kinda…. We successfully completed another Labor Day Weekend family camping trip. While these ventures are quite comfortable (we all actually put on weight), there are also some aspects that lean towards “roughing it.”
I used the opportunity to test gear. While the family slept on twin and full sized air mattresses with both sleeping bags and down comforters, I tested my new Big Agnes Lost Ranger down bag with a Dual Core air pad. Basically, the first night was too hot (high 50’s), the second night was just right (low 50’s), and the third night had just a hint of a chill while everyone else complained about the cold (41F).
Had I been wearing socks and something on my legs, I imagine the third night would not have been a problem. I’m also thinking that either a silk or flannel bag liner might be the best direction, since that would provide additional warmth and protect the bag with minimal bulk and weight.
In addition to the Exped inflatable pillow, I stuffed a Polartech shirt in the little pillow pocket that Big Agnes builds into their bags. That worked well. What works even better is wrapping the Exped in a towel. That keeps it from sliding around on the slippery liner of the bag, and adds a degree of comfort in its own right. I’m going to play around with making a small pillow case that can double as a storage bag.
The whole side sleeping thing that some people complain about with the BA system is not that big of a deal. Even on the third night, when I had the hood cinched up, I could un-zip the bag a few inches and get my right arm above my head – the neck flap kept all of the warm air in.
Any more colder and I could have also put on my wool cap and/or the balaclava that I brought along.
On the warm night (Friday), I just kept the bag unzipped and let my feet hang out the bottom.
The Dual Core pad was a non-issue. I couldn’t sense any cold coming up through the ground, and I actually found it more comfortable to let a little air out of the bag for a softer surface.
We used my little Primus Eta Packlite stove to heat most of the water, even with a 2-1/2 gallon steamer pot for doing the dishes. Using the Iso-butane fuel is far cleaner with no residue on the pot surface.
The Skecher Journeyman sandals continue to see heavy use, even on chillier days – just wear wool socks. I’ve identified two related problems. Last night I finally slowed down and took a seat on our “TV chair” in the family room. I pulled off the sandals and sat them next to me. Being close to the floor, it took about 10 seconds for me to realize that they smelled really, really bad. They ended up in a bucket of hot water and pine soap and today are air drying on the patio. The other problem is coming back to work and wearing “normal” shoes. After being perfectly fine for years, they are now uncomfortable.
So thumbs up for all of the gear as I learn optimum temperature ranges and what works and what doesn’t.