Gear Talk

23 Apr

While Emily and I mentioned that we used all our ultralight gear a couple weeks ago, we didn’t go into specifics.  Both of us have worked outdoor retail and we have taken our gear selection very seriously over the past year or so.  I am too embarrassed to say how many hours of online research, trips to REI and other outfitters, and discussions have gone into our final choices, so we will just go with “a lot”. I’ll let Emily speak to her own gear picks, but here are my big ones plus some group ones:

Personal gear:
Pack: Osprey Exos 34. (2lb even)
Sleeping bag: Golite Adrenaline 800 fill 3-Season Short (1lb 10oz.)
Sleeping pad: Thermarest Neo Air (12oz)
Rain jacket: Outdoor Research Helium Air II (5oz)
Synthetic warm layer:  REI Revelcloud Jacket (10.2 oz)
Trail running shoes: Brooks Cascadia 7 (10.2oz)
Hydration bladder from Nathan’s Endurance Hydration Vest (weight unknown)

Group gear:
Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (2lb 10oz)
Stove: Snow Peak Gigapower (3.75oz)
Pot: Evernew Titanium 1.4L (7.1oz)
Water filter: MSR Hyperflow Microfilter (7.5oz)

So far we have only been on one overnight to test the big items and I was really pleased with my choices.  The Osprey Exos is super light, very comfortable and has a great vented back panel that kept me cool.  The thermarest and the sleeping bag work well together, though the sleeping bag is a true mummy.  I am 5’5″ and about 130lbs and it was
nice and snug around me.  If you are any bigger you will need to go a size up.

The tent was fairly easy to set up, though it isn’t entirely free standing (needs to be staked out).  It has a nice height to it, but is a cozy fit with both Em and I inside.  However, these are the kind of things you have to sacrifice to cut that extra weight- you don’t get a 12lb pack AND a 12ft x 12ft tent.

The MSR filter definitely impressed us both with the speed it pumps (it claims 3L per minute).  It has kind of an awkward larger filter at the bottom to get the big chunks out that made it difficult to keep it submerged while pumping.  We will let you know when we come up with a good solution for this!

As far as my hydration system goes, I absolutely love the bladder that I got with my Nathan’s Endurance vest.  It has a huge opening at the top with a sliding closure that allows for easy cleaning and water access.  It eliminates the annoying twisting that comes with Camelbak tops or the tiny opening on the Platypus models.  Though I won’t be bringing the
vest itself on the trail, if anyone is looking for something comfortable to do their long runs in I couldn’t recommend it enough.  After years of handheld bottles, fanny backs and Camelbaks I switched to this vest about 2 years ago and will never go back.  It doesn’t bounce, fits like a glove and is so light you won’t even notice it fully loaded.

As far as shoes go, I am a huge Brooks fan.  I converted to their shoes for road and trail running a few years ago and am addicted.  I love their balance of cushioning and support (and the fun colors are an awesome bonus as well!)   I have run in the Cascadias for about 8 months now and am really satisfied with how they work for me.  They are light but provide good footing and haven’t given me a single blister.  However, the fit of running shoes is incredibly personal.  If you haven’t found the right trail
shoe I can only recommend going to a real running store and having someone who knows what they are doing fit you.  Emily is the running gait expert, so if you have questions shoot them her way!

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