Dash of Rose

A dash of rosy positivity

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Hiking and Camping Alaska: Favorite Gear

Hiking and Camping is a great way to connect with yourself, nature, and others.  I just got back from an invigorating two week in Alaska, embracing sleeping and wandering outside.  Considering the weather conditions varied a lot, and I was pretty remote at times, good gear is essential! I'm pleased with what I brought along with me and here are some favorites (that definitely helped keep me comfortable)!

General Note: Technical gear is very expensive upfront and you often do get what you pay for.  Especially for backpacking, weight and effectiveness matter a lot.  Given that I'm not a very big person and it's not recommended to carry more than 30% of weight, it's important that equipment is light-weight.  Not all gear can just be "smaller" to reduce weight.

I fit pretty much everything I needed for two weeks in Alaska which included my tent, sleeping pad and bag, clothes, stove, emergency items, and more!
PROS: Light weight, easy to organize, very comfortable with a heavy load.  The one I specifically have also came with the waterproof pack cover in the hood!
CONS: Because the hip belt is so cushion-y, it can be a challenge to put it on to begin with because the hip belt often gets caught behind your lower back.  It's not a deal breaker for me because I eventually figured out a good way for myself to put it on.  Another con is that the hood of the pack (the top compartment that can be taken off) isn't conducive to becoming a daypack.  Some other technical packs do have that feature.  Also not a deal breaker because with some parachute cord + carabiner, I can turn it into a temporary daypack.

Super light weight and folds up really small, I found this really convenient to get out and put away, especially in my pack when I want to stuff it with my other gear.
PROS: Extremely light, durable, and pretty cute
CONS: Can be pretty expensive if you don't find it on sale

I wasn't able to bring enough clean clothes to only wear once or twice for the entire two weeks.  When I could, I'd launder some items by hand and then hang it up to dry outside.  If it was raining some, I'd also hang a waterproof "tarp" above it to keep the rain off to still give it a chance to dry while I slept.  The clothesline is also useful for hanging clothes to dry if they got wet from the rain.

Super excited that this style came back! 
PROS: I found these boots to be really durable and comfortable for all day hiking/backpacking.  They're plenty waterproof and easy to clean as well. They're also cute.
CONS: Without breaking them in, the boot is pretty stiff towards the front/side of the foot, pressing on the bone.  I noticed that immediately when I first put it on, so I used a shoe stretcher and now it fits perfectly!

I find that walking a long time in any shoe can be very hard on my feet and knees.  I swapped the original insole of my vasque hiking boots for these from Superfeet and it's made a big difference! 

PROS: Very comfortable, light, extremely packable.  I also like how I can inflate it without using my mouth (with the aid of a pump sack listed below) to reduce growth of germs.
CONS: Slightly slippery when sleeping on it in a sleeping bag

This pump sack makes it easy to inflate the above sleeping pad, AND you can roll up the sleeping pad to stuff it into this sack to turn it into a cushy stool!

PROS: Lightweight, easy to use, effective
CONS: Not waterproof and I'm not sure how durable it is next to really hard objects that might bend it to the point of breaking it.  I avoided breaking it by accident by just placing it as close to my back as possible when storing it without allowing any major hard objects to poke it while stored.

These are the most comfortable hiking pants I've ever owned.  It's like wearing pajamas!
PROS: Full range of motion, dries quickly, keeps me warm and cool, decent wind protection, resists abrasion when climbing rocks, and stays relatively clean.
CONS: A little bit long for me, but I cinched the bottom a bit and when I wear my hiking boots it's fine.

PROS: Lightweight, very easy to set up, durable, and an amazing company with great customer service.
CONS: Expensive... but you get what you pay for.

PROS: Versatile, lightweight, fast drying, wicks sweat, protects from sun, and keeps my hair out of the way! It doesn't look half bad on either.
CONS: I can't think of any.

I actually originally brought the Outdoor Research Helium  to Alaska with me but I had forgotten to properly clean it to restore it's waterproof-ness before my trip so although I was not drenched from the constant sprinkles for a week while I was volunteering outside... I was definitely damp.  It dried fast anyway when it wasn't raining on me.  I had to make a stop at REI in Anchorage in search of a new rain jacket before spending a week in Denali where the forecast called for even more rain.  I opted for the Marmot jacket because it was light weight and used Gore-Tex technology to be waterproof so it's not as susceptible to reduced performance due to dirt/sweat/grime compromising the technical fabric (from my primitive understanding of how PerTex works...).  Gore-Tex is definitely more rugged, although slightly less breathable.
PROS: Very durable, light-weight, comfortable, very waterproof
CONS: Not super breathable... but, it's hard to be extremely breathable AND waterproof without compromising one of the two.  This jacket makes up for it with pit zips though.

PROS: Fully zips off/on so boots don't have to be taken off.  AND can buy for shorter inseam. Very waterproof and got a lot of good use.
CONS: Not cheap.

Really helpful for very cold days and nights.  Good to have them handy.

Good as a scarf, a hat, and a headband!

Keep your socks and pants dry! (and relatively clean...)
ALL PROS!  I hiked with plenty of people who ended up feeling uncomfortable as they trudged through boggy terrain with wet socks.

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