[Dick Takes a Hike ...]
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Report #20 part 2 (Click PREV to see part 1)
July 25-28, 1999

Executive Summary

At long last, here is the information about the gear Dick and Rick are carrying.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter

Important Note

While inspecting their gear, Rick noticed a serious tear in Dick's pack. One of the lower straps that fastens the pack itself to the hip belt had torn away from the pack. For Dick to proceed without having the pack repaired would be to risk his safety. He had purchased the pack only a few months earlier. Fortunately, it was a Gregory.

The Details
Pack: Both are carrying internal packs by Gregory. Dick's is 5300 cubic inches, the Palisades model; Rick's is slightly larger at 5500. (That may be 5700; my notes aren't clear.) I don't have the model for his. Both cost in the neighborhood of $300. When empty, both weigh between 6 and 7 pounds. Both rated their packs high on durability. Both said their packs were too heavy. Color was not an issue, but both said they'd noticed that green seems to be the favorite on the trail. As soon as they examined Dick's torn pack, they drove to our local outfitter, Eastern Mountain Sports. EMS replaced the pack on the spot, no questions asked, free. It pays to buy reputable equipment.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Pack Cover: Dick uses a commercial cover; it cost $20. Rick uses a large, plastic garbage bag; it cost a nickel. He has a new bag in each mail drop box. Though both are satisfied with the methods they've chosen, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. The cost is an obvious difference. Because the commercial cover is made to fit over the pack, it goes on faster and easier than a garbage bag. The commercial cover fits around the pack but not between the pack and the hiker's back, so there is still room to "breathe." The garbage bag goes all the way over the pack. It eliminates the possibility of water getting between the pack and the hiker's back, but it also prevents the hiker's back from "breathing."

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Tent: Dick has a Sierra Design Flashlight Clip. It weighs 3 pounds and 14 ounces; costs approximately $200. It is designed for 2 people, leaving ample room to stow gear. Dick said he'd definitely purchase that model again. From his and Rick's observations, the Flashlight Clip is the most popular design on the trail. Rick's tent is a one-person Gossamer by Eureka. It weighs less than 3 pounds and, when purchased 5 years ago, cost approximately $80. He likes the model because it is lightweight and inexpensive. He, too, would purchase that particular model again.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Wallets | Water Filter
Stove: Dick has a Whisper Lite. It burns Coleman fuel, which is readily available on the trail. Because the stove comes with a small repair kit, he chose not to buy the larger kit which is sold separately. The Whisper Lite appears to be the most popular on the trail. It can generate a full flame quickly, thereby making boiling water a quick chore. On the downside, Dick found the Whisper Lite difficult to regulate when he wanted the flame low enough to just simmer. Rick is using a Peak 1 (Apex 2 model). It uses either Coleman fuel or gasoline. Because the thermostat is very sensitive, Rick found regulating the heat as easy as it is on a kitchen stove. It does not perform as fast as the Whisper Lite when trying to achieve a full boil.

Boots | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Cookware: Dick is carrying one pot, one lid, and one spoon, all stainless steel. Rick's equipment is the same, except his spoon is made of plastic. It weighs just a tiny, tiny bit less than the stainless spoon. And as we all know by now, weight is weight. Both had looked into the titanium cookware. It is much lighter than the stainless and heats quickly. Rick estimated a savings of 8 to 10 minutes a day in cooking time. Still, Dick found the cost prohibitive. Besides, I'd already given him the stainless set for Christmas. (I gave him another pot and a frying pan too, but he shipped those home.) Rick said he has seen titanium sets on sale. Even on sale, one pot can still cost as much as $35. But for a hiker who already has all the major equipment, a titanium pot would make a nice gift. (Jewelry and perfume are still at the top of my list.)

Boots | Clothing | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Water filter: Both are using a Pur water filter. Both noted than when purchasing a water filter, it is critical to make sure the equipment can filter water-born viruses. Not all filters can. Rick also carries iodine tablets as a backup in case his filter malfunctions. Even with the iodine tablets, it's still necessary to wait twenty minutes before drinking the water. There's no safe shortcut to getting a drink unless the water comes from a tap.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets
Sleeping bag: Dick is carrying a 3-season bag, good to 20 degrees. It's made of a synthetic hollow-fill material. In shape, the bag is as wide at the top as it is at the bottom. I remember the day he bought the bag. He spread several of them on the floor at the outfitter and crawled into each one. The exercise proved valuable. Dick quickly discovered that the bags designed to be narrower at the feet than at the head restricted the movement of his legs so much he felt claustrophobic. Rick is using a Slumber Jack. He started out with a bag good to zero degrees. Then he switched to one good to 40 degrees. Now he's using a summer fleece bag, good to 60 degrees. He'll go back to the 40-degree bag when they get farther north. Both felt that an ideal weight for a bag would be between 2 and 4 pounds. Rick said his Boy Scout training taught him the importance keeping his sleeping bag dry. Even when he uses a stuff sack, he covers the sack with a plastic garbage bag. Both emphasized that while a down-filled bag is light, when wet it is much heavier than the popular hollow-fill.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Crash pad: As they explained it to me, the crash pad is not for mere comfort. One of the pad's biggest advantages is that it prevents the hiker from losing valuable body heat to the ground. Both Dick and Rick are carrying a 14-ounce foam rubber pad, at a cost of $20. Rick's is a Ridge-Rest, closed-cell foam pad. Dick started off with a self-inflating pad by Therma-Rest. It weighed 4 pounds and cost approximately $50. He said that while the Therma-Rest offered a little more comfort than the rubber pad, it wasn't worth the added weight. He added that while some hikers chose the three-quarter length in order to save weight, he prefers the comfort of the full-length style. The shorter variety leaves the feet exposed to the ground where they get cold. Rick said he had tried many crash pads over the years. He is extremely satisfied with the full-length Ridge-Rest he has now and would definitely buy it again. He, too, said the self-inflating variety is to heavy to carry. He cautioned that some full-length styles are too thin to provide comfort. He agreed that the three-quarter length leaves the feet cold.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Sticks: Dick is using two Leki walking sticks; they cost a little over $100. He swears by them, saying the built-in shock absorbers have saved his knees and, on more than one occasion, have kept him from falling. Rick is carrying one used ski pole. He bought a pair for $9 and feels he has wasted a good $4.50. He isn't convinced that the Leki's are as valuable as Dick claims, but Rick also admits he has younger knees. Because the Leki's make small holes in the ground, Rick claims they tear up the trail. Dick says the holes help the earth to breathe.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Boots: Let's hear it for those Vasque Sundowners! Both Dick and Rick are wearing them. Dick is still on his first pair and his feet are still blister free. Rick is on his second pair and he has had a blister or two. These medium-weight boots are constructed of one piece of leather, weigh 3 pounds, and cost between $180 and $200. Dick wears ankle-length gaiters ("baby gaiters") to keep out dirt, debris, and water. Rick doesn't use the gaiters, saying they add weight to the feet. As he put it, "every once on the foot must be lifted." He feels that without the gaiters his legs and feet aren't as tired as they would be with the gaiters. He does, however, have to stop now and then to remove a stone. He made it to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, with his first pair of Sundowners. The padded collar at the top of the boots wore out, which then strained the leather. Vasque replaced the boots at no cost. Unfortunately, he is experiencing the same problem with the replacement boots. He used duct tape to reinforce the collars. Dick and Rock both waterproofed their boots several times along the trail. Dick used Nikwax. Rick has used Nikwax, Snowseal, or whatever was available.

Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Socks: Dick is carrying 3 pairs of wool socks, 2 pairs of silk liners and 1 pair of polyester liners. Rick is carrying 2 pairs of socks and 2 pairs of polyester liners. Both rinse out their liners every night and hang them to dry. With wool socks, foot odor is hard to avoid, but the message with clothing is the same as with socks: Cotton Kills.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Sandals: Both Dick and Rick emphasized how important it is to give their feet and their boots a rest at the end of the day. As soon as they reach the day's destination, they remove their boots and put on sandals. Each has a simple $5 variety from K-Mart.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Equipment Miscellaneous: Rick suggested that anyone shopping for equipment check out the Campmor Company. Their website is www.campmor.com. He said they offer a good variety of equipment and their shipping charges are reasonable. When he last ordered from them, he paid only $7.50 for over $300 worth of equipment.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Food: Dick and Rick both carry bags of gorp, quick-cooking rice and noodles. Dick carries a small plastic jar of peanut butter. Rick purchased his peanut butter in bulk and packed portions in plastic zipper bags. Alas, even double-bagging didn't help. The oil in the peanut butter seeps right through. Dick is one of the few hikers to carry juice boxes. The added weight makes them a luxury, but he appreciates having one when he wakes up in the morning. Rick said he went 18 miles one day without finding water. After passing three dry springs, he finally filtered two quarts from a stream. Dick said he's going to invent "instant water" for hikers. Add two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen and stir with a stick. He admits he doesn't have all the details worked out yet, but says he has 700 miles to think about it.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Nature Calls: Most shelters have outhouses. Many leave much to be desired. When the woods are used, hikers are required to go at least 200 feet away from any water source. Dick carries a plastic zipper bag filled with small, pre-moistened, disposable wipes. Rick carries half a roll of toilet paper. He packed half a roll in each food shipment. Bathing is a weekly activity and often equates to a jump in a creek. Hikers are often heard to say, "Boy, you stink! Or is that me?" Rick put it best when he said that thru-hikers must be willing to accept alternate lifestyles.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Clothing: 99% of the time, both men wear shorts and a t-shirt made of polyester. One of the first pieces of clothing Dick sent home were his rain pants. He found them useless. He has two pairs of shorts, both the quick-drying variety, with lots of pockets that zip shut. On cold, rainy days, Rick wears Lycra running tights.

Boots | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Wallet: Neither carries one. Instead, they use a plastic zipper bag and carry a driver's license, credit card, a little cash, calling card, and insurance card. That's it!

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Water Filter
Radios:Dick carries a radio that picks up AM stations so he can hear the news. He also carries extra batteries. Rick carries a radio, spare batteries, and a compass. He also has a silver emergency blanket and a head net to keep bugs away.

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Journals | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter
Journals:Rick is carrying a "fairly heavy" black and white marble composition book he uses for his journal. He isn't writing as much as he had planned and feels that one book will suffice for the whole trip, including space for post trip afterthoughts. Dick is not carrying any journal - but then, we all know that .

Boots | Clothing | Cookware | Crash Pad | Food | Miscellaneous | Nature Calls | Pack | Pack Cover | Radios | Sandals | Sleeping Bag | Socks | Sticks | Stove | Tent | Wallets | Water Filter