Antarctica/Aconcagua Gear List: Solar Chargers, Tents, Stoves, Altimeter Watches, Nutrition

I’m headed to the east coast for Gore-Tex camp today and I figure this will be the last gear list update before I head back to Jackson and then jump on a plane (or five) on Sunday to head southward to Antarctica and then on to Aconcagua. My mind has been racing and no matter how hard I try, there always seems to be way too many things to do at the last minute. Sheez!


brunton-solo-75-and-solaris-12-are-smallAnyway, I just received a Brunton Solaris 12 Solar Panel and Solo 7.5 Power Storage device that I’m trying to get dialed in. If I have it figured out right, it seems like it’s really nice to have car chargers or car charger adaptors for all your devices to allow things to work best. Unfortunately, I fried my iPod not really getting the connections right, so cha-ching…a few more bucks down the drain, including expedited shipping to get a new one here on time. I’m not sure if I will use all these gadgets on this trip, but the plan is to at least use them for charging a satellite phone and mp3 players.

Without the vestibule, the HiLight is only 2lbs 10oz…adds 1lb the vestibule.

hilight-and-vestible-pack-up-smallOur tent situation seems to be still up in the air, but one things for sure is that we will need two or three tents for up high on Aconcagua. And since the air is thin and windy, strong and lightweight options are best. Black Diamond makes some nice superlight mountaineering tents and I was torn between the Firstlight and the HiLight, two person tents. In the end I opted for black-diamond-hilight-tentthe HiLight, since the 1oz difference seems negligible and the third pole helps it hold up better in wind and heavy snow loading. I went with the optional vestibule also, which offers more useable space than many others. Since the tent is made with siliconized nylon, which can’t be seam taped, I had to seam seal the HiLight, which took about 2 hours. Packs up wicked small!

The MSR Dragonfly packs up small, burns like a jet engine an simmers with ease.

coffee-press-for-jetboil-pcsFor stoves, we are bringing a combination of MSR XGKs, DragonFlys and Jetboil PCS kits. One Jetboil will mainly be used for making coffee, since the coffee-press accessory works killer and melting snow 2 cups at a time isn’t my idea of fun…at least for a group of five. The XGK no doubt will be the work horse and is known as THE stove to have on expeditions. It claims to boil a liter of water in 3.5 minutes using white gas (2.8 with kerosene) and is compatible with multiple different fuels…including diesel fuel. Although expect to have more clogging issues with all stoves when using less refined fuels. The DragonFly also burns multiple types of fuels and rounds out the arsenal. I own one of these puppies and with the shaker jet, big pot supports, total flame control, pack-ability, it is my favorite liquid fuel stove and burns nearly as hot as the XGK.

I’d say Santiago is pretty close to Aconcagua for the sunrise/sunset
feature, and I’m not sure if the sun will ever set in Antarctica while we’re there.

I’ve got a few altimeter watches to choose from, but by far, the CORE is the mother of all altimeter watches if you are going to be in the mountains. It tracks altitude and barometer, and has a compass, much like other ABC watches, but also has a storm alarm that give you a heads suunto-core-storm-alarm-onup of quickly approaching bad weather. The CORE also tracks total vertical, in addition to having a start from zero function that helps you get back to camp with having to remember at what altitude you started from. And since I’ll be in places that I have no idea what time the sun rises and sets, the sunrise/sunset feature with pre-programmed locations will help me keep my bearings. What’s the declination for the Antarctic Peninsula and Aconcagua again?

New Fruition Probars some in five flavors and are taaAAasty!

Last but not least, and I hope I have room enough to bring plenty of these, ProBar has recently released a new product called Fruition…and just in time since I’m starting to have Probars growing out of my ears. Kind of like Lara Bars, Fruition Bars are smaller and a bit “wetter” than traditional ProBars, which makes them easier to eat…as well as finish. I was involved with a test run of Fruition bars and know they will be a hit. They come in four flavors strawberry, blueberry, peach and cran-raspberry…which is probably my favorite since I always used to like raspberry fig newtons when I as a kid.


12 Responses to “Antarctica/Aconcagua Gear List: Solar Chargers, Tents, Stoves, Altimeter Watches, Nutrition”

  1. 1 Bryan Oct 28th, 2009 at 7:56 am


    You are going to have a blast down there, I am also considering a BD ultralight tent for a upcoming purchase, I was thinking about the first light so both people can use the door easier, any thoughts. How much sturdier would you say the hilight is, I have used a hilight but never seen a firstlight set up.

  2. 2 randosteve Oct 28th, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I asked Jack Tackle about the differences…and he mentioned the third pole and increases sturdiness…so I would imagine the HiLight is noticeable stronger. Plus…the vestibule seems much more user friendly and bigger…as well as offering better ventilation (and views :) )with the bigger door.

  3. 3 trevor Oct 28th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Gear choices looking good steve. Thanks for all the rundowns so far and can’t wait to hear how everything held up when you get back. Watch out for that Dragonfly though as it’s not the best cold-weather performer. You’re probably using it at base camp and bringing the XGK up high though so not to worry. I just have horrible memories of staring at a puddle of fuel after I opened the valve and the o-rings gave out at -5 F. Same thing happened to my buddy as well below zero. This was before the new pump design so the issue might be fixed by now.

    ps Got the visor earlier this week and it’s the cat’s pajamas. Thanks and good luck.

  4. 4 randosteve Oct 28th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Huh…I haven’t experienced that problem Trevor but I do have a newer pump. Sounds like maybe some routine maintenance might help avoid it. Glad you like the visor.

  5. 5 Nick Oct 28th, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Good call on the tent, Steve. I think the BD single-wall, ultralight tents are the way to go (e.g., Lighthouse, Firstlight, etc…) where a tent is necessary – otherwise just Mid it up! Some are a bit of a squeeze for taller folks, though.

  6. 6 Jed Oct 28th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I’m curious to hear that the 3-pole BD tents (HiLight, Lighthouse) are considered sturdier than the 2 polers (Firstlight). I always pictured the Firstlight as being more streamlined without the window and door “hoods” sticking out. We picked the Firstlight for a Chugach traverse for that reason. It basically met our expectations, but I’d offer that it isn’t as weatherproof as you’d always hope. With the door facing the wind (we tried to avoid that of course, but things change…) we’d have spindrift blow in through the closed zipper. Even with the door away from the wind, air would move within the closed-up tent, sometimes quite a bit. Like, an empty plastic bag floating up and around the space. May have been from outside air coming in, or just from internal turbulence created by rocking tent walls? Tons of snow in the Chugach, so we dug in when it got really bad…

  7. 7 randosteve Oct 28th, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Hey Jed! I think you’ll find the second generation of BD Superlight tent will be more weatherproof…if not waterproof…with the new green fabric…not sure the name of it off the top of my head. As far as the spindrift goes…I wondering if the more vertical door of the HiLight will do better.

  8. 8 John G Oct 28th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    chill out you gear weenie… you should be worrying about how much Malbec to bring and scapolomine patch placements !!! Seeya on the ship yo.

  9. 9 randosteve Oct 28th, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    man…i just can’t win around here. some people want to know every detail of the gear I’m bringing…while others bash me for talking about it.

    and who’s worried g? i’m just slammed right now…and stressed…and i’ll be back in jh for only one day before departing for over 6 weeks on two separate adventures. i’m sure you’ve been there before.

  10. 10 harpo Oct 29th, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Jed, how did you BD superlight do on the relatively high mositure of the Chugach? Did it rain on you at all?

  11. 11 Nathan Oct 31st, 2009 at 9:07 am

    New Probars!!!

  12. 12 Jed Nov 18th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    We had very dry conditions. The only stormy weather we experienced was way up high, above 9k- so it was cold and dry. Down lower, as low as 2k, we had clearer weather. That being said, I’ve sat out full-on 2-3 hour t-storms in the Sierra in the BD superlight tents and stayed totally dry. Reports from the Cascades, however, are not as positive. Go figure…

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