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  • #3737888
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    “I don’t need no stinkin’ spikes!”

    Grand Canyon icy trail

    #3707472
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Mountain Laurel Designs offers two:  Event Soul Bivy and FKT Event Bivy.  I have used the Soul Bivy and liked it.

    #3702395
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    +1  Been using these for years after repeated Easton failures. They come in two sizes and have a nice storage bag too. Only thing I don’t like is Big Sky’s name for them (“Tube Steak”).

    #3701712
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Steve – Regarding BSI DCF, BSI has 2 active websites: bigskyinternational.com and bigskyproducts.com. bigskyinternational.com is the newer site,  bigskyproducts the older site. Seems like BSI never finished the switchover. The older site still shows “Cuban/Cubic/DSM” options but the newer site does not. In some of the Q&A on the newer site, BSI does say they plan to offer DCF versions of some tents “soon.” You might try emailing the company if you’re interested; I’ve always gotten a response when I’ve asked a question (though it may take a few days).

    I’m embarrassed to admit how may Tarptents I own. Currently using StratoSpire Li for 2-person trips, ProTrail Li or Notch Li for solo trips.

    #3701636
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Agree with Keith. I really like the Big Sky tents for certain applications but the design seems to be “mature.” (And that may be a good thing!) I acquired my Revolution in 2009 and not much has changed since then. In fact, fabric choices are more limited now. I still use the Revolution for base camp trips when I appreciate the extra room and plan to leave it set up in one spot while we wander off for the day. I’m using a DCF Tarptent for most backpacking now, but I’m a little uncomfortable leaving it alone for the day, particularly in more populated areas.

    #3701604
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    I own a Big Sky 3p Revolution and a 1plus Chinook and have been happy with both. I recently ordered a 1p Revolution as a gift for a relative.

    There was a recent thread on Big Sky tents here. I identified my tent as an Evolution in that thread, but that was a misstatement; it is actually a Revolution.

    The larger Revolution sizes (1.5P and up) have a top cross strut to add structure whereas the 1P has only the 2 crossing poles. Otherwise, all sizes of the Revolution are similar in design and construction.

    The Mirage is a “hybrid,” meaning single wall ceiling and double wall sides (i.e., netting inner with waterproof outer over the vestibule).

    The Big Sky “Rev” numbers refer to minor design changes/improvements over time. The poles were apparently changes in Rev G-2, but there may or may not have been other tweaks.

    You are correct regarding the difference between the Revolution and Evolution. In the Revolution, the outer shell is clipped to external poles and the interior hangs from the outer shell. In the Evolution, the poles attach to the interior and the fly stretches over the poles. The Revolution provides a dry setup and the exterior can be pitched by itself with the interior. The Evolution allows use of the inner by itself.

    While Big Sky has offered DCF on some models in the past, I am not seeing any DCF options on their website at this time. I could be wrong, but I believe all of their current models are “SuprSil,” which is a silnylon variant.

    I think of their current models this way:
    Evolution:  3-season, double-wall, external fly (over poles)
    Revolution:  3-season, double-wall, external poles (dry setup)
    Chinook:   4-season-ish version of the Revolution (with 3 poles)
    Mirage:  3-season hybrid (single-wall top, double-wall (attached mesh inner) sides)
    Soul:  3-season, double-wall (full mesh inner), external fly, free-standing

    Dimensions of equivalent sizes (1p, 2P, etc) are essentially the same across the product line, just different pole/fly configurations.

    #3701017
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    The pack volume will depend on both the circumference and length. You can use the pack volumes page on McHale’s website to determine the volume in cubic inches, then convert to liters using 1L = 61.02 in3.

    HMG rates the 3400 at 55 liters with the sleeve extended (but I would argue the useful capacity is somewhat less). Roughly equivalent LBP sizes (untapered) are shaded in blue in the table below. I’m 5’11” and my LBP is ~24 in. to the top of the frame (no P&G). Add ~6 in. for extension or P&G gives ~30 in. bag length. So, if I wanted something close to the max capacity of the HMG 3400, I’d probably be looking at a LBP 38-ish.

    Figuring another way:  HMG 3400 specs list the bottom circumference as 33.5 in. and the top circumference as 40 in., or 36.75 average assuming constant taper, with a fully unrolled length of 34 in. The length required for the roll top has to be subtracted, so the max closed length is ~30 in. So, an LPB 37 should be roughly equivalent and an LBP 38 should give you a little more volume.

    For reference, I have a LBP 36 that I use for short trips and a Popcan 43/40 for longer trips. The Popcan sizing was based on accommodating a bear canister horizontally.

    Pack Volumes

     

    #3700045
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    I have tried both the universal and 3-pin bindings on 125 cm and 145 cm Hoks. The universals are convenient for use with a wide variety of boots. For example, if I’m doing a mixture of skiing and walking. However, I think the 3-pins provide much more control than the universal bindings and overall a better experience, particularly with the longer 145 cm length. A disadvantage of the 3-pin binding is that the selection of 3-pin boots is limited (at least in my location) and the boots available today tend to be heavier. I don’t have much experience with NNN-BC because I grew up with 3-pin and that’s what I continue to use with the Hoks. Even though manual 3-pin bindings are now “dated,” they are simple, rugged, virtually impossible to fail, and I think they are ideally suited to the Hoks. There is of course no release mechanism, which some might consider a disadvantage on extreme terrain, but I probably wouldn’t use the Hoks on that type of terrain anyway. The adapter plate for NNN-BC bindings will raise your boots slightly above the skiis, but the difference isn’t that significant compared to the height of the boot sole. However, in my opinion, the Hoks are a little too wide for NNN-BC bindings.

    #3690071
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    I have an Evolution 3p. The tent is generally well designed, well made, spacious, and relatively easy to set up. I have used it in moderately strong wind and rain and had no problems. Very comfortable for 2 people. I don’t have any experience with the Mirage, but I have seen several other Big Sky models and think the same general comments extend across their product line. They tend to a little heavier than comparable models from other manufacturers, but you tend to get a little more room and a more robust tent in return. I think of them as something in between Big Agnes and Hilleberg.

    Most of the reviews you will find are older, but still valid. Will Rietveld did a review of the Evolution 2P here and the Mirage 2P here.. BPL posted a review of the Evolution 2P here. A search of BPL will reveal additional user input from the same time period.

    Most negative reviews I have seen comment on supply and customer service issues from the early days of the company. I think those problems were resolved as the company grew and built a better supply chain, though availability of some models may be limited. I have never experienced a problem with an order or communication, though their website is in serious need of improvement. I have never seen significant criticism of the tents themselves. I have encountered a few people carrying them and all were happy with their choice. I met one solo hiker, ultralight almost everything, but carrying a 2-person Big Sky Evolution because he liked the space.

    All of their tents are variations on the same theme…if one of their models fits your application and you can accept the weight penalty, I think you will be happy with it.

    Bottom line:  Very good tents. Heavier than some but more robust, better designed, and more livable than most. Check availability before you order.

    #3689216
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    For hard copy options…

    Elizabeth Wenk’s John Muir Trail is probably the current standard and is very good. Alan Castle’s Trekking The John Muir Trail takes a more formulaic day-by-day approach and is less up-to-date, but reads a little better, I think, as an arm chair adventure. Unfortunately the current edition was poorly printed…looks like it was done on a misaligned cheap laser printer and is hard on the eyes.

    A more recent release, Damon Corso’s Discovering the John Muir Trail: An Inspirational Guide to America’s Most Beautiful Hike, is part guidebook, part reference, part travelogue, part picture book. Good for reminiscing if you’ve hiked the trail or dreaming about it if you hope to.

    For a bit of history, wonderful old photos, and a fun read, ask for a good copy of Hal Roth’s Pathway in the Sky, 1965. Long out of print, but still possible to find.

    For a collectable, ask for an early edition of Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail, the first published complete guide. The first edition was printed in 1934, the most recent edition (12th) in 1974. Facilities information is obviously dated, but the mountains and lakes are little changed. I wouldn’t suggest it as an actual guidebook today, but it gives me the warm fuzzies to see it on my shelf as it is what I dreamed from and carried as a teenager.

    #3688476
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Available from Victorinox US, $16.80, multiple colors, advertised weight 1.5 oz.

    #3680092
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    @ Ross B

    Looks like John S posted a link to the 2-section Cnoc pole I mentioned so I won’t repost it. Agree that a comfortable strap is a necessity so that eliminated the 2-section Cnoc for me. Also agree that if compact storage is not a concern, a 2-section pole would be preferable, just for simplicity if not for weight savings. Black Diamond makes the 2-section Traverse that I use for snowshoeing, but it is much heavier so not suited for hiking.

    #3680027
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    To clarify, the Cnoc website lists 310g/pole for cork grips. EVA grips are 190g/pole (380g/set). They also offer a 2-segment pole at 145g.

    #3680010
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    I have a set of their telescoping poles, obtained through their latest Kickstarter campaign, but have not yet actually used them on a hike. There is good information about the poles on the Kickstarter page and you can read user experiences on the associated comments page. Cnoc is a newish/smallish company that appears to be trying hard to succeed in difficult times but seems to have been challenged by supply chain issues and customer service seems to be strained by limited resources. For example, they have not responded to any of their Kickstarter backer comments in 2 months.

    The poles are a newly-released product, so user experience is still limited. My preliminary assessment based on back yard use:

    Good

    • Relatively lightweight for 3-section poles (380g advertised weight, 370g measured).
    • Materials appear to be high quality, workmanship good overall.
    • Carbon fiber tubes are thicker than those in most carbon poles, smooth, and pleasant to the eye and touch.
    • Handles are comfortable.
    • Straps are comfortable and relatively easy to adjust.
    • Friction locks are simple and easy to adjust. Poles extend and collapse smoothly and easily.
    • Standard baskets are about the right size, can be removed or replaced with other sizes.
    • Parts are advertised as being field replaceable.

    Maybe Not-So-Good

    • Price seems high.
    • Some pole vibration from harder pole plants, particularly on rock.
    • Center of gravity is lower than on other lightweight poles I have used, resulting in a higher swing weight and making them “feel” heavier than poles that actually weigh more.
    • Length scales skip 2 increments, requiring mental arithmetic when setting poles to a known, pre-determined length.

    Unknowns, pending actual field use

    • Long-term strength and durability.
    • Security of friction locks. (Like all friction locks I have used, the tension is somewhat finicky to adjust. Unknowns are whether the screws will tend to vibrate out of position and whether the lock levers tend to get caught in brush.)
    • Security of strap adjustment. (Straps are locked by outward tension pulling a lock tab into the strap loop inside the handle. There seems to be some tendency to slip if force is applied in a certain direction.)
    • Vibration annoyance.
    • Long-term griminess of the faux cork EVA handles.
    • Long-term viability of the company.

    Overall preliminary assessment:  I like them well enough to give them a field trial, but doubt they will become my favorite poles.

    #3678422
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    [I love the inevitable low-key fight people have over coffee any time it comes up on backpacking forums.]

    Or just about any other topic.

    #3673235
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Um…would someone please explain to me what aspect of my reply was “inappropriate”???

    #3673165
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Dan was offering a “V-zip” volume adjuster back in 2006-ish. If you look closely, you can just see the sides of the zipper showing between the top of the back pocket and the lid. Here’s a better picture of a v-zip from his website. Don’t know if he still offers it or not.

    McHale V-Zip

    #3673155
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Check out 1UP USA products. Their double rack can be expanded to hold up to 4 bikes. The heavy duty model can hold up to 200 lbs, the super heavy duty up to 225 lbs. Their RakAttach mount provides swing-away capability with a 275 lb rating. They are well made and work well but are expensive; total cost for a 4-bike configuration with the RakAttach will be close to $1500. I have transported 3 bikes on one of their racks for long highway drives followed by bumpy roads to trailheads and it held the bikes securely. The RakAttach can also be used with a cargo carrier (another $500) to hold other gear.

    #3628172
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    I wanted a Ti-Tri for a JMT hike back when the titanium model was first introduced by Trail Designs but was scheduled to depart in a few days. Russ manufactured one for me and his dad delivered it in person!

    #3614388
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    From a brief review at Outdoor Gear Lab:

    the new Paragon binding is harder to use, especially for folks with big feet…Otherwise, the design is unchanged…

    #3587396
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Very glad to see you back!

    #3568272
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    The proper way to announce a new product, of course, is to trickle out the story in a five-part prolix series, recounting every musing and fussy tinkering of bits in excruciating detail. Throw in some graphs too.

    #3546872
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    Poles:  361 grams
    Fabric: 132 grams
    Case:    19 grams
    Total:  512 grams

    #3521077
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    I, too, am curious regarding the “mouthfeel” of the rubber. How is the rubber edge joined to the plastic? Is there any crack that could allow accumulation of food particles make it difficult to clean?

    #3454700
    Ken Ross
    BPL Member

    @kr

    The terrain on the North Lake to South Lake route does not necessitate a freestanding tent. I have hiked that trail several times using various models of tarps and TarpTents. One trip was with a Contrail, the precursor to the Protrail. The Protrail would be a fine choice. However, I’d recommend taking some longer guy lines or extra cord in case you need to tie off a corner or two to rocks.

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