Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Gear Post: Long Distance Trail and Backpacking Gear Research.

Warning: Gear Post!

Summer 2017: Long Distance Trail and Backpacking Gear Research:

In my spare time I like to research hiking and backpacking gear. (If that makes you yawn you should probably quit reading this post now.) I watch PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and CDT (Continental Divide) through-hikes and gear review videos and I strive to find the best mix of quality, cost and ultralight gear I can. I scour ultralight gear reviews by Triple Crown Hikers (meaning they’ve hiked all three major long distance trails: the AT (Appalachian Trail,) the CDT (incredible 38min overview through-hike video here) and the PCT.) I text gear finds back and forth with my best friend Rachel, who has turned me toward some amazing finds and hiker channels on YouTube. (Follow Dixie’s 2017-PCT throughhike here.) I scour eBay.com to find desirable equipment lightly used for a fraction of the cost and I plan.

In case you also want to live vicariously through these long distance hikers, check them out!

Darwin On the Trail

Homemade Wanderlust
Will’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/wmwood2001

Here’s my list of what I would carry if I were to leave and hike the Appalachian Trail tomorrow:

My current pack:

Osprey Aura 65L; Cost: about $200 now. 4lb, 2oz.
Outside review of pack.
Dream pack: Zpacks Arc Blast; 55L, $325. 21 ounces!
Check it out. 

Additional dream gear: Inside pack dry bags: ZPacks cuben fiber dry bags + food bag.

My current sleep pad: Klymit Inertia O-Zone. 12.2 ounces, cost: $45-80 online.
Here’s my video review of it.

Sitting pad for camp: None currently.
Most popular pad on trails: Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite Mattress. $129. 15.2 ounces.

Dream gear sitting pad for camp: Folding sit-pad by DutchGear; $7, 18 GRAMS!

Another popular one: Therm-a-rest Z-Seat
$15, 2oz
My current sleeping bag/quilt:
Custom EnLIGHTened Equipment Revelation 40 degree quilt. Cost: ~250.
Dream Quilt: Custom EnLIGHTened Equipment Enigma 20 degree quilt. $355.00, 16.83 oz. (Takes 6 weeks to make custom quilt in USA and ship.)

Alternative idea for a budget: Aegis Max down bag $73 on Amazon, 16oz. 35-40 degree bag comfort. 

My current Tent:
L.L.Bean Microlight Solo, Weight: 1lb 14oz. Cost: $299, or less during their tent sale.

Add titanium stakes to replace current ones for more weight savings. 

See Dixie's demo of setting up the Duplex with trekking poles here.
My current water filter: Platypus system with bladder bags. 11.5oz. Cost: ~$100.
What I would take instead:

Katadyn Be Free filter and .6L soft bag with wide scoop. Twice as fast as the Sawyer Squeeze. ($39.99) 2 oz. See demo here.
 *Editor's Choice Backpacker Award 2017

Also popular: the Sawyer Squeeze products. Made in Safety Harbor, FL!
My current rain jacket: L.L.Bean Trail Model Rain Jacket. (16 oz) $80

Pants: Columbia rain pants 9.6oz $50.
Dream Rain Jacket: Marmot Essence Rain Jacket (5 oz!) $100-140+

Pants: Same or Marmot pants. 8.6 oz.

Maybe aluminum cork handled poles if I break more than a pair or two. (Sturdier and less prone to break than the carbon fiber for a weight penalty.)
Hiking Clothes needed:

Hiking: Tee-shirt, hiking tights, bra/underwear. Down sweater. Hat. Gaiters. Trail running shoes. Darn tough hiking socks. Seal Skinz socks for rainy days.

Sleeping: Thermal long sleeve and pants. Wool socks. Backup pair of underwear.

Rain gear: Jacket, pants, gloves, warm hat.
Popular brands/types:

Socks: Darn Tough, Smart Wool, Seal Skinz, sock liners, Injinji sport toe socks.

Shirts: Flash dry/wicking. Merino wool.

Underwear: ExOfficio.

Clothing brands: Patagonia, North Face, Marmot, L.L.Bean, Outdoor Research, Columbia, REI, Eddie Bauer, Dirty Girl Gaiters.

Cooking system:
Basic Titanium alcohol stove 1.83oz ($30) 
 and denatured alcohol ($2/12oz Heet (yellow bottle) Methanol) plus lighter.  Read about alcohol fuel stoves here. 
Ideally: Go stove-less.
More Cooking gear:
None purchased.
Dream gear: Toaks titanium pot (500-700ml; 3oz) and a titanium spork

Recent gear purchases: While I did give up three weeks of my summer to teach summer school and camp, I did vastly enjoy spending time with the kids, and there was the added bonus of having extra funds to research and buy some new gear! Here’s what I found on eBay:

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Women’s 800 fill down jacket/sweater:

Retail: $99+
I paid (eBay) $68.64, shipping included.

Saved: $30.36.

Patagonia Capilene Women’s hiking tee-shirts:

Retail: $39.00;
I bought three and paid: $8.99, $4.50, and $13.98, plus shipping for two.

Saved: $82.00.

Patagonia Capilene Women’s long sleeve shirt:

Retail: $29.00
I paid: $10.49 shipping included,

Saved: $18.51.

Patagonia Water Girl tee-shirt (non wicking):

Retail: ~$35.00
I counter offered/accepted/paid: $8 with shipping included.

Saved: $27.00

Patagonia Women’s R1 Fleece jacket pullover:
Retail: $77 in this color. (More in others.)
I paid: $23.29 including shipping.

Saved: $53.71.

Zella (Nordstrom Athletic brand) wicking tee-shirt:

Retail: $45.00
eBay: $16.95, Made a counter offer/accepted and I paid: $12.95 (free shipping)

Saved: $32.05

Total savings for gear found on eBay: $243.63.

Another great discount gear website is Massdrop: where they order mass amounts of an item and offer it at a steep discount. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Blog Feature: Mauro Morandi, Remote Island Caretaker living like Thoreau.

I recently read a National Geographic article about a man who has lived alone on Budelli Island between Corsica and Sardenia for 28 years, speaks Italian, and who very recently got WIFI on the island. I looked him up on Twitter to ask if he had any wisdom  or advice for people from his perspective of living mostly in solitude and we had the following conversation. (Translated with Google Translate.) Let me know if you would like me to ask him any questions! I'd be happy to tweet him!

 In Italian:
 In English: 

Aimee: Tweeting from his isolated island! (With tag.)

Mauro Morandi: Hello!

Aimee: Good morning from Tampa, Florida, USA! I'm following your story: you're inspiring! Do you have any messages or wisdom for my young students on how best to live life? We'd like to hear from you, Mr. Morandi. Thank you for your time. -Aimee

Mauro Morandi: "It's not easy to give advice. I can only recommend reading of Antigone of Sofocle [by Sophocles]: To disobey human laws contrary to divine laws. Divine laws that are in us are superior to human laws."

Aimee: Thank you so much!

  So it's time to get reading! It's been eighteen years since I've read Antigone. I'll let you know what wisdom I garner from the title when I've finished! 
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