Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

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Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby emma_melbourne » Tue 12 Mar, 2019 2:15 pm

For those amongst you who are total gear geeks, and haven't seen this;
'Halfway Anywhere' did a survey on 502 hikers of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) in the USA.

The analysis of their gear is here: https://www.halfwayanywhere.com/trails/ ... uide-2018/

The Pacific Crest Trail is of course quite different in many ways from Australian conditions, but I still think there's interesting reading for some of you on the forums doing multi-day hikes and looking at your equipment. Thru-hikers thrash their equipment using it for so many days in a row, so give it a good test-out in terms of durability and so forth, and their base weight becomes much more relevant to them hiking such long hours up and down mountains, etc.

The author ran analysis on:
- Most popular gear / equipment in each category (taking in brands such as ULA, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Gossamer Gear, Zpacks, MSR, Big Agnes, Thermarest, Sea to Summit, etc)
- Had thru-hikers rate their equipment
- The departing and finishing base weights
- Comparison of those who successfully completed their thru-hike compared to those who didn't finish. (There was interestingly a difference of 1 kg average base weight lighter for those who successfully completed - at roughly 7.8 kg rounded, than those who didn't complete at roughly 8.8 kg.)

So I thought I'd post it in case any of you are interested to read it. https://www.halfwayanywhere.com/trails/ ... uide-2018/

Best,

Emma
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby slparker » Tue 12 Mar, 2019 3:24 pm

unusual use of the word 'clutch'. i assume from the context that it means very useful.

probably the last thing I'd consider for a month/s long walk is a packet of wet wipes. Not sure about packing them out in my *&%$#! either.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Franco » Tue 12 Mar, 2019 3:30 pm

Urban Dictionary (US informal...)
Clutch ;exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

To that I would say :maybe not...
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 12 Mar, 2019 5:41 pm

Very interesting Survey.

Zpacks didn't rate all that well
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby emma_melbourne » Tue 12 Mar, 2019 6:20 pm

Yes - interesting Zpacks didn't rate that well, given that some of the most well-known Youtube vloggers have been quite positive about Zpacks.

The "favourite gear list" that the survey came back with based on reviews, does I have to say look pretty comfortable and durable for relatively low weight. (Although certainly not the lowest weight chosen for each category of shelter, sleep system etc.)

For any "newbie" wanting to buy new gear, I think those are good selections.

I already have an Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilt which doesn't really work so well with those Sea to Summit pads, as the exposed back of the quilt is not so comfortable against the studded spring style pad and works better with a sleeping bag on it than a quilt. And I'm happy with my Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40L - 60L Backpack which works well at catering to a variety of different trips that I might do on it, from weekenders to 5+ days. But if I hadn't already bought those items, I think these items are very good picks...

Particularly for someone newish to backpacking who might be a little intimidated by ultralight trekking pole tents or tarps and prefer and wanting a fully enclosed double wall tent, and a traditional fully enclosed sleeping bag etc. I don't think anyone would go too far wrong with these picks.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby north-north-west » Wed 13 Mar, 2019 7:23 am

I notice the pack on top of my "want" list is the favourite. So come on Massdrop - stop putting up the Circuit and the Ohm and all the rest, and give us the Catalyst!
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Orion » Wed 13 Mar, 2019 11:22 am

It's interesting but kind of surprising in some ways. Like, for example, nobody uses a quilt? Or a non-freestanding tent? Those are very common items among experienced Sierra backpackers. So why not here? Is it really that PCT hikers avoid those weight saving items or is it a symptom of a biased, self-selected survey data set?

Hard to say. But it's telling that while one conclusion of the author is that saving weight is really, really important for actually finishing the PCT, the favored items, when totaled, weigh about 1.5kg more than the lightest weight items that are listed. And of course there are even lighter gear choices that aren't shown.

I wouldn't put too much stock in any of this. But it's always fun to look at gear spread out and detailed with specifications.

And, truth be told, the PCT folks who thunder through the Sierra every year in a giant wildebeest-like migrating pack are kinda weird.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Zapruda » Wed 13 Mar, 2019 11:57 am

I don't think you scrolled far enough...

Capture.PNG


This survey has been done for a few years for the PCT and more recently the CDT, and it is considered quite reliable by people who have walked both trails.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Orion » Wed 13 Mar, 2019 4:08 pm

Yeah, you're right. I was looking at the "favorite" gear items, which attempts to measure personal satisfaction. It's kind of a nebulous thing, possibly without any real meaning. Even though in the introduction the author says it's the same as the "most common" gear it's really not. The most common gear, which I had failed to scroll down to, matches what I've seen a lot more closely. Zpacks, Thermarests, quilts.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Franco » Wed 13 Mar, 2019 6:11 pm

Favourite gear
I thought that the point was explained :

We've covered the most common gear from the Pacific Crest Trail this year, but that doesn't necessarily tell us what gear worked best (or didn't work at all). That's why I also ask hikers whether they are happy with their gears' performance. No point in doing what everyone else is doing if they're all doing it wrong, right?


What people used and what they liked is not the same thing.
I thought that having the N1 most used tent not in the top 5 of the most liked did tell me something about it.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Orion » Thu 14 Mar, 2019 2:01 am

I fully admit I didn't read through far enough. I read the introduction and then skipped down to the first set of tables.
It's in the introduction where the author equated Favorite with Most Common:

...of different categories of hikers and how they stack up to one another, the Favorite Gear (same as “most common”)...


I'm not sure why the favorites were put up front, particularly given the methodology of as few as 10 respondents per item. It begs the question of how significant the preference scoring was. I find the actual choices people made to be a lot more interesting. Sure, people make the wrong choices despite what they think is good information (I have an expensive tent that I plan to essentially give away for free that's evidence of that). But I think on average the choices of a large enough number of people are meaningful. It would be a different story if cost were a factor. But the favorites and the most common items were generally similar in price.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby adg » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 10:06 am

wildwanderer wrote:Very interesting Survey.

Zpacks didn't rate all that well


Oh carp! :(

Based off the comments/reviews I'd seen from the likes of Dixie & Darwin, I was just about to drop the $$$ on a ZPacks Arc Haul + accessories. Now I'm not so sure...

Can anyone here comment on their experiences with the Arc Haul, especially with bigger loads (I'm nowhere near UltraLight yet)?
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Zapruda » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 12:59 pm

I used an Archaul for a summer a few years ago. It was the worst bag I have ever used.

The suspension system is a joke. The stays always popped out and the webbing would always slide. Way too many moving parts.

It could barely carry 7kg without flexing weirdly.

Most of all, I hated the way the arc pulled me backwards, completely messing with my centre of gravity.

Have a look at Wilderness Threadworks, ULA, HMG, SWD, Six Moon Designs or Gossamer Gear.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby emma_melbourne » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 2:17 pm

YOUTUBERS & ZPACKS

Both Darwin on the trail, and Dixie from Homemade Wanderlust are I believe doing different packs now from their Zpacks.

Darwin is now doing a Waymark Thru 40 pack. Last I heard Dixie is undecided on which pack she's going to use next but she mentioned she is going to try something else out.

SURVEY TAKE-AWAYS
In relation to the survey, my take-aways from it are that the most favourite highly rated gear - turns out to the gear that is:
1) REALLY COMFORTABLE (INCLUDING IF YOU'RE GRUMPY, COLD & TIRED)
2) DURABLE FOR ENTIRE THRU-HIKE WITH NO ISSUES
3) PRETTY DAMN LIGHT (but not necessarily the absolute lightest available).

So it's unsurprising to me that a fully-enclosed sleeping bag by Western Mountaineering turns out to be the most popular, as it's going to be cosy and no draft getting into it. That it's freestanding double wall tents that end up being favoured, which feel very cosy and get a bit less condensation issues than single wall. That it's the higher R value comfortable sleeping pad which ends up being preferred - such as S2S Ultralight or the sliver-coloured Thermarest NeoAir XTherm (rather than yellow lighter and lower R value XLite) that is favoured with higher rated experience. That it's the stove that reliably handles wind that is most favoured - the Soto Windmaster. And that it's the reliable Sawyer Squeeze large size rather than mini Sawyer which is preferred as the mini looses flow rate over a whole thru-hike. And so on...

So in other words that getting the weight is very important, but not necessarily more important than comfort and durability when you're only talking a few hundred grams difference on Big 3 (or Big 4) items, or a few tens of grams on smaller items.

So takeaway for me is if you're comparing something that is say 800 grams and 20 denier minimalist and ok comfort, with something 1000 grams 30 denier and really comfortable, it might be worth doing the latter option.

To be a bit warmer, a bit cosier, a bit more comfortable, a bit stronger and more durable and unlikely to fail on you.

I THINK IT'S THE GRUMPINESS FACTOR
Being cold will make you grumpy.
Being uncomfortable will make you grumpy.
Having gear break on you , wear and tear and need repairing will make you grumpy.
Having gear fail to the extent that you can't hike on with it and have to send it away for repair will make you super-grumpy.

Now of course the difference with the survey data is that these hikers are doing an entire thru-hike, for 6 months or however long it takes them. That's an awful lot of use. And they're doing long days to cover the miles, 8 to 12 hour days of hiking are common. So so they come into camp pretty tired.

Whereas if you're using your gear more for occasional trips, or weekend trips, you're not putting those kinds of miles on your gear.

And as a guide in terms of weights, I think you want to be looking at:
Tents under 1.3 kg
Sleeping mats under 750 grams and ideally with an R value of 3.2 or if you sleep cold then an R value of 4 or higher.
Sleeping bags under 1 kg, ideally 20F (-6 deg) or if you sleep cold and you're going to do mountains then potentially look at 10F (-12 deg). And if you're opting for a quilt then consider getting some kind of down hood (hoodlum) to go on your head to pair with it for cold weather - such as is sold by AegisMax on Aliexpress, or Enlightened Equipment.
Backpacks under 1.5 kg, and consider highly the comfort on your back wearing it and durability if you're going to be thrashing it.

The cuban fibre stuff is lightest option and most expensive option in general terms that saves weight but does seem to suffer from some durability issues, so that needs to be weighed up on a thru-hike. For example do I save 400 grams on my tent or backpack by opting for cuban fibre, but then the negative is that my tent could get an area of delamination or hole in it somewhere along the trail. Obviously you can take cuban repair tape. And it's also affected by how rough or careful you are with your gear.

And if you're sitting around 7 kg base, or lighter, you're doing well. But it's very much "hike your own hike" in terms of what works for you, and your priorities. And if you prefer to be really ultralight even if that means a less comfortable pad or a torso length pad with your pack underneath your legs, and so on. Or if you prefer to pay the weight penalty and be more comfy at night because you'd have trouble sleeping well otherwise. Everyone is different.

My base is currently at around 8 kg that I used for Overland Hike, including electronics, snake bandage and Garmin InReach etc. ( https://www.lighterpack.com/r/bz0cqf ) My sleeping mat is the one thing in particular I ideally need to switch out to something lighter as it's a whopping 1.2 kg but oh so comfortable like your home mattress comfort, and I tried but couldn't make the NeoAir XLite work for me with the crinkly noise, and I'm going to look at the new Nemo Tensor and a few other options. But I was very happy with that load-out for my hike and there was little I would change, for what I use my load out for and prioritising a good night's sleep which I got every night. The pack worked great - Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor which has a good weight carrying capacity going from 40-60L with compression straps and the only negative in my eyes was not having a back shove-it pocket if you're used to one. The tent was great - the Lightheart Gear SoLong 6 which I got on Judy's annual sale as a sample tent she made in a 30 Denier sil poly which I love. The Revelation quilt worked great, but if I had a female friend / cold sleeper I might suggest to them to get a fully-enclosed sleeping bag such as the Western Mountaineering Versalite for cold conditions because the negative of a quilt is that if you toss and turn you could conceivably get a draft and you notice it at really cold sub-zero temperatures and you'd want to pair with a hood or hoodlum. And for sleeping pad most people are happy with their NeoAir Xlites or XTherms for cold sleepers or cold conditions and I am the exception in not liking the crinkliness, and bigger people should opt for the large size pad which is wider so their arms aren't falling off the sides of the mat which is usually worth it for the 100 grams extra weight.

@adg On backpacks, people have really liked the Osprey Exos commonly available in mainstream shops so you can try it on and get the torso length correct and see how it feels. The ULA Catalyst is really loved and very durable and I haven't never come across anyone who didn't like it. And the Hyperlite Mountain Gear in cuban fibre / dyneema is loved by ultralighters, but if you haven't got your weight down then it's not got as much support in the back in my opinion so I wouldn't get it unless your base weight was at 8 - 9 kg or lighter, because you've still got to add food to that and toiletries consumables and water weight etc. Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor that I have I love, and I love that it will do weekenders and week long trips due to the way it cinches in and the Y-shaped aluminim strut which holds a lot of weight, and I'm happy to recommend it and I think it's a good pack for people who are light but not ultralight as it can handle a lot of weight. Other popular packs are the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Litre pack which is a good size for most hikes.

Best, Emma
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby emma_melbourne » Sun 17 Mar, 2019 4:19 pm

@adg I just remember also Granite Gear Crown X60 is also a good option - relatively light and good reviews, and very reasonably priced on Massdrop
https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x ... -crown-x60
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby adg » Tue 19 Mar, 2019 8:36 am

Thanks for the feedback & advice Zapruda & emma_melbourne.

I think for now that I'll go with the 'safe' option and get an Exos 58 - I've had some experience with Osprey packs before & they seem to do what they say on the can.

I did consider the Massdrop x Granite Gear Crown, but I cant guarantee that the loads I carry will be under the 15kg limit of the Crown. Something about having to carry a few more 'luxury' items to keep my hiking companions happy ;).
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 19 Mar, 2019 8:52 am

Hopefully not throwing to much of a spanner in the works however once your over 15kg the exos starts to lose comfort.

This primarily because padding on the shoulders and belt is very moderate.

At 15kg I notice it a bit, at 18kg I definitely do. (Though I never carry 18kg on walks just loaded it up to test)

Also depends how much 'internal' padding you have on your own body as well. If you're slim you notice it more.

I own a exos 48 (same frame/padding as 58)

Exos is great for loads 10-14kg IMHO.

Over 15kg you may want to also look at one of their beefier models.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby adg » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 7:40 am

wildwanderer wrote:Hopefully not throwing to much of a spanner in the works however once your over 15kg the exos starts to lose comfort.
...
Over 15kg you may want to also look at one of their beefier models.


Thanks wildwanderer, it's always good to have insights from folk who have tried & tested this stuff in the field.

I think it's pretty much a given with all packs that when you get to to upper end of their designed carrying weight that it gets messy. Based on your experience, the Exos is good up to 14-15kg. So, by corollary, the Granite Gear is probably comfortable up to 11-12kg (design weight 15kg).

For me at this time, I'm trying to push my weights down, so buying a beefier pack is not the way I want to go. Besides I already have a Macpac Kakapo which is an absolute beast of a pack for carrying big loads, at the cost of a 2.5kg weight penalty - not really ultralght!

I'm not a gram weenie yet, but it's time for me to change up my gear so that I'm not dragging a massive load of wasted weight. The only way i can see this happening is if I bite the bullet and just get on with it.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Turfa » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 12:34 pm

Zapruda wrote:I used an Archaul for a summer a few years ago. It was the worst bag I have ever used.

The suspension system is a joke. The stays always popped out and the webbing would always slide. Way too many moving parts.

It could barely carry 7kg without flexing weirdly.

Most of all, I hated the way the arc pulled me backwards, completely messing with my centre of gravity.

Have a look at Wilderness Threadworks, ULA, HMG, SWD, Six Moon Designs or Gossamer Gear.


Well, I love my Arc haul. I find it extremely comfortable and have had no problems with it at all over about 2,000km of walking. It carries well up to a maximum load of about 15kg for shorter periods. My base weight is about 5.5kg but it handles 5 days of food and 4-5 litres of water for dry stretches.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby emma_melbourne » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 5:23 pm

The Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor carries 35 - 50 pounds which is 15.8 kg to 22 kg.

Andrew Skurka trialled it out with hunting carcasses and carried much more weight than that and said it did it no problem. I'll post the link if I can find it or come across it.

Specs are here: https://sierradesigns.com/flex-capacitor/

I have this pack and can happily recommend it.

Best,

Emma
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby emma_melbourne » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 5:37 pm

I found the link!

https://andrewskurka.com/2017/notes-for ... hunt-tips/

Andrew Skurka used the Flex Capacitor to carry out elk from a hunt. He says:
"My pack was 65 pounds on the first trip and 67 pounds on the second. I’m not sure what Steve’s loads weighed, but they should have been similar."

So it has been used by Skurka to carry around 30 kg approximately. Although it's not recommended to carry as much as that of course - it can be done.
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Re: Gear survey on 502 PCT hikers PCT - gear geekery

Postby Zapruda » Wed 20 Mar, 2019 8:58 pm

I’m sure it’s a great pack and Andrew is a legend but let’s not forget he helped design the pack and has a vested interest in its sale.

I doubt he would intentionally steer anyone in the wrong direction. He seems incredibly genuine. Just worth noting.
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