I've been getting some great submissions to the Complete Kupilka Starter Kit Giveaway. If you haven't put together your response yet or aren't sure how to respond, take a look at Brendan's submission below which is a great example of a complete response. Brendan also gets two extra entries (three in total) for having his submission posted to Brian's Backpacking Blog. Great stuff Brendan, thanks for taking the time to respond and for sharing!
Brendan Jones - New Zealand
My name is Brendan, I live in New Zealand. Being a small island nation with a fault line running pretty much the length of the country, we have the odd bit of volcanic and seismic action, lots of mountains, lakes and rivers and even more primo hiking tracks with a fantastic hut system. I was born in amongst some of our highest peaks in a place called Twizel, a very small town in the middle of our South Island
- How long have you been backpacking and what got you started?
It is very hard to say how long and what got me into backpacking really, I think it is just in the blood. In saying that, it has only been in the last few years that I have been trying to lighten my load, but I'm too hard core about it.
- Describe where you currently are in the "going lighter" process. Are you just getting started or at the point where you're down to shaving of individual grams here and there? What are some of the restrictions you've encountered to going even lighter?
The going lighter process, I believe is ongoing, not just for me but probably everybody. Not only because you gain more experience every time you go out, and talking to like minded people, but the advances in designs and materials sure keep things ticking over. We can get five seasons in one day in this neck of the woods, and with a lot of our terrain being rougher than most with a lot of lightly or unmarked routes, sometimes I think I carry more than is needed, 'just in case'. SAR get called out too often over here because people under-estimate the terrain and conditions. Most of my gear suits my needs, but I am always looking for that lighter/better item. At the moment, number one priority is my rain jacket (currently around 500g) with my dream jacket (on paper) being an OMM Cypher Rain Jacket, at around 300g. The main restriction to going lighter for me, is access to a lot of brands and the cost of getting products sent to this side of the world. You cant just sneak into a shop and try something out because no one brings the good/light stuff in.
- What type of shelter do you currently use? Please include the make and model and a little bit about how you settled on the choice you have made. For example, what other shelters have you tried?
I currently have a couple of options in the shelter department, but it depends on where and what I'm doing. I have an MRS Hubba which I have had for some years. It came about because my wife went on holiday to Australia while I walked the Milford Track and well, she spent more money than me so I tried to make up for it, the Hubba being the result. Come to think of it, I'll need to be buying some more stuff. Because of the hut network we have in the back country, I also have an MLD Monk tarp and MLD Superlight bivy to use just in case the huts are full, or if there is a chainsaw type snorer in the house. Because this is a "just in case" option, it needed to be light and small although I will be looking to replace the Hubba and Monk with a HMG Echo1 sometime soon. I have used some tunnel type tents in the past, but I like how you can adjust the height of the tarp to suit your needs.
- Where are you located geographically and what type of terrain and weather do you normally encounter on your backpacking trips?
I was born and live in New Zealand, and the terrain can change as quickly as the weather, from sun to snow in an hour, from almost desert to rain forest in an hour. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world.
- How long in duration is a typical backpacking trip for you? One night, two nights, or more?
Because of family, work and money, most of my/our trips are unfortunately on the shorter side, usually 1-3 nights. I'm always dreaming of something bigger, like the whole length of New Zealand.
- What best describes your method of cooking? Do you mostly re-hydrate freeze-dried foods (i.e. just boil water), reheat actual food, or do "real" cooking/simmering?
All 'cooking' is done via the just add water method. While my wife and I were doing the Rakiura Track (it was our wedding anniversary) I whipped up a special freeze dried desert treat of fruit salad trifle and custard. Mmm. Maybe we were just really hungry.
- What make and model of stove do you currently use and why? What stoves have you tried in the past and what made you stop using them?
I use a Primus Micron Ti stove to do some of my water heating. Its light enough for me, its clean burning, its quick to boil around 600ml, and packs into my pot along with the gas canister. I have tried a couple of Coleman brand stoves in the past. One was too fiddly, the other too large, more suited to car camping. I have been experimenting with alcohol (which I really like) and have a small collection of stoves including a Trangia, Gram Weenie Pro, the stove from Trail Designs as well as a home made model (now in the bin) and recently got my hands on a Sidewinder cone, so will be testing out my fire lighting skills. These could be good light options for me, as some of the huts on our popular 'tourist trails' have gas supplied, so carrying your own gas seems overkill to me.
- What type of fuel do you use and why? Alcohol, Esbit tabs, liquid fuel, gas canisters, wood?
Gas and alcohol are the two I use at the moment, but I am working on the other options. Wish me luck.
- Have you tried wood burning stoves? If so, what are you thoughts on the soot that they create? Do you care about the soot, or is that an acceptable trade off for a readily available fuel source?
I haven't really tried the wood burning option yet, but don't really see the soot being an issue. Unlike some, I don't mind getting my hands dirty... but my gear (other than the pot), that's a different story. I always use a plastic bag for my cookware storage.
- What type of cookware (pot or cup) do you use? Do you carry more than one cooking container?
If I'm heading away for a couple of days, or just a day walk, its an Evernew Ti pot that will be in my pack, although I also have a Snowpeak 600. Everything I need to make a cuppa or instant miso soup can fit inside. Sometimes I use the Ti 600 tea pot with the Primus gas cooker, sometimes the Ti 600 low profile pot with the sidewinder and alcohol. I only carry one cook pot, and I know its a bit neanderthal, but use a cut down Platypus bottle as a mixing bowl if I'm doing some kind of instant mash side dish to go with my main. I could really do with that Kupilka starter kit.