Here are some brief reviews/comments on some of the gear I used, which weren’t worth expanding into an entire post.
Olicamp XTS Pot
I used this pot for my cooking. It holds 1L, and has a built-in heat exchanger which is supposed to help it boil water (or whatever) faster. As far as I can tell, it actually works, but there’s a downside: it also helps the pot cool down faster after you take it off the head. Basically, it’s a set of fins on the bottom of the pot that facilitate the movement of heat, either from your stove to the bottom of the pot, or from the bottom of the pot into the open air. I’m going to make a little “pot cozy” to wrap around it after I’ve finished cooking, to hopefully prevent the heat from escaping so quickly.
I should also note that you can drink from the pot just fine, without any kind of lip protection, even immediately after taking it off the heat. In the morning I’d make my coffee and then drink it straight from the pot.
The pot is sized so that a 4oz fuel canister and my stove can fit inside; the lid fits on snugly enough that I wasn’t worried about it coming off in my pack.
MSR Pocket Rocket
The “Pocket Rocket” is a canister stove that weighs 4oz. It’s small enough that, when collapsed, it fits into my pot with the fuel canister. It does not have a piezo lighter, so you’ll need to have another source of ignition. Bic lighters and matches both work fine, although the former are better in windy conditions.
Don’t turn the gas on to full when lighting the stove; not because you’ll blow yourself up, but because you need a good mixture of gas and oxygen to ignite. I’d suggest holding the flame near the burner and then turning the gas up until it ignites.
Speaking of turning on the gas, it’s worth noting that the position of the gas valve when the stove is folded up is not quite all the way off. Just something to be aware of when you unfold the stove and screw it on; don’t forget to tighten the valve all the way off first. (Some people leave their stoves screwed on to the canister all the time. That seems like a recipe for an empty canister or an exploding backpack to me.)
The P.R. seemed to have some trouble with wind; and seeing as it’s generally a bad idea to use a proper windscreen with a canister stove (at least, one that has the canister directly attached to the stove; some have some tubing in between) I sometimes had to shield the stove from the wind with strategically-placed rocks or, in one case, my body. But other than that I had no trouble; it’s easy enough to turn off and on that I didn’t feel bad about turning stove back on for a bit to reheat my morning coffee.
Therma-Rest Z-Lite Sol sleeping pad
I’ve had a Therma-Rest Z-Lite Sol sleeping pad for several years now. It’s… functional. I generally have to double it up in the middle, where my hips are, but that leaves my body at a weird angle. Truthfully, it’s never really worked for me. I suspect it works best for pure back sleepers who don’t move at all. I move around, and I sleep on my side.
It does have the advantages of being relatively light, and fairly inexpensive. But it’s also big; you’re pretty much stuck strapping it on the outside of your pack somewhere.
I’ve recently gotten a Klymit Static V-Lite insulated pad. It weighs a few ounces more, and you have to inflate it with your mouth and lungs, but it’s much more comfortable, has double the R-value, packs down much smaller, and only weighs a few ounces more. If I didn’t need the insulation, I could get the non-insulated version and get pretty close to the weight of the Z-Lite.
Bear canisters were not required but “recommended” for the area I was in. And, not feeling confident in my food-sack-hanging skills, I opted for a canister. The BV450 is supposed to be able to carry four days worth of food for a single person, and that seems about right. I had it full, but I didn’t repackage any of my food; doing so would have saved me some volume and allowed me to get another day’s worth out of it.
The bear-proof mechanism consists of a screw-on lid with a couple of little one-way protrusions on the rim. As you screw the lid on, these click past a couple of catches on the canister itself. In order to open the lid, you have to push in the plastic on the lid at two small, and very specific, locations, in order to get past the catches. Pushing in the plastic can be a little difficult. I have the larger BV500 canister and it seems easier to open; in the BV450 I often had to resort to using the screwdriver on my multitool to push the plastic inward. I’ve heard that the plastic loosens up after you’ve opened it a few times; maybe I need a few more times…
The canister itself is clear, with a bluish tint, allowing you to see your food so you don’t have to hunt around for it. You’re supposed to avoid getting anything with DEET anywhere near the plastic, as it will eat through it. Something to be aware of if you’re putting your trash or bug-spray inside the canister (as you should be).
TarpTent Double Rainbow
The TarpTent Double Rainbow is a freestanding-ish single-wall tent that ostensibly sleeps two, although they’d have to be really good friends, or married. As it was, it slept me and all my stuff. It weighs 40oz and is colored a neutral gray.
Setup is pretty easy: the Double Rainbow has only one pole (two if you count the removable crossbar), so you just stake down the corners (or use your hiking poles; see below) and then unfold and insert the pole to prop up the roof. From there, it’s just a matter of whether you want one or both vestibules extended, or tied back, and whether you want the bathtub floor down (to allow a breeze) or up. There are also vents at the top of the tent that can be opened to allow some circulation. Although the Double Rainbow is single-walled, and thus can suffer from internal condensation, there’s an optional “drip guard” that you can hang inside. I had a bit of condensation buildup; not enough to drip, but enough that I had to wipe down the inside before I packed up.
If you don’t want to stake down the tent, you can set it up using your hiking poles. At the foot and head ends of the tent, the corners have little loops that can be hooked around the handle and spike ends of your (fully-extended) poles, giving the base of the tent the structure it would normally have by being staked out. This allows you to setup someplace where stakes won’t work (e.g., on a rock), or to move your tent around after having set it up.
There’s a million different ways you can configure the vestibules, with them being staked out, or tied back, or partly tied out… I haven’t really experimented with it; but leaving things open (there are mesh walls inside to keep the bugs out) is appealing.