4/29/2012

Week 18

Weather: Temps 35-45, wind 10 mph, rain during day but not at night

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, DIY Suspension, snugpak travelpak extreme

Comments: It rained all day yesterday, but, lucky for me, it stopped around 6:00. I didn't really need to set up my tarp because there was no overnight forecast of rain, so I decided to just sleep under the stars for a change
I got a chance to listen to one a presentation on "gear and skills" by none other than the world renown backpacker Andrew Skurka (so this post is more geared towards that because not much happened last night). Though his presentation was geared toward his shelter of choice- the tarp tent, I learned some valuable things as a hammocker. Most relevant to what I'm doing now, he talked about how to take your sleeping bag colder than it is rated. Basically, instead of adding weight and bulk to your pack with a low rated sleeping bag, you just sleep in the clothes that you wore hiking (all layers from the wick to the shells) and that way you save valuable space and weight in your pack. Last night I went out with a pair of wool socks, two pairs of pants, a shirt, and a softshell jacket. I decided against using the underquilt, just to  see what I could do. I found that even with temps dropping to the mid 30s, I was warm in a 50* (I rate it at fifty because i generally sleep better if the bag is rated +10 of the manufacturer's rating) sleeping bag. Had I actually been backpacking, I probably would have changed my shirt but otherwise packed up and hike out the way I was dressed. This whole technique will save me time, space, and pack weight.
One last thing worth sharing but not really relevant to what I'm doing: For every pound of footwear you are wearing, it is the equivalent of 6 pounds in your back. This is because of the motion of your foot, swinging back and forth. So basically, a two pound set of hiking boots is the equivalent of the base weight of a lightweight backpacker. So maybe instead of investing hundreds of dollars in new gear to shave ounces of your previous gear, just spend 2-300 and get yourself a good pair of lightweight hiking boots that will equate to more of a weight savings then that $2,000 worth of gear you could have bought.

4/22/2012

Week 17

Weather: Temps 40-50 degrees, winds light, consnstant drizzleing

Gear: ALPS 4 tent, snugpak sleeping bag, thermarest heat reflective pad.

Comments:  Week 17, and finally out of my backyard and into the good ole piney woods for the first time this time season. (no pictures, sorry, its against the "electronics policy") My Boyscout troop goes camping usualy about once a month, and this weekend was the first time for us  this year. It was a great time, but I was slightly disappointed to find that there were no trees in the entire area soutible for hanging. The only two that were the right distance and didn't have 3 feet of brush under them were across a trail. So, I was stuck in a tent on the uncomfortable ground.
It was constantly drizzling and occasionaly a small downpour the whole time. All my stuff stayed dry, but i learned that a rain jacket that actualy fits me would be nice to have in the rain (I was using one 2 or 3 sizes to big for me). I also found that its not a good idea to forget your water bottle, because I was stuck the whole time drinking out of a 1/2 cup measuring cup I scavenged from the troop's over-abundant cooking supply.
I woke up a little cold this morning but throwing on a second shirt warmed me up pretty fast. Another trick I've found to getting a good nights sleep in is to put new socks on before you go to bed at night instead of in the morning. I don't know why, but it just feels amazing.

4/15/2012

Week 16

Weather: Temps in the upper 50s, winds 10-15 mph, heavy rain.

Gear: ENO hammock, ENO DryFly rain tarp, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag.

Comments: Well, last night we got rain again. Unlike last week though, it downpoured from about 12:30 am through 7:00. What started out as a beautiful sunny day quickly turned to a cloudy rainy night. I got a picture of the radar that I will put at the bottom of the post so you can see what I was up against.

I only had one problem through the night. At one point during the rain, I woke up andfound the foot side of my hammock had lowered a good 4 inches. Im not sure what caused it... my guess is that a drop of water found its way down the burry of my whoopie sling and made it slip a bit.

There was one thing that surprised me last night... and it was how well the tarp worked. Again, like I have said time and time again, this tarp has will not live down to its negative reviews. It kept me perfectly dry through 6 hours of heavy downpour, not once loosing its tension.

Overall, I think last night might have been me best sleep yet. I woke up once at about 1:00 when it started to rain, checked the radar, and fell back a sleep. Slept right through the majority of the rain, nice and cozy. I woke up in the morning to have little streams of water running under me (which soaked my shoes) and was happy to not have to sleep right on top of those in a tent.

Radar image from 1:19 last night

4/08/2012

Week 15

Weather: Temps hovered right around 40 degrees the whole night, Winds 10 mph, and... RAIN :)

Gear: Eno Hammock, ENO Dryfly, DIY Suspension, Snugpak travelpak extreme sleeping bag, Ridgeline/ various attachments, DIY Underquilt 

Comments: I've been waiting for some rain to roll around so I could practice my set up and give my gear the final test. It's now been tested in wind, snow, and rain, and I am quite pleased with it. There was a bit of a learning curve to setting up in the rain ( I got soaking wet, and so did the gear I just tossed on the ground when setting up the tarp) but I'd rather learn it in my backyard than out in the woods. In my opinion, the DryFly is a fine tarp despite the negatives of its steep cat cuts. I found that the only problem I had with it was that it was just long enough to cover the ends of my hammock, and not go the recommended 6-8 inches over each end. I have been looking at my options for other tarps though, and playing around with the idea of using a tent footprint... bigger and cheaper, but will it work?
After the downpour, the tarp was dry in about 30 minutes, which impressed me because I've sat entire mornings in camp waiting for my tent to dry off (not fun!).

As requested here are some pictures from my trip to the badlands-