Apr 18, 2009 at 6:47 pm #1235687
Here's the deal…
I'm planning to hike the Coastal Trail in Lake Superior PP in the coming weeks.
I've never been there before but the trail is quite exposed to the big lake and therefore can be windy and wet. Day temps will be about +10*C and nightime lows of -5*C at the worst. Not that it will be raining alot, but April/May is considered the wet months.
My dilemma is that I have put together 2 lists and can't decide which to go with.
List #1 is about 5 lbs of gear and uses a poncho tarp, bivy, and minimal sleeping pad.
List #2 is about 7 lbs of gear and use a Cuben DuoMid, dedicated rain jacket and pants, and a full length Neoair.
I would consider List #2 to be pure luxury while on the trail while List #1 would have some trade offs in comfort (especially if it rains alot) for the reduced weight (~2 lbs less).
I'll be carrying 8 lbs of food with each list so my starting backpack weights including gear and food would be List#1 = 13 lbs and List#2 = 15 lbs.
My question is, should I go with the lighter weight and move faster or take the heavier list and live like a king? Any advice?Apr 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm #1495238
@thangfishLocale: S. Central NC, USA
Will 2lbs make an appreciable difference in your speed?
I just keep thinking about that poncho tarp, setting camp in the rain, and packing up in the rain, for 2 or more days in a row.
Just thinking out loud.Apr 18, 2009 at 7:03 pm #1495239
Chris, I hear you, that's one of my main concerns. Raining for 3 days or so, and living under my little poncho/tarp…it's just that I put so much work into lightening my pack and now that I am going to check off one of the hikes on my bucket list, I'm not even going to bring my lightest stuff!
Like you said, it won't really make a difference in speed, I guess it's more of a mental thing. Just looking for comments and others opinions.
Off topic: Still haven't got that thorofare stuff from the PO…I'm convinced their was an UL hiker working that day.Apr 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm #1495242
Go ahead, live like a king. You're still really lightweight. You've got the best of both worlds, IMO.
Saving 2 pounds out of 15? That's not going to make a huge difference to how you enjoy your hike.
What's the advantage? A small increase in speed. Big deal. So you will get to the end of the trail a bit faster. IMO once you drop below 15 pounds (or even 20) of pack weight you're really not gaining a huge deal *unless* you're trying to cover large distances, you're trying to see how light you can go, or you're doing a lot of ascent/descent. Or you just love feeling "light".
Having said that, maybe you want to try the lighter kit just to see how it works in those conditions. If you are miserable at least you'll know for sure next time.Apr 18, 2009 at 7:18 pm #1495244
> it's just that I put so much work into lightening my pack and now that I am going to check off one of the hikes on my bucket list, I'm not even going to bring my lightest stuff!
Lightening your pack is always about taking your lightest gear though is it? For me, it's about balancing on-trail comfort with in-camp comfort. You spend half your time in camp, so focusing on maximising trail comfort (pack weight) neglects the other half of the story. IMHO, you gotta balance the two. And once you're down to the kind of weights you are at, maximising camp comfort is where the most gain is to be had.Apr 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm #1495245
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
Go as heavy as you need to have FUN. I can go stupid light and have learned to do so for racing or crazy long distance travel but when I go out for the heck of it I add in a few pounds for sure. Tent when it's going to rain a lot, hooded puffy because it's so cozy, double pads, GOOD FOOD etc. Even with all the "extras" I still end up lighter than 99% of the people on the trail.
Ultralight is a mindset. Don't take gram counting so far you don't enjoy your trips.Apr 18, 2009 at 7:39 pm #1495248
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
But pack weight is only part of the story, NOT the full deal. Physical condition is also a key factor, and I don't mean 'fitness'. If you are cold and wet the whole time the hit on your performance may be much larger than the hit caused by an extra 2 lb.
Then there is the reason you go walking: for fun. It is not an endurance race (or a suffering test). Sue and I have spent weeks walking in bad weather, but we made sure we had a good tent to recover in each evening. So next morning we were able to take off 'in comfort' to face the rain again. It matters.
CheersApr 18, 2009 at 7:58 pm #1495255
>>Then there is the reason you go walking: for fun. It is not an endurance race (or a suffering test).
I wholeheartedly agree with your comment, Roger. But judging from some of the posts that I've read here, there seems to be a subset of BPL members (and staff?) who actually enjoy suffering.Apr 18, 2009 at 8:06 pm #1495258
Steve, I'd take your seven pound list in a heartbeat. Having done the poncho/tarp thing, I think it's best use is when you're not expecting much weather. It gets pretty cramped under there.Apr 18, 2009 at 8:09 pm #1495260
<–enjoys suffering.Apr 18, 2009 at 8:11 pm #1495263
Thanks for that, Matt. Can I see more hands?Apr 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm #1495273
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
Hey I enjoy suffering with the best of em but I also like sleeping warm and cozy in a tent, eating bagels, cheese and bacon for breaky ;)Apr 18, 2009 at 8:52 pm #1495280
@thangfishLocale: S. Central NC, USA
> I put so much work into lightening my pack and now that I am going to check off one of the hikes on my bucket list, I'm not even going to bring my lightest stuff!
Ah, don't sweat it. I often don't bring my lightest kit, and I save my lightest stuff for special trips.
Having said that, there is a lot to be said for suffering too!
Apr 18, 2009 at 11:16 pm #1495300
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
…and good pre-trip thread
I've dayhiked sections of that trail and it's spectacular! The climbing routes along some of the cliffs can be rather fun, albeit usually need cleaning – and of course, the swimming is great (year dependent – and obviously a different time of year than now). Keep an eye for the pictographs too.
I don't really have any great contribution to the discussion. Just make sure you're comfortable enough to enjoy the area to the max and not getting distracted by unnecessary concerns. It looks like you're doing this by taking the time to plan well and asking the right questions in advance.
Enjoy and post some pictures when you get back (unless you're doing a satellite-linked blog, eh?)!Apr 18, 2009 at 11:26 pm #1495301
@biointegraLocale: Puget Sound
Make sure you take the NeoAir pad so that you can test it out and beat Roger to a review (posted, that is). ;)
Also, I definitely recommend the raingear and better protected shelter system after recalling what some of the storms can be like there. Also it wouldn't be unwise to be prepared for an (un)intentional swim.
Cheers/Apr 18, 2009 at 11:44 pm #1495303
@cooldripLocale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
I think Roger nailed it with his comments about physical condition; I just ran into this on a big hike of my own. Hiking in a high river drainage, I ran into wet conditions I wasn't prepared for. Days of rain with a tarp that's a bit too small stinks! My condition began to deteriorate, and my confidence and outlook eroded with it. I wasn't having FUN anymore. Luckily I was able to abort when faced with impossible creek fords, but I learned my lesson. The next time I see a forecast like that, I'll be in an enclosed shelter big enough to stay dry in, and I'll carry a little extra weight in raingear and my sleeping system to insure my comfort.Apr 19, 2009 at 7:28 am #1495329
OK, I'm convinced. I'll take the 7 pound list. Thanks everyone. All great comments and they really made me rethink stuff. This is supposed to be a vacation after all!
It should be a nice time, 6 days is pretty standard for the route…even for those with traditional loads so I should have lots of time in camp to explore and relax – the Duomid is great for this as it is huge for one person.
I'm taking the Neoair because last week I did a sub-4 trip and froze all night as my pad was just a GG Torso and thinlite combo…this didn't cut it. Hopefully adding the Neoair will allow me some comfort/warmth as temps should be a bit lower up there.
Aaron, good to know about the trail. The only real info I have about it is from the park ranger when I talked to him on the phone and the map. There really isn't much info regarding "detailed" trip reports on the net. I'll bring the dedicated rain gear like you suggest. I had heard that some of the storms can get a bit nasty if you are right on the coast.
Now it's time to refine my list…maybe I can get it a bit lower ;)Apr 19, 2009 at 7:33 am #1495331
Good decision, and you'll find no quibble with me here.
As I have said before, packweight is often a pendulum. At first, the pendulum is high and falls fast as pack weight drops quickly. However, after you bottom out, it swings back up and you add comforts. I have done this with Thermarests, for example. Somewhere, it balances out and you carry only what you want to carry. Whether this includes comforts is up to you.Apr 19, 2009 at 7:57 am #1495335
Thanks Matt. If I remember, your playground is the SHT is it not? I 'think' that the coastal trail and the SHT have the same terrain and weather, but just on opposite sides of the lake. Would you sport a poncho/tarp this time of year (for 6 days) or go with dedicated shelter and rain gear for weather protection? I'll stick with my 7lb list, I'm just curious.Apr 19, 2009 at 8:05 am #1495338
@mn-backpackerLocale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Steven – Your 7 pound base is a little under 5 pounds less than my planned SHT thru-hike gear list (I start May 16th), so we obviously have different needs, and we probably have different styles of hiking (I also am carrying a 2 person shelter – wife is coming with). That said…
In the spring when it can rain and rain and rain, and temps can easily dip down to under freezing, I wouldn't try to skimp too much on rain gear, shelter, or insulation. Comfort is one thing, but safety is another. Hypothermia can sneak up on you faster than you think in these conditions. It's not like the mountains out west where you know the sun will come out the next day. Just some food for thought.Apr 19, 2009 at 8:07 am #1495339
I'd take the poncho/tarp plus bivy just to see what it can handle. I am novice with regard to tarp camping, and I am a glutton for real-world practice. I would probably take the gear list that is in my profile, but (maybe) add swap out my torso pad for a 3/4 Ridgerest and my Marmot Hydrogen.
Recently, I was going to take a trip up to some of the state parks up there, and was having a shelter quibble. The options were between my MK1, CatTarp 2 /w double bivy and my DoubleRainbow. Before I got a good look at trail conditions, I was considering taking all of them in the car and making a trailhead decision as to what to pack in. (The trip was canceled, btw, because of a severe ice storm.)
Dan makes a great point about weather. Although there are some exposed cliffs on the SHT, there are many, many sections where one is just woods walking with little exposure to sunlight. Although the trees will not bud leaves for another month, you are still looking at limited sunlight potential. It can be messy up there with lake breezes, windy conditions and mist. Hypothermia is a real possibility.
All that said, I'd still be inclined to push the system. Maybe boost pad warmth?Apr 19, 2009 at 8:55 am #1495343
Dan, Matt, thanks for the great info. The Coastal Trail is about 8-9 hours north of me, so I am not "at home" at home up there…it's not my playground.
Sounds like I need to tap into your knowledge. I'll start a new thread in Gear Lists and would appreciate both of you guys to go through it. I'm not really looking to get hypothermia on my vacation…:)Apr 19, 2009 at 9:22 am #1495348
@mn-backpackerLocale: Land of 12,000 Loons
The reason I mentioned hypothermia is that I've seen it first hand in similar conditions. North woods, mid-spring, sustained rain, and mid 40's for temps. My cousin got it, and he didn't really realize it was happening at the time. My father realized it, stopped us immediately, set up camp, and threw him in a sleeping bag in the tent. I huddled up to him to warm him while my dad hitchhiked to the car.
Hi lips were still blue when my dad returned over an hour later. The trip was called off. We were fortunate that we were at an area that we could stop and go home, and where we could put him in a car and turn the heat up.Apr 19, 2009 at 9:26 am #1495349
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
How much experience have you had with the poncho tarp in cold, wet weather. Have you tried it out close to home in cold, wet conditions?
If the answer is no, I'd strongly recommend the 2 pounds more. Save the poncho tarp system to practice in bad weather in a location where you can easily bail out if things go awry. With this trip being on your "bucket" list, you want to be able to enjoy it!
If you have successfully kept dry and warm using the poncho tarp in really bad weather, then go for the lighter load. As others have stated, you're probably not going to notice the 2 pounds difference, certainly not after you've eaten the first day's food! In either case, your load is a lot lighter than mine!
Have a good time and stay dry!Apr 19, 2009 at 4:14 pm #1495441
@maynard76Locale: New England
I'll put in another vote against the poncho tarp. I have more experience with tarps than I do with tents and if I expected it to rain especially for prolonged periods I would bring a larger tarp or in your case a tent. I would also bring separate rain gear of some kind.
Poncho tarps are great for milder weather as a "just in case" shelter or for passing storms. In prolonged rain everything gets wetter and wetter slowly and surely and trying to get away with a small tarp and having to deal with set-up and take-down in the rain day after day becomes a losing battle. Sure, its possible to do but the effort and experience needed to make it work isn't worth it in my opinion.
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