As I said in the last post, I'm leaving on Sunday for a 100 backpacking trip with my Scout Troop. At one time I was changing gear on almost every trip. Since thru-hiking the AT in 2010 I've made few if any changes. I get comfortable with an item and I want to keep it around. However, I recognize that as time goes on gear wears out (just like me) and technology changes (and so must I). So on this trip I'm trying out four new pieces of gear. They are a Rab Pulse Jacket, a Columbia Omni-Freeze shirt, a Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack and a Flat Cat Gear Epicurean Stove. Here are my initial impressions of each item and I'll continue the reviews from the trail as I fully put the gear to a real test.
Rab Pulse Jacket- Straight out of the package I was impressed. An XL size weighted 7.7 ounces which is a big savings in weight from my older Rab e-vent jacket. I normally wear a large but I like to wear extra layers under the jacket in cooler weather. I actuallywore this out in the rain last night. As tropical storm Andrea approaches from the south, I made a trip to the canoe access in Saxapahaw to move a trailer of boats away from possible rising water. I stayed dry even in the down pour but the true test will be hiking with a pack in the rain.
This week I stopped by the Columbia Outlet. I was looking for a short sleeve Omni-Wick shirt. My wife Susan had purchased me a long sleeve shirt out of the Omni-Wick fabric and I was impressed at how dry and warm I stayed hiking in temps just above freezing in alternating rain, sleet and snow. They didn't have the Omni-Wick but the young lady in-charge of the store said that some of the Omni-Freeze incorporated the wicking technology I needed. If it does any where close to the shirt my wife bought me, I will be happy.
For the last five years I've been carrying a ULA backpack of one description or another. The ULA Conduit summited Mount Katahdin with me so it is kind of hard to give it up. I've even stitched up seams in the middle of the night while listening to the rain fall on my tent. Recently Gossamer Gear accepted my application into their Trail Ambassador program. One of the perks was a new backpack. When I told Earlylite about the pack, he commented "it sounded like I was in need of a new pack". First impressions of the pack are very good. It is very similar in size and weight to my old pack however it has a better hip belt that is something I always thought the Conduit should had offered.
Last but not least is the Epicurean Stove from Flat Cat Gear. For I don't know how long I've been a devoted alcohol stove user. I've even developed a pretty cool design that could make the stove simmer. However Boy Scouts of America frown on homemade alcohol stoves so I've been looking for an alternative fuel. I read a review of the Epicurean Stove a couple months ago and decided I had to try it out for myself. I ordered one and used it on an over-night last month. A half tab of esbit heated the water to re-hydrate my supper. Now I'll get to us it for a week and under various conditions. One issue with esbit is the residue on pots. I only observed a minimal amount on the last trip.
Its just a little more than 36 hours before I meet the Troop to go for a little walk on the AT. I still have food to get ready and gear to pack. This is going to be a fun week!