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Topic: Opinions on Gear please< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 12:13 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Moved to Colorado last year and want to get into backpacking this summer. I have researched a lot but I feel the best way to get information on products is from people with experience, not marketing advertisements. I also know a great product for say a solo packer, might not be so good for someone with kids so please take this into consideration. From my research, these are the things I am considering buying very soon. If there is something you think is better please, let me know for my style

I will be backpacking with my wife, dog, and sometimes a 9 year old. I will never be solo. I will never be staying more than 3 nights and 90% of the time it will be one or two in the state of Colorado. Another thing to take into consideration is I have some herniated disks in my lower back. I want to try to get the right gear the first time.

Pack- I'm not sure if I should go with something super light like the 58 exos or something with a better suspension but heavier. Its all about protecting the lower back here. Any advice would be great as well as what size do you think fits my needs? I am thinking 50-70 range?

Tent- Due to the wife, dog and occasional kid, I need room. The leader for me right now is the Big Agnes lone spring 3 due to price, size and weight. 47.5 sf and weighing 5lb 13oz I cant find anything that competes. Its also only 250.00. I know it only has one door, but that does not bother me at all. I cant find any reviews on this tent though which scares me.


My second choice is the marmot limelight 3p. Great reviews but its a small tent at 42.6 sf. Its also heavier at 6lb 11oz but has a gear loft, footprint, and two vestibules instead of one. Also 2 doors but thats not really a big deal.

Stove----I am thinking MSR pocket rocket. At 39.00 and 3oz, I cant find a reason not to get this.

Sleeping pad---- I have no idea on this one. It's important though because if I sleep wrong my back is hurting in the morning. I sleep on a REI 2.5 pad for car camping and it works great but at 5lb its obviously to heavy. Any suggestions would be great.

Sleeping bag----I have some sleeping bags, not the lightest or best but they will work for my first year. Its a sierra wild bill 15 degree. its around 3 lb and I will upgrade this later.

Another thing to consider is I will always be taking a DSLR camera with a tripod so I will  need room in the pack for this. Its a huge hobby of mine and one of the reasons I want to backpack in the first place. Thanks for any help!!
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 12:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

FWIW I'd suggest not putting either your tripod and ball head or your dslr in your pack.

At best the tripod can be strapped to the side of your pack vertically or horizontally over or under the top lid, depending on its size and weight.

You might want to at least consider there could be shooting opportunities while your walking and the camera all snug in your pack would be a real waste. One option would be to hang a top loader off your pack harness ( which keeps the weight on the pack suspension) and the camera relatively available for on the trail shooting. I've long been a bare camera toting hiker but B&H threw in a LowePro top loader with a recent dslr purchase and I've used it a bit here and there and found it useful: camera at the ready and yet protected from the rain and snow that befell me in NYC.

http://www.lowepro.com/toploaderzoom

Even were you to pack your camera away because your style is solely tripod shooting I'd still suggest keeping the tripod and head out if the pack unless its some tabletop mini and even then by just slipping one of the legs under a side compression strap it's a lot more accessible.

For hanging camera stuff off me and my pack harness I've long used various interchangeable Optech USA straps and connectors:
http://optechusa.com/
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 12:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This is gonna be viewed as heresy, but with herniated lumbar discs, camera gear and a 9 year old, you should think about an external frame pack. A good one will transfer more of the weight onto your iliac crests without loading your lumbar spine as much.
Unfortunately, there aren't many good external frame packs on the market anymore. Ironically, I think the best one currently available is the retro JanSport D2, a blast from the past. And it's got a lot of capacity--you're gonna end up carrying half your kid's stuff half the time.
I always carry my SLR in one hand--that way it's available. Sometimes with my rifle or bow in the other--same reason.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 5:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the input guys. That top loader I will be getting, excellent idea. Carrying the camera in one hand all the time isnt really an option because here in colorado some of the trails are steep and I will have trekking poles in hand.

I do plan on keeping the tripod outside the pack, a very small, cheap, light one.

Interesting on the external frame.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 8:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

FWIW, my son has been carrying ALL of his own gear since he was 10, and he's a skinny light kid.  At first, I may have carried more of the shared gear but I've never been the sherpa.  I think it's worth investing in good lightweight gear for kids and, frankly, weight can be more important than durability since they outgrow their stuff quickly.  Buying used is a good strategy as well.

I would carefully think about the most likely combination of campers (you/wife/kid/dog) before you buy your shelter.  We're a family of 3 plus dog and the only 3+ person shelter we have is strictly for car-camping.  For backpacking, we use a combination of smaller tents.  Though it may be a bigger investment, it's often more efficient to get two 2-person tents instead of the Taj Mahal that will sleep all of you.  There's also more lightweight 2-person options out there than bigger tents.

For sleeping pads, try one of the air mattresses.  Lots of manufacturers out there -- Big Agnes, Thermarest (various Neoair models), Exped.  REI also has some air mattresses -- you might try their 'Stratus' and see if that works for your back; you can return it if it doesn't.  Note that the air mattresses aren't as warm as the self-inflating ones (like you have).  It's worth understanding R-values and paying attention to those specs if you plan to do any spring/fall backpacking.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 8:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll second the ex-frame.  If you want to go ultralight and have the money, look at Luxury Lite packs ultralight ex-frame.

http://www.luxurylite.com/

For pads, look to Pacific outdoor equipment, Big Agnes, and Thermarest for thick, light air pads.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 8:34 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(waterdog @ Mar. 01 2013, 12:32 am)
QUOTE
you're gonna end up carrying half your kid's stuff half the time.

I beg to differ. A 9 year old should be able to carry his/her own gear. My kids, 5,6 and 11 all carry thier own gear..minus the tent. I will give you that much.  I wouldnt drag the kid on a 10 mile hike with crazy elevations for a first time hike though..start small and see what he/she is capable of.

Im all for the pocket rocket..for boiling water if you plan on "fbc" and what not.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 10:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(parks71 @ Mar. 01 2013, 12:13 am)
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Pack

I won't comment on the pack given your condition, but will say you should buy it last to make sure all the other gear you have will fit well. Take it all to the store and see how well it all packs.

QUOTE
Tent- Due to the wife, dog and occasional kid, I need room. The leader for me right now is the Big Agnes lone spring 3 due to price, size and weight. 47.5 sf and weighing 5lb 13oz I cant find anything that competes. Its also only 250.

I'd go for as light as you can reasonably get (on ALL your gear). Tarptent has a new Cloudburst 3 that should be available in a month and weighs just over 3 pounds. I'd guess it would be $300-350 range. They have a couple other options that you could also consider.

Don't waste your money on a footprint either.

What TigerFan said regarding 2 smaller vs 1 larger tent is spot on - more expensive but many more options and flexibility.

QUOTE
Stove----I am thinking MSR pocket rocket. At 39.00 and 3oz, I cant find a reason not to get this.

Are you cooking or just boiling water? BTW, there are cheaper and better (wider heads) options available. The PR also puts out a fair bit of CO, which isn't an issue if you're well ventilated.

QUOTE
Sleeping pad---- I have no idea on this one. It's important though because if I sleep wrong my back is hurting in the morning. I sleep on a REI 2.5 pad for car camping and it works great but at 5lb its obviously to heavy. Any suggestions would be great.

Look at the Thermarest Neoair variants. Second option is the Big Agnes QCore variants. If you'll be camping on snow as well, make sure you stick with the higher R values.

QUOTE
Sleeping bag----I have some sleeping bags, not the lightest or best but they will work for my first year. Its a sierra wild bill 15 degree. its around 3 lb and I will upgrade this later.

Eventually upgrade to down bags.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 5:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have two 13 yr-olds and we use the Tarptent Hogback. It has a lot of space for the weight, is double-wall for less issues with condensation getting knocked off the walls (a sure thing with kids;-) and two doors/vestibules. I'll attach a pic stitched together from two to show the room with their 20" wide pads and my 25" wide pad. (You can see the stitch in the floor color.)

Since they were about 8 they have carried their own bags/quilts, pads, clothes, drinks, snacks and entertainments (cards, games, nets, etc.) I carry everything else.

I would take the earlier suggestion to get all the gear and then take it with you to get the pack. And I would think about something more supportave (and bigger volume maybe) than the Exos 58. I actually had the same pack on the trip in the pic but I have many years of gear paring in and as you see we use very light weight and low-volume gear.

Have fun shopping and have a great time hiking.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 8:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Mar. 01 2013, 8:07 am)
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Though it may be a bigger investment, it's often more efficient to get two 2-person tents instead of the Taj Mahal that will sleep all of you.  

What does "efficient" mean? More space for less weight and bulk? If that's how you're using the word "efficient," I'm not sure what you're saying is true.

Two 2Ps are going to weigh about 9-10 lbs. There are many 3Ps that weigh less than that. Compare these two setups:

Two REI Half Dome 2's": Total 62 sq ft, 11 lbs 4 oz

REI Half Dome 4: 56 sq ft, 7 lbs 12 oz

Doing some math, that works out to 5.5 sq ft per lb for both of the Half Dome 2's together and 7.2 sq ft per lb for the Half Dome 4. (Hope I got that right.) You get more space for the weight in the Half Dome 4.

I would not want to put 2 adults, a child, a dog, and gear in a 3P. If you really want a 3P, here's a good deal on the Big Agnes Lynx Pass 3 , $125 at REI: http://www.rei.com/product....loseout

Specs for the Lynx Pass 3: 45 sq ft 6 lbs 3 oz (Pretty close to the Lone Spring specs)

I think the REI Half Dome 4 is more efficient than the Lynx Pass. For an extra 1 lb 6 oz you get 11 sq ft more. You can fit a 9-year old in 11 sq ft.

It's true that it could be easier to find space to pitch two 2P's than one 4P, but the REI Half Dome 4 does qualify as a backpacking tent. Split among three people it weighs 2.5 lbs per person, which is very good.

[Note: REI and Big Agnes don't make it easy to find their fabric weights. All I can say is that REI tents are very solid.)

Don't underestimate the value of two doors and 2 vestibules. It could make a big difference in comfort and convenience with 3 people and a dog going in and out all night and for gear storage. Also, the vestibules are not only for gear; they also provide ventilation and psychological space.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 9:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Scroll about halfway through this corny Mr. Tent video to get a sense of the size of the REI Half Dome 4:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amlFsyj0_p8
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 01 2013, 11:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TrailTramper @ Mar. 01 2013, 8:44 pm)
QUOTE

(TigerFan @ Mar. 01 2013, 8:07 am)
QUOTE
Though it may be a bigger investment, it's often more efficient to get two 2-person tents instead of the Taj Mahal that will sleep all of you.  

What does "efficient" mean? More space for less weight and bulk? If that's how you're using the word "efficient," I'm not sure what you're saying is true.

No.  The paragraph from which you took my quote starts: "I would carefully think about the most likely combination of campers (you/wife/kid/dog) before you buy your shelter."  (It would have been more correct to say "combinations".)  "Efficient" in that the solution could work for any combination of family members, including the whole family.

TrailTamper, I know that you have some strong opinions about tents but, imo, there are a lot of good lightweight 2-person tents out there that don't weigh 5lb.  And, no, I'm not talking about cuben tents that cost a fortune or ones that use 10D fabrics.  I just picked up a used Tarptent Squall for $150 for the kids to use this summer for weekend trips here in Michigan.  Weighs just under 2lb (for 2) and judging by the number of Tarptents circulating on the used market, they seem to last forever.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 02 2013, 9:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aha.That explains things a bit better. If the OP will be camping sometimes alone and other times with various combinations of people and dogs then you're right, two 2Ps might be smarter.

I don't really have strong opinions about tents. I love 'em all.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 02 2013, 9:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TrailTramper @ Mar. 02 2013, 9:32 pm)
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I don't really have strong opinions about tents. I love 'em all.

Off-topic, but thumbs up!

My favorite is my Cabela's outfitter tent. It must weigh 150 lbs, if you don't count the wood stove.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 02 2013, 10:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My opinion...get kilts for you and your son, and get hammocks for the whole family...everyone will be more comfortable.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 5:26 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sleeping Pad: I too have had back issues and ended up using an Exped mat. The SynMat or DownMat (depending on conditions) are wonderfully comfortable and supportive. Also they dont make that damned Neo-Air crinkle sound every time you move.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 10:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have an Exped Downmat, a NeoAir, and a Big Agnes - and I can tell you NONE of them crinkles. (Of course, I have an older NeoAir. The new versions seem less durable and more crinkly to the touch, however, what a sleeping pad does when you are on it is a different thing.)

I have a BA Q Core that is the equal in cush and comfort to the Exped, at half the weight. It is weightier than the NeoAir (13 vs 27 oz) but warmer, as in 15F versus the 25-30F I have used the NeoAir in. The Exped being full of down cannot be inflated by mouth, but has a pump. The NA and BA can be inflated by mouth or by a pump of some kind.

The noisiest mattress I've ever encountered was a BA insulated air core - I have also loaned the Q Core to someone who promptly turned it into a noisy pad! People think that these are durable apparently and roll and bounce on them as if they are at home in bed. I would be willing to wager, but have no real proof, that the person I loaned it to was the reason I had to send the Q Core in for warranty repairs as I have used the Q Core nearly every night outside since I got it, racking up 25 -30 nights on it at temps down to 20F, without issues - and then someone borrows it and proceeds to bounce around like a maniac on it, and suddenly it won't hold any air at all, deflates over a few hours to flat.

Fortunately, BA has great customer service and the new pad is being fedex'd to me as we speak.

I still use the NeoAir - it's in my search and rescue pack. And five years of service tells me that how you treat a pad makes a huge difference. Overinflation, overactive bouncing and not taking care where you throw it down will cause problems. I toss and turn at night, but I don't bounce, or use the pad without a groundsheet.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 3:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(parks71 @ Mar. 01 2013, 12:13 am)
QUOTE
Stove----I am thinking MSR pocket rocket. At 39.00 and 3oz, I cant find a reason not to get this.

Sleeping pad---- I have no idea on this one. It's important though because if I sleep wrong my back is hurting in the morning. I sleep on a REI 2.5 pad for car camping and it works great but at 5lb its obviously to heavy. Any suggestions would be great.

..

Another thing to consider is I will always be taking a DSLR camera with a tripod so I will  need room in the pack for this. Its a huge hobby of mine and one of the reasons I want to backpack in the first place. Thanks for any help!!

I can think of a variety reasons why one would not want the pocket rocket - if I were taking a family and boiling lots of water, I'd not want something tippy. You're going to get scalded with a big pot of water on a tippy top mount stove. I would get a remote canister - the MSR WindPro or similar - and use that plus a larger pot. The kit can be divvied up between the parents to lighten 'er up.

I already related my experience with sleeping pads - comfort is my main concern, as no sleep is not my preference.

If you are wanting to keep the camera gear front and center for easy use while hiking, look at camera harnesses that keep the camera on your chest, or look at the Aarn body packs - the front packs look more unweildly than they are. I reviewed one and nearly everyone I loan mine to starts to shop for them. The front packs have optional inserts for lenses and camera parts.

Pack animals may be a thought for a family getting started and trying to sort out the gear.

Also borrowing or renting gear may be helpful, for a while.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The best way to carry the camera is in your hand.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 06 2013, 11:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(waterdog @ Mar. 06 2013, 8:45 pm)
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The best way to carry the camera is in your hand.

How's that work when you're using two trekking poles as the OP stated he would be doing?
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 7:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How's that work when you're using two trekking poles as the OP stated he would be doing?

duuuuh...use the other hand


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 9:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(High_Sierra_Fan @ Mar. 06 2013, 11:54 pm)
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(waterdog @ Mar. 06 2013, 8:45 pm)
QUOTE
The best way to carry the camera is in your hand.

How's that work when you're using two trekking poles as the OP stated he would be doing?

Never saw a need for them. It's why I never carry any hiking sticks. They keep you from carrying your camera, or rifle, or bow properly. Last year coming down off Half Dome via the busy mist trail, we kept getting poked by people with fancy "trekking poles".

Besides, they look dorky! :p


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 11:02 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(waterdog @ Mar. 08 2013, 6:39 am)
QUOTE

(High_Sierra_Fan @ Mar. 06 2013, 11:54 pm)
QUOTE

(waterdog @ Mar. 06 2013, 8:45 pm)
QUOTE
The best way to carry the camera is in your hand.

How's that work when you're using two trekking poles as the OP stated he would be doing?

Never saw a need for them. It's why I never carry any hiking sticks. They keep you from carrying your camera, or rifle, or bow properly. Last year coming down off Half Dome via the busy mist trail, we kept getting poked by people with fancy "trekking poles".

Besides, they look dorky! :p

If someone was carrying a bow or a rifle while hiking, I might think they look a bit dorky also...LOL!

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 12:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(waterdog @ Mar. 08 2013, 6:39 am)
QUOTE

(High_Sierra_Fan @ Mar. 06 2013, 11:54 pm)
QUOTE

(waterdog @ Mar. 06 2013, 8:45 pm)
QUOTE
The best way to carry the camera is in your hand.

How's that work when you're using two trekking poles as the OP stated he would be doing?

Never saw a need for them. It's why I never carry any hiking sticks. They keep you from carrying your camera, or rifle, or bow properly. Last year coming down off Half Dome via the busy mist trail, we kept getting poked by people with fancy "trekking poles".

Besides, they look dorky! :p

The OP's thread, the OP's criteria.

The reasons, medical and terrain, stated also seem reasonable for his use of poles.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 1:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How about this idea?

Use one "trekking pole" (aka walking stick) on moderate terrain and carry the other one on the pack. On more challenging terrain, stow the camera in the pack and break out the other walking stick.

Sure, we're all welcome to use his hands for whatever he wants to as long as it doesn't get in the way of other trail users; I just see a lot of people using both hands for fancy high-tech over-priced walking sticks and can't relate, that's all!

And since they're usually going pretty slow, the double swinging pointed metal sticks makes it tough to pass em on narrow, busy trails.


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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 2:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Spoken like a person who has never owned a pair...

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I must not be there yet, I keep hiking...
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 3:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Me, I have a dozen uses for the trekking poles, and I take pride in my dorky hat that keeps the sunburn off the face, the dorky clothes that wick and do the job of keeping me warm when I need it, the dorky poles that have saved my face and a couple times my life by catching me before I fell off the incline into the rocks.

So if you are soooooo worried about being dorky that you won't acknowledge the usefulness of things - just keep that to yourself. I don't care about opinions like that. I care about things that work for me, and keep people safe and healthy. If a trekking pole gets in your way, you're walking too close to me anyway and you need to back up your truck, chuck, cause I ain't losing these multi-use babies for you or anyone else.

One of those uses is, btw, being a monopod for my camera, all the better to get self portraits of myself standing in fantastic places without the help of people who don't understand the tried and true Hike Your Own Hike.


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All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
     Friedrich Nietzsche
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 3:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In the self porttrait function: how do you get it to stand upright? I've previousely used two tent stakes and some paracord to give the arrangement three legs as it were (the pole is the stiff one and then that leans a bit away from the stakes creating a stable triangle). But only with little point and shoots.

How do you do it?
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 4:42 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"It's why I never carry any hiking sticks. They keep you from carrying your camera, or rifle, or bow properly."
I don't know from rifles or bows, but "camera" has a strap, and trekking poles have wrist straps, so:

1) Release both poles, letting them dangle from wrists.
2) Grasp camera, raise, aim and shoot.

As far as how to keep a trekking pole upright, that don't sound "easy", but (anticipating an answer that may surprise me) you could rig a relatively simple ring and triple line gizmo that would do the trick, though you'd then have to carry that, as well as laboriously deploy it for each "self-portrait". There are, I believe, devices that attach to trekking poles, making them similar to the "xpod" device. (I'm probably misremembering the name of this thing...)

Uh, like this? (Though this is the best I could do at short notice.)
http://www.gpscity.com/contour....dyUsAPg
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 08 2013, 4:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

"1) Release both poles, letting them dangle from wrists.
2) Grasp camera, raise, aim and shoot."

Yeah that's how I've always done that. much like the glove-keepers on my winter gloves.
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