Tips from an expert

Today I took my beloved tent to be seam sealed by Franco from Tarptent. In addition to a personal setup demo, Franco also shared some of his hiking know-how from years exploring trails all over the world including some sections of the PCT.

I was madly typing notes on my iPhone as he spoke, realising how little I know about snow, bears, tents, stoves, tying knots, and long distance hiking in general. His knowledge inspired and frightened me. Part of the reason I’m not going to the kick off weekend is to get a head start of the pack, but also to avoid the mania of gear talk, snow hype and hundreds of seasoned hikers sharing seasoned hiker wisdom.

These were the notes I took:

– 15kg of weight on the end ropes (can also substitute for the stakes at each end of the tent) IMG_2027

– bright ties on zippers (helps you to locate the zips quickly and in the dark)

– chux (to wipe down the bottom of the tent and for condensation – plus Franco uses them to wipe himself down at the end of the day and as a towel)

– Stove: – uses 55ml of alcohol (metho) a day. Caldera Cone from Trail Design. Get a Caddy with it (no idea what this is) and a side winder?

He also talked up the Neo Air sleeping mat, told me that baking soda doubles as toothpaste and mosquito bite ointment, and to add extra virgin olive oil to soup or hot chocolate for added calories.


ULA Circuit

In addition to the 14 tents Franco owns, he also had a ULA Circuit backpack inside which I got to try on. I was surprised at how small it actually looked and decided that my gut instinct of buying the slightly bigger Catalyst version was right. I have since purchased the ULA Catalyst, pack cover and down sleeping bag from the ULA website this evening. Despite the insane shipping cost ($72.10) I’m feeling good about the purchase, especially since I saved $55 on the sleeping bag anyhow.

I now need to make some decisions on what cooking device I want to take. I told him I was considering a Jetboil, which he did in fact own, however he did recommend the Caldera Cone alcohol stoves. Apparently you save weight as you use up the fuel in contrast to the Jetboil. Mind you this comes from a man who knows how many grams 55ml of metho weighs, who only carries about a litre of water if he knows there’s a source close by and who uses chux wipes as a towel!


Caldera Stove


The homemade piece of foil is used to extinguish the flame and tip the excess fuel back into its bottle.

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