Aug 23, 2013 at 8:24 am #1306857
Just returned from a pleasurable 3-day hike at Pt. Reyes, north of San Francisco. Moderate weather ranging from sun-hot to fog-wet, highs near 85 and lows around 55. Here are a dozen pieces of gear that impressed me the most:
1. Polycryo (window film) ground sheet. It did double duty throughout the day as a place to sit during breaks, giving us a large, clean area to perch and lay packs. I started carrying it in the outside pocket of the pack, I used it so frequently. Very handy. I need to make a larger version that includes the vestibule of my Hubba tent, and it'll be perfect.
2. Smartwool Outdoor Light wool socks. Performed like champs. Never wanted to wear anything else. I have had "burning balls of the feet" problems on training hikes, and had not a single issue with the Smartwools. Looking to get a second pair. Adding a polypro liner didn't help comfort, so just wore the Smartwools alone.
3. Patagonia Nanopuff Vest. Surprisingly light and warm once the sun set. Allowed me to leave all my fleece at home.
4. 20-oz Gatorade bottle, graduated by ounces. Super-handy kit, and turned upside down, its bullet-shaped head slips easily into the side pocket of the pack. Could not want a better water bottle.
5. H501w Zebralight headlamp. Never needed to see into the distance, so the flood worked great around camp and in the tent.
6. Scissors from Victorinox Swisscard. Put these in at the last second as a "luxury" item and used them several times where a knife would have done a poor job.
7. Zyrtec type allergy pills. Really helped cut the dust and sleep well the one night I used it.
8. 3M Transpore Tape, which I use on the balls of my feet. Slick on the outside. (Leukotape is also good but not as slick.)
9. Exped Airpillow Medium (Red). On my third pillow purchase, finally, a good pack pillow. Well worth the 3 oz for a better night's sleep.
10. Reynolds Oven Roast Bags as stuffsacks. Super light, very durable, CLEAR (so you can easily find what you're looking for) and reasonably waterproof if closed properly (twist, bight, and cinch). I used NiteIze Geartie closers which are colorful and easy to spot.
11. PVA AquaDry "towel" or chamois. Great for a wipe-down of the dripping wet fly of the tent, allowed faster drying and faster breaking of camp. These found at Target in the automobile section, cut to preferred size.
12. Baby Wipes for bathing. I cut several in half, but next time, I'm taking them whole. Well worth the weight and the psychological lift from being cleaner afterwards.
Gear Failures: Nothing failed outright.
1. Had difficulty lighting my Cat stove one windy morning, and couldn't do it until I surrounded the stove with my sit pad. May have to rework the windscreen I made, which is short.
2. For an hour one morning, the food locker (supplied & mandated at the camps) was left open by mistake and a mouse made quick work of the opportunity, chewing through an Oven Roast Bag containing my food, raiding my granola and bread, and pooping prodigiously in my cook pot. Not really a failure of the food bag. Still–it made me wonder if it would be wise to put food in something a little more resistant.
3. Ran out of coffee and would carry extra next time. Got tired of eating jerky. Next time I'll carry extra coffee, chocolate & cheese, the "three Cs."Aug 23, 2013 at 9:46 am #2017930
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Good write up, thanks! I enjoy seeing what other people use, what they found worked well, and what didn't.
I especially like your idea of using oven bags as stuff sacks.Aug 23, 2013 at 10:02 am #2017936
Regarding "it made me wonder if it would be wise to put food in something a little more resistant":
On a recent Sierra trip, we had our food in 2 canisters and an Ursack. The first night a mouse got in the Ursack through the miniscule opening at the drawcord, chewed through the side of the bag of nuts and presumably got away with a few. The following nights we placed the cookpot lid at the top of the Ursack, with the edges facing upwards tight against the bag. We were rewarded with poop in the lid, but apparently no further breaching of the food, so we counted it as a success.
Moral: mice can get in nearly any opening, so that's the first thing to watch out for. And rodents can chew through most stuffsack fabrics if they're so inclined, including cordura (had to patch my first Jansport pack when one ate through a pocket to get at some trail mix I'd left there).Aug 23, 2013 at 10:23 am #2017940
Oh, I should add one more "spectacular" success: dried quinoa for dinner. Before the hike, make quinoa however you like (mine's a curried version) and then dehydrate it. Whatever the dried weight is (3 oz per meal for me), rehydrate in twice as much water by volume (6 oz). Boil, let cool, eat with flat bread. Carbs and protein.Sep 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm #2025681
THanks to David's sale, just picked up an UL Outsak Micro to combat the rodent problem. Hopefully this will be good storage for food "valuables" such as chocolate and cheese.Oct 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm #2034127
Take a look at Grug Pack might take care of your mouse problem. I use the small on it weighs 99 grams 3.49 oz. and will hold about three days of food.
http://grubpack.com/Oct 15, 2013 at 10:50 am #2034317
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
"Critter-Proof" mesh? Not so much:Oct 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm #2034384
Valerie, do you know what type of animal breached your bag? Could it have been one of your infamous ravens? As far as I know, they're the only smallish critters that have actually gotten into an Outsak through the mesh. Those are some big and crafty birds you have down there.
I'm a true fan of the Outsaks, and I've use them on all my trips since 2010. In GNP and YNP, I use them with Lawson's cuben liner bags for my bear pole hangs, and here in Colorado I just hang the Outsak from a convenient tree branch. I've never had a single incident of a critter breaking into one. But I'm only worried about small birds and rodents (including raccoons) getting to my food. However, on the Outsak web site, they make it clear that you need to do things differently when it comes to those Grand Canyon ravens. There's a video that tells you how to do it.Oct 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm #2034389
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
Gary, we *think* the culprit was a raven (but the Outsack was left in a rock crevice overnight)– but we weren't there to see what happened. This was my friend's Outsack; my cache was in a dry bag in the same rock crevice, and was untouched.
Those GC ravens are unbelievable — another friend caught one unzipping his pack and searching inside for food! Not kidding – they've learned how to unzip tents and packs with their beaks – crazy.
I would still not depend solely on a mesh bag in an area with rodents; around here, packrats have been known to chew through all kinds of mesh screens to get into houses, and I have no doubt that rodents can learn techniques to access yummy human food (like some bears have).
But, of course, the decision is personal, and depends on one's destination, comfortable risk level, etc.
At this point, I would only cache in GC if I'm using a metal cookie tin (so far, raven-and-rodent-proof) – but maybe not worth the weight.Oct 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm #2034792
I have been using Cytomax containers in areas where a bear canister isn't necessary. SE Utah has all sorts of four and two legged thieves.Oct 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm #2035337
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
Is a plastic tub like the cytomax or other supplement (protein, etc..) sufficient to ward off raccoons and squirrels and rats and mice?
Bigger problem around the sites we generally visit with scouts with coons and squirrels and mice than bears..Oct 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm #2035850
Same question here about plastic.
One time, during a car-camp trip, I spotted a chipmunk who was just completing a chew-through of a 5-gallon food-grade plastic pail, in which I kept my food. I stopped him just in time, and boy was he mad at me; he swore at me for half an hour after. But he ruined the pail, which is made of thick plastic.Dec 25, 2013 at 11:36 pm #2057610
@millonasLocale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
In case you don't already protect against this, be aware that Racoons (there should have been tons at Pt. Reyes) even if they can't in the end get into your food bag, CAN and will carry it away. Opposable thumbs are the route to all evil.
So do make sure it is tied down or eventually your food bag will just disappear one night, armor plated or not.
This is a totally commonplace occurrence. I always imagine the bag sitting for days or weeks dragged off somewhere where they hang out, like some raccoon version of the sword in the stone. The first racoon to figure out how to get inside is then proclamed King of the Racoons.
PS Ravens are not generally active at night. On the other hand they are smarter than some people (and unzipping things is not remotely the hardest things that can learn to do)
… there is for example Heinrich's now classic string puzzle:
They also use tools to get at food, though hopefully not blowtorches!
I suppose in some very high traffic areas they might adapt for night work. But I doubt it if the damage happened in the middle of the night. On the other hand, if you blinked any time just before the crack of dawn then ……Dec 26, 2013 at 8:29 am #2057650
@daveinflagLocale: High Desert
Your friend should contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org
This picture hurts me. This looks like raven damage. We have never done a video on how to cache long term in grand canyon, but it is due. Most of our videos address "overnight storage", or "what to do while you are away from camp". The number of hikers caching food for days in grand canyon is small, compared to those who are storing food while they sleep, or are away for a few hours, so the video never made it up the priority list. However, seeing this picture, it just jumped to the top of the list. I'll come back and post a link when we have it completed.
This is an older model of the Outsak UL. We upgraded the mesh September 2013. The label on the new bag reads Outsak UL.
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