Loc: metro detroit, mi
I did the overnight backpacking trip that my local meetup offered. Enjoyed myself, froze my a** off at night. :-p
My next question is regarding some specific tents, so maybe this isn't the right thread for it, but I won't rule out that the conversation might meander back to generic newbie-type discussion, so I'm leaving it here.
I found these two tents so far that I'm interested in:
MSR hubba hubba
Mountainsmith Morrison 3 person
I wouldn't say I'm done looking. So far just cruising Amazon. I want to see them in person, but thought I'd throw it out here as another pre-trip-to-the-store data point to consider. So, anyone own either of those tents and have opinions to share?
Also, I ended up needing to buy some gear for that weekend trip and went with someone who's BTDT and ended up with a Gregory pack (Deva 65, I think?) and Lowa boots and a Black Diamond head lamp. I hadn't really had time to pre-research those things. (Oops.) If they fall apart, I will take them back. I found that in terms of the pack, I was worried about my hip bones and developing sores on my skin there (I've got very prominent hip bones with no "padding" of my own there) but found out on the short hike we did that the place I had more trouble was my shoulders. The front part, not the top of my shoulders-- I discovered I have no natural "padding" there either. The Deva has pretty thickly padded straps. Anyone else have this issue of being bony in those places and if so, is there a particular pack that's great for that or is it just something to get used to? The fit of that pack seems pretty good to me, and I wasn't in any serious amount of pain or anything like that.
I've got more, but let's go with this for now. TIA! :-)
I have little direct experience with the Hubba Hubba, but fairly long experience with the one-person version, the Hubba. I like that tent a lot - an awful lot. It's fairly light weight (and their "UL" clones, the Carbon Reflex 1 and 2, are even lighter, if weight is an issue and money is no object.)
The side opening is the most convenient I've found in any tent. Also, the symmetrical shape of the tent and the fact that the vestibule is split exactly in half (and can be left fully open, or half open on either side you choose) makes it easy to ventilate, even in the rain. It also means that, if you're like me and don't always get the foot end on the low end of the tent, you can simply flip you pad and bag. With other tents, like the Big Agnes Copper Spur or Fly Creek, your only option is to unstake the tent, reverse the pitch, and re-stake it.
The symmetrical shape also means that you can pitch it with the door facing whatever direction you want (to take advantage of a view, or avoid having to exit into the sticker bushes, for example.) In a tent with a distinct head and foot end, in order to get the head on the higher end of the slope, you might end up with an awkward exit. (When I talk about "slope," I don't mean severe slope - just that minor difference that always seems to be there, even on the most level-appearing sites.)
I did use a Hubba Hubba a couple of times, car camping with my wife, and found it to be a very comfortable tent. Two doors is nice, so you don't have to climb over your roommate to get out. It also means you can have the fly on (for privacy, in a public campground) but leave both vestibules at least half open to get some nice cross-ventilation going. I recently bought a CR2 (which has only one door, to save weight - not a problem, since I don't plan to share it with anyone) with the intention of using it as a winter tent, when the extra room is nice to hold all the extra clothing I bring, or to have someone in to play cards on those longer evenings. I'm anxious to see how it does.
I'd highly recommend the Hubba/CR1 and, by extension, the Hubba Hubba/CR2.
Edited by Glenn (11/04/1108:27 AM) Edit Reason: additional thoughts
Don't give up on the pack just yet. Sometimes, it just takes a couple of trips for the pack to adjust to you, and you to adjust to the pack. Gregory has a very good reputation for packs, and I think the Deva series is supposed to be designed specifically for women.
However, you might want to review how you were using the pack. A few things to consider:
1) How did you have the pack loaded? If you had the weight riding too low, it might have pulled the shoulder straps downward against your shoulders. If you had the weight high, but too far away from your back, it might have pulled the straps back against your shoulders.
2) How tight did you have the load lifters (those little straps that run from the back to the upper part of the shoulder straps)? Too loose, and they let the load pull backward. Too tight, and they might let the straps have too much play in the shoulders (and they then rub.) Also, some packs allow you to adjust the point where the load lifter attaches to the shoulder strap. Usually, I find them most comfortable if the attachment point is just forward of the top of my shoulders, but not on my collarbone.
3) How tight did you keep the shoulder straps? I usually try to keep them loose enough that I can just slip my little finger between the strap and my shoulder. It keeps the weight just off my shoulders, but the straps aren't so loose they move around. It also means that I have successfully transferred nearly all the weight to my hips, which means the shoulders won't get as tired.
4) In connection with the shoulder straps, play with the sternum strap. Move it up and down from the pre-set position, and play with the tightness. I find the strap is most comfortable just above the widest part of my chest, and pulled snug but not tight - it pulls the shoulder straps just a tiny bit more toward each other than they are with the sternum strap undone. If everything else is set up right, you'll actually feel the change in how the shoulder straps contact your shoulders. It shouldn't be so tight that it restricts your breathing.
5) Is the torso length properly adjusted? Too long, and the shoulder straps and load lifters won't wrap over your shoulders - and you'll end up pulling them too tight in order to compensate for the poor fit. Too short, and there won't be any way to get the load off your shoulders. Your pack should have come with instructions on adjusting the suspension length; if not, try looking on the Gregory website or go back to the store where you bought it and see if they can help you tweak the fit. I'm assuming that the Deva has an adjustable suspension; if it doesn't, you may need to get a different pack if torso length is a problem.
Playing with the load lifters, sternum strap, and shoulder straps for tightness is mostly trial-and-error; there's no way to tell you what will be the sweet spot for you. Just remember: you're allowed to tinker with those straps to your heart's content while you walk - except for adjusting the torso length, you don't even have to stop to do it.
Loc: San Diego CA
Keivalina, it sounds like you are on your way in getting this worked out for yourself. Good Job! This thing called backpacking is always a work in progress anyway as people are refining what and how they do things.
Glenn's advice is very complete as always. The pack fit sounds like you may need to spend some time learning how to adjust the load carrying of the pack. For myself when I carry heavier loads, I often switch back and forth between more or less load on the shoulders as I hike along. But after a certain weight I will still have sore shoulders no matter what I do.
As counterintuitive as it sounds, you may not have had the straps tight enough. They are supposed to pull the load forward and down onto the hip belt. If they are too loose the load will be pulling backward against your shoulders and the soreness you describe will happen.
Next time you use it, make sure you balance the load inside the pack bag - heavy items close to the frame, lighter items stuffed in around them. I usually put the sleeping quilts in the very bottom of the pack, then load in my clothing sack, then start putting in food (usually in a bear can, vertically) and pack other things in the sides like my jacket, tarp, etc. On top of the load I put the stove/pot, rain gear, fishing gear if I have it, and my lunch. The water in a hydration bladder will either go in the pocket against the frame, or laying across the top of the load under the lid.
Then loosen all the straps and belt and put on the pack. Tighten the belt tighter than is comfortable (it will loosen some when you start moving). Then tighten the shoulder straps until you feel the load shift up and down onto the hips. The straps should be loose but no air space between your shoulder and the strap. Adjust the load lifters last, they should cause a perceptible movement of the weight forward and balance the pack on your hips.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
I know this is a forum heavily weighted towards 'light-packing' but I would like to offer an alternate view regarding tents. My thinking is that a tent needs to be big enough for two people who 'don't like each other (at the moment)', plus their gear. On the trail, when you make camp you're tired and sore, it's rainy and buggy and neither of you has had a bath in days. The psychic space a larger tent gives is, to my mind, worth every extra pound of nylon. It's probably heretical to say that I have a North Face VE-25. Sure, it is a pig at over ten pounds, but split up it's not that bad. Sure, it's overkill for a quick weekender or for car camping. But, I don't have money for three tents, so I chose bulletproof. This is my third NF tent in 35 years (VE-23, 24, 25). They all have the same footprint, are all super easy to set up, all have a ton of room inside, and most important to me is that these tents have taken everything I have thrown at them without breathing hard. Deluge, tons of snow, gigantic windstorms or ice, I never once worried about this tent. I do clearly recall a week-long trip out to Polychrome Pass in Denali where one of the other couples' tent literally blew apart in the wind one night. Every time I 'try out' a smaller, lightweight tent in some showroom, I can't quite wrap my mind around sitting out a few days of bad weather in it, not even with someone I really like.
An observation: as tents got progressively smaller, there came a 'need' for a vestibule. The designers and marketers have concluded that this is a great selling point and it is now all but impossible to buy a reasonably sized shelter without one. The VE25 has a vestibule. I do not find it an improvement. It added a pound as well as an extra pole to the VE24. The tent was quite tidy and snug without the vestibule and had plenty of room inside for everyone and their stuff (this interior footprint has not changed.) My own personal take is that a vestibule is of marginal use, especially on an already generously-spaced tent. For smaller shelters, it seems to me that I would rather have more room inside and do without the vestibule. It's not big enough for your gear and I would never cook in it, so what's the point?
Did you figure out why you got cold at night? It wasn't necessarily the sleeping bag. (Of course, if you took a 40 degree bag into 20 degree temperatures, it probably was the bag.)
Assuming the temperature rating of the bag was appropriate for the temperatures you encountered, you might consider the following:
1. What kind of pad were you using? If it was an uninsulated air mattress, the bag wouldn't matter - you'd get cold by about 35 or 40 degrees, since the air would allow heat to transfer away from you into the colder ground (or, if you prefer, the cold would "seep into" the bag.) An insulated pad, like the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core or the NeoAir, would help - but the amount of insulation they have is insufficient below about 30 or 35 degrees. (You can supplement them with a closed-cell foam pad underneath, but a more effective solution is to get a pad with a higher "R" value, like the Thermarest Prolite Plus or the NeoAir All Season. There are other equally good pads out there; I'm just more familiar with the Thermarest line.)
2) Had you eaten enough, and were you sufficiently hydrated? You are the only heat source you have, and if you don't keep the fires stoked, you'll get cold.
3) Were you sleeping out of the wind? That is, did you have the doors and vestibules closed up on your tent, and does the fly come down the sides sufficiently to act as a wind break? Having the wind blowing across you, unblocked, speeds heat loss.
4) Were you using the sleeping bag properly? I'm assuming it was a hooded mummy bag with a draft collar and draft tube along the zipper. Did you have the hood snugged down, and the draft collar tightened? Was the draft tube flipped away from the zipper instead of covering it like it should? Is the bag too large for you? If so, you end up trying to keep a bunch of air space warm, which is very hard to do.
If none of these were the problem, then make sure that the bag is really deserving of its temperature rating - not all bags are. Some "30 degree" bags merely mean you won't actually freeze to death at that temperature if you're wearing all the clothing you brought; others mean that you'll be toasty warm in your skivvies. (A standardized rating system, the EN rating, is starting to make its way into the market; these ratings are comparable from bag to bag.) As an example, I've used the lightest bags in both the Marmot and Western Mountaineering lines. I've found that the Marmot ratings are dead on, and the WM ratings are conservative - which means that a Marmot 30-degree bag will keep me warm in my T-shirt, shorts, and socks at 30; in the WM 30 degree bag, similarly clothed, I'll be warm at 25 degrees.
Sounds like you're getting the hang of things pretty well - keep in touch as you continue your adventures.
On the trail, when you make camp you're tired and sore, it's rainy and buggy and neither of you has had a bath in days. *snip* For smaller shelters, it seems to me that I would rather have more room inside and do without the vestibule. It's not big enough for your gear and I would never cook in it, so what's the point?
Here is a perfect example of the exact opposite of what I do.
I am never so tired and sore that I am cranky. I do not plan trips to suffer - I want to enjoy the trip. So I carry the lightest load possible for the location and weather.
I have never been cold, wet or had any of my gear soaked. My tents all weigh under 3 lbs. For three season camping in the Sierra Nevada heavy and bombproof is completely unnecessary and ridiculous - anyone with a few hours' practice can do very well in whatever weather comes with a tarp of sufficient size.
If you are not rinsing off in lakes and streams, planning your miles and doing some dayhikes and walks to get into shape before the big trip, perhaps some of these things plus looking at some inexpensive (tarptents are quite reasonably priced) alternatives to lugging more weight than you need, might make a huge difference in your comfort level, and your attitude, at the end of the day.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
I read with great interest the responses and have come to appreciate and respect the aggregate and individual experience on this board. That said, after many week-long trips, a month long trip, and once a six month trip sleeping with someone every night in the same tent, I'll stand by my preference for a more roomier tent. I have oodles of experience using only a tarp, or even just a poncho, even in black-fly season in Maine. I come to my decisions based on my experiences. I probably could have better worded the quoted post; I like the comfortableness of the slightly larger tent. I don't usually get to the end of the day completely beat up, nor cranky, but it happens to the best of us, and especially at those times I like the extra space. I don't carry a solar latte machine, but I do prefer to smooth it than rough it, even when humping over mountains way out in the boonies.
Having taken my share of baths in 40º water, I prefer to space them out...
"I come to my decisions based on my experiences..."
And that is always the best way to come to decisions. Your decisions won't be the same as mine, because I don't have the same experiences as you - and that's exactly the point. Your decisions have to fit your needs, not mine. Fortunately, there's plenty of room, even on the same trip, for a multitude of techniques and preferences. No way will I intentionally criticize your decisions, though I will offer thoughts for you consideration - which you are free to ignore. You're not wrong, we're just different.
Loc: metro detroit, mi
As always, lots of info.
As far as the pack goes, I had many of the straps as tight as they would go. I did play around with it when hiking to alternately put the weight in my hips and in my shoulders as well as playing with the sternum strap to move the shoulder straps in and out to ease sore spots, but I had very little weight at all. About 15 pounds, I think. Nothing was very heavy. I was so determined to not carry weight that I even left my little point and shoot at home. :-p I shared a cookset with someone else; she carried it. My sleeping bag and pad went in a car and not with me. I really had very little stuff.
I will play with the pack as I go and see what happens. I have a hard time with all the straps (keeping them all straight as well as what they can do for me; I will get there). I guess my initial question does remain, though: Is there a paricular pack that's known to be great for bony figures?
As far as sleeping, I totally goofed and slept the wrong way in the tent. It was a single person Big Agnes (not sure what style; I borrowed it for the night) and I slept the wrong way in it. Oops. Live and learn, I guess. I had 2 mummy bags, one rated 20 and another rated 0 (!), one inside the other, and every scrap of clothing I had brought with me. Hopefully this being cold thing was just due to sleeping the wrong way. I tried to sinch everything up but it was tough sleeping the wrong way in the tent (again, duh!) and with the sleeping bags one inside the other.
Thanks for the tent review. I do want to mention that I want to be able to fit 2 people inside either of those tents. My dad has offered to buy another tent (they have an XPG ultralight from cabelas, were happy with it and would get a second of those), but I do want to get my own at some point anyway. If I get one to take to Montana, there'll be two of us in it and I want enough space so that neither of us would get in trouble with our respective spouses. ;-) (Sharing a tent with my stepbrother, so it's not a huge thing, but in all seriousness, we want to have a *little* space.)
I'm sure I've missed a lot, but I wanted to throw out yet another thing: water filtration. When they went, they boiled water until it became clear it was costing too much fuel and then they used iodine tablets. I have a hard time trusting the iodine tablets, but understand about the fuel. Does anyone have a filtration system that they like? I looked at one from MSR that looked kind of nice. (Just looked on Amazon so far.) I realize I might be being overly anal. Iodine might be fine, but I just can't shake the worry and I don't want to find myself not drinking as much or often as I should because I'm worried about the water. (Spoiled at home with a reverse osmosis system that I LOVE. The water tastes SO good with the RO.)
MTA: Oh and my seeping pad was pretty crappy. I'm going to want to get a much, much better one. (I had just borrowed this one.) So I know that wasn't helping keep me warm at night.
Edited by kievalina (11/04/1107:38 PM) Edit Reason: thought of something else to add
All the filters are about the same in terms of what they do - filter out microscopic pests down to about .02 - .03 microns - except for the cheap ones like the Frontier Pro. What is different from one filter to the next (ceramic or glass fiber) is the life of the cartridge and whether you can maintain them or not. Glass fiber aka the hiker pro, MSR/Platypus Cleanstream (the gravity filters of these brands are exactly the same with different color cartridge and different "dirty" bag setup), are not field maintainable. The Hiker Pro will eventually clog and needs replacing. The gravity filters are backflushable and I would guess they have longer lifespan than the Hiker Pro. Ceramic filters clog but then you scrub off a layer to clean them, until all the ceramic is gone. All of them are susceptible to breakage on a microscopic level if frozen, so when the temps start to dip below 32F put the filter in your foot box.
Gravity filters can double as a water bucket, a shower, or water storage at base camp, and the simplicity of it appeals to me as well as the multi-use aspect. I like a nice shower about every third day and you can hang the bag in the sun to warm up the water. The Cleanstream is about as fast as the pump filters and no trouble at all - and no pumping necessary.
I've noticed gravity filters appearing in greater numbers on my hiking group's annual fourth of July backpack trip - think people notice that I am doing more fishing and less filtering than they do.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
ah yes and in the category of different strokes, I threw away my ceramic gravity filter. It was too fussy, took too long to get water, (My PUR hiker pump is MUCH faster). If you're sitting around camp maybe a gravity filter is fast enough, but if stop for a quick cuppa and some hot soup along a lake, I can have water on in a couple minutes. AND if the ceramic freezes its probably ruined.
As for sleeping pads. Many people carry multiple pads to layer. Either go with pads that can be punctured and still work, or go inflateable - two layers of nylon filled (lofted - puffed?)with air and insulation is the lightest for of insulation you can sleep on. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Loc: Fairbanks, AK
Some people are just cold sleepers too! I use a NorthFace Snowshoe sleeping bag as my summer bag - which is a 0-32 degree bag and was perfectly toasty (not too warm or cold) in Yosemite this year. It got no where near 32 degrees... (June) I just sleep really cold.
Hydration and a bit of dark chocolate (or cheese etc) is very important for me staying warm at night. Oh, and socks and a hat too. For everything but the desert. =)
You can fiddle with your pack, or lighten your load.
I carry a hammock and tarp or single man tent- or sometimes just a tarp. The hammock is more comfortable but heavier.
I bathe every few days (or more frequently) by either taking a dip, or a washdown in my little pot using a liner sock like a sponge bath. - I often take a wet wipe per day on shorter trips.
I hate filters, and nasty tasting chemicals. I use chlorine dioxide drops - doesn't break, doesn't taste, and a lot lighter than a filter.
If I'm using the little bitty tent, and 3/4 length pad, all my gear without water and food and fuel weighs about 10 pounds (for normal season backpacking, not winter). If I take the hammock and tarp instead I often end up around 13 to 15, depending on the hammock (ok I have a few of them)
My shoulders aren't sore, because I'm carrying somwhere between 15 to 20 pounds total for a weekender, typically. my starting weight for a week on the trail is about 28 pounds.
my backpack weighs a little over a pound
The point is, if your shoulders are sore, lighten up. if you're cold, get a better pad and bag. both those will lighten you up considerably. (and your wallet, esp. the sleeping bag)
Loc: metro detroit, mi
It's been awhile since I've checked in here.
I've got most of my stuff now. Still need to get a water filter and a few other little things, but feeling pretty good about it. Pretty broke, too, I guess. :-p
I've been sick a LOT since my daughter started school last fall. I was sick pretty much from Sept. through Dec. (thank goodness for the holiday break at the end of the month!) and I just didn't really train at all. I kept waiting to not be sick with something, thinking surely it would be soon, but it just kept coming. Come Jan. I was only well for a week or so before coming down with something again. Finally, I started trying to train in earnest in Feb. and started with a goal of at least 5 miles of something 5 days or more a week (walking or stationary bike), which was frighteningly difficult at first, but by the end of the month I was putting in 10 miles a day, then 15 a day, on the stationary bike. I found that I only had time to do about 5 miles hiking while my daughter was at school, so the bike made it possible for me to do a longer distance each day. My concern is that I can't seem to manage running at ALL. I figured that running would be a good training method since I didn't have time to hike more than 5 miles a day and while the bike is good, it's not all that similar to hiking; I thought if I ran, I could get a workout similar to hiking and do it faster to boot. I figured running 5 miles might be kind of like hiking 10. Anyway, I was never any good at running (made the track team as a kid because I could make it a whole mile, but that was years ago and I was never very fast and a mile was my limit), but I am confused that I can do so much on the bike, but can't do the running thing. (I just put in 26 miles on the bike tonight, new record for me; but I bet you I could not run a quarter mile.) I just don't seem to be able to breath well enough to run. I've built quite a bit of muscle in my legs the last few months, so it's not that part that's the problem, it's definitely my lungs. Considering that I'm going to be climbing at elevation, this has me freaked out. Anyone else experience anything like this? What's the deal and should I be worried? I was diagnosed with asthma as a kid after "failing" (not sure what the criteria were?) a spirometry test, but have never really had any issues with it; my diagnosis always felt more like a technicality than a reality.
I will probably keep trying to work up to running, just because I feel I shouldn't just rely on biking and I don't feel like walking 5 miles a day is going to cut it, but I'm just kind of wondering if it's possible to be in good enough shape to do a serious backpacking trip at moderate elevation, but not be able to run, or if this is a major red flag.
Modified to add: I've got my stationary bike set at 11 as far as the resistance goes. What that means, I'm not sure. It goes up to 15, which is the "you can barely move the pedals" setting.
Working out for backpacking does not need to be painful or too tiring. Five miles a day at a strolling pace is plenty to get ready. Your definition of a stroll will be faster as you put on the miles. It comes naturally. The miles don't have to be done all at once. They can be spread out over the day. When it feels comfortable, you can do more.
Using an exercise bike at high tension can cause knee issues and back issues. The back problems can be serious. I'd suggest using a pressure where you can comfortably spin at least 70 RPM. A little higher would be better with time.
Unless you enjoy running and using the exercise bike, there is no need for them. Simply walking is good enough. As long as you have a reasonable aerobic capacity, you will be fine. Walking will get you there. A high aerobic capacity does not mean you won't breath a little harder at altitude. But unless you are one of the few who have real altitude problems, you can just hike a little slower. Most people do.
It may be your frequency of illness is tied to over exercising. My philosophy is that if I feel the need for a lot more sleep, I'm exercising too much. Also, if any residual soreness from the previous day doesn't disappear in the first few minutes, I'm exercising too much.
Keep in mind, most people you will see on the trail have done nothing to get in shape. Whatever you do will be an improvement. It's more about keeping the feet moving for a reasonable time than going fast. It's also about not trying to beat the trail. Move at a comfortable pace without heavy breathing and you will get there as quickly as most.
Don't forget to spend some time getting real comfortable with gear. That can be done at home. Sometimes the simple things can cause a lot of frustration.
Cycling works quite well at getting you fit. I ride a lot, and at 60 I am always in good shape on the trail. If you prefer cycling over walking or running, then do it. Whatever gives you the best chance of getting a workout.
And you will find running a lot easier once you find your pace. Most people start out running too fast, and then get out of breath very quickly. Start slow, and find a pace that you can keep up for a long time. It won't seem a lot faster than walking...but if your goal is five miles a day, it will make a difference if you run in instead of walk it.
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