GEAR SELECTION TIPS

How warm of a sleeping bag should I rent?


Obviously the most important consideration when choosing a temperature rating for a sleeping bag is the weather you expect to encounter on your trip. Use the coldest expected temperature when choosing your bag. If on the fence between two bags, we generally recommend going with the warmer bag. The weight and size penalty is more than offset by getting a comfortable night of sleep. There are few things more miserable than spending a night shivering in a tent waiting for the sun to come up. Sleeping bag ratings can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they are still useful when comparing bags from the same brand. It may take some trial and error, but you will eventually learn what type of sleeper you are. Some people naturally run a bit warmer while sleeping than others. These people can generally get by with a lighter-weight bag than a 'cold' sleeper. Other factors - like eating a meal shortly before bed can actually make you sleep 'warmer' than usual. If you want to be extra-sure you will sleep comfortably, or you expect to face a wide variety of temperatures on your trip, you should consider renting a sleeping bag liner. These liners can add up to 25 degrees of warmth to the temperature rating of a sleeping bag. Use the liner on the cold nights, and take it out on the warmer nights. If you have any specific questions about sleeping bags, feel free to shoot us a message. We'd be more than happy to help!




What size tent should I rent?


There are a few things to consider when deciding on what size tent to rent. Obviously, the number of people that plan to share the tent is the most important. However, the amount of gear you have, whether your campsite is car-accessible, your desired level of comfort and even the expected weather conditions should be considered as well. Capacity Ratings In general, the size designation given to tents by manufacturers runs a bit small. For example, a 2-person tent is generally good for two people that don't mind sharing tight quarters (usually a couple). If you're camping with a friend and don't want to constantly be brushing up against them, you may want to consider sizing-up. Gear If you are in a situation where you need to store gear inside of your tent, you have a few options. Either select a tent with large vestibules for gear storage, choose a tent with a larger capacity rating than you would normally need, or rent a tent with an additional add-on storage space (such as renting a MSR Gear Shed to go along with our MSR Elixir tents). Campsite Accessibility If you are camping in a site that is accessible by vehicle and you are debating between two tent sizes, you may want to go ahead and select the larger size. If you are backpacking into the area you plan to camp and you will be carrying every ounce on your back, you may want to go with the smaller/lighter option. Comfort Larger tents are generally more comfortable. They provide more headroom for sitting or kneeling. Some large tents even allow you to stand up. More space can also be a life-saver if you are camping with young children. So if being comfortable is high on your priority list, consider moving up a size. Weather When the weather is poor, you will likely be spending more time inside of your tent. Extra space to move around, sit or stand up and change clothes will be appreciated when the weather is keeping you inside your tent. If you have any specific questions about tents, feel free to shoot us a message. We'd be more than happy to help!




What type of tent should I rent?


Choosing the right type of tent can be overwhelming with all the options on the market today. Gear Shack has four primary types of tents - backpacking, car-camping, winter camping, and hot tents. Backpacking Tents Tend to be the lightest and most compact style of tent. Choose a 3-season backpacking tent if you will be carrying all your gear with you in packs. These tents are high-quality, stormworthy, and light. Example: Marmot Tungsten Ultralight 2P Car-Camping Tents Car-Camping tents tend to be slightly heavier than backpacking tents. Choose a car-camping tent if you will be camping in a vehicle-accessible campsite. Example: The North Face Wawona 6P Winter Camping 4-season tents are used for camping in cold, snowy conditions. They are very strong so that they can withstand heavy snow loads, but are still light enough to carry in a pack. Example. Hilleberg Nallo GT 3P Hot Tents Hot tents allow a user to use an ultralight titanium wood-burning stove inside their tent. The addition of a stove allows the user to warm up, dry out gear, and even cook food. These type of tents are generally for experienced campers who have knowledge on how to set up and use this type of shelter and stove. Other Considerations If camping during the summer and the weather is expected to be warm or muggy, look for a tent with a lot of mesh on the body. This will increase airflow, and will help to keep you cool. If you will be camping during a cold month, look for tents with less mesh. They will tend to reduce airflow through the tent, which helps to keep heat in. With very few exceptions, we recommend that you ALWAYS bring the rain fly for your tent, and install it before going to bed. There are few things less fun than scrambling to put a rain fly on a tent in the dark when an unexpected storm rolls in (this may have been learned the hard way...). Another consideration when camping in winter conditions or when heavy snowfall could be encountered. You will want to use a sturdier tent that can withstand heavy snowloads. Snow is heavy, and can cause tents to collapse that aren't designed for it. If you have any specific questions about which of our tents would be best for your trip, feel free to shoot us a message. We'd be more than happy to help!




How big of a pack should I rent?


Similar to the question regarding tent size, there are a number of considerations when choosing a pack size. Number of Days How many days are you planning to be out? In general, packs in the 36L and smaller range qualify as daypacks, 40-50L packs are good for weekend trips (1-3 nights), 50-70L packs are for multi-day trips (3-5 nights) and 70L+ packs are for trips of greater than 5 days. Time of Year and Weather What are the weather conditions, and what time of year will you be out. Consider the type and quantity of gear and clothing you will need. In general, you will be carrying much more bulky clothing and gear in cool and cold weather conditions. Larger sleeping bags, more insulated clothing, snowshoes, microspikes, etc are generally needed during winter trips. Type of Trip Consider the type of trip you are planning. Are you going to be taking a relaxing hike into an area and spending several days in one spot? Are you attempting a fast through-hike where you will be carrying minimal gear and every ounce counts? If you are planning a more relaxed type of trip where comfort is a priority, you may not be as concerned with carrying a few extra pieces of gear (which obviously requires a larger pack). If you are carrying bare-bones gear for a through-hike where speed is the top priority, you will likely want to get by with a smaller/lighter pack. If you have any specific questions about packs, feel free to shoot us a message. We'd be more than happy to help!




Should I rent a down or synthetic sleeping bag?


Once you have decided on your desired sleeping bag temperature rating (see question above), the next thing to decide is what type of insulation is best for you. In general, goose down bags are lighter compared to the same temperature rated synthetic-insulated bag and also pack down smaller. The major downside of goose down bags is that if they get wet, they lose much of their warmth, and are very difficult to dry out again. Synthetic insulation handles wet conditions much better. Even when wet, they can still keep you warm. Therefore, the #1 consideration when choosing sleeping bag insulation is what the weather is going to be like on your trip. If you are expecting dry and cold conditions, goose down is hard to beat. If you could experience damp conditions, a synthetic-insulated bag may be worth the extra weight and pack space. If you have any specific questions about sleeping bags, feel free to shoot us a message. We'd be more than happy to help!




What type of footwear should I use?


Choosing the correct footwear for a trip isn't as fun as selecting tents, sleeping bags, and packs. However, it may be the most important decision you make before a trip. The wrong footwear choice can cause you to have an uncomfortable trip and in some cases can even be dangerous. Regardless of the type of footwear you choose, do not skimp on quality. Also, be sure to spend time wearing and breaking-in your boots prior to your trip. Blistered feet can ruin a fun trip in a hurry. Like several other items in this guide, your choice in footwear depends on several factors. Type of Trip Are you planning a leisurely day-trip, a light and fast through hike, or a hunting trip with heavy packs? Each requires a different type of footwear. On day-trips with light backpacks on established trails, you can generally get away with light low-top hiking shoes or sometimes even sturdy athletic shoes. For mid-length (3-5 night) hikes with slightly heavier packs, we suggest upgrading to true mid- or high-top hiking boots. For 5+ night trips with heavy packs or when traveling off-trail in rough country, we highly recommend using full-height hiking or hunting boots with full ankle support. Weather Are you expecting cold weather? Consider boots with insulation, and bring along some merino wool socks that fit properly. Are you expecting wet weather? Consider a waterproof boot. Hot weather? Consider a lighter-weight boot with breathable panels to minimize the amount your feet sweat. Wet feet blister much more easily and just cause general discomfort. Terrain Will you be on-trail or off-trail? Off-trail situations require boots that have a much more rigid sole and ankle support than on-trail hikes. Socks Wear high-quality socks that fit you well. NO COTTON! Cotton socks do not wick moisture well and they will often lead to blistered and uncomfortable feet. The best choice is merino wool. Match the weight of your sock with the expected weather. Heavier socks for cold weather, lighter socks for warm weather. Camp/Creek Crossing Shoes On some backpacking trips, you are required to cross streams. These crossings generally involve cold, fast-moving water and slippery rocks, which can be a hazardous combination. Removing your boots and crossing barefoot is almost always painful, and can even be dangerous. Bringing an extra pair of footwear for crossing streams is often worth the weight penalty. These types of shoes also can be worn around camp, which feels great after a long day of hiking. Consider cheap foam shoes or even dedicated water shoes, but be sure they are strapped securely to your feet so that you don't lose them in strong currents. It should be noted that when crossing dangerous streams (cold, fast-moving, etc), you should consider leaving your boots on and drying them out as soon as possible after you complete your crossing.