Equipment review from JMT
- During my recent JMT experience, I had the opportunity to really shake down some new equipment.
1) Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus tarp/tent. This tarp tent was a dichotomy for me. Below tree line with good soil available, the Hexamid worked great. Above tree line in the very rocky terrain and high winds of the High Sierra, it was horrible. I tried to use rocks to secure the lines, but the tension required to hold the tarp tent taut for the winds required very large rocks. I've concluded that a standalone tent is really required for the JMT.
2) Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2. My sister and daughter used my Copper Spur. It was awesome and at 3lbs shared between 2 is lightweight. So while I struggled in the High Sierra finding creative ways in setting up my tarp tent, they were snug and dry in the CS. Highly recommended.
3) Spot Connect. I used this since last year on my hikes / climbs. The reliability of sending a message is still horrible, running around 75%. Also, there is NO indication of successful send. I always let the Spot run its 3 message transmit cycle. It says, message sent at the end. But no message at home. Why is this so hard for Spot to figure out? Also, in the High Sierra, they can't blame lack of access to the satellite, since we are so high with no or negligible interference.
4) Food. I broke my cardinal rule of never trying new food on a long hike. We tried out several entrees from Hawk Vittles - Lasagna and Beef Stew. They were terrible. Uncooked noodles, bland taste. We did the cook-in-bag method, along with a cozy to keep it hot. Perhaps if we cooked it in a pot, it would cook better. But the taste was definitely not worth twice the price of Mountain House.
On the other hand, we tried a Chicken Stuffing & gravy recipe from BackpackingLight, and it was fantastic. It's heavy since you're carrying a pack of chicken, but it was really good.
5) Water treatment. We took the Steripen Adventurer and a Sawyer Squeeze. I like the simplicity of the Steripen and it just works. The water tastes normal, which in the Sierra is great. The Sawyer also worked, but it has so many ways to taint the good water with untreated water. Also, it takes time and multiple fills of a squeeze bag to get a liter of water. I gave up on Sawyer's bags since I kept getting holes. I now use a Platypus and it works better. With the presence of stock and their poop, I worry about not filtering the water. Of course, I could hike a little uphill, or I could treat for 90 seconds and not worry.
Overall, my Base Pack Weight was 17 lbs.
I bivy regularly until ~December or January in a drought (in the Sierra) and then again in starting in April. From my experience my bag gets damp (usually frozen) inside my bivisack. It's much worse of course if you're inclined to sleep with your head in.
I do have an older 3 layer gortex bivy that has a soft fleece like "hand" on the inside. This seems to reduce the condensation a bit. Either way, I try and spend a half hour or more in the sun warming up and drying out.
Walk the Sky: Following the John Muir Trail
---In email@example.com, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:On recent bit of the Sierra High route from Lake Italy to Purple lake,
slept mostly "cowboy style" with temps consistently below freezing. THe
outside of my bag was always a bit crispy, but loft still held up pretty
well (Katabatic quilt). Does anyone have experience with a lightweight
bivy for this purpose? Does it have enough of a micro-climate to reduce
condensation within the bag when you are below the dew point? I just
love sleeping outside.....