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Backpacking Gear


The correct backpacking gear for your needs in the specifics of the weather is required for safe four season travel in the High Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

My Favorite and the Best High Sierra Backpacks

Favorite and Best High Sierra Backpack?

I say, "My Favorite" and "The Best" of High Sierra Backpacks because these two catagories are not necessairly the same. First, my style of backpacking requires different solutions than the packs that may be considered "best." The other is cost. There are some fine packs out there that I could never afford.

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Zpacks Arc Haul

 Member Test:

PeterM is moving through the Ultralight Packs:

"Zpacks Duplex. Making the switch from a Gossmer Gear Mariposa to a Zpacks Arc Haul this year. Excited to see how that pack does."

ZPacks ARC Haul

Gossamar Gear Packs

Don't waste time or money on water purification system

I will assume that you went to college and that you can conduct basic research.

Read what SECOR has to say (author of High Sierra). Read what the UCLA biologiical research has shown.

When people get sick it is a 99% chance that they poisoned themselves due to poor hygene. It is not the water. It is not the water. Really, it is NEVER the water.

The bigger question is why do humans continue to make serious and important group think mistakes?

why "Old School" Loves External Frame

1) Way Comfortable

2) Lots of compartments - organize gear = safer trip

3) Where Have I used mine - 1000 miles AT, 1000 miles PCT, GLacier NP, Whites, Gila. 20 years duration.

Alex Wierbinski's picture

Go Light Going Out of Business: Big Sale

November 19 2014

The GoLight site is announcing bankruptcy and 20%  off all inventory in a going out of business sale. 

On October 13 2014 GoLight filed for Chaper 11 bankruptcy with 103 creditors. On October 24 the court authorized this sale to raise cash.

GoLight's Chapter 11 plan is due 2/10/2015 according to court documents.

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Nothing is Waterproof

Here's the deal: NOTHING IS WATERPROOF.

Not even rubber-coated nylon. Anyone who backpacks in rubber-coated fabrics know that the hiker's sweat inside the rubber is as wet as the rain outside. And much nastier...

The classic "breathable" waterproof/water resistant materials can be "waterproof" for up to three days. That's the longest I've ever gotten any "dry" conditions to last. After three days in driving rain everything is wet. Everything.

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Backpacking Tent Selection

Backpacking Tent Selection
Nowadays there are two basic schools, or philosophies, of backpacker tent use: Lightweight or None. These are not mutually exclusive catagories.

I typically fit into both categories, depending on the circumstances.

No Tent

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Standard Backpacking Water System and Camp Shower: "The Alex"

Complete Camp and Trail Backpacking Water System

backpacking water system in break mode.

Above: Taking a break and lesiurely enjoying filtering water as needed while cooking up some food and coffee. No sitting by the creekside filtering water I'm just going to boil anyway.

Second Use: Fire Suppression

Backpacking Water System

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Solar Charging for Backpackers

Having just received the GoPro Hero 960 I am left with having to make it useful for very long backpacking trips. The GoPro uses a cell-phone style 3.7V 1100 mAh Lithium Ion battery. 

This means that battery replacement at the resupply points down the trail is out. I must devise a solar charging set up to keep the GoPro charged up. I need to devise or buy a solar charger capable of charging the Li-Ion battery for the GoPro, as well as the AA batteries for my camera and headlamp.

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JP's Experimental Backpacking Stove Manufacturing and Development Process

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JP's Experimental Backpacking Stove Manufacturing and Development Process 

If you are curious about how things are made, you will be facinated by JP's fabrication of a multi fuel stove on his computer numerical control lathe.

We follow JP's development process as he cuts out a series of stoves to manipulate the performance characteristics of his stove.

To fabricate this stove, JP programmed the lathe's computer with a series of instructions that guide the cutting tool, set the RPM of the spindle, and control the lubricant flow.

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Lightweight backpacking stove by Grousetales: How-to aluminum can Alcohol stove - step by step

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Lightweight backpacking stove by Grousetales: How to make an aluminum can Alcohol stove - step by step.

There are many ways to make an aluminum can alcohol stove. Grousetales has a good design, well laid out on the video, and effective (I've seen similar designs work well in the field for years). Grousetales video walks you carefully through the whole construction process. 

Check out the video, gather your tools, drink a few canned beverages, and then get to work.

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JP's Experimental Backpacking Stoves

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JP subscribed to the TahoetoWhitney YouTube channel, and when I checked out his channel I found some interesting work on lightweight backpacking stove development.

This video appears to sum up his devolepment  work as of Jan 13, 2011.

Check out JP's YouTube Channel.
 

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Backpacking Stoves: Some Basic Information

Every year when I hit the long trails, I see a wide variety of stoves in use. From old school MSR all fuel devices, to the modern  stoves that  seal the heat source within a custom titanium pot.

From Jet Boils to Beer Can stoves, eveyone has a stove they love and a stove they hate. The stove that's right for you is a product of your preferences and applications.

In my case my old MSR white gas-any gas-stove became my #1 stove after one of those Blu-gaz stoves failed to work properly at 11,000 feet on a real cold night.

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Winter Gear Selection IV: Shell, Head, Hands and Feet

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Winter Gear Selection IV: Shell, Head, Hands and Feet.
 

Shell

Now that Winter has brought real temp drops, our medium-weight shell is no longer suitable, and will be stowed until temps again rise as Spring approaches.

I am deploying my North Face Mountain Jacket, along with a set of heavy duty North Face ski pants. Both of these pieces will resist very cold winds. This will allow my insulating layers to work properly.

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Winter Gear Selection III: Gear Tour and Basic Layering

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Gear Tour

After figuring our backpacking route and determining the range of our possible weather conditions, let's take a look at our basic Winter backpacking gear options, and discuss layering that is approiate for our route and the weather conditions we are expecting.

A written-out gear list covering all these gear catagories can be viewed on the TahoetoWhitney.com trail guide.

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Winter Gear Selection II: Figuring Weather History, Current Conditions, and Future Forecasts

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Winter Gear Selection Video II: Figuring the weather history, current conditons, and future forecasts to guide your gear selection.

This video ties together your evaluation of the weather with your gear selection.

This video introduces you to the weather assets I've begun to deploy on the Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide. Unfortunatly, I have only completed the Northmost elements of the weather sections.

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Backpacking Gear Selection I: Your Route, Miles, Elevations, and Exposure

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Welcome to the Winter Gear Video Series.

Gearing up for any trip, be it Summer or Winter, requires that you do the scouting to understand the nature of the situation you are getting yourself into.

You must do this for all of your seasonal trips, but this scouting becomes especially important during Wintertime, when it is imperative that you properly gear yourself  for the possible range of conditions.

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Matching your footwear selection to your pack weight, foot shape, walking style.

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Selecting the proper footwear for a long distance backpacking trip will significantly reduce blisters, foot pain, corns, and plantar facistis.

The first task is to identify the type of walker you are, the second is to provide impact cushioning and foot support that suits your walking style, and the third task is to properly select the footwear that suits your foot shape and provides the support necessary for the load you will be carrying and the terrain you will be carrying it across.

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Backpacking Gear Selection

Gear Selection is vitally important. Matching your footwear to your load, your insulation layers and your shell to the temperture and weather, and having the correct tent and sleeping bag so  you can enjoy the beauties of the conditions you encounter, and survive the potential conditions that could occure, is the foundation of a successful trip. 

The Winter Gear Video Series that follows deals with the issues necessary for proper gear selection during mid Winter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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