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#198216 - 04/26/17 02:00 PM Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong?
ableright Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/14
Posts: 9
So I've upgraded a lot of my gear. I didn't feel too bad hiking 10 miles today with my gear but it was starting to get difficult after that. Where I'm at right now the weather is bad, so I can't actually set up camp easily/comfortably at all yet which is disappointing because I can't wait.

Somehow I feel like I'm still doing something wrong with my gear setup. I don't know if it's just me being super picky, or if my gear setup is pretty typical of what experienced backpackers on here would do? I'm also open to any advice or improvements as I'm still highly confused! I definitely humbly want and need help as I'm still new to backpacking in general, but I love the outdoors. So here's my gear setup:

Backpack:
In any case, I have 2 backpacks to choose from from multi-day backpacking the Gregory Baltoro 75 and an Osprey Ether 85 liter pack that I just bought on sale. I'm using the Gregory pack for now but both seem to be awesome packs.

Ok, so I don't know if I'm being extreme or not, but even with these huge packs I have issues with space in the packs which seems ridiculous, though they do have "enough" space barely. I use ultralight stuff sacks for food and everything else too. So here's the list of essentially of what I'm packing:

Sleeping:

-Ultralight REI Igneo 25 down sleeping bag. I also use a Sea To Summit expensive, but highly functional ultralight waterproof compression stuff sack which saves space and keeps this dry.
-In case It gets colder which is frequently does at night A Sea To Summit Light Sleeping Bag Liner reactor fleece. I admit this does add weight, but it can be used by itself if it's very hot, or greatly increase heat in the bag if it gets really cold which is can here.
-For A Pad For Comfort Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Mattress. There things are just awesome for heat and comfort, I don't know what else to say.

Shelter:

-I was thinking of using the new Ultralight 2 pound Nemo Tent, but I don't like that tent so for a slight pound+ more I got discounted the time tested MSR Nook 2 Tent with a rain fly. I also use a cheap but light tarp for a footprint that Weighs about 1/3rd of a pound. (I know that's optional).

Cooking:

-Snow Peak Ultralight Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset which is just a tiny pan and pot (all I need) and you can fit one Propane tank inside.
-For A Stove The MSR Pocket Rock 2 (Very Light and I Love this Thing).

Other Clothing:

-I have a light rain jacket from North Face and a cheaper but functional pair of rain pants from Columbia. They don't compact amazingly well but they're not that heavy or too bad and very functional.
-Under Armor 2 Pants and Shirt. These add a bit of weight and bulk, but I feel they are highly helpful for when it gets really cold at night (which it can in Montana again) for the extra pound for both of them.

Medical:

-About 1.5 ponds of medical kit gear. Quick Clot stuff, Pills in little rip packages Antihistamine, Pain Killers, Stomach relief, ointment for burns, alcohol wipes, band aids etc.

Fire:

-UCO Stormproof matche kit.
-Bic Lighter (2 of them).
-Zombie Tinder which are like candles in yarn.
-Ultralight Exotac PolyStriker Firestarter that weighs 0.5 ounces.

Other Stuff:

-Can Of Bear Spray (on waist belt).
-Morakniv lightweight knife (on waist belt).

All of this gear including the Baltoro pack is about 24-25 pounds (not including food and water). Would that be acceptable to you?

Water:

-I'm also using a 100 ounce Platypus (that I'm thinking of not using as that's a lot of water at once). However, it's nice when there's not water around.
-I'm using the MSR Sawyer Mini as a filter when needed which is very small and ultralight.

Food:

All dried products. Things Like Top Ramen, peanut butter, trail mix with lots of nuts, instant potatoes, a couple mountain house meals etc. I like to keep a bare minimum of 125 calories per ounce and I can have a pound to a pound of a half of food per day to get by comfortably it seems.

With a total weight of about 33-37 pounds (under 40 in total including food and water) I have a pack with all I need to be comfortable in the Wilderness areas here for even up to a week 7 nights. Is this acceptable? I'm still highly confused and concerned if I've "overspent" on stupid, unneeded items from REI that might just be wasteful? I've spent a lot upgrading ultralight items from REI etc. from conventional to ultralight gear like the cookset, tent, sleeping bag, etc.

Thankfully things can be returned since I've upgraded a lot of this for this coming summer. This is all very confusing at first and I don't know what if anything at this point that I'm doing wrong?

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#198217 - 04/26/17 04:14 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Rather than comment on individual items, I suggest starting afresh, not with new gear (much of what you have sounds fine) but with a new list.

(1) Invest in an electronic postage scale, that weighs to the nearest tenth of an ounce, and weigh each individual item. Just "lightweight" or "ultralight" doesn't cut it when you are really trying to cut weight and bulk. The scale has multiple uses (as should most backpacking gear) such as in the kitchen or even for postage!

(2) Take a look at the 27-pound, 7-day gear list and the many other articles on the home page of this site about saving weight. They will give you lots of ideas. Not necessarily models or brands, but the weight and quantity of items. Reducing weight will also result in reducing bulk, so you can use a smaller--and lighter--pack.

I started out with about what you have, only a bit heavier--I had to stop backpacking because after a knee injury I could no longer carry it. After modeling my gear on the "27-pound" list, my base weight (everything but the consumables of food, water, fuel) is about 12 1/2 pounds including fishing gear and a rather luxurious sleeping pad (badly needed for old lady with arthritis who gets cold very easily). It includes everything I need for my comfort and safety in the high Cascades or the northern Wyoming Rockies. I can comfortably get everything (including up to 10 days' food) into a 45 liter backpack. I must admit that the last 2 1/2 pounds of weight savings involved far too many $$$ per ounce, and probably weren't worth it. I'd have been fine sticking with 15 lb. base weight, cutting maximum trip length from 10 days to 8, and not investing in expensive cuben fiber.

If I could do it, you can!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#198219 - 04/26/17 06:09 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 848
Loc: Torrance, CA
In terms of packing... some people pack more efficiently than others. One thing I can tell from your description is you are probably packing many little bags as tight as you can make them. They are each efficiently packed but don't fit together well in you backpack. I pack clothing and sleeping bag around everything else to fill the gaps.

Other things I have noticed... (1) You have four different ways of starting fires plus you are carrying tinder. Seems a bit of an overkill to me. (2) Are you packing a large green propane bottle for fuel? or one of the tiny iso-butane/propane mix bottles? (3) first aid kit seems a bit heavy. (4) sleeping bags liners do not add much warmth. If you are hot unzip your sleeping bag and stick a leg out.

I agree with the advice above to get a scale and weigh everything.


Edited by BZH (04/26/17 06:10 PM)

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#198220 - 04/26/17 07:53 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: BZH]
ableright Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/14
Posts: 9
Thanks for you advice friend. A couple things: as far as packing goes as the guy mentioned above that's something I should experiment with to see how to maximize room with things outside of their sack etc.

As far as the sleeping bag liner goes most of them do indeed suck, but this one is made of FLEECE and I've tested. I've actually used it alone as a bag in 50 degree weather and it works. It claims it can add a season onto a bag. I actually think that might be accurate.

As cold as it can get here in the mountains randomly I feel that it can be a beneficial item. As far as the number of ways to build a fire you might be onto something there. All of the fire methods I have take up 6 ounces, but perhaps they're not needed. I'm starting to think just 2 bic lighters is the way to go.

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#198221 - 04/26/17 08:00 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1385
Loc: Southwest Ohio
You said your basic kit comes to 24 pounds; I couldn't come up with more than 20. What are the other 4? (Or do your clothes weigh more than 5 pounds?)

They say your pack represents the sum of your fears. It appears that you are really afraid of getting sick or hurt. Do you know how to use everything in the medical kit? If you don't, then why are you carrying it? I'm not saying your choice is wrong; I don't know where you walk, or what else you do while walking. I mostly walk on well traveled trails in the eastern US; if I incapacitate myself, someone will probably find me within 24 hours. So, my first aid kit is an elastic bandage, Neosporin cream, bandaids, moleskin, folding scissors, safety pins, Aleve, Advil, and Tums - maybe 8 ounces, total. (Some antibacterial hand sanitizer and wet wipes in my toilet kit could be used as first aid, too.) If I were going off-trail or stopping along the way to do some rock climbing or higher-risk activity, I might beef this up a bit.

Any other fears?

Are you carrying other kitchen gear, like a bowl or insulated mug? If so, do you really need one? That cook kit (which is a very nice one) has a fry pan that can double as a plate or bowl, and you can use the pot as a mug. (If you need insulation, build a pot cozy out of an insulating material - see the MYOG forum here - or buy a ready-made, custom-fit cozy from AntiGravityGear.)

By the way, if you're carrying 30+ pounds when you set out, using ultralight stuff sacks is kind of like ordering a Big Guy burger and fries, super sizing it - and adding a diet drink. Your stuff sacks don't make any difference; the 8 ounces they save doesn't matter until you are talking about the difference between fifteen and fourteen and a half pounds. (But there's no need to replace them, either.)

Overall, your load isn't unreasonable (except, maybe, the first aid kit.) I can't give you much insight as to why an 85 liter pack won't hold everything; I can carry that same load in 58 liters. I'd second the others' advice about packing stuff sacks rock hard, and ending up with air spaces in your pack.

Those packs are also pretty heavy by lightweight standards - but may not be if you're carrying 40 pounds all in.

If I had to generalize, based on some SWAGs about the weight, I'd guess your clothing and rain gear might be a good first place to look to reduce weight and bulk. (How many changes of underwear and T-shirts didn't you tell us about?) (Do you always carry long johns, for fear of being cold?) I might make that my next priority.

But, before you get too obsessive about replacing what you've got, pick a nice weekend and go spend a night or two camped out. When you get home, unpack and put everything in two piles. The first pile is things you used (plus items you might not have used but still need, like toilet paper, rain gear, and first aid stuff); the second pile is the stuff you didn't use. Then take another trip, and leave the first pile at home. Then, and only then, start looking at replacing the gear you actually use with lighter or less bulky items.

Don't lose heart - we've all been exactly where you are now. Take what you have, go out and use it, and you'll figure out pretty quickly what you need, what you don't need, and what doesn't work as well as you'd like. Then adjust accordingly. Keep us posted on what you learn. (I also sent you a Private Mail - click on the flashing envelope.)


Edited by Glenn Roberts (04/26/17 11:12 PM)

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#198223 - 04/27/17 08:41 AM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: Glenn Roberts]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
I agree with what others have said. I will also add that if you can find some other people locally to do some trips with, you can gain a lot if ideas just by observing how they do things. Check your local meetup groups, or hiking clubs. Whereabouts are you located, someone here might be close by and willing to invite you on a trek.
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#198224 - 04/27/17 12:07 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
I find that I can't talk meaningfully about someone else's gear if I'm not looking at a complete list. You list 2, arguably 3 items for clothing, and I'm pretty confident that you're carrying more than that. I'm sure there's significant other stuff that's not included --- toilet paper, toothbrush, etc etc (etc etc) that I don't see listed.

Pack up completely, or better yet, build a list the moment you get home from a trip so you have absolutely everything still together. Build a spreadsheet showing all of that stuff, list everything, and give the accurate weight for everything.

Now you can start to really analyze.

But the clothing sticks out for me. I find that amount of spare clothing carried is the number 1 thing that makes packs heavier and bulkier. Perhaps that's an issue for you too.
I'm not just talking rain gear here, but underwear, socks, mittens/gloves, warm hat, whatever.

It would also help to know your overall (gear) base weight. That at least you can get by just packing up --- again *everything* --- but leaving out food, water, and fuel. But include any food containers, water container(s), fuel containers, it's just the consumables omitted from base weight. Then stand on a bathroom scale with and without your pack, subtract to get the base weight.

Of course it's possible that at least part of the issue is in the amount of food and/or water and/or fuel that you're carrying. But separating out the consumables helps to narrow things down, and to compare to what others find comfortable.

Best of luck in getting this to where you're happy!
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#198226 - 04/27/17 02:14 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: BrianLe]
ableright Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/14
Posts: 9
Thanks again everyone for the awesome support. I live in Missoula Montana. We do have a hikers meetup here which I should be joining. Clothing wise I bring absolutely 0 other than what I'm initially wearing obviously and the thermal wear and rain gear.

I personally don't care if my clothing smells bad that I initially wear for a few days (unless I was out for a week or more). As far as other gear goes I can't really think of anything that I would be missing. I have a lot of experimenting to do for sure! Yes I do have toilet paper that I admit I forgot to mention but that obviously doesn't weigh much and it's folded down into a plastic bag.

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#198231 - 04/29/17 11:40 AM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"As far as other gear goes I can't really think of anything that I would be missing. I have a lot of experimenting to do for sure! Yes I do have toilet paper that I admit I forgot to mention but that obviously doesn't weigh much and it's folded down into a plastic bag."

That's the point of making a very detailed list at the point where you're really and truly, completely packed --- because we normally can't think of everything otherwise.

I mentioned toilet paper and toothbrush as just examples. I'm not going to do the work to carefully compare your list to one of mine, but I suspect that there might be more that isn't listed. From my way of thinking about it at least, you either have a complete list or you don't. If you don't, it's hard to be confident in talking about what might be making the pack either too bulky or too heavy.

In terms of clothing --- no gloves or mittens? No warm hat? Not even a single change of underwear or socks? No warm socks, or do you just wear thick socks all the time? I don't use "camp" (or stream crossing) shoes, but many people do --- presumably you don't then. Do you sleep in the clothes that you hike in?

A few more things that just spring to mind: no electronics of any sort (smartphone, gps, tablet, book reader, MP3 player whatever)? No trowel to dig a cathole? No maps or compass? Headlamp or flashlight or whatever?

Maybe your list really is complete, it just seemed to me at a hasty glance that you were omitting or otherwise just sort of assuming some stuff and in my experience, the stuff that's NOT listed on an incomplete "packing list" can turn out to matter quite a lot. Only by listing and weighing it all can I feel like I have a handle on my pack contents --- it also makes me confident that when I hit the trail that I haven't left anything important behind!

Really not meaning to attack or berate you here (!), just had a fair bit of experience in looking at lists that were missing a lot of things, so apologies if I'm assuming things about you that aren't applicable.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#198233 - 04/29/17 02:10 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
"That doesn't weigh much" really doesn't help when you want to analyze why your pack is so heavy and bulky. If you want to change things, please invest in that postage scale and weigh every item that goes into your pack or pockets. For me, the scale was the best $30 I've ever spent! And make a complete list, using the one I cited above (which is complete) as a model (note that it organizes everything by system). Consider setting up a computer spreadsheet so you can see the running totals every time you add or subtract something. Plus you can print the list out as a checklist when you're packing for a trip.

As BrianLe mentions, you have left out a number of the "essentials"--see items that should come on every trip:
--Headlamp or flashlight
--Insulating clothing other than your base layer--I've encountered snowstorms and 15*F temps in Wyoming/ Colorado in July and August, and in Washington/Oregon in June and September, and I doubt that Montana is any warmer!
--Toilet articles--soap or hand sanitizer--that's to prevent disease!; teeth cleaning supplies--restorative dentistry is expensive!
--Sunscreen--skin cancer treatment is even more expensive
--Sunglasses--so is cataract surgery
--Insect repellent
--Map and compass
--Signalling device, such as a good loud whistle (the ones sold on packs can't be heard more than 10 feet away and should just be cut off)

I suspect that you are not leaving all these behind, but they are not on your list. And they do add to your bulk and weight!


Edited by OregonMouse (04/29/17 02:15 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#198250 - 05/01/17 07:27 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: OregonMouse]
ableright Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/14
Posts: 9
Hey everyone, I just want to say that I'm not leaving these items out. I also have weighed everything, and I've had my second overnight backpacking trip just 5 miles into the wilderness to test things.

My pack weight including the pack itself is 23 pounds. This is minus food and water which I'm not including. If I included food and water I'd still be under 30 pounds. Does this seem like an unreasonable weight for backpacking? I feel like around 20 pounds minus food and water is a viable target for a lot of people.

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#198251 - 05/01/17 08:23 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1385
Loc: Southwest Ohio
That sounds pretty reasonable to me.

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#198253 - 05/01/17 11:19 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
ableright Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/05/14
Posts: 9
Thanks for everyone's help here. All of you have been amazing! The only thing I regret is I took back the Nemo Hornet 2P tent to REI. That thing is about 1 pound lighter than the MSR Nook 2 that I have. Don't get me wrong, I like the Nook 2 and it's still a great tent, but the Hornet was more compact, and saves 1 pound. Can anyone here comment on either or both of these tents with any long term experience?

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#198264 - 05/02/17 07:43 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
My pack weight including the pack itself is 23 pounds. This is minus food and water which I'm not including. If I included food and water I'd still be under 30 pounds. Does this seem like an unreasonable weight for backpacking?

"Does this sound unreasonable" is a really (really) hard, or rather, subjective question.
Some will prefer a lower base weight than 23 pounds, but they may well be willing to spend more time and money tuning their gear, and/or have a very different set of backpacking "style", experience level, and/or expectations than you do.

I think better is just to have some awareness of what's possible, some idea of what different weight points might cost you (for various meanings of the term), and find your own personal happy spot.
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#198265 - 05/02/17 09:08 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: BrianLe]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1385
Loc: Southwest Ohio
And remember, it's a process that will never end! smile

Done right, it can make your life truly interesting. (But remember: "May you live in interesting time" is an old Chinese curse. Or blessing?)

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#198286 - 05/03/17 10:28 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: BrianLe]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By BrianLe
Quote:
My pack weight including the pack itself is 23 pounds. This is minus food and water which I'm not including. If I included food and water I'd still be under 30 pounds. Does this seem like an unreasonable weight for backpacking?

"Does this sound unreasonable" is a really (really) hard, or rather, subjective question.
Some will prefer a lower base weight than 23 pounds, but they may well be willing to spend more time and money tuning their gear, and/or have a very different set of backpacking "style", experience level, and/or expectations than you do.

I think better is just to have some awareness of what's possible, some idea of what different weight points might cost you (for various meanings of the term), and find your own personal happy spot.

Exactly. My first trip I think my base weight was around 19 pounds because I found out about lightweight backpacking before purchasing most of my stuff. I whittled it down to under 12. Now I'm likely over 13. This is for above treeline in western US mtns. You will likely shed several pounds over the next year or two as you replace certain items.

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#198289 - 05/03/17 11:07 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: topshot]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
When I first started converting to lightweight, based on guidance from others who were lightening up their loads, I went directly from about 34 lbs. of base weight to about 23 lbs., all the while spending comparatively little money. I removed items, modified items, and generally tried to scrimp on cost. In the next decade I embarked on an ad hoc program to invest in lighter weight items generally, trying to confine my expenditures to whatever gave me the greatest bang for the buck.

About three years ago I got down to about a 14.5 lb. base weight for normal summer hiking. Since then I've added a few pieces of auxiliary gear specifically for the shoulder seasons. Last year I discovered there is nothing I need to add to my gear or clothes, so I began experimenting more with expanding my food options.

It is a process that never lacks interest and so it never quite reaches an end. Good hobbies are like that. grin

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#198321 - 05/08/17 09:57 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
Petro1234 Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 21
Loc: engeland
As to your packing problems, stuff sacks are round and round things do not pack well, so a bigger bag helps easier packing. Tents too, I always used to fold the tent flat pack.

Surely the medicals a typo at 1.5lbs, that's a lot of medical kit. Bigger than kit at home ! Then again I do not have forceps or anything clever in it?

Is the problem you are not enjoying it for what ever reason. Is the tent too low, the best thing I ever did was a tent with 4 ft head room and space. It weighs more but I am lots happier and content. Little tents are miserable if you can't sit up and its raining. Have you too much or too little equipment with you, as OregomMouse says her mattress is an essential. A happy campers bag will probably feel a lot lighter than if you're miserable. It's knowing what to take not how little to take.

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#198331 - 05/10/17 02:28 PM Re: Advice About My Gear What Am I Doing Wrong? [Re: ableright]
Petro1234 Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 21
Loc: engeland
Quote:
"so I can't actually set up camp easily/comfortably at all yet which is disappointing because I can't wait.

Somehow I feel like I'm still doing something wrong with my gear setup. "


Quote:
"Cookset which is just a tiny pan and pot "


You have to ask whether you know the answer already


Edited by Petro1234 (05/10/17 02:30 PM)

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