*Warning, this post is mainly a trip report and me geeking out over backpacking gear. Feel free to just scroll through the pretty pictures. :)
2014's first backpacking trip is under our belts! We had the nicest weather last weekend so we decided to head for the hills! We went to a state park that's just a 30 minute drive for us, very close to home. This time of year is mud season in the high country, so staying below 8,000 feet was a must if you want to avoid snow, which we did considering some of our previous attempts to backpack through snow. Since we were so close to home, we were able to take our time getting there and we had a really nice hike in. And then we got to spend some time setting up and getting acquainted with our new tent!
Ok, so maybe it doesn't make sense why I'm making such a big deal about this tent, so let me explain. With all the camping, backpacking and adventuring we do, our tent becomes a little bit like a second home during the summer and fall months! We have had our current 2 tents for 11+ years, virtually the entirety of our relationship! So getting a new one is like... a really big deal for us :) We spent weeks researching tents and going back and forth deciding between what we wanted. We wanted something that was light enough to backpack with, but also something that was also a bit roomier than a standard 2-man tent (which is what our old tents were) and something that was durable. Typically, backpacking tents are made of really thin material and they are uber expensive, neither of which we were crazy about. We're rough on our gear and an ultra thin tent made me nervous. All you have to do is sneeze and you can rip a hole in it1
We ultimately settled on the Kelty TN3, a 3-man backpacking tent that is a bit more durable than most backpacking tents. Kelty just released this tent as part of their Trailogic series, so it's only been out for about 4 weeks. Definitely not long enough to read any reviews on it, so when we bought it, we were kind of hoping for the best. Thankfully, it lived up to our high expectations! This thing is pretty sweet! First, it's HUGE. A 3-man tent is perfect for both of us to have a little elbow room and also store some gear. Yay! Second, the tent itself is made entirely out of mesh, almost like mosquito netting, which makes for some amaaaaaaaazing star gazing at night! Third, the rainfly (waterproof cover than protects the tent during a rainstorm) rolls halfway up and clip to the top of the tent, so you can maximize your views when you want and then you can just roll down the rainfly and clip in if you want privacy or if the weather turns. And you can do it all from inside the tent! No getting out in the rain to put the rainfly on, no stumbling around in the dark trying to make sure the tent stays dry. Yipee! I can't tell you how many times David and I have put the tent rainfly on in the pitch dark during a freak thunderstorm. So this was a big selling point for us!
We still have a summer's worth of trips ahead of us, so the jury is still out on its ultimate performance. But for now, we're happy with what we see!
Enjoying the views. David was clearly worn out from our trip up the mountain :)
The state park we were at overlooks one of our nearby cities. It was so neat to be up so high and look down over our area! We could see downtown where David works, a local reservoir where we like to hike, and I'm pretty sure we could even see Wyoming to the north! :)
Making dinner with our JetBoil, the greatest invention ever! It boils water in about 60 seconds. Perfect for coffee too!
It was SO cool to look out over the city lights at night from our tent. Not your typical view when backpacking!
The next day we broke down camp, had some coffee and bagels and headed out for a nice little 5 mile loop hike that would take us back to the car. It was such a beautiful morning, we had a beautiful hike with great views!
And with that, our first trip of 2014 is done! Lord willing, we'll have a few more nights under the stars this summer!