Bob Open gear talk

R0001925For the most part, the gear I used to cross the Bob this year worked well.  This is the sixth trip in as many years I’ve done through similar terrain around this time of year, so if I haven’t yet found a good system yet I’m just not paying attention.  The same basic complement of clothing, a floorless shelter, and ~25 degree sleeping bag are reliable options.  My packs have evolved considerably, with a different homemade one used each year.  That will be the subject of a later post, along with details on the bag I used this year, but the basic details are that a good frame of some kind and waterproof fabric are both highly recommended.  As can be seen my newest pack has a lid, which I found quite handy.

I used Black Diamond Liquid Point Goretex pants, which work well once I replaced the stock waistband, which does a very poor job of holding them up.  I’ve suffered by without rain pants plenty on the past, but they’re really nice to have in wet brush, to say nothing of packrafting, and the Liquid Points have a nice tough fabric, and legs zips which both make putting them on easy and allow you to vent on the go (just zip them back up before deep stream crossings).  BD is having fit issues with their first generations of clothing, but once they sort those out the great fabrics and features should really shine.

R0002053Altra Olympus 1.5 shoes were another newish piece of gear which performed well, albeit with reservations.  They’re “maximalist” zero drop jobs, with over 3cm of cushion and stack height.  Most importantly, they have the Altra last, which I find absolutely perfect.  No blisters proves that.  The extra cushion certainly seemed to fight fatigue well, but the extra height gives irregular ground surface extra leverage against your ankles, which is not welcome side hilling off trail or while slogging softer snow.  My ankles and lower legs suffered a bit of extra fatigue as a result, but overall they were at least energy neutral, and probably a net benefit.  The Lone Peaks remain a more versatile option, while the Olympus is a good trail shoe.  Most significantly, the Olympus 1.5 upper is both faster draining and more durable than the Lone Peak 1.5, providing hope that sooner than later Altra will get their shit together and push their altogether good shoes into the realm of excellent.

I broke one of my Gossamer Gear poles around noon on the first day, when it punched two feet deep into the snow and jammed against a buried log.  Not really the poles fault, so much as proof that I should have brought my much heavier and more durable alu poles.  Having only one pole for the next four snowy passes did suck, as my attempt the first night to carve a wood shim didn’t work out.

I only packrafted 12ish miles out of approximately 105, which made the 7 pounds of rafting gear a poor investment, enjoyable though those miles were.  I continue to want something between my Scout, which is of very limited utility in cold conditions, and my heavy and bulky Yukon Yak.  Putting my own deck on a Curiyak is not a project I relish, but until Alpacka comes out with a new model or Roman sells off his custom I may have to do it, one of these days.  Paddling lakes is absolutely more efficient than hiking around them, especially given how much faster and better against a headwind the 10″ tubed, non-rockered Scout is.

My food was fine, and I had enough, but I always find it logistically challenging to keep on top of consistent calorie intake.  Using sports drinks for these things is something I need to take more seriously in the future.

Lastly, while my fitness was fine and what I expected it to be, I would not have minded being so close to my limit for so much of the trip.  As I age, and with the kid due shortly, it is clear that my old approach of primarily letting fun stuff serve as de facto training is not going to get the job done.  I may have to re-take up running.

Until next time.


6 responses to “Bob Open gear talk”

  1. I’m going to take a peek at the Altras- looks like they have a roomy toe box, most don’t which usually nixes me out of most shoes. I’m happy the PI N2 trails, but they could use a bit more padding, especially w/ a pack (fine for running or a lighter pack). Any idea how the 1.5 differs from the “regular” Olympus?- I see they have those on sale at Altra

    I’m also looking into getting just a little beefier shoulder straps for my Exped Lightning, very happy w/ the suspension, storage layout and hip belt- they should have added an ounce or two to the shoulder straps making them a little wider and a little thicker imo

    1. The 1.5 just designates generations of the shoe, so it is the standard until they revise it.

      With shoulders like yours, 3+ inch shoulder straps are a definite.

  2. CuriYak with light deck might be the ultimate wilderness travel boat. Or the Superscout of Roman, or somethign similar anyway. I hope Alpacka will make one, and hopefully rather soon.

    But while waiting one option could be the MRS copy of Alpacka, the Microraft in smaller size: It’s about the size of the Yak but lighter than the current Yak and would come with spraydeck. You could save the seat weight and maybe a little more by making lighter deck to the excisting attachments… I’ll see how these perform at the end of June or so.

    1. To reply myself, I did the math and a CuriYak with DIY light/UL deck would be quite a lot (over 0,5kg) lighter so it seems like the better option…

  3. Dave found out they revamped the 1.5 over the 1.0 pretty significantly, larger toe box, more reinforcements for the mesh, longer tread on the outsole- sounds like the 1.5 is what I want (of course it’s not on sale!)

  4. […] shoes did not treat him so kindly.  Altra Olympus’s, which in the five years since I tried them have not become any less even-trail specialists.  In retrospect I’m rather shocked by my […]

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