You may know the saying ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ – here’s a practical example.
I’d been planning a backpacking trip this Fall with one of the side aims being to test the new Spark sleeping bag. However, a few things intervened – a bathroom renovation project, flooding which closed the roads and trails in the high country – and suddenly it was mid-October. Time to get out. A day’s leave was booked to create a long weekend and plans were made to head for the hills, only for the weather forecast to suddenly revise itself from overcast to… snow.
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And if life sends you snow – make tracks.
The concept switched to skiing up to a hut in the local wilderness area, with the focus of the overnight trip being to use the Spark sleeping bag to pack as compactly as possible. A 40 liter pack was selected along with appropriate equipment – including the Spark. Here’s what the entire set (including the pack, skis, poles, boots and gaiters) looked like:
In case you’re wondering, the Spark is in the 5 Liter eVac Dry Sack along with a Reactor liner – squeezed down the two occupied less than 3 liters of space. And – just to emphasize the point that this was not an experiment in masochistic minimalism, you will note that the gear includes an 8”/20cm skillet and some sizable Ziploc bags of food. Why go hungry in the backcountry?
It all fit into the 40 liter pack with room to spare.
But of course, the question remains – did the sleeping bag work? The answer, resoundingly, is yes. The temperature in the hut dropped down to 38°F / 4°C as the firewood in the stove burned out, but – augmented with a Thermolite Reactor Liner and dressed in appropriate base layers I stayed comfortable.
True, I was at the temperature threshold – had the air temperature been any colder, I would have needed more insulation.
But – the 850+ fill Ultra-Dry Down wrapped in minimalist fabrics (15D Nylon liner, 10D UL Nylon shell) with a 1/3 zipper make for an almost impossibly light sleeping bag which takes up negligible space in a backpack.
This is a sleeping bag which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in warmer weather backpacking, traveling and bike touring. And (I’m particularly happy to report) in early/late–season ski hut trips.