HRP Gear list and thoughts

The HRP was my first hike in Europe, so I wasn’t too familiar with the conditions in the Pyrenees. I started a little bit later than I had intended in late August, but luckily managed to bypass a heat wave that way. Like many mountain ranges, late September to mid October is shoulder season where anything can happen. I was pretty lucky and only had a few nights close to freezing. I decided to take my regular three season kit, but try out a few things: Cold soaking, CCF pad instead of an inflatable, and a shorts and wind pants combo instead of pants.

I decided to cold soak as I disliked having to manage my fuel supply on my previous thru-hikes. With resupplies being pretty short, usually around 2-3 days, I figured if I craved a hot meal I’d never be far away from a town or a refuge. The experiment went well and I think I’m going to stick with cold soaking for now. It made resupplying easier, minimized my chores at night, and I never missed a hot meal even when it was rainy and windy. A couple of times I just snacked for dinner too, but I like a bit of variety in my nutrition. Ramen and instant mashed potatoes were my go-tos on this trip.

Similarly, I have never been a fan of babying inflatable pads. I managed to get three leaks on the Arizona Trail and while I fixed them with some glue and tape, it was still super annoying to deal with the leaks on trail - especially when water sources are scarce and you can’t find the leak without dumping the whole pad in stinky cow tanks. I hadn’t tried sleeping on CCF pads for years, so I thought I’d give it another shot. And while I didn’t hate sleeping on the foam pad as much as I feared, I still had some uncomfortable nights. I wasn’t always able to find a nice campsite as the cattle grazing has left a lot of grass very short, and thus, not particularly comfortable. I loved the simplicity of not having to blow up a pad every night and being able to lounge easily during breaks. That being said, I am switching back to an inflatable for my next thru hike on the Te Araroa.

I typically wear thin pants (OR Ferrosi) to protect myself from the sun as well as from overgrown trails. I wanted to try out shorts with wind pants as an additional layer, as they provide more leg freedom and I tend to overheat even in the thin Ferrosi pants. Additionally, the pants are a bit annoying when they get dirty - not a huge fan of climbing into my quilt with muddy pants. As I grabbed an almost empty stick of sun screen before I started my hike, I got a nice sun burn on my legs during the first week. Once I found sunscreen in Candanchu, I applied it once or twice a day and got a nice hiker tan. The wind pants were doing a good job in the heavy winds, but were annoying to put on and take off - I ordered some Enlightened Equipment Copperfield pants instead and hope they will fit better over my clown shoes.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with these experiments. Despite having hiked a ton and being comfortable with my setup, I always think it’s worthwhile trying out something new and see if your personal preferences have changed. The rest of my setup was not new and performed as expected. The Yama Cirriform is a great minimal tarp that does incredibly well in wind and storms given its low weight. And as much as I want to love it, I much prefer the heavier Nunatak 3d quilt over the false bottom Timmermade. I’m a cold sleeper and the Nunatak just gives me better all-around insulation, especially when it’s windy and drafty. I could have left the down jacket at home as I only used it a couple of times.

Full Gear List

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