New to Backpacking | High Sierra Topix  

New to Backpacking

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

New to Backpacking

Postby BrettB » Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:12 pm

Hey all I am new to backpacking and am trying to get my things together. I was really interested in a hammock and tarp because its compact and lightweight. I have a place up in mammoth lakes and will be doing most of my packing up there over night or two nights. Will I be able to find trees to hang from or would I be better off with a tent?

Thanks for the advice and help in advance,
Brett



User avatar
BrettB
Topix Newbie
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:02 pm
Location: San Pedro/Mammoth Lakes
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:23 pm

Hi Brett,

Welcome to HST!

If you are going much above 10,000 feet, I would be using a pad instead of an underquilt (you will want one or the other, using nothing will be very cold very quickly no matter the season, even if you are using a sleeping bag... the bottom of the bag will compress and not give you much warmth). The trees become sparse in some areas and if you intend to camp higher than 9,000 you are better off being versatile, in case you cannot find trees to support your weight.

I hammocked through that area a couple of years ago with only one night on the ground - on the south side of Donahue pass, where the trees were present, but very springy. We were forced to stop in order to rest a companion's bum knee rather than continue to lower elevation.

If you are going in spring hopefully you will have a bugnet for the hammock - it would make a good bug bivy beneath a tarp on the ground.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby East Side Hiker » Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:29 pm

I've known people who like hammocks, and one of my best backpacking friends in the old days used one frequently. But to tell you the truth, I wouldn't do it. There's nothing like a good lite tent, a good lite down bag, and good lite pad. When it rains, you can huncker down with a book, write in your journal, kiss your girfriend... When it gets cold, as it does once in a while - like last summer, 3rd week in Sept, when it got freezing cold for a couple days - you do the same; hunker down in your tent.
User avatar
East Side Hiker
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:10 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:00 pm

I'm a novice compared to many of the forum users here, but I'd say look into lightweight tents, tarp tents, or bivy sacks. Those will give you more versatility in the high country (and coming out of Mammoth you will have great access to some stellar high country). You many also want to consider if you'll be travelling solo or with someone with who you'd share a tent. For my first few years backpacking I used an old army surplus bivy and a cheap blue tarp. Then I had an idea of what kind of gear I wanted and went out and spent the money.

Welcome to the forum and good luck!
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
User avatar
Carne_DelMuerto
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 296
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:43 am
Location: Auburn, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby Mike M. » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:31 pm

I highly recommend bringing an old fashioned blue foam closed-cell sleeping pad -- the kind you can buy at REI for less than $20. If you run into foul weather, they are ideal insulators, protecting you against the cold ground. They are also much lighter than a Therm-a-rest pad and will not spring a leak.

During the summer months, I just carry a cheap tube tent. It's light and provides sufficient shelter for any weather you might encounter during the summer months. This advice is more than a little sacrilegeous for most gearheads, but tube tents have served me well over the years. When I retire them, they get repurposed into smaller ground cloths.

I do have a three-man,four-season tent, which I use in winter, and a lightweight (under 4 lb) two man tent, which I use in early season sometimes, especially if I'm worried about skeeters.

Tarps can work, but you have to take great care in how you set them up in foul weather, otherwise you will get wet.
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:46 am

Now the hammock naysayers have had their say...

I have stayed drier and warmer in the hammock in any duration storm. I was the only one in my group who didn't have to dry out all my stuff after 18+ hours of rain one trip. I was able to sit up in the hammock to read, boil water and do all the normal things I would do outside the tent, comfortably and without getting any mud or water in any of my gear.

People who think they will be cold or that hammock setups are not flexible have never tried it. Five years and counting, and I still get the endless criticism and questions, and I prefer hammocking in nearly every instance - save those trips where I am absolutely certain I won't be able to use it at all. It saves my back and joints a lot of pain and suffering to not have to crawl around on the ground to dress, sleep, etc. I started out with a two person tent and went hammock - I still have tent, tarptent, and a big thick NeoAir for when I have to use it, but if I can I'll be in the hammock. Sleeping on the ground I get an hour of sleep before I'm waking up and tossing around to get comfortable again. Sleeping in a hammock I don't wake up til it's time for coffee.

If you want to try hammocking go right ahead. Let the tent dwellers have the flat spots, you can hang anywhere you like and not get things crawling into your tent or drag filth and leaf litter in your sleeping area. No more misjudging and finding yourself with your head lower than your feet on a slope. No more rolling off the pad in the middle of the night. That torture device, the CCF foam pad, becomes infinitely more comfy in a hammock.

Let the criticism begin again!
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby balzaccom » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:05 am

No criticism--but a suggestion. Instead of deciding in advance what would be best, buying it, and then seeing if it works....

Try to borrow a hammock and try it in your backyard. Do the same with a tent or tarp. Give them each a shot, and see what works best for you. i have never been reall comfortable in a hammock---I sleep for 20 minutes, and then feel the need to move around. But at home in bed, I often sleep on my stomach. That's not a good position in a hammock.

As we often say on these boards....your mileage may vary!
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1292
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:57 am

Or go to hammock forums, and ask/read all about hammocks that let you sleep on your stomach.

Seriously, there are a lot of reasons to go with either a hammock or a tent, but letting someone tell you what will be best for you diminishes the most important criteria of all - doing what suits you best. That has a lot to do with "what works" but that's such a variable thing. There are several things that work for any given location, you get to sort through the options yourself in the end.

There is a reason I have no less than four shelter options - I go out a lot, in all kinds of environments and weather conditions. I would not take a tyvek tarptent to the coast in winter, nor would I take a hammock into the windswept alpine Tablelands in Sequoia NP.

Renting or borrowing gear the first few times you go backpacking makes more sense in the long run when the options you are looking at are very expensive. And I can tell you that if you visit hammock forums, you will get a way of connecting with locals who have hammocks, and they would probably be happy to let you get in theirs to try them on for size.

For example. If you are in Yosemite over the fourth of July weekend, I have a Warbonnet Blackbird that will be hanging in the pines that you could dayhike to see.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Feb 18, 2011 2:21 pm

Hammocks are hard to get out in the middle of the night when a bear raids your camp... Just kidding, I stand corrected.
User avatar
East Side Hiker
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:10 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:18 pm

East Side Hiker wrote:Hammocks are hard to get out in the middle of the night when a bear raids your camp... Just kidding, I stand corrected.


:rolleyes:

At least I have gravity's help getting on my feet!

Nothing like faceplanting out of the door of your tent to make you want to seek all the help you can get in staying upright.
User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1768
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: New to Backpacking

Postby East Side Hiker » Sun Feb 20, 2011 4:58 pm

Thats exactly what my friend did in his hammock when a bear raided us in the middle of the night in Yosemite - like in a cartoon from the old days, he moved so fast, the hammock spun around, and he did a face plant right into the ground. That move got that bear out of our camp in a hurry.
User avatar
East Side Hiker
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:10 am
Experience: N/A


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Google Adsense [Bot], tonykurl, Yahoo [Bot] and 14 guests