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684 Camping Gear
Summer 2012

camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

We are just back from our summer trip, where we camped in campgrounds for more than 60 days throughout the Rockies. Of course camping to us, means sleeping in a tent.

Through the summer we mostly used gear that we had already reviewed on Metro to Mountain and cloudhiking, though we bought a few new items on the trip.

Tent - Black Diamond/Bibler - Eldorado. A great single wall (made of todd-tex, a goretex like fabric) small tent. With a footprint of 30 square feet the tent is basically only big enough for our sleeping pads. It is like a sleeping chamber. Our tent is old and has recently shown weakness in the nylon fabric. We continued to use it through the summer, but set it with caution. One key benefit to the tent is the fabric does not stretch nearly as much as nylon when it is wet.

Ground cloth - Space Blanket. For a ground cloth we used an emergency blanket - colored side down. It is a bit heavier than Tyvek, but that might be an advantage, when you are only camping in campgrounds. We bought ours from REI.

Sleeping pads - Thermarest - Dreamtime. We heard the roar of many inflatable mattresses being blown up in the campgrounds. That seems to be the luxurious way for most people to cope with the hard ground, but they have not slept on a Dreamtime. We still think the Dreamtime is the best campground mattress. The only cons are the mats are big and heavy.

Sleeping bag - Western Mountaineering - Alder. The bag kept us warm and cozy through a range of temperatures. We would not trade it for any other bag.

Tarp - MSR - Zing. We bought the Zing just before leaving for our trip to the Rockies. We reviewed the Zing and raved about the ease of set-up and the space. Well, after pitching it countless times and using it practically every day, we like it more now than with our first review. It is a sturdy, strong, big tarp. Many times other campers asked about it. Why? It looks good and makes an inviting porch-like atmosphere. We did however like using the adjustable Kelty poles with the tarp. The Kelty poles gave us more flexibility. The tarp also needs to be seam sealed and perhaps needs bigger stakes. The small MSR stakes were no match for the large tarp in windy conditions.

Ground Mat - CGear Sand-Free Multimat - Medium. We had an older sand mat we have used for a few years for camping. It worked well but was small. Then this summer we bought the CGear 8 foot by 8 foot mat from REI. What a great mat! Large particles of dirt stay on top of the mat (and can be swept off) while sand and smaller dust and dirt particles sift through the fabric. The mat became the floor to our living quarters. It was the perfect compliment to the Zing tarp. We will review the CGear mat soon.

Furniture - REI Stowaway Camp Chair. We have used this chair for a few years. Mine has had to be operated on several times due to faulty stitching or fabric. So far, I have been able to repair my chair and keep it in service. Amy's chair has not had any troubles. My version of the chair was an early one, I think they make them better now. Still, it is our favorite chair for the price, comfort, and the packed size and weight.

Lantern - Black Diamond - Apollo Lantern. We kept the lantern in the tent all summer, but rarely used it. It probably would have worked fine, we just went to bed at dark (or before) and did not need it.


Happy good camping gear trails


We will continue to review the gear we used over the next several weeks - including cooking gear, day pack gear, and clothing/footwear.


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