Gear Review – Smurf Edition!

I know it’s been awhile since I posted, but this week was pretty busy with work and also not being home. I figured there are two camps of people reading this blog right now. Either 1) you’re super sad that you haven’t heard anything from the SOBO Adventurer. I hope there were enough tissues in this world able to handle all the sobbing; because I know I would have been a hot mess as well. Or 2) you didn’t even notice because of this whole basketball tournament going. March Madness, you might have heard of it.

Anyway, with this trip coming up I have been upgrading my backpacking gear something fierce and just buying new toys that I’ve never had before. It’s been a lot of fun and a big investment. I am going to start doing pre-hike reviews of my equipment and talk about why I bought them, how they have fared thus far on trips, etc. After my trip I am going to write a huge gear review because I am finding good AT thru hike gear reviews to be extremely valuable.

If you have anything to add about my gear feel free to write it in the comments.

Backpack – Osprey Aether 70

Quite possibly the most important piece of gear on a thru hike because a suitcase isn’t quite going to cut it on the AT. I was actually day hiking in the Smoky Mountains with one of my college classes over spring break a few years ago and this guy brought a duffel bag with a shoulder strap. A DUFFEL BAG. It was a bad week for him.

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The pack has been a real champion thus far. My old backpack was like 45 liters, so an upgrade was needed. First off, it’s 70 liters. I think that is a bit big but it’s only 1 oz heavier than the Aether 60 and you can strap the pack down with the cross straps to make it smaller if you have less stuff. I doubt I’ll need 70 liters much on the trail, but it will be nice knowing I have it. 5 course dinners every night on the trail? Here I come! The hip belt is hella’ comfortable too, which is a big reason I got it.

Good space in the top compartment, which you can detach, and good size space for a sleeping bag on the bottom.

My only beefs with the pack is that it doesn’t have enough straps on the outside, the water bottle side pockets are stupid, and I wish it had a couple small outside pockets. The ice ax straps are great but I just wish I had a couple more. It would allow me to strap more things to the outside of my pack without using extra straps or carabiners. Maybe I would be more grateful if I had ice axes to carry. Perhaps mother nature will go all crazy on the AT and an ice wall will form and I’ll need those straps specifically for ice axes.

Come on Osprey, why do you have to make it such a pain in the ass for me to put my nalgenes back in my pack while I’m still wearing it? I can get it if I’m really careful but they make it far more difficult than it needs to be. Water is important while backpacking, don’t make it so difficult to get to my bottles. I know it has a pouch for one of those hydration systems, but I don’t use them.

Lastly, I just wish there were a couple smaller pockets somewhere on the pack. It would help out with organization and being able to get to small items quickly. It’s not a huge deal, but it would have been nice.

If I didn’t get this pack for Christmas I would be eye balling that new Osprey Atmos 65 pretty hard. That anti-gravity shit looks tight and super comfortable. They said it can make your load feel lighter. Even having your pack feel a small bit less heavy would be really nice on a thru hike. If anyone has tried one out, let me know how it feels.

I have my Aether though and I’m very happy with it. I need to name it though, so suggestions are encouraged.

Pack Rain Cover – Gregory Pack Cover

rain_cover

So I was in need of a new pack cover when that west coast port workers strike was going on. Apparently since most camping/backing equipment comes from Asia, there were a lot of very late shipments. Pack covers were out of stock everywhere I feel like. Even REI were out of their REI brand covers, at least the 80 liter ones. I eventually found an outfitters in the Dayton area that still had one large Gregory pack cover and I was all over that.

It’s really nice and it does what it’s supposed to do, keep out the rain. It’s big and blue. It’s like carrying a smurf on my back whenever it rains. You can sinch it at the top and it even has a way to connect the straps on each side of the cover behind the small of your back so you can tighten it down even more; which is nice is you don’t have much on the outside of your pack. My last trip I had it out in a lot of rain but I was carrying my tent poles and a folding camp saw on the bottom of my pack and so I didn’t use that middle connecting strap.

First Aid Kit – REI pre-made kit

It’s a first aid kit, pretty straight forward. Don’t be a idiot and go off into the wilderness with just a couple of band aids and hope for the best. Dumbass. Whatever god you pray to, they will see you with just your band aids and do everything they can do to screw with you.

Biggest commentary on the kit is that it needs more gauze. Get gauze and you’ll be rolling. Hopefully not rolling your ankle though. That’d be a pain in the…..well, the ankle. Your ass would remain fairly unaffected by rolling your ankle.

It’s getting to be late and March and I’m more and more excited everyday. NOBO hikers are starting or already started and I’m quite jealous. I hope all well on their NOBO journey and I can’t wait to pass you later this year as I am on my way SOBO.

On a side note, if you’ve never watched the documentary ‘Mile….Mile and a Half’ you really should. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse. I watch it seemingly every week. It’s about the John Muir Trail, not the AT, and it just spectacular. I would love to hike the JMT someday now. Adventure is out there in every corner of our country and I want to experience as much as I can.

111 days until Katahdin! #Maine2Georgia

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