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American-made sleeping system for September JMT hike?

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  • eric moss
    Hi all, I m selecting a bag or quilt for a JMT attempt in the first 3 weeks of September, starting at Happy Isles. I have some questions to narrow my search:
    Message 1 of 27 , May 11 12:06 PM
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      Hi all,

      I'm selecting a bag or quilt for a JMT attempt in the first 3 weeks of
      September, starting at Happy Isles.

      I have some questions to narrow my search:

      1. What day/night temps should I realistically be prepared for?
      2. How would you split insulation between bag and jacket (e.g. 10deg F
      bag and minimal jacket or 30deg F bag and 40deg F jacket worn
      in bag)?

      Thanks for all ideas!

      Eric
    • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
      Western Mountaineering Summerlite, or Ultralite. Great bags, accurately rated temps, but pricey. Worth the money if you hike a lot and value American made
      Message 2 of 27 , May 11 1:02 PM
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        Western Mountaineering Summerlite, or Ultralite. Great bags, accurately rated temps, but pricey. Worth the money if you hike a lot and value American made quality. Also take a look at Z-Packs line of bags and hybrid quilts.
      • cehauser1
        Eric: I see you mention a quilt... Are you trying to go ultralight or lightweight? Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and
        Message 3 of 27 , May 11 11:50 PM
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          Eric:

          I see you mention a quilt... Are you trying to go ultralight or lightweight?

          Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and rain.  For a warm top, I have a lightweight rain jacket, a fleece insulation layer, and a thermal underware base layer.  Except for the rain jacket, the other two layers are comfortable in a sleeping bag.

          Expect night temps between 10 and 50.  I have a 35 degree bag, and use a lightweight tyvek bivy (the SOL Escape Bivvy).  I cowboy camp, and will usually sleep in thermal underware (which I rarely wear while hiking, usually only after I'm in camp at the end of the day).

          Chris.


          ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <rnperky@...> wrote :

          Western Mountaineering Summerlite, or Ultralite. Great bags, accurately rated temps, but pricey. Worth the money if you hike a lot and value American made quality. Also take a look at Z-Packs line of bags and hybrid quilts.
        • eric moss
          Thanks -- that helps greatly. I wish there were a formula where I could plug in mileage, elevation, measurable fitness and sensitivity to various discomforts
          Message 4 of 27 , May 12 8:37 AM
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            Thanks -- that helps greatly.  I wish there were a formula where I could plug in mileage, elevation, measurable fitness and sensitivity to various discomforts to get a good starting point.  The hiking newsgroups has mostly led to brand loyalists and apples-to-oranges comparisons.  Short of buying one of everything and trying them all out, I'm hoping to find someone similar enough to me who has done the JMT in the autumn, so that I can rely on their experience to narrow my choices.

            To answer your specific questions, I'm trying to maximize comfort, and I'm willing to throw some money at the problem where it makes a real difference (stopping short of $1200 Cuben fiber tents).  Since my trip is a slow 11 mile/day amble aimed at photography, living on the edge of survivability just to save weight isn't too big a deal.  OTOH, if comfort at camp leads to a 50lb pack, something needs to give before my knees do.

            I mention quilts because some people are advertising them as the best choice for all non-expedition camping, esp. for side-sleepers like me.  But maybe a semi-rectangular bag gives even more options.  Too many choices...  I may just put all the Cadillac choices in a spreadsheet and see when it becomes too heavy.


            On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 2:50 AM, cehauser1@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

            Eric:

            I see you mention a quilt... Are you trying to go ultralight or lightweight?

            Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and rain.  For a warm top, I have a lightweight rain jacket, a fleece insulation layer, and a thermal underware base layer.  Except for the rain jacket, the other two layers are comfortable in a sleeping bag.

            Expect night temps between 10 and 50.  I have a 35 degree bag, and use a lightweight tyvek bivy (the SOL Escape Bivvy).  I cowboy camp, and will usually sleep in thermal underware (which I rarely wear while hiking, usually only after I'm in camp at the end of the day).

          • Roleigh Martin
            Regarding the comment: Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and rain. For a warm top, I have a lightweight rain jacket, a
            Message 5 of 27 , May 12 8:48 AM
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              Regarding the comment: "Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and rain.  For a warm top, I have a lightweight rain jacket, a fleece insulation layer, and a thermal underwear base layer.  Except for the rain jacket, the other two layers are comfortable in a sleeping bag."

              I have spent the last 13 years, every mid-July to mid-August in the high sierras (first 8 on HST, next 6 on JMT).  In 2009, a severe cold front came in though, such that rangers went out camp sites asking people to vacate the trail for 1-2 days unless they were geared for weather in the 20s.  One of the members in our group was woefully unprepared and we did vacate the trail for 2 days before resuming, but we talked to people who said the temps got down to the high 30s during the day.  We noticed temps in the high 40s when we resumed that first day.

              It's a rare situation when the above happens but if it happens to you, you want to survive the situation.  

              I used to get by with a 32F Summerlite Sleeping bag under the theory I'd sleep with my jacket, if need be.  But it got so cold in 2009, I switched to a 20F bag after that and there are times when I'll still put on my jacket.  Very rare, but it happens. More times than not, it's too hot, but you can unzip the sleeping bag to handle that situation.

              I also recommend a warm beanie (ultralighters can use a down beanie), and gloves too.

              Roleigh


              -------------------------------------------------
              Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research links)
              _



              On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 8:37 AM, eric moss eric.p.moss@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
               

              Thanks -- that helps greatly.  I wish there were a formula where I could plug in mileage, elevation, measurable fitness and sensitivity to various discomforts to get a good starting point.  The hiking newsgroups has mostly led to brand loyalists and apples-to-oranges comparisons.  Short of buying one of everything and trying them all out, I'm hoping to find someone similar enough to me who has done the JMT in the autumn, so that I can rely on their experience to narrow my choices.

              To answer your specific questions, I'm trying to maximize comfort, and I'm willing to throw some money at the problem where it makes a real difference (stopping short of $1200 Cuben fiber tents).  Since my trip is a slow 11 mile/day amble aimed at photography, living on the edge of survivability just to save weight isn't too big a deal.  OTOH, if comfort at camp leads to a 50lb pack, something needs to give before my knees do.

              I mention quilts because some people are advertising them as the best choice for all non-expedition camping, esp. for side-sleepers like me.  But maybe a semi-rectangular bag gives even more options.  Too many choices...  I may just put all the Cadillac choices in a spreadsheet and see when it becomes too heavy.


              On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 2:50 AM, cehauser1@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

              Eric:

              I see you mention a quilt... Are you trying to go ultralight or lightweight?

              Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and rain.  For a warm top, I have a lightweight rain jacket, a fleece insulation layer, and a thermal underware base layer.  Except for the rain jacket, the other two layers are comfortable in a sleeping bag.

              Expect night temps between 10 and 50.  I have a 35 degree bag, and use a lightweight tyvek bivy (the SOL Escape Bivvy).  I cowboy camp, and will usually sleep in thermal underware (which I rarely wear while hiking, usually only after I'm in camp at the end of the day).


            • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
              Chris, how long have you used the SOL Bivy? I read a review on BPL and am very interested in it. I occasionally get condensation inside my MLD Superlight bivy
              Message 6 of 27 , May 12 10:46 AM
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                Chris, how long have you used the SOL Bivy? I read a review on BPL and am very interested in it. I occasionally get condensation inside my MLD Superlight bivy when camping in the open, ( preferred for me for stargazing ), and I'm looking at something that breaths a bit better. How has yours done on breathability and is there enough room in it for an 2 1/2 " inflatable sleeping pad and sleeping bag without compressing the down? Thanks in advance for any reply!
              • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                Chris, I answered my own question by going by REI and trying a SOL Escape Bivy out with an inflatable mattress in it. I suppose it would work with a Z-Rest or
                Message 7 of 27 , May 12 2:26 PM
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                  Chris, I answered my own question by going by REI and trying a SOL Escape Bivy out with an inflatable mattress in it. I suppose it would work with a Z-Rest or similar pad, but it was way too tight for me, which is a bummer because I have heard great things on its breathability. Maybe they'll come out with a larger model? If still be interested in your field reviews on condensation with it though! Thanks!
                • trailnameskyking
                  If you are interested in a quilt, Jacks R Better has a sale right now. I just bought my second quilt from them.
                  Message 8 of 27 , May 12 5:57 PM
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                    If you are interested in a quilt, Jacks'R'Better has a sale right now.  I just bought my second quilt from them.
                  • cehauser1
                    Hi Robert: I bought mine for my JMT trip last year. I cowboy camped 16 nights in a row, and it is still in brand-new condition. Very durable and I would take
                    Message 9 of 27 , May 12 8:58 PM
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                      Hi Robert:

                      I bought mine for my JMT trip last year.  I cowboy camped 16 nights in a row, and it is still in brand-new condition.  Very durable and I would take the same one again on another similar trip without hesitation.

                      Before the JMT trip last year, I tried putting the sleeping pad inside, and it was not comfortable, as you learned.  I'm a side sleeper, and the pad inside prevented me from being able to curl up in a ball to sleep.

                      Honestly, I've never owned another bivy sack before, so I have no comparison.  I never had problems with condensation with it, but I was careful to not exhale into the bag (how most condensation occurs).

                      I slept 2 nights in the hot spring meadow across the river from MTR.  With the wet meadow vegetation, and the hot springs pumping out steam all night, everything was soaked both mornings, but the bag performed well.

                      Like I said, I'd take mine again on another trip, but they just started offering the bivvy in drab green, so I bought a new green one for use on all future trips.  (I stealth camp, and the orange one didn't work for that.)

                      Cheers!

                      Chris.


                      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <rnperky@...> wrote :

                      Chris, I answered my own question by going by REI and trying a SOL Escape Bivy out with an inflatable mattress in it. I suppose it would work with a Z-Rest or similar pad, but it was way too tight for me, which is a bummer because I have heard great things on its breathability. Maybe they'll come out with a larger model? If still be interested in your field reviews on condensation with it though! Thanks!
                    • Jmt
                      I use an Enlightened Equipment quilt and I really like it. The quality is great, it s very warm, and very cozy. However, the price and the weight of the
                      Message 10 of 27 , May 12 9:06 PM
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                        I use an Enlightened Equipment quilt and I really like it. The quality is great, it's very warm, and very cozy.  However, the price and the weight of the quilts have been steadily creeping up.  That being said, they are still cheaper than a lot of the competition.

                        Regards,
                        Rob

                        Sent from my iPhone

                        On May 12, 2014, at 5:57 PM, trailnameskyking <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                         

                        If you are interested in a quilt, Jacks'R'Better has a sale right now.  I just bought my second quilt from them.

                      • cehauser1
                        Hi Eric: It sounds a bit like you are starting out with backpacking from scratch... is that right? I d suggest to anyone who wants to hike the JMT without
                        Message 11 of 27 , May 12 9:16 PM
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                          Hi Eric:

                          It sounds a bit like you are starting out with backpacking from scratch... is that right?  I'd suggest to anyone who wants to hike the JMT without much prior backpacking experience:  go on a short backpacking trip with rented equipment to try it out.  They'd learn a lot about what clothes work well for them, and what doesn't.

                          Also, if a person lives in a place (or they can go camping in a place) where the weather gets close to what Roleigh and I are talking about, they could spend a day or two outside and see what that is like, using backpacking-type clothes.  They' learn a lot about layering, ventilation, waterproofing, etc.

                          Also, it is helpful to realize the incredible difference between a 50-pound pack and a 20-pound pack.  I'm 40 years old, and certainly not an athlete, but with a 20-pound pack I feel like I'm floating down the trail.  That feeling is worth every sacrifice.  Helpful to find your personal ideal pack weight before a trip like the JMT.

                          Cheers,

                          Chris.


                          ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <eric.p.moss@...> wrote :

                          Thanks -- that helps greatly.  I wish there were a formula where I could plug in mileage, elevation, measurable fitness and sensitivity to various discomforts to get a good starting point.  The hiking newsgroups has mostly led to brand loyalists and apples-to-oranges comparisons.  Short of buying one of everything and trying them all out, I'm hoping to find someone similar enough to me who has done the JMT in the autumn, so that I can rely on their experience to narrow my choices.

                          To answer your specific questions, I'm trying to maximize comfort, and I'm willing to throw some money at the problem where it makes a real difference (stopping short of $1200 Cuben fiber tents).  Since my trip is a slow 11 mile/day amble aimed at photography, living on the edge of survivability just to save weight isn't too big a deal.  OTOH, if comfort at camp leads to a 50lb pack, something needs to give before my knees do.

                          I mention quilts because some people are advertising them as the best choice for all non-expedition camping, esp. for side-sleepers like me.  But maybe a semi-rectangular bag gives even more options.  Too many choices...  I may just put all the Cadillac choices in a spreadsheet and see when it becomes too heavy.


                          On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 2:50 AM, cehauser1@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                          Eric:

                          I see you mention a quilt... Are you trying to go ultralight or lightweight?

                          Expect day temps between 50-80, depending on elevation, wind chill, and rain.  For a warm top, I have a lightweight rain jacket, a fleece insulation layer, and a thermal underware base layer.  Except for the rain jacket, the other two layers are comfortable in a sleeping bag.

                          Expect night temps between 10 and 50.  I have a 35 degree bag, and use a lightweight tyvek bivy (the SOL Escape Bivvy).  I cowboy camp, and will usually sleep in thermal underware (which I rarely wear while hiking, usually only after I'm in camp at the end of the day).

                        • trailnameskyking
                          In reference to the rising price of down products, I found the following podcast very interesting: No 366 – Down Insulation – The Facts
                          Message 12 of 27 , May 13 2:45 AM
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                            In reference to the rising price of down products, I found the following podcast very interesting:
                            No 366 – Down Insulation – The Facts

                             



                          • kjonmyway@gmail.com
                            Eric, I don t know if anyone has mentioned this or not, but at least for me, a great deal of my comfort at cold temps is my pad s R rating. For years, I would
                            Message 13 of 27 , May 13 4:03 AM
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                              Eric,

                              I don't know if anyone has mentioned this or not, but at least for me, a great deal of my comfort at cold temps is my pad's R rating. For years, I would use a bag rated for 20 degrees colder than expected, and would still get cold. I am a side-sleeper, and prefer a quilt, which used to be out of the question.

                              However, when Thermarest came out with the Neo Air X-Therm, that all changed for me. It's pricey, but at an R rating of 5.7, I haven't had a single cold night since, even with my underrated quilt.

                              As a side note, I opted for the large size, (even though I don't need the height) because it's 25 inches wide, rather than 20. Side sleepers often need a little more width to prevent knees hanging off and getting cold, etc.

                              Actually, the X-Therm reflects so much heat back up to me, that I can't use it in temps above 50, or I boil, regardless of bag rating. Thought it was worth mentioning. If nothing else, a high rated pad may give you a bit more peace of mind.

                              Sent from my iPad
                            • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                              Thanks Chris! Did you use it with the pad outside of the bivy, or just get used to the snugness of the bivy? Which sleeping pad did you end up using with it?
                              Message 14 of 27 , May 13 6:04 AM
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                                Thanks Chris! Did you use it with the pad outside of the bivy, or just get used to the snugness of the bivy? Which  sleeping pad did you end up using with it? I like the sound of your lack of condensation though. I also saw the green one they have out now, and I agree, much better color! It is supposed to add 15 degrees of warmth as well, so it could help the OP, ( original posters ), temp range of any bag he takes. 
                              • Kim Fishburn
                                I have an Oware bivy which a lot of people haven t heard of, and he has several sizes. I roll around a lot so I need to stake the bivy out or I ll end up with
                                Message 15 of 27 , May 13 6:11 AM
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                                  I have an Oware bivy which a lot of people haven't heard of, and he has several sizes. I roll around a lot so I need to stake the bivy out or I'll end up with the bottom on the top.

                                  http://shop.bivysack.com/

                                  Kim


                                  On Tue, May 13, 2014 at 8:04 AM, rnperky@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                                   

                                  Thanks Chris! Did you use it with the pad outside of the bivy, or just get used to the snugness of the bivy? Which  sleeping pad did you end up using with it? I like the sound of your lack of condensation though. I also saw the green one they have out now, and I agree, much better color! It is supposed to add 15 degrees of warmth as well, so it could help the OP, ( original posters ), temp range of any bag he takes. 


                                • rnperky@sbcglobal.net
                                  Thanks Kim! How is the internal condensation of your Oware bivy? I didn t have any issues with mine for the first 2 years either, but than last summer in
                                  Message 16 of 27 , May 13 7:06 AM
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                                    Thanks Kim! How is the internal condensation of your Oware bivy? I didn't have any issues with mine for the first 2 years either, but than last summer in Yosemite I had some severe condensation on a couple of nights.

                                     

                                     The beauty of the SOL Escape is the material and price. It runs from $39 - $50 and the material breaths better than anything except maybe Event fabric which costs substantially more. It would be an outstanding option for those that like sleeping under the stars and just bring a small tarp for downpours. If i used a Z-Rest sleeping pad, it would be fine, but I'm not sure I would want to give up my Synmat UL7 pad to make it work!   

                                  • Kim Fishburn
                                    I never had a problem. I usually only use it in the fall when its cooler, as I spend most of my time now hiking in Northern Minnesota. Its just to hot in the
                                    Message 17 of 27 , May 13 7:19 AM
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                                      I never had a problem. I usually only use it in the fall when its cooler, as I spend most of my time now hiking in Northern Minnesota. Its just to hot in the summer and I like that extra. If I was back in the Sierras I'd use it a lot. I had a second look at the current Oware bivys and he only has the one with a side zipper, and its pretty big. The others you have to slide down into them. I had a side zipper added to mine. If you did that make sure they have the lighter zippers or  you'll add a lot of weight, and you really only need a half zipper.


                                      On Tue, May 13, 2014 at 9:06 AM, rnperky@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                                       

                                      Thanks Kim! How is the internal condensation of your Oware bivy? I didn't have any issues with mine for the first 2 years either, but than last summer in Yosemite I had some severe condensation on a couple of nights.

                                       

                                       The beauty of the SOL Escape is the material and price. It runs from $39 - $50 and the material breaths better than anything except maybe Event fabric which costs substantially more. It would be an outstanding option for those that like sleeping under the stars and just bring a small tarp for downpours. If i used a Z-Rest sleeping pad, it would be fine, but I'm not sure I would want to give up my Synmat UL7 pad to make it work!   


                                    • skrapp138
                                      Thanks for posting that trailnameskyking - the down industry is a sad nightmare. I wish more backpackers were aware. Synthetic insulation technologies are
                                      Message 18 of 27 , May 13 7:26 AM
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                                        Thanks for posting that trailnameskyking - the down industry is a sad nightmare. I wish more backpackers were aware. Synthetic insulation technologies are quite incredible these days and cruelty-free. My backpack only carries synthetic. Though the Sierra's are generally dry, many people can attest that there can be days and days of rain, even in typically dry months (remember last summer?) - and if your bag and insulating layers are synthetic, rain will present much less of a headache! Enlightened Equipment makes great synthetic quilts.
                                      • cassburson
                                        Eric, or anyone else in the market for a quilt may also want to check out hammockgear.com. I recently bought a 20 degree quilt from them and although I ve only
                                        Message 19 of 27 , May 13 8:06 AM
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                                          Eric, or anyone else in the market for a quilt may also want to check out hammockgear.com. I recently bought a 20 degree quilt from them and although I've only used it a few times I like it a lot. They are a lot cheaper than some of the bigger quilt companies like katabatic gear and the weights listed on their site were quite accurate in my case.
                                        • eric moss
                                          On Tue, May 13, 2014 at 12:16 AM, cehauser1@yahoo.com [johnmuirtrail]
                                          Message 20 of 27 , May 13 9:18 AM
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                                            On Tue, May 13, 2014 at 12:16 AM, cehauser1@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                                            Hi Eric:

                                            It sounds a bit like you are starting out with backpacking from scratch... is that right?  I'd suggest to anyone who wants to hike the JMT without much prior backpacking experience:  go on a short backpacking trip with rented equipment to try it out.  They'd learn a lot about what clothes work well for them, and what doesn't.

                                            Right you are.  I've done 10-15 mile day hikes in Yosemite/Zion/Banff/Grand Canyon with 25-30lb, but this is my first multi-day.   Your suggestion about trial gear is spot-on, and I'm doing that at least for my pack.  Sadly it's 95F and 100% humidity here in central NC, so testing for insulation, condensation and so on would be hard (plus, *all* my PTO goes to the JMT trip).

                                            It may not work, but here's my plan to compensate for lack of experience:  start with others' experience and rent/buy/return/sell at least those things that obviously won't work for me.

                                            For example, I've ordered the four stoves most likely to meet my needs, and will test each to see which has the 'best' combination of real-food cooking ability and bulk.  This is too expensive to do for tents, but between a Nemo, a Hilleberg, a Bibler and a Sierra Designs, I'm unlikely to find myself unhappy with any.  If I am, well, I suck it up and offer the others for sale.

                                            Also, it is helpful to realize the incredible difference between a 50-pound pack and a 20-pound pack.  I'm 40 years old, and certainly not an athlete, but with a 20-pound pack I feel like I'm floating down the trail.  That feeling is worth every sacrifice.  Helpful to find your personal ideal pack weight before a trip like the JMT.


                                            "That feeling is worth every sacrifice" is very good input -- thanks!  I've known people who are strong enough to pack cast-iron skillets and think it's worth it to be comfy in camp.  I'm probably more in your camp, so I've started by filling my current pack with 10L of water and climbing the short but steep hills here.  When my demo pack arrives, I'll put in 15L and then 20L to see where my body limit really is.  At that point I'll start reducing 'luxury' items, or start throwing money at it to get more 'gee whiz' materials involved.  I'll also be doing several re-supplies, and shipping home things that become more a burden than they're worth.


                                          • dbindsch@rocketmail.com
                                            FYI, I ve created a spreadsheet analyzing a host of 30 deg and some 20 deg bags and quilts. Information includes metrics for weight, insulating power, and
                                            Message 21 of 27 , May 13 10:14 AM
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                                              FYI, I've created a spreadsheet analyzing a host of 30 deg and some 20 deg bags and quilts. Information includes metrics for weight, insulating power, and cost. This may help folks attempting wade through all the various websites and opinions out there.


                                              Additional contributions are welcomed!

                                              - Duane B. 
                                               
                                            • cehauser1
                                              Eric: It sounds like you are on your way to figuring out your gear, or at least buying several good options to test out. However, I d still recommend you take
                                              Message 22 of 27 , May 13 9:20 PM
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                                                Eric:

                                                It sounds like you are on your way to figuring out your gear, or at least buying several good options to test out.

                                                However, I'd still recommend you take a short 1-night or 2-night trip in NC, perhaps the Blue Ridge Mountains, or something short on the AT.  You don't even have to go far, just hike in 5 miles, set up your sleeping arrangements, cook something for dinner on a stove, try different hiking clothes, etc...  then walk out the next morning or spend a second night.  Do that once or twice this spring and you will have learned more than you will ever learn from other people, or reading stuff on the internet.  Also, your skills and experience are 10 times more important than what gear you are taking.  Invest some time.

                                                Honestly, the JMT is not the most difficult trail in the world, but it is relatively long enough and relatively challenging.  There are a couple of places to mail gear home if you don't need it, but you will remote enough that you won't be able to buy gear (only from Tuolumne Meadows and Mammoth Lakes, then you're SOL).  I'm not the most athletic person around and I'm no expert on backpacking, but still I couldn't imagine a JMT trip being my first ever overnight backpacking trip ever.  If you attempt the JMT, without first doing at least a couple of short overnight trips... well... you definitely have the deck stacked against you!

                                                Chris.


                                                ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <eric.p.moss@...> wrote :


                                                On Tue, May 13, 2014 at 12:16 AM, cehauser1@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                                                Hi Eric:

                                                It sounds a bit like you are starting out with backpacking from scratch... is that right?  I'd suggest to anyone who wants to hike the JMT without much prior backpacking experience:  go on a short backpacking trip with rented equipment to try it out.  They'd learn a lot about what clothes work well for them, and what doesn't.

                                                Right you are.  I've done 10-15 mile day hikes in Yosemite/Zion/Banff/Grand Canyon with 25-30lb, but this is my first multi-day.   Your suggestion about trial gear is spot-on, and I'm doing that at least for my pack.  Sadly it's 95F and 100% humidity here in central NC, so testing for insulation, condensation and so on would be hard (plus, *all* my PTO goes to the JMT trip).

                                                It may not work, but here's my plan to compensate for lack of experience:  start with others' experience and rent/buy/return/sell at least those things that obviously won't work for me.

                                                For example, I've ordered the four stoves most likely to meet my needs, and will test each to see which has the 'best' combination of real-food cooking ability and bulk.  This is too expensive to do for tents, but between a Nemo, a Hilleberg, a Bibler and a Sierra Designs, I'm unlikely to find myself unhappy with any.  If I am, well, I suck it up and offer the others for sale.

                                                Also, it is helpful to realize the incredible difference between a 50-pound pack and a 20-pound pack.  I'm 40 years old, and certainly not an athlete, but with a 20-pound pack I feel like I'm floating down the trail.  That feeling is worth every sacrifice.  Helpful to find your personal ideal pack weight before a trip like the JMT.


                                                "That feeling is worth every sacrifice" is very good input -- thanks!  I've known people who are strong enough to pack cast-iron skillets and think it's worth it to be comfy in camp.  I'm probably more in your camp, so I've started by filling my current pack with 10L of water and climbing the short but steep hills here.  When my demo pack arrives, I'll put in 15L and then 20L to see where my body limit really is.  At that point I'll start reducing 'luxury' items, or start throwing money at it to get more 'gee whiz' materials involved.  I'll also be doing several re-supplies, and shipping home things that become more a burden than they're worth.


                                              • cehauser1
                                                Sorry I wasn t very clear: On a clear cold night in January 2013, I put a sleeping pad inside the Bivvy, got in, and tried to sleep out on my patio, without a
                                                Message 23 of 27 , May 13 9:41 PM
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                                                  Sorry I wasn't very clear:

                                                  On a clear cold night in January 2013, I put a sleeping pad inside the Bivvy, got in, and tried to sleep out on my patio, without a sleeping bag, only wearing hiking clothes.   I was thinking I would do the JMT ultralight, and I wanted to save the weight of the sleeping bag, and I thought the Bivvy and clothes alone would keep me warm.  What I found was that I just got progressively colder through the night (it got down to about freezing that night), but what was even worse, I couldn't curl up and get comfortable.  The pad inside the bivvy forced everything to be straight, so I couldn't sleep.

                                                  So... on the JMT, I carried a lightweight 35-degree synthetic bag, the Bivvy, 2 sleeping pads, and an inflatable pillow.  I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to sleeping outside, and I've used 2 sleeping pads for years.  On the JMT, I used a cheap blue closed-cell foam pad on the ground, then a ThermaRest ProLite, which I bought at an REI used gear sale for $5 (couple of holes, which I sealed), and I always had the 2 sleeping pads underneath the Bivvy (outside the Bivvy), so I was able to curl up, on a soft surface, and every night I slept like a baby.  The inflatable pillow was very nice, until it sprang a leak about half-way through the trip.

                                                  I'm pretty happy with this setup, and will probably use it exactly for my non-JMT trip this summer.  I've thought about trying to sleep with just the blue sleeping pad (trying to save the 1-pound weight of the ThermaRest), but that wouldn't be very strategic if it causes me to lose sleep at night.  In other words, that 1 pound of sleeping comfort is worth the weight, if it allows me to hike better during the day.

                                                  Chris.


                                                  ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <rnperky@...> wrote :

                                                  Thanks Chris! Did you use it with the pad outside of the bivy, or just get used to the snugness of the bivy? Which  sleeping pad did you end up using with it? I like the sound of your lack of condensation though. I also saw the green one they have out now, and I agree, much better color! It is supposed to add 15 degrees of warmth as well, so it could help the OP, ( original posters ), temp range of any bag he takes. 
                                                • eric moss
                                                  On Wed, May 14, 2014 at 12:20 AM, cehauser1@yahoo.com [johnmuirtrail]
                                                  Message 24 of 27 , May 13 9:48 PM
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                                                    On Wed, May 14, 2014 at 12:20 AM, cehauser1@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                                                     

                                                    Eric:


                                                    It sounds like you are on your way to figuring out your gear, or at least buying several good options to test out.

                                                    Supporting the economy. Ha!
                                                     

                                                    However, I'd still recommend you take a short 1-night or 2-night trip in NC, perhaps the Blue Ridge Mountains, or something short on the AT.  You don't even have to go far, just hike in 5 miles, set up your sleeping arrangements, cook something for dinner on a stove, try different hiking clothes, etc...  then walk out the next morning or spend a second night.  Do that once or twice this spring and you will have learned more than you will ever learn from other people, or reading stuff on the internet.  Also, your skills and experience are 10 times more important than what gear you are taking.  Invest some time.

                                                    Excellent suggestion, and one of my co-workers just today told me about two good, short HARD hikes near Asheville that involve cold wet nights -- 11 miles down, 11 miles up, following a creek that falls 2000 ft according to him.  As soon as I find some rentable gear (or take the plunge on one of my narrowed-down candidates), I'll take a weekend and do it.
                                                     

                                                    Honestly, the JMT is not the most difficult trail in the world, but it is relatively long enough and relatively challenging.  There are a couple of places to mail gear home if you don't need it, but you will remote enough that you won't be able to buy gear (only from Tuolumne Meadows and Mammoth Lakes, then you're SOL).  I'm not the most athletic person around and I'm no expert on backpacking, but still I couldn't imagine a JMT trip being my first ever overnight backpacking trip ever.  If you attempt the JMT, without first doing at least a couple of short overnight trips... well... you definitely have the deck stacked against you!


                                                     Well, being dumb adds to the adventure. Heh.  Reading that list of "shouldas" from people who have hiked the trail, it sounds like boots, bag and food are most sensitive to poor selection.  Unless there's a dip in the jetstream, tents seem less an issue as long as they are waterproof and can vent.  We'll see.
                                                  • outsidewheneverican
                                                    Eric, let us know what you decide. I m going same time/route as you are and am following your discussion here. -Jsin
                                                    Message 25 of 27 , May 14 7:40 PM
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                                                      Eric, let us know what you decide.  I'm going same time/route as you are and am following your discussion here.

                                                      -Jsin
                                                    • eric moss
                                                      On Wed, May 14, 2014 at 10:40 PM, jaluban@gmail.com [johnmuirtrail]
                                                      Message 26 of 27 , May 14 8:17 PM
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                                                        On Wed, May 14, 2014 at 10:40 PM, jaluban@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                                                         
                                                        Eric, let us know what you decide.  I'm going same time/route as you are and am following your discussion here. 

                                                        I will definitely keep you up-to-date.  At this point, I'm (almost) settled on:

                                                         1. NEMO Morpho Elite 2P tent
                                                         2. FeatheredFriends Penguin 10 bag, long wide, with detachable hood

                                                        Reports are that the Morpho's  "air poles" are reliable, field-patchable and handle wind very well.  The super-bright color is a deterrent, and it's a bit heavy, but unless I find something obviously better, I'll start with this and only replace it if trial runs reveal fatal flaws.  Good tent placement, venting and a camp towel will be how I deal with condensation.  I'd love to get a Hilleberg free-standing tent, but they are very heavy for the room, and the Morpho still sets up quickly if there is a way to drive in 4 stakes.

                                                        The bag is semi-rectangular, so I can side-sleep, as well as 1/4 zip it (kind of) like a quilt on warmish nights, and also go into total hypothermic mummy-bag survival mode if forced to, fitting a coat inside, plus sat-phone, stove canister, and of course, thum Courvoithier for the laydeeethe.

                                                        Eric

                                                        PS for those who haven't fallen asleep yet...

                                                        My boots are likely a pair of Limmer Standards (or Midweights, depending on where they think my foot measurements lead), with Darn Tough full-cushion high socks and Bridgedale slick liners.  I've done day hikes in trail runners with 25lb, and was 'fine', until I twisted my ankle or woke up with foot cramps from collapsed arches.  If I can't break them in on time, I'll go with Lowa Baffins that are already broken in, or some Asolo GoreTex lightweights that are comfy right out of the box (for me).

                                                        Komperdell C2 Airshock trekking poles. The shock really works as long as you wipe the poles down every so often to get grit out.

                                                        Packa eVent poncho rather than a coat and pack cover. I've survived wet pack straps, but sweating in GoreTex with a pack on sucks royally, IMO.  The packa looks like it keeps the pack straps dry AND allows enough air circulation to let the eVent fabric actually work.  We'll see.  I've read very good things about it, at least.

                                                        Probably a Primus Eta Spider stove.  There are lighter and more compact, but... it's remote canister and has a pre-heating coil, allowing inversion of the canister to work in lower temps.  I don't particularly want to deal with liquid fuel if a canister can be made to work ok at the altitudes and temps I expect.  It also has ceramic coated pans.

                                                        Underwear: Wickers

                                                        Tripod: Really Right Stuff TQV14 with BH30 head and maybe a nodal slide to assist with stitching.



                                                      • Arla Hile
                                                        Duane, Cool spreadsheet. I have a question that you might be able to address: aren t there now two different ways to calculate temperature rating? The old one
                                                        Message 27 of 27 , May 15 1:39 PM
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                                                          Duane,
                                                          Cool spreadsheet. I have a question that you might be able to address: aren't there now two different ways to calculate temperature rating? The old one was "you won't die" and the new one is "most people will be reasonably comfortable"? Do you know which manufacturers are using with scale? 

                                                          Arla
                                                          On Tuesday, May 13, 2014 10:14 AM, "dbindsch@... [johnmuirtrail]" <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                                                           
                                                          FYI, I've created a spreadsheet analyzing a host of 30 deg and some 20 deg bags and quilts. Information includes metrics for weight, insulating power, and cost. This may help folks attempting wade through all the various websites and opinions out there.


                                                          Additional contributions are welcomed!

                                                          - Duane B. 
                                                           


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