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Your worst piece of backpacking gear...

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Back in the 80's Walrus introduced their first line of tents. I bought one of their ultra light bivy tents (I've since repurposed it into other things)to section hike the PCT.


The problems


- not free standing, required carrying several deadmen to

anchor in snow.

- leaked like a sieve (mesh screening along the sides just

above the narrow floor tub)

- high condensation

- no place to store gear during bad weather

- poor wind shedding, more so above the tree line

- unable to handle anything but light snow loads. Snow would

enter through the mesh

- difficult to get into

- unable to sit up while waiting out storms

- not suitable for a downbag, requiring the use of a

heavier synbag at altitude


In the long run, the tent may of been ultra light, but it required a lot of support to make it work, thus negating it's ulta light status.

I've since learn to carry a little heavier tent to save weight.....

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My back!!


When I was a kid I could sleep on the ground anywhere. Now that I'm approaching the mid-century of life my back cares VERY much how much I'm carrying and what kind of surface I'm sleeping on.


So from that perspective my worst backpacking gear is my sleeping pad.


For car camping with the troop I use a large-sized "Cabela's Ultimate Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad" which is absolutely wonderful - cost $130. It is 3.5 inches of delightful padding! It is tough as nails, BUT it is big and heavy - 10.5 pounds! It is way too large and heavy for backpacking.


So, for backpacking I currently use my older 1.5" Thermarest pad which is much smaller and lighter weight, but my back does NOT like it.


I'm thinking about trying an "Exped SynMat 9 Sleeping Pad". It is 3.5" thick and weighs "only" 2.8 pounds, but the recommended Pillow Pump is another 4 ounces and . Cost is about $100 plus $20 for the pump. I've read lots of good comments about it, but am a tad concerned about its durability.



Now, for the backpacking gear I've been most impressed with ... the Eureka Spitfire solo tent. It is reasonabily lightweight (2.75 lbs), inexpensive ($90), well-built (aluminum poles), easy to setup, and reasonably spacious ... for a solo tent. The only thing to be careful of is making sure that your pad will fit within the tent ... because the floor is not rectangular.


While a lot of folks can use lightweight tarps for backpacking, the mosquittos are just too bad around here to camp without netting.

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Does anybody here remember TUBE TENTS? My Dad and I used on on my very first backpacking trail... for ONE NIGHT. That was 1969. Super heavy gage plastic, Mr Gizmo (local packpacking store owner) said they were fantastic.


The plastic was so bloody wet we used it for a ground cloth the rest of the week, and slept under God's Good Sky!(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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My brain,

I tend to pack too much - trying to have everything for everything. It's always a struggle to pare it down - you'd think I'd know better, but when You need Superglue and don't have it... you won't be the silly jerk who carried it there. And yes, you are welcome to use it if I haven't wised up and thrown it out.

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"I tend to pack too much"


Have you noticed that there is a kind of Scoutmaster syndrome that makes you tend to be, well, maybe a little over-prepared? That leads to packing anything and everything you - and the Scouts - might need.


I have that problem.


After every backpacking trip I promise myself I'll bring less and lighter stuff.

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Anything with the label Coleman on it.

We have a Coleman outlet store in town and they give us a 20% scout discount. So needless to say, when my wife is looking at shoes at the outlet stores, I find myself browsing the aisles of Coleman. I always find something that looks of high quality and utility and a great price. Universally, I am disappointed with it in the field.

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Coleman, 40 years ago, when it was making farmhouse gear and adapting same to camping, had the best stoves and lanterns in the world.


They didn't do so bad on "heavy" (read car) camping stuff either, when they got into that line.


Eddie Bauer (remember when Eddie Bauer was an Expedition Outitter!?), REI, Kelty, and Camp Trails were the specialists.



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This climbing season, Coleman sponsored an Everest expedition using Exponent gear. I think they made the summit. Pretty gutsy if you ask me.

I made notice during our Philmont trek how Coleman gear stood up compared to other stuff. Invariably, the Coleman stuff, even Exponent line, failed or had some issue. I'd never put my life on the line with this stuff.

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Yah, I remember one of da Coleman Peak stoves. I picked it up because a couple of troops were lookin' at 'em.


I think the thing lasted less than a week in the field with me. It seemed to have a problem with developin' weaker flame and less heat over time. Tore it down and rebuilt it at least three times, each time it would work well for a bit, then weaken out again. That's with very gentle treatment and careful procedures, eh? Could just imagine 'em with kids.


I remember an early MSR-knockoff style thing that I think Coleman did as well. A buddy of mine had one. The materials they used were cheaper, and I remember that the ball that they used in the pump ball valve reacted poorly to temperature. Specifically, it shrunk too much in cold weather. Can't remember whether that made it stick or leak, but the effect was that instead of maintaining pressure the fuel can would spray large amounts of gasoline up the pump handle and all over the pump assembly. The thing was darn dangerous below 10 degrees.




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My first 50-miler, in the Blue Ridge mountains, circa 1969, was with a BSA Yucca pack with aluminum external frame...no hip belt or shoulder pads. Pre-Vietnam era leather combat boots with steel toes. USMC surplus canvas shelter halves.


Didn't know any better. My back and feet still hurt.

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Changed my sleeping pad a couple years ago to a Therm-a-rest ProLite 4. I'm a big guy and like the princess and the pea, I can feel a pine needle under my gear, but this thing is very nice and seems very durable. At $100 more or less it's a bit pricy for young scouts, but for older boys and adults it's a good bet.


My least favorite piece of equipment right now is my MSR Simmer Lite stove (multi-fuel). I'm going to invest in a MSR Dragon fly, that thing can get a 55 gal drum to a boil in 3 min, or launch the space shuttle if need be. Love it.


I am a Scoutmaster and tend to pack way too much as well on short weekend trips, but we get real serious and organized as a troop when we take longer treks. For a simple 3 - 5 mile jaunt, it's ok to be over prepared with some items (extra stoves, extra jacket, extra first aid stuff) just in case the boys need it. Week long trips need better equipment management.





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John, In 1973 I spent a week in the backcountry of Yellowstone after they closed in September...with a tube tent. Lucky for me it never rained.

My worst piece of gear was my 1960's vintage home-made soldered-together pack frame made from steel conduit. With rope shoulder straps. No hip belt. Brutal.

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