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5/11/2021 1:24 pm  #1

Everything you ever wanted to know about everything

Wellllll, the subject is what I'm hoping this might become when people start commenting.  Otherwise we're depending on my comments alone, and that's of dubious usefulness.  

I did an ice-out trip in the Adirondacks (ADK and APP are equidistant for me, but the border is closed, so....). While there, it occurred to me that it might be fun to post mini-reviews of all the stuff I use on canoe trips.  By the way, the trip was ok.  Rain, each day colder than the day before, and wind got worse each day.  I took the hint and left on Day 3.  Was loading the car as the wind reached an absurd level,  It was nice to hear loons again.

Anyway, here’s a rundown of EVERYTHING I carry.  For sure I carry some stuff that could be improved on, simplified, or eliminated, so I’m thinking after people make some comments, this might actually become useful for somebody planning a trip or considering gear upgrades, etc.

Sea to Summit Event Waterproof Compression Sacks:  Love these things.  Would like a slightly larger version so I could get sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner in there.  Only flaw to me is the clips.  You have to push them really far down to release them, and that’s not easy with cold hands.  I use one for clothes, one for sleeping bag, one for tech gear/cold weather sleeping gear.  Excessive use of bags, but I have three, tried it that way and liked it.

Sea summit Ultra Sil Stuff Sacks – I use one for food, one for kitchen stuff, one for general gear, one for first aid kit, one for crudified clothes.  These are great stuff sacks.  Waterproof and lightweight, AND the cinch strap thing works well.  I’ve never had one bind up on me.

UST Waterproof Match Case:  Cheap, but indispensable.  I carry one in my pocket, and always have a few others with me.  Striker on the bottom is useless.  I just tear off a piece of striker from a box of wooden matches and stick it inside the match case.

Osage River Microfiber Fleece Zippered Sleeping Bag Liner: Does the job well, but shimmy-zippering your way into that sucker and into your sleeping bag is a test of one’s will, patience, and cardio conditioning, but If you need it you need it.

Foam Pad vs. Air Mattress.  True confessions – I used both on this last trip.  It was cold so I needed the closed cell foam pad, but my lower back hurts overnight anyway, and using just the foam pad KILLS.  This time, I put an air mattress beneath the foam pad.  That helped, plus sticking something underneath the small of my back helped a LOT. 

Closed Cell Foam Pad – When cold weather camping it is pretty much a must.  Works well, weighs nothing, packs a bit large though. 

Klymit Static V2 Sleeping Pad Ultralight:  Fills fast, works well.  My only issue is that a tiny amount of air still in the mattress makes it impossible to pack in the little bag.  I’m sure that is intentional because it prevents you from accidentally bursting it, but it is hard to get the air out of it in the confines of a solo tent.  They should provide an air-getter-outer with the Klymit.

Nemo Verve 20F/-7C Synthetic Sleeping Bag, Long: Best sleeping bag I’ve ever owned. The shape is between mummy and rectangle, which allows one to move around a little bit.  It is lightweight, and compresses down nicely.  Has a little flap of fabric that goes over your face if you want it, and it cradles your head in.  Is not designed for super-cold, so a sleeping bag liner helps when temps are in the 30’s (F).

Camping Pillow: I use a “Quallofil Camp Pillow Assorted”.  It is 55% cotton, 45% polyester, mashes down into a stuff sack, but is about 16” by 8” x 3-4” thick.  One side is flannel-patterned.  It isn’t thick enough, so I put a clean shirt under it.

Marmot Tungsten Tent (1 –Person 3-Season): This is a terrific tent.  There’s a little corner/ceiling pocket where you can stick your flashlight that diffuses the light which helps a lot.  There’s room for you plus gear.  The vestibule is nice-sized. Comes with its own footprint.  Color-coding makes for easy setup.  Goes up fast, comes down fast, is lightweight but strong.  Just two things: 1) Boy I’d love four more inches width in the tent….kind of contrary to the idea of a little solo tent, I know, and 2) on the front of the tent, the pole segments are angled at the bottom to open up lower tent space which works well, but makes me wonder why it wasn’t designed with angled segments for both the front and back of the tent.

Uberleben Stoker Flatpack Stove:  I tried it just to see.  To me, it was more effort than it is worth to nurse it through a meal, and all I was doing was boiling water.   If you are dealing with wet, rainy, cold, windy conditions, as I was, it is unfun.  You find yourself on your hands and knees blowing into the tiny hole in the front and wondering how it came to be like this.  On Day 1, there was no rain, but I knew it was coming, so I collected a TON of tinder/tiny kindling to keep with me on the trip, and it was a good thing because Day 2 was a soaker, and viable wood was hard to come by.  But with this, you are dependent on having wood that is dry enough to light.  This will also crudify your pots and your hands as well, and I have better things to deal with.  It also takes longer overall to cook this way, which is not ideal when you are trying to break camp.  It was worth a try, it goes together great, it does just as advertised, it is a quality item, and I like the flat footprint in the pack, but I’ll not be using it again.

MSR Pocket Rocket Stove:  Love it. Weighs nothing, fuel efficient, one match, easy.  My one dislike about using these is the inability to really know how much fuel remains in a fuel canister, so I always have a “halfie” laying around with my stored gear.

GSO Outdoors Nested Cooking Set: Not sure they sell this anymore.  Just a stainless steel saucepan with a lid, either side can be used as a saucepan.  The fit in their own little mesh bag, I keep a measuring cup and a handle in there.  Works great, lightweight, durable.

GSI Outdoors 3-Piece Ring Cutlery Set: Plastic stuff, very tough.  Looked at getting ultra lightweight aircraft aluminum alloy stuff, but It costs four times more than what I use and the weight of a plastic spoon is not bogging me down.  Wish the spoon was a little shorter, I would keep it in the saucepan…maybe I’ll cut it down.  I take one spoon and one knife.  The knife lives in the food bag with the peanut butter, the spoon lives in the kitchen bag. 

Sea To Summit Delta Bowl With Lid: I pour heated water into this and put the lid on to rehydrate food (when it doesn’t come in a pouch).  Works great, cleans up easy.  Getting the lid off is a trip sometimes (as the water cools, it suctions the lid on tighter) and I always worry my dinner is going to end up on the forest floor (hasn’t happened yet).

Guyot Designs Squishy Silicon Bowls: I carry two of these, one large (oatmeal), one small (Tang – I know but I love the stuff when I’m camping).  I should use the Sea to Summit Delta Bowl for the oatmeal….

Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter (2 Liter):   Love/Hate relationship.  When working well, it is THE best thing in your pack.  Thing is, I use it once or twice a year, clean and store as instructed, then the next time I use it, it is brutal to try to get it to pass water through the filter.  I always have to get it operational before trips.  Also, that zip-lock thing on the “Dirty” bag is awful to seal.

Nalgene 1000ML Wide Mouth Bottle – Sure I splash water on my face sometimes with the wide mouth bottle, but it is also easy to pour water into it.  If you drop it on a rock when full, it is possible to crack/shatter it, but it is a pretty tough customer. 

Storm whistle – Keep it around my neck except when sleeping.  Ear-splitting from quite a distance.

Petzl e+Lite Emergency Headlamp with 30 Lumens, Whistle and Carrying Case – Weighs nothing, works great.  This is the only flashlight I take with me.  It won’t turn the campsite into a prison yard, but it provides plenty of light.  I haven’t the foggiest idea how the integrated whistle works. The one downside is that changing batteries is a fingernail buster.  I keep a nickel with the spare batteries to help with that, which is a bit ridiculous.  I’ve seen reviews where people say they can’t get the lamp into the little egg-shaped case, but I’ve never had a problem with it.

Coghlan’s Tissue “On The Go”: Packs easy, weighs little.  Two issues: 1) hard to get a new rolls started because the loose end is “glued” down too well, and 2) The rolls are a bit on the short side if you ask me. 

Granite Gear Superior One Portage Pack:  It is nice to be able to hold everything in one pack.  That said, it is easily loaded to the point of too heavy, but that’s on me. It is not waterproof, in fact if you want that you buy a giant clear plastic bag that goes inside the pack.  I already store everything in waterproof sacks, so that isn’t a problem, but I don’t like adding weight via water that soaks into a pack, and even the pack completely empty seems kind of heavy-ish.

Mountain House Beef Stew:  Absolutely!  For someone with dietary issues, this is a blessing.  No gluten, no soy, no dairy.  That’s just about perfect for me.  There’s an Alessi soup I like too, Lentil.

Arnold’s Sandwich Rounds:  Can we just take a moment to marvel at how awesome these are?

McCanns Instant Irish Oatmeal:  best oatmeal I’ve ever had.

Tang:  If I have to take a trip where I can’t drink undissolved orange-flavored sugar sludge from the bottom of a cup in the morning….I don’t want to live in that world.

Silky Saw:  For years I used a Sven Saw, and it was great, then I thought I’d try the Silky since it is shorter and therefore easier to pack.  This is a very nice saw, and processes wood super-fast. 

Nikon Coolpix P80 Camera:  An oldie but a goodie.  Quality photos, good zoom, makes videos (low resolution), lightweight.  I’ve taken it on several trips.  Battery lasts forever - I don’t take a spare.

Coghlan’s Waterproof Fire Sticks:   I can’t vouch for the waterproof part, but anytime I’ve used these they start up right away and they burn for quite a while.  I only use them when the wood is soaking wet.  I generally break two of them in half, and place the four pieces strategically. 

Sea To Summit Folding Bucket (20L):  Packed down it is small and lightweight, but I could never recommend it.  The top of the bucket collapses on itself when you scoop water with it.  Difficult to fill.  Best method is repeated dunking, but you need a site where you have water at the shoreline that is over a foot deep to do that.  To me, it is a frustrating piece of equipment.

Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Knife with Carbon Steel Blade – Blade is fixed, 4.1 inches long, comes with a strong plastic sheath.  Lightweight but very durable. I used it for batoning wood, and found it outstanding.  Less than $25 USD on Amazon. 

Counter Assault Bear Spray – I don’t wear a belt (I’m a suspenders guy), so I can’t really carry it on my person, so unless I happen to be carrying the pack it is in I don’t have access to it.  Makes it little more than extra weight.  I keep it next to me at night in the campsite, and I keep it where I can find it in the tent.  To me it is more a peace of mind item I suppose.  Really I just keep a clean campsite, and when portaging I clap my hands, whistle, and bang paddles on trees.  I can’t speak at all to the efficacy of this product, ease of use, etc., but I would feel anxious without it.      

Timex Expedition Metal Field Watch (leather strap): Waterproof, keeps great time, analog face, has the glow thing when you push the button on the side to check the time as you toss and turn in your sleeping bag with lower back pain.  No alarm clock, but my poor sleep assures me that I don’t need one.  Like this watch a lot.  The ticker is surprisingly loud on a still night, and I did bust one of the little leather bands you tuck the extra strap into once, so maybe a different strap would be in order.

NRS Titanium Neoprene Boots:  Here’s another love/hate item.  These have become the only footwear I take with me.  That may be a mistake, but I’m dry through mud, and stepping out of the boat when landing/loading without soaking my feet.  They force my pant legs up too, so the pants pretty much stay dry in those moments.  There are two issues with these boots though.  One is that there is zero arch or ankle support.  I keep inserts in mine; very helpful (my feet are flat as pancakes and my leg connects to the ankle in a way that makes it look like it is sliding off the top of my foot.  (A podiatrist looked at it once and told me to put my socks and shoes back on because it was making him sick to look at it.)  The other issue is the sweaty condensation that occurs inside the boots is something you cannot dry out on the trip.  They are always warm, but in the morning when you put those suckers on it is wet and gross.  After a trip it takes forever to get them dried out.  Forever.  Still, I like ‘em.  My memory is that they are ordered in whole sizes only, so I got a half size larger than usual, and it is a really good fit for me.

Scala Dorfman Pacific Felt Broad Brimmed Hat: This is my cold weather hat.  Love it.  Warm.  Has ear flaps that fold down that work great for warmth, and there’s a string too you can tighten under your chin.  I feel like an idiot doing that, but sometimes you gotta.  Those leather strings do wear out though.  I’ve water-dunked these hats on more than one occasion, and while they aren’t waterproof, they really do resist water and remain dry. 

Henschel Hat Co. Broad Brimmed Hat: This is my warm weather hat.  Has a mesh top that semi-allows breathability.  Has a little storage area inside, so you can stick a map segment in there.  This hat is not waterproof, but dries out pretty quickly.  String for under the chin and looking cool in windy weather.  Gives you that old man gardener look.

North Face Rain Jacket:  Don’t know the model name.  It has a mesh lining, so it isn’t a sweat fest.  Velcro on the wrists, draw string around the waste, zippered pockets.  There’s a hood that folds into the collar, secured by Velcro, which I like for two reasons.  One I don’t like hoods, I like hats, and two the collar is a soft, warm fleece-like fabric; when you tuck the hood away, it fattens up the collar, so when you zip the jacket all the way up, the back of your neck gets warm soft fabric nearly all the way around.  When worn with a hoodie (sometimes I use a hood), this jacket has a usefulness into the 40’s (F).    

Columbia Omni Tech Breathable Rain pants: They work well, have a draw string, they have a Velcro cuff at the bottom so you can pull them on over boots.  There’s nothing fancy here, they aren’t some super-killer material, this is what I’ve found at Dick’s Sporting Goods”, but it they work well.  They are a bit on the long side though, and they are only sold in Small, Medium, Large kinds of sizes, so you can’t really choose length.

Columbia Ultimate ROC Flex Pants: Like these a lot, but they are not quick dry, and they are heavy – BUT, they are tough as nails, comfortable, and good for cold weather.  Get ‘em wet and you’ll wish you hadn’t because you’ll be sagging around a gallon of water.   

Shirts in general:  I wear quick dry shirts pretty exclusively as a base layer, long or short sleeve depending on the weather, and layer from there.  I dunno the brand, but they are 92% polyester, 8% spandex.

Cold Weather Base Layer (Primarily for Sleeping): Whatever Cabela’s carries as a store brand.  Works well.  I have a set for moderately cold weather and a more fleecy set for nasty.  Also a pair of glove liners.  I rarely carry gloves with me on trips, but the glove liners, yes.  Sometimes want them for sleeping.  OH - in the sleeping bag, I keep, and wear, a wool cap, more or less a touque, big enough I can pull it down over my face if/when necessary.  Slept in a hoodie this time around.  It was cold!  (low 30's Fahrenheit)

Socks: I use “Smartwool” socks in a variety of sizes because all the wool socks in the family get all mixed up and if I’m lucky enough to have socks in my drawer I don’t question my good fortune.  So sometimes I end up with mismatched socks, socks that are too tight, etc.  I like the brand, they are great four-season socks, but for cold weather I make sure I’ve got a heavy pair in the sleeping bag.

Columbia Omni Shade PFG (Performance Fishing Gear) pants:  These are quick dry pants, very tough, very lightweight.  Not for cold weather, but if you put rain pants on over them they are fine.  I own a few pairs of these.  They have zip-off legs too so they convert to shorts.  I NEVER wear shorts camping, but hey I have a life beyond camping. 

Outdoor Products Watertight Box – Small:  Indispensable equipment to me.  Box is roughly 6”W x 4”D x 3”T.  It clips shut, and has a gasket.  I’ve never tossed it in the water, but I think it would be fine.  There are just some things you don’t want crushed and/or you want to be able to lay your hands on easily, and that’s what this box is for.  All the prescription meds or meds I might want right away are there, plus spare batteries, toothbrush, water pills if filter fails, the nickel I keep for opening up the flashlight.  This goes on every single trip and on general vacations too.

Curtis Nomad Solo Canoe – this was my first solo trip with a solo boat.  What a difference between this and sitting backward in the front seat of a tandem.  34 pounds is a nice portage weight too.  I lowered the seat for stability, and I feel like I’m going to tip it every time I get in or out of it, but it is a fast ride, tracks well, stable, and great in the wind.  Thirty year old boat though, hard to find. 

Grey owl paddle – heck yeah!  That’s a nice piece of wood right there!

NRS PDF Vista Life Jacket:  Decent for paddling, lightweight.  Size runs small in my experience, and remember you may be wearing layers underneath it depending upon time of year.  I wear size fat.

“Bungee Things”:  Didn’t use them this time, but great for strapping paddles into the boat for portaging.

So that's EVERYTHING pretty much.  



5/12/2021 9:13 pm  #2

Re: Everything you ever wanted to know about everything

Thanks, Dave. Always enjoy reading about different equipment choices, got a few ideas out of yours. Re: fuel canister estimates - some manufacturers put markers on the side of canisters: if you float such canister the marker at the waterline shows approximately how much gas is left there. MSR does it.
Congratulations on your choice of the canoe: Curtis Nomad rules! I keep all my gear in a single GG Superior One in the stern and really have any issues with boat control. Facing strong winds I put the pack in the bow.


5/14/2021 8:34 am  #3

Re: Everything you ever wanted to know about everything

If I can find the time I might write up my own list!

One thing I noted is your comment about getting water to pass through your Platypus filter. I have the same filter, and it's air in the lines / filter that causes that issue. After there's a little bit of water in the clean bag, do you then hold it up for a few seconds? It pushes out the air and then water flows through super fast. 


5/14/2021 9:45 pm  #4

Re: Everything you ever wanted to know about everything

Eddy T - thanks for the tip about the fuel canisters.  I feel like I should have known that but of course that would involve reading a label and well....

Also, when I bought the curtis nomad, I was very near dave curtis's place, Hemlock Canoe.  I stopped by to dropoffmy canvas to consign it, and I picked his brain.  What he does is puts the larger pack behind him and a smaller pack in the bow which he clips in so it stays put.  When he Portage, he clips the smaller pack to the larger pack.

Uppa  - I have done that kind of.  At home, when I take the filter out of storage I put water in the dirty bag and then watch it not go to the clean bag.  I end up squeezing the dirty bag to trickle something into the clean bag, and run it backward when I get enough water in there.  Takes a lifetime.  Maybe I need to put water in the clean bag and start on that side to advance the method you are recommending.  Once I get it going it does great.

I didnt say that very well. But I will try your method next time!

     Thread Starter

5/15/2021 10:01 am  #5

Re: Everything you ever wanted to know about everything

I forgot one piece of equipment!  Pack covers! 

Bluefield pack covers - I had one of these on my daypack and it worked well.  Have a couple of these.  They come in multiple sizes, are inexpensive, and I havent had a problem with drawstrings binding up. 

For the superior one portage pack there isn't a pack cover and I am not sure one is made that would fit it.  I used the pack cover that came with my old Coleman max backpack (a terrific backpack by the way), because I could get it on sufficiently while in the canoe.  I won't be doing that again however because it blew off the pack in a wind and disappeared into a lake.  I dont mind losing the cover but leaving what is effectively garbage in the forest bothers me.  Hoping somebody finds it and uses it.

     Thread Starter

5/16/2021 6:53 pm  #6

Re: Everything you ever wanted to know about everything

Superior One doesn't soak water if there's a waterproof liner inside. Except for seams it's more or less waterproof and the seams let water flow in either direction. Theoretically It would be nice to have it dry, but it gains very little weight wet, even sitting in bilge water or after a swim.

This season I'm planning on getting new Platypus 1L QuickDraw Microfilter System (to replace my Steripen). According to reviews it requires no cleaning beyond shaking, believe it or not.


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