The John P. Saylor Trail is a very short backpacking trail in central Pennsylvania. At 17 miles long, I could very easily complete it as a day hike, but I need a quick getaway and a chance to test out my new hammock set-up. This will be an overall dry run of my gear for this year’s Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking seasons. I’ll run through a few highlights for you, but the complete list (including food) can be found HERE if you just want the hard numbers.
Shelter and Sleeping
I’ve sold my trusty ZPacks Hexamid and picked up a new hammock system for this season. The hammock is a Warbonnet Outdoors Traveler. This is a very simple gathered-end hammock, but the quality seems pretty good at first glance. I chose the Double Layer 1.1 variant with whoopie sling suspension, which weighs in at 17oz. I chose a double layer because it creates options for using a sleeping pad to supplement my bottom insulation.
Speaking of bottom insulation, I’m taking a 2 pronged approach. As my primary insulation, I went with a Warbonnet Outdoors Yeti 3-Season Underquilt. This is a torso length under quilt that weighs in around 12oz. The Yeti is made of DWR-coated ripstop nylon and filled with 6.5oz of 850 down. According to the manufacturer, this quilt can be used down to 20 degrees. To supplement this quilt in colder weather, I’ll be using a Gossamer Gear Nightlight sleeping pad under my legs. As weather warms up and I get more comfortable using this setup, I’ll probably leave the pad and quilt at home (for a weight savings of a full pound), but for now I’m bringing it all along.
Overhead, I’ll be hanging a Mountain Laurel Designs UL Hammock Tarp. This tarp wasn’t my first choice. Don’t get me wrong, MLD’s quality is top notch, but this tarp provides VERY minimal coverage and requires me to pitch it perfectly every single time. I worry that I don’t have enough practice with it yet. The tarp is also constructed of Spinnaker, which is very light, but also very noisy in the wind. I would have preferred a larger cuben fiber tarp, but the price became the deciding factor. Hopefully, with some practice this tarp will grow on me, and I won’t have to spend money to buy different one.
I’ll write a more complete review of this system after I get some field experience with it.
After a solid year of use, I’ve retired my Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti-Tri System. I had a good run with it, and it performs very well, but the pot, cone, and stove combined for a total weight of about 6oz. The system I’ll describe below only weighs 2.2oz. I’ve decided that the fuel efficiency isn’t worth the added weight. I typically backpack for no more than 5 days at a time, so rationing fuel isn’t a critical point for me. My “new” cooking system is actually one of my old systems. I’ll be using an Esbit Titanium Wing Stove (0.5oz). In spite of the fact that Esbit solid fuel stinks and makes the bottom of your pot filthy, I’ve come to like the simplicity. The tablets don’t require me to carry the added weight of a fuel bottle. They can also be blown out and used later, which is very simple and convenient. With an alcohol stove, I either had to let excess fuel burn itself out (a waste) or snuff out the stove and try to pour the unused fuel back into the bottle (a hassle). My pot is a 2-cup flat-bottom Foster’s beer can pot made by Zelph (1.2oz). Around that, I’ll be wrapping a simple windscreen made from aluminum flashing (0.5oz). This is a very simple system that has worked well for me in the past, and I’m looking forward to using it again.
Since this is a very short trip, I decided to stick to my normal day-to-day diet. I’m currently having success with Weight Watchers, so I didn’t want to jeopardize that progress. The food I packed for this trip isn’t necessarily extremely healthy, but I did account for everything in the WW system. I only packed about 800 calories per day. I’ll be able to eat breakfast before I leave the house on Day 1, and I’ll be back to my car by lunch on Day 2. This will allow me to keep my food bag light. I didn’t do a particularly great job keeping my food’s average Calories/Ounce high (only 103 cal/oz), but on a trip like this, that’s OK.
I’ll be carrying 2 Muscle Milk meal replacement bars that I picked up as part of a promotion at GNC. I didn’t know what else I would use them for, so they will be Day 1 lunch and Day 2 breakfast . I packed a granola bar and some cashews to curb my mid-hike munchies. For dinner, I packed Minute Rice Multi-Grain Medley (quinoa, brown rice, red rice, and wild rice), which along with a tuna packet, will be my dinner. Some of my favorite Easter candy also made it into the mix (Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and Cadbury Caramel Eggs).
I’ll check back with you after my hike and let you know how it all worked!