Let’s talk gear. Now my husband is the research king of the best, the most minimal, the lightest, and the most functional gear on the market. But while I love the idea of a 20lb pack total, I also need something that is comfortable. If I’m cold, wet, have blisters, haven’t slept well, or am experiencing back spasms due to an uncomfortable pack, it’s not going to be a pleasant trip for anyone.
The Stickpic – simple, tiny and small. Looks like an interesting tool for the solo hiker self-portrait.
$12 from http://thestickpic.com/
My old leather wallet took a trip through the washing machine a few months ago and came out well, looking pretty sad. Since then, I’d been looking for a new wallet and wanted to find something small that would fit nicely in the front pockets of my shorts or pants. On a recent trip to Boise, I found the Butterfly wallet. Perfectly sized, minimalist and super light. Champion!
Available for purchase online at the bargain price of $12.50 from http://butterflywallet.com/
Lynn and I recently returned from our TGO challenge in Scotland. One of the best pieces of kit we took was the new Thermarest Neoair mattress. If you’re not familiar with it, Brett has a great “first impressions” review.
I took a Neoair “small” and Lynn took a Neoair “regular”. They were very generously sized and extremely plush and comfortable. The small comes in a 47” with the regular a whopping 72”! I’ve included a comparison picture below.
We really liked the Neo air for comfort during our trip.
- Treated with non-slip compound which helps ensure you stay on the pad – I never slipped off at all.
- Super light weight – 9oz for a 47” pad is amazing
- Easy to inflate (the small is super fast though Lynn complains it takes her a while to inflate the regular)
- Can be a little cold due to low “R” value (R2.5) – we found ourselves a little cold on some nights. I would not recommend this mat alone for four season camping. Thermarest recommends pairing it with the Z-lite pad which will add R2.2 making a very respectable R4.7 pad at only 19oz (size small).
- Does not ship with a puncture kit – this is absolutely essential
In short I would highly recommend the Neoair to ultralight backpackers. Like most ultralight gear, there’s a tradeoff – with the Neoair, it’s with the R value; the comfort is very plush and much nicer than other mats I’ve slept on. There was a lot of Neoair’s on the TGO challenge and almost everyone was raving about the sleep experience. On sizing I find the small to be fine and stuff extra clothes/backpack under my feet to ensure they stay warm and elevated off the tent floor.
Unless you’re fanatical about weight, you might consider the size medium which weighs in at 13oz but gives you a very generous 66” of length. An alternate (which I’m thinking of doing) is to buy the Thermarest Neoair seat which is 10” x 20” (2.5oz). This could easily double as a foot rest giving you an extra 10” to your Neoair small. Plus you get a plush seat mat out of the deal too.
One nit is that the mattress does not ship with a puncture repair kit. For an inflatable mattress, this should really come as standard.
Rating: Highly Recommended
Andy Howell has a great post-TGO write-up on the state of lightweight backpacking in the UK. During our TGO challenge, we saw many light weight backpackers who were coping well (even the Tarpers) with the extreme Scottish weather. Go Lite!
I have now successfully resurrected our actual TGO route from the SPOT web service. This was a lesson in taking a dependency on assumed API behavior rather than documented semantics. To cut a long story short the SPOT web service only provides access to the last 7 days of tracking information. However logging into your account page (https://login.findmespot.com) will gives the ability to download all data for the past 30 days. I’ve jiggered up the tracking page to show the actual route we took.
Just getting together the final bits and pieces of kit. Our flight leaves Seattle at 6:50pm today. We’ll spend a few days with family in Manchester before flying up to Inverness and then taking a train to our starting point in Dornie.
I added a few new pieces of kit for this trip. With the weather likely to be wet, I focused on lots of warm clothing, good dry layer and a great “sleep system”.
I’ve previously blogged about my OR Celestial paclite jacket. Here are some other editions to my kit list.
Montbell Ultralight Down Jacket
|Marmot Precip Pants
These pants rock, I’ve had them for over a year; they’re super light (7oz) and take up almost no space in my pack.
|Roclite 318 GTX
Just got these shoes a few weeks ago and they are really great. Given that Scotland will be cold and wet, I’m hoping the addition of Goretex might keep my feet a little drier than usual. At 11oz, they are about half the weight of my regular Soloman shoes.
|Thermarest Neoair Sleeping Pad
The new Neoair from Thermarest has redefined “ultralight luxury”. At 9oz for the small (which is a whopping 47” long) it’s more than half the weight of conventional pads.
Brett has a review here.
|Western Mountaineering Megalite
This bag is simply amazingly warm for the weight. It’s 24oz and rated to 30F. I’m a very warm sleeper and have slept naked in freezing temps without feeling cold. On this trip I’m bringing along a silk liner just in case we get arctic winds for our hike.
|Six Moon’s Lunar Duo
The LunarDuo is a great single wall two person tent. It’s light at 39oz and has a great deal of floor space for two – 54” x 90”. Weight is saved by the lack of an integrated pole system instead relying on hiking poles for support.
|ULA Conduit Backpack
This is my favourite piece of kit – it’s super light at 17oz and is sooo comfortable. Everthing about the pack has been well thought out including the side pockets which are reachable with ease even when the pack is on your back.
This stove is small, super light (2oz) and works really well provided there’s no wind. Like all canister stoves, gas can be a problem if the canister is too cold. This is easily solved by sitting the can in cold water for a few minutes to “warm it up”.
|Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets
I no longer carry a water filter and instead use simple water purification tablets. No mess, simple and leave no nasty aftertaste.
|Easy Showily GPS Tracker
This is a great little device that’ll record your trek as you hike along. Works like a charm and is super simple to use.
Brett has a nice review here.
I’ve been wondering what to take for brewing coffee on our trip. I can attest that a good cup of coffee is a necessity for Lynn every morning. I was planning on taking instant coffee such as Nescafe Espresso or similar. While it has more than enough caffeine content, the flavor isn’t there.
So, what to do? While browsing my local REI for last minute goodies, I stumbled across the GSI Ultralight Javadrip. At a measly 0.5oz it definitely doesn’t add any significant weight. The price is great too at $10! No more instant coffee, no more filters – now that’s not bad We gave the gizmo a trail run on Sunday and it works pretty well.
Perhaps there is indeed hope for the wine drinking hiker after all. After Brett’s review of dehydrated wine:
“Clumpy, musty odor, like drinking beetroot juice spiked with cheap vodka that has spoiled at the bottom of the ocean for three hundred years.”
Alas, surely there must be something better? Enter the PlatyPreserve from our friends at Cascade Designs (the makers of Platypus):
Platypus employees claim to have kept wine in the PlatyPreserve for up to six months without noticeable taste degradation
Are the claims true? Does this really do the trick? Wunderbar! [sic]
Details available from http://www.platypreserve.com