Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Gear that didn't survive

The Alaskan Glacier Awareness Project was the second major expedition for a lot of my gear. Most of it was purchased years before the Inside Passage trip, but with the expectation that it was for expeditions. Which is why I did things like, buy a four season tent when my three season tent died. So this post, I want to talk about the gear that either needs to be replaced, or upgraded after this trip.

My sleeping pad, the Thermarest Prolite Plus didn't even go on this trip. The last two overnight trips I did, I didn't sleep well on it. It is an inch and a half thick, and that just wasn't enough for my shoulder and hip bones. Oddly, I have used this pad for a long time and never and a problem, so clearly the comfort issue is changes in my body, not the pad. Instead of this trusty pad I brought along a borrowed Big Agnes Q-core SL. For a long time I have stayed away from the new generation of blow up pads, primarily because I think after a day of paddling or hiking, having to blowing up your pad is akin to punishment. But my friend loaned me not only the pad, but this. The NeoAir Mini Pump uses triple A batteries to inflate a pad, and despite the fact that it is made by thermarest it works well with this Big Agnes Pad. It is very "Glamour Camping" or as some prefer "glamping" but I really like it. I will be purchasing both of these products at some point. Unless REI makes a version of the incamp pad that is closer to a regular size (it is 25 x77 and I would like one that is 20 x 72). That pad has a built in hand pump, that works really well.

My beloved tent had a couple of problems. I use an REI four season tent that isn't made anymore, it is essentially a North Face Mountain 25. The first problem was that the shock cords in the poles have lost a lot of their stretch. This is not surprising, and is easy to replace. The bigger problem is that in certain places the fly is leaking. This is confusing because the material is still beading up water like it should. I will re-coat it with DWR and try and figure it out. But I need to keep an eye on it. Particularly before the next rainy trip. Speaking of Shock Cord I need to replace the cords on the deck of my kayak. But that is for another post.

I think my Kelty Noahs Tarp is dead. This leaked like a sieve the entire trip. The material also feels like it has gotten papery thin. I am pretty sure it just needs to be replaced. Which makes me sad, because it is only 4 or 5 years old.

My Immersion Research Shockwave is pretty close to dead. It has been re-taped once by IR, and needs to be done again. The taping on the tunnel came off pretty much right away, and leaks from a couple of places. This is a skirt I got for free, and it has been amazing. It really sold me on the idea of, if you want a great skirt that doesn't pop off, get a whitewater skirt.

My back up paddle, a Werner Camano carbon/carbon is dead. The wiggle in the joint was just too bad, and I have in fact already sold it. I am going to buy a new Camano and drop my Kalliste down to backup status. I like my Kalliste, but I want the lower weight of the Camano as my daily paddle.

I really thought that my sleeping bag, an REI Lumen was going to make its last trip this time, but it keeps chugging along - unfortunately because I would really like a Sierra Designs backcountry bed. But my Sea to Summit Compression dry sack has already gone in the garbage. It got a hole that I repaired on the Inside Passage - it is amazing what you can do with duct tape and aqua seal - but this time it got a tear that was about two inches long. Not the fault of the dry bag, it got stuck on a bare screw under my deck compass, I need to get acorn nuts for them. But it will be replaced with a similar bag. I am using almost exclusively Sea to summit dry bags now. After years of swearing by seal line, it just sort of happened, a bag at a time.

The Spot Connect worked fine, but I hated it. It will not be doing another trip if I can help it. If I do another big trip I will either use an ACR plb, or a Sat Phone. Time will tell...

The fact is, that gear doesn't last as long as you would like to think. For instance, working fro NOLS one summer I did two courses almost back to back. I used my own North Face sleeping bag that was new. I could have rented a bag from NOLS for free, but I really like having my own trusted bag to sleep in every night. The problem with that was, at the end of the summer, it was really and truly dead. Which means it had a life of around 90 days. Now if you use a sleeping bag 4 times a year for a four day trip, that is a long life. But do a couple of 30 day trips, and gear just breaks down.

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