Aug 9, 2013 at 7:42 am #1306351
Here's my basic list: http://www.geargrams.com/list?id=10937
All of my trips follow that model. I typically hike sections of the AT. The lowest temperatures I hike in reach the twenties (but that's rare.) I wouldn't mind adding up to 32oz to my kit. I'm not chasing numbers. I care more about my hiking experience, functionality, and simplicity. I'm hoping for advice on fixing a few of my issue with the kit – and any advice in general is more than welcome if you see other areas that could be better.
Things I've considered fixing:
– My cookset is inefficient. I use a titanium bowl as a pot. It doesn't have a lid and I haven't been satisfied using types of foils as lids. I have to carry a pot-grabber because it doesn't have a handle. I'm ready for a better cook set. Even just a new pot like an MSR Titan Kettle would solve those problems. Is there something better though? Should I also consider esbit?
– My sleeping pad is neither warm enough nor comfortable enough. I make it through the night, but I wake frequently. I'm considering a self-inflating pad because I use my pad as a backpack "frame." What would you switch to?
– I debate whether to replace my trekking poles with flick-lock adjustable ones. My shelter would become much more flexible that way. I always tell myself I could use sticks found in the woods, but I don't think that's going to happen. Is it worth switching?
Thanks for the help!Aug 9, 2013 at 8:17 am #2013880
Ben CBPL Member
I like your list. I would consider a consider a cushier full pad like a neoair. And I like to have 1/8" pad I use to supplement my sleeping pad, use as a ground sheet, and use around camp to sit on.
I use a Ti bowl too and really like it. I think its really pretty efficient. I use a heavy foil lid and I made a reflectix cozy that holds it all together well for packing. Also, I don't bring a pot grabber. Often, I just grab the top rim with my hands; its cooler than you might think. I also have a pair of wool gloves that I will use as a pot grabber if its hot and then place it in my light reflectix cozy.
Adjustable poles (or at least one pole)are kind of nice for setting up a spinn twinn. You don't have to gain any significant weight to do that though.
There are often a few extras you might need to bring, like bear bag/line. Or a tenkara rod, if you really want to gain some weight.Aug 9, 2013 at 8:52 am #2013889
Your cook kit is coming in at 4.72 ounces not including the spoon. You could save some weight and add quite a bit of function with an esbit system. Mine has more capacity, a handle and a lid and is currently coming in at 4.48 ounces with a Zpacks stuff sack, sans spoon and sponge:
Re. inflatable sleeping pads, the Xlite's are the lightest, the Xtherms the best combination of warmth/durability/weight, and the Exped Synmat (or even the Big Agnes Q Core SL) are the most comfortable. You could add any of them within your weight budget with lots of room to spare.Aug 9, 2013 at 8:52 am #2013890
"My cookset is inefficient. I use a titanium bowl as a pot. It doesn't have a lid and I haven't been satisfied using types of foils as lids. I have to carry a pot-grabber because it doesn't have a handle. I'm ready for a better cook set. Even just a new pot like an MSR Titan Kettle would solve those problems. Is there something better though? Should I also consider esbit?"
I believe Bob Gross added a wire bail to his SP bowl. I've been fine with foil lids on my pots. I have the Light Trail Solid Fuel Kit and the Trail Designs Sidewinder for the Evernew UL 600. I use the Light Trail with Esbit for any trips where I'm shaving all the weight I can but still want the occasional hot meal. For a modest weight penalty, the TD Sidewinder kit offers me the flexibility of using multiple fuels more efficiently.
"My sleeping pad is neither warm enough nor comfortable enough. I make it through the night, but I wake frequently. I'm considering a self-inflating pad because I use my pad as a backpack "frame." What would you switch to?"
I have the Exped Synmat and the Prolite 3/4. The Prolite is my go-to pad for comfort and weight. It takes less time to deploy or recover than my Synmat. I find it to be comfortable when I'm sleeping on my side. It's not as tall so I'm less crowded in my Hexamid. It seems to be more rugged than other mattresses I've tried. I've used multiple TAR self-inflating mattresses since the '80s and I'm a very satisfied customer. I've seen numerous reviews where thru hikers switched from the 3/4 to the full length prolite but my trips are normally less than a week and at 6'3" I'm fine with the shorter pad.
EDIT: I don't use the prolite as a frame so I can't speak to that criteria.
"I debate whether to replace my trekking poles with flick-lock adjustable ones. My shelter would become much more flexible that way. I always tell myself I could use sticks found in the woods, but I don't think that's going to happen. Is it worth switching?"
I have the BD Carbon Corks and although they are comparatively heavy, I'm not in the market for new ones. I've never used LT4s but I've read numerous TRs where the hiker broke an LT4 miles from nowhere.Aug 9, 2013 at 8:53 am #2013891
Adam RothermichBPL Member
@aroth87Locale: Missouri Ozarks
If the goal is to simplify your kit I'd definitely I'd recommend looking at Esbit. The wing stove serves as pot stand and burner just like current alcohol stove but I find Esbit much less hassle to use. There's nothing to measure out or spill. If you're just boiling water for yourself for a few days I think its the simplest solution. Some people don't like the smell but I can't say I notice it unless I put my nose right up to the pot.
I would look into getting a pot with handles to replace your bowl/pot lifter. The LiteTrail 550mL pot would weigh about the same as your current combination. I have both a Snow Peak 700 and an MSR Titan Kettle. The kettle, being wider is more efficient and the lid fits tight but the SP has graduations inside so I end up using it most often. Both are heavier than your current set up (Kettle w/ lid – 128g, SP 700 w/ foil lid – 98g).
I use a Thermarest Prolite Plus. Its the heaviest item in my pack and there are certainly lighter options. But its proven to be durable and comfortable and my wife bought it for me so I'd have a heard time explaining why I need another sleeping pad :D I used to use a cut down Ridgrest and don't miss it one bit, the Prolite takes up less room in my pack and I get a much better night's sleep. I use it as my pack frame and with loads under 20 lbs it works fine.
I also use a pair of aluminum Leki poles. They weigh 15 ounces for the pair but are seemingly indestructible. I've been tempted to make my own SUL poles with golf shafts but my Lekis are the oldest piece of gear I have and I almost can't imagine hiking with anything else. I slipped on some ice and bent a lower section one time. It would have shattered a carbon pole but I was able to bend it back mostly straight and jam it back into the upper section and continue to use it that way for 4 years. I just found out Leki warranties against breakage for life and they're shipping me a new lower section for free as we speak.
A pyramid tarp is simpler to set up than a cat-tarp like the SpinnTwin. Having just switching from a Grace Duo to a BearPaw Luna 2 I am very happy with it. There is much more useable floor space and headroom and it really does feel like a palace. Its worth the extra weight for me.
The last simplification I'd recommend is ditching the AquaMira. Mixing the drops is an added step that can be avoided with Micropur tabs. Or you could get a Sawyer Squeeze (the new Mini looks even better!). I use a Squeeze and keep a half dozen Micropur tabs for backup.
I just went through a similar simplification process and also added a little bit of weight. For a total of 1-2 lbs I've been able to spend less time fiddling with stuff in camp and just enjoy my surroundings. Its been a worthwhile trade off for me.
AdamAug 9, 2013 at 11:01 am #2013924
"I believe Bob Gross added a wire bail to his SP bowl."
That would be correct. The Snow Peak bowl is 1.8 ounces plus a tiny bit more for the stainless steel wire bail. Plus a little more for a lid. The lid material is either three layers of heavy duty aluminim foil pressed together or else a carbon fiber disk (just depending on my mood). No pot gripper needed. This is supported on a titanium wing stove and surrounded by an aluminum foil windscreen. Esbit works for me.
–B.G.–Aug 9, 2013 at 11:26 am #2013931
@pitsyLocale: Central Texas
I love my Exped UL7 sleeping pad, and my MSR Titan kettle. Everything else you have seems about right.Aug 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm #2013955
Thanks for all of the ideas.
I must have gone about the foil lid idea wrong. Since it seems to work for some of you, I ought to try again. I had a hard time with the durability of the lids I made.
The carbon fiber lid concept intrigues me. Where can I get one of those (or the materials to make one?)
Likewise, the steel handle for the bowl sounds good. Will I need a special drill to get through the titanium? And do you have any recommendations for handle material?
If I switched to esbit, how many grams might I expect to need for a boil? I realize this will vary with environmental conditions and my specific setup.
I've looked at the Exped Synmat UL7 before. I would certainly choose it if I weren't concerned about my pack frame. Maybe I ought to use a piece of CCF pad as a frame (and sit pad.) I don't know if that would work as well though.
Regarding trekking poles, I'll make the switch to adjustable. It doesn't seem to matter how much they weigh (please correct me if I'm wrong.)
I realize I've asked lots of questions. Thanks for your considerationAug 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm #2013957
Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
+1 on the Exped Synmat UL 7 and the Titan kettle, I sleep nearly as well on the Synmat as I do in my own bed.Aug 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm #2013959
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
I dont see a rain shell/ poncho, consider a zpacks groundsheet poncho. Nix the polycro and and rain protection for 5.1 oz.Aug 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm #2013977
"I must have gone about the foil lid idea wrong. Since it seems to work for some of you, I ought to try again. I had a hard time with the durability of the lids I made.
The carbon fiber lid concept intrigues me. Where can I get one of those (or the materials to make one?)"
If you must fold up the lid, then aluminum foil is the way to go. If you do not need to fold it, then carbon fiber works good. It is possible to purchase those, but getting the exact size may be a trick. I simply purchase a very thin sheet of carbon fiber plate (about the thickness of two sheets of paper) and cut out a disk of the right size using scissors.
"Likewise, the steel handle for the bowl sounds good. Will I need a special drill to get through the titanium? And do you have any recommendations for handle material?"
I have no idea what you intend to use as a steel handle. A stainless steel bail wire is a lot easier and simpler, and you can drill holes using a Dremel tool and a high speed bit, although titanium is still pretty tough stuff. When I drilled my titanium pot, the hot edges of the drilled hole became incandescent.
"If I switched to esbit, how many grams might I expect to need for a boil? I realize this will vary with environmental conditions and my specific setup."
It depends on how you are trying to boil. You need the right Esbit holder, and the titanium wing stove will support the pot at the correct height. If you change the pot height, you will affect the boil time and fuel efficiency.
The Esbit spec says that one half-ounce cube will boil two cups of water. However, there are lots of details unsaid there. That is comparable to the weight of liquid fuel, but the other details may make one or the other the best choice. If you have a serious breeze and an inadequate windscreen, then the boil time will seem to take forever. That is why some users go for overkill and use a Caldera Cone. You can go for a slower boil speed and use less fuel, or you can go for a faster boil speed and use a lot more fuel.
–B.G.–Aug 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm #2014013
My lite trail solid fuel kit is not as efficient as my TD sidewinder. I find that half of a cube (.25oz) will not bring my water to a boil but it's more than hot enough to reheat a meal or make coffee.Aug 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm #2014015
Ian, it seems like each type of Esbit burner has its own way of doing things. Some are more susceptible to wind. Some are less. Some will do great on 95% of that two cups, but if you increase to 105% of two cups, they are in the toilet.
I don't complain about Esbit since it is a far cry better than Trioxane, which is what we had to use in the military. The only good thing about Trioxane was that it was free. I spent many a night crouched down in a foxhole waiting for the coffee to boil over a Trioxane flame.
–B.G.–Aug 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm #2014018
I haven't seen Trioxane since '92ish. I saw some military surplus Trioxane online the other day and I was half tempted to order it just to do a side by side comparison with my Esbit and Coghlans. More for nostalgia sake than any real interest of adding it to my backpacking program.
Any of your foxhole mates try to stomp out burning C4 in Kold-rea?
Edit: OP, one important thing I've learned with any fuel source is that many backpackers feel compelled to bring their water to a boil when it's not necessary unless you are sterilizing your water. I think Esbit is wonderful for many reasons but I'd experiment with the .25oz Coghlan or half an Esbit cube (also .25oz) to see if that suits your purpose. I've always thought a caldera cone especially designed for the SP ti bowl would probably work great. I have a couple of the ti wings and find that they are also a great option for the weight.Aug 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm #2014021
Marc EldridgeBPL Member
@meldLocale: The here and now.
We refrained from stomping on the C4.Aug 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm #2014026
Ian, been there, done that.
I got all stocked up on Trioxane twenty or thirty years ago before I had much experience with more efficient fuels and methods. So, it is almost used up now. It stinks like hell.
I never shared a foxhole along the 38th Parallel. All we had were one-man holes since they were equipped with Claymore mine detonators and lots of wires. Some of our South Korean comrades didn't have any Trioxane, and they didn't know how to ask in English for it, so they used other means. They would yank on a Claymore mine detonator cord to pull the mine off its legs, and then they would pull it back to the fence. Somehow they would reach around or under or through the fence, grab the mine, and use a bayonet to crack the plastic back off. Inside this antipersonnel mine, the metal projectiles are in the front, and the C4 explosive is in the back, and the two blasting caps are in the top. They would use their bayonet to carve out a walnut-size hunk of the C4, then put everything back together and placed the mine back out to where it belonged. Then they took the hunk of C4 and burned it inside their foxhole. It burns with a blue flame, sort of like Trioxane. Just don't try to explode it.
One night there was an incident, and one guard detonated a Claymore, except that it was a dud and the only thing that blew was the blasting cap. So, the guard detonated another one, and it was a dud and blew with a halfway blast. That was reported. The next day, the EOD experts were out on our sector to test the Claymores, and they found that half of them had been tampered with. While they were there replacing the Claymores, we treated them to coffee that we had made in one of the foxholes, but we didn't tell them the fuel that was used.
–B.G.–Aug 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm #2014028
"Edit: OP, one important thing I've learned with any fuel source is that many backpackers feel compelled to bring their water to a boil when it's not necessary unless you are sterilizing your water."
Ian, that is another one of those -It Depends- things.
Each backpacker ought to know his or her approximate elevation. From the elevation, you can estimate the boiling point, and you can guess about how close you want to get your water to that.
If you are only trying to kill Giardia lamblia (which is my primary goal), then you only need to get the water up to the kill temperature of the protozoan cyst. It is hard to say exactly, but that is approximately 175 degrees F. So, that is as far as you need to heat the water if that is all that you are trying to do. Now, there are other bugs depending on your location, and you may be trying to kill them as well.
Still, for many situations, an almost-boil is plenty sufficient for normal water sterilization and for freeze dried food.
I was on one high altitude trip where we camped at about the point where water boiled at 175 F, so we needed to do more than simply boil the water. But, we knew that in advance.
–B.G.–Aug 13, 2013 at 8:34 am #2014910
I found an Exped Synmat UL7 on gear swap. That resolves the sleeping pad issue.
I'm still looking to add a wire bail to the bowl. I meant to ask where you found the stainless steel for that (instead of steel.)
I haven't found where to buy the carbon fiber for the lid. Perhaps I ought to go with foil since it's much easier to find. Maybe I could cut a disposable pie plate instead though.
I'm strongly considering the esbit route as well.
Thanks again for the help!Aug 13, 2013 at 8:55 am #2014915
"I'm still looking to add a wire bail to the bowl. I meant to ask where you found the stainless steel for that (instead of steel.) "
I got mine from a friend. He called it stainless steel safety wire and uses it to attach special pins on a race car. Stainless tends to be used in an environment that is slightly corrosive, like around ocean boats as well. The wire that I use was small enough in diameter that I could feed it through tiny holes in the pot, and then tie it with knots. It shows no signs of ever loosening.
Carbon Fiber plate is on the web. It is not the sort of thing that you can just run down to the local Home Depot to find.
–B.G.–Aug 13, 2013 at 9:01 am #2014917
Go to Amazon.com and search for "carbon fiber sample".
–B.G.–Aug 23, 2013 at 8:36 pm #2018110
John HillyerBPL Member
I just came off the AT. You didn't say when your AT hikes happen. In PA in June/July you will want a bug net to keep the cloud of nats at bay. During the end of July until it gets cold up the line, you will experience an on-slot of mosquitoes attacking you starting in NJ. You will want a half an ounce of 100% deet per day. I really like my Evernew .9L wide titanium pot with a TrailDesigns SideWinder cone and a 12/10 alcohol stove and a GramCracker Esbit stove. If your hiking the AT by getting resupplied by mail package, by all means go with Esbit and save yourself the worry of where you are getting your fuel. Back to the bugs: you are going to want a tent with bug netting come July. And back to Pennsylvania: the trail in the state is full of evil pointy rocks that you will be stepping on every step all day long. Lose the running shoes and get a pair of trail shoes with stiffer soles.
My 2 centsAug 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm #2018115
There ought to be some way of combining denatured alcohol or Esbit with DEET and cooking with it.
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