Dec 9, 2008 at 7:28 pm #1232529
Companion forum thread to:Dec 10, 2008 at 7:31 am #1463350
Great article. Makes me Sure I don't want to go trekking in Scotland… But I do appreciate the tips, especially the footware comments.
I have questions about the "weather station" in the last picture, looking out of the green tent.
Who makes it? How reliable has it been? I had a Brunton that died on the first trip out and wonder if that was just bad luck or typical. (Snap broke, lanyard buckle wouldn't hold, and the alarm froze.)
Thanks.Dec 10, 2008 at 7:35 am #1463351
Or really about the Silva ADC weather station….
I had three before I gave up on them – the original purchase, then 2 replacements from Silva, both of which failed for no observable reason.
I'm now using a Kestrel, which has been far more reliable (no problems in a year of use).Dec 10, 2008 at 9:01 am #1463375
@richardyoungLocale: South West of England
I have had one of these (the Silva that is) for about five years and it has survived hot Lake District summers and very cold and wet Scottish winters without issue.
Anyway, good article Chris. It nicely captures the 'pleasures' of UK backpacking!Dec 10, 2008 at 9:26 am #1463380
And Chris, I must add that you and your mates are a set of hardy souls.
"Sitting in a tent with a hot drink and a good book, listening to the rain on the flysheet and watching showers race by is one of the pleasures of cold, wet weather backpacking."
I think that may be the ONLY pleasure.
You guys are tough.Dec 10, 2008 at 11:04 am #1463403
@creachenLocale: East Bay
Great report Chris, I look forward to going Pt. Reyes and The Lost Coast this Winter knowing that I can handle just about any weather Mother Nature can throw at me.Dec 10, 2008 at 11:23 am #1463410
Greg, it depends what you're used to. I find heat worse than rain (or cold). I love being in a tent listening to the rain thrash the tent. One of the beauties of the UK is that the weather is always changing so there's usually some clear (maybe not sunny) spells every so often. The changeability generally means that we have to carry a bit more gear, perhaps making our pack weights look a bit heavy to you. Personally I always carry a spare set of dry clothes. My base weight tends to be around 9kg, which copes with most conditions.Dec 10, 2008 at 11:39 am #1463418
@pmegowanLocale: Western Oregon
Thanks for the article Chris, the Pacific NW runs a bit wet too. I'd love to see your gear list including the Akto – a shelter like that usually puts me well outside a 10lb base weight. Thanks!Dec 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm #1463477
Greg, the weather station is the Silva ADC Pro, which is identical to the Brunton ADC Pro. I've had it four and a half years and it's been fine though recently the wind vane housing has become a little loose.
Pat, my base weight on any trip where I take the Akto is usually well over 10lbs.Dec 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm #1463502
@jcarter1Locale: Pacific Northwest
Great article. I too would appreciate a gear list with weights.
Also, what is the name of the green tent in the last photo? Looks like a nice entry/awning setup.
Lastly, I'm a little unclear about your rain pants setup. Are you saying that above 40 deg F you wear trail pants without rain pants, or trail pants under rain pants (as opposed to baselayer/softshell under rain pants)?Dec 10, 2008 at 2:50 pm #1463503
@jameslantzLocale: North Georgia
Is the tent to the far left in the third to last picture a Gossamer Gear Squall Classic?Dec 10, 2008 at 2:57 pm #1463505
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Excellent article! Thank you!
The one thing that bothered me about both this article and the earlier "Lightweight Backpacking in Sustained Cold Rain" is that both were written about places (Scotland, New Zealand) that don't have bears! In bear country, cooking in the tent vestibule risks having a bear think your tent is a burrito shell, and for that reason is not recommended. I would have thought that with BPL based in the heart of grizzly bear country, this issue would have been addressed, at least by the editor.
I have managed to overcome this issue in similar conditions by using the following routine after finding a camp site: (1) Fetch and treat water. (2) Pitch the tent. (3) Go inside, shedding rain gear and shoes in the vestibule. (4) Remove shirt and pants. (5) Change into dry baselayer. Add insulating jacket and fleece balaclava. (6) Unpack pack, blow up air mattress, fold sleeping bag on top. (7) Put rain gear back on over all. (8) Cook and eat dinner–well away from the tent, either scrunched under a thick evergreen or pitching a small tarp just big enough to keep rain off the cooking area and stove. (9) Post-meal tasks (feed my dog, bury his post-prandial leavings, take care of my own potty breaks and teeth cleaning, and secure my food). (10) A 15-20 minute brisk walk with the dog to explore the camp area and get our circulation revved up. (11) Retire to the tent, first stripping my rain gear and then toweling the mud and as much water as I can off the dog in the vestibule. (12) Put sweater on dog (to keep his wet coat from rubbing on my sleeping bag) and settle him on his piece of GG Thinlight pad. (13) Remove wet socks (finally!) and put on my 200-wt. fleece sleeping socks. Sigh with gratitude. Insert bottom half of body into sleeping bag, again sighing with gratitude. Remove insulating jacket (gotta have a pillow) and finish getting into sleeping bag. Zip up. Sigh once again with gratitude. Read for 20-30 minutes, if I can stay awake that long, and go to sleep.
Having the extra base layer allows me to do all this in relative comfort. It's not absolute comfort, because my feet are still wet. This routine does, of course, add extra weight, and means I can't use my sleeping bag for in-camp insulation.
I've often been tempted to cook in the vestibule in wet weather in areas where bears aren't a problem, but am concerned about residual food odors on the tent (or, worse yet, my sleeping bag) when I do go into bear country.
I'm wondering what the rest of you who often or occasionally camp in bear country do about the cooking/eating routine in nasty weather.Dec 10, 2008 at 3:29 pm #1463516
John, the tent in the last photo is a Lightwave t0 Ultra, a lightweight tunnel tent. The awning is useful as it means that with the rear of the tent pitched into the wind you can cook in the vestibule with the door open without rain entering the inner tent.Dec 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm #1463517
Mary, that's a good point about bears. Your method sounds similar to mine in bear country when I've carried a small tarp to pitch as a cooking shelter. I used one many times on long walks in the Canadian Rockies and the Yukon Territory and it was well worth the extra weight.
I have cooked in the vestibule in grizzly bear country just once. That was in a blizzard in the northern Yukon far from any trees when I really, really didn't want to get out of the tent and I was cold and hungry.Dec 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm #1463518
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
I'll take the occasional bear encounter here in the Pacific NW over that lousy Highland weather any day!
Come to think of it, we get our fair share of that stuff too. I remember (non too fondly) being chased off the PCT at Harts Pass in the North Cascades one year by a 100-year storm…..not fun sleeping in a cloudbank and continuous rain. Fortunately, I had my old North Face Tadpole tent. Even with a good Gortex rainsuit over a 300 weight polartec fleece jacket, I couldn't stay warm even hiking uphill. The storm lasted 4 days.Dec 10, 2008 at 3:40 pm #1463521
James, the tent is an original Henry Shires Squall.Dec 10, 2008 at 4:01 pm #1463529
Bob, when I hiked the PCT through Washington State it rained most of the time! I had a Gore-Tex tent, which had been fine in the much drier weather further south, but which gave big condensation problems in the wet weather.
I have been back since in much better weather, especially one glorious circuit of Glacier Peak in a week of perfect autumn sunshine.Dec 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm #1463534
For those who wanted one here's a gear list. Note that this doesn't include my camera gear, which usually weighs from 4-8lbs on its own!
All the weights are my own.
Pack GoLite Pinnacle 24.7oz
Tent Terra Nova Laser Competition 35.2
Sleeping Bag PHD Minimus 23.6
Insulating Mat 3/4 RidgeRest 9.5
Stove Primus Micron Ti 2.5 2.5
Pot ACG 3 Cup with foil lid 4.8
Spoon Lexan 0.5
Fire Lighter FireSteel 0.9
Water bottles Platypus x3 3.2
Mug Plastic 0.8
Knife Victorinox Classic SAK 0.7
Fleece Jack Wolfskin Gecko 7.9
Insulated top Mont Bell U.L.Thermawrap 9.0
Rain Pants GoLite Reed 3.8
Hat Paramo Cap 2.8
Mitts Extremities Tuff Bags 3.3
Socks SealSkinz Mid 3.0
Headlamp Petzl e-Lite 1.0
First Aid 2.0
Repair kit 2.0
Hand sanitiser 1.0
Reading glasses 1.0
Of course if the weather is drier than expected I'll be carrying my rain jacket. And in colder weather I'll be wearing the fleece. In summer in Scotland I don't carry an insulated jacket or the second hat and mitts and I use a lighter sleeping bag. In winter I'll have a warmer insulated jacket and a warmer sleeping bag if temeperatures are likely to be well below freezing. So sometimes the base weight is more than this, sometimes less.Dec 10, 2008 at 4:22 pm #1463536
@mad777Locale: South Florida
Mary and Chris,
I too carry a small "kitchen" tarp if weather looks wet. I set up and cook about 1/2 hour before looking for a camp spot. That way, there is no cooking near my campsite.Dec 10, 2008 at 4:25 pm #1463540
Inaki Diaz de EturaParticipant
@inaki-1Locale: Iberia highlands
the scottish highlands are one of my favorite backpacking visits and I always wondered how can you avoid being miserable in those so often inhospitable conditions. Every time I thought I'd had it dialled in there came this oppressive, dark, windy and wet spell and I was happy to spare the camping and cut my day short to stay at some bothy after hours of soggy tread.
Being comfortable in the wet and cold is one of my favorite subjects, it's a challenge. I loved the article and confirmed I got the theory quite right. Now, I just need a positive attitude.Dec 10, 2008 at 4:30 pm #1463543
"A positive attitude" is indeed essential. It weighs nothing but can be hard to carry nonetheless. I must admit that after a week of rain my positive attitude can waver. And I have been known to head for a bothy at times.Dec 10, 2008 at 7:04 pm #1463571
@cshugartLocale: Canadian Prairies
Great article! I've always tried for warm and dry in cold wet weather, and it was good to learn that the concept is more like damp and comfortable and not cold and wet. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned not cooking at all in bear country. I've pretty much given up on cooking when hiking. Something like a pro bar, some jerky, cheese, and dried fruit and lots to drink are all I feel like doing before snuggling in for the night. I know there are benefits to taking in something warm if your cold, but I don't even like to cook at home. Why bother on the trail?Dec 10, 2008 at 10:18 pm #1463604
Complements from me too on a great article! The complete and prescriptive plan for dealing with challenging conditions makes for a valuable read, and affirms a lot of what I learned the hard way.
I have been eying the SealSkinz WP socks for a long time. Sounds like they would be worth trying. I think they might be part of my snowshoeing gear this winter – if we ever get any snow in Idaho (sigh!).
I for one have occasionally avoided cooking in bear country, as well as other times when I am on short or fast trips and just don't want to hassle with the extra gear. I have also just heated and drank warm water at times when I was concerned about smells but wanted to warm my core. Nowdays there are plenty of suitably palatable cold foods to get me through a night or two. My favorites are also Probars, jerky, and gorp. I find Clif shot bloks to be a tasty treat. I will have to try some hard cheese (good suggestion).Dec 11, 2008 at 12:27 am #1463616
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I've started carrying a non-cook meal or two, usually something that can be mixed with cold water like hummus or tabouli, for days when a cloudburst hits at dinnertime or, even in clear weather, I'm just too tired to even think about getting out the stove. However, when the temp is close to freezing (32 or 0, depending on what system you're on), a hot meal can do wonders for body and soul!
I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned about the cooking in the sleeping area issue in bear country. The solution, not relying on the sleeping bag for warmth in camp and taking an extra tarp, is definitely heavier, though.Dec 11, 2008 at 1:00 am #1463619
@jcarter1Locale: Pacific Northwest
Here's my method:
1) Set up the tent.
2) Remove rain shells, enter tent and don insulating layers (Cocoon jacket & pants).
3) Boil water under tent awning.
4) Put raingear back on.
5) Walk the pot and boil-in-bag meal a few hundred yards from camp.
6) Add boilng water to meal, seal it up, then return to camp to return pot and get my spork.
7) Dance a jig (optional, to stay warm).
8) Eat my meal in the rain, standing, with my rainsuit on, enjoying the experience.
9) deposit bag in my ziplock trash bag, add this to my food bag, rope up my food bag, and return to camp to put away stove and enter tent.
Obviously, my trick is to use the tent for boiling water only, following the same boil-in-bag technique I use for summer in bear country. The only real change is that I set up the tent and use it to boil water, whereas in summer I wait until after dinner to set up camp.
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