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Finishing Sleep System - Spring-Fall; Appalachians, Rockies... FRANCE?!
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Jed Augustine
(jaugusti) - F

Locale: Appalachians/Rockies
Finishing Sleep System - Spring-Fall; Appalachians, Rockies... FRANCE?! on 03/09/2008 18:31:39 MDT Print View

Dear all-

I am trying to figure out the last details of my sleep system. This is for weekend to week long trips, in the Appalachians, the Rockies, and France. The ?! in the subject title is because I think I will be in Paris for the next year, but I have NO idea where to go backpacking or how to get there. If anyone has advice on France I'd love to here it, but I know there is lots of stuff already on the board (Thanks Roger!).

Current items:

9X7 silnylon tarp (Thanks Andrew!
TiGoat Ptarmigan Bivy (Thanks Joan!)

Marmot Hydrogen 30* (Thanks Thom!)
Sea to Summit Thermolite Liner (+15*, so they say)

Capeline 1 top
Icebreaker 190 U-turn

Arc'teryx Rho SL Bottoms - 2
REI Nylon Cargo Convertible Pants

Vaprthrm liners
Thick smartwool socks

Icebreaker balaclava lite
homemade possum/merino wool hat

That's how it stands. You'll notice the conspicuous absence of an insulating layer: and there's the rub, folks. I have read some wicked horror stories about down sleeping bags wetting out and a synthetic insulation top and bottom saving the hide of the storyteller.

am primarily choosing between the Montbell UL Thermawrap Parka and pants and the UL Down Inner Parka and pants.

Given the location (Appalachians, Rockies, France) length (2-7+ days) of my trips and the timing (Spring - Fall), does the security of synthetics justify the overall weight gain of 9 oz total from the down parka and pants?

Any suggestions, comments would be much appreciated. Sorry to rehash old conversations.

Edited by jaugusti on 03/09/2008 18:32:32 MDT.

Valentin Zill
(Valentin.Zill) - F

Locale: Europe
Hiking in France on 03/22/2008 04:54:08 MDT Print View


I'd suggest the Alps in France or Switzerland or the Pyrenees at the Spanish border. You can usually get there quite easily by train or bus. From Paris to the French Alps you won't need more than three hours by TGV. If you speak French, check out
Remember that almost everywhere in Europe it is forbidden to camp in the wilds. That doesn't stop us from doing it, but you need to be careful.

Enjoy France and contact me if you need any further advice!

John Frederick Anderson
(fredfoto) - F

Locale: Spain
Hiking in France- don't forget Spain on 03/22/2008 06:15:31 MDT Print View


I'm in Barcelona, 2 hours away from the Pyrenees. so if you are based in Paris, don't forget about hiking in Spain too.

The GR routes are a great way to start- GR10 for France, and GR11 for Spain. They take you from coast to coast and can be done in stages.

There is also the Haute Pyrenees Route, which tries to follow the ridge line and stay high, and uses both GRs at times.

Try finding Paul Lucia's book 'Through the Spanish Pyrenees GR11: A long distance path,' and Ton Joosten's 'Pyrenean Haute Route' both published by Cicerone.

As for your insulating layer- if you have a down bag, then go for synthetic insulation, then you have the best of both worlds if one gets wet. I use wool for the legs (Icebreaker) and synthetic for up top (Patagonia).

cheers, fred

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Finishing Sleep System - Spring-Fall; Appalachians, Rockies... FRANCE?! on 03/22/2008 16:35:39 MDT Print View

> wicked horror stories about down sleeping bags wetting out and a synthetic insulation top and bottom saving the hide
However ... despite a really wet year in 2007, our UL down sleeping bags managed just fine. We had Cocoon jackets as well, but i don't think we ever wore them to bed.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Finishing Sleep System - Spring-Fall; Appalachians, Rockies... FRANCE?! on 03/22/2008 16:36:57 MDT Print View

> If anyone has advice on France I'd love to here it,
GR10 in Pyrenees
TMB and GR5 in Alps
Guide boods from FFRP and Cicerone.

cyrille soulas
(frenchbob) - F

Locale: Paris / France
Pyrenées HRP/GR10/GR11 in France on 03/23/2008 07:31:28 MDT Print View

As a French, i recommand you the HRP (Pyrenée Hight Route) that crosses the southern part of France between Mediteranean sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the Spain border.

Pyrenées look like the Sierra sometimes, JMT/PCT got more space and expansive views but Pyrenées really worth it too.

HRP route goes hight on the crest and can be challenging, but not technically difficult.
Resuppluy can be a concern though.
the total hike is about 800km (500 miles) with a good 43,000 metres of elevation gain (143,000 feet), so be prepared...

here is an english link for guidebooks:
you'll need to get the HRP guidebooks by Georges Véron "Haute Randonèe Pyrènèene"

However, to conect Atlantic Ocean to Mediteranean sea, you could take the easier GR10 on the french border side, the trail is well maintained and easy to follow thru "medium elevation mountain".

The Gr11 is pretty much the same on the Spanish side, and the "sentier de Piémont" (france) is a moderate hike with the same goal but with more travelling into the valley and small villages, it's a more cultural experience.

a few good links here for the HRP:

Besides HRP, i would recommand the GR20 (look South -East) in Corsica island, it's a very nice and famous thru-hike, i will try it next summer as a training before my Colorado CDT.
GR20is a stenuous 200 km hike, it can hot in summer, trail is obvious, and you can sleep every night in a shelter or pitch your tent around if it's full, it's a great scenic trail with steanuous elevation gain everyday, hike light!

If you need more info , you can email me, good luck!

French Bob

G. V.
(zaack77) - F
France and sleeping system on 03/23/2008 09:40:46 MDT Print View

Hi Jed,

Like the others, I would recommand you some famous hikes in French :

-> le Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) : 9 to 12 days - 260km - 10km of elevation gain. A short "must have done" hike in Europe, imo! Lot of accomodations (hostel, shelters, ...) and with an easy access to resupply (every 2-3 days at least).

-> Le Tour du Cervin :

-> Like French Bo (Hi you, you're not on randonner-leger??? ;-), I would also recommend the GR20 in Corsica (beautiful mediterranean island). Tough hike, possible high temp in the afternoon (30°C) but also some below freezing (last year, 3 people have died in the summer because of the cold - a strong and sudden snow storm...).
It demands some hiking skills; Reserved to experienced hiker imo.

-> In the Pyrénées, the famous and long HRP! Some 30-35 hiking days in a very wild moutain chain (far more wild than the Alps). French Bob did a great summariez, nothing to add.

Concerning your sleepin system, for a 3 seasons hike in the Pyrénées for ex. (with camp at 2000m - 6500ft), the real CONFORT temperature of your sleeping system should be someting like -5°C (20°F).
So with your Hydrogen bag and your liner it should be OK, don't forget it ;-).

Just a note about camping in France. Except from the "Parc naturels" (wilderness reserves) in which it is TOTALLY forbidden to camp, anywhere else it is allowed to camp in the wilderness if you set up camp after 19h and to remove it before 9h.

Good year in Paris ;-).

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Finishing Sleep System on 03/23/2008 09:50:01 MDT Print View

Can't help you on the hikes, but I thought I would mention that I purchased the S2S thermolite liner a year or so back and found it less then helpful. Unless you have already used it and feel it works, I would say to scrap it and bring some clothing instead. If I remember correctly, it weighs about 8oz? That would let you bring the synthetic insulating gear while keeping your system at the original weight.
FWIW, I use an all down system and manage moisture fairly well.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: France and sleeping system on 04/03/2008 01:59:40 MDT Print View

> Just a note about camping in France. Except from the "Parc naturels" (wilderness reserves) in which it is TOTALLY forbidden to camp, anywhere else it is allowed to camp in the wilderness if you set up camp after 19h and to remove it before 9h.

Well, the ban in Parcs Naturels may be on the books, but we didn't notice anyone being greatly concerned ...
As always, just be discreet and clean.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Finishing Sleep System - Spring-Fall; Appalachians, Rockies... FRANCE?! on 04/03/2008 07:01:42 MDT Print View

down insulation should be fine in the environments you mention. Having both down and synthetics (bag/clothes) makes sense too for some extra security. Then, I think it's better to use a down bag and synthetic clothing because the bag will be thicker and there's where down wins big time over synthetics in both weight and bulk and also because a bag is easier to keep clean and dry, you just use in for sleeping under your shelter. Clothing items have a more troubled life. With a Marmot Hydrogen and a synthetic jacket (and maybe pants) you have a nice arrangement.

France is a hiker's paradise. There are hiking routes all over the place and they're very well documented so it's straighforward for a visitor to get the info to make choices and go hiking. There's also a wide range of options as you have highland or lowland routes, coastal routes, atlantic or mediterranean (two different worlds), wilderness oriented or village to village (even though real wilderness as you know it in America does not exist) and you can go backpacking year round. Visit it's a fantastic site for a hiker to feel like a child in a candy shop. For planning routes:
The FFRP publishes topo-guides for all GR routes (where GR stands for Grand Randonée or Long Distance) in a consistent presentation with 1:50.000 maps included.
I remember I got a paper map from the IGN (Instutue Nationale Geographique or National Geographic Institute; the source for topo maps in France, a paper map with all the GR routes depicted which is a pleasure to watch and dream about hiking and takes you away from the internet's cold feeling somehow.

I'd like to add about the comments on wild camping France seems to be one of the most permisive countries in western Europe if not the most. Don't really know about the Parcs Nationals in general but the one in the western Pyrenees allows camping down to dusk if more than one hour away from motorized access which sounds reasonable to me. Don't know either if Parc National and Parc Naturel are equivalent figures or which one is more restrictive for the human user.

On the rural, village to village routes there's a huge network of hostels (basic, cheap, cozy accomodation) and other lodging options.

silver cedric
(alpisilver) - F
some ideas on 09/07/2008 01:58:24 MDT Print View


Alpine sound see the landscapes are very beautiful and quite wild.
I made a blog on the path that I did that can give you ideas.

Bye Cedric

Clive Ockenden

Locale: Tas, Australia
Hiking in France on 09/07/2008 03:17:52 MDT Print View

This is very interesting information.
Where do the Parisians go for a weekend hike? For example if they don't want to travel too far, and want to camp out only Saturday or Fri/Sat nights?
Are reasonable day walks from Paris possible and worth-while?
Thanks, CliveO

Andy Miller
(andym) - F
France on 09/07/2008 06:37:10 MDT Print View

As someone else has said the French network of Grandes Rondonnées is also very well-provided for with hostels (gites d'étapes and refuges) as well as campsites. The gites d'étapes offer extremely good value (a bed, dinner and breakfast for 35€ or so), campsites can typically be found for less than 10€. Bear in mind that tourism is an important source of income, particularly in areas where opportunities for other employment are limited. My [i]impression[/i] is that wild camping ('bivouacking') is tolerated where there are no other choices but much less so where it is simply used as a means to avoid putting money into the local economy (the main resentment is against campervan - RV - owners but hikers are caught up in the backwash).

The GR20 in Corsica is definitely for the experienced. It is also pretty remote and isolated. if you want to see more of the villages, then it's well worth considering the other long distance footpaths on the island eg the Mare a Mare.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Hiking in France on 09/07/2008 10:15:50 MDT Print View

I guess it depends on what you want, how much time you have and in what time of the year you will be in France. The Pyrenees and the Alps are obvious destinations. The Pyrenees is already covered very well in previous posts. In the Alps you've got the already mentioned Tour du Mont Blanc or GR5. But there are also other paths. Try to search for regions like the Ecrins, Queyras, Vanoise, Mercantour or Vercors. although all part of the Alps these regions have their own specific character.
Other mountainous regions to look for are the Auvergne, the Jura or the Vosges. Or perhaps the higher parts of the Provence with the gorde du Verdon.
Or you could even look at more coastal regions like Normandy, Bretagne or Pas de Calais with beautifull cliffs.
France offers endless possibilities with trails for every age and every level.

Dan Healy

Locale: Queensland
France on 09/08/2008 02:15:16 MDT Print View

Another thing about Europe is the hiking seasons - the crowds are away and Refuges aren't open in the closed seasons. The advantage of this is you have the Alps to your self and the animals are still around. Herds of Chamois, Mountain goats etc can easily be seen before the hoards of humans invade the slopes in summer.