About the Gear: Indian Peaks Southern Loop
The Biggest Winner: Saucony Grid Excursion TR4 trail runners
Regular readers of this blog may recall the foot problems I experienced on the James Peak trip. Nothing against New Balance, but I had picked trail runners built on the wrong last for my foot. This resulted in several days of pain. My heel was loose in the heel counter and my toes pinched. These Sauconys are the replacement and I couldn’t be more pleased. They are all synthetic for quick drying with lots of mesh for breathability. The most important thing, however, is the fit. Sauconys are known for their narrow heel and wide footbox. These shoes fit my feet as if they were custom made. During this trip I hardly noticed that I had them on. The takeaway is not for everyone to run out and buy a pair of Sauconys, but to really take the time and energy to shop around for a really good fit. Your feet will feel so much better if you do.
The weight for size 10 is 11.9 oz (336 g) per shoe.
The biggest loser: Montbell U.L. Comfort System Pad 90
It really bothers me to have to report this because Montbell is one of my favorite gear makers. My Montbell sleeping bag, tent, and insulated jacket are great pieces of gear that have served me well. And I refuse to go backpacking without my Montbell U.L. Comfort System pillow. But on the second night of the trip, just after putting an extra couple of puffs on air into the Montbell pad, it started to delaminate. To be honest, I had read reports of similar incidents on various backpacking forums but had become complacent because I’ve used this pad for several years with no issues. Whether this is a problem with one particular batch of pads or is more widespread, I can’t say. But for letting me down when I really needed it, I have to give the Montbell 90 the biggest loser award for the trip. Sorry, Montbell. ;-(
The weight is 9.2 oz. (259 g).
Honorable Mention: Trail Designs Caldera Cone
This is the most wind-resistant and stable lightweight alcohol stove that I’ve found. When the winds really picked up on Wednesday morning, this stove had no problem staying lit and staying put. It’s also pretty stingy with the alcohol: about 1/2 oz. (15 ml) of fuel brings two cups of water to a boil, even in tough conditions. Having experimented with a number of different alcohol stoves over the years, both store-bought and homemade, this is the one I reach for time and time again. The folks at Trail Designs really have built a better mousetrap.
My fuel of choice is safe, clean 190 proof Everclear.
The weight for the pot support/windscreen for the .9 l Evernew pot is 1.4 oz. (37 g). The weight for the alcohol burner is 0.6 oz. (15 g).
Honorable Mention: Golite Shangri-La 2.
Folks who have been following Dondo Outdoors for a while may get the idea that I really like this shelter. They would be right. So at the risk of boring my regular readers, I again have to invite the Shangri-La 2 into the winner’s circle. It’s performance in the high winds Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning while in a very exposed position just below the Continental Divide have earned it another mention. With the burly fabric (2009 version), I can tension this shelter to the max with my trekking poles without any worries of it tearing. Why not the Shangri-La 1? A little too claustrophobic for me. Why not the Shangri-La 3? It looks like a great tent but is a bit too much shelter for me for solo use. The Shangri-La 2 is the Baby Bear of the group–just right. I pair it it with six 8″ gold Easton monster stakes for great stability in most conditions.
The weight for the fly is 21.6 oz. (612 g). The weight for the six Easton stakes is 3 oz. (85 g).