Kalalau – The gear we used

Because I like to keep a record, here is the gear we used or wished we had used:

The Apps:

Sky Guide: The developer’s tag line really says it all “a star app has never been so beautiful or easy to use”.  Why it was great? When you are sitting on the beach watching an epic sunset and you start to try remember the constellations you used to know.  This app always impresses people the first time they see it in action.  Just as interesting for my 6 year old as it is for the over 40 crowd.

Gaia GPS: Since this hike a lot has changed in the world of offline gps apps on the iPhone. This is the app I wish I had. Works great. In airplane mode I was able to track three days of hiking without recharging. A small battery pack would extend this even further. You can read a great review and tip on how to best leverage the app here:  Adventure Alan

Just make sure to sync/download the maps on your route before you depart. And I did use CalTopo to print paper maps before I left. 

Gear:
REI Flex Lite Chair – I had read that a decent chair was worth the weight to pack in. I had purchased this a while back, and it was as light and as durable as the ad copy implied. In fact, after using it at an event in town, the wife asked that I get one for her. While the REI version of this chair is cheaper than the competitors, I usually wait to get this one during the annual 20% off sales.
Alite Mayfly Chair – This chair was also brought on the trip. We noticed that the bottom pieces had trouble staying in/together. Other than that though, looked nice & a fraction lighter than the REI Flex Lite.

Jetboil – I think most folks going on this trip know what this is. We had good success with it, just need to pick up fuel at the Ace Hardware in town. And hpoe that the airline doesn’t ask any questions about it.
MSR Pocket Rocket – I splurged at bought this, because I figured a back up stove would be nice to have. Also, since I ended up not just adding water to my meals (I made all my own dinners on the trail), I needed something other than just hot water. Was really happy with how well this worked. Had to dig a hole in the sand one night when we cooked dinner on the beach due to the shore breeze, but the stove handled it fine.

SteriPen – One of the triad of water purification devices we used. This worked really well for us, except for the fact that you have to use widemouth Nalgene bottles. Yes, it does say that in the product specs, but may not be something you are thinking about when you pack. That and we found you need to submerge the pen to a certain level every time you put it in. It was deeper than we thought, but the flashing lights told us we were doing it wrong.

GSI Dualist Cook Set – I used this to cook all of my dinners on the trail. It was also what I ate my oatmeal out of in the morning. Worked fine, bigger than I needed for myself on this trip, but I bought it for future use with my sons.

Camp Chairs and Cookware

Fleece blanket: Nothing more than this is needed when we were out there.  Maybe if you were camping without a tent during the middle of December you might have wanted a slightly warmer sleeping bag, but the nights are so comfortable that this was all I needed.  

Another option to would be an army poncho liner. It is lighter and packs down smaller than a fleece blanket. In subsequent camping trips in Hawaii this is all I needed. 

Starbucks VIA – These were awesome on the trail. Sadly, I forgot mine. Luckily I was able to barter a chocolate bar for a morning’s coffee.
Hiking shoes and poles: 

Portions of the trail can get muddy and slick. The trekking pole I took to Kalalau didn’t survive after we got back. I have since switched to the Black Diamond Trail Cork Ergo. I like it because it extends to 140 cm, has strong locks and soft cork handles. 

You need more than running shoes but less than hiking boots. I like something with a good vibram sole because they tend to grip pretty well in the slick mid. I wore these on the trip and for many miles after. Very happy with the purchase. Merril Moab ventilators 

Cub-O-Ree, Are you ready?

Make Cub Scout camping enjoyable with just the gear you need.

This past weekend I had my first camping experience with the pack (and a good number of packs in the local district).  After coming off of four days backpacking in Kalalau, it was a little eye opening to see how much stuff folks brought for a simple over night.

Tent:

There were numerous  cavernous family style tents.  We stood out with a backpacking oriented tent, which drew rave reviews for its single pole design and quick and light set up.  The tent, a REI Quarter Dome T3 Plus, was a balance of trade offs.  I wanted something that I could fit in lengthwise (I’m 76 inches) and that could hold both boys when the time comes that I can take them both camping. Additionally, I wanted t2014-10-24 17.25.21 HDR-1o keep an eye on weight so I wanted something that was fairly light without progressing to far along the cost/weight curve.  I ended up going with the REI Quarter Dome T3 Plus, which at the time was on sale.  Sadly, REI no longer makes the T3 Plus, only the T3, but the Quarter Dome is a legend in the REI stable so you can’t go wrong with which ever permutation they have.  One of the handiest features was the well designed vestibule, so as the drizzle started and stopped throughout the night, we had easy access to stash our chairs and other things out of the rain, without getting into the tent.

Chairs

Speaking of chairs, I’m always happy when this chair draws unsolicited comments.  Bought on the recommendation that a good trail chair would be needed on Kalalau, this chair continues to impress.  Again striking a reasonable balance between weight and price, it collapses down into a small stuff sack that is super handy.  I have found it to be great at the end of the day when you are on the trail, when sitting in line for sign ups for youth sports, and even sitting in an converted airplane hanger watching Planes 2 Fire and Rescue.  The wife, who is normally skeptical of camping gadgets, even liked it so much she asked for one.

 Sleeping pad

One piece of gear that I actually was curious to re-test at the Cub-o-ree was my Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol mattress.  When I used it on the trail, I noticed it left marks on my back but I had a hunch that was because the weather was so warm I was sleeping without a shirt.  On this outing I tested that hypothesis and was pleased to note that there was nary a mark.  Plus coupled with this pillow (perfect for backpacking side sleepers) I slept pretty soundly.  The Tiger Scout will be getting his own this holiday season, because my sleep suffers when he slides off of his old coleman mattress and into me!

Foot wear

Surprisingly this is a tough one to prepare for.  Scouting requires clothes toe shoes, yet the impact at events like these would rate at best chaco’s here in Hawaii.  My shoes from Kalalau stepped up to the task of being light weight enough that ambling around the Cub-o-ree didn’t feel like overkill in trail shoes.  The Merrell Moab Ventilation Cross Tab men’s hiking shoes in case you were wondering.  I’m starting to wear these shoes more and more everywhere I go.  The vibram soles give me far better traction that an old pair of running shoes, and the rest of the shoe is light enough that I don’t feel like I’m trudging around in heavy boots.  After three poor fitting previous boot purchases, I’m really shocked at how well I like these shoes, order without trying on, from the internet!

Hopefully this helps you as you start to pick out various pieces of gear.  While car camping is a logical starting point, if out are going to invest in some gear while you are involved in scouting think a few years ahead for where you are going to be taking it.  Backpacking oriented gear isn’t that much more in cost, usually has a much better build quality, and is one less step you need to take to that epic journey to Philmont of Kalalau!