My Gear List
You do not have to know anything about gear to know that their are so many varieties of everything your head will spin. It would be impossible for me to compile a complete list of anything and have it worth reading. So here is the deal: I like what I use, if I do not like it I will replace it with something I do like. I make my choices based on research, reviews and prices. Remember I am always open to suggestions. Everywherehiker@gmail.com
The list below will grow as I can add it.
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For many years I used shoes with some light tread; They would do the job but not efficiently, especially when I started running. Trail running shoes changed the game for me, they had the teeth to help make sharp turns and to get me up hills. I am Currently using Brooks Cascaidia, and I use them for about 95% of my hikes. I can run, hike, and climb with lightweight comfort. The longest trip I used them on was a 16 miler in the Adirondack High Peaks area and they worked well. Only when I know an area will be extra wet or rocky will I wear hiking boots. My only complaint is that my feet get hot while inside, this I notice more while I am at work than on the trail. $120
When it came to hiking boots I was looking for good reviews and Gortex (GTX). I typically only wear them if I know it will be wet and sloppy. At the moment I am using the Solomon Mid GTX; they were priced at about $160 which appears to be the lower end of what good hiking boots cost. I hate spending the money on these things but no doubt there are times when a good pair of boots is the right tool for the job. *In the snow slide a pair of Gaiters over the top to prevent snow from entering.
Water Purification More info
Water is essential and at 8 pounds per gallon it can hold you back. I usually do not hike beyond what I can carry but I am always prepared with two methods of water purification, neither of which effect the taste of water.
First is the Life Straw. It is a little bulky but light weight (2 oz). You can suck up to 1000L of water through it before you have to toss it. Make sure you blow the left over water back out of the tube when you are done.
Second is SteriPEN. Using UV light to “inactivate a wide range of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts”-from there site. You place the light in the water, stir, and in 48 seconds the water is treated. It weighs 2.9 oz (before 4 AA batteries?) If you need clean water for several people or need to transport water then this is the way to go. Check out their site for other models. $49.95
For most of the last 10 years I have been carrying a kid around in my pack. That is coming to an end so I decided I will spend some real money and get something nice. I wanted something that was compact, had room for equipment, and had a water reservoir. What I found is the Osprey Manta 36. It is large enough that I can squeek out a light overnight trip and small enough for any day trip. It has a 3L water bladder and built in rain hood. The price was $120 which I felt was reasonable. Things to look our for: Make sure the bladder cap is tight (I wore a few liters of water before I figured this out), and in freezing temps make sure you blow the water back through the straw or the tube will freeze solid.
Some quick tips for your winter pack; the line between things being ok and not ok can be very thin. When I am in the northern mountains I carry extra clothes (no jeans), micro-spikes, crampons, and snow snows, gaiters. I have a compact stove, fuel, packet of chicken soup, plenty of water. Double winter hat and gloves, goggles (some say 2 pair), hand warmers. GPS, compass, map. Base layer of clothing must be synthetic fibers. Hard shell coat in case the wind picks up. Do more research, you may need more items than this; below is some of the equipment I use.
The big name in Micro-spikes is Kahtoola and I would not bother with anything else. You can depend on them for grip while you are in the wilderness in sub-freezing temps. Keep them in your pack just in case, with there size and weight you will not even notice them. I was on the Blackhead range in the Catskills with no snow anywhere, yet the trail was covered in ice and I was happy to have them. Some things I like: They slip over my trail runner sneakers as well as my hiking boots. They transition well from ice to mud so I was not having to take them on and off. Some thing to look out for: While I was descending from a mountain I was stepping at an angle which let the spikes slide and I fell on my ass. Also while descending I would have to step hard to set the spikes in the ice for grip (I am a lightweight). Overall this is a great product, and I would not leave the house without them in winter. $70
Crampons allow you to get to some cool areas where few others will venture. I always say walking on ice with crampons is like like walking on concrete with sneakers. Their are a couple different types to choose from, REI has a nice page explaining the difference. I am using a pair of Black Diamonds and they got me up 94′ Ganoga Falls at Rickets Glen State Park with no problem.