Over the past few years Carl and I have camped quite a bit, and the gear we’ve settled on how is our favourite gear to camp with, so we thought we’d share it! This blog post is a companion piece to a video I made a while ago, where I chatted about our gear as I checked it all over before we went camping for a weekend. I’m going to focus on the “big three” - tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats.
So lets start off with the biggest item;
Our Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba NX
Carl bought this tent … possibly over five years ago by now, when he came across the greatest discount either of us have ever seen. While we’ve recently added a couple of adhesive patches to one or two spots that have gotten a bit worn, it still our perfect tent! I’d say we’ve easily slept in it over 200 nights.
So MSR (the brand) stands for Mountain Safety Research. They make everything from snow tools, to tents, to cookware and stoves. The Hubba Hubba is their two person, 3-season light weight hiking tent. We also bought the MSR footprint, which is a ground sheet for under the tent. It protects it from the worse camping spots we pick and give an extra layer of waterproofness. The tent can be put up in multiple ways (just poles with rainfly and footprint, etc.), so the listed weights vary from 1.35 kg - 1.72 kg. The floor area is 2.7 sq. m, with the highest point measuring at 100 cm. The newer versions of the tent have extra guide wires, and have a green rain fly! We don’t miss the guidelines, but a green rain fly sounds amazing - we definitely feel more visible than we’d like to be sometimes.
It’s easy to pitch as one person, and takes mere seconds when there’s two people.
A fun note about the naming of this tent; the 1 person is the hubba; the 2 person is the hubba hubba; the 3 person is the mutha hubba; and the 4 person version is the MSR papa hubba!
Carl’s Sleeping Bag: Mammut Ajungilak Kompakt
Carl’s sleeping bag is as old as the hills - or at least, as old as any hills Carl has climbed. Having never needed anything else, the specifics of this bag have anyways been half forgotten and a bit vague, no matter how many times we look it up. It’s a spring synthetic sleeping bag, with it’s comfort rating lying roughly at 1°C, with an extreme lower limit of -14°C. Being a synthetic bag, it weights more than my down sleeping bag, coming in at 1150g. While a heavier bag, the benefits of synthetic bags include being better for wetter climates - they can survive the rain a lot better, and even when wet can offer some insulation, whereas down/feather insulation looses all of it’s insulating powers once fully wet. They are also the cheaper of the two options, you just have to carry a bit of extra weight.
Ellie’s Sleeping Bag: The North Face Gold Kazoo
Ellie’s bag is a 3-season down insulated bag. It’s comfort rating is 0 to 2°C, with a limit of -4°C. The filling is 650+ fill Premium quality goose down (certified Responsible Down Standard (RDS) by Control Union). I, unsurprisingly, have gone for the regular length (as opposed to the long option. Before my next sleeping bag purchase I might check the child’s bag dimensions as my feet are swimming around the end of this one). It weighs a total of 878g and packs down in a really useful and functional stuff sack that comes with it. The down fill is protected from outside moisture and frost by the durable, lightweight, nylon ripstop shell that has a water-repellent DWR finish.
Sleeping Mats: Therm-a-rest ProLite
We both now have the exact same sleeping mat; the Therm-a-rest Prolite, but one of the old versions! (from watching youtube reviews I think it might be known as the “prolite 3”)
It’s a 3 season self-inflating foam mat, with (apparently) the diagonal-cut foam offering more warmth than the typical vertical-cut foam. It’s amazing the things you learn when you start googling your own gear! It has an R-value of 2.4 (R values are the warmth scale for mat insulation, typically ranging from 1 to 5. The higher the number the better!).
Although inflating mats they have a foam core thats super compressible, which means that they don’t take much time/breath to inflate, and are a bit sturdier than just blowing up a flat balloon. When inflated the mat is 1 inch thick. We both have size small, which measures 47 x 20 x 1 inches, packs to 11 x 3.3 inches, and weighs 12 ounces.
However, we both didn’t start off on the same mat. When we first started walking I had a Vango Vemon 200 sleeping bag - basically, a summer bag that turned out to not be warm enough for me, for at least the first six weeks of our walking in 2017. At the time, Carl had a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite mat. Much more like a flat balloon, this ultralight inflatable air mattress had an R-Value of 3.2, and therefore offered me some more insulation from the very very cold ground. I used it for all of 2017, but missed my own mat that Carl was now sleeping on. The NeoAir was 2.5-inch thick and felt much narrower than what I was used to. It also creaked if I moved. So when we started back walking in 2018 I upgraded to the North Face Gold Kazoo sleeping bag, and set about reclaiming my sleeping mat from Carl. At this point, Carl had also become very attached to the wonderful prolite. Newer versions were already out, but we didn’t want to try and fix something that wasn’t broken. Eventually, we managed to find somewhere that still had the old prolite design - it was the ex-shop display mat.
And those are the details of our big three gear items! If you’ve any comments or opinions please do let us know, we’d love you hear from you!