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I need a gear shakedown! *video included*


aguerra.1993
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Hi guys, I'd like a gear shakedown and suggestions on what else I may need or things I can replace. Thanks for any info!

Trip details:

I'll be hiking three seperate trips, one is in Los Nevados National Park, ranging from about 5,000 ft above sea level to around 13,000. Temperatures probably around 25 at night at high altitude to 70 in the day at low elevation. Should be around 5 days. 

The next is a trip in Chicamocha Canyon with much lower altitude. Temperatures around 60 at night maybe to 100 in the day at the bottom of the canyon. Should be there around 4 or 5 days. 

Last one is El Cocuy National Park with altitudes from around 12,000 to 17,000 ft. (17 would be while summiting, not camping) and temperatures around 10 at night to around 35 in the day. Should be there around 10 days.

 

Edited by aguerra.1993
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Aaron Zagrodnick

Enjoyed checking out the video and thanks for taking the time - I'm not much of a pack shake-downer (if it works for you it works) but I'd agree with your thoughts on the pad - RidgeRest SOLite right? I know with my Exped at around a 3.3 (compared to the SOL's 2.8) r-value I'm usually getting chilly around the mid-20's or so, so at 10 degrees something warmer (and maybe more comfortable - preference) would be nice. The MLD Rain Mitts do work well - our review, although in the winter I do like more of a dedicated system.

Was this literally everything you plan to have in your pack or most of the highlights? (example sunglasses, map, water storage, etc...) How many miles do you plan to be hiking with the full pack? Have you weighed it all? Either way I'm sure it will all get dialed in and should be a trip to remember!

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Everything except a few items like my 40 oz Klean Lantern, sunglasses, lighter, and the maps that I'll get when I am there. Thanks for your input. What system do you use for your gloves? I'm very interested in that and yeah, I decided I'd buy a really warm pad as I'll need it eventually regardless of this trip. Some with an R rating of over 4. I was looking at the Xtherm but it's so expensive. Miles won't be too much but it will be very steep. The first trip will be around 55 miles, the second around 40, and the third around 60. Including side hikes. 

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Let me preface by saying I have never been to the areas you are going and I am slightly unsure as to whether your goal is to get better performance, reduce weight, or both. So take what I say with a grain of salt. I will address a few things I know a little about/have input on and leave everything else up to others. 

The camera gear: I myself love photography and used to do quite a bit of it, unfortunately my DSLR rarely made it on my backpacking trips and I have since substituted for a GoPro. When I did take the DSLR I used a Gorillapod tripod that was lightweight and versatile (although not a full height tripod). Check out this forum (https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/27644/) for a lot of info on lightweight tripods. 

Pack: The Deuter is pretty versatile pack, but is heavy. You could most definitely save considerable weight here by going to something lighter, but you run the risk of loosing valuable support (especially if you are carrying camera gear/other heavy stuff). Most of the lightweight packs have little padding in the suspension and little to no back structure in the frame. Some alternative options to semi-light packs that still have support would be the Osprey Atmos 65 AG (3 lbs 6 oz) the Osprey Exos 58 (2 lbs 10 oz) just to name a few that are typically available widely. I personally usually carry a Gregory Contour 60 (4 lbs) because of its packing capabilities and its comfort. The biggest thing is fit (torso size) and comfort (personal preference). I can't stress those 2 enough. 

Pad: The SOlite as a standalone is not most comfortable (especially if you are a side sleeper) and not that warm. You can either keep this pad (or swap for the Zlite Sol, warmer/more compact) and pair it with a pad with a mid R value (between 3-4). This has a few advantages; allows you to have a cold weather system (both pads paired) and a warmer weather system (the other pad you buy) and an ultralight system (closed cell foam pad alone). If you go this route I would recommend the Therm-a-rest prolite (or prolite plus), the Nemo Tensor, or the Sea to Summit Ultralight. If you are looking for 1 pad for winter I would look toward the Xtherm (expensive), the REI Air Rail (slightly heavy but comfortable and affordable), the Therm-a-rest Trail lite pro (heavy and big, but man is it comfortable and warm) just to name a few to get you looking. Without a true sense of budget/exact sue, it is hard to nail down one. 

Filter: Good choice, I have this one as well as the Mini and they are my favorite filters. 3 tips: #1 - Trash the Sawyer bags and replace with a Platypus soft bottle/platy bottle (around $12). The threads are the same and the quality is much higher. I have broken several sawyer bags and never a platypus one. #2 - take a designated cup or the bottom of a cut water bottle to scoop water into your filter bags. Getting water into the bags is hard otherwise unless you have deep or fast flowing water. #3 - Remember this filter only filters bacteria, not viruses, so if you suspect those, take a UV light (steripen) or chemical treatment. 

Cookset: Your setup seems counterintuitive to me (but I could be missing the intention) because you have a really lightweight stove setup (but a little fussy and limited in use) and a heavy pot/cooking set. Normally I would suggest a lightweight canister stove, but you can't carry those on a plane and you can't get them outside of the US so that is out. You could go with a liquid fuel stove (MSR Whisperlite for example) which gives you much greater reliability and versatility but is heavy and $$. You could also look into some lightweight pots etc. I don't have an answer here and you may have the perfect setup, just my thoughts. 

Clothing: I can't comment on the gloves but I will give you a plus one for the Atom LT - such a great jacket (I'm currently wearing mine). It seems that I am always the "perfect" temperature in it. I will also give a plus one for the OR Foray - my go to jacket. I love the full zips (perfect for a pack and for humid weather). Otherwise you seem to have the clothing pretty nailed in (especially for the wide variety of temperature). 

Looks like it will be a good trip! Good luck and happy trails! 

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Thanks for your input! Hopefully in the near future I will be upgrading to a micro 4/3 camera so weight should be brought down at least 10 oz plug I'd have weather sealing on that new body. I'll sell my current tripod for something not so heavy duty too, as my tripods weight limit is 22 lbs, overkill for my camera but it's very sturdy and fairly compact. Photography is on par with my love for hiking, I'd never leave my camera behind. They go hand in hand for me, and I want to take nice shots to share with others. 

I decided to keep my pack for now, it's not uncomfortable so at least it'll distribute the weight nicely. 

And for the cookery, I like alcohol stoves. They are so light and fuel is easy to come by, even internationally if you know what it's called, which is why I opted for that instead of buying a whisperlite or something of that sort. I don't think I'll be doing much snow melting and this type of alcohol stove works with a wick so it'll be nice even in cold weather and at high altitude. I first saw it on Hiram Cook's channel on YouTube. I've lately been looking at titanium pots. I don't want to get aluminum because I'm worried about health hazards, and I read that titanium isn't good to cook in, not that I'm making complicated meals, usually just soup and stuff like that. That's also why I don't like plastic water bottles and I carry a S/S bottle. 

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Aaron Zagrodnick
20 hours ago, aguerra.1993 said:

What system do you use for your gloves?

For 3-season use I go with the MLD Rain Mitts, (they stay packed most of the time) combined with some lightweight fabric gloves from DeFeet. If it's a winter trip and won't get above freezing I've been using the same gloves as liners with a pair of REI Deep Cold Mittens this season which have worked out pretty well. In any event I find mittens to work much better where you're really concerned about keeping your hands warm and I seem to either want max warmth or a lot of dexterity so this system works for me - with the caveat that I'm hiking and backpacking and not climbing.

I think titanium could work for you in the cookware department, from unfortunate experience it's not a good choice for huevos rancheros, but for boiling water and something simple like soup I'd personally stick with my existing (titanium) cookware, although it sounds like what you have now is working for you. Also don't forget / consider / not sure if it just wasn't shown a few standards like a hat (sun), small swiss army knife or similar, toothbrush, etc...In regards to light tripods for lightweight cameras - check out @tmountainnut's take on Tripods and Trekking in Issue 9 for some good ideas. I use a Gitzo that's pretty light, and really stable but with a light camera the ZipShot Mini mentioned in the article is great. Again I'd grab a warmer pad / setup a warmer system if it will be that cold, I do find the ZLite SOL more comfortable than the SoLite, although it's spec'd about the same in the warmth department / a little less and I actually find neither all that comfortable for what it's worth :D. Combining foam and inflatable pads is a great idea and is what I personally do when it will be colder than my Exped inflatable can handle alone and the redundancy is nice - I have a selection of thin foam pads all the way to the SoLite that I work in depending on anticipated temps.

155 miles is quite a bit of hiking, have you tested everything out? If not, even just a quick overnight or better yet a weekend trip would be a good idea and will go a long way towards getting it all ironed out, and much better to figure things out close to home than in Colombia I'd imagine! :)

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Most of the gear is tested. I have a few new things like the headlamp and other small stuff but the rest is used and works for me. Do you use shell mitts in the winter as well? I am currently looking into glove systems and it's an entire world of information, haha. I know I will be out in some cold rain at least a few times in El Cocuy according to trip reports. I'm looking at getting some type of liner, then maybe a thicker fleece glove like an OR PL400 for if it's really cold while moving, then a mitt for extreme cold or staying still (although this would probably be overkill for where I am going), and lastly a waterproof over-mitt. Or I could opt for a system like yours where it'd be a liner, insulating mitt, and then lastly a waterproof mitt.

Oh and yeah I forgot to mention the hat, sunglasses, and other small stuff like that plus my personal hygiene stuff like a toothbrush/tooth powder, etc.

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The gloves in the video are perfect for cold days on a mountain handling a rope. Mittens are only necessary when things turn epic. I've always carried warm mittens on snowy climbs but never used them. Most often I've used uninsulated leather work gloves or softshell gloves with leather palms & fingers. I'd carry light fleece glove for normal use, uninsulated leather for mountain climbing in warm weather, the gloves in the video for mountain climbing in cold weather, and rent warm mittens for epic conditions on the big climbs.

You have one jacket too many. Don't know why you think you need the down jacket when you have the nice insulated hoody. You need to rent a heavy down parka for 17,000', so I'd leave the other down jacket home.

I'm a cheapskate, but I have a NeoAir XTherm. Don't know of anything else that compares well. I camped on the summit of Mt. Rainier with it.

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Why would you recommend I rent a heavy down parka? Sorry, I am new to mountaineering and I don't want that to sound like a dumb question. The guide that I have for this mountain posts pictures on facebook of people reaching the summit and everyone is usually wearing lighter layers and a shell. Btw, the summit I will be attempting is called Ritacuba Blanco.

Edit- For glove systems on gloves I'm looking at:

Liner: Defeet Duraglove

Insulation: Fox River Extra Heavy Wool Mittens

Shell: Outdoor Research Revel or Mt. Baker (also saw the Mountain Hardwear Plasmic Outdry Mitt but they aren't gauntlet style, they look nice though)

Do you think that would work for mountaineering? I am just beginning to get into it, but I backpack much more frequently than I will be climbing.

Edited by aguerra.1993
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Down on a climb is to keep you warm when you aren't moving - you pull it out of the pack on breaks or if you have to hunker down. On Mt. Rainier the guides require you to have a hooded down parka, which I rent because I have no other use for it (I'm also a backpacker who climbs a little). If your guide doesn't require it, never mind.

Your glove system is missing something with a durable surface for handling rope. The liners may be o.k. if it's really warm, but I can't imagine trying to handle a rope & carabiners in mittens. I liked the gloves in your video, with the liners for warm weather, and mittens if things turn nasty. Talk to your guide about this as well. 

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