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Yosemite in July - 10-day Backpack Itinerary

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Ay Chihuahua!:
I hear ya, but I thought we were talking about chemical treatment...nothing to clog.  If that's not what we're talking about, then my apologies. 

It does, however, sound like y'all are taking issue with drinking a little treated and cleaned sediment.  If that's the case, then perhaps something like a tampon might be what you need.  :icon_wink:

May be a playtex for me cuz I am only going to drink sand if I have to/ :icon_rolleyes: I appreciate the info as I haven't been able to acquire any from anyone who has actually filtered decanted muddy water before. Thanks! And Uh allow me to apologize for straying off topic! :icon_smile:

This installment of gear discussion will focus on the gadgets I took with me to Yosemite. Although I've carried heavier electronic gear, I had never carried as many battery-powered devices on a backpacking trek before. Unfortunately, they used various kinds of batteries -- AA, AAA, and proprietary -- so I had to bring along a herd of extra batteries and chargers.


* Canon Powershot G9 with NB-2LH battery and memory card, 12.8 oz / 363g ($439)
* Tamrac 5692 Digital 2 camera case, 4.3 oz / 122g ($20)
* Spare Canon NB-2LH battery with backplate x 2, 3.1 oz / 88g ($84 for two)
* Joby Gorilla Pod, 1.6 oz / 45g ($23)
* Lowepro PixelPack V1 memory card case with 7 SD cards and 1 microSD card, 3.4 oz / 96g ($20 for the case; ~$150 for the memory)
* Lens cleaning cloth, 0.1 oz / 3g ($2)
Back in March, I wondered whether my Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT and its associated gear was the right choice to take to Yosemite. It had been my camera of choice for several backpacking treks and had performed well. Collectively, this outfit -- including a 20mm lens (effectively 32mm) and a 28-200mm zoom (45-320mm) -- weighs 6 lbs 6.5 oz, about 20 ounces less than my pack, shelter, and sleeping bag combined.

I took the Powershot G9 to Big Bend in April as a test run for Yosemite. It was in every way better than I hoped it would be in terms of performance and weight. I was able to attach the smaller camera case to my sternum strap; the SLR case rode with my hipbelt, preventing my pack from ever being quite snug enough around the hips. The smaller tripod could ride in my pants pocket. There was no need to carry the second lens. The G9 outfit weighs in at 1 lb 9.5 oz / 717g, a whopping reduction of 4 lbs 13 oz, or about $8.50 per ounce reduced.

The G9 shoots in RAW mode, uses a 12 megapixel sensor, has a 35-180mm zoom, and employs image stabilization in the lens. The result was sharper photos than I could take with the Digital Rebel, and for a lot less weight and hassle.


* Garmin GPS Map 60CSx with 2 AA lithium batteries and clip, 7.9 oz / 223g ($400)
* Olympus WS-110 digital voice recorder with AAA battery, 1.5 oz / 42g ($56)
* SteriPEN Water Purifier with case and 4 AA lithium batteries, 6.5 oz / 185g ($90)
* Petzl Tikka Plus headlamp with 3 AAA lithium batteries, 2.3 oz / 65g ($35)
* LRI Photon Micro-Light II with watch battery and visor clip, 0.5 oz / 15g ($16)
* Sony Ericsson Z310a quad-band mobile phone handset, 3.3 oz / 93g ($25)
* Apple iPod Shuffle music player with headphones, 1.4 oz / 40g ($50)
The Garmin GPS Map 60CSx has been a mixed back. Had it to do over again, I would have purchased a smaller, cheaper unit. The "Map" in its name refers to its capacity as a mapping GPS. Maps for different parts of the country come on microSD chips (about the size of my pinky nail) which contain various levels of topographic detail. Unfortunately, these cost extra, about $100 a pop. Also unfortunate was the fact that I did not have the foresight to order the one for California in advance. The REI in Austin does not carry it, and the one in Sacramento was sold out. Had I not uploaded a few dozen waypoints into it beforehand, the GPS would have displayed a continually blank screen, interrupted only by the dotted path it recorded of my footfalls. In other words, owing to operator error, it was not a mapping GPS unit.

This offense is of course not on the GPS unit's conscience, and thus forgivable under the circumstances (Not so sure about that woeful REI in Sacramento). However, I can't forgive its failure to accurately record time stamps on my track logs. When I got home, I was horrified to discover that every step I took in Yosemite occurred at 6 p.m. on December 30, 1989. So much for geotagging the 1,500 photos I took. I have not looked into whether this was operator error, a misunderstanding of the unit's settings, or its own failure. I'll blame the unit until I'm proven stupid.

So, aside from superior reception of the satellite signals, the unit did nothing that my old, non-mapping GPS was able to do, and that unit was at least $200 less and a couple ounces lighter. The larger screen was appreciated, and I only lost reception heading out of Glen Aulin and during my dayhike in Little Yosemite Valley. Its clip attached to my shirt pocket, so it stayed right where I could see it.

The voice recorder was an experiment. I've taken little notebooks on every trip with mixed results. Some trips, I go into pretty good detail, while others barely note that I was even there. I spoke into the recorder on most days, usually 5-7 minutes at a time, and ended up with a pretty good vocal record of the trip. Of course, I haven't listed to it since I got home, but I plan to use the recordings to add some details to the trip report eventually. The WS-110's small size, light weight, and ease of use (and cheap price on Amazon) made it a good choice. It rode in the camera bag's accessory pocket.

The SteriPEN's miserable performance was discussed in an earlier installment. I list it here only because it was an electronic gadget, at least when it worked. It could otherwise be listed as a heavy, plastic carrying case for four spare AA batteries.

There are more minimalist lights out there than the Petzl Tikka Plus, but I like it the best. It's comfortable, reliable, durable, and easy to operate. Pressing down on an obvious rubber button cycles through three brightness settings and a strobe light. Rarely, the AAA batteries get out of alignment, causing it to fail. This is easily fixed, except in pitch darkness, but that's been the only issue I've ever had with it. The Photon Micro-Light was carried as a backup light, and it's only real use was on the Half Dome hike, before the sun came up. It also has only one button, but many more functions, so I never remember how to operate it. The instruction card weighs as much as the light.

The cell phone was my means of letting the world know I was still alive. It was lighter than my Blackberry, used other technologies than GSM, took (bad) photos, and had longer battery life than the Blackberry. I was able to send a photo during a hail storm. It also doubled as a clock in the middle of the night.

The final piece of electronica was an iPod Shuffle, which is about the size of a postage stamp. I brought it primarily for the travel days on planes, trains, and buses. It was the first time I'd ever taken a music player on a hiking/backpacking trek. I listened to it for an hour in camp at Glen Aulin and again in Little Yosemite Valley. A little music isn't a bad thing, especially after several days out. At barely over an ounce, it is easily taken, and I probably will from now on.


* Promaster XtraPower SLR battery recharger, 6.0 oz / 170g ($99)
* Promaster XtraPower AC plug, 3.4 oz / 97g
* Cell phone charger, 2.2 oz / 73g
* iPod mini charger, 0.2 oz / 6g ($4)
* 4 spare AAA lithium batteries 1.1 oz / 31g
* 4 spare AA lithium batteries 2.1 oz / 60g
* 2 AA lithium batteries in the GPS
* 4 AA lithium batteries in the SteriPEN
* 3 AAA lithium batteries in the Petzl Tikka
* AAA lithium battery in the voice recorder
* Canon NB-2LH battery in the camera
* 2 spare Canon NB-2LH batteries
* Sony Ericsson BST-36 in the cell phone
* Watch battery in the Photon Micro-Light
* Apple battery in the iPod
Yup, lots of batteries. The Promaster XtraPower is capable of charging five of the camera batteries in the field before it needs to be recharged. I would have sent its AC plug ahead to San Francisco but ended up not shipping a "bounce box," so I had to carry it. That turned out fortuitous, as the XtraPower came up 1 charge short. I had hoped it would also recharge the iPod via the mini USB charger, but it did not. I suspect the iPod must have a powered charger, like a computer, before it will accept a charging.

The cell phone held a charge all the way back to Yosemite Valley, through 10 days of a few calls, some pics, a couple dozen text messages, and about as many clock checks. It needed to be recharged at Yosemite Lodge and probably would not have been functioning on the trip to San Francisco.

I ended up replacing the batteries in the GPS twice, getting about 3 1/2 days for each pair. I did not need to replace the AAA batteries in either the light or the voice recorder. The AA batteries in the SteriPEN came home nearly fully charged. I used all three Canon batteries. Those batteries are 44g each, so the XtraPower turned out to be a wash, weightwise (slightly heavier, when the power cord is added), but less expensive than buying 4 more batteries at $40-50 or so apiece. On shorter trips, I would simply go with another battery, but I ended up needing seven batteries' worth of power while hiking in Yosemite, and an eighth after getting off the trail, so it was a good idea to bring it.

The other batteries were included within the weights of their respective devices.


Camera Gear: 1 lb 9.5 oz / 717g ($738)
Electronic Devices (excluding SteriPEN): 1 lb 13.8 oz / 478g ($582)
Chargers and Spare Batteries: 15.4 oz / 437g ($126)

Running Total, Items Worn or Carried: 6 lbs 10.6 oz / 3,022g
Running Total, Items Packed: 13 lbs 13.3 oz / 6,273g
Running Total, All Items: 20 lbs 7/9 oz / 9,295g ($2,988)

To be continued.

Jeff, an incredible wealth of information.  We are in your debt. 

Did you bring a compass and paper maps in addition to the GPS?


mule ears:

--- Quote ---I plan to use the recordings to add some details to the trip report
--- End quote ---

have you had any problems with the lithium batteries in the Tikka Plus? Because it doesn't have "regulated" circuits it can do weird things. I have had it cut out on me on winter trips with new batteries I think because of this. I changed to a Princeton Tec Quad because it has regulation and have not had any problems yet. Like you I carry a photon like as a back up.


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