2016 GEAR REVIEW

It’s expensive to, essentially, live like a homeless person. People are astonished at how much “camping” gear costs, and often balk at the funds I put into my gear. Well, my friends, long-distance backpacking can not be compared to car camping. While it is an enjoyable past time, it is, at the roots, about surviving the terrain (preferablY un-injured). Your gear needs to be reliable; you are hundreds of miles away from civilization that might (or might not) have a store to replace any broken equipment. Your gear needs to be durable; you’re faced with harsh elements such as hail, snow, high winds, unforgiving sharp rock mountain sides, and dense forest. Lastly, your gear needs to be lightweight; imagine lugging around one of those heavy Coleman tents and big propane stoves you take on your family camping trips.

 

OSPREY ARIEL 65LT

PROS:                                         Highly adjustable, well padded, good compartmentation, full lifetime guarantee

CONS:                                        Heavy

WEIGHT:                                  4lbs 12oz

COST:                                         $329.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Absolutely

 

MST HUBBA HUBBA NX 2

PROS:                                         Easy setup, excellent ventilation, multiple rainfly variations, two doors each with roomy vestibules

CONS:                                        Extremely weak pegs

WEIGHT:                                  4lbs 6oz

COST:                                         $420.00

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Absolutely

 

BIG AGNES MIRROR LAKE 20 MUMMYBAG

PROS:                                         Draft collar and hood with drawstring, super lofty yet surprisingly compressible

CONS:                                        Zipper often snagged

WEIGHT:                                  2lbs 11oz

COST:                                         $299.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Absolutely

 

ExPED DOWNMAT LITE 5

PROS:                                         Rugged, side baffles are raised preventing you from slipping off, down stuffed providing excellent insulation from the cold ground

CONS:                                        Royal pain in the ass to inflate, and even worse to deflate

WEIGHT:                                  1lb 10oz

COST:                                         $219.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Yes

 

MSR HYPERFLOW MICROFILTER

PROS:                                         Lightweight, quick flow rate, long pre-filter allows you to get water from locations other filter might not reach

CONS:                                        Doesn’t filter Giardia and Cryptosporidium, so you still need to carry purification tablets, requires frequent back-flushing, small parts need to be removed to backflush which can be easily lost. Substantial number of units were manufactured with either a inverted pre-filter, or an incorrectly assembled backwash system (or, if you’re one of the lucky few… you get BOTH recalls in one unit.Bonus points for me!).

~It’s important to note that getting a speedy resolution was super easy. MSR was fantastic to deal with. Point awarded to MSR!

WEIGHT:                                  7.4oz

COST:                                         $109.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Probably

 

GEIGERRIG WATER HYDRATION SYSTEM 3LITRES

PROS:                                         Detachable hoses, wide opening top allows for easy cleaning, pressurized (great for wound irrigation and spraying hiker friends)

CONS:                                        Leeched a god-awful taste into the water. (This was said to be the ‘best tasting hydration system’… I’d hate to taste the competitors)

WEIGHT:                                  9.4oz

COST:                                         $39.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Maybe

 

InREACH EXPLORER PBL

PROS:                                         Easy to use, connected to the most reliable satellite network, 2-way messaging

CONS:                                        Expensive, complicated/ slow activation

WEIGHT:                                  6.9oz

COST:                                         $429.99 +monthly service plan ($19.99-$74.99, depending on what services you select, and $30 activation fee)

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Yes

 

MSR WINDBOILER STOVE

PROS:                                         Packs small, fast boil time, insulated, easy to clean

CONS:                                        Weak sloppy handle

WEIGHT:                                  15.2oz

COST:                                         $139.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Yes.

 

BLACK DIAMOND SPOT HEADLAMP

PROS:                                         3 settings, brightest setting made for easy night hiking, waterproof

CONS:                                        Prone to turn on in backpack.

WEIGHT:                                  3oz

COST:                                         $49.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Probably

 

PNY 20,800mAh PORTABLE BATTERY BANK

PROS:                                         Carries lots of juice, held its charge, 2 2.4amp ports, 2 4.8amp ports

CONS:                                        Heavy

WEIGHT:                                  Unknown. Estimate: 1-2lbs

COST:                                         $29.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN?:     Yes

 

MICKINLEY ASCENT TREKKING POLES

PROS:                                         Transferred weight to 4 limbs instead of 2, soft snow finder, spider web knocker-downer

CONS:                                        Extremely weak locking system, had to constantly readjust poles

WEIGHT:                                  8oz

COST:                                         $79.99

WOULD BUY AGAIN:        Absolutely not. Could not rely on them during difficult fords and dangerous log crossing.

 

*I have not been paid to endorse any of these products, nor was given any items by the manufacturers to tests and review. All items have been purchased by myself, excluding a few items, which are extremely generous birthday gifts from my biggest supporters… my parents. Thank you, and much love to you both! XO. *