Published on October 1st, 2009 | by Greg0
Highway 101 With Nemo and Mountain Hardwear
Recently Zoe and I made the drive from Seattle to San Francisco down Highway 101 along the Oregon and California coast. It was a spectacular drive, and there was much debate about whether the beaches and cliffs were prettier or if the giant redwoods were the best part of the trip.
We did the drive over several days and took the opportunity to do some camping. It was an ideal time to test out some camping gear, beyond the items that we’ve tried before. While our campgrounds weren’t quite backcountry, the first two items in our review are ideal for backpackers who are looking for the lightest load possible.
First is the Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1. This is a three season tent that sets up like a dream. The aluminum poles are designed to fold up small and be very lightweight to carry. The really notable thing about this tent is the mesh construction, which allows for a huge amount of ventilation. Our tent stayed bone dry on the inside, even with the very damp coastal mornings to contend with. It’s a good thing we are small-ish humans, though, because while this is a two person tent it’s a pretty close quarters. It’s really probably more ideal for one person who has a bit of gear, though that’s true of most two-person tents.
The Skyledge 2.1 weighs just over 4 pounds, and has just over 28 square feet of floor space. The interior height is 3.4 feet, and it has two doors, one on each side. We didn’t experience any problems with stones or branches poking though on the ground, but Mountain Hardwear does make a footprint that fits this tent which would be ideal in more primitive camping areas. The hardware on this tent, like the clips and grommets are made specifically to be extremely lightweight. Overall we were quite impressed and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for a durable, lightweight tent to take backpacking. The Skyledge 2.1 retails for $365 and is available through Mountain Hardwear directly or through retailers such as REI both in-store and online.
We also tried out Nemo Equipment’s Tuo Luxury inflatable sleeping pad. The thing that sets this sleeping mat apart from others is the dual layer internal chambers. The two layers self-inflate separately, which protects you from ending up on the ground in the event that one layer gets punctured. Better than that though is that it allows you to inflate the bottom layer very firm to keep you off any stray sticks or stones, and inflate the top layer to a more desirable level of comfort. The Tuo Luxury inflates to 2.3” thick and has two separate valves, but doesn’t take too long to inflate and comes with a handy repair kit (which we never needed). It’s 76” long and 25” wide and Nemo does offer a smaller version that isn’t as long and is mummy style for those looking to reduce the size of the load they are carrying and better suit their sleeping bag. We didn’t love the weight- at 3.6 pounds, it’s heavier than some sleeping bags. But we prefer this mat to other mats that we have tried over the years- there was no problem with either chamber deflating through the nights, and it provided a very comfortable night’s sleep. The Tuo Luxury retails for $129 and can be purchased online directly from Nemo or through retailers like Amazon or REI.
Last up isn’t really camping gear in the strictest sense, but appeals to our environmentally conscious side. Another product from Nemo, the Ditto Tote Bag is a very handy tote made almost entirely out of recycled tents. In fact, the only “new” material on these bags are the thread and edging used to hold them together. Each bag is completely unique as they are made out of tents that have been cut apart. The bags are 12” square and 6” wide, and are easy to use for grocery shopping or as project bags. Pretty durable and lightweight, you can order the Ditto Tote from Nemo for $24, and feel good about putting an old product to a new use.