One thing that I want to do a lot of this summer is backpacking. Get some miles under my feet, climb some mountains, push my limits and enjoy the wilderness. But, I'm not going to wait until spring. Oh no; I'm starting now. Winter camping was a big part of my youth. As a Scout I used to build and sleep in snow shelters, hike and cook meals out in the wintery woods. It was a lot of fun because I learned the skills to do it both efficiently and safely.
So, January 21-23 I'll be joining 6 or 7 guys from www.backpacker.com to hike a tiny section of the Appalachian Trail. (“tiny” is an overstatement in this case. We're only hiking about 15 miles of the AT which is 2100+ miles long) As such I've bought some new gear. A new down mummy bag, for one. I got it on sale at Eastern Mountain Sports; its a down filled bag, rated to 20°F and stuffed with 750-fill goose down insulation (check it out here).
But, how do you know if the bag is really going to keep you warm? What's the only logical way to find out? Yep, why not test it? That's what I did last night. When the weather man said that NYC was going to get hit with another snow storm, Kawasaki made the decision to close it's doors today. So last night, I pitched my tent in the back alley, threw in my sleeping pads and mummy bag and got to it. The bag was amazingly warm. I slept in boxer shorts, wool socks, a light moisture-wicking fleece, and a balaclava. The snow really dumped on me throughout the night and I kept kicking the sides of the tent to remove the snow. By morning the sides had sagged quite a bit under the weight of the snow, but I was dry and warm nonetheless. When I unzipped the tent and looked outside, a foot of snow had fallen overnight.