Taking new gear into the field is always a precarious situation. Testing new gear at home isn’t quite the same as relying on it to keep you fed, dry, and warm in the back country. After putting our new gear to the test the last few weekends, I wanted to share some preliminary thoughts. To assure you a non-biased review – all this gear was purchased by us. We are not gear ambassadors for any company.
When I first saw this set, I was giddy. When I packed my pack for the first time this year, I was giddy. When I was able to drink my first cup of coffee within a minute of pouring it, I was giddy. We loved our MSR Quick 2 set – it was durable, versatile, and the cups kept food and coffee hot for an exorbitant amount of time. With that said, every year we looked for something a bit more compact, yet offered us what we wanted. So far, the XPot cookset has hit the mark. The collapsible nature of the set is beyond cool. The depth is close to one of our plates from the MSR set. The cups keep your coffee warm, but allow you to drink it a lot faster than the MSR cups. The plates and cups are easy to hold, even for our 4 year old. Clean up is a breeze. It cleans up better than our MSR set. Inside the large pot are measurement marks. This is handy for us as all the marks on our Nalgene bottles have disappeared.
There are a few things that aren’t awesome, but they certainly won’t keep the Xpot cookset from replacing our MSR set. Since the cookset is silicone, it attracts every dog hair, speck of dirt, and vegetation. It comes off easily, but often we have to wipe down anything before using it. The pot itself seems to be a little top heavy on our stove and the handles aren’t quite big enough when you are pouring water. It also doesn’t fit in the bear canister and because it is silicone we can’t leave it sitting next to our bear canister like we could our MSR Quick 2 set. The marmots would destroy it. That part, at least for me, is the least awesome thing. Lastly, I am not sure it will be as great for cooking as our MSR was. These first few times out, we have only boiled water for freeze dried meals. We will see if we still love it come November, after a season of heavy use. You can pick this set up at Campsaver right now for 20% off using code TETON20.
We have a collection of water filters. I am not sure why, but we do. For the past several years, we have used and liked the Katadyn Vario. It is super fast, but it leaks. It is also a bit cumbersome. When I first saw the Gravity Camp, I was not sold like Dustin was. He was as giddy about the water filter as I was the cookset. He was beyond giddy, he was stoked. After using it the last month, I can see why he was stoked. It rocks. For most trips, we take two Nalgenes (we stopped taking bladders). That means at any given time we have 2L of water or less. During the hike and during the day it was never a big deal, but we found ourselves filtering before breakfast, after breakfast, before dinner, after dinner, before lunch, and after lunch. We never thought anything of it since we were used to it, but folks, you don’t need to do all that pumping anymore! We simply go to the water source, dip the bag, bring it back to camp and have 8L of water. By using gravity to pull the water through the filter, you eliminate the pumping. A long hose comes out from the filter that you use to fill your bottles. The hose is equipped with an clip that you tighten after you are done filling. It is a simple set up, a breeze to use, and filters 2L a minute. Lazy you say? Genius I say!
We wondered what we would do with it when we were above treeline, but our hiking poles solved that problem. Some reviewers have complained the filter gets dirty too fast. After four weeks of use, our filter showed the first signs of being dirty; the speed has not yet been compromised. Perhaps those reviewers camp in areas where the water contains more sediment than where we have camped.
There is one big draw back, the bag leaks. It is supposed to be water tight, but ours isn’t. Leaking seems to be a Katadyn trait as our previous filter leaked and our friend’s Vario leaked too. Both leaked right out of the box. We have considered taking it back and rolling the dice on a new one to see if it is water tight as advertised. The water doesn’t leak at a place that would contaminate your clean water, so to us, it really hasn’t been that big of an issue. It is also a backpacking only thing. For day hikes, we will continue to take the Vario. The Gravity Camp doesn’t make sense for day hiking. We will report back after the season comes to a close. Campsaver has this as well, use that code TETON20, for 20% off.
We’re still lugging the Osprey Poco Premium with us as a security blanket, but for the most part, Drake has rocked it with his Osprey Jet pack. He is borderline too small for it, everything is cinched down tight, but he says it is comfortable. Drake is small for his age, however. If you have an average sized 4 year old, the pack should be perfect! Being 4 and a lightweight, he doesn’t carry much. For backpacking trips he carries his sleeping bag and the map in his Jet. For dayhikes, he normally carries the snacks. It isn’t much, but it does lighten our load. By him carrying his sleeping bag, we are still able to get everything for backpacking trips, including fishing gear and Neva’s bed and food, in my Osprey Aether 55L and the Poco. To be transparent here, we love the Osprey brand. We purchased a few other kids carriers and the Poco blew them away. We fitted Drake with a couple of other kid’s packs, and the Jet blew them away too. The Jet has a chest clip, shoulder adjustment, and a waist adjustment belt. The back is vented with Osprey’s Airscape technology and it includes a hydration bladder sleeve. For additional storage, there are two side pockets, a front pocket (perfect for his rain gear), and an internal zippered pocket. We think this pack will serve him well for at least this year and the next. I have talked to him about making a video where he talks about his pack. If he decides to do it, that will serve as the gear review for the Jet. At this moment, it was well worth the 50 bucks.
I still cannot believe we own this tent. It felt insanely foreign and wrong to put any tent in my pack other than a Big Agnes. I loved our Copper Spur UL2, but after enduring a pretty nasty storm last year, I fell out of love with our Copper Spur UL3. Last year was the first season for us with a 3 man tent. The UL3 got the job done and the design was familiar, lightweight, and spacious. It wasn’t, however, as storm durable as the UL2. Due to it’s ultralight design, the poles only cross in a couple of places. While this works for the smaller UL2, it does not work for the UL3. The extra space and fabric between the poles makes the UL3 terrible in windy, stormy conditions. It was loud and collapsed in on us when a strong gust would blow through. Not exactly what you want with a little tike in tow. We knew we had to find something else this year, but we weren’t happy about it. It took us quite awhile to the pull the trigger on the Nemo Losi LS.
Let’s talk about the good stuff first. Last weekend we experienced strong winds and heavy rain. The Losi LS didn’t even think about collapsing, nor was the rainfly beating against the tent. The fabric stayed taut, and quiet. The space in this thing is ridiculous. It should be considered a 3+ tent. We use it as a 3+ since we have three of us and Neva. We use two sleeping pads, three sleeping bags, and Neva has a Noble Camper bed. With all this inside, there is still room for another sleep pad and then some. The vestibules are designed to go up and out, instead of the more sloping triangular vestibules of the Copper Spur. This gives us more storage in the vestibules and allows us to exit the tent without getting wet (the condensation on the rainfly would get me wet every morning as I stepped out of the Copper Spur). The double doors zip to the side instead of top to bottom, which means never stepping on the tent when entering and exiting. The ridge poles terminate above the ground, which gives us ample headroom the entire length and width of the tent. Dustin was amazed he could be at the end of the tent and be sitting up straight! This will come in handy when we are stuck in the tent for hours, as has happened the last three years. The bathtub is deep allowing for the rainfly to have extra ventilation, but I am not sure this tent is all that well ventilated. More on this later. The Nemo Losi LS does not come with an integrated lighting system, but we bought a Big Agnes MtnGlo kit and strung it up on the gear loft loops.
Now for the things I don’t love. The Nemo Losi LS seems like a palace compared to our Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3, but it better since it is almost a pound heavier. The Copper Spur UL3 is 4lbs and the Losi is 4 lbs 15 oz. without the footprint. OUCH! I am not the biggest fan of how much it weighs and the way it packs. The Losi LS comes with a roll-up type bag that includes the poles and stakes. It is bulky, cumbersome, and not practical. After having a tent that stuffs so well, this one falls short on that aspect. Which for us, this year, space in the pack is at a premium. The tent now goes outside the pack instead of inside. I don’t like things on the outside of my pack. With that said, the fabric is certainly more durable and retains it’s tautness and shape when wet quite better than the Copper Spur. It also didn’t come with reflective guy line ropes, or any rope for guy lines. I found that strange for a tent with such a high price point. Another thing I am a total weirdo about is being wet. I woke up one morning to the entire side of my down bag being wet with condensation! Luckily, it was exceptionally warm that night, but it gave me pause, nonetheless. The Nemo Losi LS gets condensation on the INSIDE of the tent. We always had condensation with our Copper Spurs, but never on the inside. We will see how this plays out as we sleep in different temperatures throughout the season. If I get condensation and a wet bag come late September, I am not sure I will be able to keep this packable palace. We recommend making big purchases, like a tent, at REI because of their one year return policy and dividend. Full review to come sometime this winter.
There is still a lot of time left in this season. My thoughts may change, but at the moment, I am pleased with our gear decisions this year. What new gear did you buy? What do you think of it?
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Until next time,