MY wish list for a PERFECT tent:

  1.   Side entry, both sides
  2.   Double wall construction
  3.   Freestanding design
  4.  Tall bathtub sidewalls, all sides
  5.   360 mesh top two-thirds of tent
  6.   Less than 2 pounds
  7.   Compact packed size
  8.   Reasonable price

The Copper Spur UL1 is MY compromise tent:

  1.   Side entry, both sides
    • NO, but it has one side, good enough for me!
  2.   Double wall construction
    • YES, it’s cozy and secure
  3.   Freestanding design
    • YES, I love being able to move the tent after it’s been erected
  4.  Tall bathtub sidewalls, all sides
    • YES, I feel secure in rain and wind storms
  5.   360 mesh top two-thirds of tent
    • YES, am really loving the open-sky views and above-body ventilation
  6.   Less than 2 pounds
    • NO, but at 2.25 pounds (4 ounces more than my previous tent), I’m not too unhappy
  7.   Compact packed size
    • YES, but it could be better (the poles are bulky)
  8.   Reasonable price
    • NO, but it’s all about compromise

Other Compromises:

  • Size
    • It’s slightly smaller than my previous tent both in height and width
  • Color
    • I’d prefer a more stealth color
  • Rain Set Up
    • My previous tent was definitely easier to set up in the rain while keeping the inside dry

Customization

For me, most gear needs a bit of tweaking to make it mine. For example with the Tarptent Rainbow, I revised the top bar construction so the tent body could easily be wadded into my pack pocket. The changes I’ve made to the Big Agnes Copper Spur are:

  • Replaced zipper pulls
  • Replaced guy lines and tensioners
  • Replaced stakes

Lightening My Load

YES, I know there are ways I can lighten my base weight. Beyond replacing my tent, I could eliminate the ground cloth which would save 1.4 ounces. BUT I like having a separate ground cloth, so for now I’ll carry the weight.

Links

Grams = Ounces, Ounces = Pounds, Pounds = Pain

Choose your pain wisely!

Arizona Trail – Post Trip Report – Gear Gone Right, Gear Gone Wrong!

Overall, I was extremely happy with my gear choices used March 3-24, 2015 on Passages 1-17 hiked SOBO. I’ve noted my changes in pink below. Comments about my experience are in italics. Link to my original gear post for the Arizona Trail.

Pack:

  • Gossamer Gear Mariposa
    • The pack easily had capacity for 8+ liters of water.
    • My body was not without complaint about carrying 37 pounds (Gossamer Gear recommends a maximum of 35 pounds).
    • I was extremely happy when water became more plentiful and I could reduce my weight to something much more appropriate.
  • Gossamer Gear Pack Liner Bags x2
    • We had several days of rain and my liner bags kept the contents dry

Sleep System:

  • ZPacks 10-Degree Sleeping Bag
    • Our trip included elevations from 2,500′ to 9,000′
    • We had heavy frost and freezing temperatures several nights. 
    • On warmer nights, I self regulated by unzipping my bag or using it as a quilt
  • Gossamer Gear 1/8″ Thinlight Pad
    • On cold nights I used this on top of my Air Beam mattress; on warm nights underneath.
    • During breaks I sat on this pad; however, I quickly learned with all the stickery prickeries it was best to use my ground sheet as the base layer
    • This pad is also part of my pack, replacing the sitpad against my back.
  • Gossamer Gear Air Beam Mattress
    • The ground of the desert is rocky and hard. I’m a side sleeper and was completely comfortable on this pad.
    • I’ve used this pad for about a year and am still leak free, even after the stickery prickeries of this trip.
    • Tip: mattress will be more comfortable if you under inflate
    • Tip: use the Thinlight pad on top of the mattress for additional warm
    • Tip: use the Thinlight pad underneath the mattress for slippage on unlevel ground

Tent:

  • Tarptent Rainbow, Solo
    • I’ve had this tent for about five years and love the side-entry, ease of set up and most important roominess of this tent.
    • One of the reasons I bought this tent was the option to set it up without ground stakes (using hiking poles on the ends). With the hard ground and rocky surface, I used the hiking pole option every night on the Arizona Trail.
    • During the night of heavy rain, I noticed my tent was not shedding water like it use to. Henry Shires, owner of Tarptent, recommended that I reapply Atsko Silicone Water-Guard.
      • Instructions: Set up the tent and get it nice and taut. Wipe it thoroughly with a wet towel to remove dust/grime and let dry before proceeding. Then pour/spray on the solution and thoroughly wet the surface, about 1/4 panel at a time. Rub/wipe in well with a paper towel to evenly distribute the solution. Let dry for an hour or so until it’s at least no longer wet to the touch. Repeat process so that you have applied two coatings. That will really help restore repellency and ability to bead water which makes it much easier to shake and be pretty much dry.
  • Gossamer Gear Polycro Ground Cloth
    • This stuff is tough!!!
    • Joan and I both used this as our first layer when taking breaks. 
    • I also used under my tent.
    • I was surprised that even with all the stickery prickeries it hardly showed any wear after a lot of abuse on this trail.

Water & Filtration:

  • Platypus Platy Bottle 2-Litre x3
    • I had some thread incompatibility issues with the Sawyer Mini (Platypus updated their threads but I don’t know how to tell which ones have been updated).
    • I marked one “dirty” and one “clean” as we were obtaining water from both dirty sources and clean water caches and since I don’t prefilter my water in these containers, it was extremely important to prevent cross contamination especially since we had so much cow feces water.
    • I liked the Platy bottles better than my previous Sawyer bottles
    • I eliminated one of the containers once we could carry less water (i.e. Summerhaven to Mexico Border)
  • Smartwater Bottle, 700mL
    • This bottle always had clean or filtered water
    • This was my gulping water, used primarily at breaks
    • I preferred the 700mL over the 1 liter size
    • I used the blue cap for flushing my filter (vs the syringe) (see below for instructions)
  • Sawyer Mini Filter
    • I use the Sawyer Mini as an inline filter 90% of the time, squeezing only to fill my Smartwater Bottle and to hydrate food.
    • I pre-filtered the water before using my Mini 80% of the time (see below for options)
    • I was not pleased with the performance of this filter. It was slow and needed maintenance more frequently than Joan’s Sawyer Squeeze. It also seemed the washer was worn out and wouldn’t hold a seal with the platypus bladders even after flipping the washer over. I switched to the Mini last year and had performance issues even when filtering watering from “perfect” backcountry sources. I contacted Sawyer but did not receive a satisfactory explanation and was not offered worthwhile options.
    • I switched to my back-up Sawyer Mini about half way through the trip and my experience was exactly the same
    • I do not have a lot of strength in my hands which can affect the pressure with which I’m able to squeeze water through and/or flush the system
    • For flushing, I’ve switched to using the blue flip cap found on the 700mL Smartwater bottles. Mount it on a clean water bag, stick the drinking tip side of the filter into the blue cap and squeeze vigorously through the filter. Now you can eliminate carrying the syringe.
    • I’ll be replacing my Sawyer Mini with a Sawyer Squeeze
  • AquaMira Drops
    • I’d say I double treated my water about 50-60% of the time due to the cow infested and/or green slime sources.
    • I first used the drops and then the filter. 
  • Scoop & PreFilter (bottom 1/3rd of a 1 liter Smart Water bottle for scoop and a knee high nylon as the filter)
    • I used this combination at probably 80% of water sources
    • It worked great but was not as efficient as Joan’s solution, to which I’ll be switching.
      • Small water container with the bottom cut off (i.e. .5 liter Platypus)
      • Push/Pull type lid (some platypus containers come with them, many water bottles have them, also dishwashing soap, etc.)
      • SteriPen Replacement Cartridge (glued inside the ring of the scoop container with the push/pull lid of the cartridge pointed toward the cut end of the container)

Food:

Clothing:

  • For Sleeping: Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Tights, Smartwool NTS Long-Sleeve Shirt, Merino Socks, Buff
    • Wore every night
  • For Rotation: Smartwool Toe Socks x1, Smartwool Lightweight Socks x1, underwear x1
    • With water a luxury in many places, rotated every few days and only got to wash occasionally
    • Recommend baby diaper pins for hanging drying laundry from pack
  • For Layering: Polar Fleece Beanie, Smartwool Glove Liners, Visor, Buff
  • For Hiking:
    • Pants (Mountain Hardwear, style no longer available)
      • I like these because they have a gusseted crotch lined with a soft fabric, same soft fabric around waistband.
      • I turn the pants into crop length by rolling the legs when hot or when I’m cooling feet in a creek.
      • These were great as a defense against stickery prickeries.
    • Shirts
    • Sports Bra
      • Looking for a better option as this one stretched out after a couple of days
    • Underwear (Jockey seamless)
      • Looking forward to fitting back into my Patagonia ones
    • Socks (Smartwool Toe Socks layered with Smartwool Lightweight Socks)
      • No blisters, no complaints
    • Gaiters (Dirty Girl Gaiters)
      • Kept the debris out of my shoes
    • Shoes (Altra Lone Peak 2.0)
      • No blisters, no complaints
      • Tip: cut off the mud flap before wearing to prevent the sole from separating from the shoe
      • Tip: cut off the velcro cover if you are planning to wear Dirty Girls regularly
      • Tip: keep the laces loosely tied. I had started getting a tiny blood blister at the tip of my long toe so on my last day I tightened my laces considerably as we had a long steep downhill section. As a result I got a severe irritation along my upper arch. I’m not sure how I would have hiked the next day.

Electronics:

  • Camera (Sony Cybershot DSC RX-100) with ez Share WiFi Card
    • I’d planned to blog live using the WiFi card to transfer photos to my camera, but it was too time consuming, wasting batteries on both my camera and phone.
  • DeLorme InReach SE
    • I’m on the $12 per month basic plan which allows me to send 3 customized preset messages with unlimited frequencies to unlimited recipients, plus it posts these messages and track points on an internet map I can share with others. This plan includes 5 free on-the-fly messages, incoming or outcoming; additional messages at a very reasonable price. We used this option when arranging rendezvous times and points with Joan’s parents.
  • Phone (Motorola Droid Maxx)
    • Used the Trimble Outdoors app with the AZT track and way points for navigation
  • Suntactics 5 Solar Charger
    • This was extra weight I could have skipped as I primarily used the external battery; however, I consider it insurance.
    • With little tree cover and lots of sun, this trail is a perfect one for solar chargers
    • Tip: many electronics will not accept trickle charge thus wasting recharging efforts; it’s better to charge an external battery and then recharge your other electronics from that source. I’m still in search of a lightweight external option for this purpose.
  • New Trent External Battery
    • Heavy but reliable
  • USB Cable, Wall Charger & Ear Buds

Toiletries:

  • Lotion
    • I used Eucerin Original Healing 1oz container which seemed to have a nice balance of being sufficiently liquid and lubricating.
    • I replaced at every resupply.
    • I only use unscented product on and off trail.
  • Sunscreen
    • I used Dermatone with Z-cote 36SPF 1 oz container
    • I needed a LOT more than I’ve ever used and was happy for Amazon as I ordered more for my resupply boxes.
    • I’m happy to report this was a sunburn free trip
  • Foot care lubricant (Aquaphor)
    • I’m sure this saved me from blisters and other problems (thanks Joan)
    • I used this every morning and night before putting on my socks; I recommend during the day for problems.
    • Also good for hands, especially cuticles.
    • I used one vial every few days and replaced at every resupply.
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste & Floss
    • I make a tooth powder out of baking soda and sweetener
  • Stainless Steel Deodorant Bar
    • I can’t say how much I love this option
    • I don’t like underarm odor and this solves the problem
    • I wiped my pits and the bar with wet wipes (tip: both must be wet)
  • Medications & Vitamins
  • Eyeglass Cleaner (1/day)
  • Daily facial/body wipes, dried (1/day)
    • Would replace these with wet wipes in future areas with few water resources
  • Wet Anti-Bacterial Wipes (1-2/day)
    • Essential in the desert when lack of water is a reality
    • Really important to keep feet clean
    • Also need to get the grime and sweat off to prevent abrasions (i.e. from pack rub)
  • Poo Bag (Trowel, Bidet Bottle, Dr. Bonner soap, disposable glove & dried wipe x1/day)
    • I’m going to trial replacing the glove with a doggie poo bag and/or reusing a food baggie

Emergency Preparedness:

  • First Aid Kit (including Leukotape, gauze, needle, tweezers, etc)
    • Joan used the Leukotape for blister care (she was having to wear compromise shoes)
    • The tweezers for cactus spine and bee stinger removal incidents
    • The needle was used for releasing an impedded cactus spine
    • Tip: Transfer Leukotape onto unwaxed parchment paper or tape backing paper (i.e. postage tape); it’s not like duck tape that can be rolled onto itself.
  • Medications (including Benadryl, antibiotics for bacterial infections, etc.)
    • Benadryl was used for bee sting and heat rash
    • Neosporin was used for cactus spine incidents and a knife cut 
    • Ibuprofen was needed in much larger quantities than I’d planned due to the water weight caused aches and pains
  • Comb
    • An absolute necessity for jumping cholla removal
    • We used it several times. One day I had four cholla attacks!
  • Mosquito Repellent & Net 
    • Our timing was such we experienced NO bugs
  • Emergency Blanket  
    • Decided to save the weight and space
  • Rain Skirt (trash bag)
    • Never used but good insurance
    • May replace with zPacks rain pants
  • Mini Bic Lighter & Fire Starter
    • We never made any fires, but it’s always good to have these in case of hypothermia or other injury.
  • Maps, Compass, with Data Book, Water Report and Profile info printed on the back of each applicable map page
    • The data pages I’d put together were invaluable. We used them to plan our daily mileage, water carries, food resupplies, camp locations, etc.

Other:

  • Chrome Dome Umbrella
    • With the intense direct sun, a life saver in my opinion. I got near heat exhaustion a couple of times when I couldn’t use the umbrella.
    • Had used Joan’s method of attaching to my pack last year, but it was in the rain for a short period and it was not working with my fully loaded pack.
    • Spent the day we slack-packed devising a new hands-free solution, but once again with a fully loaded pack it was a failure.
    • Dru had devised her own solution which worked for me! She added a carabiner to a loop near the top of her shoulder strap. The shaft of the umbrella can be popped into the carabiner, then the bottom of the shaft can be wrapped around the sternum strap before it’s snapped in place. I have a 1″ piece of plumbing foam inserted on the shaft which I place near my collarbone.
  • Petzl Zipka Plus Headlamp
    • Didn’t know that AAA batteries were available as Lithiums. Highly recommend!
  • Leatherman Multi-Tool
    • Used the knife, scissors and tweezers
  • Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
    • I’ve used these as my 3rd and 4th legs for the past 5 years. They are a bit heavier than some, but I prefer cork handles and I need the adjustability for my tent.

Disclaimer: as a Gossamer Gear Ambassador, I was given the Mariposa pack (and would not use if it wasn’t my preference). I purchased all other gear.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please give me a shout. Use either the comment section or send me an email at jansjaunts-wordpress@yahoo.com.

Tips and Resources: