I’ll be hiking in Newfoundland in the summer of 2017. If you’d ever wonder which gear a lightweight, long distance backpacker would take to a place like Newfoundland, you can see my version here.
Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar
Conditions may be challenging in the Newfoundland highlands with any kind of weather mix possible adding to the remote location and difficult access. The shelter of choice must be reliable.
The MLD TrailStar puts some responsibility on the user to make it work, it’s not as straightforward as a fixed-geometry, framed tent but I trust its weather resistance when properly pitched to meet the conditions. With the addition of a wide area floor, it should also be a very livable shelter.
I won’t be using an inner tent or mesh nest. My memories of the Newfoundland backcountry are not particularly buggy and I plan to keep hiking until I drop every day so a buggy camp wouldn’t be a show-stopper. I’ll have a headnet to supplement my quilt so in a worst case scenario I can at least sleep well.
HMG 3400 Southwest
Despite a few minor shortcomings (that I listed in the short and mid-term reviews) as well as being a bigger size than I’d need (my own fault), the 3400 Southwest is my current thru-hiking pack. It’s a very solid pack.
The pack fabric won’t absorb much water in case of rain but the pack is far from being waterproof in my experience. I won’t use a cover with this pack but I’m still considering adding a liner. Otherwise, I’ll rely on the waterproofness / resistance of the stuff sacks inside.
I’ll be adding one hipbelt pocket that’s bigger and better placed than the stock ones. I expect to carry my photo camera in this additional pocket. It wouldn’t fit in the stock pockets.
It’s the very same fabric so no aesthetics issue.
I’ve been using this quilt for more than a decade, it needs no further comment, it’s mentioned here for no other than filling the big three. Night temps in Newfoundland shouldn’t be too low.
I thought I’d be using my old Coleman F1 UL for ever, I wouldn’t be updating for a handful of grams but this BRS toy is lighter enough to make updating worth it. I’d expect that it just works.
Water is plentiful and pristine in Newfoundland. I plan to drink most of it without treatment and I’ll have chemicals as a backup for the odd case where quality is dubious. I don’t see the need for a filter and I won’t be taking one along.
I just updated my smartphone to one as backcountry worthy as possible. I’ll be using a Crosscall Trekker M1 Core together with the AlpineQuest application which offers free, decent quality topo maps for Newfoundland.
It might have been the time for going paperless: paper topo maps for Newfoundland belong to national grid topo series and this means, among other things:
- They’re printed in rather thick, heavy, non-water resistant paper.
- They come in a bold grid that may match one’s itinerary poorly.
- The set needed for a long distance route is heavy and very expensive.
I don’t want to go paperless yet. I don’t know if I ever will. I’ve severed the sections I don’t need to bring mapset weight down to reasonable and I’ll bring along a map case that’ll be hanging from my pack’s hipbelt. I love map reading.
The compass will be the same Recta DS-40 I’ve been using for years. It’s simple and it works. I hardly ever use the mirror for taking bearings but the compass frame turns out into a good case for an item that I’d need anyway. Once deployed, the DS-40 has a long base, which makes it easier to work with the map.
My altimeter will be less key to navigation in Newfoundland than it’d be in a truly mountain environment but it’s a wristwatch I routinely wear when I’m hiking anyway.
I used to favor AA or other over-the-counter batteries for all or as many of my electronics as possible but the technology tsunami washed that approach away. For this trip, both smartphone and photo camera use internal, rechargeable batteries so my power strategy needs an update.
I’ll carry a spare camera battery. I won’t carry a spare smartphone battery because this one is not replaceable. I’ll top everything off with an external battery, namely an Anker Astro E1 that holds 5200 mAh. The Anker is a no frills power pack with a compact shape better suited to backpacking than the slim designs currently in vogue.
Recharging is not a trivial issue anymore. I’ll have 4 batteries to recharge (smartphone, external and 2 camera ones) with up to 3 possible concurrently charging devices and I might not be in town for as long as needed to recharge them in series but I don’t want to multiply the recharging means anyway. I’ll carry 1 single north american wall plug with 2 USB output ports and 2 micro-USB cables so I can recharge two devices at a time.
I miss the time when power was a non-issue.
Black Diamond Trail Pro
I mention these because they’re new to long distance hiking for me. I needed to replace a lost pair and these are what I got. They’re beautiful poles, very similar to what I’ve been using for many years except for the locking system which is clamp instead of twist.
I’ll take the baskets off, don’t need them. I’ll keep the wrist straps on, I like using them. It’s worn, not carried weight so it doesn’t impact my figures.
I’ll stick to the Strict Layering paradigm: high number of narrow spectrum layers for a wide spectrum, highly adaptable set.
I’ll also stick to wool for my hiking top, the Newfoundland environment goes well with it. At this stage, I’m not sure whether I use wool because it goes on well with the place or I choose the place because it has wool-friendly hiking weather.
Merrel Allout Terra Trail
There’s nothing in the Newfoundland wilderness that would prevent the use of lightweight hiking shoes. I’ll need to cross marshes, ford streams, climb steep rock and traverse dense vegetation. Lightweight shoes are best for all that.
I’ve used these shoes already for a multi-week trip. The soles are rather worn but the rest is in good condition. The’ll make it through this trip with no problem.
Where I come from
My previous trip of similar commitment was to Iceland. The gear delta from that trip is only partly due to location, partly to the evolution of the human race. These are the main updates:
The TrailStar will save me about a pound and will provide a more comfortable and elegant solution to the sheltering conundrum at the cost of more responsibility on the user. I didn’t take it to Iceland due to the potential for sandstorms and the difficult anchoring. It should be no problem to find good staking ground in Newfoundland. There’ll be storms but no sand.
I shifted from a small smartphone, a spare battery and a tiny camera powered by AAs to a bigger phone, a bigger camera and a battery pack to feed it all. I’ll have a more reliable navigational backup and better quality pics in return.
Compared to the previous trip, this one is longer with more complex topography and more trail-less terrain so it requires more maps and with more detail. Part of them could be considered as consumables and I might actually send some home after use but I think it’s more realistic to keep them as part of the base weight.
No gear summary is complete without a proper list. This one is bound to be the heaviest I’ve packed in years at almost 6.5 kg base weight.