Ongoing Gear Indecision

In the past month, I’ve tried on, walked in, and returned (or re-sold) a ton of different clothes and shoes - traditional and decidedly not traditional. Today, I did another shakedown hike, but with the kids this time.

I returned the size 10 Altra Lone Peak 3.5s under REIs super generous return policy; thanks to my last shakedown hike, I know that my feet were swimming in those. I was surprised since “The Internet” seems to think you should wear Lone Peaks much larger than your normal size. I sort of decided that I might just try to do the GA thru-hike in the Asics FujiTrabuco 6 trail runners I started breaking in this month, which I wear daily. To verify, I did my shakedown in them today only to find that in comparison to the Lone Peaks, I felt the rocks on the trail more prominently. With the Injinji toe and Darn Tough socks, my right foot felt jammed in to the shoe, especially downhill. It was an uncomfortable 3 mile hike. I never see people recommend the hiking socks from Thorlo, but I’ve been pleased with them on day hikes. Perhaps my opinion would change after stepping in a puddle or getting rained on? The Darn Tough socks seem slippery. I also have a pair of lighter weight Swiftwick wool hiking socks to try. If none of those combinations work, I may have to try the Lone Peak 4.0 when it comes out next month, but in a size 9.5.

I went to REI yesterday with my wife. She pulled me back to the shoe section and handed me like 8 pairs from the display to try on, trying to steer me towards the more traditional looking mid or high hiking boots. I can’t imagine having all that buckled to my feet and pushing on my bony ankle. Of the ones I tried on, the Salomon Speedcross 4 was the one I kept returning to between fittings. Tying laces after using the Salomon lace system was like going back in a time warp. REI didn’t have a size 9.5 for me to try and the sales teen tried to convince me that it was OK for me to size up, because supposedly my feet will swell. People tell me my feet will swell as if I’ve never spent an entire day on my feet walking around before. Want a bad day on your feet? Try standing in lines all day without sitting on any railings or benches at Disney World! Add a lumpy backpack full of water bottles, backup kid clothes, diapers, wipes, water shoes, sunscreen, etc. OMG - then add unknown pounds of candy from trick or treating at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! Then when your kid gets tired of walking around, lift them to ride on your shoulders (without relief from the backpack).

When my son lifted his water bottle from my pack on the shakedown today, it was a very obvious and noticeable relief. It gave me some beginner insight as to why people get excited about dropping 4oz of weight from their pack. I was going to swap my 2mil tent groundcloth for a 1 mil, but now I’m wondering if I should have bought the 0.7 mil roll instead. The difference between 1mil and 0.7mil is 1.35oz. Before I thought the tradeoff in durability was worth it, but today I got some doubt. I’m also thinking I should remove the factory tent pole bag from my tent bag and get a little zpacks back for just the stakes. I can wrap the poles up with the tent. The tent also still has various flammable material warning flaps on it I now strongly desire to unpack and cut off.

Finally, the bear situation. I ordered a Ursack Allmitey bear bag, then canceled it before it shipped because there are so many options and trade-offs. From what I can discern, carrying a Garcia 812 bear canister is the only proper way to keep animals out of my smellables. Anything else is controversial, and at least in the recounting of the New York area, possibly soon entirely unpermitted. I saw the BV500 in-person for the first time yesterday at REI. It’s HUGE. I think I can get what I need for my GA thru-hike in the BV450, and that it would be legal for the Blood Mountain area. If I just got a zpacks food bag and hung it on a cable, it’d be SO much lighter, or even a Ursack Allmitey. As I waver back-and-forth on the issue, I think I’m going to end with the Garcia to get the piece of mind for having done the right thing for the greater good (and not having to buy a different bear thing later). Quite frankly, I’m not sure my pack can hold a Garcia with all the other stuff I had planned.

I thought it might be nice to save a pound of weight and many calories by not buying trekking poles, but I wished I had one or two today. My hands swole up pretty quick and I had to do some funny arm positioning to get them to drain. I don’t remember that as a problem on the previous hike. I also guzzled my entire 32oz Nalgene about 2 miles in. I’m also hoping that’s not an ongoing issue in November.

Twice, while writing this, I was interrupted by incoming emails about the new Cub Scout year starting up. So there’s that, too. I’ve lost the flow on where I was headed with this.

Note to other journalers - if you write for a long time, or leave the screen to type a bunch of Cub Scout emails, be sure to copy your text into the clipboard before clicking “Add Entry.” That habit from the old says of blogging saved this entire post. I wouldn’t have re-written it.

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