Author Topic: Backpacking, hiking, and camping  (Read 18115 times)

Kriegsspiel

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Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« on: February 04, 2013, 08:11:29 PM »
Anyone into backpacking, hiking, and camping?  I'm looking to outfit myself to do some hiking and camping and would like some gear recommendations.

I'm looking at the TarpTent for shelter.  The Contrail is my front runner, just because it's really simple (could probably repair it myself) and easy to set up/tear down.  $199 plus shipping.

For sleep systems, I'm thinking a bivy sack and quilt?  This would be about $300 I believe.

Cooking system, I like the Andrew Skurka Fancy Feast burner (like $2 to make it) and a titanium pot.  Is there really any difference with the different titanium pots, or should I just get the cheapest one?  The one Andrew Skurka uses is about $50.

For water storage, I've seen that the Platypus collapsable bottes are heavily recommended... but I don't see what would be wrong with just a couple re-used 2 liters?  I also have a Camelbak.

I already have clothes and a backpack.  So the total for the initial setup (craigslist has nothing) being totally new would be about $550 or so. 

anyways, let me know what you think!

sol

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2013, 08:15:49 PM »
Unless you really need a specific pot shape to go with a certain stove, I'm a big fan of the walmart grease pot for ultralighting.  Only a couple of bucks, super light, very tight fitting lid.  I've been using mine regularly for about a decade now.

http://www.thebackpacker.com/pictures/users/stovestomper/koq95sn3/uvifqrney.jpg

Jamesqf

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 09:25:21 PM »
For water storage, I've seen that the Platypus collapsable bottes are heavily recommended... but I don't see what would be wrong with just a couple re-used 2 liters?

Absolutely nothing wrong with re-used bottles.  They're cheap, light, and durable.  I've been using the same 2-liter bottle for at least 5 years now, going out for at least an hour maybe 5 days a week on average.

For the rest, your equipment depends very much on where & when you will be going, and also on your personal tastes.

clutchy

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 11:06:49 PM »
I need a little more info.

Are you an ultralight backpacker?

Is this for cold weather? 

rainy area?

What kind of altitude are we talking about?

is it just you?

are there bears?


Just a quick list from me w/o the above information;

1. jetboil titanium
2. REI halfdome +2 tent or whatever current iteration they're on; OR you could do an Eno doublenest and hammock camp.
3. a nice sleeping bag.
4. A really nice jacket
5. really supportive boots


Most of my backpacking has been tailored for ultralight/altitude/coldish/and bears so that's what I know most.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 02:52:50 AM »
are there bears?

Heh, good point!  I remember getting ready to camp at Coldfoot, one of the purchases I made at Sam's Club was bear spray.  Seemed a bit surreal to be buying that.  I've heard an airhorn can be useful too.  Luckily, I have no first hand experience with bears while camping.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 05:39:12 AM »
Unless you really need a specific pot shape to go with a certain stove, I'm a big fan of the walmart grease pot for ultralighting.  Only a couple of bucks, super light, very tight fitting lid.  I've been using mine regularly for about a decade now.

http://www.thebackpacker.com/pictures/users/stovestomper/koq95sn3/uvifqrney.jpg

Thanks sol, that's what I'm talking about!

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 05:47:05 AM »
I need a little more info.

Are you an ultralight backpacker?

I'd rather be light than heavy, I'm not a zealot though.

Quote
Is this for cold weather?

No, no winter camping just yet.

Quote
rainy area?

Not really.  I was planning on bringing my old army poncho.

Quote
What kind of altitude are we talking about?

Various, I guess.  I would rather have robust and versatile stuff.

Quote
is it just you?

Usually yea, but I will be on a couple trips with friends this year.  They can get their own tents!

*then I realize you mean family... whoops*

Quote
are there bears?

Hah, good call.  I was thinking about getting bear spray for any animal (ferocious dogs, boars, etc).

Quote
Just a quick list from me w/o the above information;

1. jetboil titanium
2. REI halfdome +2 tent or whatever current iteration they're on; OR you could do an Eno doublenest and hammock camp.
3. a nice sleeping bag.
4. A really nice jacket
5. really supportive boots

Thanks I'll check it out.  I'm leaning more towards a quilt for the sleep system because it's more modular than a sleeping bag.  If it's colder weather, then I can take two or something.  And I looked at hammocks, I was really thinking about getting a Hennesy hammock.  I'm not set on it yet.


iamsoners

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 09:20:16 AM »
I'm all for keeping it cheap and avoiding gear head syndrome, that said, just be careful.  A quilt, or two quilts, will not suffice at an altitude of 10,000 feet even if it's August.  Plus, quilts are heavier than sleeping bags which are, frankly, amazing these days.  I would focus on finding quality used equipment like a synthetic sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees. Get a decent rain jacket so you don't get wet and hypothermic.

My 2 cents is that half-domes are great.  But when I was younger and unattached, a sleeping bag and a zip on bivy was enough. Sleeping bag plus tarp would be the cheapest way to go.

You'll save yourself some work if you get some sort of water purification system instead of carrying all of your water.  Iodine is the poor man's method and I find it preferable to pumping water. Of course boiling is a purification method too so that helps, but it's not sustainable to do that at non-cooking times of the day.  Two-liters strike me as not durable enough but on Jamesqf's recmomendation, I'll try them out next time.

And please, please tell someone where you're going and when you plan to be back--the more details you leave, the better.


AlexK

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 09:30:46 AM »
I have the Tarptent Squall2 tent and it has been great. It is big enough for 2 and only 2 lbs. If the weather is nice I will go without a tent, just a ground cloth. I tried the hammock and didn't like it, too cold but I camp in the mountains which are cold at night even in the summer.

My pack is 10 lbs with sleeping bag, tent, pad, everything but food/water. It makes the hike so much more enjoyable to be carrying something so light instead of the behemoths some of my friends carry. They show up with bottles of wine, coffee makers, etc and very sore backs.

bogart

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 09:46:54 AM »
I'm not a backpacker anymore and never did much, but I'm not in general an advocate of buying a bunch of gear to do something you're just starting/trying out.  On the other hand, I'm also not a fan of dying in the wilderness.  Basically my take is you want to be able to stay warm, dry, bear-free, and comfortable enough that if this is something you enjoy, you enjoy it (versus being miserable only due to bad/inadequate gear).

Personally I'd recommend starting with, say, an adequate 3-season tent or bivvy (probably freestanding and definitely as lightweight as you can find in the not-absurd price range), iodine tabs (for water), a decent sleeping bag rated to absolutely as cold as you think it could possibly get (my own experience is that a bag rated to 15 degrees is a bag telling you you will not die of hypothermia at 15 degrees, not a bag telling you you can sleep cozily at 15 degrees, though I'm a cold sleeper so YMMV), a liner for same if it's likely to be noticeably warmer (in case you want to sleep in just the liner, and if you don't take the liner, get a bag rated 10 degrees colder than you otherwise would), and either a thermarest bought used (man I love those things) or a cheap closed-cell foam pad.  My own take is you don't particularly need to be able to cook much and whatever you have to eat will taste delicious after hauling your pack around.  Pack 1-2 days more food than you think you will need and, as noted, tell someone where you're going.  While 2-liter bottles work fine, get 1 bottle with a wide mouth (or use a cooking pot) to make gathering water easier.  Pack and wear synthetic clothes -- light, dry easily -- and not many (but enough to stay warm).  I've only been in black bear country, and not "bad" in that realm, so no particular words of wisdom there.  Don't sleep with your food.

Then, once you start doing this, figure out what else you want and get it.  But get a few trips under your belt first; experience will teach you what you want (as opposed to need).

No Name Guy

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 11:18:07 AM »
This thread finally got me to register.....

Background:  I thru hiked the PCT in 2006 (all 2665 miles of it).  In years prior to that, I hiked the Washington Section over several years.  Since, many a trip under my belt.

Re water and water containers:  Gatorade / soda / 1 liter / 2 liter bottles are perfect choices.  Just think, the water bottle costs $1.49 and comes free with a liter or two of the beverage of your choice.  They're practically indestructible.  I still use the same bottles I carried on my hike over 6 years ago.  For water treatment, only do iodine IF you also carry vitamin C tabs.  Wait 15-20 minutes after dropping in the iodine and THEN put in a crushed vitamin C to neutralize the nasty taste.  Filters are heavy and expensive.  Use Aquamira for a reasonable tasting 2 part chlorine dioxide treatment (what I used on the thru hike).

Re what Soners said about quits:  Incorrect.  Lots of people use quilts on the PCT.  You spend weeks at altitude in the high Sierra (Forrester Pass tops out at 13,000+ feet, for example, with mile upon mile above 10k).  A properly sized quilt is more than adequate for 3 season hiking.  Thru hikers use quilts because they're lighter than sleeping bags, not heavier, for a given warmth.  Most guys carry 30 degree rated bags / quilts and most gals use 15 degree ratings.  I carried a 30, but was fine to 23 degrees (tested at home pre hike, that was lower comfort level - survival level would be significantly lower) since a bag / quilt is part of a sleeping SYSTEM.  That system is the bag / quilt, pad and the clothes you carry / wear. 

Skip the liner - little warmth for the weight.  Ask yourself:  How much warmth does one thin layer of silk provide?  Answer - not much.  Use the 7 ounces for a fleece, or more down in your bag or quilt.  If it's a warm night, unzip the bag and leave an arm or leg out, or your torso uncovered.  If it's cold, wear your fleece or down puffy jacket to bed.

If you buy a 0 degree synthetic, you'll be lugging around an over weight, bulky, over kill piece of gear.  Compare and contrast the specs on 0 degree synthetic to 15 degree down. 

As MMM says, buy QUALITY.  When it comes to bags / quilts, that means either make the quilt yourself with 800 to 900 fill down, or buy a very high quality manufactured bag or quilt from Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering, Marmot or similar.  Stick to down - it's far warmer per unit weight than synthetic.  Go at least for 800 fill, if not 850 or 900 (650 / 700 down is garbage, suitable only for rectangular bags used in car camp state parks).  Down also packs smaller, which allows for a smaller, lighter pack.  Properly cared for, a high quality down bag will last many, many years.  The bag I carried on the thru hike in 2006 also had 500+ miles on it before hand (bought in 2002), and it's STILL nearly as good as the day I bought it 10+ years ago.  Down bags / quilts MUST be stored uncompressed, preferably hung up in a closet, or in a large cotton bag that comes with the higher quality bags.  That's value.  Buy it once, buy it RIGHT and it'll last you forever. 

If you buy a used bag, insure it hasn't been stored compressed in a stuff sack - lay it out.  If the seller pulls it out of a stuff sack in front of you, thank them and leave.  The bag should "fluff" up in a few minutes or already be fluffed up - if not, pass on it and go on to your next choice.

Tarp tent is a great product - I've been using one since 2003.  It's hard to go wrong with anything they offer.  Also check out 6 Moon's Designs and Gossamer Gear for excellent cottage manufacturers of light (and in many cases) reasonably priced alternatives to the REI / MEC / big retail shelters.

Rain gear:  Being from Washington, I take rain protection seriously.  One word:  Poncho.  Cheaper, lighter and more effective than so called "breathable" water proof 300 buck parkas.  A poncho also covers your pack as well.  I was the only one in my bunch using a poncho on the thru hike, and was the only one to stay dry after 2 solid days of rain here in Washington.

DIY on the stove is a great option for cheap and light:  There are many alcohol burners out there - "Pepsi" stove, Fallingwater, etc.  Note that about the only drawback to alcohol stoves is that you generally can't turn 'em off once lit (some designs lend themselves to a snuffer to put them out).  If you accidentally knock it over, you'll spill burning alcohol all over, possibly igniting a forest fire (it's happened on the PCT before).  Be sure to clear a good area down to bare mineral soil and be careful to not knock it over. 

pepper

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 11:48:23 AM »
If you buy a 0 degree synthetic, you'll be lugging around an over weight, bulky, over kill piece of gear.  Compare and contrast the specs on 0 degree synthetic to 15 degree down. 

I have heard that down is not ideal in the damp, and being from the PNW also I have been considering synthetic for this reason.  What is your experience with using down in the PNW?

zug

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2013, 11:56:19 AM »
I do ultralight backpacking. It is expensive as you want it to be. My gear in total cost less than $250:

Tent: Picked up a 3lb 4oz 3-man tent (split between two people, so 1lb, 12oz each) during REI's clearance sale. $99
Sleeping bag: Bought fabric and a thrift-store down sleeping bag and sewed my own. 1lb. $40
Backpack: Granite Gear Vapor Trail. 2lb, 3oz. $50 on clearance.
Stove: Pepsi can stove. Weighs essentially nothing. free, after soda.
Water: The bladder from a box of wine is my water container. Has a neat spigot system, too. Free, after sangria. Around 4oz.

Total weight: 5.2lbs without fuel, 6lbs with fuel. Add normal weight street clothes and food and I'm still in easily under 20lbs for a long weekend. Fancy clothes would get me to 15lbs, but 20 is fine for me.

Jamesqf

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2013, 12:19:29 PM »
My own take is you don't particularly need to be able to cook much and whatever you have to eat will taste delicious after hauling your pack around.

Good point!  These days I only take a stove for car/bike camping.  For 1-2 night trips (which is all I'm into these days), ready-to-eat food is fine.  And if you're just starting, you should be doing overnights at first, just to check out your gear and make sure it works for you.

A good headlamp is a plus, too.  I mean, worst case you can get up at 2 AM and start hiking back to the car.

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2013, 04:30:56 PM »
I would focus on finding quality used equipment like a synthetic sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees. Get a decent rain jacket so you don't get wet and hypothermic.

Is there a good site for used gear like that besides ebay and craigslist?  I just got on the waiting list for buystand.

Quote
My 2 cents is that half-domes are great.  But when I was younger and unattached, a sleeping bag and a zip on bivy was enough. Sleeping bag plus tarp would be the cheapest way to go.

That's the way I feel too.  More modular too.  If there was going to be clear weather and warmth, I might just take a bivy.  Otherwise I'd pack the tarptent too.

Quote
You'll save yourself some work if you get some sort of water purification system instead of carrying all of your water.  Iodine is the poor man's method and I find it preferable to pumping water. Of course boiling is a purification method too so that helps, but it's not sustainable to do that at non-cooking times of the day.  Two-liters strike me as not durable enough but on Jamesqf's recmomendation, I'll try them out next time.

Yea I was planning on iodine.  I have seen some interesting stuff on filters though, I guess it would be almost a wash between these?  Are there inexpensive filters that are reliable and durable?


Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2013, 04:31:57 PM »
I have the Tarptent Squall2 tent and it has been great. It is big enough for 2 and only 2 lbs. If the weather is nice I will go without a tent, just a ground cloth. I tried the hammock and didn't like it, too cold but I camp in the mountains which are cold at night even in the summer.

My pack is 10 lbs with sleeping bag, tent, pad, everything but food/water. It makes the hike so much more enjoyable to be carrying something so light instead of the behemoths some of my friends carry. They show up with bottles of wine, coffee makers, etc and very sore backs.

Awesome, a Tarptent user!  Any complaints?

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2013, 04:34:49 PM »
I'm not a backpacker anymore and never did much, but I'm not in general an advocate of buying a bunch of gear to do something you're just starting/trying out.  On the other hand, I'm also not a fan of dying in the wilderness.  Basically my take is you want to be able to stay warm, dry, bear-free, and comfortable enough that if this is something you enjoy, you enjoy it (versus being miserable only due to bad/inadequate gear).

Well, I did a lot of involuntary camping with the Army, but I had to give all that gear back when I was done ;)

Quote
Personally I'd recommend starting with, say, an adequate 3-season tent or bivvy (probably freestanding and definitely as lightweight as you can find in the not-absurd price range), iodine tabs (for water), a decent sleeping bag rated to absolutely as cold as you think it could possibly get (my own experience is that a bag rated to 15 degrees is a bag telling you you will not die of hypothermia at 15 degrees, not a bag telling you you can sleep cozily at 15 degrees, though I'm a cold sleeper so YMMV), a liner for same if it's likely to be noticeably warmer (in case you want to sleep in just the liner, and if you don't take the liner, get a bag rated 10 degrees colder than you otherwise would), and either a thermarest bought used (man I love those things) or a cheap closed-cell foam pad.

I'm with you on the tent, bivy, and iodine.  Still researching quilts vs sleeping bags.    I did forget to mention a sleeping pad.  foam, not air.


Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2013, 04:43:00 PM »
This thread finally got me to register.....

Background:  I thru hiked the PCT in 2006 (all 2665 miles of it).  In years prior to that, I hiked the Washington Section over several years.  Since, many a trip under my belt.

Cool.  Yea I was reading the Tarptent guys story of the PCT.  Looks like a cool trail.

Quote
Re water and water containers:  Gatorade / soda / 1 liter / 2 liter bottles are perfect choices.  Just think, the water bottle costs $1.49 and comes free with a liter or two of the beverage of your choice.  They're practically indestructible.  I still use the same bottles I carried on my hike over 6 years ago.  For water treatment, only do iodine IF you also carry vitamin C tabs.  Wait 15-20 minutes after dropping in the iodine and THEN put in a crushed vitamin C to neutralize the nasty taste.  Filters are heavy and expensive.  Use Aquamira for a reasonable tasting 2 part chlorine dioxide treatment (what I used on the thru hike).

Hmmm, ok.  I will have to look at filters vs iodine a bit more. 

Quote
Re what Soners said about quits:  Incorrect.  Lots of people use quilts on the PCT.  You spend weeks at altitude in the high Sierra (Forrester Pass tops out at 13,000+ feet, for example, with mile upon mile above 10k).  A properly sized quilt is more than adequate for 3 season hiking.  Thru hikers use quilts because they're lighter than sleeping bags, not heavier, for a given warmth.  Most guys carry 30 degree rated bags / quilts and most gals use 15 degree ratings.  I carried a 30, but was fine to 23 degrees (tested at home pre hike, that was lower comfort level - survival level would be significantly lower) since a bag / quilt is part of a sleeping SYSTEM.  That system is the bag / quilt, pad and the clothes you carry / wear. 

Yea that's what I've been seeing.  Lots of people are all about hte quilts.  Personally, I've used both, sort of, in the Army.  Mostly sleeping bags + bivy, but if you count the poncho liner as a quilt, I actually used that in my apartment to sleep under, and when we were sleeping indoors on field exercises.

Quote
As MMM says, buy QUALITY.  When it comes to bags / quilts, that means either make the quilt yourself with 800 to 900 fill down, or buy a very high quality manufactured bag or quilt from Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering, Marmot or similar.  Stick to down - it's far warmer per unit weight than synthetic.  Go at least for 800 fill, if not 850 or 900 (650 / 700 down is garbage, suitable only for rectangular bags used in car camp state parks).  Down also packs smaller, which allows for a smaller, lighter pack.  Properly cared for, a high quality down bag will last many, many years.  The bag I carried on the thru hike in 2006 also had 500+ miles on it before hand (bought in 2002), and it's STILL nearly as good as the day I bought it 10+ years ago.  Down bags / quilts MUST be stored uncompressed, preferably hung up in a closet, or in a large cotton bag that comes with the higher quality bags.  That's value.  Buy it once, buy it RIGHT and it'll last you forever. 

Thanks this is good information.

Quote
If you buy a used bag, insure it hasn't been stored compressed in a stuff sack - lay it out.  If the seller pulls it out of a stuff sack in front of you, thank them and leave.  The bag should "fluff" up in a few minutes or already be fluffed up - if not, pass on it and go on to your next choice.

I haven't been really concerned with getting a standard hiking pack that are prevalent.  I have some backpacks which I am planning on using.

Quote
Tarp tent is a great product - I've been using one since 2003.  It's hard to go wrong with anything they offer.  Also check out 6 Moon's Designs and Gossamer Gear for excellent cottage manufacturers of light (and in many cases) reasonably priced alternatives to the REI / MEC / big retail shelters.

Thanks again.   I had seen Skurka mention Gossamer Gear on his page a few times.  Hadn't heard of 6 Moon's though.

Quote
Rain gear:  Being from Washington, I take rain protection seriously.  One word:  Poncho.  Cheaper, lighter and more effective than so called "breathable" water proof 300 buck parkas.  A poncho also covers your pack as well.  I was the only one in my bunch using a poncho on the thru hike, and was the only one to stay dry after 2 solid days of rain here in Washington.

Yea like I said, I have an Army poncho that I'm going to use.

Quote
DIY on the stove is a great option for cheap and light:  There are many alcohol burners out there - "Pepsi" stove, Fallingwater, etc.  Note that about the only drawback to alcohol stoves is that you generally can't turn 'em off once lit (some designs lend themselves to a snuffer to put them out).  If you accidentally knock it over, you'll spill burning alcohol all over, possibly igniting a forest fire (it's happened on the PCT before).  Be sure to clear a good area down to bare mineral soil and be careful to not knock it over.

Good point.  Other than the Fancy Feast stove, I saw another post on Skurka's blog that showed how to make a twig/alcohol hybrid stove, looked interesting.

iamsoners

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2013, 04:45:32 PM »

Water: The bladder from a box of wine is my water container. Has a neat spigot system, too. Free, after sangria. Around 4oz.


Absolutely freaking brilliant.  Can't believe I never thought of that.  And I'm impressed you made your own bag.

I would absolutely not take a down bag into the PNW, don't think vitamin c is necessary for iodine (that's the taste of camping!), etc. but, as you can see from the development of this thread, everyone has their own style of backpacking and we're all convinced we're doing it the right way.

Just get out there and try it--borrow a friends gear, rent it, whatever--you'll figure it out as you go, as you meet other people doing it, etc.  I'm just saying, try and be reasonably safe as you go--try things out on shorter trips, go with others, let people know where you are.

Was it someone on MMM who started http://equipify.me/.  I don't think it's take off yet but it's one possible way to try out gear.

Re: filters, I've never used any. I guess the advantage is filtering out the mud/bugs/etc? Getting from running water will cure most of that--a bandana can cure any problems that might arise.

Have fun, enjoy it.  The best amusement park in the world.

(and FWIW, I was a pro-guide for two years... which in some ways probably distorts my views on weight (guides carry heavy packs) and cost vs. effectiveness since i got pro-deals)

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2013, 06:41:15 PM »
So just for myself, here is a rundown:

Shelter
Tarptent Contrail ($212 with shipping)

Sleep System
Quilt/Sleeping bag- Mountain Laurel?
Bivy sack- Rab, Vapr, Mountain Laurel?  Anyone have any other suggestions? 
Sleeping pad- debating this...  especially the ground heat loss angle.

Water system
Storage- 2L bottles, Camelbak, Franzia bag (already have all 3)
Purification- Iodine tabs

Cooking
Fancy Feast stove + alcohol fuel
Cheap Wal Mart pot
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 06:43:07 PM by Kriegsspiel »

Kriegsspiel

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Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2013, 06:57:05 PM »
Oh also, do any of you use trekking poles?  I'm open to suggestions.

AlexK

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2013, 11:51:46 PM »
I've bought some used gear here with good experiences: http://www.geartrade.com

I like using a hiking pole but only one. It is especially good for crossing creeks, you can balance on rocks easier with a pole in the water. I found a single ski pole at a thrift shop for almost nothing.

The Tarptent is very high quality. It is single wall so the inside does get wet from condensation sometimes. Once it was raining very hard and a fine mist was settling down onto my sleeping bag. Overall I love the tent. I've loaned it out to friends and they loved it too. The stake cords are reflective so your headlamp illuminates them at night. My hiking pole is used as the main pole, or a tree branch if motorcycle or bicycle camping.

When I was in boy scouts I never used a sleeping pad and it was fine. In my 20's I rarely did. Now (39) I feel it in the morning even on my thermarest prolite 4. Once my hip hurt so bad it was very painful to walk out the last day. So a good sleeping pad is important to me.

One trip I made the mistake of bringing a library book to read. It was a book about true bear attacks, some of them where a bear ripped open a tent and dragged the sleeping camper out and ate him. Don't do that!

sol

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2013, 01:55:15 AM »
Oh also, do any of you use trekking poles?  I'm open to suggestions.

I only use trekking poles if I'm going to be carrying a heavy pack (say >40 pounds) or if I'm using a tent/shelter than can use them as supports instead of traditional tent poles.  Double-duty gear is the name of the game for lightening your load.  Even then, over rough terrain you just have to carry them anyway.

If you're going with a light pack and a bivy, I'd probably go without.

shadowmoss

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2013, 07:10:53 AM »
I use hammocks.  If you go to http://hammockforums.net/ you will find more than you ever wanted to know about hiking and camping with a hammock.  You can make on from a hunk of nylon that is marketed as a bridal table cloth (site is listed on hammockforums, search on table cloth hammock), a couple of plastic cable ties and suspension.

There is also a list of cottage hiking manufacturers there.  Jacks R Better makes some of the best down quilts around.  And, if you use a hammock you want an underquilt - that's why people initially find hammocks cold, no underquilt.  Sleeping in a hammock helps with the stiff, sore hips and such, not an issue in a hammock.

I have a 6 moons design tent, one that was discontinued.  Either 6 moons or the tarptent would be good.  I also have the 6 moons poncho that converts to a shelter (forget what it is called, by gear has been packed up for over 2 years while I've been in Honduras).  If you want a good poncho that does double duty easily, look at it.

zug

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2013, 07:35:45 AM »
I wouldn't backpack without a sleeping pad myself. Hard on your body and very cold.

My backpacking sleeping pad is the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core . I like it but don't love it (the baffles lie in the head to foot direction which I find annoying), but it's a good compromise between weight/size and price. My car sleeping pad is a regular thermarest from the 1970s - it's much cozier despite being much thinner.

No Name Guy

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2013, 03:42:40 PM »
If you buy a 0 degree synthetic, you'll be lugging around an over weight, bulky, over kill piece of gear.  Compare and contrast the specs on 0 degree synthetic to 15 degree down. 

I have heard that down is not ideal in the damp, and being from the PNW also I have been considering synthetic for this reason.  What is your experience with using down in the PNW?

Down is fine in wet climates IF YOU KEEP IT DRY.  You just have to be a fanatic about keeping it dry.  It can be done with technique, in the tradition of solving problems with effort and skill.

In your shelter, while it's raining outside, your bag and you shouldn't get wet, that's what the shelter is for.  On packing up, in the rain, to hike off for the day, pack your down bag into a plastic bag you bring for this purpose - say a garbage, trash compactor, etc and put that in the pack.  Pull out your extra sheet of plastic that you bring (and I always do here in the PNW - cost is practically free and weight is only a few ounces).  Lay pack on 1/3 of plastic sheet, fold the other part over the top of the pack to keep it dry while you pack up the tent and your remaining items.  Pack stays dry, with sleeping bag in the back up plastic bag in the pack.  Note:  Other down products, like your puffy jacket, are similarly packed in back up plastic bags in the pack. 

Once tent / shelter is packed, strap onto outside of pack, open end of stuff sack down, to let the extra water drip out (of course, cinch up the draw cord so pieces don't fall out).  Recall that you're using a poncho for rain gear.  Put on pack.  Throw poncho on over you AND pack.  If you have them and conditions warrant, you would have already put on your rain pants or rain skirt.  Hike in rain.  You and pack are 100% covered by poncho and hence stay dry(ish) - of course, you'll sweat some, and there will be some condensation, but over all you'll be dry. 

At break time, stop, take off pack.  Immediately take out extra sheet of plastic you had on / in an outside pocket of the pack and store pack as you did when packing tent.  You stay dry in poncho.  Pack stays dry in plastic.  Enjoy snacks and get moving again before you get chilled.  Set up tent at end of the day in a similar manner - be sure to wipe down floor / ground cloth and inside of shelter with bandana, pack towel, etc. before rolling out sleeping bag.

If the rain pauses and you feel a breeze or warmth from the sun, consider stopping in an open area to dry out your gear.  Shaking the drops off a wet shelter, then laying it out in the sun will result in a dry shelter pretty quick, especially if there is a bit of a breeze.

On my 2006 thru hike, it rained for several days between Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass (I-90 / US2) - I stayed warm and dry.  On my section hikes prior to that, once I'd switched to a poncho in 2002, I also managed to stay warm and dry even though it rained practically every time I went out.

CNM

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2013, 04:30:20 PM »
You've gotten some good recommendations here already.  I'd add that REI has semi-annual scratch and dent sales where you can buy used gear generally for very very cheap.  So keep an eye out.

pepper

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2013, 05:07:06 PM »
Down is fine in wet climates IF YOU KEEP IT DRY.  You just have to be a fanatic about keeping it dry.  It can be done with technique, in the tradition of solving problems with effort and skill.

...

If the rain pauses and you feel a breeze or warmth from the sun, consider stopping in an open area to dry out your gear.  Shaking the drops off a wet shelter, then laying it out in the sun will result in a dry shelter pretty quick, especially if there is a bit of a breeze.

What awesome detail, thanks for taking the time!

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2013, 06:06:25 PM »
Yea thanks guys.

Emg03063

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2013, 09:31:24 PM »
For used gear, check out gearx.com.  For poles, I use Leki makalu's that I purchased before I became mustachian, (which I love), but I think the best value in poles to be has are from swissgear at Walmart for $10 each.

Hotstreak

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2013, 11:55:26 PM »
Awesome old thread!  Looks like nobody has addressed food.

I always start out at the trailhead with a huge homemade meal I brought in the car.  On the trail I eat nuts, jerky, dried fruit, and pemmican (all home made).  I always pack a high calorie food bar in my pocket for emergencies, luckily never used that one, and I keep nuts and jerky as a snack in the car for when I get back.  It's a ton cheaper than using Mountain Houses @ $30 per day, but it does get a little bland. 

What low cost foods do you like to pack?

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #32 on: April 08, 2013, 11:39:26 AM »
Oh also, do any of you use trekking poles?  I'm open to suggestions.

I enjoy Komperdell poles with faux-cork handles.

I usually only use 1 pole though.

I also recommend Hennessy Hammocks if you're hiking places with trees.

For ponchos I'm in love with my Altus. I've seen every poncho imagineable when I did the Camino to Santiago, and my Altus was the only one I saw that didn't a) blow all over the place or b) leak like a siv.

HumanAfterAll

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2013, 12:09:36 PM »
This book totally changed my approach to backpacking, including snow camping:
http://ultralightbackpackintips.blogspot.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Ultralight-Backpackin-Tips-Inexpensive-Lightweight/dp/0762763841/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314629714&sr=1-1

Last summer we went from the traditional backpacker profile of 40lb packs and 10 miles per day, to 20-28lb packs and 20 miles per day.  We finished off the season with a 4-day hike from Stevens to Snoqualmie Pass, and it was awesome.  So much more fun when you're not carrying that extra 10-15lbs!  You can definitely go lighter than we did...

I have a Tarptent Stratospire 2, which I use for 2-person camping in all 4 seasons.  It's a little finicky to set up, and it requires a large area, but the amount of space you get is fantastic (2 side doors & huge vestibules), and the weight at ~2.5lbs is great. 

I've tried the Skurka stove but I couldn't get it to work well for me - maybe I'm just used to the convenience of a Pocket Rocket.  In the winter, I use an MSR Reactor to melt water, and keep the canister warm with a water bath made from the bottom of a 3-lb margarine tub. 

Aqua Mira works great for water purification, and it's super light.  I use the daily pre-mix trick on the blog linked above.  So happy to leave that heavy filter behind, and it tastes much better than other chemical treatments.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2013, 12:14:29 PM by El Beardo Numero Uno »

No Name Guy

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2013, 12:59:47 PM »
Awesome old thread!  Looks like nobody has addressed food.

I always start out at the trailhead with a huge homemade meal I brought in the car.  On the trail I eat nuts, jerky, dried fruit, and pemmican (all home made).  I always pack a high calorie food bar in my pocket for emergencies, luckily never used that one, and I keep nuts and jerky as a snack in the car for when I get back.  It's a ton cheaper than using Mountain Houses @ $30 per day, but it does get a little bland. 

What low cost foods do you like to pack?

Food:  Go the thru hiker way.  When you're thru hiking (e.g. hiking an entire long distance trail such as the PCT, AT or CDT in one season) you generally don't have access to "backpacking" food at the local Safeway, Kroger, Albertsons you'd shop at in the trail towns along the way.  So, you eat what you can find at your typical large grocery store.  Add to that, Mountain house type dinners are puny, not very calorie dense and have tons of waste packaging you have to carry out.

What did I do on the thru hike: 

Breakfast, I did the traditional oatmeal, and mixed in powered milk (use Nido, found in the Hispanic section, or at ethnic stores, since it's full fat, unlike the typical non-fat powered).  Others I knew used Carnation instant breakfast with powered milk. 

For lunches, I ate bagel sandwiches of dry Italian Salami and cheddar cheese.  Both of these won't spoil in 100 degree heat for 4 to 7 days, although they will get greasy.  Each as enough salt and is low enough in water to retard bacterial growth.  Add mustard packets for added flavor.  Lots of folks I'd know would eat tortillas with PB or Nutella.

Dinners:  There's the deluxe mac-n-cheese.  There are the Knorr (formerly Lipton) brand, and their store brand knock offs, rice and pasta sides in many flavors.  I like the Spanish Rice, which also doubles with some meat, hot sauce and cheese as tortilla filler for field expedient soft taco's.  To the typical Knorr side, I'd add a small can or foil pack of chicken or tuna.  Cook it on the "wet" side (helps keep sticking to the pot to a minimum), then add instant mashed potato flakes after cooking to adjust the consistency.  Add to that a nice pour of olive oil to kick up the calorie count, which the potatoes absorb and therefore keep the meal from being "greasy".  Season as desired with hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, pepper and salt (typically they have enough salt, although you may want to add a fat pinch of salt substitute, which is potassium chloride, to help maintain electrolyte balance as potassium can be hard to come by on a typical trail diet and you sweat a lot of it out).

HYOH.

El Beardo:  Isn't the Alpine Lakes Wilderness great?  That's one of the best sections of the PCT.  Might I suggest you follow it up by doing Stehekin to Manning Park and then with Stevens Pass to Stehekin.  The section of the PCT from Snoqualmie to Canada truly is one of the best anywhere on the trail. 

Jamesqf

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #35 on: April 08, 2013, 01:01:59 PM »
Last summer we went from the traditional backpacker profile of 40lb packs and 10 miles per day, to 20-28lb packs and 20 miles per day.

Huh?  I always thought "typical" was more like 50 lbs and 20 miles/day.

HumanAfterAll

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #36 on: April 08, 2013, 01:56:10 PM »

El Beardo:  Isn't the Alpine Lakes Wilderness great?  That's one of the best sections of the PCT.  Might I suggest you follow it up by doing Stehekin to Manning Park and then with Stevens Pass to Stehekin.  The section of the PCT from Snoqualmie to Canada truly is one of the best anywhere on the trail.

Yeah, we're looking at Stevens-Stehekin or Rainy Pass this year.  Did a day hike from Hart's Pass last year, it was amazing up there!  Looking forward to that section too.  The Wonderland trail is on the list as well... not a bad place to live at all :)

Dee18

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #37 on: April 08, 2013, 03:52:25 PM »
Have been camping and backpacking for years.  My favorites include:
Golite pack-love this!  http://www.golite.com/
North Face tent.  First one lasted 20 years, so I bought another (on sale).  I also like Eureka.
Sleeping pad:  blue ensolite pad.  Cost about $10.  No worries about punctures.
Sleeping bag:  I use a sheet folded over and sewn as a liner for my down bag.  I like the feel of cotton and it keeps the sleeping bag clean.
Pans--old aluminum camp kit outer pan and lid.
Be sure to check out these places for great bargains:
sierratradingpost.com
campmor.com
rei.com/outlet

No Name Guy

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #38 on: April 08, 2013, 03:53:05 PM »

Huh?  I always thought "typical" was more like 50 lbs and 20 miles/day.

Only if you're a glutton for punishment.  :-)

El Beardo:  FYI and / or you probably already know, the PCT section from Stevens to Stehekin is without a doubt the most rugged in Washington.  All the elevation gain, and there's a lot of it, is packed into the first 80 miles north of Stevens - the last 20 is all down hill through the valley of Agnes Creek to Stehekin.  Of course, it's also one of the most scenic.  I hear the new section of trail to the new bridge over the Suiattle is absolutely spectacular with some truly massive old growth.  High pain but very high gain. 

IF, a big IF, you can swing a week of good weather the 2nd half of September either Stevens to Stehekin or Stehekin or Rainy to Manning are SWEET with the fall colors turned on, in lieu of the still beautiful monochromatic green of middle to late August.  Fiery red huckleberry bushes and golden larches sure add to the scenery.  I got the full dose of fall color on the thru hike (finished in Manning on October 2nd), while I sectioned those parts in late August and early September several years before the thru hike, so have seen it both ways.  You'll also see more thru hikers in those parts in mid September than in mid August, if that matters to you.

nuclear85

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2013, 02:08:33 AM »
One other site to check out is: http://www.steepandcheap.com/

We got our two person tent on there (Alps Mountaineering) for about $90 with shipping, which is something like 50% off list, and it's been a fantastic tent so far -- no leaking in big thunderstorms, etc.

The only problem is that you have to make a decision quickly, so you have to know a little about the products or do really fast research!!

HumanAfterAll

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2013, 08:31:40 AM »
Yeah, I really hate steepandcheap.  It's impulse-buy or nothing.  I've moved to thinking about big purchases for at least a week before buying, so I don't go there anymore.

kellmahon

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Re: Backpacking, hiking, and camping
« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2013, 07:32:56 AM »
I did not read all of the comments so this may be a re post.

If you are planning on using a tent there is no reason to use a bivy sack. you will be much more comfortable with a sleeping bag, and can usually find them new on sale for a really affordable price. A bivy sack is used when sleeping outside w/o a tent. I used one for many years  but than i got a tent...the tent was much nicer. Kept my pack dry, rain wasn't an issue, and in general it was substantially more comfortable.

For the rest id say go with the least expensive, or at least purchase things on discount or used.

Have fun