Summer Ground Mat

3:47 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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Hey. I've got a potentially quick question but I figured hijacking the "winter ground mat" for a summer question was much too rude haha.

I'm packing for the West Coast Trail (start date is the 25th, super excited!) and I've been scrutinizing my pack contents quite closely and have come to a conclusion of sorts. I think I'm gonna leave out my self inflating ground pad. Admittedly it is a cheaper product that I got long before serious backpacking was considered. It weighs in at 1.23 kg and I figured that I might as well loose the extra weight and just rough it out on the tent floor (with sleeping bag of course). So here's the question: am I crazy?

Perhaps a lightweight blanket or some other solution would be favourable to provide some extra comfort and insulation? Thanks very much for any help!

4:55 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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You "can" get a weeklong storm on the WCT that will bring temps. to roughly 45*F, with severe winds (60+mph) and driving rain, even in late August. If, this happens, you can easily become hypothermic and soon "buy the farm".

I would use at least a full-length Ridgerest and a wpb bivy, 10x8 siltarp and 30*F bag, an ID "Renaissance" is an EXCELLENT choice. This is my MINIMUM rig for even summer conditions anywhere in western Canada and it can/would/may save your life in a bad late summer storm, don't go without such a rig.

MY favourite summer rig is my T-rest Prolite IV-large, with two Gossamer Gear Nightlight torso pads on top of it, and often a f/l Z-rest underneath. This is NOT too much as I learned the hard way.

5:24 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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Well you'll certainly be comfortable! :D

I agree completely with your level of preparedness. I was day hiking the Murry Mountains north-east of Mackenzie BC (where I live during the summers) and we were caught in an afternoon rainstorm and ended up completely enveloped in cloud that reduced visibility to perhaps 20 meters. We managed to get down the mountain without too much hardship (apart from being quite soaked despite raingear!) but I was comforted by the weight on my back that included everything I needed to spend a night on the mountain. The point of day hikes (not to mention week long treks) turning nasty was certainly reinforced in my mind!

I should have been more specific as far as gear goes. I've got a -7C mummy bag (synthetic) and insulating layers (including toque) for warmth. And as far as shelter goes my friends and I are sharing the weight of a four man tent (the tent's in my pack, they're carrying food and other extras). I've also brought an extra tarp (6x8) for use as extra rain coverage or wind break.

Perhaps additional insulation is necessary...but maybe my question comes down to personal comfort and whether or not my body can take a week of hiking and sleeping on sand and rock!

But thank you for the gear set-ups I'll definitely make a note to look into them for future purchases.

8:35 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi Jimbo,
I don't have any experience hiking on the WCT, but I backpack in similar conditions climate wise.
My personal summer minimum is a rain suit, bivy/20* bag, lightweight thermals ect. and my Ridgerest since it has multiple uses. It adds very little weight, so why not? I have a four season tent I use a lot in colder months.

Windy and damp conditions, plus nightly temp. drops of 30* have caught me unprepared a couple times. If you have already lost significant body heat, your bag will do it's job better if you have a pad.
Sleeping on cold rock is no fun, I always take my pad now.
Hope you have a blast!

9:54 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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Fair enough! Thanks to both of you for the input. Consider my mind changed. I'll keep the extra insulation and comfort :D And I certainly will have a blast, rain or shine haha.

10:55 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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Hello Jimbo

West Coast Trail?
My own back yard (sort of)

Don’t Skimp. Don’t Skimp on anything. As for your inflating ground pad you can have two choices, take the ground pad, or you can take one if not two of the closed cell blue(?) foam mats for protection from the cool to cold hard ground.

Read Kutenay’s comments again. The Sleeping bag will be more than enough. The insulating layers I hope are synthetic or wool. You mentioned a toque, how about at least one pair of gloves? Fleece is good as long they stay dry.

Trouthunter has a good point re: Rain Suit or Rain ware? Tarp size is too small for 4 people. If you have three or four of them along great.

On the coast the real problem is the wetness, both the rain and the cool to cold damp air, coupled with the breeze to wind blowing, can and doze cause hypothermia even in August. Prepare for the worst and enjoy the best.

Take lots of pics. Tell us later about the trip.

11:44 p.m. on August 5, 2008 (EDT)
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Yes sir! Definitely file a report when we get back. There is a "group" of six of us going, but only three (myself and two others) are sharing resources. And yes we did have two more of the 6x8's along but now that I think about it we could easily enough bring a slightly heaver/much larger tarp and since we're sharing weight it wouldn't be much of a burden on any one person (one carries more food the other the tarp).

Insulation is all synthetic as are my pants and shirts and I'm making sure the rest of my party is similarly prepared. I'm gonna guess from your "...backyard (sort of)" comment you're from Vancouver? I used to live on the Island (Campbell River for the most part) so I'm certainly ready for the wetness with a Northface breathable shell and a back up plastic poncho because I can only expect the breathable to fail given enough rain. I'm also going to grab a pair of simple plastic pants...not ready to spent the money on breathable quite yet but definitely want the insurance of some rain pants should it be pouring (sorry I should say WHEN it will be pouring :D). Wind is certainly a concern on the wilder West coast so plenty of synthetics should keep us toasty warm.

Gloves were recommended to me right on the offset for the ladders and cable cars so I do have some but they are not too insulated: I'll look into some others for sleeping/warming up.

Food is loaded with plenty of energy with great portions (I'm preparing and drying the food for the three of us) and lots of hot and heatable drinks and soups. If I've learned anything hot drinks are amazing after a day of wet hiking (and that Tang tastes great flavour at least!). I've got a number of meals that are quick to prepare and loaded with carbs for any brushes with hypothermia that may arise.

All in all I think I've got things all worked out assuming anymore holes can't be found in my plans? At least the ones posted here. Thank you all very much for the advice and critique and keep it coming! I'd much rather have something pointed out to me now! Hahah.

Edit: Speaking of pictures though...does anyone have a good image hosting site to recommend? (Upload pictures that I can link too?) Perhaps with some kind of text application built in? I'd appreciate it very much.

5:49 p.m. on August 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Oops! never mind about the "Edit". I found a great one: I'll be setting up an account there.

7:39 p.m. on August 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I can’t or shouldn’t complain about the Vancouver guess. Sorry no not from there. Lets confuse some of our southern cousins with the Spanish place names of the Island. I’m from West of San Juan Island, East of Juan de Fuca Straight, San Juan Ridge is my back yard. Sorry for the games I’m in Victoria. Enjoy your Hike.

1:12 a.m. on August 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Hahaha. I certainly will, and my sincerest apologies for the horribly misconstrued guess. A good number of Islanders would have flamed me right out for even mentioning the other "V" word. My favourite Canadian city Vic, thanks for the input redpatch.

8:06 a.m. on August 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Ah, yes, the "newly wed and nearly dead", a nice town to visit , but, I wouldn't want to live there. My first ancestor in BC, actually settled there circa 1870 and I do enjoy poking around the dear old place, except I AVOID the legislature....too much noxious gas around....

I spent some time in the bush north of MacKenzie, BC and also on the nothern Island, Holberg and Winter Harbour. I would look at the softish, black full-length EVA rolls that Canadian Tire is selling for SOME protection from cold ground, at least. I used to sleep on bare ground, but, I was young, tough, worked outdoors and was used to cold, the very idea makes me shudder!!!

11:42 p.m. on August 8, 2008 (EDT)
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I can understand why a lot of folks wouldn’t want to live here. Cost of homes, fuel, ferry boat travel costs to and from the island, low wages paid to those starting out, skin flint/cheap types that want everything for free and don’t want to pay for it. I do love it here though. Where else can one hunt in the morning, fresh water fish in the midday, play a round of golf, and salt water fish in the evening? Or perhaps as some of my friends have done in the past Snowshoe, Downhill Ski, Mountain Bike, and then go surfing all in one day.
Jimbo most people think of that “V” word place first and that’s ok cause they can go visit it and stay there for as long as they want to. We can talk later about our upcoming trips. Enjoy.

4:15 a.m. on August 24, 2008 (EDT)
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You need at least an full length sleeping pad beneath you. A sleeping bag doesn't insulate from heat loss into the ground beneath you. Cold nights are long, nasty, sleepless, and potentially dangerous. It is better to be well rested and have a slightly heavier pack; than to have cold, uncomfortable, restless nights, and save some weight.

I have camped without a pad before, but I used a bed of pine needles underneath me, which functioned like a pad. I was in a dip between two slabs of granite, which protected me from the wind. I was sure that it wasn't going to rain, so I didn't use a tent. I used my boots under the hood of my sleeping bag as a pillow. It was very comfortable.

Most of the time, I end up using a tent; however, I have been on some week+ long trips with out a tent. If you don't know what to expect, bring all you are going to need if conditions become harsh.

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