Yup, I’ve been tagged… again. Ok, it was actually a few months ago when Tony actually tagged me (in THIS video), and I am just now getting around to responding… I gotta say though, picking “my 3 favorites” was a bit harder than I had first thought. Problem is, I like all of my gear…
So, after much thought, I decided that I would pick my 3 favorite pieces of gear from my most recent hike in the Olympic National Park. This did make it a bit easier since it narrowed down the amount of gear I had to choose from, however, it was still tough!
But, I managed to do it, and here they are, in no specific order:
My wife actually got this cook kit for me last Christmas (2012). The specific kit that I have was one of the first versions that LiteTrail offered, which features the pot without handles and the windscreen that paperclips together. Since introducing this kit though, he put out another kit in which he added handles to the pot, and spot-welded the windscreen. But, at this point he does not have any of his kits in stock, and I am not sure if/when he will again. So, I am definitely happy that I managed to pick one up when I did, and to be honest, I am happy that it is the version without the handles, and with the paperclip windscreen.
I have a number of other cook kits, and I like them all for one reason or another, but for the last few months, the LiteTrail cook kit has really stood out to me for a few reasons:
- It packs small & compact. Everything fits inside the cook pot, which is small.
- It’s light. For EVERYTHING (and I do mean everything), it is only 3.5 oz!
- It’s the right size. By this, I mean the cook pot volume. 550 ml just works for me.
- It’s multi-use: my cook pot & my drinking mug!
- It’s efficient. I managed to use a single 14 g Esbit tab for both breakfast & dinner!
For these reasons, this cook kit has made a nice home in my pack, and likely will continue to do so for quite a while.
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of ZPack’s gear, but that’s for good reason. It just works for me. The Hexamid Solo Plus tent was actually my first cuben fiber shelter, and as much as I loved it, I felt like going with the tarp and the inner Hexanet would suit my needs better. So, earlier this year I sold my tent and then turned around and picked up the tarp, and soon after, the Hexanet.
The Olympic hike was the first hike I used the Hexanet on (I had previously used the tarp on other hikes), and it was a great break in hike. I used it over 6 nights, and I’ve got to say that it kept me warm and dry each night, despite that we encountered blowing rain (to some degree) 5 out of the 6 nights. As well, 5 out of the 6 nights I (luckily) set the tarp up in the correct orientation into the wind, however, the last night I happened to set it up incorrect. So, each time the wind came over the pass, it filled my tent and the tent puffed out, however, it held tight all night long. The beak helped to deflect some of the wind, as well as some of the rain, however, I did find a couple of wet spots on the mesh wall the next morning. But it never got to me…
Anyway, here are a few reasons why I picked the Hexamid/Net as another “favorite”:
- It’s light. For everything (including stakes) it weighs 18.9 oz. For a double wall shelter though, this is awesome!
- It’s roomy. This is a personal preference, but for me, I have all the room I need to unload my pack inside it, as well as stretch out, and even sit up & change clothes.
- It provides options. I can set up the Hexanet by itself, the tarp by itself, or both together. As well, I can use the Hexanet inside (trail) shelters if need be.
- It’s easy to set-up, and I can set up the tarp first, then the inner.
- It keeps me dry when everything else is wet.
These are just a few reasons as to why I picked the ZPacks Hexamid/Net as another “favorite,” but I am sure I could come up with more if I needed. Fact is, I love this shelter, and after using it on my recent Olympic hike, it will definitely continue to be one of my “go-to” shelters…
This one was somewhat of a surprise to me, sorta. A few months ago, it dawned on me that this pad (in a size small) only weighed 11 oz. This, along with the fact that I have always found my ProLite 4 pad (as well as my REI LiteCore 1.5 pad) very comfortable, was like a revelation to me. I prefer a flat surface to sleep on, which these pads are. This is likely why I prefer the NeoAir’s over pads by Exped & Big Agnes. To me, the vertical baffles create to much of a bumpy (for the lack of a better word) surface for me to sleep comfortably on.
But, I say “sorta” because I have never used a short pad like this due to the thought of leg-drop. However, at only 1 inch thick (when inflated – actually a little thinner when lying on top of it) I figured that I could use my backpack, or my Gossamer Gear 1/8″ ThinLight pad under my legs to compensate for the drop. And I have got to say… I was right…
I slept better all 6 nights on this hike than I can say that I have any other night since I have been backpacking. Now, I am not saying that this is all due to the pad itself, some of this credit is likely due to the fact that I wasn’t so nervous due to the large group I was camped with. But, at the same time, I found that I was never uncomfortable lying on the ground either, so there is definitely some due-credit that goes to the ProLite pad for this.
So, a few reasons that I picked this pad as my final “favorite” are:
- It’s comfortable. (I put this as #1 for a reason…)
- It’s light. My size small weighs 11.2 oz!
- It’s tough. The bottom is a very tough 70D nylon material…
- It’s minimal. Only what I need, and not what I don’t need.
- It’s comfortable…. wait…
This pad is actually labeled as an “irregular,” although it functions as expected. (The difference is that I paid about half of what they regularly go for!) I have got to say though, I am very happy with this pad, and it will see plenty more use, especially for 3 season hikes. I am not so sure that I will be able to pull it off even in our Southeast winters though… For those hikes, I will just use my XLite! :)
So, those are “My 3 Favorites”… Like I said, I really do like all of my gear, but I will say that these 3 items/systems really stood out to me on my hike. But please don’t take that as: the rest of my gear didn’t. I have got to say that everything I packed for this hike performed very well for me. I had no complaints with any of my gear!
And now to keep this tag going…
As I said, Tony Hobbs tagged me, and of course he was tagged before me. Rather than going in reverse order though, here are the future tags:
As well, staying true to the tune of the tag, I am asking each of them to just go with “3 favorite” whatever’s… it doesn’t have to be gear, it can be people, places or things… whatever they choose. As well, I know that they don’t all do videos so much, so feel free to just write it up on your blog. And of course, once they each do I will come back and add a link back to their response here on this post… just to keep it all nice and tidy!
And, as an extended tag, if anyone else reading would like to reply, feel free to do so and just leave a link in the comments section below!
So, that’s it. I now have one more tag that I need to answer to (thanks Cesar), but it may be a bit before I get to that one too…
Until then, thanks for stopping by!
Disclaimer: The items I listed in this post are my own, and I paid for them. I am not obligated to write about them, nor am I being compensated for doing so.