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#169810 - 09/26/12 01:18 AM Gear Review
jbylake Offline

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
I just took 3 new pieces of gear out on their maiden voyage, and I'd thought I'd share my experience with them.
1. MSR Dragonfly (2nd one, broke and repaired 1st so many times, I bought another. Nothing new to report about that, people even love them or hate them.)
2. Thermrest Traillite self inflatable pad. Cost appox. 80 U.S. Dollars. First let me say as advertised, it worked flawlessly. It deflates so thin it looks like a shrivled up Hefty Bag. Adjusting from firm to softer, requires a very small adjustment. I initially tried it out at home, inflated it to firm, and even took a nap on it in my bedroom for about an hour. Very comftorable. Now, in the field? It was truly terrible. The top side material, against the outside of, also new, my new Marmot bag, created a slippery surface akin to sleepin on greased ice. My bag slipped off so much, that I was miserable, and I was having back pains, from hanging off of it. The green surface, the top, is some sort of vinyl type material. With a cloth bag it might be perfect, but not with the "silk like" synthetic outer material of the Marmot bag. I finally flipped the ground side up (it's more coarse than the top, and that solved a great deal of my problem. I bought it because of it's light weight and very small deflated stuff bag, about the size of about 8"X6" by about 1/2 in thick . The big square foam roll up bags are kind of hard to use here, when going off trail, due to the very thick trees, brush, and almost jungle like foilage we have here. With that being said, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, although I'm sure someone would like it. I'm going back to the foam rubber square type except when going into heavy duty terrain. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 2 or 3 for comfort. However, as far as functioning (set-up and adjusment, and compact size and weight, as advertised) I'd give it a 9 or 10.

Next, Kelty Salida 2 3 season 2 man tent. It was Backpacker's 2011 top pick. For 160 U.S., from REI, plus another 30 bucks with shipping for the foot print, well, I can say, it's pretty O.K., and that's it. For a total of about $190, well you get what you pay for. However, it's light, sets up in a few minutes, and is plenty roomy enough for me, at 5'10, plus gear.
The footprint is perfect, folds up into about a 6"X6" by about 1/2 inch square, weiths approx 8 oz, incuding the light open mesh storage bag. About an inch smaller than the tent in all diminsions, to prevent rain from collecting, and kept the mud off of the bottom of my tent, no moisture stains on the bottom, and no small stick or rock holes.
I'd guess 80 percent of the tent is netting, and may be perfect for it's intended purpose and price point.
Problem was, we had threats of small pop up showers, and even a few pup up and short showers while I was using it. In the right weather it'd be great, but not wanting to be scrambling for the rainfly at 3:00 a.m., I was forced to sleep with the rainfly on every night. (Also a lot of heavy dew at night and early morning.) The fly has one vent in the rear, but I was still amazed at the condensation that accumulated at night.
And that is my only, but a major problem with the tent. I wanted to save a few bucks on a mild "3" season tent. Iguess you get what you pay for. If it weren't for the condensation problem, I probably wouldn't have any complaints. The air was unusually dry for here, this time of day, and the tent quickly dried during the day, but still, I was dissapointed.

Oh, by the way, I didn't have any tent sealer, before the trip (I forgot) and it was too late to order any on the net, or go to Lexington to a well stocked backpacking, hiking, camping, climbing...etc..store, so I bought some made by Kiwi at Dicks Sporting goods. Following directions, making light overlapping passes, about eight inches away from the tent, it still ran, steaked and yellowed my tent fly. Worked very well, and I really don't care less about the streaking/yellowing, but others might, so be aware.

I also took a new Marmot 15 degree mummy bag, 650 fill down bag. I was afraid that it would be too hot in the evenings, but figured I'd just leave the bag unzipped, which I did when the night temps were 65 degrees F. When the weather on the last night dipped down to 38 F., I was glad I loved it. I bought the regular length, and at 5'10" it fit perfectly, and the foot box was big and roomy, but not so big as to allow too much airspace during colder weather. I was totaly satisified with this bag, and would recommend it to others, looking for a similar weight/temp bag. 3 biggest advantages were how light it is, how small of a stuff bag it fits in, and the zippers were smooth, snag free, and had a quality feel to them

Hope this might help someone.


#169814 - 09/26/12 07:18 AM Re: Gear Review [Re: jbylake]
Glenn Roberts Offline

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1454
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Good, practical info - thanks for posting it. Be sure to post an update if your impressions change after further use.

#169817 - 09/26/12 08:37 AM Re: Gear Review [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Cranman Offline

Registered: 01/21/12
Posts: 133
Loc: Central NC
Good info-thanks for sharing. One question on the sleeping pad, if the bottom is coarser and solved the slipping issue, why not just use it like that? Maybe it's not as durable on the top side and you may puncture it?

#169819 - 09/26/12 09:46 AM Re: Gear Review [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you think the Marmot bag stuffs small, wait til you try one with a higher fill power... wink

I gave up the self inflators a long, long time ago.

Try backpackgeartest.org for reviews. (Whether you want to read them... or write them. You can apply to become a reviewer.)
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki


#169821 - 09/26/12 10:01 AM Re: Gear Review [Re: jbylake]
BergyBit Offline

Registered: 09/26/12
Posts: 1
Some dots of SeamGrip on the pad should make it non-slippy. Thanks for the report!

#169826 - 09/26/12 12:35 PM Re: Gear Review [Re: Cranman]
jbylake Offline

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By Cranman
Good info-thanks for sharing. One question on the sleeping pad, if the bottom is coarser and solved the slipping issue, why not just use it like that? Maybe it's not as durable on the top side and you may puncture it?

Cranman, if I use it again, I most certainly will do that. Like I said, the off trail hiking can be almost gruelling in these parts of KY. It's almost like, if not exactly like the earliest settlers would have found it. The thick underbrush, heavily foilage, and very dense tree population is a real bear to navigate through, while trying to do as little possible human damage as possible. Very similiar to areas in south America, and a lot of thorns too. So not having a wide square "foam type" rubber bag strapped to your pack is a real plus. The comfort level however rates high to pegging the "suck meter". If I were 30 years younger, I'd have probably cared less. Not so anymore.


Edited by jbylake (09/26/12 12:36 PM)

#169827 - 09/26/12 12:39 PM Re: Gear Review [Re: lori]
jbylake Offline

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By lori
....I gave up the self inflators a long, long time ago...

Lori, I can sure as heck see why. However if you look down to my reply to cranman, you'll see why it came in very handy, in this situation...

Oh, and I'll sure be looking for something else...


#169859 - 09/27/12 09:07 AM Re: Gear Review [Re: jbylake]
Cranman Offline

Registered: 01/21/12
Posts: 133
Loc: Central NC
Oh I understand and can relate to why a foam pad is a hassle, I am a bit on the tall side and seem to snag on alot of branches with my shoulders and pack, not to mention the wide foam pad strapped to the top of the pack. I could move it down but I try to keep heavier items low and light up higher. Those type of hassles are ok to deal with once, and that's part of learning what works for you and what does not. With that being said I was pretty happy with the thermarest neoair, it's very light and compact and elimates the snag factor of the larger foam pads.


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