I would love to see an article on this, as I will be moving to Portland this Summer. I've day-hiked a dozen times year-round there, and overnighted once on Mt. Hood in the summer above treeline, but otherwise am inexperienced and apprehensive about prolonged multi-day wet weather. I feel pretty good about my hiking clothing, (smartwool baselayer, Pertex windshirt, Fleece Midlayer, Drop-Stoppers rain suit, Go Lite Umbrella), but my concern is over my sleep system.
At www.ryanjordan.com, Ryan describes his rain gear for a November hike of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. I would be very curious to see his sleep system gear list. And I really want his eVENT rain gloves!!
I could actually use some advice before any such article is written, as I just purchased an eVENT bivy at REI using my %20 discount and still can't decide if it's the right thing for me (discount expires April 2, so I have a limited window to exchange/return it). I know Ryan likes the eVENT bivys for especially wet, windy, cold conditions, and I have decided that I want the added protection of a fully waterproof breathable bivy for the PNW. But I can’t decide between the ID eVENT Unishelter or the ID eVENT Micro Bivy.
Here's what I anticipate my hiking conditions to be based on my schedule and comfort level: multi-day trips above treeline in the summer, over-nighters in the Spring and Fall, and low elevation day hikes in the Winter.
I do very much like to get above treeline in the PNW, as I can get bored with endless trees with no view. For overnighters, I like the idea of camping at the highest point of the hike. For example, when I did Mt. Hood last September, I started at 2000' and hiked to 7000', where I camped out for spectacular views. I wouldn’t have wanted to dip back below treeline, where I had spent most of the day, nor would I have wanted to setup camp, climb high for sunset, come back down for camp, climb back up for sunrise, then climb back down to break camp. I really like the idea of watching sunset and sunrise without getting out of my quilt (a homemade down quilt with 3” of loft and a Teflon DWR top).
But when I woke up the next morning, the clouds had rolled in and I felt unprepared had high winds and rain picked up. So I need a system that gives me great views, and that I can hunker down into if a storm picks up. I don’t think I need an ID eVENT tent, because if the weather is already bad, I wouldn’t risk camping high in the first place and would stay below treeline. Also, flat spaces are hard to find on the side of a volcano, so the smaller the footprint the better.
My initial thoughts were to purchase the ID eVENT Unishelter, so that I can enjoy the spectacular views right from my sleeping area, and if the weather does turn bad overnight, I simply have to zip up for the night. No worries about a tarp being blown down. I don’t have a problem with confined spaces (I find I mostly lie in one position in a tent anyway), and since this is a solo hike setup, I don’t need lounge space. I don’t cook in my shelter, so that’s not a problem either. With my full rain gear setup plus umbrella, I don’t feel as much a need for a tarp for rest stops. I especially don’t like how much time I spend fiddling with gear when hiking, so the simplicity of setup is very attractive, and I find setting up a tarp for a rest stop to be too much work for what it’s worth. But again, I don’t have much wet weather experience.
This setup has a few problems. For starters, it’s 31oz. Add a GG groundsheet and stakes, and my calculations bring it up to 33.3oz. I do hike with an GoLite Umbrella (modified to attach to my hiking pole), so I could conceivably use that to enter and exit the bivy in rain. But am I being too optimistic about this setup? In constant rain, I will probably eventually want a tarp with this setup. Plus, without a tarp, the eVENT might be more prone to develop condensation. And in the summer, the small mesh screen will probably leave things pretty stuffy. So it seems a tarp is still needed for more versatility, but adding even a 7.5oz tarp brings the setup to 42oz (with more stakes). I might as well get an ID MK1 Lite eEVENT tent. The $285 price tag on the bivy isn’t too attractive, either. Or I could bring my 41oz Tarptent Rainshadow, stay below treeline, and enjoy a breathable palace.
So I opted instead to purchase an ID Micro Bivy (18.5oz) for $185 plus %20 off, with the assumption that I could make a 3oz spinnsheet awning of sorts with a simple pully-like system to raise and lower the tarp, and save 11.oz over the Unishelter.But even then I worry that a small awning would be enough. I am particularly worried that the rain that beads up on the bivy could pour down into the head opening. Thus I should probably bring a full-sized tarp.
So now I have a nice WP/B bivy, but I must bring a tarp, which ruins the whole point of a wp/b bivy for me, which is great views. So am I better off just sticking with a Pertex Quantum bivy and larger tarp and save even more weight? I’ve got my eye on the prototype Alphamid Nano.
To confound things, I purchased a Hennessy Hammock Ultralight Backpacker Asym (31oz) in December with the idea that it would keep me above all the mud and muck, and away from small streams that may form (after all, how many of my nights will truly be spent above treeline?). It would also keep me from the overused muddy campsites. But at 6’2”, I find it a bit too confining, it arches my back a little too much, and I can’t find a comfortable position on my side. But I just can’t justify the added weight of the next size up.
I’ve thought and thought about these setups, and none is a perfect situation. I’ve also learned that 5 minutes of experience is more informative than a week of calculations, but these are all expensive items, and I must internet-order the bivys from REI as my local stores do not stock them. My head starts spinning with all the variables, and I’m at the point where I’m incapable of making a decision. Help!