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ephraim's Passions

Hiking & Camping
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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on June 21, 2009

1 5

Slow as hell and 15 mind numbing minutes later a cup of weak cold coffee - (cowboy strained filtered w/ the "drip" is served up cold as well).

light coffee options are still...

1)unfiltered cowboy coffee - gritty
2)instant - my choice. - reliable
3)bandanna filtered - messy
4) portable generator + cappuccino machine - considering it.

Left the GSI drip in the hikers box somewhere in Northern Virginia. (if you found it - I left it and um... "lucky you").

Great device in theory - not in practice.

Tip- 1-2 Carnation instant breakfasts (mocha or vanilla) and a heaping teaspoon of instant - hot water. Caffeine and nutrition rolled up into a sweet hearty shake! Good luck 09 thru hikers - EFF'N rain - you poor poor b-st-rds - urban.

P.S. sorry GSI - on the other hand the "soloist" is fairly sweet -

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 7, 2009

5 5

I use the Z55 as my primary pack. I purchased it one year ago after it was picked by National Geographic for the gear of the Year 2008. I have taken this pack on week long adventures and it distributes the weight like a dream. Honestly like a dream! Over the last year I have been switching out much of my light gear to accommodate even lighter gear.For example My new tent weighs 13oz plus stakes and using trekking poles (tyvek floor)(old tent was 39oz), My pad is the small aircore (16oz) (and yes I am aware of the neoair - I'm just not very fond of it), my pot is a titan kettle (used to be GSI soloist). I use the MSR miniworks filter (I know heavy at 15oz - I'll explain later), my sleeping bag is a Montbell UL down hugger #2 (for me the perfect all around 3 season compromise) My base weight three season is now a respectable 6-7lbs(not including my pack which I will get to). The real weight comes in when I need to carry food for a week w/out resupply (plus 1 - 3 liters of water). figure depending on the cuisine about 1.5 - 2lbs a day if I am treating myself really well - and why not I deserve it. Bare with me there is a point to all this - Im going get to the point of this review shortly. People have different reasons for hiking and many chose to hike light and honestly I began my hiking foray within the last two years looking to hike light from the onset. Some people have weak knees, others are survivalists, others race trails and each oz costs them time, while some just enjoy seeing to what extreme they can push themselves (regarding clothing, shelter and food). My reason is pure and simple I am lazy, I have no desire to spend a week in Yellowstone, the Appalachian trail, Rocky Mountain National Park or wherever hauling 40 - 60lbs like some sort of human donkey. frankly if that was the only way to hike Id rather stay in bed, watch TV and eat bonbons. Plus being a former NYC urban rollerblader traveling for me means being swift, and nimble - jumping curbs, and weaving through midtown traffic, and grabbing NYC transit bus rear wheel wells so I dont have to blade uphill to get to the MOMA or class. My approach to hiking is the same I want to be able jump a stream, stomp through shrubs, slide down a steep hill rather than take the long way or even bend down and smell a flower with my pack on. I dont want to be separated from nature because I am carrying crap I dont need like three pairs of pants, two fleece and a frying pan. I WILL BE WEARING THE SAME SMELLY CRAP I STARTED MY HIKE IN TWO WEEKS AGO - AND ILL LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT - if i need to I will find a stream and break out the bronners and scrub my one pair of pants in my boxers (two pair if you must know) like they did in the old west. Don't get me wrong I enjoy comfort as well which is why I carry the air core since it allows this side sleeper to sleep like a baby, and the filter because I want my water to BE CLEAN, taste clean, and smell clean. Chemicals, and 3oz UV pens may kill god knows what creatures eggs are in the water but the dead eggs are still in the water - plus what sane person chooses to drink water with bleach in it - not I.
Now to the Z55 after reducing my weight this winter I figured perhaps it's time for a new pack. So I ordered the touted Osprey EXOS 46. It came in the mail I loaded it up 25lbs and the straps cut into my shoulders (and trust I adjusted the straps every which way for 45 min. I wanted the pack to work)I even ordered the larger size to see if it was a fit issue (it wasn't). much of the weight was not placed on my hips with the exos - it was on my shoulders further the pack wobbled and bobbled on my back when I tested it on steep stairs (then again packs are like shoes and the Exos was not the pair for me). No way am I reducing weight just to suffer that completely defeats the purpose - hiking is not about pain for me it's about pleasure. So instead I removed the lid on my Z55, and cut the remaining excess straps (and there are a lot). This pack hugs my body, my back breaths, and the waist straps are a dream. It carries everything flawlessly, I am now considering the Z35 for a pack with less volume (and yes pack suggestions are welcome if you understand my hiking philosophy) only those that own this pack will truly understand how sweet it is and where I came coming from, and until the day comes that a lighter pack provides me the same comfort while strapped to my back for 10 - 12 hours while I hike for multiple days - I will stay devoted to the Z55. - so if you are considering it go for it. There is one annoying issue I have with it - theres no bottle mesh, they expect that everyone wishes to soley rely on a platy. I would like a water bottle mesh pocket. This pack is great overall and you can take that to the bank. Shoot I got a math test in 5 hours!

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joe stans

joe stans wrote an answer about on May 6, 2009

theres a difference in the weights, the M. z35 is 3lb2oz, while the M. atmos is 2lb13oz. the atmos has a bucket pocket - great for a rain jacket, while the z35 has a zip pocket great for safe storage of smaller items. The Volumes are basically the same. Truth is it's a tough question to answer I love gregory since I have had great experiences with their packs, while osprey has a great reputation as well. Both companies are said to stand behind their products. Ultimately packs are like shoes - you need to try on a few pair and eventually you know which companies provide a cut that works for your body. Best advice I can offer considering BC remarkably easy return policy order both. When they arrive fill them with "your gear" and add extra weight for food so it equals the total weight of all the items you normally lug on your hikes. Play with the straps and stroll around the block, up and down stairs, jump around a bit and then decide. Just keep them clean and leave the tags on them to be respectful so BC can sell the pack you return.

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

5 5

this is my main headlamp. and it has served me well. Backcountry is awesome offering it for 20% off. My advice grab one you'll love it. My other advice is when you order it get the spare batteries on ebay it was like 8 bucks for 25 of them when I made my purchase long ago and I still haven't made a dent in my collection. I give them to friends on b-days and I'm always sincerely thanked. Its a great lamp plus you wont feel like a coal miner any more. I wish there was an extra star for this item it truly deserves one!

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

5 5

I purchased this set a year ago - and it's a great set. I cant testify to the quality of the foon however since my set was prefoon. anyway the construction is solid. the lexan lid is thoughtful - no wasting fuel since you dont need to lift the lid to see a boil. the cup is practical and the insulation is considerate. all encased in a a sack that doubles as a basin. A complete system - I gave mine away to my best friend after I decided to go with the the titan kettle - but honestly it was by no means an easy decision. My buddy loved the gift and he uses it till this day. Its really a great light cook system - so while i decided it's not for me there is no denying its charm

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

5 5

thanks for the review Martha Stewart and sorry it messed up your recipe's- now a review for the men. It boils water fast - team with a titan kettle and you have a tried and true system total weight 7.2oz not at all shabby. I don't time my water I just know it's quick. Plus this stove feels solid despite its weight. The pocket rocket must have served up countless amounts of coffee, noodles, and mountain house quickly efficiently and dependably.

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

5 5

Do not ignore the importance of core warmth or lose sight of the value of unencumbered arms. This vest serves a critical outdoor function hiking or otherwise. Plus it folds into its own pocket--its own pocket!!!. This vest is golden - I love Patagonia it would be great if I could afford all of their stuff - well maybe not their green and yellow stuff. the micro puff vest is a keeper I promise! sizing is on target for example medium is my standard size and over the r2 the puff fits like a glove. w/out a fleece its a tad loser but far from messy.

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

5 5

its expensive thats for sure,and many like me will struggle and ponder whether its worth the cost. I have worn it almost every day since purchse two months ago. it breathes, its super warm when covered with a shell (MH quark!!) and most importantly it makes this moron look sexy....yeah baby! OK excuse that sorry display truth is it is the most highly functional fleece I own. I havnt worn my covert since, and Ive spent a lot of time tryng to decide who to pawn my hated North Face Denali off on. NF will you die already!

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

5 5

I thought about putting together my own med kit. Its obviously not difficult but if your like me the only thing you have for a medical emergency in your house is aspirin and a cell phone. So I gave these lads a try. I received a 3oz kiy in a waterproof sack -BRILLIANT- plus the sack has a little extra room so u can add an emergency flint, matches - whatever. its worth the eight bucks for the peace of mind.

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 6, 2009

3 5

This lamp is serious overkill. Most hiker will use their headlamp briefly to read or write in their tent. maybe for a couple minutes to find a solid tree in the middle of the night when nature calls. This thing is just to bulky on ones head - you're going to feel like a coal miner trust me. Two words Petzl e+lite. weighs less than an oz you can get extra batteries on ebay for almost nothing and it's really all the light most hikers will ever need. take the elite an extra set of the weightless batteries it requires plus a backup squeeze led for an emergency and you'll be much happier. then again if you're hauling 50lbs of gear anyway ignore this bums advice since you'll need the tikka xp when you are doing the dishes in the kitchen sink you undoubtedly brought along. E+lite look it up!

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 5, 2009

3 5

I own the air core, and Ive seen and researched the neoair. There is no doubt that it is light but also be very aware it is not as dependable. Ive seen other reviews regarding complaints of deflation, and internal air imbalance caused by a broken seal between baffles (out of respect for BC I wont referencethe where but if you look youll see the contrasting reviews). Regarding the neoair others with much more knowledge then me claim the R 2.5 rating may be pure hype. Personally I can attest that Ive slept on my BA AirCore in 35 degrees comfortably (with a 20 degree synth bag)you really cant get much more 3 season than that - so who knows maybe my Aircore is has a rating of R 2.5 as well. The Aircore comes in at 16oz of rugged dependable nylon. Sure I may be shlepping an extra 7oz but the sucker has stood the test of time. It has few complaints after serving hikers dependably for years look for youself. be aware the Neoair has a spotty track record after a few short weeks. Also take note that most these reviews are out of the box summations. I would hope the NEOAIR fills up nicely and stays inflated on your living room carpet - and we are all aware that it is light (we can read). My advice to someone taken in by the glitz and fancy talk is to consider the 40 something dollar cost and the dependable record of the BA AirCore in contrast to the $120 - spotty short history and a seven ounce savings of the NEOAIR - you decide - only you may end up looking for leaves to cushion yourself when your brilliant purchase haunts you somewhere in the middle of Yellowstone at 2:00am. At that time that 7oz savings will be undoubtedly be to your mind one of the dumbest decisions you have made - after all mother nature isnt carpeted. I am in no way judging those that purchase the NeoAir and am quite aware (and respect) those who will only rely on the dependability of Foam. We all make sacrifices I suppose - just decide what risk you are willing to take before you buy. So in summation NEOAIR 3 stars Backcountry 5 stars.

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on May 5, 2009

3 5

When I read about this pack I was amazed. The weight, the features, the fact that it was listed in NatGeos Adventure gear of the year 2009–What more could anyone ask for? The pack has been lauded by one and all at only 1lb14oz it was supposed to compete with some of the best frameless packs. When I research gear I put the same amount of effort into it as a heart patient trying to figure out the best possible hospital for a heart transplant. I must have studied every angle of the pack and admired the youtube marketing video put out by Osprey more times than I’d like to admit. Plus Osprey is a great company with a wonderful reputation standing firmly behind each and every pack they make. Researching the Exos 46 I noticed a difference in the weight posted on Ospreys site it was now 2lb 5oz for a Med. Exos 46, so I immediately called osprey to investigate and it turns out the weight of the pack changed in production – and it is 7oz heavier, the newly listed weight is in fact correct. I forgave the discrepancy since After all my research I was convinced my 1 year old model of the Gregory Z55 had become yesterdays news and needed to go. I didn’t care that it served me well in the wilds of Wyoming - NatGeo picked a new golden child and the EXOs 46 was going to be mine. After deciding that the 46 would suit my sub 10lb base needs I ordered it in Med. – I was on the border of sizes so I went with the pack that would weigh less. The pack arrived from backcountry and regardless of how many packages I get from BC it’s always like Christmas in my house when they arrive. I took out the pack marveled at the pockets, the straps, and the brilliant ingenuity. This was certain to be the Lexus of backpacks. Deep down I marveled since I was about to become the envy of every backpacker on the Appalachian Trail.
After my extended excitement it was time to load the pack. My goal was to place a reasonable burden of weight in it to see how it feels and performs. I loaded it with approximately 25lbs of gear, and excitedly strapped the Exos pack to my back. In short order I began to feel a hot spot on my shoulder – Is this a consequence of age? Had I aged that much since last fall? I must have tried adjusting the straps every way possible for at least 45 minutes. Surely this can’t be right this is the must have highly acclaimed pack, this pack sells out and fast! Everyone can’t be wrong, can they? Finally I began to accept and realize that if this pack caused pressure points in my home it would be a disaster one hundred miles from nowhere. The only logical conclusion was that I had obviously ordered the wrong size – OF COURSE! The pack I need is a large, how could the brilliant folks at NatGEO be wrong – after all my Z55 had been the very essence of comfort. I am sure many are asking why I decided to get a new pack – well the logical reason is my wish to further cut down on weight. Going UL for me is not a religion as it is for other fanatics – it’s a matter of convenience and comfort. I enjoy being able to bend down on and off trail, I love the ability to jump over obstacles, and run through streams – the less weight the more nimble I am. This all equals more comfort and joy when out and about. So I ordered the large. It came today. I noticed the same hotspots where the shoulder straps dug into my skinny frame, plus the pack does not hug the body. I tested it on my steep stairs and the pack bounces no matter how tight I make it, plus the more I tightened it the more the straps dug into my shoulder. Finally compared to the z55 less of the weight was transferred to a profoundly less beefy waist strap, causing my back to literally shoulder more of the burden. I really wanted this pack to work, but sadly the comfort is just not there for me. So I unloaded the Exos 46 and transferred all the contents to my Gregory Z55, I needed to see if my body and not the pack had let me down. So I removed the lid on the Z55 and packed it with the same weight plus I will trim all the straps to the bare minimum this season. Sure it weighs a bit more – but the goal for this hiker is and always will be maximum comfort while hiking. I’m sure you all know what comes next – the Z55 was a delight just as it was last year. Also I have seen it come up a few times on SAC for like $100 or less and as far as this hiker is concerned it’s a steal.
Here’s my point – don’t fall into the trap we are all so guilty of. If it works you don’t need to fix it. Similarly I have been debating buying the lauded NEOAIR we are all aware of the space station technology involved with it that people talk about. I was considering the NEO while Ignoring that I sleep perfectly sound on my Big Agnes Aircore size small at 16oz - it has always completely covered this side sleeper. I went to my local camping store to marvel the NEOAIR in an instant a salesman sensing my desperation for newer and better was hovering over me as I felt the material. I couldn’t help but notice that I would be far more comfortable relying on the BA Air Core since the material is strikingly more rugged. Does the NEOAIR have a true 2.5r rating like the salesman was touting to me – I don’t know – but then again I doubt most people can even define what an R rating is exactly. I slept warm and like a baby on my BA AirCore in 35 degrees plus it never busted or deflated, and it is easy to fill and only cost me around 40 bucks what more could I ask for?
I feel like my rating is generous since for me the pack is not adequate, only I am sure there are others who will not notice the same degree of discomfort. As far as backcountry is concerned they get five stars from this writer always.

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joe stans

joe stans wrote a review of on April 16, 2009

5 5

I lost my first kettle, and sadly I have regretted that foolish day often - since last summer. This is light, yet if you look there are lighter. So it all comes down to what you get for the weight. The MSR people in sculpting this 4.2oz pot really thought this puppy out. It won't break your back - yet it's solid. The lid is not some flimsy cruddy waste of time either and the spout makes for great pouring and straining. Often I wonder if I should get a super light titanium mug so I can drink coffee or cocoa while I eat, then I realize getting a mug is sacrilege to such a sweet piece of UL artistry. The Titan Kettle deserves to grace the Smithsonian.

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