Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Grubpack is an animal resistant bag made of stainless steel mesh. It is flexible and durable, although an animal could still crush your food if they wanted to. It comes with a polyester Velcro closure which seals better when wet. It is also UV resistant and comes with a brass grommet for hanging. Use it with something like an OPSAK bag to make it waterproof.
So, how much? 18” x 15” (1,178 cu/in) is $29.99, 18” x 20” (1,864 cu/in) is $32.99, and 18” x 26” (2,275 cu/in) is $35.99.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
First I made the switch from SmartWool to DarnTough for my daily hiking sock. Then I switched from merely another dry pair for sleeping to PossumDown such as those sold by http://www.chocolatefishmerino.co.uk/ or http://www.shopnewzealand.co.nz/ . I find the PossumDown to be a quite impressive sock overall and the material works well for lightweight beanies and gloves too. It wicks well, retains excellent warmth, doesn’t hold stink like cotton, and it is extremely lightweight considering my intent is merely to use it for sleeping.
Last winter when trying out a hammock and not having the ideal gear for the job, I felt like I wanted something a little more substantial for my feet because my quilt wasn’t sewn with a footbox and I was losing a lot of heat through the bottom of the hammock. I also acknowledged some moisture was coming through the hammock which I wanted to avoid.
My solution was the Integral Designs Hot Sock (http://www.integraldesigns.com/product_detail.cfm?id=681) which at between 4.2-4.9oz (small to x-large) was on par with most standard socks like those sold by REI, SmartWool, DarnTough, etc. The difference was that these hotsocks were insulated with Primaloft offering ½” of loft. The outside of the sock was made of Pertex microfiber which allowed it to repel moisture while ensuring it was highly breathable. The bottom of the sock was reinforced with abrasion resistant 500 denier Cordura which is helpful for late night bathroom runs when putting on a shoes is a hassle.
Basically, they are a very warm, functional, and sensible option for cooler temperatures and run around $45.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Over the Labor Day weekend I was finally able to get out for a brief backpacking trip after rehabbing two bad knees since April and following foot surgery just two weeks ago. It is amazing how quickly the body FORGETS simple things like walking with a pack. This is my polite way of saying that making decent mileage wasn't my friend and I found it to be actually quite difficult to find my trail legs. I'm hoping they'll return soon as it is quite discouraging to be unable to do something I enjoy to the extent I feel I should be able to.
I'm fortunate because I live less than 30 minutes from the Appalachian Trail trailhead in Shenandoah National Park and the AT really never gets old to me as there is always something to see. I often get lots of questions from people who have never seen the AT. Although the attached videos are nothing to write home about, I wanted to show a couple things. First, wildlife is in abundance whether it is the deer (pictured) or an endless number of hawks, owls, butterflies, and all kinds of insects. Basically, the forest is definitely alive and there is never a quiet moment. The first video is of two bucks which were literally standing on the trail about 20 yards in front of me as I rounded a corner. They slowly migrated off to the underbrush as I fumbled to find my camera which meant they were mostly out of sight for a decent photo or video. About 30 yards from them I saw a black bear flipping over rocks looking for grubs, but the video isn't worthwhile to post due to the vegetation. The second video is merely a flat part of the trail that I decided to post principally because I constantly hear debates between tent/tarp supporters and hammock supporters about which system is better, especially for the part of the AT that goes through heavily wooded states like Virginia. The trail I walked today, with exception to the two huts I passed, was completely unsuitable for anything other than a hammock. Although the wildflowers throughout the park made the scenery nice, I started to think long and hard if I was ever going to find a place to stop that didn't require that I hang between two trees.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Other than not eating, dehydrating, taking less food, or bringing less cooking components, there are two simple ways a lightweight backpacker can lower their pack weight when it comes to meals. The first is to skip bringing meals that require cooking. After all, ounces and even pounds can be saved by leaving a stove and fuel behind. Personally, I like a hot meal at least once a day, so I'm not ready to leave my stove at home all too often. When I do, it is often in favor of a fire to cook food anyway. The second method to lighten packweight is to skip a formal lunch and instead eat calorie dense (high energy) snacks throughout the day which is more common as snacks such as nuts can provide more punch than a more formal meal.
One vendor that specializes in replacing meals at minimum weight is Meal Pack (http://www.mealpack.com/). Meal Pack offers a variety of bar-like food items which weigh in at +/- 3 oz. Unlike other snack bars, these bars serve as a nutrition replacement for an entire meal and in the neighborhood of 450+ calories per bar. That’s roughly 150 calories per ounce…which isn’t too bad considering it is more or less an entire meal packed with vitamins and amino acids for about $1.29 per bar. Just think - a packable “meal” around 3 oz for 450 calories at a mere $1.29. Not too shabby. It also cuts down on bulk and the nuisance of trying to grab little things like M&Ms or peanuts. I eat mine over a period of time and not all at once as I really don't want all that energy all at once. I think the only down side is variety in taste as often it is nice to eat many different things for the same snacking period to keep your tastebuds happy.
I first heard of Meal Pack while reading the gear list for Triple-Crown lightweight backpacking adventurer and author Francis Tapon (http://www.francistapon.com/). Well, if it is good enough for him, I figure it is probably good enough for others out there who have a need for dense calories in a tasty lightweight package.