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#190052 - 04/06/15 04:11 PM 10 Backpacking Gear Myths
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Another great article from Philip Werner the Section Hiker:
Ten Backpacking Gear Myths

Most of Philip's backpacking is done in New Hampshire's White Mountains, which have the reputation of having the worst weather in the continental US.

Hopefully this article will help folks looking for their first gear.


Edited by OregonMouse (04/06/15 04:19 PM)
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#190055 - 04/06/15 04:51 PM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: OregonMouse]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1719
Loc: Napa, CA
I love it. I had just decided to write a post about the naked in the sleeping bag myth after I heard an REI staffer loading up the BS on a customer the other day...

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#190083 - 04/08/15 11:12 AM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: OregonMouse]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
There usually is a grain of truth in all "myths".

Backpack cover? - depends. Not necessary but if you use your pack as a pillow you may not want to get the outside soaked, regardless if the inside contents stay dry. It is a personal choice of carrying the extra few ounces.

Shoes vs boots- depends. I do a LOT of off-trail and although I would use trail runners on a trail, I prefer a mostly leather low-cut light hiker off trail. There are many shoes out there now that are in-between trail runners and all-out boots. I have various boots/hikers/tennis/sandels - and use them all based on conditions.

Naked in sleeping bag. My personal experience is that if I hop into a cold sleeping bag with too many clothes on, I stay chilled for hours. The cold sleeping bag sucks any warmth from my body until I can generate enough heat to warm it up. Not sure why, but if I start out with a lightest layer (or naked) the initial "misery" time is shorter. The bag warms up quicker. Then I put on layers as the night progresses, as needed. The best thing to do is to go on a quick intense "hike" before bed and then immediately hop into the bag. My experience may be due specifically to my own body (little insulating fat) and the specific conditions under which I backpack. Many nights it is below freezing when I hop into my bag.

Tent footprint. Depends. A Tyvek sheet works as well as the footprint that comes with your tent and weighs less. I got mine free as excess from a construction site. The tent floor is tough with respect to "pull" strength, but a very sharp object can easily poke a tiny hole. You will not see the hole but it will leak water. The Tyvek will most likely extend the life of your tent floor. I am out many nights each year and use my equipment until it truly falls apart. If you are the type who "upgrades" every few years, you probably do not need a footprint. Biggest advantage of the footprint is that my tent floor stays cleaner.

Maps needed as well as GPS. I totally agree. BUT. Let's face it, in some heavily used, super maintained,well signed trail systems, plenty of people go without a paper map (and I have also seen those who go totally without a map!)and do fine. My personal experience is that most backpackers have poor map reading skills, now, and before there were GPSs'.

3-season tent OK in winter. Depends. My winter experiences do not support that. There are even some 3-season conditions that a 3-season tent is inadequate. High altitude, above tree line, winter conditions are different. Not sure I would take a 3-season tent on a winter climb of Mt. Rainier.


I think the UL community have their own "myths" that are not necessarily always "true". I am not a big fan of "truths" and "rules". Backpacking is a diverse sport with both extremely diverse people and areas and conditions.

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#190126 - 04/10/15 01:43 PM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: wandering_daisy]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
I've been learning a lot about how dependent certain bits of wisdom are on conditions.

Hiking shoes dry doesn't work well in the Appalachian mountains, for instance, because of how wet it is in the spring and fall. Wet shoes are wet shoes and may be that way for several days.

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#190127 - 04/10/15 03:03 PM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: Steadman]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
I've noticed that here too, Steadman. My shoes seem to take a long time to dry.

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#190132 - 04/12/15 12:20 AM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: 4evrplan]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1719
Loc: Napa, CA
I think you folks missed the point of the original article. In each case, the article took what has sometimes been considered "gospel" and suggested that there are other ways that are at least as good and maybe better. It didn't say that you HAD to hike in shoes...it said that you don't HAVE to hike in boots.

Which is pretty much what we are all saying. WD--I know what you mean about a cold sleeping bag, but It is really going to depend on so many factors. And the laws of physics are correct in this one.
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#190134 - 04/12/15 11:35 AM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: balzaccom]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
My favorite is not on the list. "Cotton kils". I would rather outdoor educators instead say, "make fabric choices appropritaly". Cotton has some good characteristics and by itself doesnt kill. Iresponsible gear choices decrease safety. Worse is those who bring gear from a list and have no idea how to use it.
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#190137 - 04/12/15 04:35 PM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: DTape]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
There is a thread on www.wintertrekking.com that I started about 6 years ago on traditional v. modern clothing for very cold winter camping that is still ongoing. It's turned out to be quite an interesting, and long lasting discussion.


Edited by TomD (04/12/15 04:36 PM)
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#190145 - 04/13/15 10:55 AM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: balzaccom]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 627
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By balzaccom
I think you folks missed the point of the original article. In each case, the article took what has sometimes been considered "gospel" and suggested that there are other ways that are at least as good and maybe better. It didn't say that you HAD to hike in shoes...it said that you don't HAVE to hike in boots.


Don't misunderstand me balzaccom, I'm not trying to contradict the article, just throw in one nuance and add to the discussion. Incidentally, I'm not about to trade in my shoes for the weight (and expense) of boots any time soon, but I don't care if someone chooses otherwise. I know Gershon is a big fan of his boots, and they seem to work really well for him.

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#190366 - 04/26/15 02:41 PM Re: 10 Backpacking Gear Myths [Re: OregonMouse]
WileECoyote Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/26/15
Posts: 1
Loc: South Dakota
Agree with no such thing as waterproof shoes - for stream crossings, but I do like my waterproof shoes to keep my feet dry on early morning hikes when there is dew on the grass or in light rain.

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