NH Gear Review

Gear review!

I took lots of new(ish) gear with me on my NH section hike. Here’s a rundown of some of it:

Pack: SWD 35

This pack is a little big in the torso for me. I think if that were fixed it would be my dream pack. The pockets are all easy to reach while it’s on. I can reach and replace my water bottle from the lower small pocket, snacks from the upper small pocket, and tripod or poles from the tall pocket. The bottom mesh pocket held up really well, especially considering how many times I scooted across rocks on my butt. My legs are completely scratched up and bloody, but the pack looks great.

Shelter: Borah Bivy and MLD Grace Solo

I really like to sleep in shelters, for reasons that aren’t especially clear to me. So on this trip, I really only tented once. As usual, the Grace Solo was fairly easy to set up, and the bivy was great for the mosquitos. However, having the bivy really made a difference on some colder-than-expected nights. Even in the shelters, slipping the bivy around me helped block the wind and extend my quilt a few degrees. I didn’t zip it all the way up, but it did make quite a difference. I’m pretty sold on the bivy/tarp life.

Sleep: Thermarest Prolite Short, Down Booties, and EE Quilt

I’ve been a pretty dedicated CCF pad sleeper for a while now, although I’ve dabbled in other pads, like a winter inflatable and a Klymit X frame. I’ve always hated how long it takes to blow up inflatables, and how high off the ground they are. The Prolite takes about 3 breaths and is barely thicker than a CCF pad, but is a lot more comfortable. The weight is fairly comparable, and with my feet propped up on my empty pack, everything just…worked great! Some of the better sleep I’ve gotten on trail. The quilt was about as expected — I’ve had this quilt for over 2 years and it’s kind of a workhorse for me. Good for a lot of temperatures.

And the down booties. Ohhhhhh the down booties. These will be an “every trip except dead summer in the south” item. They add so much warmth for so little weight. Such a treasure. #blessed

Clothes: Patagonia Barely Baggies, Patagonia Tropic Comfort Shirt, random Sleeveless shirt

I switched from my usual Lululemon shorts to Barely Baggies for this trip. I wanted something a little thicker, and the pockets were intriguing. They definitely held up well and dried quickly. Good shorts. The tropic comfort tee was essential for the long stretches above treeline in full sun. My legs and hands are sunburnt, but my arms aren’t. Pretty impressed with how breathable and comfortable the shirt was even when I was hot and sweaty. The sleeveless shirts started with is an old Onzie hot yoga shirt. I used to love it, but felt like it was really holding on to sweat this trip. So I grabbed a neon pink tank from The Notch hostel and wore that, so that I could blind people with my shirt, if not my beauty. It was great.

Shoes: La Sportiva Ultra Raptors

This was a big shoe change for me. I’ve messed around with Salamons, Altras, and Hokas, but La Sportiva may be the end of the line for me. The Ultra Raptors were super grippy on rock and wet rock, even though I was mostly too scared to trust them. I only got one blister the entire time, and that’s a near miracle for me. My feet were definitely fatigued at the end of each day, but they recovered quickly and really, that’s nothing new. Overall, I’m very impressed. I did change up the lacing to take some pressure off my high-volume feet, and added in a heel lock. As usual, wore with a variety of Darn Toughs.

Insulation: Melanzana MicroGrid Hoodie and Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, Patagonia Capilene Lightweights leggings

I get cold easily. The Melly was fantastic on cold mountains and to sleep in. The hood draws up easily to cover as much as you want it to. I did miss the venting from the quarter zip on my old fleece, but between the Melly and the Patagonia Tropic Comfort long sleeve, I had most active situations covered. The GW was warm enough for chilly nights (we were around freezing some nights), and I never resented having packed it. If things got much colder than the 30F we saw, I’d have wanted something much more substantial, but for this trip, it was a killer combo.

The leggings were…pretty good. I like how light they are, and they’re definitely comfy for a sleep layer, but they stretch out a little too much for me to really want to hike in them. Also, one sharp rock on Mt Washington ripped them pretty easily. That’s a bummer, but probably not entirely the fault of the leggings since those rocks also ripped my own legs to bits. Everything else stood up well, though.

Rain: Outdoor Research Helium II and EE Rain Skirt

The OR was good. I have no complaints. The hood worked well with my hat. I thought I would miss having pit zips, but somehow I survived. I do think the supper is a little tight — it’s hard to really move with one hand. It’s kind of weird to explain, but my Patagonia rain jacket is much easier to zip and unzip with only one hand. Maybe I’m weak?

The rain skirt was surprising to me. I didn’t expect it to make a huge difference, but it’s really nice to have dry underwear after a soggy hike. Usually I get rain dripping down my shorts, but this skirt thing was breathable, easy to hike in, and will likely catch me a man. Sold.

Misc: Xero Shoes ZTrek Camp shoes

(Lol sorry, I forgot to take a picture of these on this trip, so the only actual picture of these sandals is from a Reddit meetup hike a few weeks ago.)

Look, I have foot problems. Tell me to strengthen them all you want, but some people just have a harder time with feet. I liked having these lightweight sandals for hostel stays and around camp. They’re zero drop, which helps gently stretch my calves and Achilles out after a long day of hiking they easily fit in the mesh pocket of my pack with a small CCF pad for my butt, and it was nice to let my feet air out and stretch and flex. I like camp shoes, and these are pretty good ones. I will say, however, that I do not recommend speed walking across an airport in them. My calves burned for days.

*****

As usual, I still have more things to try out on my next trip, but for now? There was nothing I brought that was an absolute failure for me! And that, my friends, is pretty good.

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