Category Archives: Gear

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.

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.