David Gardner is a long time backpacker who has recently started his own, small, cottage company called GOLD Gear (Gardner Outdoor Lightweight Design’s), in which he focuses on making ultralight weight backpacking gear. Some of the items that he is focusing on are tarps (of various sizes) made from Polycro, carbon fiber trekking poles and a number of different multi-fuel cook kits. Other items he has listed on his site are a bug bivy bivy sack and an attachment for a 10′ Tenkara Japanese fly fishing poles, which fits onto his trekking poles.
(Check out Section Hiker’s blog for an interview with David. – The link I had no longer works, so you may have to search around his site for the interview…)
So, a little while back, David contacted me via email and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing any of his items, so I said sure. Then today, I got home and found a large box beside my door… just itching to be torn into…
The first items that I pulled out of the box were a pair of his FL (Fixed-Length) carbon fiber trekking poles. When talking to me about the poles, I asked him to make these 43″ long from the bottom of the tip to the top of the handle (which they are, exactly). As far as options, I decided to just go with the regular handles (considering 43″ is a little short and I have never found myself needing to reach lower than the grips themselves) and the tips which will accept baskets. The total weight for my set of poles, with baskets, are 6.8 oz.
Other options that he offers for his trekking poles are the “MHP” (Multi-Hand Position) poles which allow a user to choke down on the poles as much as 13″ due to the longer EVA Foam grip, which simulates either lengthening or shortening the poles. He also offers straps for the poles, as well as a carbide tip which does, or does not, accept baskets. (If the basket compatible tips are chosen, a pair of baskets are included with the poles, but add 0.4 oz per basket.)
As far as first impressions, I have got to say that I am pretty excited about these trekking poles. They appear to be well constructed with no loose parts or issue for concern. The tips are straight and tight, as well as the EVA Foam grip handles. The only real concern I have with these is the fact that they are fixed length, which does not really count against the poles themselves. In the past I have went from using 3 piece poles, to 2 piece poles, and now these 1 piece poles… My concern will mostly be with traveling with them, which I will find out about this weekend!
- Reflectix Cozy: 0.7 oz
- 750 ml Pot w/Lid: 1 oz
- Base Sheet Heat Reflector: 0.3 oz
- Titanium Esbit Burner: 1.2 g (weight not read on my scale, this is the listed weight)
- 2 Titanium Stakes: 0.3 oz
- Ramjet ECO Alcohol Stove: 1.1 oz
- Titanium Windscreen: 0.9 oz
When everything is packed up together and placed on my scale, the total weight is 4.3 oz. My kit also came with an 8 oz fuel bottle, and a measuring cup (these weights are not included in the total weight above.) Another option to help lighten this kit up is the Ramjet UL alcohols stove, which is listed at 10 g lighter than the Ramjet ECO alcohol stove. As well, David also offers these cook kits set-up for 2 and 3 people too.
This system is actually a multi-fuel stove. Of course, this system can be used as either an alcohol set-up or as an Esbit set-up, but since the windscreen and the base sheet heat reflector are made from Titanium, then these items will also stand up to the heat of a wood fire. Depending on which fuel source one chooses to use, will depend on how the set-up is set up. For alcohol set-ups, the cook pot will sit directly on the Ramjet alcohol stove. If Esbit is preferred, one simply inserts the 2 titanium stakes through the holes punched in the sides of the windscreen, which creates a pot stand. For wood fires, there are half circles punched in the very top lip of the windscreen, which allows the stakes to lay down into the grooves, and again, creating the pot stand.
I have went out and used the set-up in the alcohol set-up (I couldn’t resist). It was quite windy outside, however, I got behind a small wall and used my body to block most of the wind coming from the opposite direction, which is how I would also do in the field. Next, I filled the Ramjet ECO alcohol stove with 25 ml of SLX Denatured alcohol and filled the cook pot with 16 oz of cold, tap water. It took the stove right around 6 minutes and 15 seconds to bring the water to a full, rolling boil and then burned out around 6 minutes and 50 seconds. Considering this, I am planning at least 1 oz of fuel per expected 2 cups of water I need in the field for my trip this weekend. I have not yet tried the cook pot in either Esbit or wood burning mode. For this trip, I am going to stick with the alcohol, and know that I can rely on wood for a backup, however, once I get back I will try out the Esbit mode for sure.
The kit packs up nicely, however, a bit backwards from how I am used to doing so. The pot lid is the first item to go inside the reflectix cozy, followed by the stove. The stove is the same diameter as the cozy which means it fits snuggly inside the cozy, however, this also means it is a bit tight and takes a bit of work to get it out of the cozy. Then, the Esbit stove can drop down inside the alcohol stove, and the ti stakes can stand up inside the alcohol stove too. The windscreen is rolled up inside the cook pot, along with the heat reflector. I found out quickly that getting the windscreen out of the cook pot can be a bit of a hassle as well since it springs open and rolls around the inside of the cook pot, which has a lip at the top. As well, once I use the ground sheet, I am not too keen about putting it back inside my cook pot as they typically get dirty and I try to avoid putting dirty stuff inside my cook pots. Last, the cook pot is flipped upside down and drops over the stove, inside the cozy. The outer wall of the stove actually fits just over the top of the cook pot, which helps to strengthen the cook pots most vulnerable area. However, here again, this is backwards from what I am used to, and this leaves the bottom of the cook pot exposed. If using wood or Esbit, this would be an easy way to get everything inside my pack nasty since the bottom of the cook pot would be caked with soot and Esbit residue. Of course I can make a cover out of some more reflectix, but at a weight penalty.
The last item that I pulled out of the box was his solo tarp made from Polycro. The tarp comes fully taped around all the edges (in order to deter the Polycro material from tearing), as well as with both, a front, and back beak, that can be guyed out, or opened up and Velcro-ed out-of-the-way. The tie outs actually have washers inside them to keep the guy lines (or shock cords) from tearing out of the tape when guyed out. There is also a single ridgeline inside the tarp, which comes in handy for attaching my bug bivy too. Then, the entire tarp is stuffed inside a bag, which to me looks like a turkey bag (although, this is not verified).
After I added 2 pieces of GloWire (about 9.5′ long, each) to each ridgeline, the total weight of everything came in at exactly 10 oz. Then, once I add in 12 stakes (two 6″ Sorex stakes and 10 ti hook stakes) the total shelter weight is 12.9 oz. Of course, this does not include a ground sheet, or a bug bivy, or anything else. For my trip this weekend, I plan on bringing my MLD Bug Bivy, just to kind of help hold everything together (I am hoping for some snow!)
Anyway, as far as the tarp, David has stated that he has had one of his tarps set up in his back yard since October of last year, and that so far, it has stood up to everything that mother nature has thrown at it. This is definitely good to know, but I will admit, I am still a bit curious to see how I will do with a shelter made from Polycro when on the trail this weekend. Going outside today and setting it up was pretty easy in itself, and it seemed to be pretty secure, but only time will tell. So, I will be using it for at least 2 nights this weekend, and possibly 3…
Anyway, I am looking forward to carrying this gear with me this weekend to see how it does, and I would like to thank David for giving me the opportunity to do so. So, be sure to check out my videos once I get back as I am quite sure that I will show off these items a little more, and talk about them too while on the hike…
UPDATE: As of 1/17/16 I cannot find a working link for David’s site. In the past I had noticed he posted often in the MYOG section of BPL, so maybe he can be found there if needed.
Disclaimer: David Gardner (from GOLD Gear) has supplied me with the items mentioned above at no cost, and for the purpose of this review, as well as personal feedback. The comments and statements within this write-up, as well as the video, are of my own opinion which I formed after actually handling these items.