005: Pick Any Two

Buying backpacking gear can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be!  Learn the one trick that will help you buy great gear.  Next, find out why you need to pack a one ounce bottle of alcohol your next trip (Hint: It’s not what you think).  We’ll review a piece of clothing that would make your grandma jealous.  And the Backpack Hack of the Week™ features a must-have item that pairs perfectly with your tube of sunscreen.

Show Notes: Episode 005


  • Adage when you go to purchase backpacking gear
  • “Price, Weight, Durability: Pick any two”
  • What was the last thing you purchased? What two did you pick? Did you end up getting all three? How?

The Top 5 Reasons to Pack a Squeeze Bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol

Can clean your skin

  • Clean skin, but not wounds
  • Clean your feet at night
  • Back of neck
  • Navel

Bug Management

  • Ticks: Dab the tick with rubbing alcohol to make it loosen its grip. Then grab the tick as close as you can and pull it straight out
  • Mosquito Itch Relief:   Cooling gets to the brain faster than the itching sensation
  • It also causes drying which causes shrinkage of the bites and reduction in swelling

Soothe Sore Muscles

  • a.k.a. “Rubbing” Alcohol
  • Helps relieve pain and inflammation


  • Does blacken pots, so beware
  • Clean outside of pots after using
  • Use 90%

Purelle/Hand Sanitizer

  • Just keep it in a leak proof squeeze top bottle.
  • 1 ounce should be fine
  • 71% is better than 90% for hand sanitizer
  • 1 fl. oz. polyethylene container with polypropylene squirt cap, $1.25 at REI

SUMMIT Gear Review™: REI Merino Ultralight Hiker Crew Socks


  • 51% merino wool/46% nylon/3% spandex
  • No cushioning
  • Stretch nylon reinforces heel and toe areas: Means no toes poking through
  • Arch bands provide additional support: Tighter around arches


  • Basic hiking necessity
  • Sock can always do double duty as gloves


  • 7 oz/48 grams
  • Sizes: S,M,L,XL


  • Wash like normal socks
  • No special washing instructions


  • $13.50/pair
  • Alternative: Costco Kirkland Trail Socks (83% Merino Wool) under $12 for a 4 pack


  • Color: “Dark Khaki” didn’t look dirty at end of day
  • Comfortable, snug fitting
  • Use this sock with a sock liner to prevent blisters
  • Roughly half and half wool nylon, so still took a while to air dry when I washed them
  • Lightweight, so not much added warmth or cushioning—just a layer of protection and wicking.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: DIY Ultralight Sunglasses

  •  Sunglasses are always on 10 essentials right next to sunscreen
  • Important to have
  • Cost: Free
  • Go to your local optometrist, get an eye exam, then ask for a pair of their free eye dilation sunglasses
  • 3 grams
  • Slip them back into the protective sleeve they came in
  • Not for long term use

 Trail Wisdom

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”

-John Muir