how does my gear list look (backpack + stove recs?)

3:27 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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My wife and I are avid hikers and are making the transition into 3-season / 1-2 night backpacking trips, once a month or so. We'll primarily be hiking/camping in/around New York State/Pennsylvania/Connecticut/Massachusetts with a Hampshire/Vermont/Maine kind of trip here and there. Once a year, in August, we'll probably do a week/two-week trip to somewhere like Glacier, Yellowstone, or some other National Park.

We are both very fit, in our mid-30s. I used to camp a lot as a kid when in the boyscouts, but that was a long time ago and the whole gear-scene is new to me.

Can y'all take a gander at my gear list for the above-described type of camping ventures and provide some feedback? My wife will be using my hiking Camelback fourtneer (we'll strap her sleeping bag to the bottom). I'll need a pack to carry my bag, pad, tent etc. Recommendations for a pack for me and a cooking stove would be much appreciated. 

(what do you think of the Camelback vantage ft?)

Tent: Stephenson's Warmlite 2R + footprint

Cooking kit: ???
water filter: Platypus GravityWorks w/ carbon filter (+ purification tablets and lifestraw for emergency)

me:
pack: ??? + camelback 3L water bladder
sleeping bag: ? + pad + emergency bivy
knife: spyderco delica
flashlight:surefire led

wife:
pack: Camelback fourteener w/ 3L water bladder
sleeping bag: ???
headlamp: Petzl Tikka XP 2

4:20 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Welcome Harold!

So it’s almost as if we’re required by unseen forces, unwritten backpacking laws, and due diligence to tell you that it all starts with the ten essentials. All new backpackers must begin by making sure the fundamental are covered. So you can vet the list yourself and see what essential items are missing from what you listed.

After that, my first thought is that to my knowledge Stephenson Warmlite tents are all single wall (but very cool looking tents). I would consider using a double wall tent for your area as you’ll most likely be swabbing condensation from a single. Not a big deal for short trips but worth consideration.

I’ll let others give other feedback……

4:48 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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thanks. yes, things like first aid, navigation, sun protection, layers and food have been crossed off the list. i guess it's the backpack, tent, sleeping bags, and cooking stove that i'm most uncertain about, there are simply so many options and i'm swimming through a sea of reviews and ratings.

in terms of price range, i guess i'm in the follow ranges for these items:

pack: perhaps something under $300? i'd ideally keep my pack weight to under 40 lbs. (kinda liking the looks/price of the Ospry Aether 60)

tent: up to $500ish (for a light 2 person tent)

sleeping bags: up to $200ish (each)

cook stove: whatever a great and light cook stove costs to make a variety of foods like fried eggs or a curry

5:34 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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I will most likely be putting up my 60L osprey aether for sale shortly, too many packs, better to get rid of one then to lose the only wife I have! PM me, top right corner, if this is the pack you have decided on and are interested.

7:44 p.m. on August 23, 2013 (EDT)
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What your looking for in a stove is simmer features..The MSR Pocket Rocket which is a Isobutane stove does or if you want to have a little more and get into winter camping maybe in the future the MSR wisperlite Univerasal which can be isobutane or Whitegas...Both will simmer but you can get really creative with the wisperlite. For sleeping bags I reccomend the Kelty Cosmic down 20 its down and is rated corectly.Read all the reviews even on Backpackinglight.They highly reccomend this bag..You can find it on Amazon or REI for about 120-about 139..

7:16 a.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Its to give you too much feedback, because you really just posted asking for what pack and bag you should get. You really only mentioned 2 items worth nothing, your tent and water filter, both of which are adequate.

If your planning to eventually take 1-2 week trips and your wife will still only have the 14er then you are gonna need a gargantuan pack, like 85L+. Food takes up an ungodly amount of room. Most of the time you can probably get by with a 60L+ pack. IMO 65L is a good all around size, allows you to carry everything without having to really cram it in, gives you a little extra room for longer trips etc. But unless your wanting to buy 2 packs, your going to more than likely need a larger pack for your extended trips, especially if your wife has a smaller pack. This is also largely dependent on what sleeping bag you take, and your clothes as these items besides food take up the most room in a pack.

I would say the Aether 60L would probably serve you well, but the very best advice i can give you is to take all of your gear and go to an REI ,campmor etc and load one up and make sure everything fits inside, and that the pack fits you and is comfortable. The pack should be the very last thing you buy.

I thought you already had a tent? i'm confused.

sleeping bag: check out the Kelty cosmic down bags, best budget bags out there IMO.

Cook stove: any of the canister stoves would probably suit you well, msr pocket rocket, coleman f1 , snowpeak giga power etc.

2:02 p.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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lol iPhone really ate my spelling and words on that one

4:22 p.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Backpacks are always a compromise between weight, size and cost.  And if you are only going for 1-2 nights at a time, you can get by with pretty light and small packs.  Once you decide to tackle longer hikes, you can get a bigger pack---but first make sure that you really love to do this, both of you, before you invest in a major new pack that could take you on long adventures.

Just to clarify---food does take up room, but my wife and I pack for 8 days or more in a couple of Go-Lite 50L packs.  they are full, but they also don't weigh very much--well under three pounds--and we get on the trail with a total weight, including two bottles of water each, of sixty pounds for the two of us.

And we've also learned that we generally like to be out for between 3 and 7 days.  That works for our schedules, lets us see great stuff, and keeps us happy enough to come back for more.  We've backpacked about 700 miles in the last few years...and never more than about 60 miles at a time.  We don't see any point in getting a larger backpack.

As for a cook kit---we used a simple aluminum pot we bought for a buck at a yard sale for years and years.  Now we've upgraded to a slightly better pot we found abandoned in the backcountry a few years ago.  You don't need to spend a lot of money for this activity!

If you want to see our complete gear list, as well as lots of tips on how we do it, check out our website at backpackthesierra.com

 

6:05 p.m. on August 24, 2013 (EDT)
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 backpacks, the osprey sounds like a good choice, but you should go to an rei and try it on with your gear in it. as far as your wifes goes, that is way too small for an overnighter. maybe consider getting her a kelty coyote. the best way to go is to split the load between you, and you just can't do that with a fourteener. as far as a stove goes, either the snowpeak giga power 100 or the msr windpro 2. it all depends on the temps you'll be cooking in. for colder weather, below 30 or so, the windpro because you can invert the canister for cold weather cooking. for temps above 30, the snowpeak giga power because its just a bulletproof little stove. you don't need anything like a whisperlite, it cant simmer anyway. the windpro is a remote canister stove with a big burner good for steadying big pots. the snowpeak is an integral canister stove with a small burner. both will simmer, which is what you need. go to the gear pages to find these stoves, they're in there.

11:35 a.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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thanks for the info everyone! yeah, the camelbak fourteener, we now realize, is simply too small for the two night pack and my wife is going to get an ospry in its stead.

i guess my final question is regarding the tent. i'm simply not sure what to get. i want a double wall three season tent that will last me years. i'm thinking that the limited selection at rei isn't going to exactly cut it, or maybe i'm simply looking for more options than they offer.

12:09 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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If I can make a suggestion, Harold, start with a list of the features you want in a tent (such as double wall, full fly, two doors/vestibules, bathtub floor, 5 lbs or less, etc) and go from there. That will eliminate many of the possibilities, and make your final selection that much easier. 

12:19 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Peter1955 said:

If I can make a suggestion, Harold, start with a list of the features you want in a tent (such as double wall, full fly, two doors/vestibules, bathtub floor, 5 lbs or less, etc) and go from there. That will eliminate many of the possibilities, and make your final selection that much easier. 

 

ah yes, good call. i'm looking for an under five pound backpacking tent, single or double doors, double wall, bathtub floor. i'm looking for something with durability and, obviously, waterproof. not looking to buy the least expensive 2 person tent so price range is very flexible.

i'm just a bit overwhelmed by the range of options and all of the user reviews have my head kind of spinning.

12:23 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Harorld said:

thanks for the info everyone! yeah, the camelbak fourteener, we now realize, is simply too small for the two night pack and my wife is going to get an ospry in its stead.

i guess my final question is regarding the tent. i'm simply not sure what to get. i want a double wall three season tent that will last me years. i'm thinking that the limited selection at rei isn't going to exactly cut it, or maybe i'm simply looking for more options than they offer.

 Osprey has made some pretty nice packs at reasonable prices so not a bad place to start looking.  My Kestrel 65 started out light but tightly packed.  Now it is getting roomy and heavier as my other gear has shrunk. I've definitely gotten my money's worth from it.

If you want tent selection the reviews here on site are a great place to start.  You can scan the list of three season tents for 2Ps or whatever you're looking for, read some reviews and then go see what sort of deal you can find on the one you want.


Edit: I see you posted while I was typing.  Maybe the reviews were a bad suggestion heh.  I just went through a similar search for a 1P and ended up going with a MSR Hubba.  You may want to look at their 2P model the Hubba Hubba.  My choice among comparable tents was made based on gear storage space and review reported durability and ventilation.

1:28 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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If your willing to think outside the box a little and steer away from the major brand names out there I would recommend checking out Tarptents found at www.tarptent.com

If I were to buy a tent today it would be a Tarptent.

2:35 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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TheRambler said:

If your willing to think outside the box a little and steer away from the major brand names out there I would recommend checking out 

If I were to buy a tent today it would be a Tarptent.

 

i was looking at the double rainbow and think it sounds great, but it's only a single walled tent

3:01 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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I second the MSR Hubba Hubba. A great tent, and it meets all your criteria. Read a few reviews of it before you go shopping. 

11:58 p.m. on August 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Like I said; you need to think outside the box. Double wall tents are fine and all, but IMO are overrated. What do you really gain other than weight and unneeded complexity? I stepped away from the double wall world and never looked back.

For alot of people it's all they know and all they have ever used so they stick with it. Nothing says you have to though. Most of the thru hikers out there today are using some model of Tarptent or just a tarp if that tells you anything. A survey at trail days showed that 73% of the hikers were using a Tarptent or similar minimalist style tent, 15% used tarps/hammocks, and 12% using a traditional style double wall tent.

2:55 p.m. on August 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Different tents for different purposes and applications.

Since much of my early camping and backpacking was in Arizona and California, I just slept under the stars with only a ground cloth, plastic tube tent, or tarp, including snow camping. My first real use of an expedition tent was when 2 friends and I headed into Sierra during Christmas break to climb Ritter and Banner, with a Gerry Himalayan expedition tent. We were glad to have it (main tent, fly, and internal frost liner, so "triple tent"). We spent 3 days waiting for a storm to clear (still one of the largest dumps in the NOAA records for the Sierra). When it cleared, we were starting to worry about marginal food supply, so bailed. Still took almost 2 full days to get out through the deep snow.

My first trip to climb in Europe, I used a plastic tube tent and my two buds used a tarp. After a full week of rain in the Biolet campground (in Chamonix, no longer exists), I gave up and went to the local climbers' shop and bought a small double-wall tent. Spend enough time in heavy precip, and you will appreciate rain flies.

What are being called these days "3-season" tents (mesh main body with a rain fly) are good in bug country to keep the flies and mosquitoes away. But they utterly fail in heavy blowing rain. The rain gets blown under the fly and through the mesh into the tent, or in the case of an early- or late-season blizzard, fills the tent with snow blown under the fly. A lot of these tents have tiny, inadequate flies that act as decoration only. I use one of these a fair amount , frequently (at the right season and forecast) without its fly, but other times with the fly, if I anticipate rain and non-violent, shifting winds.

Single wall tents work well if you learn how to properly ventilate them. I have 2 of these that I use frequently. I used my Bibler this past season in the Peruvian Andes, and have used it a lot in winter in the Sierra, Cascades, and Rockies, plus summer in the New England mountains.

Tarps and a lot of "tarp-tents" are fine for light drizzle and if the wind stays pretty much confined to a single direction (so you can pitch the tarp to shield that single direction, or if you can find a wind-blocking stand of trees or big boulder. But in a serious storm with shifting winds (or the usual wind shift that marks frontal passage), the wind can blow the rain into the open parts of the tarp.

"Pyramid" tents (like Black Diamond's Megamid) do take care of the shifting wind problem, but you do need a ground cloth or (more expensive) "bathtub floor" insert. They do have the advantage of being very light - and yes, I am intentionally distinguishing pyramid tents from tarp tents, despite the tendency of some people to consider them the same. I have used my Megamid summer and winter, and as a cook tent, though the Posh Tent is better as a cook tent. Nice thing in winter about the Megamid is that you can dig down in and cut benches to sleep on.

Expedition tents are best for what the name implies - weather that is heavy-duty, with strong winds and heavy precipitation, especially snow.

There are a number of other back-packable tent types as well, designed for the particular application, plus ones designed for use with pack animals (horses, burros, mules, llamas, or sled dogs). When we were sledding in the Alaska bush this past winter, we used a tent sold under the name "Arctic Oven", that we used with a wood-burning stove designed to be carried in the sled and used inside the tent.

In heavy snow conditions, forget the tent - construct an appropriate snow shelter. When you get the skills needed, you can do a fine snow shelter faster than a lot of folks can pitch their tent (and faster than some people can put up an effective tarp). Agreed, first-timers can easily spend all day doing even a very basic snow shelter. It does take time to learn the skills.

Looking at the OP's intended near-term and long-term backpacking intentions, they will be encountering conditions that (if they keep a weather-eye out and select the trip dates accordingly) are just fine for throwing out the ground cloth and watching the stars all night (or pick the right time for a meteor shower), require a mesh tent without a fly for those Spring and early Summer "buggy" times in the Northeast, plus a good single or double wall tent for those trips for those trips into the Eastern and Western mountains that generate the heavy thunderstorms.

Yeah, I know, there are those folks who survive heavy rains and snow with just a tarp or a bivy bag (been there done that). But getting the appropriate shelter, designed for the conditions, makes things a lot more comfortable and pleasant.

3:24 p.m. on August 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

Tarps and a lot of "tarp-tents" are fine for light drizzle and if the wind stays pretty much confined to a single direction (so you can pitch the tarp to shield that single direction, or if you can find a wind-blocking stand of trees or big boulder. But in a serious storm with shifting winds (or the usual wind shift that marks frontal passage), the wind can blow the rain into the open parts of the tarp.

 I would say this is true for an actual tarp, but far from accurate for a Tarptent. Tarptents can be sealed off just like a "regular" tent. They are just designed with alot of thought behind them, using quality materials, and well engineered features that allow for you to get a very light weight tent that is more than adequate for handling any 3 season conditions including those strong thunderstorms, and even some moderate winter conditions depending on the model chosen and optional cross pole use.

Take the Scarp 2 for example from Tarptent. Easily handles 3 season conditions, and with the optional poles can be freestanding and support a snow load. Or you can go lightweight and pitch the same tent with just trekking poles during milder seasons. All for a price below your average main brand tent. with comprable features. I would go as far as to say that you can hardly get a better tent for the price, and your supporting a small cottage industry company as well.

I have personally seen the Scrap 2, the double rainbow, and the rainshadow 2 in use in a wide range of weather conditions. Never seen any issues regarding rain etc blowing in. I mean sure its possible,  as is anything, but it would have to be a really gnarly storm, and i am pretty sure other similar tents would suffer the same fate such as the msr hubba hubba, big anges fly creek series, etc.

There are certainly the best tents for the job, but IMO unless your talking expossed/ above treeline conditions during the heart of winter, or the same during a major thunderstorm then I would say that the end result would be about the same. And that is you will stay dry and get by without a hitch.

4:19 p.m. on August 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Harold, I'm going to leave the tent question alone and just recommend that you bring two, rather than three methods to purify water. 

6:53 p.m. on August 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Ken,

Note that I said

and yes, I am intentionally distinguishing pyramid tents from tarp tents, despite the tendency of some people to consider them the same.

You said

 I would say this is true for an actual tarp, but far from accurate for a Tarptent. Tarptents can be sealed off just like a "regular" tent. They are just designed with alot of thought behind them,

The manufactured TarpTents, whether from Henry Shires or other similar shelters from other manufacturers are not the same thing as a tarp tent. They are actual tents. A friend has a poncho (Silcoat) that converts to a tent-like shelter, using a trekking pole, as well as a Henry Shire Scarp 2. Remember that "Tarptent" is a brand name. When I look at Shire's catalog, I see a dozen full tents, not a dozen "tarps". Most are good designs and will work in a fair range of conditions.

As I said as well,

Different tents for different purposes and applications.

I have, and have used, many of the shelter variations over the years. All have their uses, but none fit every situation. As Shire himself says in his disclaimer on his website:

Disclaimer: Snowy, winter conditions create additional shelter needs. The Tarptent will be fine in light snowstorms but is NOT intended for winter use.

Again, if you pay attention to the weather, climate, and forecasts, you can camp in any weather. "really gnarly storm"? Depends on what you consider "gnarly". I suspect that much of what I consider reasonable weather, you must be putting into the "really gnarly" class.

8:00 p.m. on August 27, 2013 (EDT)
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Exactly, thats why I specifically linked to www.tarptent.com in my first post.

The only reason i mentioned really bad storms was because you did. You said that the flaw of a "tarp tent" is that rain will blow in through the opening. I was just pointing out that Tarptents, aka from www.tarptent.com / Henry Shires are more like regular tents than a tarp, and don't really have any openings unless you purposefully didnt closethem up during a storm.

As far as what you consider reasonable weather and what I consider reasonable doesn't really mean anything. Its what the storm itself is classified as by the NWS is what I go by. 95% of storms i would consider "reasonable" i guess, its only those select few that really have the strength behind them to be of any concern.

9:26 p.m. on August 27, 2013 (EDT)
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The big problem here (admittedly a communications/terminology problem) in the discussions here on Trailspace and a number of the other outdoor websites, many (most) of the discussions of tarps, tarp tents, tarp shelters, Tarptents, pyramid tents, and even some of the discussions of hammocks use the terms indiscriminately and interchangeably. That's why I put "tarp-tents" in quotes in my first post in this thread and made the specific statement in my first reply to you that Shire's Tarptents and similar shelters are tents, not tarp tents. Someone new coming to backpacking and tent discussions is very likely to not realize the wide variety of shelters and make the wrong choice. I do realize that I could have stated things a bit more clearly, but this is the Web, after all, and the short space available to make a comment ends up frequently leaving out essential background information.


By the way, the OP's consideration of the Stephenson is thinking "out of the box" by most backpackers' standards. Great tents, but certainly not "Big Name" or mainstream by any means. UL, OTOH, is becoming more and more the mainstream, at least out here on the Left Coast in the "how to go backpacking" courses that are offered and widely publicized. I see lots of Shire and similar tents in the backcountry out on the trails when more than 5 miles or so from the trailheads. Six Moons Designs seem to be becoming popular. And now with Easton, Sierra Designs, ZPacks, Brooks-Range, and others coming out with Silnylon and Cuben packs and tents (Integral Designs and Black Diamond have had Silnylon tents for years).

It is getting harder and harder to make a choice, with so many similar products out there.

12:48 p.m. on August 28, 2013 (EDT)
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thanks for all of this information guys! my wife and i have gone with ospry packs and marmot pinaccle sleeping bags. we have narrowed our list of potential tents to:

msr hubba hubba

stephenson's warmlite 2r

as my wife and i are most likely not going to go out hiking/camping during torrential downpours (though i suppose it could happen sometime during a multiday) nor are we planning on camping during a hurricane, the hubba hubba seems most flexible and is obviously less expensive, though not by THAT much.... it'll mostly be used for weekend trips in new england (once a month) and perhaps a week/two week hiking camping adventure somewhere west during august (glacier, yellowstone etc etc).

does the msr hubba hubba sound like the way to go our do you think it'll be worth it in the long run to spend an extra $150 on the warmlite 2r?

1:23 p.m. on August 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Given that you are limiting to those 2 choices, I personally would go with the Stephenson, though the MSR is very popular and people I know who have one are very happy with it. So maybe, go with the less pricey choice, build your backpacking time, and look at other folks tents in the field, asking lots of questions about their experiences. As you gain backcountry time, you will know better what works best for you.

But don't kid yourself about New England weather. We lived in Boston for several years and spent a lot of weekends in the mountains. Plus, I have been back there a couple times to do a bit of hiking. A large fraction of the summer weekends had torrential downpours (usually lasting only a couple hours, and always starting when we were half-way between campsites), and including spring and fall as well. Winter included a few blizzards, though those were more accurately forecast. Then there was the nice sunny April weekend we decided to do an overnight bike trip on the Cape. Saturday was beautiful and sunny. Sunday morning we awoke to a light drizzle (not in the forecast). By the time we had biked back to our car, (got there before noon), there was 4 inches of snow on the ground. But when we were driving back, shortly after we crossed the Cape Cod Canal, it was warm, sunny, and clear. As they say in New England, "If you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes, and it will change."

2:00 p.m. on August 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Most of my trips are in ME and even if the forecast calls for clear weather I just assume I will get rained on at least once a trip and I'm rarely wrong.  Better to be prepared and not need it than the other way around when it comes to shelter.

2:37 p.m. on August 28, 2013 (EDT)
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any other recs for a double wall freestanding 2 person 3 season tent similar ish to the msr hubba hubba? any other reputable companies i should be checking out?

Should i be checking out Hilleberg tents too?

3:48 p.m. on August 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Hilleberg is at the top of my list for tents in most categories. But they are also at the top of my list in priceyness. I think I would wait until you have a few dozen backpacking nights under your belt and have a really good idea of what you really want in the way of roominess/coziness, weight, ease of setup/packing (especially in a hurry as the weather is moving in). etc.

By the way, it probably is not of concern to you, but Silnylon, Cuben, and some others of the newest superlight fabrics do not pass the fire safety standards in some states, hence cannot be sold in those states (you can always get them mail order, though). California, where I live is one of those states. So for example, stores here can not sell Hilleberg tents or the BD silcoat versions of the Bibler tents. No restrictions on using them, though (if you can make sense of the restrictions, you are probably a lawyer or politician). It isn't a good idea to build a fire inside your tent (or cook inside, either) in any case.

8:37 p.m. on August 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I've used the Warmlite Stephenson 2R for a very long time.  I've had zero problems.  Ok...a few annoyances.

It sheds snow well using usual precautions, and the tent can be made taut from inside during a blow.  I've sat out muliti-day rains/storms as well as on the move for days on end in the NW when the weather would not give us a break.

When I bought it, the gal taking the order told me that I would wish one day I had gotten the 3R.  She was right.  I now also have a 3R with friends/family and use the 2R mainly if solo. LOTs of room! 

The 2R and 3R pack down to about the size of two wine bottles punt to cork.  This includes my sylnylon footprint, stakes, and poles.  The weight Warmlite indicates does not include ground cloth, stakes and seam sealing. That is too variable.  The 3r is about a pound more than the 2r.   If you take a price or weight ratio to the footprint/headroom of any of the tents, Warmlite is cheaper per square foot or pound than many others.

Minor cases of condensation, usually a wet face on some mornings, but nothing a quick chamois can't fix.  Very much like tending a fire.  You have to be smart and tend to the ventilation too. 3R is easier to vent than is the 2R.

I have the side panel 'barn doors' for more ventilation if hot, and for viewing horizontally in rain or vertically if a nice night.  Definitely a wife/kid thingy.  We hold out the canopies with trek poles.  The 2R requires 3 stakes the 3R 4.  You can tack it down on corners if you need to or slightly paranoid.  The 3R has extra reinforcement for extra cost for heavy winds and snow.  The best thing about the 3R is that it holds four good friends and has exits at both ends.  The 2R only one end.  We had 5 in the 2r over night when a storm swept away the other's tent. No body got a lot of sleep and it was hard to shuffle and deal the cards.

I've more than re-cooped the extra cost with only the 3lb+ weight on my back over many long uphill miles.  It goes up in under 5 mins and down a bit longer.  If you are a significant klutz this may not be the tent for you.  The poles are fragile until inserted in the tent and the tent taut.  Do not slam the trunk door on them. Was fixed with the help of overnight mail.

The biggest problem in deciding on this tent is that you can not see it on public display any place except a hidden workshop in NH.  If in So California come over, bring a beer and we can tell lies to each other.

I'd like to have a Hilleberg too. I just don't do that kind of stuff anymore and besides would be a tough sell to wife.

8:46 p.m. on August 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Harorld said:

Should i be checking out Hilleberg tents too?

I highly advise you to read my review on the Anjan 2 before you consider shelling out the $$$ on a Hille 3 season model.

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/hilleberg/anjan-2/#review25589

Their 4/All Season tents are bomber. 

I own 2(a Soulo and a Tarra.)

I love my all season tents but the Anjan leaves quite a bit to be desired.

4:33 p.m. on September 1, 2013 (EDT)
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the anjan doesn't do well in the rain. too much of a gap in the bottom of the fly, the rain splashes through to the inner. if you want to fork out for a tent, get the warmlight. if not, get the hubba hubba. what stove did you decide on?

12:25 p.m. on September 18, 2013 (EDT)
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Stove-wise, you can't go wrong with the MSR PocketRocket. Great all-around stove that is inexpensive and very reliable. I don't know how you feel about carrying IsoPro fuel but you would have to carry some with this system (or some kind of mix of IsoPro). If weight is your concern you should go with an alcohol or Esbit stove, but I would only recommend this if you are simply using the stove to boil water. Hope this helps!

11:52 a.m. on September 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Harold, there is a lot of good information here and Bill S, as well as others, has been very helpful. Perhaps I missed it, but you had mentioned a trip out west in August, Glacier or Yellowstone. As Bill S commented about summer New England weather and torrential rains, I feel compelled to mention August weather in places like Glacier NP. Certainly the weather can be hot, and on those wonderful clear nights at elevation, it is a pretty great thing. It can also snow. In August, you ask? Yes, in August. Even here in Washington on Mt. Rainier, hardly much higher than Paradise, I have rolled out on an August morning to find snow on the ground. Mountains bring mountain weather.

9:18 p.m. on September 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S is correct about flame retardant coatings on fabrics in some states. Black Diamond was able to do this with the Bibler "Toddtex" but now it doesn't breathe as well as the original material. Fortunately Integral Designs makes similar tents, using non flame retardant fabric. But they come from Canada and are only sold in certain states. And to be clear, the retardant coated fabrics do burn, just not as fast. Using a stove inside your tent is not recommended, but is certainly done. I cook inside a floorless tent with netting in the Barren's, and cottons tents are great with a  stove to warm them.

11:08 p.m. on October 2, 2013 (EDT)
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@Harold

Like you and your wife, I am also an avid day hiker making the transition to backpacking. I've done two "carefully" planned backpacking trips for the sole purpose of testing myself and my load. The first was with very little elevation gain at grades of 5% or less. The second involved 1,200' of gain with 1,500' of total climbing. Both trips were at elevations of 10,000' - 11, 500'

Now I am not a gear guru like the others, I'm just trying to find my way as best I can without doing myself in and going broke in the process. However, I will make one suggestion to you, based on my personal experience with trying to gear-up for backpacking.

Determine what gear you "think" you want to buy, then use the "packed weight" listed for that gear item, enter all of those weights in a spreadsheet and get the total weight for all of your gear, including food and water.

If that weight is more than 1/3 of your body weight, it will probably be much too heavy over the long haul. Even if that weight is 1/3 of your body weight, it will still probably be much too heavy for any elevation gain over distance at grades over 5%.

My second trip, with elevation gain and at altitude, my pack was 1/3 my body weight. After an hour of hiking, I'm like, "This pack sure feels heavy," and I was still on level ground! Once I started climbing, I'm like, "Holy #$%@. This pack IS really heavy!"

After that second trip, I am now in replacement mode and looking to get my pack weight down to 1/4 my body weight before I go out again. At your young age, though, you may be able to handle more weight than me, but, IMO, still a good idea to calculate a close approximate of your total gear weight before you buy anything.

Of course percentages don't really tell all the story. A friend went with me on my second trip. He weighs 175# and is in pretty good shape. His pack weight was 40# and after almost seven miles -- the last 4-5 of which we were climbing -- he was complaining about his pack weight, as well. So even with percentage of body weight, there is still going to be an upper limit, a point where even 1/4 of body weight might still be an uncomfortable amount of weight to carry, depending on age, conditioning, etc.

4:52 p.m. on October 13, 2013 (EDT)
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age and fitness play a big part in weight carrying ability. OK, fitness more than age. the two maybe are related, maybe not. I'm not an expert. the bottom line is you want to carry the lightest pack possible. if you go out often, then that is more important to you. the heaviest pack I've carried weighed in at 52 pounds. the lightest, 25 pounds. total pack weight, including water. big difference. I would like to get that weight down even further, but I am not sure my wallet can take the hit. it's all a question of how much you want to spend to get your pack weight down.

12:22 a.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
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I'm still in my twenties, but I've got a bad back and have had one since being diagnosed with spinal stenosis as a teenager.

That said, two things:

A.) Trekking poles. I can't think of one single, good reason to ever go without them, and it's possibly the simplest way to spare your back some of the burden. My back thanks me every time I hit the trail with them, and I even use mine when I'm day-hiking without my pack.

B.) Packing light and packing smart are two different things.

The small stuff adds up, and if you don't rely or depend on it, ask yourself if you really need to bring it along. 

Avoid redundancies and find multipurpose items, instead of packing several items to accomplish what one can do.

Most importantly, find gear that suits your personal hiking/camping style, and not anyone else's.

I recently replaced my cookset and stove with a JetBoil unit. All I do is boil water for either coffee or freeze-dried meals, and all the components nest into another. The pot has its own cozy (with a built-in handle), and the lid has both strainer holes and a sipping hole. Stupid simple.

Sure, this is the snowflake that sits on the tip of the iceberg, but those two lessons are the ones I've learned the most from. 

Long story short, 25 pounds is the absolute most I carry now (water and consumables included). Sure, part of me will miss the convenience of a sleeping pad pump, or the warm glow from a small lantern, but coming home without a sore back trumps both those things. 

9:53 a.m. on November 7, 2013 (EST)
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HornRimmedHiker said:

I'm still in my twenties, but I've got a bad back and have had one since being diagnosed with spinal stenosis as a teenager.

 

 

 YIKES!!!! That is awful! When I was in my teens, I used to watch people sorta crack their own backs and it was a tottal mystery to me having NEVER had an ounce of back pain EVAH! In my 20's I worked in a corn processing plant and did a lot of heavy lifting...more than a typical woman is built for if I can be so politically incorrect as to make that statement. I would load trucks with 55 lb boxes of corn stacked pretty high. By my thirties my back went out and I had degenerative disk disease with 5 implcated. By my 40's I was so overweight and sendentary with no core strength left and could hardly walk. When the lightbulb went on that my 50's and 60's were not going to be any better and if I lived into my 0's that would spell 30 or more years of a nothing sort of life, I got off the couch and muscled through the pain and started hiking...first piece of gear I got was a set of poles. Without those, I predict I would have quit as quickly as I started. Instead, I am more active than I ahve been in decades and the future looks bright. Poles...the only way to go! Hope you back holds up and your core works hard to support it!

11:05 a.m. on November 7, 2013 (EST)
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Thanks, Gift!

I'm keeping my own fingers crossed, there, too.

I'll say this much: a couple months ago, 4 of us Trailspacers met down at Shawnee Nat'l Forest for a 3-day section hike of the River-to-River Trail.

32 miles over three days.

Not terrible as far as distance goes, but the change in elevation is almost constant. You're either going up or down - rare are the times you find yourself traversing a level surface. To boot, the it rained for the entirety of the first day, and parts of the trail got slippery (especially where exposed rock was concerned).

All four of us had trekking poles.

Despite age, despite experience level, all that...it just is a no-brainer decision. Gives your arms something to do, and gives your back a break from some of that heavy lifting.

From one trekking pole advocate to another,

HRH

11:20 a.m. on November 7, 2013 (EST)
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I agree H. My Evereset Trek was made by it. That trail is up and down all day every days for eught days. Unrelenting and we had snow and mud and yak dung too! POLES were the answer to mqny a potential slip or balance adjustment. Definately distributes the poad far more than one would ever guess.

11:56 a.m. on November 8, 2013 (EST)
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Poles work great. Also remember to stretch and exercise all the muscles regularly. A few years ago, I had a minor car accident…nothing major, somebody bumped my car in the rear. But just to be safe, I got some x-rays. The doctor, who didn't know my history, said, "You've had a traumatic spine injury in your past" "What?. Nothing. Oh yeah, my work". Being a cinematographer for many years, most of it operating the camera myself, I often had to carry heavy loads. I ended up with "Postman's Back", which I knew. What I didn't know was how close many of my vertebrae are on one side. So I work hard to keep the inevitable at bay.

5:50 p.m. on November 13, 2013 (EST)
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