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  1. #1
    Registered User BowGal's Avatar
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    Default Questions from a noob thru hiker

    Hi WB experts. While Iíve backpacked solo for 5-6 days 5-10x a year, Iíve always packed accordingly. Never had to deal with resupply or some other issues I have questions about.

    1. Iím set on using a canister stove. Theyíve never let me down.
    A 100g canister weighs approx 190g full. You can boil approx. 10L...which if my math is correct...thatíd give me 2L per day for five days (1L in am and 1L for dinner)
    A 227 canister weighs 388g...and about 20L boiled water.

    My question for experienced thru hikers: hiking the AT with all the plentiful resupply points, go with the lighter canister and replace every 4-5 days...or go with the 227g one and not have to worry about replacing fuel as often?

    2. When I backpack for short trips, I dig a cat hole 30-40 feet from my sleeping area, brush my teeth and spit there. What do you do on the AT where there are people everywhere? Where ya spit your toothpaste? Dumb question, I know.

    3. Trail magic/angels - is it assumed all trail angels do what they do for free? Do any of them get offended if one was to tip? Or if someone offers a shuttle, do you try to tip?

    4. My hope is that I can stick with my tent most of the time. Not keen on shelters because I donít like mice...but get grumpy if I get no sleep from snorers. My hubby wears a Cpap mask at home...and if it werenít for that...well, Iím sure Iíd of put a pillow over his head.
    Having said all that, it slate afternoon...I saunter into my expected stop for the night...and all tent pads are filled. If pads are all filled, do I have to move on, or can I pitch a tent somewhere...observing LNT of course.

    5. Iím buying the Ursack plus the OPsak no odour bags. Curious, do I need to buy the Ursack Minor bag as well? Or can I get away with the no odour bags inside the Ursack?
    Iíve been using the PCT method for a few years now...does the Ursack need to be hung PCT style, or can it be tied to a thick branch using the knots recommended by Ursack tutorial videos?

    Thanks so much
    We donít stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking.
    - Finis Mitchell


    https://lighterpack.com/r/7kdpc0

  2. #2

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    This might be dated info, but I think it holds true:

    Re: cannisters - I'd lean towards taking the larger so that when Murphy's Law strikes and the store is closed, or its a Sunday, or they're out, you still have fuel.
    Re: toothpaste - swallow it. If you use the "natural" kinds like Toms of Maine, it's really not that bad because there's not so much foam and hyper-minty "stuff"
    Re: shuttle - if its more than a hitch, I'd offer to pay for gas, or buy lunch, etc. It lets them say yes or no without feeling like a taxi necessarily
    Re: shelters - if you're at a shelter site, and the tent pads are full, move on - or sleep in the shelter with earplugs if needed. The tent pads are there for tents, and to keep the whole area from becoming 1 giant tent pad
    Re: ursack - shelters generally have food hang ropes, and 99% of the time its mice, not bears. The food is 4' off the ground. Smokies and Shenandoah you need to do it more properly.

  3. #3

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    Source: AT hiker and former MATC caretaker

  4. #4
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    2. Dentists suggest toothpaste is of minor if any use when brushing teeth other than fresh breath. It is the brushing that is important to your teeth. So, you can choose not use toothpaste and still maintain a healthy mouth. I was always taught to broadcast my toothpaste well away from camp. So, spit in a way that generates a mist of toothpaste that is widely dispersed.

    5. Odor-proof sacks are NOT odor-proof, and although they may reduce pest infestation, they will not actually guard against it. In bear country, follow the URsack instructions. If you hang the bag and the bear gets it, you failed. If hung according to instructions, the bear cannot get the bag, just damage it.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  5. #5
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    I've read someplace it's not a good idea to swallow toothpaste. I spit mine out into the fire pit, if there is one.

    Canisters - I ran out in the SNP and thought, not a problem I'll get one at the camp store. Camp store was closed for renovations and the wayside had none. They did have hot food though, so that worked out for that night. You will often find nearly empty canisters in hiker boxes since most people don't want to carry two and are afraid to run out, so they replace the nearly empty one every chance they get and toss the old one.

    It's possible to come to a shelter site and find no good tent sites left and the shelter nearly or completely empty, but only if it's not raining. If it's raining the shelter will be so full, not even a mouse will fit. If both the shelter and good tent sites are full (a common occurrence early in the season), you just end up tenting in a really crappy place.

    Finding places to camp off the side of the trail is hit or miss. Depends on how picky you are. There are sections of the AT where it's only legal to camp at designated sites, like NJ/NY/CT and some other areas where the trial is a narrow corridor across private land, which is common in MA. A lot of other places it's just not practical due to the terrain and/or vegetation. I also believe you are at much higher risk of finding a Lyme infected deer tick if you camp in the brush off trail.

    I'm really picky and rarely find places to camp that are not well established. Ideally you want to find a place where many others have camped, since that is probably the only good place for miles. Otherwise you'll have to clear a spot of tree limbs, brush, rocks and so on, then rough the site up again once you leave to make it so no one can tell you've been there. If it's getting late with the sun setting, the chances of finding a good camping spot is nil.

    I've stopped offering a tip to people who pick me up hitch hiking. Without exception they refuse it. Most rides are relatively short, a few miles. A profuse thank you is enough. I gave a shuttle driver a 100 dollar bill for a 80 dollar ride and he asked if I wanted change. Damn right I wanted change. He was disappointed, but not offended.

    In bear problem areas, there are bear boxes or cables to store your food. In non problem areas, most just hang their food from the rafters in the shelter or a tree limb if tenting. No real need for a Ursack or odor proof bags, but they can't hurt and gives you some peace of mind.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6
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    You can get better being resupply, fuel. and cook flexible. Every resupply incorporate 1 or 2 cook/no cook food/meal options. Learn to safely light, maintain, and cook over a small contained warming and ember cook fire. This way your can lasts longer.

    Remember the wt printed on the can defines the wt of the product in the can which doesn't include the wt of the can. Same with food like canned meats.

  7. #7

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    Please don't spit toothpaste into the firepit. It ends up there with pistachio shells, orange peels, tea bags, and aluminum cans. The caretakers and ridgerunners have to pack it out. On a 40 mile stretch from Bigelow to Piazza Rock I had a big black garbage back full of stuff including jeans, a frying pan, 1 lb. propane cannisters, in addition to the normal junk. Scattering mess (and spit) around creates more, because if 1 person does it, more people do

    It makes smells that are oh-so interesting to critters. Either swallow the toothpaste, or cathole it, or spit it into the privy.

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    Don't bring your water to a long rapid boil. Let food finish off/cooking in hot water. Acquaint yourself with only boiling the amt of H2O currently needed for the meal. Opt for lower cook time foods. Warm the can in your pocket before using. If cold out use a fuel mix (Snow Peak Gold, Jet Boil, etc) f I r colder temps. All this adds up to using less fuel.

    This way you stretch your fuel out more. On avg I get 9 -11 days heating of water for bfast and dinner out of a small SP Gold PtoIso can(about 4 oz). Throw in 2 small campfire warmed meals and 1-2 days cook/ no cook days and the 4 oz can lasts 15 days at least before needing another. Not that hard to fuel with 4 oz cans on an AT thru. You find a lot of partial cans in hiker boxes and at hostels for the taking too.

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    SP Gold ProIso

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    Please don't spit toothpaste into the firepit. It ends up there with pistachio shells, orange peels, tea bags, and aluminum cans. The caretakers and ridgerunners have to pack it out. On a 40 mile stretch from Bigelow to Piazza Rock I had a big black garbage back full of stuff including jeans, a frying pan, 1 lb. propane cannisters, in addition to the normal junk. Scattering mess (and spit) around creates more, because if 1 person does it, more people do


    It makes smells that are oh-so interesting to critters. Either swallow the toothpaste, or cathole it, or spit it into the privy.
    When it comes to used toothpaste I have to disagree with you. Charcoal is a good odor absorbent and filter. The next fire takes care of anything else. Just try to get it into the pit and not on the rocks. Better then spitting it out into the woods. As for non combustible actual physical trash, yea agree 100%.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User MtDoraDave's Avatar
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    My last section, last November, some of the SOBO thrus were still working their way down... One of them was using the extra large canister. The one that's like 6-8" tall!
    I guess a time comes in a thru where worrying about a few grams becomes less important than knowing you have enough fuel. ...or maybe that's all that the store had in stock.
    Even though I just do a week at a time, I usually bring the large (medium) cannister.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtDoraDave View Post
    My last section, last November, some of the SOBO thrus were still working their way down... One of them was using the extra large canister. The one that's like 6-8" tall!
    I guess a time comes in a thru where worrying about a few grams becomes less important than knowing you have enough fuel. ...or maybe that's all that the store had in stock.
    Even though I just do a week at a time, I usually bring the large (medium) cannister.
    If he had gone to a Walmart, often that's the only size (humongous) left in stock. I have one for that reason.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #13
    Thru-hiker 2013 NoBo CarlZ993's Avatar
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    1. 1L of boiled water for breakfast & also for dinner? Lot of water!! Most meals would take about 2 C or 500 ml. Some canister stoves are more fuel efficient than others. The JetBoils, Reactors, & Windburner integrated stoves (pot/stove combos) are very efficient but tend to be heavy. The Soto Windmaster stove is very efficient as well as light (my preference).
    2. Brushing your teeth: Most of the way, I used just a dab of toothpaste powder and would spit it out away from camp a bit. As my hike went on, I ran out of powder and just used toothpaste (rarely) or simply dry brushed. I didn't like the idea of the toothpaste smell in my beard (a problem that you shouldn't have to worry about).
    3. I often tipped. Or tried to.
    4. Three words: earplugs, earplugs, earplugs. I carried two sets as there are some snorers in this world that are very LOUD! At one camp, a guy pitched his tent 50 yrs away from me & I could still hear him.
    5. Odor-proof bags aren't. If they truly were odor-proof, you wouldn't be able to purchase any of them as they would all be bought up by the drug-trafficking business. Most hikers that I saw thru-hiking used a bear bag from Zpacks. I'd typically hang it using the PCT method.

    Good luck on your hike.
    2013 AT Thru-hike: 3/21 to 8/19
    Schedule: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...t1M/edit#gid=0

  14. #14
    Registered User KDogg's Avatar
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    Four to five days sounds about right for the small canister. I always went with the small one. It is significantly lighter than the bigger size. When we were in PA, all the stores ran out of canisters though. My hiking partners and I shared what we had until we ran out. My backup was to buy a solid fuel (exbit) stove at Walmart. It worked fine and got me over the hump until we got past the shortage. This episode was a bit stressful but I never lacked for hot food.

  15. #15
    Registered User BowGal's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your input and advice.
    We donít stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking.
    - Finis Mitchell


    https://lighterpack.com/r/7kdpc0

  16. #16
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    2 L per day is way too much.

    1L is a lot

    I only boil 2cups for dinner. I can get 22 boils out of small 110 g canister.
    Couple that with town meals, one or two no cook dinners, and thats about a month

    Try using low heat and a windscreen.
    Instead of high. Which wastes much of fuel.


    You also only need 1.5 cup hot water, then add a little cool to adjust consistency and cool it to eating temp if freezer bagging or MH. 2 often makes soup. Easier to add a little more, than add potatoe flakes to soupy dinner to make edible. Too much water dilutes taste.


    If fuel is low, you can stretch it if smart by not heating to boiling, etc. Theres ways to manage and extend fuel. If you dont need to great, theres a town every 3 -4 days. But centering a hike around "wheres the x" gets old .
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-06-2018 at 07:50.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  17. #17
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    Wow, just wow. You folks go through a 4 oz can every 4-5 days? I'm trying to wrap my head around that. That means every 5 day resupply, which could be going to town that often, you're seeking a new can. Id be looking to extend that usage between having to find another 4 oz can or if you're that gung ho on rampant iso consumption buy the larger 8 oz can.

    MW is right. For solo use nearly 8.5 cps(2 L) of water even if heating H2O morn, afternoon, and evening is excessively high. It's translating into much higher than needed fuel use.

    Treat or filter your non heated drinking water. it will save much wt in fuel and having to find cans.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BowGal View Post
    Hi WB experts. While Iíve backpacked solo for 5-6 days 5-10x a year, Iíve always packed accordingly. Never had to deal with resupply or some other issues I have questions about.

    1. Iím set on using a canister stove. Theyíve never let me down.
    A 100g canister weighs approx 190g full. You can boil approx. 10L...which if my math is correct...thatíd give me 2L per day for five days (1L in am and 1L for dinner)
    A 227 canister weighs 388g...and about 20L boiled water.

    My question for experienced thru hikers: hiking the AT with all the plentiful resupply points, go with the lighter canister and replace every 4-5 days...or go with the 227g one and not have to worry about replacing fuel as often?

    2. When I backpack for short trips, I dig a cat hole 30-40 feet from my sleeping area, brush my teeth and spit there. What do you do on the AT where there are people everywhere? Where ya spit your toothpaste? Dumb question, I know.

    3. Trail magic/angels - is it assumed all trail angels do what they do for free? Do any of them get offended if one was to tip? Or if someone offers a shuttle, do you try to tip?

    4. My hope is that I can stick with my tent most of the time. Not keen on shelters because I donít like mice...but get grumpy if I get no sleep from snorers. My hubby wears a Cpap mask at home...and if it werenít for that...well, Iím sure Iíd of put a pillow over his head.
    Having said all that, it slate afternoon...I saunter into my expected stop for the night...and all tent pads are filled. If pads are all filled, do I have to move on, or can I pitch a tent somewhere...observing LNT of course.

    5. Iím buying the Ursack plus the OPsak no odour bags. Curious, do I need to buy the Ursack Minor bag as well? Or can I get away with the no odour bags inside the Ursack?
    Iíve been using the PCT method for a few years now...does the Ursack need to be hung PCT style, or can it be tied to a thick branch using the knots recommended by Ursack tutorial videos?

    Thanks so much
    Most people tend to use the smaller canisters. Sometimes you wonít have a choice because the store you buy them in only stocks one. I found myself boiling more water towards the end because my buddy and i always had tea time after dinner.

    I liked not having to worry about or conserve my fuel, so I went with the medium size - it still fit inside my pot (gsi soloist)

    Good on you for even thinking about your toothpaste; lots of people just spit it out wherever, same when cleaning their lots.

    Personally I just swallowed my toothpaste.

    Itís generally free. Some shuttles arenít, however. I always had a bit of cash on me but rarely used it. I doubt theyíd get offended but I also doubt theyíd take your money.

    You can set up your tent where ever you like. There are almost always clear spaces around shelters for tents. I hung my hammock near but not too near a shelter most nights. Maybe bring ear plugs?

    Most people just throw their stuff in a dry bag and call it good. I used ziplocs but only for organization, and hung my bag from my hammock strap and never had a creature get in there.

    Regardless the pct method works great so long as you can find a good branch.

    Prepare to have people tell you the ďright wayĒ to hang a bag at a spot where there are many bags hung laughably bad

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    Lol. I wonder if the same spoiled folks moan about the AT lean to's that are .4 or more mile off the main path, or that unique waterfall a whopping .6 miles is too far, or the spotty cell reception. Gotta take those selfies and check email every 2 hrs Capone.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CarlZ993 View Post
    ....4. Three words: earplugs, earplugs, earplugs. I carried two sets as there are some snorers in this world that are very LOUD! At one camp, a guy pitched his tent 50 yrs away from me & I could still hear him. .... Good luck on your hike.
    WOW! That's some supernatural snoring if you could hear it from 50 years away!!

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