Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cesar's Complete Gear Combinations for 2014: 3 Season

If you haven't already, please make sure to read my introduction to this series of posts related to my full 2014 season selection of gear and clothing for backpacking.  It gives a lot of relevant background information and details regarding all six of these gear lists in general.

These two gear lists are for brisk weather conditions I plan on experiencing typically throughout most of spring and fall, and cover what I consider to be "cold" and "cool"--both of which fall under the 3 season category for me.  Also note that these temperatures also reflect the lowest predicted temps (i.e. typically at night and at dawn) in weather forecasts for a given trip. I personally define these terms as follows, and the final weights are listed for the impatient:

Cold = -2 to 9 C / 28 to 48 F
  * On trail - BPW 4209g / 9.3lbs, CW 1436g / 3.2lbs
  * Off trail - BPW 4534g / 10lbs, CW 2271g / 5lbs

Cool = 10 to 15 C / 50 to 59 F
  * On trail - BPW 3964g / 8.7lbs, CW 1296g / 2.9lbs
  * Off trial - BPW 4341g / 9.6lbs, CW 1918g / 4.2lbs

Please feel free to check my math and let me know if I have made a mistake.  It's easy to make mistakes when dealing with so many numbers.

3 Season general pros: Less bugs than peak season, good campsites and shelters not as crowded, flowers and new life in spring, colorful leaves and mushrooms in the fall, don't have to melt snow/ice for drinking water, and not as much bulk/weight from warmer clothing and sleep systems.

Cons: Some bugs in "cold" to moderate amounts in "cool" conditions, cold rain and potential risk of wet snow during cold saps.

These combos of gear get quite a lot of use, and for longer periods of time; and in addition to general spring and fall, they will also be used in the summer if/when I backpack much further north (e.g. Kungsleden).  Rain and getting soaked are one of the biggest issues to deal with, as not only is hiking all wet not exactly comfortable, getting wet can be dangerous in these brisker temperatures.  Not only can you risk hypothermia, but it also drains time and energy to deal with drying out and/or changing clothing when necessary.

First, as before, the constant gear for each list:

Backpack - Zpacks Arc Blast 52, plus two hip pockets, 515g.

Food bag - Silnylon waterproof roll top bag (Sea to Summit), 33g.

Clothing bag - Cuben stuff sack with duct tape repairs, 12g.

Diddy bag - Ziplock bag, toothbrush, 15ml toothpaste, tea candle, spare batteries, spare mini-clip, paper clips, string, spare bottle cap, toilet paper, sunblock.  140g.

First Aid and Repair Kit - Ziplock bag, gauze, band aids, butterfly strips, triple ointment, rubbing alcohol, pen, paper, mini-bic lighter, mini-sewing kit, 3 doses paracetomal, 3 doses ibprofin, duct tape, sleeping mat patches, 1 tea bag, 1 pack sugar, mini-bottle super glue.  120g.

Small Essentials - Compass, mini-LED light, lip balm, whistle, tiny bottle of concentrated biodegradable soap.  50g.

Wallet - Photo of family, emergency contact information, ID card, bank card, transportation card, small waterproof Cuben pouch (Zpacks).  20g.

Water bottle - Recycled Bramhölts (Swedish fruit juice brand) #2 plastic (the best kind, Google it) one liter bottle.  47g.

MYOG double layer ground cover - Cut up garbage bag with space blanket duct taped on top, plus Cuben stuff sack.  Provides extra protection to both bivy and inflatable sleep pad, and a small amount of extra warmth.  88g.

Pillow - Small DIY job, 35g.

Knife and sheath - Mora Basic, 105g.

Headlamp - 90 lumens max LED light (Black Diamond), plus batteries, 93g.

Map - Waterproofed and trimmed, approximately 20g (this can vary slightly, but not by that much).

Rope - Mostly for hanging food bag, 42g.

Trekking pole - Aluminum, 180g.

Cell phone - For emergencies, say goodnight to my children, clock, 100g.

Camera - Simple point and shoot Panasonic, plus battery 212g. 

Glasses - It's nice not to see all fuzzy.  18g.

Water filter - Sawyer Squeeze (original) plus raw water bladder, 95g.

Small towel - MSR synthetic, doubles as pot holder, condensation wiper, 22g.

Small foam mat - Sit pad, torso sleep pad, kneel pad, etc., 57g.

Rain gear - An important addition to these kits, as things can get pretty wet.  Cuben pack cover (Zpacks, 25g), WPB Cuben rain jacket (Zpacks, 140g), silnylon rain pants (paid an independent sewing professional to get these custom made, 80g), Cuben stuff sack (5g), total of 250g.

Total so far of "the constant gear," most of which is base pack weight (BPW): 2254g / 5lbs--though things like the trekking pole and glasses are technically more like "clothing worn" items, but I will just include them in the constant BPW.  At times I will put them in/on my pack anyhow.  Clothing worn (CW) to be covered below.

The Cold Gear Lists

There is not as much clothing to go through, and with the ground not frozen it's easier to use tarps and tents that require stakes.  There is a lot of gear that has remained on my 3 season gear lists for the past few years that I have been very happy with, and hope to get even more good use out of.

For on trail trips:

Let's start with clothing typically worn while hiking:

Windshirt - Montbell Tachyon Anorak, not bad water resistance yet breathable, fits nicely over the rest of the layers if needed, 75g (CW).

Windbreaker - Light Montbell synthetic jacket.  Decent warmth for not much weight at 155g (CW).

Base layer - Merino wool top, 227g (CW).

Baseball cap - Not only good at keeping sun out of one's face, but also rain.  83g (CW).

Windpants - Puma running pants.  Very comfortable, durable light nylon.  265g (CW).

Wool socks - Quite warm, 63g (CW).

Silk boxers (not pictured) - 50g (CW).

Shoes (not pictured) - Merrell Trail Gloves, 430g (CW).

Synthetic shirt - Generic brand, long sleeve.  This is what I wear to sleep, or as an extra layer in case of a cold sap.  It's great to have a dry set of clothing packed away to wear if one has been hiking through cold rain all day, and my packed clothing has a triple layer of protection from water--rain cover, backpack itself is water proof fabric and seam sealed, and clothing is in a water resistant Cuben stuff sack with partial seam sealing.  175g (BPW).

Alpaca gloves - Very warm for the weight, bought from toothless old lady in Bolivia along with a hat.  Mostly worn at night, during sleep, and in the morning.  Provides good warmth even when wet.  28g (BPW).

Wrist gaiters - Wool, keeps drafts out, pretty warm for the weight, 33g (CW).

Base Layer - Merino wool bottoms, sleep wear or extra bottom layer in case of cold sap.  196g (BPW).

Down vest - Borah Gear 850 fill water resistant down vest, 105g (BPW).

Down hat - Black Rock Gear, warm stuff; mostly worn at night, during sleep, and in the morning.  33g (BPW).

Alpaca socks - Sleep socks, 45g (BPW).

Synthetic socks and tiny stuff sack - Extra socks to either combine with wool socks for more warmth or wear on their own to cool off.  Tiny stuff sack is water resistant nylon (it came with my MB windshirt), also doubles as rock bag for use with hanging food bag up in a tree.  38g (BPW).

Scarf (not pictured) - Merino wool Buff, 55g (CW).

Sleeping bag - Zpacks 40F/4.5C long/wide down bag, plus Cuben dry sack.  Can be opened up "quilt style" and worn as makeshift cloak if needed in case of extreme cold sap.  428g (BPW).

Inflatable sleeping mat - Neoair Xlite regular, R value 3.2, 369g (BPW).

Cook kit - Either Esbit stove (Ti Wing, pictured above) or alcohol stove (MBDC Elite, not pictured) depending on how cold it is and availability of fuel.  Lucky for me, both kits weigh the same (200g).  Also includes STS HA Alu spoon (not pictured), but if I choose to use alcohol--and this is usually the case--I also have to include a recycled plastic bottle to store the alcohol fuel (23g).  I'll just go with the weight of the alcohol stove to make things easier, and it also gets more use.  223g (BPW).

On trail shelter system - Above are two pictures of each main piece of my shelter system in action, the Zpacks Hexamid Solo tarp and the modified Borah Gear Cuben bivy.  The first picture is before I owned my Borah bivy back in 2012, and the second picture is from some great cowboy camping I did on Bohusleden last year.  The third picture is from a section hike of the E1 trails in May of 2014.

This system is great for trails because it provides the flexablity of being able to use the whole system in the woods, just the tarp if there are little/no bugs but rain, just the bivy for cowboy camping, or just the bivy in trail shelters (and tarp becomes a part of my pillow).  For the tarp, bivy, guy lines, stakes, stake sack, and stuff sack to keep it all together is a total of 315g (BPW).

This brings the grand total of my "cold" gear list for on trail use to:

BPW 4209g / 9.3lbs, CW 1436g / 3.2lbs 

5645g / 12.4lbs total for everything minus consumables.

For off trail use:

Thick synth jacket - Generic, tough, hooded, slightly water resistent, insulated, 100% nylon.  Replaces windshirt and windbreaker, minus 75g and 155g.  Add 575g (CW).

Rain poncho - Generic, replaces WPB Cuben rain jacket and Cuben pack cover, minus 140g and 25g.  Add 166g (BPW).

Synthetic hiking pants - Generic, durable, cargo pockets come in handy.  Replaces windpants, minus 265g, add 365g (CW).

Shoes - Canvas Converse All Stars, replaces Trail Gloves.  Minus 430g, add 820g (CW).

Off trail shelter - Six Moon Design Skyskape X Hybrid Cuben tent, scored this used from an online classifieds forum for a good price, did some minor repairs and seam sealing, and it's good as new.  I go further off trail during 3 and 1 season trips than 4 season.  Off trail and in the middle of nowhere I have found it more convenient and comfortable to have a little space to hang out in.  On trail there are natural spots to hang out at/in, like trail shelters and campsites.  But out in the raw wilderness it's nice to have a good, portable, enclosed space.  Replaces tarp/bivy combo above, minus 315g.  Tent, tent poles, guy lines, stakes, stake sack, and stuff sack to hold it all comes to a total addition of 535g (BPW).

Extra compass with signal mirror - For peace of mind mostly, but just in case it's good to have.  79g (BPW).

Firesteel - Light My Fire Scout model striker.  Again for peace of mind mostly, but in case of an emergency, and in the rare event that my gear becomes totally soaked, this is a waterproof and virtually unlimited extra fire starter.  25g (BPW).

This brings the grand total of my "cold" gear list for off trail use to:

BPW 4534g / 10lbs, CW 2271g / 5lbs

6805g / 15lbs total for everything minus consumables.

The Cool Gear Lists

These two gear lists are pretty easy to modify, and these are mostly for the transitions in between spring/fall and summer as temperatures get warmer or cooler as seasons change.  Then there are some summers here in Scandinavia that are just much milder than normal, like a few years ago when it went down to a low of 8 C / 46 F in July for a few days.

As above, we start with the constant gear BPW of 2254g / 5lbs.  Most of the gear is the same as the above "cold" gear list unless otherwise noted.

For on trail trips:

Windshirt - 75g (CW).

Base layer - Top, 227g (CW).

Baseball cap - 83g (CW).

Windpants - 265g (CW).

Synthetic socks - 36g (CW).

Cotton boxers - Doubles as swim wear, as high temps in these conditions usually are warm enough to take a dip.  90g (CW).

Shoes - Trail Gloves, 430g (CW).

Synthetic shirt - Top, 175g (BPW).

Wrist gaiters - 33g (CW).

Base Layer - Synthetic bottoms, 165g (BPW).

Down vest - 105g (BPW).

Down hat - 33g (BPW).

Synthetic socks and tiny stuff sack - 38g (BPW).

Scarf/bandana/swimming towel - Small cotton towel, 57g (CW).

Head net - Nano netting to keep out even those tiny, annoying midges.  35g (BPW).

Synthetic sleeping bag - Zpacks 40 bag and stuff sack, 428g (BPW).

Foam mat - Standard camping store generic mat, trimmed to 2/3rds, 193g (BPW).

Alcohol cook kit - 223g (BPW).

On trail shelter - Tarp/bivy combo, 315g (BPW).

This brings the grand total of my "cool" gear list for on trail use to:

BPW 3964g / 8.7lbs, CW 1296g / 2.9lbs

5260g / 11.6lbs total for everything minus consumables.

For off trail use:

Running jacket/windbreaker - Slightly thicker nylon, smooth texture does surprisingly well for bushwhacking as I found out on several occasions, like this one for example.  And if it does get damaged, easy to repair or replace.  This is also the jacket I use as an outer layer for my frigid on trail gear list, off trail I replace it with a cotton trench coat--but keep in mind that it's the down jacket that I am worried about protecting, not really this windbreaker.  Replaces windshirt, minus 75g, and adds 207g (CW).

Rain poncho - Generic, replaces WPB Cuben rain jacket and Cuben pack cover, minus 140g and 25g.  Add 166g (BPW).

Synthetic hiking pants - Generic, durable, cargo pockets come in handy.  Replaces windpants, minus 265g, add 365g (CW).

Shoes - Canvas Converse All Stars, replaces Trail Gloves.  Minus 430g, add 820g (CW).

Shelter - SMD Skyskape X.  Minus 315g for tarp/bivy, add 535g (BPW).

Extra compass with signal mirror - 79g (BPW).

Firesteel - 25g (BPW).

This brings the grand total of my "cool" gear list for off trail use to:

BPW 4341g / 9.6lbs, CW 1918g / 4.2lbs

6259g / 13.8lbs total for everything minus consumables.

Updated 23/06/2014 - I have since retired my old summer synthetic bag and didn't use it for any trips this year.  Just too worn out, and even if my Zpacks 40 bag is overkill, I just use it as a quilt and open it up to cool off.