16 Dec 2013


As you may have seen in my gear list, I have been using the Mont Bell blow-up pillow (68g) for a couple of years. This Xmas trip I am trying out the Zpacks stuff sack pillow (47g). Basically this will drop the Mont Bell pillow weight off my pack weight, bar the weight of a small square of fleece. 

Joe at Zpacks has taken the normal cuben stuff sack that I use for holding clothing and sewn soft micro fleece to one half on the inside. You just flip the dry bag inside out as shown below and fill it with your spare clothes and gear to use as a pillow! 

The fleece is more comfortable on your face than the plastic feel of a normal stuff sack. It has the same normal roll top and the seams are all taped, as usual. As with my blow-up, I'll use two strips of velcro to keep the pillow from slipping off my mat (see earlier post on the NEO ultra light mat).

Joe makes these in two sizes for around $US30. See http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/dry_bags.shtml

I will report comfort rating, verses blow-up pillow after Xmas trip.

UPDATE - Following Xmas trip pleased to report pillow worked great. Depending on your clothing inventory, you may want to investigate the larger size? I am OK with medium. I will stick with this configuration for my PCT trip.  

How to Blow Up Your Air-Mat Without Passing Out

Guys - came across this today via Jolly Green Giant's blog replies. It's a classic!! And you don't fill your mat up with condensation. See a video on how to do this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzBb5oBBd3E&app=desktop

9 Dec 2013

New Web Address For Rob McKay's Blog

Hi Guys - Finally mustered up the skill to get a shorter web address. This blog now links to www.lightweightrob.com

This makes for a more memorable, easy to communicate address. The current address will still work OK.

7 Dec 2013

My Hiking Gear for 2014 Wish List

Yesterday John Abela's Hike Lighter blog posted his gear wish list for 2014. Two items on his list peaked my interest and has motivated me to work up a similar post whilst I soak up the scenery from my apartment window here in Brunnen, Switzerland - eat ya heart out!

In 2014 I am heading back to the USA to complete the Pacifc Crest Trail North of Tuolumne (already done the JMT with my hiking buddy, Lee, covering the PCT South from Tuolumne to Mt Whitney). This time I will be solo.

When I read John’s post, I really could not immediately think of what more gear I needed right now. I am pretty happy with my current set up (see my gear list tab) but with the big PCT hike coming up in a different country and weather conditions I have based my 2014 “want list” on this.

Suntactisc Scharger5- As I will be solo and be a few weeks on the trail, communication is important for safety, re supply and gear support (order on the trail to be delivered at next supply drop). Many PCT hikers report good cell phone coverage in many areas along the PCT. A draw back of the cell phone is power supply. A portable charger will also support my GPS, camera and headlight (but probably use an iPhone App as I only need location coordinates). I could also have music and email off my iPhone. 

The Suntactic 5 get rave reviews from hikers. It is only 227grams ($US126) and charges any unit with USB connectivity. I would convert my old Tikka plus2 to their new core power supply. This whole set up will make batteries totally redundant.

Zpacks Sleeping Bag- I love my ultra light Western Mountaineering Highlight sleeping bag (455grams +2c rating), but I can drop even more weight with the Zpacks bag (428grams +1c rating). I would get the longer length as Joe recommends (no hood on these bags) made with the new outer fabric and water resistant down. The price is good at $US380.

Railriders Equator HT Top - I love my merino! On the JMT I used a long sleeve 150 merino base Tee with mini stand-up collar and ¾ zip. I did get a bit hot sometimes, but the shirt wicked really well with no stink. I have been toying with trying a long sleeve shirt out for a while. I did get a Kathmandu one and didn't like it - clammy and smelly. 

These Railride shirts are nylon (no wicking) and do stink after a days use, but dry quick allowing a nightly rinse out. The are also bug protective. Another draw back is lack of multiple use. A shirt is one layer full-stop and provides no really warmth (not it’s intended use - used to give better sun protection). Where as the merino 150 base tee shirt can be over-laid with my 250 merino 2nd layer. Add to this my Mont Bell Ex Light insulated jacket and I have never needed more in 3 season hiking warmth.

Ursack is a bear resistant food sack made in the USA from lightweight, flexible, "bullet proof" fabric. It's a 179g alternative to traditional canisters. I need to carry a bear barrel in Yosemite park (they will not accept the Ursack) but will return it after I leave the park and pick up the Ursack at first supply dump at Echo Lake. I used the Bearikade barrel set up on the JMT - rented for about $US50. 

The carbon fiber barrel weighing in at just under a kilo - ouch! I was a good product and the park law gave me no choice. Outside of Yosemite I don't want to lug another half a kilo for the entire trip. Ursack also has the optional aluminum liner, adding this it weighs less than half hard-sided canisters. Do I need the aluminum liner? More research need and opinions welcomed.

So my list is small for 2014, but hey a manufacturer will come out with yet a lighter version of his/her product and being a “gram freak” I will get sucked into more spending. I am interested in your thoughts especially if anyone has had experience with Railriders shirts and Ursack bear bags.