On choosing the right gear for a wilderness expedition

Dave and I are going to be away from civilization for a month – departing June 9 and returning July 8. So it is super important that we have only the best quality gear on this expedition, both for the hiking section and for the kayaking section. Durability and ease of use is important the whole way through. And for the hiking section (which is three weeks), light weight and low volume are also priorities.

LDSC_0117We have a number of great sponsors who are providing us with gear – but I want to make it really clear that we are not using their products simply because we got it for free or at a discount. Free gear is no help to us if it doesn’t work or if it falls apart or if it’s too heavy! These are all products that we have researched and selected specifically for our needs (and also because, beyond the requirements of our month on the Secret Coast, they will serve us for years to come!).

Here’s a list of some of the products and equipment that we will be using – I will continue to update it as we work on our gear and with links to any posts or reviews we write:

Clothing and Footwear:

Arc’teryx: When travelling on the wet coast (oops, I mean west coast), rain gear is essential, no matter what time of year. But it’s so heavy! Not any more… Arc’teryx has a new “Zeta” line of ultralight Gore-tex gear – so we’ll each be carrying (and sometimes wearing) the Zeta hooded rain jackets and the amazingly lightweight Zeta rain pants.

Woolpower: Hmm, a month in the wilderness? Sounds stinky. Good thing wool (unlike synthetics) is naturally odour-resistant! So we will be wearing Woolpower undergarments: lightweight long johns and T-shirts, and thicker zip turtle-neck. This ability to dress in layers means that we don’t have to pack a lot of clothing with us!

LDSC_3854MEC long-sleeved shirts: We also need quick-drying synthetic shirts to protects us from the sun, and the lightweight MEC T1 long-sleeve crew-neck shirts (SPF 40!) will be fantastic for hiking and even better for paddling. (Here’s Dave trying his on).

Fjallraven hiking pants: Once again, we want to minimize how much clothing we are carrying – so pants with legs that zip off to become shorts are clearly our best option. Once we saw how durable the Fjallraven Keb Gaiter hiking pants are – no worries about them tearing them as we bush-bash! – this was our obvious choice.

Salomon boots: As ultrarunners, Dave and I have been wearing Salomon running shoes for a decade or more. And we wore Salomon hiking shoes when trekking in India. But we expect the terrain to be pretty rugged on this trip, and our packs are going to be very heavy, so we are opting for boots rather than hiking shoes. Our research pointed us to only one viable option that is both lightweight yet rugged: the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX. They are on order – can’t wait to break them in!

LP1110320Hiking and Camping Gear:

Big Agnes tent: I already have a Big Agnes one-person tent that I use for my solo trips. Dave and I spent all winter researching lightweight tents, and reading review. We need to balance light weight with durability, and also be sure that the tent will be dry. A new Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (with the “hotel” fly, to store our packs) was our choice.

Trangia camp stove: I bought my first Trangia stove more than two decades ago. It still works perfectly – these are the most indestructible and fail-safe camp stoves! They burn alcohol rather than a gasoline-type fuel. However, we needed to size up for the two of us, so we got a new one.

Fjallraven backpacks: Once again, Fjallraven wins on the durability: strong materials for packs that can be chucked around and scratched by branches and dropped on rocks, coupled with clever design for accessing gear. Looking forward to receiving the Fjallraven Kajka backpacks (I’ll get the 75l, but Dave will get the 100l since he carries my camera gear) and to getting out on a shake-out hike!

LP1090573Kayaking gear:

Feathercraft kayaks: Too bad these kayaks are no longer made. They are the best design of folding kayaks I have ever seen (they handle like real kayaks, not like pointy rafts). I am very lucky to own two of them, which I treat with great care (since we cannot get replacement parts). Float planes will no longer strap kayaks to their floats – but we are able to transport these ones to our transition point folded up in their bags.

Aquabound paddles: For a combination of light weight and durability, we will be using the Aquabound Tango, with its carbon shaft and ultralight fibreglass blades, as our main travelling paddle. The Aquabound Manta Ray, also very lightweight but with a more durable blade, will be for when we want to pull a bit harder and also for when we there is a risk of us touching rocks, for example on some of the trickier surf landings.

Kokatat paddling jackets and PFDs: These guys set the standard for paddling apparel. Kokatat Gore-tex paddling jackets, with adjustable neck and wrist seals, will keep us dry in the spray and on surf landings. And we will try out the new Kokatat Neptune PFD, which looks absolutely fantastic for our purposes: short-waisted (which you need in a kayak) and with lots of handy pockets.


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