Funny thing about my Wonderland trip; I was almost completely satisfied by the performance of everything I took with me. The notable exception was my shoulder soreness on days 3 and 4 (since I exceeded the weight recommendation for my backpack.) I really have no major problems with any of the gear I took.
Here's the list (with some brief comments): END Stumptown high-top trail runners Great shoes. 96 miles and only one tiny blister.
Tilley Airflo LT-6 hat - portable shade. Nice styling. Great hat.
Smartwool long sleeve microweight crew - I never believed all the marketing jazz about wool keeping you warm when it's cold and cool when it's warm. I'm a believer after this trip. In fact, I went out and bought a microweight short sleeve wool shirt almost as soon as I got home for summer hiking.
Mountain Hardwear Canyon pants
Platypus bottles (one 1-liter, one 2-liter)
Jetboil PCS - I'm constantly amazed by this gadget. Three of us shared one stove for five days and didn't even kill one fuel canister.
Rain Gear (Patagonia Rain Shadow jacket and REI Ultralight rain pants) - Didn't need them on this trip. I would have needed them if I didn't take them. Such is life.
Sea to Summit bugnet - I bought this bugnet for the trip. Worth every dime for the two hours a day that the bugs swarmed us at camp.
REI Minimalist bivy sack
Integral Designs 8x10 siltarp
Golite Adrenaline 40 sleeping bag
Katadyn Hiker water filter
Rite in the Rain mini journal and Inka pen
Maps printed on Adventure Paper
Light My Fire Spork - too short to eat out of the dehydrated backpacking food pouches. I've replaced it with a long-handled spoon.
Thermarest Trail sleeping pad - heavy but worth it. At least until I feel like spending 150 bills on a Neo Air.
Bandanas (x2) - I always carry bandanas. So many uses.
Contacts (as in corrective eyewear) - I'm mixed on contacts. I wore them for this trip and they were great. I've switched back to glasses, but that's a topic for a different, separate post.
Truly inspiring. These guys did the whole trail from Mexico to Canada in 65 days and change. They essentially did it trail runner style, but they did it as backpackers (albeit very light-weight ones). They needed a tick over 40 miles a day EVERY DAY to pull this off. Crazy. I'll never be that fast, but I love it that someone is.
Quote of note:
In the end it is a very old thing we are doing, walking vast distances along the surface of the earth, drinking from streams, and laying under a pine tree on thick duff. What could be better than this simple life?
I bought a Jam 2 almost 3 years ago. It is pretty close to my perfect pack. It has stretchy side pockets that hold a 1 liter water bottle in easy reach. I can shrink it down to a 20 liter day pack with the compression strap system. It'll carry 50 liters of gear easy; it feels large for the size rating. It weighs almost nothing - one pound 10 ounces for the large model. And when my first one (2008 model) started fraying a little, GoLite replaced my pack under warranty with the new 2010 model. The new model was a little heavier but had waist belt pockets. These pockets let me carry almost all my snack food for the day in easy reach without having to dip into the main bag at all. This convenience lets me move a little faster all day long sine I don't have to stop, drop the bag, grab a snack, put the pack back on, cinch the straps and then start moving again. In short, I have loved this pack since the day I bought it.
Only one problem, it doesn't carry quite enough weight for me to be comfortable all day on a big multi-day trip. Now, I try for a very lightweight style in my backpacking and climbing. I carry less and lighter stuff but I still stay in the bounds of safety and the conditions which I expect to encounter. The problem comes from the fact that some of my camping gear comes from my pre-"lighter is better" days. And I'd have to replace a lot of gear to get really, really light.
-I have a headlamp that weighs 3 oz. I can buy a 0.9 oz headlamp that would be perfectly adequate for backpacking. It won't work for my alpine adventures. So then I'd have to own two pieces of gear. Duplicate gear bugs me. I hate spending money twice. So I'll keep the heavier headlamp.
-My sleeping pad weighs a lot. I have an older Thermarest Trail. It weighs almost 2 pounds all by itself. Now, I've spent the last year and a half sleeping on a closed cell foam pad that was virtually free and only weighs 9 oz. The problem is that I sleep very very poorly on this foam pad. So I switched back to the Thermarest pad and I sleep much better. So that adds 1.5 pounds to my pack weight.
I could give more examples, but I want to stay focused on the backpack. Since I'm not going to go out and replace all my gear, I'm at a pretty stable pack weight of 20-ish pounds (sans food but with 1 liter of water). My total pack weight for Wonderland pushed 30 pounds when I had all my food loaded up. Now GoLite only rates the pack for a max of 25 pounds with a recommended max carry of 20 pounds. My shoulders can testify to the weight limit. Days 3 and 4 on Wonderland gave me really sore shoulders by the end of the day's march. So while I love the features of the backpack, I am going to switch back to a slightly heavier backpack that has a frame so it can carry more weight in greater comfort.
If you know me “in real life” then you will already know the following facts. I am a Registered Nurse (and wow, did that take a long time!); I used to fix Macintosh computers for a living; I’m a raging, raving “pinko-commie” liberal; I live in Portland, Oregon and love it here in the Northwest.
Oh, and I have the most fabulous daughter on the planet.
My main off-work focus right now involves finding new adventures. For a while I was obsessed with motorcycles. Then I went to mountains with great ardor; rock climbing, mountain climbing, snowboarding. I'm feeling transitional now. I might start swimming again. Maybe backpacking more this summer.