Taking Hi-tech Gear Back in Time
A great deal of research and thought has gone into the selection of gear for our trip. Our major considerations being both the weight and bulk of the pack saddles.
Garmin InReach Explorer Plus
When first planning this trip, I had settled on a Garmin ETrex. This GPS system is good to get you where you want to go … all that was required for a solo trip. However, some limitations with this system, including 2-way communication with family and friends, but more importantly search and rescue, caused us to instead opt for the Garmin InReach Explorer ... which we found at Jax’s in Fort Collins. With this GPS system, we are able to send and receive texts. InReach has all the maps we need installed. Plus, the tracking ability to ping our location in real time is invaluable in the case of an emergency.
This device is for our horses. One of the biggest concerns we have for this trip is the potential for our horses to get away from us in the night. The last thing we want is to wake up and find our horses have moved on without us with no way to track them. The Spot is a true GPS tracker that will allow us, through our cell phone, to see the location of our horses ... when we have cell coverage. When no cell coverage is available, then the InReach comes into play. We can send a text by satellite (GPS) to our home-base contact, who can access the Spot via Internet and alert us to the location of our horses. This is something that was very critical, and the hardest to figure out because no one has a tracking device meant for the tracking of livestock, at a reasonable price.
Without the modern convenience of lights, this was a critical piece of equipment. We needed rechargeable, lightweight headlamps. We looked at a lot of headlamps both online and at local outdoor shops only to find that most were extraordinarily expensive or non-rechargeable. We ended up finding what we need at Home Depot. Their Milwaukee brand offers rechargeable units with 475 lumens … perfect for our needs. And, their price was a third of the cost of most sporting goods stores.
PORTABLE CORRAL AND StaFix Energizer
Our electric portable corral is a very important piece of equipment. Wyoming is wide open, with not a lot of trees, making high-lining the horses a non-option. Staking our horses was an early thought. But stakes are heavy, plus you add the weight of ropes and hobbles, and of course there is the risk of a horse getting hung up and being injured. We made our corral from lightweight garden stakes. The total weight is approximately 11 lbs including all components: 14 (4ft) poles, ground pole, Stafix energizer and hotwire. We chose the Stafix because it will run continuously on only two D-cell batteries for approximately 2 months. Originally, we intended to corral all four horses together in the 40 x 60 area. However, after more consideration, we decided to section it off to two 40 x 30’s. Each section will comfortably contain two horses and this way we can keep the "horse-play" to a minimum. The electric corral will serve a dual purpose. When we reach Montana where trees are prevalent and we have the opportunity to high-line the horses, we will add a third row of electric tape and use the corral as a bear fence around our tent at night for our protection. Much needed peace of mind as we travel through one of the highest density locations for Grizzly bear in North America.
Goal Zero is a 7-watt solar charger weighing in a 1lb. This unit is capable of handling all of our power needs, including cell phone, GPS and head lamps. Our fence charger runs on 2 D cell batteries that last up to 2 months running 24/7, so it will not require recharging. We will only need to replace the D cells if they run low at any point.
This model weighs only 16.5 oz … with pot and tri-pod, total weight 2 lbs. The solo stove was an easy choice because it doesn’t require fuel other than leaves, twigs, pinecones, etc. This little unit will boil 36 oz of liquid in under 6 minutes at 8-9,000 feet. The only downside is that you have to maintain the fire by feeding fuel. This fire is self-contained and is suitable for burning, even when there is a fire ban.
Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System
This mini weighs-in at 2 oz. It is extremely small but can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. The Sawyer eliminates 99.999% of bacteria, virus and parasites … those nasty critters that could break this trip. We will have two of these units … one for backup.
Marmot Limelight 3P-3 Season Tent: 6 lbs.
We purchased this tent at BackCountry.com. … super helpful customer support service. When you are going to be living in a tent for over three months, you want some room for those rainy days. It’s light weight, very open and easy to set up. It has two exit doors, a plus so you don’t have to wake the other person to get out.
Exped SynMat 7 Sleeping Pad: less than 2 lbs.
At our ages, we don’t want to be sleeping on a surface that makes it hard to move the next day. We purchased two pads early on that did not fit the bill. Then we thought about cots and even went out and played with a few. The ultra-light ones had too many parts that required a lot of time setting up. The other cot had less pieces but weighed a lot more and it was larger and heavier. The SynMat 7 has an R-value of 4.9, it is micro-fiber filled and has an integrated pump system. I believe these were dollars well spent.
This is the type of pack saddle that we have chosen. Panniers are canvas with leather sides and a top cover. We have chosen soft-side panniers that have more give in tight situations, than would hardsides. We will use a canvas mantie with a lash cinch to hold and protect our load. The breeching and breast collar is leather. Pack saddle pads are heavy felt.
2 side arms are single action ruger Bisley .44 mag. Strong side holster with a cartridge belt. The rifle is a Rossi lever action, 10 rounds, saddle carbine .44 mag.
Wild Rose’s saddle is a Lady Wade rough-out, fully rigged. This saddle will be used for Kip and Sally. Slow Hand’s saddle is a Billy Cook Wade, fully rigged. This saddle will be used for Olie and Balthazar. The weight of the saddles is on the heavier side … 40 lbs.+. We have chosen these saddles because we know we can ride them comfortably all day, and not cause soreness. Both of us are relatively small, avg. weight is 130lbs., and that played a big part in the choice of saddles. When choosing horses for this trip … the mustangs … we were careful to choose based on conformation, size, etc. so that all gear is compatible with all 4 horses.
We will not be taking any liquid fuel on this trip, to save weight. For firestarter, we will pack vaseline-soaked cotton balls that are easily ignited with a magnesium bar with flint and striker. This method, quickly and effectively starts our campfire and it is not subject to failure when wet.