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  2. New to forum, gps question

    Welcome! I also use GaiaGPS on my phone. It comes with some great maps already loaded and it has a lot of features that I like. You can also create your own route on http://www.caltopo.com and export the *.gpx file and import it into GaiaGPS for use later. Like Aaron said, it's great for spot checks as well. It's a very robust app and it's updated regularly. You can also log into their website and whatever changes you make on there will automatically update on your phone.
  3. Thanks! I think water treatment unfortunately is one backpacking gear consideration where it’s hard to ever be 100% satisfied with your choice, and agree that’s its good to keep things as simple as possible. Like any good vehicle, a mechanical filtration device will eventually reach the end of its service life, I guess all we can hope is that with good care we get decent mileage out of them before that happens. I use a filter as my main filtration solution and value reliability as well - I think if you go that route inline or gravity setups will offer more reliability with fewer moving parts, at that point it’s mostly the cartridge itself to be concerned about. (And even if it begins to clog, at least we can still get clean water here, albeit slowly) Frequent maintenance (backflushing), and using the cleanest source water possible both will help prolong service life, but of course eventually we all hopefully hike enough that it must be replaced and I’ve replaced my share of cartridges for sure. I’ve used filters on up to 10 day stretches - that was with a more traditional pump - and the current generation of hollow fiber filters have worked well on longer trips for me as well, however I do try to seek out cleaner water and backflush the filter. For those back to back long stretches, thru-hikes, or even with season after season hiking weighing the reliability, as well as the cost and convenience of replacing what you’ll need for any method is definitely good to think about, be it cartridges, chemicals, batteries, etc.
  4. New to forum, gps question

    Welcome! From your description there are definitely some more updated options out there. In the smartphone regard, Gaia GPS is a popular app and is what I use - it will definitely work outside of cell tower range and offline provided you save the maps you’ll need at home to the phone prior to the hike. Here is a step by step guide I posted previously on using Gaia to plan out a hike and the basics of using it on the the trail: https://www.trailgroove.com/blogs/entry/122-the-gaia-gps-app-for-trip-planning-and-use-on-the-trail/ (And if you end up going with Gaia GPS, be sure to check out our Premium Membership for some benefits in that regard... ) I don’t use the app too much for tracking purposes (more to save maps and for location spot checks if needed / to save time) and use a paper map for my main navigation duties, but it definitely has that capability and the capability of adding a waypoint as you describe etc.
  5. No cook Backpacking

    I’m one to always plan for a hot meal at the end of the day when I can, so I haven’t dedicated much time to figuring out what works best in this regard; a cold dinner is usually an unplanned event in my case. I have skipped a hot meal from just being exhausted and ready for the sleeping bag on a few occasions however, and have just gone with things I usually eat for lunch - tortillas, bagels, peanut butter, jerky, etc. which has worked fine for me on an infrequent basis. Also, If you can get mac and cheese to work and since you mentioned it, as of late I’ve been adding summer sausage to that (although hot) which is a great combo. However, here is a bonified no cook recipe thanks to @PaulMags from Issue 27 that might just be what you’re looking for! https://www.trailgroove.com/issue27.html?autoflip=151
  6. Backpacking Water Filters and Best Treatment Methods

    Nice summary. The thing about mechanical devices is that they eventually fail. And by fail I mean break. It's inevitable. Not a big deal for a weekend hike, but for longer trips I no longer rely on filtration devices (other than a bandanna).
  7. New to forum, gps question

    Hello, I am new to the forum. My wife our rescue cattle dog and I enjoy hiking. We Mainly hike the AT in Virginia and North Carolina day hikes between 5-10 miles then go to a brewery. 2-3 years ago we did a hike that with poor directions and just barely found our way back to the car before dark in the cold. No overnight supplys. (Did we make a left at the Snapple bottle). After that I got a garmin etrex 30x with the 100k us map from rei and I preload the route prior now I also put a waypoint where the car is. My problem is the gps operates like 1998 tech. Its laggy the screen is tiny. The button are unintuitive. The aa batteries don't last especially when its below 30 they last 15 minutes. The support forums are full of unanswered problems. The software is beyond buggy. It appear that the mass market has moved on. Looking for an alternative, I don't see anything markedly better. I see some apps for smartphones. Do they work for trackback if you are completely out of cell tower range? Should I accept that since hiking GPS is a Small market I am stuck with outdated tech the manufacture put no r&d or effort into and keep it? Thanks for the read
  8. Hello from Central California

    Welcome! Plantar fasciitis can be tough...I went through a previous battle with this as well - both interfering with and made worse by a daily running and / or hiking habit in my case. I tried motion control shoes and inserts, but nothing really seemed to help honestly until I lost a few pounds and the injury went away on its own. Lesson learned in that regard. Lately for 3 season hiking I hike in these which are the antithesis of motion control footwear, and have had good results with my feet:
  9. On any hiking or backpacking trip, the ability to procure safe drinking water during the hike is one of the most important logistical considerations for both pre-trip planning as well as while we’re on the trail. Finding the water is of course the first step, and having the necessary gear to properly process the water so it’s safe to drink is the second part of the equation. Here we’ll look at the main types of water filters and backcountry water treatment methods that are best suited for backpacking and hiking, and elaborate on the necessary reading between the lines that needs to be done when choosing the best water filter or treatment option for backcountry use. What We Need to Treat and Filter Microorganisms and Biological Concerns: While protozoan concerns such as giardia and cryptosporidium get the most publicity, concerns are best looked at in a categorical fashion. Starting with biological containments from smallest to largest, viruses (example: hepatitis, rotovirus, often smaller than .1 micron) are notoriously difficult to filter as they can slip through most common filter’s pore size. Luckily, viruses are mostly a concern where there are many other people – for example where you might find untreated sewage. However, it’s always important to remember the source of the water you’re filtering. Bacteria (example: e.Coli, Salmonella, average size greater than .3 microns) are a more common concern in the wilderness as they are spread by both humans and wildlife, but luckily they are larger than viruses and more easily captured by most common filters. Protozoa are a a bit larger and include cryptosporidium and giardia, and a filter that will filter to 1 micron or smaller is recommended for removal. Concerns that are larger still include tapeworm eggs and unsightly, but not necessarily dangerous, critters of various types in your water such as insect larvae. On many occasions I’ve scooped water from crystal clear mountain streams and upon close inspection, have been quite surprised at what that scoop reveals to the eye – from sticks and stones to tadpoles and worms of various types – not to mention what you can’t see. I prefer to get my calories from my food bag while backpacking, and luckily these larger organisms are of course, very easily filtered. Other Treatment Considerations: Many other components can make up the water you’re drinking in the backcountry as well. Chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, heavy metals, tannins, silt, taste and odor, as well as natural particulates of various types will need to be considered. Some of these concerns will only affect smell and taste, others could affect your health. Visible suspended matter is removed by most filters, but tannins and taste / smell can pass through – in my experience even drinking tea colored water however, has been fine. If your water source is downstream of an area that has seen prior or active agricultural or mining use for example, chemicals and other various components introduced by man could be in the water source, especially as you move further downstream in the water supply chain. To reduce these types of contaminants and concerns we can utilize a purifier or filter that contains a carbon stage, or add a carbon element or step to an existing setup to assist in reducing many of these possible impurities. Physical Filters and Purifiers Most water treatment products designed for backcountry use that are reasonably lightweight, will not address all of the above concerns in one fell swoop. Thus, we need to evaluate our backpacking and hiking destinations, as well as our own personal comfort level to find the best compromise. For backpacking in the mountainous wilderness areas of the United States for example, the general consensus is that viruses are usually not of a great concern, and many times our water sources are fairly pure from man-made pollution as we’re getting it close to the source. In these cases bacteria and protozoa are usually the main concerns. Other backcountry trips may find us on the banks of a river far from the source, that has passed through many towns before we consume it, perhaps on foreign soil, and the full gamut of contaminants are more of a possibility. Water filters do just what they say; they filter the water to a certain micron level to remove bacteria and protozoa. Water purification by definition, including options like the First Need XLE will take this all a step further by also removing viruses, though not all products that are officially listed as purifiers will remove or reduce chemicals, heavy metals, tannins, debris, etc. – your water may be purified by marketing general standards, but it will not necessarily be “pure”. Classic pump operated filters work well for pulling water out of hard to reach and shallow sources. Popular filters for backcountry water treatment should filter to an absolute pore size of .3 microns or smaller for adequate removal of bacteria, protozoa, and all things larger. Note the absolute part of the pore size equation, as filters listed with a “nominal” pore size will only on average filter to that level. Absolute is a guarantee, and is the number we’re actually interested in. If you prefer viral protection, you will need an option with a much smaller absolute pore size; as a result flow rate will likely suffer and these types of purifiers are rare. Alternatively some filters combine with other technology to treat the virus part using an iodine or ion exchange process. Some purifiers here that remove viruses physically are the MSR Guardian as well as this option from Sawyer. Other options like the Katadyn MyBottle combine a normal filter with a cartridge that contains an iodinated resin for added virus protection, while the Grayl Purifier uses an ion exchange process to achieve this goal. Types of Filters Physical filtration can be achieved utilizing various types of elements and technologies. The most popular lightweight water filter technology today, hollow fiber filters work by passing water through a multitude of small tubes; tubes that are perforated by many, many, pores so small (rated to the micron) that anything larger than this pore size cannot pass through, trapping any living organisms or non-living matter larger than the pore size. Hollow fiber filters are popular for their light weight and versatility – you can pretty much find one in any filter configuration you prefer – be that as a gravity filter, inline filter, pump, etc. and many can be used multiple ways, such as the Sawyer 3-way SP122 filter (check out our review of the Sawyer here in Issue 3). Hollow fiber filters can usually be backflushed to help restore flow rate, and flow rate will vary depending on pore size, surface area, and use. The most popular hollow fiber filters are in the .1 to .2 micron range making them sufficient for bacteria and protozoa, and this micron level is usually a good balance of protection, sufficient flow rate, and lifespan. Smaller micron, virus-rated filters also exist in this category as seen with the aforementioned Sawyer SP191, but flow rate will be slower due to the smaller pore size. A gravity system, in this case using hollow fiber filter technology, uses the force of gravity to move water through the filter. Hollow fiber filters cannot be allowed to freeze when wet (The MSR Guardian is an exception) or after they've been used, so on trips where it will freeze at night you’ll need to sleep with the filter in your sleeping bag or carry it in your pocket any time temperatures begin to flirt with freezing during the day – this goes for nearly all other filters using different types of elements as well. In addition to freezing physical filters also need to be treated with some care in regards to drops and impacts, which could damage the element. Some hollow fiber filters like the Platypus GravityWorks (read our full review here in Issue 25), and the Katadyn BeFree have manufacturer supported integrity tests which are very helpful for a little peace of mind – unlike other gear, you can’t really tell if a filter is working properly or not, without this test. Other types of physical filter media will use a ceramic element like the MSR EX filter, and the Katadyn Pocket Filter, or utilize a glass fiber element like the venerable Katadyn Hiker Pro. Ceramic filters have the ability to be repeatedly field cleaned. Some filters are entirely self-contained and will need to be thrown away when their flow rate diminishes too much to be of practical use, while others setups will have a replaceable cartridge that fits into a housing. Approaches to Filtering No matter what filter technology you end up going with, physical filters are most often utilized in an inline, gravity, squeeze, or pump configuration. The traditional pump water filter requires you to pump the water through the filter element via a hose in the water source, and is a proven setup at both getting you water and providing an ample upper body workout. Moving parts here increase the complication and weight, but these are also great for pulling water out of hard to reach places. The other methods will require you to fill some type of reservoir with dirty water first, by either submerging the dirty water container or bag in the water source or, if it’s one of those shallow or small sources you occasionally may need to use a separate vessel to fill the dirty container, like a mug (boil later to sterilize). An inline water filter connected to a hydration setup treats water as you drink. Gravity setups like the Platypus GravityWorks and the Katadyn Base Camp Pro let gravity do the work for you, by filling a dirty reservoir with water and by elevating, hanging from a tree branch or rock if possible, water passes through the filter element into a clean container. Inline setups such as the Sawyer SP122 splice into the tubing of your hydration reservoir and your own drinking force filters the water with each sip, while with squeeze setups like the Sawyer Squeeze, you can utilize a combination of gravity and squeezing force to move the dirty water through the filter and into a clean vessel or drink directly. Other options integrate the filter into a bottle (MetaBottle) or softbottle (BeFree), where much in the same manner as an inline filter with a hydration reservoir, your drinking or a combination of drinking and squeezing is what filters the water as you go. Straw type options are also another strategy, treating water by directly inserting one end into a water source and drinking from the other side of the straw. This type of filter is limited in that you cannot process larger volumes of water and each sip takes more work, perhaps best reserved more for emergency usage. In whatever case, seek out the cleanest water possible to prolong the life of your filter and for the best flow rate. While many filters can be backflushed or cleaned, this is usually a losing battle over time. Although filters are rated by the gallon or liter in regards to their lifespan, it’s a great idea to evaluate this when choosing a filter, but take this number with a grain of salt. Clean water is important for other treatment methods as well; in very turbid situations it’s a good idea to allow water to settle in a separate container (in for example, a Sea to Summit Bucket), then treat from the top. Luckily, this is more of the exception than the norm for most of us. UV Treatment Ultraviolet treatment options like those offered by Steripen, come in various forms using either normal or rechargeable batteries, and utilize, as with many municipalities, UV light from a special lamp that’s inserted into your water container to neutralize many microorganisms by disrupting their DNA. This process usually takes about a minute and you’ll most likely be treating your water a liter or so at a time. Some other UV devices have come to market that feature an integrated lamp, like the Camelback All Clear, and yet others have been designed to float from the surface of your water vessel. UV water treatment uses battery powered ultraviolet light that's inserted in a container to treat many microorganisms. On the plus side, these UV treatment options are quite effective at neutralizing the things that physical filters have the toughest time with – viruses – and the technology is proven. However, many are not comfortable relying on an electronic and potentially fragile instrument for their main or only wilderness water filtration source. Additionally, UV light on its own is not sufficient for neutralizing all living organisms that could be present in your water – tapeworm eggs for example, or larger organisms and larvae that may or may not do any harm but may not necessarily be what you want to ingest, nor will a UV product remove anything from the water or improve its composition. If the water is dirty, you’ll be drinking dirty water. Steripen offers a filter with a 40x40 micron mesh screen that can help here, which is intended to reduce organic matter or particulates. Performance may also be insufficient in murky water, requiring pre-filtration. All said, this is an excellent technology as long you’re aware of the limitations; I utilize a Steripen Adventurer Opti as a secondary treatment with a hollow fiber filter on any trip where I desire viral treatment. Chemical Treatment Chemical treatment usually utilizing chlorine dioxide (Aquamira) or Iodine (Polar Pure) and on occasion some other chemicals like household bleach or other chemicals that produce chlorine, like Aquatabs can be effective, but like anything this category has its share of pros and cons. In contrast to physical filters and like UV treatment, chemicals are again effective against viruses, but often take longer (hours) to work on such concerns as cryptospordium (4 hours) and these products will add a taste to your water; other products are not suitable for cryptosporidium whatsoever. To be honest, most of my thought goes into making sure my drinking water source is either free of any chemicals or how to reduce or remove them should there be any chance of them being present, so chemical treatment is a bit counter-productive from my point of view, and options like iodine are not an option for pregnant women or those with any type of a thyroid issue. Iodine and chlorine (i.e. bleach) on their own, are not effective against cryptosporidium. However, this method is lightweight and over the years has been popular with ultralight backpackers, though decreasing in recent years with the increased availability of very light hollow fiber filters like the Sawyer Mini. In this category, other devices like the MSR Miox and current Potable Aqua Pure have seen the market over the years that create a solution with salt to create an oxidant solution that you subsequently dissolve in water; but as with other chemical treatments, with a 4 hour wait time these are not the quickest of options. Chemical treatment may also be integrated with some filters to move them into the purifier category. As with boiling, chemical treatment can be a good backup to bring as well or to utilize in conjunction with other methods. Hundreds of miles from the source, I took extra steps in my treatment process at this backcountry location. Boiling Boiling water is an excellent way to neutralize microorganisms that might be present, but it takes a while, requires a lot of fuel, and let’s be honest, on a hot summer day, who wants to drink steaming hot water when we could be drinking that crisp and cold water from a mountain stream? As such, boiling can be tough to utilize as a main water treatment method on most 3 season backpacking trips, but it’s an excellent method to keep in mind as a backup method should your filter or other method fail you. In winter however, melting snow for water may be your best and only option. Be sure to bring a big pot (my Evernew 1.3 works well solo) and a stove that will work well during continued usage in cold conditions like the MSR WindPro II – read our review in Issue 33. Opinions on how long to boil water vary widely; the CDC suggests bringing water to a rolling boil for 1 minute, or for 3 full minutes at altitudes above 6562 feet (be sure to check that 2 on the end of your altimeter!) Data suggests however that pathogens are neutralized at lower temperatures; in the end in depends on heat and time but luckily, both are achieved by bringing your water to a boil and after removal from heat. Carbon Filtration As we’ve seen, the technologies used above are all mainly designed to thwart microorganisms. If improving the taste and smell of your water, or if any agricultural and / or industrial contamination is a concern, look for a system that integrates filtration technology combined with a carbon stage that will improve and / or reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, these concerns. If desired, a carbon element can be integrated into an existing system using a modular approach. This will increase the weight of your system, and possibly the cost of replacement elements, etc., but there is of course no free lunch. The Sawyer Select Filters, the Lifestraw Flex, and Katadyn Hiker Pro are all examples of filters with integrated carbon filtration – or if you’re like me and have settled on a treatment method that does not address this concern, but you may occasionally head out on a trip where some of these concerns would be nice to cover, you can always splice in an add-on carbon element (I use add on GravityWorks Carbon Element) for this purpose when needed. My Approach For a complicated issue, there are unfortunately no one size fits all solutions and in the end, when we’re concerned about not carrying extra weight, it all comes down to a compromise and what each one of us is most interested in removing from our water. Luckily there are many lightweight and effective options out there to choose from. For general backpacking we should expect to find an option that will treat what we’re concerned with for around a pound or less. About half a pound is usually doable, and lighter options of just a few ounces are very realistic to target. Most of my trips are very well served by standard hollow fiber filtration technology; as with all of us most likely, my preference is to backpack into areas where the water is already fairly good. As such I’m not usually concerned about viruses or pollution, (both a Steripen and carbon filter have a spot in the gear room for such destinations to use in conjunction with a hollow fiber filter), and I like to target the removal of bacteria, protozoa, and the removal of larger critters no matter their parasitical intent or lack thereof. The hollow fiber filter also has that added benefit of giving your water a good scrub; removing particulate matter. I really like a filter that has a manufacturer supported integrity test as well, so it essentially comes down to the cartridge for me. The Platypus GravityWorks cartridge fits all of the above criteria, and it just so happens the whole setup it comes with works well and is pretty darn convenient to use both on the trail as well as in camp. For a complete list of backcountry-ready water filters and treatment methods that you can sort and filter by all the main points we’ve discussed in this post, check out this page at REI.
  10. Hello from Central California

    I am planning a 3-4 week trip up the Pacific Coast from Fort Bragg to Astoria ..... Need to find a good pair of Hiking Boots and Hiking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis ..... What would you recommend ... ? I will need at least two pairs of footwear, since I will be doing lots of beachcombing ....
  11. No cook Backpacking

    Heading out on some of the desert portion of the PCT come mid February. With all the wild fires I feel like my usual canister stove even if used correctly may not be the best idea. So I am asking you all if you have any great no cook recipes. I have the summer sausage and energy bars stuff but I would like some easy tasty options for dinners. Looking into cold soaking with a ice cream jar but Raman just seems blah. Thanks in advance. Also looking for partners if interested.
  12. Backpacking Stoves - Best Choices and Fuel Types

    Thanks Parkinson! I really like those discussions, they push you out of old thinking patterns. Never dared to use mere foam as a ground insulator, but, true, the bottom of my cones will probably stay cool enough. Although my poplar plywood disc weighs only 57grs with aluminum foil, I immediately cut a disc of aluminum coated styro-foam from the home improvement department and came out with a mere 4 grs. Will check it out soon and see whether I am in for a meltdown or not... Happy trails Urs
  13. Hello from San Diego

    Welcome to TrailGroove Jaeagle!
  14. Hello from San Diego

    Hello all. Avid hiker from currently in San Diego and looking to get out in the trail more! I am working on the PCT by can only get out for long weekends. Working on going ultra light but my pack is currently sitting At 15lbs. I love big miles and a good challenge. Any friends or advice is always welcome!
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  16. 2018 Hiking Trips and Plans?

    Going for a few days to southwest Colorado in July - 3 days on part of the Colorado Trail near Silverton, plus a couple of day hikes. Should be wildflowers galore!
  17. Lightweight Photo Gear and Carrying a Backpacking Camera

    Photography is almost always a priority for me - I plan my hiking destinations based on their photography potential. Therefore, 90% of the time it's a DSLR with a Cotton Carrier harness on my chest. Good system with quick access to the camera. I have added a couple of pockets for lenses and filters to the straps. Works for me!
  18. I agree with John P on the Peak Design Capture. Though it's best with a mirrorless camera. I used it in Pasayten a year ago with a Canon 5Dm2 and it sagged a lot. In 2017 I switched systems to the Fuji X-T2 it is was perfect. So easy to quickly capture a scene and move on. Results: https://randakag.smugmug.com/2017-Pecos-Wilderness/
  19. 2018 Hiking Trips and Plans?

    Going to do franconia ridge traverse in new hampshire and upto acadia national park in maine. Will also heD down to the smokey mountains in nc this summer.
  20. Thanks John. The Peak Design option certainly looks convenient!
  21. Choosing the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad

    Ha, sounds like some bad luck or intense use for sure - hopefully the later! I’ve had some issues with a baffle on one occasion, and a valve on another older self inflating pad, but like your situation it luckily could be worked around until I got home. A repair kit definitely stays on my gear list. Closed cell foam pads are great in that regard, just wish they were comfortable enough for me to get a decent night of sleep.
  22. Backpacking Stoves - Best Choices and Fuel Types

    Interesting solutions and thoughts on the groundsheet for cold conditions. For winter and snow use these days, I almost always go with an inverted canister stove in the WindPro II but I have (patiently) used the 10-2 stove on a couple winter excursions! Great point and food for thought on the environmental footprint aspect as well, while I'd think alcohol stoves might have the edge here they do have a footprint in their own right; to get alcohol fuel from the ground to grain to your gear stash requires a pretty long chain of events, and both fuel types come in containers that can be recycled. (Albeit with a extra step on the canisters) Pros and cons all around and unfortunately, tough to find a perfect solution on these types of things for sure! In regards to alcohol and canister stoves and what's lightest, it can get complicated and every trip is a bit different. For example crunching the numbers on several different trip scenarios with my typical use case, a canister stove is initially lighter for 2 person longer trips. Both setups come in so close in the average weight carried to start each hiking day (within 1.4 ounces, or less, average daily weight), that in the end for me it doesn't necessarily come down to which is lighter but which fuel option you prefer, and other factors like speed, convenience, and fuel availability. For solo shorter trips the alcohol stove will indeed be lighter in every regard, but we're just talking a couple ounces. Of course, the key with making it lighter or a close run with a canister is being able to dial in the fuel as close to what you'll really be needing as you can, and once you've accumulated a shelf of partially used canisters (this is both the bad, and the good side effect of using a canister stove frequently! ) and with a digital scale, you can get pretty close.
  23. Choosing the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad

    Aaron, yes I always use the inflatable pad just inside my tent, check for sharp sticks and stones under the tent, and also use a groundcloth under the tent. Still, I have had 5-6 instances of punctured pads--it has usually been a slow leak, so have never had a dreaded trip changing event. It just pisses me off!!
  24. Choosing the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad

    @Parkinson1963 - I used the NeoAir when it first came out and for many trips thereafter and it worked great - without a doubt it was a game changer in the world of inflatable sleeping pads, and luckily and likely as a result these days there are quite a few lightweight and warm insulated inflatable pads to choose from. Compared to a CCF pad, the NeoAir was a night and day comfort difference for sure. For me, I find the Exped Synmat line to be more comfortable however - the vertical baffle arrangement keeps me centered on the pad and I don't find myself falling off the edge at night as I do on pads that have horizontal baffles. I think it all comes down to personal and sleeping preferences in that regard! Thanks @John B and good luck with the foam pad - that should add a lot of protection and some warmth to boot. I should add that I only use an inflatable pad inside a tent (and perform a quick...but not extensive check for sharp sticks and rocks before pitching my shelter) and I also always use a window insulation film groundsheet cut to size under the tent as described here. Of course, on my trips during the shoulder seasons or winter, I do all the above plus will use the thin foam pad, or a regular Ridge-Rest if it gets really cold, and in those cases the foam pad takes any abuse. Although a bit heavier, a lot of sleeping pads are also offered with heavier-duty fabrics as well - for instance at around the same r-value the Therm-a-Rest Xlite uses 30D fabrics all around, while the NeoAir Trekker uses 70D on the bottom of the pad which could help and add some peace of mind. Much like any other category of gear, it's all about finding the right balance that works best for you!
  25. Choosing the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad

    Aaron, I agree that the sweet spot for weight and durability for inflatable pads is around a pound. Having said that, I have yet to find the perfect inflatable pad--durability is the continuing issue for me. I'm going to try the $27.99 1/4" closed cell option you mentioned as an adjunct to my inflatable--see if that helps! For 5.8oz it could be worth it! Great article!
  26. 2018 Hiking Trips and Plans?

    Not sure yet about early summer. Probably just car camping near water here in Michigan in June. August trip planned with wife and 6 year old daughter to Utah. Day hikes there. Then planning to do the Wonderland Trail in early September. Can't wait for that.
  27. Good overview. I carry a mirrorless camera and started using a Peak Design Capture Pro to carry it. Stays clipped to my pack shoulder strap. Really easy to access. Not in the way. Wouldn't use it in rain or scrambles/climbs, but for backpacking it has been great.
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