Sunday, September 9, 2012

More Backpack and Quilt Minutia

Gossamer Gear Kumo
I kept thinking about my previous Backpack Minutia post where I had selected a Gossamer Gear Gorilla, a 50 liter ultralight backpack, and I could not shake the fact that most of the time in the near future my backpacking trips would only last an overnight to three overnights, 5 nights at most, perfect for a 36 liter pack.  So what would I do with all that available through-hiker room in the Gorilla backpack?  So I kept looking for a smaller day pack that could easily handle a 25-pound load.
MLD Burn
I may have found just that with the Gossamer Gear Kumo.  Kumo is Japanese for "Cloud".  It is built on the Murmur frame but is made with lighter and tougher materials like 140 denier Dyneema Gridstop and is designed to carry the 25 pounds my scale and research says I'll need for up to a 5-day trip.  It also has a zipper pouch on the top pocket and 3 outside pockets.  Only the side-cut of the back pocket concerns me (maybe too short to securely stow my planned tarp/tent).  This is also mentioned by other reviewers but that may or may not be a real issue-we"ll just have to see.  Gear reports have been very good like this one here.  At 14.65 ounces for the large size, the pack weight is great and the load capacity is 2200 cubic inches or 36 liters.  The Gossamer Gear website says both "We recommend the Kumo Superlight backpack for total weights below 25 lbs." and "25 lb. maximum carry capacity, but 20 lbs, is better".  In my case, that 5 lb. difference before getting "better" being mostly estimated water weight for long trail slogs between refills.  Overall, the pack seems to be able to handle my planned gear load without lots of "empty space" to have to strap down and would be a significant weight savings over the 27 ounce Gorilla pack.  The cost is OK at $55 less than the Gorilla and when the time comes that I need the additional 15 liters of gear space for a season-long through hike, I'll just have to upgrade.  And who knows what the marketplace will have to offer then?
GoLite Jam 35
Other packs I'm looking at include the MLD Burn, a 2300 cubic inch pack in the same price and feature range as the Kumo.  Here's a review.  It certainly has a better main outside pocket, can handle much larger loads and appears to carry greater weight.  By adding two side pockets on the waist belt it improves the functionality and could act (for me) more like a Gorilla pack in a smaller package!
Also, the GoLite Jam 35 is a good pack for the money at $99 on sale.  I do not like the large fabric rear pocket as much as a mesh pocket, but otherwise the pack is a good deal.  At one pound 10 ounces it is a little bit heavy but I can surely use the $65 dollars to buy more gear! Here's it's review.  It is out of stock today but that may change soon.
There are a few packs in the 36 liter size from manufacturers like Gregory, Osprey, Deuter, REI and others, some at better prices, but none at one pound or less total weight.  And that is what I just have to have, an ultralight backpack.
So, on to Sleeping Quilt Minutia...My Florida backpacking experience has mostly been with 20 degree sleeping bags where I sweated year-round.  Once I left the south I found the bags worked better but were still too hot for me most nights in the southern mountains.  I have chosen the quilt because of the light weight, the open bottom and the fact it will sleep "just like at home" under the quilt at night.
Therm-a-rest Alpine 35 degree Quilt
So in this corner, I am looking at the Therm-a-rest Alpine. A 35 degree sleeping quilt, with no bottom, no zipper, and low weight.  This seems like what I am looking for down south.  I would rather wear more clothing at night and carry a lighter quilt if I could.  This bag was also rated at 40 degrees by a reviewer here.  The Therm-a-rest Alpine is $250 at Campmor.
In that corner, is the 20 degree GoLite quilt, with more insulation for cool nights in the mountains and higher elevations, and water proofing on the foot and head.  The GoLite quilt is on sale for $199, (usually is $400) a great price!  Check here for a review.
GoLite 20 degree Quilt
I do have a short Ridge Rest pad to sleep on but would like to purchase a Z-Rest pad since I have tried it and I found that I prefer folding it instead of rolling it.
We do camp during the winter here in Florida and in the summer anywhere else.  It can get cold but is usually in the 40's and 50's at night.  Most of my camping experience in the southern Appalachian mountains has been comfortable with 50 degree down to 30 degree nights.  In Colorado it was always colder and I rarely had enough insulation in my sleeping bag to keep warm.  I don't think I"ll be camping in the inter-mountain west any time soon, but you never know.  When I do it will be with a 20 degree quilt.
I have many, many more 'minutia' decisions to make just like this.  It would be interesting to hear your experiences in different temperature-rated sleeping bags and quilts "down south".  Please write in to let me know your preferences and why.  Much more minutia to come...

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