This past week, my lovely girlfriend said she wanted a small taste of what we would be dealing with for six-months. So off to the Appalachian Trail we went! We drove down to Harpers Ferry, WV so we could look back at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy records and see the photos from Dave, Andy and I when we passed through on our thru-hike. It was fun seeing the numbers one, two and three above our pictures for north bounders. While we had left super early, and missed the big 'community' scene on the AT, we made up for it with the satisfaction of knowing we were not only the first ones to officially reach the ATC in Harpers Ferry, but also the first to complete a northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2009.
Anyway -- back to the topic at hand.
I was excited to get outdoors with Alisa, and show her what our life would be like for nearly half a year. I was equally as excited to test out a majority of the gear I have not yet used in the field, and recheck things I had used on the AT to make sure they were still good to go.
Unfortunately, I found out my waterbladder would no longer cut it, so I'll have to get a new one. However, I was very VERY pleased with was our Primus gear. They hooked us up with headlamps, flashlights, a pot and stove.
Primus was recently written up in Backpacker Magazine for their flashlight, and there are no false words there -- the flashlight performed wonderfully. It was bright and durable, yet small and simple. With three settings, it allowed for multiple scenarios. The bright setting (175 lumens) for night hiking or searching for water in the dark, the low setting (approx. 5 lumens) for in camp or tent, and strobe, for scaring people into thinking you're the police... or more realistically, for getting attention in a sticky situation.
The headlamp also earned its stripes. It has a nice foam pad on the back to sit comfortably on your forehead, and the band has reflective lines on it for easy spotting when in the dark (even without a light, a little moonlight will help illuminate it.) It allows for you to choose between high powered LED's or a Luxeon diode. Allowing for a wider beam, or skinnier beam (in camp vs. hiking).
I was very happy with these two pieces of gear, but when I tried the cooking gear I was blown away. We received the EtaPower pot and Express Stove Ti. As soon as I took out the pot I could feel how awesome it was. There's a non-stick coating, which would make it good for cooking, but we never actually cook in pots. All our food is made with boiling water so there's no clean up! What the non-stick coating is good for though, is drying the sucker. As soon as the water is poured out, a quick flick of the wrist and the pot's dry.
The cool component of design on the EtaPower pot is the heat shield at the bottom. Originally, I was worried because I felt the pot was a little precarious balancing on the bottom of it, but then it dawned on me -- put the stove between the grooves. Voila! The stove was super sturdy, and super efficient. I was doing other things while boiling the water, but I swear it boiled a full 2-liters of water in no more than three-minutes. This is not only great for starving hikers, but it's amazing for saving fuel in the backcountry. The stove itself produces a HUGE flame (I measured about eight-inches high!), and with it trapped under the pot, all that heat gets put to use.
The only sketchy part when using the pot was lighting the pocket-rocket. When I tried to light the stove with my flint after putting the pot on it, but accidently knocked it over! The cool thing was the pot stayed attached to the stove even after it tumbled to the ground. So either use a match/lighter, or you'll have to quickly arrange the pot over a big ol' flame (see picture in below post).
All in all it was a great weekend. The gear performed brilliantly, and the weather was wonderful. I was truly able to witness how awesome our gear was and rest a little easier for the next few weeks knowing we are in good hands for the next adventure!