Best Backpacking Gear

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Best Backpacking Gear

Postby HistoricalExplorer » Sat Dec 06, 2014 5:03 pm

I recently did some research to uncover the best of the best backpacking gear (price no object) for the members of the Discover Club. I wasn't able to test these items, so I looked at various ratings found across the web as well as at purchaser comments from various online stores. I boiled it down the the "best" stove, backpack, tent etc. You can find the email that went to the club members here: http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=f16bc69c77e6574eb2241b308&id=d3b6d7c143

What do you think of this list of "top of the line" gear? What are your opinions about any of these the items you have used?
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby Hikin_Jim » Wed Dec 10, 2014 1:08 pm

I note that the MSR Dragonfly is listed as a "best" stove. Hmm.

Well, it does have some really nice features. The simmer is excellent as noted. However, it is heavy (14oz/395g), bulky, and requires priming. By contrast, and MSR MicroRocket is far lighter (4oz/122g), far more compact, and does not require priming. Also, the Dragonfly is prone to clogging at the in-line filter in it's fuel hose.

Now, that's not to say the Dragonfly doesn't have it's place. For group cooking, a big stove might be warranted, and a liquid fueled stove like the Dragonfly has clear advantages in cold weather. However, for the typical backpacker who goes out solo or with one or maybe two friends, it's generally overkill at best.

HJ
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby HistoricalExplorer » Wed Dec 10, 2014 7:10 pm

Thanks for the tip Hikin Jim. The MSR MicroRocket is clearly a great option for absolute minimum weight. Reviewers say the flame can be adjusted so you can simmer food, but the heat is concentrated at the center so things can still burn easily. That's not an issue if one is only boiling water for freeze dried foods. It uses pressurized liquid gas and doesn't have the fuel options of the Dragonfly. That could be an issue, but experienced backpackers would know pretty well how much fuel to take along on a given trip. The final issue is cold weather use. If the fuel canister gets too cold the fuel won't vaporize properly - not a problem for warm weather use. I'm thinking the MicroRocket would be the "best" in most conditions, but an inexperienced backpacker, a gourmet foodie, or someone wanting to get out in cold weather, might be better off with the Dragonfly - especially if cooking for more than a couple people. Always pros and cons.
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby Hikin_Jim » Wed Dec 10, 2014 10:37 pm

HistoricalExplorer wrote:Thanks for the tip Hikin Jim. The MSR MicroRocket is clearly a great option for absolute minimum weight.
Well, it's pretty good for a canister stove. A lighter weight option is an alcohol. Lighter still is ESBIT.

HistoricalExplorer wrote:Reviewers say the flame can be adjusted so you can simmer food, but the heat is concentrated at the center so things can still burn easily.
Kinda sorta true. Depends on what cookware you're using. With Titanium cookware, you might just, but then why would anyone use titanium cookware if they're cooking real food? Yes, real cooking can be done with titanium cookware, but it's a pain. Far better to use aluminum for real cooking. My results with aluminum and the MicroRocket have been pretty good.
Image

HistoricalExplorer wrote:It uses pressurized liquid gas and doesn't have the fuel options of the Dragonfly.
True, but gas canisters are pretty available in the US. Multi-fuel might matter more if one were an international traveller. I'm not knocking the concept of multi-fuel, but realistically, it's not usually needed in the US except maybe in very remote areas.

HistoricalExplorer wrote:If the fuel canister gets too cold the fuel won't vaporize properly - not a problem for warm weather use.
True, but canister stoves can be used at least down to freezing if one chooses the right fuel and with a bit of experience, far colder than that.

HistoricalExplorer wrote:I'm thinking the MicroRocket would be the "best" in most conditions, but an inexperienced backpacker, a gourmet foodie, or someone wanting to get out in cold weather, might be better off with the Dragonfly - especially if cooking for more than a couple people. Always pros and cons.
I'll grant you that the Dragonfly has definite advantages in cold weather, but for an inexperienced backpacker? Uh, not really. Have you worked with white gas type stoves much? They require a bit more skill to use than a gas stove. With a gas stove, you screw on the tank, open the valve, light, and go. With a white gas type stove, you have more connections to make, connections which can get screwed up, you have to pump to pressurize which can get screwed up, and you have to prime the stove which can REALLY get screwed up if you don't know what you're doing.

HJ
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby bluewater » Sun Dec 28, 2014 12:18 pm

I acknowledge that determining the "best" gear is usually based on many factors like weather conditions, length of the trip, the expected terrain, finances and personal preference to name a few. With that in mind one of the most popular backpacks used by the thru hikers I saw on the PCT this year was the Zpacks Arc Blast. At 17 ozs for the largest size (60 liters) it is over 1 1/2 pounds lighter than the Osprey Exos 58. The 2.92 oz/sqyd cuben/poly hybrid material is durable and longer lasting than the original 1.43 oz/sqyd cuben that was rated to last for 2,600 miles.

There are a few shelter options that are similar in design that would save considerable weight while not sacrificing functionality or durability. The Six Moon Designs Haven with the inner Net Tent weighs 24 ozs and the Zpacks Duplex weighs 19 ozs. In comparison to the 3+ lb Flash these would save between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds off your back.

Since the Big Three is usually where the big weight savings can be found it's possible to save 3 or 4 lbs on just these two alternatives.

Like you mentioned good gear is expensive and some of these options might lighten the weight of your wallet:) . . .so $ and other personal preferences will play into any buyers decisions.
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby HistoricalExplorer » Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:30 pm

I'll grant you that the Dragonfly has definite advantages in cold weather, but for an inexperienced backpacker? Uh, not really. Have you worked with white gas type stoves much? They require a bit more skill to use than a gas stove. With a gas stove, you screw on the tank, open the valve, light, and go. With a white gas type stove, you have more connections to make, connections which can get screwed up, you have to pump to pressurize which can get screwed up, and you have to prime the stove which can REALLY get screwed up if you don't know what you're doing.


I haven't used a white gas stove in a long while. As I recall the connections, pumping and priming weren't all that big of a deal - but memory fades. Clearly more complicated than a stove that uses pressurized gas.
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby HistoricalExplorer » Sat Jan 17, 2015 4:42 pm

bluewater wrote:. . .one of the most popular backpacks used by the thru hikers I saw on the PCT this year was the Zpacks Arc Blast. At 17 ozs for the largest size (60 liters) it is over 1 1/2 pounds lighter than the Osprey Exos 58. The 2.92 oz/sqyd cuben/poly hybrid material is durable and longer lasting than the original 1.43 oz/sqyd cuben that was rated to last for 2,600 miles.

There are a few shelter options that are similar in design that would save considerable weight while not sacrificing functionality or durability. The Six Moon Designs Haven with the inner Net Tent weighs 24 ozs and the Zpacks Duplex weighs 19 ozs. In comparison to the 3+ lb Flash these would save between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds off your back.


Those both look like great options. I don't know why, but Six Moon is showing the Haven and its net tent as unavailable.
Global Creations Explore eMagazine introduces the Discover Club - helping you discover and expand your passion for the outdoors. Currently FREE for those that love the outdoors! Check it out: http://discoverclub.net
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Re: Best Backpacking Gear

Postby bluewater » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:48 pm

It looks like only the Cuben Haven is currently available:

http://sixmoondesigns.com/tarps/69-have ... cuben.html


For a good source of information regarding the best gear that has actually been tried and tested in the field by backpacking enthusiasts you may find this useful:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin ... 109.85.177


There is an interesting article about the Sierra Designs Lightening 2 UL tent titled, "Stink Bomb Tent" here:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin ... d_id=99075
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