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Field Test 3

July 30, 2016 — BarryK
Every now and again, I go on a hike, because I enjoy it, also to test my gear.

I recently acquired ultra-light tent and backpack, and I have been itching to test them in the field. So, Friday 22nd July, I set off for an overnighter on the Bibbulmun Track.

I introduced my tent, a Nemo Hornet 2P here:

And my Zpacks Arc Blast backpack here:

I made some notes on packing of my backpack here:

On this occasion, I neglected to weigh the backpack when packed, but I guess it would have been about 6 - 6.5kg.
This is a great backpack, all the weight got carried comfortably on my hips, and jumping ahead, I have to report that it stayed in-place on my hips, not once did I have to pull it up -- in contrast to my field test of my GG Pilgrim backpack:

My walk this time was a loop. I caught a bus to the town centre of Mundaring, then walked south along the Munda Biddi trail to Mundaring Weir. Once again, had lunch at the hotel.

This time, instead of walking east along the Bibbulmun Track, I walked west, heading toward the norther terminus of the track at Kalamunda.

This took me on the west side of the weir. Here I am approaching the weir:

This is down-stream of the weir, and I had to walk right down, then up the other side. At the bottom is the original pumping station, for pumping water by pipeline to Kalgoorlie. This was steam-powered and is now a museum:

looking at the weir, you might be able to see two young fools walking across the face of it. There are small horizontal grooves in the wall, just wide enough for a foot:

Here is part of the above photo:

On the other side of the weir, I walked westward, and came to a lookout:

Delightful scenery, and a lovely sunny but cool day. The lookout provides beautiful views of the weir and below.
It was just past here that I misplaced the track. No more wauguls, so I knew that I had missed a turn. Just then, a ranger drove up, and showed where I had gone wrong.

Late afternoon, I arrived at Hewitt's Hill shelter:

Mighty pleased with my backpack so far, now my tent got its turn to be evaluated:

I really don't have much to say about the tent, as it "just worked". Like the backpack. Both are so light, contributed to a very comfortable trek -- the next day, I had hard yakka down and up many valleys, clambering over rocks, and my feet felt fine -- very good sign, the feet not complaining too much.

The Hornet 2P erects very fast, and I put all of my gear inside, including my backpack. Shoes stayed in the vestibule.
I used four stakes, the minimum, OK in non-windy conditions.

There was plenty of room for one person. I would not recommend for two, unless you are on your honeymoon.

I did find myself thinking that this tent would be nicer if it was a proper two-pole crossover dome tent, rather than the 3-segment design. This design is to save weight, but does result in the sides caving in.
A traditional full two-pole-crosser design, as in my Big Sky Soul tent, would not increase the weight by much. But then, the Hornet 2P is an exercise in achieving lowest possible weight -- even so, I would prefer the full-poles configuration, just to keep those side out a bit more, and also it would be truly free-standing as is the Soul.

Regarding the Soul 1P, there were other things about it that I did not like, such as the narrow-end barely-existing vestibule, and the fact that it is 1P. I wrote about it here:

I had a pleasant overnight, then next day walked to Kalamunda, then bus to home, via Perth city. That walk was only about 10km, however, it was up and down, and in places very rough and rocky.
It took me almost 4 hours. Closer I got to Kalamunda, more people walking the Track, day-trippers.

Great backpack, great tent. Though note my musings on the tent, I still don't think it is the "perfect" hiking tent. But, I have spent enough money for awhile, like for the next year.


An extra note about the Zpacks backpack.

I reported that it stayed in-place on my hips, and I carried all of the weight on the hips. The shoulder straps only pulled the pack in toward the shoulders, no downward drag.

I don't know whether this really matters, but I purchased the lumbar pad, which is an extra. The website says this is not needed, but perhaps it contributed to the very comfortable ride that I experienced.

You can read about the Arc Blast and accessories here:

I also purchased one belt pouch, which I know from previous experience is very useful. Again this time, a belt pouch is most useful, even essential. It is mounted very much on the side of the body, and perhaps a longer waist belt would allow it to be a bit more forward, which I would prefer. I have the medium-size belt.

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