Trip – Tale of the Blue Kilt Part 4 & Gear Reviews

Posted: November 9, 2011 in Gear Reviews, Trip Reports & Video

OK playas…. final day with me and Gear Slug. Hangin like home boys do and making the trip conclude with some gangsta flare:

Total Miles = 29.7 miles the entire trip hiked. With Day 1 being about 15 miles including Road Walking.

Gear review summation from my 3 day romp:

Zpacks Blast 26 pack – max comfort load is at 23-24lbs. After that it becomes uncomfortable in the shoulder area as the pack rides higher than the ULA OHM. In the beginning I was not a fan. After I ate a few meals and drank most of the water the pack settled down and rode like a dream. Like I said the ride is different than the OHM. I wouldn’t say better or worse just different. I like this pack now and knowing the limitations and how it rides allows me now to properly equip this pack for maximum comfort. My packing of the main compartment is fine. For those who are leery and would have this pack at 25-30lbs I would suggest load lifters as an option. The side hip pockets are insane and the zippers appear to be highly water resistant. Side pockets are much less volume than the ULA OHM so be aware of that. That was probably my biggest disappointment was the side pockets could have been a bit bigger. I plan on doing a detailed video review with packing it out sometime this month or next month. I’m gonna have to move that bottle holder down. It basically gave me an eye jammy once a day.

Inov8 Roclite 295 Trail Runners (Non-Goretex) – Breathability is awesome as well as comfort. The foot box is larger than my Salomon Trail Runners which lead to more toe comfort. I didn’t use any sock liners and I have ZERO blisters. No foot fungus too which is a first since my feet were wet most of the time due to the marsh and snow puddles. Traction is SUPERB!!!! I was extremely confident on rocky slopes. Not so much with my previous trail runners as I had slipped various times with the Salomon traction.

Rocky Goretex Socks – I changed into dry socks and placed these goretex socks over them and then wore my wet trail runners at camp time. Very nice. Some condensation problems the first night when wearing these for some reason. Not sure if there was a leak or if my feet were just still sweating. More testing to be done before I commit to these.

Winter Palace Tarp – You seen the failure and the epic repair. But how did it fair??? Well when it failed the tarp was so massive that I was able to use the middle tie out and still had plenty of room to be safely under the tarp in case of inclement weather. The doors seal up OK. They wont seal up tight as a drum but it will block out most of the wind. I do have one door panel which doesn’t seem to pitch as tight as the other doors. I see now why Stormcrow placed the middle tie outs there. To make the tarp pitch real good you will need to use that tie out. I didn’t utilize the side pull outs and to be honest I should have especially the second night when I pitched it a bit narrow due to the rocks. There was a comment that my side pitching method may cause a tear if my pole dislodges and springs to the tarp. Being that I was having a rough trip initially I erred on the side of caution. I will do more testing on my method to see what would result from this type of pitch using shock cord. Video is likely.

Oven Bag – I had an oven bag pop on me for my top/under quilt. That would have sucked if it was raining as that’s the last line of defense against the water. May switch back to my Cuben Fiber dry bag for this area of my kit. The only thing is that it doesn’t fill out the pack as much as the oven bag method does which is key for making the pack a comfy ride (frameless). Gonna need to do some more research and playing around.

Down Bootie Shells – If you’ve been with me for a while you know I’ve been testing out Goosefeet Down Socks’ cuben fiber down bootie shells. I’ve come to the conclusion that these things are borderline annoying. Perfect for slipping on if you need to use the pee tree as long as the ground you walk on is level and you have ZERO snow (no traction). But if there is an incline or decline your foam sole will shift you will find it hard to walk up hill and you will cuss these things to high heaven. There needs to be a way to secure the sole to the bottom of the shells. BUT my feet were cold the first night and I slipped on the shells, booties and the ccf soles…. Yeah man my feet warmed up in 5 minutes.

Neofleece face mask – didn’t use it night one and I paid the price. My face and nose were super cold. Night 2 I used it and my face was 80% better. However I did notice significant condensation around the nose and mouth area still. BUT much better than a balaclava cause I can actually breathe.

WB Traveler Hammock – Worked out just fine as expected. The pitching is a little different than the Black Bird hammock so you need to mess around with the way you have it. Night 2 was less comfortable because my selected head end was a bit higher than my foot end causing me to slip down and gave me a calf cramp. That was not the case night one.

WB 3S Yeti UQ and Mamba 3S TQ – I was at the limits with this system and I knew it. Based on my spreadsheets I would have switched to my winter versions and I would have had MUCH BETTER SLEEPING. But that’s me and my sleeping is neutral (stated low temps are basically spot on for me). HOWEVER, I wouldn’t have been able to bring the Zpacks Blast as my winter insulation is too bulky. So in the efforts of research and gear testing I chose to probably freeze a bit to have a chance to play with the new pack. That’s what the Water Monkey does in the name of trail science. But I can tell you that with the tarp being pitched low and the wind not really an issue I got down to a new low of 24*F with this system and I was “cool” not cold and obviously survived to tell about it.

GG ¼” foam pad for legs – It worked as expected. Condensation did occur but nothing that caused any alarms.

Food – All food brought was freaking awesome! You can see my reviews on them during the video. I was pleased with the results. Although heavier items, for that time of year they kept me warm and well fed.

Smokeeater908 Cook Kit – Worked out really well. I would say though, not to use the 1 cup lid for coffee if you like to use sugar. Some residue gets stuck in some of the crevices of the lid and makes it a pain to clean. I ended up using the 2 cup section for most eating and drinking. The new lid is great as well as the wind screen. The entire kit fits great inside the new container and there is very little wasted space! This kit gets an A from the Water Monkey. Bout time someone brought back the 16oz pots to the mix which also offered a kit case.

I will end this series with this:

When In Doubt, Kilt It Out!!!!

Stay Gangsta,

Water Monkey

  1. bearchaser says:

    Epic adventure, epic video series. Well done Raul, well done.

  2. BER says:

    Bitchin’ as usual Thug Masta!
    A worthy series, though the title kept evoking the memory of Sting’s Dream of the Blue Turtles. Sting was never xactly gangsta, but I think it could be utilized…
    Just sayin’.

  3. Thanks for the vids. I keep wating for the email to tell my when the next one came out.Good gear review. I like that cook kite, sweet.
    Looking foreward to more.
    HF: Triggerhpy

  4. Shadowalpha says:

    Enjoyed the video! like the way you wash the cook container 😉
    Gear slug is sporting that nice kilt..
    looks like fun times – thanks for taking us along.

    and liked the ending on the streets of NYC – almost makes me miss the concrete jungle

  5. STinGa says:

    WM !
    Thanks for the short, but well loved series. Your antics got me through almost a week of work.


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