Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gear tests for upcoming blitz

The trip will be the first real test of my sil-nylon frameless pack. I've had the thing for a long time, but never has it been out solo or with such a low base weight. My brother and I did a weekend last year with our sil-nylon packs, but this pushes the pack one step further toward what it originally was designed for. In Beyond Backpacking, Ray Jardine touts his 8.5 lb base weight pack, and Jenny's base weight was a little less (7.5 lbs, if I remember correctly). My pack is designed with this pursuit in mind. I have adjusted my gear to hit this goal. Now all there is to do is go test it.

Also, I'll be taking the 8x5 tarp out for its first weekend in the field. I have about four bag nights underneath it in controlled tests in backyards or at camp, but this is the first weekend for. I'm not too worried about the tarp. I have enough experience rigging tarps and playing around with them to be sure of my ability to rig it in a pinch. However, I am not taking a ultralight bivy because I do not have one. This leaves blowing rain and splatter, but I think I'll be OK.

One potential issue is the insulation under my feet. I will be taking my shortie Ridgerest but not my GG Vapor Trail. The VT had a significant amount of padding for my feet. I can use my puffy jacket, but it will collapse underneath my feet. We'll see - I have had cold feet in the summer before when I did not have adequate insulation beneath them.

I'm also leaving my filter at home and opting for Aqua Mira. Going solo, leaving the filter at home saves me about a pound, or about 11 percent of my base weight (going from 9 to 8 lbs). This, along with my sil nylon pack means I'm leaving my platy bladder at home and opting for two 1L bottles. The idea is simple - I need to have a wide-mouth bottle to gather water in and I don't want to have all my water on the side of my pack pushing it lopsided. I could take my Nalgene bladder, but it weighs about eight or nine ounces. The issue is that I may need to remove my pack and drop my poles to get water. I think it's going to be some serious camelling up or hiking without poles during breakfast or lunch.

I'm also hiking in running shoes for the first time on a serious trip. If it works out, it will be a concession to a good friend of mine that running shoes are superior to dedicated waterproof trail runners. I'm guessing all will go well, even if it pours for every moving hour. My weekend at Afton almost proved it to me. The difference between Afton and the SHT is the presence of mud, rocks and other rough parts of the trail.

I'm also taking a recently-purchased folding titanium spork. I purchased it to further reduce pack volume (because it can be stored inside my pot) and because all my Lexan spoons have disappeared.

Finally, I also have a new camera, a 10-megapixel beauty that came to by as a birthday gift from my parents and girlfriend. Initial tests have been excellent, but what needs to me looked at is whether it handles wide-angle shots well. I have no doubt that it will.

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