Dec 28, 2011 at 9:20 am #1283432
This was fun/interesting last year, so let's do it again. Top three or so gear/whatever you got/enjoyed in the past year.
For me, it wasn't all backpacking gear:
In no particular order:
1. My custom RBH queen size VBL blanket. This thing is truly awesome. I keep my house pretty chilly, and used to sleep with flannel sheets, a couple of blankets, a thick quilt, and a bed cover to stay warm. Now it's just the sheets, the RBH blanket, another thin blanket, and a bed cover (more for the pup and her shedding hair than for warmth). And I'm toastier than I was with the previous setup. A winner that will be with me for the rest of my sleeping life!
2. Cuben Lightheart Solo shelter. I ended up with this unexpectedly, but have loved it ever since I first set it up in the backyard. Easy to pitch, plenty of room, light enough for me. I don't look at shelters any more, I've finally found my 90 percent solution.
3. GGG. In early 2011, on a whim, I joined the gathering at Henry Coe. Made some delightful new friends and had a great time. I went back to the gathering later in the year, and am planning on attending the winter gathering again in February. If my personality doesn't get me banned, I'll be backpacking with this great group of folks for years to come. Also planning on a Sierra trip with a couple of other BPL 'friends' in the fall. By far this is the biggest benefit of BPL for me – the people I've come to know.
4. I also like the Rab MeCo base layers. Wonderful stuff – I use 'em for cold weather cycling as well. I've become a big fan of Rab gear over the past two years.
So what are your picks?Dec 28, 2011 at 10:44 am #1816667
@troutLocale: Long Beach
2) Learning that taking my girlfriend's share of the weight when we hike together a) slows me down (this is a good thing, for her), b) makes her experience much more enjoyable (thus making mine much more enjoyable).
3) Nutella + tortillas. This was the shizznittlebamsnipsnapsack when I was in some serious need of calories and a treat.
4) okay one gear item: Patagonia Houdini. You might get this with any windshirt, but the benefits I receive from having a windshirt are intense for how light they are. They block wind very well and a lot of warmth, wayyyyy more so on windy days too. They repel some tiny mist drops pretty well, and are a good "ah crap I'm setting up my poncho tarp as a tarp"-wear.Dec 28, 2011 at 10:46 am #1816670
@paintballr4lifeLocale: East Coast
1. Custom Pack made by Chris Zimmer. I had him build this pack to my specifications and I absolutely love it. Apparently others do to because it has now become the "Half Dome" pack. It has become my go to pack for all of my trips since I received it. Chris does excellent work.
2. Katabatic Bristlecone Bivy. I have used it on a few trips and it is very nice. I had a Tigoat one prior to this, which was good also but very slim where as this bivy is quite large. I also like being able to tie down my pad to the bivy so it doesn't slide around as much.
3. Montbell Exlight. I received this for Christmas last year and has been on every trip since. It is very warm for how light it is (around 6oz). It is very minimalistic as there are no pockets on the jacket, which is something that I really like.Dec 28, 2011 at 10:47 am #1816672
1. Neoair – Shaving about a pound off my sleeping pad weight while adding more comfort….not bad.
2. Nesco Food Dehydrator – I love this thing. We've been dehydrating a variety of fruit and virtually all of our dinners and I don't see this changing any time soon.
3. Patagonia Houdini – I never considered wind shirts before reading about them here towards the end of last year, but now it's one of my most frequently worn articles of clothing.Dec 28, 2011 at 11:07 am #1816683
Why start another thread when Addie asked for your top picks in the BPL official thread?Dec 28, 2011 at 11:18 am #1816688
Because that thread quickly headed down a different road – 17 responses and only one (the 15th) was a list of a reader's favorites (and that was posted there after I started this one here). Thought it would be easier to start this thread and hope it didn't drift like the other.Dec 28, 2011 at 11:37 am #1816697
@sschloss1Locale: New England
1) ULA CDT – I finally splurged on a lighter pack for short trips, and it was worth every penny. Now I can leave my bigger pack home, and I actually use most of the CDT's volume instead of hiking with a half-empty bag.
2) My dryer – After watching my beloved WM Summerlite gradually lose loft over a few years, I tossed it in the dryer with some tennis balls. 30 minutes later, it seemed even fluffier than when I first bought it.
3) A girlfriend who loves backpacking as much as I do – We did 200 miles on the AT this year, and we're planning a CDT thru-hike. Hiking as a couple is a blast.Dec 28, 2011 at 11:49 am #1816705
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
Exped Snymat UL7 –
light, warm, super comfortable. First sleeping pad I’ve owned that’s hit all three sweet spots.
IKEA Woodstove –
a fun MYOG project, and an amazing little $4 stainless steel woodstove that works perfectly with the MSR Titan pot.
Tyvek pants from US Plastics –
for about $3, I use these pants for wind, rain, and bug protection. Easily tailored with scissors and duct tape, I added some extra length to the legs (from a second cannibalized pair) and on a wet, buggy trip into the North Cascades this year they provided terrific protection while in camp. Based on how well they’re holding up, I think a pair will give me 3 years of use. Quite the bargain!Dec 28, 2011 at 11:54 am #1816709
1) The High Sierra Trail. Off-trail navigation much easier than I thought.
2) Bikepacking. On a road bike – to campgrounds. Great activity for winter/spring in the Bay Area.
3) Minimalist/barefoot shoes.Dec 28, 2011 at 11:57 am #1816710
@flemdawg1Locale: SE US
1. Jetboil Ti SOL. Just got it for Christmas and have played with it everyday. So compact lightweight and powerful, how this missed the Staff Picks I have no clue.
2.Big Agnes Insulated AC. Yeah I'm late to the party here. I got it as a warranty replacement for my regular AC, and I feel instantly 10 deg warmer on it.
3. Gerber Bear Gryll's Compact Scout knife. 1oz, nice and sharp. Just enough knife for BPing.Dec 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm #1816711
@cwayman1Locale: East Tennessee, US
>A good friend: He's a couple times my age and probably more fit than I am. He keeps me in check and on pace.
>Finnish Puukko: I love the look of old, well-used knives and this one is a true home-run. Perfect size, perfect balance, perfect piece of gear.
>MT101: A good balance of minimal shoe and proper traction.Dec 28, 2011 at 12:08 pm #1816715
@climberslackerLocale: Your guess is as good as mine.
In no particular order:
1.) Patagonia Houdini-Just got if or christmas, already in love with it.
2.) Old School GG Murmur. A member here graciously gave it to me, I love this pack! Light, but still big enough for long-weekend trips!
3.) Yogi's PCT Planning Guides. I'll be on the PCT this summer (Watch out for an influx of posts about my gear selection coming shortly to a forum near you). Extremely helpful guides!Dec 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm #1816716
@edhyattLocale: The North
1. Five day's in Assynt
2. A week on Mallorca with friends
3. My 'Mole Bunnet' – a Ray-Way hat fashioned by my mate MoleDec 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm #1816722
1. zpacks zero size small backpack. can do 5 days summer, 4 days 3 season with this pack. the most comfortable i've ever carried…
2. hammock gear cuben tarp (with doors). a 4 season tarp at 6.5 ozs (before guylines). i hate tarps in general and try not to use one. this is a palace for the weight.
3. nikon d3100. takes WAY better pictures than my canon point and shoot. i mean WAY better. too bad it weighs a ton…Dec 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm #1816724
1. My SEWING MACHINE! By and large the best money that I have ever spent.
2. Gossamer Gear Lt3's. I was so afraid to break one, I actually became better at using the poles as a helpful tool and not as crutches.
3. My steripen. You just look and feel cool using one. What more can you ever ask for?
4. If the sewing machine does not count, then the Neoair is like being at home.Dec 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm #1816726
@fre49Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
1) merinos shirts, ( bpl hoodie usualy ) they are a big comfort improvement for long hikes
i tried but without success some merinos boxer, like the icebreaker beast, they dont hold their shape after 1-2 days.
2) neoair, i now sleep as well as in my bed, despite a back in very poor shape. ( waiting on the xlite atm )
3) event rain vest, still using my 2009 rab drillium, much less clammy than the goretex, regular and paclite i had before.
And still waterproof.
products i bought in 2011 that i like a lot, but didnt change my backpcking as much as the 3 above
mont bell half sleeve down inner
blackrock hadronDec 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm #1816732
@thefatboyLocale: St. Louis
1) Back surgery and a therapy plan that let me walk again, letting my do my first real backpacking trips (5 of them!) in 4 years !
2) Membership to BPL and hte vast knowledge that comes with it. Shaved 8 pounds from my base weight so far. Trying for a couple more to make this new spine last as long as possible.
3) Dreams! Adding trips to my bucket list I didn't think would ever be an option again… Also dreaming of new gear (maybe pick up an SMD Traveler or Skyscape Scout before the sale ends next week!)Dec 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm #1816736
Larry De La BriandaisParticipant
@hitechLocale: SF Bay Area
A sawyer water filter. I replaced a First Need, which I had setup so that I could easily filter a liter of water in one minute. The sawyer isn't any faster, but I just stand there with the dirty bag on my shoulder and wait while it filters. Much easier and it weights a whole lot less. I also set it up on a 2.5 gallon collapsible container for more of a camping trip. That worked really well as well. Filtered 20 or more gallons with no noticeable flow rate change. The prefilter on my First Need (the MSR one) would have long plugged by then.Dec 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm #1816738
@shortbusLocale: So Cal
1) Merino Wool. Not just a yuppie selling point, I have grown to love the stuff.
2) MLD Trailstar. The only shelter I need to own, I really love this thing.
3) Jetboil Ti Sol. 8 oz is just worth it. Sure, my "other" setup is 5 oz lighter, but I just dont want to fidget with it. Scoop some water out of a creek and two minutes later I am good to go.
Runner up: Golite Jam. It gets trash talked a lot around here, but the thing is comfortable, inexpensive and after some scissor work, only about a pound and a half.Dec 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm #1816740
#1 favorite new gear in 2011–a Katabatic, Alsek down quilt.
I chose the 6' version and opted for the wider model (because I'm primarily a side sleeper). If I'm going to get cold at night it's always in the shoulders, so I also opted for 2 oz. of overfill in that area. Unbelievable comfort was the result.
#2–Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves (model J35706). At 5.8 oz. per shoe, they are the lightest I've ever worn on an extended trip. I decided to give them a try on the Wonderland Trail last fall. After wearing them about half the time for the first couple of trail days, I found them so comfortable (even on the snow and on rocky terrain) I abandoned my other shoes at the first food cache, and they became my only shoes for the remaining 80 miles.
#3–Yaktrax Walkers. They're lightweight, and easy to put on. I slipped these over my Trail gloves to walk through snow fields. Paired with lightweight gaiters (and a pair of Rocky Goretex socks) my feet stayed dry, and I had plenty of traction.Dec 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm #1816744
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
1. CC Sidewinder/Inferno stove -> That Inferno insert was pure genius. Hotter than Hades and very fuel efficient. And the ESBIT setup saves me fuel over my Vargo Triad stove setup.
2. WM Megalite 1 oz. Overfill -> Who's a thunk that a mere 1 oz (800 cu. in.) of down "overfill" could make a bag so much warmer. Now I have a 20F. bag for those high, cold summer camps. Best $38. I ever spent on backpacking gear.
3. Improved Steripen Adventurer -> Accidentally left my Steripen at a spring in the nearby mountains outside Las Vegas. So I got a new Adverturer with the new optical sensor. Works much better.
Oh, yeah, 4. New Thermarest Prolite regular -> Cascade Designs replaced my ancient, delaminated Thermarest Lite for FREE. Great mattress and a bit warmer than the old Lite.Dec 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm #1816752
1) Sewing Machine – still playing with it, but I'm already super stoked on the $30 Goodwill find. Originally, I just wanted a few key pieces of homemade gear, but I'm starting to eye making clothing for the trail as well.
2) MSR gravity filter – yeah, it's a bit heavy, and definitely heavier than AM, but I don't even carry a bottle anymore, and of course I'm not pumping either. I love having my mountain stream not taste like tap water.
3) REI Flash 30 – I got this a while ago, before it was on clearance, but I have used it a LOT. I started bike commuting this year, and this is the pack I use. More than just cutting close to 30 oz from my base weight, it has let me get way more exercise than just my daily run. Perfect size not just for a weekend trip, but work essentials as well.
Honorable mention – Switching to all grain homebrewing. Not the forum for it, hence honorable mention rather than a top three. Love it.
JeffDec 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm #1816755
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Hiked the JMT this year in August and gear that I loved
1. Goosefeet Down Socks for sleeping….newest bit of gear and my only luxury item. I sleep cold and use a Jacks R Better 30-25F down quilt. These down socks have taken me from being just okay to toasty warm while sleeping. 2.5-3.5 oz (I have overfill)
2. Caldera Cone & Gram Cracker Stove for Esbit, used a friend's gram cracker and was blown away at the efficiency that I gained. 2.0-2.5 boils with one esbit. Was my 1st purchase when I got home from the trip.
3. MLD eVent Soul Side Zip Bivy from 2008-2009. Bomber Bivy. Not a scratch on it after all these years of use. I just love that with the small foot print of a bivy that I could find the smallest spots to settle in for the night next to a rock, a tree, between a rock and tree that a tent could not fit in. The Bivy allowed me to use natural wind blocks to make my nights all the warmer.
-TonyDec 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm #1816779
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Here are my three for 2011:
Definitely the most used this winter, because I wear it around home too: A Katerina Pierini knit hat, in merino wool. Her hats are works of art and warm, too!
A KookaBay custom Climashield insulated air mat. It is 20"x 60" x 3.5", mummy style, insulated to R5, weighs 12.9 oz. It has taken me a long time to get used to it, particularly the narrow bottom end. I've also had difficulty keeping non-skld stripes on the bottom; they promptly peel off (see below for the solution). Even so, it is by far the most comfortable pad I've ever had. After reading about the problems with the Peak Elite AC (which I'd originally had in mind), I'm sure glad I went with KookaBay!
Just bought, so I've not had a chance to seam seal or try it outdoors: ZPacks Hexamid Twin, the version with screening, plus their twin size bathtub floor ground sheet. I set it up in my living room, got my sleeping bag and pad and my dog's sleeping pad and the two of us got inside. Next thing I knew, it was 4 hours later and we'd both had a nice nap! There's lots of room (including headroom) for the dog and me, and I'll even be able to add one grandchild, although that will be a bit snug. The cuben floor is far less slippery than silnylon, so my KookaBay pad stays put! I carefully checked out the dimensions and headroom, because my past experiences with side-opening tents were not good. There's lots of space over my head in the Hex Twin, with no danger of brushing my head or feet against wet tent. Note: Just to be sure, I'm keeping my prior tent (GG/Tarptent Squall Classic) until I've used the Hexamid Twin for a season. One or the other will be for sale next November! Yes, expensive, but about 3/4 pound savings. As I get older, this amount of weight savings becomes more and more significant.Dec 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm #1816784
1) TT contrail. first 1p tent i've had in a long time. upgraded my REI solo lite(4lb lite? hmm) I was only able to do 1 night in it before it got to cold to do any hiking but so far so good. I love the ease of set up and small packed size.
2) BA Air Core mattress. Got sick of sore hips from sleeping on thin thermarests so between reviews here and elsewhere that is what i picked and couldn't be happier. 2.5" full length of soft comfort. Got one for my girlfriend for her birthday too so she wouldn't be jealous and steal mine.
3) Osprey exos 58. Huge upgrade from my 5lb REI pack i've had since high school. Have not had the chance to do any hikin with it but just wearing it in the house with some stuff in it already proves it will be much better.
4) Osprey Stratos 24. the day pack that brought me to BPL. Have done multiple day hikes with it and it has worked great. as you can see i'm a fan of the suspended mesh back panels.
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