274 forum posts
As some of you may know from my trip reports, recently I've started hiking the White Mountains of NH, and am enjoying it so much that I plan on incorporating camping into my hikes so I can start earlier and not be limited to whatever I can do in one day. I've car-camped overnight as part of hikes before, but only so I didn't have to get up at a ridiculously early hour to drive 2-3 hours to the trailhead - I've never actually backpacked before (well, not since boy scouts 35ish years ago.)
Right now I'm in the research stage of acquiring the bigger, more expensive pieces of gear - backpack, sleeping bag, and tent. The pack seems to be the most difficult of the 3, finding something that offers the best combination of fit, comfort, weight capacity, durability, and price seems like a tall order. So far I've tried on a few packs (with weight in them) at the local EMS, and I'm going back again today for more. I'd also like to try some Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs but nobody local stocks them and I don't know if they have a retail store at their factory (they're made in my hometown of Biddeford ME.) I'm definitely leaning hard toward ultralight gear, but not dismissing 4-6lb packs out of hand. I'm thinking a heavier pack that's more comfortable will be a better choice, for example.
Sleeping bags may be the simplest choice - I know I want treated down, and the highest fill power in my budget. For the time being I'm not planning on any dead-of-winter trips, so I'm thinking something with an EN comfort rating around 10-15F should suffice. The Big Agnes bags look good because I tend to wander off the sleeping pad, but some bags I've seen have pad straps on the bottom to hold it in place. The BA bags seem to be a little heavier, but I realize a 3lb bag may be 50% heavier than a 2 pound bag but still only 3lb. Plus they tend to have larger circumference measurements, though I'm not sure if that's the interior or exterior of the bag. My shoulder circumference with the tape held loosely is 57".
Lastly is the tent. I know I want a 4-season, but don't know if I should choose a single or double wall tent. Or why. I'm assuming a double wall tent will be heavier, but also offer more protection from weather. Some of the single walls I've seen, such as the MH Direkt, have the poles on the inside so you can actually set the tent up while inside, which seems like it could be handy in pouring rain or blowing snow. The HMG Ultamid looks good and has great reviews, it doesn't come with a floor but I'd just compact a spot with my snowshoes and make a grommeted floor out of Tyvek. There's no vestibule option for the HMG, adding the optional vestibule for the MH brings the price right to the same area as the HMG but adds 1.5lb of weight for a total of almost 5lb (tent, footprint, & vestibule.) Again, I want the lightest tent that will do what I need it to do, so even if I have to carry 5lb of MH gear for my tent I'd still be looking at 10-12lb max for the pack, bag, and tent. That doesn't seem too excessive to me.
Anyway, whatever advice anyone has will be appreciated!