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#178617 - 07/23/13 05:53 PM Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware!
TaylorC Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 6
Hey there all,
My name is Taylor and I just recently have gotten the urge to start getting into backpacking. I have always been an outdoors kind of guy who gets out salmon and steelhead fishing every chance I get ( Usually at least once a week, especially in the winter. ) and is always seeking for solitude. I was a boy scout when I was a youngin' and remembered some of the awesome times I had and some of the awesome places I visited and backpacked to. I this summer have started to get back into camping this year and the flame is lit again! I used to go for sometimes weeks at a time with my family years ago but again, this was the first summer in years and remembered how much I loved it. Talking with a friend who did some backpacking in California this last summer, he wants to do a trip to Alaska this next summer and asked if it was something I would like to do with him and I said HECK yes! So that is something to look forward to, do some research for, and start gearing up. This seems like a great place to get start and I look forward to learning some new things here! Appreciate your time! - Taylor

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#178618 - 07/23/13 07:50 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1910
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Welcome aboard - we can mislead you with the best of them!

Heather AK should be able to give you lots of good info about backpacking in Alaska (because, you know, Alaska isn't all that large, so if you've backpacked in one part it's probably pretty much like all the other parts...) smile

One of your earliest decisions will be the general type of gear you'll want to acquire (assuming you're starting from zero.) Generally, your choice will be "traditional (aka heavyweight)," "lightweight," or "ultralight." There is no objectively right answer to this question; in the end, it depends on your own preferences, including what kind of food you like; whether you hike in order to camp, or camp in order to hike; etc. The one thing it DOESN'T mean is taking the wrong gear for the conditions just to save weight.

Any time you go out, you'll want to take whatever gear is necessary to stay warm, dry, adequately fed, and hydrated under the worst conditions you reasonably might encounter on that trip. Once you figure that out, you can go for the light version of whatever items make sure that happens.

So, start asking away!

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#178619 - 07/23/13 11:14 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Welcome! I won't repeat what Glenn said in his first paragraph, but it's true.... laugh

You might want to start with the articles and gear lists on the home page of this site, left-hand column. Another good source is the Section Hiker blog. Go down the right side and click on "For Beginners." There is also a great article by one of our members here, written for Scouts but suitable for any beginners.

Do note that the home page articles and gear lists are designed for the Cascades, while Section Hiker is in New England. He does a lot of trips in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where the weather can be really nasty (look up Mt. Washington). You'll of course have to adapt to wherever in Alaska you are backpacking!

EDIT, LATER: As for the gear weight, I'd suggest you aim for the "lightweight" category. That means your base weight (everything except food, water, fuel) will be between 10 and 20 pounds. The "27-pound, 7-day gear list" on the home page is a good one to aim for; the base weight there is 15 1/2 lbs. That's what I used for my model when I started lightening up my gear. "UL" (base weight under 10 lbs) requires a lot of experience and at least for me is too spartan, while "traditional" gear is, IMHO, just too heavy! Of course most "mainstream" backpacking gear is now labeled "UL" whether it is lightweight or not, so watch out for the advertising hype! The weights for individual gear items shown in the "27-lb, 7-day" list are good guidelines.


Edited by OregonMouse (07/24/13 03:08 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#178621 - 07/24/13 12:46 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: OregonMouse]
TaylorC Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 6
Well a couple questions I have have to do with food. How to pack enough food in your backpack for say a week or two. I haven't quite decided if I want to backpack to camp or camp to backpack yet and I am guessing this would have a lot to do with it. I like hardy foods and carbs. What kind of stove to bring and what not that will fit in a back back. I remember using Bunsen burner type stoves with small propane tanks years ago in the scouts. Maybe that's the way to go? Or the only way? Another thing is footware. What is a good hiking boot that will last, is light, and breaths well. I'm sure I will a hundred other questions a long the way but there is a couple for now lol Appreciate the warm welcome! Hopefully I will be all set for my first trip soon!

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#178622 - 07/24/13 02:48 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Here are a couple of websites with lots of food info.
Trail Cooking
One Pan Wonders
Articles by Dr. Brenda Braaten, nutritionist and long-distance hiker.

I personally dehydrate my own dinners and reconstitute them by pouring boiling water into the freezer bag containing the food and let it sit in a cozy for about 15 minutes. This method saves a lot of fuel and means I have no dishes to wash except a spoon (can you guess that I hate washing dishes?). I do buy some freeze-dried ingredients in bulk, especially vegetables--home dehydrated peas retain the consistency of buckshot even after a lot of cooking, so freeze-dried is better there. Packit Gourmet is a great source. You can also use this method for supermarket dinners as long as the cooking time is no more than 7-8 minutes (double that time in the cozy). You'll find a lot of recipes using supermarket food on the Trail Cooking website.

There are very lightweight stoves that use not propane (which is very heavy because of the required steel container) but isobutane or an isobutane-propane mix. Two commonly used ones are made by Snow Peak and by MSR; there are other brands just as good. Mine is made by Primus and weighs only 2 oz., but it has been discontinued. Alcohol fueled stoves are also very popular, and you can make your own. Everything you ever wanted to know about stoves. For reviews of recent stove products, try Hikin' Jim's Adventures in Stoving.

I haven't worn hiking boots for 5 years--for a long time I held out for boots, but I made the switch to trail runners in 2009 and have never worn the boots since! Like many others I far prefer to hike in trail running shoes. They fit better and support my feet better, they are far lighter and I've never had a blister or a turned ankle since I switched. Avoid Goretex linings; they are like putting your feet in a Turkish bath (leading to blisters) and if they get wet inside (which invariably happens) they take days to dry. In my trail runners I just walk through stream fords and walk the shoes dry. There are lightweight "mid" boots if you insist on boots instead of shoes. At least for women, though, it's basically impossible to find a lightweight boot that isn't Goretex lined! For winter use, of course, you need something well insulated and more substantial, especially for Alaska! Hopefully Heather will chime in here. The most important thing about footwear, though, is fit, fit and fit! Feet are very individual, so what works for one person will probably not work for you. Wear what fits you!

You may want to browse the archives here. Read the "sticky" post at the beginning of the General Discussion section before trying the search function. Or you could just page through the sections on lightweight gear, food and others.

I haven't read Andrew Skurka's book, but a lot of folks recommend it. There are lots of good articles on his website.

Another good article: PMag's Lightweight Backpacking 101.

This should keep you going for a while!

One thing to note: You need to experiment a bit to see what works for you. What works for me may not work for you, which is why one of our favorite phrases is YMMV--Your Mileage May Vary!


Edited by OregonMouse (07/24/13 03:29 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#178624 - 07/24/13 04:32 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: OregonMouse]
TaylorC Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 6
Thank you very much for the info Oregonmouse! I appreciate it a ton!

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#178627 - 07/24/13 09:39 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1910
Loc: Southwest Ohio
At the risk of starting the stove equivalent of a Sunni-Shia war, I'd suggest you look at the Jetboil stoves, if you decide that boil-and-soak (i.e., freeze-dried) is how you want to cook. I'm not recommending that you buy one - only that you look at them as one possible choice. There are a number of threads on the site that thoroughly discuss (and cuss) them.

Stoves are probably one of the best illustrations of the need to balance your own set of preferences regarding weight, performance, and convenience that I know of.


Edited by Glenn Roberts (07/24/13 09:40 AM)

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#178629 - 07/24/13 10:03 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: Glenn Roberts]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
At the risk of starting the stove equivalent of a Sunni-Shia war, I'd suggest you look at the Jetboil stoves, if you decide that boil-and-soak (i.e., freeze-dried) is how you want to cook. I'm not recommending that you buy one - only that you look at them as one possible choice. There are a number of threads on the site that thoroughly discuss (and cuss) them.

Stoves are probably one of the best illustrations of the need to balance your own set of preferences regarding weight, performance, and convenience that I know of.


Sure, go ahead, get a JetBoil. I'll be along shortly to fix it...
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#178630 - 07/24/13 11:57 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
HA! Yeah a lot depends on where and when - Homer (the peninsula) would be a lot different than Cordova (along the ocean) or the Gates of the Arctic (REMOTE north) vs. say the Fairbanks area (we also have a White Mountains.)

I think wherever you go, an Ursack or bear canister might be a good idea.

Buy a really good sleeping bag rated for the temperature is my best suggestion smile

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#178631 - 07/24/13 02:03 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: Heather-ak]
TaylorC Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 6
Originally Posted By Heather-ak
HA! Yeah a lot depends on where and when - Homer (the peninsula) would be a lot different than Cordova (along the ocean) or the Gates of the Arctic (REMOTE north) vs. say the Fairbanks area (we also have a White Mountains.)

I think wherever you go, an Ursack or bear canister might be a good idea.

Buy a really good sleeping bag rated for the temperature is my best suggestion smile


Awesome thanks a ton for the info!

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#178633 - 07/24/13 03:33 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
TaylorC Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 6
Any suggestions on tents? I would like to get a backpacking tent that would be good for summer and winter and possibly Alaska as well but if different ones are needed that is definitely understandable.

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#178634 - 07/24/13 05:01 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: lori]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1910
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I surrender! (But it's good to know you're willing to drop everything to come to Ohio if I ever have problems.) smile

Actually, I was just offering another popular brand name to go along with OM's mentions of MSR and Snow Peak (both of which I've used, and had good experience with - if my Jetboil ever gives me problems, I might very well go back to the Snow Peak Gigapower and one of the small Snow Peak titanium mug/pots. (Hmm, I just got a gift certificate at REI for my birthday, maybe I'll look at one, just for fun...OM, you're a troublemaker!)

I do think Jetboils are worth a look, though I'll also be the first to admit that they only really work for heating water for beverages and boil and soak, single dish meals; unless you get the Sumo or the large-pot adapter, you can't cook for more than one (or maybe two, if both are eating single-serving freeze-dried entrees.) If, and only if, you fit that narrow range, they may - and I stress "may" - be for you. My own reasons for liking them are the boil speed and fuel efficiency, the insulated pot that doubles as a mug, the small bowl on the bottom that lets me have oatmeal and tea at the same time for breakfast, and the built-in windscreen. Yes, there are lighter canister stoves - until you add the pot, and maybe a small bowl, and the windscreen; then it's break-even or advantage to Jetboil.

As far as problems, I've never had any, nor has a buddy of mine who hikes a lot further and longer than I do (weeeklong trips in western Virginia, thru-hike of the AT, Tahoe Rim Trail, a week with me at Isle Royale, and a couple of other week-long western hikes I can't remember the name of); he used his first on his AT hike (about 5 years ago, when they first came out) and all hikes since then. He's had zero issues with it, and is still using the same stove.

I've seen two people, recently, have issues with the piezo not working in humid conditions; one other had to send his back because he could never get it to full throttle. The only pattern I'm seeing is that the newer the Jetboil, the more issues seem to arise - maybe they're outsourcing them, or relaxing the quality control? (And, seeing some of the boneheaded stunts I've seen people pull with all types of stoves, I'm not sure we can rule out operator error.)

Naturally, the poster should consider the temperatures and other conditions where he's going - alcohol or white gas stoves may be a better choice for any given trip.

I'm certainly not trying to say the Jetboil is the only answer to the cooking problem - but it is one possibility that deserves consideration.

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#178636 - 07/24/13 05:23 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6738
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Tents--take a look at www.tarptent.com
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#178638 - 07/24/13 06:52 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
Heather-ak Offline
member

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 597
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
Unless your winter has no or little snow (say Florida or Texas), your tents may have to be different. Snow load is a big factor.

Do you have a time frame or a general location in mind?

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#178642 - 07/25/13 12:05 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
lostagain Offline
member

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 48
Loc: DFW, Texas
Welcome in!

I'll weigh in on the stove selection. You'll be tempted, but I personally would recommend against an alcohol stove for now. An ISO stove (Iso-butane) is easier and less finicky to use. I have both and I've found that for me I prefer an ISO stove (although I'll take both next time out to do a comparison), but there's no measuring of fluid, you don't take a chance on spilling flammable liquid on your gear, etc. Basically, I'd say alcohol stoves are not for beginners. They're not difficult to use, they just need some experience in what I'd call controlled circumstances (your backyard) to get used to the boil times. I haven't tried actaully cooking "real" foods with one, but...

I'll also echo what's also been said by others. Boots or shoes, backpack size and weight, foods to take are all fairly personal choices. Fit, fit, fit and fit are your watchwords for these. You've been given some great links to a lot of info and you'll find yourself in a tizzy trying to figure it all out. So, read carefully, formulate specific questions and find the appropriate section of the forum to ask them in and you'll get some great advice and feedback from folks who hike all over this great nation of ours.
_________________________
Awwww...go take a hike!

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#178651 - 07/26/13 08:20 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: TaylorC]
bluefish Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 680
Taylor, as an avid fisherman also, I would consider supplementing my food with caught fish. Haven't made it to Ak. yet, but, fishing would be a priority for me. If you use the Iso-butane-propane stoves like the Jetboil, MSR, Snowpeak etc.... remember they CANNOT be brought on an airline. Make sure you can pick the cannisters up in Alaska where you're going. The easiest to find fuel for stove is the MSR Whisperlite International, which burns different types of fuel like gas and kerosene. The fuel bottles and stove need to be odorless and dead clean to get on a commercial plane. To me, gear is mostly based on fitness level and application. You can get away with more luxuries and heavy food items if you are in shape, or go very light and cover enormous distances.
Many 3 season tents will suffice for light winter use, figure out if you're likely to see more than 6" snow on any given trip. A good pad/sleeping bag is very important, especially on long trips. A good night's rest is a very good thing, if not completely essential. I'll also echo the bear can-Ursack- needed or required in many places. I haven't been on this site long, but have learned alot from it even though I've gone through quite a few changes in gear over my 40 years on trails. Backpacking just plain rocks. You'll get great advice here as you already have from the initial replies. Backpacking gives me the same thrills as seeing a chromehead cartwheeling or hearing my drag scream..... Welcome.

Charlie


Edited by bluefish (07/26/13 08:31 AM)
_________________________
Charlie

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#178654 - 07/26/13 09:58 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: lostagain]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By lostagain
Welcome in!

I'll weigh in on the stove selection. You'll be tempted, but I personally would recommend against an alcohol stove for now.


I disagree in terms of function. But if you go somewhere there are often fire bans, canister stoves are usually allowed - unless it specifically says "no stoves" in which case there's no help at all.

My first stove was an alcohol stove, getting back into this... I still have and use it. As well as about a dozen others. Somehow I only knocked one over once, and it wasn't the end of it all - and it's easier to know and take only the fuel you need.

ALL STOVES ARE FINICKY IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

Top mounted canister stove is easily tipped, and hard to mount a windscreen without enclosing the canister - a no-no. The Pocket Rocket I started with would go out if there was the slightest breeze - that thing was a nightmare. Waste of time. The Snow Peak Giga has proven to be much more reliable.... Primus stoves are also pretty bomb proof.

Remote canister stoves are for the gourmet cooks, and can be more easily used in winter or colder temps - but heavier and bulkier.

_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#178658 - 07/26/13 10:31 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: lori]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1910
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Thanks for the windscreen catch - I should have been clearer when I mentioned using one with a canister stove. I wasn't talking about a windscreen that fully encloses the stove, like you use with an MSR white gas stove or an alcohol stove; fully enclosing a canister with any kind of windscreen reflects heat onto the canister and is very likely to result in an explosion - DON'T fully enclose a canister!!!!!

The windscreens I was referring to are the kind that sit on the ground, and perhaps enclose half of the setup, or the Snow Peak windscreen that sits on top of the burner for the Gigapower stove. Neither of these reflect any heat back onto the canister.

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#178663 - 07/26/13 12:52 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: lori]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3139
Loc: Portland, OR
Top mounted canister stove is easily tipped, and hard to mount a windscreen without enclosing the canister - a no-no.

I have fitted a windscreen to my Pocket Rocket that sits entirely above the canister and improves the stove's efficiency tremendously. I took an aluminum pie plate, removed the sides and cut a keyhole-shaped notch in the remaining flat bottom piece that lets me mount it around the stem of the burner, above the canister, but below the burner head. This puts a heat barrier between the burner and the canister.

On the pie-plate piece I fashioned upturned tabs around its outer edge and I mount the windscreen on top of it, fitted down into the tabs, and encircling the burner and sides of my pot.

Once I had the design figured out it was an easy DIY project.

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#178669 - 07/26/13 02:30 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: aimless]
lostagain Offline
member

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 48
Loc: DFW, Texas
Originally Posted By aimless
I took an aluminum pie plate....


Interesting. I used a pot pie sized plate and punched holes in the sides and one in the middle. A couple of the stoves I have can be disassembled by unscrewing the burner from the feed pipe. This allows the feed pipe screwon assembly to be under the pie tin, and the burner nearly enclosed by the pie tin itself. I roll the edges up and the burner is protected by the wind and the canister is exposed. Works good so far. Not sure how I'll mod another for something like the Pocket Rocket.

@lori....what I meant was that using an alcohol sotve when first starting out can be somewhat harzardous if you haven't ever used one before. Since you can't see the flame in the daylight, it's easy to believe the stove is out and get a nasty burn or other accident if trying to refill a lit stove. Guess I should have said the OP shouldn't nab one and head off into the woods without first trying it out in a safe environment. And I copmpletely agree...ALL stoves can be finicky. smile
_________________________
Awwww...go take a hike!

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#178678 - 07/26/13 05:30 PM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: lostagain]
TaylorC Offline
newbie

Registered: 07/23/13
Posts: 6
So much info so fast! It's going to take me sometime to go through all this! Thank you so much! Heather AK - not sure on ANY details what so ever yet. I know I would LOVE to go somewhere where I can back pack in and setup camp somewhere and fly fish for Coho salmon and or sockeye! Thinking for me backpacking to camp is what I would love to do. But I am not sure about my buddy yet. We are only just starting to talk about it. Thank you again everyone for all the information!

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#178830 - 08/01/13 11:27 AM Re: Backpacking and forum newbie - Beware! [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1910
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Just a quick follow-up: I did pull the trigger on a Snow Peak Trek 900 pot and spoon. The size is a bit large for my usual needs, so I looked at the Trek 700, but the flat lid didn't really offer me the opportunity to have oatmeal AND tea in the morning. The Trek 900 allows me to boil one pot of water, use some to make oatmeal in the lid/frying pan/bowl and make tea with the rest, then drink it from the pot. The smooth surfaces and simplicity of the pot, coupled with the simplicity (which I'd forgotten) of the Snow Peak Giga stove, certainly appeal to me - and make the Jetboil I'm using appear a bit fussy. (That's not a reason to avoid Jetboil, just a comment about personal esthetic prefernces.)

I also looked at the Snow Peak Hybrid Summit kit, which has a silcone lid (that doubles as a potholder) and a silicone bowl (that doubles as a pot cozy, kind of.) It's very similar in design and function to the Jetboil Sol, but avoids the issue with the cloth pot cozy on the Jetboil that tends to get cruddy from liquids when drinking or (God forbid) boilovers or spilled food. However, on the down side, there are no measuring marks on either the cup or the pot - a significant inconvenience and, for me, a dealbreaker.

I also looked at the mini-solo, which is identical to the Summit except the cup and lid are both titanium, and the cup has measuring marks. If I ultimately decide the 900 is overkill, I may pony up the extra $20 and exchange it for this kit.

The titanium spoon doesn't collapse for storage like the Jetboil spoon, but it's a clean, simple design that doesn't have litte crevices and crannies where food can collect, and it's much easier to keep clean.

The Snow Peak stove arguably isn't as fuel-efficient as the Jetboil, but for me that becomes somewhat an academic argument. I don't take long trips any more (mostly 2 or maybe 3 nights, nowadays), so fuel efficiency is effectively a non-issue on such short trips.

Like I said, thanks a lot, OM! smile

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