Knobstone Trail: final shakedown and gear list

We had our final shakedown this weekend. We learned some things that are simply not going to work, swapped some things out, prepped the food, and have final pack weights. It is very exciting after all these months of prepping. In less than 2 weeks we will be hiking instead of practicing!

Things I found didn’t work and so swapped out:
1. The Therma-a-rest SOLite was just too thin. After 2 hours on the ground my hips were “hot” and starting to ache. So I swapped out the 10 oz closed foam pad for a 14 oz Therma-a-rest Trail Scout (self-inflating). Much better on these old hips. I had purchased the Trail Scout hoping to return it (does that sound silly?), I really hoped the free SOLite would be enough.

2. In order to compensate for the additional 4oz for the sleeping pad, I chose to leave behind the bigger cookpot. I can boil water just as easily in my Stainless Steel (SS, hereafter).

3.  I may yet break down and make a bean bag pillow.  My clothes bag did not make me happy.  If I can do this for 3-4 oz, I will definitely take it.  I’m thinking I could make the case out of my very worn Doctor Who shirt.

4.  I really like my pack organized.  I tried just putting it all in there and pulling out what I needed, but this sent me into panic mode.  So now all my things are in bags and those bags are color coordinated.  Black = sleeping system.  Blue = kitchen + food.  Red = personal stuff

So my base pack is now:

1.  Pack:  Gregory Jade 34, small = 2 lb 14 oz

2.  Sleeping bag: Ozark mummy, 50 *, black bag #1 = 2 lb, 2 oz

3.  Therma-a-rest Trail Scout, small, Black Bag #2 (although in the picture it isn’t rolled up and put in the bag) = 14 oz

4.  KItchen *Blue Bags:  SS cup, insulated cup, spoon, pot lifter, sawyer mini, lighter, stove, bandana, cup lid and nylon bag =  1 lb 5 oz

5.  Kitchen *Blue Bags:  dehydrated lasagna, instant potatoes w/dehydrated chicken, trail mix, snack bars, instant oatmeal, hot chocolate. = 3 lb 8 oz

3.  Kitchen *not in blue bag:  fuel = 1 lb

4.  Clothing, Red bag #1:  sleep clothes, 2nd day trail underwear and socks, puffy jacket = 2 lb

5.  Personal Kit, Red bag #2:  first aid, toiletries, bug net, bandana, wet ones, “survival stuff,” iPhone, charger, and cables =  1 lb, 14 oz

Base Pack Weight = 11 lbs, 1 oz

Base + Food & Fuel:  15 lb, 9 oz

Base+Food, Fuel, 1 d water =17 lb, 13 oz


Kelly will be using the Therma-a-rest SOLite for his sleeping pad.  He thought he would do without one, but changed his mind.  This pad is much lighter than what he already had.  He is also considering carrying the bigger cookpot.

HIs backpack weighs 5 lbs, sleeping bag is 2 lb, 8 oz, sleeping pad is 10 oz, his kitchen set is 8 oz (unless he totes along the 7 oz cook pot), his food bag is 6 lb, tent+tarp+poles+stakes is 5 lbs, his personal kit hasn’t been weighed yet.  He is taking no electronics.  I think his total pack (which includes a gallon of water) weighs 30 pounds.  He isn’t as detail oriented as I am so we haven’t micro-managed his pack.  He may yet, but I wouldn’t count on it.

My idea of weighing the pack is to get the food scale, a bowl, paper and pen.  Weigh each item individually, place in their “kit bag,” and weigh collectively.  Kelly’s idea is to put it all in his pack and climb on the bathroom scale.  I know some of the weights because I’ve been weighing his base gear so we can keep it as low as possible.

I  have planned out our water cache sites.  I just need to buy the jugs of water, duct tape them around the lid, and drop them off.  The plan is to pick the water up each evening for the next day.  Camp shortly after picking them up, re-hydrate our dinners, refill the water bottles, and save enough for breakfast.  The empty jugs will be packed out and will weigh less than the food consumed each day.  So weight wise it is a wash.

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gear cost

One thing I love about hiking is that it is basically free except your shoes and gas money.

We look at backpacking in the same way.  We’ve managed to collect our gear without paying full price for anything–yet.  Right now, out total gear expenditure is $230 for 2 people with my base weight being 12 pounds and Kelly’s base weight being 18 pounds.  I am pretty happy about that.

We do plan on upgrading a few things in the next year.  Kelly needs a backpack, I need a better sleeping bag, and I’d love to get to get a lighter tent.  Ours is huge and on a small trail, it will be hard finding a space big enough to pitch it.  It is 2 man, 7×7, and weighs 4 pounds.  Kelly is a real sport to carry it all without complaining.

hiking gear 3


This is my hiking “survival” gear.  It fits in a very small stuff sack.  It includes a couple of bandanas, a head lamp, parachute cord, small knife, toiletries kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, powder, bug repellant, contact solution, spare glasses, contact case, Rx, and sunscreen), and a first aid kit (comfrey salve, sterilized needle, moleskin, bandaids, duct tape, gauze, pain relievers, allergy medicines, alcohol wipes, and a couple of baby wipes).


And here is my clothing kit.  Sleeping clothes include thermal underwear pants, cotton t-shirt, thick wool socks, fleece beanie, and cotton underwear. Another bandana is for use as a headband under my sun hat.  I’m also taking my lightweight jacket just in case the evenings are cool.  My rain jacket  is also there.  I am trading my black sun hat for sand colored one.  It has better ventilation and a higher SPF valude.  This also fits in small stuff sack that I can tie the cotton bandana around so that it becomes a pillow at night.   The kit also includes 2nd day underwear and socks.  I’ll hike in the same technical shirt and nylon shorts.  We hang them up overnight so they get some airing out.  Each night we’ll wash out underwear and socks, let them dry, and wear them again.

imageI’ll be wearing my technical shirt, nylon shorts, fleece shirt (in the mornings and evenings), and I’ll be carrying my trekking poles.  I haven’t decided if I actually like hiking with them, but since this trail is longer I figured I’d better give them a try.


And here we are all packed up and ready go . . .  even it is just up the road and back for training!


**Edited to note:  I am now carrying the sleeping pad vertically on my pack rather than horizontally and I think I like it much better.  I also carry a whistle and chapstick in my waist belt pockets.

The yellow bag on Kelly’s pack is the tent and the green bag is his sleeping bag.

hiking gear 2

Everyday since my new pack came, I’ve toted it through the house, on the treadmill, and even on the rebounder.  This morning was the first time I put it on and left the house.  This morning it contained all my gear (minus sleeping pad strapped to the outside, 10 oz)) plus 1.5 liters of water and 5 extra pounds for “food weight”.  I went 5 miles and was perfectly comfortable.  I did discover one slight drawback to the pack:  it is very hard to use the water bottles when alone.  My arms don’t quite contort and bend enough.  That isn’t a huge problem because Kelly and I are normally hiking together.  He can just pop it in and out for me.  I prefer bottles to a hydration bladder because I like to see how much I have left.  I’m never in too big of a hurry to stop and drink.   Which is another reason the water bottle issue isn’t huge:  if I am by myself, I can just stop, unbuckle, and swing the bag around until it is comfortable to get the bottle.

So speaking of water—–  We traded in our water filter bottles for a new Sawyer Mini.  It weighs less than 2 oz and does everything the bottles did.   We only need one Sawyer instead of each of us carrying a filter bottle.  The Sawyer Mini has a bag that you fill up with water you find along the trail (creeks, streams, springs, etc), and then you squeeze it through the filter and into your clean water bottle.  Alternately, you can just fill your bottle with questionable water, attach the mini and drink straight from that. I like that in theory, but in practice it leads us back to needing two.  Kelly and I don’t share water bottles well.

Here it is!  So small and perfect.  I am using Smart Water bottles this trip.  They fit nicely into the pockets on my bag, are slimmer to hold, and I like the “guzzle” cap.  I have 1 in each pocket on my bag.  Plus the 1 liter squeeze bag and I’ll probably add a platypus bladder just to hold enough water for the Knobstone.

I should mention that the Knobstone Trail is very dry.  We’ll cache water,  but still need to carry about a gallon for each of us between sites.


This is also our first major outing since Kelly learned he was Gluten Intolerant.  So meal planning is much more complicated.  I can’t just run out and buy pre-made hiker food.    We’re old school with our stove.  We use a Primus Classic.  It is heavy at 8 oz, but is pretty idiot proof and reliable.  It takes a propane-butane mix fuel that comes in canisters.  That adds some weight, but knowing you have hot food and cocoa is a huge psychological boost for me.  We have a Stanley cook pot, 2 insulated cups, 2 stainless steel cups, and 2 spoons.  We each carry our own cups and spoons.  I carry the cookpot with its cozy, matches/lighter, and filled with spices and oil).

Our meals plan provides plenty of calories.  It is not as healthy as we try to eat at home, but it is an acceptable deviation.

AM in camp while packing up:  Lara Bar/Kind Bar, apple with peanut butter, hot coffee or cocoa

Breakfast at first break:  oatmeal (coconut oil and maple syrup with it), and hard boiled eggs

Lunch: turkey jerky, string cheese, finger veggies

Dinner:  Tuna/Chicken/Salmon in foil packets, mashed potatoes, (maybe an instant rice for Kelly, and an instant pasta for me on nights that potatoes just don’t sound good), and something for dessert (haven’t quite figured that out yet).

Snacks:  Trail mix (nuts, dried fruit), chocolate bar, and chips

Obviously, this isn’t all our food, but it is the stove, fuel, cookpot (which rests inside my SS cup, and holds my insulated cup, pot cozy, plus cooking ingredients).



Wow!  That got long!  More another day!

hiking gear

Just four more weeks until Kelly and I take off on our “close to home” hiking adventure.    We’ve been reviewing our gear choices, food choices, and route.  I’m very excited to get out there and hike.

In the meantime, I am walking everyday with my pack on and loaded.  I’m at 12 pounds right now.  That is all I will carry with the exception of food and water.  I’m not really sure how to “simulate” food weight in my pack.  Maybe I should weigh a yoga block and see how close that gets me.  I’ll need about 5 pounds of food and will probably carry 3 pounds of water.  It is my plan to keep my total pack weight at or under 20 pounds.

Kelly will also be lightweight.  He’s carrying the tent (4 lb), but other than that his gear list looks almost exactly like mine.  He won’t be carrying the stove or fuel (1 lb).  He’ll also be carrying any extra water that we need.  So we think his total pack weight will be around 30 pounds.


Here’s my pack:  A Gregory Jade 34 (size small, weight 2 lb 14 oz).  It is extremely comfortable and has plenty of padding in the hips and lumbar areas.  Both areas were bruising and hurting with my old pack.  It is also 9 Liters bigger than what I carried before.  This pack is big enough that I can fit in my down layers for Fall trips.

My sleeping pad is a Thermarest SOLite (women’s torso length, 9 oz).  I’m hoping these old bones won’t mind the thinness.  Usually I’m so tired after we hike that I could sleep anywhere.  There are some really nice, self-inflating, air pads out there.  They aren’t too much heavier than what I already carry.  I’m just not going to carry an air pad.  I know myself well enough to know, I’ll pop that baby halfway through the trip.

My sleeping bag is just a cheap, synthetic, mummy style, summer weight bag that weights 2 lbs in its compression bag.  It is comfortable though.  Eventually I’d like to replace it with a 2 pound down filled 15 degree bag.  That sounds so luxurious.  I’d be willing to do some cooler weather camping with that!  I’ve looked at just adding a silk liner, but those can get pricey.  If I’m gonna spend more on this hobby, I’ll get the new down!

That is the core of my pack.  Next post I’ll get into water, food, stove, and clothes.

July 5, 2014

The garden is still booming!  We have some blank spots where we’ve pulled up greens and haven’t replanted yet.  Tomatoes will go in some of those spots and others will be winter squash.

The little rooster needed to come out of the big girls coop.  We didn’t want his daddy to start seeing him as competition.  So last night Kelly put him in with the little girls.  Unfortunately they are being mean to him.  Sigh.  I’m not sure if we’ll make him tough it out or put him by himself until he is a bit bigger.

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June 28, 2014

We’ve hit Peak Garden!  This morning I harvested: radishes, turnips, lettuce, chard, mesclun mix, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber.

Coming soon: sweet bell peppers, tomatoes, blackberries, watermelon, and cantaloupe. There will still be zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers for a long while.

Done until Fall: chard, strawberries, lettuce, spinach, mesclun mix, and lettuce.

Our garden is much smaller this year since all 4 of us are still working and we didn’t get all the beds prepared in time. I’m actually pretty happy with the size. I was out there for an hour this morning and got it all tidied up and harvested.

I think I’ll get Kelly to convert the remaining 1000 square feet into wildflower beds. That would look really pretty and be low/no maintenance once established. This year we have flowers planted among the garden plants. It looks lovely and gives me such happiness when I pull down the driveway.





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