I got out for a couple days and was able to put some new toys to the test.
Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape: I finally got a chance to put it to a test. After slogging through some of the roughest trail I've ever hiked, I found myself with the trail lost in snow and dark approuching. I found a little landing next to the trail and set up the shelter. I didn't have much more room than the perimeter of the shelter and it went up without a hitch-- well almost-- I mislaid a stake and they are going to get a nice bright paint job. Take my advice and buy the hi-vis stakes.
It rained and snowed a bit overnight and I woke up with everything dry. Condensation was minimal-- I expected worse with the cold wet conditions, but there was just a light film. I had the fabric down tight to the ground too, which cut down on headroom, but kept out the cold draft coming off the snowfields close by.
If you own one of the Gatewood Capes, the snap next to your head that serves to keep the execess fabric out of the way when using it as rain gear make a great place to hand your headlamp. I have a little Gerber Tracer that was turned into a mini desk lamp hanging from the snap loop.
It started raining on the way out and the cape got a good field test. I had a little trouble getting it over my pack (GoLite Trek) which is about head tall, but I got the hang of it-- put your hands out the sleeve holes, and give it a good toss. With a full pack on it hit me about knee high. My lower pant legs got a little wet, but I was on the way out and too lazy to stop and get my rain pants out and put them on. This is the first time I have used any rain gear made from silnylon and I was impressed with the low bulk and weight. It was easy to move in it.
I had some concerns about the height and angle of the sleeve/arm openings in the cape and using it with trekking poles. My fears were put to rest-- with a pack on, the holes come out in just the right spot and the cape moves back near my elbows and there isn't a lot of undue motion or fuss walking in it with poles. I wore a windshirt and gloves and a Tilley hat. I didn't use the hood and it tucked around my neck to make a good seal. It was raining mixed with sleet on and off and temps were 35F-40F and I stayed dry and comfortable with over an hour of steady rain.
Trekking poles: they proved to be worth their weight in gold this trip. Fording creeks and picking my way through a rock pasture of a trail was made much safer and easier with the help of the poles. I had watched another hiker rock-hop across a small stream looking like a cross between a tight rope walker and a drunk ballerina without poles. I was able to make the same trip with my feet dry and no near dunkings by using the poles.
Montane Lite-Speed wind shirt: I'm amazed that such a light thin garmet could keep me so comfortable. I wore a GoLite C-Thru long sleeve shirt under it on the way out and it was a great combo. It was a little chilly if I stopped, but it was just right when I was going full steam. I tested this combo against a Marmot DriClime wind shirt and I like both a lot. If I was up against consistantly colder temps, the Marmot would be nice.
Polycro ground sheets: mine split in a couple places and is now in the trash can. I have a Spinnsheet I'm going to try, and if all else fails I have a 6 oz footprint from a tent with a basic rectangular layout.
Sierra Designs Wild Bill sleeping bag: worked fine, kept me warm. I'll take a full length pad or use my pack next time as my feet got a little chilly. The ground was very cold and I was using the shorter Thermarest Z-lite which worked fine other than length. It wasn't bad enough to make me empty my pack completely and shuffle everything around.
Z-Lite pad: I found th Z-lite pad and the GoLite Trek made a good combination. I put a 2 liter Platypus in the sleeve and put the Z-lite next, folded so that it made two even sections wide. My sleeping bag went in a 13 liter Sea to Summit Ultra-sil bag sitting vertically with my cook kit next to it, followed by spare clothes in an 8 liter bag, essentials, and food, each in their seperate bags. My rain gear went in the top bag with toilet and tent stuff in the net pocket on the back. The Z-lite and stuff sacks all locked together well with the compression straps and made for a good stable cylinder.
That's all for now.