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Smokies Trip again
So I thought i would talk a little about my gear. Let me just say this like I had said before, my gear has come a long, long way. I can remember, barely, about 4 years ago when I calculated by base around 35 lbs. Yup, laugh it up. It is funny and I was incredibly naive. I was, however, carrying for 3 people. Wife, daughter and myself. This was the beginning of the end for the knees. Anyway (rabbit trailing), I was/am very fortunate to live extremely close to the cottage company, ZPacks. You should have seen the looks on their faces when we started talking gear. But they were the gateway to the promise land. No, I dont mean that I went super ultra-light and that is the only way to go, what I mean is, the promise land of hiking. I am and won't be a gear basher on what people carry. HYOH. You pack it, you carry it. I fall in-between the Ultra and Lite backpacker. Like is said earlier, my base is between 15.5 and 18 lbs. So lets talk gear.
BackPack - I started with an Osprey Aether 70. SUPER COMFORTABLE. At a price. The price is weight. But I could carry 50 lbs in that thing and it hauled. If I was going expedition, that would be a pack I would consider. Next pack I tried was the Granite Gear Crown 60. Cut the weight in half. I wanted to really like this pack, comfy hip belt and straps. Simply construction, but there was this pinch in my hip I could not resolve. So back it went. Next, the Zpacks Arc Blast. YEAH! I went opposite direction for sure. I loved this pack, but I was still trying to get my base down so I was always at the limit of this pack. I traded it in for a Zpacks Arc Haul. Larger carrying capacity. Loved this one too. But again, I was still fighting with base weight which meant that I was testing the limits of the pack. This pack I took with me for 7 day Smoky mountains trip and yes, this is where I trashed my knees. But the pack performed really well. No pinch, no issues. And another thing, it rained half the time and my gear stayed dry, with NO pack liner. After 2 years of re-hab and research, I forced my self to reconsider all my gear. I sold my Arc Haul cuz I didnt think I would ever hike again and kinda wish I didn't, but it did lead me to my last and current back pack. The Osprey Atmos 65. Yes, it is heavier that the Zpacks, but the capacity is bigger as well. Will talk about the need for capacity in a few. This Osprey does everything I need it to do. And most of all, it is comfortable as all get out. I get the air flowing thru my back like the Arc Haul, but the hips pads fit me perfect. Yes, that sucker is about 2.5 lbs heavier, but I am working on it.
Tent - This is a simple one. I originally bought an REI Dome 2 and had it for about 5 months. After talking with the Zpacks guys, I shucked out the $ $ for a Duplex Tent. I have never looked back. This thing is awesome. With 2 entry ways, I can open this up for excellent ventilation. 2 vestibules and it weight only 20 ozs. I have been in this tent in torrential downpours to extreme heat to seriously cold. Enough said.
Sleep system - I will make this quick. 1st sleeping bag was a Marmot Hydrogen 30. I realized I do not like mummy bags. Hate them. I went to a Nemo Disco 30. The spoon shape was really night since I always toss and turn all night. But it was almost 3 lbs. And, when it got to around 45 degrees, it was hard to warm up the bag because of all the dead space inside. I just bought and received the Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 Quilt. I thought I would never buy a quilt, but my friend has one and swears by it. I will be trying this out for the first time this week in 40 -50 degree weather. I will say this, that thing gets warm quick. Trying it out at home, I was frying like an egg inside of 5 minutes of being inside the bag. I think I am going to like the quilt thingy cuz it gives me more sleeping options.
Sleeping pad - Had a Thermarest Camper. Comfortable, but heavy and minimal insulation. Cold spots starting at 50 degrees. Bought a Nemo Insulated. Freaking love it!!! Super comfy and insulated. Will be doing my trial run as well this week. I am not concerned.
Pillow - Thermarest pillow. YUP, its big and its got some weight to it. BUT, as a migraine suffer, this pillow has not caused any issues with my neck (which is my trigger for migraines). And yes, I have tried about 7 different blowup and ultra-lite pillows, they don't work. So the need for a little more pack capacity helps to absorb this luxury item. No regrets or complaints, this pillow goes everywhere with me.
The last thing I will talk about is my new EE Apex Torrid Jacket. I got it this week and it is really comfortable. Ultra light and I am able to layer inside of it. Of course, I will talk more about this and the new quilt once i get back from my trip.
The rest of my gear.
Hiking shirt - Columbia Silver Ridge Lite LS
Shorts - Nike Dri
Leggings - Nike hyperwarm. Love these things
Socks - Darn tough and Injinji toe socks.
Shoes - Altra Lone peak 3.5 - took awhile to get used to them, but now I wont wear anything else. Hoping the 4.0's have made improvements though.
Hiking poles - Black Diamond cork ( dont know the model, sorry)
My base right now, back pack not included is 14.79 lbs. A few luxury items, which will be getting lots of attention this week to see if they are needed. Not to bad, but can be a little better.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, for some, it is like a drug, others, BORING. 2 days and counting!!!