Ironically we both forgot to include our favorite pieces of gear in our respective gear reviews. Perhaps subconsciously we felt they were special enough to warrant a separate post.
Laurie’s favorite item: Exped Schnozzle Pumpbag
This ingenious stuff sack weighs a scant 2 ounces and makes inflating a sleeping pad enjoyable rather than an annoying task. And believe me, after you have hiked 25 miles day after day after day, the last thing you want is another task.
It is a waterproof stuff sack with a schnozzle at the end of it. You gather air in the stuff sack, roll down the top, and a large gust of air funnels directly into the valve of the sleeping pad. This greatly speeds up the inflation process without having to gasp for air – especially at higher elevations.
The schnozzle is made for Exped pads. When our Exped Hyperlite pads failed us for the 2nd time and we switched to the Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm pads, Andy cut the intake valve to fit over the Thermarest valve. Thermarest makes their own version of the schnozzle but it didn’t work as well (nor was it as light) so we stuck with our tried and true Exped schnozzle. The schnozzle isn’t cheap (around $40) but for us it was worth every penny.
Over a time span of 2 years and 3,000 miles, it has only one small hole which was easily remedied with a piece of duct tape. Once you buy a schnozzle – you will never go back. Inflating sleeping pads have never been so fun and easy!
Andy’s favorite item: Sea to Summit Aeros UL Pillow
Little pieces of comfort go a long way. This pillow held air for over 1,500 miles, then slowly started to leak but luckily since we frequented so many REI’s it was easy to replace. They come in two different sizes – regular and large. Andy started with a large and switched to the regular. Both worked well and honestly he didn’t notice a difference.
The pillow didn’t slide around and allowed him to easily add or remove out air (thanks to its ingenious dual valve design) to maximize comfort. It also felt really good against his face, unlike plastic stuff sacks.
In the thru hiking world a pillow is probably the most luxurious item one can carry. Sleep was important to both of us and Andy was willing to carry 2 extra ounces to ensure a good nights rest.
Andy’s one complaint with this pillow is the deflate valve. He had to use a lot of force to open the valve and over time this put a lot of pressure on the areas where the valve met the pillow fabric. Andy believes this is what caused the slow leak.
Click here for a detailed review of our shared gear.
As always, please comment or contact us with any questions.