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#36731 - 05/23/14 12:37 PM Noob. Whitney planning - long term.
RickG Offline


Registered: 05/23/14
Posts: 13
Loc: Moorpark, CA
Hello All,

I've been spending the past two weeks stalking these boards and immensely enjoying the useful information here (for any camping/hiking info. - not just Whitney related). First - thank you all for the great info.

Background
Haven't camped in over 25 years! Last trip was to Alta Peak in Kings Canyon with some friends in the late 80's! Son (11) just bridged into Boy Scouts, so I've been dusting off the old gear and replenishing with updated items. The info here and on other sites has been real helpful (I'm sort of a web troll, rather spend time learning than watching TV). Just finished my Assistant Scoutmaster training and now hoping to help the scouts along the trails. I'm 48 years old and 5'9" 178 lbs (not in great shape, but not in horrible shape).

Goal
For whatever reason (I still can't define it yet) I'm interested in doing Mt. Whitney. I'm cautious enough to know that I am not in shape for this test yet. We just went on an overnight trip up to Mt. Pinos and it was a challenging hike for me although I didn't slow down and kept up. This trip showed me that I need to get in better shape, as well as I need to update my gear. Having said that, the goal is to get experience and training to try for the lottery in the next 2 years and try to get a group of Scouts up there.

Training
Since I noticed how out of shape I was I've been starting a regimen of training. Trying to get in at least 2 miles on the treadmill a night (30 minutes). I'm also trying to get in some successively more challenging day hikes. Started by taking the kids over to Paradise Falls in T.O. and last weekend took my 16 year old daughter up the Zuma trail (2 miles, 1,100 ft. climb in one hour). Did it without a pack and it was pretty easy. The views were amazing, so I think I'll try to make this a regular and add some weight as I try to work up.

Questions
OK...so after all this (sorry, I tend to like to write a lot) - there are some specific questions.

1 - Training Regimen
I've read about the dozen training climbs and really like it. I am planning on trying to do them over the course of time. What about other training - does anyone find a special regimen that makes the climb of Whitney easier for them? Treadmill, weights, etc.?

2 - Gear
Little by little I've been hoarding gear. Probably spend over $1,200 in the past month to update my gear and get my son a good set also. Taking my time and learning as much as I can. One problem on the Mt. Pinos trip was tent was too heavy (2 man, 5#) and it got too cold for me that night (mid-20's with a 35 degree bag - thank god for heat packs). Here's some gear stats and would love feedback:

A - Tent
I've got myself a solo tent (EMS Velocity 1 Tent) since on the Boy Scout trips the boys bunk in groups of 2's and the ASM's bunk in solo tents. Don't know if this will work for Mt Whitney thought as it isn't a four season tent. However, all the four season tents I've been looking at seem way too heavy for this trip anyway. Full disclosure - I've NEVER slept outside, and while it seems enticing, I am somewhat of a sissy when it comes to bugs. Can't image sleeping out in the open and having some spiders, etc. climb over me. I'm willing to get over it though! wink Will this tent work for Whitney?

B - Cooking
I still don't feel confident in the cooking setup because I am still doing research. No hurry, so no issue there. Did have to buy a couple of these just because I can't pass up a good deal:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004U8CP88/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Even if I don't use them, it's nice and cheap enough to have as spares. Bought two and I am truly impressed with the quality and the workmanship of these. I got them in about 3 weeks and they work perfectly (at home, haven't tried them on a trip yet). Several of the other ASM's have the white gas stoves (pocket rockets, etc.) and I don't know if it's a status thing or not. I was thinking for a Mt Whitney and other heavy climbing trip to just go with an Esbit stove as those look pretty amazing and seem to work just fine. I've been devouring, little by little, the other relevant posts in here and the web site by Hiking Jim. So I feel confident that after reading more posts, and going on more trips to see what the other ASM's use, that I'll find something I like.

I also am looking at the right cook wear set as usually we each make a meal for the others, so they need to be big enough to cook for 4-5 adults (last time we have tacos for dinner and eggs burritos for breakfast).

C - Clothing
This is where I really need to pay attention as I feel the weakest in this regard. On the Mt. Pinos trip I was woefully unprepared as I had read the weather reports and it said it was in the 40's-50's at night, only to find that it was 45 during the day and 20's at night! That night, in the 35 degree bag, I had on thermals under (I did remember to bring that), and all my other gear that included 2 pairs of socks (one thick set and one thin), thermal underwear, the polyester convertible pants that all ASM's wear, two long sleeved polyester running shirts, and the one windbreaker (which was baaad, bought from Scout store and didn't block any wind). I was real cold that night so I assume that I can classify myself as a "cold" sleeper? I'm glad that I went through the trouble of bringing chemical hand warmers as that kept my hands warm. I never felt in danger, but I didn't sleep a wink and it was the longest night I can remember! Air pad beneath and I put a space blanket beneath that, so I didn't feel cold from below, just from above (had hat and is a mummy bag).

My son slept fine in the 20 degree bag I got him and didn't have any issue feeling cold, but I guess my old bones have a hard time.

I have since them bought a better air mattress and slept very comfortably in recent trips, however the temps were in the 40's.

On the way down from Sheep Camp (Mt Pinos Trip) to Camp 3 Falls, which was a 6.5 mile hike down 2,500 feet, I started to really build up a sweat. I learned real quick that I need to remove layers early rather than later (started feeling sick about 4 miles in). Part of the learning curve I'm sure.

So, I know that I need to build a good set of cold weather gear that will breathe well and handle tough conditions. I'm starting to keep an eye out on all the sites that you all have been so kind to share (steep and cheap, etc.). Can anyone give me a solid list of what they take on Mt Whitney trips? I know there are different weather conditions, so If you could share what that means in relation to a list that would be amazing. I need to start checking off items as I go!

If you've read this far, thank you so much. I enjoy these boards very much and hope to give back in the future. Any other suggestions, links, or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you all again. You are a very amazing community.

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#36735 - 05/23/14 04:26 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: RickG]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
The others on this forum are much more experienced that I am, but here's my 2

1. In terms of making the hike easier, if you're overweight, losing a few pounds can help immensely. I include some high intensity interval training into my training regimen as well as weight training (compound, multi-joint movements).

I'm not sure what the 'dozen training climbs' are, but make sure your training includes some time at elevation.

If you're interested in heading out this way for training hikes, shoot me a PM with your email. I can include you on my email list for hikes. We have Whitney permits for the beginning of September. Between now and then, we'll try to hike at least once per month, most likely hike Baldy (via Bear Canyon), San Jacinto (tram), San Bernardino Peak and try to make it up north if possible (Langley area, White Mtn Peak, Mt Dana). This fall we'll probably try to do C2C again.

2A. I don't think you need a 4 season tent, unless you go in winter. You're tent looks good to me. There is a discussion on tents here. I just bought my tent a few minutes ago.

2B - I just bought one of those burners and used it at Chicken Spring Lake last weekend. It's not as fast as a Jet Boil, but it's tough to beat the price.

2C - clothing is something I struggle with as I have a hard time regulating temperature. This is what I used last weekend on my Cirque Peak hike:

Tops:
Champion Double Dry Competitor Compression Long Sleeve (instead of thermal top)
Champion Double Dry Men's Track Singlet (or something similar)

Jackets:
GoLite Demaree 800 Fill Down Jacket
Columbia Watertight Omni-Tech Jacket

Bottoms:
New Balance Mens Sequence Pant
Running shorts
Sugoi Firewall 220 Tights
Trespass Qikpac Pants (waterproof)

The tights and waterproof pants stayed in my pack and I was able to do an ok job at regulating my temperature. On my Whitney trips (during warmer temps), I usually just wear my ExOfficio BugsAway Ziwa Convertible Pant and may bring rain pants as a precaution. I tend to run warmer than most of the people I hike with. On my first Whitney trip in August of 2011, I wore a tank top for a good portion of the hike. Some of the guys I hiked with started with winter coats/hats and never took them off.

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#36740 - 05/23/14 08:29 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
RickG Offline


Registered: 05/23/14
Posts: 13
Loc: Moorpark, CA
Thanks so much for the great feedback 63. I'll definitely use your ideas on clothing as I have the most difficulty really figuring that out.

I'll PM you my email address for the notices on hikes/trips. Our troop is right now doing a Angeles Crest weekend camping trip (17 miles over 3 days). Was going to make it but screwed up my back on Monday at my daughters softball practice.

Our troop is also doing the tram camping trip in June, but I'm in Florida then. I'd love to fit in some of these trips with you in between the troops trips if at all possible.

Tanks again.

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#36741 - 05/23/14 08:41 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
RickG Offline


Registered: 05/23/14
Posts: 13
Loc: Moorpark, CA
Sorry...here is the reference to the dozen training hikes:

http://mtwhitneyquest.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-mt-whitney-dirty-dozen.html

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#36748 - 05/24/14 03:27 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: RickG]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Oklahoma
RickG,

It looks like you're on the right track with your planning and training. It's going to be a memorable experience for those Scouts! You are all in for a real treat.

In 2006 I had the pleasure of leading a group from my son's Boy Scout troop to the summit of Mount Whitney. There were 14 of us - 7 Scouts and 7 dads. We did it as a 6-day backpacking trip, going in at Cottonwood Lakes, over New Army Pass, and out at Whitney Portal. That made it an extended adventure for us to enjoy, but more importantly, that way I was less concerned about AMS issues on summit day. I limited it to Scouts 15 years (or nearly so) and older with experience on our previous multi-day backpacking trips, and I required training hikes in the months beforehand.

Since then, every one of them cited climbing Mount Whitney as a highlight of their time in Scouting.

Have fun!

Glenn

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#36749 - 05/24/14 03:57 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: Glenn]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
I also think you're on the right track. EMS makes good tents, and nearly any lightweight, 3-season one-person tent will work fine for Whitney.

For a sleeping bag a 20 degree down bag is probably the most versatile. If it's too warm for some nights, unzip it and use it to cover you partially. To add additional warmth, consider bringing 2 pads - a self-inflatable one plus a closed foam. They can be 3/4 length. You'll be more comfortable plus warmer.

Before going to sleep, make sure your clothing is completely dry. And have a snack - it helps crank up the metabolism.

Bring a warm hat, one with earflaps. I like wool hats, lined with microfleece, but there are lots of choices. Bring warm mittens - not gloves. Mittens are much warmer. A double-layer fleece is a good choice if you can find them. Consider wearing the hat to bed if you run cold. I also like a neck gaitor like a buff - they're very lightweight, and can be used in a variety of configurations, including a face protector.

Finally, bring a waterproof, breathable shell with a built-in hood. You don't have to spend a fortune of them - LL Bean makes a quite suitable one for about $80.

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#36751 - 05/24/14 08:42 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: RickG]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: RickG
Sorry...here is the reference to the dozen training hikes:

http://mtwhitneyquest.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-mt-whitney-dirty-dozen.html


I've never seen that list. 3.5 hours for Baldy via Bear Canyon is a fast pace. I've never done it that fast! For people training for Skyline (11 miles, 8000+ ft of elevation gain), I've heard people say you should be able to do Bear Canyon in under 4 hours. On my last trip up Skyline, we had 7 people. 5 had hiked Mt. Whitney. Everyone in the group, except for me, said that Skyline by itself is harder than Mt. Whitney. One guy said hed rather hike Whitney twice than hike Skyline once.

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#36797 - 05/27/14 03:32 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: Glenn]
RickG Offline


Registered: 05/23/14
Posts: 13
Loc: Moorpark, CA
Thanks for the helpful comments.

Glenn, I like the 6 day plan. I was thinking maybe 4, but why not make it a longer trip.

I was also thinking to try and do it as a hike right after Philmont, then I would only allow Scouts who went to Philmont who are 14 and above.

I'm going to try and make it out to Mt. Whitney maybe next year to scout it out and get a good feel for it prior though. I don't like the idea of going on such a challenging hike without first knowing what to expect.

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#36798 - 05/27/14 03:35 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
RickG Offline


Registered: 05/23/14
Posts: 13
Loc: Moorpark, CA
Yeah...if you read his blog it looks like he is a track coach, so speed must be his thing!!! grin

Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com
Originally Posted By: RickG
Sorry...here is the reference to the dozen training hikes:

http://mtwhitneyquest.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-mt-whitney-dirty-dozen.html


I've never seen that list. 3.5 hours for Baldy via Bear Canyon is a fast pace. I've never done it that fast! For people training for Skyline (11 miles, 8000+ ft of elevation gain), I've heard people say you should be able to do Bear Canyon in under 4 hours. On my last trip up Skyline, we had 7 people. 5 had hiked Mt. Whitney. Everyone in the group, except for me, said that Skyline by itself is harder than Mt. Whitney. One guy said hed rather hike Whitney twice than hike Skyline once.

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#36941 - 05/31/14 12:48 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: RickG]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 105
Loc: Oklahoma
Hey RickG,

Your Philmont idea is good. That way they have experience with carrying a backpack mile after mile and day after day so they know what to expect when they sign up.

The reasons ours was 6 days (5 nights) is I wanted a short day getting into Guitar Lake (actually, the tarns above) so we'd be rested and ready for a 2:00 AM departure to see the sunrise from the summit. Then we spent our final night at Lone Pine Lake to recoup in a nice setting and to be in position to hit the Whitney Portal Store for humongous pancakes first thing in the morning (that was a hit!).

A challenge in the planning stage is to get Trail Crest exit permits. When I did it, I called (this was before it went online) 6 months to the day before our entry date and I still had a little difficulty getting the 14 we needed. Back then at least, the rangers had a little discretion and were able to swap-in some slots from other days. Even with that I had to bite my nails until I could get the last 1 or 2 we needed from cancellations later on. There was a thread here on this topic a few weeks ago.

Glenn

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#38414 - 07/08/14 10:27 AM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: RickG]
2Old4This Offline


Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern California
I'm just getting into the backpacking thing myself, so no advice there. But, I have been going on day hikes for decades, Whitney being the longest at 22 miles (though Mt Shasta was probably the toughest at only 14 miles). Personally, I've started riding a bike for cardio during the week with longer rides and weather permitting, hikes on the weekend. Riding a bike even more than hiking has given me an appreciation for how much difference a few less pounds can make. Lol. While riding a bike can't duplicate the potential physiological response to elevation, it does a good job of preparing your cardio system for the hike. I've never had a problem with AMS (knock on wood) so the cardio is all I care about.

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#38424 - 07/08/14 03:05 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: 2Old4This]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Originally Posted By: 2Old4This
While riding a bike can't duplicate the potential physiological response to elevation, it does a good job of preparing your cardio system for the hike.


I agree. Most of the people in the group that I'm hiking Whitney with in September have very busy schedules and we won't be able to hike as much as we have in years past. A few had asked about training suggestions and I sent the following:
Quote:

Hiking v. Running/Biking/Etc
I plan to change my approach to training this year - I can't hike as much as I have in years past. I also want to add some diversity to where I have hiked (no San G hikes this summer!). People usually say that the best way to prepare for a big hike is to hike. Over the last three years, I've come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily the truth. I've found that most people that use hiking as their primary form of cardio aren't necessarily in great shape, but those that run or bike regularly are in great shape and are strong hikers. I think it's because they are used to working at a much higher intensity than those that just hike.

If you run or bike regularly, you're probably in good enough shape to hike Mt. Whitney, but you need to supplement your normal training with some hiking and time at altitude. You need to prep your feet for the long day and get accustomed to carrying and using the gear you'll take on the hike. Prior exposure to altitude will help your body adapt on our trip and will decrease the likelihood AMS.

For those that hike as their primary form of cardio, I highly recommend supplementing your hiking with High Intensity Interval Training (HITT). If you are joining me on the training hikes this summer, two or three 15 minute sessions per week should be sufficient. Here is a link to the HITT program I am using this summer: 8 Week HIIT Program. I recommend using IntervalTimer or a similar app. I've found it to be very useful for timing the intervals while doing HIIT.


YMMV
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

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#38426 - 07/08/14 03:21 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: 63ChevyII.com]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 547
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Originally Posted By: 63ChevyII.com



Quote:

Hiking v. Running/Biking/Etc

You need to prep your feet for the long day and get accustomed to carrying and using the gear you'll take on the hike.




YMMV


I really agree with this. I bike a good bit, but I find that for long hikes you need to prepare you feet for the pounding they will take. They need to be in just as good shape as your legs, heart, lungs, etc....

As 63 says, YMMV

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#38427 - 07/08/14 03:47 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: John Sims]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7774
Loc: Fresno, CA
I try to stay in shape with a good workout 3 days a week. Then, leading up to a big hike, I'll bike to work (8 mile RT) often, maybe bike on weekends. And also this:

Before a big day hike: No more than a week ahead, I'll go and hike something nearly as far as the planned hike, but less strenuous: less altitude or distance, but I try to do 2/3 or 3/4 of the planned hike in intensity.

Before a backpack: I load up my backpack with gallons of water and carry it every other night just go get the feet, shoulders and joints accustomed to doing that. First time it really hurts. Each subsequent time, it gets easier and I walk faster. I usually do these walks late at night so too many people don't see me and wonder at the kook walking around with hiking poles and a big pack. wink

...I have a big backpack trip coming up starting Sunday, so I'm carrying 4 gallons around. Did two miles last night.

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#38428 - 07/08/14 04:13 PM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: Steve C]
63ChevyII.com Offline


Registered: 08/07/12
Posts: 670
Loc: Colton, California
Being from NH, my father-in-law did not have the chance to hike at all before our Whitney trip in June. He did however ride his bike to work 14 times (20 mile RT) with a 30 lb backpack. Whenever I get lazy and don't want to do HIIT (I hate cardio), I think about him kicking my a$$ all the way up that trail! cry

Originally Posted By: John Sims
I find that for long hikes you need to prepare you feet for the pounding they will take. They need to be in just as good shape as your legs, heart, lungs, etc....

I'm taking 2 guys from work with me in September. The main concerns are:

  • altitude
  • foot pain
  • fatigue from carrying a pack


I know we'll be fit enough to do it, it's just a question of how uncomfortable we'll be!

Originally Posted By: Steve C

Before a big day hike: No more than a week ahead, I'll go and hike something nearly as far as the planned hike, but less strenuous: less altitude or distance, but I try to do 2/3 or 3/4 of the planned hike in intensity.


I tend to do something similar, but plan the last big training hike about two weeks before. This is what I have planned for the September trip:

San Bernardino Peak
Distance: 16 miles RT || Duration: ~9 hrs || Elevation Change: 4700' || Max Elevation: 10,649' || Difficulty: Strenuous


The weekend prior we may do something small (5-10 miles RT,<2000' climbing) and in the days leading up to the hike, I tell everyone to deload training (reduce volume/intensity by 50% or more), particularly for lower body weight training and cardio.
_________________________
HikingGeek.com

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#38474 - 07/09/14 11:26 AM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: Steve C]
2Old4This Offline


Registered: 05/27/14
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern California
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I try to stay in shape with a good workout 3 days a week. Then, leading up to a big hike, I'll bike to work (8 mile RT) often, maybe bike on weekends. And also this:

Before a big day hike: No more than a week ahead, I'll go and hike something nearly as far as the planned hike, but less strenuous: less altitude or distance, but I try to do 2/3 or 3/4 of the planned hike in intensity.

Before a backpack: I load up my backpack with gallons of water and carry it every other night just go get the feet, shoulders and joints accustomed to doing that. First time it really hurts. Each subsequent time, it gets easier and I walk faster. I usually do these walks late at night so too many people don't see me and wonder at the kook walking around with hiking poles and a big pack. wink

...I have a big backpack trip coming up starting Sunday, so I'm carrying 4 gallons around. Did two miles last night.


That's what I did heading into my hike up Whitney in June. Increased my biking upto 25 to 45 mile rides on weekends and at least two rides to work each week (8 miles rt as well), then did a 17 mile local hike 10 days before Whitney at a much lower elevation but a couple of steep 1,000+ foot elevation climbs in it. Another reason for biking for me is preserving my knees. I agree that the disadvantage to biking is it does nothing to prepare your legs for the pounding hiking puts on them, but that's also somewhat an advantage, at least for me.

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#38815 - 07/19/14 10:30 AM Re: Noob. Whitney planning - long term. [Re: RickG]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Okey dokey...

Goals...Having defined goals are helpful. They get you to focus. I would suggest intermediate goals...backpack to San Jacinto, San G and then an easy Sierra trip...Cottonwood Lakes, with Cirque Peak as a high point goal

Training...Anything that gets you to your goals. Working during the week is the key to upward progress. I run and exercise bike during the week and do progressively harder things on the weekend.

Questions...

1. Training...Since backpacking is your thingy...train to go 6-miles, +3,600'. The trip to the summit with a 15 pounds on your back the following morning is a piece of cake. The trip that most like the first day at Mt. Whitney is Angelus Oaks to Limber Bench in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. 6-miles, +3,600'. Day trip up to San Bernardino Peak, San Bernardino East and Anderson Peak, if you want something approximating your second day.

2. Gear...the new 2 person tents are good for one person...unless you are sharing it with your wife or girl friend. Bags I have a 15 and -20...the Sierra in the summer can be 50 over night or 10...depending on the weather. I don't go to the Sierra enough to warrant 2 or 3 summer bags.

3. Cooking...many now use a Jet Boil system. Me, it's a couple of ti pots and a MSR Pocket Rocket stove. Each are simple, easy and semi-light.

4. Clothing...Rome wasn't built in a day figure out what you need and hit all the usual suspects for their best prices. Figure on buying stuff a few times until you get it right for you. Most of my clothing is now approaching ten years old. When I buy it is from a position of strength...I pay what I want for the things I want or I don't buy'em.

Winter clothing...Soft-shell hoody, soft-shell pants, vest and a couple of thickness of tops. This all you need to have the start of a good cold weather clothing system...been using it for years.

With all this said, get out a lot and observe, then ask questions to people whose gear and methods you admire.

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