Our first trip as a group, just some roadside camping at 9,000 feet in Colorado’s Elk Mountains to test a variety of gear. Luckily it was cold and snowed a bunch. We even had wind to top off the experience.
With this year’s shallow snowpack, we couldn’t dig a pit for the kitchen tent but the BD Megamid still cut the breeze. The ‘Mid’s wind performance is counter intuitive, as you’d think something that sticks up in the sky like that would get a lot of wind effect. But the pyramid shape compensates for that by the upper area having much less surface than the lower, more stable sides. We’d like the ‘Mid to have better ventilation while running two MSR XGK flamethrower stoves, so we’ll add a draft tube to the top of the tent during sewing sessions this winter. Next testing session will include a bunch of backcountry skiing, so cooking will be even more important!
The Hilleberg Nammatj 3 tent we’ve been testing was quick to set and did well in the wind. This tent could sleep three people, but we concluded that for extended use we’d rather have two people in it. So we’re still working on our tent plan.
Our food planning is going well. Tyler and Colby’s chicken stroganoff was a good feed. We experimented with some quinoa for hot breakfast cereal. It didn’t cook fast enough, so we’ll amend that to quinoa flakes. We’ll of course have some oatmeal as well, and bacon/eggs every few days. Might as well eat at least as well as the guys in club fed. That’s the theory, anyhow.
Night temperature fell to single digits, around three degrees F at the lowest before the snowstorm moved in. I used a combo of lightweight down bag inside synthetic North Face Tundra. The combo was plenty warm, though if I go this route I’ll mod the liner bag so it’s fixed to the outer.
I brought my digital infrared “gun” thermometer along. Enlightening. For example, at three degrees F external temperature, internal temp in the double wall Nammatj climbed to around 20 degrees F soon after Nick and I were in there. As an experiment we closed all the tent vents for the night. Even with totally breathable interior fabric and wind we got a lot of condensation and ice rain. As I’ve known for years but try to forget, even the most breathable fabrics tend to move water vapor poorly in single digit or below temps. We’ll try more venting during the next trip. Despite all this yammering and planning regarding tents, I’m still a fan of snow caves and igloos when temps drop to extreme levels or the wind howls.
Too bad we didn’t have much snow to build block walls or igloos out of. Perhaps next time. Meanwhile, we’re still working on food planning and gear procurement.
One last thing. Louie researched chair kits and found the super light Cyclone Chair from Big Agnes. Beefier chair kits might be appropriate for long summer backpacking trips when you’re sitting around on sharp rocks or sticks, but for snow camping the Cyclone appears near perfect. Nice find, since at 6.5 ounces the Cyclone really does save significant mass over other chair kits.