Gear Advice

Joined
Jul 17, 2007
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1,281
As mentioned above, don't believe tent makers. In other words, don't try to get two into a two man tent- bump it up to a three man. Tent headspace- this measurement only works if your head comes to a point matching the peak of your tent.
Also, if you have anyplace near you that rents equipment, rent a tent your first few times out. If it turns out that camping is not for you, the tent is the only expensive piece of gear that can't really be used for anything else. A good sleeping bag will come in handy forever.

I almost forgot, give a lot of thought to your food. Especially when you're learning all this stuff at once, you want food prep to be simple while having a meal you're happy to eat. And carry in your pack (cans get real heavy real fast).
This is great advice. And back to my tent (Seedhouse SL2), I have to say that while I love it as a one person tent, do not try to fit two people inside. You will be very cramped.
 
Joined
May 19, 2007
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That is one of the nice things about the Wanderer 2, its a fairly generous width for only being a two man. Its marketed mostly to paddlers, but its still within reason for weight.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
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185
I'm looking at an actual two man tent as I doubt I will be going out by myself.

Have any of you guys tried out Gregory packs? I'm looking at the Palisade model but I don't know anyone that's used one.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
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185
@bdmicarta I think I definitely have the pack rat mentality. I'm always reminding myself to to avoid buying useless junk no matter how cool it is (and i always overdoit with food as well).
 
Joined
Mar 17, 2009
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370
@redpoint Have you tried the Apache MF sleeping bag from Western Mountaineering? How does it stack up to the Alpinlite?The description says the Alpinlite is a bit more fragile and since I'm prone to breaking things I'm a bit worried if it will hold up over time.

I have one "MicroFiber Series" bag [Caribou] and one ExtremeLite Series bag [Alpinlite]. The ExtremeLite bags use Pertex Quantum fabric which is super light stuff. The very light fabric allows the 850 FP down to really loft. The MicroFiber is light too, but a bit tougher. Either way, you have to take-it-easy on a lightweight sleeping bag. You don't want to be snuggling with granite boulders with either of these bags. The bottom of the two bags are identical. Watch-out for the dimensions - while the Apache is a -10C bag, it's a much narrower cut than the Alpinlite. Having broad shoulders, I appreciate the extra room. It can also accommodate a lightweight mid-layer or jacket to extend its range. MEC in Vancouver often has a bunch of Western Mountaineering bags on display, I'd suggest you check-out the materials and fit. I've owned many different brand sleeping bags [Marmot, MEC, Macpac, Feathered Friends etc] and it's hard to beat the quality and performance of the Western Mountaineering bags - definitely known to be one of the finest bags available.

If you're looking for a summer bag for use in the Coast Mountains I personally don't think you need a rating beyond -7C. That's why I say the -7C is a good all-rounder. Even in the winter, when paired with a lightweight mid-layer like a Patagonia Ultralight down jacket or Nano Puff, you can easily extend the range. In the winter a -7C - -12C bag is fine. If you started moving closer to the rockies or beyond Pemberton, you'll need something between -12C and -18C. All this is said, assuming you're camping on snow and using a decent sleeping pad with a high R-Value [Therm-a-rest NeoAir X-Therm or EXPED DownMat UL7 - for instance]. The down that's crushed underneath you has very little insulating value.
 
Joined
May 19, 2007
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7,064
One of my buddies has a large gregory pack, and hates it. Just lots of little things about it he doesn't like. It could also be that it isn't in his mind worth what he paid for it. Its not twice as good as the packs half the price. (and he's gone through a lot of gear, due to house fire, theft, etc) YMMV test one out, talk to the MEC guys about whats on the rental roster, and try some of that gear. it will be a very helpful investment.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
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@redpoint I have broad shoulders as well. I'll give the Alpinlite a try as soon as I have a chance to head to MEC.
 
Joined
Mar 17, 2009
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370
It's a freaking gorgeous bag. It's the nicest bag I've ever seen or had the pleasure of using. I doubt MEC will have one there, but you never know. They may have another bag from the Extremelite Series so that you can check-out the fabric. The VersaLite might be another decent choice [-12C] which will give you a bit more latitude summer-winter. Cut is just slightly smaller. You can always shake the down to the bottom or use it as a quilt in summer. I've seen them at MEC on Broadway.

Also go to VPO [just east of MEC] and look at all the packs they sell - it's good to get a sense of the other brands available like Arc'teryx etc.
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2013
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It's funny that you mentioned Arc'teryx, I tried out a few of their back packs and i went with the Altra 75. It's a beauty, I can't wait to take out for a test run. I also bought the Alpinlite sleeping. I just hate having to wait for it to arrive for so long. My old synthetic MEC bag is so bulky compared to it.

My next purchase is the tent. I might hold out on that for a bit as I'm not 100% sure on which ones I like and since it's warm out I like sleeping under a tarp anyways. Fo far the MSR hubba hubba and nook caught my eye.
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
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For boots, I use some Redheads that were at Bass Pro for $100.
Pack, I use a Jansport Carson. about 5000 cubic inches external frame. I like externals because I can strap more stuff on them if I need to.
Flashlight, I have a Fenix LD20 with the accessory kit. I also have a Streamlight ProTac 2AAA and a 4Sevens mini-123 on my keychain.
Tent, I did some research on. I just have a 2-3 season tent, so I don't think I'd be much help there.
My sleeping bag is nearly 10 years old. Don't know the brand, but I think it's rated to 15 degrees and does fine for spring-fall camping.
For the longest time my hydration system was a 2-liter bladder that was on sale at Big 5 with a small, crappy day pack. Couple weeks back I got a Kelty Redtail for solo day trips. A good bag. 1800 cubics and about $60. Only thing is the straps don't stay tightened.
My first aid kit is in two parts. I have a minor kit, for small cuts, scapes, and discomforts. Then I have a blowout kit with QuikClot, a SWAT-T tourniquette, and an Israeli bandage (Dark Angel Medical's Pocket DARK).
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2004
Messages
4,099
You’re getting some good advice. I personally have to define what my hiking plans are along with any specific planned activities.

My load out is pretty light for thru-hiking. If there are fire bans in your area or you’re doing a stretch or loop hike where fires just take too long, than a decent stove is a must. If we are just hiking into an area to set up a small camp for a few days where we enjoy day hikes, fishing or just relaxing around the campfire, my pack load out will vary.

Sometimes, my son and I will do a little scouting and bushwhacking or off-trail hiking. My kit is a little more robust to survive the rougher conditions.

Although I have a couple of Tarptents for tent camping, they are really only for colder temperatures; I much prefer hammocks for my shelter.

Don’t skimp on footwear, pack, shelter choice and sleeping bag. I love down bags, but there is always the fear of them getting wet. Fortunately a lot of new material types and coatings mitigate those worries. I was really looking hard at Western Mountaineering, but I received a pro-discount with Seat-to-Summit and picked up one of their 20-degree 850+down bags (Micro)…I love it. I do have some synthetics, but down just breaths better and with the options of opening up like a quilt, I can comfortably sleep in a wider range of temperatures. Plus, it’s hard to beat the weight and compressed size.

I can’t stress enough about getting fitted for a pack if it’s been a while for you. Definitely get into MEC or REI and get fitted for a pack WITH WEIGHT. Quality packs cost and it’s best to get some assistance to get it right.

Best of luck!

ROCK6
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2013
Messages
266
LL Bean has som great headlamps for pretty cheap and you can get them at 100 lumens or higher. I've had mine for years and it is just as good as when I bought it. I find the princeton tec ones in the store are always low lumens like 35, I know they make higher ones but rarely see them. I usually don't use the high setting but having it available when I need it is good. Just a thought.
 
Joined
Jun 29, 1999
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Read Colin Fletcher's The Complete Walker, the last edition with co-author Chip Rawlins. Best camping advice you'll find IMHO.
 
Joined
Sep 12, 2009
Messages
1,268
I'm in Coquitlam:). Loads of shops in the Vancouver area, there are some great brands that MEC doesn't carry that are available elsewhere, though MEC has tons of great stuff.

-Boots (I'm thinking Zamberlan's as I had a pair before; these would be used for snowshoeing as well)
Before shelling out for a super heavy duty backpacking boot, think about whether you really need it. I've heard it said that a pound on your feet is equal to five on your back(or something like that). In winter I've got some Merrell mid-height boots(not sure which specific model, but similar to something like they're Moab Mid) that I use for winter hiking and snowshoeing. Otherwise I wear runners(New Balance of some sort), and I've got a pair of Vivobarefoot shoes that I'm working up to using for warm weather hikes with very light loads.


-Flashlight (I've looked into a fenix or a surefire)
Like others have said, go for a headlamp for backpacking. I have a Petzl that I love. I'm also somewhat of a flashlight geek, but I do think they're for the most part unnecessary for hiking/camping. If you've got your heart set on a nice flashlight, all the Fenix' I've got have been great. The one Surefire I have is alright, I think they're way overpriced compared to what else is on the market. Also look at Olight, 4sevens, Jetbeam, etc. Warriors and Wonders has a wicked(and growing) selection of high end flashlights and pretty much always has everything in stock.

-Tent (a two person 4-3 season tent)
If you like tarping, I'd stick with that. Saves lots of weight and pack space. For a tent look at Tarptent brand tents, they've got some really nice ones that are pretty lightweight, granted I've never used one, but have been researching them. I have a MEC Tarn 3 that I use for car camping, and it's great. I haven't hiked with it yet because it's really heavy and bulky, though if I ever want to get the girlfriend out for an overnight I'll probably have to lug it because she's not gonna sleep under a tarp:rolleyes:. This is a pretty easy spot to save weight if you shop around. Look at some of the ultralight cottage industry manufacturers like Mountain Laurel Designs, Six Moon designs, Zpacks, Bear Paw wilderness designs, etc. to see if they have anything that suits your fancy.

-Cooking pots (something minimal)
Ti is nice, but may not be worth the price over aluminum. There's aluminum grease pots(just basic pots with no handles or anything, will need a pot holder) around online for about $15 that weigh about 4oz. Just be sure to consider shipping costs with those.

I like those GSI collapsible plastic sporks, only a couple bucks and really light. Not too sturdy but it's plenty for ramen noodles and oatmeal, or similar. I wouldn't try mixing cake batter with one though. Steal a plastic fork and spoon from Wendy's or similar for free....

Those catfood can Supercat stoves mentioned before are awesome, I wouldn't bother investing any money in a stove until you've used one of those and decided if you want something different.


-sleeping bag and pad
Pads are a tough one. I've got a Thermarest Prolite Plus that's a pretty nice pad, not super heavy(but not really lightweight) and I like it, but I'd like to go lighter. I'm going to try some nights out this year with a cutdown Ridgerest to see if I can make it work. Otherwise I really like the looks of the Exped Synmat UL pads, and some of the Klymit pads look really nice too.


-hydration system
The Aquatabs MEC sells, about $10 for 50 tabs that'll each treat 1-2L of water(depending on water quality), are awesome in my opinion. Super lightweight, and reasonably cheap. The water you'll find pretty much anywhere around here is going to be pretty clear.

If you want a filter, look at the Sawyer Squeeze filter. Weighs about 3oz, is good for up to a million gallons, and costs about the same or less than most other filters on the market. The old filter bags they came with apparently weren't that good(I never did use the bags it came with), but apparently they've changed them and they're way more durable now. Evernew brand water bags fit the threads and are very tough, these are the ones I use. Platypus bags don't match the threads(though I've heard they changed the threads of their bags this year, can't confirm that though), but are awesome bags if you go a different route. I like water bags vs hard bottles for weight, and they compact down as you drink from them.


-first aid kit
I prefer to make my own in ziploc sandwich bags to keep the weight down and match the contents to my needs/training.

-small misc items (fire steel/ storm matches/knife sharpner/ etc)
Light My Fire firesteels are my favourite, and MEC sells some of their stuff now. They also sell the UCO storm matches which are wicked.

For a sharpener, The fallkniven DC3/4's are really nice field sharpeners. Lately I've been doing all my touch ups on some fine small stone I found in my house(smaller than a DC3), and then stropping.

For mini containers for random things like sunscreen, spices, olive oil, or anything that you don't need a full size container of, the little containers from those 5 hour energy type drinks are awesome. If you or someone you know drinks them save the empties and rinse them out. The Red Bull energy shot containers are really nice because the opening is wide enough to stick your finger down to the bottom, good for sunscreen and similar.
 
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