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[at-l] Black Forest Trail Gearhead Notes

Here are my "gearhead" notes from the Black Forest Trail trip I took this
last weekend.

I was trying to be "very lightweight, but not really ultralight" for this
trip.  I used my regular pack, a Osprey Flyte, which probably weighed about
4lbs since I left off the compression panel and sleeping pad straps.
Everything I took went inside the pack, except for my trowel and tent
stakes, which traveled on the compression straps.  My starting pack weight,
including 1.75 quarts of water and 5 lbs of foot was 31.5 lbs.  Without
food and water I guess that would come to 23 lbs.


LL Bean Cresta Hiker boots (fabric & leather version).  These mid weight (3
lbs for size 9) boots were quite new.  I didn't get a single blister.  They
are GoreTex lined, which I thought - and still think - is a marginal idea,
but they fit my 13 EE tootsies which is all I care about nowadays.  I got
no blisters, despite the relative newness of the boots (they had about 30
miles on them).  The GoreTex seems to really work when crossing small
streams and the like, but is, as I expected, totally useless in the rain
since water runs down the top.  I suppose tall gaiters would help, but that
really isn't for me.  Despite the GoreTex lining, I did not find them
annoyingly hot.

Trangia Westwind alcohol stove.  This little 6.5 oz alcohol stove was just
fine.  I cooked three meals on it, and used roughly 3 oz of fuel.  Each
meal involved little more than boiling 2.5 to 3 cups of water.  I carried
an extra 4 oz of fuel (and actually topped off the stove after my second
meal), but when I poured the contents of the stove back into the 4 oz
bottle the bottle was full.  This stove is not a speed daemon, but it was
no fuss and fast enough.

Camp Trails belt pouch.  This inexpensive fits on the 2" webbing of the
pack hipbelt.  It provided a great place to stick my map, snacks, etc.  It
was particularly useful since I wore running shorts with no pockets.

I mostly ate waybread (Logan bread and the like) for breakfast, trail mix
between breakfast and dinner, and had a hot meal for dinner.  I didn't
really have a "lunch", just a series of munchie breaks.  This really worked
well for me.  In particular, I loved the ease of getting going in the morning.

I carried very simple raingear... just a coated nylon jacket and a pair of
(non waterproof) windpants.  I never wore the jacket in the rain... I just
got wet.  I did wear the jacket one morning to help get warm, and it worked
fine.  I wore the pants twice: once on the cold morning, and once to
protect my legs from some itch provoking plant that filled one hollow.  As
far as I can tell, if I'm warm, I don't mind getting wet, and if I'm cold,
I'm not sweating, so (at least in the summer) I don't need the weight of a
waterproof/breathable jacket.


I used a bivy sack (Integral Designs Unishelter) and a small, 6x8 tarp.
The combination works extremely well to keep out the rain.  On Saturday
night, I used just the bivy and got caught in a big thunderstorm.  Despite
blowing rain, I could open the bivy up enought to get ventilation and even
peek out.  Unfortunately, some of the top seams need to be sealed, and some
water leaked in.

I also am considering switching to a full length foam pad (probably a Ridge
Rest) for use with the bivy.  I have been using a 3/4 length ridge rest and
sticking a sit pad under my feet, but that is awkward in a bivy sack.
Also, if the air is most and the ground cool, some condensation on the tent
floor is unavoidable, and a full length pad should help keep me off it and
any other water that might find its way in.

Photon Microlight - this cute little LED light produced more than enough
light to write or read by and to find my way around camp with.  I don't
think I'd want to walk a trail after dark with it though.  On the downside,
my version has a squeeze switch that is a real pain.  I understand that
they make a switched version, and will probably try one of those.  The
microlight makes a great 1/4 oz. backup for a flashlight - I won't hesitate
to take on instead of a pair of extra batteries.


No sleeping bag.  I decided to try out using a silk liner and taking extra
clothes.  I took a pair of midweight long underwear and a fleece jacket.
On two of the nights I was uncomfortably cold... particularly my feet.  I
don't think I saved a whole lot of weight either.  Anyway, it was a worthy
experiment, and one that I feel no inclination to repeat.


What is the LNT "position" on rinsing (no soap) ones self and clothes in a
stream?  I couldn't decide, so I did it anyway.  Is this not a good idea?
How is this different from swimming?

When digging a "cat hole" all the books suggest going down 4-6 inches, or
to the level of mineral earth.  When I dug such a hole about 9 inches
across and... umm... did my thing, I pretty much filled the hole up.  This
doesn't seem quite right somehow... any ideas?


Integral Designs shipped "Seam Grip" with the bivy (though they said that
seam sealing was optional).  I've heard lots of people recommend this
stuff, but have never had much luck with it (I've always had it peal,
despite having cleaned first with isopropyl alcohol).  I'm pretty sure that
I put on too thick a layer.  If you've had success with Seam Grip, how did
you get a thin enough coat on?  Or is there another product that you like?


-- Jim Mayer
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