Backpacking Gear – 2013

Open air mountain bivy on rocky summit of Hermannsdalstinden, Moskenesoy, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Photo: Moonlight bivy on the summit of Hermannsdalstinden, Lofoten Islands, Norway.  August 2013

Backpacking and hiking gear list for my Autumn 2013 Travels: Aug/Sept – Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Sept – Sarek national park, Sweden.  Sept – Lofoten Islands, Norway.  Plus a weekend at a music festival in Germany.

Backpack: You’ll notice a few difference from my 2012 gear list.  Most importantly is a new backpack, the Osprey Xenith 88.  My old Golite Odyssey started to blow a few seams, so I decided it needed replacement.  It was a long and hard search for a new bag with a good combination of both volume and weight.  I originally tried to go with an Osprey Aether 85, but the volume was not enough for my need of carrying camera gear, so I went with the Xenith 88.  While the pack is definitely heavier than I would like, it carries amazingly well, much better than my Golite Odyssey.  So despite the extra weight, I am more comfortable on long days (and weeks)

Camera Bag: Again, I’m looking for a good combination of volume and weight.  I seem to change this back almost years, as I’ve never been completely happy.  While I like the Mountain Hardwear Summit Rocket on paper, in practice, it leaves a few things to be desired.  It is probably the base upon which I would design a better bag at only a a slight addition in weight.  First, I wish it hat outside stretchy pockets for my tripod legs to go into and a water bottle on the other side.  The webbing used for the shoulder straps is too thin/slick, so the straps constantly lenghten themselves over time and need readjustment.  I like the top loading zipper design, I just wish there was a little more structure to the sides of the back so it doesn’t always collapse on itself when I have a lot of weight in the top pocket, makes reaching inside and pulling out a lens a little difficult sometimes.

You might wonder why I don’t carry a dedicated camera bag like the F-Stop or something else.  The short answer is, I don’t need all the padding, and therefore, extra weight.   I need the bag to be flexible enough to fit inside my main backpack while hiking.  So far, none of the camera bags, even the ‘adventure’ style ones, fit my needs.  I’m actually half tempted to try and build something myself, or possibly modify another bag.

Footwear:  I’m still staying with a lightweight Goretex lines trail runner.  This time it will be the Inov-8 Terrafly 313 Gtx.  There seems to be something of a negative opinion on Goretex trail runners these days, the opinion being that nothing is really waterproof, so without Goretex, your feet will be able to dry faster once wet.  While this may be true overall.  I still prefer to have a bit of protection if I’m just walking through a bit of wet grass or a step or two through some bog.  I don’t want to get wet feet every time I encounter a bit of moisture.  If my feet get too wet, I’ll build a fire and dry them out.

last year while hiking 10 days on the northern section of the Kungsleden trail, and despite some evil sections of bog, the only time my feet became properly wet was from a 24 hour period of rain where I had overnighted in a tent.  From the trail itself, I managed to keep my feet dry for the most part, with maybe a bit of moisture creeping in by the end of the day.

Heading into Sarek this year, I expect conditions to be worse, but with a hut every day or two, I’ll have a chance to dry my shoes out.

Shell Layers:  To make a long story short, the only reason I have replaced my jacket is because I accidentally forgot my Mountain Hardwear jacket on the bed at home as I traveled to Lofoten in February.  Thus I had to purchase a new jacket immediately upon my arrival in Bodø.  I could have bought something cheap that I would never use again, but ‘cheap’ by Norwegian standards is actually quite expensive, so I figured I might as well buy something I would use again.  Luckily enough, I found a Norrøna Falketind Dri3  jacket on sale (1500 NOK) in my size.  It is a beautiful jacket and perhaps my new favorite, and I own a lot of jackets.  And because I liked it so much, I went on to purchase a pair of the Falketind Dri3 pants before I returned to Lofoten in April this year.    While the pants are a bit heavier than what I carried last year, they have a 3/4 lenth leg zipper, making them super flexible to wear every day; and they look quite stylish too.  Normally wearing shell pants, I over heat way too much.  So last year on the Kunsleden I found myself having to change pants on the side of the trail on several occasions when a big storm approached.  With the Norrøna pants, I can pretty much wear them every day and just zip down the legs when the weather is fine to keep cool enough, then zip them back up when the rain arrives.

Tent: While I love the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum thanks to its light weight, it is definitely a bit of a compromise.  For much of this trip I will be solo, so this is a perfect tent for me and my gear: super lightweight and enough room to fit all my stuff inside.  But for 2 people, it’s a snuggle.  I would more likely call it a 1.5 person tent.  2 people cannot change clothes or prepare for bed inside, so one person will have to stand outside, in the rain, while the other moves about to get in their sleeping bag.  Cooking while its raining is pretty much impossible, and don’t even think about keeping 2 backpacks inside.  But it is light and so I will carry it.

Gear for 2013

Backpack
Osprey – Xenith 88 2380g – 48oz
Mountain Hardwear – Summit Rocket 30 (camera bag/daypack) 440 g – 15.5oz
Rain Cover

Footwear
Inov-8 Terrafly 313 Gtx  313g – 11oz

Clothing
Shell Jacket – Norrøna Falketind Dri3 393g – 13.8oz
Shell Pant – Norrøna Falketind Dri3 408g – 14.3oz
Insulation Jacket – Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Hoody 28 g – 10oz
Insulation Fleece – Patagonia R2 fleece 371g – 13.1oz
Pants – Mountain Hardwear Nima pant 607g – 21.4oz
Shorts
T-shirt – 2 cotton, 1 synth
Socks – 3 pair
Underwear – 3 pair
Gloves
Beanie
Sandals (for hostel showers)

Sleeping
Tent – Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum 992g – 35oz
Sleeping Bag – REI Sub Kilo -7˚C/20˚F  820g – 29oz
Pad – Thermarest NeoAir 397g – 14oz (old version)

Trekking Poles
Black Diamond Ultra Distance 297g – 10.5oz

Hygiene -Safety
First aid kit
Toothbush/toothpase
Camp soap (multi-use)
Camp towel
Hand cleaner
Deodorant (for if I haven’t bathed in a few days and need to sit on a bus/train/airplane)