Hiking Gear: Hydro Packs/Boots/Day Packs

Old Apr 29th, 2005, 11:50 PM
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Hiking Gear: Hydro Packs/Boots/Day Packs

Relocated discussion from other thread. Anyone with posts on subj have at it. Good to hear anyone's experiences with diffent gear. Particularly interested in packs, boots and also what people think of poles, are they worth buying and lugging along?

We're a group traveling and hiking but staying in apts or hotels, so hiking journeys aren't overnight.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 08:38 AM
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Traveler863,
try going to altrec.com, bootsnall.com, thorntree.lonelyplanet.com, rei.com.

unfortunately, hiking is not something i do and hence is outside the breadth of my knowledge.

as for hiking boots, your talking about shoes and there are so many intangibles that go into making a pair comfy that it becomes nearly impossible to recommend. i really think rei would be great for you as they are true outdoor experts.

but in terms of city walking, i prefer my running shoes to hiking/walking shoes. they are light and built to help the human anatomy when the foot strikes. and some running shoes even help correct your foot strike to a certain degree. for me i love my new balance 856. try a running speciality store and they can help pick a shoe that fits your foot type.

for the pack, take a look at the blowfish. it's nearly as small as a hydration-only pack when zipped up, but has up to 1000 cubic inches when unzipped and extended. it may work well for you son.

good luck and happy travels.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 11:19 AM
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Just adding in my two cents - I love REI too.

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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 11:42 AM
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If you're asking WHETHER to take hiking boots, my answer is definitely yes. If you're asking what kind, I don't think anyone can answer, because it depends on what kind of hiking you will doing, in what weather, and on your weight, walking style, and feet. My hiking boots are Merrell, but there is a wide range of Merrells. Mine are medium weight, leather with cloth inserts, not Gortex. (I also have very old, worn out Thinsulate-lined old warmer ones that I use for walking on snow and ice at home and old lightweight ones that I use for gardening at home.) I got mine at Eastern Mountain Sports. They have a tilt walkway that customers can use to try out walking up and down a steep incline/decline with the shoes.

Hiking poles are nice to have, but not always essential. When I bought mine, I thought I'd use them most to help support myself going uphill. But I found it most useful when going downhill on steep paths. It made me feel much safer.

I don't have a hydropack. I guess they're convenient, but they seem a little unsanitary to me. I generally use a ridge, rectangular (doesn't roll away if dropped) plastic bottle that has a loop attached to the built-in cap so it can be attached to a strap or loop on your pack. Sometimes if I don't take my bottles, I just buy water in plastic bottles and then keep refilling them.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 12:13 PM
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I am an old backpacker and non technical climber. I am now a day hiker only, but I will tackle just about anything that will not tackle me back.

The equipment that you need is totally a function of where you go, how long you will be on the trail, and what type of terrain you plan on traversing. Your needs can range from some good hiking gear to normal street wear.

Even for the snow tracks of the Alps, or the windswept reaches of high alpine passes, where sleet can be an event, or a path in the Smokies, I carry the same equipment:

A polar fleece pullover, a GoreTex rain/wind jacket, rain pants, lightweight Vibram soled hiking boots with an ankle collar, some energy food, a water bottle or two, and two Leki hiking poles. (I have along gloves if I am in an area where sleet is a possibiity.)

My wife usually has her Gabel poles, and I find them equally as good if not better than the Leki poles.

The poles are just about mandatory if your cross snow banks and wish to do so in an upright posture. Otherwise, you can have the pleasure of descending a steep slope by paddling along on your rear.

(I've done the feet first prone position descent a time or two also when the snow was packed into a hard, granular mass and really required an ice axe. I could not stab my hiking poles hard enough into the surface to make much of a dent.)

My pack is large enough for my rain gear/wind gear, gloves (in case of a cold rain or sleet), Polar fleece pullover, sunscreen, food, and water.

I don't carry rope, pitons and carabiners any longer. No need for them these days at all, ever.

I think what you carry along depends on where you are going. If the most demanding trail you take is on the order of the road from the Grutschalp station above Lauterbrunnen to Mürren, all you need is your normal clothes, perhaps a light jacket, and any kind of comfortable shoes. For that kind of a trail, poles are not needed at all.

If you are headed for a steeper trail with snow patches, and rocks that require some scrambling, then you need what I described above.

From what you describe, I don't think you need complex equipment. But if you plan on wading any streams, I suggest throwing in an old pair of jogging shoes to wear in the water. Then get out of them as soon as you can, otherwise your feet get a little chilly if you are crossing a glacier or snow fed stream.

Let me add that most people overboot. I have witnessed people on a simple hike with enough equipment for the Himalayas. You don't need those huge boots unless you are doing ice climbing and need to tie on crampons. They weigh a ton and don't do much but weight you down.

The one thing I find indespensible, however, is something to shade my eyes. If the sun shines brightly, you need the bill of a cap to help protect. If it starts raining, I like to use the bill of my cap to keep the jacket hood from covering my eyes. It also protects my face from sleet.

And, no, I don't own a poncho. I am yet to see one or use one that was any good at all on a trail. They might work find sitting in a stadium in the rain, but if moving, they are usually worse than a nuisance. You still drown from the belt down.
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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I do a lot of hiking and other outdoor activites. The type of gear you may need depends on where and how you hike.

I move quickly so I get ultralight everything. My boots are lightweight and waterproof. I have a second pair that are for dry weather that are mesh-tops. Both are Merrells.
Boots are truly a personal preference and different brands will fit people differently. You should try out several brands. For me, Merrells are instantly comfortable (no breaking-in). I also use coolmax hiking socks.
Layering is the key. Recommend something that wicks sweat away from the skin. Anything with Coolmax or equivalent. They are lighter than regular cotton T-shirts (which you shouldn't wear anyway if it is cool weather due to inability to keep wearer dry and thus warm) and very quick to dry after a wash. So less you'll need to pack!
Usually wear shorts (again coolmax) but in cooler weather, will have zip-off pants.
Top layer if cooler, fleece and something waterproof just in case (for me, Ultralight shell). If in a place where rain is common, I bring rain pants, too.
I do carry a hydration pack (2L Camelbak) which has room for shed/just-in-case clothing as well as snacks, phone, etc. Like this so much better than carrying regular water bottles.
Dislike poles and never use them. Can go down a hill much faster without them.

Go to rei for advice, they are terrific. They'll have everything you'll need. They can recommend what to get for the conditions you'll have and type of trip you plan. They also have great sales on their outlet website.

Hiking is such a nice way to see a country. Have fun!
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Old Apr 30th, 2005, 02:58 PM
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Sorry to rain on the rEI parade.
But that is one store I avoid.
Never bought anything there that was worth what I paid for it.

I spend about $100 on one of REI's high techy shirts. It is the hottest, stinkyest shirt I ever owned. It does not breathe or do anything much beneficial. Out on a trail, it is miserable.

Same is true of its packs. Had one, and it tore up in record time. Stitching came out as the whole thing unravelled.

Pants? phooey. This high tech stuff is hot, doesn't breathe, and is expensive.

Maybe you like their equipment. I avoid it.

Go to an independent outdoors store if you need fancy gear.

My hiking boots are Merril, but I got them from L. L. Bean as I did my Goretex jacket, which performs quite nicely.
But the Goretex gloves I got from Bean leak.

As for hiking poles and down hill, I suggest them to take the pressure off your knees, which can be considerable with a 25 - 30 pound pack.

Another place a hiking pole is nice is on a steep muddy slope! But if you are in a place where nothing more than jogging shoes are needed, nothing other than K Mart equipment is needed.

I doubt if many people are going to stress what equipment they have beyond what is required to climb a fourteener in the Rockies. That might involve a few nights in a tent and sleeping bag followed by a scramble up a steep slope with a lot of hard breathing.

I just don't see the need to buy a lot of high tech gear that isn't worth it and isn't needed. Unless, of course, you are headed to a fancy dress ball on the summit of Mount LeConte at the hiker's shelter.

The funniest thing I have seen in recent years was two years ago at Lake O;Hara.
Some couple wanted to get married on top of Abbot's Pass. They actually had people ferry champagne up there and they got married on top of that abomination of a scree slope on one side and the Victoria Glacier on the other. I think people packed tuxedos and formal dresses up there as well!

Oh well. To each his own. Dress as you wish. I don't really care because you are the one paying for it.

If I knew where you were going and the time of year, I might be able to comment other than in general.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 05:16 AM
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Thanks for all the great replies. We'll probably be doing some moderate hiking, nothing overly strenuous, but could be an all day event covering 10km or so at times. Expect for the most part good trails but may encounter some exposure, minor rock scrambles and snow patches.

I'm trying to keep my luggage to one 22" rollaboard and a med sized backpack (daypack) that really only needs to carry water, a jacket or sweatshirt, small food items and my camera (small digital). Concerned with room hiking boots will take up, however I think they are worthwhile bringing, so I'll just pack less clothes as we'll have laundry facilities at most destinations. My other dilemna with bringing boots is thats all they are really suited for, at times at other destinations we plan to rent bikes so I really was thinking of something that suited both purposes to save on luggage space. So for 2 weeks about half if it would be hiking, a day or two of biking and the rest would be standard walking about town(s).

I think I'll skip the poles, those will definitely require a larger suitcase. I wonder if there are places you can rent them? In Zermatt, for example.
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Old May 1st, 2005, 05:53 AM
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You can wear the boots on the plane yo save packing space, then take them off and change to your lightst shoes, which you can pack in your carry-on.
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