Author Topic: My backpacking Gear review  (Read 7321 times)

Offline ladieu

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My backpacking Gear review
« on: March 01, 2010, 10:45:43 PM »
I'm a fan of backpacking...

The mark of the backpacking newbie (including myself) is trying to bring everything under the sun backpacking. What everyone learns after they suffer through an agonizing weekend carrying a bunch of crap they didn't use or need is that when it comes to packing your pack.. LESS is more.

Aim for 15 pounds for your basic "over-nighter" which would include your food. Most beginners I have known show up with 30+ pound packs for one night in the woods and enough food to last a week.

The big question mark will always be water availability. I plan my trips around water sources. If the sources are seasonal then call the park office and ask about availability. If there is plentiful water then you don't need to carry it. This is a huge difference in weight!

Pack recommendation:
The backpack I recommend is the Jansport whittaker. I have a much more expensive pack and when I was on Rainer I saw tons of people with this pack.  I talked to my guide and he said it is his favorite pack... the good news is you can almost always find it new for around $100 which is a great deal.  My brother got this pack and loves it. I have tried it on and find the quality to be astounding for the price.   My wife and I have Gregory packs and they are outstanding, but pricey.


* Katadyn Filter Bottle  - A convenient option when you are 100% certain you will be near water.  Now that I am a TSP fan I suppose I would recommend the lifesaver water bottle

* Katadyn Hiker Pro - Awesome bullet proof water filter!  I never use my water bottle style filter anymore. I use this and it rocks. I have drank some straight up scary water through this and it always tastes amazing and works flawlessly.

* MSR Sweetwater Purifier - this one broke on me in the field. I loved it at first because it is faster than the katadyn, alas the durability seems to have suffered in favor of speed.

* Steri-pen UV water purification - I don't find this to be very useful for backpacking. It's heavy compared to my filter. The batteries died on day 2 of a 2 day trip after only using it a handful of times. I think it is a decent option if you have a means to recharge batteries to purify tap water while traveling. For the backpacker the weight alone makes this a no go. This is the one I have

* chemicals
 - iodine... works fine, leaves a nasty tasting beverage for you to enjoy. I mix it with some crystal light. I have used Potable Aqua

 - katadyn micropur - words good, however too slow for the backpacker... 12 hours to purify

* there are other chemicals that have less of an after taste and work fast, but I don't know the specific brands. I only use my iodine as a backup in case my filter has a problem so the taste isn't an issue for me.

Sleeping pads-

I have recommended these pads to so many people. They are 100% better than any other pad I have used. I have self inflating, foam, etc. They are all totally horrible compared to this.  They are expensive as great gear normally is. You won't be sorry if you use this pad. Such a luxury to have that much air under you when backpacking.

* Tent - light and small. Don't get some crap at walmart. A friend recently bragged that he got his tent for $30 at walmart. Just so happened to rain that night and another friend whom took my advice remained bone dry while his $30 crappy tent leaked all over him.  "You get what you pay for"  

I backpacked for years with just a simple high quality tarp and some parachute chord.  You can certainly do that and it works great.  

I now prefer a tent though as I get a bit older even though it ads a bit of weight... I got this one and it was less than $100   Light enough for my solo trips but roomy enough for the wife when she comes.  Eureka is sold at dicks and I find it a high quality product but you won't pay an arm and a leg like you would for black diamond or something similar. The best part about this tent is it is SO easy to setup. No fly to mess with. Just 2 poles. Snake the poles through and your done.   Nobody sets up camp faster than me and people are always like "damn you set that up fast"
Con: can be a stuffy tent in the summer heat due to integrated fly. My old Eureka tent (which i lent to a friend who lost the poles! Also an awesome tent!) with a separate fly was nice on clear nights you could remove the top.


MSR pocket rocket... works great, super light.  Good fuel efficiency.  I get the "coleman" fuel canisters at walmart.


A great set, and has everything 2 people need.  Light and durable. I pack my stove inside one of the pots to save more room.

When not with the wife I just remove one of the pots. Then my "dualist" magically transforms into this:


This headlamp is simply amazing. 4 AA batteries lasted me an entire winter of running at least once per week at night. I just can't believe how efficient it is with power and the light output is well above almost all other headlamps in it's category.

The downside is the batteries on the head becomes pretty uncomfortable. You should consider pairing it with
Or you can use the 4 C cell pack with the longer cord and belt clip. Big downside to that... it is heavier (4 c cells backpacking = no no)

OK so truthfully the L3 is much overkill for backpacking (what can I say, I like to have the brightest light!)
I have this lamp and it works great for backpacking... much lighter and cheaper too.

Suunto Orienteering compass... not sure which model, but any orienteering model such as this one
The more expensive ones will get north much more quickly when stabilized, that is what your paying extra for... is the speed. This is useful for racers but for backpacking you can wait a second or 2 to get your bearing. I like the suunto brand and have used it often.

Garmin forerunner 301: A bit outdated, but possibly you could find one for a steal somewhere.    Great battery life, decent satellite tracking. I plot all my routes in the garmin mapsource software and load them into the forerunner. I used to carry an etrex legend, but found I didn't use the topo maps when following a trail. The forerunner is 301 is great for basic GPS navigation.

Trail Sling -
This chair is simply awesome
It isn't really sold anymore, and many people are jealous of me when at the end of a long hike I relax in my trail sling. SO light but so heavy duty. I am 6'4" 240 and it handles my bulk just fine.

Leatherman Skeletool - the lightest tool leatherman makes. Really high quality. Good company that backs up their products. Broke the pliers and they fixed it and sent it back promptly. I can't envision breaking the pliers in a wilderness situation, i was using them for something where real pliers were called for.

Sea to summit dry bags, various sizes... Super light and super tough. All my stuff goes in dry bags and then a basic kitchen garbage back lines my pack. I got these bags after they got a rave review by backpacker magazine and they didn't let me down.

My dogs use REI brand backpacks and they are simple to adjust and work great.

I have used the "outward hound" brand backpack (the largest size) in the past but it did not fit my dog right and I would always end up carrying it.   I think it is a decent product for a smaller dog. It was too small for my husky (50 pounds) and definitely too small for my malamute (90 pounds)

OK so here is my weekend packing list just for fun.. assume summer and high water availability on trail
sea to summit bags - various sizes
kitchen garbage back (pack liner)
sleeping pad
sleeping bag
Zip off pants
2 pairs of technical underwear
2 technical t-shirts
smart wool hiking socks (2 pairs)
1 fleece
1 quart water container, I like nalgene
water filter
mini stove
stove fuel
waterproof matches
zippo (recently filled)
first aid kit (adventure medical)
Leatherman Skeletool
Map (1 copy for each person) I like to laminate mine with packing tape.
bug spray (smallest size you can find)
watch - waterproof digital
I normally eat backpackers pantry or mountain house, also instant oatmeal, etc. Anything dehydrated works great.
I bring junk food to snack on too and jerky,  a hunk of cheese, etc.... keep it reasonable keep it light. Everyone always brings way too much food

My alaskan malamute carries 2 additional quarts of water which is for emergency use only.  She carries all her own gear (dog food/treats and 2 collapsible bowls)
My other dog carries his own food and the vodka.

Optional items
trail sling
flip flops
light weight gators


« Last Edit: March 01, 2010, 10:52:18 PM by ladieu »

Offline Nate

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Re: My backpacking Gear review
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2010, 04:21:07 PM »

Your list looks very similiar to mine.  I went through the ultra-light phase a few years ago.  I had fun logging more miles and not being as tired at the end of the day.  Now as I get older I am finding some comforts are worth the weight.  So I have combined what I learned from ultra light backpacking with normal backpacking.

My tent is BOMBPROOF.  It has served me well on mountains in Wyoming, hail storms in the plains of South Dakota, Michigan Summers (and winters).  It is an MSR Fusion 2.  (no longer made)  Not light by any means (6lbs) but a great home away from home.   I used to hammock camp.  It was comfortable but I could never keep my ass warm enough without carrying a ton of extra stuff for that single purpose.  Also, my wife really likes a tent and she is usually my backpacking partner.

I carry a North Face big horn sleeping bag.  There are few bags that I can fit into.  Damn my broad shoulders!  I used to use a homemade backpacking quilt paired with a coleman fleece sleeping bag.  This was good at 4lbs but not compact.  The big horn bag is just as compact as the homemade quilt and the price was right so I went with it. 

Once I tried a thermarest....and never looked back.  I have a trail lite long.

Depending on the season I flip flop my stove choice.  In summer and warm spring/fall trips I take my Trangia Westwind.  During winter and and colder trips I carry my MSR Whisperlite.  I learned from NOLS how to make a whisperlite simmer!!  These stoves are notorious for having 2 settings.  OFF and JET ENGINE.

For a pack, I use a Gossamer Gear G4 for weekend trips.  It weighs 1lb empty and its around 3400 cu. inches.  When I am guiding trips or out for longer than a weekend I usually take my Cabela's expedition pack.  It is massive at 6100 cu. inches and weighs 6lbs empty.   

So I guess I have listed my "big three".  I am doing more canoe tripping than backpacking lately but what is lightweight and compact for backpacking is AWESOME for canoe tripping.  This leaves me more room to pack bee....I mean SODA.  HAHA!  I have more info posted on my blog if anyone is interested.  Also listed are instructions on how to make a whisperlite simmer.

Offline ladieu

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Re: My backpacking Gear review
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2010, 06:36:23 AM »
awesome, i just got a 2 person kayak and plan to do some camping with it this year. 

Offline Stinger570

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Re: My backpacking Gear review
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2010, 06:48:59 AM »

   When I click your link for the sleeping pad, I see more than one type of Big Agnes pads. Which one do you use? (I am in the market for sleeping pads for me and my 7yr old.

Offline ladieu

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Re: My backpacking Gear review
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2010, 02:24:45 PM »
i am 6'4" and have the "long" version of the normal rectangle one.

If i were to buy again I would get the "mummy" version. I recall seeing a sleeping bag that big agnes sold where you could slide the pad into a sleeve so  you wouldn't slide off it while sleeping

I'm really not sure why some of the pads are $80 and some are $40

I can tell you that I have the $80 version but I can't speak to the differences.

Offline ladieu

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Re: My backpacking Gear review
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2010, 02:27:17 PM »
after looking at them on REI it appears that the $80 one is a more heavy duty fabric so that would be the difference.

They also sell a wide version... depending on your needs you could consider it. I have the normal one and as i said it is good but i wouldn't mind it being wider... I am 6'4" 240 if that helps you size it