Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Big Four

The big 4 in backpacking means your primary gear items which are your shelter, sleeping bag, ground pad, and pack. Generally people find these items the most interesting so I thought I'd make a post explaining mine.

1. The shelter I'm using is a TarpTent Contrail which as the name suggests is a combination of a tent and tarp. The Contrail is good for pretty much one thing, sleeping. Its not much longer than my sleeping pad and is only a little wider, not enough room for my pack, but it fits good under the vestibule outside. The Contrail does not use traditional tent poles but does use one trekking poles and 4 steaks (I like to use 5 or 7). Because of all these factors the Contrail only weighs 1.7 lbs. While on the AT I plan to use one of the 3-sided shelters most nights and only rely on this when I really need it.

Obviously this picture was not taken recently

2. The backpack I'm using is the Granite Gear Crown V.C 60. This backpack was made to replace the thru-hiker famous G.G Vapor Trail. Like a majority of backpacks today the Crown V.C has an internal frame, which is really just a thin piece of holy plastic. Because the frame is so thin the pack only weighs 2.4 lbs which is not the lightest but definitely lighter than most, it can also be removed for lighter loads to only weigh 1lb 14oz. Despite its lighter weight this pack is very comfortable and as the name suggests can carry up to 60 liters and holds up to 35 lbs comfortably.

3. The sleeping pad I'm using is the Neoair Xlite. The Xlite is extremely comfortable and lightweight the problem is it takes an eternity to blow it up/pack it down and I'm constantly afraid if I sit on it wrong it will completely deflate. Luckily I got this pad pretty cheap because normally it would set me back $175. I got the Xlite in a size large which weighs about 4 more ounces but gives me additional room in width and length. Because of the long blow up time and fragility I might eventually switch over to a foam pad like the Zlite.

4. The 4th part of my big 4 is my sleeping bag, which is technically a quilt, but serves the same purpose. The quilt I'm using is the  Revelation X 20*  made by EnLIGHTend Equipment a small cottage company in Minnesota. The difference between a quilt and a sleeping bag is that a quilt generally does not have a hood, is roomer, and the bottom is mostly left open. I bought the Revelation X in a size large-wide but could have gone with the regular width and length if I wanted to save a few ounces. The size large-wide (which is the largest size available) weighs in at 1.7 lbs  which given the price at $220 is fantastic (Western Mountaineering Ultralight is 1lb 15 oz: at $470).  As of now I only tested this quilt a few times in my backyard at around 20* wearing only a base layer, mid layer, thin long johns, and wool socks and was plenty warm. I also noticed because of the large size I can easily fit my head inside if it gets too cold. The RevelationX is also surprisingly packable, but I'm also used to 3 lb + synthetic sleeping bags. This quilt also comes with straps to secure the quilt around yourself and your ground pad.

*Big 4 also sometimes called Big 3: sleeping pad and bag become sleep system.

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