Saturday, March 31, 2012

I am a multicolored ninja

What do garish orange and purple, zebra stripes, bright blue and red all have in common? They are just a small taste of what my clothing looks like. Gotta love closeout colors (okay I'll be honest, I am a child of the eighties and can't quite shake the love of bright colors). So here it is, the gear talk.

Some people can talk about gear for hours on end, while others despise this kind of talk. I’ll admit it; I love gear, and can chatter away for an obnoxiously long time. If you are one of those folks who hate gear talk, step away and feel free to come back later. J
So why has this post taken me so long to get to? It is aways one of the first questions I’m asked. The problem is, every time I turn around, I seem to change my mind about what I want to take. I mean on a short overnight, you can pretty much guess the weather and what you will need, but for 5 months? Not so much. Those pesky 2 or 3 pounds are a pretty big deal.  Every little ounce that you put in your backpack you have to carry, for a really long time. So weight and space are huge issues. Now when answering that yes I will be carrying a backpack, a tent and a sleeping bag. Some people want to know nothing more, but for those who would like a closer glimpse into the madness that is my gear, here goes.  

When it comes to backpacking you will hear the term baseweight is thrown around a lot. Oddly enough there have been heated debates over what exactly goes into a baseweight. Seems people get touchy about pretty much anything (Whose glad we're hiking in an election year...). But simply put, your baseweight is everything in you pack excluding consumable (ie the water bottle counts but not the water). After that you add your food and water to get your total pack weight.

When it comes to base weights there are a few main categories.
Traditional: more than 20 pounds
Lightweight:10-20 pounds
Ultralight:  under 10 (now under 5 is super ultra light but we won’t even go there)
(there are some really great resources out there if you are curious, I’d suggest starting with: backpacking light )
I have been trying to move towards a lighter system for some time now and my base weight has been around 12 lbs. I had sinking feeling that my PCT gear was a little heavier b/c I have more insecurities about my gear choices. Last night I found out I was right, I’m stuck right around 15 pounds. After the small panic attack I had after discovering this I told myself to calm down, take a deep breath and chill. Many people have successfully hiked the PCT with heavier packs, and I am 99% sure that much of my gear will be switched up within the first few weeks as I hit my stride. But until then there it is in cold black and white, 15 pounds. Then figure 1.5-2 pounds of food per day (typically 4-5 days of food so maybe 8-10 pounds) and water at 2.2 pounds a liter isn’t exactly light. If there are numerous water sources you can get away with maybe 1 or 2 liters but I am starting in the desert. There are stretches over 30 miles long with no water and typically very hot temperatures so we’re talking 6-8 liters (for those of you too lazy to do the math that’s 13- 17 pounds of just water). At least as you eat and drink your packs gets lighter…
My whole gear list is under the gear list tab so you can check it out, but as of right now my big three (shelter, sleeping, pack) are:

ULA Circuit Backpack                                          Western Mountaineering Ultralight Sleeping Bag

Tarptent Notch 
Bernadette exploring the new tent


  1. Ha, my cat also liked exploring the new tent, although I had to kick her out when she started charging at the mesh corners - apparently she wasn't smart enough to find the door :)

  2. Looks like we have the same trekking poles

    1. yeah those poles have been good to me, but the grips are starting to fall apart and i still have a few days till that rei coupon is good so i might have to switch it up...