Gear Review

Hyperlite 2400 Windrider

Gossamer Gear Gorilla

Zimmerbuilt Quickstep

Mountain Laurel Design Prophet

Mountain Laurel Design Burn

Palante V2

Pa’lante V2

I decided to finally purchase the Pa’lante V2 in mid February, 2020 to see why there’s been a growing number of hikers using this pack. I decided on the V2 over the Joey simply because of experience with long waterless stretches of trail, where extra capacity and ability to support the weight is necessary. The Pa’lante Joey seems better suited for ultra-runners than long distance hikers. One attribute I look for in any gear, is versatility for adaptation to changing conditions.

A few salient features that make this pack different from similarly constructed packs like the Zimmerbuilt Quickstep which weighs in at 9oz, is the construction material, and pocket design. The V2 has a very practical stretch mesh pocket on the bottom, that is easy to access while hiking for items like quick snacks, or maps, and pockets sewn into the shoulder straps for storage of a smart phone, small camera, or water bottle.

Six Moons Design Lunar Solo

Six Moons Design Wild Oasis Tarp- B

At the time of purchase, the SMD Wild Oasis was the perfect compromise between a UL tent and plane tarp. The newest version of this shape tarp is the Deschutes Plus, which is constructed of the same silnylon. What sets this appart from many of the standard rectangular tarps is that it provides 360 degrees of storm protection and a no-see-um bug skirt. The Wild Oasis weighed about a pound which does not include the weight of your ground sheet and stakes. For the bug protection to work adequately, the shelter needs to be pitched at about 40-inches to allow enough netting to stretch beneath your ground sheet.

The design is generally o.k. unless the pests can breach the system between the ground sheet and net. In New Zealand, the greatest pest was the blackfly (AKA sandfly), which resided in the grass where you’d often pitch. They tore your skin until you bled and left an anitcoagulant that causes most people to swell locally and want to sand their skin off!! When the shelter was often pitched in the long grass in the many valleys traversed on the Te Araroa, it was common to find a hundred flies trapped inside by morning after I had spent 15 minutes, systematically killing them with my “cap-swatter”.

In terms of weather protection, New Zealand put this shelter to the test, with many rainy nights! While I never was saturated by the rain itself, the condensation common with any silnylon shelter was enough to dampen your bag or quilt. Silnylon also sags from the weight of water. This shelter had no side guylines to counter balance the tendency to sag. Anyone who has had silnylon, knows that these shelters take longer to fully dry, even in optimum conditions. I would not use this shelter again with the introduction of Dyneema Compsite Fabric (AKA Cuben Fiber), which defies sag, is extremely resilient to rips, far more water repelent and abouty half the weight!!

On the Pacific Crest Trail,

pitched above Top Wairoa Hut, Te Araroa, Richmond Range, New Zealand, 2016

Z Packs Hexamid Solo (A)

Southern leg of the San Juan Loop, Continental Divide Trail, southbound 2017

Z Packs Hexamid Pocket Tarp (A++)

The Zpacks Pocket Tarp weighs in at 4 oz, and has more than adequate protection from the elements when you consider its weight. Many will tell you that this was designed for emergency purpose and not an every day use shelter, but I decided to boldly test this shelter in the summer of 2019. It was admitedly a leap of faith, not field testing it prior to a major adventure such as the PCT. I spent a bit of time at home playing with the set up, with intentions of clipping the Sea to Summit Nano bug net to the inside for bug protection in the northern portion of the PCT. The Nano was too small and fragile, so I carried the MLD UL bug bivy for protection against those pesky moskies! The first couple weeks from Canada to the White Pass area, where extraordinarily wet, so it was a great opportunity to put this shelter to the test. It performed beautifully, and I would take it again on any long distance hike as a primary shelter!!! The caveat is that you know where and how to set this shelter up to optimize performance, but even in less than optimum pitches, it kept me dry!

The tarp is of course floorless by definition but has a lot of options for protection from the wet ground. Zpacks integrates interior clips for attachent of a bathtub floor, however, I found a 3.7 oz sheet of polyolefin (“polycro”) from a vendor like Six Moons Design or Gossamer Gear is economical and durable for its weight. Nine bucks will get you through an entire through hike. There is a small sewn in loop near the “pole cup” at top for hanging a headlamp or small stuff sack.

Regarding space, I’m 6′-3″ and fit just fine with room to spare. This is NOT a shelter for protecting lots of bulky gear, but more than adequate for a UL kit. That said, I placed my emptied back beneath my Thermarest NeoAir as added protection from the ground and slight elevation (ideal for those swollen feet at the end of the day).

Zpacks Hexamid Pocket Tarp pitched in Methow Valley, Northern Cascades, PCT, southbound 2019

Western Mountaineering UL 20F

Enlightened Equiptment Enigma

Patagonia down sweater

Big Agnes Down Jacket

Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer

Arc Teryx Zeta SL

Thermarest Neoair