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Thread: Hiking gear

  1. #1
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    Default Hiking gear

    After a recent trip into some thick CA chaparral, I have come to realize just how vital it is to have the proper gear when hiking, particularly when the path is overgrown or there is no path. I find it interesting how there is both a serious need to be particular about what materials you use, and how each of those materials has unique properties that greatly effect your comfort, efficiency, and safety on the hike. Hell, it's almost like suiting yourself up with the best armor and weapons on an rpg :P : trying to max out your durability, speed, aeration, grip, etc. "stats" before doing battle with a mountain. If you're not properly equipped, you'll have a miserable time of it.

    So for those of you who go hiking or enjoy the outdoors regularly, what are your favorite types of clothes, materials, shoes, and other equipment that you consider to be essential? Nylon/synthetic socks > cotton? Running shoes > full on hiking boots?

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    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Assuming cool to warm weather (> 20 F)...

    I like nylon for pants because it's durable. I wear a polyester t-shirt and hat because it wicks sweat away better. The shirt fits closely and doesn't allow as much snagging on brush.

    Thin nylon dress or running socks are great for warmer temps. Once the temps get down around 40 F, merino wool socks is usually what I wear.

    For shoes, I wear either hiking shoes or trail runners. Really, there isn't much difference between these. I have a pair of leather GoreTex boots, but they're almost 2 pounds heavier per boot than a shoe! Shoes dry much faster, they're lighter, and they allow me to angle my foot to obtain better traction and footholds. My hiking shoes even have fabric-covered drain hole like things in the bottom. I might try a pair of GoreTex shoes for cooler temperatures. In > 60 F temps, I doubt they would be worth the loss in breathability.

    A pair of trekking poles is nice to have on steep climbs. I've been using a single wooden pole this year, but I miss having two on climbs. Note that almost all other mammals which spend their time climbing up and down mountains have four legs.

    In bug territory, my new strategy is to wear pants and long sleeves and have all of my clothing, including underwear, socks, and hat pre-treated with permethrin. That way, I only have to use repellent on my hands, face, and neck. Applying repellent all over clothing every 2-6 hours just isn't very efficient. Permethrin supposedly lasts for 6 washes. One reason for this is that DEET and picaridin don't repel ticks very well, but permethrin is an insecticide which kills any bug unlucky enough to crawl on the treated fabric. I haven't actually tested this strategy yet.

    Temperatures below 20-30 F require a completely different approach to clothing.

    Other gear I take is as light and as little as possible while still being somewhat comfortable. A Gatorade bottle is at least half the weight of a Nalgene bottle. Cooking over a fire eliminates the need for a stove, although I have a MYOG (make your own gear) alcohol stove and a wood stove I sometimes take for convenience. I do splurge on things like taking a 3 oz inflatable pillow and a 16 oz water filter. Water is very important, and it's nice to not have to build a fire just to boil it or make it taste like city water by adding purification chemicals.

    Here's my typical 3-season backpacking gear list (temps > 30 F). There are some items listed I only take sometimes. I use it as a tool to help me decide if I really need something and if it's really worth the weight.

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    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    I wear Bates boots, but you'll probably want good hiking boots. I always wear wool socks (wigwam) and you'll probably want to too if your feet are weak and soft while just starting out. A lot of guys will wear dress socks underneath wool socks to wick away the moisture and some will turn the wool socks inside out. It also helps to apply a liberal amount of powder to your feet before you put on your socks and stop to check your feet regularly for blisters and hot spots.

    When it's hot, roll your pants up to the top of your boots. I finally took someone's advice recently and tried this and it made a big difference.

    There are a number of lacing techniques you can try ranging from normal, to skip lacing, to using two laces on each boot (one for top and one for bottom, so the bottom is tight and the top is loose).

    If you don't mind smelling like shit, you can put sulfur around the edges of your boots and waist. Ticks hate it. I don't know how much of a problem they are in California, though.

    Mostly, condition your feet and break in your boots before using them to hike. You never know when you'll get lucky enough to be forced to go a few more miles than you intended to. For example, me and BMS were planning on a 16 mile day hike a few months ago. When we were almost done (in theory), we encountered some problems and ended up having to push out something like 6+ more miles to make it back. That's not something you want to happen while you're unprepared and have soft feet.

    Of course, if by hiking you mean you're just going like a mile or two on the weekend, then just throw on some tennis shoes and walk out there.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    Assuming cool to warm weather (> 20 F)...

    I like nylon for pants because it's durable. I wear a polyester t-shirt and hat because it wicks sweat away better. The shirt fits closely and doesn't allow as much snagging on brush.
    I'll have to update my gear with a polyester shirt in order to tackle the hot summer months. I've been using a cotton shirt up til now, and today's hike had my back (under my backpack) drenched with sweat during the hottest part of the day, and damn near gave me a chill once the winds picked up. Just as everyone suggests, cotton sucks in the heat, and sweating is bad if you're in a survival situation because it means you can get cold VERY easily.



    For shoes, I wear either hiking shoes or trail runners. Really, there isn't much difference between these. I have a pair of leather GoreTex boots, but they're almost 2 pounds heavier per boot than a shoe! Shoes dry much faster, they're lighter, and they allow me to angle my foot to obtain better traction and footholds. My hiking shoes even have fabric-covered drain hole like things in the bottom. I might try a pair of GoreTex shoes for cooler temperatures. In > 60 F temps, I doubt they would be worth the loss in breathability.
    Yesterday I bought a pair of these from payless for under $30.
    Rugged Outback Suede McKinley Mid Hiker (Mens) Cheapest Prices, Discounts

    They fit me better than the short cut hiking shoes (the ones that look like running shoes) in terms of toe room, at size 13. Good luck finding over a 13 in ANY store -_-. I have flat feet, so sometimes walking can be a pain, and having the right shoes is particularly critical for me. Up til now I've done most of my walking and hiking in basketball shoes. With those, no special insoles, I always got some knee pain.

    My new shoes are GREAT. With these hiking shoes, I notice that the heel is slightly elevated above the toes. It seems that this helps a lot with hiking uphill, but downhill is certainly less comfortable due to the greater angle created by the shoe. However, these have wonderful grip on rock and soil, much more than my poor basketball shoes. This makes navigating the inclines SO much easier, not having to watch my every step like a hawk. Walking with the boot on flat terrain can also be less comfortable, but when on the trail, that doesn't matter much since its all up or down. The shoes seem to avoid giving me any knee pain, though they do seem to focus pressure in my hips and in my feet. I believe it may be mostly muscular and not in the joints though, which would be good. I've also found insoles to be useless with these shoes given the angle the sole is set at.

    Overall, after hiking in them for 11.5 miles, I'm extremely pleased with their performance, giving me a safe grip over slippery rocks and pebbles, and protecting my ankles from rolling too much. I've got little~no joint pain after that very long hike, which is really surprising to me.




    A pair of trekking poles is nice to have on steep climbs. I've been using a single wooden pole this year, but I miss having two on climbs. Note that almost all other mammals which spend their time climbing up and down mountains have four legs.
    I think i could benefit from poles as well. Might try just using a dried yucca flower stem.

    In bug territory, my new strategy is to wear pants and long sleeves and have all of my clothing, including underwear, socks, and hat pre-treated with permethrin. That way, I only have to use repellent on my hands, face, and neck. Applying repellent all over clothing every 2-6 hours just isn't very efficient. Permethrin supposedly lasts for 6 washes. One reason for this is that DEET and picaridin don't repel ticks very well, but permethrin is an insecticide which kills any bug unlucky enough to crawl on the treated fabric. I haven't actually tested this strategy yet.
    Awesome! I'll have to try this out next time I go camping. Flies are the WORST, as are wasps in some areas. Ticks can be heavy in some parts of CA too, but I've yet to encounter any.







    Quote Originally Posted by Metamorphosis View Post
    I wear Bates boots, but you'll probably want good hiking boots. I always wear wool socks (wigwam) and you'll probably want to too if your feet are weak and soft while just starting out. A lot of guys will wear dress socks underneath wool socks to wick away the moisture and some will turn the wool socks inside out. It also helps to apply a liberal amount of powder to your feet before you put on your socks and stop to check your feet regularly for blisters and hot spots.
    Yes. I bought some 85% polyester, 10% nylon, 5% spandex low cut running socks. Unfortunately, they're a bit tight given my large feet, and can put quite a bit of pressure on the tips of my toes when hiking downhill. Today I combined them with cornstarch on my feet, plus a second layer of dress socks over them, inside my hiking boots. Gotta say, it's an AWESOME combo. My feet were kept very dry, and time will tell if I managed to avoid the mega blisters I usually get with cotton socks. I plan to buy some long, padded, synthetic socks from walmart for $4, so hopefully they'll provide more cushion and more room. It's amazing what the smallest details do to change your hiking experience, such as the socks you wear. The tougher the hike, the more vital it is to optimize everything.


    Mostly, condition your feet and break in your boots before using them to hike. You never know when you'll get lucky enough to be forced to go a few more miles than you intended to. For example, me and BMS were planning on a 16 mile day hike a few months ago. When we were almost done (in theory), we encountered some problems and ended up having to push out something like 6+ more miles to make it back. That's not something you want to happen while you're unprepared and have soft feet.

    Of course, if by hiking you mean you're just going like a mile or two on the weekend, then just throw on some tennis shoes and walk out there.
    Today was the first time I've had a problem with carrying enough water. I usually carry 4 or more bottles when hiking 8~9 miles, and the places I hike usually have water available as well. Today was VERY hot for a time, and I extended the trip to about 11.5 miles in preparation for my big 12~15 mile hike this weekend in an even hotter, more desertish part of the area. The last time I tried it (and failed due to inadequate gear) I think I brought 5 or 6 bottles of water, but i can see I'll be needing at least 7. Lots of weight, but at least i wont be dehydrated. I also usually bring 1 or 2 bottles of heavily salted water, often mixed with coconut water/coconut milk to give me an ESSENTIAL electrolyte boost and sodium replenishment, but today I only brought one pure saltwater bottle on my longest, hottest hike yet, and with less than half the salt in it. It was horribly insufficient, as was the amount of regular water I brought. when i get done with a hike I usually have very visible white salt deposits on my skin from all the sweat, and with 4+ hours of that, I can't continue without getting more sodium back into my system. It seriously hurt me today.

  5. #5
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risen View Post
    I'll have to update my gear with a polyester shirt in order to tackle the hot summer months. I've been using a cotton shirt up til now, and today's hike had my back (under my backpack) drenched with sweat during the hottest part of the day, and damn near gave me a chill once the winds picked up. Just as everyone suggests, cotton sucks in the heat, and sweating is bad if you're in a survival situation because it means you can get cold VERY easily.
    I think polyester would help, and it's definitely worth trying. But, your back will always be sweaty when carrying a pack in warm to hot weather. I've heard cotton isn't such a bad choice in the desert, but I have no desert hiking experience.

    Yesterday I bought a pair of these from payless for under $30.
    Rugged Outback Suede McKinley Mid Hiker (Mens) Cheapest Prices, Discounts
    Nice!

    I think i could benefit from poles as well. Might try just using a dried yucca flower stem.
    Good idea on using natural/free gear.

    Today I combined them with cornstarch on my feet, plus a second layer of dress socks over them, inside my hiking boots.
    Many find that wearing the dress socks under the thicker socks works best, but feet and socks are all so different.

    Today was the first time I've had a problem with carrying enough water. I usually carry 4 or more bottles when hiking 8~9 miles, and the places I hike usually have water available as well. Today was VERY hot for a time, and I extended the trip to about 11.5 miles in preparation for my big 12~15 mile hike this weekend in an even hotter, more desertish part of the area. The last time I tried it (and failed due to inadequate gear) I think I brought 5 or 6 bottles of water, but i can see I'll be needing at least 7. Lots of weight, but at least i wont be dehydrated. I also usually bring 1 or 2 bottles of heavily salted water, often mixed with coconut water/coconut milk to give me an ESSENTIAL electrolyte boost and sodium replenishment, but today I only brought one pure saltwater bottle on my longest, hottest hike yet, and with less than half the salt in it. It was horribly insufficient, as was the amount of regular water I brought. when i get done with a hike I usually have very visible white salt deposits on my skin from all the sweat, and with 4+ hours of that, I can't continue without getting more sodium back into my system. It seriously hurt me today.
    Are you sure you're not getting too much dehydrating salt?

    If there's water there, you'd really benefit from carrying less and filtering or treating from natural sources if they're reliable. Or, you could cache water if there's a forest road along your route. Water weighs 2.2 pounds per liter. Springs might be ok untreated, but it's a risk. The cheapest way would be to boil if fires are permitted (just bringing to a boil is sufficient) in a large coffee can with a paint can bail wire, or get AquaMira drops ($12-$15). I think you need to wait something like 30-60 minutes for them to work with warmer water. They taste like someone put too much lemon in the water due to the phosphoric acid they use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    I think polyester would help, and it's definitely worth trying. But, your back will always be sweaty when carrying a pack in warm to hot weather. I've heard cotton isn't such a bad choice in the desert, but I have no desert hiking experience.
    Usually in the true desert you get steaming hot days and really chilly nights. The wide temperature swings make it exceptionally difficult for you if you sweat during the day, because it will give you a chill. Cotton would just soak up all the sweat and take a long time to dry, making it detrimental when you don't have another shirt to change into.



    Are you sure you're not getting too much dehydrating salt?

    If there's water there, you'd really benefit from carrying less and filtering or treating from natural sources if they're reliable. Or, you could cache water if there's a forest road along your route. Water weighs 2.2 pounds per liter. Springs might be ok untreated, but it's a risk. The cheapest way would be to boil if fires are permitted (just bringing to a boil is sufficient) in a large coffee can with a paint can bail wire, or get AquaMira drops ($12-$15). I think you need to wait something like 30-60 minutes for them to work with warmer water. They taste like someone put too much lemon in the water due to the phosphoric acid they use.
    Nah. Usually when I bring more salt and coconut water (my version of Gatorade) I have absolutely no problems staying hydrated. Yesterday I got a bit woozy and very nauseous after 8~9 miles, which may have been due in part to my caffeine consumption too. I usually have at least one bottle with 1/2 a tsp of salt and a 2nd bottle with 1/4 tsp and end up nearly finishing both. Yesterday I only brought 1/4 tsp salt. It's really important to balance out sodium (and other electrolytes) that is lost with excessive sweat for hours on end, as your nervous system depends on it. Without replacing salt you can hit a plateau of exhaustion prematurely along with other complications.

    From
    Sodium: A Closer Look

    Sodium is the primary electrolyte lost in sweat. Therefore, when exercise exceeds one hour, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends consuming sodium along with fluids to replace both water and sodium lost in sweat. It is not adequate to simply take sodium tabs after a hard training session to replace lost sodium; an athlete must also consume adequate amounts of fluid with this sodium.

    Sodium and water are required in appropriate ratios based on an athlete’s sweat rate. It is recommended that an athlete determine their sweat rate in various conditions (link to Sweat Rate Calculator) and consume sodium based on the amount of fluid they require. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that people who are active for more than one hour consume 500–700 mg of sodium for every 32 oz (~1L) of water they consume. However, there are some who recommend 500–1,000 mg of sodium per 32 oz of water, or per one hour of intense exercise.

    Experimental data has demonstrated that sweat rate and sodium loss is highly individual, ranging from 460–1840 mg/L of sweat. This can be further influenced by numerous other factors including genetics, fitness, acclimatization, and weather conditions. As such, both the sweat rate and the amount of sodium per oz (or liter) of sweat is highly individual. Athletes must experiment in training to find the right balance that works for their body and exercise conditions.
    Especially on a hot day like yesterday, I get salt deposits flaking off of my face and arms from sweating on the trail, so I figure I'm likely on the higher end of the salt loss scale.

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    Going into the realm of camping here, But due to some money coming my way, I've been able to stock up on gear. Here is what Im buying:

    Hennessy hammock with a mosquito net, tarp, and super light weight (under 2 pounds total).


    New hiking boots of superior quality. Haven't tried them in the store, but I've taken a look at the stuff available locally and online reviews of various shoe products, and I do believe these are exactly what I'm looking for. Breathable, but waterproof, and VERY durable. My payless hikers are already starting to whither away.

    Columbia Sportswear Men's Pole Creek Omni-Tech Hiking Boot - Free Overnight Shipping on New Styles, Free Return Shipping: endless.com


    Plus some synthetic water repellent convertible pants and a columbia long sleeved shirt, also synthetic and shit. Also have permethrin spray to use on my hammock and clothes, as well as a kukri, a pole, and various attachable... weapons.

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    Buddhist Misanthrope Samvega's Avatar
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    My normal gear is a pair of Prana Zion pants, they're ideal for pretty much anything I'm doing though I have another pair that are thicker I wear if I think it's going to be wet or cold. I like cotton (have a bunch of organic long sleeves) but it's fairly dry here and I don't sweat as much as some so I tend to layer it up if it's cool or have an second layer and or third with me.

    Much of this depends on how long of a hike I'm talking about but I like to go light as I'm normally at about 8,000 feet with 40 pounds of gear on my back. I wear Scarpa approach shoes much of the time and some Merrell Chameleons (boot shoe style) if I want the comfort and a thicker sock which normally takes a back seat to the approach shoes soft rubber on fourth class hiking situations.

    I have a pair of Mendl Norwegian welt stitched hiking boots I imported from Germany suitable for crampons and so on though I would only wear these if I were going to be out in the snow.

    I would say this, I don't like north face gear at all, I would stick to good brands, Mountain Hardware, Granite Gear, Arctyrix, Mammut and so on, you do get what you pay for, my Granite Gear Backpack was $289 and it was well worth the money as were my Mendl boots at $350 so get quality stuff and remember REI is amazing about returns so check for deals on their site and their "deal of the day", I got my last 60m double dry Bluewater climbing rope on there for $87!

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    Per Ardua Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    I've thought many times about getting a hammock like that. Let me know how that works out for you.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

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    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

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    wow must be the asian in me. i go trekking in flip flops.
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    and begin slitting throats.
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