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#1 of 37 Philip Hamm

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Posted January 09 2003 - 01:41 PM

I used to go backpacking with some friends a lot in the late 80s early 90s. Recently, I've started doing some overnight trips with a friend of mine. We've decided to go on a three day trip this coming President's Day weekend. This isn't our first winter trip, but will be my first in quite some time. I've got some new gear for the trip including some long underwear, polypro liner socks, and new boots (my old ones are shot!). My old backpack, a cheap boy scout type external frame pack from the 80s, needs replacing.

So I went and got a The North Face Springbok backpack from www.sierratradingpost.com (picture and description here: http://shop.store.ya..../tnf10325.html ). My initial idea was to get medium sized internal frame pack since I can only see us doing two or three day trips for the immediate future. (My friend recently went on a week long Alaska trip with his Dad, who will be joining us for this trip, and I'm a little jealous, but don't see it happening for me any time soon). My concern is that maybe I should have gone for the huge megapack instead of a medium sized pack.

My pad is a full length narrow Thermarest and my sleeping bag (rated to 15 degrees - and I know first hand that it is toasty in that temperaturePosted Image) is kind of large. I'm starting to think twice about the pack, since it's onle 3500 sq in. I'm thinking maybe I should have gotten a huge pack, but I don't really like the idea of a 3/4 full megapack jostling around on me. But on a winter hike I'll need more room for clothing. When we're hiking I can be fairly lightly dressed, but I'll need additional layers to keep warm when I'm at camp. Between that, my big pad, my big sleeping bag (which I have a compressor sack for and it compresses fairly small), and half of a big ol' 4 man Eureka Timberline tent I'm thinking maybe the medium size pack is too small.

So the question is, should I return the pack and get a megapack or enjoy the smaller pack that I got? This is my first internal frame pack so I'm not experienced with these devices.

I am really looking forward to the hike, it will be light, about 15 miles in three days, three of us splitting up a four man Timberline tent (GREAT tent - I love it).
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#2 of 37 Nathan Patrick

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Posted January 09 2003 - 02:08 PM

I am also a backpacker so I will offer a little bit of advice and ask you some questions.

Having a 3500" pack isn't bad if you are backpacking with others where you can divide up the gear, etc or for summer backpacking.

Rather than having too little room it is also nicer to have plenty of room so you are not limited in the things that you may need. Particularly if there are only two people going.

The questions you need to ask are:

(1) Will you ever backpack by yourself, where you would be responsibly for carrying a tent, sleeping bag, stove, filter, cookware, clothes, food, water bottles, first aid kit and whatever else you may bring.

(2) Will you ever want to take a trip that is longer than two nights?


I personally have a 5500" kelty pack and it is a good size for me to go hiking by myself for 3-4 nights in the winter without any size problems. If I am going with others or for a shorter period of time my pack is capably of holding less without it moving around on my back, as you have mentioned. I would look at packs in the 4500-5000 range to begin. It won't be a limitation for future trips like the 3500 pack. I think 6000-7000 is overkill though.

By the way I have been to the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area in western virginia and enjoyed it very much.

Hope this helps.

#3 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 09 2003 - 11:37 PM

I am a avid hiker/backpacker, if you haven't seen all my pics I post. 3500 is a decent 3/4 day pack or for the ultralight crowd (which I kind of fall into most of the times) can be stretched to 4/5 day backpack in the summer.

There is a saying in the backpack community that the more room you have, the more likely you are to fill it. My one and only pack is a Gregory Reality which is 4000ci. It's not one of the lightest packs but it is very comfortable and the super big U zippers are great. Unlike external frame packs where you can have many little compartments, many internal packs fall into the "One Big Bag" syndrome so if you do not pack carefully, the little headlamp you need might have migrated to the bottom of the OBB and you now have to go fishing for it. Anyway, the 4000ci pack I've taken on 4 day backpacking trips to Alaska (summer) and also to Hawaii, as well as 3/4 day backpacking trips to the ADKs and to the Catskills.

In the winter, obviously, you will need to carry more and be able to shed and add layers of clothing as needed so 3500 for a solo pack is probably a little tight. It is doable but without spending a load of money on ultralight gear, it might be wise to look at a little bigger pack. However, you do say you are going with 2 friends so you should be able to spread the load like Nathan says.

15 miles in 3 days, now that's enjoying the hike! Posted Image How much snow do you know there, is this a snowshoe hike?

Some ultralight hiking gear:

Hennessey Hammock's Ultralight backpacker hammock 1lb 10oz
Marmot Helium +15°F bag (800 Down) 1lb 10oz
3/4 length closed cell foam <1lb

That and winter gear would most likely fit the 3500ci bag for winter solo trips, but probably not a 3 person dome tent like the Timberline. I have a MSR Zoid 1 tent which is about 4lbs and I can pack in the side pocket of my Gregory if I have to. This has allowed me to do Denali with a friend of mine for 4 days in the backcountry. I was even carrying some of her stuff cause she was having some circulation problems in her hands so I offered to carry some of her gear which I simply lashed to the external ladder on the Reality.

Make sure you take pictures and post 'em.. I love seeing pictures, especially in winter, my favorite time to hike.

Jay
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#4 of 37 Philip Hamm

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Posted January 10 2003 - 01:02 AM

Thanks for the advice, folks.

Answering some of the concerns.....
Quote:
(1) Will you ever backpack by yourself, where you would be responsibly for carrying a tent, sleeping bag, stove, filter, cookware, clothes, food, water bottles, first aid kit and whatever else you may bring.
Probably not. If I go out by myself I'll most likelybe "bikepacking" - that is packing up my motorcycle with camping gear and hitting the road. I camp at a roadside camp, can't put a backpack on the bike. Also, I would have to buy gear for this effort, a new tent to start with - I wouldn't go solo backpacking with a huge 4 man tent.

Aside - space and weight are very important on my motorcycle as they are on the trail so if I shop for gear carefully it will be very handy for multiple uses.
Quote:
(2) Will you ever want to take a trip that is longer than two nights?
I don't see it happening any time soon. I think weekend trips will be all that we do for now.

Also, any time we go we'll split up the tent, but a Eureka Timberline is a big honkin' tent. Even split in hapf it's going to be a lot to carry compared to "hardcore" backpacking tents.
Quote:
I have a MSR Zoid 1 tent which is about 4lbs and I can pack in the side pocket of my Gregory if I have to. This has allowed me to do Denali with a friend of mine for 4 days in the backcountry.
Funny you should mention that. When my friend Jim and his Dad went on their trip this summer (I think it was two weeks not one) they split up a 4 man Timberline and everyone else in the group had tiny backpacker tents. They ended up being more comfortable on the trip! They had this huge tent that when split between them was not much more to carry than the small tents, but at camp they had the big "Cadillac" of tents. So the moral of the story is get a big tent and split it up with a camping partner.

Click this link for a picture I took in the winter of 1988-89 of sunset over the Shennandoah valley. That is from one of the campsites we're planning on using if we do the Appalachian Trail. We're also thinking of hiking Great North Mountain on the VA/WVA border.

I don't know if there will be snow or not, definitely not anything for snowshoes that's for sure. I like hiking in the winter, too. The only thing that sucks is waking up in the morning and getting out of the tent to "do your business". It's -cooooold- outside first thing in the morning, and oh so warm in the tent.

I'm still deciding if I want to stick with the Springbok and see how it does; maybe my next purchase will be a serious ultralite sleeping bag (which would help with bikepacking greatly - my new factory saddlebags will not fit my old sleeping bag and I don't want to use the big cordura throw-on bags).

I have a feeling that I'm going to hate the internal frame backpack. I love the external pockets and divided sections of my old external frame pack. So handy. BTW www.REI.com has a really good information section about picking the right backpack. It lists "The Black Hole" and difficulty packing as a major drawback of internal frame packs.

Out long term goal is to do the entire length of the Tuscaroga Trail a few days at a time over the years.
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#5 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 10 2003 - 01:39 AM

Yeah, just because everybody seems to be going internal, you can't ignore the advantages of the tradition external frame pack. Modularity is a nice thing to have. However, an internal frame pack is going to be more flexible and easier for off-trail adventures where you are generally have to go under, over, and in between trees or in the winter where you have to deal with rime ice/snow that could push alot of trees onto your path.

There are some people who will split up stuff and others who wont. When I was in Denali, both of us had single person tents, but that was more because I thought my friend was going to bring a two person tent, when in fact it was a one-person tent.. D'oh! So I bought the Zoid 1 in Anchorage when we were there before driving to Denali.

There are others who feel they should be more independent of the other, i.e. say partner falls off some 6000' precipice.
Sometimes when I am dayhiking, especially solo, I will carry a sleeping bag and some kind of emergency shelter, bivy. I try to prepare for one uncomfortable night when I am solo, so I even carry a small 1800ci daypack when going on halfday hikes. Sometimes my friends think I'm weird. But then I also have a policy on dayhikes of trying to carry out more trash than in so with the daypack I can pick up litter and stuff..

I have never minded the small tent, I try to spend most of my time in camp outside anyway, unless the bugs are real bad or if it's raining and I am tarpless. In fact, I'm looking forward to trying out my hammock. It's got a tarp and a bug mesh on the top so in nights when it is not raining, I will have a full view of the stars from my bugless shelter.

Jay
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#6 of 37 Andrej Dolenc

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Posted January 10 2003 - 01:41 AM

You can save some room in your pack by getting a stuff sack type dealie for the thermarest, then lash that to the pack (there's bound to be a plethora of straps on it). That'll save room inside the pack for the rest. Worked for me when I hiked out west a few years back.

Andrej

#7 of 37 Philip Hamm

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Posted January 10 2003 - 03:25 AM

That's a great tip, thanks Andrej! I already have the stuff sack for the Thermarest, and the Springok has a very handy spring-loaded external mesh for carrying stuff like this. Makin' me want to stick with the 3500" medium sized pack.
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#8 of 37 Andrew Pratt

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Posted January 10 2003 - 05:55 AM

Just curious if any of you guys buy gear from MEC Its almost as much fun shopping in their stores as a big electronics storePosted Image

#9 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 10 2003 - 06:07 AM

I have gotten some stuff from MEC. It is a Co-Op though and some of their gear is only shipped to Canadian addresses. I bought some Serratus bike clothing from them in 2001, I borrowed a friend's MEC number and ordered it that way. They do have good prices though and the gear is quality stuff.

Jay
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#10 of 37 Philip Hamm

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Posted January 10 2003 - 06:42 AM

Wow that MEC link could get expensive fast. I like www.campmor.com and www.sierratradingpost.com . As a clearing house Sierra is very limited, but they have some great bargains there (like my backpack if I keep it). Also, I have a couple really good B&M stores locally where I usually get food.
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#11 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 10 2003 - 06:45 AM

Campmor!!! I live about 15 minutes from Campmor.. That place is evil (and cheaper than the EMS next door) as I can live there. In fact, after a bike ride in the morning, I'm going to be going there after.

I too order a bunch of stuff from STP, in fact, I'm one of their best customers (my catalog says so Posted Image)

How else do I afford all the sports I do, never pay full price, just like how I put together my HT.

Jay
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#12 of 37 Andrej Dolenc

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Posted January 10 2003 - 07:23 AM

MEC is very cool, we shopped at the one in Calgary 2 years ago when we went up there for skiing.

Philip - all the MEC prices are in canadian dollars. You do have to be a member to buy there though. But with places like campmor and sierra trading post, it's a question as to whether it's worth ordering from there. Good stuff for sure though.

Andrej

#13 of 37 JayV

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Posted January 10 2003 - 07:27 AM

Sometimes, Jay H, I am certain that you and your pictures only exist to make me feel jealous!

With that out of the way, have you been using the Hennessey Hammock? I mainly do winter backpacking, and I'm wondering if it's okay closer to the zero degree mark.

This ultralight revolution is becoming more and more attractive to me (I can't figure out why my pack weighs so much for a one or two nighter).

-j

#14 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 10 2003 - 10:13 AM

I have just received it a few days ago, I was playing with the stuff and learning how to tie the knots and all that but no, I haven't had a chance to use it in the field yet. Ann and Tom Hennessey had a christmas sale that I couldn't pass up, they had the UL backpacker for $119 including free shipping and including these new Snake Skins which are supposed to allow you to setup and dismantle the hammock even easier than normal.

I believe for winter backpacking, they recommend using a 3/4 length closed cell foam pad and also a heat reflective shield on the bottom. This will keep your bodyheat in on the bottom which being exposed to air, is colder than the ground or even the snow because of the wind chill. However, with the pad and the heat reflector, it is supposedly doable in winter. Check out their website, they have hints and suggestions about using it for winter.

http://www.hennessyhammock.com/

I got into ultralight backpacking sort of by accident. Like I said, my Gregory Reality I got used and it is my only pack, so for me to go out on longer trips without having to buy multiple packs, I basically kept getting smaller and lighter gear. My main purpose for the Hammock though is bike touring, but it is supposedly real comfy and I love the skyview sleeping. In fact, a couple times when backpacking the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska, I slept outside, under the stars, no bug net, no tarp. It was fantastic, damm the bears!

BTW, there is a REI-OUTLET coupon floating around, those of you on the mailing list, it is for like 15% off any one item from REI-OUTLET only... Use coupon code HVYEM and this is good til Jan 16th. I just got a postcard from REI and there's another code HVFTP but this is for 10% off one item and is good until Feb 1st.

When I get around to actually trying out the Hammock, I'll try to let you know, but feel free to remind me.. This weekend is mostly gonna be a bike weekend so probably wont get around to it til next weekend..

Jay
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#15 of 37 JayV

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Posted January 10 2003 - 11:03 AM

Quote:
BTW, there is a REI-OUTLET coupon floating around

I knew this would happen -- I got my new Mountain Hardware shell from the REI-Outlet about a month ago. Posted Image

-j

#16 of 37 MikeH1

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Posted January 11 2003 - 02:40 AM

Damn I'm a little late to this thread....

From what I read of your post I would go with the bigger pack. I just upgraded in the summer from a weeklong pack that I used for years (approx 4000 cubic inches) to a Arc Teryx Bora 95 (6000+ cubic inches). Its true as Jay said that the bigger the pack the more stuff you will likely put into it. But theres a difference, it depends what kind of hiker and trips you do. I like a big pack because I like to hike for a couple days, get to my destination (I always have a nice lake picked out), relax for 2 or 3 days, day hike around the area, and then get out. I like to carry non essentials (minidisc player, fishing gear, beer...). I'm not a hiker that goes for days and days on end; racking up a few hundred kilometers just isn't my style. In this case, I don't need a smaller/lighter pack. Again, I think it boils down to what kind of hiker you are.

I have done a few winter trips too and even managed to lug up a 4" ice auger to a alpine lake here southwest of Edmonton in the Rockies to do some ice fishing. That particular trip I was cursing as I really needed a bigger pack for all the winter gear. To give you an idea how sickening it was, I have posted a picture that you can see here.

http://www.n00bstori...p?id=1235382087

Needless to say a much bigger pack would have been nice. Keeping everything as close to your body within a pack is a must. The farther away the heavier it feels. My days of carrying any equipment externally are over for after that trip I was absolutely bagged. You said your into winter trips, having too much stuff at this time of year is always better than having too little. Also, if not full, your internal frame pack can usually be cinched down. Thats a nice thing about them, they tend to meld better with your body. Just be ready for a very sweaty back.

BTW thats a beauty pic Phillip I have always wanted to see the apps, especially in the autumn. For entertainment purposes I have also included a few pics of my trip to Mt. Assiniboine this summer (first weekend of August). Its about 70 km in/out and I have decided to go there every year as its the most nicest place I have seen. And for all you movie buffs a popular outdoor movie was partly filmed here I believe in 1995/1996.

With a view like this can you blame them for wanting to do so here?

http://www.n00bstori....7&gallery=1557

Heres what we had to endure for 20 km to see that view. But in the end it was all worth it Posted Image

http://www.n00bstori...p?id=1663984755

Oh yes and be sure to post your pics!

#17 of 37 Philip Hamm

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Posted January 11 2003 - 04:03 AM

Yeah, I'm leaning toward getting a bigger pack myself. I'm not sure what Sierra's return policy is. Great pic, Mike, looks like you guys brought a LOT of stuff. Personally I have to say I like packing non-essentials like beer and a radio as well. A larger pack is obviously a good idea for that kind of hiking.
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#18 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 11 2003 - 11:03 AM

Oohh, have to check out your pictures Mike, but not until I get back to work where I don't have dial-up (like at home)...

I got back from Campmor today... Holy moly the place was packed. I never usually get there at around noontime but it was a mob scene, worse than christmas. Normally I get there earlier but since I was going cycling with a friend of mine, I was a bit delayed. Anyway, my damage this time was about $77 although I used my paltry $100 xmas bonus so I actually made money. This is what I got:

A Brunton 8096 compass with UTM & lat/long scales. Nice compass, was playing with it tonight and it has a separate scale thing so you can plot lat/long (or UTM) on maps without having to interpolate the given lat/long. It's made for use with a GPS but it looks like a real nice compass. My only compass I had before was a more lensatic type, not a flatback type that most people have.

I got some shell gloves and an earband for my nephew's birthday...

Got some zipper pulls for my bike jersey.

Got a Yakima wheelfork for my custom bike rack on my MR2

Got a little Campmor thermometer zipper for my keychain.

Looked at a RidgeRest cell pad,

Looked at Type III PFDs, figure I'll buy a closeout at STP.

Looked at Marmot sleeping bags but they don't carry the Hydrogen nor would they order it. Oh well, I get 10% off at Campmor...

About STP, you shouldn't have a problem returning stuff to STP, I've returned some river boots back to them once and it was real simple. Especially if you haven't even used it in the field already... If not, you can always sell it on Ebay or other places..

Jay
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#19 of 37 Philip Hamm

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Posted January 13 2003 - 01:17 AM

Quote:
Looked at a RidgeRest cell pad
I used to have one of those, they are comfortable and light, but very bulky and not as soft as a Therm-a-Rest.

My friend Jim and I met and came up with our plan for the weekend and I've decided to keep the 3500 cu in. pack and buy an ultralight sleeping bag. The North Face Springbok is a really nice pack, especially for the modest price I paid from Sierra.
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#20 of 37 Jay H

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Posted January 13 2003 - 03:56 AM

Well, I'm looking at the 3/4 length ones... Which for me being a short 5' 4" is long enough. I saw some of the Z-Rest ones which fold up into a square but didn't get to try any from the mobs of people.

Depending on the money you have to spend, check out some of the down bags from Western Mountaineering (The *lite series) or the Marmot Helium, both make excellent sleeping bags and are 2lbs or less even with winter 15/20°F bags.

Jay
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