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My New Friend

I got my new pack on Saturday and wasted no time in filling it with all of my favorite things. I look forward to taking it on my next winter camping trip scheduled about 2 weeks from now.

Its a big pack, 7850 cubic inches. My old one was around 6500 and I found that during the winter I ran short of room for extra layers. That led to using compression sacks which is not the best thing to do if you expect to have fluffy clothes available to you when you get cold, its best to leave them fluffed.

I was a bit worried my military sleep system might not fit in the sleeping bag compartment but it slid right in no problem. If you are unfamiliar with that it’s a 3 piece system consisting of a light weight sleeping bag (30 degrees), a heavy weight one (0 degrees) and a goretex bivy cover. You simply mix and match to accommodate the climate down to a whopping -40 degrees. (lower if you leave some long underwear on).

Its a big upgrade (and an expensive one) and I’m pretty pumped about it. It still has the ‘new stuff’ smell and I’m drinking it in. I’ll go get it dirty at the soonest opportunity so I have to enjoy it whilst I can.

Educational Addendum: It’s important to note that the temperature ratings given for my sleeping bag come with a caveat, the military has rated them for those temperatures for 4 hours. Most civilian manufactures leave the time off of their ratings. That means if you buy a bag rated for 30 degrees and its 30 degrees out, don’t expect to be comfortable for very long. I’m not sure what the industry standard is for how long the bag has to be comfortable at a given temperature, but most civilian buyers don’t want to hear that they may only get X hours of sleep before getting cold so they leave that bit of information off.

Your best bet is to leave a 20-25 degree buffer between the rating on your bag and the temperatures you reasonably expect to encounter.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2011/01/23 at 21:29

    I love to camp and backpack, but not so much in the winter. Where do you typically go camping?

  2. 2011/01/23 at 22:57

    Oh it varies. I’m only headed out to my uncles back yard this time, not very exotic. He has about 200 acres, good for hunting, fishing and camping.

    In the winter I typically dig a trench and sling my hammock hanging down into it and top it off with the rain fly. When I was still in the army that method served me well on a lot of terribly cold nights in the snow.

    My snowshoes need to get a work out, I haven’t used them this year and it hasn’t been for lack of snow but lacking ambition.

  3. 2011/01/24 at 09:30

    What part of the country are you in again Nate?

  4. 2011/01/24 at 14:57

    The great white north, Maine!

  5. 2011/01/28 at 01:48

    You know, that state that has no consequence to anything.


    (By the way, as always, I was the inspiration for one of Jack’s posts. If I was from, say, Vermont, such a post never would have occurred.)

    As for the pack, the lighter the better, I say.

  6. 2011/01/28 at 03:23

    It’s not so bad, its a bit over 45 pounds without food. That’s far shy of the 60-75 I’m somewhat used to carrying as a “combat load”. It’s closer to 35 or so in the summer, what with less clothing and a lighter sleeping bag. I have the room to pack more clothes now, and that’s a big plus.

    The two big pouches on the sides will get ditched in the summer also.

    What would the world do without our blueberries I wonder? They should really be gracious or we might keep them all.

  7. 2011/01/28 at 06:57

    And our toothpicks. Floss can do it all.

    Light clothes, light bag, light food, minimal gear. It’s the woods, not a party. But that said, I have seen Jack Daniels successfully substituted for aspirin.

  8. 2011/01/28 at 06:58


  9. 2011/01/28 at 07:12

    Of course, to pick out Blueberry seeds.

    I’m sorry, but which one works better? The Jack of course.

    I like to be prepared for every eventuality. I’m pretty active with search and rescue as well, so I take every opportunity to carry a similar gear weight and stay “acclimated”. Better to have a little too much than not enough. You’ll never talk me out of my menagerie of comforts!

    Hammock, sleeping bag, extra layers, freeze dried food, a plethora of things relating to fire, cook set, more fire things, sharp pointy things, and I think that’s about it. Maybe some first aid supplies (that doesn’t go much further than the super glue stuff for cuts) I think that rounds it out for me.

  10. 2011/01/28 at 13:15

    (By the way, as always, I was the inspiration for one of Jack’s posts. If I was from, say, Vermont, such a post never would have occurred.)

    Actually I can’t stand Vermont – it’s one of the most Leftist states in the union.

    I here it’s a lovely place to visit in the Fall though.

    And LePage is going to greatly increase Maine’s standing, as does this blog.

  11. 2011/01/28 at 21:02

    At least they don’t have a concealed weapons law, anyone can carry concealed. Their positive aspects end there.

  12. 2011/01/29 at 03:33

    The quality of their education, roads, and income distribution appeal to me as well. Plus they have Ben and Jerry’s.

    As for what I need on a long hike, assuming I don’t have impoverished porters to carry stuff for me, I just want a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, solo tent, quick dry clothes, some cotton (for sleeping), knife, pot, food, lighter, magnesium strip (if the lighter fails). For a day hike, much less.

  13. 2011/01/29 at 04:09

    I hate Vermont, you can’t get anywhere on the roads. There are all of these mini highways everywhere, drives me up a wall. And they say Maine roads are confusing.

    Those magnesium blocks are pretty good, I assume you mean the actual strips though. I’ve found with the blocks the best policy is to do the shaving before hand, I have a prescription bottle full.

    I’d like to have my own personal Sherpa, amazon doesn’t seem to carry them though.

  14. 2011/01/29 at 06:02

    You’ve been checking the wrong Amazon.

  15. 2011/01/29 at 11:39

    My favorite spot to backpack is Isle Royale. I like the fact that it is only accessible by ferry, and when they drop you off and you know they won’t be back for a few days you know you are completely on your own. Plus no bears, ‘coons or ticks that plague so many Northern Minnesota locations in the summer to deal with.

  16. 2011/01/29 at 17:15

    You had me at no ticks.

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