I've had plantar fasciitis for a couple of months so haven't been able to get out and try the new gear I've been loading up on since last summer. I decided to just hoof it in a mile yesterday and camp out at Coe (Ridge View). I arrived at the camp around 6 p.m., and had it all to myself as I'd hoped.
So the new stuff was:
MLD Duomid (obtained on gear swap here)
Equinox Mantis bug net
GoLite 3-season down quilt
POE Peak Elite AC women's pad
Exped Air Pillow
Polycro ground sheet (window insulation)
Backcountry Boiler (woo hoo - finally tried it out!)
Winds were fairly strong starting before sunset and continuing a few hours; not sure what speed, but I could hear the oak trees 50 yards away rustling and see the branches moving. The Duomid held up just fine in this wind, and in fact until the sun had been down a while I was warm enough sitting inside and reading with the flaps open. The bug net wasn't really needed, but I hooked it up this morning for a minute, and seems like it would work just fine at keeping mosquitoes away while I sleep. I learned some things about setup on the Duomid when I took it down this morning, playing with stake placement and pole position to make it even tauter.
The Duomid may be a good solution for my partner and I when we backpack; he prefers sleeping out, I prefer a tent, but if it rains he could come inside, and I can have mosquito protection on my side (he doesn't need it, they don't bother him).
I'd have to say that I don't think the Golite quilt will be warm enough for most of my trips; it didn't keep me quite warm enough last night (not that cold, maybe around 45 F at the lowest), even with all my clothes on and the tent flaps closed. This was my first time sleeping outdoors with it. I may keep it for warmer summer trips, but we'll see. This is the one new piece of gear I wasn't thrilled with after last night.
The POE pad and Exped pillow, on the other hand, were great. The taper of the women's pad is just fine for a side sleeper, and having it just 2" short of my height is nice (I'm used to 3/4 length thermarest pads); I rarely sleep on my back or with my legs straight, so it's just long enough. It seemed more comfortable than the POE Insulmat I bought a few years back, though it's a little thinner; it seems to keep my hip off the ground and still be squishy enough, inflated slightly less than fully. I could feel a little reflected heat on my feet during the short period I had my socks off and feet on the pad; I am not sure how warm it is compared to other pads, especially since I was using it with a quilt (which I have no prior experience with). The pillow is nice and thick, exactly what I needed, and I like the indent for my neck/shoulder. The pad is a bit slippery, so I may need to figure out some way to keep the pillow from slipping off.
Likewise the polycro ground sheet was fairly slippery, but worked fine and I have to say for the low weight I may be able to put up with some slippage.
And the Boiler? Way too much fun :) Although last night trying over and over to light it in the wind, I could feel Doug's pain (from the Boil-off at Coe a couple months ago). I know you're supposed to test this at home first, but I figured worst-case scenario I could eat all my food cold (didn't have to, though). Note to self: always test the lighter before you leave home, it sparked but didn't flame. So I used up lots of matches last night before going off and finding some pine needles, then breaking up the lighter and dousing what fluid didn't evaporate on them. Finally got a good fire and boil going...and it was probably even more exciting having had so much trouble getting it going. At least this morning, in calmer weather, I got it going on the first match. Devin, the boiler is a thing of beauty. I may have to convert to hot water cooking (home dehydrated + cozy), at least for some trips so I get to use the boiler. For dinner, I used about half the water to rehydrate my meal in my mug, then plugged the boiler up and covered it with my fleece hat, and the water was still warm enough when I finished dinner to make tea in my mug.
Oh, yes, one more first: my first ever sub 10lb base weight(!), since I was able to fit all my stuff in my Golite Peak (which I use as an overly large day pack). Don't think I'll be able to keep it quite that low, since I normally pack more clothing for Sierra trips and will likely need a sleeping back (my current old REI down bag is 3 lbs, may have to bite the bullet and go with WM).
One question: since the pad is tapered at the foot, I inserted it into the footbox of the quilt, and mostly had the quilt around the bottom of the pad. It didn't seem to create an air space around me, but I'm wondering if this is a good idea or I should try to keep all the quilt above the pad?