Musings on IT, data management, whitewater rafting, and backpacking

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Results of "Latest backpacking tweaks"

Took all the latest tweaks on my August 8-day loop through the Santa Cruz mountains.

Here's how everything worked out ...

Therm-A-Rest 40th Anniversary Edition sleeping pad

This pad helped me sleep much warmer than previous trips, and much more comfortably, though still not ideal. I must deflate the pad some so I don't roll around on top, which means as a side sleeper, some bony parts don't get much padding. Unless I decide to carry a much thicker and heavier pad, this one is good enough.

Saltstick Caps Plus electrolyte capsules

Absolutely fabulous. Much of the trip had me sweating like a pig. And on one particularly tough day, I (stupidly) failed to take enough of these capsules, and paid the price. I seem to need at least one capsule per hour while backpacking, and on hard, hot, days, even more.

Western Mountaineering Flash down vest

Worked great. Kept me warm around camp, and kept me warmer in my sleeping bag on the coldest nights. 3.5 oz and well worth it.

Tarptent Moment tent

Worked well, but I still have some reservations. Very quick and easy to set up, plenty of room inside for me and gear, just enough headroom for me at 6' 2", plenty of room in the vestibule for gear. No condensation problems, except for one foggy, windy night with 12+ hours of 100% humidity – challenging conditions for any tent. My reservations concern the complexity: lots of bungie cords, nylon tape, glued-on patches with snap hooks, etc. Simpler is usually better in the wilderness; only time will tell.

MSR Mini-Groundhog tent stakes

Worked great, easy to pound in, easy to remove, held the tent steady through a windy night.

MSR Blizzard tent stakes (as human waste shovels)

Used only once, worked fine. (All camp sites had outhouses.)

Aqua Mira tablets water purification

Dead simple to use compared to Aqua Mira drops, and much lighter. Difficult to get the tablets out of their foil wrappers, always needed a pocket knife. Waiting was not a big deal with some planning. Slightly more chlorine taste than the drops.

Outdoor Herbivore dinners

I couldn't find the right amount of water to get good texture – following the package directions didn't produce consistent results. Except for the texture, the meals were tasty and filling.

Bear Valley Pemmican Bars for breakfast

Absolutely fabulous. Much easier than my old breakfast of Grape Nuts with milk, and gets me out of camp faster. Very handy for mosquito-infested camps.

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