Category Archives: Gear

New Gear: Tent MSR Hubba Hubba NX (2019)

Hubba Hubba NX (2019)

$299 from Enwild (formerly Backcountry Edge)

This was a really good price on a pretty much state of the art tent. It’s not super light, but I thought I’d give it a try. If I want to go really light and am confident in the weather, I’ll just use my bivy. The Hubba Hubba will be for times when I really want to bring a tent.

I seam sealed the fly myself. I set it up a few times to familiarize myself with it. It was a little confusing because the instructions included refer to the previous version of the tent which had a bit different looking tent pole spoke and also color coded webbed straps; this one has NO color coding, which is fine, except I kept comparing the instructions to how my tent looked and finally asked MSR support about it; whoever handles the MSR social media support link had no idea what I was talking about and kept telling me “No, you don’t need color coding!” (The instructions shouldn’t say so then, if you ask me.)

New Gear: Cookset

I recently bought a couple of new cooksets; one more for camping, one for backpacking.

MSR Trail Mini Duo

MSR mini duo

From backcountry.com $49.95.

I was looking for something strictly for backpacking that would meet my specific requirements/preferences. Light and functional and easily packable. My current ones are 15-20 years old, one is stainless one is titanium, but neither are quite what I want. (I use the titanium non-stick for my car-camping nowadays.) I almost never bring a white gas stove any more. And I haven’t cooked anything (in the backcountry) that required more than simply boiling water in over twenty years.

So I saw a decent review on outdoorgearlab for this MSR Trail Mini Duo, and snapped one up. It’s designed to hold everything internally, including pressured gas canister and stove. One user complained that the synthetic upper ring melted. I’ll update this after trying it out in the field.

Bugaboo Base Camper (Large) from GSI

GSI Bugaboo Basecamper
GSI Bugaboo Basecamper

https://gsioutdoors.com/bugaboo-base-camper-large-four-person-camp-cookset.html

I got this more for car-camping. And a easy to pack frying pan with a lid that fits; all I have otherwise is a heavy frying pan and a very heavy glass lid, both awkward to tote around, even for car camping cooking.

Although I haven’t used it yet I can already report that I broke the little folding handle on the top of the largest lid the first time I took it out of the box, so yeah it’s pretty flimsy.

UPDATE: The local REI replaced the cookset with the broken orange plastic handle. But beware; the “new” set they gave me didn’t have the included potholder. Good thing I double-checked before leaving the store.

History of Backpacking Gear

The “History of Gear Project” site is remarkable!

This guy has, crudely in some respects, patched together an interesting series of pages and links on the historical roots of most backcountry gear and gear companies today. A lot of this information is not easily found even with today’s wide-reaching search algorithms.

From the origins of companies like Sierra Designs, legendary Berkeley-based Ski Hut,  little-known Oregon outfits…if you have any interest at all in how what you carry on your back came to be you’ll be engrossed in these pages.

 

Using a tarp for car camping

Tarp in use at camp in Escalante National Monument, Utah
Tarp in use at camp in Escalante National Monument, Utah

It’s taken me a few years to figure this out. I’ve had a cheap old tarp in the past which I’ve almost never used; then, before my John Muir Trail hike I picked up a ultra-light Sil-Tarp (below) which was marginally effective but I still never really got the hang of pinning it down in the wind.

Campsite at Cuchara Campground
Campsite at Cuchara Campground

Camp at Escalante National Monument, May 2013. A rainy few days, and a cheap plastic tarp purchased at Hanksville when I realized I hadn't brought one.
Camp at Escalante National Monument, May 2013. A rainy few days, and a cheap plastic tarp purchased at Hanksville when I realized I hadn’t brought one.


 

And then here, below, is the cheap one I got in Hanksville, because it rained almost every day in the Escalante National Monument.  But these cheap tarps are also unwieldy in the wind and tend to collect rather than shield rain.

 

I purchased a Kelty tarp a couple of years ago; have had difficulty in anchoring it for a couple of years, but this last time in Utah I finally got it staked down well (the pic at the top of this post). In a big wind, I still had to anchor one peg with a stool and a large water bag on top of it to make sure it didn’t pull out.

Tarps can be crucial for enjoying your car camping experience; less so for backpacking I think, because when you’re backpacking, you’re going to be on the move the next day anyway. But car camping, you’re probably going to stay put for a few days; the tarp can keep you protected from intermittent showers with little discomfort; you can cook underneath them, hang out, snooze, whatever. Beats the heck out of spending sixteen hours in a tent because of rain.

JMT Epilogue

June 15, 2003

Lookng back almost a year after my trip I can think of several things I’d do differently, several things that worked perfectly, and maybe a few things I wished I’d known before I went on my trip.

As far as “things I’d do differently” I can think of a few. For one, I’d hike later into the day if I didn’t feel too tired. I was so paranoid about getting caught at dark in an area with no camping that I stopped too early a few times, especially early in the trip. As it turned out, there were few places where one couldn’t camp, especially if you had water.

I suggest you keep a list of passes, trailheads, trail junctions, potential campsites, with mileages and elevations handy. I should have made a spreadsheet up with all that information before hand. As it was, I ended up making a list out on the back of my maps at night. Wish I would have done it before the trip.

As far as food is concerned, I already knew I enjoyed a rather bland diet and I wouldn’t need too much variety. Well, it turned out I needed even less than I anticipated. I had freeze-dried scambled eggs with bacon pieces and hot chocolate nearly every morning, and I would have been happy to have that every morning. My vacuum-packed tortillas and bulk-purchased but home vacuum packed beef stroganoff was excellent. I looked forward to it every night. In fact, here’s my supper routine almost every night: As soon as I halted, and had my pack off and my bag/bivy spread out, I’d take my sweaty day clothes off and put on my heavy fleece long johns and pile jacket and hat. It was usually only mildly cool, but it helped retain a lot of energy which was needed as soon as the sun went down. I’d then start boiling water; usually only took about three minutes. Then I’d measure out about a half-cup of freeze-dried stroganoff (yum!) into my cup and add the hot water to it. Then I’d place the cup inside a loosely sealed large baggie for a few minutes to “reconstitute.” Meanwhile, I’d put 1/4 cup of instant potatoes, some bacon pieces, and a dollop of margarine in my other cup. Now I’d add hot water to it and I’d immediately have a hot, starchy side dish. After the potatoes, I’d eat the stroganoff, and use the potato cup for my luxury-a cold glass of milk. Well, actually a cold cup of Milkman—an instant milk powder “with the kiss of cream.” This stuff is much better than Carnation powdered milk.

I brought too many heavy-duty cold weather clothes. I wore my expedition weight polarfleece every night as soon as I got off the trail, like sweat pants, but I had litle need for the other long johns.

I really wish I’d had a better place to keep my water bottles in my backpack. That includes having a place to store the water bladder.