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#136964 - 07/29/10 08:59 PM Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to YNP
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Hello all:

Firstly, like to give a big thumbs up to the moderators of this forum, it has amassed a wealth of great information and experienced people with a good sense of humor goodjob . My wife and I are preparing for our first backcountry outing in mid September to Yosemite NP high country. We've decided to go with a guided hands-on trip, which is suppose to be a good intro course to backpacking, navigation, cooking, etc. as well as, a great 3 night stay in the high country. We will be starting at Cathedral Lakes trailhead ending at Cathedral Lake with optional hikes from there to surrounding domes. On day 2 we'll stay on the John Muir Trail settling at Sunrise Lake. The last day's hike is to Tenaya Lake. We are both experienced dayhikers that have wanted, for sometime now, to take the next step. Longest dayhike I've completed was 20 miles. Location: Massanutten Mountain by Shenandoah Valley in VA. Elevation Change for that day's hike was: 3,320' gain/2,890' loss. I'm aware that hiking with a 35lb pack will be a whole different ballgame, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

I'm in the preparation process for this September's trip and collecting my backpacking gear step by step. So far, I've invested in:
[list]
[*]Deuter Air Contact Lite pack (2009)
[*]REI Half Dome 2 tent (2009)
[*]Merrell Moab ventilators
[*]Thermarest Pro Lite 4 Sleeping Pad

Still shopping around for a sleeping bag. I believe a +25 bag was recommended. Does anyone have any advice with regards to high country Yosemite and a bag? Down vs. Synthetic for this type of trip? Also, I have little to no experience with trekking poles. Would this be a good time to familiarize myself with them (our itinerary seems to be made up of moderate hikes). They are expensive! Oh, which I should mention, I'm working with a limited budget around $300-$400. I believe the only other items I'm in search of are base layers and a possible down jacket (pretty expensive as well). I've read through the forum the weather is a variable to be considered, especially in mid September. I figured I'm in the right place to throw questions out regarding gear, I want to have more fun. I guess this question goes out to my Yosemite locals. Should I be looking for any must have items I've blatantly overlooked (stoves are provided by guides).Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Can't wait to hit the trail!

Hasta pronto!






Edited by Gaucho (07/30/10 08:42 AM)

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#136966 - 07/29/10 09:23 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to YNP [Re: Gaucho]
MarkNM Offline
member

Registered: 05/03/10
Posts: 141
Loc: Pompton Lakes, NJ
lets see...first of all this is just my advice i am by no means as experienced as some but i've recently gone through some major gear overhauls so i feel i can lend some decent tips

with your budget its going to be hard to get a down bag and jacket...your avg 20F bag will cost you at least 100...i have the kelty light year xp 40...i love the bag..it comes in a 20F version and you could always pick up a fleece liner for the extra chilly nights(i'm an east coast boy not familiar with the YNP climate)

down jackets are certainly nice but expensive...you may find suitable ways to stay warm with layers and your budget...

I lately have been using under armour heat gear compression shirts as my on skin base layer...tank

if it gets a lil colder i throw on a long sleeve heat gear non compression UA shirt...

colder yet a compression cold gear shirt by UA...if your active and moving around this setup under a lightweight windbreaker or jacket...you will be warm

i think the shirts cost 25 - 40 - 65 respectively...

for cold weather i have a very technical ski shell from north face - free thinker jacket...but it kills your budget

maybe invest in a lower price waterproof shell and some merino sweater and layers for your down alternative (i live check to check i know the income/gear struggle) and i do plenty of winter camping this way and i have zero down in any gear

do you have all your own essentials...like soap, medicines, cups, cutlery, compass, food bag(guides?)...all that little stuff? i like to make tea in my titanium mup at night...and for dinner i take gatorade powder for 1L nalgene as some flavor after camelbak flavored water all day...

the trekking poles btw are awesome...i just started using them this summer and they are defintly useful on descents and ascents, and i sort of like them on level ground just for even strides etc...i got a pair of black diamonds for 80 bucks...worth it imho

do you have water storage/bladder for your pack?
water filter?
first aid?
pot needed for stove?
don't forget a rain cover or extra garbage bag too...
camera?!?!?
headlamp or flashlight?

_________________________
I do it because I can...it also helps that you are not there...

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#136968 - 07/29/10 09:45 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to YNP [Re: MarkNM]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Mark thanks for the suggestions. I forgot to mention that provided for us will are: water filters, stoves, cooking gear. As for my small stuff: I have a headlamp, first aid kit, bladder and a few nalgenes, Columbia rain jacket, REI Fleece jacket, Under Armor heat gear, North Face convertible pants. As far as cutlery and dinner gear (plates and mugs), yes we will need those items too. I'm thinking REI should have some affordable goods in that sector. Good idea with the Gatorade powder.

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#136971 - 07/29/10 10:16 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By Gaucho
Mark thanks for the suggestions. I forgot to mention that provided for us will are: water filters, stoves, cooking gear. As for my small stuff: I have a headlamp, first aid kit, bladder and a few nalgenes, Columbia rain jacket, REI Fleece jacket, Under Armor heat gear, North Face convertible pants. As far as cutlery and dinner gear (plates and mugs), yes we will need those items too. I'm thinking REI should have some affordable goods in that sector. Good idea with the Gatorade powder.


For $300-$400 I would look into a good quality down bag. Firstly it will last you a life-time with the proper care and secondly the resale value is fairly high if you decide that camping/backpacking is not for you.

I wouldn't worry too much about luxury items such as a down jacket-- a fleece jacket is more than suitable and are available in many thrift and Army Surplus stores. Baselayer can be found in Target etc.

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#136974 - 07/29/10 11:08 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: ChrisFol]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Chris, I was looking at the Marmot Sawtooth (2lbs 14oz), retails at about $209. This seems relatively light and at a reasonable price (600-fill). Not sure about the claims that it has a water resistant shell. Waiting for REI to send out a 20% off email. That would leave me with about 100-200 to acquire other essentials. Do outfitters usually rent out trekking poles? I'm on the East Coast right now and just hunted down an REI that is having a garage sale. Hope to have some luck there.

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#136975 - 07/29/10 11:35 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
MarkNM Offline
member

Registered: 05/03/10
Posts: 141
Loc: Pompton Lakes, NJ
not really renting but REI is p pretty liberal with returns...so you could use em for say 1 trip, not reallydo much wear and return them if you didn't like...

i like sea to summit gear for kitchen stuff
_________________________
I do it because I can...it also helps that you are not there...

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#136987 - 07/30/10 08:39 AM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: MarkNM]
oldranger Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
I am a fan of trekking poles/hiking staffs and have used them consistently for about thirty years. My experience is that this is one area where you can save money and not cut utility.

Worthwhile, cheap expedients include the replacement tool handle from the hardware store (or the even cheaper broom or rake, sawn to your specs), and the right sized limb picked up along the trail.

The fancy schmancy telescoping poles can come later. I do have, and use, a nice pair of Leki's. They have their virtues - light, collapse down for easy packing in boats and planes, make good tent poles, etc. The cheaper alternatives work just as well on the trail and in stream crossings. My all time favorite staff is a natural limb discarded by another hiker which fits my hand perfectly - just great for day hikes, and it is quieter than the swanky ones.

I agree with the advice to get a good down bag - absolutely fundamental, useful gear. I would advocate going over budget and getting a really warm, light bag. You will be glad you did.

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#136989 - 07/30/10 09:01 AM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: oldranger]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Oldranger, Thanks for the trekking pole advice. My only problem is that I am currently on the East Coast and fly back home the night before our drive into Yosemite. If I fashion some homemade poles, I worry they won't make the trip.
As for the bag, I'm unfamiliar with the Yosemite high country. How warm is warm for that time of year (800-fill?). Would a 3-season bag do the trick? Is 2lbs too heavy? Aside from the Marmot bag, the Kelty Light Year MarkNM recommended looks good too. I'm a fetal position sleeper, does that effect anything? Winter backpacking and snowshoeing looks like something I would like to experience. So maybe I should be looking at a +15F bag? I'm 5'7 28yrs 150lbs, so if we go by the 20% rule, I should be carrying somewhere between 30-35lbs.

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#136991 - 07/30/10 10:51 AM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By Gaucho
Oldranger, Thanks for the trekking pole advice. My only problem is that I am currently on the East Coast and fly back home the night before our drive into Yosemite. If I fashion some homemade poles, I worry they won't make the trip.


OR gave some excellent advise for low cost alternatives, however if you want actual poles then there is still no need to spend a fortune; I know that Walmart sells a pair of trekking poles for around $20 and these would be ideal for a first trip and to see if you even like using poles.

Originally Posted By Gaucho

As for the bag, I'm unfamiliar with the Yosemite high country. How warm is warm for that time of year (800-fill?). Would a 3-season bag do the trick? Is 2lbs too heavy?

I have no direct experience with YNP, but in September *I* would plan for overnight lows around 40 degrees. So yes, a 3-season bag would do the trick, a +20 degree bag is a great all around temperature rating for three-seasons in the high country.

Originally Posted By Gaucho

Winter backpacking and snowshoeing looks like something I would like to experience. So maybe I should be looking at a +15F bag?


I am not familiar with your part of the country, but I know here in Colorado a +15 degree bag would just not cut it for the winter months. So I would be wary about finding a "do-it-all" bag, then again, you may be in a state were you could get away with just one, year-round bag. I am sure others with more experience in your area will be a long shortly.

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#136992 - 07/30/10 11:52 AM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: ChrisFol]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
September in the Tuolumne Meadows area can be hot or cold, depending on the year. You are not going to be at really high elevation. Day temps are usually still warm but there is a chance of light frost at night. It has snowed and rained in mid-Sept in the past. Best bet is to check the weather report just before you go out (NWS internet sites are good and their 5-day forecasts are pretty good). I pack for expected weather but always bring an extra layer in my car, and if conditions change when I am at the trailhead, I add the extra layer. And because it could be quite hot, zip-off legs on your hiking pants would be very useful.

The trials are likely to be dusty so light weight short gaiters are nice just to keep all the dirt out of your shoes. Also, on your route and the low mileage, trail runners would suffice. In my opinion, nothing beats Smartwool socks.

I think a 25-30 degree bag is OK. Around 2 to 2.5 pounds is about the right weight. "600 vs 650 vs 700 vs 750 vs 800" down is the quality of down - not temperature rating. You can find 800-down bags rated from 40-degreesF to -40degrees F. The lower the down quality, the more weight of down fill is required for the same temperature rating. I would aim for 750 quality down. I personally would avoid 600 quality bags. There are lots of sales on now - get on the internet and look.

There is no such thing as an all-season bag. Most of us have separate summer gear and winter gear. If you are interested in doing more Spring or late Fall or higher altitude backpacking, then a 10-20 degree bag would be best (these usually weigh 2.5-3 pounds). True winter backpacking is not something I would suggest beginners do. Get some experience first.

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#137004 - 07/30/10 03:49 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: wandering_daisy]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
WD:
I appreciate your response and thanks for clarifying the down fill power situation, also, the gaiters sound good too. I'll be sure to monitor the weather. Mentioning a bag for all seasons was just foolish wishful thinking on my part. I guess I should quell my impatience to hit the trail and take each trip as a small glimpse to getting closer to understanding our wilderness areas. Thanks again.

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#137007 - 07/30/10 06:44 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6764
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd bite the bullet and get the highest quality down sleeping bag you can afford. It will last a lifetime if well-cared for, and (for a 20-25*F bag) will probably weigh no more than a couple ounces over 2 lbs. (at least that's what you should aim for--if you're big and tall you'll need a heavier bag). Consider it an investment. Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, the Marmot lightweight line (Hydrogen or Helium), Montbell are all good (note that Montbell bags run small, as does their clothing).

As for a down jacket, I personally don't like having all my insulation eggs in one basket, so to speak, so I use a synthetic puffy jacket instead. I may end up changing my mind, but I haven't yet. Fleece is fine, too--a bit bulkier and heavier, but a lot cheaper--you might even find a nice warm fleece jacket at a thrift store. By the time you put together your base layer top and bottom, a warm intermediate layer (like 300-weight fleece) and your rain gear, you should be quite warm. It's all the layers together that do the job! Don't forget warm hat and gloves!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#137014 - 07/30/10 08:54 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to YNP [Re: Gaucho]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
A fleece jacket is a great choice for Yosemite. Mine is a cheap Columbia. I wear it all the time and by that I mean almost every day. It has lasted at least 10 years, so I highly recommend the brand. You don't need a Patagonia or other fancy jacket. I've worn mine on several winter trips to Badger Pass (up above the Valley on the South side).

Get a fleece hat or balaclaca to wear if if gets cold and some lightweight gloves. Get decent socks. Summer could be a scorcher in Yosemite, so a hat and sunglasses for sure. Something like a Tilley (pricey) or even a ball cap will do.

Also, I highly recommend the Rough Guide to Yosemite, a great little guide book. about $10, plus Tom Harrison's map of Yosemite.

There is a lot online about the park on both the official NPS site and the commercial sites. I believe the official site has a temperature history on it. The NOAA site will give you forecasts.
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php...6000&zone=1


Edited by TomD (07/30/10 08:58 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#137035 - 07/31/10 01:14 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to YNP [Re: TomD]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Update on gear:

Went to my first REI garage sale this morning. I figured I would get there 45min before the store opened its doors to have a good spot in line. I arrived to find a swarm of people quickly forming, by the time I got to the line it was almost around the corner of the plaza!! Nevertheless, I left with some unbelievable purchases. I was able to find 2 pair of trekking poles: REI carbon fiber UL Peaks and aluminum traverse for $30 altogether!!! The peaks didn't have a price on them, so I asked a store associate if he could give me a price (and to be gentle). He nonchalantly marked them at a whopping $10.83!!! After carefully inspecting them, making sure they weren't dented or if the locking mechanisms were shot, I was sold at hello. I figured even if they did have some sort of defect, I could use the parts somehow to fashion a set of poles. Also happy to report I found a Marmot insulated jacket for $30!!!, a 1.3L titanium pot for $14, and a thermarest ventra down comforter for $14!!! Still need a sleeping bag though. Has anyone else shopped at a "garage sale"? I am truly amazed at what I was able to find. OregonMouse, will not forget to bring my chullo and glove wink . TomD appreciate the references on the book and map, I picked up the guide already. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, will be updating as I keep collecting.
Hasta siempre.


Edited by Gaucho (07/31/10 02:13 PM)

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#137246 - 08/05/10 07:41 AM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to YNP [Re: Gaucho]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Ok, here's a question that has been stalking me since I made the purchase: Do you think I'm likely to freeze my butt off if I use the Thermarest Ventra (40 degree) quilt in the high country. They say you should use a 25 degree bag (15 degree difference). I could bundle up, break out the chullo, gloves, and also break in the insulated jacket. I'm getting the impression this is something I shouldn't play with, given the unpredictability of the weather up there...

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#137252 - 08/05/10 12:23 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By Gaucho
Ok, here's a question that has been stalking me since I made the purchase: Do you think I'm likely to freeze my butt off if I use the Thermarest Ventra (40 degree) quilt in the high country. They say you should use a 25 degree bag (15 degree difference). I could bundle up, break out the chullo, gloves, and also break in the insulated jacket. I'm getting the impression this is something I shouldn't play with, given the unpredictability of the weather up there...


I have zero experience with the Ventra and as I have said previously, I haven't been to YNP, but I do live and backpack year round in the Colorado high country.

The problem with the high country is that the weather is just unpredictable and thus, while I would say that the average overnight temps would be around 40 degrees in August-- you have got to plan for it to be a little cooler since you very well could wake up to frost, snow or hail on the ground some mornings. Hence why people, myself included, always recommend a bag in the 20-25 degree range for three season backpacking at altitudes.

However with that said, for this trip and that time of year I think you will be fine in a 40 degree bag, provided you take ample clothing: some lightweight, long john type bottom and top, a warm jacket (down, synthetic, fleece) and of course hat, gloves and socks just incase the temps drop and the weather comes in. Because don't forget, your 40 degree quilt, is pushing the average 40 degree overnight temps-- so you may need the additional layers at night.

On a side note of your 40 degree bag, you will find that this bag is more suited to summer camping in the high country-- you will be hard pushed to carry enough clothes to supplement its warmth during the shoulder seasons.

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#137272 - 08/05/10 06:20 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: ChrisFol]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
CF,
Just to clarify, I'll be heading out second week of September pushing into Fall. I'll be taking the insulated jacket for sure. I may also take my light fleece jacket as well. Since I got the quilt for next to nothing, it won't affect me buying a suitable bag. As far as the extra layers go, I'm not too worried about pack weight since we are sharing stoves and tent gear. I'll give a total pack weight once I have all my gear situated. Thanks again.

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#137525 - 08/11/10 11:30 AM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Ok, I've really narrowed my down bag hunt...down. Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS has been around for quite a while, the store by my parent's home has been there for as long as I can remember) is having a sale on their bags, specifically, the Mountain Light 20 degree. The bag specs: insulation is 750down, weighs in at 2lbs 3oz, 3/4 length zipper; for a grand total of $179 from an original $239. I think this may be the one. Does anyone own or have owned a Mountain Light? Comments would be appreciated. Gracias.

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#137547 - 08/11/10 04:56 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6764
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I personally prefer a full-length zipper because it's easier to ventilate on warm nights. Otherwise, judging from the specs, this sleeping bag sounds very similar to the discontinued REI Sub-Kilo (which REI seems to have finally sold a considerable inventory). I suspect the Pertex shell on the EMS bag is probably superior to the polyester shell of the REI bag. I notice that they don't give the loft measurement or mention an EN13537 rating. In view of that, I would consider this a 25* F bag rather than 20*F, which of course you can take down another 5 or so degrees by wearing said insulating clothing inside. It does sound like a good buy!

Pay particular attention to your girth measurements (shoulder 60", hip 54")--to find out yours, measure chest around your arms and shoulders wearing a puffy jacket and hips also over insulating garments. If the girth is too tight for you, you'll compress the insulation and the bag won't be as warm. If the girth is way too big, you'll have extra dead air space to warm up on cold nights. Even more depends on whether you want more or less elbow room! If you mail order, be sure to try the bag at home (wear your insulating clothing) as soon as you get it to be sure the width is correct for you. If you can visit the store, again take your insulating clothing with you and try on the sleeping bag.

Another fitting tip--if you are right on the cusp between regular and long, get the long.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#137552 - 08/11/10 09:30 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: OregonMouse]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Oregon,
The 3/4 length zipper is what has me on the fringe as well. I would like a bag with versatility (might cost me some more). I'll bring some of the gear I have with me to EMS to get a true fit on the bag. Ultimately, I may have to sacrifice some features. Getting closer though. Thanks for your time! Count down to trip: 1month 4days.

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#137679 - 08/15/10 05:05 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Update: Tried out the Mountain Light today, was a good fit, came with stuff sack too. Wife was sold on the woman's color, which was the purchasing point for both bags. Gear list is coming along smile . Thanks all.

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#137884 - 08/21/10 01:28 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
dkramalc Offline
member

Registered: 09/19/03
Posts: 1070
Loc: California
I think you've made the right choice going with a warmer bag. I've had water bottles freeze at Tenaya Lake (back when it was a campground), so it can get fairly cold there - you just never know. Great buys at the REI garage sale - which store did you go to?
_________________________
dk

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#137888 - 08/21/10 02:56 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: dkramalc]
Gaucho Offline
member

Registered: 07/26/10
Posts: 31
Loc: California
Dk:

I'm visiting my parents on the East Coast, went to a store in southern New Jersey.

Did a local hike on Wednesday @ Delaware Water Gap- Red Dot trail to Mt. Tammany-fire road-turquoise trail-followed Dunnfield Creek to AT all in all it was about an 11mile hike. Not bad. Need to get a couple more of these in before we head out.

Still need a couple of more items for the trip, most importantly, base layers for sleeping. Should I go mid weight polyester/capilene/merino? Trying to stay under 60 bucks.

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#137889 - 08/21/10 03:27 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: Gaucho]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6764
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd get the equivalent in thickness/weight of Patagonia Capilene 2--light weight but not silk weight. The same is true of merino wool--you want light weight. Both are lovely materials, but both will bust your budget unless you can find a really good sale. In fact, I'd head for the athletic (not outdoor) department of a big box store like Target, KMart, Wallyworld and look there for lightweight wicking layers similar in thickness to Capilene 2.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#137904 - 08/21/10 10:09 PM Re: Brief introduction: Newb backpacker heading to [Re: dkramalc]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3973
Loc: Bend, Oregon
dk
do you refer to Sunset camp?
Jim


Edited by Jimshaw (08/21/10 10:10 PM)
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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