Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I have been considering ponchos. There are some out there you can set up as shelters. There are some you can set up like a flat tarp and others, like the Gatewood Cape, you can set up like a little tent. I went to the store today to look at a poncho. Being short I decided that a poncho big enough to serve as a decent shelter is too big on me to serve as a decent poncho.

Years ago I decided I wanted to move out from my Dad's house and get my own apartment. I wasn't having any luck using the classified ads so I went downtown and walked up and down the streets where I wanted to live looking for For Rent signs. It turned out to be the rainiest day I've ever seen in Santa Barbara. I walked around in a poncho and umbrella. I got soaking wet from head to toe, but I did find a great apartment I lived in for almost 7 years. Anyway, after that experience, I'm not so sure that ponchos perform very well in real rain. So, given all that, I don't think I'll bother with a poncho.

I did see a really nice Patagonia jacket in the process of looking at ponchos. It weighed almost nothing and appeared to be coated in a way to provide adequate shelter in the rain. I am seriously considering replacing my lined Marmot windshirt with it. That would solve my upper-body rain issue and reduce some weight in my pack. But it would set me back $200.

As for shelter, I'm left with a difficult choice. I have a tarp, bivy and bug net. Together they weigh more than my Gossamer Gear The One tent. Together they give me adequate bug and rain protection. Separate they give me choices. I can skip the tarp and bivy most of the time and just use the bug net. But the bug net is small. I can lay down and be protected and that's about it. So if I the bugs are bad, my world is rather constricted. My tent gives me rain protection and a spacious palace away from bugs but no option to sleep under the stars.

So my shelter situation isn't quite resolved yet. At least my local backpack trip is coming up in a couple of weeks. I'll get to try the tarp and know if tarping is for me.

On another gear-related note, I decided the problem with my Jannd pack was that it leaned too far away from my back. Other packs solve this issue with load lifter straps. I sewed some leftover nylon webbing onto the pack to make static load lifters. I can't adjust them but I sewed them to where I would have adjusted them. They seem to help immensely. They move the pack closer to my back and move the weight forward so that instead of falling over my shoulders it rides more frontward. I think I'll give my Jaand pack a try on my trip in a couple of weeks. It's a great pack for our local, overgrown trails.

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