Friday, August 14, 2009

Gear for Superior Trip

In case there are other gear junkies out there (and for my own records) here's what I used on my recent 9 day backpacking trip on the Superior Trail.

My pack was a Marmot Eiger 48 that I bought recently, partly with this trip in mind. It's about the right size and it's fairly light (just over 3 lbs). I wouldn't say it's the most comfortable pack I've carried. At the beginning of the trip, with about 40 lbs in it, I had sore hips and shoulders by the end of the day. By the end of the trip I was no longer sore, but after eating all my food, it only weighed about 25 lbs. I wouldn't want to carry much more weight in it, but then again, it isn't big enough to carry much more. Despite the initial comfort issues I'm pretty happy with the pack.

My tent was a Mountain Hardwear Spire 2. This is the lightest two person, four season tent I've had. The Spire 2 is just over 4 lbs - the newer Spire 2.1 is slightly heavier for some reason. At first I wasn't sure about the side doors and vestibules - I'm used to vestibules at the ends. But I've grown to like it a lot. They have a three season version, the Skyledge 2.1, but it's only a few ounces lighter. For this trip it would have been fine, but in the mountains I tend to prefer a four season tent, since it can snow and storm even in the summer. I considered taking our Black Diamond Firstlight tent since it's a pound lighter, but I'm glad I didn't because it rained quite a lot at night and the Firstlight is not great for lengthy downpours.

It wasn't that cold at night so I took my North Face Kilobag. I tend to avoid down bags because they're useless if they get wet, but with a good tent, and enough good weather to dry it out, it was a good choice for this trip. Of course, the nice part of a down bag is that it's light and packs small. Under the bag I used a 3/4 length ProLite 3 Thermorest.

On my feet I wore Salomon Fastpacker goretex boots. I've had quite a few pairs of Salomon trail shoes that I really like and these boots have a similar fit. I considered wearing trail shoes, but for carrying a pack over a rough trail in possibly wet conditions I figured I was better off with the boots. They worked well, keeping my feet dry and providing some ankle support, but not weighing much more than a trail shoe.

I only took cold food - granola for breakfast, trail mix for lunch, and homemade energy bars for dinner. I had originally planned to take my Jet Boil stove to make tea and coffee but in the end it didn't seem worth the hassle. Especially since you can't take fuel on the plane so you have to track it down when you arrive. And hot drinks aren't as important in the summer as they are in colder weather. It did mean no coffee for 9 days - yikes! - but I survived :-)

I used an MSR HyperFlow Microfilter water filter. Unfortunately, it lived up to its reviews - very fast and easy to pump when it's new, not so good after it's been used for a while. At least I knew what to expect, and it was still usable. As a backup I had taken Aquatabs water purification tablets. Since I had them and they're so easy to use, I ended up using them in addition to filtering the water. Better to be safe than sick.

That's about it for gear. It all worked well and if I was doing it again I don't think I'd change anything.

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