About the Gear: Indian Peaks Southern Loop

The Biggest Winner:  Saucony Grid Excursion TR4 trail runners

Regular readers of this blog may recall the foot problems I experienced on the James Peak trip.  Nothing against New Balance, but I had picked trail runners built on the wrong last for my foot.  This resulted in several days of pain.  My heel was loose in the heel counter and my toes pinched.  These Sauconys are the replacement and I couldn’t be more pleased.  They are all synthetic for quick drying with lots of mesh for breathability.   The most important thing, however, is the fit.  Sauconys are known for their narrow heel and wide footbox.  These shoes fit my feet as if they were custom made.  During this trip I hardly noticed that I had them on.  The takeaway is not for everyone to run out and buy a pair of Sauconys, but to really take the time and energy to shop around for a really good fit.  Your feet will feel so much better if you do.

The weight for size 10 is 11.9 oz (336 g)  per shoe.

The biggest loser:  Montbell U.L. Comfort System Pad 90

It really bothers me to have to report this because Montbell is one of my favorite gear makers.  My Montbell sleeping bag, tent, and insulated jacket are great pieces of gear that have served me well.  And I refuse to go backpacking without my Montbell U.L. Comfort System pillow.  But on the second night of the trip,  just after putting an extra couple of puffs on air into the Montbell pad,  it started to delaminate.  To be honest, I had read reports of similar incidents on various backpacking forums but had become complacent because I’ve used this pad for several years with no issues.  Whether this is a problem with one particular batch of pads or is more widespread,  I can’t say.  But for letting me down when I really needed it, I have to give the Montbell 90 the biggest loser award for the trip.  Sorry, Montbell.  ;-(

The weight is 9.2 oz. (259 g).

Honorable Mention:  Trail Designs Caldera Cone

This is the most wind-resistant and stable lightweight alcohol stove that I’ve found.  When the winds really picked up on Wednesday morning, this stove had no problem staying lit and staying put. It’s also pretty stingy with the alcohol: about 1/2 oz. (15 ml) of fuel brings two cups of water to a boil, even in tough conditions.  Having experimented with a number of different alcohol stoves over the years, both store-bought and homemade,  this is the one I reach for time and time again.  The folks at Trail Designs really have built a better mousetrap.

My fuel of choice is safe, clean 190 proof Everclear.

The weight for the pot support/windscreen for the .9 l Evernew pot is 1.4 oz. (37 g). The weight for the alcohol burner is 0.6 oz. (15 g).

Honorable Mention:  Golite Shangri-La 2.

Folks who have been following Dondo Outdoors for a while may get the idea that I really like this shelter.  They would be right.  So at the risk of boring my regular readers, I again have to invite the Shangri-La 2 into the winner’s circle.  It’s performance in the high winds Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning while in a very exposed  position just below the Continental Divide have earned it another mention.  With the burly fabric (2009 version), I can tension this shelter to the max with my trekking poles without any worries of it tearing.  Why not the Shangri-La 1? A little too claustrophobic for me.  Why not the Shangri-La 3?  It looks like a great tent but is a bit too much shelter for me for solo use.  The Shangri-La 2 is the Baby Bear of the group–just right.  I pair it it with six 8″ gold Easton monster stakes for great stability in most conditions.

The weight for the fly is 21.6 oz. (612 g).  The weight for the six Easton stakes is 3 oz. (85 g).

8 thoughts on “About the Gear: Indian Peaks Southern Loop

  1. Hi Dondo,
    Great blog you’ve got there!
    Your glowing reports re the SL2 have convinced me to get this shelter.
    Just one question, if I may. I was wondering whether you think one could fix the rear pole on the outside and then run a guy line from the pole holder on the fly, secure it round the pole and peg it out.
    I’m after a little more inner room so that I can pitch the SL2 outer first, if you know what I mean.
    I’ve seen folks using a half inner but in winter I think that’s a bit too confined.
    Any input much appreciated!
    Take care!

    • Hi Walter, glad that you’re enjoying the blog. I’ve never tried setting a pole outside, but my sense is that most trekking poles would be too short to give the shelter a really taut set up. When setting up from the inside, the poles are angled to push the peaks out and up to give you a really tight shape. To get the same angle from the outside, you would have to use a really long pole. I could be wrong about this, though. If you try it out and it works well for you, please post back. Extra room inside is always welcome.

  2. Hi Dondo,
    Thanks for the reply!
    Yes, that’s my hunch too. Longest trekking pole I can think of is about 135cm, which is not much higher than the SL2 ridge. It might work, but it surely would be less taut than with the pole inside.
    Another thought I had was using two lightweight trekking poles (lightest I can think of are 300g for the pair—sorry I’m all metric!) set up in a V-shape at the back. Maybe that would work?
    Basically, I don’t entirely like the idea of sleeping between the poles and the fly. The SL1 allows folks under 6′ to sleep between the poles bang in the centre of the tent. It’d be nice if the SL2 was built the same way, with more space between the poles and less of an absid at the back. The SL1 is a bit too small, the SL2 would be perfect, but before buying it I’m exploring all the options re pole arrangements!
    Thanks for your input. I’ll certain let you know if I get one and find some clever arrangement!

  3. What making a tripod type of set up?2 poles making an A and a 3rd pole reaching from rear floor to roof.This way you can sleep in the center of tent.

    • Hi Dave, what you’re suggesting is very similar to what I did when I was using an Integral Designs silshelter. My two trekking poles were set up at their maximum length and formed an A-frame at the front, and a found stick raised the rear of the shelter. Since the Shangri-La 2 is a wider and taller shelter, I’m not sure that trekking poles could be found that are long enough to to set it up this way. If you figure out a way to make it work, please post back.

  4. Hey Dondo, I just purchased the SL2, and I’m glad to hear you’ve been so happy with yours. I have a question that I’ve been hand wringing over: I will be purchasing zpacks carbon fiber tent poles (I am not a trekking poles guy), and I’m wondering whether to the get the 48inch or have them cut 45 inchers. Specifically, with a 48 inch pole could you get the bottom edge all the way to the ground? Would you prefer the 48 inch for a more taut setup? Or would you go with the 45?


    • Hi Greg, I’d go with the 48. To get the bottom edges close to the ground, you would just need to angle the poles a bit. Let me know how the zpacks poles work for you.

      • Much appreciated. Can’t believe I didn’t just think of angling. That way I could also straighten them up as the tarp sags and stretches.

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