Friday, July 4, 2014

It's Pacific Crest Trail time! Help me pick a tent...

It's that time of year again for those of us on the ten year PCT plan. This year Scout, Map Girl and I are hiking 250 miles, from the Oregon border to Snoqualmie Pass (where we started off last year.) Scout and I will have walked across an entire state (Washington) which is pretty cool. We begin in 22 days.

I did hit up the Dollar Snatcher, Wrong Way, and WeirdMart in an attempt to get backpacking food. It's a fact of life that long distance hiking doesn't necessarily consist of the healthiest of foods. You need simple carbs and sugars and you need to replace massive amounts of calories. You also can't take much freshies or meat along. Some people painstakingly dehydrate elaborate meals, but I don't have the time for that. It's just fuel! Some people also bring alcohol on every backpacking trip, but I'm not much of a drinker. So my meals basically look like this:

Breakfast: Protein shake, Carnation Instant Breakfast, or granola with powdered milk. (I kind of despise breakfast, but need to avoid bonks)

Lunch: Tortillas, hummus, cheese, jerky, or peanut butter

Dinner: Freeze-dried concoctions or quinoa with dehydrated veggies, instant mashed potatoes, couscous, tuna

Drinks: Water. (hahaha). Also, nuun tablets and gatorade mix.

Snacks: Snickers, dried fruit, animal crackers, Snickers, yogurt pretzels, Snickers, energy chews, Snickers, LaraBars, cheese, Snickers. Did I mention Snickers?

I only eat these when I'm hiking 20 mi/day. I don't get it either.
The last piece is the tent and this is where you come in. Which tent should I take? Here are the choices:

1. Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1. Aggie has been with me on two long distance hikes and on many other backpack trips (probably 50 plus nights). Bombproof. Downsides: front entry which means rain drips on you as you crawl in. You have to carry tent poles, so they get stuffed where something else could conveniently fit (like a platypus for example). You still have to stake it out to get the best effect, though it is mostly free-standing. Bulkier in packaging with separate rain fly. Weighs a little over two pounds. Feels a bit like a coffin, but you can just set up the mesh part if it's nice out.

2. Skyscape X, of chipmunk chewing fame. Weighs less than a pound and super small (not bulky). Uses trekking poles so you don't have extra poles to deal with. Nice mesh design with an integrated fly. Downsides: Must be staked; if ground is hard, have to pile rocks on stakes. Hard to set up in wind. Not sure about a situation with horizontal wind-driven rain; does all right in showers. Feels a bit like a coffin, but you get a nice breeze if you roll back the rain fly.

What would you do?

No post is complete without a cute dog. I was lucky enough to get a pack to test out from this place and it is a great dog pack. Check out Groundbird Gear if you are in the market.

Cale is so cute, sometimes I can't stand it.


  1. Sorry this didn't copy as a link. Wired is now on the Appalachian Trail for her triple crown. I have been following and she has nothing but praise for the tent.
    I look forward to again following your PCT adventure. Happy hiking.

  2. Hmm, don't know Mare. So much depends on the weather you encounter and the terrain. The skyscape looks to have the same sidemesh issues that our tarptent rainshadow2 experiences. not just horizaontal rain, but splashing rain. We camped on rock and tied off to trees and rocks. It rained and the drops bounced off the rock and I had a puddle of water on my side in the morning. Guessing what weather you are going to encounter is a tough one. If you really don't have a preference you might have to flip a coin! That ZPacks Hexamid SolPlex (from Wired) looks really sweet - it must make you crazy shopping for new much cool stuff out there!

  3. Sounds like a great trip! I look forward to following along! I would take the Skyscape :) pretty sweet you bought the cuben fiber one!!! thanks for the shout out! Yes, Cale is a good looking guy. I think he likes the colors too! Your friends know Wired? She is friends with some of my other product testers, a thru-hiking family with their dog Orion. They are blogging at: I drove up to PA to meet them on trail and bring some trail magic. Very inspiring family! Orion is a great product tester and is really helping me improve the roll-top pack!

  4. So excited about your upcomming trip! Can't wait to read about it. No idea about the tent choices- always a tough call. I usually end up choosing the lighter-weight option, curse myself for a while with the downsides/ tradeoffs, then finally get used to it by the end of the trip. :)

    1. Haha. I hope to see you on the PCT,.Hemlock!

    2. Don't know anything about your Skyscape but I do know the Big Agnes tents. Our backpacking tent is a Big Agnes Lynx Pass 3, for Shane, myself and our 3 pups, and our car camping tent is the Lynx Pass 4. We love them and they are bomb proof, our Lynx Pass 3 stood up to a huge early July hail storm a few years back, no leaks or holes and it did not collapse, some of the hail was the size of golf balls. Is your pup going with you on this adventure?

    3. No doggy, sadly because my husband would miss him too much!

  5. It's a shame you aren't leaving sooner. Matt and I are backpacking the Three Sisters PCT section in the very near future. It would have been cool to coordinate and finally meet up!

  6. Tough decision is right, at least you're not adding to the mix consideration of a replacement tent (so many on the market). On the good news front, in August you shouldn't have to worry about snow and cold temps, but instead you'll have rain and mosquitoes. I have a semi free-standing tent (the TarpTent Rainbow) and it gives me peace of mind during those rare times when I can't stake, but I wouldn't want to use that option during a big storm. I don't like front entry either, thus the reason I got the Rainbow. Single vs double wall has been just another compromise.

    Are you efficient at setting up the Skyscape X (I'm not nearly as efficient with the Rainbow as the Aggie)? Are you planning on hiking long days? Has the Skyscape X been bomb proof except for splash in heavy rains (try setting up on soft ground)? If yes and you can live with the compromises, I'd select the Skyscape X.

    Best of luck and I look forward to following your journey. Doggy is very cute indeed :)


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