Trail Tips: Creating your backpacking kitchen

Because everyone deserves a hot meal at the end of the day (Part 3)

“A woman’s place is in the kitchen. A man’s place is in the kitchen. Everyone’s place is in the kitchen – kitchen has food.”

Everyone sets up their kitchen differently, depending on heating method (or lack thereof), fuel needs, cookware, and accessories. Here’s a look into my backpacking kitchen. Continue reading “Trail Tips: Creating your backpacking kitchen”

Gear Review: Snow Peak Titanium Cookset and Spork

Because everyone deserves a hot meal at the end of the day (Part 2)

I have some friends that go stoveless while backpacking. It saves weight, money, and is sometimes required on certain sections of trail out West where the fire hazard is too high to allow backpacking stoves. While I could go stoveless, I never want to. Sometimes the only thing that gets you up the last mountain or across that last stretch is the thought of a hot meal that evening. I reviewed the MSR Pocket Rocket earlier, and now I’m going to talk about the second part of the hot meal camp kitchen: your cooking pot.

hampton
Me and my Snow Peak cookset on a cliff overlooking Hampton, TN, after a long day on the AT

Whether you are cooking food in the pot (hello, Ramen Bomb) or just boiling water to pour into an expensive Mountain House meal bag, a great cook pot is a must. Enter the SnowPeak titanium pot and lid. Continue reading “Gear Review: Snow Peak Titanium Cookset and Spork”

Gear Review: MSR Pocket Rocket

Because everyone deserves a hot meal at the end of the day (Part 1)

My name may be Firestarter, but I hate starting fires. I’m far too lazy to enjoy the effort that goes into finding an existing fire ring (or place that will be minimally affected), gathering downed wood, finding kindling, starting the fire, perilously boiling water or cooking food in/on/near the fire, maintaining the fire, staying up until the fire is out, and dispersing all the coals in the morning. Why do that when you can have a camp stove up and going in under a minute?

There are several types of backpacking stoves out there – Jetboils, alcohol, wood, liquid fuel/white gas – but I love the simplicity and light-weight (only 3 oz.) design of the MSR Pocket RocketContinue reading “Gear Review: MSR Pocket Rocket”

UPDATE on Granite Gear Crown2 60 pack

Summary: NeverWet is never working – bring your pack cover

Back in September, I wrote a post about the process of selecting a new pack, and the pros and cons of the Granite Gear pack I chose. One of the big selling points for me with the Granite Gear pack was the NeverWet liquid repelling treatment (a Rustoleum product). A pack cover can weigh 5-6 ounces, and not needing one was a plus for me.

The Granite Gear website says:

  • 100D High-tenacity nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment
  • 210D High-tenacity ripstop nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment

Based on this information, one could infer that a drizzle or light rain should be no match for this pack, at least when it is brand new. As with most gear, I would fully expect this pack to need waterproofing after a lot of wear and tear.

Due to my injury in early December and the proceeding exercise restriction, this past weekend was the first chance I had to get back into the woods – and only the third time out for my new Granite Gear pack. The forecast called for rain. I decided to put my new pack to the test and not use a rain cover. I did have the foresight (a.k.a. lesson learned the hard way) to pack my sleeping bag and camp clothes in a Sea to Summit compression dry sack, and to line my pack with a garbage compactor bag.

From the trailhead to camp, there was about six hours of drizzle, no rain, light rain, back to drizzle, no rain for a bit, and so on. At no time was there a heavy rain or downpour. And when it did rain, it wasn’t for an hour straight or anything close to that. I opened my bag multiple times to pull out snacks, and each time I found more moisture inside. This is a roll-top pack, and I know it wasn’t coming in through any open pockets (there are none) or the top. At first I thought it might just be a little bit of damp or condensation, but there was just too much moisture for that. This pack was wet.

When I got to camp, there was a light rain. I set up my tent and pulled my pack inside after shaking off as much water as I could. I used a microfiber camp towel to dry the outside and inside of the pack, and the towel was sopping wet after I was done.

I am still happy with my Granite Gear pack, and I stand by my selection. It’s a great fit for me, very light, spacious, rolls down to the size I need, and lots of other great things. I’m just disappointed with the lack of water repellent or resistance. I’m going to try treating it with Nikwax or another waterproofing agent and see if it improves.

[It’s important to me that if you read my gear reviews, you know for sure I’ve tried this stuff and will share the good, the bad, and the ugly! That’s basically the only perk of not receiving free gear from companies. 🙂 ]

Gear Review: Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 (original model)

home sweet home

[Disclosure: Big Agnes has come out with a newer model of my tent called the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2. I have not yet reviewed this model. If Big Agnes wants to hook me up, however, with this newer tent, or a Copper Spur 2 Platinum…]

When I started backpacking, I was surprised at the role mental and emotional factors played in a successful and fun adventure. There’s always the primitive, instinctual need for shelter, of course; but I found there’s also a craving for a sense of “home” when you are out for more than just a few nights.

Enter the Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 tent. Most nights, after 20+ exhausting mountainous miles, I would get to camp, do my “chores” (which included tent setup), and eat a hot meal. Once ready for bed, I would unzip my tent door, crawl inside, read for a while or map out my next day, and fall fast asleep. It was my home.  Continue reading “Gear Review: Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 (original model)”