I've been waiting to order this stuff ever since Joe went hiking. I actually emailed him with an order while he was on the trail which was extremely cheeky but I never realised his work email was his personal email too. Nice chap that he is, he emailed me back from the trail almost immediately. This meant I was pretty much his first order when he got back heheheh. The problem is that my murmur is just too big. I always pack my sleeping bag first and the weight of my gear compresses it. The pack actually carries quite well like that but it's really hard to cinch the top closed. Most of my trips are single nighters and it's overkill for that. What I wanted was a pack about half the size and the smallest zpack zero pack fitted the bill exactly. It's 16l with no added pockets, hence the name 'zero'. I agonised for a long time over whether to go for that or a bigger pack. I packed my gear into a whole bunch of different packs and what I discovered was that no two 16 litres are the same. The next size was 20l against the murmur's 28l in the main pack body. Stil I reckoned it would just about go. I added two bottle pockets and a front pocket, and thought that would definitely go, then I added a few other bits and pieces that I needed or just fancied. The pack arrived christmas eve, about a week and a half after I ordered it.
The pack is beautifully made, everything is designed to shed weight. Instead of webbing connected to the shoulder straps, it has cord with those cord lock thingys on them. The sternum strap is connected by a couple of cord loops, the compression straps are also the elastication for the front pocket. It swallowed my kit easily, I didn't even have to touch the front pocket which is huge and runs from top to bottom. I reckon I could easily take a three day kit and still not use the front pocket- whether that is a comment on the size of my kit or Joe's definition of 16l I don't know. I got it with a waist strap, so I can take the extra weight The only niggle is the colour- my brother called it 'the jellyshoes of backpacking'- I think I can get used to it though!
Joe has a whole bunch of accessories- I needed a really small stuff sack, a camera pouch and I decided to get a stake (or peg) pouch just for kicks, because my silnylon pouch is way too heavy! heheh. Actually, the stake pouch is about half the size of my current pouch, which probably accounts for the vast majority of the weight loss...
The small stuff sack is exactly the right size- I'd carried my odds and sods in a trekmates windshirt stuffsack. No need for a new one really but I wanted it. It has an extremely small cordlock and really thin cord. It's sewn rather than bonded like the team IO sack but other than that it's pretty similar.I carry my camera in a lowe alpine camera bag on my shoulder. It's a bit bulky and it doesn't need all that padding because it's not getting bashed around. Joe has a really nice looking shoulder pouch at only 8g so I got it. It's too big for my camera so I may put some laminate flooring underlay in there as some minimal padding, but the nice thing is it also fits my GPS and my whistle so they are both more accessible. It attaches by two elastic straps and a safety pin. I'm not convinced by the safety pin so I may rig up some velcro- on the other hand, it obviously works for Joe and he's done some fairly extensive testing!
Unfortunately it's probably going to be the spring before I can test the pack-bah!
I love my Gatewood cape. I'm growing in confidence with it every trip I take out. I chose it at a time when I wanted to drop a lot of weight from my pack, but wasn't ready to go for a tarp. It's very similar to Six Moon's Wild Oasis but I figured that if I didn't like the cape option, I'd still have a tent but I would'nt have the hood option if I went for the Oasis. It's not a tarp, it's a tarp-tent, a catch-all term that covers a lot of ground, but generally refers to a tarp, with more coverage that cannot be pitched in multiple ways. Tarp-tents often have no built in groundsheet and will take a little bit more care to pitch. Note- I'm not referring to the branded Henry Shires Tarp-tents here. I also apologise for referring to tent pegs as 'stakes'- too much time on American backpacking sites!
PTC is a lucky man. It's not pure luck, because he makes a lot of his own luck, and here's a good example of him doing just that. A great piece of writing and some incredible photos. There's also the new 24 from Ryan Jordan. The best one yet I would say, it really captures that winter feeling-I want to go camping!