Monday, January 23, 2012

Gear in Review - Sleep System

UPDATE: After spending 5 months in a tent, I've updated this review here: Sleep System - UPDATE

Mountain Hardwear Sprite 1
3 lbs. 6 oz.
18 square feet

The Story
I have covered this in the blog previously. But to re-iterate:
I got a bivy for the Trail. I tested it several times and I found it to be unusably hot in the summer time. OK in the winter time. And worthless in the rain. Also cramped, not incredibly light. and I could feel a mouse running across my legs all night through the bivy. All in all, just terrible.
I switched out the bivy for a Mountain Hardwear Sprite 1 and I have been completely satisfied. I have used the tent in the canyons of Utah, the mountains of the Cascades, and for over a year on the East Coast. I find the tent roomy enough for me and my gear, including my boots and pack. I have enough room to sit up. Legolas even has a place to swing and cast light on me if I decide to stay up and write. Easy to setup and take down. I have yet to be in a deluge, if it leaks like a sieve I will be complaining about it!

Big Agnes Grouse Mountain Down Sleeping Bag
3 lbs
good to 15 degrees
Ground pad sleeve

The Story
I have never owned a down bag. After hearing horror stories of wet down I shied away from down. I have had synthetic bags all my life and have always had good luck with them. I have a 40 degree LL Bean bag that I have had for years, and might be switching out to when it gets very warm this summer. I needed a general purpose bag, something that would bridge the gap between too cold and hot out. After researching and weighting my options I found that Big Agnes is a really good brand. Accolades from customers, and the design features including no insulation where it's a waste, a pillow sack inside the bag, the sleeve for the ground cloth were all determining factors. The last, and most important factor: dividends from my REI credit card! I normally would never link a credit card, but if you do online bill pay, buy things from Amazon, buy things from REI, why wouldn't you use this to your advantage? I pay down my credit card month to month so there is no interest or fees. I travel for work, buy a lot of gas, and I have been buying many things from Amazon to prepare for this trip. I have gained a lot of "free" money from these rewards. I have tried to do this so I am using the system to as much of my advantage as possible.
Bottom line. Good bag. Expensive, but the right price for me (free)!

Stoic LTWT Step Sleeping Pad
1 lb 7oz

The Story
Not much of a story here. I had a closed cell foam ground pad for the winter months to use in conjunction with a 3/4 ThermaRest that I used by itself in the summer months. Together those 2 work great. I chanced upon the Stoic on Steep and Cheap with a price I couldn't turn down. Turns out the Stoic was close to the same weight as the ThermaRest, with a mummy tapered full length design. I'm happy with the design and weight, it is comfortable and does what it's meant to do - float me on a warm cushion of air as I'm floating in dream-land!

SeatoSummit Reactor Thermolite Mummy Bag Liner
8.7 oz
Adds 15 degrees of warmth

The Story
This big fuzzy body sock does what it does and does it well! I have had it for several years and have used it as a blanket in Brazil while hosteling and it has added warmth on 0 degree nights in West Virginia. The only qualm I have is the body sock thing! It doesn't have a side opening so if you're hot you can poke a single leg out, as I often like to do. Once inside it your in for the night. It is best used for cold weather camping or completely by itself in hot weather.