Sunday, 3 February 2013

Gear Overview

Since my start date for my thru-hike is getting closer, I thought I would take a look at some of the gear I'll be bringing with me.  This isn't a full gear list (I'll try to post one before I leave), just an overview.  From some of my choices I'm sure you can tell that I'm not going to have the lightest pack on the trail, though I have had good experiences with all of them.

MEC Ibex 80 Backpack:

This is the pack that I used on Bowron Lakes and the West Coast Trail.  I am incredibly satisfied with it.  It is definitely on the heavy side and is larger than I probably need, but I find that it carries any load fairly comfortably, whether it is 20 lbs or 50 lbs.  The pack has a number of different pouches and pockets which makes organization pretty easy.  So far the pack seems pretty durable (and I've taken it on some rough trips) though there does seem to be a design flaw with the sternum strap (both my Dad's pack and mine have had the strap break).  This might not be the most ideal pack for a short trip, but it is a pack that I'm very comfortable hiking with for several months.

MEC Tarn 2 Tent:

Like my backpack, this is definitely larger and heavier than I need.  However, I feel like I could camp in pretty much any weather with this tent.  It is fairly easy to set up, is well ventilated, and seems very sturdy and durable.  I like the idea of having a large tent with me, since I will probably be less tempted to spend every night in a shelter or hostel.  I could take a zero day comfortably in this tent.  I haven't really camped with an ultra-light shelter like a tarp before, and I don't want to leave my comfort zone right away on such a big trip.  However, I wouldn't be surprised if I end up getting a different tent at some point on my trip.

MEC Aquila -12 C Sleeping Bag:

Again this might seem like overkill, but I tend to sleep pretty cold.  I have not used this bag in weather below -7 C, but at that temperature I was very comfortable with no layers on.  I am confident that I could make it through some very cold nights with this bag.  I am comfortable in this bag in warm weather (I sleep pretty cold) and would much rather have a sleeping bag that's too warm than one that is too cold.

Therm-A-Rest Prolite Plus Sleeping Pad:

This pad provides excellent insulation and is relatively comfortable.  I've slept very soundly on it, even when the ground had been frozen.  It's kind of difficult to get it back in its sack, but otherwise I have no complaints.

Saloman Quest 4D GTX Day Hiking Boots:

These boots are easily the best hiking boots I've ever had.  In my opinion, they are the perfect trade off betweem support and comfort.  I wore them on the West Coast Trail and did not develop any blisters.  They provided decent traction on all of the slippery boardwalks and log bridges.  However, what has impressed me the most with them is how water-proof they are.  I hiked through a lot of mud and water on that trip and the insides stayed completely dry.  I am definitely very satisfied with them.

Trangia Mini Stove and Cookset:

This is the only gear I'm bringing with me that I have not actually used yet (I want to make sure it doesn't get confiscated at the airport).  I bought it more for the pot and pan than for the stove itself.  The entire set is pretty light and space efficient.  I was thinking of making a pop can stove, but this seems a lot more durable.  I chose an alcohol stove since it seems like one of the more readily available fuels on the trail.

The A.T. Guide:

I have the A.T. Guide, the Thru-Hiker's Companion, and the A.T. Data Book.  After going through all 3 I've decided the A.T. Guide is the one I'll bring with me.  I appreciate that it has more landmarks and town maps, but the deal maker for me is the elevation profiles.  For me, knowing the elevations changes I'm facing is as important for planning as knowing where the road crossings and towns are.  I can't speak from experience as to how accurate this guide is, but from what I've read online, the consensus seems to be that this is the best guide for the AT.

I won't go into too many details about the clothing I'll be bringing.  What I'm planning on bringing is:
  • 2 Non-Cotton T-Shirts
  • 1 Fleece Hoodie
  • 1 Balaclava
  • 1 Baseball Cap
  • 1 Pair of Leather Mitts
  • 1 Pair of Gloves and Glove Liners
  • An Upper and Lower Body Base Layer
  • 1 Waterproof Jacket and 1 Breathable Jacket (both take up almost no space and have minimal weight, so I'm bringing both)
  • 1 Pair of Fleece Pants
  • 1 Pair of Water Proof Pants
  • 1 Pair of Zip-Off Hiking Pants
  • 2 Pairs of Wool Socks
  • 2 Pairs of Athletic Socks
  • 2 Pairs of Sock Liners
A good deal of this will get sent home once it warms up.  From my experience on the West Coast Trail, I know that I want a back up of every clothing item in the event that I get wet.  I am certainly not a true minimalist, but I don't notice a big difference between 25 and 35 lbs, so the extra weight is worth it to me.

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