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Backpacking gear

So while on the Smokey Mountains, I hiked around with 35 lbs on my back. There was a drought in the area, the worst drought recorded.. so in the first day we had to bring all our water (about a gallon).

I had been excited about my 25 lb weight, but after the water and group gear, it got really heavy.

I rented a pair of trekking poles, and oh my goodness, there was so brilliantly awesome! With such a load on my pack and the trail being so hilly it was helpful.

Each time I took off my backpack and started to walk, it felt like I was moonwalking, very light and bouncy.

So I was inspired by "Ultralight backpacking". There are groups of people who eschew expensive backpacking gear and just carry a shower tent and sew their own gear.  Or you can buy expensive ultralight gear.

On Backpacker magazine, I saw a really light backpack, read the phone number and saw that it was area code 512. Turns out that Gossamer Gear, one of 4 lightweight manufacters.. was right here in town, operating out of a house. I dropped by the place and got a new backpack (crazy light: 1 lb 4 oz) and a foam sleeping pad (8 oz) and trekking poles (2.4 oz each). *beam*
Oh. And a tiny alcohol-based stove.

So the only ultralight thing I don't have is a sleeping bag, the ones I saw that I liked were over $300. So, I'll stick to my cheaper and heavier one, it's only about 2 lbs.  And a tent. My backpacking tent is 6 lbs and for 2 people. Ok for 2 people. Not ok for one person.

I seem to always dive headfirst into a hobby. Like my first year doing improv, I was going to the Chicago Improv Festival and Keith Johnstone's workshop. 

Tonight Andy and I hiked the greenbelt and I'm looking forward to a bunch of backpacking since it's nice and cold in Texas right now. 

I am eating fast food for lunch to offset my gear buying. KFC today.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)
Wow, I eat fast food when I want to splurge instead of eating ramen or mac 'n' cheese. I guess that's the difference between being a grad student and having a real job.
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:52 am (UTC)
heheh, I guess it's all relative. ramen is probably a luxury to.. uhm... the hungry children that mothers always talk about.
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Heehee! You're already putting the financial budgeting strategy we talked about into play ;)
Oct. 30th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
yeah! i heard your voice in my head and drove for fast food.
Oct. 30th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
Trekking poles + tarp == lightweight shelter, for 1 or 5 depending on tarp size. If there's trees around you don't even need the poles.

(I wouldn't consider eating fast food a way to save money -- it's still $5 or so for a single meal. When I was in college I think I was trying to keep my per-day food costs at about $1.50. I didn't quite succeed but I came close. These days with real money I still consider $4 per day a good cheap standard that I don't keep to at all, but is doable.)

As for diving into a hobby -- I hear you there. I used to do that, too, though lately I've been trying moderation and I think it helps a lot. For one thing it saves money as I don't buy a lot of stuff only to abandon the hobby in a year or two. For another, as marathon training taught me, moderation and slow increases are the keys to life. :-)

Up north, winter is the best time to backpack, because there's no bugs and there's no one else out. In fact, the folks who love snow camping a lot like to call the summer time camping "dirt camping". :-)
Oct. 31st, 2007 04:43 am (UTC)
ah well. i don't suppose you can go backpacking sometime? :) since it's winter in TX and great weather. maybe for one night?

As for the tarp thing, as much as sleeping in the open air sounds appealing, I don't know about the whole insect/snake thing.
Oct. 31st, 2007 10:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, the tarp thing always made more sense to me somewhere without scorpions.

I'd love to go camping but I don't think the missus wants to be on baby patrol all night without me for at least another year. Although my mom is coming between Christmas and New years, maybe I can get away for a night then.
Nov. 2nd, 2007 08:52 am (UTC)
With you there
It's true. Carrying less is a rather noticeable advantage when backpacking. Personally I make an exception for the shoes and the backpack itself. Solid, steady, robust shoes give more support, and this, atleast to me, more than make up their increased weigth. 3mm full-leather all the way baby. The backpack could be ligthweigth, except mine typically gets to suffer. I want it to be able to take a lot of punishment without complaint or fail, and that tends to be incompatible with the ones that are -too- flimsy. (I guess if you pay a lot you migth get ligthweigth -AND- strong)

It depends on how attached you are to the tenting-part of it. As I've gotten older and more comfortable I increasingly tend to use the DNT-shelters.

Yeah, you're quite a bit less outdoorsy when you sleep over in a cabin, so it's definitely not for everyone. But there's a few advantages:

You don't need a tent, a sleeping-bag, cooking-gear or sleeping pad. I typically bring the pad anyway, 'cos its nice for breaks (and adds to security if say someone breaks a leg and needs to wait for rescue), but still, going with 15-20 lbs in your backpack (and that's -without- fancy expensive gear) means that peak that'd otherwise be out-of-reach is now more manageable.

You spend less time making/breaking camp, cooking, washing etc, and more time just enjoying the trip.

If you go to the larger cabins in the season you meet people. This, depending on your preference, can be a plus or a minus I guess. In my experience the kind of people you meet are friendly and interesting.

The way DNT-cabins are arranged helps restoring my faith in humanity. Honestly. Works like this:

They are locked. Any member of DNT gets a key. The key is the same to -all- aprox 400 DNT cabins that exist in Norway.

They are equipped with firewood, gas for cooking, beds pots and pans, and sometimes have a cache of non-perishable foodstuffs. You take what you need, and pay in a box in the corner. The amazing thing is that people -DO- pay. Not only that, they also do the dishes before leaving, sweep the floors and any other associated details. Since there's essentially no control you'd think someone would regularily leave these cabins in less-than-desirable condition. Yet I've not even once experienced coming to one that wasn't ship-shape.

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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