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  • #3766699
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    I am disappointed in the large variability of the EN test results, but not surprised. I have bags that live up to (and some times exceed) their ratings and have had several that don’t. Certainly loft is eye-candy – nothing like a poofy down bag for the look of cozy warmth potential, but loft alone ignores the fit of the bag and other construction details. And of course the other variable – likely even greater variability than the EN testing issues – is the individual and if they are warm or cold sleepers. Another consideration is the length of the trip and the weather forecast (e.g. rain/humidity) – for me it seems like the coldest nights always follow several days of rain and clouds with no chance to air out my bag.

    At the end of the day I have had to figure out what works for me from experience – I don’t look at loft per se – I look at ounces of >800 fill down and the fit of the bag. And the sleeping pad is also a huge deal for me (and another whole subject). My first down bag purchase years ago was a Marmot Pinnacle, with something like 22 oz of down (when Marmot started EN testing they reported a 22F comfort rating). But the bag was heavy (like 42 oz), had an overly generous cut, and at the time I was using a Z-lite foam pad – when temps dipped much below 30 degrees I was cold. But now, for spring/fall hikes I use a Mountain Equipment Co. Firelite with 17 oz of >800 fill down and a narrowish cut, and even though its EN comfort rating is 32F – I know from experience that I am good to the high twenties with a NeoAir All-Season pad – even after several days of crappy weather, and have been good into the upper teens by adding a 60g primaloft jacket when all the down clusters were at their poofiest. I also know that with 10-12 oz of >800 fill down I’m good to high 30s/40 degrees, with the fit of the bag much less important – but also that this warmth will be challenged by several days of rainy weather if I can’t air out the bag in the sun (I have started using a 30 degree synthetic quilt for this type of trip).

    For someone just starting out I think the “Western Mountaineering” ratings are probably on the right track. If the budget allows – taking the time to discover and purchase from reputable/trusted companies (e.g. Western Mountaineering, Feather Friends). If the budget doesn’t permit that type of purchase (it certainly didn’t for me) then the EN ratings are still a place to start, while perhaps keeping an eye on how these trusted companies rate their bags vs the oz of down and the fit – understanding that you still have to learn what works for you through experience.

    #3766418
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    +1 on USPS postage calculator. If I am going to price something with US shipping included I always check to see how much this could be before I set my price.

    #3765960
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Wow! This was an incredibly powerful read. I hope the gift of your precious son pulls you and your wife out of the mist. Children, especially babies and toddlers, are Zen – their immediate needs can pull us out of the deepest mist into the living moment. They won’t settle for anything less ;-)

    #3765779
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    @Arthur – Here is a link to the study: https://backpackinglight.com/odor_proof_bags_study/

    And I agree they were very careful about handling the bags to make sure that no odors were on the outside of the bags and randomizing the lockers and eliminating other potential clues. But someone still had to walk to the locker and place the bag in the locker – I believe that the dogs would have been able to detect this. I could be wrong in any case. And I absolutely believe that in handling the bags we contaminate them – but in eating I get food on my hands, it likely gets transferred to my clothes, pack, etc. I normally hike with my lunch in a ziploc bag in the stretch pocket on my pack – ziplocs are really not odor proof – I can smell food inside a ziploc. So I think the odor proof bags are far from perfect – but I do think they help and that my clothing and pack are also both likely contaminated with perhaps stronger food smells that the outside of the odor proof bag/ursack.

    I really put this in the – every bit helps category. If you tried to use an odor proof bag with an ursack in an area where bears visit nightly looking for hiker food you will likely lose your food (or at least have your ursack severely chewed and food mushed. A bear canister is called for in this kind of area.

    As I said above – I use all 3 methods of food storage based on where I am, and I do try to minimize food odors when I can. Various anecdotal stories about failed canisters or shredded ursacks won’t change that. I think the main thing helping to protect food in the back country is a fair bit of luck – a bear didn’t walk by it. I have seen some absolutely atrocious bear hangs survive unscathed …

    Sorry I took this thread off track from the Bearvault review – should have limited my response to Jason strictly on his question about where there had been a concerns with the Bearvault product.

    #3765778
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    @Jerry – Yup, I don’t doubt it. Certainly if a bear is interested in an Ursack at a minimum the food inside is going to be crushed. Even canisters are not immune to a determined bear that wants to work on it for awhile. Nothing is perfect. I use hangs when I hike with my brother, Ursack when solo, and when required a canister.

    #3765760
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    @Jason – years ago there was a famous female bear (nicknamed yellow-yellow for her two yellow ear tags) in the eastern high peaks area of the Adirondacks who figured out how to push the Bearvault tabs in with her teeth and unscrew the lid. They never changed the regulations to officially ban the Bearvaults, but there were many signs at trail heads recommending the Garcia canisters instead. Yellow-Yellow was taken by a hunter several years ago, but there have been rumors that she taught the trick to some of her off-spring – not sure if that is really true. I have used both a Garcia and a custom size Bearikade in the eastern high peaks with no issues – only one minor claw scratch on the Garcia.

    Off the Bearvault topic, but outside of the eastern high peaks area of the ADKs I use an Ursack with an odor proof bag when solo and I have never had a bear even investigate it as far as I know. There was an article on BPL years ago where they used a trained police dog, and the dog managed to find food hidden in school lockers inside odor proof bags and the conclusion was the bags didn’t work very well. I have always doubted the conclusions of this study because dogs are very tuned into the scent of people and I think they would have been able to tell which lockers the people had opened and closed when they were hiding the food. I think the bags work pretty good – well enough that I think there is likely stronger food odors on me, my clothing, etc. than on the Ursack. However, I would not use an Ursack in an area where there are lots of habituated bears.

    #3765287
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    @AK Granola – your right – geek out is probably the wrong description for me. Its more like fussing over things where I haven’t found something that works. I must admit that I find some of the threads on stoves, shelters, and fabrics (other than rain shells) a bit overwhelming to follow. There is always room for improvement of course, but most of the options there work good enough for me within their limitations.


    @Brad
    Rogers – optimistically – maybe they solved the problem of the mesh failing where it connects to the toe guard

    #3765261
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Also shoes for me for several years. I could not find the perfect shoe. I  tried Montrail, Solomon, and Garmont products and finally settled on LaSportiva Ultra Raptors for the last 8 years. I have one last pair on deck and I am dreading trying the Ultra Raptor 2s and finding that I need to start the process over again.

    These days I have a rain shell problem.

    #3763720
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Siltarp 2 with a piece of tyvek and S2S Nano bug-net for hikes where it is more likely than not we will be in a lean-to

    Deschutes Plus with Z-packs bathtub floor for solo trips

    Big Agnes Yahmonite 5 fly (the inner is way too heavy for backpacking) with MLD Supermid bathtub floor (and S2S Nano bugnets just in case) when hiking with my brother. The fly weighs 30 oz and the floor+pole+stakes = 31 oz so we get a huge shelter for two with < 2lbs carry weight each (not including bugnets).

    The Yahmonite 5 is a re-labeled Big Agnes version of the Go-Lite Shangri La 5, a roughly 10×10 pyramid. It is fantastic in lousy weather where there is no substitute for space.

    For solo trips with lousy weather forecast I am experimenting with a Sierra Designs High Route 2 tarp I purchased off of ebay and an MLD solomid bath tub floor and again the S2S nano if needed. The HR2 tarp is essentially the original High Route tent without the inner (and maybe a lighter weight fabric). It is larger than the HR2 tent. I don’t think it is widely available. Lots of space, but I am not sure I like using both trekking poles to support the tent – turns out I am now at the age where I like having a spare trekking pole around to help me get vertical after a night on the ground ;-)

    #3762303
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    I use the Style CS – I see it is no longer made. Only the version with pliers now available. Reasonably light, and when new the scissors were excellent – much better than the tiny single ended types in the Swiss Army Classic. Unfortunately, they are not as good as they used to be at their primary job – cutting bits of 2nd skin knit tape to cover hot spots.

    #3760678
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    @Steve Thompson – did you use a bivy with the tarp? What was your sleep system?

    #3760348
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Hi dirtbag – amazing you did this in 7 days AND managed to put together video footage!!

    It was great meeting you – and kind of a wild coincidence since on Thursday I was only on the NPT for the very short section between the West Canada Creek Lean-to and where the Brooktrout Lake trail exits in the clearing by French Louis’ old chimney near West Lake – I think all told less than 1 mile!

    I hear you on feet issues. I was only back there from Monday to Thursday, but 3 1/2 days of wet feet took there toll. The top off my feet were getting rubbed raw on top of each metatarsal and on the little toe on my right foot. In my case I think the mesh on my trail runners was stretching a bit and every inside reinforcement area was rubbing on wet socks. I have hiked with wet feet before, but this was probably the worst.

    Did you meet the SUL guy hiking with a tiny pack without a hip belt? I ran in to him Tuesday afternoon at the Beaver Pond lean-to as he was taking a break. He was hiking similar mileage to you, but with a tiny pack. I wonder how he stayed warm later in the week as he got further north.

    I will watch the video later when I have more time to enjoy.

    #3759554
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Sorry dirtbag, I don’t know any other good options from Northville to Placid. There are a couple services that would be OK to shuttle from Placid down to Northville (one in Placid (https://www.adkallseasonsguideservice.com/services.html), one ins Saranac Lake (http://www.broadwingadventures.com/transportation–shuttles.html) – but I have no idea availability or how much they would charge to meet you in Northville and shuttle to Placid.

    I would do it myself for gas $ since I was planning on heading up to the West Canada Lakes area Monday morning – but we are baby sitting my granddaughter Saturday PM/Sunday AM so I’m afraid she takes priority.

    #3759510
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    @ Thom – do you have recent G2 on bugs? Usually in September bugs are not an issue – but the temps are warmer again this year than typical.

    #3759508
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    The weather is always a bit of a crap shoot – they are calling for several days of “unsettled” weather next week – but the when it starts and how long it lasts seems to be difficult to predict accurately at the moment. We just had a very similar front pass our area and it lasted much longer than originally forecast. But there is no guarantee it will be better for your chosen week in October – it will still be Atlantic Hurricane season and every few years we seem to get the aftermath of one of those dumping a bunch of rain in the Dacks.

    Only you know your foot. I would tend to ignore the weather and just decide based on if you think your foot is up to the trip. If you light up the tendonitis again it could keep you out of the woods for a while.

    #3759463
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Fun fact – when you pass the Ouluska lean-to you will be – according to the Open Space Institute – close to the most remote location (farthest from a road) in NY State, and I believe the most remote location outside of the Florida Everglades east of the Mississippi river

    #3759429
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Did you join the Facebook group? I am not on Facebook so I can’t – but it used to be public and usually had fairly good g2 on things like bridges being out, flooded sections, etc.

    I assume the section just before the Carry Lean-to is still flooded by Beavers?

    Also, last I knew the bridge over Seward Brook just south of the Ouluska lean-to – but it was a fairly easy crossing 2 years ago (probably not in spring though). It may be fixed by now though – I think they had a pile of lumber sitting there ready to go for a work crew.

    #3759426
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Although its calling for some rain on M, T, and W, only Tuesday is calling for like 0.3 tenths of an inch – the other days just passing showers. Of course that could change. I have not been up there yet this year, but it has been quite dry in our area (south of Rochester) and even after several inches of rain recently creeks are still running pretty low. I suspect by your Saturday/Sunday time frame West Stony will be a fairly easy crossing with lots of visible rocks (but likely not a rock hop – the creek is pretty wide at the crossing point).

     

    #3759403
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    I hope you make it dirtbag –  the ADKs are special. Looks like night time temps will be very mild (mostly mid 50s) for this time of year – but it also looks like you could have rain Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I know you plan to use your bivy and tarp exclusively – but the space and dry floor of an Adirondack Lean-to is awfully nice after hiking in the rain!

    I will be up there next week too in the West Canada Lakes wilderness – mostly not on the NPT, but there is a chance I will be around the Cedar Lake to West Lake section Wednesday PM/Thursday AM.

    #3759296
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Why not something like this:  https://www.lowes.com/pd/Trimaco-XL-Tyvek-Paint-Protective-Coveralls/50281813

    Good for mold, lead, and asbestos and only $15 – seems likely to be good enough for poison ivy?

    As with anything – the trick will be taking it off without cross contamination.

    Bringing some soap that will work on breaking up oils and plan on thoroughly washing any skin that could have come in contact with poison ivy or the protective clothing is a good plan.

    #3757363
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>For a great beginner hike I recommend The Old Loggers Path in Loyalsock State Forest in PA. A nice 27ish mile loop hike with great views and great swimming holes.</p>

    #3756851
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    One thing to consider is – probably not a lot of down in a 950 fill 40 degree top quilt – 9 oz? maybe 10? Probably doesn’t take much moisture in the shell fabric to turn it into a flat tire. Where as the 850 fill 20 degree under quilt had a lot more down.

    #3755896
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    Lots of good stuff on this thread.

    Like several others, I like both solo and hiking with a others. But they are almost two different activities.

    I find that I appreciate being in nature more when I have someone to share it with. Great views are better when shared. On the other hand – when hiking with others it seems like it is harder to push the physical side of hiking – easier to give up on more ambitious objectives. Sort of the opposite of summit fever. More like camp fever. And there is no doubt, time in camp is more rewarding with someone to talk to and share camp chores.

    On the other hand, solo hiking is more of a meditative experience – especially if pushing higher miles and more challenging hiking. The rigor of it, combined with the solitude, forces your brain into living in the moment – you are not worrying about next weeks problems – instead being consumed by one foot in front of the other and the immediate concerns of your body, weather, food, and shelter. However, camp can be lonely.

    One of my favorite hiking memories was an almost mystical hike through the West Canada Lakes wilderness section of the Northville Placid Trail in late September in a light misty rain and not seeing another person for two days.

    But almost as good was enjoying the amazing views on Section J of the PCT in Washington while hiking with my brother.

    I enjoy both experiences.

    #3755880
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    ^^ @jimmyjam – yup, been doing the hat organizer for years. sits right at my head with all the stuff I don’t want to lose (cell phone, glasses, headlamp)

    Not really a hack per se – but when sustained rain is in the forecast – there is no substitute for cubic inches – cubic inches of shelter space that is, for dealing with wet clothes and keeping dry stuff dry. Little bitty front entry shelters need not apply!

    #3755474
    David Hartley
    BPL Member

    @dhartley

    Locale: Western NY

    I have a Beta LT Hybrid (it has traditional 3-layer Goretex in high wear areas, Goretex Paclite in the lower torso, and pit zips), and I have an OR Helium (the latest with the “diamond fuse” fabric), and I would not trust the Helium in the conditions you describe. In sustained rain the DWR completely fails (and yes I have retreated it several times) and the outer fabric wets out, and even though the membrane doesn’t leak – I would be cold in the conditions you describe. I have never hiked in the Sierra, but a few years ago we did some September hiking in the Wind River range and I was very glad to have the Arcteryx jacket – we had it all – initially hot weather (sunny and 80s), then thunderstorms and hail, then sustained heavy rain, and ultimately several days of wet snow. I would not trust the Helium in similar conditions.

    I hear good things about the Versalite though – I don’t think it suffers the same outer fabric wet out issue the Helium does.

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