FINAL GEAR THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS
Ultimately, I like to point out that I am good enough to go with what I have. I can improve a few things, but I’m technically good enough to hike with what I already own.
I’ve been spending a lot of time attempting to replace certain pieces of gear. Part of this hike is in its simplicity of preparation. I don’t want to spend weeks learning and trying out new gear. I just want to go hike the trail. More time spent on it then preparing for it.
Longest case scenario the trail will take 6 weeks. I don’t want to spend that much time on coping with whether I have the perfect gear or if something could easily be improved upon. I feel like I’ve put forth enough time and effort in this regard.
In hiking and preparing for this trail, I’m trying to make use of what I have, be on a low budget, use things that are multi functional. I’m not necessarily looking for the best or perfect gear insomuch as reliability and function. I’m trying to make use of what I own, and what is simple and easy to obtain. I’d rather spend this time being productive elsewhere or out on anothet long distance hike.
I’ve also been reviewing the water list on the AZT website, which suggests potential 50 mile distances if I get really unlucky. On the Hayduke, having cached it, it was rare to go in excess of 30 miles without water. Miles on the Hayduke are slower; far more technical and dependent on time-consuming and accurate navigation. AZT miles follow a track, and lowering my weight is critical. Carrying an extra 2-3 lbs is the same weight as having an extra liter and a half. Shaving weight is kind of a really big deal.
Last minute weights of certain pieces of gear stand out as being particularly heavy:
No matter how much tags and straps I try to remove, this jacket will weigh over 12 ounces. This is a massive weight for rain gear in the desert during the summer prior to monsoon season.
I don’t need a rain jacket, let alone justifying one made of durable Paclite. This can easily be replaced with emergency rain gear. Originally, I was willing to replace a tarp with an insulated bivy. But this comes with the weight cost of carrying a Paclite jacket.
Of more significance is how rain gear, rain shelter, and insulation interact with each other. There comes a point where a cuben tarp, even if it never rains, becomes a better choice. The tarp can be effective as emergency rain cover, it provides significant comfort during high elevation rain, but is essentially dead weight, which is why the blizzard Survival bivy was a perfect replacement. The only problem is rain gear.
Rain at elevation while being heat trained risks hypothermia I’m finding it very difficult to choose to carry this Paclite jacket over a cuben tarp. The less I carry the less I’ll need a real jacket.
Therefore I think I’m better off choosing the cuben tarp, even if it means predominantly using it as a blanket in lieu of a heat sheet. As experienced on the Hayduke, cuben fiber sheeting is significantly warmer than a heatsheet At higher elevation in the rain, it also works as intended as a reliable shelter. This means I can be okay with a smaller insulated bivy as the tarp now provides this weatherproof function. Additional insulation at elevation comes from polycro sheeting (the groundsheet). I’m willing to sacrifice using a heavy duty double ply groundsheet and use this as additional insulation, it’s something I’m carrying anyways.
There are other benefits to carrying a tarp. Just saving a few ounces isn’t enough of a reason not to use tarp over bivy. That being the line of hardcore minimalism, for I can save several ounces here, but at significant cost of function and comfort. Having the option to type at night with less attracting insects, diffusing some of the light, not having to worry about submerging electronics. Ability to comfortably wait out a flash storm….
Therefore no rain jacket.
If I carry the tarp, I can reduce insulation weight. The ghost whisperer weighs 7 ounces but is inadequate alone, which is unfortunate. If only it had 2 more ounces of down, plus a hood.
Tired of searching for the perfect down gear/weight, it seems simpler to use this over finding a jacket with 4-6 ounces more of down, or even the hooded version. It’s just a matter of not owning a wardrobe of down jackets and quilts to be able to pick and choose from.
Insulation for 55 degrees isn’t the problem. The problem is being acclimated to the heat, which makes it feel much colder.
I think I need roughly 8 ounces worth of high loft down for insulation, in as light a shell as it would fit.
My main concern is carrying that extra shirt, jacket, sheet, etc for insulation, for that winds up being the same weight or more as a 12 ounce quilt. For it seems necessary to carry about that much weight for insulation.
As I already own the Ghost Whisperer, it seems simpler to build insulation around it. The blizzard Survival bag is only going to work with better rain gear, which has me now leaning towards no real rain jacket. Given enough time, I’d eventually find a midrange ultralight gown jacket, but it’s not where I’m at right now.
The lightest sleeping bag is the Sea 2 Summit Spark I with 6 ounces down in a 6 ounce shell. Aside from the price and high specificity of use, the Spark II weighs 4 ounces more but the shell is listed as the same weight: meaning for just the weight of more down is significantly better insulation.
Worth noting is how after being acclimated how cold it feels once the sun sets and temperatures start dropping. Which is why it is preferable to have some insulation in wearable clothing. Which is why using a lightweight down jacket is likely preferable to a sleeping bag.
Cuben tarp is under 8 ounces even with full cordage.
Innernet, by comparison is 10 ounces.
Paclite rain jacket over 12.5 ounces
Blizzard Survival bag around 12 ounces
Trimmed Blizzard Survival quilt much less
Ghost Whisperer 7 ounces
Prana Zion is heavyweight, weighing 14 ounces, which is extremely heavy. The convertible version is 3-4 ounces heavier still, weighing well over 1 lb.
By comparison, lighter weight trekking pants tend to be 10-11 ounces. Ordinarily, I’d rather carry an extra 3 ounces for durability and insulation, but am willing to try and purchase something last minute if I can easily shave a quarter lb of weight.
Pants are heavier than shirts, they require more material and durability. Generally cotton on pants will have durability issues around the crotch, and potential chafing issues. Cotton is less critical, and cotton pants tend to weigh even more.
The ideal pant would weigh 10 ounces, be bleach white, be slightly baggier, but ultimately the only reason to attempt to find something else is to shave 4 ounces. I’m not sure what I should do at this point. The Zion pants are ideal for the Hayduke but a waste of weight for the AZT. At least with the extra durability I don’t have to worry about shredding pants and having clothing problems. The extra weight also makes it significantly more resistant to uv damage and impromptu sitting directly on the earth. These pants weigh even more than a Paclite rain jacket. Their weight feels obscene. Ultimately, they’re good enough to be useable.
The Zion pants offer significant insulation. This is slightly disadvantageous midsun, but helpful at night. The non-convertible version weighs 4 ounces less than the convertible version, and is a slimmer and more athletic fit. Wearing these pants they feel useable and wearable just sitting on jagged slickrock or sand. They feel like a second skin.
The ideal pant might be Railriders Eco Mesh, or even the more delicate Bone Head. For the Hayduke, reinforced knee and seat is better, so probably the Adventurer or Bushwhack. I can’t afford $100 for a one time use garment.
Railriders makes good safari style sun shirts, but I think cotton is better suited for core. Cooler clothing for core is more critical. Cotton can be saturated with alkaline and non-potable water as well as retain more water as well as be saturated with heated water. Though their shirt is used at badwater, this is in conjunction with a crew and unlimited water to saturate the quick drying nylon. The nano-T cotton shirt weighs less and cost 10x less and was durable enough to survive the Hayduke bushwhacks.
Cotton sleep pants only weigh 7 ounces. Perhaps this is the best option.
I know I can shave a lb off my backpack by switching to cuben fiber and lighter frame. But this isn’t comparing apples with apples. My pack is extremely abrasion resistant, thick enough to be uv resistant and can haul indefinite weight. I find it very hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a high wear item. It feels outside my budget. The iPhone was a much better upgrade.
Surprisingly the long sleeve cotton nano-T only weighs 5.5 to 6 ounces size medium.
By comparison, a worn Nike pro long sleeve is around 6.5, size small
A short sleeve heavyweight cotton is 6.5, size small.
A used and heavily stained, washed and dried nano T weighs an ounce more. In fact used clothing, even washed, seem to weigh significantly more than when new.
I’m questioning the benefits of carrying the extra poly shirt. More justification if I don’t carry the Paclite rain jacket. I may be better off carrying a Sugoi lightweight silnylon windshirt which will be more effective at warmth gor its weight, but unwearable as a standalone shirt. The weight of the shirt is only 6 ounces, but if I’m carrying it as insulation, I’ll be better off just carrying a down quilt.
This doesn’t feel like hardcore minimalism, I’m just trying to choose the best gear for comfort and reliability. Hardcore minimalism would be slashing out several pounds of gear and willing to plan to occasionally suffer for sake of removing all possible excess weight.
I’m totally okay buying new used shoes for 1/5th retail. I’ve even discovered that women’s shoe size 11.5 is the same exact as the men’s shoe. I’d rather start this trail with a brand new pair and wear it for 800 miles, but realistically it might just be best to carry a sevond pair from the start to be able to postpone some wear off the main shoes. I would rather save $100 for a specialized down sleeping bag. Especially when my miles are slower and extra weight might have less impact. Given the choice I’d rather just have a perfect brand new pair, but it’s not a big enough deal to pay 5x the price. I also don’t want to bother mailing a Dropbox midway, though perhaps this would be the best strategy.
I put a lot of effort in trying to figure if and which iPhone to buy. The 6s or SE have extremely good cameras, good enough to replace a standalone one. And significant improvement from the very low quality iPad II.
The monthly device fee of having both a mini jetpack and a phone line will eventually cost more than any iPhone would ever cost. It cost twice as much to have a jetpack and a phone, whereas an iPhone works as a mobile hotspot. This alone is reason enough to have just purchased it several years back. But I didn’t know this.
The capabilities of a smart phone are significant. It’s really hard to imagine people not willing to carry a camera/computer/hotspot/storage drive that only weighs 3.99 ounces.
Last year this phone felt too expensive to risk trying out on a rugged trail, at $650. Now it costs less than half this and mow it just COSTS MORE NOT TO USE AN IPHONE, for it also functions as a hotspot for a laptop or iPad. It weighs as much as a jetpack alone, which I carried for the entire Hayduke, yet has more function than an iPad. A good used iPhone SE can be found for as low as —, and in 2 years will cost less than this new.