April 8 2012 @ 8:30am Easter Sunday: I am sitting in the sun like a lizard looking out over the Merced River contemplating events that have occurred and how they will effect the events to come and how one good (that being questionable) investment deserves another even if it’s not in the budget. More on that later but first…The Big Agnes Jackrabbit II tent is a hit! The best camping investment I’ve ever made! Inspired by my purchase of a Big Agnes sleeping bag, oddly enough a bag that I don’t really like because of the lack of down all the way around; it has a sleeve on it’s underside designed to hold a microcellular pad for padding and insulation from the ground, not knowing this upon purchase I had to return to Fresno to buy one…but I digress. I had no trouble setting up the tent, quick and easy, the only test left other than a downpour/hurricane was tearing it down and packing it into it’s duffel bag which i did this morning but let’s take a step back in time…Imagine an old grandfather clock floating through space, it’s hands spinning backwards, Twilight Zone theme in the background…I made a trip to REI a couple of weeks back to purchase a new tent. Dissatisfied with the 4 person tent I picked up at Target for $80.00 recently I decided that in some areas cheap was not the way to go. I needed something lighter, smaller and easier to set up and especially to take down and put away, a need compounded by putting the Target tent away in a cold rain storm the first time I used it. Ever try to roll up a big tent and stuff it back into it’s duffel bag? Yeah? Ever try it in the rain?
The Big Agnes tent was About $300.00 which made me ponder if I was making a good investment. What does it mean when the only example a store has of a product is it’s floor model? Are patrons snapping them up like hotcakes or are they not in stock because they suck and the store just hasn’t dumped the last one yet? These thoughts were running through my head as I watched the sales person try rolling the tent up…Because REI didn’t have any in stock… so I was buying the floor model…You with me?
He was struggling to roll the air out of it while explaining that “vacuum packing” was the “way to go” and I’m thinking, “Vacuum packing? where do I go to buy that?”. I can still see him in my minds eye, his glasses crooked, being crooked, he was trying to look at me and the tent but was having to nod up and down because he could only see through one lens at a time, the same glasses he would put down and later scramble to find, myself wanting to help, the first place I looked was on top of his head, they, not being there prompted me to give up helping. He looked out of his element. Ever see a guy fishing who obviously had never done it before? Ever see a guy roll up a tent…Well, you get the picture. I persevered and bought the tent, how could I not after the struggle this poor fellow put up?
The tent rolled up like I was rolling up my chones! There IS less air at higher elevations, a theory proven, what other explanation is there?
So I am really happy with my new tent, plus it weighs 3 pounds. The Target tent was about 20.
This morning as I rolled out of the sack I glanced across to an adjacent site and found myself looking in the eye of a camper who was not there when I went to bed, rolling up his stuff. I smiled and said, “How ya doin'”, trying my new, more user friendly attitude and was, of course, snubbed. But while I reeled in my “no good deed goes unpunished” anguish I noticed he was backpacking and had a really nice sleeping bag. Dont know what brand but it had that “tuck and roll” look to it, know what I mean? Looked very warm. Now, though I do have my sleeping bag I don’t or haven’t used it since being “out here”, preferring the bedding I have along with my futon but as I was spending twice the time rolling up my bedding as I did the tent it occurred to me that perhaps I’ve been going about this wrong.
I don’t want to spend a lot of money on being “out here” but I am realizing that if I did my life and times would be easier so I think it’s time to go to REI or Herb Bauers and buy a good sleeping bag with “down all around” or a better pad setup for the bag I have, one with out needing air. Air bags tend to not hold air after being rolled up for a while in cold weather. Hmmmmm… I will let you know what I’ve decided in the next episode…