Friday, March 25, 2016

And then I died my hands red

I finally bit the bullet and bought a plane ticket, April 20th I'll be hitting the approach trail in Amicalola Falls State Park and starting out on another long trail. Which means its time to stop dilly dallying and figure out what the heck I'll be lugging around for the next 5 months.

I have freed up the chunk of my brain that was endlessly consumed by logistics during my last two hikes (no mail drops sure make life simple) and instead endlessly peruse blogs and gear websites because there's not much else I get to have fun and research.

I'm not exactly starting from scratch but I figured some new gear was in order. Yes some of my stuff from the CDT held up but that doesn't mean I'm hoping for some different things this time around.  Maybe better suited to this trail, my body or just to replace things I have mercilessly reduced to rags. So where better to start than my backpack? I carried a ULA Ohm on the CDT and loved it to pieces. But honestly I rarely filled it except in the San Juans and thought I mind as well try a new pack.

I finally picked the Mountain Laurel Designs Burn pack. Its tiny and bare bones and from a cottage gear company with a great reputation. I will be the first to admit that I am not easy on my gear and unlike the Zpacks pack I considered I have no worries about this pack disintegrating by the end of this hike. I love my Zpacks tent but so many of their packs seem more duct tape than pack by the end of the trail that I didn't want to worry about babying such a crucial item.

I picked a size and stared at my two sorry color choices, gray or "wasabi green." I wasn't too thrilled with either but finally decided at least green was more exciting then gray, even if it was a sort of yellow green. A few short days later my small little backpack arrived and to my chagrin they shipped the wrong one. Since I'd never been sold on wasabi in the first place I figured it was a sign to get a little creative.

original stealthy ray
I've seen a few folks who dyed packs but they seemed to overwhelmingly pick black. I am not a ninja and have no desire to be stealthy or subtle so even though those packs did look pretty sweet I opted for more color. A quick trip to the fabric store and 2 bottles of dye later I gathered up my backpack and some boring (and glaringly white) socks and set to work.

I decided to try a sort of bright red, cranberry according to the RIT dye folks. I figured it would be cheery and different so the plan was cocktail of scarlet and wine dye mixed in 3 gallons of water.

Finding enough pots to boil 3 gallons of water is surprisingly tricky, and running outside in the rain to pour them into a cooler only slightly less ridiculous.

Thanks to some handy blog posts I decided to use a cooler to mix everything as its would keep the water hotter longer and hopefully help make the color richer.

After pouring my dye and water into the cooler I spent the next hour stirring the whole mess with a stick ever 10-15 minutes trying to dye things evenly. Genius that I am I forgot the recommended rubber gloves and finished with not only a red cooler, socks and a pack but also bright red hands. Oh well, better than black?
A quick cold water wash in the washing machine and then impatiently waiting for things to dry to see what actually happened.

The socks were my favorite, white socks have no place on the trail in my world. 

The backpack is growing on me. Way more toned down than I expected I like it, i only wish the logo hadn't turned pink. I will certainly be the only one with this pack though. 

A few days later I used my leftover scarlet dye to fix my white sleeping bag liner and damn if I do say  so myself its a brilliant switch. Outdoor companies please quit it with the white!

Everything else is coming together and soon enough I get to try it out on the trail!


  1. Hey, thanks for the post. I've been looking for information on dying an MLD pack a color lighter than black. Are you still satisfied with the dye job? Has it bled at all or is it staying strong? Thanks!

    1. It's gone over 3000 miles and still doing well. It never bled. The white did get blurred a bit on the back since it had constant contact with my upper back. I cut the hip belt off so I'm not surprised I saw the most wear there. If you want any pictures let me know. Overall super happy

    2. Thanks for the update. If you don't mind sharing some pictures I'd love to see how it's holding up.

    3. I can't figure out how to paste pictures here, if you email me I can send them that way.