May 1, 2006 at 8:05 pm #1218467
I got out for a couple days and was able to put some new toys to the test.
Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape: I finally got a chance to put it to a test. After slogging through some of the roughest trail I’ve ever hiked, I found myself with the trail lost in snow and dark approuching. I found a little landing next to the trail and set up the shelter. I didn’t have much more room than the perimeter of the shelter and it went up without a hitch– well almost– I mislaid a stake and they are going to get a nice bright paint job. Take my advice and buy the hi-vis stakes.
It rained and snowed a bit overnight and I woke up with everything dry. Condensation was minimal– I expected worse with the cold wet conditions, but there was just a light film. I had the fabric down tight to the ground too, which cut down on headroom, but kept out the cold draft coming off the snowfields close by.
If you own one of the Gatewood Capes, the snap next to your head that serves to keep the execess fabric out of the way when using it as rain gear make a great place to hand your headlamp. I have a little Gerber Tracer that was turned into a mini desk lamp hanging from the snap loop.
It started raining on the way out and the cape got a good field test. I had a little trouble getting it over my pack (GoLite Trek) which is about head tall, but I got the hang of it– put your hands out the sleeve holes, and give it a good toss. With a full pack on it hit me about knee high. My lower pant legs got a little wet, but I was on the way out and too lazy to stop and get my rain pants out and put them on. This is the first time I have used any rain gear made from silnylon and I was impressed with the low bulk and weight. It was easy to move in it.
I had some concerns about the height and angle of the sleeve/arm openings in the cape and using it with trekking poles. My fears were put to rest– with a pack on, the holes come out in just the right spot and the cape moves back near my elbows and there isn’t a lot of undue motion or fuss walking in it with poles. I wore a windshirt and gloves and a Tilley hat. I didn’t use the hood and it tucked around my neck to make a good seal. It was raining mixed with sleet on and off and temps were 35F-40F and I stayed dry and comfortable with over an hour of steady rain.
Trekking poles: they proved to be worth their weight in gold this trip. Fording creeks and picking my way through a rock pasture of a trail was made much safer and easier with the help of the poles. I had watched another hiker rock-hop across a small stream looking like a cross between a tight rope walker and a drunk ballerina without poles. I was able to make the same trip with my feet dry and no near dunkings by using the poles.
Montane Lite-Speed wind shirt: I’m amazed that such a light thin garmet could keep me so comfortable. I wore a GoLite C-Thru long sleeve shirt under it on the way out and it was a great combo. It was a little chilly if I stopped, but it was just right when I was going full steam. I tested this combo against a Marmot DriClime wind shirt and I like both a lot. If I was up against consistantly colder temps, the Marmot would be nice.
Polycro ground sheets: mine split in a couple places and is now in the trash can. I have a Spinnsheet I’m going to try, and if all else fails I have a 6 oz footprint from a tent with a basic rectangular layout.
Sierra Designs Wild Bill sleeping bag: worked fine, kept me warm. I’ll take a full length pad or use my pack next time as my feet got a little chilly. The ground was very cold and I was using the shorter Thermarest Z-lite which worked fine other than length. It wasn’t bad enough to make me empty my pack completely and shuffle everything around.
Z-Lite pad: I found th Z-lite pad and the GoLite Trek made a good combination. I put a 2 liter Platypus in the sleeve and put the Z-lite next, folded so that it made two even sections wide. My sleeping bag went in a 13 liter Sea to Summit Ultra-sil bag sitting vertically with my cook kit next to it, followed by spare clothes in an 8 liter bag, essentials, and food, each in their seperate bags. My rain gear went in the top bag with toilet and tent stuff in the net pocket on the back. The Z-lite and stuff sacks all locked together well with the compression straps and made for a good stable cylinder.
That’s all for now.May 1, 2006 at 8:39 pm #1355721
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
I too went out for 25 miles last weekend and enjoyed what I consider perfect weather for the location (grassy hill country with big oaks) and for testing out the equipment. It was mostly cloudy/foggy with temps down to 37 at night and light showers right after we set camp around 4 pm. While I will post a review on the new pack in the gear review section, I wanted to offer up a couple of observations.
I too used a polycro sheet, and while I found it plenty durable for the grassy area I made camp, I yearned for a larger piece. I will probably revert back to a mylar piece I cut…but will be interested to see if people use other items. Even if I add a few extra ounces…keeping dust or wet off the bag and gear is nice.
Also used the finger toothbrush from Gossamer Gear. Total garbage as observed by many others on this site. I was just glad that I was not out for five days. The scum on my teeth would have been too much to bear and that thing is worse than worthless.
The Petzl lamp with the green tinted cover was very appreciated by my fellow hikers. It really cuts the blinding factor when doing your thing around camp at night. A couple were going to get them…which I thought was interesting because it really only benefits others.May 2, 2006 at 7:56 am #1355736
John S.BPL Member
At what water level would you consider a poncho/cape unsafe for crossing while wearing? A worst case scenario would be someone falling in water and drowning because they cannot get out of the poncho and their pack weight pulls them under.May 2, 2006 at 9:51 am #1355747
First of all, take the poncho off and unhook your waist belt. You want to be able to dump the pack if you fall in. That’s why I like a fanny pack or other small pack with some basic survival gear for river crossing. You fall in and you pack takes off downstream and there you are– wet, cold, no shelter, no food, no compass, no map– not where you want to be.
The speed of the water, the bottom condition, distance, and the temperature of the water are all factors. Even knee high can be dangerous and you need to look for holes with every step. Most fast running water I am dealing with is also fed by glaciers or snowmelt and it is COLD. Mid shin is more like it for me and I wouldn’t go without good stout trekking poles. I’m proudly CHICKEN when it comes to fast cold water on foot.
The pressure of moving water is enormous and multiplies quickly if you step in a hole. You lose your balance and being top heavy with the pack, over you go. If you have never had a full immersion in 35F water, you just can’t imagine what a shock it is and how quickly you lose strength.
Get some training and read up on it. Ray Jardine tells a couple very sad stories about fatal river crossing attemps in his book on ultralight hiking. It’s no place to be guessing!May 2, 2006 at 12:19 pm #1355751
@waterloggedwelliesLocale: United Kingdom
Many years ago, must be twenty at least, I fell in ice cold water or rather I should say I was pushed by a friend who thought it would be jolly funny to see me get wet. It was a lake and the water was freezing and deep, some ten foot at the edge where I was pushed in.
Needless to say, I became fully submerged. As Dale mentioned above, you can not believe what a shock cold water is your system if you become emersed in it. I was pratically paralysed in a split second. I sunk straight to the bottom feeling as if I had just been hit by a freight train. I can remember to this day sitting on the bottom thinking to my self, im going to drown. It took me a few seconds while I tried to get my limbs to respond to the signals my brain was frantically trying to send them. They just wouldn’t move. Eventually, what seemed like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds, I managed to push off the bottom and get to the surface. All I could manage to do was swim to the edge “Doggy Style” and Ihave no idea how I managed to haul myself out. I was out of breath and shivering like mad.
The thought of falling in ice cold fast moving water with a pack on is not my idea of fun. Cold water is a killer, all the government tv warnings I had ever seen about the dangers of cold water suddenly made much more sense.
I knew cold water was dangerous but its only when you experience it like that or in worse situations that you think “I don’t like this.”
So, be careful folk!!!May 2, 2006 at 12:49 pm #1355753
I get involved with some safety issues at work and my mantra has been “play the movie backwards.” In other words, if you are about to do something risky, what will it look like in hindsight— when you fall off the chair when a prefectly good ladder was available ten feet away? Dumb and dumber!May 2, 2006 at 1:05 pm #1355754
I’m going to use that myself, Play the movie backwards…thanks.
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