The “About” Page

What’s this blog about?

Backpacking. In a word.

Who am I?

My name is Chad, but I go by “Stick” on the trail. I am married to my lovely wife Brandy (“Biggun”) who will occasionally hit the trail with me. I also have 2 children, a son and a daughter. They have each been backpacking with me, however, they are still trying to figure out if they enjoy it as much as I do… 🙂

Me & My Family at Groto Falls TH, GSMNP

So, how did I get involved in all of this?

Back in March of 2009, while on a tram in Gatlinburg, I heard about the Mt LeConte Lodge in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I found out that there are a number of ways (trails) to get to the lodge, however, each way consisted of hiking up the mountain, at least a short distance (the shortest distance was 5 miles, one-way). Once hiking up to the lodge, one could then stay in one of the cabins (pending reservations) which had no electricity or running water. (How cool is that?!) Inside the lodges were bunks with a blanket and pillow, as well as a lantern to provide light. Also, a family style dinner & breakfast is served to the guest. After the stay comes to an end, one would then simply hike back down. For some reason this sounded wonderful to me.

Later that same day, I found myself standing in the Sugarland Visitor Center looking at the large 3D map of the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was here that I noticed a trail that went from one end of the park to the other.  Later I found out that this trail was called the Appalachian Trail (AKA: the “AT”) and actually extended a great deal farther than just the park, and in both directions… As I stood there that day, over the 3D map, and traced my finger along the trails, I believe that I was bitten…

Once we came home from our vacation, both the thoughts of hiking to the lodge as well as that longer trail that went all the way through the park still lingered in my mind. So, I started looked into the whole hiking thing. I figured it would be inexpensive, challenging yet easy, and just plain fun. As well, it was an opportunity to see and live in a new world that I had never seen or been a part of before…

So, I got busy. Being that backpacking and hiking is not much of a practiced sport here where I live, I turned to the internet to do my research. I visited a number of backpacking and hiking blogs as well as joined up on a couple of backpacking forums. I found that the blogs were a great way to get information, however, the forums was a great interactive tool.

In just a few months, with the help of the random blogs and the backpacking forum members, I had put together a (heavy) setup which allowed both, my wife and I, to get out on the trail. On our first hike, we started at the Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center and hiked 40 miles north, finishing up at Neels Gap on the Appalachian Trail! And it was a blast!…

This is where my blog came in. I found that I greatly appreciated the information that I came across on other’s blogs, as well as the forums that I participated on. So, I decided that I wanted to start my own blog, and for 2 reasons:

  1. To document my own progression.
  2. To share with others so that they can learn just as I did.

So, this blog will be where I come to talk about anything that has to do with the trail, whether it be gear or food or clothes or to share a trip report. As well, I hope that others can come to my blog and get the same sort of help that I got when I first started. I also strive to make my blog user-friendly, as in I enjoy others comments and will always make an effort to answer or respond to each comment.

So, what are my plans?

When I first started this blog, I had a nice long section here. It was basically a planned year-to-year itinerary of different trails that I want to hike. However, sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and I have come to realize that my planed itinerary was not going to work out. So, rather than listing specific when’s and where’s and trying to detail it all, here are a few trails that I would like to hike and of course as soon as I possibly can…

  • The Wonderland Trail (93 miles)
  • The John Muir Trail (211 miles)
  • The Colorado Trail (483 miles)

Of course, as most hikers probably dream about, I would love to be a Triple-Crowner, meaning I would love to thru-hike (not section hike) the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. And while my first love is the Appalachian Trail, should I ever have the opportunity to do a thru hike, I believe that the Pacific Crest Trail has really been drawing my attention, and at this moment, I would love to start there.

So, this is it… and only time will tell…

So, what are my goals for this blog?

This blog is simply to document my progress in this hobby called backpacking. I will use this blog to document trips I take as well as gear I use. I will do this through the use of writing, taking pictures as well as shooting videos. But, please bear with me, I am no writer, photographer or even a videographer, and well, you can make your own judgment about my on camera performance… 🙂

I make no claim to know all there is to know about any piece of gear or any trail I walk on, so here again, I will post my experience in these things. And while I have now become more of an lightweight, or ultra lightweight backpacker, I make no claim to definitely be any particular style of backpacker, and more importantly, I most certainly will not look down my nose at any other backpackers style of backpacking.

Over the course of the last few years, I have been able to get my hands on a number of different pieces of gear. This has allowed me to determine what works best for me, as well as share my thoughts on them, hopefully for others to draw from too. In the end though, I may carry some gear that is lighter weight and I may carry some that is not so light… and I am quite sure that I will carry some stuff that others really recommend I leave behind (think pillow…) but this is my experience.

I am more than happy to take comments and even advice. On the flip side, I hope that this blog will also offer a little something for anyone that happens upon my site to think about.

So, how have I progressed and where do I stand now?

This is a new section to my “About” page, however, it is one that I feel I should add. It has been a couple of years now since I started my blog, and IMO, my progression has moved right along in terms of gear I carry and my outlook on hiking/backpacking in general. For this reason, I wanted to add this section.

When I first started hiking, I was like many others and ended up carrying way more than I needed, which resulted in a very heavy pack, 56+ pounds to be a bit more exact. This made my first hike a bit of a struggle, however, as I noted above, I absolutely loved the experience. Once I got home though, I knew that I needed to reduce my pack weight by quite a bit. Luckily though, my wife’s gear turned out to be a bit better (read: lighter) than mine so I have not really had to replace so much of it as much as just leave some of it behind.

Today, 100% of the gear I originally started with has been changed out, or left behind. As well, I would say that I have dropped as much as up to 85% of the total weight from my first hike on some of my more recent hikes! I have been able to cut this weight using 3 different methods:

  1. The first way is the easiest, I only took what I needed! On my first trip I had back-up items for my back-up items… and it was all unneeded. Since then, I have learned to only take what I need. Each item should have at least 1 specific use (or preferably more). If there are 2 items that do the same thing, one of them need to go.
  2. Choose multiuse items. The more uses an item has, the fewer items I need to bring. But, this also means that those particular items are now more important than before, so learning the items limitations and caring for each item appropriately is very important.
  3. Use lighter items. This one may require you to buy other items to replace your current items, but once you have pared down your list to only items that you need as well as have a few items that are multi-use, replacing those remaining heavy items is another way to cut even more unnecessary weight from your pack.

By doing these 3 things, I have cut an enormous amount of weight out of my pack, yet still carry all the things that I need to stay safe as well as comfortable. However, this did come about over an extended amount of time, and use, not overnight! On each outing, I would try something new, whether it was just a different method of doing something, or a completely new item. This allowed me to evolve my pack in a safe and effective manner.

When it comes to weight, I don’t feel like there is any magic number, and do not recommend one. Fact is, there are too many variables to give a magic number. Instead I merely suggest for one to carry what they need and are indeed safe and comfortable with, for both, the conditions that they will be hiking in, as well as the length of time and the time of year that you are out.

Once you reach a certain point (and you will know when you do), it is up to you whether or not you want to stay where you are or continue to push a little farther. It will also help you decide if you want to continue keeping up with the new gear which is (constantly) coming out. There is nothing wrong with sticking with what works, or trying something new…

So, am I sponsored or endorsed by anyone?

Since I started my blog it has grown. Both in content as well as in viewers and subscribers. As well, I have also attracted attention from a few different gear companies. As a result, I have received products from a few companies to review, however, I have also turned down a number of items from a couple of different companies simply because I did not feel like it was something I would want to use while hiking.

The few companies that I have received gear from have mainly been the smaller “cottage” shops and to be quite honest, were items that I either wanted to or would have eventually bought anyway once I saved the money. However, even though some items were free to me, when I write my reviews on those items, the statements and opinions are still based first and foremost on the actual object that I receive. Saying that, I also take into consideration my experience with either the company or the actual owner (or both) since I feel like customer service is a very important part of buying any item.

In the past I was a Trail Ambassador for Gossamer Gear, however, that was short lived. I never received any free gear from them, and the only items I do have from them was purchased by me, with my own money, for full price before I was accepted into the program. However, I am no longer associated with Gossamer Gear, and can happily say that I am not associated/sponsored by any other gear company. (Honestly, it is nice knowing that I don’t owe a company anything other than the money that they ask for the product, nor do I have to use gear I don’t want to use!) Unless obviously noted in my write ups, I pay full price (unless I can find it on sale like everyone else) for all the gear I review on my channels.

As well, as many have noticed, I do a lot of videos to go along with my reviews. Those videos are of course uploaded to my YouTube channel. Starting in July of this year (2012) I have “monetized” my videos, which means that if people click on the ads that were already showing up on my videos anyway, I will get a fraction of a cent for it, however, now there are also ads that show up at the beginning of some of my videos too. (However, after 5 seconds, one can click to skip the ad, although then I will not get the fraction of a cent from it…) WordPress also advertises here on my blog, and I get an even smaller fraction of a cent for that… But in the end, I will use the money I do make to fund more gear, as well as help get me to the trail to do more hiking, which results in more videos… and so on…

Why are many of my reviews “First-Looks” rather than “Long-term” reviews?

In the last couple of years, both, the gear that I carry as well as with my basic hiking technique has changed quite a bit. And to be quite fair, I am still finding what it is that I like when backpacking. Simply put, I am still a new hiker, at least by my definition. However, this does not mean that I do not have any experience…instead, I conclude that I have enough experience so that I can comfortably (and safely) form my own opinions on both, the gear that I carry, as well as my preferred hiking preference.

Simply because of how new I am to this sport I cannot give long-term reports on much of the gear that I use. There are but a few items that I have used exclusively, so many of my reviews, as well as opinions, are based on first-look experiences, or with minimal amounts of use.  However, I personally find that a lot of good information can come from a good “First-Look” review, so many of the reviews found here on my blog are made with this thought in mind.

Truth-be-told, I actually enjoy doing “First-Look” or “Unboxing” videos. When I am searching for a product, I look for these types of reviews to get a better feel for the item. In both my opinion and experience, the information on a product spec page is not the best source to get real (or accurate) information. As well, many of the reviews that I read on product pages are vague and often unrealistic (such as dogging an item because it did not do something it was never designed to do in the first place). For this reason, I appreciate coming across a good “First-Look” review, which is normally found on people’s blogs, or sometimes on forums. Also, “First-Look” reviews are typically of items that are being sold now, as opposed to long-term reviews of items that are no longer being sold, or has been updated so it is not the same item anymore. With this in mind, I strive to produce an informative yet accurate “First-Look” review on the products I review.

Summary:

So, this is where I have come from, what I have been through, and maybe a little bit of what I m looking forward to…but only time will tell.

I do want to say a big huge thanks to everyone that has supported my blog though. I really appreciate your support!

Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I hope you enjoy it!

~Stick~

62 Responses to The “About” Page

  1. Glad to see you keeping priorities straight. Those kids grow up fast. I’ll look forward to you blogging again later when the time is right. Take care.

    Like

  2. Keith Mettie says:

    Stick,
    Did you use bear canisters on your Olympic National Park hike?

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  3. Keith Mettie says:

    Hi Chad,

    I just watched your video of the Olympic National Park that you did in 2013. I am very interested in doing the same hike this coming summer, probably in mid August. I live in Portland, OR and have been backpacking for about 15 years. I hiked, for the first time, in the Olympics last summer on the 3 Lakes-Elip Creek loop by Lake Quinault.

    I have some questions for you about your trip. First question. My Green Trails map shows that the trail from Dose Meadow Camp until you begin your climb up to Grand Pass is “Primitive”. Did you have any trouble following the trail in this section? It is a total of about 7 miles. Second question. It seems as though you went off trail when you got to the top of Grand Pass and hiked up to the top of “Grand Peak”. It appears that you stayed up on the ridgeline above Gladys Lake, Moose Lake and Grand Lake and never descended back down to the main trail in the Grand Valley. Assuming that I am correct about this I did see some trails in your video up on the high ridge areas that you traversed. Was is hard to bushwhack this route (did you have to backtrack at times?) or was it pretty straightforward? The weather was not too great that last day for you up on the ridge. Would you take the same route if you did that hike again, or descend to the main trail? One last question. It looks as though your last footage is at Obstruction Point. It then looks as though you headed back to the Deer Park trailhead along the Obstruction Point-Deer Park trail. Is that correct? Keep in mind that I have never been in that area of the park so I am just guessing from looking at my map.

    Another question I just thought of-On your second day you arrived at Cedar Lake. Did you take the primitive trail from the main trail to that lake basin and then bushwhack PAST the lake the next day back down to the trail or did you go back down the primitive trail you came up and then back to the main trail. Did you camp at Cedar Lake itself or one of the small tarns that appear on the map to be past Cedar Lake?

    I am very impressed by the time and effort that you have put into your hiking blog AND your hikes. They are very helpful and really give a leg up for newbies. I wanted to mention one thing about your video and keep in mind that I have not watched your AT videos. When you are showing points of interest on the video it would be helpful to name places more consistently and talk about directions such as north – south east – west, at least in a video like the Olympics where you have a lot of panoramic views. You were very good about naming features most of the time but you forgot toe ell viewers about some places. An example is when you were approaching what I believe was Gray Wolf Pass. All you said about it is that the trail was going over a saddle. The more identifiers the better, at least for someone who has an interest in retracing your hike themselves.

    Keep up the good work!

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    • Stick says:

      Keith,

      Thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate them, and glad to hear that you have enjoyed my content! 🙂

      As for the hike…

      This was my first time in the area (or the west coast for that matter!), and to be quite honest, Barefoot Jake pretty much guided this hike. He was great at pointing out all the peaks, no matter where we were, but it was a lot to take in, and I couldn’t retain it all… it was all new to me. The names, the places, the mountains… here in the east it is a much different look… most of the trails I am on (generally the AT) is wooded, with very few views that go on for as far as the eye can see… And for this, I am pretty weak in pointing out things around me like this… But, I did try to take it in, and I pointed out what I could remember at the time… If you are interested in more info about this hike, I suggest to checkout Barefoot Jake’s page (HERE is his write up from that hike), and maybe contact him. He can tell you a lot more of the details than I can remember… especially now!

      I will say that even the off trail hiking we did wasn’t that bad. Most of it was on game trails, or boot trails, so it was relatively easy to follow. Only once did we go pretty much off trail/bush whacking, and that was the morning that we hiked from where we had camped 2 nights at Thousand Acre Meadows and made our way back down to another trail… There was some of a trail for a bit, but it teetered out and it was straight up bushwhacking… I actually enjoyed it! 🙂

      I do remember that yes, we did go off the main trail at Grand Pass to the Peak… however, it was a pretty good trail and easy enough to follow. Also, when hiking out, there were 2 options, a high route and the low route. We decided to stick with the high route, which was also really fun. There was a short section that required hand over foot and we went up one at a time to keep from knocking rocks back down onto others behind us, but it wasn’t technical. We never had to actually backtrack anywhere that I can recall…

      As for the weather… it rained on us 5 out of the 6 nights, and the last night was likely the worst. The weather on top of Moose Mtn was still pretty bad when we went up, and for a little while afterwards, but by the time we hiked out, it was in the sun… warm and dry! Sorry though, I can’t recall the name of the trail from Obstruction Point back to our car… Jake would surely be able to help you with that though!

      As for Cedar Lake, no, we camped at a small tarn not far from Cedar Lake. Some of the others actually climbed a ridge above where we camped and they reported that they could see Cedar Lake, but they didn’t actually go to the lake (that I recall). There was also a side trail that led to Cedar Lake from the trail we were on earlier that day, but we met some folks at the junction of that trail and the trail we were on and they said it was a nightmare coming down, so we decided not to take that route. (Again, sorry I can’t recall the trail names…)

      Anyway, as for my videos… I do agree that I should point out more to provide an actual point of reference.. and I try to do that now with my videos…I always point out the trail, and which way is headed north or south (again, all pretty much on the AT, but it has become a habit and I would do it on any other trail too now…) I have actually only been backpacking for a few years now (since late 2009 actually) and live in a town far, far away from any mountains, let alone hiking… It is taking me a while longer than most others to get into the game here… But, it’s also why I continue with the blog and the videos.. for my sake, and hopefully for others too!

      Thanks again, and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask. I will try my best to answer them for ya!

      Happy hiking,

      ~Stick~

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  4. Hi there! I noticed back in 2012 you said you were planning on hiking the Wonderland trail. Did you ever get the chance? If so, I’d love to hear any advice you have to give as I am planning my Wonderland hike for this summer. I’m a new follower to your blog and look forward to hearing about your hiking adventures!

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    • Stick says:

      Tamara,

      Unfortunately, our permits didn’t get approved… So, we ended up doing 7 days in the Olympics. Still had a great time, but this also leaves the WT still on my to-do list… I did get to go up to Sunrise though and just kind of be there for a bit… Was beautiful!

      If you do the Wonderland Trail though, I highly suggest to check out Willis Wall… He has tons of info on the trail!

      Anyway, good luck on the hike, and if you have any other questions for me, feel free to shoot them my way! If I can help I will be glad too!

      ~Stick~

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    • Thanks for the information. I’ll be checking out Willis Wall this evening. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for getting my permit. I hate to hear you didn’t get yours, and aware it’s a possibility I won’t get mine as well…but I will remain hopeful 🙂 Where did you end up going in the Olympics? I’m always looking for a place in that area since it’s one of my favorite mountain ranges to hike in! Thanks again!

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    • Stick says:

      Tamara,

      Willis Wall definitely has some good info. He has some videos and such that you can buy also that actually videos the entire trail, with water and camp sites paused/listed during videoing. I have them because I got them for my hike, so can say they are good.

      As for the permits, that was a bummer, but thankfully, there is plenty of good hiking in the area. The Olympics were awesome. Here is the trip report from that hike:

      7 Days & 6 Nights in the ONP

      ~Stick~

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  5. marty says:

    Hey Stick, enjoy your reviews and hiking footage… especially enjoyed you sharing your feelings honestly about missing your family while solo on the A/T.. i hike with my wife almost every time i go and when she is not there it is just not the same… We have been slowly section hiking the A/T as well as some other trails close to us… keep up the good work brother and i will keep tuning in.. Marty

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    • Stick says:

      Thanks Marty for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed it, and yeah, I know lots of folks that love solo hiking, and prefer it, but for me, I seem to get more enjoyment out of it when others are with me… Especially if it’s my wife or kids… What I really want though is to get the whole family out for a hike… that would be awesome. Anyway, as for solo hiking, I am trying to get into it more though… a little at a time. I may have another 4 day solo hike attempt later this summer… I’ll see though…

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stick~

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  6. Pingback: Paleo Meals To Go: Beef Mountain Stew Chad Poindexter - ColoradoHiking.org

  7. jeff moore says:

    ….curious because of how resourceful you are; ever get into ‘off the grid living’?

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  8. jeff moore says:

    hey dude, i appreciate the time you take to make your videos! they are awesome and well done! your-well liked my friend 🙂 keep them coming!

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  9. Jason Reeder says:

    Hello, I live in Selmer. You must be close by because you go to Big Hill Pond. My son and I go there and kayak when we get a chance. I wanted to contact you and let you know I will be following your blog and videos

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    • Stick says:

      Jason,

      Yup, pretty close… Corinth MS actually.

      It has actually been a while since I have been up to BHP… and I have never kayaked there. I am sure it would be fun though…

      Anyway, thanks for checking out my blog, and glad that you like it. maybe someday we will meet on the trail…

      ~Stick~

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  10. Great blog! I’ll be following you. I can identify with the moment you were “bitten” by the distance hiking bug while tracing your finger along the AT on a map. For me it was a visit to the rim of the Grand Canyon. As I looked out on the canyon I resolved to return and hike through it. That was six trips ago. Backpacking becomes obsessive that way. I call it a “positive addiction.”

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks for the support, I appreciate it! And I agree with you, I like to think of it as a positive addiction… there are for sure much worse ones to have!

      Happy hiking!

      ~Stick~

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  11. Sticks….
    Great blog. Maybe you have mentioned it somewhere, but what do you use to track your gear and generate your lists?
    Keep up the great work.
    Jerry

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Jerry,

      I am a big fan of the Google Docs spreadsheets. I have been using this for a while now, and I like it. I have control over what I want to do with the sheet, rather than just using a restricted template. For each trip, I simply make a copy of my most recent gear list, then edit out/in the items for that trip. (This also allows me to keep specific gear lists from past trips so I can go back and revisit them at a later date, if I want too.) Also, at times, I may make larger changes to the spreadsheet because I would like something to be a little different… Anyway, I am pretty happy with it. Here is a link to the gear list for the hike I went on last weekend:

      January 2013 Hike

      Also, feel free to make a copy and put your own items in if you would like. I do not mind at all. It is about time for me to make a copy and start on my next hike…

      Hope this helps.

      ~Stick~

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  12. Patrick Gregory says:

    Hello,
    I just wanted to say thank you for all you do. I found you on YouTube and I have read a lot of your blog. All of your advice and experiences that you post about really have helped me. I am a Boy Scout and have fallen in love with backpacking and I just wanted to say thank you

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Patrick,

      I am glad to hear that you have enjoyed my blog and that it has helped you out! I appreciate you taking the time to post this and let me know…this is why I write these posts, so I am glad to hear that it is working!

      Thanks again and happy trails!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  13. Jenny Haas aka Tollermom says:

    Hi Stick…been a fan of your blog ever since you posted some newby-help for me on Trail Groove about my first backpacking trip. Your organizational skills are superb and your family is just adorable! Kudos.

    Tollermom

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  14. Invite me for the Wonderland 🙂

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  15. beechcreekproject says:

    A dream of mine is to through hike the AT some day as well. I’m nearly 48 so I better get on the ball. I think about it quite a bit when I’m hiking locally. I hope you achieve all your goals and can’t wait to read about them. Good luck and keep on hiking.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks, and the same for you. I know that once something like this gets under your skin the only way to get rid of it is to do it…So, the good luck to both of us!

      Like

  16. Walk Natural says:

    Hi there Stick,

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    Like

  17. Josh Casey says:

    Stick,

    Love the blog. I just started backpacking last year too!!! I love that Hexamid!!

    Keep up the videos!!

    I live in Kentucky we should hit some trails together sometime!

    Josh

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Josh. I too love the Hexamid! Maybe we will meet each other on the trail sometime. I am pretty much somewhere on the AT somewhere or in Sipsey Wilderness. I do love to hit up the Smokies anytime I can too…

      Like

    • Josh says:

      Yeah the smokies are fun! I’m planning a smokies trip as soon as the season opens up!

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    • Stick says:

      josh,

      I totally agree, the Smokies are great fun! I wish I were there now…and if you want smaller crowds and good views, now is a great time to go too.

      ~Stick~

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  18. gerry says:

    Hi Chad
    First I am guessing by the time you get this you will have returned from your hike and hope it was enjoyable, and i am looking forward to your blogs and videos about it and how the gear and food worked out.

    I am not sure if i have ever written you before, all though i likely should have if for no other reason than to say thanks. You see I have gotten loads upon loads of gear and hiking info from reading your various posts on your blog and on white blaze as well as your videos. Ok maybe loads isnt the right word since you have done such an outstanding job cutting weight! Your info is always very informative and i also appreciate how you often emphasize this is for you and others might have their own preferences. Some of the gear i have gotten was directly due to your helpful reviews, including my ULA Circuit, OES tarp, Kupilka cup(given away as a gift),my pillow, towels, mag led light(use all the time around home not on trail), Blackrock beanie(given as a gift), a few stuff sacks and other stuff from Zpacks and i am sure there is more. So thanks for all the help!

    I do have several questions based on your most recent pack gear, I would say mainly in regards to your cook system. Yes I use and got both the rei ti long spoon and the same rei mug(s) based on your reviews. Yeah I do on occasion cary the enamel coated metal mugs, old habits are hard to break and well i have misplaced 3 titanium mugs being that i seem to drink out of them as i pack up and then forget them and so going back to the enamel coated metal mugs for 2 + ozs and $4 as opposed to $25-$40 seems justifiable to me oddly when i use either than enamel or the plastic mug style you carry i have yet to loose one of those go figure! I some time ago received the MSR titan kettle and while a bit larger capacity than what your using i think i will likely stick with that especially since it seems Back Country no longer has the item you use. I am all thumbs when it comes to making things so I think i will try the cook style you are using with quart zip locks bag and a pot cozy for the titan kettle which i likely will order from anti gravity gear since i dont think i could make one as good as you.
    I guess my main questions about the cook set up revolve around your stove. I do watch some of Tinny’s videos and have to say he is very much the genius when it comes to building things, I had seen on one of your postings you were ordering the mini atomic and then with your current cook kit you are using your diy stove. I do like the look of the mini atomic but in several of the videos i have seen of that stove one thing that sort of concerns me is when it is lit it seems to shoot off to large or tall of a flame and the thought of in a rainy situation of cooking under my tarp or from the door of my tent scares me with such a large flame. What i am wondering is with your diy stove if yours has flames that shoot so high it was hard to tell from your video. That all being said i like the looks of your stove, i like that you can get what seems like 10-12 minutes of burn time out of 1 oz of fuel which i think should give me a rolling boil in my titan kettle. So this is the question and i am not trying to encourage you to go in business but any chance you might be interested in making a duplicate of your stove and selling it to me? Other than that question i am curious as to why you chose to make your own after purchasing the mini atomic? and if i am unable to get a stove from you i will likely order the mini atomic but with the felt in it because if something is going to spill it likely will spill for me so that sort of interests me. As far as the windscreen i am off to a community with a hobby lobby after i write this letter, to find the aluminum hopefully that is unless i might persuade you to sell me the full stove set up, windscreen, stove, and pot stand.

    My other questions for now all though i am sure i have loads more would be about your new pack, I havent used my new circuit much yet so i want to give that a bit more of a work out but already seem tempted by your Zpacks blast and if not that one but the external frame pack they have, in that my original back packs were Kelty externals, i still have and on heavy duty hauls use it mainly because my back sweats like a pig. My follow up long haul packs were ospreys and now the circuit, but i will be very curious to get your thoughts on your new Zpacks Blast as well as your thoughts on their other pack.

    Again thanks for all the insight your blogs, posts and videos have offered. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
    -gerry

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Gerry,

      I just got home from work. Answering some comments and will head out in about an hour hopefully!

      Wow! I am super glad that my blog has helped you in those decisions! I just hope that they all work out for you now… 🙂 Thank you for the comment though and the kind words. I really appreciate that. This is why I wanted to start my blog. I know that there are many more blogs out there that are hosted by much more skilled people, but I try my best. So thanks for the feedback.

      Ouch! Leaving behind 3 Ti mugs would hurt me and definitely make me want to carry something cheaper! And TBH, the $2 REI cup is a good deal. It looks like the newer ones that they have replaced them with are a little heavier, but still for the price they are a good value.

      I gotta say that I love dealing with AGG. I recently purchased one of the Sil rain jackets from them and I know that I had to pester George… but he helped me out a lot. I was questioning sizing and he went and took pics of himself wearing the ones I was questioning and sent them to me in an email. It helped me to make the right decision! As well, they had the items in the mail the same day, Friday, and I received them all the very next Monday. Great service all around!

      Concerning the stove, yes, my DIY stove has a flame that is just as high as the Mini Atomics, however, when the pot is on the stand the flame dies down to fit under the cook pot. However, please be careful if you decide to cook with anything under a tarp, or in a tent vestibule (especially). I almost burnt down a tent with my wife and I in it one time doing this. The wind was really kicking up and I thought I could cook in my vestibule and get rid of most of the wind issues. Well, I did, but when my WBS bloomed it ignited some of the grass under it…in the end I only had one tiny hole in the tent and some singed eyebrows! It was definitely scary. So, not that I am recommending it, but if you have to cook in an enclosed area, please make plenty of room above and around, keep in mind what is under the stove and allow some ventilation…

      As far as the stoves, I actually have a second one I made and will send you. I do not use carbon felt in it simply because I do not have any. And the reason I am bringing my DIY stove is because it works just as well, weighs half as much and, well, because I am partial too it since I made it. Anyway, like I said, I will send the other one to you if you want. I will also make you a pot stand 5 x 19 and if I have enough of the aluminum left over a windscreen. Also, if you will give me the dimensions (circumference, diameter, and height)of the Titan Kettle I can make a cozy for you too. Although, let me just say that I am not liable for anything should anything happen with any of the items I send you. I am not a stove maker, or have the knowledge that people such as Tinny, Zelph or Smokeeater have on these things. I simply received the Mini Atomic and the DIY person in me thought that it would be fun to try and replicate that. These stoves are pressurized stoves so there is definitely potential… nothing has happened with the one I made and am using, but that does not mean that it won’t blow up…

      Anyway, if you want just send me your info at stick1377@gmail.com and when I get back I will try to get it all made for you and ship it to you. And don’t worry about payment for any of it. I would be happy to share it with you.

      With the packs, I am keeping my Circuit for those heavy hauls I may encounter such as if my son or wife goes with me and I need to carry extra. I love the Circuit and I will keep it. I am curious about if the cuben blast pack will make my back sweat too. I will see with that. One option would be to get one with the pad pockets on the back and to use a pad in the back that would at least absorb some of the sweat. ALthough, I shouldn’t be working up as much of a sweat with these lower weights! 🙂

      Anyway, I better get going. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  19. Bobby Greco says:

    First of all, thank you for all of your videos. I have always enjoyed camping and being outside. I have recently become obsessed with wanting to backpack and planned a trip for a friend of mine and I, to the Sipsey Wilderness. We plan to Start on a Sunday and hike/camp till Wednesday. We are experienced campers and have camped for days at a time but have always been close to a vehicle. This scares us none and we are very excited about this trip! I was wondering if you could maybe help me out with a few tips on where to start this hike and how to spread it out for a 4 day trip. We will only have one vehicle so making a loop is a must. Also, we plan to venture off and set up a camp somewhere where there aren’t very many people but hopefully with beautiful scenery! Any tips or information on maps/creeks or waterbeds would help too! I know it’s a lot to ask but this trip needs to be perfect! Thank you for your help!

    Like

  20. Chris choate says:

    Stick, love your blogs and videos. I need some help, you got me thinking hard about a hammock system but seems pretty complicated. It also seems that for cold weather the weight would be similiar to a tent? Maybe i have missed it but I have been searching for info and a list for everything I would need to convert over to a hammock system and it’s weight. That would make a great video, hammocks for dummies….. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks and God Bless!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Chris,

      Thanks for checking out my blog and commenting.

      To answer your question, I highly suggest you to check out Shug’s YouTube videos as well as Water Monkey’s blog. Water monkey has lots of great videos as well as written reviews and handy helpful thoughts and tips. He actually posted a tent vs hammock set up write up on his blog a few weeks ago, definitely worth checking out. Anyway, these guys will be able to share lots more with you about this topic than I can since I am still pretty new to hammocks and hammock gear in general.

      Of course another great option would be to head over to the HammockForums.net and click on the General Hammock Talk thread. There are a few stickies that deal with newbies and hammocks, and even complete hammock set-ups for something like $360. As well, while you are there, the For Sale thread is also a great place to browse around. I actually bought my GT UL hammock used from a poster over on WhiteBlaze.

      I would suggest though before sinking a bunch of $$$ into it though I would try out a hammock and see how you would like it. The cheapest method would be a DIY hammock, that is if you are at least familiar with a sewing machine. Just hem the edges and gather the ends. the next best thing, IMO, would be to purchase a hammock just like mine! The Grand Trunk Ultra Light hammocks can be had for less than $20 brand new, however, the suspension system is extra.

      Anyway, I hope that this helps some.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  21. Stephen says:

    Stick,
    love the videos. I have also been bitten by the bug of backpacking and have made several AT section hikes. Being from Tuscaloosa, I found you by youtubing sipsey wilderness. Been wanting to take my 6 year old there. We have had a rough year here in tuscaloosa, bu God is doing some wonderful things. Have a blessed day, Stephen

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Stephen,

      Hey, glad you found my site! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      I am sorry to hear what has happened in Tuscaloosa. That was very tragic. I have not been through there since it happened, but I hope that things are coming back together for everyone there.

      As far as Sipsey, it is a great place to take the little ones. The hiking is easy (no big hills) and they can play in the river and there is some nice “caves” found in the side of the canyon walls. Great place.

      Good luck with everything and happy hiking!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  22. Charlie says:

    Stick, I’ve been looking over your blog, really amazing site you have here. Check out the Sipsey Wilderness Hiking Club web site and come hike with us. We are headed to Balsam Mt in NC the second week of August for car camping and day hiking, great place for August (70 degree highs) come check it out if you can.

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Charlie,

      I have been to the Sipsey area a couple of times and always enjoyed it there.

      Unfortunately I will not be able to make it on that trip. I have already requested the last Friday off in August and I am hoping that I get up to the Smokies somewhere… I will just have to see…

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      ~Stick~

      Like

  23. Kristal Bentley says:

    Hey Stick,

    My friend, Steven, alerted me to your amazing blog and I’m quite impressed at the amount of research you have been doing in prep for your backpacking trips. Awesome!

    I first got bitten by the backpacking packing bug in ’08 when I decided to take my family of 4 (all boys) on a “vacation” to hike the AT through the state of MD. I’m sure you can imagine the stories we have! It took us 5 days!! Haha

    Since then my youngest son, Kory (now 17) , and I are thrown whole-heartedly into section hiking (we try to be the “thoughtful” section hikers that go to sleep at hiker-midnight and all). 🙂 Ultimately we hope to thru-hike in 2013.

    As we collect gear we are trying to be weight conscious yet as thrifty as possible, so your blog has already given me some insight on tricks to go ultra light. THANK YOU!! I am a detail oriented girl, so your spreadsheet with the items you carry along with their weight (from the skin out) made me SOO happy! Haha You’re the MAN!

    God bless!!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Kristal,

      That is awesome that you are planning a thru with your son. I wish I could take my son on my thru, but it is not possible for now. He says he wants to thru with me when he graduates HS, so we will see. I too plan to thru in 2013 headed NOBO, so I am trying to get my gear sorted and straightened. I must admit though, I have spent a nice little chunk already, and I know that some of it I will have to re-buy by the time I am ready for my thru…but that is ok. I am glad that my list has helped you out. I actually thoroughly enjoy going through my list and tweaking it here and there, and I know that I will continue to do that up until the day that I leave, and of course I will continue to tweak it on the trail. At this moment though, I am really happy with my list, bot in weight and in terms of use.

      Anyway, glad you stopped by and glad that it has helped you!

      ~Stick~

      Like

  24. Stick!

    What’s up man? Hope you have been well. Sorry I lost contact last year. My family has been going through some medical issues (My wife and I). Also some ministry changes kept me very busy. However, we are back on the trail and sleeping with the trees. I have made many purchases that I will be reviewing. Look for to your feed backs. Are you on facebook? Email me with you info if so at (northcarolinaoutdoors@gmail.com).

    Patrick Gosnell

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Patrick,

      Sorry to hear about the medical issues, and I hope that things are better for you and your family. And I applaud you for answering your calling with the ministry. That is awesome! But I do know that it feels good to sleep with the trees…so congrats for that too… And I will be looking forward to your gear reviews. I enjoy seeing how gear does for others.

      Yes I am on FaceBook. I have a widget at the bottom of my blog on the right, but not sure if you can actually connect through that. I will search for you on FB next time I get on…

      Chad

      Like

  25. Lynn in Ga says:

    Hey!
    My husband and I are trying to start backpacking this year on the “Dave” Plan ourselves. I keep running into people who have grown up backpacking and have loads of expensive gear. I was getting the feeling like we were the only ones just starting out or on a budget! Being on the Dave plan I’m sure you know means I have one shot to buy the right piece of equipment, at least for a little while, and your reviews are really helpful for us since you’re not only reviewing low cost gear but doing it in an environment similar to our own. Keep it up!

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Lynn,

      Hey thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! And great to hear from someone else on the “Dave Plan.” It really is a tough plan, but so worth it!

      I am glad that my videos and such are helping you out too. This is exactly why I wanted to try to make this blog happen. If you have any questions or anything feel free to ask and I will do my best to try and help you out.

      Happy Trails!

      Chad

      Like

  26. Raul says:

    Really like your website. Funny I’m planning on a long distance hike 133 miles hiking the Northville-Placid Trail here in NY in 2012. Hitting almost 60 miles this May on the AT to finish up the NY section of the trail.

    Keep up the great vids and evolving your gear.

    My best,

    Raul

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Thanks Raul for your comment. I haven’t been out for more than 3 days at a time since last October, and it is killing me. I want to do the section from Neels Gap (in GA) to Fontana Dam, but I am not sure that I will be able to get enough time to do it all at once. At least this year.So, I will just have to make the best of the 3 day weekends!

      I have watched many of your videos too. Great stuff. Appreciate the time you spend to share your experiences with all of us.

      Happy hiking on your trips this year!

      Chad

      Like

  27. Pingback: Dreaming of the Wonderland Trail | Stick's Blog

  28. Ben Summers says:

    Your blog is outstanding. I grew up in Corinth almost my whole life and know how it is and I think it’s great that you get out and hike as much as you do.

    Ben

    Like

  29. Jolly Green Giant says:

    Hey Stick,

    The tarp you asked about on my blog is a Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn, albeit pretty poorly pitched in the picture as I threw it up and took a picture seconds before it started pouring. As tarps go, I like it plenty, although I did have it modified with a beak on the front because being tall meant I slept right on the edge and rain splatter annoyed me.

    JGG

    Like

  30. Stick,

    Yes, VERY familiar with FPU. That’s awesome to hear! Hope and pray you can do all you set out to do!

    Like

  31. ok stick….sounds great…but I have to ask….I am a pastor and work fulltime as a packaging eng. tec. and run a small cleaning business….where do you find all the time brother?

    Like

    • Stick says:

      Pastor, thanks for stopping by and checking out the site. Just so ya know, the site is definitely a work in progress, and will always be so! As for the list I have above, I truly hope to be able to do all of the things on them, however, I do realize that it will be difficult and I just may have to miss some and pick them up somewhere else along the way. My thought process is to stick to the itinerary. If I miss one keep going for the next and hopefully I will be able to work the ones I missed in somewhere else. So, as for the how, I am sure that being a pastor, you have heard of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class? Great 13 week class. My wife and I are on this plan, and in less than 3 years from now we should be entirely debt free (other than our home which we are saving for). So, sticking to the plan, and praying.

      Like

  32. Hi,
    This is going to sound crazy, but I get an email whenever my name is mentioned on the web, and apparently on a blog you’re on you are using my quote about how it takes one match to start a forest fire but a whole box of matches to start a camp fire.

    I thought it was funny and figured I would stop by and say hello!

    Like

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