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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Wellsville , Ohio

    Default Back After A 20 Year Hiatus

    I've been off trail for almost 20years due to work and health issues . Now retired and feeling better health wise I want to gradually get back to what I enjoy , Backpacking . Readin White Blaze makes me realize that I am so behind the times . My old equipment though stater of the art when I was active , is no antiquated .

    My tent is a Eureka Mountain 2 man tent and my pack is a external aluminum framed camp trails bot in great condition other than the weight .

    What are some input or suggestions about using my old gear ?

    Thx , Gonzo

  2. #2


    Several of my backpacking buddies used Camp Trails packs---external frame of course---and I think I have a pic of Johnny B with his pack getting ready for a 9 day trip---his pack on left---

    TRIP 7 002.jpg

    Nothing wrong with the Camp Trals (and you don't have to fill it up with everything). As long as the padding in the harness system hasn't turned hard with age I'd say stick with what you have and is still comfortable body-wise.

    As far as the Eureka tent goes---20 years is a long time for a tent to be sitting around so I'd set it up in the backyard with a water hose sprinkler and see if the fly leaks---and most especially guide water under the tent on the grass and create a small pool and sit inside to see if the floor sponges up any water with your body weight. I had an old orange 1970s Eureka Timberline which I used in the 1990s and its floor was history and leaked from the bottom up---otherwise a great tent.

  3. #3
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
    Join Date
    DFW, TX / Northern NH


    As Tipi noted above, check that foam padding on hip and shoulder strap pads haven't deteriorated - the ones on my 1970's vintage pack got crunchy and dry rotted. Also check to see that stitching hasn't weakened - the thread in sewn areas of the pack and tents can also deteriorate leading to failure in the field - give them a good stiff pull test before relying on them. Check pack and tent seams and reseal with appropriate sealant (McNett makes stuff for most fabrics) . Other things to check are coating on fabrics, especially the tent rain fly and pack cloth. Many fabrics were coated with polyurethane which will give off a funny odor as it starts to deteriorate and ultimately fail. Grommets on tents and tarps are also weak spots prone to failure with age. Shock cords and elastics in general also tend to have age related problems.

    The old Aluminum frame Camp Trails packs were pretty light for their day. Lots of them made it all the way from GA to ME. Tip - carry a couple of replacement pins and rings for the pack to frame attachment points (properly sized screws/nuts will work in a pinch. It isn't the gear the gets you there. They are still perfectly serviceable and a lot easier to organize gear in than internals. And for a mixed camping and hiking getaway, the old externals can carry more gear (great for a backwoods fishing trip where you want to bring larger shelter, big frying pan, tackle, etc.)

    That all said, what I've found is that I can carry the same gear "equivalents" but the modern gear weighs so many pounds less. My gear from the early 90's has been replaced by stuff that functions every bit as well but weighs almost 10 pounds less overall. It's not just pack and tent and bag/pad (but that's probably 70% of it right there), it's an across the board reduction due to materials and engineered manufacturing in cookware, clothing, footwear, etc. That's a lot of reduced stress on back, knees, feet, etc. As you get back into it, you will be drawn toward lighter weight gear. It's almost inevitable. If you start piece by piece replacing older gear, save the pack for last. Then buy the new pack to fit the new gear.

  4. #4


    As tempting as it is to dust off that old gear, even if it is still servicable, you'd do yourself a big favor by replacing it with modern stuff.

    Of course, it does depend on what you want to do. If your just looking to do easy, short hikes with one or two overnights, it's not too big a deal to lug a pack load which is on the heavy side. But if you want to do any long distance hiking, say 10 miles a day on a trial like the AT, you want to get the load as light as possible. If you restrict your hiking to the summer months, you don't need a whole lot. You can put together a reasonably light weight kit with the camping gear Walmart sells for a not a lot of money.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    As tempting as it is to dust off that old gear, even if it is still servicable, you'd do yourself a big favor by replacing it with modern stuff.

    Of course, it does depend on what you want to do. If your just looking to do easy, short hikes with one or two overnights, it's not too big a deal to lug a pack load which is on the heavy side. But if you want to do any long distance hiking, say 10 miles a day on a trial like the AT, you want to get the load as light as possible. If you restrict your hiking to the summer months, you don't need a whole lot. You can put together a reasonably light weight kit with the camping gear Walmart sells for a not a lot of money.
    A light weight kit from Walmart?? Wow, you must live in an area that has a totally differently stocked Walmart. Our Walmarts here in TN don't carry any kind of packs unless you're planning some trips with this---

    I have never recommended people go to walmart to outfit for a backpacking trip---but that's just me. It may be okay if you're a dirtbagger--backpacker who goes thru dumpsters for food and stealth camps around a town (been there and done that)---but using walmart to gear up for a trip is almost . . . .unproductive.

    Why? Their Texsport teflon fry pans delaminate horribly---bad unless you want polytetrafluoroeythlene in your diet. Yes, the PTFE coating flakes off. I will post pics if desired.

    Their Ozark Trail tents leak and their fiberglass poles crack and snap---I had two Ozark Trail tents and both leaked etc.

    Their backpacks?? What backpacks?? You mean something like this??--

    Good deal at $22.

    Or maybe this---

    Not bad at $29 . . . except uh oh . . . it's made by OZARK TRAIL.

    And their hiking boots? They seem excellent on the shelf and look superb---I know I bought a few over the years---but I made a big mistake because they pronated so badly as to be useless. Check out this video but you won't have to go far to see what's up---(is this thread in the comedy forum??)---

    Or check some reviews---

    Sleeping bags??

    You could get this Coleman rated to 0F but it weighs 7.15 lbs. The 0F rating is problematic and optimistic.

  6. #6


    To the op:
    Packs are abundant, use what works, tons of choices. As they said, your stitching and foam (if not the material itself) has probably degraded.
    20 yrs ago trekking poles weren't as popular as they are today. Your tent choices increase if you plan on using trekking poles. Lightheart gear, tarptent, and Zpacks are a few popular brands to check out. They are usually lighter than "freestanding" tents because they offer tents that utiluze the trekking poles you're already carrying as the tent poles.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Portland, OR


    I have mixed feelings about modern gear. For me, no pack has ever worked as well or been as comfortable as something like your Camp Trails -- I'd keep it if it works for you. Personally, I never found internal frame packs to be useful for anything other than skiing, and modern packs that are "better" tend to be highly specialized for a particular niche, most often "ultralighting". Plenty of folks still start with an aluminum-framed Kelty.

    I have little experience with most tents -- never met one I liked -- but it is obvious that both the designs and materials have taken quantum leaps forward (except for high-end mountaineering tents -- it seems no one's really improved yet on Todd Bibler's basic design from the 1980's). However, both of those leaps will be a quantum difference in cost as well, and folks still make less expensive tents in classic shapes and materials.

    Materials have really come a long way in 20 years: check out the proliferation of titanium and Dyneema (a.k.a. Cuben Fiber) in particular to learn more!

  8. #8


    I used mostly heavier gear way back when. Made up for it by being 40 or 50 pounds lighter myself . If you have the resources for all new gear, and really want it, no reason not to do some serious shopping. Otherwise, if your gear still suits you, it should work fine. Warmth for weight, down sleeping bags are about equal. Tarps worked then and work now, the Camp Trails pack will be a bit heavier, but has real advantages. Basic aluminum kettles still hold water and heat well. Do you have an old Svea stove? They still can't be beat. If you total base weight is 20 pounds rather then 15, you'll still be fine. As is often suggested on this group, do some trial runs for a few days each and sort your gear out. The one thing I'd strongly recommend changing is going to trail runners for footwear.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Monroe, WA


    It all depends on your resources. If you have the money, things have changed significantly in 20-years. I did the northern half of the AT in 1995 and I was fairly lightweight for the time. My base weight was around 16-17lbs and thought that was good. Now I'm around 10lbs for summer base weight and I appreciate the lower carry weight. Rarely am carrying much over 20lbs total except in winter.

    It also depends on what you want to do. If you want to go out and do 4-5 miles at a whack you make different choices than if you want to work yourself into shape to do a thru-hike. I'd identify what your goals are in terms of actual hiking. Go out and make some trips with the gear you have and come to an honest appraisal of how much hiking you plan to do and where/when you plan to do it.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    madison, ct


    Second what kevperro says. Im in a similar situation after heart surgery. I plan to start slowly with the gear that I have and add/change if things work out.

  11. #11


    I'd think about saving about 5 lbs with a newer, lightweight pack for starters.
    I had an old external frame camptrails pack back when I first hiked the AT in '77. Thought it was great.
    Now, my summer base weight is only about 2 lbs heavier than that with everything except the food and water.
    So much easier to hike.
    Can your knees and ankles and back take the kind of weight you used to carry when you hiked before? Personally, I'd rather not test them.
    But that's me.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  12. #12


    I would suggest going on some overnights, with a fair forecast projected to test out some of your older gear. You may find that it works for what you want to do. You may want to watch some gear reviews from some modern day companies such as
    Western mountaineering,
    Enlightened Equipment

    Etc etc....

    I understand retired folks are on a fixed income, but if that income allows for a splurge for new hiking gear, I don't think you would be disappointed.
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Golden CO


    I think some significant shifts in the past twenty years have been the use of lighter fabrics, frameless packs, single-wall shelters, and using lighter footwear.

    If you think of replacing your old tent, look at Tarptent and similar. Single wall shelters have a learning curve, dealing with condensation.

    I remember Camp Trails as being one of the lighter internal frame packs. To make a significant difference, you'd replace it with a frameless, but that requires a large shift in how you pack. That probably won't happen in one season. Frameless packs work well with base loads in the twenty pound and under range.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Blairsville ,GA


    I don't have any advice for you. I just wanted to welcome you back. Enjoy!

  15. #15


    I started back after a 35 year hiatus (did most of the AT back in 1976) and decided to upgrade to newer lighter equipment. I'm paying now for the abuse I did to my body back then carrying 50 lb plus loads, running downhill trail sections, etc. Funny thing is I used to hike easier section in my running shoes instead of my hiking boots. I guess I was ahead of my time :-) Grew up near Binghamton NY so Eureka was just down the road. Still remember that store and the Memorial Day sale!

    Base weight now around 12 -15 pounds, depending on time of year, hammock camping, quilts instead of sleeping bags, replacing "just in case" equipment with knowledge and trail running shoes instead of boots. Much more enjoyable hiking now. Lot's of stuff shows up at various used gear sites (here and other sites.)

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