Category: Gear (Page 1 of 2)

HMG Southwest 3400 VS 4400

I just sold my favorite pack that I ever owned…. the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400. A few months ago I finally ditched Osprey for my main backpacking pack, and jumped into Hyperlite Mountain Gear and never looked back.

I had previously owned the Osprey Atmos 50 and the Osprey Atmos 65. Osprey makes some of the most comfortable packs, and have one fo the best warranties in the industry. Over all they are an absolutely amazing company.

One of the reasons I switched to Hyperlite Mountain Gear was the weight. The Osprey 65 (65L) weighed in at 4lbs 6oz. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 (64.8L) weighed in at 2.10lbs (Black Version).  The Southwest is about half the weight!

This post is not going to be an in depth review of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest pack, but a comparison of the 3400 and the 4400 version.

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MYOG: Crampon Bag

If you have read any of my previous articles I first stepped into MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) with an attempt at a bivy sack. Long story short, your first attempt at MYOG should not be a large project like a bivy sack, start small. I never finished that project but learned a lot form it and am getting ready for attempt two.

Before starting off on attempt two of the Bivy sack, I decided to try something small. On my Mt Whitney tip, I carried Crampons for the entire trip. I was fortunate I did because of the early season trip, we would not have been able to complete the hike without them.

I hated placing my crampons in my pack each time I used them, because I was afraid their tips would puncture everything in my pack. They also would get everything wet.

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MSR has New Gear for 2017!

First off I am not being paid by MSR nor do I have any special connection with them.

Now that I got that out of the way, I have to say I am pretty excited for a few of their new products for the year, despite there website currently having some issues. I kindly informed them, and they worked quickly to fix it:

Anywho, back on topic to what I am excited about from MSR this year.

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Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communications on the trail

The Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communication device is close to having a real “trail Angel” along with you on all your back country remote trips.

I must admit I was hesitant to purchase the Delorme, and roughly $300 it was an expensive piece of gear. While preparing for my Mt Whitney Summit, I was thinking a lot about safety in the final weeks leading up to the trip.

I did a whole lot of planning, from obtaining my permits, ordering custom made maps, and having the right gear for a hike that was going to have lots of snow and large ice fields.

What was the deciding factor that made me finally pull the trigger on this expensive piece of gear? Peace of mind.

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Pillow Talk

Lets have a little pillow talk here on Cattywampur tonight. Ultra light backpackers are probably shuttering at the word “Pillow” mentioned in conjunction with camping, but I am all for them!

I have been there, trying to be super light but now I just go light where it makes sense. I do not mind sacrificing a little weight for some added comfort at night. I have tried using clothes jackets, and even my pack as a pillow in the past. Don’t get me wrong all those non pillows have all worked, but a good nights sleep on a dedicated pillow I think does a world of difference for you mentally on the trail.

Lets talk about what I think are two of the best backpacking pillows on the market today, the Nemo Fillo and the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium.

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Not Quite the Holy Grayl of Water Purification

Update: Cattywampur is  in transition to a new website Called Seek Adventure (, you can finish reading this article and join the discussion on Grayl at the new Seek Adventure Forums!


I really wanted to love it, I even stood up for it on Back Country Post Forums, before given it a real test. The Grayl Ultralight is a new water filter and purifier that works almost like a coffee press. For a quick and dirty of how it works check out their video (Or read my first impressions here):

The Grayl Ultralight intrigued me and I was excited that Grayl was gracious enough to give me a free purifier to test 6 days on the High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney. Before I got out on the trail, I did some in home tests and it worked great. It was simple, sturdy and filtered water quickly and easily. My first impressions of the Grayl Ultralight were superb!

But then I took it out on the trail, and filtered water from creeks, rivers, and Mt Lakes. Now all of these water sources on this trip were not very silty and the water was very clear. Unlike my Grand Canyon trip where I was filtering water from the silty Colorado River.  Basically all the water sources I hit on the High Sierra Trail should not have been to difficult for any water filter to cut through.

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High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney: Gear List

Below is a summary of big ticket items I brought on my High Sierra Trail to Mount Whitney Trip, its not a comprehensive list of every little thing I brought:

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First Impression: Grayl Ultralight Purification

As I finalize all my gear and prepare for my Mt Whitney trip, there are a few new items that I will be bringing along to test out. The first brand new item I will be testing out on the trail in the Grayl Ultralight Purification bottle. This product filters and purifies drinking water. This will purify, 99.999% of disease causing bacteria, protozoan cysts and viruses!

Grayl Ultralight with replacement purifier

Grayl Ultralight with replacement purifier

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First Impression: Arcteryx Alpha FL Rain Shell

Lately I have been planning my trip to Mount Whitney and obtaining some final gear, to ensure I am protected in the elements and have a light pack. I did a whole lot of research on many different websites including Reddit. I entered a lot of discussions, read a ton of blog and watched a whole lot of YouTube videos. I looked at Jackets from Outdoor Research, and Mountain Hardware which are two companies I have a decent discount at. Even though I have a discount I and love both companies, I decided on purchasing the Arcteryx Alpha FL.

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Custom High Quality Map Board

Anyone who has spent any time in either the Marine Corps or Army, has probably used trusty map board with your map pens for land nav. I used them while at The Basic School (TBS) in the Marine corps and found them handy, especially if you are not paying extra money to have your map laminated.

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