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Posted: 6/5/2016 2:43:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2016 2:49:43 PM EDT by ROCK6]
150 mile 80-mile Section Hike AAR

Trip shortened about 75 miles; we just did short of 80 miles deciding to cut it short so we didn’t get drenched. I really don’t think the weather would have been that bad, but they forecasted 90% thunder showers and my wife has a lightening phobia. We have a good start point for the next go-round, so our section will continue for the next trip. We went from the I40 Crossing to I25 (Sam’s Gap). We pushed ourselves on a couple days to 17 miles…admittedly, that is beyond my sustainable maximum with a full pack





















We kicked off the trip Friday morning, 27 May hitting the tail later than I wanted because of the shuttle distance. We were sucking a little after sitting for over almost two hours along with temps and humidity rising. Still, we made good time and only did about 8 miles the first day; however we did get rained on pretty good. Second day, 28 May we hiked over Max Patch, which was really a site worth seeing and ended up pushing beyond our planned shelter and staying just shy of the Bluff Mountain peak. That was a long 17 mile day. That put us in a good position to make it into Hot Springs in the early afternoon (just over 10.5 miles) to pick up our resupply, grab a burger and a beer(s) and enjoy the town a little (this is a vacation after all!).

On Memorial Day, 30 May, we headed out of Hot Springs early and climbed out the steep Lover’s Leap Rock and ridge. I really wasn’t too bad, but it also meant we were carrying our heaviest load. Food weight for five days came in at just about 8 pounds, but we were burning through calories, so my wife thought we should pick up a Snickers bar for each day; I would guess that added over another half-pound. This was another long day and one we should have kept to schedule and not try to push too far. It was a couple miles after Allen Gap, making another 17 mile day. We were beat and expected rain (which didn’t happen), so we just found a spot along the trail with enough room for the hammocks and a place to squat and cook up dinner. Biggest issue was barely having enough water…more on that later.

Tuesday, 31 May, we made it to Flint Mountain Shelter, 16 miles. We were pushing a little too hard, but this was a great site and good place to relax. The spring was one of the better ones and a good place to soak the feet! No blisters, but I did get some torn off skin from rubbing when wet. One thing I should have done is change my socks on the longer hiking days. The Merino wool and bamboo socks did pretty good, but still retained enough moisture to soften up the tops of my feet a little too much.

We had been following the forecast and saw that the area was going to get 80-90% thundershowers starting Wednesday night and through Sunday. My wife doesn’t care for lightening, so we made the tactical decision to get off at Sam’s Gap after the 11.2 mile trek from Flint Mountain. To be honest, the weather is an anomaly up there as we saw thundershowers around us but almost kept blue skies overhead the whole trip. I really think we could have made it into Erwin as scheduled, but the wife didn’t want to risk it on top of Bald Mountain, just before making the descent into Erwin.

We got back to the truck and made it into Ashville to get a hotel, get cleaned up and believe it or not, it was “BEER WEEK” in Ashville. I love micro-brews and this is something I want to come back for next year…unbelievable. After 80 miles, you deserve a few quality micro brews and the Wicked Weed Brewery/Restaurant didn’t disappoint.

We just made it home and cleaning gear out. Here’s a layout of my basic load. We didn’t use the food packaged for our last 75 miles from Erwin, so you can at least see how we had it packaged.

So, a few lessons learned.

1. I love bare-foot footwear. Hell, I wear the Belleville’s Mini-Mil boots for work and have for the past few years. I work out and run in barefoot style shoes and I wear minimalist footwear whenever I can to include sandals. My footwear selection was VivoBarefoot’s Hiker, barefoot style hiking boots. These really have no arch support and no form of shank. They are great for getting a really good feel of the ground and grip well on rocks; very comfortable…horrible choice! My feet were really getting fatigued after about 12 miles…just sore as hell and if I didn’t pay attention, every sharp rock or root would remind me why walking around barefoot would be pretty stupid over long distances! Seriously, I love barefoot footwear, but for longer hikes, I’m going to have to switch to something with a little more support and cushion. My wife love’s Salomon shoes, so I may try a pair of them. Just something to consider…it’s hard to replicate hiking up and down with a 25+pound pack for 10+miles for consecutive days without doing it and seeing how your footwear does.

2. WATER! Yes, we planned to carry about 2-3 liters of water and refill as we went. This worked for the most part and filtering was pretty easy even with some very small springs that you had to scoop up water with. I was going through about a liter every hour (about two miles). I typically just relied on my Osprey 2.5 liter hydration pouch and a 1 liter Smart Water bottle. I did pack both a 1 and 2 liter Sawyer “squeeze pouches” and an Evernew 2 liter collapsible water canteen. I chose the Evernew over the Platypus because the cap threads are compatible with the Sawyer water filter. I never even used the Evernew, but had it just in case. If I needed to pack extra water, I would just fill up my hydration bladder, water bottle and the 1 or 2 liter Sawyer water pouch. That was more than enough water to clean up, make dinner, hydrated, brush teeth and still have a couple liters to hit the trail with.

The biggest challenge was when we adjusted our plan and hiked beyond the planned shelter. Twice we ended up with barely enough water for dinner. My wife knew that ticked me off. I don’t mind hauling extra water, but we bypassed some small springs we could have tanked up and didn’t. That was my mistake and one to consider. It’s always a balance fighting pack weight with enough water to get to the next water source. We were okay, but the implications really make you think about it. As I said before, I like to maintain two to three liters at all times with the ability to carry an additional 2-4 liters if needed or when I know we might not have a water source nearby when we set up camp.

One nice piece of kit we both carried, but my wife used almost exclusively is Sea-to-Summit’s 10 liter Sil-nylon folding bucket. It only weighs one ounce and although it will hold 10 liters, you can only carry about 5-6 liters when hiking up from a spring. She used it exclusively to get water from springs we had to hike down to and then she would filter back up on the trail by the packs.

A simple hydration tube modification for use with the Sawyer mini filters is to splice in a shutoff valve connector and add a mating tube section and connector to the filter. This simple addition allows you to “squeeze” and filter water directly into the hydration bladder via the tube while it’s in your pack. This really speeds up the process and only takes about two to three minutes with a water source that allows you to quickly fill your squeeze pouch.

Filtering:





Tanking up:



Typical water source:



3. ULA Circuit. I’ve been using the ULA Circuit pack for the past couple years and love it. Yes, you can order it in black and multicam; my preference. It’s a great pack, but the maximum load weight is about 35 pounds, beyond that it loses its comfort. This really forces you to pack smartly, but when done right, I can literally carry 30 pounds in this pack all day and not even take it off. Even when we did a couple of 17-mile days, I only took the pack off for lunch and to fill up for water, which was about three or four times during that day’s hike. It really sticks to your back well and we did some serious rock scrambling over the Blackstaff Cliffs…a long (almost mile long) section of ridge with just large rocks to scramble over. Also the hip belt pockets are cavernous, allowing me to carry almost the entire day’s-worth of trail chow.

4. HPG Kit Bags rock. I’ve been using the “original” Snubby, which is just a down-sized version of the full-size Kit Bag. It will only hold compact pistols which works well for backpacking. Yes, it makes you sweat a little, but it integrates perfectly with my pack, keeping my pistol easily accessible but more importantly your map, compass, headlamp, phone, snacks (if you want to carry some there), small tube of bug dope and even a small blade (or multitool or both!). This is my comfort item and it works well for me. My wife thinks I’m stupid carrying it, but likes that I have my pistol so quickly accessible along with my maps. I had topo sections of the trail along with the typical AT map that shows distances between shelters, gaps and water sources. I’m pretty anal about pin-pointing my location to judge time-distances and the kit bag kept those resources close at hand.

5. Cuben Fiber Tarp. So, I upgrade this past spring to Hammock-Gear’s cuben-fiber rain fly (yes, mine is in camo!). For weight and performance, I think it’s worth it to the serious backpacker; however, I do have some thoughts on applicability. I won’t be getting rid of my Sil-Nylon rain flies; I have a similar sized canary-cut fly and another with “doors” for really sealing up your hammock in cold/windy weather that I use for winter hammock camping. I still think Sil-Nylon tarps are a better value for those that may go a little “off trail”. They are heavier than cuben-fiber, but I think they provide more value and robustness for the price. I will continue using my cuben-fiber rain fly…it works quite well. The downside compared to Sil-Nylon (besides the price) is that it is loud as hell in heavy rain…it literally sounds like a a bare tin roof! The beauty of cuben-fiber is that it doesn’t retain any moisture at all. A few hard taps and it’s dry…if it’s still raining when you take it down, it only needs a couple minutes in sun and wind to completely dry off. It also doesn’t stretch, so when you get it “battened down”, it’s solid protection from wind and side-blown rain. After several trips, it’s held up fine…I do take a little extra care when setting up and taking down, but it’s been money well spent.

6. Hammocks rock in warm weather. I won’t sleep in a tent again unless temperatures are consistently below freezing. Still, you need a little insulation even if temps are in the 50’s. I did bring my Jacks-Are-Better under-quilt (only weighed 15 ounces) and I had my six-section Z-rest CCF pad. I did use the pad except to stand on when getting out the hammock, but it was my back up if I needed more insulation (I didn’t). I was using Dutchgear’s Half-Wit hammock; with tree straps and whoopee sling, it was only 16 ounces. This is a single layer hammock which is why I brought the underquilt. The value of the hammock is that you can set it up even on uneven terrain…of course we had plenty of trees for this trip. Also, it was much more comfortable to “lounge”. Temperatures dropped into the upper 50’s on two nights, but I was actually “clammy” with my lower rated sleeping bag (Dri-down, 28 degree) and the underquilt. I could shave a half pound with a lighter bag, but this one zips open to a “quilt” or blanket to allow a lot of breathability. The best value of the hammock set up with a separate rain fly is the ability to set up and take down camp while remaining dry to include the ability to cook, change clothes, do your personal hygiene, etc. The fly is always the first item that goes up and the last item to get packed, so it’s perfect when conditions are unpredictable. The only downside to a hammock….

7. Hammock suspension matters. I was using a whoopee sling which is light and has worked perfectly. My biggest mistake was using a new set of tree straps. I tried the lightweight “Kevlar” straps; almost half the weight of regular webbing and very compact…big mistake. Somehow one of the Kevlar straps got a tear (I think from the Dutchware’s Dutch Clip) and I ended up on the ground. Fortunately I was hanging low and the only thing injured was my ego. The good news is that I brought a spare, regular webbing, strap as a backup…that was a good move and I was able to continue hanging. This sucks and I will go back to the regular webbing straps for mental comfort. This is a case where going to light requires more care (which I evidently didn’t do) and attention. I’m not sold on Kevlar straps and will carry a few grams more with straps that have proven more than robust to keep me off the ground.

8. Plan your meals. We did a pretty good job…mostly from experience. We just planned one cooked meal a day. We did simple stuff for breakfast, trail snacks and a cold lunch. The only issue was we found we needed more calories on the trail…hence the Snickers bars we picked up in Hot Springs. This worked pretty well, but my wife ate an entire 2-person Freeze dried dinner after one of our 17-mile days…she sucked that thing down along with a pouch of pudding for desert! Tortillas simply rock and are a staple. Yes, a little heavier, but we ate a tortilla with peanut butter (well, I prefer the chocolate hazelnut butter) for lunch and most of our dinners could be eaten with tortillas…in fact, the tortillas served as a plate until enough was eaten so you could roll the rest up into a burrito. I know many backpackers who don’t even like to do any cooking when on the trail. We found a happy medium as a hot meal at the end of a long day is a nice think before crashing for the night. On the flip side, we both like to get up pretty early and just hit the trail, eating a snack or two for breakfast. What you eat depends a lot on your preferences, but it’s a balance between calories, food weight and nutrition. Not that I would advocate alcohol for fuel, but that 17 miles out of Hot Springs felt pretty good after a great bacon burger, a couple of Catawba White Zombie IPAs and an excellent dark beer who’s name I can’t recall! On a serious note, we planned well and consumed every day’s worth of food.

9. Knife or no knife? I’m a knife guy, I’ll admit that up front. I carried four separate knife/tools. A Mora 510 (actually a 511 model with a cut-off finger guard), a Spyderco Paramilitary, a SOSAK “Bushcraft SAK folder and a small Leatherman PS multitool (plies and scissors, no blade). I only used the Spyderco and Leatherman, both for must minor needs. We didn’t make any fires, but my wife uses her Benchmade Mini-Grip with her firesteel to ignite her alcohol stove (it looks really badass). Again, I could cut a half-pound trimming down to just one or two, but the group I have carries well and is part of a system that gives me a little redundancy but maximum capability for the weight. Along with my Kahr, I would recommend wiping everything down with Marine-Tuf Cloth to keep it protected from getting any surface rust (unless you use it). I could have gotten by with no knife, but I’ll continue to carry my tools for my own mental comfort…

10. Clothing: Merino wool rocks. Quick drying was a must. You can see my clothing selections for this trip. We did wash clothes in Hot Springs, but despite my own lovely body odor, my Merino wool shirt never smelled funky. I used Merino wool socks (ultra-lightweight socks) and a pair of Prosok bamboo socks. I really like the comfort of bamboo and they do quite well with moisture control as well. They didn’t dry out overnight as lightweight Merino wool socks though.

I only carried one extra change of undershorts and a pair of underwear tights in case we got a cold spell overnight; I didn’t use either one. I just wore the same set of underwear, washing once on the trail and once in Hot Springs. The Ex Officio Give-and-Go briefs dried quickly overnight. I did pack my Craghoppers long-sleeve button up shirt. This was only worn at night and in the morning and I probably could have excluded my lightweight silk sleeping shirt. Shorts were some cheap nylon fishing shorts; they dried quickly and worked well. I also packed some dri-fit running shorts to sleep in. Of course my rain jacket rounded out my clothing kit.

My FAK was pretty general and I just replace stuff as it gets used. A few band aids, ointment packets, plenty of Motrin, some Benadryl, anti-diarrhea and some antacids. Moleskin, tape and a few packets of gauze will handle just about any trail booboo.

I used an EasyAcc 6000 mAh external battery charger. This worked excellently and for the amount of use with my phone would last me a good 5-6 days’ worth of recharging. I mostly kept my phone in plane-mode and used it down to about 65-75% every day (using a newer Samsung Galaxy S7). The charger would quickly charge to 100% with less than a fifth of the battery pack’s power (it has five lights to give you an estimate of remaining charging power). This is well worth the weight for backpacking and can give you an emergency charge if managed properly.

Dirty-Girl gaiters. Okay, look them up for your initial laugh. My wife’s been using them a long time. These are simple nylon gaiters only meant to keep twigs and rocks out of your shoes. Despite all the funky, psychedelic colors and patterns they work as advertised. I didn’t wear them the first couple days, but after a couple stops to remove my shoes because of a twig or rock that made it inside, I put them on and never had another issue. These are snow or bushwhacking gaiters; they’re simple trail gaiters (especially for the tennis-shoe style hikers), but they work quite well for their purpose.

We didn’t see any bears and no venomous snakes…other than the natural scenery, it was just a lot of trail time. I thought I was in pretty good shape, but age is limiting me to about 12-15 miles a day for consecutive days. I hate finishing 12 miles, sitting in my hammock thinking about wasting daylight and knocking out another 4-6 miles, but my body really starts hurting after 15 miles. I was in the hammock and asleep about 2100 every night and up every morning at 0500; that’s a lot of sleep for me and I was refreshed and ready to go…still, my limit (my wife’s as well) is going to stay between 12-15 miles a day. That’s good planning for future hikes and bugging out. We could do more, but the body doesn’t like it and I lose all enjoyment.

A little long winded, my apologies. If you have any specific questions fire away. Most here already spend plenty of time in the outdoors and some are much more experienced backpackers. We try and do a trip or two like this every year…stretch our limits and plan the logistics. Besides, these are the kinds of vacations where you can pretty much eat as much of anything you want!

We have about 75 miles left and the logistics will be much simpler...hoping to finish it this summer or fall.



ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 2:48:21 PM EDT
So, I just finished up cleaning up all my gear, so I figured I would lay it out before packing it back up. I don’t have my sleeping bag or under quilt shown as they’re cleaned and already put up in a dry bag for storage. I also left out my alcohol for some reason…it just consist of a Vargo 8+ounce graduated bottle and a separate 1oz bottle for easier measuring into the stove.

Reminder on using my Kit Bag and its contents. The HPG Kit Bag is the “original” Snubby version, basically a smaller size of the Original:







ULA Circuit Pack
Trash-compactor bag for water proof liner
Cuben-fiber pack cover

Cook Kit: TOAKS 550ml pot, lid, nesting bowl, windscreen, alcohol stove, collapsible cup and bandana

Osprey 2.5 liter hydration bladder
Evernew 2-liter water bag
Sawyer 2-liter squeeze pouch
Sawyer 1-liter squeeze pouch
Sawyer Mini filter with direct-connect attachment
Snow Peak 300ml cup
Aqua Mira water purification mix
SmartWater bottle, 1-liter
Sea-to-Summit 10-liter Sil-Nylon folding bucket

Clothing:
Nylon fishing shorts – light nylon webbing belt
Ex Officio underwear
IceBreaker Merino wool shirt
Hat
Smartwool socks

Long sleeve Craghopper synthetic shirt
Long sleeve silk sleeping shirt
Ex Officio Underwear
Pair of Prosok bamboo socks
Pair of Merino wool socks (actually two extra pair)
Long undershorts (the camo ones; never used)

Vivobarefoot Hikers
Zero Shoe sandals
Dirty Girl gaiters
Outdoor Research rain jacket

Hammockgear Cuben-Fiber rain fly, camo (canary cut)
Dutchware Halfwit hammock with tree straps and whoopee slings

Trail FAK
Small repair kit
Hygiene kit
Toilet kit (dry bag, TP and titanium trowel)
Pack towel/wash cloth
Mosquito head net
Small bag with chapstick, mosquito repellant, and sanitizer and extra lighter
6000mAh battery charger
Sunwayman VR11 single CR123 flashlight
Miscellaneous bag: clothes line, extra guy-line, small Sawyer bag, and that extra pair of socks)
Extra maps…I had topo maps of trail sections; active one in my Kit Bag the rest in the pack

Food bag (Sea to Summit dry bag, I think an 8 liter bag)
Bear line and mini carabiner
Food packed for the last 3.5 days of the planned trip that we didn’t complete.

Thermarest Z-rest; cut to just six-sections and a folding seat pad.

Crap, let out a couple more items:
Fenix HL50 (single CR123 or AA) headlamp
AC/USB charger with two small USB cords

Picture of repair and hygiene kits:



Cutlery. This is actually pretty heavy. I only used my Mora once. Never used my Leatherman or custom SAK. If I could get a pocket clip on the SAK, I would probably just go with that and the Leatherman for maximum utility. Still, I’m good with this as is and these have been pretty much my trail-staples for backpacking. The Mora comes in handy if we actually spent the time to make a fire. The Mora is attached to my ULA’s waist belt and rides just under the hip pocket along with a firesteel. Interestingly enough the carbon steel of the Mora never even showed a hint of rust and I was soaked pretty much every day.



So, a few items I’m considering on dropping:





I will probably continue to pack the L/S shirt. Even though didn’t wear it except for one morning and evenings just to let my merino shirt dry, it’s good insulation if needed. I don’t need the small Sawyer pouch…it was originally used with the SmartWater bottle top to help backflush. I found I could just hook up the filter to the Osprey Hydration bladder to backflush…worked like a charm. I also found and extra set of tweezers and SAK Classic that weren’t needed. Even though I never used the Evernew 2-liter water bag, I could do without it but will probably just keep it for extra insurance. Same with the purification solution system. My wife and I both carried our own Sawyer Mini filter, so we already had backup, but if going solo, I like the idea of the purification backup system.

I really didn’t use the TOAKS nesting pot, but I did use the Sea to Summit collapsible cup (I just love that thing). If I really want to shave some ounces, I could just use my Snow Peak 300ml cup after washing it out…it would be a more functional dual-purpose item.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 3:11:03 PM EDT
Well written and helpful , enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 3:47:37 PM EDT
Great write up and photos. Thanks for posting.
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 5:43:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2016 5:43:28 PM EDT by Warlord_Doc]
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Originally Posted By two4spooky:
Well written and helpful , enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing.
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Once again ROCK6 delivers.
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 5:51:38 PM EDT
Here were the last few items I left out. My Sea-to-Summit MC Micro III dri-down bag along with a Jacks-R-Better under quilt. I don't pack them like this, but you can see how well both compress when I put them in the one compression bag:





My AC/USB adapter kit for when we found got into Hot Springs and Erwin; interestingly enough, my wife only brought her cigarette-adapter for the car which came in handy on our initial shuttle to stay topped off.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 6:20:49 PM EDT
Excellent write up. Thanks.

Any regrets on the Jacks-r-better U-quilt? It's one of the quilts I'm considering for my next purchase....

You have a pretty wife.
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 6:22:06 PM EDT
Awesome report!

I found it very hard to leave Hot Springs. The Smoky Mountain Diner and beer across from the outfitter were like a siren call.
Link Posted: 6/5/2016 7:20:02 PM EDT
There has been a lot of thru-hike threads recently.

It's making me want to do it. Current work schedule allows.

How easy was it to follow the trail, on your section? How many hikers did you encounter?

I would like to know more about your food menu.....

Great post!

Link Posted: 6/5/2016 9:26:52 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/5/2016 9:31:03 PM EDT by ROCK6]
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Originally Posted By Lungbuster:
Excellent write up. Thanks.

Any regrets on the Jacks-r-better U-quilt? It's one of the quilts I'm considering for my next purchase....

You have a pretty wife.
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Originally Posted By Lungbuster:
Excellent write up. Thanks.

Any regrets on the Jacks-r-better U-quilt? It's one of the quilts I'm considering for my next purchase....

You have a pretty wife.


Actually, I thought I might ditch the JRB quilt in Erwin (had we made it), but we had a couple of cold nights where it was more comfortable having the quilt under than the sleeping bag on top. I was going to try the Z-Rest CCF section instead of the UQ, but never did. The Halfwit hammock is really thin material so, the JRB really came in handy. If it would have been about 10 degrees warmer, I wouldn’t have used it. Our first night (after the rain storm) had to have dropped in the upper 40’s…cold enough to see my breath with the humidity.

Thanks on the wife; she’s a trooper and just loves backpacking…I couldn’t ask for a better partner.

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
Awesome report!

I found it very hard to leave Hot Springs. The Smoky Mountain Diner and beer across from the outfitter were like a siren call.


Hot Springs is a pretty cool town no doubt. We actually stayed in one of the rooms directly above the Spring Creek Tavern (right across from the Outfitters). Excellent venue and great beer!

Originally Posted By M41911:
How easy was it to follow the trail, on your section? How many hikers did you encounter?

I would like to know more about your food menu.....

Great post!



Pretty easy on following the trail…all the blazes are well marked. We ran into about a half-dozen thru-hikers. One older dude and most were younger college kids that just got out of school late and trying to rush through before the start of the fall semesters. We did a little leap frogging with them, but some were cranking out 20 mile-days.

I’ll crack open one of the last couple of meal packs we didn’t use. For the most part, we just went heavy on “snacks” with one dehydrated (homemade) or freeze dried dinner meal and some type of desert, usually pudding.

Off the top of my head for the day’s snacks:
Oat-type bar (Bobo's) or this really heavy Pemmican bar (Bear Valley) for breakfast
Clif Bar
Dehydrated tangerines
Fruit snacks (like Welches)
Granola type bar
Snickers (we added these after Hot Springs)
Squeeze pouch with Apple Sauce stuff (some fruity concoction)
Sports beans (excellent pick-me-up with caffine!)
Slab of jerky (mine were buffalo/cranberry)

Lunch was almost always a tortilla with a peanut butter spread…I was mostly using a chocolate hazelnut butter spread.

Most of our dinners involved something to eat with a tortilla and we actually just used the tortilla as a plate unit we’d eaten enough to roll it up like a burrito.

Some of my meal choices:
Dehydrated beans, onions and potato chunks
Dehydrated chili
MaryJanesFarm Curry in a Hurry
MaryJanesFarm Bare Burrito
AlpineAire Santa Fe Black Beans & Rice
AlpineAire Southwestern Style Masa with Beef
AlpineAire Black Bart Chili with Beef & Beans

Needless to say, I pretty much packed two tortillas a day.

ROCK6

Link Posted: 6/6/2016 10:39:31 AM EDT
Tag for at home.
Plus I can't see multicam on my phone :)
Jealous rock very jealous from what I saw so far.


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 10:46:57 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By protus:
Tag for at home.
Plus I can't see multicam on my phone :)
Jealous rock very jealous from what I saw so far.


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
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I used a multicam tarp as a back-drop just for you Protus

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 11:24:17 AM EDT
Me and my wife hiked the section from Cross Mountain to the Watauga Lake (Wilbur Dam). Water was a big issue last August, everything was dry.
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 11:59:08 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/6/2016 12:20:38 PM EDT by thederrick106]
Great write up! This is one of those posts that I will actually re-read again because I am such a gear head.

Is that belt a bison designs? I have used a regular old leather belt from tractor supply for years, and keep thinking about going back to a web style belt.

Well thought out, and meticulous gear arrangements like this can defiantly cross with other activities. I never did any write ups on afrcom but I head up to about 10k foot in the Rockies every year and base camp hunt about 4~7 miles off the beaten path (elk and mule deer.) While on a smaller scale its amazing to see how the specific gear selection crosses over even to hunting. This year we are bow hunting in September, so it will most likely be significantly warmer then when we usually go in October, though at 10k foot you have to be ready for any weather so my pack always ends up to heavy...

Your 100% right on about the cutlery thoughts, even when hunting, and aside from processing game I use a knife for little more then some food prep, and cutting a bit of cordage, all of which an SAK will do with flying colors. When you pack the proper gear for the task at hand the amount of improvising from surroundings goes down significantly. In the end though, I always bring more then I need, I have never been a one pocket knife kinda guy I guess.

ETA/ I would think write ups like this have to be invaluable to those looking to trek the AT... I don't get enough continuous time off at work, but maybe someday.
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 12:12:53 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By doublez72:
Me and my wife hiked the section from Cross Mountain to the Watauga Lake (Wilbur Dam). Water was a big issue last August, everything was dry.
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Yeah, that makes it really tricky; trying to balance enough water with minimizing water weight and then hiking to a spring on the map that ends up being dry. We had one section where we just didn't come across water for a while and we both ran out of water. I wasn't too concerned, but it really reminds you how important it is and it drove us beyond our planned stop point because we didn't have water for hydration or cooking. Also, so of the higher elevation springs may be dry forcing you to hike down a draw for a quarter-mile in thicker vegetation sucks just as bad

The AT is pretty easy to hike with minimal water, other places not so much and seasonal dry-spells can make anyplace a challenge. This is why I find it important enough to tank up on extra water if we anticipate no water, dry springs or just a lengthy hike between water sources.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 12:21:31 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Great write up! This is one of those posts that I will actually re-read again because I am such a gear head.

Is that belt a bison designs? I have used a regular old leather belt from tractor supply for years, and keep thinking about going back to a web style belt.
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Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Great write up! This is one of those posts that I will actually re-read again because I am such a gear head.

Is that belt a bison designs? I have used a regular old leather belt from tractor supply for years, and keep thinking about going back to a web style belt.


Yeah, I really wanted something simple and flat and wouldn't retain too much water (or at least dry out quickly). I was going to get a plain color, but this Bison's Design was on sale...I prefer camo and drab colors while my wife likes a little more "color"

Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Your 100% right on about the cutlery thoughts, even when hunting, and aside from processing game I use a knife for little more then some food prep, and cutting a bit of cordage, all of which an SAK will do with flying colors. When you pack the proper gear for the task at hand the about of improvising from surroundings goes down significantly. In the end though, I always bring more then I need, I have never been a one pocket knife kinda guy I guess.


This is an area I admittedly struggle; at least they are all quite lightweight As a side note, the Mora 511 (carbon steel) rides under my hip belt pocket (attached to my pack) with a firesteel. By 1000 every morning, I was already drenched in sweat. The hip belt insulated pretty good from my perspiration, but even with the two times we were rained on, that carbon steel blade didn't get a spot of tarnish or rust.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 12:57:43 PM EDT
Tag for later reading

I've never hiked the AT but look forward to it one day. I've been following a local guys trip that he posts on youtube. He works at a local place called "The Backpackers Shop" which is how I found his channel. Josh's AT channel
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 1:22:28 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By ROCK6:


Yeah, I really wanted something simple and flat and wouldn't retain too much water (or at least dry out quickly). I was going to get a plain color, but this Bison's Design was on sale...I prefer camo and drab colors while my wife likes a little more "color"

ROCK6
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Originally Posted By ROCK6:
Originally Posted By thederrick106:
Great write up! This is one of those posts that I will actually re-read again because I am such a gear head.

Is that belt a bison designs? I have used a regular old leather belt from tractor supply for years, and keep thinking about going back to a web style belt.


Yeah, I really wanted something simple and flat and wouldn't retain too much water (or at least dry out quickly). I was going to get a plain color, but this Bison's Design was on sale...I prefer camo and drab colors while my wife likes a little more "color"

ROCK6


Great post! I am going to watch this thread closely. The SO and I are looking at a thru hike of the PCT in about 2 years. Everything we are buying and doing is prep for that event.

I like the Bison Designs belt. I am actually looking for a very simple belt to wear for summer use and that would work well on the trails. Which model did you do with?

Thanks!
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 4:09:16 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/6/2016 4:11:14 PM EDT by ROCK6]
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Originally Posted By Smallbore_Freak:
Tag for later reading

I've never hiked the AT but look forward to it one day. I've been following a local guys trip that he posts on youtube. He works at a local place called "The Backpackers Shop" which is how I found his channel. Josh's AT channel
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Originally Posted By Smallbore_Freak:
Tag for later reading

I've never hiked the AT but look forward to it one day. I've been following a local guys trip that he posts on youtube. He works at a local place called "The Backpackers Shop" which is how I found his channel. Josh's AT channel


That's a good link and channel!

Originally Posted By billpete:

I like the Bison Designs belt. I am actually looking for a very simple belt to wear for summer use and that would work well on the trails. Which model did you do with?

Thanks!


Bison Desion T-Lock Belt

I didn't get it at REI, it was a local shop (Half Moon Outfitters...or something). It was almost half-off the price but I liked the buckle compared to the slider buckle.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 9:50:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/7/2016 10:41:21 PM EDT by Johnny_C]
Great write up.

I have a 2 night trip with my son's
troop in about 2 weeks. Of all my
time in the woods growing up and
up into my 20's, I never did any long
hikes. Now, at the ripe old age of
52 & way heavier than I need to be,
I'm trying to get set up for hiking/back
packing.

We did a one night back trip in
March & did better than I thought
with a 35 pound pack. Since it's
summer, I am shooting for 20
pounds or less, plus water.

I deeply appreciate the detail,
and I will read it again & take
notes.

Thanks so much for sharing.

John
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 10:38:30 PM EDT
Great write up, thanks for sharing. Wife and I are going to do a section in SWVA in August.

You're making me wish I had got the snubby kit bag. I wanted something that would hold a G20 if I went out west, but I only ever carry my P2000sk in it. Regardless, it's great for carrying everything I need throughout the day.

What was your campsite strategy? Did you hang near shelters or away from them?
Link Posted: 6/6/2016 10:58:49 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By SWODaddy:
Did you hang near shelters or away from them?
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Personally I hang near (but not too near) for the simple fact that they're typically near water sources.
Link Posted: 6/7/2016 7:16:39 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By SWODaddy:

What was your campsite strategy? Did you hang near shelters or away from them?

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Yeah, same as Jax. All the shelters were near water, so it made distance planning easier. Two nights we hiked beyond. One we tanked up before hitting the crest and had a great site. The second, we pushed too far, had just enough water for a meal with no water for another four miles and we just found an open spot along the trail. It was less about the shelters and more about the known water sources...but for the most part, the shelters are good markers to plan your distances with solid water sources.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/7/2016 8:11:47 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By ROCK6:


That's a good link and channel!



Bison Desion T-Lock Belt

I didn't get it at REI, it was a local shop (Half Moon Outfitters...or something). It was almost half-off the price but I liked the buckle compared to the slider buckle.

ROCK6
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Originally Posted By ROCK6:
Originally Posted By Smallbore_Freak:
Tag for later reading

I've never hiked the AT but look forward to it one day. I've been following a local guys trip that he posts on youtube. He works at a local place called "The Backpackers Shop" which is how I found his channel. Josh's AT channel


That's a good link and channel!

Originally Posted By billpete:

I like the Bison Designs belt. I am actually looking for a very simple belt to wear for summer use and that would work well on the trails. Which model did you do with?

Thanks!


Bison Desion T-Lock Belt

I didn't get it at REI, it was a local shop (Half Moon Outfitters...or something). It was almost half-off the price but I liked the buckle compared to the slider buckle.

ROCK6


Thanks!
Link Posted: 6/7/2016 10:17:18 PM EDT
Well done Rock6. I enjoyed your write-up. And a Seahawks hat too! You da man.
Link Posted: 6/8/2016 4:53:28 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/8/2016 5:04:17 AM EDT by ROCK6]
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Originally Posted By 03Springfield:
Well done Rock6. I enjoyed your write-up. And a Seahawks hat too! You da man.
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Hahaha! I've been on the bandwagon since '76 It's been great as a fan the past few years...

Back to backpacking, my wife is planning our future trip to hike the Wonderland Trail, around Mount Rainier. It's a 100 mile loop (makes logistics much easier), but she's never hiked that kind of terrain...

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/8/2016 6:09:02 AM EDT
Ahhh....come down this time next year to hike the FT ocala north section.... Youll love it trust me...

Yeah your knife heavy. But I feel you. I normally rock a Gerber 600 eod..and a SOG flash..
Used to carry a Mora. But..it's the small gadgets that add up..mirror..whistle ..chem lite..led chem lite ...g2...wrist compass...full size compass...zip lock full of area maps not just the trail maps..g17...1-2 reloads....head lamp..
If I paired back...I'd probably drop a whole pound lol .

I pack a long sleeve shirt for AM and PM use..fast drying natural gear shirt..shorts like yours cheap "trekking" shorts..socks are all similar..light weight merino wool.

Anal on water like you as well...and somehow...the same smart water bottle has found it's way into my kit as well..

I'm still experimenting on hammocks...but rock the ansteel whoopies and 1inch cargo strap..with small bieners marlin spiked to hold them. Sil tarp ...old trusty 10yrs old now and still going....my 1st real trip...at 3am..I found out that the but netting is strong enough to hold me and my gear...did my best not scream out "get him off me maverick " as I barrel rolled out of it lol .

On the gaiters I was thinking of prototyping some out of taslite ..multicam of course....exactly like the ones you used ..
Link Posted: 6/8/2016 7:48:59 AM EDT
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Originally Posted By protus:
Ahhh....come down this time next year to hike the FT ocala north section....Youll love it trust me...

Yeah your knife heavy. But I feel you. I normally rock a Gerber 600 eod..and a SOG flash..
Used to carry a Mora. But..it's the small gadgets that add up..mirror..whistle ..chem lite..led chem lite ...g2...wrist compass...full size compass...zip lock full of area maps not just the trail maps..g17...1-2 reloads....head lamp..
If I paired back...I'd probably drop a whole pound lol .

I pack a long sleeve shirt for AM and PM use..fast drying natural gear shirt..shorts like yours cheap "trekking" shorts..socks are all similar..light weight merino wool.

Anal on water like you as well...and somehow...the same smart water bottle has found it's way into my kit as well..

I'm still experimenting on hammocks...but rock the ansteel whoopies and 1inch cargo strap..with small bieners marlin spiked to hold them. Sil tarp ...old trusty 10yrs old now and still going....my 1st real trip...at 3am..I found out that the but netting is strong enough to hold me and my gear...did my best not scream out "get him off me maverick " as I barrel rolled out of it lol .

On the gaiters I was thinking of prototyping some out of taslite ..multicam of course....exactly like the ones you used ..
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Funny you mention the Florida Trail as my wife was talking about doing the Panhandle and Northern region sections. The longest section without resupply is the 83 miles in the Apalachicola National Forest which is very doable without having to overload with food. Weather is always the biggest challenge as it would really slow you down if you have to wade most of the trail for the day or completely bypass!

The small “gadgets” do add up. I’m trying to limit my HPG Kit Bag weight to allow me some variance when choosing those “gadgets”. Although it’s not added to my pack-weight…it’s still carried weight and every ounce does matter. I’m dedicating my Kahr CM9 with a spare mag as my backpacking tool of choice. I was pretty happy this last trip as I was sweating pretty well and it had moisture on it. I do recommend wiping down with a Tuff, silicone cloth at the beginning of the trip and if you can afford to after 50 or so miles (I had the cloth in my truck with our second resupply). Even still, in Hot Springs, I broke down the pistol and wiped it all down…no issues whatsoever, so I was pretty satisfied.

I need to send Dutch (Dutchware Gear) a note about my failed experience with the Kevlar tree straps. Maybe it’s just me, but having your hammock fail as you’re getting into it doesn’t inspire confidence for a good night’s sleep! If you get a snag or slight tear, I just think any amount causes a significant loss of integrity for Kevlar straps. They are extremely light; about half the weight and thickness of standard nylon webbing. I’m going back to regular webbing. I need to weigh the extra weight, but I plan to add an extra strap and whoopee sling in my repair kit. An ounce or two of extra insurance gives me the peace of mind that my back and feet can handle carrying, and will also allow me to sleep better at night.

My wife is still using her Sil-nylon. We both used Arrowhead Equipment’s Toxaway tarps for quite some time and it’s now my backup to my Cuben-fiber tarp. Still, I have Warbonnet’s larger Sil-nylon with doors for winter use…when set up properly, it can seal up looking just like a tall tent. For the price, performance and weight, it’s still hard to beat Sil-nylon.

I like your idea for gaiters. The Dirty Girl gaiters are the perfect size for trail hiking, but having something with a little DWR or waterproof with breathability would be great. There were some areas of the trail where the below-knee vegetation was heavy with dew and it didn’t so much run down the leg, but did get the nylon gaiters pretty wet.

ROCK6

Link Posted: 6/8/2016 8:15:42 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/8/2016 8:17:29 AM EDT by protus]
Yeah I'm just sick of sand in my boots. But calf high gaiters ..to hot for that. And I'm sitting on 100+ft of multicam taslite.LOL

Its 59+ sconsective miles on the ocala north section. Didn't know the phandle had a longer section. But I haven't kept up on what sections they added ..lot of it is sections ...vs continuous. So research that .
Jax can probably. Give you more info. On that section. I only run the ocala section and its loop trails.
Eta: and not much wading here. One or two water crossings if we are in wet season..maybe 1-2 inch mud spots..but nothing major IMHO..

If you did go that south we would set up a logistics train for you..maybe even hump you in a steak and beer LOL .

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 6/15/2016 8:05:18 AM EDT
Excellent report, thanks.

You mention use of the sawyer system but barely mention treatment.

Did you ever use the Aquamira? I thought cryptosporidium, being so small, required chemical treatment.
Link Posted: 6/15/2016 9:23:56 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By danpass:
Excellent report, thanks.

You mention use of the sawyer system but barely mention treatment.

Did you ever use the Aquamira? I thought cryptosporidium, being so small, required chemical treatment.
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There is really no threat of crypto and they are large enough to be filtered safely by the Mini filter. Now, there have been issues of the norovirus on the trail caused by really poor sanitation practices around the water sources. Most of the springs actually came right out of the ground or even with a pipe stuck into the ground. The only time I used the Aqua Mira was when we were collecting water right on the trail and it was more of a puddle than anything else.

ROCK6
Link Posted: 6/21/2016 5:15:02 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/21/2016 5:30:59 AM EDT by Any-Cal]
I like the writeup! 17 mile days are pushing pretty good!

I would probably drop your extra mag and half the ammo in it, a couple/few water bottles, the Spyderco and the Victorinox, one of the coin cell lights, and all the other lights but one.Also one of the cell phones and the backup charger along with the other stuff you were going to leave. Not only do you have backups to backups, your wife is carrying them too. Not saying Im right, just thinking lighter is easier... You do more of this than I do, but my rule is that a 3 oz item needs to have a pretty important purpose- and a lot of tools come close to that.

Really appreciate the experience with the cuben fiber as well.

Oh, and I have been hiking in tennis shoes lately, after doing it for years in heavy boots. I like the boots much better on everything except perfect, level trails, and they get old at the end of the day. Seems like a choice between foot fatigue/injury and hip fatique from picking them up and putting them down all day(usually logger boots or shorter workboots) . My boots also dried slow, but they make steep or broken trails much easier to navigate, and more so the heavier your pack is. Birkenstock insoles locate your foot well so you dont blister in them, even if you arent laced up tight.

I was thinking about a hpg bag on my last trip, will have to see what they weigh.

Edit- HPG SNUBBY is 12 oz, according to them. I would probably go with something like http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/backpack_lid.shtml instead, to save 9 oz or more. You might could trim your sit pad to fit in it and make it more rigid too!
Link Posted: 6/21/2016 3:31:11 PM EDT
Great write up!
Link Posted: 6/21/2016 8:23:37 PM EDT
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Originally Posted By Any-Cal:
I like the writeup! 17 mile days are pushing pretty good!

I would probably drop your extra mag and half the ammo in it, a couple/few water bottles, the Spyderco and the Victorinox, one of the coin cell lights, and all the other lights but one.Also one of the cell phones and the backup charger along with the other stuff you were going to leave. Not only do you have backups to backups, your wife is carrying them too. Not saying Im right, just thinking lighter is easier... You do more of this than I do, but my rule is that a 3 oz item needs to have a pretty important purpose- and a lot of tools come close to that.

Really appreciate the experience with the cuben fiber as well.

Oh, and I have been hiking in tennis shoes lately, after doing it for years in heavy boots. I like the boots much better on everything except perfect, level trails, and they get old at the end of the day. Seems like a choice between foot fatigue/injury and hip fatique from picking them up and putting them down all day(usually logger boots or shorter workboots) . My boots also dried slow, but they make steep or broken trails much easier to navigate, and more so the heavier your pack is. Birkenstock insoles locate your foot well so you dont blister in them, even if you arent laced up tight.

I was thinking about a hpg bag on my last trip, will have to see what they weigh.

Edit- HPG SNUBBY is 12 oz, according to them. I would probably go with something like http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/backpack_lid.shtml instead, to save 9 oz or more. You might could trim your sit pad to fit in it and make it more rigid too!
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Thanks and good feedback. Yeah, despite the weight, I still have redundant redundancy. I did drop the extra magazine; hard to do, but after some additional risk analysis, it wasn’t really that hard!

You bring up some good points sharing some of the loads. Part of the problem is we do other hikes and sometimes solo, so it the packs are set up. Still, this is something we’re looking at closely as ounces really start hurting past 15 miles.

Boy, I love barefoot shoes and I have a few pair for hiking. They’re great for shorter hikes, but as tough and conditioned as I thought my feet were, the pounding really fatigued them. Recovery was fine and I was okay each morning, but after 14-15 miles, my dogs were wore out. I like flexible and light, but trails aren’t much different than a hard ball (road), just with jagged rocks and roots that create havoc on your feet. I just need to accept that a shank and more cushion make more sense despite my preference for barefoot and thinner designed shoes. I picked up a pair of Salomon trail shoes; these will get some trail time to see how they do.

The HPG Kit Bag has just been a great part of my kit. I considered something like Z-Pack’s bag, but it’s first and foremost my CCW platform which works extremely well for me. I lost ten pounds just to justify using it! Seriously, it’s not for everyone and especially if you’re trimming grams to add extra miles in every day.

Again, thanks for the feedback. Every shakedown becomes a battle for determining true needs, wants and honestly assessing every ounce; feedback really helps to reinforce or call you out on the excuses you use to justify hauling unnecessary weight.

ROCK6



Link Posted: 6/23/2016 4:26:06 PM EDT
To keep this thread a line and spread some wealth, any chance we can get a breakdown of your wife's kit? That would be helpful for those of us that plan on having a partner go with us.

Thanks!
Link Posted: 6/24/2016 7:03:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 6/24/2016 7:11:28 AM EDT by ROCK6]
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Originally Posted By billpete:
To keep this thread a line and spread some wealth, any chance we can get a breakdown of your wife's kit? That would be helpful for those of us that plan on having a partner go with us.

Thanks!
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She's actually just finishing up a shorter 25 mile section back up near Hot Springs, NC. She took her sister and two fellow teachers; other than my wife none of them have any actual backpacking experience. She'll be home tonight, so I'll have her take a picture. It's really not too different from mine, but she's actually trimmed down better in some areas. One thing she strongly recommended for the other women was to buy and try out a "shenis" (yes, that's the name!). Most outdoors women can do the squat thing to do their #1 business, but when actually backpacking, especially in hot/humid conditions where water intake is significant, it's a PITA for my wife to stop, drop her pack and find some place far enough off the trail so she can do her business. With this devise, she can keep her pack on and just stand behind a tree. Not an easy topic, but she's a huge believer in that device for backpacking...that's one item she has that I don't need

She takes no cup, just a single 550ml TOAKS pot/lid with a spork.

I actually pack the "just in case" redundant items. She only had her hydration bladder and filter. I packed my own filter along with Aqua Mira purification system (two bottles you mix for the oxidized solution). Along with my hydration bladder, I packed an Evernew 2-liter (like a Playpus, but threaded for the Sawyer filter) container and a one-liter SmartWater bottle (which came in handy and my wife actually decided to take one on this last trip). You don't necessarily have to keep the bottle full, but if you have a longer distance between marked springs or you're planning to camp along the trail somewhere vice a shelter area, you can tank up with enough water for cooking, cleaning and hygiene. I actually had to fill my water's hydration bladder twice as she ran dry before making it to the next marked spring. It wasn't serious, but it's a constant battle to balance water weight verse having enough to stay hydrated. I err on the side of more than necessary even when there are plenty of springs and water sources along the trail.

One item she's been using is a pair of running shorts. I don't know the brand (Smartwool or Icebreaker??), but they're a quick-dry material with built in merino wool liner; she loves them.

The pack she's using the most is the first generation Osprey Exos pack.

I'll post up a layout shot and pass along any questions...

ROCK6
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