Post Hike Gear Thoughts

This past hike was quite an experience for me. First and foremost, I got to revisit the same section of trail in which my wife & I experienced our first true backpacking trip. As well, this time I got to take 2 of my buddies along, and guess what…it was their first hike along the Appalachian Trail as well! But, that is not all…on this trip I got to experience some new gear as well as hone in on some of my older gear…

So, now that the hike is over, I have written a short trip report and posted some videos and pictures. Next I wanted to do some video in which I simply talk about some of the gear. Just unload some of my thoughts on some of the pieces that stood out to me while on the trail.

I have 2 videos that are no doubt somewhat nerdy…nothing special…just me sitting at the table with some of my gear and rambling on. There is some gear that I have not mentioned in the videos that I plan to talk about in following videos, as well, some of the gear I will continue to elaborate on. So, for now, I hope that you have a moment to hang out for a bit and hear what I have to say. The only thing that I ask of you is to please keep in mind that these are my thoughts on how I feel about these items. I am not trying to push anything on anyone, not trying to tell anyone that they need to rush out and get a certain piece of gear because it is the best. Fact is, there is no perfect piece of gear. There are lots of options, and these are ones that seem to be the best for me.

That is all…please enjoy. 🙂

Thanks for your time!

~Stick~

About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
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18 Responses to Post Hike Gear Thoughts

  1. Dale Caldwell says:

    I’ve looked through some, but not all of your reviews on the solo plus shelter. Forgive me if I ask something you have posted already…..

    If I’m considering one of Joe’s shelters for two people and a medium size dog, do you think the solo-plus would be satisfying after your experiences?

    Did you ever consider the BearPaw shelters (cub or bear den)? It seems like the prices are near other than the netting, which is much cheaper than Joe’s. I do want Joe’s GC and the thought of a zpacks shelter with a removable netting sounds nice. I don’t need netting for the floor but want it for the bugs where I camp sometimes.

    The beanie…. Most people say that thing is HOT. After your experiences and considering our southern location, would you not consider the Hadron instead? I bought one of those down hoods from Joe but won’t always want such coverage.

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    • Stick says:

      Dale,

      I would highly recommend the twin tent rather than the Solo Plus. In my opinion, I would not want to be sharing the Solo Plus every time I used it, and I don’t think that it would be very comfy, especially if you add a dog in. The good thing about the twin though is that it is something like less than an oz heavier so that is cool.

      I have heard a lot about Bear Paw and know that a lot of folks over on BPL seem to like them. TBH though, I have hardly been to his site and cannot even tell you what he offers.

      When I got my BRG down hat, the Hadron was not in existence. Let me say that I love that hat. I would not say it is hot because it is sewn through and wind can pass through. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t keep me noggin warm either…cause it does. In my experience, I have been able to use my BRG down hat in a very wide range of temperatures, and that is why I like it. It is versatile…

      Now, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind having the Hadron, but I have no reason to get it since I have my original. It would only save me less than 0.2 oz, and considering how happy I am with what I have, I have no reason to get the Hadron.

      Hope this helps.

      ~Stick~

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  2. Echoes says:

    Hi Chad. Love your blog and all your gear reviews. I was wondering what your thoughts are on the AGG rain jacket. Not sure if you’ve actually used it in the rain yet, but I’ve been thinking of getting one for the PCT this year so any comments you have on it would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    • Stick says:

      Echoes,

      Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoy my blog/videos. I always appreciate the comments (and the compliments… 🙂 )

      I do like the AGG jacket, although it is not the perfect jacket. So far I only used it the last day of the recent hike. We hiked up Blood Mtn and then down the other side in blowing wind and rain. It was so much fun!

      Anyway, I will eventually get around to doing a video on it too. Right now though, I gotta say it is just a simple, no-frills jacket. I love the weight (4.7 oz in a XL) more than anything else about this jacket. It did keep me dry, but along the inside of the arms was a little wet, possibly from me sweating? And no, I have not seam sealed it. Not sure if I will or not at this point. However, 2 things that stand out and I am not really fond of, 1) the zipper is a bit finicky and feels cheap. Tension needs to be held on both sides to keep it from hanging up when zipping/unzipping. And 2) the sleeves are a little short. They fit me fine when my arms are down but if I reach out a little they ride up a bit. Enough to expose the layers underneath. There is a velcro strip to cinch the wrist cuffs down, but it too is a little lacking. I plan to install a cord and a cord lock into the hemmed channel at the wrist which should help some.

      I know this probably does not help much, but it’s all I got so far. I will say though that George was a lot of help when I ordered it. He even went out and took pictures of him wearing one for me to help me with the sizing. I fully give AGG thumbs up for their service.

      ~Stick~

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  3. By the way, you don’t need a straw. You can blow it up with your mouth (without any straw) and you can deflate it with a small twig in the opening….so don’t sweat it.

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    • Stick says:

      Green Giant,

      Thanks for the tip. I will have to try that. So, I take it you have used these before then…what is your impression of them? I gotta say, so far I am pretty happy with it.

      ~Stick~

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    • I used them exclusively for about 2 years or so and I like them a lot. I found they lasted a lot longer than what people would think too. They are essentially emergency medical pillows and I like the shape (dual chambers specifically) and length more than anything else. Funny enough, I should probably go back to them as I just haven’t found anything I truly like on a consistent basis. I currently use a Kookabay pillow, but it’s just too slippery and not ideal. I’m not going to sleep on my smelly and filthy shoes. I’m don’t have enough extra clothing to put under my head. My pack is already being used under my legs. I need to bring a pillow of some sort and I think I’ve tried pretty much everything out there. A good pillow and pad are honestly more important than pretty much anything else in my opinion to get a good nights sleep. Who knows.

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    • Stick says:

      I did not notice that these were dual chamber…I need to go drag it out again… They do seem a bit bigger than other pillows that I have been using, namely the Exped Air Pillow or the Cocoon Ultralight pillow. I was pretty happy with the Cocoon pillow for a while. I would stuff it under my R1 which was pulled over the top of my NeoAir the same way I am using these pillows (which works very well for me). I like the traditional rectangular shape too. So, considering weight, I am very very happy with this pillow. And to make it even better, they are very inexpensive! For what I paid for those other pillows I could have bought like 15 of these…

      I agree too, I don’t have enough clothes left over that would make a decent pillow, and just as I don’t want to sleep on my filthy boots, I don’t want to sleep on my dirty pants either. I also agree that a good pad and pillow is important. That is why I will not give up my full size (20 x 72) rectangular NeoAir or the pillow.

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  4. How do you like the Black Rock Beanie now that you’ve had a chance to use it for awhile? Is see that you’re wearing it indoors. I had one but sold it after feeling like it wasn’t really that warm and I thought the wind cut right through it.

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    • Stick says:

      Green Giant,

      I am actually pretty happy with the BRG beanie. It has been fine for me, but in enough wind I do agree, some will come through. Even in a windy mid-teen weather conditions I was still pretty good, but I did throw the hood on my wind jacket up too. I gotta say though, that was really to get some of the wind off of the lower part of the back of my head (where the hat didn’t cover) and on my neck.

      I do have a Mountain Hardware hat with wind stopper in it and I find it too hot. Even in cold weather it was too hot. So far the BRG hat has been a much appreciated replacement.

      Oh, and most of the times I wear it indoors is because my hair was a mess…and it’s stylish… 🙂 But I fixed that…now my hair is super super short…

      ~Stick~

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  5. Hey Chad,

    What would the total weight be for your next trip for water treatment / storage system for a 5 day hike?

    How did the s-straps work out on your backpack?

    Those people who were sceptical about CF fraying are clearly people that have not researched CF for the last few years. In the early days CF did have that problem, but that was quickly solved. Just a case of people who hear about something and automatically dismiss it for every because of ignorance. Any weekend hiker is never ever going to have a problem with CF fraying – unless they are extreamly abusive towards their gear, in which case it does not matter what material they use, CF or not.

    LOL, the medium stuff sack with the shelter is for those of us who actually ‘stuff’ :-p

    I picked up the Solo-Plus groundsheet and hoping it will be here by end of the week. Going to try putting it under my 0.34 cf tarp. Once I saw how high the bathtub was I was pretty much sold on it.

    Dude… do not even think about cutting off the mesh from your shelter!! If you really think you do not want the mesh, just buy the solo+ tarp w/o the mesh and sell me yours with the mesh 😀

    What was the total shelter wait (tarp/sheet/stakes/guylines/sack) for the Solo-Plus??

    Awesome to hear your trip went well!!

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    • Stick says:

      John,

      I am not sure what you mean by “total weight be for your next trip for water treatment / storage system” … On this past trip I decided to leave the Sawyer filter behind and stick with my MP1 tabs and the Frontier Pro (however, I have decided to only use the FP filter for when the water looks chancy to save the life of the filter…and because I think the chemicals are fine). I really like this system though. I knew I did but I really pounded it in on this last trip. Actually none of us used the Hiker Pro that came along in one of the other guys pack…we all used chemicals… 🙂 So, this is the same one that I will continue to use. As far as weights though, the FP filter weighs 1.6 oz. 10 of the MP1 tabs weigh 0.2 oz and the Platy weighs in at 1.3 oz (with some water that still hasn’t dried out of it). So, if I allotted 4 tabs per day for 5 days, that would be 0.4 oz for tabs and a total weight of 3.3 oz for everything. Most of the time I will have 1 liter in my Gatorade bottle and 1 in my Platy, but on occasion I will carry 2 in the Platy.

      The straps were fine. I did not experience any pain whatsoever, never. Not while hiking and not the next morning when I woke up. I actually looked forward to loading up my pack and put it on. I loved the way it fit me (not to mention the small amount of weight!). I even carried the pack with me when we summited Springer (the other guys had slack-packed up the summit and then back down). The only potential problem is that the straps can spiun completely around now since they are attached at small points. So, I have to be sure that the straps are turned correctly when putting it on. Other than that, I cannot say how happy I am so far with this pack!

      As far as the cuben…I imagine it is the same bit of people that heard bad things about it one way or another, one time or another and now assumes it’s all the same. One guy told me that MLD used to make packs with cuben but then stopped because they kept fraying/peeling. I just nodded and carried on with my business. One of my buddies is really skeptical about it. He said he wanted to take something that he knew that he could count on… oh well… I feel like I can count on it and when I am blowing by them with it on that is fine too… 🙂 Not that I am saying it is perfect, I am sure that there have been problems, and there very well may continue to be. I agree with you though, as long as it’s treated right I don’t feel that I have anything to worry about. And to be honest, just because my ULA pack is made with Dyneema doesn’t mean I am going to go out and purposefully abuse it… Anyway…

      So you got the ground sheet huh? What weight? And does the tarp have the attachment points to connect it? I will be looking forward to how that works out for you.

      And no, I am not looking to cut the mesh out anymore…but it did go through my mind. I am actually hoping that the mesh will help to extend the life of the cuben ground sheet.

      The total weight of the tent (seam sealed) in the stuff sack with the ground sheet and the 6 attachment lines came to 5 oz even, on the dot. 10 of the 7″ Ti stakes I got from Lawson and a Spinn stake stuff sack is an additional 2.7 oz. So, the grand total is 17.7 oz (which is exactly what I estimated a while back on FB). For reference, the tent weighed 11.3 oz before seam seal and 12.3 after seam seal (but, both of those weights included 5 of the attachment lines for the ground sheet ~ they were still attached when I pulled the ground sheet out of the tent and weighed it). The ground sheet weighed 2.5 oz before and 2.7 after seam sealing (this also included 1 of the attachment lines). So, it was 13.8 oz before and 15 oz after, so I used 1.2 oz of seam seal total. I gotta say it was hard to see what I had got with the white material…I also want to add that I now officially hate seam sealing…

      ~Stick~

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    • I went with the light material for the ground sheet. My 0.34 CF tarp does not have tie-outs designed into it, I will probably use some shock cord that goes out to the stakes, or just take 4 extra stakes, depending on the weight of the shock cord after I try it. Regardless of which route I go it should still be a sub 250 gram total shelter weight setup.

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    • Stick says:

      John,

      I will be curious to see how you rig the ground sheet to the tarp. From what I can tell, what really makes the bathtub floor in my tent is the fact that the attachment tie outs are tied up to the corners of the tent, rather than down to the ground. I would imagine that if the attachment tie outs on the ground sheet are staked down to the ground you will end up with much the same floor as in the Skyscape. In the skyscape, if I could manage to guy out the tent about 3 inches off the ground rather than directly to the ground I had a bathtub floor much like what I now have in the Hexamid. The only thing with the Skyscape though is that it was kinda hard to stake it down 3″ above the ground.

      Anyway, let me know how it works out.

      ~Stick~

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  6. kurthwood says:

    Thank You so much Chad for all the information/gear reviews. You have saved me money watching you review different gear. I have no place locally to even look/try gear.
    If you get time I would like to know what clothes you slept in and how cold it got. Same for starting out in the morning. My daughter and I are planning to do another section of the AT this summer and we are working to get our pack weight down as low as we can be comfortable.
    Do you think the Zpack Hexamid plus is large enough for 2?

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    • Stick says:

      Kurthwood,

      Thank you for checking it all out and commenting! I am glad that I could help. And I know the feeling about not being able to try out gear…

      In cold weather I carry a pair of Terramar Body Sensors Geo Fleece Expedition weight pants and the same Cap 2 long sleeve crew shirt that I wear as my base layer to hike in during the day. For socks, I carry a pair of Lorpen Expedition PLoft 1 socks to sleep in. If I need any extra I can always use my R1 or my down puffy layer too.

      I have used this clothing system in my Marmot Helium with a regular NeoAir and a 1/8″ GG pad down to temps right to single digits. At this point I got a little cool when moving around but would warm back up after getting still again.

      I do plan to get the Montbell UL Down Inner pants and some of the Goosefeet down socks. Once I get these I will carry these to sleep in. I may replace the Terramar pants for a thin silk layer to go with the down pants. I dunno, I will just have to see.

      As for the tent, I think it will fit 2, but depending on size of the people, I would go with the twin if I thought it would be 2 people in the tent often. I need to get some pics of my wife and I or my son and I in mine…

      Thanks again,

      ~Stick~

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  7. Jim Henegar says:

    Hey buddy, first I would just like to say, thanks for taking the time to do these reviews. It is very helpful to me and I am sure others as well.
    I posted a questions somewhere (maybe FB) not sure at the moment about what camera you use. You have always followed up on my questions and thanks for that, just thought I would mention it here as well in case others have the same question. I will have to check out the Gorilla pod you spoke of.

    thanks for the follow up on your gear

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    • Stick says:

      Jim,

      Thanks for your feedback. That is great to hear. TBH, I do the reviews for myself because I enjoy them, as well, it allows me to basically journal my progress. However, at the same time I hope that they can be of some help to others, which is also why I make this blog open to the public, granted with a touch of moderation on my end…

      As far as the camera question, I cannot remember which platform that was on, but I think I answered it (although I could be wrong). But, the quick answer is the Panasonic Lumix FH20.

      Also, I would suggest you checking out Brian’s Backpacking Blog as there is a nice camera discussion going on with lots of great options.

      I need to do a quick little dedicated post on the Gorilla Pod eventually on my blog…maybe I will get around to it one day. But, despite the added weight, it is handy and I like it.

      Hope this helps.

      ~Stick~

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