New Gear Testing

I did an easy two nights out to test a few new items I purchased to lighten my pack on solo trips. The first night was in a steep valley near a river approx 8,200 ft in elevation. Not normally an ideal place to camp given the cold air will sink to the valley floor, but I wanted to see how the gear performs in more humid conditions. Night 2 was above an alpine lake, approx 9,800 ft in elevation. Forecast was for lows near freezing on Night 1 and upper 30s on Night 2. Chance of rain was about 30% each night.

New gear tested:

-Enlightened Equipment Enigma 30F Short/Slim - $265

-Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad - REI $35

-Outdoor Research Helium II - $65, REI Garage Sale

Night 1

Night 1

Night 2

Night 2

Enlightened Equipment Enigma 30F Sleeping Quilt:

Those of you who know me know it’s pretty rare that I buy new items or drop serious coin on gear (patience is key to finding good deals). However, EE makes amazing gear and when I do buy new I like to support good folks. I love my 20F EE Accomplice for 2 person trips so it was a no brainer to go back to the well for my solo quilt. Night 1 was, as predicted, humid and just above freezing. With base layers and a hat on I was nice and toasty. Night 2 was in upper 30s and much less humid and I slept well without base layers.

For sizing I got the short/slim. The EE site says short is for “5’6” or under”, I’m 5’ 7 1/2” and I find the short to be the perfect size for me. My feet are snug in the footbox and the top of the quilt comes nicely to my chin. The slim size is for “50” or smaller”, I measure myself at 51”. I sleep in a corpse position and like to be essentially swaddled so this works great for me but it’s about the the smallest I’d go. If you’re the type of person who feels restricted in a mummy bag you’ll want a bigger size. The insulation value is in the loft, if the quilt is too tight around you it’s making the quilt less effective.

Fox friend at Lost Lake night 2

Fox friend at Lost Lake night 2

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad:

Is it weird that over my many years of backpacking I’ve never used a closed cell foam pad? I’ve always had inflatable mattresses and only once over who knows how many nights have I had to deal with a leak. However, for $35 I figured it was worth a shot, especially since it weighs about the same as inflatables that cost $100 or more. While it’s not as comfortable as an inflatable I like a firm mattress and I slept pretty well. On a longer trip it’d probably get uncomfortable but for a week or less I think it’ll be fine. The best thing was the set up. Just throw it in the tent and you’re done. Amazing. Con was the bulk, I have to strap it to the outside of my pack, but for the cost savings I can deal.

Lost Lake in the morning

Lost Lake in the morning

Outdoor Research Helium II Raincoat:

This piece of gear makes its on to a lot of UL lists. I’ve been eyeing it for a while but at $150 retail you can about guarantee that I’m not going to buy it new. But when I saw one at an REI garage sale for $65 I figured it was time to go for it. On my scale the small weighs in at 5.7oz, a full 10.3oz lighter than my current raincoat (REI Crestrail). The 30% chance of rain never materialized so I didn’t get to put it through its paces but it did work nice as a windbreak layer in the evening.

Indian Peaks Wilderness - Lost Lake

The Lost Lake trail is a nice way for us to dip our toes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It’s about 5 miles return and a decent (but not extreme) elevation gain, ~1,200ft, but it does start at 9,000ft.

It is extremely crowded at the Hessie trailhead, the difference here (I’m told) compared to others trailheads is there are very few parking spots. We opted to take the shuttle from the Nederland Park and Ride which runs every 15-20 minutes and drops off at the start of the trail. Worked like a charm. A great thing about the shuttle is that the RTD N route from Boulder drops off at the park and ride so it’s possible to get to the Indian Peaks Wilderness using public transport. I’d love to see more options for getting into the backcountry without needing a car.

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The hike starts by going back to the old Hessie homestead and into the forest briefly before opening up and heading uphill. Along the climb there are views back towards the front ranges. There is a trail junction, opt to go over the creek on the Devil’s Thumb trail towards Lost Lake. Shortly after turn onto the trail to Lost Lake and begin the steepest climb on the hike until you reach the lake.

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It is fairly brushy at the base of the lake but if you walk a bit farther around and past some campsites there are much easier spots to get to water. The views on the opposite side of the lake are much nicer, with the divide in the background. The trail continues uphill past the lake, we walked about another .5 mile to get a nice view from above. Anywhere around the lake makes a pleasant spot for lunch or to relax. Head back down the same way you came up to get back to the trailhead.

If you go: