Thursday, December 20, 2012

Testing New Gear...

  So for awhile I was on a kick to get rid of some old gear. I'll admit to suffering from G.A.S. in the best of ways. I sold tents, sleeping bags, stoves, knick knacks and whatnots. A lot of the gear was replaced and no longer used, other gear was in need of an upgrade. So I plan on reviewing a few of my upgrades, new purchases and maybe an old favorite or two.

Knives. Most people feel the need to walk into the woods with a blade capable of stabbing through the skin of a rhinoceros. In my experience on the trail, a knife is more like a safety blanket. You probably won't defend yourself from hostile animals with it, or have to build a shelter out of sticks. So what good does a knife do you? It opens packages of food and slices cheese. Don't be nasty and scoop peanut butter with it. That's why we invented sporks.
So being a knife geek myself, I was eyeing the Baladeo G-Series knives for awhile. When Pack & Paddle ran a christmas special for 25% off, it was a no brainer. Baladeo offers 15/22/34 gram versions for all the weight weenies of the world. The 22 gram version fits just right. It's thin, got a good blade, light, and feels solid enough in the hand for what i'll be using it for. This blade has found a new home in my pack. Pick one up for minor damage to your base weight and pocketbook.

Major Upgrades:

Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15* ---> Big Agnes Mystic SL 15* - Purely for weight savings. The Pertex material used for the bag is super soft and really comfortable. Not to mention the zipper on my new bag is on the side I prefer.
Etowah 10'x10' sil tarp ---> Bearpaw Wilderness Designs 10'x10' sil tarp - A buddy of mine needed a tarp and I was able to upgrade in quality and downsize weight and pack size. American made!
Camelbak MULE ---> Gossamer Gear Kumo - More than anything a luxury purchase. I couldn't resist. The new Gossamer Gear packs look too good. I plan on carrying this for dayhikes, traveling and any time the weather is warm. Those boys in Austin are putting out some solid stuff.

Canon Rebel XT ---> Nikon J1 - My big fuss with a large camera was that it was TOO big. I found myself not bringing it on trips with me because of its bulk. After selling the old camera and doing a lot of looking around, I settled on the J1. Small enough, good quality photos and shoots full 1080p HD video. We'll see how it works out. The "pancake" 10mm lens is on my wish list as well.

Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC --> Inov-8 Roclite 295 - So the Pearl shoes had about 600 miles on them form Hanover, NH all the way through Mt. Katahdin in Maine plus more miles after the trail. The tread was never very aggressive to begin with and they have served me well. When I stopped into Geaux Run while out for a jog I saw these bad boys 1/2 off! Banjo hiked the whole trail with them and the treads are like soccer cleats. These will be on my feet for awhile.
Native Ultimate 14.5 Cooler ---> AO 24 Pack Cooler - Sadly as cool as it is to have a custom fit cooler for the back hatch of my boat, it leaked. it was treated well but just didn't hold up. The fine folks at Pack & Paddle took it back and I swapped it out for a larger volume AO. The material on the inside is really tough so the fins dont poke through the cooler. The inside also pulls out so it makes cleaning the blood and slime out of it very easy. It's cheaper, fits perfect in the boat, and has plenty of space for the catch. MADE IN THE USA!

Now with all of this swapping, there is always room for a new piece of gear or two. Here's a look at my personal christmas list.

Black Rock Hat - No need for this unless i'm going somewhere cold. Which i'm probably not. But I like the idea of a sleeping bag for my head.

Patagonia Tropic Comfort Sun Hoody - Patagonia gets it right. This piece may be going with me to Nicaragua in the spring.
Klymit Airbeam Pack Frame - This would replace the Sitlight pad as a frame in the Kumo. Kind of a novel idea, just not sure it's necessary. I'd have to do some testing to see if it would make a difference. I know it would fill out the pack on day hikes when the inside isn't full and keep it from feeling sloppy on the back.
Wading Boots - Still not sure what kind of boot to go with. I'd like to buy a pair with sticky bottoms which would be good for everywhere. Even wearing them in my kayak in the winter for fishing.

And much more fly tying material. It's like crack. Poppers, hoppers, buggers, clousers, merkins, streamers, nymphs, etc. Reckon my G.A.S. isn't quite cured yet. Oh well.

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