Tag Archives: hiking gear

Ditty Or Not To Ditty


One of the best and worst things about being a lifetime member of REI is the killer specials that they always have. Not only do they have these specials, but if you are a member, you sometimes get an additional percentage off on top of the deal. This presents me with a problem because, with such great deals, I have been known to impulse buy which means I might buy something I don’t need. For hikers, is that possible??

For many, many years I have put everything in baggies when I would head out into the woods. That would include my wallet, GPS and anything else I might be carrying. Baggies are easily sealed, which helps in keeping things dry, but lousy for organization. A couple of years ago I decided to add Ditty Bags to my packing system, thinking that it would be easier to store in my daypack and I was right. I have found that I can not only keep more “stuff” in my pack, I can also keep better track of my “stuff.” Last year I bought the Sea to Summit 6.5L, 4L, and 2.5L Ditty Bags to use for my daily hiking trips and backpacking.

This way, depending on what I am putting in the baggy, will depend on the size Ditty Bag I need to use. The bags have proven to be very useful so when I need to find something quickly, it really is a quick proposition.

Last week I saw that REI had a set of Ditty Bags on sale (see paragraph 1). Even though I haven’t been hiking with them yet, they appear to be more sturdy than the Sea to Summit bags. A little bit thicker than the S to S bags, the REI Ditty Bags come in 7L, 3L, and 2L sizes. 

It will definitely be interesting to see how everything fits into my Kelty Zephyr Daypack as well as my Osprey Kestrel 28 pack. Even though I have the Osprey Kestrel 28, it’s been hard giving up on the Kelty. Of course, I will provide you with a more in-depth review after I get back on the trail.



Shakedown #1-Ramapo-Dunderberg

app trail blog image_edited

A while back I made a decision that when I retired I would hike the Appalachian Trail. Even though it is almost two years away, I am glad that I have that time to plan for this six month adventure. As I have watched videos of thru hikers, I have come to one conclusion. You have to know what gear you need/want and you have to know whether it works for you or against you.

On Wednesday of next week I will be heading out to Harriman State Park with two friends to backpack the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail. Running a little over 21 miles, the trail begins at the Tuxedo RR station and ends on route 9W on the opposite side of the park.

I am considering this my first shakedown hike in preparation for the AT. A shakedown hike is described by Brian Lewis as a “…longish backpacking trip where you try out your gear and associated process to find out if there are things you can improve (in either) before your thru-hike. And hopefully it will also confirm that hiking somewhat longer distances is something you really want to do.” My first shakedown will be three days and two nights.

Will I like the gear that I have? Will I want to do another trip, maybe longer before I make any final decisions? I don’t know. Only time will tell!

Over the next few days I am going to post some of the new gear that I have as well as the tried and true that I am pretty sure I will use on the AT.

Please feel free to leave your comments!

Happy Hiking!!!

Please read more about shakedown hikes here: