This journal chronicles my thoughts, discoveries, acquisitions (or divestiture), and critiques of the gear I use on my adventures.
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@brienne and I both got new trail shoes this week. Both of us back to Inov-8 after a long hiatus, I got the Trailtalon and she got the Roclite. I am relieved that some online Canadian retailers are now providing free shipping for returns. It makes the whole process a lot easier. I was able to order three pairs of shoes, and will return the other two.
Sorry Merrell and Altra, you guys didn't win this time.
In preparation for this summers backpacking plans, I purchased two new pieces of gear today.
I got a pair of Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ poles to replace my very aged Black Diamond Carbon Cork poles. I really wanted a pair of Gossamer Gear poles, but could not justify the ridiculous expenses after the exchange rate, shipping costs, and duty fees.
The other purchase was a new GSI Pinnacle stove. These stoves are actually made by Kovea from Korea, who sponsored us on our AT thru-hike in 2014. We loved this stove, but sadly due to a bum canister last summer, both of our Kovea stoves got plugged (Never again Coleman!).
Thanks to a last-minute tip from our friends at Les Randonnées du Pèlerin, I found out about a huge gear sale at La Cordée that was scheduled to happen this morning. I went in thinking it would be a reconnaissance mission to see if it was worth going to on a regular basis (the sale happens twice a year). I also had one thing on my would-be-nice-to-find-but-zero-expectations list: a winter sleeping bag. I was shocked to find exactly what I was looking for at an equally shocking price: A perfect condition Western Mountaineering winter sleeping bag at less than 20% the regular retail price. Score!
I have a new pair of trail shoes for 2018: the Xero Shoes Terraflex. It is about time these guys made something a little more backpacking worthy! They have nice lugs (not unlike the Vivobarefoot chevron lug), a nice flexible outsole, and maintain a smilier design to the Prio which is probably my current favourite minimalist running shoe. I added a pair of elastic laces, which is a minimum requirement on all my sports shoes these days.
We shall see if this overtakes the Altra Superior, which is my current trail favourite. Currently, one strike against the Terraflex, is that it does not have a built-in velcro patch for my Dirty Girl gaiters.
My new backpack just arrived today!
My Gossamer Gear Mariposa has seen many days on the trail, and is in need of retirement. I decided to try something new this time: The ULA Ohm 2.0, which ticks all the boxes:
I am looking forward to taking it out this season!
Since our AT thru-hike in 2014, my backpacking gear has been in varying states of decay. I have slowly started to replace things as funds permit and as I find things on sale. I recently replaced two of my most-used-in-all-seasons pieces of gear: my cool weather hoodie, and my mid-weight puffy coat.
My current hoodie has a permanent hiker stink, which makes me smell like a thru-hiker within 30 minutes or so of moderate activity. That has been replaced with an Icebreaker Merinoloft Ellipse Long Sleeve half zip hood. I am hoping that having some merino in the mix will help keep the funk out longer than the synthetic one it replaces.
My current puffy coat (a Rab Xeon) has started to fall apart (after having survived the entire AT) and is being handed down to @mypictograph who will finish the job. That has been replaced by an Arc'Teryx Atom LT hoody. Based on an excellent article posted on Backpacking Light recently about synthetic jackets, it looks like the installation in this one should also be much more durable than that of the Rab.
Lucky for me, I was able to find both of these on sale at a substantial discount.
Who would have thought that I would find myself in an all-natural cosmetics store to make my next outdoors purchase.
This past Christmas, while shopping for gifts, my daughter and I discovered that Lush (a Canadian cosmetics company) makes toothpaste tablets. All you have to do is chew one, then start brushing. I am headed out for a three day trip this Easter weekend. I only need to take a couple tablets and I have toothpaste covered for the weekend. They are super light (~0.5 g each), and I only have to take what I need.
They aren't exactly cheap as far as toothpaste goes ($10 buys you about 100 of them), but for backcountry trips, I think they will fit the bill perfectly. This is my first time using them, I will let you know how it goes.
Carpet testing my new winter shelter - a Black Diamond Eldorado. If you look closely by the front door you will also see my new winter stove - a MSR Reactor. Now all that is left to save for is a sleeping bag and a pad. If all goes according to plan, there should be some winter trips in my future, starting next year!