Hi! I'm new here and need advice

Posted by: Rif

Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/06/18 11:00 AM

Hello everyone and thank you for taking the time to view my post.
I look forward to the insight and knowledge that you offer.
My current issues.

My sleeping bag takes up to much space.
What bivy for sleeping bag and winter conditions.

In February of 2020 I will be on a multi-day hiking adventure atop some of the largest mountains in S. Korea.
I own a Western Mountaineering Bison GWS. The issue I have is that the sleeping bag takes up to much room in my pack.
My pack is currently a Gregory Baltoro 75.

I packed everything I thought I would need for 3 days. The weight came to 43 lbs (I weigh 150 lbs). This includes a Marmot Thor 2p tent (10lbs),
food (9 meals), water (3L), clothing, cooking ect. (I dont know what base weight is...)

Those who have gone on this trip before and who are going with me have been using a bivy.
So 10 lbs can be lost already. But what I want is to also backpack in my current area in SoCal with the tent.
I am willing to change packs. As I have time on the return, not so for the sleeping bag and tent.
I was also told to exchange and get a waterproof pack. I have no idea which one.

I want to backpack now, but feel that the weight is to heavy. I love the tent and am willing to lug it around, but I also think that 3 days
is to much and I might fail physically at the moment. I want to start hiking and am willing to train with the weight on lower mileage and fewer nights.

My concerns: overall weight, type of backpack given the sleeping bag and bivy, and water weighing me down from rain storm.
There is a lot of info and needless info here, but I wanted to share and give you the whole picture.

Thank you, Rif
Posted by: BZH

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/06/18 12:05 PM

Welcome Rif!

I will try to give my thoughts on each piece of gear you asked about.

Sleeping Bag: Wow! that is a monster of a bag... rated to -40F! Three-season for the Sierra Nevada in Cal people usually get around a 20F bag (or quilt). If you are a cold sleeper may be 10F or 0F. If you are a warm sleeper maybe a 30F or 40F if you really like to push things. Your bag is arctic expedition level. You can get a quilt for less than a third the price and a third the weight. I have an Enlightened Equipment quilt: https://enlightenedequipment.com/revelation/

If you really like bags the WM Ultralite might more closely match your needs: http://www.westernmountaineering.com/sleeping-bags/extremelite-series/ultralite/

If you really need a bag rated to -40F then you can't get much better than the one you have.

Backpack: If you need the Bison bag than you are going to need a big backpack like you got. It seems like a pretty good choice. For 3 nights in more reasonable conditions (down to freezing) I think it is too much. The standard advice around here is to get the backpack last to match your gear... but I actually advise people to get the backpack to match there trip and that will let them know if they are bringing too much gear. For 3-season/3-night trip a 50 - 60L backpack should be more than enough.

Your buddies recommended a waterproof backpack. I haven't found much utility in them. I find it is lighter to protect stuff (sleeping bag and clothes) inside your pack with a trash compactor bag. If it wears out you can just get another one. If the waterproofing on your backpack wears out you have to buy a new backpack. If I expect significant rain I bring a poncho that covers my backpack.

The most important thing about a backpack is how it fits you with your gear. Is that Gregory really comfortable on you with your gear?

Tent: That sounds more a campground tent than a backpacking tent. You can get 2P tents in the 2-3 lb range. Your buddies recommend a bivy. They are bit too squashed for me particularly if you are dealing with rain. It is nice to have somewhere to get of the weather where you can sit up. Often people match bivies with a tarp and they don't end up much lighter than a 1P tent.
Posted by: Rif

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/07/18 12:54 AM

The purpose of the bison is for use in sub zero temps for multiple days on mountains without a tent. Unless I can find a tent for winter use weighing less than a bivy.

I also have an old tennier black sleeping bag from my former years. The rest of the system is somehow lost. I don't plan on bringing it with me on these winter mountain trips.

The backpack fits me well and is rather comfortable. At 5 lbs I wonder if going lighter would be better. I don't like how I am unable to fit the bison sleeping bag in horizontally verses vertically. I could save more space that way.

Thank for the advice on the plastic bags.
I will keep looking for a tent. I wonder if there is a pack with a wider base to accommodate the space of the bison being laid horizontally.
Posted by: BZH

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/08/18 01:31 AM

So it can be awkward fitting a sleeping bag in it's compression sack inside a backpack, but you don't need to use the compression sack. Here is what I do: put a trash compactor bag in my backpack then jam in the sleeping bag. At this point the sleeping bag takes up the whole backpack. Next I add my clothes jamming down on my sleeping bag. As I pack the rest of my equipment I compact my sleeping bag. In the end I have more room in my backpack because the sleeping is free to fill up unused nooks and crannies. I think you'll get a much better packing with a big bag like that Buffalo.
Posted by: Bill Kennedy

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/08/18 03:53 AM

The tent and sleeping bag you mention are suitable for high-altitude mountaineering. That is, pretty extreme conditions. From what I've read, it gets pretty cold in Korea, but the people who've been there before are probably your best source of information on what kind of temperatures to expect, etc., assuming they've been there at that time of year.

The Gregory Baltoro 75 is a very good pack, and while five pounds is heavier than many of the newer packs, it's not excessive for winter camping with a more-or-less traditional approach (i.e., not ultralight). You need more and heavier stuff in the winter, generally.

You don't mention your age or level of fitness, but 43 pounds doesn't seem excessive for a winter trip, again assuming a traditional approach. I'm smaller than you by quite a bit, and I've carried that much without too much trouble in my younger years, and I'm not particularly strong or athletic.

I notice you included 3L of water. You may not have to carry that much, depending where and when you go.

Since your Korea trip isn't for another year, I imagine you'll wind up with a different set of gear for near-home adventures.
Posted by: Rif

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/09/18 01:19 PM

I really do like the Gregory pack. The comfort of the pack makes getting a 2 lb. pack difficult, especially with how thin the straps and hip belt appear. I was looking at the ULA Epic for a waterproof pack. Given how I don't know how it feels on my back I am unsure.

Those who are going on the trip with me in Korea have done it every year. They are big on not carrying a lot of weight. My gear with the Korea trip and the gear around the SoCal area will be different.
But with my big purchases I want them to have multiple purposes.

I think i am going to get into the ultralight movement.
Im 33 next week and a war vet. My spine is flat due to the heavy
rucking without a hip-belt for so long. There were times I couldn't get off the ground without help. I don't run 13:00+ minute 2 miles anymore. I'm slowly getting my strength back, I'm just not super-man anymore. But I still love nature and the cold because there aren't bugs.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/09/18 03:31 PM

I’ve never done trips even remotely as challenging as you’re planning, so I’m not offering any expert advice, or anything even close.

I did do some quick browsing in tents, and might suggest you take a look at the MSR Access 1 one-person tent - it’s billed as four-season and weighs 3 or 3.5 pounds. I’ve used MSR three-season tents for a long time, and really like them. They also have two and three person tents listed as four-season.

I’ve also had good luck with Big Agnes tents; their website also indicates they have four-season tents (“mountaineering” is the term they use.) The only thing they offer for one person is the Three-Wire bivy (which might interest you); their other “mountaineering” tents are all two-person. Theirs are four pounds or five pounds - but they are two person. The extra room might be something to consider, considering the amount of gear you’re taking and the amount of time you might spend in it.

Good luck; it sounds like a great trip.
Posted by: Rif

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/09/18 04:21 PM

The 3 wire bivy looks awesome, Thanks!
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/09/18 05:47 PM

It seems like you’re partial to bivies. I used to prefer them, as a weight saver, until they came out with solo tents that weighed under 3 pounds. Back then, a tarp and bivy setup also weighed 3 pounds, so the extra volume made the tent a no-brainer.

Rab bought out a company called Integral Designs a few years back; they kept ID’s products. I used an ID bivy once that I really liked (can’t remember the name), and they have a number of bivies on their website, plus tarps to go with them. They also offer single and double wall tents.

You might also look at the Black Diamond Bipod bivy. Outdoor Research also has a line of bivies, but I’ve never heard really great things about them. I’ve never used either brand, and can’t really give you any insight.
Posted by: Rif

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/09/18 06:54 PM

Having a tent to sit-up in and hunker down if needed is awesome.
My Thor 2p worked great at Olympic national park in Oregon where I did a 9 day in the rain-forest car camping. Had a windy/rainy storm one night and the tent was bomber, no issues, even with small branches falling on the tent.
But my bivy love comes from the weight savings while being well protected during the winter. The light weight tents i've seen don't appear to be able to handle themselves. If I were caught in a snowstorm would these tents be bomb proof enough?
I'm just worried about gusts of wind in the storm knocking over a 3lbs tent. I don't trust a tent that is set-up by trekking poles. That same tent may work for most of my trips, but on mountain tops is where I question them (openly exposed to elements). But I am in the market of a light weight tent, one that I can trust as my all-rounder. Then I can use the bivy in the extreme mountain tops. That is my thinking atm. Also I've never used or owned a tent aside from the Marmot Thor. I've only used a bivy while in service. I wanted a strong tent and the Thor is strong, but to heavy to backpack with.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/11/18 11:37 AM

Have you checked out Hilleberg tents? They make 1-person, 4-season tents in the 3 3/4 to 5 lb. range. They aren't cheap, but they are very durable and are built by Swedes for extreme (Arctic and mountaineering) conditions. Take a look before you decide on a bivy that will weigh almost as much and leave you cramped, especially if you have to wait out a storm.
Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/11/18 04:00 PM

I agree with Mouse: nowadays, a tarp and bivy offer no real advantages over a tent. A weatherproof bivy will weigh two pounds or more; silnylon tarps will add another pound, and “regular” nylon tarps might go two. Good tents don’t weigh much, if any, more than that, and are far more comfortable. I only mentioned the bivies I knew of because the OP seems dead-set on a bivy.

I understand that exposure to high winds might make someone want a lower-profile bivy instead of a tent. I don’t have any mountaineering experience, so I can’t disagree with that. However, in the lowlands, I’ve never had trouble finding a sheltered area to pitch a tent. Even my three-season 2-pound tent easily stood up to an ice-and-snow storm with 30mph winds out in an open bald in the Grayson Highlands one night. I’m wondering how bad things have to get before a bivy is a better choice that a 3 or 4 pound mountain tent. So, with no experience to back me up, I’d probably go with a tent.

But - hike your own hike! smile
Posted by: Rif

Re: Hi! I'm new here and need advice - 12/12/18 09:07 PM

Thanks everyone for the replies and help!
I'm convinced on a lightweight tent, but am still looking for the perfect all-rounder. I'll need some more time to save up for another $500 tent, needless to say I'll be taking my time with this purchase.
The Hilleberg Akto looks appealing.