Friday, March 13, 2009

Shelter for the PCT

Trying to figure out which shelter/rain gear system is the best for me this year. Basically my choices are to use a tent and an umbrella, a large tarp and an umbrella or a small poncho with a bivy sack and no umbrella. All these systems also make use of my Houdini windshirt, which is not capable of keeping you dry in a downpour, yet has kept me dry riding my Vespa on rainy days in Santa Barbara.

Here's the weight breakdown. Looks like the poncho system wins on weight. The guy lines couldn't possibly make up for the weight of the other options. It is, however, less luxurious in the rain. Fortunately the PCT doesn't experience a lot of rain. I suppose I could toss the 8x10 tarp into my gear for Washington where it's likely to be the rainiest. Having some extra space when you're hunkered down against the rain would be nice.

None of these includes seam sealing weight.

Shelter/Rain Gear
Option 1
The One tent 16 oz
Houdini windshirt (not waterproof) 4 oz
umbrella 10 oz
+A16 Bug Net as an extra 6 oz
Total: 36 oz
Option 2
8x10 tarp 14 oz
guy lines ?
A16 Bug Net 6 oz
Houdini windshirt (not waterproof) 4 oz
umbrella 10 oz
Total: 34 oz + guy lines
Option 3
Poncho tarp 10 oz
guy lines ?
A16 Bug Net 6 oz
Houdini Windshirt (not waterproof) 4 oz
Equinox bivy sack 6.5 oz
Total: 26.5 oz + guy lines

It pleases me the poncho system is the lightest. A goal I have for this year's hike is to be closer to the natural world, to sleep more outdoors. Another goal is to lessen my pack weight. The poncho system does both!

Here's another way to look at this:
Pros and cons

Generous shelter in rainGenerous shelter against mosquitosSun protectionOption to sleep outside
Option 1: The tent option, 36 ozxxx
Option 2: The tarp option, 34 ozxx
Option 3: The poncho option, 26.5 oz


So the question is, with a half pound to 3/4 pound advantage in weight over the tent system, is the relative deprivation of the poncho worth it? Will its advantages make up for the disadvantages?

Since I did not outline the advantages of the poncho, here they are. These are advantages the poncho system has that the others do not:
  1. Campsite selection requires less space
  2. Half a pound or more less weight
  3. Quicker to put up and take down
  4. Closest to nature
  5. Ultralight chic

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