What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gear List

So as per my 'Master List' post I am going to start putting together lists of what things have/need to be done.  The best place to start right now is with hiking/living gear as I just went to REI and spent about 2 hours chatting with 'Mark', outdoor extraordinaire...  Only person that might talk as much as I do, but this is certainly a good thing given that I am trying to learn as much of the nuances as I can.  I'll try to get into list form here and update progress as time passes.
  • Backpack: so the motherly insistence about progress having been made in backpack technology seems profoundly accurate.  the ones I tried on felt so much better than mine.  I found one that fit well and loaded it up with 65 pounds of weights and walked around in it for the rest of the lesson - over an hour.  It was fine, so much better than the one I have now...  :-/  It wasn't budgeted, but now that I've saved some money on the flight...  
    • The pack that fit best was the Osprey Atmos.  They checked my torso length, made sure it sat on the hips and shoulders right, etc.  I am apparently a medium, and we went from there..
    • The key to this pack for me is the "Airspeed" back panel.  It is not just waffle straps and a waffle back, but is actually netted with side vents that keep the pack off of your back and air flowing through it.  I'd been eyeing these things up for years ever since I saw them in Germany in 1999 as I sweat a decent amount, and will especially in a hot country like Sierra Leone - this should make all the difference.    
    • It costs between $199 and $229 though...
  • Sleeping bag - I looked at stuff there and am looking for a warm weather sleeper that is nylon and down filled.  They had one called the Halo +40 that looked good, but it is expensive so I'll keep looking.  
  • Hammock - Mark recommended the brand 'Eagles Nest', the brand they had in stock there.  They had some really cheap stuff.  But they sell everything separately, so once you add mosquito netting and a tarp its about the same as the others.  Apparently the others are cut more specifically as well, so I'll probably look at the Hennessy ones and try one as they said I could take it back if it didn't work out.  
  • Insects
    • Herbal Armor.  All natural and according to my brother on his trip to Thailand everyone using deet got eaten, only he didn't and he used the natural stuff. 
    • Sawyer Clothing Insect Repellant - Permetherum (sp?).  This was recommended as another all natural spray to keep the bugs off.  Not sure how I could manage transporting it though as the bottle is huge..  
  •  Hydration
    • The SteriPen to sterilize the water
    • Looks like a 3 liter Camelbak bladder will be th right thing.  This will just slip into that backpack that I was looking at as well.  
    • Mark made a recommendation that had been sticking the back of my head.  Having a water bottle as well.  obviously you can carry water/drink from it, but it also doubles as a dish.  So will need to look into that.
  • Head Lamp - this is a given, he also recommended a little lamp as well (we looked at one from Black Diamond).  You can apparently just clip it on to the support string for the top of the hammock.  No need for the head lamp on you all the time.

  • Towel - We talked as well about a towel, he recommended synthetic quick dry.  I figured, and Greg (brother) has one that I have already "commandeered".  I think as of now that I may need three towels:  One for after bathing, one just to wipe sweat off as you go or are done for the day, and another for dishes.    
  • Clothing - Mark said he only uses synthetic wicking shirts and soccer shorts.  Again... I am really going to struggle with trying to take all-natural fibers I think.  :(
    • Poncho
  • Shoes - I told him I'd only be in the Vibrams.  He was concerned about moisture and needing socks.  I've worn them in everything I've done to this point though and I haven't had any problems, this includes being out in the rain with them on hikes.
  • Cooling - He also recommended things for cooling the neck, moist thing that wraps around the neck and keeps the whole body cool.  
  • Stuff sacks - He was talking about organization of your stuff.  He has different color waterproof stuff sacks for electronics, food, clothing, etc.  Makes it much easier to find things and be organized...
  • Containers - Along the same organizational lines he talked a great deal about food and taking things and containers for spices and stuff.  I will have to think about to what extent I would do this given the uncertainties of my journey, and the weight of my pack.
  • Pots/Utensils - 
    • So the basic point of departure for back country chef extraordinaire, Mark, is one or two pots and a skillet.  But he makes blueberry pancakes!!  I don't see myself taking a skillet.  I might consider two pots one packable inside the other.  I'm assuming I'll just be throwing what I've got together into a pot and cooking it up.
    • He recommended a 'spork' as well for a utensil.  All in one... in fact if I get accustomed to using this I may never go back!!!    
  • Stove - I told him i was going to use the can stove, and he had some questions and asked about using denatured alcohol, not sure if that'll be available...  we'll see...
  • All purpose tool - pocket knife, pliers, etc.  I have a swiss army knife, but its heavy and limited...
    • Fire - He also recommended flint and fire starting stuff.  Helps to keep the bugs away and gives you a fire if you want one...

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