Welcome to my Gear pages. Those wondering exactly what I pack for certain trips can check here. My goal for 2016 is to have a base kit that goes on practically every trip, with variations depending on the event. For example, I may combine a BIKE/HIKE/SKI trip where clothing choices will have to be adaptable. I have found that there is no combination that is static over 3 seasons or all uses, which is why (for me) it is important to be able to select from a "quiver" of gear and clothes, choosing appropriate kit for the trip at hand. I am no longer a sponsored athlete and I gladly pay full price, or an advertised sale price, for all my gear. With this in mind, let's delve into the closet.
Since I've been backpacking for over 30 years, I've owned a number of bags and quilts over the years. Some of these are still with me, like a 20 degree Feathered Friends Hummingbird that I added a full upper collar to, extending the rating down to 10 degrees; lightly used but still lofting strong at over 20 years old. Other Feathered Friends bags I've used over the years are the 40 degree Vireo and 35 degree Rock Wren (my daughter has been using her Rock Wren for the past 8 years exclusively). Feathered Friends is a Seattle based company established in 1972 and produces very high quality sleeping bags and clothing, most of which is manufactured in Seattle. I am happy to spend my money on FF products to support a US based company.
More recently I have been using quilts, specifically from Enlightened Equipment. This company started with one individual who made a few quilts for people who asked and has now expanded into a full fledged US manufactured offerer of products made in Winona, Minnesota. For years I used minimalist foam pads for my sleep system but a few years ago I started using the NeoAir XLite from Cascade Designs, a full length blow up pad with an R rating of 3.2 weighing in at 12 ozs. Being over 60 years old had something to do with seeking more ground comfort but another benefit of this pad is the ability to use it in conjunction with the quilts. I started with a minimalist 50 degree sewn through Enigma (9.75 ozs), which I have used extensively over the past 3 years, and recently purchased a 30 degree custom Enigma (15.8 ozs). The 50 degree quilt required careful consideration of expected conditions with clothing supplements to various degrees. My reasoning for getting the 30 degree quilt is for more margin for warmth after a brutal day when my body is not producing a lot of heat; and yes, even at this age (>61) I continue to brutalize myself on various trips, sometimes moving for 20 hours at a stretch. This much loft and warmth (950 down) for under a pound, combined with the NeoAir, hits a nice weight sweet spot. EE has an amazing amount of customization options so I ordered this with weather resistant strips on the foot and head area as my planned use will be mostly with bivy bags. I look forward to this season of use.