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  1. #1
    Dainon
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    Default Total rookie with too many questions

    Before continuing, I would like to thank the administrators/owners of this site for providing an outstanding and highly informative venue for hiking and AT questions. I've read quite a few books about the AT and hiking in general, and this site has proved to be more informative than anything I've yet to find.

    By way of introduction, I'm a 43 yr. old male, 210 lbs., and in reasonably good condition (weight lifting fanatic, not much aerobic activity). I think that I want to do a 2005 thru-hike, but to better determine if I have the physical ability and mental fortitude to do it, I am planning a 150-200 mile section hike of the AT late this summer or early autumn. I initially thought of doing a section in VA, but after reading, now I'm leaning toward starting at Springer.

    All that said, I have quite a few questions, and apologies in advance if they seem totally stupid or answered elsewhere but overlooked by me.

    The first question concerns what to obtain first? I bought boots last week on the theory that they should be broken in well beforehand; but after that purchase, what next? I've read that one should obtain all basic gear and THEN buy a pack that accomodates it. However, it seems that 95% use a pack in the 3500-4000c.i. range, and from what I've read, the Osprey packs seem to do well for people in my age range/condition, so would it make sense to buy the pack now and then gear later? (There is a sale on Osprey at a local outfitter, thus the impetus to buy now).

    Second, are tent "footprints" a good idea? I've looked at the MRSs, the Flashlight CDs, the Ultra Lightyear, and the Nomad Lites. Some websites suggest them; some don't.

    In a related question, I'm leaning toward a tent that utilizes trekpoles in assembly in order to reduce weight and to avoid one more thing that I will probably break (a tent pole). Do tent poles tend to break? Is that a legit. concern? Lots seem to use the Flashlight CD or Ultra Lightyear -- any problems with them? From what I've seen, the MSR Missing Link seems appealing -- although 3 lbs., I like the amount of space.

    Third, I just finished reading "White Blaze Fever" and have read numerous trailjournals.com journals. But I'm curious what people do with their packs when they go into a restaurant or store -- leave them outside and risk theft?; carry them inside? Also, at night and when in a tent, do most keep their packs in the tent, especially during rain? If so, then it seems that most of the 1-man ultralight tents are too small. Yes?

    Fourth, nearly everyone talks about mosquitoes being a nuisance, particularly in shelters. Is DEET the standard defense? A mosquito net?

    Fifth, the author of "White Blaze Fever" talks about using a "squeeze bottle with filter" - what's that? Is it simply a bottle with filtration adequate to remove most/all microorganisms? He never indicated if he also used chemicals to avoid potential illness. Any clue? I do not want to get sick on the trail, and any suggestions regarding water would be welcome.

    Thanks for any info or suggestions that you may provide.

    Dainon Squires
    Lexington, KY

    [email protected]

  2. #2
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dainon
    Before continuing, I would like to thank the administrators/owners of this site for providing an outstanding and highly informative venue for hiking and AT questions. I've read quite a few books about the AT and hiking in general, and this site has proved to be more informative than anything I've yet to find.
    We aim to please.

    By way of introduction, I'm a 43 yr. old male, 210 lbs., and in reasonably good condition (weight lifting fanatic, not much aerobic activity). I think that I want to do a 2005 thru-hike, but to better determine if I have the physical ability and mental fortitude to do it, I am planning a 150-200 mile section hike of the AT late this summer or early autumn. I initially thought of doing a section in VA, but after reading, now I'm leaning toward starting at Springer.
    Do a shake down hike. The 150-200 mile plan is a god idea, don't give it up. If you do 150 miles and find out you absolutly hate hiking and that trying to do it for 5 months straight would drive you nuts, then you are ahead of some that quit work and sell everything just to bail in the first 30 miles. But if you do 150 and find you really like it, then you have some idea of what to change before heading out on the 5-6 month trek.

    All that said, I have quite a few questions, and apologies in advance if they seem totally stupid or answered elsewhere but overlooked by me.
    Don't wory, that is why these hikers come here, we all must like to hear ourselves talk or we wouldn't keep repeating ourselves.

    The first question concerns what to obtain first? I bought boots last week on the theory that they should be broken in well beforehand; but after that purchase, what next? I've read that one should obtain all basic gear and THEN buy a pack that accomodates it. However, it seems that 95% use a pack in the 3500-4000c.i. range, and from what I've read, the Osprey packs seem to do well for people in my age range/condition, so would it make sense to buy the pack now and then gear later? (There is a sale on Osprey at a local outfitter, thus the impetus to buy now).
    Well I would ask first what can you borrow for a shake down hike or two? Imagine spending $300 on a pack you end up hating when you could have gotten the one you really like for $150, that means you wasted money that could have been used on a better sleeping bag, tent, food, or whatever. If you can find someone to loan you some stuff before you buy, then maybe you can figure out what you like better before laying out cash. I would reccomend looking at some people's packing lists to see what they carried rather than going to the outfitter and asking them what you need. Often you can find stuff at places like Wal-Mart or re-use stuff you might normally throw away as trash without spending a fortune on the basics like mess gear, stove, lights, etc. Don't run down and buy the Osprey just because it is on sale, if you hang around long enough you will see lots of VERY slightly used gear for sale at good prices. Why? Because a lot of us buy gear and then end up replacing it with something else - me included.

    Second, are tent "footprints" a good idea? I've looked at the MRSs, the Flashlight CDs, the Ultra Lightyear, and the Nomad Lites. Some websites suggest them; some don't.
    This is a preference question. The idea of a footprint is to save wear on the floor of your tent. Some people don't use them and their tent floors last practically forever, some do use them and poke holes in their floors accidently anyway. Some people loose the tent and just keep the fly and the footprint, some only use a tarp and groundcloth. People like me don't even use a tent, using a hammock in place of a tent. I think this gets back to the idea that you should borrow some gear and find out what you really prefer anyway.

    In a related question, I'm leaning toward a tent that utilizes trekpoles in assembly in order to reduce weight and to avoid one more thing that I will probably break (a tent pole). Do tent poles tend to break? Is that a legit. concern? Lots seem to use the Flashlight CD or Ultra Lightyear -- any problems with them? From what I've seen, the MSR Missing Link seems appealing -- although 3 lbs., I like the amount of space.
    It is a legit concern, but not a regular occurance on most quality tents. The idea of using a trekking pole as a weight saver is a good idea, and someone was just trying to sale a SLIGHTLY used nomad light tent that does just this. Like I said, keep an eye out.

    Third, I just finished reading "White Blaze Fever" and have read numerous trailjournals.com journals. But I'm curious what people do with their packs when they go into a restaurant or store -- leave them outside and risk theft?; carry them inside? Also, at night and when in a tent, do most keep their packs in the tent, especially during rain? If so, then it seems that most of the 1-man ultralight tents are too small. Yes?
    Leave them outside. A lot of places don't want you packs inside. Pick a place where you can see your pack or at least the general area so you can observe if someone is trying to walk off with it. Pack theft does happen, but most folks will not want a stinky wet pack with your dirty clothes in it when you get to town. My personal opinion is that most stolen packs are probably done by people that covet expensive gear, but that is only a THEORY. Go cheap LOL.

    As for the tent question, this again is based a lot on gear type and style. When I camp, my food bag is hung, my clothing bag is my pillow, my boots are hanging on the ridgeline, my sleeping bag is out of it's sack, so all that is left is a small bag of micillaneous stuff and the Gearskin (not really a backpack). It could go almost anywhere and not take up floor space. Other hikers use shorter pads and use the backpack to elevate their feet. Some lay their packs outside with a cover on them, some clip them to a tree in the upright position. It is all style, function, and preference.

    Fourth, nearly everyone talks about mosquitoes being a nuisance, particularly in shelters. Is DEET the standard defense? A mosquito net?
    Defense can include multiple strategies. Mine includes long clothing, DEET, and the net on my hammock.

    Fifth, the author of "White Blaze Fever" talks about using a "squeeze bottle with filter" - what's that? Is it simply a bottle with filtration adequate to remove most/all microorganisms? He never indicated if he also used chemicals to avoid potential illness. Any clue? I do not want to get sick on the trail, and any suggestions regarding water would be welcome.
    There are a lot of preferences on this. Some swear by filters, some (like me) simply use some chemicals to treat water. Some people don't treat at all and do fine. Boiling could be an option, but it is usually not very realistic for someone trying to make a lot of miles. I reccomend Aqua Mira or Polar Pure.

    But to get on to what I think is the bottom line...

    I could tell you how I like to hike and reccomend every peice of gear I use and tell you why I use it, and someone else will tell you how I am wrong and my gear is dangerous becasue of their belifes or preferences, or whatever. I think this is like someone that has never driven before asking what kind of car they should get, some will tell you trucks, some will tell you sports cars, some would tell you economy cars, etc. But until you know what you want and need, all their reccomendations are useless. If you lived here in Louisiana I would gladly loan you every piece of gear you need and take you hiking to let you try some stuff out. Maybe you can find a hiker in your area that could at least help you out with some stuff.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  3. #3
    Registered User Doctari's Avatar
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    Yes, you do have a lot of questions

    First thing: Here @ white blaze there are NO stupid questions! We all were there, and all are still learning (most admit it, some don't ). In fact I can only answer your questions on a limited basis:

    Here goes, be sure to take with a "grain of salt":

    Being fit is a good start. I never am when I hit the trail, someday I will do it right. As has been said many times: the best way to get in shape to haul a pack up & down mountains is to haul a pack up & down mountains. My usual last minute attempt to get in shape is to start running, and last time I was up to 2 miles, it DID help some. I love the 150 to 200 miles from Springer, good hiking, good choice to start a practice hike.

    Ya dood good gittin boots early. You may still get blisters because the walking on the AT is different than in town. If you can, wear them as often as you can, keep them clean, try different liners or no liners, different insoles or none. You MAY want to get another pair & break them in too. 2200 miles is a LOOOONG way to walk.

    As to that Pick gear or pack first thing, I never thought about that afore, I got my pack first, I think. Old age sucks. Anyway, whatever works for you. Check out the lightweight message board for some alternate gear choices, you may find that a 3000+ CI pack is too much pack, I did.

    I have used a footprint, and not. I think I prefer a footprint. Plan on carrying one next trip. Seems to reduce the wear on your tent floor.

    I use the Nomad from Wanderlustgear. I love the ease of set up & using my trekking poles for set up. I can set it up in under 2 minutes, it has withstood winds up to 30+ MPH. My impression is that if you are over about 5' 10" it MAY be too short. The Nomad 2 4 2 may work tho. OR, look into a tarp.

    4th: BUGS can be a problem on the AT. I hate Gnats, the bain of my existance last year (Smokies to Roan highlands in April) I havn't used any bug juice, am thinking of 100% DEET next time, going to bathe in it daily, damn the consiquences

    5th: The Squeeze bottle with a filter is just that, Dick's had them last time I was there. You fill the bottle with water (from a spring, lake etc) put the lid on & drink from the spout, there is a small filter cartridge on/in the lid to remove the nasties. The water in the bottle is dirty, you MUST drink from the spout to use the filter.

    I think most here feel that the threat of bad drinking water is a myth, I do. Yet most treat or filter most of the water on the AT, I do. I FILTER for several reasons: don't want to get sick even tho I think the risk is small. Don't like to wait for chem. treated water & don't like the taste. Stopping to filter is sometimes the only break I take during a days hiking, so I need that "break".

    You probably have many more questions, ask away! And there are answers here in the forums, just do a search.

    Hope my answers helped. They are free, and worth every penny you paid for them

    For more info look at:
    http://hikinghq.net/
    http://www.imrisk.com/
    http://www.datasync.com/~wksmith/
    http://www.backpackgeartest.org/


    Doctari.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

  4. #4

    Thumbs up Whiteblaze Community Great IMHO

    Quote Originally Posted by Doctari
    First thing: Here @ white blaze there are NO stupid questions!
    Doctari.
    That would be my opinion all the way... This site's forum is tons more open than some "other" places I have asked for advice.

    -Nero

  5. #5
    Registered User orangebug's Avatar
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    There are even more questions you could have added.

    What to wear. Skivies or not. Sunscreen versus a hat. Rain gear. Types of socks. Gaiters - ankle protectors or Hell's Oven? Stove choices. First Aid gear, although you got close by the DEET question. Soap versus alcohol gel. GPS versus maps.

    And the list could go on.

    I hope before the 200 mile section you do a few weekend hikes. The gear to fill a pack for 3-4 days is basically the gear needed for long distance or section hiking. Don't get too hung up on where to hike, as there are great views and people in every section. Georgia is tougher than most for a variety of reasons, hence might not be the best first choice.

    Bill...
    <there are _always_ sales. Get the pack last.>

  6. #6

    Default answers

    1- In my prep, I started with the biggest things then got smaller. Somehow that made my budget seem easier to swallow. I had the important things first - tent, sleeping bag, thermarest, pack. Personally, I was glad I had my pack before all the rest of my gear. It kept me honest. Most people start carrying way too much stuff. Then they would end up with a pack much bigger than what they need. If you buy an average size pack first, it'll keep you from carrying more than you'll need.

    2- I was glad I had a footprint. There were wet, muddy nights or sharp branches that was nice to have an extra layer of protection under my tent. It was also a nice piece of cloth to hang for wind protection in a shelter sometimes. (The most popular tent on the trail that I saw was the Clip Flashlight. It was fine for me. It is the best weight/size compromise in tents.)

    3- I would usually either stash my pack in the woods, or have someone watch it. Often we'd try to sit in a restaurant near a window where we could see it. I never had any problem with it. At night I'd either leave it in the vestibule of my tent, or prop it up against a tree.

    4- I only used bug spray several times. Usually, as long as you are walking, the bugs can't really catch up with you. There were a few times when I needed deet, usually when setting up my tent, or taking a break (particularly by a stream).

    5- I carried a portable filter. Some may disagree, but I highly recommend a filter over chemicals. There were several times when the water source wasn't much more than a mud puddle. Chemicals may kill the bacteria in that case, but it can't do anything for the fact that you are drinking brown, muddy water. I'd often lend my filter out to those using chemicals in those cases. (Also, chemicals taste bad, in my opinion)

    Best of luck to you, Danion. I hope you do well on your shakedown hike. And hopefully we'll be reading a journal from your 2005 thru-hike.

    -Tank

  7. #7
    Dainon
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    Many thanks to those who responded to my questions -- the advice and suggestions are all very helpful.

    I certainly intend to do several long day hikes and a couple of weekend hikes before trying a 200 mile section. I had reconstructive knee surgery some years ago, and while all is well now, I've never hiked more than 5 miles since. I have heard that a long hike will quickly turn minor aches and injuries into major ones, so at this point I really don't know if I can do a long section hike. But I'm going to give it a damned good try, anyway.

    In regard to starting a section hike in Georgia, that seemed like the easier section for rookies when other factors are considered. Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania I immediately rejected because they seem to be the physically toughest of all and require more camping skills; Virginia seemed ideal until I read about so many bears in the area. Yeah, I know -- few if any recorded bear attacks, but trust me on this: I'd be bear food on Day 1.

    For a stove, I'm almost certain that I'll use alcohol -- either a Pepsi or a Brasslite. While the MSRs look great, I need something that's basically idiot proof, and a Pepsi stove with zero moving parts seems the ticket.

    The Nomad Lite (with footprint) has tons of good reviews, so I'll probably get that one assuming that it works with positively angled trek poles.

    My goal is to keep the pack weight no heavier than 35 lbs. I'm sure that for experienced hikers, that sounds like trying to carry a Mack truck. I don't know if this is the best way to go about it, but I am listing on a legal pad every reasonable choice for all items that I think will be needed with their weight -- once I get past the "big three" (pack, tent, sleeping bag), all choices will be largely determined by weight.

    In regard to having many, many more questions, I certainly do but I didn't post them because I didn't want to bug the hell out of everyone.

    Thanks again for all the advice. If you have other suggestions, feel free to post or send email.

  8. #8

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    Whoa! I am honored to have made that list!

    Risk
    Walk Well,
    Risk

    Author of "A Wildly Successful 200-Mile Hike"
    http://www.wayahpress.com

    Personal hiking page: http://www.imrisk.com

  9. #9
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Default All Good Questions ...

    Dianon ....I'll take a stab at your questions:

    Here's my take on packs ...I worked for an outfitter for years and sold/fitted a lot of backpacks. At first I was all about getting the adjustments correct (which is still among the most important factors) but over time I changed my emphasis to getting the correct size pack for the individual hiker. I'll betcha 3 out of 5 hikers came into the store with a specific pack in mind because their friends had one or because they saw someone with it on the trail. My suggestion ...don't get too hung up in advance with the "Cubic Inch" spec of the various packs. Who knows ...that approach might work but far more important is how the pack is going to be used and how much "stuff" is going to be carried and over what distance/time. Little by little I started to convince hikers who were in the market for their first (or a new) backpack to bring a duffle bag to the store with what they thought they'd be carrying on the trail. Amazing how the choice of the pack, both in terms of model and size, changed when the hiker actually got their "stuff" loaded inside the pack. Bottom line (at least from my experience) is that the general tendency is to purchase a pack that is larger than necessary. Once you own that larger pack there is a strong temptation to load it up with things you otherwise might not carry. I don't sell/fit backpacks any more but when asked for advice I generally tell a person to consider 2 or 3 of the smallest packs that will hold the gear/clothing they normally carry and then go with the one that is the most comfortable.

    For all the reasons already stated, some form of ground barrier under your tent is a good idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be the "foot print" sold by the tent manufacturer though. Consider getting your hands on a sheet of Tyvek (the Dupont "house wrap" that is used on new home construction). Cut it the size of your tent floor and then put it through the washmachine a couple times. It will soften and become a lot easier (and less noisy) to fold up and will work as well as a "footprint". If I'm not mistaken, the piece of Tyvek will also weigh less than the standard footprint.

    Hey ...why not. If you're going to carry/use trekking poles anyway, why not put them to more use. I believe that tents which use trekking poles as their means of support are smart. It saves you from carrying the extra pole(s) which are only used at night. Tent poles do occasionally bend or break and sometimes the shock cord that holds the segments together can come loose. Most of the time those types of problems though can be addressed with some duct tape and a trip to the next outfitter up the trail.

    I never really did a count on this but I would imagine that it's about half and half in terms of hikers who leave their packs outside and those who pull them inside the tent at night. I personally did a little of both, depending on the weather and how tired I was when I crawled into my tent. I used a small, one person tent (Wanderlust Nomad-Lite) that had a diamond shape footprint. There was room on either side of me to put the pack but it did make things a bit tight. On nights when I left my pack outside I just layed it out flat on the ground, pulled all the straps and belts underneath and used my pack cover. I never had a problem either with the pack getting wet or with theft of any kind.

    Since I started my hike in late March, I wasn't too worried about mosquitos and my tent had sufficient netting to keep them out. But we had a lot of rain last year and by April the bugs were out in force and I did carry a very small spray bottle of DEET in a zip lock bag. As long as I was hiking, the bugs weren't an issue but when I sat down or stopped hiking for the day I generally applied some DEET ...and it did seem to work. I never sprayed it directly on my body or clothing though. I sprayed a small amount on my hands and then just "patted" down my exposed skin. I never had any type of reaction or problem with the DEET, using it that way, and I would definitely carry it again under the same circumstances.

    You'll get a wide variety of opinions concerning water filtration/purification. My personal belief is that each hiker has to do their own research and then use the system that they believe will work best for them. Having said that ...I've tried them all !! I carried a filter/purifier for years. I found them to be heavy and require more effort than I was willing to invest, given the sense of security they gave me. By that I mean they are a mechanical device and require work. They do clog and get hard to use and they remain wet/damp throughout your hike. In the warmer months, I believe that dampness is a playground for biologics and therefore the filter may actually be "adding" things to your water while it is filtering others out. In the cold months that moisture in the filter can turn to ice and render the filter useless. I also went through all the chemical methods: Polarpure, Bleach, Iodine tablets and AquaMira. I finally honed in on AquaMira as my method of choice. I did my entire thru-hike last year using about 6-7 sets of AquaMira, which cost me a total of around $75 (about the same cost as a decent filter). I had NO problems at all from the water I drank along the trail ...and I scooped up and treated some pretty nasty water at times. That said ...I reiterate that each hiker needs to do the research and choose the method that makes them feel the most secure.

    Guess that hits all your main questions. As has been mentioned in a lot of the previous posts, experience may vary from hiker to hiker ....but this is my $ .02 and it was what worked for me.

    On a final note ...I carried the Wanderlust Nomad Lite on the AT in 2003. I bought it specifically for my thru-hike and haven't used it since. It is in good shape and I'd be interested in selling it if you were interested, and of course had not already purchased one of your own.

    Happy Trails ....

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  10. #10
    2006 Thru-hiker in planning dje97001's Avatar
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    Default With respect to the notepad...

    I don't typically have much experience to offer in these forums, but in this case I have something that I've been using for a few months that might help. I built a gear cost/weight/description worksheet in excel which I have attached to this message--feel free to use it. I don't have all of this stuff, and it is still a constant work in progress (as I learn something, I update the gear). Also, keep in mind some of this gear is listed because it will serve 2 people--you could save a pound or two by changing that gear. I just thought it might help.

    I actually came across SGT Rock's worksheet on here yesterday (do a search for it in the forums), and it was far superior to this one... but this one has worked so far for me.

    (I just wanted to be clear, this isn't all gear that I own... much of it--specifically clothing--is on a sort of "wish list"). Have fun.

  11. #11
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    Default Start out with pack

    For my 03 thru hike I changed from a Kelty to a Granite Gear Ozone pack which very comfortable and could comfortable carry up to 35 lbs. I used a 2 lb Campmor mummy down bag, 3/4 ridgerest pad, and Six Moon Design Tent. All that stuff probable weight qas 7-8 pounds and is one way to keep your pack weight without food and to under 20lbs. When it rained like it did in 03 using a down bag you are always drying it out in town.

    Acua Mira is great for treating water but there were times where I could not buy the stuff in town because the outfitter would sell out.

    Good luck,

    vtpete03

  12. #12
    Springer-->Stony Brook Road VT MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Default Afraid of bears eh?

    33+ years on the AT and I've never seen a bear, average 2 section hikes/month year 'round...dont worry about bears, concern yourself with rednecks near road crossings...

    on gear---borrow borrow borrow borrow....say the word and give me an address and I'll loan you a GVP-4 (size large), if you dont know what that is type it into a yahoo search... try out as much stuff as you can before you plunk down money, everyone has 'their thing', works for them maybe not for you

    hike where? i'll bet there are good hikes within 10miles of wherever you are (maybe not NYC but who says you cant climb the ESB stairwell?)...I know the AT is the Grandaddy of all trails but in the southeast there are too too many other trails to get a taste of ---Bartram,Mtn.to Sea,Cumberland Trail, and so on....important thing is to get out into God's wonder and enjoy it on your own power.

  13. #13

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    I haven't hiked the AT yet but hope to in 4 yrs. but I agree with everyone else about borrowing before you invest. 15 years ago I joined a local hiking group and loved the day hiking. Then someone suggested I borrow their stuff and see if I liked backpacking because I didn't want to invest all that money only to find out I hated it. It took 3 trips before I was hooked and now I love it. So, we went out to buy gear and decided to buy the best and not make cheap our priority because sometimes you get what you pay for. Thank goodness we have never regretted our choices. Of course, we have changed stuff do to newer and better but never settled for cheaper and lower quality. Hope you find what you need and enjoy it! (of course my first backpacking trip was the trip from hell, but that is still a whole 'nother story).

  14. #14
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Since you already are on a path to some of the lighter end of stuff, let me suggest some ideas.

    First, get some scales. Weigh EVERYTHING. Take the scales into a store, even Wal-Mart, when buying. Some good outfitters alreay have scales.

    The Big Four Sleeping bag, tent, backpack, and pad system. Try to keep them around 2 pounds each. You already have your eye on a good tent, Medicine Man is offerning to loan you a good lightweight pack, so the only thing you have to really decide is on a sleeping bag. The Marmont Arroyo comes to mind, but I am sure there are others out there just as good. My personal feel on sleeping bags are you should look at spending some money on this and don't skimp on quality - this piece of gear is your last line of defense against hypothermia in bad weather. A lot of people can get by with lighter pads on the ground, but many prefer Thermarest if they plan to sleep on the ground. That will be a preference choice. Start with cheap closed cell foam and if you need more, then get a Thermarest.

    Clothing: As a general rule, work a layering system. If you can't werar it all at the same time then you have too much stuff. Stay away from cotton, and you may find that the cheap version of the clothing you are looking for works just as well as the expensive version. Hiking clothing has become a fasion industry (check out REI if you don't belive me) and you will eventually figure out that Campmor 200 weight fleece is just as warm as North Face 200 weight fleece, but not nearly as expensive. I like looking for the secret cheap stuff like Army surpluss field jacket liners and polypro underwear. You can actually outfit yourself in clothing pretty cheap.

    Kitchen: a small pot that is .75L-1L is all you need. You won't need plates and bowls and stuff like that. For eating, a spoon is the only really required utensil. Make an alcohol stove before spending a fortune on a gas stove. If you can't live with alcohol after trying it, then buy something. Avoid buying expensive and heavy kitchen equipment like coffee grinders, ovens, etc. Just have an old gatorade bottle for water and a 3L Platapus or something for a water bag in camp or for when you are going to carry over a dry section. A bandana is a great tool for everything in your kitchen. You won't need an expensive bear bag, just get a light stuff sack an some 550 cord. Instead of expensive backpacking meals, look through the grocery for easy to make meals like pastas, rice, beans, potatoes, etc. They will cost about half as much and will be just as easy as the expensive stuff.

    Hygine and First aid/repair kit: look at the contents of some kits instead of buying a pre-made kit. Many items you can carry can be multi use and can be the repair kit. Duct tape, some supre glue, floss (instead of thread) and some needles can fix almost anything long enought to make it to the next town stop. You won't need a full sized towel, maybe a washcloth sized camp towel and some hand sanatizer or some mint camp soap. A toothbrush hacked down and some travel sized tooth paste. For TP, take the center tube out and pull from the center.

    Navigation and lights: I would never reccomend going without a map and compass, and I also reccomend a Databook so you can make daily goals as know what the possible water situation is ahead. As for lights, some get geadlamps and such but I find a pair of the small LEDs work for me. I superglued some alligator clips on them so I can clip them on my hat.

    Avoid a lot of luxuries because the weight adds up. Stuff like cards, radios, books, etc may seem like a good idea, but so is your imagination, and your imagination is very light.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyfisher
    Whoa! I am honored to have made that list!
    You have an outstanding website. Thanks for sharing.

  16. #16
    Springer-->Stony Brook Road VT MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Default Listen to the sounds that the Rock makes!

    If it werent for Sgt Rock and HammockHanger I wouldnt be hanging out on the trail!
    Excellent advice and I would mention that the Marmot bags are often on sale. My favorite fleece is a Remington zip/turtle neck from Walmart, and my hiking pants/zipoffs are from Walmart too.
    PM me about the pack, it is gathering dust currently.

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