Do you do retro trips?

7:40 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Just did a retro bp trip with four others over the weekend, starting on Friday.  Do you ever get together with your "gang" for a vintage/retro bp trip?  Seen was a Kelty and a The North Face pack in new to barely used shape, a MSR single wall, Flash Magic tent, a Trangia stove and associated wind screen/pot support, a canvas Army pup tent (half of it, the other half was forgotten at home)  and my Sigg Tourist kit with a Svea 123 fitted with a Bernie Dawg mini cap with a Optimus pump that was not needed.  All worked great.  I was wishing I still had my old Camptrails pack I bought barely used back in the early '70's.  My stove set up was only acquired by me a few years ago, moving me to stove collecting at that time, currently having around 78 stoves. :)

Duane

10:09 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
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I have only been backpacking for 2 years now (not even), and usually solo, so no.  I actually do wish I had some more friends who hiked / backpack.

2:18 p.m. on June 18, 2012 (EDT)
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I would love to do a "go-heavy" trip with a gas lantern, cast iron pans, coffee percolator, bottled beer, etc.  This has been on my life list for far too long.  Thanks for the encouragement to get this done!

9:29 p.m. on June 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Seth, don't get crazy now! :)  Just plan a shorter distance hike in.  One of our group won't do a longer trip, so we only hiked in under 2 miles for this bp trip, he did do a 8-10 mile dayhike on Saturday.  I made this fun, mostly to just let everyone see what used to be used and to appreciate  the lighter gear, especially the guys who used the old packs.  One carried a big load easily but was top heavy and the other dug his shoulder pretty good, even with the short hike in.  I was going to bring some microbrews, but what I selected was too hoppy, so I left it at home and used the ice in my ice chest for a electrolyte/tequila mixed drink.  Ahhhh!!  We did sort of a minimalist/survival trip two years ago, using parachute cord, tarps or black plastic, cooked on/over a wood fire or could use a alcohol stove, homemade type.  That was more fun.

Duane

10:26 p.m. on June 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Seth said:

I would love to do a "go-heavy" trip with a gas lantern, cast iron pans, coffee percolator, bottled beer, etc.  

 Count me in. ;)
 

10:42 p.m. on June 18, 2012 (EDT)
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My mere attendance makes any trip retro.

Ed

12:04 a.m. on June 19, 2012 (EDT)
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My gear is all over the map, age wise, so any trip for me is at least partially retro.  I have thought about going as retro as possible on a trip just for fun, but have yet to find the time.  In some cases I could nearly narrow it down to one brand.  No way I'd carry a 60/40 parka instead of modern rainwear; got to draw the line somewhere.

2:28 a.m. on June 19, 2012 (EDT)
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My guess is that all my trips would classify as "retro".  I prefer wool.  I like boots.  I like packs from the 70s and 90s.  I bring moccasins for camp footwear.  I think water bladders are for the birds.  My nighttime pastime is a tobacco pipe.  I sometimes make cowboy coffee.  I have absolutely no interest in doing more than 15 miles in a day, and 8-10 is perfectly fine with me.

I'd like to get more use out of my packs from the 70s.  I chicken out sometimes.

8:54 a.m. on June 19, 2012 (EDT)
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I really love using my old stoves, whether the suitcase types for car camping or the old MSR 9, G so forth.  I forgot about my old synthetic fill sleeping bag I had from the '60's, I decided to leave it home this last weekend, it was just so heavy and bulky.  I'm going to take that this coming weekend, along with an old Coleman 9C and Prentiss Wabers #4  from the '20's.  Using them makes me cook a little better instead of something instant.  I plan on fixing spaghetti with some doctored up Newman's Own sauce. Yum.

Duane

3:59 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I'm still holding on to my old (1980's) North Face frame pack.  I was told somewhere that this was "made in China," not by North Face itself, but was sold by them with their logo stitched onto it.  Funny, but that patch is the only thing that has "broken" off.  I've loaded this to the point I could barely lift it, abused it by taking it caving, etc...

Frame packs are the way to go.  I saw two guys hiking together last year, one with an external frame, one with a large soft pack (internal frame probably).  Both were loaded down with stuff, but you could plainly see that the external frame pack was carrying the weight closer to the hiker's back, closer to his center of gravity.  This means the weight is pulling down, not backwards.

Next time you youngin's put your fancy dandy "comfortable in the store" soft pack on, fully loaded, have someone try this:

Have them stand next to you and press oh so gently down on the pack where it meats the shoulder straps.  You will sway back a bit.  Then have them press oh so gently (the same downward pressure) on the pack as far from your back as possible.  You will almost fall backward.  I've shown this to many people who hang stuff off the back of their pack.  With a good frame pack, stuff stacks neatly on top.

This was why the old-schoolers developed external frame packs in the first place (certainly not because they are cheaper or easier to build). They keep the weight as close to your back as possible; and the smart guy packs the heavy weight at the TOP of his pack: you only need to lean forward the slightest bit, and the load is transfered strait down to your hips, and off your back (think trigonometry and leverage).  It takes much more energy to carry a load with your legs PLUS your back muscles.  Your back is not made for carrying stuff (just ask a chiropractor).  They may give the illusion of being clunky in the store, but on the trail frame packs are superior for carrying a load.  And I love winter camping, and I love staying warm.  That means a load.  

The newer Jansport and Kelty frame packs look nice, but they use thin zippers on the lower section with a "panel" style door, and then they therefore need to be laid down to open them without stuff falling out.  This is what I love about my external frame, especially when it's been raining and the ground is wet and/or muddy.  I can stand my frame pack up and prop it against a tree, or use my hiking staff as a kickstand.  My lower section has a super-heavy duty zipper that wraps around the pack body and when you open it while the pack is upright, the lower section is a "pocket" that nothing can fall out of.  This was the pack's selling point for me.

I had to rebuild the waist strap.  They didn't pad them so well back in the day.  I used soft sheepskin shammy leather to cover silicone gel (like on bicycle seats) to pad a 2-inch webbing strap.  Oh so nice.  I hike with NO weight on my shoulders - just a slight back-pull on my chest cross-strap.  At least until the waist band slides down my skinny hips - and I have to hike it back up.

And forget gore-tex, poly-pro underware, etc...  Give me an old school heavy PVC jacket and pants.  If you're perspiring in your jacket, TAKE IT OFF.  No $100+ gore-tex jacket ever vents well enough to ware while hiking uphill.  In drizzle, I don't need no jacket.

For heavy rain hiking, I took about 5 feet of steel break line tubing and  bent it into a big U shape; I also drilled two very small holes through each end using a drill press, just big enough to fit a paperclip though.  I got a heavy-duty emergency blanket with an attached hood (the kind that are red or blue on one side).  I put two small grommets in the hood right where it meats the rest of the blanket on either edge of the hood.  I run the tubing through the grommets so the upside-down U shape rests inside the hood, keeping it open.  Then I hook the ends of the tubing to the frame on my pack on each side, about half way down - about the same level as the shoulder straps, with the hood open over my head and the rest of the e-blanket draping over the pack, and down over my shoulders on each side.  When it stops raining the tubing hinges back and the hood is no longer over my head - just over the pack.  When the rain picks up the tubing hinges forward and the hood/blaknet covers me and the pack.  As long as there is not too much wind.  It may help to use thin bungee cord to attach the back-bottom side of the e-blanket (now a cape) to the pack.

Hiking in silk is the best.  All natural, not plastic (poly-pro is plastic).  If you love the woods, don't buy plastic stuff if you can get away with it.  Black silk for winter, white for summer-sun reflection.  One pair of see-through silk leggings is far warmer than any cotton pants.  Two pair (or more) is best for cold cold (i.e. 35 degrees F or less).  They dry fast and hold very little moisture, they are warm even when wet, but cool when it's hot (amazing, nature is!).  With rain pants and maybe a thin fast drying pair of shorts, that's all you need.  Unless you want to hang out at camp for hours - then cut the arms off a large sweater and use them as thigh warmers over the silks, and under the rain pants.  Fasten a belt to the thigh-warmers to keep them up, or stitch buttons on the inside of your rain pants.  And it's only wool for me.  None of that polar-fleece or thinsulate garbage in my pack.

But I love my "new" (8-year-old) Marmot down-filled bag with it's "waterproof" shell.  At last the east-coast dew finally won't soak my bag.  And REI's Quarter-Dome T1 tent is finally the near- perfect solo tent (if only it's vestibule was just a bit bigger to hold my frame pack).

Retro for me would be my old 8.5 pound Marmot Screech tent (love it, and it was perfect for hiking with two big dogs - rated as a two man, we once packed in 3 adults, a child, and four large dogs plus our gear all night when unexpected rain hit) and I used to hike with a 40 degree synth-filled bag from late 70's/early 80's, and 2, yes TWO wool army blankets - one was a 1/3-inch thick Swiss Army blanket.  Once I slept in my down bag, there was no going back.  One of the coldest nights I've seen, my friend woke saying he was freezing all night, I woke saying I was so hot, I had to take my socks off.  The look on his face was absolutely priceless.  He got a down bag.

5:57 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I bet many of us had first excursions that were retro since we used mostly army surplus gear.  Can I get an amen?

8:04 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

I bet many of us had first excursions that were retro since we used mostly army surplus gear.  Can I get an amen?

That and borrowed stuff.

Ed

10:52 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I did not have surplus gear, I used the heavy Sears bag I got as a kid and borrowed a Camptrails pack from my boss and later bought it as he had no use for it.  After a few years, I bought a $20 K-Mart tent.

Duane

3:32 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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No I do not miss that old 50 lbs of gear I carried.  I now carry essentially the same items, though upgraded to a svelte 20!

9:39 a.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Got a lot of stares last year from on-lookers in the line when I shuffled up on my Head skis from 1959.

Its another story about why I had been storing them for that long!  I still have the straps from my WW Korea surplus, US Army pack someplace.

Dang!  How did anybody ski back then and not break something.

Spam was considered ultra-lite.

12:01 p.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
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It is good to know that guy like Gnome are still out there.  Any bping trip with my friends looks like a retro trip.

We have tried some variations on the theme over the years, like hobo camping.  Blue tarps, knapsacks, blankets, wine, canned food, cooking on a fire, etc.  Great fun.

On easy trails we have brought a little red wagon with a cooler and ice cold beer on backcountry trips.  It was a smash hit.  Another time we brought a wheelbarrow.

I like to cook with the exhaust manifold of the truck going down the highway, or on a shovel.  Packing dogs is a lot of fun, and so are overnight ski trips.  There is a lot of entertainment value in trying new things.  Had dinner with an old friend in Seattle a few weeks ago.  He wanted to talk about the winter ski trip back in about 1974.  People remember the odd trips.

 

 

2:07 p.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Mountain Gnome---I too used to use a North Face external called the Back Magic and I have several pics of it floating around on the interweb.  In fact, on a recent trip I ran into a guy who had a brand new one (from storage I guess) as shown below---


trip_114_547.jpg

4:55 p.m. on August 16, 2012 (EDT)
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My first pack was an external frame from Montgomery Ward, I think it was called the "suntracker" but maybe it should have been an adaptation of that TNF pack and called "Back Tragic"

11:47 a.m. on August 17, 2012 (EDT)
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My pack's a bit different, but it's the same blue cloth, it seems.

Here it is almost 15 years ago.  Note the two pockets per side.  The zipper runs from the frame (you can just see it's large metal pull in the pic), around the body to the frame on the other side.  The one in the pic you showed looks like a front-load panel-style opening.  I prefer mine, as said, because stuff won't fall out when at 90 degrees upright.

You can see the size of that Marmot tent, and note the stuffsack protruding from the upper section holding cold-weather gear.  I keep my down bag (have an older REI bag I was using before the Marmot water-resistant shell) in the upper section now (as in this picutre), but "retro" I used to take and roll the old poly-pro 50-degree bag with the two wool blankets into a 14-inch diameter bundle (had to push 10 pounds!) and strap it to the bottom of the frame, and the tent rode on top.  Note how my pack has more open space at the bottom to strap to, while that guy's pack has more interior space.

My two friends in the pic are Smokie and Phoenix (may both RIP).  Could take them anywhere without a leash.  And we went there.  Deep woods for days, deep caving, Phoenix would rappel 100-foot cliff faces handing from my harness, and my climbing friends called her crag-dog, cause she could climb cracks using her back and neck as a wedge to get a stick strategically placed 6-12 feet off the ground.   At 10 years old (this pic) Phoenix could still beat anyone at a game of stick.  Smokie, as always, was the Master of Foxhounds, always prowling around looking for a snack to catch, or a dumpster to dive in, if we hung around the city.  I hardly ever locked them in my truck, they could always come and go through the back window.  I would go eat, and Phoenix would guard the home base, while Smokie would reconnaissance the trash out behind the buildings and be back chillin' in the cab by the time I was finished.  A whistle generally had her back within 2 minutes if not.  But sometimes I would wait for hours.  Other times I would give up or have an appointment, and come back a few hours later, and she was there waiting.  She wouldn't wander far again for a while.  Gotta keep her on her toes, sometimes!  
image.jpg

1:34 p.m. on August 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Gnome,

Back in the days when you went heavy, why didn't you pack your dogs?  They look like the right kind of dogs to take in the backcountry and would probably have been good at it.  You don't hear about it much these days, but that is another option for getting the pack below 20 or 15 pounds, pack 2 dogs, just like our ancestors.  I had a large bc/collie cross pull a small sled with 20 pounds for winter trips, which made xc skiing with a pack much less top heavy.

 

2:35 p.m. on August 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Some of our ancestors (if you're Native American) used dogs to haul stuff on a travois.  And some ate dog.  I learned in lean times the tribal (pre-history) Lakota would eat their dogs to survive, and this is why they kept on average around 200 dogs in their nomadic villages.  "On the hoof" so to speak.

4:21 p.m. on August 18, 2012 (EDT)
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ppine:

I don't ride horses for the same reason, although the Wind River Range in Wyoming has me temped.  At least a pack horse or maybe alpaca.  Just to carry a few weeks food into deep woods.  But then you need a pack of big dogs to guard the llama from grizzlies, or a good strong horse that can get away, and a couple good watchdogs, which could be small (20-50 lbs) as long as they bark AHEAD OF TIME so you can untie the horse.  Then you gotta feed the dogs, which means packing more..... ....$

Anyway, they DO (or did) have packs.  When on the A.T. for days in winter, Phoenix would even carry a closed-cell ground pad for her and Smokie, rolled up and mounted on her back; people called her "bazooka-dog" and "tank-dog".  One would carry food for both (usually Phoenix), the other would carry the gallon-milk-jug-bottom bowls, and then in the last hour of the day she would also carry two bottles of water for camp, for her and Phoenix.  I rarely camp near water, preferring ridge-tops.  I'll carry over a gallon from the nearest creek to camp just for myself.

Smokie was much more of a free spirit, found as a puppy with a broken leg deep in the woods, terrified of people when young, and a rebel without a cause.  Convincing her to wear a pack was difficult.  One of the first times I took her in the woods with it on, we were night-hiking to camp, and she disappeared.  She always wandered off trail, but always within earshot (1/4 mile at most I guess - if I stopped anywhere, she was always right there and never went off on her own).  So she came back without the pack.  I spent hours scouring the woods the next day to no avail.  She KNEW I would put it back on her, so she ditched it good.  Put FOOD in it though, and there are no complaints.  I always let her watch me fill it at home.....

But having them as friends taught me so much about what it means to be alive.  To be CONSCIOUS.  No, a dog ain't gonna build an airplane, but that don't mean their dumb.  There was a reason many Native American tribes considered the Wolf, Bear, Mountain Lion, etc as brothers.

And I don't ask my brother to carry my junk up the hill (unless I'm beat down).  Folks on horseback have passed me saying"ya autta get you a horse for that load, it's so much easier."  And to a horse, what's 40 lbs?  But =I= loose the satisfaction of doing it myself.  The day I'm in the woods on the trail on top of a mountain overlooking the valleys and a couple from "The Hamptons" of Virginia stroll up wearing makeup, perfume and Helly Hanson pullovers with no pack, followed by 3 big dudes with 3 expedition size packs carrying their (the "Hamptons" couple's) overnight camp is the day I head to Alaska.

Then again, I did carry the big-ass tent for them to share, so the pups could carry something for me.  Dogs cannot be loaded down with too much weight for too long, and the pack can't be too large.  The weight should be on the front shoulders, not the midback.  Imaging being on your hands and knees with a 30-lb weight in the middle of your back.  Up a mountain, all day, for days.  So toward the end of the trip, as food was eaten, they would carry the garbage to be packed out, and maybe something else.

Tipi Walter:

As far as eating them, I'm a vegetarian and have some Buddhist beliefs.  While I don't have any problem with YOU eating flesh, (1) it would give me acid-reflux from hell, and (2) I believe that each spirit should progress as it wants, individually.  In the movie "Dances With Wolves,"  Native Americans are portrayed to eat the beating heart of the deep or buffalo they hunt, to gain the spirit of the creature I've heard.  What's better? Spirit evolving individually, or slowly merging into one?  Surely I eat the spirit of plants (and the microscopic bugs that live on all leafy veggies), but to me it's like that guy on the East Coast who bought that large live lobster at the seafood restaurant and brought it back to the sea - because, he said, it had lived at least 80 years, judging by size, and it therefore deserved to finish it's life.  Or something like that.  Yea.  Defies logic.  At any rate, I don't want to be robbed, so I rob no one.  And I don't want to be eaten, but I can't starve.  Why I'm here in this body, I don't know, but somehow I feel as if I tread on the backs of others a little more gently if I don't eat them, or just eat plants.  Perhaps the best answer would be a diet of shiitake mushrooms - perfect amino-acid balance, plenty of vitamins, and the caps, once open, are basically dead flesh.  Any many plants WANT you to eat their fruit and their seeds won't sprout until digestive acids remove their coatings - and you "deposit" them elsewhere, i.e. spreading the seed.

And I don't eat my friends.  When we're all about to die on a tropical desert island, ask me again about my philosophy.  But you'd better be a good swimmer..... ;)

Here's Smokie with her pitiful look when she has to wear the pack.
image.jpg

And Phoenix with her unbalanced pack (another problem):
image.jpg
Ahhh, Grayson Hghlands State Park of Virginia.  One of the few good things in Virgina, and one of my favorite places in the world.  I'm told it's an old supervolcano cauldron, the oldest left, and one of the biggest ever.  Good Earth energy there.  And wild ponies to amaze the grandkids...

6:31 p.m. on August 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Gnome,

Thanks for taking the time to explain your relationship with dogs and other living things.  I have always like extreme people and those that are philosophical.  It is a form of living life with a purpose.  I agree that there seems to be a lot of reward in the outdoors with the "doing."  That makes many people out of step with the modern ways of doing things.  I relish being out of step with the latest and greatest, but right in time with those that have come before and the Big Picture.  Nature is my religion.

2:39 p.m. on August 20, 2012 (EDT)
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ppine,

>>right in time with those that have come before and the Big Picture.

>>Nature is my religion.

Very nicely put.

Wish I could remember which Chinese Taoist or Buddhist Philosopher said this, and I can't quote it exactly:

All you will ever need to know can be found by listening to the wind, watching the trees, following the sun and moon and stars, attentive always to nature.

The retro old-schoolers had it down.  If I had a greater physical stature I wouldn't care about ultra-light gear.  One day I'll start my own line of gear done old-school style made with mostly all-natural materials combined with the best new materials.  Products now are made with the idea that you should by another in a few years...

12:20 p.m. on August 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Mtn Gnome,

Some of my friends question my interest in forums.  Your post has made my day.  Thanks.  It is always a big deal to me to find someone who "gets it."  Someone with experience that has seen the fads come and go.

I was in a mule wreck in 2007, and ended up in a hospital in Bend, OR for 8 days.  I didn't know anyone there and was on 2 kinds of opiate pain meds.  A nurse moved my bed so I could see the Cascades.  I found a chaplain that understood "access to divinity" was much more important than the denomination.  The portal to my personal religion was forged during that time.  It has taken several years to work back up to backpacking after a spriral  fracture of my femur.  I have gratitude every day for the simple act of walking.

7:45 p.m. on August 21, 2012 (EDT)
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I didn't have snowshoes when my dog was alive, so we either hiked a short distance in the snow or I loaded us up on my snowmobile and rode in a few miles or more somewhere where there was limb wood from Lodgepole pine.  That way I could have a campfire for a little while at night until it disappeared into the snow.  My dogs always had packs, no way was I going to pack their food in my then heavier pack for a week.

Duane

August 30, 2014
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