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Advise on primary 3
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Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 17:48:23 MDT Print View

I have read so much my head hurts. I am trying to put together a gear list for my family.

Here is the situation in a nutshell. My wife, and I along with out 12 year old son have been doing day hikes along the pct, or other trails around Tahoe all this year. We have worked up to doing at least one 20 mile day and have a variety of 2-3 15 mile days consecutively.

We want to move now to overnight backpacking. Our goals for next year are to do the entire Rim Trail in 3 day sections, as well as taking at least one week on the JMT.

We have a good collection of day hiking gear, but have not purchased one single item for our new plans.

I am trying to secure the basic big three for each of us currently. I want to go ahead and get our pack, our bags, and our shelters.

Here is where I have come to more or less, but am really not confident in my gear choices, so I would really appreciate some feedback.

I have narrowed it down to a single rainbow, and a double rainbow for our shelters, western mountaineering ultralites for the wife and child, and the alpinelight for me (I am 6' 5" and want the extra room) and more or less decided on ULA packs, although I cant really decide which one.

Longer term goals are to do 1-2 week section hikes of the PCT.

I am trying to buy the gear once, that will meet my current goals, and allow me to not do significant upgrades to my gear for my 2 week section hikes which are at least a year away or longer.

I am shooting for keeping our base weight between 12-15 lbs for each of us, and distributing gear amoung the three of us, and not carrying duplicates (such as one stove, and one water filter etc.)

I would love to hear from the more experienced as to what you think of my choices, and if you differ, a small explanation as to why.

Thanks in advance :)

Stephen P
(spavlock) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 18:03:02 MDT Print View

Hey Mark. First off, I wish I lived out west. Hopefully that will happen one day.

You can't go wrong with ULA packs. The only thing I recommend is to purchase these last....which you probably already know. I'm guessing you did the research and made sure you fit into a Rainbow? I'm 6'2 and am very cautious when it comes to purchasing's even harder for you! With your height, your options are limited unless you get a tarp. For a 12-15 lb base weight, you could even carry a hammock.

My main suggestion is to look into getting quilts for all of you. If you or your wife are good with a sewing machine you can even make these. There are several patterns online as well as helpful tid bits around this forum and others. Take a look at Jacks R Better. The long would fit you, and the regulars for the wife and son. They have sales every once and a while, and their quilts pop up on gear swap sometimes. These quilts are cheaper than the WM bags, and they are just as warm if you get the right ones.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 18:06:39 MDT Print View

My first question would be this. You've been day hiking. That's great. But have you been base camping as well? Do you use a single tent? Do you need more than one shelter? Who is enthusiastic, and who isn't? What are the problems-cold nights, rain, food, teenage boredom...? I've been shifting my wife and daughter to backpacking this year and it is a mixed bag.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
RE: Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 18:15:12 MDT Print View


I guess you want two different tents. But have you looked at the Oware Pyramid Tarp. I used one and love it. All 3 of you can fit in that comfortably especially with a nice bit of headroom for yourself and I am guessing your son soon enough.


Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
Re: RE: Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 18:25:32 MDT Print View

I have considered a quilt, and a tarp (to kind of answer both of your questions). I am so far a bit of a chicken, with these types of things. while the concept seems sound, the implentation of these "seems" more difficult to me. For instance, i have read over and over again, that pitching a tarp CORRECTLY so that it keeps you dry takes practice and experience. Neither of which I currently have. I was thinking that the tent, along with its bug protection, may be a beter first step for me. The quilt is similar, so to speak, although I think its more user friendly.

The wife picked up a neo air at a REI garage sale but the son and I don have pads yet. I am leaning in the direction of a foam pad, but sleep is important to me, so I may take some extra weight for some comfort in this area. I actually plan on just going ahead and buying a zrest or similar and trying it for a night in the backyard...I mean for 35.00 how bad can it be even if I decide I dont like it for the long term.

As to the family buying into all the aspects you listed, I think so far we are all OK with the issues. Of course thinking this, and knowing it by having done it, are two different things, but we are active outdoor persons, and so far the cold or hot hasnt bothered us much. The wife is not thrilled with the no shower for days part, but other than that, no major fusses.

The boy has to come, he doesnt have a choice...I know, I know, mean parents, but this is our family time together, and this is what we all agreed we are going to do. On top of that I suspect years later, he will be glad he got to do all these trips and see the sites we have seen. I see so many folks who live here in reno who never set foot off a paved road.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 18:29:23 MDT Print View

At your height, as already mentioned, you're going to have problems with a lot of tents. Be sure to set them up on the living room floor as soon as received and try them out, so you can send them back if they don't work for you. I understand that the new Six Moon Designs tents are made for taller people--look at their Haven (sold as a shaped tarp plus net tent inside, but the combo is a double-wall tent). Also remember that before you know it, your son will be your height! (I raised three sons, so I've been there, done that, nearly went broke keeping them fed!) Don't get a tent or sleeping bag for your son that will be too short for you. For your son, you might consider a Tarptent Contrail which is considerably lighter than the single Rainbow. You can often find one used (watch Gear Swap on this forum).

As also mentioned, you want to wait to get your packs until you have all your other gear, plus the equivalent of a week's food and a day's water. Your pack needs to hold that amount without being too big or too small, and it needs to support that amount. The most important thing is that the pack fit each of you comfortably--fit, fit and fit are the most important! These criteria may result in a different brand/weight/size pack for each of you. For your son, adjustability is extremely important because he's certainly not going to stay the same size he is now! However, to be sure he's comfortable now you may just have to bite the bullet and get a replacement pack once he's grown more--you might have to do this a couple of times. If you're not going backpacking until next year, wait until then to get him a pack!

Be sure to practice setting up and using your gear in the back yard. You don't want to be learning how to set up a new tent after dark on a cold, rainy windy night, with instructions in one hand, tired out after a long day's hike! The next step is car-camping, where you can bail out or at least crawl into the car if everything goes wrong in the middle of the night. Do some of this in inclement weather so you learn to cope and stay warm and dry. I'd strongly recommend several short trips (1-2 nights) before you tackle any long hikes.

Unfortunately, no matter how well you do your research, you'll probably find some items that won't work out for you. Most of the time you can sell them, which helps finance the replacement. I still haven't quite found the absolutely perfect tent for me and my 80-lb dog!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/11/2010 18:51:03 MDT.

Stephen P
(spavlock) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Re: RE: Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 18:48:55 MDT Print View

Quilts are very user friendly. They also sell well on gear swap if you don't like them! I have a feeling that you will like the quilts. You and your wife could get or make a quilt that would cover the both of you.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
RE: "Advise on primary 3" on 10/11/2010 18:53:51 MDT Print View

Tarps - The Oware Pyramid tarp Tent is a nice balance between feeling like you are in a Tent and you can add (as an option) the bug screen around the bottom wich adds great ventalation when needed. I am 6'2" and find it nice to have a foot on either end of me or more to keep my bag from touching the end and getting the foot box perpetually wet. The other benefit of this is it takes only a few minutes to set up, is easier than a regular tarp (I like them to - but the Pyramid really takes care of business for a new comer who wants the family time and to shed the weight. But don't forget the ground barrier like tyvek or, what I use, drop cloth plastic. Cut to your size is works great. On a great night in the Sierras you can leave the Pyramid or tent in the backpack and sleep on the individual groundsheet. Plus I find it easier to go solo, two of us, 3 of us, or even 4 of us (6 sometimes) and pack what we need. Packs are always ready to go.

As far as quilts vs bags - Flip a bag, zipper side down and open all the way, and try it like a quilt. It works well and I find I stay warmer.

Foam mats like you are talking are great. on hillsides where you might be sleeping at an angle, you don't slip off of them. My son likes the Z-Rest, I like the Ridge Rest. They work well. If it is really cold I sometimes take the small one and the large one. Plus it gives a little more padding.

I love the Sierras and I think you will get a huge kick out of spending the night out there. I bivy bag when I solo most of the time and have introduced by boys to it. Everyone loves the 3:30am pee breaks and watching the stars, satellites, and falling stars wiz by. Too cool.

Have fun and don't worry too much. I have brought way too little a few times (meaning I was cold) and following a system described on here will get you where you need to be.

Check out Ryan's gear list for his Troop 676. It is a good start and will help you out.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
thanks on 10/11/2010 19:07:14 MDT Print View

thanks guys, I really apprecaite the insight. I will put that tarp on the list and do some research.

I will also research the quilts you listed as well as the one I see for sale here on this site.

I dont want to get into sewing :)

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 22:27:28 MDT Print View

I know it's confusing to pick out a gear list when you don't exactly know what you're looking for. A lot of the gear lists posted here have come from years of experimentation and adjustment. From your items you suggested it looks like you'll be putting down some serious cash before knowing how you or the rest of your family will even like it.

Since you're familiar with the REI garage sale and how that operates, I'd look at grabbing a two-man and one-man tent at the next one in early November. I remember seeing quite a few Half-Dome/Quarter-Dome's being boxed back up at the end of the last one here in Reno. They won't be the lightest but the Half-Dome is a fairly decent tent with two entry's and vestibules. After a night or two you can see how your family likes tent camping and if they'd be open to single wall tents or tarping.

For the pad's I'd go for a Z-lite, they're pretty light and still quite comfortable. Of course if money isn't much of an issue I really love my Neo-Air.

Maybe I'll see you at the next Garage Sale!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Advise on primary 3 on 10/11/2010 22:59:15 MDT Print View

A few other hints, which may help the budget aspect:

Even though it may be a bit more weight than you'd like, consider borrowing or renting gear for your first few trips.

Look for used gear--there's lot here on the Gear Swap but you have to have done your research so you know what you want ahead of time, and act fast.

You don't need packs to go car camping with the rest of your hiking gear. In fact, it might be a good idea to do a few car-camp outings with the rest of your gear before buying the packs.

When starting your pack search, go to a good backpacking outfitter and make sure you get a clerk with lots of experience fitting packs. (If it's REI, you may have to be assertive about this--I always seem to get waited on by high-school-age clerks who know nothing.) Even if you decide against what you find there, you'll find out your torso measurement and what a well-fitted pack feels like. Don't buy a 5-6 lb. bomber pack, though, even if it's comfortable. You can find just as much comfort with lower weight, unless you plan to carry 60-70 lbs., obviously not your goal!

One good site, if you haven't found it yet, is Mark Verber's website, Mark keeps this website up to date, showing the latest technology as well as low-budget alternatives. I suggest a thorough perusal before buying any gear.

Go ahead and make up a gearlist, using the ones you find on this site as a model. Just leave blank the ones you haven't decided yet.

Sometimes weight is less important than comfort. That's particularly true of your sleeping pad--a good night's sleep should be priority #1. Test a new sleeping pad on the floor at home while you can still return it. Some of us require more cushioning than others. For most of us, the older we get, the more cushioning we require. Insulation in that sleeping pad is also important.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
good ideas on 10/12/2010 14:20:16 MDT Print View

Your original ideas are solid. A couple of suggestions:

1. We traded the Double Rainbow for a Lunar Duo. We gave up some wind stability and ease of pitching for significantly more interior space. I'm 6-2 and have plenty of room.

2. My wife had a WM Ultralite Super, and traded it for a Montbell (two of them, actually, a #0 and a #3.) She's a side sleeping thrasher, and the design of the Montbell keeps down in the right places.

In any case I would buy my wife a bag rated 10-F *lower* than mine. Just sayin'.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Question For Ken on 10/25/2010 18:14:09 MDT Print View

"We traded the Double Rainbow for a Lunar Duo. We gave up some wind stability and ease of pitching for significantly more interior space. I'm 6-2 and have plenty of room."

I'm also 6'2" and have been considering the Double Rainbow for me and my girlfriend, but it sounds like it might be tight. Would you recommend not getting the Double Rainbow due to size or did you just want "extra" room.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Advice on primary three on 10/27/2010 07:57:08 MDT Print View

I know exactly what you are going through as this is all fairly new to me also. I recently purchased an alcohol stove and 1.3l pot which significantly dropped our base weight and bulk of gear. Unfortunately I think our packs are now way to big for anything but long winter trips and they are also on the heavy side. I did all the research I thought I could but still ended up not 100% happy. We got Osprey 60 and 70l packs. They are very comfy but much heavier than most. Same with the MSR Hubba Hubba HP, incredible tent that I thought was light but compared to others and what we need, it's overkill. All I'm saying is that you should definitely take your time and continually review your proposed gear list. You say you have about a year before you do overnight trips? I strongly suggest that you use it to really decide what you want. You might be surprised how much it changes over just a few months :-) good luck. Can't wait to read about what you finally decide upon :-)

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: good ideas on 10/27/2010 08:30:22 MDT Print View

In any case I would buy my wife a bag rated 10-F *lower* than mine. Just sayin'.

Sound advice. I use a long WM ultralight at around 32oz. Milady likes her vintage 15f Marmot bought off ebay at 52oz.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
so far on 10/29/2010 21:16:41 MDT Print View

I ended up getting the wife and I exos 46 packs. I got the boy a 34.

I got both of them a WM ultralite and I got the alpenlite.

I got the boy a moment and I have not yet decided on a tent for the both of us.

the echo II is the front runner but considering others.

I have found that all the UL tent manufacturers are almost impossible to get in touch with. I have emailed 3 of them and not heard back at all.

Of course I dont find this unusual, small businesses often are that way. By contrast, the folks at Hperlite Mountain gear emailed me right back each time.