This year I used two pieces of equipment new to me.
#1. Osprey Exos 58 pack. Medium Size. 2lbs 3oz. reduced weight over previous pack by nearly 1 lb.
Most packs I need a large (though only 5'7"+ my legs are incredibly short so If given normal legs I should be 5'11' or so). Anyhow the medium fits. Due to length of trips and and added weight of Bearikade and fishing gear starting weight of my pack ranged from 40 to 53 lbs. According to BP magazine shouldn't carry more than 40. At any rate it held up well. However, given the design the frame portion of the pack extends outside of the pack and the cloth that surrounds the pack is subject to wear (the part I'm talking about is at the bottom so it wears when you allow the pack to slide on rock) unless you are carefull when you take it off. I wasn't! so now that portion of the pack is protected with, you guessed it, duct tape! Anyhow I like the pack and expect to get another season out of it.
#2. Exped Downmat 7 Delux Sleeping Pad-- 2lbs 8 oz (I don't know if that includes the stuff sack or not but total could be 3 lbs. This makes it the heaviest piece of my core equipment). This pad reverses years of making all of my equipment lighter. But I have had two issues as I approach middle age (never see 60 again)--pain in shoulders and sensitivity to cold. This pad is as comfortable as my latex matress at home. With 2.8" of downfilled air below me I am as warm and comfy as I can be. Coupled with my WM bag and sleeping clothes appropriate to the season I expect to be backpacking Into my 70s. The 26 inch width is as stable as can be but when my wife is with me (using a Downmat 9 delux) there is no 2 person tent on the market that can fit us. (so we use Big Agnes Seedhouse SL which is big enough, comfy, stable but needlessly complex (needs 13 stakes or large rocks for basic setup of tent and fly [there are more options and guylines available if you are contemplating camping in a hurricane]). This tent is about 3 times as heavy as my solo tent (Tarptent Contrail). The one fear with an air mattress is of a puncture. I did get one on my second yosemite trip this year and markskor and I took it out into red devil lake to find the hole but to no avail. Not until I got it home to the hot tub did I find the tiny pinhole. The hole was so small that the pad did not deflate to the point that I hit bottom during the night but it did soften up more than I like. Anyhow a spot of shoe goo fixed it up fine. The worst features of the downmat is its volume in the stuff sack (which is used to inflate the pad), the time it takes to inflate the pad, and the need to be careful with the valves when inflating the pad. I remember in the 50s and early 60s when I didn't use a pad. Then ensolite came along, Then thermarests. I've embraced all the innovations but this pad clearly provides the best nights sleep I've ever had when backpacking. (we use it car camping too but with an electric pump!
I used the MSR microlight water filter last year and had the same clogging problems everyone else had. This year I got a new filter element and followed instructions to the T and it worked fine. As fishmonger noted the backflushing process can be tricky and changing the direction of the valves must occur over a clear, secure area or you risk losing the parts. The question remains "is the additional labor worth saving a few ounces?"
Boots-- For the past several years I have been using the lightest I can find that fit me. Of course I have had problems with soles separating from uppers, stitching coming a part, and new this year a chunk of rubber breaking off the sole. Last year I reported a small separation between the sole and upper of my Merrill pulse boots (before the midsole wore out). I continued to use the boots during the winter and spring on local dayhikes. This summer I decided to clean them up and strategically apply shoe goo. I've probably put 15 miles on them since then and the goo is still holding the boots together. So the next step is to pretreat seams and the area between the uppers and the midsole of new boots with shoe goo. Has anyone else tried doing that? I now have 4 pairs of boots, including one new pair, that I rotate using and think that with shoe goo I won't need to buy another new pair next year. We shall see.
Any advice on any issues I have brought up would be appreciated.
Share your advice and personal experiences, post a gear review or ask any questions you may have pertaining to outdoor gear and equipment.
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There use to be a product to protect boot seams. It seemed to be a lot like super glue. For years I have been soaking seams with super glue, or some version of it. Cyanoacrylic adhesive if you want to be technical. It does seem to protect the threads from abrasion.
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I've had major problems with soles coming off (in the middle of trips, with boots that were not all that old). I got a new pair last fall that started to show some "air" between the sole and boot after only a couple of uses and I tried plugging it with shoe goo. So far it's worked, but I haven't been able to put it to much of a test, because I can't wear those boots now for other reasons.
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