To tent or not to tent…

In the past I have backpacked with a two-person tent as well as a bivy and tarp.  Since my bivy is pretty old and is maybe not so “waterproof”, I opted to go with a solo backpacking tent for my upcoming adventure.

Choosing a house for three weeks on the trail might seem like a difficult task; however I was lucky enough to receive Backpacker Magazine’s Gear of the Year issue right around the time I was trying to decide.  Score!  I quickly locked eyes on the newest one-person ultralight tent from Sierra Designs: High Side.  Given that our two-person tent is the same brand and I like its features, this made my decision a piece of cake (or so I thought…)

I ordered it straight away from an online retailer that I was familiar with but had yet to order from.  They were surprisingly one of the only websites that carried it aside from the manufacturer themselves AND at a slight discount from MSRP.  I read their policy saying that items tend to ship anywhere in between 7-16 days.  Perfect since it was the end of March.  Plenty of time (eye roll.)

At the 21 day mark I thought it might be a good time to email customer service to see what’s up.  I got a fairly quick response saying that they were scheduled to receive it May 12 – okay that’s not horrible; I can wait.  As you may have guessed May 12 came and went with no tent.  I responded again to the email simply to check in; this time taking a little longer to respond, the representative apologized for not responding sooner but assured me that the tent would be arriving May 18 and that I should receive by the end of May.  Okay again not horrible but I was now significantly pressed for time to practice with it.  Sure enough May flies by and now we’re in June – still no tent.  I called this time and spoke with a guy who was clearly unimpressed and asked if I wanted to cancel my order.  No I don’t want to cancel my order – I just want the damn tent and a straight answer!  He then assured me I was first on the list to receive the tent once they receive their shipment and that maybe I should contact the manufacturer to see what’s up (um isn’t that your job?!)

At this point I had to start researching other options.  I’m now not only stressed about finding something comparable but also not going to be able to test drive whatever I end up with.  ARGH.  But I was able to find the MSR Freelite 1 with similar specs and a decent price.  I promptly ordered this new tent in hopes that I could put this issue to rest and cancel my other order.

At last on a Wednesday in June a week and a half before I’m scheduled to be California bound, my tent arrives!  Hallelujah!  Now I can finally cancel that stupid order and be done with them.  I called them up and spoke with a new representative who as soon as I ask to cancel my order (THAT I PLACED IN MARCH) was very kind and assured me it would not be a problem (must happen often eh?)  He took care of everything and even waited on the line with me while I triple checked that I in fact had not yet been charged for it and kindly agreed to pass on my feedback about my experience.  I did also contact the manufacturer just out of curiosity to ask when they would be receiving a new stock for that tent.  He told me August!  Ha!  Good thing I didn’t wait around any longer.

Either way I’m excited to try out this new tent and will hopefully have a positive review to leave here when I return.

Happy (tent) camping!

We all know it’s really about the food

The past couple of weeks I’ve been researching food options for the trail. Fortunately I won’t have the added complications of shipping out food drops since my wonderful partner will be hiking them in for me on a perfectly curated schedule (thanks Alex!) However the task of meal planning, labeling, and packing is still quite daunting.

I’ve found some great resources online through various blogs and Instagram posts; however I’m most excited about trying some of the recipes from a book I acquired some time ago called Lip Smackin’ Vegetarian Backpackin‘. This book contains “trail approved” recipes tested by the first guy, Brian “Flyin’ Brian” Robinson, to complete the Triple Crown of thru hiking (PCT, AT, CDT). Some of the recipes I look forward to trying are Rib-Stickin’ Ramen and Triple Crown Curry Couscous.

Also you guys I found the BEST trail indulgence. They’re called Packaroons (basically packable macaroons) and they are delightful! They come in several flavors like amaretto, lemon lavender, and BLACK ESPRESSO (can you say heavenly?!) I plan to pack one package in each of my resupply bundles as a special treat.

What are some of your favorite meals/snack/treats for the trail?

Happy hiking!