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Topic: Gear help for beginner< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 4:49 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

New to backpacking, I'm trying to get together gear for 2-3 night trips, from early spring to early winter. I'm trying to keep things light, mostly just because I'm a featherweight and won't be able to go more than a mile or so with a heavier pack. I have a lot of the essentials (Arcteryx Altra 65, Feathered Friends Hummingbird, Big Anges Copper Spur UL1, etc), but I'm missing a few items.

First thing I'm trying to decide on is a stove. It'll mostly be for heating water for dehydrated meals, but it would be kind of nice to have other options (aka simmer). I'm considering the MSR Reactor 1L, Jetboil Sol, and Snow Peak Gigapower. I know the Gigapower is the only one that'll simmer and the lightest (depending on the pot), but also doesn't heat very quickly or well in the wind. Inversely, the Reactor can't accept any other pots, and the Jetboil has a lot of plastic on it (I've heard some issues on reliability with melting and ignitor) but both are fairly wind proof and boil lightening fast. Any input from people who have used any of the above, or have faced a similar decision recently?

I'm also trying to pick a good pair of rain / waterproof pants. I tend to need something slim fitting, and hopefully that would slip on without removing boots for those moments when I get caught in wet weather. Everything I've found so far either weighs a ton or seems like it wouldn't breath / hold up very well over time. I know it's all a balance but, again, looking for any input from people who have first hand experience. Thanks!
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 5:22 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

A stove I have that is often overlooked is the Optimus Crux (linked below). It has a boil time almost 2 minutes faster than the GigaPower, is about 1/3 oz. lighter, and folds into itself and into a compact position you can use to stow it under a fuel canister. I have used it several times out in the field and it works great. Here is a link for more info:

Optimus Crux Stove

Here also is a link on backcountry.com where I bought it and there are several posted reviews. It is actually on sale right now for 25% off.

Backcountry Site
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 9:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I like the Gigapower myself. It's been a great stove.
I wouldn't consider it a stove you can do fancy cooking with though.
If you really want something that can simmer, consider the MSR Wisperlite 2 stove. It's a bit heavier, but it will do anything you want it too.

http://treelinebackpacker.com/2012/07/30/msr-wind-pro-ii-stove-review/

I use the Gigapower, but only for boiling. The small torch like radius of the burner won't let you do anything fancy.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 9:41 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Whatever you get, make sure you can fix/maintain it in the field. Simple...is almost always better. I'd be more concerned with simplicity and weight than anything else. Does a boil time of 2 minutes faster really make that much of a difference when you're not a schedule and out in the wilderness? I've lit up more difficult stoves in the worst of weather (100+ mph winds). You find a way. Rock wall or inside your vestibule (Carefully). My primary stove is the most simple of simple (no moving parts...) and weighs one ounce. The only time I use a gas stove anymore is if it is during extreme fire danger when alcohol stoves aren't allowed in the areas I hike. I use an alcohol Whitebox Stove.

I am an off-trail hiker and my rainshell pants are heavy compared to most so I won't be any good for advice on them.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 10:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I haven't own this lightweight rain gear, but it's been recommended as cheap, effective, but not very durable:
http://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/DriDucks.shtm


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 10:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Appreciate all the feedback guys.

MississipVol: I saw the Wind Pro but it was a bit heavier than I was hoping to get. I also don't really see ever backpacking in conditions where fuel temperature would really be an issue, which seems like one of the main benefits of that model and source of additional weight.

treelinebackpacker: Whats been your experience with the Gigapower in wind? I read a review that said in windy conditions, the Gigapower was unable to bring water to a boil period. How effective is the Snow Peak wind shield / hard is it to fashion some kind of makeshift wind shield on the spot?

Tigger: I appreciate the suggestion, but I don't think I'm at that level of lightweight / simplicity yet. I don't foresee venturing anyplace where my health would be at risk from not being able to boil water. I've read a bit about alcohol stoves, and think I want to stay with more mainstream forms of fuel for now.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 10:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Drift Woody @ Apr. 20 2014, 10:46 pm)
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I haven't own this lightweight rain gear, but it's been recommended as cheap, effective, but not very durable:
http://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/DriDucks.shtm

I've actually seen that before, but it seemed like one of those yellow "Gordon's Fisherman" suits you pick up from the local home improvement store. Any idea if they're actually breathable? Or if they come in any cuts besides the MC Hammer model?

My jacket is currently an Alpha SV (which I use for climbing), which I tend to be pretty rough on, so durability is one of the things I'm looking more for. I appreciate the help none the less.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 11:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(camhabib @ Apr. 20 2014, 10:49 pm)
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Tigger: I appreciate the suggestion, but I don't think I'm at that level of lightweight / simplicity yet. I don't foresee venturing anyplace where my health would be at risk from not being able to boil water. I've read a bit about alcohol stoves, and think I want to stay with more mainstream forms of fuel for now.

Well, you did say you were a beginner.

" First sold in 1925,[1] Trangia stoves were initially preferred to kerosene (paraffin) pressure stoves because they required only one type of fuel (alcohol, usually in the form of methylated spirit)"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trangia

Alcohol stoves are the simplest and most dependable of all liquid fueled stoves.  Alcohol burners have been "mainstream" a long, long time.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 11:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Stove... pick your poison.   I use alcohol although I do have the Gigapower which is never used anymore.  

Depending on where you hike I'd consider not using rain pants.   I've only rarely taken them and there was only a few times in a couple decades where they were wanted (not needed).


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 11:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(camhabib @ Apr. 20 2014, 10:49 pm)
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Appreciate all the feedback guys.

MississipVol: I saw the Wind Pro but it was a bit heavier than I was hoping to get. I also don't really see ever backpacking in conditions where fuel temperature would really be an issue, which seems like one of the main benefits of that model and source of additional weight.

WindPro??

I posted about the Optimus Crux, not the WindPro. It is actually lighter than the one made by snowpeak and more efficient imho.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 20 2014, 11:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For pants you should look into the Marmot Essence pants.  They only weigh about 5 oz.  and are more durable for UL pants.  If you are only using them as rain pants they should hold up just fine.  Unfortunately it looks like most of the outlets only have last years in XXL so you would probably have to go with this years.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 12:01 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(MississipVol @ Apr. 20 2014, 11:50 pm)
QUOTE

(camhabib @ Apr. 20 2014, 10:49 pm)
QUOTE
Appreciate all the feedback guys.

MississipVol: I saw the Wind Pro but it was a bit heavier than I was hoping to get. I also don't really see ever backpacking in conditions where fuel temperature would really be an issue, which seems like one of the main benefits of that model and source of additional weight.

WindPro??

I posted about the Optimus Crux, not the WindPro. It is actually lighter than the one made by snowpeak and more efficient imho.

Sorry, meant treelinebackpacker. Still in a food coma from earlier. I'll certainly look into the Crux though.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 12:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For a canister, I use Snow Peak's LiteMax, their lightest stove.
Never used a windscreen with a canister stove, but I've used stuff like a tree trunk, log, roots, rocks,  my pack, and a hole in the snow to block the wind. You can cook in a vestibule or on the other side of your tent. Often it's just a matter of looking at what you need to do, and what you have to do it with.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 7:45 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Stove - If you're not going to be out in very cold weather, (~10* F,) consider a DIY HEET stove or a Whitebox. My DIY is the only stove I need, with suitable protection from wind and insulation from heat loss. I also have a Primus Express canister stove that stays home, now. I used to bring my HEET stove as a backup until I ran out of canister. I would find that that little stove outperformed the Primus by at least a minute, is ultimately lighter, and easier to use. The downside is that if you live in a region where burn bans are prevalent, you will need something with a knob.

Just make sure that whatever stove you get, you be careful with it out there.

I'd say that you've got a lot of pack, there. A good pack, for sure, but 65L might be overkill, especially for 3-season use. I carry a 50L and am often wont to fill it to capacity. Unfortunately, I surrender to my Scot/packrat heritage and end up bringing as much as my pack will hold, which is sometimes two pounds of stuff that will likely not see daylight.

Do you really need rain pants? I have a pair I've never worn, and they don't breath, either. Waterproofness vs breathability has been a point of contention for me. If you're wearing 50 lbs in gear, food, water, and clothing, anything that is capable of shielding you from rain is not going to allow your sweat to pass. As for kicking around the site or peak bagging, consider a poncho. Some are made to fit over a pack, and/or to be used as a shelter. Some hikers even use it as their primary shelter in nice weather. With the addition of a bug shelter, a super light shelter system.

If you don't know, Google 'Leave No Trace Principles,' and, 'Ten Essential Mountaineering Systems'. The latter is essential, as it begs. There are some loonies out there when it comes to LNT, like suggesting simply not going backpacking or getting poopy about hiking poles leaving scratches on rocks. Rules of thumb; leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and/or leave the place better than you found it.

As for hiking poles, many of us enjoy their use. I hike in low mountains made of sharp rocks and trees. I couldn't imagine not having them. I also lived in Texas for twenty years and didn't know they existed. They can be used to support that poncho/shelter, either at a campsite or on the trail waiting for a blow to pass.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 8:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(camhabib @ Apr. 20 2014, 10:53 pm)
QUOTE

(Drift Woody @ Apr. 20 2014, 10:46 pm)
QUOTE
I haven't own this lightweight rain gear, but it's been recommended as cheap, effective, but not very durable:
http://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/DriDucks.shtm

I've actually seen that before, but it seemed like one of those yellow "Gordon's Fisherman" suits you pick up from the local home improvement store. Any idea if they're actually breathable? Or if they come in any cuts besides the MC Hammer model?

My jacket is currently an Alpha SV (which I use for climbing), which I tend to be pretty rough on, so durability is one of the things I'm looking more for. I appreciate the help none the less.

It's actually a completely different material.  Very lightweight and breathable.  They're not very durable against abrasion, which may not matter if you're mostly on trails.  The cut is what it is.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 8:48 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I learn a lot about gear by reading what gear is used by through hikers. Typically, gear that is hardly mentioned is gear that is working for them and gear that is not working is journaled about, until they dump it in a hiker box and replace it with something else.

http://trailjournals.com/journals/pacific_crest_trail/


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 10:03 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

who cares how fast the stove is? I have never gotten this. Unless you are a trail runner trying to break records, WHO CARES? I suppose there is something to the theory that a quick boil means less fuel spent, however, I have found that a fuel canister of reputable brand (MSR or Snow Peak) rather than cheaper stuff bought from a local store (it's in a green canister and not sure who makes it) lasts a lot longer. So I tend to think blend matters and your own cooking habits matter. If you figure out how many boils you need - mine runs 2 per day on long trips and several boils on short trips with large groups where someone inevitably has a stove failure or totally forgot fuel (this is a newb thing most often, but last trip someone I've hiked with many times managed to not have a functioning stove) - and track consumption, either by weighing the can after each use/trip or by floating in water, you can accurately predict how much fuel you need. I can get 4-5 days out of a 3 oz canister with the snowpeak gigapower, especially if I pick shielded cook spots or use the windscreen. Planning to make a lighter foil windscreen based on the steel one they sell, to save a few ounces.

Alcohol stoves allow one to be more precise in how much fuel they carry. They may be slower, but they do the job - and some are so tough you can stand on it. Weighing in grams and requiring nothing but a bic and half an ounce to an ounce, they require a windscreen but that can be lighter than light. But they can be confusing to newbies and not all models are fuel economical.

For the record, the Primus EtaExpress Solo is the fastest stove I have ever seen. Yes, faster than Jetboil. Except no one talks about them - unlike the Jetboil you can easily use a different pot with the stove, minus the extra weight of the adapter. The piezo, like all piezos everywhere, gets unreliable. But it has a windscreen, the pot has a heat exchanger, and the water is boiling in the time it takes you to rip open a bag to pour water in.

None of the top canister stoves have a wide enough flame pattern to cook with them semi-unattended (never leave a stove for any duration). You can have some success by constantly moving the pan around to evenly heat the bottom and avoid burning the food. Remove canister stoves with wider burners (MSR WindPro) are better for frying and cooking.

At the end of my backpacking classes, where I gather all my stoves and some from friends (I know how to use a JetBoil and many others despite not owning them) and demonstrate boiling water outside on the sidewalk, many of the students end up with the Pocket Rocket or the Giga, and those who have families or larger groups of friends get the Primus Etaexpress (fast boil plus larger pot size) remote canister model. One fellow ordered a really cheap Pocket Rocket clone from ebay and another got a HiTec (didn't even know they made stoves!) from Big Five for very little cash. However, they were indeed cheaply made, and not very stable.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 10:24 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

As for the rain pants - that depends on where and when you hike how much you need them. I do go unless the forecast is absolutely nasty for the entire duration of my planned outing. I have a pair of eVent pants with a full zip, a pair of Marmot Precips, and a pair of heavy REI rain pants. On one occasion I wore a trash bag as a rain skirt - that is much more comfortable than rain pants in temps above 50F, for my money, since you're not sweating like a mofo in it yet it keeps you dry.

I have yet to wear the eVent pants, have worn the REI pants once, have worn the Precips a couple of times. They only go on 1) long trips 2) with more than one day of rain forecast 3) with forecasts of lower day temps. I'm in California. Someone hiking here on trail, who only goes if the forecast is fair, wouldn't ever need them, IMO.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 11:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I agree with AlmostThere.  Who cares about boil times?  If you want to go light weight, go with an alcohol stove like a whitebox for $25 or build your own if you are into DIY.  Much easier to plan fuel, lighter, and nothing to break.

As far as rain pants, there are a few questions to ask yourself, what temps will you be using them in, and how much do you sweat?

If the temps are above 60 I do not bother with any rain gear except maybe my golite chrome dome umbrella.  I find that once you get wet you become a little more comfortable in it.  I just dry off and change into dry clothing at camp.  I am also a very heavy sweater, I have not found anything I do not completely wet out in temps above 50, I use a golite poncho tarp now and even that got wet on the inside a few weeks back on a trip that was in the 38-45 range.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 2:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks everyone for the help so far, it's been great.

One question I forgot to ask, is that regardless of alcohol / canister / other types of fuel and stove models, what is everyone using as far as pots go? I've seen some options from GSI, Snow Peak, and MSR that look promising, each with various pros and cons.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 4:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(camhabib @ Apr. 21 2014, 2:19 pm)
QUOTE
Thanks everyone for the help so far, it's been great.

One question I forgot to ask, is that regardless of alcohol / canister / other types of fuel and stove models, what is everyone using as far as pots go? I've seen some options from GSI, Snow Peak, and MSR that look promising, each with various pros and cons.

Yeah, that one is mostly personal preference on how you cook, for just boiling water use a lightweight pot.  I use the MSR titan kettle, been using it many years.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 5:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tea pot

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 5:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have the GSI Soloist cookset which is great, although a bit heavier than anything made of titanium. It has a lot of good reviews and here is a link to it:

GSI Soloist

When I want to go lighter, I also have a Toaks titanium cookpot that weighs 3.4 oz. It is a great pot but I like the system use of the soloist a bit more so I usually use the soloist for overnighters and the Toaks for multiday hikes.

TOAKS 750 ml pot
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 21 2014, 9:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Generally, wider flame patterns need a wider pot. A wider pot will boil faster (slightly) as the flames can spread over a wider surface heating more water than a narrow pot bottom.

The tall, narrow pots (GSI Soloist, Evernew solo kit) do ok on top mount canister stoves and small alcohol stoves with pot stands. Tea kettles, 1 liter+ wide pots, etc work well on a Whitebox, supercat, or any of the top mount or remote canister stoves.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 1:00 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use a Snow Peak Trek 700 mug/pot with a lid from Four Dog Stove, but if I was starting over, I'd probably just get this Olicamp aluminum one(with lid):
http://fourdog.com/olicamp....ver-mug

About to try their Bushcooker LT Mini stove setup, too. The ti windscreen that comes with it is the right height to let me use it with my Whitebox Solo and Solo II(and ditch the pot supports), but it will be a couple weeks before I can try the different combos.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 9:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Note that if there are frequently fire bans where you hike, you'll want a canister stove in addition to the alcohol stove, since in a fire ban they usually ban stoves that have no valve. Stick/twig stoves get banned too.

On the California coast, the bans get total - no stoves, no cigarettes, no fires, nothing that creates a spark. So you get used to cold coffee and trail bars...


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 9:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

We, my wife and I, use the Optimus Terra Lite HE Cook Set. The heat exchanger reduces cook times.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 6:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Stove I would consider the Snow Peak lite max. it ways in at 1.9 oz. It you need to get lighter then that  I can't help ya.



http://www.snowpeak.com/stoves....20.html
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 7:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What would you guys consider as a reasonable weight for a bag (minus consumables) for a 3 night hike? I'm down to ~18lbs, plus food and water. Should I start tossing stuff I don't absolutely need? Again, know it's all relative, but it helps to have some benchmark.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 22 2014, 8:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

In summer with preparation for  temps down to 0 for three days, two nights, my current pack weight is at 24 lbs including  bottled beer if that helps.

I consider any weight reasonable that has what you want comfort-wise and you don't mind hauling. In winter, my setup goes up by 10 lbs.


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If I'm going to be lost, in the woods is where I want to be...
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