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Last time I spoke to you on the blog I talked about starting to prepare your backpacking trip (see post here) and I talked about the gear I am taking with me for my Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore trip. I even talked about some items I may switch around, and if you follow the Sustaining Sara socials (see above), then you already know an item I have been pondering over.
Charlie and I have decided to move away from our hammock shelters and move toward a tent shelter. I have heard from many sources that your tent should be under 3.5 lbs and there are so many tents available in that range. However, I will be the first to say that I do not want to spend that much money and I’d prefer to work with what we have, and what we have is a Coleman 2 Person Dome Tent. In the 2 person model this entire tent system is 7 lbs. and I dare say no one wants to add a 7 lb. shelter to their pack. HOWEVER, Charlie and I can split the weight together AND save money.
Now I went to some Facebook hiking and backpacking groups to see what they thought about this plan and the perspectives were mixed to say the least. One person told me that taking this tent into the back country was “a terrible idea” with no other context. Others said it is a great idea to work with what we have and some agreed but also offered better options. I am happy I got perspectives for people but I have figured that this comes down to three main points in our case:
Availability – we already have this tent. I already set it up once this season to make sure all pieces are accounted for and in good working order!
Cost – there is no extra cost to us to use a tent we already have. We may even use some money we would have used on a new tent on getting better sleeping pads (yes, now I need to add “sleeping pad” to my updated gear list).
Splitting Weight – yes, this tent would be way too heavy for one person to carry. However, since Charlie and I can split the weight together we should be at a reasonable ~3.5 lbs.! There is nothing wrong with that!
So Charlie and I are pretty set on using our heavy tent, no matter what others say. I am very happy that we have this opportunity and can see how our shelter system evolves as we continue our backcountry journeys! Make sure to check out my socials below to see our Pictured Rocks Trip as it rolls out!
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I think we would all be surprised how much weight our recommendations have to those closest to us. Sometimes our interests overlap with the people we know more than we realize and that is what I found out in 2019 when I decided I needed to tell people about items that I truly loved and made my life easier. With those posts buried in the Facebook archives, here is a list of things that I loved in 2020 AND 2019!
With 2020 not meeting anyone’s expectations, I started to finally feed my desire to start backpacking. That being said, one of the first things I bought was my sleeping bag. For this I researched bags used for backpacking and a handful of qualities that were important to me; warmth and comfort, compact-ability, and affordability. The Women’s Marmot Trestles Elite 20 Sleeping bag caught my eye for its price compared to other backpacking sleeping bags and the partner compatibility – meaning I convinced my fiancé to also get this bag so we could zip the bags together!
This bag is so warm that it is chihuahua approved!
I have not had a personal laptop since college and on top of that I tend to over-flood my IPhone 7, so I remedied this by buying and IPad Pro. I have been able to separate work and fun (a big struggle for me) by moving game and social apps to my IPad, leaving my phone to its bare necessities. With the addition of the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil my IPad has become my laptop and has even enabled me to start this blog! While it is definitely a luxury item, it has really made my life easier.
Once you decide to start backpacking you realize there are many choices in gear, but I dare say picking a shelter provokes the most research. There are so many varieties of tents or even just a simple tarp for the brave, but I chose to evolve my hammock kit as my backpacking shelter. I have had an Eno Eagle DoubleNest Hammock for 2 years and coveted my sister’s Eno Hammock for years before that. Since I already had the hammock and the straps it was easy to start building this shelter. All I needed was the bug net and rain tarp. This is by far the most comfortable sleeping setup outdoors, has room for cutting costs to fit a tighter budget, and all the components can even be purchased at once with the Eno OneLink system.
Later on I even bought and under quilt for Midwest fall camping!
My fiancé had gotten me one of these can koozies and I can hardly drink a beer without using it. This koozie keeps your drink cold for hours (if it lasts that long). It is a little heavy, but you get used to it. They even have a slim can koozies that I think I may need to invest in!
First clothing item! When I got these leggings I was working in warehouse management and my high-visibility vest would burst from holding so many pens, radios, and notebooks. But when I wore these leggings I felt like I had myself put together. There are no shortage of pockets, fit true-to-size, and are reinforced in the knees. A lot of my girlfriends that work outdoors, on farms, and other labor positions swear by these leggings!
In 2019 I had the pleasure of being on two road trips. One was from Michigan to California and the other was California to Michigan. On the first road trip my sister had me help navigate some of the no-service areas with the National Geographic Road Atlas. Then when my fiancé and I drove back to Michigan I just had to have my own Road Atlas! We even used this on a Northern Michigan trip. The maps are easy to follow and the states are even in alphabetical order. I just cannot recommend this enough for your car or recreation vehicle.
Bonus points that my uncle said he was so proud of me for acquiring map reading as a skill!
These were the things that were most useful for me, but what were your favorite items in 2020? Comment below or in the Sustaining Sara Facebook Group!