After 4 days (and ~65 miles, and a South Sister summit), the current backpacking gear set review is much more accurate.

Gear TypeFor this Hike
PackGranite Gear Crown2 (REI link)

– No serious pain, blisters or unexpected discomfort
– Easy to load/unload when needed – can go all day w/out opening roll-top
– Belt and weight balance adjustments make it easy to match trail changed body (and pack)
– No constraint to range of motion
– Fabric took a beating on rocks and blowdowns – no tears, but some marks

– side outside pockets are really hard to reach for me and difficult to return things – especially a water bottle and forget anything bigger than ‘smartwater’
– Strap holds can be hard to adjust
– Shoulder padding is a bit light – (i added a seatbelt pad on each side and really helps)
– Adding to water bladder during day is pain in butt and I avoided filling it until night

Recommendation: 7-8 on Net Promoter – key is twofold imho:
– Don’t try to carry more than 30 lbs – it’s a lightweight device and not designed for that imho
– Try it on before buying – it has to fit and there is not much torso adjustment (if any)
ShoesTopo Ultraventure Trailrunners – (REI Link)

Comment: I never was in a hurry to take them off at the end of the day – putting up tent before taking off. I got a blister coming down S. Sister but it was due to sand in my socks and a really messed up genetic toe – not the shoe. Moleskin enabled 35 more miles

Recommendation: 9-10 on Net Promoter
Top LayersBaselayer LS

Never took off except to wash and dry – white gets dirty (really?) but keeps the sun off skin
Bottom LayerREI Sahara convertible pants

Comment: Wore all days (same pair but washed 1x) – with squitos long and without short. The best part are the pockets – I can double my belt pocket capacity with light pieces. They dry almost instantly and kept the bugs off my legs
SocksDual layer: REI silk liners + REI lightweight Merino wool

Went thru 2 pair silk liners (the South dust killed first pair) but used same wool out pair for all days … a quick smack on a rock got the dust out and they dried over night
GaiterREI ‘On the Trail Gaiters’

Comment: these are a bust! The under strap broke (same a first pair) and without the strap even with velcro on the back, they don’t work well enough.

Recommendation: 1 on Net Promoter – do not buy for serious hiking
WaterBladder 2 L + 750ml bottle
TentREI Flash Air 1 (REI Link)

– Light and easy to set up (trekking pole, 1 pole, 5 stakes)
– Held up in a good wind (with rocks on guylines)
– Keeps moisture off me from ground

– key fly guyline and stake makes it very hard for obstacles in front of door (which for wind can be nice)

Recommendation: 7-8 on Net Promoter
SleepingBag – REI Magma 30 (REI Link)

Comment: Works great with good pad – seldom zip it – light and easy to maintain – Recommend

Matt – Nemo Tensor Insulated (REI Link)

Comment: The pump system is a joke imho; blowing it up isn’t that hard even after long day. Kept me warm and soft – so much better than foam ones (thanks Jeff!)
Supporting toolsBlack Diamond Alpine Carbon Trekking poles – tougher than they look – south sister and the lava flows beat the crap out of my poles – the baskets look chewed, but everything else strong as ox. I do, however, need to tighten one of the ‘clasps’ on the lower section. Recommend

Stove – JetBoil (REI Link) – fast, fast, fast – but only boil water in it – cooking in it is NOT ideal – tried and will not do again. Fuel usage for 3 nights (2 boils each day + 1 full water boil) was 2/3 small canister. – Recommend – if boiled water is good enough for you too.

Water Filtration – Sawyer Squeeze (REI Link) – this is NOT ok for me. I could only get it to really work by sitting on the pouch while making / eating dinner and only for the next day. It takes FOREVER to get a liter of water. This will NOT ever be on another hike … home emergency only. Recommend avoid this product.

Battery charger – Anker USB C Power Bank, 20000mAh Portable Charger Battery (Amazon Link) – carried both AppleWatch and iPhone SE recording hike each day. Used about 50% of the power bank over the 4 days — will definitely work for 5 days and is not too heavy for the benefit. Only downside is after about 75% full, charging devices takes longer. Recommend

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