Jason's Equipment List
2012 Summer update: Sadly, there have been fire restrictions for the the summer of 2011 and 2012 (just lifted) so there has been no camping or hiking in the mountains. Even our access to Tucumcari Mountain has been eliminated as the owners have put up "No Trespassing" signs and I won't violate that. What I wouldn't give for a Scotland/Shetland attitude of wild camping laws!!
I have been slimming down quite a bit, but on a very tight budget, which is not a problem because I really want a cheap, light, and personally satisfying setup.
Actually, I am skewing more toward cheap and small than particularly light these days. Of the three, light is, by a large margin, the most expensive. I am a reasonably tough guy that can handle some weight, so this is how I am going.
The Heavy Stuff I Need to Ditch
I am dealing with a shrinking number of things that are really heavy. I mostly car-camp for work and most of my older equipment was put together for that. I use my overnighters for work to test out new stuff. Imperfect system, but at least it gets tested.
Swiss Gear 5-person w/fly
HEAVY 5-person! I have taken this along on bigger family outings and it takes up most of my space and I avoid it except for car-camping. It is getting old and the door zipper is having big problems in closing (usually takes about half-an-hour to zip things shut - annoying!).
I bought a replacement for this during the 2010 family camp-out. It is much larger, taller, and flimsier. Don't like it much at all, but we were in a pinch and had to get what we could. Still use the Swiss Gear for car-camping because I like it better (zipper not withstanding).
Wenzel 1-2 man
We hike with the Wenzel (just a bit bigger than a bivvy) and another cheap 2 man and things go a bit better. I am looking to consolidate, so I have been looking at silnylon poncho-tarps for when I need cover.
Man, I really don't like mummy bags, but my wife uses the only rectangle that I like.
I don't want to fret down or its cost, but I don't like just the bulk of synthetic down and its weight. I am looking at some newer synthetics and higher temp ratings, as I tend to sleep hot and might do with a lighter bag and a cottony liner.
Swiss Gear 20deg Mummy Bag
On my coldest nights, I have used this mummy just for my south half, a zipped open rectangle on the top half, and just a regular flat sheet under me (after having seen the interesting ultralight quilts on the net). It has been the most comfortable and worked the best for comfort, but I can't stomach hauling around that much. I typically don't zip up the mummy until the really wee hours if it gets cold.
Cheap-o "military" 30% wool blanket
I added this to another purchase (new water bladder) and I have been using it for an under-layer. Really makes things much warmer. Nothing is sized for my height - the "average" outdoor people must be short and "husky"(fat?) and must have porters in the cheap world! I might get a second blanket and cut it up to add some length (maybe a foot pocket as well).
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The Stuff I Actually Like and Plan to Keep
Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-rest Z-Lite Pad
I got this for Christmas 2008. (Isn't it great to be an adult and get to buy yourself what you really want?!) I have tried to sleep on it on motel room floors during the winter, but concrete floors need more padding than this. Maybe sleeping on the ground will work better. This is a closed-cell pad, so one doesn't have to fret it getting particularly wet.
I have used this a bit (without any covering at all) in 2010 and I am still struggling with it. Might go back to cheap Wal-mart closed cell simply for the space.
In 2010, I got a cheap "military" blanket, which is about 30% wool. It's heavy, but packs small and can handle getting wet and still keeps me warm.
I have used very thin closed-cell pads from Wal-mart and a cheap Thermarest knock-off, which I have used individually and together. I have ditched the closed-cell pads in favor of the inflatable for car camping, especially since I also use a military cot.
Black Diamond Flash Daypack
I bought this before the 2009 hiking season and used it daily for my bike commute (until 2011). It is just silly light and, with some equipment downsizing, it works great for my traveling equipment. I also got a silnylon large stuff sack for bigger loads that I am using the Flash as a sort of pack frame for. The capacity of this bag is starting to affect my thoughts on what to carry.
Stuff I recently Got and am Experimenting With
Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy
There are some other emergency blankets and bags available, but for the price, this one seems to have the best combination of durability, reflective heating, size and weight. I am a pretty hot person by nature and, even under some colder conditions, a typical bag is just too stifling and hot.
I finally used this out in the wilderness with Shayna, coupled with a fleecy blanket/sleeping bag I got at Walmart for $10. The condensation got so bad that the bottom of the bag and my feet were soaking wet and cold come morning. The bivvy isn't breathable enough for me. I plan to cut it open all the way around and use it as a top sheet.
After looking at how this is made, I don't plan to screw with it. In 2009 and 2010, it was in the pack, because it is so small and light, but never needed it for emergencies.
The Dream Stuff I Hope to Have Soon
Shayna and I have decided that I am a chalupa rather than a burrito.
I am thinking about getting a tyvek groudcloth and a silnylon poncho/tarp to complete my system.
I want the whole thing to have a layered effect.
silnylon poncho/tarp (Campmor has a good one) (need to buy) held up by my walking pole
opened out fleecy blanket/sleeping bag from Walmart (replaced by rectagular fill bag in colder weather)
Jason (non-burrito) (perhaps wearing a thermal underwear top and sweat pants as needed)
old, thin fitted sheet for a cottony feel
Walmart cheap-o closed-foam pad (nice and light, always works)
Tyvek groundcloth (need to buy)
Homemade Climashield Quilt
I have seen some of these on the Internet and I think I may experiment with it, using an older nylon bag's shell to cover it. In the plan above, I will probably drop out the bivvy, the Wal-Mart fleece, and the old sheet, as I would like to haul everything on my modified Flash...
Video: Dell Laptop
I have one of these from work (I wouldn't buy one myself). I only use it for car-camping stuff.
Audio: Cheap no-name (AAA powered) mp3 player & cheap wind-up world radio
I typically listen to podcasts after a day of hiking so I take the mp3 player and a few batteries as spares.
While car-camping, I use the hand-crank world radio, though I find it pretty unsatisfying because there is very little available at night. I did find Alex Jones this way.
Now that I am a ham, I have been looking at perhaps using a pixie transceiver or something like that to fill the time and get some morse proficiency, haven't put this together yet...