PCT 2018: Cold Weather Gear Test (Suburban Style)

Cold Weather Challenge

We have been fortunate to have some cold and clear weather here in Seattle, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to test out some of our cold weather gear.  The plan was simple: camp in the backyard as closely simulating camping in the Sierra as possible. We wore items we expected to have during our hike and made a deal to commit to staying outside.  No bailing, no calling it because we are cold or couldn’t sleep, just embracing the night out.  Here’s how it went:


Frost blanketed the backyard as we stepped out for our urban adventure. It was a crisp and clear night with temperatures already in the low 30’s.


We are warm and toasty inside our Enlightened Equipment Revelation quilts.  Coyotes howling. We have coyotes?


Aroused by fire trucks in the distance.  Still warm and cozy.  Sarah is sound asleep.


Silence. My feet getting a little chilled but feeling great otherwise.  Sensing that I might have slid down and that the foot box of my sleeping bag is touching the tent ceiling, I readjust and fall back asleep.


Sarah is rustling about and slips out of the tent to see the stars; she says that Orion is on full display.  My feet are still as chilly as before, it’s more of a minor annoyance than anything.


Normally I wake around 4:30am to get my day started so I was content getting up.  I look over to Sarah and she is checking her phone for the time.  Satisfied that we have tested our gear successfully, we decide to head back into the house.


Thoughts On Gear

The Revelation quilt was great, allowing me to side sleep comfortably.  However, I was a little annoyed at the drawstring at the top end of the bag.  When cinched down to keep heat in, the cord dangles near your face, which is predictably annoying.  I had read this in reviews, but this was my first time actually needing to cinch the bag down and deal with it.  The Neo-Air was comfortable, kept us warm and wasn’t noisy in the cooler temperatures.  The Sea to Summit pillow is great, just get one already.  Z-Packs Duplex was great- we left one flap open on each side to decrease condensation build up inside the tent – no problems.


I wore a 250 mid-weight Smartwool base layer bottom, Kuhl Renegade hiking pants, a 150 weight Smartwool long sleeve top, Ghost Whisperer hooded jacket, buff, beanie and gloves.  Sarah had on an extra top but was otherwise in very similar set-up.  She stayed warm all night and was really happy with her gear choices.  Other than thicker socks, I can’t say that I’d really change anything.

Final Thoughts

It’s 101 days now until we step onto the PCT (March 22nd is our day!).  By taking advantage of the cool weather to test our gear now, it gives us piece of mind heading into our hike.  It’s a pretty safe and controlled environment in your backyard, and quite the opposite in the mountains.  Having confidence in new gear is priceless, have you been testing yours?



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Comments 3

  • Celia : Dec 29th

    Safe journeys on your trip! Thanks for putting your reviews out there for us. You two are so lucky to be doing this together. What an adventure!

    • Lee Welton : Dec 29th

      Thank you Celia! We feel pretty fortunate to be able to experience this trip with one another; only 83 days left, but who’s counting?


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