Great Divide Trail – March 2018 Update

A few more items have arrived! I own half of arc’teryx by now. I’ll definitely have a lot of equipment to review in the future, haha. At the end of the month, I should be placing an order for an opsack, bearbag, etc.

Now that the equipment side of things is completed, I’m going to focus on maps, navigation and permits :).

Great Divide Trail – February 2018 Update

Hey,

This post is going to be a bunch of unrelated gibberish much like the last, haha.

I’ve been researching a few final items for my hike in June/July, maps, apps, and everything in between.

I bought an Arcteryx Konseal fleece, I love it but it’s sooo long. It’s longer than the Arcteryx Atom LT jacket, and my Montbell Storm Cruiser rain jacket. I’ve ordered a medium and I’ll see if that fits better than the large. I get the impression my shoulders might be too wide for it, but we’ll see. The Arcteryx Konseal is an interesting fleece, it includes a hoody and a pseudo balaclava type thing, so although it’s quite heavy, it’s not that heavy when you include those separate items.

My Nitecore F1 charger has arrived, it weighs 29 grams. It can turn a single 18650 battery into a power bank, and so far I’m impressed with it. It charges slowly and its output isn’t that great, but what it does, it seems to do well. I also bought an Anker Powercore 13000 C, so I can have something with more amp-age. This will integrate with my other electronics quite well and I’ve grown to really like my little Zebralight.

Speaking of which, I did some additional tests in daylight, and the colour balance is real nice.

In regards to the mapping situation… For my Garmin Fenix 5x, I’ve downloaded openstreet maps, and I’ve basically downloaded every part of Canada, plus a file with all of Canada from another site. I’ll keep these on a MicroSD card and will be able to move files to and from my watch but I’ll probably keep them all on my watch as well (it has a lot of storage.) On my phone, I may have to pay a Gaia subscription, and there’s also a Great Divide Trail app you can get too which is cool! I’ve also downloaded a map (Ryan Silk’s GDT maps), in PDF form. I might print a few pages off or get someone else to print them. I’ll see.

The clothing situation still isn’t complete. I’ve fallen in love with Arcteryx, as they’re the only company that makes clothes which fit me well. I hate their prices though.

I’m thinking of getting some micro fleece bottoms, underwear, and some psiphon lf shorts. They’re for “rock climbing” but as I’ll only be taking one pair of shorts, I thought something a bit more durable than their normal fabric might make sense.

I also bought Berghaus Mens Paclite Pants but amazon sent the wrong length. The waist is also REALLY painful, like the elastic they’ve used is the worlds most powerful elastic? The trousers (pants) are more than wide enough if you stretch them out but the elastic makes them feel one size smaller. I’m considering getting another pair in extra large, but I’m also thinking about getting some Montbell Storm Cruiser trousers.

One of the problems for me is that the Great Divide Trail isn’t quite long enough for what I’d like. It’s funny, I’d have thought such a hike was really long years and years ago, but two months isn’t enough time to lose yourself in my opinion (or find yourself as it were.) If I buy slightly heavier clothing, it gives me more options. Additionally, if I do a SoBo and then NoBo hike, i.e. yoyo it, the durability will be a benefit. I don’t really have the experience to do that but it’s something in my mind.

I’m considering only taking the one camera lens too. My items are starting to pile up, but again I’ll think about it some more.

When I actually do the hike, my posts should improve a bit as I’ll be more passionate :). I don’t enjoy writing reviews much, so they’re of poor quality. I want to provide information after my hike, because the Great Divide Trail really doesn’t have that many websites with information (in comparison to the Pacific Crest Trail at least.)

 

 

 

Backpack modification update – Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest

I’ve spent some more time with my Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack modification. I’ve redone parts a few times because it looked bad.

For those that haven’t read my previous post, I am attempting to add d-rings to the shoulder straps so that I can hang a separate camera bag.

Not to be a downer dave, but I’m a little irritated that my sewing was slightly off with some of the webbing. I also made ample mistakes that still irritate me but I think I’ve saved it :).

The bit near the d-ring isn’t complete, that’s why it looks a mess. The carbon fibre rod still needs to be trimmed and I’m probably going to add a few of those bright green things. They look cool.

It’s not yellow, the lighting in my room is bad. I took this with my phone (I’m lazy.)

Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV review incoming

I have great news :). The Zebralight H600Fd Mk IV is in stock as of this morning and I have ordered one. I’m not 100% sure when it will arrive but I’m looking forward to trying it out. It’s something I want to review, as it’s a high CRI light and it might be quite useful for photography as well as the obvious.

Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack modifications and update

This year is going by quite quickly already! There’s only a few months to go until I leave to hike the Great Divide Trail in Canada :).

I’ve been busy with a few things, many mistakes have been made and hopefully you can learn from my losses, haha.

After examining my Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack, I’ve thought about various modifications. We can all pick fault in something, so don’t think of this as me saying the backpack isn’t good or something like that. As stated in a few posts now, I’ve been trying to attach a camera bag to my backpack. A camera inside a backpack on a through hike is basically a lead weight–it won’t get used.

A shopping list will be provided at the bottom of the page…

As you can see, I’ve started by sewing something near the shoulder straps at the top. The reason for this is that the webbing on the shoulder straps themselves doesn’t look super durable and I wouldn’t trust it to hold the weight of my camera (Sony a7rII and a 24-70 GM lens, plus the weight of the bag.) This camera combination is already quite heavy and I think you should forget a heavy DSLR with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (the extra few hundred grams will make a huge difference and it’s much easier to put a few extra batteries in your backpack i.e. offset the weight somewhere else.) If you have the money, I’d advise getting the 16-35 f/2.8 GM lens instead (assuming you’re okay with that focal length too.) It was out of budget for me and I want to bring a Zeiss Loxia 21mm f/2.8 as well, anyway, I digress…

 

Instead of cutting long pieces of webbing and then trimming them to size, I tried to make them the right size to begin with and I ended up with barely any material to play with. I’ve never sewn anything before and I feel like a complete idiot really. It was a stupid mistake to make.

The white you see under the webbing is white velcro, and I’m going to change some of that. The loose thread is because I haven’t finished, and if you notice the overlapping webbing on the left is shorter than on the right. I will tidy that up by trimming the excess on the right, but you get the general idea. Like I said… I’m an idiot, haha. I won’t be making that mistake again. In the middle is a carbon fibre rod and then more webbing with a d-ring on the end. Something I’ve found quite useful for preventing fraying and other things is to use a soldering iron. It’ll make the soldering iron messy and obviously a heat gun is better, but it works quite well.

The theory behind this Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack modification is that it will pull weight from two points on either side. I can then attach the camera bag to these straps. The extra weight is negligible and it feels pretty comfortable.  The two pieces of webbing coming down could be a bit longer or a bit shorter. I wasn’t 100% sure where to put them or how long to make them, all I knew was that if they were the wrong length, I would risk cutting into my neck or shoulders. I think they could possibly be slightly longer… Again, I wouldn’t have had this problem if I made the webbing longer to begin with. I’d have never made this mistake with carbon fibre or metal, so I don’t know why I made this mistake with sewing. I think perhaps because I don’t have much webbing, I was afraid of using too much… Who knows.

At the moment, the carbon fibre rod is loose. One solution is to wrap some cuben fibre tape around it and then sew through the excess tape, another idea is to epoxy one piece of webbing to the carbon fibre. The webbing in the middle has to be able to rotate but equally the carbon fibre rod cannot slide through and fall out, otherwise I’ll be a little unhappy.

Sewing through tape isn’t my favourite thing to do because the glue sticks to the needle. I’ve been using a speedy stitcher sewing awl with a fine needle. The needle has to be bought separately. If you’re from the UK, I’d buy it from eBay.

In the photograph above, you can see the carbon fibre rod is a bit long, I’ll sand the excess later on. It’s certainly not my finest work, but when I finish it, tidy it up and whatnot, it should do the job quite well I think.

I’m going to stick some d-rings near the excess shoulder straps too, as well as one more, on each side, around the hip belt. This will allow room to attach lightweight items or the second points on my camera bag to prevent it from swinging everywhere.

Here is the top of the Hyperlite Mountaingear 4400 Southwest backpack, and as you can see it has a strip of 20mm velcro. In my opinion, this is probably unnecessary most of the time. It does help to get the bag lined up but it’ll probably shred a fleece or whatever. I’m uncomfortable removing it so I’m simply going to cut some extra velcro and leave it there.

Shopping list:

  • Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl
  • Speedy Stitcher Fine needle
  • Bonded Nylon #69 black thread
  • 20mm Webbing
  • 20mm White Velcro (for backpack)
  • 20mm Black Velcro (for webbing)
  • 20mm D-rings

I bought my d-rings from eBay. These are 20mm Nexus D-rings.

On a completely unrelated note…

The size 13 bushido remains to be my favourite shoe of all time, but the high arch is painful for me. Bitcoin has dropped in value, and I’ve had duplicate customs charges (one item I received was damaged.) It’s a difficult process getting a refund, and I’ve had a string of bad luck lately. I must say that ZPacks were very helpful in replacing my item.

Some other shoes I have tried… Arcteryx Norvan, Salomon XA Pro and Salomon X ultra 3. The size 13 Salomon XA Pro’s seem to fit quite well.

Camera bags for the Sony a7rII, Sony a7rIII or the Sony a9

I’m considering buying a Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens and I’m looking at a small bag to be used with my Sony a7rII and my hiking backpack i.e. I’ll have a little side bag.

I originally planned for the PCT and would be bringing a Zeiss Loxia 50mm f/2.0 lens or a Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 lens; therefore, my Lowepro Toploader 45 AW II would work perfectly. Unfortunately, judging from the measurements, the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens won’t quite fit! I’m probably going to get a Lowepro Toploader 50 AW II as it’s slightly bigger but not too big.

Anyway, after re-reading my camera bag photography reviews (12 and 3), I’ve decided I definitely need to re-write them. I’m awfully lazy when it comes to writing reviews but it makes me look a bit stupid / like a slob, haha. I can’t promise when I will get around to re-writing them as I have hurt my arm and it’s a bit painful to type. I will try sometime in the future.

I’ve also bought another bag since then as well, a Crumpler Muli 7500, which I also highly recommend. When I get the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens, I will see which bags it fits in and let you know if it works in this too.