Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gear for Long Trails-Thru Hikes

You can find gear lists for ultralighters, light weights and various sports by googling.
I have my various gear lists, with before and after notes linked to my home page at:
The stuff I started my thru hikes with was adapted and refined until by the end of the Appalachian Trail I was carrying just 8 pounds base weight.
But, I don't want to focus on weight. The more experienced you are the less you will carry.
Or if you are a big strong male, you may bring stuff just for the hell of it.
If you are a small cold-sleeping female, you'll need more in the way of clothing layers and decent sleep pad.
The sleeping pad is important in high elevations and cold weather. I've used a short trimmed pad, and you can get away with it if you're primarily sleeping in AT shelters, hiking late spring, summer and early fall, or carry a heavier pack which can be placed under the foot area to insulate against the cold ground.
Silnylon ruck sacks don't work for insulating under sleeping bags. Use it instead for a vapor barrier in side the sleeping bag in emergency. That of course is presuming its both dry and clean.
I believe in Hiking Poles. If you've ever done cross country skiing, you are well aware of the advantages here. Its like getting an extra two legs, and the upper body strength can be utilized to propel one up steep inclines, balance on narrow tread way, used when crossing fallen logs over raging streams (especially on the Pacific Crest Trail).
They are often used for supports in tarp and ultralight shelter configurations, as weapons for self defense against aggressive dogs, for digging cat holes.
You can use one or two. I've tried using one on the Colorado Trail. Had to keep switching off between hands. Using a pole keeps the blood flowing nicely to the hands. Otherwise, you will find yourself with numb hands, or holding the shoulder straps of the pack to maintain flow.
Adjustable poles are preferred(telescoping) because when it comes time to hitchhike, the long ski poles are more difficult to get into a small car,sometimes already crowded. Have a place on your pack where you can reduce and fully collapse the pole and secure it to the pack. Loop a cinching cord through the handle straps for added securing, especially when climbing hand over hand, taking the bus, or road walking.
You can buy them on the trail if you don't start out with a set. However, they will be much more expensive and you won't end up with the brand you like.
There are "shock" absorbing poles, with springs to cushion the striking of said pole upon the ground. I find them noisy and see no advantage. Also, you'll meet people who put an end on them to prevent the point from going into the dirt. They claim it prevents erosion. I like the points for traction, and feel it aerates the soil. The tiny holes make very little impact, if any, in my experience.
For clothing, I go with four layers top and bottom. The outer layer should be water proof. This can be a poncho which serves as your shelter. But, beware. If its cold and you must strip off the poncho to set it up, do so quickly and securely before you become chilled and hypothermia.
Having been hailed on in Colorado, during the heat of summer, I recognized the importance of vital gear pieces not serving multitude of purposes simultaneously.
Of course, your opinions and experience will vary from mine.
These blogs are just to stimulate thinking outside the box and give tried and tested ideas.

No comments:

Post a Comment