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School Me On Hiking Gear

Dec. 17, 2011, 10:53 p.m.
Posts: 2971
Joined: July 28, 2003

I did my first serious hiking trip this summer by doing the West Coast Trail and had an absolute blast. I borrowed all the major gear (tent, pack, sleeping bag) from a friend so I wouldn't have to spend the money on my own before knowing I actually enjoyed it, but now I know I want my own gear. My goal is to do similar multi-day hiking and biking trips, nothing crazy adventurous but really to just get out and enjoy what BC has to offer. My question is regarding the quality of various brands such as The North Face, ASolo, Columbia. Arc'Teryx etc. Obviously you get what you pay for but sometimes its not always that straight forward. Any brands with good/bad reputations? Things to stay away from? Anything to recommend? I can get stuff from Atmosphere for cost +10% so my purchases will almost certainly be from there. Thanks in advance!


For clarification I'm in the market for the following:
-7sish sleeping bag
2 person tent
sleeping mat
60ish liter pack
cookware etc

Dec. 17, 2011, 11:51 p.m.
Posts: 7967
Joined: March 8, 2006

MSR whisper stove. Nuff said.

cookware is awesome and hella durable.

I don't believe in tents, and

Works good for me.

All the stuff I've bought from them has survived life with me/my husky.

I waited until whatever I wanted was on sale and then purchased.

Dec. 18, 2011, 1:42 a.m.
Posts: 8830
Joined: Dec. 17, 2004

-7sish sleeping bag
2 person tent
sleeping mat
60ish liter pack
cookware etc

Mountain Hardware Lamina 20 is a wicked synthetic bag. You will get it very cheap with your discount. I've been using mine for about 3 years and its great. It packs small and comes with a very good compression sack. It also comes with a nice storage sack and the whole package is competitive in the weight department.

MSR Hubba Hubba. I don't have one but I might soon. All my research points towards that or a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. I know MSR has very high end customer service and is easy to deal with, plus I have had nothing but good experiences with there other gear so I'm leaning towards them. For a cheaper tent I've been hearing some good things about the MEC Camper 2, for the price its hard to beat. The downside would be a small amount heavier, and it doesn't have a full coverage rain fly which is a pretty big deal out here. Sleeper is probably sleeping in his truck is he doesnt believe in tents. I've been using just a guides tarp for a few years now, and its starting to wear me down. I find myself hiding in my bag to get away from the bugs which makes me too warm. In a tent I can keep and arm or leg out of my bag to stay at comfortable temperature and not worry about getting eaten alive. One time I fell asleep out in the alpine during a solo trip. I was napped for about 2 hours in a small glade. I woke up and be feet were so swollen my sandal straps made my toes numb. I probably had around 100 bites per foot through 2 pairs of socks around the straps. Probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. That doesn't happen in a tent.

Therm-a-rest Neoair. Light, comfy, warm. A bit pricey but still cheaper than a lot of other high end sleeping pads. Just be careful when packing it away since the valve sticks out when its rolled up. You also gotta be a little careful you don't over inflate it because you can blow out some of the baffles which separate the air chambers.

Lowe Alpine TFX 65+15. A little bit heavy, but has a really comfortable suspension system to it. And the straps are bomber. I used to use mec packs, and they are ok when you consider they are cheap to buy. They don't compare though. Packs are funny though, they fit everyone differently. I have a long torso and wide shoulders and really like this one. I also really like my Marmot day pack but find the back is just a little short.

MSR Whisperlight International, you can burn anything in it. Has never failed me or anyone I know. We used to use 2 of these with some custom blue foam/duct tape pot insulators to cook for 10+ people up in the alpine and they always preformed perfect. Packs small, pretty light, simple, and tough as nails. Is the standard to which all stoves should be measured against IMO. I use a cheap stainless pot set. Has 2 small pots with lids and 1 small mug. They all fit inside the bigger pot and you can hold it all together with a big elastic band. Cheap and good. A water filter is a good investment too. If you get one, I suggest the type that can screw right to the top of your wide mouth Nalgene 1L bottle. This way you don't lose any water in the filtering process which sucks when your filtering from trickles or puddles. Utensils are really important too, I like to cut down the plastic GSI ones from Mec to fit inside the cooking pots to save some space. They are super strong and really cheap. You also will want a good way to carry spices/salt pepper.

One thing for your other gear I suggest, get really good socks and carry a couple extra pairs. At least one extra pair. Pulling your boots off and putting fresh socks before settling in camp for an evening is pretty much the best thing ever.

Dec. 18, 2011, 7:09 a.m.
Posts: 16079
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

msr hubba hubba is a really good tent kept me dry for a couple of kayak [HTML_REMOVED] bike trips and I have a buddy who has done probably 9 months to a yr on extended seakayak trips and the tent is still holding up well

get a pack that fits you well which might mean spending a couple of hrs in the store with a good sales person, I have the Bora 65

Dec. 18, 2011, 7:15 a.m.
Posts: 3202
Joined: Aug. 4, 2009

I'm a huge fan of external frames… I can't really recommend you a specific brand, though. I bought mine from a new and used store 10 years ago. It's got patches and stitching from repairs… but it still holds together pretty damned good, cost me 10 bucks, eventually the backpain stops as you get stronger.

Dec. 18, 2011, 8:13 a.m.
Posts: 6449
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

MSR Pocket Rocket stove is pretty slick. Super lightweight and easy to operate, excellent rate of fuel consumption. If you were doing treks to other parts of the world I'd suggest something with multi-fuel capabilities.

Everyone talks about Down sleeping bags as being the cats pyjamas, I prefer synthetic because down is nearly useless when it gets wet while Synthetic will keep you warm even if soaked. Marmot makes some really affordable, great synthetic bags that'll last you a long time. My -18 Marmot bag cost $110 and is still going strong after 4 years of heavy use. If I was you I'd buy a bag rated to colder temps than -7 though, if you're too hot you can always zip open the bag but if you're too cold you'll be miserable, won't sleep well and won't feel great when you wake up.

I'd throw down the extra scrilla for the Therma Rest Neo-Air mattress; can't believe how light these things are and still offer a great amount of comfort.

A good headlamp will always make your life way more enjoyable.

Ultimately, I'm a dirtbag who has spent way too much time in the bush backpacking, biking and working and most of my gear is getting older now, but the key parts of your gear will last for a long time with proper maintenance, so it pays to spring for some nice stuff. That being said, having or not having a piece of super expensive gear will not make or break the trip for you; as long as you enjoy yourself it's all good. If you're planning on doing some bike trips with it as well, go superlight/supercompact.

Dec. 18, 2011, 8:59 a.m.
Posts: 4905
Joined: July 9, 2004

The best investment I ever made for camping gear was Buying The Big Agnes insulated inflatable mattess. The comfort competes with some actual beds. It's worth the 5 minutes extra of set up time and couple ounces more of weight.

Down bags are awesome but useless once wet or damp. If most of your trips will be on the coast then Get synthetic or if you get down get a light bivy cover.

As far as tents go I've had a mec pingu for 12 years now and it's still holding up great. I haven't looked at tents for years now but I will say the best part of my tent is a massive rain fly that is big enough to store two packs and leave a bit of space to put your boots on without getting them inside the tent.

Dec. 18, 2011, 5:25 p.m.
Posts: 3526
Joined: Aug. 4, 2007

Id second the hubba hubba, sweet tent for thr price.
Asolo makes awesome boots, any of those italian/ german boot companies are pretty good (lowa, scarpa) as far as packs are concerned im a fan of the aether packs from osprey, they last forever and will literally warrantie anything if it doesnt, deuter and arc teryx make sweet packs aswell, at the end of the day its what fits, any decent salesperson can fit a pack. as far as sleeping mats are concerned exped makes i think the warmest mat out there, down filled, synthetic fill, pack resonably well aswell.
2nd on the lamina aswell, the blue kazoo from TNF is a good bag for the price, -10 down bag. all the big brands out their will warranty all their products for the life of it( clothing wise that is) not a huge fan of columbia, their doing more technical stuff these days but they used to be very marks work warehouse like.
stoves, i like my msr dragon fly, bit bigger than a whisper light, but it can take huge pots and stuff, sounds like a jet engine too.

word on some good socks too, smart wool does awesome socks

obviously stay away from cotton things too, synthetics are good, wools good too.
not a huge fan of arc teryx though these days, lots of outsourcing to china now adays and gore shells are ridiculously expensive, sure you get what you pay for but theres lots of waterproof breathable fabrics out there are the same and dont cost a fortune for a label. Columbia, SD, Sherpa, and lotsa shoe guys use their own proprietary WP breathable membranes these days

Dec. 18, 2011, 5:37 p.m.
Posts: 8830
Joined: Dec. 17, 2004

Also put a warning on North Face products. I've had my fair share from packs to pants and they all failed. It is 100% worth it too read the customer reviews from websites like MEC / REI. There are alot of products that went from exellent to terrible in a few short years. Raichle boots for example, since Mammut took over production they are horrible and can literally endanger your life. Its not a matter of if, but when they catastrophically fail and that could be way out in the bush.

Dec. 18, 2011, 5:38 p.m.
Posts: 3048
Joined: Nov. 20, 2004

arc'teryx makes really good packs.

the REI house brand down sleeping bags are good, but you might go synthetic for camping on the coast in wet weather.

get a really good compass and learn how to adjust it for our area's magnetic declination, could save your life.

if you're going really far from civilization, taking a satellite phone is not completely crazy. the inmarsat isatphone is around $600, or the newest iridium model is $1250 to $1500. trust me you don't care that the calls cost $1.25 a minute when you really need to make a call.

lithium (not lithium-ion!) disposable AA and AAA batteries work much better in cold than alkaline AAs.

invest in a good headlamp

"Bicycling is a healthy and manly pursuit with much to recommend it, and, unlike other foolish crazes, it has not died out."
- The Daily Telegraph (1877)

Dec. 18, 2011, 6:09 p.m.
Posts: 16079
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

BTW since batteries in devices for outdoor pursuits are being mentioned everybody knows they should NOT put rechargable batteries in an avalanche beacon right?

Dec. 18, 2011, 6:50 p.m.
Posts: 2285
Joined: Feb. 5, 2005

BTW since batteries in devices for outdoor pursuits are being mentioned everybody knows they should NOT put rechargable batteries in an avalanche beacon right?

More importantly, always carry avalanche bacon to make sure the dogs dig you out first.

That's the problem with cities, they're refuges for the weak, the fish that didn't evolve.

I don't want to google this - sounds like a thing that NSMB will be better at.

Dec. 18, 2011, 7:02 p.m.
Posts: 2170
Joined: Aug. 28, 2006

The North Face gear is crap.

I have a Hubba Hubba tent and don't have any complaints. It goes up quickly and easily and keeps me dry. I'd say it makes a good 3.5 season tent.

Marmot and Rab make nice sleeping bags. Arcteryx is good for packs. I've had a Bora 65 forever and it's bombproof. Heavy though.

For sleeping pads, they come in every possible shape, size, thickness etc. You have to decide what is right for you based on comfort needed vs. weight.

For cookware, I'd stay away from stuff with non-stick coatings. The cheaper MSR sets are fine.

Dec. 18, 2011, 7:21 p.m.
Posts: 3834
Joined: May 23, 2006

Poles. You need two of them. Like ski poles but for hiking.

They're all the rage these days.

Freedom of contract. We sell them guns that kill them; they sell us drugs that kill us.

Dec. 18, 2011, 9:15 p.m.
Posts: 16079
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

More importantly, always carry avalanche bacon to make sure the dogs dig you out first.

How coincidental, I just cooked a large feed of pasta carbonara 1lb of pasta/ 1lb of bacon/ 4 eggs/ cup of Parmesan cheese/ 2 cloves garlic/ an onion …highly recommended

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