About the Gear: Part 2
This post continues the gear discussion started in my original About the Gear post.
Clothing: RailRiders Adventure Top. I’ve been using the same shirt for all my warm weather trips for the past ten years. This nylon shirt is loose fitting with continuous vents up the sides and under the arms as well as a back vent, making it very cool and airy. The fabric keeps the mosquitoes at bay and the sun off your torso and arms, minimizing the need for sunscreen and repellent. During the summer, I do treat the shirt with permethrin to help with mosquito protection. The Adventure Top looks great as well– I have no problem going into a restaurant at the end of a trip wearing it. The mesh vents will abrade in a top-loading washing machine, so I borrow a mesh lingerie bag to wash it in. The Railriders Eco-mesh Shirt is similar but I prefer the Adventure Top because it uses buttons instead of velcro. In warmer weather, I carry no traditional base layer, just the Adventure Top. When the wind picks up or the temperature goes down, I just throw a hooded wind shirt over it. The weight for my size medium is 6 oz.
REI Sahara Pants: These have been my year-round standard trail pants for a long time. What I like is all the pockets, the quick-drying nylon, the ankle zips and the price. They list for $55 but the most I’ve ever paid for them is $45, the least is $15. They get a lot of hard use and are replaced on a regular basis, so price is important for me. For summer trips, they are often the only pair of pants that I bring. Long underwear bottoms get left behind and rain pants only get carried if there is a significant chance of rain. I find that I hardly ever use the Sahara Pants as shorts, so I wish REI had a version just like the Saharas but without the zip-off feature so that I could save a bit of weight. Weight for size M is 11.9 oz.
Saucony Trail Runners: Sauconys tend to have a wide forefoot and narrow heel, so they fit my feet really well. They are all synthetic with a lot of mesh and no Goretex , so they’re quick drying. The model I’m currently using is called the Grid Canyon, which I found locally for about $50. With any kind of footwear, I like to go to a bricks and mortar store to insure a good fit. Since trail runners, like trail pants, get replaced on a regular basis, I always look for a sale. Weight for size 10.5 is 23.9 oz. for the pair.
Wrightsocks: I just started using them this year and so far, really like them. They are double layer and manage moisture well, so blisters and hot spots don’t seem to have a chance. It’s still too early to give them a thumbs up or down, but for the most part I just forget that I’m wearing them. I carry a second pair to use as sleep socks and as a backup. The weight for size large is 1.9 oz. a a pair.
Sunday Afternoons Hat: Some folks claim to look good in these hats. They are mistaken. Even the models on the website look like dorks while wearing them. I bought the Sport version in hopes of looking less extreme. It didn’t work. But if you value function over fashion, these hats are worth checking out. They provide great sun protection for your face and neck. The large stiffened brim doesn’t flop down in the rain. I wear a bandanna under this hat. When I get to a stream, I dip the bandanna in the cool water, tie it back around my head and let the breezes keep my head cool through the open mesh of the Sunday Afternoons Hat. If you have any concerns about how you look in the backcountry, though, I would stay away from these hats. The weight for the Sport version is 2.4 oz .
Outdoor Research Ion hooded windshirt: My most versatile piece of clothing. Great for wind, light rain, extra warmth, and fending off mosquitoes. The hood is essential, I feel, both for the added warmth and for mosquito protection. While wearing this shirt with the hood up and long pants, I only have to apply repellent to my face, hands and ankles. The weight is 3.5 oz.
Golite Virga rain jacket: I found this for half price several years ago at a Golite warehouse sale in Boulder. It’s light and durable enough and does the job but is not as breathable as I would like. If I lived in a place with lots of rain, I would go with the lightest eVent jacket I could find. The weight for size M is 8.4 oz.
Golite Reed Pants: These only get packed if there is a significant chance of rain. For me, ankle zips are essential, so I bought the later, heavier version. The weight for size M is 6.2 oz.
Moonstone Cirrus Pullover: Supposedly, synthetic insulation loses it’s insulating ability in no time, but I’ve had this jacket for about ten years and it still keeps me warm. At $50 this was another bargain. REI had heavily discounted the red jackets, presumably because some copy editor had humorously named the color “Blood”. At $5 a year, I think I can live with name. Red works well when I need a figure in a photo because it contrasts nicely with the green backgrounds. When I want to be stealthy, it reverses to black. The weight for size M is 12.8 oz.
Polartec Fleece Toque: I’ve had this hat for a long time and can’t remember the brand name. Keeps my head warm on cold nights and early mornings. Essential. The weight is 1.4 oz.
That’s pretty much all the clothing I bring in the summer. If it looks like conditions will be cool and damp, though, I throw in a generic Polaratec 100 pullover to wear while hiking. The weight is 7.6 oz. for size medium.
Shelter: Golite Shangri-La 2: I got the 2009 version on sale late last fall thinking that I would use it when snow was expected and maybe to replace a shelter or two in my collection. Since November, I’ve used it on every trip, except for one summer trip when I brought my Tarptent Virga 2 instead for mosquito protection. Still, the thought of using just one shelter for all my trips, just as I use one pack, was nagging at me. Mosquito protection was always the hitch for using the Shangri-La during the summer. The 24 oz. Shangri-la 2 nest is more than I want to carry for solo use. A netting skirt sewn to the bottom is an obvious solution but I don’t want the extra weight and bother added for most of the year which is mosquito free in Colorado. On my latest trip, I just brought my six-ounce A-16 bug bivy which fits nicely into a corner of the shelter. It turns out I didn’t need to use it. While the mosquitoes annoyed me during dinner, they didn’t follow me into the Shangri-La whose edges were staked right down to the ground.
Other things I like about the Shangri-La 2:
- It’s very easy to set up. Just stake out the four corners, extend your trekking poles inside, stake out the two sides and you’re done.
- At 21.6 oz. plus stakes it’s light enough for one person to carry, but roomy enough for two.
- The SilLite fabric, at least on the 2009 model, feels burly in comparison to the 1.1 oz. silnylon that I’ve become accustomed to in lightweight shelters. It also doesn’t seem to stretch as much in the rain.
- Sheds wind , rain, and snow easily. This is a shelter that I don’t mind using above treeline.
- It sits high from front to back. I could never decide if I preferred the high end of a shelter to be above my head or in the middle. Ideally, it would be both. With this design, the problem is solved. I can even change positions inside the tent and still have a high end over my head. Another benefit is that you tie a long clothesline from front to back. With large vents at either end, air can flow through and help dry damp clothing.
- It’s floorless. My sleeping pad sits on one side of the poles on a sheet of window shrink wrap that weighs 1.3 oz. My gear is stored in the back quadrant on the other side. The remaining quadrant serves as an entry/mudroom/vestibule. There is no need to remove wet or muddy shoes or clothing before entering. Any condensation that forms just slides down the steep walls into the ground.
- Adjustable height. The shelter can be set up high for maximum ventilation or right down to the ground for protection from wind.
Water treatment: Steripen Adventurer. Weight with batteries is 3.4 oz. Since switching to Energizer Lithium batteries, I haven’t had any of the problems reported by some users. But for back-up and camp use, I also carry chlorine dioxide tablets. Most of the places I hike have plenty of water, so I rarely have to carry more than .5 liter of water while on the trail. A wide-mouth half-liter bottle is shock-corded to my shoulder strap. When I get to a source, I just scoop up the water with my bottle, use the Steripen, wipe off the threads, and drink it down. This is all accomplished in a couple of minutes without removing my pack. At camp, I toss a few chlorine dioxide tablets into my Dromlite and let them work their magic.
That’s it for now. There will be more posts about gear I haven’t covered yet and reflections on what worked and what didn’t for each trip.