Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gear Testing Report

Rated On a #1 to #5 Scale - With #5 Being the Best

-Western Mountaineering 16 oz. HighLite 35 degree sleeping bag = #5 rating, wear clothing to bed for extra warmth.
-MontBell 6.5 oz. W/B Sleeping Bag Cover (Bivy Sack) = #5 rating, it has not rained so I haven’t tested it in the rain. If it started raining I would seek shelter for the head opening under a dense tree or rock overhang. I would only use this shelter if rain is unlikely. If it is likely to rain a little, I would use my tarp. If it will rain a lot or the bugs are terrible, I would take an ultralight tent.
-CCS 7.6 oz. Pack = #5 rating, I’m going to have a gusseted hole added for a hydration hose. The silnylon is not super durable.
-Erik the Black’s PCT Atlas, ultralight, pocket sized map booklets = #5 rating, costs about $200.
-END Sumptown 12 Hiking Shoes =#5 rating, the lightest hiking shoes I’ve seen, the flexible sole and light weight make for a blister-less glove like fit. The sole is not super durable.
-END Wow Hiking Shoes - #3 rating, light weight and extremely well ventilated, but a lot of trail dust comes in and grass spears poked through into my foot.
-GoLite Hiking Shoes – #4 rating, lots of toe room and they are light, I like the adjustable insoles, the large sole lugs are good for snow, but I think this shoe company has gone out of business (different that the GoLite equipment company). I did get a heel blister because of the stiff sole.
-VestPack – #2 rating, not room for a Jet Boil and way too minimalistic for most hikers.
-Bubble Wrap for Sleeping Pad – #5 rating, so light it almost isn’t there. The trick is to contour the ground, so you really don’t need a sleeping pad at all.
-Altimeter Watches – I could not get them to work accurately. I will continue to test them.
-Esbit Cubes for Cooking = #1 rating, don’t get hot enough for me.
-JetBoil Stove = #5 rating, my favorite stove! There is a boil-over problem if you don’t watch the stove like a hawk.
-Smartwool Liner Socks = #4 rating, these socks are thin for coolness and are merino wool for limiting odor. They wear out fast and come up on the ankle too high.
-Band-Aid brand Blister Pads = #5 rating.
-Princeton Tech EOS 1 watt Headlamp = #5 rating, just the right brightness levels, waterproof, and it is a reasonably price.
-Kodak Digital Camera – #3 rating, a good small light camera, but certainly not water resistant.
-Casio Exilim Camera – #4 rating, light and small, but the sound didn’t replay well on the video clips when transferred to my computer .
-Canon PowerShot SD780 IS Camera - #5 rating, I love this camera. It is the smallest, the lightest, has 12.1 megapixles and has the most features. It even downsizes pictures for my blog site.
=Carbon Fiber Hiking Poles – #4 rating, I made them with odds and ends. I ordered an even lighter pair from Titanium Goat.
-OP Sak Odor Proof Food Bags – #4 rating, I put my food in the bag, then put the bag in my pack and use it for a pillow. There is a quality control problem with the bags. One came un-welded, the Ziploc failed on the second bag, the third bag is working fine.
-Houdini Water Resistant Wind Jacket by Patagonia, #5 rating, it hasn’t rained so I don’t know how waterproof it is.
-Dust Gaiters, #4 rating, great for the desert where the trail dust is especially bad. Dirty Girl makes a good pair.
-Merino Wool Tops - #5 rating, my Icebreaker short sleeve 140 weight ventilated zip tee GT or Velocity top was perfect for hot backpacking. It protected me from the sun. My 200 weight Icebreaker long sleeve zip tee worked well layered with the short sleeve top, for cooler weather.

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