Sunday, December 01, 2013

Gear Time - What's on Your List?

Each year I put up a sample listing of gear you might consider either shopping for or putting on your gift list for that hike coming up in the spring / summer. 
This is last year's gear list for a sample spring long distance hike. 

Here are some top out-of-the-way interesting items for a gear list this year that I either tried or saw.

On my seat cushion on the hard rock of Tinker Cliff

Thermarest seat cushion - I use it EVERY year on EVERY hike.  OK it's a luxury item sure, but it sure feels better than sitting on rocks, the hard ground or a shelter floor. It also doubles as a way to kneel while putting gear in your tent or under your sleeping pad to raise either your head or feet.

The new thru hiker fad this year - the Sawyer Squeeze Filter. Working as a ridgerunner, I saw a gazillion of hikers using them to filter their water. There are drawbacks to the system, however. It requires you to squeeze on bottle, and many told me the bottles that come with the squeeze do not hold up. Hikers did use the Playtpus bottles, but after a time. even these showed signs of wear and tear. And the squeeze filter does not take out viruses.

The rain skirt or rain wrap. New for me this year was a rain skirt for summer hiking. I found it worked well keeping water out of my hiking shorts etc, so my backside did not get wet. Mine came for Lightheart Gear and while not cheap, kept me dry through a very wet summer in Shenandoah National Park.  

Solong tent with awning.

A new tenting option for me this year was the Lightheart Gear Solong. Perfect for those who want the luxury of space as well as an awning, this tent performed well in rain and condensation was at a minimal, esp. when the awning is set up. I even had it in some stiff wind and it did not collapse. However this is NOT a freestanding tent, meaning you must stake it out first and then set it up. I bought the tent poles for it (though it can be set up with hiking poles - I just didn't want my dirty, poison ivy infested poles inside my tent) and the awning pole must be bought separately (kind of a bummer). Also, I strongly encourage you to have Judy seam seal it. I gave it my best and failed at it. So have it professionally done.  

So these are some new gear tries for the season. If you have any other gear you have found useful, let me know in the comments.   

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