Gear.. Gear.. Gear..

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Gear.. Gear.. Gear..

Gear.. Gear.. Gear..

I’ve already begun the process of gathering gear that will be needed for the trip. Two of my fellow travelers have shared their “Pack Lists” with the rest of us, so that allowed me to create one of my own. It is broken down into camping gear, survival gear, first aid, airplane equipment, charts & spares and personal stuff which will include clothes, electronics, etc.

The first consideration is weight and its impact on airplane performance. The useful load of the Super Cub is approximately 800 pounds, which must include fuel, baggage, pilot and passenger (when Judy joins me in Anchorage). After calculating the weight of full fuel tanks (216 lb), pilot and passenger (330 lb), we have 254 lb for cargo & baggage. There are some areas where it will be prudent to carry additional fuel due to the distance between refueling points and because weather can force a return or diversion that can exceed our normal range. I have three FAA approved fuel bags, each of which holds 5.5 gallons. I store them in the pod underneath the airplane. In order to use them, a landing is necessary where I then lift them onto the wing and allow them to drain into the fuel tanks. Now keep in mind that I’ve never actually done this. I have visions of falling off the step whereupon the full fuel bag follows me to the ground, crushing some important body part before splitting open and dousing me with 100LL. With the fuel bags aboard, I can only carry 155 lb. of gear. This still seems adequate, especially if I am careful to select camping gear that is both lightweight and functional. I don’t think storage space will be an issue with the cargo pod, regular baggage area and an extended baggage area suitable for lightweight but bulky items such as sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, etc.

image005 image007      As far as camping gear goes, I already have a fair amount of stuff as we have made several trips to AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI, sleeping in a tent alongside the airplane, as well as the trip to Idaho last year. However, this trip will require some additional equipment, a higher degree of “self-sufficiency” and occasionally, the need to haul water rather than acquiring it once we arrive. While there is an abundance of water available from streams and lakes, all of it must be treated prior to use. Or, you can take your chances with a variety of waterborne pathogens, all of which are guaranteed to give you a memorable experience involving rapid weight loss and dehydration. So, we’ll carry a filter and disinfectant tablets, plus we can boil water, but all of that takes time and effort. So, whenever possible, we’ll have a 3 gallon potable water container along.

I have enjoyed researching and purchasing the new stuff needed for the trip. The internet provides lots of information and sources for the latest high technology, lightweight equipment IF you can sort through all the claims, ratings and recommendations. Also, each camper sub-culture has very specific gear requirements. Backpackers will count ounces and give up some (all) comfort to save weight, while car campers seem to make room for everything, with little concern for weight or bulk. Think tailgating in the wilderness. We are somewhere in the middle, so I tend to select from both. For example, sleeping bags and pads come in a bewildering assortment of sizes, styles, materials, ratings and prices. Synthetic or down, rectangular or mummy, bivvy sacks, sleep systems, the choices are endless. After reading, shopping, reviewing and studying, I finally decided on the Teton Celsius XL bag from Amazon. For the sleeping pad, I selected the Exped Downmat 9L from REI. It only weighs 44 ounces yet provides a warm, (somewhat) comfortable cushion under the sleeping bag. Again, this is yet to be proven. We will test it on a local camping trip in a few weeks.

image011image013image009Backpackers also have a wide variety of stoves to choose from. These small gas stoves are terrific for boiling water quickly. This is important because we will utilize dehydrated food for some of the trip, which is lightweight and tasty. (At least the guy in the store said so and he looked like he was eating pretty well.) By simply adding boiling water, you have a great meal with almost zero effort. An additional benefit is that these meals don’t attract unwanted interest from large furry animals. The JetBoil stove is compact, light and very fast. It comes with a coffee press which is essential to starting my day properly. It runs on iso-butane cylinders which are readily available. Several of the backcountry pilots rave about how well it works.

For relaxing around the campfire, REI makes a nifty folding chair which weighs less than two pounds, sets up easily and if very comfy. Compared to our typical camp chairs which weigh close to ten pounds, this is great.

Like a lot of families, we have acquired several tents of various sizes and complexity. I have discovered one very important fact about tent sizes. If it says “4 Person”, DO NOT BELIEVE IT! Unless you and your companions are Munchkins from Oz, you should use a 50% rule for figuring out how big your tent needs to be. Then, you should practice putting it up so you can see just how diabolical the designers are and how stupid they can make you feel at the end of a long day.

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