Do you have a unique piece of gear?

12:04 p.m. on September 28, 2018 (EDT)
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So full credit to reviewer of the month (Bruce) for asking this question, and Ed for responding with his paper clip post in that thread.  I thought this might deserve its own thread as I am interested in the answers but don't want to hijack the other thread...

Do you have a piece of gear that is unique - in other words something you don't think most others would carry?

I really don't - beyond my little mascot,
DSCF1501.jpgand maybe my Ultralight Reading Glasses so I can keep my full size pair safe in the pack...or when I forget the larger pair!
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12:48 p.m. on September 28, 2018 (EDT)
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It’s not unique by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve never seen anyone else carrying one.

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I don’t do orienteering so precision down to the degree is unnecessary for me. This is more than sufficient for me to compare the general direction the trail is going with the general direction of the part of the trail I think I’m on on the map. If there were several diverging trails separated by 5-10 degrees, I’d probably be under equipped with this. 

1:08 p.m. on September 28, 2018 (EDT)
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Bungee stamps with attached carabiners, heavy I know but , you can put up a tarp with grommet  holes in 30 seconds. And they don’t do any damage to the trees. They work great. And have several other uses such as clothing line attaching things to the outside of the pack. Essentially I always have a very large rubber band available.

4:25 p.m. on September 28, 2018 (EDT)
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My dog Ruby Begonia. 

11:43 p.m. on September 28, 2018 (EDT)
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Jerry Chair. IMHO without a doubt, one of the most under-rated pieces of gear in the backpacking world. Super simple to make, incredibly comfortable, and has multiple uses.

I make mine a bit different, but here's some pics of the original design. Kudos to Jerry W for the design and willingness to share. (Pics taken from his hammock forums gallery) A few manufacturers sell a version of this now, but if you can sew a straight stitch making your own is a 10min effort. I've made at least 20+ of these, and have given nearly that many to other backpackers. When you roll into camp, get setup and settled, falling into this chair with the back support and head rest life is good. Good for a nap as well. If anyone I'm out with hasn't seen one before I normally give them mine at the end of the trip. Size it so that it works with your sleeping or butt pad or both. I normally make mine out of waterproof fabric. Worth its weight in gold.

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1:25 p.m. on September 29, 2018 (EDT)
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Okay, I’m intrigued! Gonna need some more info here Brian! What fabric do you use (tyvek?), how much does it weigh, does it only work on soft surfaces (can the poles slide if the tips can’t dig into the ground)?

2:10 p.m. on September 29, 2018 (EDT)
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That chair rocks !

9:33 p.m. on September 30, 2018 (EDT)
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Brian, nice chair! Similar in some ways to the QuikBack chair. But, the QuikBack looks like you need to balance yourself perfectly on it or you'll slide off, while yours is big and deep. Not great, though, for folks like me who use their trekking poles to hold up their shelter.

To the original question, I don't know that I have "unique" gear, but some that is unusual/atypical.

I have already reviewed my Swing Trek Liteflex umbrella and the StickPic.  Also the Olight i3S EOS mini flashlight, which clips onto the bill of a hat I'm carrying anyway for IMO a much lighter and more versatile lighting solution compared to a headlamp.

Some others:

  • Sewing scissors. For most cutting needs I find scissors much more useful than a knife, unless you are prepping food or fishing. Ultralight, titanium-bonded mini sewing scissors stay sharp and make quick use of trimming cord, fingernails, opening baggies, etc.
  • I'm experimenting with putting a duckbill valve on my dirty water bottle. I use a Sawyer water filter, and one downside of using it on a hard-sided water bottle is that it doesn't let air back into the bottle, so you have to keep giving it a slight unscrew then re-tighten to equalize the pressure inside the bottle. A duckbill valve will let air in when there is negative pressure on one side of the valve, without letting water back out the other direction.
  • Bottle cap shower head. I just took a spare bottle cap and drilled some holes in it. This works better on a hard plastic cap rather than the softer, bend-able caps that are usually found on standard water bottles.
  • Braided dyneema fishing line. I got some 8-strand, 120lb line in fluorescent yellow, plenty strong for a clothesline and many emergency uses, and weighs nothing.
  • DIY electrolytes. I looked at the proportions of sodium, potassium and chloride in Gatorade and Powerade then calculated how to make my own mix from regular table salt and Morton's Lite salt. I also add a tiny pinch of epsom salts to add magnesium. I mix this with Kool-Aid powder and as much (or as little) sugar as I want for a much cheaper alternative to Nuun tablets and the like.

What's interesting about my kit and that of most ultralighters is how it is a weird mix of some high-end, ultra-specialized, expensive, purpose-built gear along with a variety of dirt cheap, home-made, DIY and repurposed doodads and landfill fodder. As long as it's light and it works!

8:42 a.m. on October 1, 2018 (EDT)
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Phil Smith said:

It’s not unique by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve never seen anyone else carrying one.

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 That looks like the Coghlan's Four Function Whistle I mentioned in the previous thread about lucky charms Phil. Carried one for many years because I was afraid to leave it at home. Stopped when my eyes got so bad I couldn't see the temperature any more. Always wished the magnifying lens swiveled so you could use it to read the numbers heh.

My personal oddities would include:

  • Aarn sport pockets
  • ECWS quilted mitten liner meal cozy
  • eyeglass case full of Trailspace stickers :p
9:50 a.m. on October 1, 2018 (EDT)
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JRinGeorgia said:

Brian, nice chair! Not great, though, for folks like me who use their trekking poles to hold up their shelter.

 Cheers, not my design but the chair is awesome. Agreed, if your shelter requires your poles the chair loses out. You can improvise with sticks I guess, sounds like a pain. I mostly hammock or cowboy/tarp camp so works great for me. Jake W said:

What fabric do you use (tyvek?), how much does it weigh, does it only work on soft surfaces (can the poles slide if the tips can’t dig into the ground)?

I've made a bunch of these, and prefer a waterproof material. Haven't tried tyvek, but I'm sure it would work. Depending on the fabric, weighs around 50g/2oz. I carry a piece of reflectix, and size the chair to fit it. Works fine on solid surface, pole tips don't slip. Also, if the ground is wet you can still use this on a log or other elevated surface. Just make your poles longer. Old video showing one version:  https://youtu.be/dtElxQH9TLI  

10:04 a.m. on October 1, 2018 (EDT)
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JRinGeorgia said:

Braided dyneema fishing line. I got some 8-strand, 120lb line in fluorescent yellow, plenty strong for a clothesline and many emergency uses, and weighs nothing.

.. a weird mix of some high-end, ultra-specialized, expensive, purpose-built gear along with a variety of dirt cheap, home-made, DIY and repurposed doodads and landfill fodder. 

 I use fishing line as well (300lb). Learned it from a backpacker that goes by Sgt Rock. Really useful in a hammock setup. Agree on the mix of gear.

4:39 p.m. on October 1, 2018 (EDT)
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It may sound like a joke, but my dog is my secret weapon in the backcountry.  She carries her stuff and a little of mine.  She is a lot of company, keeps me warm when it is really cold, and is the first line of defense early warning system. I sleep much better with my dog because she will wake me up if we have company.  Whenever I feel tired my dog's boundless energy pushes us forward. 

I have been on plenty of solo trips with a dog, but without one I would be lost. 

6:03 p.m. on October 27, 2018 (EDT)
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Weird? WEIRD YOU SAY??

Hmm... 

1. small ZRest sit pad (stored behind my Osprey EXOS' mesh back)

2. Seek Outside silnylon front pouch/bottle holder attached to my lower pack straps 

3. one-egg skillet W/handle cut off (pot grippers for this skillet and my 3 cup pot)

4. 3 mm closed cell neoprene divers' sox over thin poly liners for a warm VBL in fall and winter with my GTX boots, Scarpa Telemark boots or Sorel felt pac sub zero boots. Keeps sweat in and insulation dry. Remove at night & change liner socks. (PM me for details)

Eric B.

8:01 a.m. on October 30, 2018 (EDT)
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More items:

  • I also use a 50' length of dyneema fishing line.  I suspend my camp kitchen light from it.  
  • I have a home made 6' telescoping carbon fiber walking staff that is as light as a single of the lightest trekking poles currently marketed.  It also doubles as the mast pole of my pyramid tarp.
  • I have a stove I have customized from a 1980s era MRS Firefly and a dedicated pot with lid which serve as a very high efficiency ice melter/water boiler system.  (But it is still noisy as the Firefly and XKG stoves are notorious for).
  • Slide rule.  It is used for navigation on snow tours in the mountains, to create a triangulation solution when only one vector can be established in poor visibility.  The second vector is the plumb line from your position to the elevation of the spot used for your compass bearing.  Who'd thunk that trig learned in high school would ever be useful? (I know I could use a calculator, but this Luddite doesn't trust batteries for mission critical functions in the cold.)
  • Old School analog altimeter, also used on snow tours.
  • A cozy fashioned from a blue foam sleeping pad that fits my bear canister, converting it to a cooler that will keep frozen items wholesome for three days.
  • Camp "flippers" - home made fingerless mitts that go half way up the forearm consisting of a nylon shell covering a blue foam mit, with a fleece inner liner.  Design allows the portion covering the fingers to flip open when you have to handle things.
  • Rubber dish washing gloves, the kind you find in the cleaning products section of the grocery store.  Used as another cold weather item.  They work just as well insulating from the cold as they do insulating from hot dish washing water. 
  • Suspenders capable of simultaneously holding up several bottom garments at once (i.e. shell pants, fleece pants, short, long johns, etc.)  This keeps bottoms from falling off and permits all items to have a relaxed fit at the waist, facilitating comfort, warmth and circulation.
  • This shouldn't be unique given its economy and effectiveness but..  ..my pack rain cover is a cheap, large, heavy duty trash bag.  Works far better than any pack cover I previously wasted money on.  Duct tape any casual holes sustained.  Replace whenever desired.
  • Steel impregnated epoxy putty.  Part of my repair kit.  Handy in a pinch for those with the MacGyver gene.  Have used in the past to plug the bottom ends of pack frame tubes, fabricate a finger splint, make buttons, repair sun glasses, repair a broken latch on a battery pack.
  • Superglue.  Many potential uses.  I have used it on broken finger nails and loose pole ferules. 

Ed  

12:29 a.m. on November 7, 2018 (EST)
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This little beauty has been thousands of miles with me. It took me a little while to learn to play it, but now it produces a gorgeous clear melody that echoes off cliffsides and canyon walls. Attracts birds, and sometimes hippies.

It is in the key of C# Harmonic Minor -- think Gypsy. Crafted of South American cane by master flutemaker Erik Sampson (most likely retired now). It is 11 inches long, and weighs 1.25oz.


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12:40 a.m. on November 7, 2018 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

 

  • Rubber dish washing gloves, the kind you find in the cleaning products section of the grocery store.  Used as another cold weather item.  They work just as well insulating from the cold as they do insulating from hot dish washing water. 

 
Great list Ed, with rubber gloves being the star on top for me. Outstanding Zombie Apocalypse Preparedness value there. Not to mention the fact that you can actually do stuff in those gloves.

9:48 a.m. on November 18, 2018 (EST)
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I used to do water quality studies in weather like today.  We collected wq samples, benthic biotata, and gauged streams.  When there is anchor ice and slush in the water, the only thing that really works is a pair of trapper gloves that goes all the way to the shoulder. 

2:17 p.m. on November 18, 2018 (EST)
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2:36 p.m. on November 19, 2018 (EST)
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Oh yeah and I forgot about this one:


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February 17, 2019
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