Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category


May 24th, 2011

Here she is, my life partner for the month of June. Weighing in at 21 pounds without food or water.

We head to New Haven CT today to see my sister’s digs, then to NYC over the weekend to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and finally to WV.

Sea to Summit Kitchen Sink

June 11th, 2009

Another great piece of gear is the Sea to Summit Kitchen sink.  It’s like a water bag, but shallower and with a wider opening at the top, but still carries 10L of water.  It’s not the lightest thing in the world, but I would use it practically every other night to either rinse myself off after sweating all day, or to wash my shirt and underwear.  Because of the kitchen sink I smelt and looked a lot better than I did going through the smokies.  I also felt less like I had to rush into town to bathe and do laundry because I could do a little of both on the trail.  I never actually used it to clean my cookware in.

Montbell UL Down Inner Jacket

June 11th, 2009

This is by far the best piece of gear I had on the trail; thank you dad!  Though I would never hike with it on, it kept me super warm when I would get into camp on those cold days in North Carolina.  It’s so light that I kept it with me through Harper’s Ferry just in case, and a good thing too because I slept with it on on several occasions for the extra warmth.  It’s also good to wear when you’re doing laundry.  A word of caution, though, it is an INNER jacket, so while it is slightly water resistant, the material is very thin and can easily snag on branches / sharp objects, but as long as you’re careful this should never be a problem.

Montrail Comps

June 11th, 2009

Around the same time my rain gear was failing, my shoes also failed.  I had noticed that my old REI boots were tearing at the seems, but this was expected as I had put well over 500 miles into these boots, and had had them repaired once before.  So when I was in Damascus I got a new pair of Montrail Comps, a sort of hybrid shoe / boot.  After five days of hiking the rubber soles were already peeling off the shoes!  I couldn’t believe it, and when I got to Pearisburg sent them back.  One thing Montrail has over Marmot is that if your gear fails, they will ship you a replacement, and charge you for it, so you have something to use when you send your stuff to warranty.  Then, if they decided it really is a warranty problem they refund your credit card.  So I was able to pick up my Torres (full boot) in Pearisburg and keep walking.  The Torres have done much better.  They originally felt like concrete blocks strapped to my feet (they are big heavy boots), but they are bullet proof.  After about a week of use my feet started getting blisters on the heels, which was weird because the boots were getting more broken in, but a slew of blister bandages cleared it up.  I have heard that the Montrail Hardrocks destroy peoples’ heels during the first week of use.  I wouldn’t not get the Torres again, but I’d probably get a different brand.  In any case, I highly recommend Vibram soles.  Both my old REIs and the Torres have Vibram soles, and they hold up very well.


May 18th, 2009

I started hiking the Appalachian Trail with a relatively cheap rain coat from the Weather company.  When I got to Walasi-Yi 30 miles in they told me the jacket would likely fail, and was heavy anyway so I upgraded to the Marmot Mica ultralight coat.  While it is light, it is not a backpacking jacket.  Around mile 300 I started getting wet when I would wear the Mica in the rain, and not from sweat.  Water was just seeping through the material.  It took me two weeks on the phone with Marmot to get them to exchange the jacket on warranty.  When I first called, Angie laughed at me when I told her I was hiking the AT with a Mica.  They of course only recommend the $400 Exum, which is way out of my budget.  She then promised to call me back on two separate occasions, but never did.  One time when I called I talked to Brian who said he’d email me, which also never happened.  Finally last monday I was able to get them to upgrade me to a Minimalist, which at least is Gore-Tex.  But apparently they weren’t able to ship it in a timely manner because I still don’t have it, and they claimed to use 2 day FedEx.  Under normal conditions this might be manageable, but on the trail it is anything but.  It rains 70% of the time, and hiking in a cheap interim poncho is awful, sweat and stability wise.  I will never buy a Marmot product again, and if you are considering doing any real outdoor activities I strongly suggest you look elsewhere for rain gear.  Marmot clearly does not stand by their products and their customer support is terrible.  Grade: Not Trailworthy.

Rain Gear

March 25th, 2009

A quick gear update after a night and day of rain.

1) The marmot mica is an excellent rain jacket.

2) I need to seam seal my tent again.

3) Because of the angles of my tent, the bottom of my down bag gets wet from touching the tent sides. This is really bad.

4) Etowah gear mitten shells are the worst piece of gear I’ve ever had. My hands were wet after 15 minutes of use. I can’t believe the guys at Walasi recommended these, they are horrible. AVOID.


March 20th, 2009

Dropped 2 Franklins at Walasi-Yi yesterday after a shake down. Got a better lighter rain jacket and mitten shells, polyester underwear, and had dad send me an old down vest to replace the fleece, which as it turns out holds moisture rather than repells it. Also ditched my camp shoes so I’m about a pound and a half lighter. I never meant to be an ultralight hiker but am glad it’s turning out that way cause the pack still feels heavy to me.

Left knee still hurts, but it feels better after short breaks. Might try to get so gel heel insoles to take some of the preasure off it.

Initial Gear List

February 15th, 2009

Pack 4lbs
REI Quick UL 45 Pack $30*
REI Duck Bag Cover $6*
CamelBak 2L Bladder
Sleeping 7lbs
Tarptent Sublite Sil $199
LL Bean Down Sleeping Bag
REI Self Inflating Sleeping Pad, Short $16*
Kitchen 3lbs
Sideburner Soda Can Stove $0
500ml Fuel Nalgene
Sea To Summit Titanium Spork and Lexan Knife $9*
Aluminium Flashing Wind Screen
REI Lexan Mug $2*
MSR Titanium Kettle $27*
27oz Klean Kanteen
Copper Pot Scrubby $2
Mini Bic Lighter
Platypus 2L Bag $7*
Chlorine Dioxide Water Drops $12
Clothes 7lbs
REI Gore-Tech Boots ?
Keen Slides
EMS Techwick Mid Weight Top + Bottom $45*
EMS Convertible Pants
C9 Long Sleeve Running Shirt $15
EMS Athletic T-Shirt $17*
Underwear ?
PolyPro Sock Liners $6
Hiking Socks, 2 pairs
Woolrich Fleece Pullover ?
The Weather Company Rain Gear $69
Winter Mittens
3 Bandannas
Accessories 3lbs
EMS Trekking Poles
Victorinox Manager $17*
Sewing Needle
50ft Nylon Rope $4
10ft Duct Tape
Thru-Hiker’s Handbook, 2008 $15
Rites in the Rain $4 ?
Love 2009 Daily Journal $13* ?
iPhone –* ?
Otter Box Case $32 ?
Solio Solar Charger $30* ?
First Aid 1lb
5 Gauze Pads $4
8 Band-Aids
6 Blister Treatments and Moleskin $8
2 Butterfly Bandages
Bug Spray
Ibuprofen $6
Multi Vitamins
Hygiene 2lbs
Red Snapper Trowel $2
Toilet Paper
Dr Brohners Soap
Nivea Cream $1
Mini Tooth Brush + Paste $2
10m Floss
Ear Plugs
Total $600 21lbs

* = On Sale
— = Already Owned
? = Weight not included

I also got three stuff sacs for my food, clothes, and sleeping bag, which is compression. I’m using the sea to summit brand, and together they cost $50. My tent and pad came with sacs, and I’m using my sisters dry sac for electronics.

So I don’t have a cool gram scale or anything like that and was doing this all on a regular bathroom scale. Needless to say the weights don’t add up, so something is off, but the total pack weight should be about right, which is to say 4lbs more than I’d like it to be without food and water. Hmm…

Sideburner Alcohol Stove

February 14th, 2009

I’ve made two stoves so far for the hike, trying out two separate designs.  Sideburner on left, topburner on right.


Alcohol Stoves


The first one I made is a top burning penny jet stove.  I used directions at YGingras, they are really easy to follow.  This stove works really well, but it needs a pot stand, which is more weight, and due to the small size of my pot I had a bit of trouple making one that I felt stable enough.  I could get into the science and benefits of alcohol stoves, but Zen Stoves really has all the information you need to know.  For me, the idea of making some of my own gear was really appealing, and in this case very affordable.  Woo hoo for making things!


The next one I tried is really a minor variation on the topburner, called a sideburner.  I followed these directions at Home Made Alcohol Stoves.  The one modification I made was to use a slightly bigger hole in the center, covered by a penny like the topburner.  I like the side burner design a lot more becasue you can place your pot right on top of the stove, however these stoves may be slightly less efficient as heat escapes around the sides of the pot.  A tip for anyone trying to make one of these:  For cutting cans, the scissor technique works a lot better, faster, and easier than the utility blade technique.




I tried making a mini sideburner following the instructions at Zen Stoves, but had a very difficult time of it.  As it turns out V8 cans are much thinner than your average soda can, and thus much more likely the crimp , buckle, and crack through the many stages of putting a stove like this together, and I just couldn’t get mine to stay lit.