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40 years of backpacking equipment

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Offline SA Bill

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  • 1992
Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2010, 09:17:24 PM »
I bet the 'kit jacket' was a 'Frostline' kit.  My mom bought me one of those in the mid 70's.  I remember it came pre-cut and came with numbered tubes of down to fill the jacket once the shell was sewn together.  My mom even modded the jacket and added red and white stripes down the sleeves which gave it quite the patriotic look for 1976's Bicentennial.

That's it dkerr24!! Frostline was the kit maker. Thanks for the memory jolt. I wore my sweater for many years. Finally gave it away and bought a better insulated jacket because I was backpacking in colder climes and needed more warmth. Still, that sweater kit was okay for its day.
  Bill
Bill - In San Antonio

Growing old is mandatory.
Growing up is optional.

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Offline mule ears

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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2010, 12:53:38 PM »
I cant wait to see the "stoves through the years" pictures as I just recently retired my Optimus 1-2-3 white gas stove after over 30 years of service. That stove outlasted several vehicles, jobs, moves, and life events and now has a place of honor in my living room display case and "show me shelf". It was antiquated decades ago, hard to light since it needed priming with liquid fuel, heavy, clunky, not fuel efficient, and almost impossible to keep lit in a hard wind but many nights were spent in the backcountry with only the hiss of the stove to break the silence. Sometimes I used to let it burn just to hear the hiss and break the deafening silence common in the backcountry of Big Bend. TWWG


Because the TWWG has just retired his Svea 123 stove and several others have shown and mentioned stoves lets stop there next.

First TWWG, you could just get another Svea 123, they still sell them and my 39 year old model still works (at least it did the last time I fired it up).

I have used and been around a lot of backpacking stoves over the years but have only put my money down on six. The five shown here are the ones I have left, the sixth was a very early Primus canister stove that used canisters you just punctured like a basketball pump to connect the canister, probably a bit sketchy in hind sight. The first picture is in cooking set up with fuel bottles/canisters but without wind screens, if they need one. The second picture is in their collapsed, ready to pack mode, with their respective wind screens.





0.   Woodfires, Sterno cans
1.   Optimus Svea 123, whitegas, ’71-’01, 15.7 (stove only) + 3.5 (16 oz. fuel bottle)=19.2 oz.
2.   MSR Model 9 (precursor of the XGK) for melting snow in winter (no simmer)
3.   Optimus Nova, multi-liquid fuel, ’01-, 20.5 oz. w/ windscreen & 16 oz. fuel bottle
4.   MSR WindPro, remote canister, ’06-, 14.7 oz. w/ windscreen & empty canister (4.7 oz.)
5.   Optimus Crux, top mount canister, ’04-, 9.2 oz w/ windscreen & empty canister

In comparing stoves you have to look past the manufacturers listed weights and make sure you include the weight of the empty fuel bottles/canisters, windscreens and anything else that makes the system work most efficiently. So my weights include all that.

Back in the day it was easy to choose a stove, there was only a handful to pick from and really only a couple that were light and dependable, the Svea 123 being the standout that almost everyone owned. Not so any more. When deciding on which stove, it comes down to what kind of “cooking” you do, what season you are hiking in, what kind of fuel you prefer/can get and how many people you are cooking for. There are also other considerations like how much you want to fiddle with your stove and how dependable it is/needs to be.

For me good, warm food morning and night are one of the important parts of the experience. That means we actually do more than boil water for some meals, mostly dinners, so I need a stove that simmers. That quickly reduces the stove choices to a canister stove or only a couple of liquid fuel/white gas stoves. The “we” part means I am hiking with usually one other person, sometimes more, so we share one stove and pot and cook meals together. Saves a lot of weight and time.

Also because I almost always hike in cool or cold weather I need a stove that is dependable, easy to use with cold fingers, probably in the dark and does well in windy/cold conditions. Again canister stoves excel here, remote canister stoves even better below 20 degrees F.

If I was to buy a stove today it would come down to four choices.
1.   If I hiked solo, in three seasons and only boiled water for coffee, oatmeal and a freeze dried dinner I would get an alcohol/solid fuel stove set up like the Caldera Cone Tri-Ti You can not beat an alcohol set up for weight, but there is a certain amount of fiddling with them you have to do.
2.   If I was doing lots of winter/snow camping and had to melt snow I would still choose the Optimus Nova.
3.   If I was camping in very cold weather but didn’t need to melt snow or was with a big group and needed more support for bigger pots, I would use the MSR WindPro with an inverted canister set up so it was a liquid fuel flow.
4.   For majority of trips I would buy the lightest top mount canister stove available, the Monatauk Gnat. At 1.7 oz. that would put stove, empty canister and windscreen at under 8 oz., pretty light and the easiest to use.




We had a great discussion on stoves some years back here. This is where I also explain my disdain for the current MSR liquid fuel stoves, wouldn't own one. I am a big fan of Optimus stoves though.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 08:24:12 AM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2010, 01:29:48 PM »
Did some digging in the back of the closet and found the frostline jacket.  It was a bit dusty, and definitely doesn't fit me like it did in 1976!



« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 01:46:50 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline mule ears

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    • 40 years of walking
Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2010, 02:25:28 PM »
Did some digging in the back of the closet and found the frostline jacket.  It was a bit dusty, and definitely doesn't fit me like it did in 1976!



Sweet! Nothing like the back of the closet to secure history.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline Al

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Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2010, 04:37:43 PM »
dkerr, well done!

Al

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Offline mule ears

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  • "He had to leave Texas but won't say why" McMurtry
    • 40 years of walking
Re: 40 years of backpacking equipment
« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2010, 08:22:29 AM »
Near 100 degrees here again today and I (and this thread) got a little sidetracked with the sites move to the new server and other things going on here at home. Last installment, I promise.



Let’s move on to sleep systems. My first real sleeping bag was Army surplus, filled with feathers and down (more feathers than down it seemed) with some kind of cotton/poplin shell, stuffed fairly small but weighed like 8 pounds. But for $20 it was a vast improvement over the cotton flannel Sears bags we had.



Sleeping bags are always the most expensive piece of equipment to buy and hopefully they will last a long time, mine have. I now lend out the old bags to people who haven’t bought a good one yet. We had a good sleeping bag discussion here.





0.   Army surplus feathers and down mummy bag ’70-’72, ~120oz.
1.   Camp 7 North Col, 600? fill goose down, -5 degree, ’72-’04, 55.5 oz.
2.   Camp 7 Arete, duck down, 25 degree, ’74-’04, 41.5 oz
3.   Moonstone Polarguard 3D, 15 degree, ’00-’04, ~42 oz.
4.   Western Mountaineering Ultralight, 850 goose down, 20 degree, ’04-, 28.5 oz

Camp 7 was the state of the art in the early 70’s and the Arete (#2) fit inside the North Col (#1) for those real subzero winter trips. Mostly I used them separately depending on the season. At some point I must have fallen for the conventional wisdom that you needed a synthetic bag for wet conditions and got the Moonstone (#3) it was fine but relatively heavy. In reality I have never had a bag get wet on a trip, down or not. Finally after years of lusting after a lighter bag and a Western Mountaineering one at that, I got weak after the trip across the eastern half of the park and bought the Ultralite (#4) in Austin at Whole Earth Provision, worth every penny!

Sleeping pads have undergone lots of changes over the years. Part of it is new technology, part is the search for more comfortable sleep as we get older. We have had quite a bit of discussion here on pads.



1.      nothing
2.      section of wool Army Blanket
3.      open cell foam pad, 36”, ’72-‘75
3.5.    closed cell ensolite pad, 47”, ’73-‘89
4.      Thermarest Ultralite, 47”, 19 oz., ’89-‘04
5.      Thermarest Prolite 3, 47”, 12 oz., ’04-‘09
6.      Thermarest Ridgerest, closed cell, 47”, 8 oz., ‘06
7.      Thermarest Prolite XS, 36” + 36” Ridgerest, 8.5 + 6=14.5 oz., ’09-
8.      Thermarest Ridgerest, closed cell, 72” for snow trips, 12 oz., ’00-

Of course at first we were young and tough and didn’t need any pad. Then for insulation when cold I used a section of an old wool Army blanket. The first foam pad was open celled and really not much padding or insulation but it seemed the thing to do. The ensolite was a break through in both insulation and non-squishable padding. Finally Thermarest inflatables arrived and they just kept getting lighter so I had to get new ones :icon_biggrin:. Like the sleeping bags these older models are popular lending items.

The final piece of the sleep system puzzle is a bivy bag and I have used one for years, because while I own a few tents, I almost never carry them but use a tarp or nothing instead. I like them for wind, dew, rain spray and keeping the bag clean. I almost never carry one in the desert these days though.



1.   North Face bivy, urethane coated nylon bottom, breathable taffeta top, way too big, probably 30 oz., ’74-‘01
2.   Outdoor Research Basic Bag cover, hydroseal bottom, Gore dryloft top, 18 oz., ‘01-‘08
3.   Mountain Laurel Designs Superlight, silnylon bottom, Pertex Momentum top, 6 oz. with long side zip, ’08-

No pictures of tents (hard to set them up in the office :icon_wink:) and like I said, not much of a tent man. Here is the list just for continuity. The tarp I still use today is the rain fly from the 1972 North Face Mountain tent and I use my walking poles for the set up.

1.   Canvas Army Tent Halves (they connected at the ridge with buttons so each person carried half a tent) about 10# complete
2.   North Face Mountain Tent, 7#, ’72-‘95
3.   Eureka Summit, 8.69#, ’96-
4.   REI Sololite, one person, 4#, ’98-
5.   Alps Mountaineering Mystique II, two person, 5.19#, ’02-
6.   The current set up- 1972 North Face Mountain Tent rain fly (17 oz.) + SMD Superlight bivy (6 oz.)= 1.5#
7.   Multiple other tarps, bivies, etc over the years

That concludes the tour of the equipment museum and now I am closer to getting back on the trail in August :eusa_pray:. Come on now, I know you folks have some old equipment to tell about.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2010, 07:10:14 PM by mule ears »
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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