Posts made in February 2019

NEMO Hornet 2P Tent

Nemo Hornet 2P Tent (Re-Designed)

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

The NEMO Hornet 2 Person tent is a 3 season ultra-light double walled tent made for some remote and rugged wilderness backpacking. The NEMO Hornet is not a new tent for backpackers but a newly redesigned version that gives you more head and foot space volume. NEMO designs quality tents with a lifetime warranty. Below are the specifications from their website on the newly redesigned Hornet 2P Tent.

Specifications and Sizing

Capacity2
Seasons3
Minimum Weight1 lb , 15 oz / 878 g
Packed Weight2 lb , 6 oz / 1.08 kg
Packed Size19.5 x 5.5 in dia / 50 x 14 cm dia
Peak Height39 in / 98 cm
Floor Area27.5 sq ft / 2.6 sq m
Floor Dimensions85 x 51/43 in / 215 x 130/108 cm
Vestibule Area7.1 sq ft + 7.1 sq ft / 0.7 sq m + 0.7 sq m

The above specifications come from the NEMO website. The specification card that comes with the NEMO Hornet has the minimum weight of 1 lb 14 oz. and the packed weight is 2 lbs 4 oz.

The NEMO Hornet has 3 design changes that I will discuss and illustrate. The first redesign change are the (2) patent pending Flybar attachments located at the top of the tent. These Flybars expand the upper canopy allowing for more headroom.

Pictured above are the (2) Flybar attachments

The second redesign change is the placement of a rigid stay bar located at the corners of the foot box. This design allows for the foot box area to remain open when tension is applied to the corners of the tent canopy tie down cords. The stays are made of some type of flexible poly tubing sewn into the tents corners.

Pictured above are the two tie down lines. Between these tie downs there is a plastic poly tubing sewn into the tent preventing the corners from collapsing when tension is put on the cords.

The third redesign change are the smaller clips attaching the tent to the DAC poles.

Smaller clips used to attach the canopy to the poles.

The NEMO Hornets minimum weight is 1 pounds 14 ounces with a packed weight of 2 pounds 4 ounces, (this weight comes from the booklet that comes with this tent).  Minimum weight and packed weight can be confusing to understand.  The minimum weight of the tent includes the tent canopy, the rainfly, and the poles.  This weight equates to 1 pound. 14 ounces.   The packed weight includes the tent stakes, extra cordage, and repair kit.  This weight equates to 2 pounds 4 ounces.  I weighed my new tent and it came in at 2 pounds 6 ounces with everything included, (packed weight).  I used my fishing scale which is fairly accurate.

Pictures above taken from the NEMO Website

When I select a tent for my wilderness adventures I want to be comfortable in it.  I normally purchase a 2 person tent which for me usually means that it is a one person tent due to my size.  I am 6’3” tall and I weigh 235 pounds Comfort is very important especially if I have to stay in a tent for an extended period of time due to weather.  When I lay in this tent I have ample space to comfortably lay down and move around freely. I can sit up in the tent with no problems due to the increased headspace.

The Hornet has 2 side pockets and a mesh pocket on top of the tent. The top pocket allows you to put your headlamp in it to illuminate the tent at night. The top mesh pocket is designed to diffuse the light and amplify it throughout the tent. The Hornet has 2 large doors which allows you quick entry and exits from either side. Both doors allow me to store my gear on both sides when the rainfly is on. This is an added benefit for a single backpacker. If two people are utilizing the tent then they each have a door to enter and exit the tent. They also have their own storage area next to the their respective door.

The zippers on the door open and close very easily without binding up. The zipper on the rain fly also opens and closes easily. The seam on the rainfly is far enough away from the zipper which allows you to open and close without the flap getting caught in the zipper. I have had issues with opening and closing some rainflys. The zipper would get caught in the flaps of the rainfly causing some issues opening and closing especially if it rained and the rainfly was wet.

The tent is a semi free standing tent that requires you to stake out the footbox area for full functionality of this tent. The tent sells for approximately $350.00 dollars online. Before you purchase it make sure that you get the updated model since some retailer are still selling the older version at a reduced price without the above modifications.

There are many good tent designers and manufactures in the market. I currently use Big Agnes tents with no complaints. I have used NEMO in the past and with the redesign of this tent I expect to be using it frequently on my expeditions. I will be doing a field test on this tent with a video on that expedition. The below video is my backyard setup of this tent with me in it.

My Backyard Review and Specifications of the NEMO Hornet 2P Tent
Big Agnes Flycreek Tent

Big Agnes Flycreek HV UL2 Tent

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

This article is a product review on the Big Agnes Flycreek (HV UL2) tent.  Big Agnes is an outdoor manufacturer who develops and designs a variety of outdoor gear for wilderness backpackers. The types of gear they design and manufacture are:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Sleeping Pads
  • Camp Furniture
  • Duffels and Travel Bags
  • Apparel ( Men, Women, & Children)

The Flycreek is a three season tent that has been redesigned with a HV designator in its title .  The HV stands for high volume.  The redesign has increased the interior floor and head space.  The door on this version is also more vertical than the previous version.  Below are the specs for this new version without the mtnGlo feature.  MtnGlo are led lights that are sewn into the tents interior for night time use.

Trail Weight1lb 15oz / 879g 
Packed Weight2lb 5oz / 1.05kg 
Fast Fly Weight1lb 7oz / 652g 
Packed Size4″ x 19″ / 10 x 48cm 
Floor Area28sq ft / 2.6m² 
Head Height40″ / 102cm 
Vestibule Area 8sq ft / 0.7m² 
Footprint Weight4oz / 113g 
Number of Seasons3
Number of Doors1
Intended UseBackpacking

The above specifications and photos taken from the Big Agnes website (without the mtnGlo feature)

You can purchase this tent for approximately $350.00 online.  The tent is lightweight, and it sets up very quickly.  The tent is not a full free standing tent but more like a semi freestanding tent.  You have to stake out the foot box area to fully expand the floor area of the tent.  It is a two person tent but for me it is a one person tent due to my size.    

The tent has only one door which limits its accessibility especially if two individuals are utilizing it. The tent that I purchased had the mtnGlo feature in it and in my below video I discuss it.  This feature is no longer available with this tent and I am not sure why they stopped manufacturing it with this feature.

I did a field test on this shelter system in the Ocala National Forest and my video on that test is posted below.  Overall I enjoyed the tent, and it is very functional for remote and rugged wilderness expeditions. I will use this tent but only for short expeditions, less than 3 days.  I prefer shelter systems with (2) doors because it allows me two options for a quick exit if needed. A two door tent also allows me to store more of my gear outside the tent under the rain fly by each of the 2 doors verses a tent with 1 door.  

My field test of the Big Agnes Flycreek U HV Tent

Land Navigation

Magnetic Declination (Update Feb 2019)

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

The World Magnetic Model (WMM) has been updated this month to reflect the new location of magnetic north.  This change will affect your magnetic declination that will in turn affect how you navigate in a wilderness area. Scientists from around the world state that over the past decade the Magnetic North has been moving at a greater distance than in the previous years.  The movement of magnetic north prior to this dramatic change would average 5 to 7 miles yearly.  Over the past decade the movement has been increased to 34 – 36 miles a year.   The current location of magnetic north in in the Canadian Arctic.  Its current movement is heading toward Siberia.

Magnetic North was located in 1831, by James Ross Clark, a British Royal Navy explorer.  Since then we have been able to determine its movement.  But with the recent increase in its change the NOAA has put out an update to help those individuals who rely on the location of magnetic north for navigation.  This update is usually put out every 5 years with the last update done in 2014. Magnetic north is constantly moving due to the composition of the earth, the earths rotation, and its churring molten inner core.

As a wilderness backpacker I use my compass and a topographical map for land navigation.  I use these tools in unison with a hand held GPS unit I bring with me on all of my wilderness expeditions.   The new changes in the magnetic north will affect how you navigate in the wilderness, (See my article on magnetic declination). This article will help you convert your map to compass reading or compass to map reading using magnetic declination.

The new World Magnetic Model released this month, (Feb 2019), will allow not only wilderness backpackers to navigate through remote and rugged wilderness areas, but it will also allow many other professions, (Forestry service, , NASA, Aviation related professions, etc.), to accurately navigate.

This article is written to inform you on the new WMM and to provide you with a website where you can input your location to get your magnetic declination.  That calculator is on the NOAA website, https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/calculators/magcalc.shtml?.

Ocala National Forest (Backpacking)

How to Stay Safe while Backpacking

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

Wilderness backpacking can be very rewarding both physically and mentally.  Wilderness backpacking also has its risks from Weather, Dangerous Wildlife, and Human Beings with bad intentions.  I recently did a video that I posted on my You Tube channel titled, “Safety in The Ocala National Forest.  This video addresses much of what I discuss in this article.

In this video, I discuss things you can do to to make your stay in the Ocala National Forest safer.  This video equally apply’s to any wilderness area you plan on exploring.   This article is a follow up to that video with more specifics.  My intention is to make sure that you are properly prepared and safe on your next adventure into a remote and rugged wilderness area.  Safety involves 2 stages, the first is Pre-planning and the second stage is vigilance during your wilderness stay. Below is my discussion on what pre-planning steps you need to do and how to stay vigilant once you are on the trail.

PRE-PLANNING

STAGE I

I have written an article that is posted here on my website called How to Prepare for a Backpacking Adventure. In that article I discuss (9) topics that you should research and consider before heading into any wilderness adventure.

9 TOPICS TO RESEARCH AND CONSIDER

  1. Terrain: Study the various types of terrain that you will encounter on your adventure using a topographic map and topo software.
  2. Travel: Plan and organizing your trip to and from the wilderness area. This includes how you will get there, (i.e. train, plane, automobile), and other factors such as a time table of the events you plan on doing while you are in the wilderness.
  3. Trail System: Establish routes and waypoints on and off established trails that will assist you in guiding your adventure. This will also help you from getting lost.
  4. Weather: Know the type of weather that you will encounter during your stay and plan properly by having the necessary clothing and gear to combat bad weather.
  5. Wildlife and Foliage: Know the type of wildlife and foliage you will encounter on your trip. Research what actions you can take to avoid dangerous wildlife and have the right protection, (i.e. Bear spray, knife, firearm, etc.)
  6. Dangers: Research the dangers you may encounter, such as recent natural disasters, closed trails, fires, etc. that may effect your adventure. Call the local Ranger station to get this information.
  7. Equipment needed: Bring the necessary gear you will need to make your stay safe and enjoyable. This should include some type of communicating device. The investment in having a satellite communicator is worth your safety and those that may be with you. I use a Garmin inReach Plus Explorer for my communicating device.
  8. Laws and Amenities: Research the laws you will have to abide by in the area you plan on exploring, (i.e. carrying a firearm, etc.). Know what amenities area in the area you will visit, (Outdoor stores, lodging, Fire and Police stations, etc.).
  9. Notifications: Let family and friends know where you will be and when you plan on returning. Write is down or email it to them with phone numbers and points of contacts.

The above checklist is the first part of ensuring that your adventure will be successful and safe. You can read my article explaining more in depth the above checklist by clicking on this link, Preparing for a Backpacking Adventure.

Night time basecamp in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness

VIGILANCE

STAGE II

The second part of being safe while you are backpacking is to be vigilant of your surroundings during your adventure. Your vigilance begins at the trailhead.

Parking

I prefer parking in an area where my vehicle will be watched but that is few and far between in many wilderness areas. Your research prior to you starting will help assist you on finding a secure spot to park your vehicle if possible. If you are like me and enjoy remote and rugged wilderness areas this will probably not happen. Some trailheads that you will start from require you to travel a great distance to reach them once you leave a main road. Many trailheads may not have the necessary resources to have secure parking areas. I can recall going almost 25 miles off the main road to get to a trailhead in Colorado, (Lost Creek Wilderness), that trailhead had a parking area that was very sparse and unkept.

If secure parking is not available park where other backpackers have their vehicles. Do not try to make your own designated parking spot since you may cause issues for other vehicles in the area. Parking in a designated area is like a rally point. It makes it easier for rescue personnel, if needed, to know where you started from. It allows them easier access to get to you since they will be familiar with the path. If you park somewhere other than the designated parking area it may make it difficult for them to find or get to you. Follow these guidelines when parking:

Lost Creek Wilderness (My all wheel drive rental vehicle)
Lost Creek Wilderness (My all wheel drive rental vehicle)

Parking Guidelines

  1. Never back your vehicle into a parking spot if possible. This allows individuals with nefarious intentions to gain easier access to your vehicle.
  2. Never leave valuables in Inside your vehicle in plain view. Put them in your trunk under the seat or in your glove box.
  3. Take note of other vehicles around your vehicle. Take pictures of license plates in case something does happen to your vehicle when you get back. This will allow law enforcement to make contact with these individuals for a follow up to see if they were involved in the incident or maybe they saw something that will help solve the crime.
  4. You may want to have a drive cam (camera) in your vehicle to record any incidents that may happen while you are in the wilderness.
  5. If you see something suspicious in the parking area report it to law-enforcement.
  6. Many trailheads have a sign out booth. Make sure that you fill out the proper form at this booth. This form will have you fill out information pertaining to individuals in your party, the date you left, and when you are returning. There may also be a fee that you need to pay. This slip is usually deposited into a lock box for use by the Park Rangers if they need to initiate a search should an emergency arise.

On The Trail

Lost Creek Wilderness (Colorado) Backpacking
Lost Creek Wilderness (Colorado)

Trail Guidelines

  1. Make sure you look behind you and do 360 scans as you are traveling through the wilderness. Looking behind you and doing these 360 scans will help alert you to dangers. Dangers such as wildlife make approach you from the rear without you knowing. These threats can be bears or cougars that are tracking you as prey. Look for tracks as you are navigating through a wilderness area. These tracks could be human footprints or animal tracks. Knowing these tracks will give you an idea of what you may encounter ahead.
  2. Make sure you also look up and check the trees for animals or possibly individuals that may be watching you from above.
  3. Be careful of individuals that you do not know who try to befriend you on the trail. These individuals for the most part may have good intentions, but there maybe those individuals that want to follow you into a base camp and do you harm. Be friendly, and let them know that you are meeting up with a group of people down the trail. Be confident when you speak to them. As you pass them make sure you keep track of them. This is where rule number 1 (above), comes into play.
  4. Have the necessary protection with you such as bear spray and if you have the necessary training some may carry a firearm. Always have a knife on any wilderness adventure.

BASECAMP

Kalmiopsis Wilderness (Backpacking)
Kalmiopsis Wilderness

Basecamp Guidelines

When determining on where you should set up your Basecamp follow the below rules and remember the acronym that I gave to you in a previous article, W. E. S. S. (Water, Elevation, Security, Safety).

  1. Place your basecamp well off the main trail out of eyesight and earshot of other wilderness backpackers. Utilize the acronym W. E. S. S. When setting up your basecamp.
  • W- Water: Set your Basecamp up in an area close to water.
  • E- Elevation: Set up your Basecamp on high ground.
  • S- Security: Have an evacuation plan and think about setting up a perimeter alarm system.
  • S- Safety: Make sure that you set your Basecamp up away from falling trees, rocks, etc. make sure that you do not set it up in an area that may flood if it rains. This is why you need to set your Basecamp up on high ground.

CONCLUSION

Following  the above guidelines will make your stay more enjoyable and much safer than rushing into wilderness area  without a plan.  I wish I can tell you that your stay will be 100% safe, but that is something that cannot be guaranteed.  The main dangers will come from:

  • Mother Nature (Weather)
  • Wildlife (Predatory Animals and Reptiles)
  • Terrain (Rugged and Remote)
  • Humans (Those with bad intentions)

All that you can do is to mitigate the dangers by following my guidelines.  That is why I wrote this article to give you some insight on what you should do before and during your wilderness adventure.