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I've been charged with putting together a gear system for my family - looking for input
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Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
I've been charged with putting together a gear system for my family - looking for input on 05/10/2013 11:39:48 MDT Print View

I've been pushing my father and brothers to plan a big trip with me. I'm advocating for the JMT next summer, and I think I've got them hooked. My dad hasn't backpacked much in recent years because my mom blew out her knee, so he's excited to get out there. He also wants to transition into lightweight gear (all his current gear is from the 70's) after I keep sending him pictures of my pack on the scale before each trip. Basically he's asked me to provide him some guidance (shopping list) on what to buy. I'm thinking mostly in terms of the big 3, taking into account the most efficient system for a 4-person late summer high sierra trip.

For 4 people, what would be our lightest option? Two 2-person tarp setups? None of us would be opposed to tarp+groundsheet+headnet, but I was wondering if a fully enclosed net tent could be had for nearly the same weight these days? We're all tall, 6'2" to 6'4", if that makes a difference in tarp/tent selection.

I've got a large (2lb) 70L Zimmerbuilt pack which I had him size to hold a BV500 bear canister horizontally. I'm guessing we might need another pack that will fit a BV500? I was thinking the GL Jam 50 might be a good pack for my brothers since they don't backpack too frequently, I wouldn't want to overspend there, but I wasn't sure if a canister would fit, even vertically, and still have room for other gear? My father would likely want something with thicker shoulder straps and hipbelt. Any recommendations?

I'll likely be using my 20 deg quilt just because I don't want to shell out for a summer-only 30 or 40 degree. Cheapest 30 deg quilts I've found in long/wide are the EE RevX 30 or the HammockGear Burrow 40. Any options I'm overlooking? Also, how much money would I save if I learned to MYOG the quilts over the next year?

Thanks for reading. This is all pretty nebulous still. I'm excited at the prospect of getting to take my time putting together some nice setups for them though. I'm also hoping there will be some efficiencies realized in catering the kit for four people from the beginning. I'll probably buy the backpacks first, so that they can use them in training hikes and make sure they fit correctly.


Edited by jraiderguy on 05/10/2013 11:40:22 MDT.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: I've been charged with putting together a gear system for my family - looking for input on 05/10/2013 11:53:42 MDT Print View

I'll let others with more knowledge reply to the specifics.

Don't try to replace all the old gear with lighter gear one for one. Start from zero and limit the item list.

Trekking poles plus light hiking shoes is way better than heavy boots- you are far less likely to sprain an ankle in my opinion.

Two x 2 person shelters is more flexible than one big one (site selection, nobody stuck in the middle, freeze-dried farts, snoring, etc. You might even consider 4x solo tarps ( they can be doubled up civil war style)

Permethrin, DEET, and a headnet reduce or eliminate the need for a fully enclosed shelter, but some people really want four walls and a roof. (My wife and kids nixed the idea of a floorless shelter fearing snakes and ants would attack).

Unless you plan to hike at night, bright lights are over-rated. If you plan to cook at night a small headlamp is nice. (I like the Black Diamond Wiz kid's headlamps)

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: I've been charged with putting together a gear system for my family - looking for input on 05/10/2013 12:09:46 MDT Print View

I'm ordering this shelter next week for the family.

Per the review, sub 2lb 4 person shelter if you utilize trekking poles. I'm 6'3" and the runt of the family. I'll update once I receive it.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
Mega Light on 05/10/2013 12:18:24 MDT Print View

Interesting! Yes, please report back with your thoughts.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Mega Light on 05/10/2013 12:28:19 MDT Print View

EDIT: Corrected dimensions.

Just measured my Mega Light at 104" on a side. I thought it was smaller.

You might consider the Golite Shangri-La 5, especially if you are considering the inner net tent as well. It's bigger (9-1/2' per spec's) and you get both tent and inner for the same price as the BD tent only. Sale right now is $269 complete with the nest, vs. $269 list on EACH piece for the Black Diamond Mega Light and Mega Bug.

I do like my Mega Light, I think it's very well designed and constructed. The Golite uses lighter fabric, but is slightly bigger and has an aluminum pole. Trail weight for the BD is 4 pounds 6 oz and I believe 5 lb 8 oz for the Golite. That is with the inner nest but not pole.

Golite has a small vestibule area inside the door so the nest won't get wet in a rainstorm- you should still be able to sleep 4x 6 footers.

Edited by jimqpublic on 05/10/2013 21:19:54 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Mega Light on 05/10/2013 12:38:10 MDT Print View

Jim W.

Thanks for the insight. The above referenced review indicates that if you forgo the carbon fiber pole in lieu of trekking poles w/ coupler, that the trail weight is <2lbs including guy lines and stakes (I'm carrying the trekking poles anyways so I don't count them.) This is not your experience?

At 6'3", it's difficult to find a mid. At 86" square and a fairly steep pitch, it seemed like I'd fit but now I'm second guessing that. Obviously with four 20" mats side by side, the adults would need to be comfortable with each other.

Hmmm.... now I'm reconsidering this shelter.

I was going to buy it off Amazon for $210

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Mids on 05/10/2013 14:08:50 MDT Print View

The dimensions for Mega Bug or the optional floor each say 86". I think the fly may be bigger, but I'm pretty sure it's less than 8'. Definitely not the 9' presumed dimension per the advertised 81 square feet area.

EDIT: Just measured the mega and its 104" on a side. May stretch out a bit more on set up.

Correct on the weight. I think I recall mine is about 24 oz for the fly only, about 28 with stakes and the pole connector. The 4#6 number is with the Mega Bug inner tent (which I don't have but am looking to maybe get).

Golite's Shangri-La 5 spec's say 9'6" square for the fly and 9'0" for the inner nest (which has a cutoff corner vestibule area). It is 15d fabric instead of 30d, I don't know if that means half as strong or not. Just checked the website and they're now sold out (15% off started yesterday). More in June for $299.99)

Of course David Olson of Oware will make you a 9' or 10' 'Mid with nice steep pitch, at a lower price than either Black Diamond or Golite, and he will add netting to the edges if you want.

Edited by jimqpublic on 05/10/2013 21:22:58 MDT.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Shangri-La 5 feedback on 05/10/2013 15:51:35 MDT Print View

I use the SL5 for family trips when there are four of us and love it for that use.

If you will be using it with the inner netting, it will be a little problematic if all of you are tall. The way we use it, there are four sleeping spots. 1 and 2 are on the left side of the pole and can easily sleep very tall folks. I am 5'10" and usually sleep in spot 3 without a problem but there is a little less room than 1 and 2. My 8 year old sleeps in spot four because it is the shortest. Couldn't say how much shorter, but I couldn't fit in it without sleeping at an angle.

Also, note that the netting is disproportionately heavy. My netting is 43oz, but the tent itself is a little less than 30oz.

If you are up for using it without the netting or okay with the netting's drawbacks, it is a great shelter for four.

Conventional wisdom here is that you should get the backpack last after you have settled on the other big items so you can size the pack appropriately.

Edited by delvxe on 05/10/2013 15:55:15 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Packs on 05/10/2013 17:04:28 MDT Print View

The Jam 50 should fit a bear canister vertically, I did it in the older Jam2. I recommend using a stiff foam pad to stiffen it up using the "burrito" packing method. Its was okay for a weekend with maybe 18 pounds total. Really try to keep the baseweights and bulk down if that the pack. If you haul the shelter in your pack that frees the others up a bit.

For your dad I'd recommend something with a frame if at all possible. I don't know what kind of shape he's in but I'd hate for him to get a sore back if he's not used to frameless packs. Since such packs aren't cheap I'd watch gear swap.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: I've been charged with putting together a gear system for my family on 05/10/2013 18:46:17 MDT Print View

I was also charged with that offense.

I plead guilty.

Sentence: Continue to supply the family with gear for the rest of my life.

Since I usually get to go with them, I'm happy with the result!

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: re: I've been charged with putting together a gear system for my family on 05/10/2013 20:48:03 MDT Print View

The golite shangri la 5 outer works great for 4 people. I find it to small with the inner with 4 6 footers but the inner is heavy anyways so I only take it on family trips.

For bugs depending on how bad they are you could just use headnets or gossemer gear bug nets. If you you trekking poles and tie them together and use a polycryo you could get down to 48 oz all in.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Mids on 05/10/2013 21:42:11 MDT Print View

My Black Diamond Mega Light measures 104" on a side. I had been thinking it was much smaller.

I edited my posts above where I was thinking it was barely over 7'.