While packing for this weekend’s hiking trip near Mt. Greylock, in Western Massachusetts, it hit me how pleased I am with most of the major items of gear I own. I’m a serial upgrader when it comes to just about everything (Jess loves this about me… right honey?) But upgrade fever has not hit me in a long time with my hiking gear – in fact, for some of this stuff (such as my Jetboil or my hiking shoes) I am not sure I’d take a newer alternative item even if you gave it to me for free.
Who knows, maybe I’m just getting set in my ways… or maybe, when it comes to gear, I only have a few specific needs and once those are being met I’m as happy as I can be.
However, here are 3 pieces of gear I would like to upgrade:
- Water Filter
I am currently using the MSR MiniWorks filter. I upgraded from a PUR Hiker about 5 years ago, and at the time I was pretty sure the MiniWorks was the best on the market. It is field maintainable, has a simple, rugged design, and – one of the big selling points for me – can screw on to the top of a standard Nalgene bottle to simplify things when you pump water.
So what’s not to love? The flow rate and the constant cartridge cleaning. Now, admittedly, this is at least partially a product of my laziness… but at the end of a long day’s hike I just dread pumping that thing till my arm tires. And on the Northville Placid Trail we found that we had to unscrew the system and scrub the ceramic cartridge every 4 days or so… unless we wanted to deal with a decreased flow rate, which of course tires your arm out even more.
There is a lot to like about this filter, but I have to believe a better solution is out there somewhere.
- Hiking Poles
Yep, I’m one of them. I hike with poles. Can’t imagine ever going back to straight up bipedalism. But I am in need of an upgrade. My old EMS specials are almost 10 years old now and held together with duct tape. Luckily, this is a product line whose whiz bang gimmicks don’t seem to impress me much. Shock absorbers? I’m not a Hummer. I just need a sturdy pair of telescoping poles. I suppose I should bite the bullet and go drop a hundred bucks or so on any new pair.
- Camp Food
Taste, Portion, Simplicity. You can only pick two.
That is how I like to sum up hiking food options. Since I am no back country gourmet, I prioritize “Simplicity” – I like my hiking food to be pre-packaged, usually dehydrated in some way, and require nothing more than some boiling water. And there are lots of brands out there that fit this bill… however, they all seem to leave something to be desired in either the taste category or the portion category.
My favorite to date has been the MaryJanesFarm Organic meals, but I can’t help but think that there must be an improvement out there. I think I may have found an option, Hawk Vittles (gourmet meals from a long time backpacker and professional chef) seem to cram everything I am looking for into their product. I hope to test them soon.
I guess if that is all I am itching to improve, I am in good shape. If you have any suggestions for upgrades, please email me or comment below – I enjoy talking gear, and would love to hear about options.