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Backpacking for the girly girl
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Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Backpacking for the girly girl on 07/11/2011 21:25:20 MDT Print View

For what it's worth, Kathleen, my mother was a city girl and I'm sure she never peed outside until she was 38. At that time she and my father (he was a small town boy) decided to go backpacking in the "Black Forest" of Pennsylvania. I was 6. It's a wonder we survived, since they both basically knew nothing about what they were getting into (at least I had an excuse, lol!). They did just fine, though, and this adventure started a deep love for the outdoors and wilderness that my mother never lost until her death! It did the same for me!

I don't recommend you start that way, though! That's like throwing someone into deep water and hoping he will learn to swim! Instead, try car camping combined with short dayhikes. When you get more comfortable with the car-camping gear you have, switch over to your backpacking gear when car-camping. Work into backpacking very gradually, starting with just one night (with a good weather forecast) a couple of miles from the trailhead. Keep it fun (Bryce, make sure you keep it fun!). Eventually (probably during the dayhikes) you'll learn to cope with bugs, rain, cold and, yes, peeing outdoors, and still enjoy yourself. Just don't go at it too fast! I suspect you are a lot tougher than you think you are!

You can get a single wall, fully enclosed, bugproof tent with a real floor for 34 oz., including stuff sack and stakes (Tarptent Squall 2). Not ultralight, but definitely light weight, and a lot more room inside than the lighter double-wall 2 person tents.

PS: I grew up out in the wilds, and I still hate bugs!!! In addition to the fully screened tent, I won't go out without repellent and a bug headnet.

Edited by hikinggranny on 07/11/2011 21:28:35 MDT.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: Huts & Cabins on 07/11/2011 21:39:43 MDT Print View

A mid and inner net tent sounds like the best option to me. It functions just like a normal tent, and it'll allow you to leave the inner net tent behind and use the mid for winter backpacking. That said, I use a Double Rainbow for couples camping, since I ski in the winter.

Edited by lindahlb on 07/11/2011 21:40:49 MDT.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Huts & Cabins on 07/11/2011 21:43:03 MDT Print View

I concur with the MLD option.

My wife is the reason I own a Trailstar (that and I'd wanted one for ages). Now I just need that Bearpaw inner net.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Scarp 2 on 07/11/2011 21:45:53 MDT Print View

Get a Scarp 2 with both inner tents (mesh and solid). That way, you can use it for those deep winter trips you'll both be taking in a few years! ;)

Kathleen L
(kathleenl) - F
Thank you all for the tips on 07/11/2011 22:01:17 MDT Print View

I really appreciate it. Bryce and I are discussing options for a weekend trip. We'll let you know what we decide :)

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
awesome! on 07/11/2011 22:12:26 MDT Print View

Kathleen, congrats on taking these first steps in pursuing what will definitely turn out to be a great adventure.

But first, your quote: "I'm often sitting next to him on the couch as he reads and posts for hours on I'm not even there! "
Ugh, i've been very guilty of that myself a few times, so it made me laugh a bit as it struck a chord.

I took my girlfriend out backpacking for the first time in her life when she was 26. Like you, she fears/despises certain aspects of camping. The bathroom thing has been an issue. What has helped tremendously is this following product.

She feels that it makes things easier, cleaner, and faster

In terms of tents...yeah she will never do a floorless shelter either. We use a tarptent Double Rainbow, with zero complaints. It's as traditional of a tent as you're going to get, but with UL fabrics, and a respectable weight. It's clearly not the only option out there, but it happens to be a tent that we have, and works well. It's also extremely livable, which 2 doors and 2 vestibules. A nice "his" and "hers" and no need to crawl over each other in the middle of night to take a leak. We went from a 5lb sierra designs traditional tent to the Double Rainbow and my girlfriend wasn't even phased...they were the same in her book. 2.5 lbs, or split up the poles from the body, and it's even lighter per person now. We've tried to go with a lighter tent in the past (cuben duomid with duo inner nettent) but it just wasn't as livable for 2 was worth the bump in weight to live comfortably.

Our first trek together was to 13 Falls in the Pemi Wilderness area of NH. A very easy, gradual hike, with an opportunity to camp outdoors in a somewhat secluded site. There was also an outhouse which made things easier for first timers. You could simply do a there and back to get a feel for the need to summit any peaks.

If you're feeling ambitious, you can always do mt liberty in NH. This one is steeper and a bit more aggressive, but it also offers a nice tent site (liberty tent site) and an outhouse. If you make it to the tent site, you can easily tag the summit, which is only .6 miles away.

You're gonna have a lot of fun! You might love the outdoors. After only a year of outings, my girlfriend will be joining me on the John Muir Trail this September...but who knows what 21 days will do to us :D

I haven't had a chance to read all the posts, so please forgive me if I've missed some details. But I would highly recommend just testing the waters first with some day hikes. Maybe even some aggressive steep day hikes just to get an idea of some of the hardships. The worst would be to not enjoy the activity, and then be forced to spend a night out there on top of it all. Also, do you enjoy photography? A camera can add a different level of appreciation to the outdoors. I enjoy sleeping outdoors, the gear (of course) and the views, and those would be my main motivations for going outside. Whereas my girlfriend truly enjoys photography, which provides her with her very own form of incentive to get out there. It's great that you're doing this for your boyfriend, but I think it's valuable to find something that you can take away for yourself at the end of the day. Have fun!

Another thing that I find helpful in making the trip enjoyable for the both of us is splitting the responsibility. The first couple of trips, my GF admitted that she felt like she was tagging along on "my" trip, which kind of bothered her. She would watch me boil the water, set up the tent, hang the bear bag, etc etc. These things are not rocket science by all means, and can easily be learned and taught. I would encourage you guys to share your knowledge of equipment and tasks with one another, which would make these tasks more engaging and efficient .

Cheers! (and wait for perfect weather)

Edited by Konrad1013 on 07/11/2011 22:35:25 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Ultralight Philosophy on 07/11/2011 22:20:04 MDT Print View

I would assess your ultralight philosphy. I could be wrong but it seems like for your personal backpacking your goal is to go out and hike with as little gear and as light of gear as possible as an end to itself.

Now I think your goal for your trip with your girlfriend is to introduce her to backpacking in an enjoyable way so that she will go on the odd trip with you.

In my opinion the key to UL is to tailor your gear to accomplish your trips goal. You have very effectively done this for your personal goal but seem a little resistant to attacking your second goal in the same manner.

My other piece of advice would be for both of you to share in the decision making in terms of what gear to bring, what level of comfort, and what level of redundency. Last weekend I went backpacking with one of my friends who hadn't been before and he wanted to bring a 2lb can of tomatos for a pasta dish. I suggested some alternatives for freeze dried food but he wanted his tomatos so he carried it I bit my tounge and cooked some amazing freezer bag tacos the second night to show that you can have good freeze dried food. Next time he will try to substitute the canned goods with lighter options.

A couple of things that make the transition to backpacking easier are good weather, good views, short distances, and easy trails. I wouldn't go more than 1 day from the trailhead so that you can bail any day if the weather turns.

For a sleeping bag get one warmer than required and error on the to much insulation side because nothing is worse than being cold. I would also bring full rain gear even if the weather forcast is good because the only thing worse than being cold is cold and wet.

So by adding say 8 oz on the sleeping bag 1lb on the tent and an extra lb of clothing you add about 2.5 lbs of total weight you add alot of comfort for your first backpack trip

Edited by GregF on 07/11/2011 22:21:19 MDT.

Linda Alvarez
(Liniac) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Get the woman a tent! on 07/11/2011 22:37:28 MDT Print View

For what it's worth, I say skip the car camping and hut camping and get right out into the backcountry on a short trip. I used to be Kathleen -- I mean, not exactly the girly girl part, but I was not keen on slogging a pack into the wilderness and cozying up to the creepy crawly critters. My ex-boyfriend and I used to negotiate on our cross-country trips--a night at a hotel, a night at a campground. I couldn't wait to wash the grime off me on "my" nights and sleep in a warm bed.

What finally made me warm up to backpacking was how it enabled us to get OUT THERE, to spectacular places --not crowded car camping spots with dirty pit toilets and lots of RVs. Waking up next to an alpine lake and seeing the reflection of the mountains in the sunrise, stopping for lunch overlooking a spectacular remote canyon or alongside a rushing river, with no one else around, those are the moments that made it all worth it to me.

I also +100 whoever posted above that doing your business under the open sky in the mountains is a million times better than any rank pit toilet will ever be. Seriously, it's not a big deal.

Ok, back to tents...I am actually with Kathleen on this one! I have never gotten over the heebie jeebies about having creepy crawlies in my bed. When I sleep on the ground I never sleep a wink, imagining bugs slinking into my bag with me, feeling imaginary ant feet parading across my forehead. If Kathleen is trying to share something she loves with you, Bryce, meet her halfway and get her a tent that will be of comfort to her. Tents are cozy! I love being in a tent at night with someone I love. Plus hey Bryce, they are nice and private, nudge-nudge-wink-wink! One advantage you have as a couple is that you can buy something cozy and not have to worry as much about floorspace. Something like a Sierra Designs Vapor Light (~3.5 pounds trail weight) or the BA tents or a Hubba Hubba will feel more like what she's used to.

The rest of my advice is just to try shorter outings at first -- one night out, that kind of thing. And while you can of course leave the extras behind, keeping some creature comforts--a comfortable and warm pad, pillow, chocolate-chip cookies, will go a long way toward making backpacking fun instead of a just a death march and exercise in minimalism. When I get too wrapped up in counting the ounces (I stopped myself yesterday about to purchase a rain jacket for $114 that was 2 oz. lighter than the perfectly good one I have...) I remind myself that a single cup of water weighs ~8 ounces.

Let her pick out her gear too (with your counsel of course). Remember girly girls love to shop! It can be kind of fun to get your own mug or cool micro-stove or headlamp ... it also gets me excited about going out and using the stuff!

I hope you learn to love backpacking as much as I do, Kathleen! Good luck and I look forward to your first trip report!

Daniel Yaris
(danielY) - F

Locale: PNW
maybe this on 07/11/2011 22:49:28 MDT Print View

my first UL trip and gear

though I had a 10lb pack I was comfy (thermarest, sleeping bag, and tent with floor.)

here is the link

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Backpacking for the girly girl on 07/11/2011 22:51:22 MDT Print View

C'mon kids, go for a couple nice day hikes and have a nice stay in a lodge. Nothing like a calf-burner hike followed up with a soak in a hot tub and a glass or two of your favorite Merlot.

Of course, you might get the bug once you see the Great Outdoors and share in the glory of Creation. The idea isn't to pee outdoors, it's just something you might have to do in order to see waterfalls, wildflowers and eagles overhead. You might enjoy the physical challenge and the reward of topping out on a ridge with a view of three counties. If you can navigate the traffic, panhandlers, dirt and noise of an inner-city street to see the Renoir exhibit, you can walk up a trail!

Sleeping overnight is just a way to extend the joy. If he's good, he'll deliver fresh hot coffee with the sunrise. There's nothing like waking up on a crisp mountain morning with the cool air on your face while the rest is toasty in your sleeping bag. It is empowering to be able to read maps, climb mountains and be self-reliant in the outdoors. A few bugs and a little sweat are just the admission fee.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: SMD Haven Tarp/Net Tent on 07/11/2011 23:18:38 MDT Print View

Bryce, I forgot about your hiking poles, I'm not sure they're suitable for dual use as tent poles for any tarptent using hiking poles. Therefore you might want to look at (2.2 lb two person pole tent)
or the Double Rainbow by Tarptent (it weighs more though).

I may be wrong, you'll need to know the lengths you can modify your hiking poles to and what the tent setups require. I have the adjustable Black Diamond hiking poles, which weigh more, but they do serve dual use as tent poles.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Backpacking for the girly girl on 07/11/2011 23:24:35 MDT Print View

Completely agree with the above suggestion that you and/or your bf pick a place with a nice lodge that boasts immaculately clean and quiet rooms, fine dining, a pool and jacuzzi... that's close to some easy-to-moderate trails with awesome views. Go with an open mind, and know that even if the trail hike should become hot and sweaty, etc. -- you will feel a lot better just knowing that civilization will be yours again at the end of the day. Who knows, you might actually fall in love with the outdoors -- and decide to do more...

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Get the woman a tent! on 07/12/2011 00:00:16 MDT Print View

So true Linda. The reason to backpack is to be where no one else is and to see some amazing scenery. Day hikes will give you a taste. Once you've fallen in love with the wilderness scenery, it's an easier leap to enjoy backpacking. For first-timers it's important to treat backpacking as a means to an end, rather than the dangling carrot, itself. I don't think I'd ever have taken up backpacking if it wasn't for the views and splendor that I experienced during day hikes. I only started enjoying backpacking once I had felt like day hiking wasn't capable of getting me to the places I wanted to be. As a first-timer, the draw of backpacking just isn't as strong without having a solid foundation of enjoying nature and the wilderness. So maybe you should work towards that, first?

Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Re: Re: Get the woman a tent! on 07/12/2011 01:43:25 MDT Print View


I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro this past February. Two of the women in the group were on the older side (one was a grandmother) who hadn't camped before, and hadn't even hiked above sea level before. The older of the two struggled a *lot* on the trip up; our mountain guide had a porter carry her pack from 11,000 feet up. She made it to Kibo Hut Camp at 15,500 feet. The younger one (still non-trivially older than you and I) made it to Gilman's Point, at 18,600 feet.

It just goes to show what you can do if you want to; they both went far beyond their comfort zone, far beyond what they though that they were physically capable of doing, and glad that they did. And proud.

You don't have to be anywhere near as ambitious as all that to have a good time in the wilderness. Backpacking might seem intimidating at first, but there is a reward:
like this if you're willing to give it a shot. And sharing that with someone close to you...

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
peeing outside on 07/12/2011 02:38:12 MDT Print View

My wife was a little older than you the first time she peed outside- using a freshette. She was pregnant, and we were kayaking in Puget Sound and had stopped on a remote beach. She admits that it went better than she had anticipated. Now she absolutely loves that widget. :)

That was almost a decade ago and she still doesn't really camp with me. She has car-camped a few times, and is always willing to day-hike, but she just doesn't have a regular over-nighter in her. So, if you are a regular car-camper you're already ahead of my wife and I! Thus, unlike some others I recognize that the only thing keeping you from becoming a full-bore backcountry hiker is your squeamishness about toilets (or the lack of them). That's it, really, from what you are describing. Asking for a tent with a floor is NOT unreasonable and your beau can compromise on it.

That said, I AM working on my wife, and you might want to try something similar to what I have planned. I am going to take her to Grand Canyon next summer so that we can hike to a reserved room at Phantom Ranch for the night, then another night at Cottonwood Campground, and out the North Rim to another nice room in the lodge before catching the shuttle back to South Rim. That way there is really only one night spent on the ground, and there is even a potty at both Phantom Ranch and Cottonwood.

For a tent, I have an MLD Supermid with the inner net/floor. Since it is modular I can use it in several different configurations. With the inner it is a bugproof double-walled tent with a bathtub floor, but I can also use it as a floorless tent with larger groups of fellow fanatics. That's my "big" tent, and it is truly a palace for two people, but if you don't need all of that room the Duomid is another great option. (I've become a pyramid tent fanatic.)

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Bringin' along a girl on 07/12/2011 05:09:01 MDT Print View

There are some really good suggestions here: Hut hiking at Goose Pond or in the White Mtns.; 13 Falls Campsite; etc.

I have induced SOs to go backpacking with me for more than 40 years. Two of my lady friends have even gone winter hiking in sub-zero temps with me. My secret of success in getting them to go and even do it again and again, is an iron-clad guarantee: You will be comfortable or your money back! At least a first, their comfort must be my priority or they won't do it again.

My own personal preference is for the alpine zone, steep climbs to often cold and windy places. But for the sake of "us" and sharing my wilderness joy with my friend, I not only compromise, I willingly consider the other's needs as equal to my own. I would much rather have the intimate companionship than bag another peak. Make her happy!

I bought a BA Fly Creek 2, which at 2.6 lbs works for me solo and the two of us can squeeze in when my current lady friend(62 years old!--I'm older) joins in.

And one more suggestion in the White Mtns., since you are in New England: Leave the tent home and stay in a shelter, Guyot and Garfield are both stunningly beautiful and a nice clean wood floor to put your pad on.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
It will be fine on 07/12/2011 05:48:53 MDT Print View

Lots of nice suggestions on gear that would work and keep you comfortable. If you are willing to give this a try, do it. Ignore the pleads to " do your boyfriend a favor....". If after an honest try it's not for you, stick to day hikes and other suggestions, or not even that. I agree that the fact that backpacking takes you out to places that you would not see a great motivation. You both seem willing to give this a shot, so go for it.

Now this not directed at you.... But I am surprised to hear there are lots of women out there who have never had to pee outside. My life, and my girly girl daughter's would have been quite limited if we weren't able to just take care of business outdoors.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Backpacking for the girly girl on 07/12/2011 07:52:52 MDT Print View

"Unfortunately, I don't believe at 31 I'm going to experience any sort of drastic attitude adjustment..."

I think this is an important starting point for this discussion. 31-years-old is young, and I'd hate to see anybody at any age be closed off to new experiences (as long as it's legal and relatively safe). If you view yourself as a "girly girl" who scared of the outdoors, that's exactly what you'll end up being. It's important to become more open to new experiences as you get older, not less open.

For example, at 31-years-old I had never done 5 minutes of yoga. Now, at 32, I'm doing back-bends and did 3 hours of advanced yoga classes yesterday with an instructor who uses the Sanskrit words for each pose. A year ago, I never would have imagined that I would enjoy yoga. Now I love it, but that never would have happened without me being open to the possibility.

Back to Backpacking - I think Bryce has laid out a good plan, taking small steps with day hikes and easy over-night trips. Not every trip has to be a big deal. I love driving out to the mountains after work, hiking in a couple EASY miles and setting up camp. Just enjoy the alone time together outside of your normal comfort zone.

Finally, YOU should take on a specific role for your trips together. When my GF and I backpack together, I'm in charge of setting up our shelter - whether it's the tarp, tent, etc., while she is in charge of food - both meal planning and prep. We still help each other, but if you have a task to focus on during the trip, you'll feel like you're in control and not just along for the ride.

Best of luck!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Backpacking for the girly girl on 07/12/2011 07:57:45 MDT Print View

Agree with Tommy D about change at 31. Glad he said something, so I didn't have to flounder around trying.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
you should just go for it! on 07/12/2011 08:21:54 MDT Print View

My insights to Kathleen:

Please know, I teach ultralight camping to beginners, and I've had amazing success.

A lot of people in these forums will advocate doing a measured, slow, step-by-step approach when trying ultra-light techniques. To me, this is a little bit mamby-pamby.

I feel strongly that you should just go for it! Take the plunge and be bold the very first time out!

I've taken people who have NEVER EVER camped out for two-weeks in the mountains of wyoming, and they have a base weight of UNDER 10 POUNDS! It was easy, they never complained or hesitated.

The hardest people to teach (or encourage) are people with a LOT of backpacking experience. These folks are much more problematic than their novice counterparts. They will stress over every one of their beloved camping items, and I will encourage these experienced campers to NIX a lot of extraneous stuff, and often I'll fail.


Freekin' GO FOR IT!

Sleep under the stars! Ditch the tent (and I'm serious about this one)! Your irrational fear of "creepy-crawlies" is NOT based on any kind of reality! You are dealing with a supposed fear, not one that is born out by experience.

I am serious here. Jump in with abandonment! No toilet paper, No tent, no "extra" clothes, no water filter! (I teach women camping all the time, so I speak from experience!)

More advice:

peace from Idaho,
Mike C!