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Everything posted by kokodoug

  1. I hike in KSO Treks. I've had them a couple months and have taken them on all the usual trails in VA and WV (rigorous day hikes - the App trail and less well groomed, not around town). They have a slightly heavier sole than the straight KSO, but they are a dream. I never thought I would like the feel of every rock and root but the earthy feel is wonderful. I feel like part of the earth instead of crushing over it. My legs and feet responded very quickly to the initial conditioning (body does need to adapt - my calves complained a little at first but quickly adapted). I ordered a pair of classics yesterday to wear around town on a regular basis. I've done some jogging in the KSO Treks, and they are great. I plan to do trail running in them. For backpacks, I will take them as my camp shoe (haven't tried them out with a heavy pack, but with day pack they are still the thing!). I want to test their limits, but they are now my day-hike standard. I have definitely been over-booted in my life. These will take anything the terrain dishes and feel great doing it. My concern for heavier load is gimpy knees, and for backpack loads over 20lbs (my guess at a reasonable threshhold) I'll stick to my boots (for now, but I will test it.....). I highly recommend the five fingers. Some may not be able to get a good fit, and may not be able to wear them. My little toe also barely fits in, when I put them on I sort of have to guide it in its slot, but once on, they fit very literally like a glove.
  2. I use REI Morph (no longer carried). 3/4 season convertible. That means for full wind and weather resistance I can put an extra pole over the middle for strength, a zip-out liner can be insralled for extra warmth, and a vestibule that can be attached to fly. That whole ensem is about 7lbs. I can drop it to 4 lbs by going with just the tent and fly w/o the extra mid pole, liner, and vestibule. More than being 3/4 season, it's about desired comfort level. The vestibule gives huge space for gear, cooking, etc., and is great to have during stormy summer weather. The short retail run of the Morph model indicates to me that it didn't sell well with the target audience, and REI has come up with some other models. You can't go wrong with the half-dome, becoming I guess their flagship tent. The Big Agnes is certainly a fine tent; I wouldn't buy it because somehow the name irks me (oh well, get over myself...). I would also look at the Marmot line. I would have bought one of the Marmots except for being budget conscience - I'm very happy with my REI; it's my 2nd tent in 28 years (yes, my first lasted me 20 - only 8 on the Morph). I got mine on sale for $140.00, would have had to spend $450+ on Marmot, so......
  3. REI is a great place to go. I use mummy because: my lower body stays warmer. Extra bag space takes extra energy to keep warm. I use a long bag as well and stuff my clothes down to the bottom in really cold weather. space and weight in pack and tent. Two mummies in a tent are easier to manage, but then again how you want that to play out could well favor the rectangle Definite difference in pack volume, and that is important to me. Mummies have cold features, like collars, hoods and drawstrings that really help in cold. Rectangles just seem to be made more for car camping, but "mummies" come in all sorts of modifications these days, and so do the recs. Take a look at the Agnes (to echo above).
  4. burnt wood and rocks are part of the wooded natural landscape. You know, forest fires and the like? LNT hiking lets nature decide for herself when to burn. I love fires too, but restrict it to places built for fires (like USFS campgrounds). To let the land reclaim a fire ring, one has only to scatter the rocks and ashes. It's a shame when the ashes contain melted plastic, cans, and whatnot. All they do is litter the landscape. Sorry, gotta agree - pack it in, pack it out. Carry a plastic bag for trash. The natural landscape of manufactured implements (plasticware, cans) is the city/landfill. No place in the wilderness or backcountry.
  5. I remember my student budget days well. REI (and so I'm sure many other dealers) has 3-4 lines of hiking boots at $80.00 - $90.00. I'd give them a look. Fit - fit - fit. Don't give in on fit, please. I can't help mentioning, because I hiked many miles in them as a youth - for $2.00 a pair (40 years ago...) at a local surplus outlet (and they were used) - combat boots. Get a pair that fit and they really are serviceable. Sometimes we need to sit back and clear our minds of the state-of-art stuff and face reality, as I said, I remember those times. A good fitting pair of desert/jungle boots, or the all leather, will serve you many miles (all leather if you want water-proof). Take some acetone to the leather when you first get them, rub off the factory finish thoroughly, then apply a good boot grease (my choice) or one of the great Nik Wax treatments (I've also used and they are very effective). These can be had from $20.00 - $40.00 at various surplus and "military" stores. The key is to wear good pair of wool hiking socks (be sure to try on your footwear with the socks you will wear). Final advantage, these boots will last for years, and when your budget improves and you decide to upgrade, the combat boot will serve admirably as great yardwork footwear. For years after I left the service my boots sat on the steps in the garage, ready for the next yard project. Don't completely discount the really cheapo boots you can find at target and those types of stores. If you can find a good fit (who knows), you can add waterproofing and they will also be serviceable. They are not very sturdy and will fall apart about the time your budget lightens up...... I bought a pretty good pair of boots from a thrift shop 9 years ago for $5.00 (I was going to be on a manufacturing floor for a few months and there was a great possibility of getting chemicals and paint on them so I wanted something other than "really good" work boots. They also were great. If you have a local thrift, and it's hit and miss (time investment may not suit you right now), it's worth one or two quick checks. People put good stuff in those stores long before serviceable life has expired. You have lots of very serviceable options for under $80.00 - maybe we do get what we pay for, but we also are in the habit of paying far more than we need to for many things, so don't think you necessarily have to spend big bucks to get a great fit and serviceability. Let your real need define your search.
  6. I've used a Pro-lite 4 for 6 years backpacking. I'm 5-10, 230 lbs. It has been great, well satisfied. It insulates very well in cold and is comfortable. However, I'm comfortable on the ground, I need little to be comfortable. It is easy to curse the blow-ups if you get a leak on the trail (so I carry patches which is all that's needed. I get a pucture maybe 1 in 20 trips). The pro-lite line was made for light, and inflatables in general are made to lower bulk and weight. There are consequently trade-offs. Today, given the materials available, there honestly isn't that much weight advantage to the pro-lite, but I still go for the reduced bulk. The overriding criteria for me (given that I don't really need much in a pad to begin with) is lightweight and low bulk, mostly the bulk. It's really nice to deflate and roll into a very tight roll. Easy to pack. The others listed above are great choices. For me, the pro-lite 4 is my deal.
  7. Echo TotemLake. Education is indeed the best. My philosophy is to treat the outdoors as I do travel. Don't act like a tourist. Find out what I need to know in order to act like I know what I'm doing there, and the locals are less likely to rip me off. Bear behavior is different among species and between individuals, but one thing that is common to all predators on earth: they have an instinctive sense of cost-and-benefit to a pursue or not to pursue decision. No predator, since his life is about survival, will take unnecessary risk of injury. They will all react defensively and aggressively if threatened and to protect their young. The larger bears can also be especially aggressive in defending food (all predators are, but the lower on the food chain the quicker they will abandon a kill). In our ignorance, we may stumble onto situations and actually make them worse by subsequent actions. If we prepare with knowledge, use common sense, we can avoid most of these situations. in surprise situations, or when approached or charged, (and spray is good to have to deter the larger bears, I understand it will work on cougars as well), we need to make sure we communicate that we are not a threat, and happy to give the animal his space, but at the same time, we belong there and are not intimidated. We should consult the wealth of reliable info out there regarding the different options for different species of bear. Running is a dinner bell. Spray works well because it's like skunk or porcupine natural defenses - it makes something about you udesireable and painful; but, it is not an outright physical attack and that allows the bear the preferred option to just leave you alone. Anything you do that makes a large bear think he must fight puts you in trouble. Cougars more than bears depend on stealth, once their cover is blown you can face them down. Predators posture to show dominance, territory etc., and by standing our ground with a cat and showing no fear we posture in a way that says to Mr. Cat, it aint gonna be worth your while to tangle with something that just might bite back. Go find a rabbit. Again, being just confident but not aggressive.
  8. It is rare when it happens, but when it does, you almost certainly don't stand a chance. Au contraire, when it does happen (mauling), most maulings even by large bears result in minor injuries (again, referring to the black and species of Grizzly/Brown). Next in frequency are severe but not life-ending injuries, and then, and rarely, death. We stand a chance because the control lies with the bear, and the bear usually chooses not to press the advantage unless we threaten it. That's how nature has been designed, but some people are uncomfortable with the fact that we are not always the dominant species, especially when on their domain. Another experience among wildlife officials that is becoming ever more evident with time, is that use of firearms in bear incidents doesn't protect the victim, due to a number of variables, may create a violent and threatening situation where none may have existed, and may create a danger for other unsuspecting travelers (if the bear escapes with a non-fatal wound). The tragic killings happen from time to time. Sometimes we may know what happened and can learn, and sometimes, as the article that Totemlake presents above says, we will never know what happened. We use common sense and knowledge the same way we do when we get in a car and buckle up. We control what we can, but give ourselves over to the realization that in our daily lives there is always an eb and flow we have no control over. That's as true in the wilderness as it is on the street outside our homes.
  9. Regarding the bear issue, I recommend reading the fact sheets at www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/fact_sheets.htm. This is excellent information, supported by research, and specifically addresses the gun issue (summary: guns are a bad idea).
  10. Corn tortillas with hummus. and Homemade jerky: 1 lb thin sliced beef round (further slice into 1" wide 1/8 to 1/4" thick pieces) 1/3 c Worcestershire sauce 1/3c soy sauce or terriaki marinade 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp onion powder 1/2 tsp onion powder 1/2 tblsp salt pop it all into a ziplock and marinade over night. Remove the beef strips and pat dry with paper towels. Place on oven rack (be sure to put something under to catch drippings unless you're just really crazy in love with cleaning ovens) in 200 deg oven. Objective is not to cook, just dry out the beef thoroughly. If you have patience, you can accomplish the same thing by sun drying. When it's dry (I like it almost brittle but that's a bit overdone) you're done.
  11. Hmmm, I just got interested in the quilt thing, also registered on pbf, so thanks for those resources. I have a Sierra Designs Van Winkle long (down, rated to 15 degrees). I'm hot blooded as all get out, it has to be mid 30's temperature to get me out of my t-shirts and into just a polar tech vest. My bag does great for me, but I often open it up and use it like a quilt (again, hmmmm). One thing I use that's great is a silk liner for the bag (bag and liner from REI). That thing is great, let's me be comfortable with the bag unzipped, and it does add a few degrees warmth to the overall bag. Plus, I launder the liner and not the bag. Try REI and see if their offereings for women make sense, but I like the quilt idea too. REI bags are offered in different materials of course, but they have a wide range of widths and lengths that may appeal to you.
  12. I recently purchased REI Lookout. It has a hydration compartment. I've been very pleased with it, being budget conscious I think I got fine value for the dollar here. REI Lookout
  13. Footwear for the trail is a very personal decision. I hiked a small part of the App trail 2 weeks ago in SW VA and ran into a number of Virginia Tech students hiking in running shoes (youth is wasted on the young.....). Back to point... I wear Limmer mid-weight boots. They are about 3-1/2 pounds, heavy for boots by today's standards, but in spite of the common wisdom that weight on the feet is not a good thing, I am used to them, and the comfort and stability is incredible. I have very gimpy knees that will dislocate in a heartbeat, and I've found that a good sturdy boot keeps my knee from turning every which way as I step over objects. All leather, I would stack them up against any pair of Gore Tex for waterproofness (treated according to the Limmer brothers' suggestions and using their product). I've beaten them to death for a week at a time and at the end of journey could wade a creek without any leaking or soaking of the leather. Limmers also make a great lightweight boot which actually is probably a good mid-weight boot for backpacking for most people. I've also had Technicas (Gore Tex) - very lightweight but sturdy, and I liked them. All others I've had were sturdy leather boots of 70's vintage (Vasque, Raichle) so no use talking about old stuff. I guess I'm kind of old school, too, when it comes to the feel of good leather (so I like my Limmers). Limmers are pricey big time, though. Worth it in my opinion, but there are many quality boots in the world and it's a real journey to figure out what you really need.
  14. I agree with the other posters. Water safety is nothing to trifle about. I use the MSR Sweetwater purifier system, a filter plus solution to disinfect viral entities. When I did a little reading about the requirements (size in microns) to safely filter out protozoans and bacteria, I realized I don't want to take chances filtering water with my t-shirt! MSR is $80.00 but worth every penny. Field cleanable, fast pumping and reliable. - Built-in filter replacement safety indicator keeps tabs on usage, filters up to 200 gal. - Its 0.2 micron filter eliminates waterborne bacteria and protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidia - SweetWater Purifier Solution is able to safely disinfect "worst case" water sources - SweetWater Purifier Solution comes in a 2 fl. oz. bottle that treats up to 80 gal. of water In accordance with folks above, use a pre-filter (comes with the system) and you won't have plugging/slowing problems. field maintenance if it does slow down is nothing more than a few swipes of the filter cartridge with a brush (comes with the system). I also have been eyeing the MIOX and might be tempted to give it a try.
  15. My luxury items mostly fit in the category of "not being an ultra-light" person. I carry the vestibule for my tent, not usually required, but makes for a spacious and cozy setup when it rains. I carry a 3 lb first aid kit, loaded - I guess maybe that's not too obsessive since I'm often solo...a candle lantern (there are lighter smaller options for light but I like candlelight), a repair kit that allows me to start a textile mill if I wanted to, I'm thinking about espresso machine but haven't taken that plunge yet (coffee being an absolute survival item, though). I always take my flute. Actually my GPS is often a luxury item because on those short-that's-all-the-time-I-have backpacks on well marked trails that I've used before, it really isn't necessary, but I like to play with it (although for now I am sans GPS, having dumped it in the New River, VA, this August in a canoe mishap and haven't gotten around to replacing it). About 1/2 the time I take a book.
  16. Looking over your choices I guess the duo 14 is closest to what I have now; I would choose one of the duo series if I were replacing my light. I haven't tried the latest generations of leds, so my experience is about 3 years old. I love my light and have no need to replace yet. I'm pretty sure I have the Petzl Myo 3. My criteria was: able to choose between bright spotlight and long life led. It has two brightnesses of led, on which I get something on the order of 80-100+ hours of light. I hike at night often because I will leave work on Friday, pull into trailhead (summer) with maybe 2 hours of sunlight left, and go for 2-3 hours in dark until I make campl. It's just what I do, so I need long battery life. Most of the time the led light is adequate, but where the trail is less obvious or forks I really need the powerful spotlight, at least for a moment. On canoe fishing trips, I mark the take out point as a waypoint. I get caught after dark (not smart anyway, but....it's what I do...) sometimes on the water when the fishing in one spot was spectacular..the gps tells me when I'm close to the take out, I need the spotlight again to avoid obstacles and see the take out point (large river). It's an all-around light that I need. Downside is it's bulky compared to others that are pure led, but since it's basically a headband I don't really notice the extra bulk. I love it. I'd be hard pressed to go with anything other than Petzl, because of rugged reliability.
  17. I love the Mon as well. I've backpacked in the Cranberry Wilderness, Dolly Sods, and surrounding areas. Fortunately I've not seen much in the way of grafitti. I hiked up to Lion's Head (Sods Wilderness) and Dragon's Tooth (VA - Jefferson NF and App trail), I suppose lack of grafitti is due to those being long and/or strenous hikes. I've not spent any time in the popular rock climbing areas of Seneca Rocks 'cause I'm not a climber. I agree with other posters that scum doesn't seem to walk too far. People grow up in terms of decades. Cultures grow up over centuries or millenia. Every culture, no matter how primitive, has its practices and protocols. I understand all the talk about wanting to leave one's mark (a weak and sad argument at best). Responding to primeval urge, however, is an unacceptable answer in a densely populated and politically and culturally diverse society that demands mutual respect and self-control. Consideration for others is one of the hallmark characteristics of a civilized society. To justify today's grafitti by pointing to ancient 'glyphs, well, it's an error in logic. What was the population density 500 years ago in the US? Who "owned" the land back then anyway? --social-political-environmental context = very important to grasp... Art has an indispensable place in our society, but any artist who displays contempt for fellow mankind in his work offends me. That includes wilderness graff artists. Artists have a right to display their work in galleries and private venues, I have a right not to look at it if I don't want to. Wilderness grafitti "artists" do not have a right to perform their "art" there. That is my land as well as theirs. I should not have to tolerate it. Example of progress and adaptation by society: there isn't inherently anything ecologically wrong with building campfires (fire-rings) in the wilderness. When I was growing up in the 70's the leave no trace movement was just getting started. Now, because of population density and number of people using wilderness areas, we have a social agreement that fire-rings are not good because there would be too many, such that nature has not enough time to reclaim and our trails would be junked up with charcoal, smudged rocks, beer and soda cans and litter (in some areas it is a matter of law). Out of respect for our environment, and as a statement of what we want out of the wilderness experience, we therefore use leave no trace practices in backcountry, or in public national forest encourage use of established rings. There is no room for rock writers either, today. Paint the inside of your house or business. Use the bulletin boards of the internet (this one) to post your mark. Use grafitti walls in the parks if you must. Leave our natural resources alone. We already have social agreement, as far as I'm concerned, that backcountry grafitti is out of order. We have put away the toys of the 70's, we no longer "do it if it feels good." People who do whatever they want with no regard to the impact on others have no place in the backcountry. I love meeting YOU on the trail; I've no interest in seeing SIGNS of you along the trail!
  18. Yes, I agree. I wasn't suggesting 6000 cu in, just saying I got a nice quality large volume at good price. The outlet carries a good selection of day packs and medium volumes as well and their quality is very good. Getting one pack for both trail and kayak is more of a challenge. Dry bags are always useful to have even for backpacking for such things as first aid kits and clothes. Also agree that if you're using a guide service just ask them.
  19. I'm interested because I do a lot of hiking/backpacking. I did some gunstock finishing for a gunsmith when I was young but I don't do the gun thing anymore, yet love working with wood. Every wood has its own characteristics, and almost anything can be finished attractively. I like to find pieces from places I go where I've had memorable moments and make mementos of them. I'm into native american flutes, and I make flute blocks out of such wood, they remind me of my trip every time I play. Last August I got a fresh sapling of Eastern Hemlock, about 1-1/4" diameter, tapering to 3/4" at tip, during a hike in SW VA that was a particularly memorable and reinvigorating time for me (from an area where trees had been recently cut and cleared). I let it cure about 4 months. I made a few blocks from it, some buttons for some of my outdoor gear and a buckskin vest I made, then I had still 53" left for the walking staff (I like that length fine, but if I did it over I might go for 57-60"). The fundamentals are easy: shape, sand, seal, finish. For shaping, many staff makers decide to remove all the bark, for this particular one, since it's a "totem" of memory - there's nothing special about its wood grain, so I sanded using a mix of wood exposures - the light wood under the bark, the soft brown bark under the outer bark, and leaving the outer bark intact. You can do whatever pleases you, although some woods' bark is too difficult to finish (as well as some wood is so beautiful it's a shame not to expose it and finish it nicely!). I love the finish, the bark finished very elegantly and the wood is more attractive for it I think. When sanding, start with a rough grain, say 60 or 80 grit, and work until you have your desired shape. Then sand the sanding marks and streaks out with successive finer grades, I use 100-220-325-400. Oh, and always sand with the grain - sand marks against the grain will show up during finishing. Once sanding is finished, wipe the dust off and seal the wood. I use a stain/seal (Minwax), and natural stain. 2-3 coats of seal protects the wood and prepares it to take a real nice finish. I use oil finish, Tung-Oil finish by minwax currently, but I used Tru-Oil to finish gunstocks and really like it. Tung finish was available locally and I'm too lazy or compulsive to wait for an order of Tru Oil so I went with Tung. I'm happy, but drying time is a bit long. I put a dozen razor thin coats of oil on by hand. This may seem obsessive, but it produces a lovely 3D deep sheen, moreso on really pretty wood like walnut and mahogany, birdseye maple, etc. Looks good though on my staff. Oh, on shaping - one more thing - I don't like a straight staff. I like a little bend because it feels more natural as I walk. To get this, I actually DO lean the fresh sapling up against a wall (in a corner) of my home at about a 70 degree angle. While curing over the 3-4 month period, it warped a little, gravity putting a slight bend in it. It turned out perfectlly for my purpose. The bend also gives it a nice little spring, almost like a shock absorber, when I walk with it. I finished it off by putting a rubber tip on it that I bought from REI (during shaping I sanded the tip to a diameter that would accomodate the rubber tip). The great thing about making your own is you're never limited. Do whatever strikes you. If you botch one up make another (this is the part I like - I'm good with finishes, but I'm a sorry artist and keep trying to carve things into the wood, I need lots of tries!). All I use for tools and materials are hand sandpaper, a Dremel Mototool, a Leatherman multitool, stain/seal, a couple of rags and foam brushes, oil finish, and mineral spirits for wiping dust and cleaning. It's very economical but satisfying.
  20. I don't carry guns anymore. I'm an ex Army officer. For years I was an avid upland and big game hunter as well. I beieved in carrying guns and felt some special added strength and invulnerability. About 15 years ago I gave up hunting (that's another story). 10 years ago took up backpacking again, SW, Rocky Mtn, VA/WVA wilderness areas are my favorite targets. As for those who insist their safety is threatened in every environment, and avid gun-toters, they will never be persuaded not to carry a gun. I've never had any trouble. I take safety precautions, but mostly in terms of where I go and what I do there. I've enjoyed watching bears in the wilderness. Black's are non-threatening. If you are worried, talk to a biologist or ranger about it, and get some sage advice. I have called coyotes since I was a youth, stopped shooting them 30 years ago, and I get a kick out of seeing them (fox and bobcat also) come to an artificial call. They are no threat. I would stay away from an area if it was overrrun by wild dog packs, but a farm dog on a trail doesn't count; I've met some friendly pooches on the App trail. If, if if if, you are planning a trip to Grizzly or Brown bear country, I would be concerned about checking with the authorities about rules and precautions. Some areas (alas, my info is seriously outdated, I'm a trained Wildlife Biologist, but haven't worked it for years) require you engage the services of a guide, and in those cases many do carry weapons just in case. The only North American species I am remotely concerned about are the Brown/Grizzly and Polar Bears. Nothing else. My bottom line is simple, having turned pretty much into a total dove - those who carry the means of violence tend to beget violence. I won't argue with those who say "it only takes one time...." but neither will I listen to them. I go into the wilderness to find peace, solitude, serenity, and take time to be with my higher and purer thoughts that the day to day rat race doesn't afford me. If you are afraid of the outdoors, start on a personal journey to eliminate your fear, don't turn to guns in at attempt to kill everything that makes you uncomfortable. Beware of letting media build fear in your soul. Get real professional advice if you need it (biologists, not journalists). Just my 2 cents. If you're overly worried about people hurting you, see a shrink before you take it out on the wilderness.
  21. I'm an REI freak because it's good quality and less priced. Try their outlet store online. I bought my 6000 cu in (for heavy loads and week-long trips) pack for only $125.00; a discontinued model on sale. These discontinued items are great bargains and will last a lifetime.
  22. Wow Michelle, suonds like a headache!....no pun.....first place to start I guess is fit, if you haven't done so I'd go to a reputable store (I like REI, but there are many outdoor companies and local shops that have expertise in backpacking issues) and check fit of your pack. If you're clearly wearing a pack that doesn't fit, a new pack might be in order (now, I say tongue in cheek, because I'm on a slave's budget and can't afford to replace every mistake I make, so I'm an expert jury-rigger....). If you have some bone protrusions that are abnormal, the right fit plus some additional adjustments may be in order. Some packs fit the pack and hip belt separately, that could be a place to start. You can add padding as well. If you can determine what changes need to be made to your shoulder straps, you can add/trim those straps yourself or have a commercial sewer do it. Don't feel constrained to the way the pack is, but don't guess at what you need - work with an expert and make sure you have the right size pack first. Finally, internal frames have the benefit of being able to bend the stays, this might be an essential for you; external frames, though, take the load away from your back entirely which may be what you need. Bottom line, seek knowledge, then feel free to cut, trim, stretch, sew, pad to your heart's delight until you find a fix.
  23. I use both. Leki's for my heavy backpacking (at 55....) definitely make a huge difference in trail energy. For unencumbered and day hikes I like my homemade wood staff. It feels comfortable and does help. I stick with rubber tip unless in icy conditions because forest/park rangers tell me that among a host of many other behaviors, metal tips on staffs can add wear to the trails. I'm not crazy worried about that, but I use rubber tip unless I really need otherwise. 2 things I never go anywhere without, though - my hat and my staff(s). If you have low back pain a pair of poles will make an incredible difference!
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