Archive for September, 2009

I’ll be giving a free presentation on lightweight backpacking for OLLI in the Campbell Center on the SOU Campus, 655 Frances Lane, Ashland, Oregon on Wednesday Sept 30 from 1-3 PM.


Although boomer backpackers are my people, the concepts of lightweight backpacking can be applied to many things from motorcycle touring to dayhiking.  All ages and experience levels are welcome from day hikers to hardcore backpackers, bicyclists, RVers, etc.  I’ll do a short PowerPoint slide show and bring some gear for you to check out.  Hope to see you there.


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Not ultra light by any means, but the MSR Hubba is not too bad at right around 3 lbs.  This is a bigger, better bivy for a solo sleeper.  It’s not new either, but a tried and true fixture in the camping world.  IMG_6290

Here’s a NeoAir small inside the tent alone.  One of the nice things about the Hubba is how it holds your pad in place within its 26″ width.  The small footprint will squeeze into tight spaces where bigger tents would be impossible.

I like the narrowness of the tent and the height is generous.  Plenty of room inside for me (5’8″) to sit on my NeoAir/Big Agnes camp chair.  And it’s not just a small center pyramid peak like many tents; the entire center third, back to front and side to side has nice height.  The all mesh is good too, if like me, you like looking at the scenery.msr_hubba_vertmsr_hubba_floor

The fly is the heaviest part, but it goes up quickly and withstands winds well.  Our test conditions were 40 mph winds and driving rain!  No problems.


I’m not a tent person, but if I were to ever give up my hammock, this tent would be a strong contender.  I would probably forgo the heavy fly in favor of a light weight tarp, but then the ease of setup would be lost…

I have a Tarptent too and I like the hybrid design.  What the single-walled tarptent lacks is the open all-mesh option for rain free evenings.

The MSR Hubba is a classic design in the double walled tent category.  If you’re a grounder, take a look.


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The MLD Grace Duo Spectralite Tarp is state of the art.  Made with the lightest functional fabric available, it weighs only 9.85 oz. with the ridge line seam sealed and including the guy lines and stuff sack.  My old favorite home made Rayway tarp weighed 18.2 oz. similarly configured.  IMG_6286So close to half the weight.  I use a hammock and I like a big area under my tarp.  My Rayway is a rectangle about 9′ x 9′, but a little longer than wide.  The Grace Duo is 8′ x 7′ x 9′ (front width x rear width x ridge length).  The baseline (side length at ground) is 5″ shorter than ridge line for a slightly pointed front.  The long baseline gives it more coverage than many cat tarps, whose baselines are significantly shorter than the ridge line.

My test run was perfect; 40 mph winds and driving rain for about 10 hrs.  I was worried about blow-in on the ends, but had no problems.  The tarp covered my Blackbird Hammock very nicely.  I was comfortable and dry.IMG_1270

I did miss the beaks from my old Rayway, shown in the above photo, and may add them to the Grace Duo to give me more usable space and the ability to pitch the tarp higher and still be covered.

An unexpected bonus with this tarp were the line tensioners.  Wow, what a great design (MLD’s website does not show these in their photos of the tarp, must be a new addition).   I’ve tried quite a few of these little guys and they’re all pretty clever, but this is the best design I’ve ever seen.  IMG_6533Permanently attached to the tie-outs on the tarp, the lines can be threaded or un-threaded onto them very quickly.  Then you can tie off your lines without worrying much about the tautness of the pitch.  Just tighten it up with the tensioners, later, when all your tie offs are done.  I’ll be leaving only the ridge line tie-outs attached when stowing my tarp.  That way if it’s windy when I have to pitch it the next time I won’t have all the perimeter lines flapping around while I tie off the ridge line.  Also, they make it easy to center your tarp over your hammock; loosen one end and then tighten the other, until it’s where you want it.  Easy!

One of the advantages to Spectralite is that it doesn’t stretch when it gets wet like sil-nylon.  So the tensioners aren’t used for that issue.  But, boy would they be nice on a sil-nylon set up when the tarp starts sagging after a little rain.  I’d like to find a place to purchase these by themselves.

The only down side is the cost at $270.  But, if you have the $, you can’t do any better than this tarp.  If you don’t need all that space, MLD makes the smaller Grace Solo Spectralite Tarp too.

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