Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gear report from Split Rock State Park and SHT

Just got back from Split Rock State Park and the accompanying SHT sections. Temps were in the 30's and low 40's most of the day, with temps dropping into the high 20's Saturday night. We packed out Saturday night. As for gear, everything did fine, with a few items working exceptionally well.

Mont-Bell U.L. Thermawrap Parka: Best 3+ season insulating layer ever. End of discussion. I think I'd take it over a down parka because the Mont-Bell would resist wind better than a similar down jacket in its weight class. The Parka was warm enough to keep me roasty toasty (yes, its a technical term) when I was sitting down in my tent on my Ridgerest with only a thin poly pro base layer on the bottom and no socks on. I still want to rant about the hood draws cords not being able to be operated with one hand, but hey, I can't have it all.

Integral Designs eVENT Shortie Gaiters: Nothing bad to say here. I really did not get to thoroughly test them this weekend because we lacked significant rain fall. Here is what I can say, however. First, the gaiters bridges the gap between my rain pants and shoes well. Second, there was no condensation in them. Third, the gaiters cinched down onto my shoes well. Fourth, they kept crap out of my shoes. 'Nuff said.

3/4 Ridgerest: I got this from Midwest for approximately $13. It is stamped "Irregular," which means to me that there is a slight cosmetic defect that will not affect performance. Anywho, it worked well on the cold ground, and I can't complain about it's 8 oz of weight. Excellent pad.

Saloman Comp 3: I hiked all day in these and didn't get a blister. One problem, however. Because the mesh lets water in, it also lets in the dirt that is dissolved in the water. When this gets on my socks, the water is wicked away, leaving only a brown spot on my sock. On a longer trip, I could see this creating durability problems for socks.

Mountain Laurel Designs eVENT Rain Mitts: Same caveat as the gaiters. Also, in cold weather, one needs to wear an insulating layer underneath the shell mitts. The eVENT fabric was very cold to the tough. Also, the seam sealant I used is starting to peel up at the edges of the sealant. I don't think this has affected performance, but this is something to watch out for in later. I'm curious is eventually the whole seal-job will peal away.

Sleeping bag: I made a two-person sleeping bag using Momentum ripstop, Momentum Taffeta and one layer of 5 oz/yd^2 of Climashield XP. The CLO value multiple by its weight per square yard gives it a rating of 20 deg. I would say that that rating is accurate for a person of my body type, or if the quilt was slightly better designs. MLD has a good (conservative) rating system for their quilts that use XP. Anywho, I think a better rating for the gf and I was about 35 degrees. This is based on our Friday night experience and on Saturday experience. The bag compresses nicely, also. I used a large Air Compressor stuff sack by Granite Gear, and could pull the compression straps all the way down.

Other notes -

Spandex shorts and long base layer worked well, as did wearing short sleeve and long sleeve wicking shirts at the same time. The Vapor Trail carried the weight well, even though the pack was not packed well (and its contents did not allow for quality packing).

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