Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I did some calculations and found that a tarp, ground sheet and bug net big enough for me and my dog weighed the same as my 2-person tent (more like a 1.5 person tent, but comfy for Hysson and me.
Of course for the PCT you probably aren't taking a dog, but you still won't save weight using a tarp instead of a tent. There are a number of one-person tents weighing 1.5 lbs., including the Tarptent Contrail, Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo or Skyscape Trekker or (for quite a bit more $$$) no more than 1 lb., such as the ZPacks Hexamid or SMD Skyscape X.
You will definitely need that bug net for a fair-sized part of the trip, especially in Oregon. If it's a late snow year, probably parts of Washington, too! Think of many plateau-like areas on the crest full of small lakes and bogs--mosquito heaven!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
That was when I switched from a tarp to a tent, too, OM. The first solo tent I had, the Hubba, weighed about the same as the 8x10 silnylon tarp, stakes, and Integral Designs Salathe bivy sack I had been using.
The tent was just simpler to use. The connected and tensioned frame also handled wind better than a hiking pole at each end. It also required fewer stakes, and the mesh netting gave me the option of looking at the stars on a clear night. And, when it rained, I didn't have mist blowing in the ends or under the sides. (That was why I used a fairly stormproof bivy.)
I'm sure there are lighter bivies now - but there are also lighter solo tents, so even today I can find a tent that would weigh the same as the tarp-and-bivy rig.
Tarps, with a bivy or groundsheet and bug net, remain viable options, and I still have a bit of nostalgia for mine - but not enough to go back to it. A tent with lots of mesh just works better, for me, where I hike and camp.
These two decisions will set me back a few hundred more bucks if I choose to go light. Is it worth it? How much is that ~3 pounds difference going to effect my life on the trail?
Depends on you, GandC. I prefer to go lite on the basics so I can enjoy a few heavy things -mostly food. I have enjoyed multi-week treks with a 30lb pack, but also 9 days with a 70lb pack. Ultimately, I'd say your fitness and attitude will have a much bigger impact on your enjoyment than the weight of your pack - as I'd guess you already understand.
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