It took me all of 15 minutes to read the latest incarnation of Backpacker magazine’s yearly Gear Guide.
The Editor’s Note column by Jonathan Dorn “Half the Weight, Twice the Fun started of reasonably well. Dorn recommends owning a scale and to be ruthlessly obsessive in paring weight to the point of eating less on the trail, spending more $$ on light stuff, going “commando”- AKA no underwear (“All the cool kids are doing it”), and buying a few specific items that just so happen happen to show up in the ads and write-ups in the following pages.
I’m not definitely not following his recommendation to carry a 24 oz. IPad (“Trade your paperback, maps, point-and-shoot, video camera, iPod and journal for tablet”.). My 6 oz. iPhone does all of that, plus let me use Guthook’s Hiking Guides, which you can’t do on an iPad. I suspect the iPad recommendation made the list in an effort to get you to pony up for an iPad Backpacker subscription.
You’d think that after me spending more than a year out of the past four backpacking that such a gear guide would be my bible, but no. I don’t care much for new gear. I’m content with what I have. If is light enough, and it has stood the test of a couple through hikes, I’m down with it. New stuff is just sometimes too much money, or too much weight.
For example, turning to the “10 Essentials” is the Wenger Fidis lighter, that relies on wicks, flints, and liquid fuel, but costs $110.00 ! I prefer TWO Bics at about $2 for both and have been able to fire them up in some pretty windy situations.
In terms of weight, how about the “essential”, hefty Black Diamond Icon headlamp- whose 4 AA power source pushes the weight to 9 oz. By the way, this has all been done before. I have an an aged Petzl, with one of those same skull-numbing, rear AA battery packs that has sit in a drawer for 10 years now, and guess what, it was 9 ounces way back when. At least a “ding” was included in the Icon review- ”Testers wished for padding on the battery case”. Translate to ”if you are laying down and reading in the tent, the back of your head is going to feel like you have been resting it on a rock”. Ding the unnecessary weight as well. Save almost a half pound ( 7 oz.) with the my recommendation- the Princeton Byte, with a red ultrabright LED, and a burn time of 146 Hours, via 2 AAA alkaline or lithium batteries.
You can definitely read books with it, and also night hike through a moonless night. Also, you save weight on carrying just two AAA’s rather than 3 AA’s.
I can agree with the Steripen Freedom’s selection.
I haven’t used it yet, have a Steripen Opti now, but plan to check it out, as it is only 2.6 ounces and I am sponsored by Steripen, so I can get one.
An item that I do plan to check out is on page 126, the Nemo Helio Pressure washer. It’s got nothing to do with backpacking, but we own a camp that pumps wash water out of a pond, and the plumbing is limited a small sink, so I may check it out. It would be great to get a pressure shower, although jumping in the pond and swimming is fine so far.
My wife and camping pal Auntie Mame tells me that magazines are just packaged advertising. She’s made her point with this issue.