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  1. #1
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    Default My PCT shelter choices

    Its looking like I'll have the resources to get out on the PCT next year. Don't know if I'll be going for a thru hike but at least for a couple months. Typical nobo start

    I have a few different shelters to choose from and curious to hear what you PCT hikers have for some input on what's available to me.

    Here's what's in my ground shelter gear closet

    Zpacks Duplex (.67)
    Zpacks Hexamid Solo Tarp (.51)
    MLD 7.5x9.5 Supertarp (.87)
    HMG Ground Sheet (.7)
    GG Polycryo Ground Sheet
    MLD Superlight Bivy
    MLD SilNylon Pro Poncho

    I'm definitely leaning towards the bivy/tarp combo paired with a 20* quilt. Cowboy camping in mind. I don't save much weight using the pro poncho over one of my cuben tarps and my 6oz rain jacket but I do eliminate one more thing to carry around. A montbell windshirt will be in my pack as well.

    Even with the bivy I like to use a ground sheet. Thinking about making a smaller ground sheet than the HMG. It's quite large which is nice but kinda heavy for ground sheet. About 3.7oz. I'd like to keep the ground sheet around 2.5oz.



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  2. #2
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    Default

    A bivy adds warmth to the sleep system. My MLD Superlight's w/ the .75 DCF and ProSilny floor versions have added about 7-8* when side zipped up. If you have experience and understanding in how to add warmth to the sleep system in other ways you may not need an accurately rated 20* quilt or sleeping bag for a typical early April NOBO start. BUT, that temp rated quilt enables you to never have to change out if you want. BUT, at that temp rating it adds sleep system warmth and wt overkill which sounds like you're trying to minimize.

    I'd throw out the poncho for the start. It will not be used/worn as a clothing shell necessity often. It gets breezy. It does not rain heavily during you're start. It's HOT during the day. Can be cold at freezing a few nights in April in the Mojave. It doesnt do great at adding sleep system warmth if worn to sleep or draped over a bag/quilt or used as a ground cloth. Therefore it becomes a heavy ground cloth for the Hex TENT. You do not need a bathtub floor for the Mojave, through Cali, much of OR but might like it in WA if you dilly-dally. Some like it for sand protection in soCal. IMHO it's overkill. A capable experienced PCT tarper does not need a great coverage(sized) tarp...especially if you have the MLD Superlight. The vast majority of PCT NOBO thru camp time you will have the option to cowboy. It helps to understand site selection. Therefore the overhead shelter wt largely becomes added wt not being used IF you choose the cowboy option. You dont need a Supertarp AND Superlight for a NOBO start with OK site selection on a windy sand blown night. Go polycro. Have an extra that can be sent. Most PCTers have more evolved lighter wt and lower bulk kits than AT thrus. Strayed's Monster is quite the aberration! The NOBO good SoCal weather and your gained experience at logistics and going Solo does not demand a Duplex at the start...perhaps if you had a dog or another in your party?

    Hex .51 DCF tarp or a flat or cat cuben or silny solo sized tarp at the start. It can be left un set up the vast majority of nights with a Superlight. When the skeeters hit cha in OR and southern WA think addressing increased bug pressure. the Superlight floor is your ground cloth. Personally, I'd do a lighter DCF cat or flat tarp then the Hex .51 TENT IF I was carrying the Superlight. If I fit under it I'd be doing a .51 Hex Pocket tarp with the Superlight and swapping out the 20* quilt for a 50* non hydrophobic 900 fp down SUL quilt once past Yosemite. I'd be going UL to SUL and bagging 35 MPD avgs. Helps to offset the water carrying too. With the .51 Pocket Tarp I'd have careful site and equalized tension selection. What's the use of having a WR bivy and an undersized tarp when the tarp doesnt offer the coverage one might need in WA?

    the MB Tachyon version with the underarm mesh vents can be ideal for your shell at the start or an UL highly breathable true rain jacket in the 6 oz category w pit zips that serves as both a light rain jacket and "wind shirt." I would not carry both unless you're doing it for something to do with your sleep system, night hiking a lot, or are willing to suck up the ozs for the very rare PCT NOBO April Socal times it MIGHT be useful. That double layering shell system would possibly be more appropriate in WA doing a moderately paced NOBO.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    A bivy adds warmth to the sleep system. My MLD Superlight's w/ the .75 DCF and ProSilny floor versions have added about 7-8* when side zipped up. If you have experience and understanding in how to add warmth to the sleep system in other ways you may not need an accurately rated 20* quilt or sleeping bag for a typical early April NOBO start. BUT, that temp rated quilt enables you to never have to change out if you want. BUT, at that temp rating it adds sleep system warmth and wt overkill which sounds like you're trying to minimize.

    I'd throw out the poncho for the start. It will not be used/worn as a clothing shell necessity often. It gets breezy. It does not rain heavily during you're start. It's HOT during the day. Can be cold at freezing a few nights in April in the Mojave. It doesnt do great at adding sleep system warmth if worn to sleep or draped over a bag/quilt or used as a ground cloth. Therefore it becomes a heavy ground cloth for the Hex TENT. You do not need a bathtub floor for the Mojave, through Cali, much of OR but might like it in WA if you dilly-dally. Some like it for sand protection in soCal. IMHO it's overkill. A capable experienced PCT tarper does not need a great coverage(sized) tarp...especially if you have the MLD Superlight. The vast majority of PCT NOBO thru camp time you will have the option to cowboy. It helps to understand site selection. Therefore the overhead shelter wt largely becomes added wt not being used IF you choose the cowboy option. You dont need a Supertarp AND Superlight for a NOBO start with OK site selection on a windy sand blown night. Go polycro. Have an extra that can be sent. Most PCTers have more evolved lighter wt and lower bulk kits than AT thrus. Strayed's Monster is quite the aberration! The NOBO good SoCal weather and your gained experience at logistics and going Solo does not demand a Duplex at the start...perhaps if you had a dog or another in your party?

    Hex .51 DCF tarp or a flat or cat cuben or silny solo sized tarp at the start. It can be left un set up the vast majority of nights with a Superlight. When the skeeters hit cha in OR and southern WA think addressing increased bug pressure. the Superlight floor is your ground cloth. Personally, I'd do a lighter DCF cat or flat tarp then the Hex .51 TENT IF I was carrying the Superlight. If I fit under it I'd be doing a .51 Hex Pocket tarp with the Superlight and swapping out the 20* quilt for a 50* non hydrophobic 900 fp down SUL quilt once past Yosemite. I'd be going UL to SUL and bagging 35 MPD avgs. Helps to offset the water carrying too. With the .51 Pocket Tarp I'd have careful site and equalized tension selection. What's the use of having a WR bivy and an undersized tarp when the tarp doesnt offer the coverage one might need in WA?

    the MB Tachyon version with the underarm mesh vents can be ideal for your shell at the start or an UL highly breathable true rain jacket in the 6 oz category w pit zips that serves as both a light rain jacket and "wind shirt." I would not carry both unless you're doing it for something to do with your sleep system, night hiking a lot, or are willing to suck up the ozs for the very rare PCT NOBO April Socal times it MIGHT be useful. That double layering shell system would possibly be more appropriate in WA doing a moderately paced NOBO.
    Thanks for all the info. Lots to think about.

    I'll be carrying an umbrella so I could probably go without the rain jacket and fair well with just my windshell.

    I did think about buying a new quilt, I have a zpacks 10* and an EE 40*. I've had my eye on something from Katabatic though.

    I also have a superlight with the .75 bottom.

    The superlight, polycryo sheet, and .51 tarp seems like the winning combo. And very light. I'd like to keep my shelter system sub 1lb. My duplex feels heavy nowadays.

    I'm not the biggest fan of my hexamid tarp. A very light 7x9 flat tarp in .51 could be the ticket.
    This also gives me the versatility I'm after.





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  4. #4

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    When I hiked the PCT in 2009, I used a MLD Grace Solo CF tarp and a superbivy. It worked well for me. I often use a polycro sheet underneath the bivy to give added protection to the floor and keep pine sap off of it. On the PCT, I only set the tarp up 9 times including the last 3 nights in off and on snow. I often used the bivy sack for extra warmth, something to cut strong winds, bug protection, and as a light sleeping bag when it was too warm for my quilt. Today, I still use the same system (just newer versions of the same things). I live in SoCal and do a lot of short and extended hiking locally and in the Sierra Nevada, so I clearly think it works well for the kind of hiking you find along PCT.

    That said, I have a strong believer in permithrin treated clothing (some pre-treated clothing you buy may call it insect shield or something similar) to protect against bugs; especially in the Sierra Nevada. It helps with not needing a large safe zone called a tent. With treated clothing, mosquitoes may land on it, but they will quickly fly off without trying to bite through it. This clearly implies wearing long pants and sleeves when swarms are expected. When I take a break, I may add a head net, but I'm able to function without being bit when sitting outside. With the permithrin treated long pants and sleeve shirt, I only found the need to use DEET for 2 days on the entire PCT; used it on my hands an neck. That was in northern Yosemite which always seems to have the worst bugs in spring. The bugs there are literally a brown cloud surrounding you as you hike there so if there is any exposed spots, they will eventually find it. But I didn't need it anywhere else where the mosquitoes were out. I was just hiking in the that area south of Sonora Pass at the beginning of the month and was watching PCT hikers in shorts hating life due to the mosquitoes as the DEET wasn't working at times. Many were hiking in their raingear and headnets as armor against them despite how warm I personally found it while hiking. "I thought I didn't need pants after the desert." was what 2 guys in running shorts told me when I gave them a ride back to the trail at Sonora Pass.

    I tried a hexamid and didn't really like it and went back to a more rectangular tarp. From talking with others, there is sometimes an issue with having that single high stress point where the pole goes as the fabric can start to pull away there and get thin. On a rectangular tarp, the stress is spread out over the length of the ridgeline.

    I personally wouldn't do a long hike along the southern end of the PCT where I will be long past a recent 2/3 day forecast without a good rain jacket and at least a rain skirt; and I'm a local to the area. Don't believe the hype that you only need minimal rain gear in SoCal. While that may be true in many years, it isn't true in every year. There is an occasional wet and cold spring where many hikers found their rain gear inadequate. Even in my year, a girl got hypothermia in the Mojave due to a hard cold rain. "But I thought it didn't rain in the desert!" Just because another guy hiked the trail twice and found he didn't really need a shelter or rain gear, doesn't mean it will be that way for you. This is something I find very frustrating with some past PCT hikers who don't live in the area giving bad advice because it was that way for them. Well I've seen it not that way for others.

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