APPLICATION to TEST: Mountainsmith Wisp
- Please accept my application to test the Mountainsmith Wisp Sleeping Bag.
I have just read the BackpackGearTest Survival Guide v.1202 and will comply
with all of its requirements.
Height: 5 ft 8 in (1.75 m)
Weight: 190 lb (86 kg)
Shoulder girth: 43 in (109 cm)
Hip girth: 48 in (122 cm)
Location: Woodland, CA
Date of Application: 05/01/2003
Backpacking Background and Style:
I am a relatively new backpacker, having taken my first trip in September,
2001. Since then, I've gone on numerous backpacking trips of two to four
days in length. All of my backpacking has been solo. I also go car-camping
occasionally. My job schedule is very good for allowing me to get out
often, as I generally work for a week and then am off for a week. I live in
the Central Valley area of California
and most of my trips so far have been in the Sierra near Tahoe, with trips
also to the Trinity Alps, Lassen NP and Ishi Wilderness. A somewhat lazy
hiker as far as covering miles goes, I generally hike 10 mi (16 km) per day
and take all day to do it. Stopping to watch a bug for 20 minutes, taking
an impromptu nap, or going off the trail to investigate a "noise" are
common occurrences for me. I also love to hike and camp in the rain. I'm
more likely to spontaneously take off on a trip when rain is predicted than
when it is to be sunny and clear. When I started backpacking, my base
pack-weight was 30 lb (14 kg). I rather quickly became obsessed with
lowering my pack-weight, and now it hovers around 15 lb (7 kg). I'm very
comfortable with this weight and doubt that my total load is going to get
much lighter. I'm always looking for ways to lighten my load without
reducing utility, but only because doing so allows me to bring along more
"luxury" items such as field guides, etc. My current shelter of choice is a
hammock underneath a silnylon tarp. I use a frameless backpack with a hip
belt. I consider myself a "lightweight" backpacker.
Sleeping bag experience:
My sleeping bag is the only major piece of camping/backpacking gear that
has remained constant throughout my 1.5 year old backpacking career. I have
used the same 15 F (-9 C) rated down-filled sleeping bag for all of my
backpacking and car-camping trips.
When I chose this sleeping bag, I was new to backpacking and was paranoid
about being cold while sleeping. As I could only afford to buy one sleeping
bag at the time, I decided to buy one with a lower temperature rating than
I was likely to need. I chose one that was warm enough (and then
some...just to be on the safe side you understand) to be usable for me in
all four seasons.
This sleeping bag has served me well for my backpacking and car-camping
trips in all four seasons. I have spent over 80 nights sleeping in this bag
and have never been cold. As my backpacking experience has increased I've
gotten more comfortable sleeping in the woods, and have come to have a more
confident view of what temperatures I'm realistically likely to encounter
in the locations that I hike in. I have learned how much of an effect
wearing extra clothes, a balaclava, etc has on one's warmth while sleeping.
Having now gained this experience, I realize that my current sleeping bag
is definitely overkill for at least 90 percent of my backpacking and
car-camping trips. I have used my current sleeping bag at its rated
temperature (15 F or -9 C), but much more often it has been more sleeping
bag than I needed. Using a sleeping bag with a more appropriate temperature
rating would reduce the weight of my basic gear load by over 1 lb (.5 kg)
and would also reduce the bulk of my gear load considerably.
In light of all of this, I would consider being selected to test the
Mountainsmith Wisp to be a wonderful opportunity.
The elevations of the areas I will backpack and car-camp in during the
testing period vary from sea level up to 11,000 ft (3000 m). Temperatures
should range from 30 F (-1 C) to 100 F (38 C). I rarely plan specific trips
far in advance. I generally go on two trips of two to four days in length
per month. Most of these trips involve backpacking, although occasionally I
go car-camping and do day-hikes from my "base camp". I also enjoy sleeping
in my hammock under a tarp in my backyard at times, especially when it is
raining. I would expect to spend at least 30 nights sleeping in the
Mountainsmith Wisp over the six month testing period. Some areas I plan to
explore in the upcoming months are the Lost Coast of northern California,
the Emigrant and Hoover Wildernesses in the Sierra Nevada, and Henry Coe
State park near San Jose, California. The Trinity Alps and the Marble
Mountains of northern California are also on my mind. So many places to
explore, so little time! Most of the terrain I hike in is rather rugged,
steep, and rocky. I often run into some snow on the ground when I hike to
higher elevations. I expect generally clear weather during the testing
period, with limited amounts of rain or afternoon thunderstorms when in the
mountains. I do expect to encounter more significant rain when visiting the
coast of northern California.
If fortunate enough to be selected to test the Mountainsmith Wisp, I will
be using it on all of my backpacking and car-camping trips during the
I anticipate that on my trips to higher elevations in the mountains, the
nighttime temperatures will often be close to or at the Wisp's 30 F (-1 C)
temperature rating. I will see how realistic the bag's temperature rating
is for me, and if I do or don't need to wear extra clothes to bed to be
comfortable at that temperature. I ordinarily wear shorts and a T-shirt to
sleep in. When temperatures have been close to my current sleeping bag's
minimum temperature rating, I have slept in long underwear. On trips where
the temperature is likely to be close to the Wisp's rating I will carry a
bag liner just in case it is needed. Yes, vestiges of my paranoia about
being cold while sleeping still remain.
I am interested in how comfortable the dimensions of the Wisp are for me. I
am large in the hips and do not like to feel constricted in my sleeping
bag. I also toss and turn frequently during the night. Having enough room
to wear extra clothes to bed if necessary is important to me too. The
Wisp's girth dimensions seem quite generous and I will find out how
comfortable the bag is in actual use.
Another important comfort consideration to me is the design of a sleeping
bag's hood. I love the hood on my current bag. In colder temperatures I
like to be able to close the hood down so that only a "blow-hole" remains.
How easy it is to do this with the Wisp and how easy or hard is it to
adjust the size of the opening during the night is something I would like
to find out.
While I prefer to sleep in a hammock, I realize that there may be a
difference in warmth for a given sleeping bag when in a hammock vs. being
on the ground. I have never had any trouble staying warm in my hammock,
even at temperatures approaching my current sleeping bag's 15 F (-9 C)
rating, as long as I have used an appropriate sleeping pad. However, if I
find myself having trouble staying warm in the Wisp in conditions near its
rated temperature, I will shift to sleeping on the ground (under my tarp)
to see if that is the problem.
I will see how the partial length zipper affects the usage of the Wisp. I
often use my current bag as a quilt in warmer temperatures but always leave
the zipper partially zipped to provide a "foot-box". Using a hammock,
sometimes it is a bit challenging to get myself, my sleeping pad, and my
sleeping bag arranged properly. I would like to see if the partial zipper
on the Wisp has any effect on this procedure. I am also interested in how
"snag-proof" the zipper is. Being trapped inside a sleeping bag with a
stuck zipper when nature is loudly calling is not my idea of fun.
Although I hike and camp often in rainy, stormy conditions, I am quite
diligent about keeping my sleeping bag dry and have never had a problem in
that regard. Even so, the water resistance/repellency characteristics of a
sleeping bag's shell is very important to me. It is a "safety/peace of
mind" item for me. If I do not get the Wisp wet accidentally, I will get it
wet on purpose under staged conditions to test the water resistance of the
shell material including the seams. I also would like to see how well the
Wisp's shell material blocks the wind, and how well it breathes. Does
moisture from one's body tend to accumulate inside the bag?
I will evaluate the workmanship and durability of the Wisp. I tend to
handle my sleeping bag with special care, which is something that I can't
say for most of the rest of my gear. I don't expect a lightweight sleeping
bag to be "bullet proof". I am, however, interested in seeing if the
lighter shell material (vs. my current bag) of the Wisp will require me to
exercise even more care in the handling of the bag.
In summary I would love to have the opportunity to evaluate the
Mountainsmith Wisp's comfort, warmth, water/wind resistance, and durability.
There are some other things I am tempted to say, but groveling and begging
are beneath my dignity (unless I thought it would work).
Test Series Completed:
GoLite Trek Backpack - Finished
Crazy Creek Crib LEX - Test cancelled after Initial Report
Cascade Designs - Beta Test
Test Series Currently in Progress:
Brasslite Alcohol Backpacking Stove (Solo Model) - Finished through Field Test
Mountain Hardwear Tallac Sleeping Bag Owner Review
MEC Northern Lite Pullover Owner Review
Currently serving as monitor for:
Wild Roses Sedona Rose P-Tights
Thank you for considering my application to test the Mountainsmith Wisp.