Loading...

Follow Section Hikers Backpacking Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
Or

Valid


Tent condensation happens to everyone. It’s one of the unavoidable consequences of camping or backpacking with a tent, but it’s usually just a nuisance and not the end of the world.

Still, there are a lot of misconceptions about tent condensation and whether you can buy a tent that completely prevents condensation. Unfortunately, the laws of physics are hard to avoid. Condensation is a natural process that occurs with all tents, both single-wall and double-wall tents, no matter what fabric or materials they’re made of.

What causes tent condensation?

Condensation forms when humid air encounters a colder surface like the interior walls or roof of your tent. It’s the same process that occurs when you take a hot shower and the steam makes your bathroom mirror wet. Steam, which is simply water vapor in a gaseous form, is cooled when it hits the mirror, converting it to liquid water droplets that cover the mirror with moisture.

How to reduce tent condensation

The amount of condensation you experience is a tent is a function the humidity in the air around you and the moist air you expel from your lungs when you exhale. In order to reduce the amount of condensation that forms in your tent at night, you should:

  1. Ventilate your tent by rolling back the rain fly or leaving the vestibule door open so humid air and moist exhalations from your breath can escape.
  2. Remove wet clothes or shoes from your tent at night. Dry them outside or put them inside a stuff sack to reduce nighttime humidity.
  3. Cook and boil water outside your tent to avoid increasing the interior humidity level.
  4. Avoid camping near streams, lakes, ponds, or in wet or marshy areas where the humidity is higher. Yes, it’s nice to camp next to a water source, but you’re asking for tent condensation when you do it.
  5.  Avoid setting up your tent at a low point in the landscape where cold air pools at night. If your tent’s walls and fly are warmer, you’ll have less condensation.

How to Minimize Condensation in Your Tent - YouTube

What is the best tent for avoiding condensation?

There really is no best tent for all climates, seasons, and locations. Good campsite selection is always going to be the most important factor in preventing tent condensation. But different styles of tents have different pros and cons that are worth considering.

Single-wall Tents: Ultralight-style tents, tarp tents, and tarps are usually quite easy to ventilate, although they can also be quite drafty in cooler weather. You might even have to bulk up on your sleep insulation to stay warm at night. However, if you only camp in warmer weather, they can be a good choice.

Double-wall Tents: Double-wall tents tend to have less air-flow, but can be used across a wider range of temperatures because they retain more body heat at night. While they don’t eliminate internal condensation, they keep it away from you and your gear. Any water vapor inside your tent, from your breath for instance, will pass through the mesh inner tent and collect on the inside of the rain fly instead.

What if it’s raining?

If it’s raining, your chance of experiencing tent condensation will increase because there’s more humidity in the air. It’s a lot like camping next to a stream or a pond, but many times worse. If you have a single-wall tent or shelter, your best bet is to carry a small camp towel or bandana that you can use to wipe away any tent condensation before it drips onto your gear. If you’re in a double-wall tent, make sure that the rain fly is stretched as far away from the inner tent as possible, particularly along the sides and corners of the tent. If your fly clips onto the base of your inner tent, consider staking it out separately to promote more airflow between the layers.

How significant is moisture in your breath?

When you sleep at night, you exhale about 1 liter of moisture. You’re not aware of it, but its one of the reasons why you wake up thirsty at night or in the morning. If there are 2 people in the tent, then you have to deal with 2 liters of tent condensation, and so on, as you add more people. If you’ve ever camped in a tent in winter, the inside of the rain fly will usually be covered in frost in the morning, mainly from occupants’ breath.

What if your sleeping bag gets wet from tent condensation?

Most sleeping bags and quilts have a water-resistant exterior shell fabric or one that has a DWR coating to repel water. If however, the shell gets wet or damp, your best bet is to dry it in the sun the next morning while you’re having breakfast or during a rest break during the day. Stopping to dry wet gear, tent flies, and clothing is a normal everyday activity when backpacking and it’s good to get in a habit of doing it when necessary.

What if your tent or tent fly is soaking wet in the morning?

If you’re not in a rush, you can let it dry in the morning sun, but that might take a while. If you have to get going, another option is to wipe down the rain fly using a clean camping towel, which will remove a significant amount of that water. After that pack the fly away in an outer pack pocket or in a separate plastic bag and dry it later in the day during a rest break.

Can you set up a wet tent fly at night?

Absolutely, although you might want to pitch camp a little early that evening so that your tent has a chance to dry out before you want to get into it. I’ve set up damp tents in summer and had them dry within an hour, but your mileage may vary.

Written 2018.

See Also: Disclosure: SectionHiker.com receives affiliate compensation from retailers that sell the products we recommend or link to if you make a purchase through them. When reviewing products, we test each thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post How to Prevent Tent Condensation appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The White Mountain National Forest is located about 2 and 1/2 hours north of Boston, 6 hours north of New York City, and about 2 hours from Portland, Maine. It’s visited by over 6 million people per year, and provides numerous recreational opportunities including hiking, backpacking, camping, climbing, skiing, ice climbing, mountaineering, snowmobiling, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking, and fishing.

Nearly 800,000 acres in size, the White Mountain National Forest contains 6 designated Wilderness Areas, which make up about 20% of its total acreage. These areas are kept deliberately primitive with little road access, few man-made structures, and less signage, trail blazing, and trail maintenance. Motorized equipment and bicycles are also prohibited in the Wilderness Areas and groups cannot be larger than 10 people in size. Food caching and geocaching are also prohibited.

Map of the Major Roads in White MountainsGetting There

You will need a car to drive to the White Mountains and get around it. While there is interstate access, via I-93, all of the roads through and around the periphery of the region are two lane highways. There’s  very little bus service from major cities like Boston and no public transportation in the forest itself. The AMC has a very expensive shuttle service between trailheads and there are a few private shuttle drivers, who mainly service Appalachian Trail hikers.

Some internal roads are seasonal and gated closed in winter (which generally lasts from mid-November into May.) These roads are worth learning about if you plan to spend time in the Whites, because they provide nice shortcuts and access to many remote areas. Delorme Gazetteers (map books) for New Hampshire and Maine can be quite useful for finding them.

Towns

There are several towns with restaurants, motels, food stores located around the periphery of the National Forest. These are Lincoln, Twin Mountain, Conway, North Conway, Jackson, Gorham, Berlin, Plymouth, Woodstock, and Warren.

Parking

Most trailhead lots are free, but those with bathrooms often require payment of a day fee. You can buy weeklong or annual parking pass at the National Forest Welcome centers in Lincoln and Campton which is often worth it. Cars are generally safe when parked, but break-ins do occur at some popular trail heads in summer. The usual advice prevails: don’t keep valuables or personally identifiable information in your car and hide possessions in covered storage.

Trail System

The White Mountains have over 500 trails, including the oldest hiking trails in the United States. The trail system is highly connected, making it possible to create quite scenic multi-day trips. There’s a misconception that the White Mountains trail system is managed by the Appalachian Mountain Club. That’s incorrect. The trail system is managed and maintained by the United States Forest Service and many regional trail organizations, many which are volunteer based. Some also maintain cabins or camping areas that are open to the public (marked below with an *).

  • Randolph Mountain Club*
  • Wonalancet Out Door Club
  • Chatham Trails Association
  • Chocorua Mountain Club
  • Cohos Trail Association*
  • Appalachian Mountain Club*
  • Dartmouth Outing Club*
  • Lakes Region Conservation Trust*
  • Maine Appalachian Trail Club*
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Green Hills Preserve
  • Rivendell Trails Association
  • NH Dept of Resources and Economic Development
  • Society for the Protection of NH Forests
  • Squam Lakes Association*
  • Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association

With the exception of the Appalachian Trail and its white blazes, White Mountain trails are quite lightly blazed, primarily in yellow, but it varies. The trails are relatively easy to follow if you pay attention to the placement of the tread and other clues, except when they’re covered by snow, or in early spring when covered by winter debris. Trails above-treeline are usually marked with rock cairns, but these can be hard to spot when the mist is down.

Trail junctions are well signed

The signage at trail junctions is quite good, but you do need to carry a waterproof map, at the very least, to help you remember which trail to follow or take if bad weather forces you to modify your plans. A compass is also particularly helpful in low visibility above-treeline. I carry both, always.

The most detailed trail hiking maps are published by the Appalachian Mountain Club. I recommend you purchase the AMC White Mountain Map Set (2017 ed) which includes 6 waterproof maps. The AMC also publishes The White Mountain Guide, now in its 30th edition, which has excellent trailhead directions and detailed trail descriptions for all 600+ of the hiking trails that are considered part of the White Mountains region, including those outside of the National Forest. It’s the hikers’ bible in the Whites and we all refer to it constantly because it contains kernels of information not visible on maps.

Many of the regional trail clubs, listed above, also publish their own regional maps, which can provide more detail, including historical detail, than the AMC maps. The best place to buy them is The Mountain Wanderer in Lincoln, NH, which also has an online store. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worthwhile stopping by the shop, and talking to the owner Steve Smith, who’s the editor of The White Mountain Guide.

A GPS with an up-to-date map of the trail system can also be quite helpful. The USGS maps for the region are so-so and generally out of date, so I recommend using Guthook’s New England Hiker Smartphone App (IOS and Android) which has very accurate and up-to-date trail maps of the White Mountains (mapped by walking them) and adjacent trail systems, in addition to GPS-enabled trailhead directions, detailed water source information, and campsite information. I use it frequently.

New Hampshire 3000 Footer & 200 Highest MapMountains and Peakbagging Lists

There are hundred of mountains in the Whites, but the most famous are certainly the 4000 footers, referred to as the White Mountain 4000 footers or the AMC 4000 footers. Contrary to its name, the 4000 footer list contains peaks that are over 5000 and 6000 feet high. The 4000 footers and the trails leading to them are quite popular, especially in summer and on weekends. Mt Washington is by far the most popular, because it’s the tallest and you can drive to the top.

There are other 4000 footers in the White Mountains that are not on that list, but this is the list that most peakbaggers get hooked on first. The 4000 footer committee awards a patch for hikers who complete the AMC 4000 footer list. Over 10,000 people have received it.

  • Washington – 6288′
  • Adams – 5799′
  • Jefferson – 5716′
  • Monroe – 5732′
  • Madison – 5366′
  • Lafayette – 5260′
  • Lincoln – 5089′
  • S. Twin – 4902′
  • Carter Dome – 4832′
  • Moosilauke – 4802′
  • North Twin – 4761′
  • Eisenhower – 4760′
  • Carrigain – 4700′
  • Bond -4698′
  • Middle Carter – 4610′
  • West Bond – 4540′
  • Garfield – 4500′
  • Liberty – 4450′
  • South Carter – 4430′
  • Wildcat – 4422′
  • Hancock – 4420′
  • South Kinsman – 4358′
  • Field – 4340′
  • Osceola – 4340′
  • Flume – 4328′
  • South Hancock – 4319′
  • Pierce – 4312′
  • North Kinsman – 4293′
  • Willey – 4285′
  • Bondcliff – 4265′
  • Zealand -4260′
  • North Tripyramid – 4180′
  • Cabot – 4170′
  • East Osceola – 4156′
  • Middle Tripyramid – 4140′
  • Cannon – 4100′
  • Wildcat D – 4062′
  • Hale – 4054′
  • Jackson – 4052′
  • Tom – 4051′
  • Moriah – 4049′
  • Passaconaway – 4043′
  • Owls Head – 4025′
  • Galehead – 4024′
  • Whiteface – 4020′
  • Waumbek – 4006′
  • Isolation – 4003′
  • Tecumseh – 4003′

Some other regional trail & peakbagging lists include:

Permits and Regulations

You don’t need a permit to hike in the White Mountain National Forest as a private individual. There are some regulations that you do need to be aware of:

Backcountry Camping Rules for the White Mountain National Forest (click for PDF)

These vary across different areas in the National Forest, but some universal restrictions include:

  • No camping above treeline where trees are less than 8′ in height, except on top of two feet of snow
  • No camping, wood, or charcoal fires within 1/4 mile of the following, except designated sites: any hut, shelter, developed tent site, cabin, picnic area, developed day use site, campground, or trailhead.

Wilderness Area Regulations

  • Limited Group Size to 10 People
  • Camp at Designated Campsites or at Least 200 feet from Trails
  • No Use of Mechanical Equipment or Mechanical Vehicles including bicycles
  • Expect Primitive conditions with few signs and trails that may be difficult to follow
USFS Wilderness Campsite MarkerCamping and Shelters

There are numerous backcountry campsites and shelters distributed throughout the White Mountain National Forest. Most are free to use although some charge a small fee in summer to pay caretakers. There are additional USFS campsites, that are NOT marked on maps, so they can be moved around to reduce overuse impacts. They’re marked with a carved wooden sign representing a tent, positioned at ankle height, and easy to miss.

The AMC also has a series of full service huts where you can stay, although it’s quite expensive (for reservations). Many people think you need to stay in the AMC huts when visiting the White Mountains but that’s simply not true. It’s just one of many options. The Randolph Mountain Club also has a hut system in the Presidential Range, but it is considerably more primitive, less crowded, and less expensive.

You can also camp in the backcountry in a natural setting provided you adhere to the backcountry camping rules, which do require a map to interpret. Please practice Leave No Trace Wilderness Ethics when doing so.

Weather

One of the things that makes hiking and backpacking in the White Mountains challenging is the weather.  This is particularly true above-treeline, where high wind, wind chill, and lightning are very real dangers depending on temperatures and the time of year.

Above-treeline warning sign

Flooding and high water crossings are also an area for concern after major rain events and in the spring, although there are very few water crossings on trails that are actually of much concern provided you have some water crossing experience.

When planning hikes, it’s best to check the weather forecast and trail conditions continuously for a few days before your hike, and have a plan B in case it’s prudent to postpone your original hike.

  • NOAA’s point forecasts at Weather.gov are quite accurate and include 48-hour trend forecasts that are useful for predicting wind speeds and the amount of precipitation over the course of several days. River gauge information can also be useful for forecasting water levels in the water sheds of your hike.
  • The Mount Washington Observatory posts a Higher Summits Forecast, which is covers Mt Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, but it is highly localized.
  • New England Trail Conditions is a hiker-run site that posts trail condition information that can be useful for planning trips, particularly during spring thaws and in late autumn.

When planning above-treeline hikes, it is good to plan out a few escape routes below treeline, depending on the weather and time of year you hike. Below treeline hikes are generally safe in most weather, except in certain avalanche zones, and from flying debris or widow-makers.

Search and Rescue

The State of New Hampshire has started charging people for rescues in some cases. You can buy a Hike Safe Card for $25 per person or $35 per family, which is a form of insurance covering rescue costs.  People who obtain the cards are not liable to repay rescue costs if they need to be rescued due to negligence on their part, regardless of whether they are hiking, boating, cross-country skiing, hunting, or engaging in any other outdoor activity. An individual may still be liable for response expenses, however, if such person is deemed to have recklessly or to have intentionally created a situation requiring an emergency response. People who possess a current New Hampshire Fish and Game hunting or fishing license, or a current registration for an off-highway recreational vehicle, snowmobile or boat, are also exempt from repaying rescue costs due to negligence.

If you require a rescue in the White Mountains and have a cell phone, dial *77. If you are physically in  NH and on a land line, call 1-800-525-5555. They will answer 24 hours a day and will initiate the rescue. The NH Fish and Game dispatcher has very limited hours and isn’t a good number to call if you need to preserve your cell phone battery. They request that you call the State Police number instead.

Note: Cell phone service can be very spotty in the White Mountains although it has improved in the past few years. Your best alternative is often self-reliance and proper preparation.

The best way to avoid black bear encounters is to make a lot of noise when hiking and keep a clean camp when sleeping.Bears

There are black bears. Many of the AMC and some USFS managed campsites have bear boxes, but you should be prepared to hang your food with a bear bag or by using an Ursack when camping at less developed or backcountry sites.

The USFS is quite vigilant about patrolling for bear bags at campsites, particularly in The Great Gulf below Mt Washington, and will cite people who don’t hang their food. The USFS also loans out bear canisters at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead, although they’re not mandatory yet in the National Forest.

Water

Water is generally abundant in the White Mountains, although you may need to drop down side trails when hiking above-treeline to resupply. Carry a map, so you can locate natural water sources. Filtering or water purification of backpacking is highly recommended.

Additional Resources

New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest is a fantastic place to backpack. This quick and dirty guide provides all the information you need to get started in planning next adventure including camping, shelter, and trail system information, recommended maps, permits and regulations, travel, weather, and more.

If you’re interested in backpacking in the area, be sure to check out my free guidebook, Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, which has a growing variety of backpacking trip plans to the high peaks and other scenic destinations.

Written 2018.

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com receives affiliate compensation from retailers that sell the products we recommend or link to if you make a purchase through them. When reviewing products, we test each thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post Backpacking in the White Mountains: A Quick and Dirty Guide appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I’m headed down to the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail this spring to finish section hiking the state. It’s tough living in Massachusetts or New Hampshire and getting down south to finish the trail on section hikes, but I am shooting to finish the AT by the end of 2020 so I can start hiking some other shorter, long distance trails.

By March, I start to get cabin fever in New Hampshire, where I do most of my backpacking. The winter snow lasts well into May and it’s challenging to get out. But spring arrives earlier in the mid-Atlantic states, so I like to head down south each March or April and hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. It’s still on the cold side in terms of temperature, but the snow is gone, and I prefer hiking the trail when it’s less crowded.

The pace of my section hiking the AT has fallen off in recent years because I fell in love with backpacking in New Hampshire when I started section hiking the state in 2009. But I finished a major hiking/backpacking milestone last July when I finished hiking all 608 trails in The White Mountain Guide (becoming the 36th finisher) and feel the time is right to get back to hiking the Appalachian Trail. I hope to finish my loose ends in Pennsylvania (180 miles), New Jersey (10 miles) and Maine (50 miles) this year, so I can finish the rest of Virginia in 2019 and wrap up the trail in 2020. Some November section hikes are not out of the question, when backpacking in New Hampshire gets too dark and cold to be much fun.

Packingoz.lbs. 
Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest Pack32.4
Lowepro Dashpoint 20 Camera Pocket1.9
HMG Assorted Stuff Sacks2
Trash Bag Liner2.4
Victorinox Classic Swiss Army Knife w/ mini biner0.8
Fox 40 Plastic Whistle0.1
Shelter
Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock, Bishop Bag, Whoopies, and Dyneema Straps17.1
Warbonnet Minifly, w/guylines14.8
Hammock Gear Mesh Tarp Sleeve0.9
8 x MSR Needle Stakes2.4
Dutchware Winter Vented Sock10
Sleeping
Warbonnet Wooki Underquilt 024.3
Loco Libre Ghost Pepper Top Quilt 2023.3
Clothing, Not Worn
Mountain Hardware Dome Perignon Hat2.1
Buff with Insect Shield1.3
Darn Tough Socks w/Insect Shield (2)4.8
Lightheart Gear Rain Jacket6.7
Montane Minimus Rain Pant5.8
Montbell Down Jacket9
Patagonia Capilene 1 Bottoms5.9
Possumdown Gloves1.5
Supernatural Wool Jersey6.7
REI Event Minimalist Rain Mitts1.2
Cooking
Evernew Pasta Pot (M)3.9
QiWiz Esbit Stove, titanium screen, wire pot stand1.3
Army 2.0 Light My Fire1.3
Large Plastic Spoon0.3
Ursack7.7
OPSack Odor Proof Bag1.3
Electronics
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Camera4.6
iPhone 6 w/ Lander Case5.9
Nitecore NU20 Headlamp1.7
RavPower 9000 mAh Battery8.6
Garmin inReach+ Satellite Communicator7.5
First Aid
First aid kit (DIY)6.6
Hydration
1L Smartwater Bottles (2)2.6
Sawyer Squeeze (filter only)2.4
Platypus 2L Hydration Reservoir1.2
AT Guide PDF2
Guthooks Guide AT App0
Suunto M3 Compass1.5
Total Carried237.814.9
Clothing Worn
Darn Tough Socks (Insect Shield)2.4
Railriders Journeyman Shirt7.4
La Sportiva Ultra Raptors28
Outdoor Research Sentinel Brim Hat2.5
Railriders Ecomesh Pants10
Under Armor Boxers3.2
Rab Polartec 100 Fleece 1/2 zip Pullover9.9
Pacerpole Dual Lock Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles20.1
Total Worn83.55.2

Part of my ritual preparation for long section hikes is figuring out what weather conditions I’m likely to encounter and modifying my gear list accordingly. I’ve been to this area before during the same time of year, so I know to expect:

  • Near freezing temps at night
  • Cold wind exposure, since the trees don’t have leaves yet
  • Potential for all day rain
  • Periods of sun and but lots of cool grey days
  • Frequent resupply opportunities
Shelter/Sleep System

I’m convinced that hammocks are the best shelter for hiking the Appalachian Trail because they give you maximum flexibility in terms of campsite location and the freedom to avoid noisy shelter mates. Hammocks are easy to pitch in the rain (tarp first) so your hammock and sleep insulation doesn’t get wet and there’s no shortage of trees to hang from.

While it’s true that cold weather hammocking is a bit bulky since you need a warmer top quilt, bottom quilt, and an extra wind protector (called a hammock sock), I sleep much more deeply in a hammock than I do on the ground and have come to prefer it over a ground-based shelter.

Backpack

I carry a 55L Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 Backpack to accommodate my cold weather hammock insulation. In warmer weather, I switch to a lower volume (40L) version of the same pack. It’s not the lightest cuben fiber backpack you can buy, although it is one of the most durable. I also like the way it fits.

Stove, Cooking, Food

There’s nothing like a hot meal after a cold day of hiking and I have no issues with carrying a stove and pot to cook at night. I use Esbit fuel cubes to boil water, so my stove and cook pot weigh virtually nothing. Going stoveless in cold spring weather sounds utterly unappealing, to me at least.  Most of my hot meals are GLOP based around wheat cereal, polenta, or pasta and quite easy to clean up. I prefer eating real food when I hike instead of “backpacking food”, which means I eat wheat bread, peanut butter, honey, cheese, and everyday foods on the trail. It’s also easy to resupply even in crappy gas station marts and convenience stores.

Electronics

The biggest change in my hiking gear over the past few years has been in the area of electronics. I used to carry a big bag of extra batteries, all in different sizes, for different devices including my camera, headlamp, cell phone, and satellite communicator. They’ve all been replaced by a single battery recharger which I top off in town. That really simplifies things.

Clothing

All my clothes are also tick-resistant and have been treated with Insect Shield or Permethrin. Lyme disease is no joke and is the most dangerous thing on the AT, as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t caught it yet and don’t plan to.

The only other condition I pack for specifically is rain, which is impossible to avoid on the AT. You’re going get wet, either from rain or sweat, but the thing I dread most is being cold and wet. I’ve packed some rain mitts I picked up this year, in addition to my NON-breathable and inexpensive rain jacket (with pit zips) and my regular non-baggy rain pants. I thought about bringing some of the rain jackets I want to review this spring, but decided against it since this is supposed to be a vacation.

Summing Up

The weight of my section hiking gear list comes out to be just under 15 pounds. It’s definitely not ultralight, but then again it’s hard to break the 10 pound limit in early spring when it’s so cold at night. The weight of my gear list really depends on the season more than anything. I’m a strong hiker and a couple of extra pounds aren’t going to slow me down.

See Also:

Written 2018.

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com receives affiliate compensation from retailers that sell the products we recommend or link to if you make a purchase through them. When reviewing products, we test each thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail Section Hike Gear List – Spring 2018 appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The Osprey Exos 58 Backpack is one of the most popular backpacks used by thru-hikers and lightweight backpackers because it combines the organizational layout of a top-lid backpack, lightweight materials, and a rigid internal frame capable of hauling heavy loads. The most notable change in the 2018 Exos 58 preserves those characteristics but eliminates the hip belt pockets and shoulder strap storage which many backpackers count on to store snacks, insect repellent, and electronics. Time will tell how backpackers will respond to the lack of  these accessory pockets, but the Exos remains one of the few mainstream “ultralight class” backpacks available with a true frame and back ventilation, which are must-have features for a large percentage of backpackers.

Specs at a Glance
  • Volume: 58L, also available in 48L and 38L
  • Weight: 2 lbs 11 oz. (size medium, tested)
    • Optional removable top lid: 5.4 ounces
  • Torso: M: 18 – 21 inches
  • Hip Belt: M: 27 – 48 inches
  • Bear canister compatible: yes
  • Maximum recommended load: 30-35 lbs.
Organization and Storage

The Osprey Exos 58 is very different from most ultralight backpacks because it’s configured with a floating top lid instead of a dry-bag style roll top. With two zippered pockets (one pocket on top and one inside), the floating lid lets you sandwich extra gear between the lid and the top of the pack’s main compartment so you can carry extra technical equipment or supplies that won’t fit inside your pack. Top lids are a great feature, especially when you need to carry bulky gear like rope coils or tent bodies that won’t fit into the main compartment of your pack. The extra top pockets also provide handy access to hats, gloves, snacks, and navigation gear.

If you don’t need the top lid on the Exos, you can remove it to save gear weight. This reduces the weight of a medium-sized Exos 58 by 5.4 ounces bringing it down to a very respectable 2 pounds 4.6 ounces.

The Exos 58 has a deeply curved, ventilated gap behind the shoulder straps that helps prevent perspiration buildup.

There’s a nylon flap under the top lid that is permanently attached to the pack, what Osprey calls a FlapJacket, that covers the drawstring opening of the main compartment. When you remove the top lid, the FlapJacket is used to protect the main compartment from rain in its stead. The rear of the FlapJacket also clips into the same rear straps and buckles used by the top lid so you’re not left with any extra straps or buckles to get in the way.

While the Exos 58, also has good open storage in the form of side and front mesh pockets, the main compartment is where the bulk of this pack’s capacity is. With close to 3500 cubic inches of room, you can put a ton of gear and food inside. Being a mainstream manufacturer, Osprey computes the volume of their packs using industry norms and only counts covered and zippered storage when they calculate backpack volume. If you are comparing the volume of the Exos 58 with a pack from a cottage backpack maker, be aware that they often add in open and closed pocket volumes, so the Exos 58 may feel quite a bit larger.

The main compartment curves sharply inward to accommodate the shape of the ventilated frame, but can make it difficult to locate gear because you need to reach around the curve to get to it. When packing the Exos 58, you also need to position that the heaviest items as close to your back as possible, otherwise the pack has a tendency to pull you backwards and off-balance. This is a common issue with ventilated backpacks, and while pulling the Exos’ load lifters forward can help reduce the back-tilt, the backward pull is quite noticeable when the pack is heavily loaded.

The Exos 58 has side water bottle with front holes that make it easy to pull out and replace water bottles when on the move.

With the exception of a hydration pocket, hang loop, and top compression strap, there’s nothing inside the Exos 58 main compartment like a sleeping bag compartment or interior pockets to break up the seemingly cavernous space. Still it’s easy to see inside the main compartment because lightly colored fabric panels help channel light to the pack’s interior.

In addition to the main compartment, the Exos 58 has two stretch side mesh pockets which can be used to store water bottles.The mesh is not strong enough for off-trail travel and I would recommend you stay on trails with this pack in order to keep the pockets from tearing. Each pocket is reinforced with solid fabric on the bottom for better durability and has a holster-style opening cut in front, which lets you position bottles sideways so you can pull them out and replace them when on the move. I’d just caution against using tall bottles or packing small items in the side pockets because they fall out of the holster sized water bottle holes.

There is also a front mesh shovel pocket on the back of the pack which is useful for carrying items that you want easy access to, without requiring that  you stop and open your backpack. I can’t live without a mesh pocket like this and use it to stuff light layers and snacks that I want easily accessible during the day.

External Attachment Points and Compression System

The Osprey Exos 58 has one Z-style side compression strap on each side of the pack. The strap can be threaded in front of or through the side water bottle pocket, which is handy because they won’t get in the way if you run them outside the pocket. Still, I’m not a huge fan of the Z-style threading pattern because I think it makes it difficult to strap bulky gear like snowshoes to the side of a pack.

Osprey added additional gear loops around the perimeter of the front mesh pocket, so you can attach bulky items like snowshoes to the back of the pack with webbing straps or cord.

But don’t let the Z-style straps deter you from rigging up two horizontal compression straps instead. One of the great things about the Exos 58 is the distribution of gear loops around the perimeter pockets, the pack bag seams, and even the top lid, making it easy to rig up your own custom compression system with an extra cord lock and some guyline or a piece of webbing.

The other key attachment point on the Exos 58 is the sleeping pad strap on the bottom of the pack, a feature which has largely disappeared from the lightweight backpacking market. While the strap is optional and can be removed, it’s super handy to have if you’re a thru hiker, hammock camper or winter camper and carry a bulky foam pad to sleep on at night.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Osprey Exos 58 is a ventilated “trampoline-style” backpack. Breathable mesh is suspended in front of the back panel creating a ventilated space behind your back that’s designed to evaporate sweat before it can soak your shirt. The mesh is tightly stretched across the aluminum frame, hence the name trampoline, which also serves to anchor the hip belt and load lifters.

The 2018 Exos doesn’t have hip belt pockets anymore or “gel” pockets on the shoulder straps anymore.

The aluminum frame on the Exos 58 is the secret sauce that “makes” this pack. It’s super lightweight and stiff, providing great load transfer to the hips, so you can really load up this pack and still get a very comfortable carry. The nice thing about an aluminum frame is that the torso won’t collapse, causing the torso length to shorten when you load the pack to capacity, which can be an issue with other lightweight packs.

The shoulder straps and hip belt are both covered with a stretchy mesh fabric that is soft and helps wick moisture to prevent rubbing and chafing. While they’re both well padded so they conform to the shape of your collarbone, shoulders, and hips and don’t slip.

While ventilated backpacks provide good airflow behind your back (note air gap above), they can pull you backwards and off-balance unless you pack heavy items as close to your back as possible.

But there’s one thing about the Exos 58 that I don’t particularly like and that’s the length of the hip belt, which I think is too short. There is simply no way that the size medium Exos 58 fits someone with a 27-48″ waist. I think a maximum of 38″ is a more realistic upper limit.

If you buy an Exos 58 and the hip belt padding only wraps around the back of your hips, which happens when the hip belt is too short, you won’t be as comfortable or get the load transfer you should expect. This isn’t just a sizing issue with the Exos 58, but a sizing issue that I repeatedly encounter with Osprey Packs that don’t have adjustable hip belts. If the front padded portion of the Exos hip belt doesn’t wrap around the front of your hip bones (see How should a Hip Belt Fit?), get a larger size. If that still doesn’t fit, buy a different backpack.

Likes
  • Lightweight and high-capacity (58 L)
  • Easy to remove top lid w/ lightweight replacement lid
  • Optional sleeping pad straps on bottom of the pack
  • Lightweight perimeter frame provides great load transfer and control
  • Lightly colored fabric strips improve main compartment visibility
  • Lots of external attachment points all around the pack
Dislikes
  • Hip belt is not adjustable
  • No hip belt or shoulder strap pockets
  • Holster style cutouts in the side mesh pockets are less secure for stowing small items
  • Single Z-style side compression strap can be awkward to use
Recommendation

The Osprey Packs Exos 58 Backpack is a top-loading backpack that’s easy to configure for  many different kinds of hiking and backpacking trips. Weighing just 2 pounds 11 ounces, it boasts a stiff aluminum frame and ventilated suspension that provides excellent comfort and control for loads up to 30-35 pounds. If you want a large but lightweight (58L) backpack with a real frame and a top lid, the Exos 58 is a great choice. Sizing can be a little tricky however, since the hip belt lengths available are tied to the torso length of the pack. If the Exos 58 fits you, great. It’s an excellent backpack. If it doesn’t fit, give it a pass.

For complete specs, I suggest you visit the Exos 58 product page at REI since the Osprey Packs Sizing Guide at OspreyPacks.com can be difficult to understand.

Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

Written 2/2018.

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com receives affiliate compensation from retailers that sell the products we recommend or link to if you make a purchase through them. When reviewing products, we test each thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post Osprey Exos 58 Backpack Review (2018 Model) appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The Granite Gear Crown2 38L backpack is a lower volume version of its popular big brother, the Crown2 60L backpack.  It’s a highly configurable ultralight backpack that has an adjustable-size hip belt so you can get a perfect, customized fit, with an optional top lid and framesheet that can be removed to reduce its weight. Fully configured the 38L weighs 38.6 oz, but strips down to 29.5 oz with just the hip-belt. This is the configuration I prefer to use the pack in, but it’s nice to have the added functionality of a top lid pocket and the framesheet available for heavier loads.

Specs at a Glance
  • Weight:
    • Pack (including all optional components): 38.5 oz
    • Optional frame sheet: 6.1
    • Optional top lid: 2.9 oz
    • Optional hip-belt: 6.2 oz
  • Volume: 38L
  • Gender: Men’s
  • Torso Size: 18″ – 21″ / 46 cm – 54 cm
  • Hip Belt Size : 28″-40″ (adjustable-length)
  • Max Recommended load:
    • With framesheet: 30-35 lbs
    • Without framesheet: 20-25 lbs
  • Material: ROBIC high-tenacity nylon (100/210-denier)
  • Bear Canister: Can fit a Garcia, vertically.
  • Best used: On-trail
Backpack Storage and Organization

The Crown2 38L is laid out like an ultralight backpack with side water bottle pockets and a front mesh pocket. The main pack back is cavernous and closes with a roll top, while the hip belt has two large solid zippered pockets. The top lid is floating and connected to the pack with removable straps, while the hip belt has two large hard-faced and zippered pockets.

True backpack volume

Before we dive into the details, it’s important to understand how Granite Gear measures their backpack volumes and how they compare to the volumes reported by other brands. Granite Gear doesn’t include any open pockets in their capacity specs and they don’t include the volume of the extension collar of the main pack bag, which is the extra fabric “tube” that extends past the top of the shoulder straps. The extension collar on the 38L provides an additional 5L of volume, not counting the open front mesh and side water bottle pockets, bringing the pack’s effective storage closer to 45L. The extra extension collar capacity is quite noticeable and useful if you need to carry more gear and food and I find this size to be perfect for the 2-3 day backpacking/fly fishing trips I like to take in New Hampshire and Maine.

Most cottage pack makers include all of their open pockets and extension collars in their storage calculations, which tends to inflate their actual volumes a bit and make it hard to compare them to “mainstream packs”. Granite Gear follows an outdoor industry standard for computing pack volumes; you can read about it more on their website FAQ. I don’t really have an axe to grind on volume computation, other than the fact that I wish it was consistent across backpack makers.

The front mesh pocket is great for storing layers and wet gear.Open pockets

The Crown2 38L features the standard, full-length front mesh pocket that Granite Gear packs are known for. This is great for storing frequently accessed or wet items (rain fly, tarp, water filter, etc) that you don’t want to come in contact with your dry gear stored inside the main pack bag. The mesh on the outside of this pocket is quite durable, but I’d still advise against bushwhacking with it.

The side water bottle pockets on the Crown2 38L have compression straps that can be run through the pockets or over them. They’re covered with a solid, but stretchy fabric that is more durable than open mesh, but not something I’d recommend for off-trail hiking because it’s liable to catch and get torn. There are slits at the base of each side pocket to drain rain, but the bottom of the pockets could be better armored for increased durability.

It’s easy to pull out and replace bottles with a small diameters like a 1L or 700ml Smartwater bottle from the side pockets, while still wearing the pack, but you will a harder time putting wider diameter bottles away because the side fabric isn’t loose enough. This is also problem on the 60L version of the Crown2 and it’s too bad it wasn’t fixed in the 38L version of the pack. Still, it’s not an issue if you use the narrower Smartwater bottles, popular with backpackers, or a hydration reservoir.

If you prefer using a hydration reservoir, there is a single central hook to hang one inside the pack bag, but not an additional pocket to hold it in place. Dual hydration ports are positioned in between and above the shoulder straps.

The Crown2 38L has an optional top lid pocketClosed storage

The main pack bag on the 38L is cavernous and the interior fabric is coated to provide additional moisture protection. The seams are not sealed however, so you’ll want to line the pack with a pack liner if backpacking in wet weather.

The pack bag has a roll top closure with male and female clips that connect together under the top lid. A long compression strap runs over the top of the roll top to provide additional compression or lash items to the top of the pack. If the top lid is removed, you can clip the male and females ends of the roll top into the rear clips that the top lid vacates, so they’re not loose.

The top lid pocket has a single external zippered pocket. It’s technically a floating lid so you can sandwich gear underneath it and hold it against the top of the pack. The webbing straps for the top lid are NOT long enough to fit a bear canister underneath however, unlike the Crown2 60L, which has this capability (see review for photos).

The Crown2 38L has two large hip belt pockets, that come standard on the ReFIT adjustable hip belt. They’re both quite large and solid faced with durable fabric since this is a high wear point on backpacks.

It’s easy to attach a foam sit pad or sleeping pad to the front of the packExternal Attachment Points and Compression System

Most of Granite Gear’s overnight backpacks have a lot of exterior straps. And while they do provide excellent compression, I primarily use them to secure long skinny or pointy items to the outside of my backpack that won’t fit inside the main pack bag.

The Crown2 38L has two tiers of side compression straps that clip closed with a buckle. This makes them particularly good for securing snowshoes to the side of the pack, something that’s quite difficult to do if the compression strap doesn’t close with a clip-style buckle.

The deep side water-bottle pockets also make it easy to carry long skinny items like a Tenkara fishing rod and lash it to the side of the pack using the upper compression strap for security.

There are an additional two tiers of compression straps over the front mesh pocket that are good for securing a foam sit pad or sleeping pad to the outside of the pack. The top compression that runs over the top of the roll top closure can also be use to secure gear, like a rope coil or tent, to the top of the pack bag.

The frame of the Crown 2 has two components: a foam sheet that’s sewn into to pack and a removable plastic framesheet.

The Crown2 38L also has daisy chains sewn to the front of the shoulder straps which are convenient to hang gear from like camera pockets, a GPS or PLB case, or a loud whistle, since there’s no whistle on the sternum strap.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The frame of the Crown2 38L has two components – an internal (optional ) plastic framesheet and a foam pad with air channels, sewn to the exterior of the pack and behind the shoulder straps. The adjustable hip belt slots behind the lumbar area of the foam pad and secures to the pack using velcro.

If you pull out the framesheet to reduce the weight of the pack, the foam pad still gives the pack considerable structure and provides load transfer to the hip belt. The nice thing about having a sewn-in foam pad is that you can use it to insulate your feet, in conjunction with a torso-length sleeping pad to save a few more ounces of gear weight.

Framesheet

While the pack’s carry with the foam pad alone is not quite as stiff as when the framesheet is inserted, it’s still perfectly adequate for a 20-25 pound load. I actually prefer the slightly softer feel of the 38L without the framesheet. Still, it’s barely noticeable when inserted, unless you’re carrying pointy objects in the pack or a heavier load. As it stands, I can carry 20-25 pounds with the foam pad alone, and 30-35 pounds with the additional plastic sheet inserted, without feeling the hip belt collapse. That’s not at all surprising, since the 38L uses the same hip belt as the 60L of the Crown2.

The Granite Gear Crown 2 backpack has an adjustable length hip belt that can be easily resized so you get a perfect fit.Recommendation

The Granite Gear Crown2 38L is an ultralight backpack that can be configured in a wide variety of ways depending on the amount of gear you need to carry. While it weighs 38.5 ounces fully loaded with its optional components (top lid, framesheet), it’s easy to remove them and bring the pack’s weight down to a more reasonable 29.5 oz, without a significant loss in comfort or load carrying capacity. But the most unique and important feature on the Crown2 38L is having an adjustable length hip belt that you can personalize to fit your waist. It is hard to believe how many backpack companies still fail to provide hip belts that fit people. It’s a simple thing, but it really makes the Granite Gear Crown2 38L shine.

Disclosure: Granite Gear provided the author with a sample backpack for this review.

Written 2018.

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com receives affiliate compensation from retailers that sell the products we recommend if you make a purchase through them. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. See Also:

The post Granite Gear Crown2 38 Backpack Review appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
The Alpisack without the optional top lid, packed at maximum capacity.

The KS Ultralight Alpisack is a 50L frameless ultralight backpack weighing 21 oz (18.5 oz w/o optional components), that’s suitable for 4 season use. Being frameless, it can’t carry much more than 25 pounds of gear and consumables, but it’s well outfitted for ultralight backpacking in semi-alpine environments, with plenty of external attachment points to carry traction aids and ice axes.

KS Ultralight Gear is a Japanese cottage backpack maker that sells a wide range of frameless ultralight backpacks. The backpack being raffled is their standard Alpisack with a 210d Dyneema Gridstop body and 500d Cordura base, front, and back. It has two side water bottle pockets, two tiers of side compression straps, an optional top lid, and optional hip belt pocket. For complete specs and more photos of the backpack, see my KS Ultralight Alpisack review from December 2017. This is a sweet ultralight backpack that carries very much like a frameless Mountain Laurel Design’s Exodus or ULA CDT backpack.

Deadline to Enter

The deadline to enter this raffle is Tuesday, February 20, 2018, at midnight PST.

Rules
  • All raffle entrants will have one chance to win.
  • Raffle entrants who submit more than one entry will be disqualified.
  • The item being raffled is a KS Ultralight Gear Alpisack Backpack with a value of $200.
  • The winner will be selected randomly from all valid entries and notified by email. Failure to respond to email in 3 days may result in prize forfeiture.
  • The winner will be notified by email and listed on our Raffle Winners page.
  • Please keep everything rated G.
  • The prize winners may live anywhere.
  • If you have any questions, leave a comment.
To Enter

To enter this random raffle for a chance to win a free KS Ultralight Gear Alpisak, answer the following questions in a comment below. One entry per person only. Brevity is appreciated.

  1. What do you use to keep the hiking gear in your backpack dry when it rains? Choose one or more: rain cover | pack liner | garbage bag | umbrella | waterproof stuff sacks | packa poncho | nothing | other (please specify).
  2. Please provide the manufacturer name for the items you chose in question 1 (in order).
  3. Would you describe yourself more of a backpacker or a day hiker?
Example Responses

Example 1:

  1. Trash compactor bag, Umbrella
  2. Whatever’s on sale | Golite umbrella
  3. Backpacker

Example 2:

  1. Rain cover | waterproof stuff sacks
  2. Osprey | sea to summit stuff sacks
  3. Backpacker

Example 3:

  1. Waterproof stuff sacks
  2. Assorted brands
  3. Day hiker
Answer these 3 questions for a chance to win. Brevity is appreciated. Incomplete answers will be disqualified.

The post Enter for a Chance to WIN a Free KS Ultralight Gear Alpisack Backpack appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

A funny thing happened to me when I was section hiking the Appalachian Trail through New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest in 2008. I fell in love with the place. That’s an easy thing to do since the New Hampshire AT climbs over or near 25 of the 48 White Mountain 4000 footers, which are some of the highest, most rugged, and glorious mountains on the east coast of the United States. There are hundreds of other mountains to climb New Hampshire, but most people get hooked on the White Mountain 4000 footers first.

I finished the 4000 footer list in 2010 and then went on to climb them again in calendar winter, which is much more difficult. Then I branched out and hiked (redlined) all of the trails in the White Mountain Guide (608 trails / 1440 miles) which is the hiking bible of the region. I hiked a lot of those mountains, trails, and miles on 1-3 day backpacking trips, although I’ve done my fair share of day hiking too. I know the most scenic routes to follow in the White Mountains and look forward to sharing them with you.

  • Washington – 6288′
  • Adams – 5799′
  • Jefferson – 5716′
  • Monroe – 5732′
  • Madison – 5366′
  • Lafayette – 5260′
  • Lincoln – 5089′
  • S. Twin – 4902′
  • Carter Dome – 4832′
  • Moosilauke – 4802′
  • North Twin – 4761′
  • Eisenhower – 4760′
  • Carrigain – 4700′
  • Bond -4698′
  • Middle Carter – 4610′
  • West Bond – 4540′
  • Garfield – 4500′
  • Liberty – 4450′
  • South Carter – 4430′
  • Wildcat – 4422′
  • Hancock – 4420′
  • South Kinsman – 4358′
  • Field – 4340′
  • Osceola – 4340′
  • Flume – 4328′
  • South Hancock – 4319′
  • Pierce – 4312′
  • North Kinsman – 4293′
  • Willey – 4285′
  • Bondcliff – 4265′
  • Zealand -4260′
  • North Tripyramid – 4180′
  • Cabot – 4170′
  • East Osceola – 4156′
  • Middle Tripyramid – 4140′
  • Cannon – 4100′
  • Wildcat D – 4062′
  • Hale – 4054′
  • Jackson – 4052′
  • Tom – 4051′
  • Moriah – 4049′
  • Passaconaway – 4043′
  • Owls Head – 4025′
  • Galehead – 4024′
  • Whiteface – 4020′
  • Waumbek – 4006′
  • Isolation – 4003′
  • Tecumseh – 4003′

Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 footers is a different experience than day hiking them and one that I particularly relish. There’s nothing quite like camping in the Great Gulf and watching the moon rise over the jagged spires of the Northern Presidential range or listening to a cacophony of hooting owls at night deep in the Wild River Wilderness. While parts of the White Mountains are quite popular with day hikers, you can still backpack the 4000 footers and experience solitude. In fact, backpacking the peaks gives you the opportunity to follow routes that can’t be done-in-a-day and experience many wonders of the Whites that most people overlook.

Marvelous swimming hole deep in the Pemigewasset WildernessFree Online Guidebook

In the coming months, I plan on publishing a free online guidebook containing a complete series of 1-3 night trip plans for backpacking the White Mountains 4000 footers, along with bonus trips to other White Mountain destinations. Each trip will climb one or more peaks, with routes that include additional scenic vistas, waterfalls, swimming holes, and historic sites. The trips plan will be graded in terms of effort and experience for beginners, experienced, and advanced backpackers and will include maps, GPX tracks, campsites information, and suggested diversions.

I’ll also set up the guidebook in its own area on SectionHiker.com so it’s easy to find and the trip plans are easy to download.

Why free? Call it a labor of love. I’d like to help preserve the White Mountain trail system and its hiking culture by helping visitors appreciate and enjoy the area’s resources in a sustainable and low-impact way. I think the best way to do that is to use my website to distribute a set of backpacking trip plans that anyone can use. People don’t buy paperback guidebooks anymore and a lot of the backpacking clubs that used to exist have been killed off by social media. If your trip plans aren’t free, updated regularly, instantly accessible online, and GPS-enabled, no one’s going to use them.

Some of the first trip plans that will be published include:

  • A North Twin, South Twin, Zealand, and Hale Loop
  • A Madison, Adams, and Jefferson Loop
  • A Moriah, Middle Carter, South Carter, Carter Dome Loop

Backpacking the White Mountains is a great way to climb the 4000 footers and enjoy the fantastic scenery and history of this unique region.

If you’d like to be notified when new trip plans are published, please subscribe below:

Subscribe to our mailing list

Written 2018.

The post Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers: Free Guidebook Announcement appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I like to carry a digital point and shoot camera in a shoulder strap pocket because I take better photos when it’s easily accessible. I also use the same pocket to carry my smartphone, which has some navigation apps that I like to use when I hike. I’ve found that carrying electronics in my shoulder strap pockets provides more protection for them than if they’re carried my hip belt, especially when I’m plowing through dense foliage. The advantage of an accessory pocket over the mesh pockets that come sewn to the outside of some backpacks is better portability, fit (sizing), durability, and water-resistance.

The Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket can fit an iPhone 6 (shown) plus my point and shoot camera into the pocket, both at the same time.

Gossamer Gear’s Shoulder Strap Accessory Pocket (available in two sizes) is easy to attach to all of the backpacks I use.  You’d think this would be easy, but there’s wide variability in the types of external attachment points that backpacks provide on their shoulder straps. Some backpacks have daisy chains sewn onto the outside of their shoulder straps while others only have hydration hose keeper loops.

Attached to the right shoulder strap of a Seek Outside Gila 3500

The Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Accessory Pocket ($15, 1.5 oz) is compatible with both orientations because it has three velcro straps on the back, one vertical strap and two horizontal, which are long enough to reach around an attachment point and hook back onto themselves. This also provides a lot more security, so the pocket doesn’t get accidentally ripped off. In addition to the velcro straps, each shoulder strap pocket comes with a short loop of cord sewn into the side seam that you can run an additional cord through if you want an additional “keeper” attachment.

Shown attached to the shoulder straps of a Hyperlite Mountain Gear SouthWest 2400 Backpack

The other nice thing about this Shoulder Strap Pocket is its compatibility with a wide array of different backpacks. It’s not just an accessory pocket for Gossamer Gear packs, but is compatible with just about any backpack. I can’t even remember all the packs I’ve used it with, but they include packs made by Granite Gear, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Seek Outside, CamelBak, Elemental Horizons, Gregory Packs, and the list goes on. It’s nice to find a piece of gear that only costs $15 and has this much utility.

Highly Recommended. 

Disclosure: Gossamer Gear gave me a sample pocket but I was not under any obligation to review it. It works well and I thought people would want to know about it.

Written 2018.

See also:

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com is a professional review site that receives affiliate compensation from companies that sell a subset of the products we recommend if you make a purchase through them. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Accessory Pocket Review appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

More and more backpackers are switching from sleeping bags to backpacking quilts because they’re lighter weight, more compressible, and more comfortable, especially for side sleepers. While top quilts have always been popular with the hammock crowd because they’re easier to use in the confined space of a hammock, they’re also a great sleeping system option for ground sleepers, when coupled with a sleeping pad. Backpacking quilts are ideal for summer and warm weather since they’re so easy to vent if you’re too hot. But in freezing temperatures, starting at 30 degrees and below, most backpackers still prefer a sleeping bag because the wraparound fabric is less drafty.

Here are our choices for the top 10 best backpacking quilts based on price, insulation, temperature rating, weight, features, versatility, sizing, and availability (see below for detailed explanations of each criteria.) All of these quilts are made and sold by so-called cottage manufacturers, which range in size from one-man shops to medium-sized businesses that employee dozens of people. All of them produce very high quality products that are significantly lighter weight and better performing than the quilts produced by mass-market gear companies like ENO, Therm-a-Rest, Kammock, Sea-to-Summit, and Sierra Designs.

The advantage of buying a custom-made quilt from a cottage manufacturer is that you can personalize it with added features, higher quality/lighter weight insulation, or custom fabric colors. An increasing number of quilt makers also offer budget quilts made with a limited set of options that are much less expensive and often available immediately. These are a great option if you’re trying a backpacking quilt for the first time and overwhelmed by the customization choices available.

1. Katabatic Gear Flex Quilt
The Katabatic Gear Flex is a quilt that can used in a hammock or on the ground, coupled with a sleeping pad. Weight varies by temperature rating, but a standard-sized Flex 40 weighs 16.9 oz. It’s available with regular or HyperDRY waterproof goose down and comes with a sleeping pad attachment system to help prevent side drafts. The’ Flex also has a very desirable draft collar that snugs around your neck and prevents heat from escaping when you move around at night. The Flex footbox can be zippered closed and has a draw-string vent, or you can  unzip it completely and use it as a blanket. Katabatic Gear has a well-deserved reputation for making quilts that exceed their temperature rating. Price range $260.00-$435.00.

Read SectionHiker’s Katabatic Gear Flex 40 Gear Review

Buy at Katabatic Gear
2. Hammock Gear Burrow Econ Quilt
The Hammock Gear Burrow Econ is a quality top quilt that’s available at a very aggressive discount because it’s only available in a limited range of colors, sizes, and temperature ratings. For example, a 17.26 oz, regular-sized Econ 40 quilt only costs $120.00, which is a great deal. It comes with 800 fill power durable water-resistant duck down, which is just as warm as 800 fill power goose down (see explanation.) The Burrow can be used in a hammock or with a sleeping pad using a ($5) pad attachment kit. It’s also available with a vented snapped foot box or one that’s sewn shut, which is better for colder weather. Price range $110.00-$165.00. Buy at Hammock Gear
3. Loco Libre Ghost Pepper
The Loco Libre Gear Ghost Pepper is a down quilt made with a unique chevron style baffle, which limits the amount of down shift by catching it in the corners that the baffle forms every time it changes direction. This eliminates cold spots and means that the down stays on top, where you want it, so you can stay warm. The Ghost Pepper is available in a wide range or widths and lengths, color choices, insulation types, and foot box styles. You can even add a sleeping pad attachment system. This can all be very confusing for first time quilt buyers, but they are very patient and happy to explain “the why” before you buy. Some of the of the key options offered are 800 duck or 900 goose fill power water-resistant down, a draft collar, different taper styles, a drawstring vented or closed footbox, and added insulation. A basic Ghost Pepper 40 weighs in at 14.5 oz. Price Range: $154.00-$474.00

See SectionHiker’s Ghost Pepper 20 Review

Buy at Loco Libre
4. UGQ Outdoor Bandit
The UGQ Bandit has a unique baffle design that separates the torso insulation from the foot box insulation so you can put extra insulation where it’s needed most. The Bandit is also highly customizable and available in a wide range of widths, lengths, and temperatures. You can choose untreated 800 fill power duck, 850 goose, or 950 goose down, several different fabric options (in a multitude of colors) with different breathability and DWR characteristics, a draft collar, full or no taper, and three different foot box options. A sleeping pad attachment system is also included for free. A basic Bandit 40 weighs 14 oz. Price Range: $160-$400. Buy at UGQ Outdoor
5. Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Sniveller
The Jacks ‘R’ Better Sierra Sniveller is a 25-30 degree (24 oz) quilt can be used for sleeping in a hammock or on the ground and includes perimeter tabs for a ground attachment system. It’s unique because it can also be worn as an insulated garment, with a non-snagging, mixed hook & loop re-sealable head hole in the chest. The hole seals tightly when not used so there’s no heat loss through it. You can also choose between a drawstring or sewn in foot box. The Sniveller is available in two lengths and filled with 800 fill power goose down, either treated or untreated. Price Range: $270.00-$280.00 Buy at Jacks ‘R’ Better
6. Enlightened Equipment Revelation
The Enlightened Equipment Revelation is a quilt that can be used in a hammock or for sleeping on the ground. It’s available in a wide range of different  length, widths, colors, temperature ratings, and fabric weights. The Revelation comes with a pad attachment system and a zippered/ drawstring footbox and half taper. You can also choose from three different grades of treated, water-resistant down: 850 fill power duck down and 900 or 950 fill power goose down. A basic made-to-order Revelation 40 weighs 14.32 oz. Price Range: $225.00-$510.00 Buy at Enlightened Equipment
7. Warbonnet Mamba
The Warbonnet Mamba is primarily designed for hammock use, but is available in a wider XL width (55″) which is more suitable for sleeping on the ground. It has a mummy-style footbox, is available in multiple lengths, and three temperature ratings, including 40, 20, and 0 degrees.  The Mamba is made with a black, 20d DWR ripstop shell fabric and overstuffed with 850 Fill Power Hyper-Dry Goose down. A regular sized 40-degree Mamba weighs 13.81 oz, while a wide weighs 16.3 oz. Price Range: $245.00-$330.00 Buy at Warbonnet Outdoors
8. Nunatak Arc UL
The Nunatak Arc UL is a quilt designed for long distance hikers. It’s available in four different temperature ratings: 40, 30, 20 and 10 degrees, in a wide variety of lengths and widths, with or without a draft collar, with or without a pad attachment system, and several different outer shell and liner fabrics that emphasize breathability or water repellency. One of the unique options available on the Arc UL, is the installation of external snaps that allow you to layer a synthetic quilt with it for cold weather use. The Arc UL is also available with 900 fill power HyperDry goose down, treated or untreated. A basic, regular sized Arc UL 40 weighs 14.8 oz. Price Range: $290.00-$550.00. Buy at Nunatak
9. Mid-Atlantic Mountain Works Marcy 20
The Mid-Atlantic Mountain Works Marcy 20 is three season quilt available in a multiple widths, lengths, tapers, shell fabrics, and colors. It has a unique side draft elimination system for ground sleepers that relies on perimeter shock cord rather than sleeping pad straps, which are easy to lose or forget at home. The Marcy 20 has a vented footbox and can be insulated with 850 fill power HyperDry goose down or 800 fill power, untreated duck down. A basic, regular Marcy 20 weighs 23 oz. Price Range: $235.00-$350.00.

Read SectionHiker’s Mid Atlantic Mountain Works Marcy 20 Quilt Review

Buy at Mid-Atlantic Mountain Works
10. MassDrop Revelation Quilts
The MassDrop Revelation Quilt is a ready-made budget backpacking quilt of their own design, manufactured in China on a contract basis by Enlightened Equipment. If you’re not familiar with MassDrop, they sell small batches of a specific product called “drops” over a multi-day period, giving increasingly deeper discounts when higher volumes are sold. While the specs of the quilts they sell can vary from batch to batch, they’re usually one-step down from the custom or on-the-shelf quilts sold directly by Enlightened Equipment, with slightly heavier shell fabrics and lower fill power down insulation. Despite the differences, they’re high quality backpacking quilts and priced to move!

Read the SectionHiker MassDrop Revelation 20 Quilt Review

Check Availability at MassDrop
Backpacking Quilt Selection Criteria

Here is a list of factors to consider when selecting an ultralight backpacking quilt.

INSULATION: High quality goose and duck down with fill powers of 800, 850, 900, and 950 provide excellent insulation by weight and are widely preferred by backpackers because they’re so lightweight. In addition to excellent compressibility, quilts insulated with down will last for decades of use if properly cared for. Some manufacturers only offer down that’s been treated with a water-repellent coating, while others prefer to offer it unadulterated. Down is naturally water-resistant so the jury is still out on whether “treated” down lasts as long and insulates as well in the real world vs. a testing lab. Regardless, with a little care and common sense you can keep a down quilt dry by carrying it in a waterproof stuff stack, picking good campsites that don’t flood in rain, and airing it out occasionally in the sun.

TEMPERATURE RATINGS: The introduction of standardized sleeping bag temperature ratings by the outdoor industry substantially improved their reliability. Many manufacturers had overstated their temperature ratings by as much as 10 degrees before that standard was introduced. No such testing standard exists for backpacking quilts, so you’re forced to rely on their reputation and customer reviews. When buying a backpacking quilt, the current rule of thumb is to purchase one rated for 10 degrees below your needs to ensure you’ll be warm enough. There is enormous incentive for ultralight quilt makers to quote low gear weights, so read their customer reviews carefully.  Women may want to add 15-20 degrees of insulation because they sleep colder than men due to lower body mass. No one makes women’s specific quilts yet, although there is an obvious need for them.

WEIGHT: While gear weight is important, be careful not to sacrifice your comfort by selecting a quilt that won’t keep you warm in the conditions you need it to. In fact, insulation is usually the lightest weight component of a quilt, where the bulk of its weight comes primarily from the fabric used to make it. When choosing fabrics, consider their breathability and whether they have a DWR coating, which can be important if the foot of your quilt gets wet regularly  If you plan on using your quilt heavily, consider getting a heavier inner shell fabric as this is where the greatest wear and tear occurs over the long-term.

FEATURES: Most ultralight backpacking quilts are pretty similar when it comes right down to it. But there’s something unique about each of manufacturer’s quilts listed above that improves their performance in a unique way. For example: the use of continuous or chevron-shaped baffles, draft collars, zoned insulation, closed foot-boxes and external snaps for quilt layering, all improve cold weather performance. A strapless pad attachment system is far more convenient and comfortable than ones that rely on straps, while a head-hole enables multi-use as a garment. Look for these differentiators because they can have a profound influence on your backpacking experience.

VERSATILITY: Some backpacking quilts can be used in a wider variety of ways than others, which may be an important factor based on the way you like to backpack. For example, quilts that can be fully unzipped can be used as a blanket in a wider range of temperatures that those with closed foot boxes. Wider width quilts can be used for hammocks and ground sleeping, something to consider if you plan on doing both.

SIZING: When sizing a quilt, it’s important to understand whether the length includes the foot-box or not, since several inches of fabric are lost when forming a foot box. Quilt makers often provide recommended heights for users when quoting sizes, so look for these. Hammock users can usually get buy with narrower quilts than ground sleepers, because they use underquilts which wrap around their sides and insulate them. Ground sleepers need the extra fabric and insulation to tuck under their sides to prevent drafts.

AVAILABILITY: Many of the quilt makers who specialize in highly customized quilts often have very long backorder times (2 months or more)  during periods of high demand. If you need a quilt and can’t wait, you’re probably better off buying a less customized, off-the-shelf model. This one factor, more than any other, can often determine which quilt you select.

Written 2018.

Check out SectionHiker’s 10 Best Gear Guides Disclosure: SectionHiker.com is a professional review site that receives affiliate compensation from companies that sell a subset of the products we recommend if you make a purchase through them. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. Our mission is to help people, which is why we encourage readers to comment, ask questions, and share their experiences on our posts. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post 10 Best Ultralight Backpacking Quilts of 2018 appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
The Presidential Range seen from North Sugarloaf

North and Middle Sugarloaf are two smaller peaks located next to Mt Hale with great views of Mt Washington and the Presidential Range. They’re not an obvious destination in winter because the Forest Service road leading to their trail head is gated in winter and closed to wheeled vehicles. But the short road walk is well worth the effort if you want a short but invigorating hike with tremendous views. (The best views in the White Mountains are often from smaller peaks, not the big ones, but don’t tell the weekend hordes that.)

Nearby Hikes

The best place to park for the road walk up Zealand Rd is the big parking lot off Rt 302 between Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods, across from the Zealand campground. At other times of year, you can drive up to the trail head which has lots of parking.

The trail up to North and Middle Sugarloaf is steep in places, so I brought microspikes. But, the summit areas of both peaks have significant sections of open ledge, so I packed full crampons, in case they were needed. This turned out to be a good call because the approaches to both summits were covered with thick layers of hard ice that required deep penetration for traction.

There’s a trail junction for the Trestle Trail soon after you leave the trailhead, which you should avoid if you’re heading for North and Middle Sugarloaf, but is well worth the detour. The Trestle Trail winds through the forest running next to the Zealand River, on the bank opposite two USFS campgrounds. There’s a bridge connecting the two sides, but it’s frequently washed out, as was the case during my visit.

The Trestle Trail Bridge on the Zealand River is washed out

No matter, this gave me the opportunity to scout out the stream and possible stream crossing points, so I can come back to finish the trail when the water warms up in the spring. The stream holds excellent trout habitat and I’ll come back in late May when our trout season gets in full swing to finish the short section of trail I missed and do some fishing. Well, maybe more fishing than hiking. It really is a pretty spot with lots of pool drops, gravel beds, and eddies that trout like to hang out in and feed.

I hiked back to the junction and resumed hiking the trail towards the peaks which wanders past glacial erratics through open woods, topping out at a T-junction. From here, you turn right to climb North Sugarloaf or left to climb Middle. They’re both equivalent climbs, although the North peak is shorter. If you only do one, climb Middle Sugarloaf, which has much better views and a larger expanse of open ledge.

There was a lot of ice on this particular day on the path to North Sugarloaf and I quickly switched from microspikes to crampons to get a deeper bite into the ice. As I climbed, I heard this loud crunching side approaching me and froze, trying to figure out what it was. Was a moose headed my way? A bear? A lumberjack with a chain saw? I really had no idea, but froze there waiting to see what it was, ready to duck behind a large tree if necessary. No panic. It was a female hiker crunching down the trail in her crampons, which were just making a racket that day. We chatted and she told me about the ice higher up. Phew!

The climb up to North Sugarloaf is always a bit anti-climatic, although it does have a nice view of the Presidentials. Once you get to the top of the climb, you come to an opening. The best view is on the Mt Washington side, down a few steps and to the right, where there’s an opening in the trees (top photo).

Open ledge and 360 degree views on Middle Sugarloaf

I backtracked carefully down the North peak, very conscious of the slippery ice, passed the trail junction, and headed up to Middle Sugarloaf. Lots of ice again and a tricky ascent up the partially buried ladder which leads to the open ledge at the top.

When people talk about “open ledge” in White Mountain trip reports, they’re describing open rocky viewpoints. Middle Sugarloaf has one of the best in the part of the Whites and it is huge. You could probably fit 200 people on it, although that would ruin the ambiance. I had it all to myself.

The wooded knob known as South Sugarloaf Mountain

On this particular trip, I spent most of the time studying South Sugarloaf, a bushwhack that’s been on my short list for a few years. I was interested in viewing the guard cliffs on the peak’s east side. I’ve been interested in using this peak as a practice bushwhack for my off-trail navigation classes and wanted to get a closer look at it. It has a lot of properties that I think make a good teaching example. It doesn’t require a huge hike in so you can do it in half a day, there’s terrain that needs to be avoided, and it has a fairly obvious ridgeline you can follow to the summit. It looks like you can also start from Middle Sugarloaf to hike it, which adds to the drama of the climb, and requires navigating through a saddle, en route. Saddles can be tricky if you can’t see where you’re going and can require a compass. Here’s the peak’s topo.

Middle and South Sugarloaf

My scouting done, I gingerly descended the Middle summit and hoofed it pack to the trail head. Then back down the road to my car. Hiking the Sugarloafs (or it is “Sugarloaves”) is always a worthwhile hike, especially in winter.

Recommended Guidebooks and Maps:

Written 2018.

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com is a professional review site that receives affiliate compensation from companies that sell the products we recommend if you make a purchase through them. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. Our reputation for honesty is important to us, which is why we only review products that we've tested hands-on. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

The post Climbing North and Middle Sugarloaf in Winter appeared first on Section Hikers Backpacking Blog.

Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free year
Free Preview