Eat, Walk, Sleep: A Gear Review

Big Agnes Happy Hooligan UL2

Recommended

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I’ve grown up with dew on my face every single morning in the backcountry, but the BA Happy Hooligan gave me the gift of a dry face. Not that it made me any less smelly, but this tent made sure to keep the elements from ruining a good night’s sleep. We had it in snow, the desert and torrential downpours. We were protected with such a lightweight tent, it was amazing.

Quick overview:

  • Two vestibules (one on each side)
  • Pockets above your face while you’re sleeping
  • Fly vent with a small pole to keep it open during windy nights
  • Velcro tabs to synch fly to poles
  • Silicone treated nylon rip stop material
  • 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating

More details: The vestibules give both people ample area to protect their packs and footwear. Also, the tent without the fly is mostly mesh. Evan and I set up the naked tent in Death Valley and star gazed all night long.

The one downside, though, is that you are way too cozy with the second person. Evan and I slept mostly shoulder to shoulder each night. Not great for the sibling relationship, but the tent still worked fabulously. We can deal with nights of close quarters because we were always zonked and passed out ASAP.

*I’m using the BA Fly Creek UL 1 for my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail

Specs:

Vestibule Area 9 / 9 sqft / 0.8 / 0.8 sqm
Trail Weight 3lb 2oz / 1.42kg
Packed Weight 3lb 9oz / 1.62kg
Packed Size 5″ x 20.5″ / 13 x 52cm
Footprint Weight 7oz / 198g
Floor Area 29 sqft / 2.7 sqm
Fast Fly Weight 1.16kg

 

Osprey Kyte 36 Pack (Women’s XS/S)

Recommended

This pack felt great. I am someone who has always had a hand-me-down pack from my brother, and I was pleasantly surprised as this pack truly hugged my back and kept the weight on my hips. It fit anything you could want for a day pack, and it has sections that help you organize your gear.

Quick overview:

  • Detachable sleeping back compartment separator
  • Sleeping pad straps
  • Compression straps
  • Pole-stowing strap
  • Mesh front pocket
  • Daisy chains on front for extra attachments
  • Built-in rain cover
  • Hydration sleeve
  • Hipbelt pockets

More details: I loved the external hydration sleeve; I had no worries about my bladder leaking all over my gear on the inside. The sleeve made it easy for the bladder to clip into place and stay there throughout the adventuring.

Specs:

Volume 2075 in.3/ 34 L
Dimensions 25H x 12W x 12D in – 63H x 30W x 31D cm
Weight 3.09 lbs/1.4 kg

 

Jetboil Genesis Basecamp System Camp Stove

Recommended

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The stove was big enough to make heaping amounts of rice and beans, our summer staple for the trip. I felt like the two burners heated pretty evenly, but I ended up just using the one large pot toward the end because I was honestly being lazy. The system let me boil water in no time, which I would hope since boil is technically their first name (they don’t event mess with it being their middle name).

Quick overview:

  • Port for another JetLink compatible stove/burner
  • 2 burners that fold into one another
  • Drip trays
  • Imbedded igniter
  • Carrying bag
  • Propane compatible
  • Ideal for 3-5 people

More details:  Honestly, it was a little large for just Evan and I over the summer, but it worked perfectly and would be prime for a group climbing trip or something of that nature.

Specs:

Boil Time 3 min 15 sec per 32 oz (1 L)
Power 10,000 BTU/h/ 3kW
Weight 6.2 lbs/2.8 kg

 

Brooks Caldera Trail Runners (Women’s)

Not Recommended

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The grip was minimal, especially after a few long day hikes. My La Sportiva hiking boots provided more grip security, and I resorted to the traditional boots for most of my trip. The cushioning on the Caldera seems great, but turns out to be excessive and results in lack of stability. The mesh outer layer also allows your feet to get absolutely caked in dirt. Which, in the long run, isn’t bad since you’re dirty and smelly anyways.

Quick overview:

  • Gaiter tabs
  • Midsole cushioning
  • Mesh outer layer

More details:  The cushioning felt amazing on my feet, and they didn’t hurt after I had hiked 10 hours in a day. However, the comfort did not overshadow the disappointing grip and stability of the shoe.

Specs:

Arch Medium/High
Midsole Drop 4 mm
Weight 9.9 oz/281 g

 

Big Trip (Days 36-42)

This past week, I think we’ve been accepted into the bison community.  Stay tuned for updates on how we assimilate.
Day 36:

We left the comfy bed at Jackson and began our trek to the Badlands. Being that it’s more than a one day drive, we sat back, relaxed and popped in a movie. Mainly, it was me making weird faces at Evan. But we did pass a town called Emblem with only 10 people. We’re assuming FarmersOnly.com gets near 100% of that town’s business. Close to that “town” was Greybull where Evan and I set up camp for the night.

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Big Trip (Days 25-29)

We finally had the honor of experiencing the forever drenched feeling of being in the Pacific Northwest. Our tent has had so many close calls with drying out, only to have it downpour in the middle of the night. As amusing as it is to watch Evan’s frustration rise (the crazy eyes get real), he’s got nothing on me when I hit my wall. So, I guess you could say this part of the trip is where we broke.

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The U.S. in One Big Road Trip

 

We have our backpacking, climbing, cycling and skiing gear ready to go for our U.S. road trip (and a bit of Canada, eh?). My brother, Evan, and I are embarking on our cross-country adventure to check out our top picks of National Parks. We have no time limit, no pressing deadlines and definitely no hotel reservations (hello, funemployed and newly graduated). Check out the map and follow my posts to stay up to date on our weekly progress—the car leaves this weekend!

The Route:

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