Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Laurel Designs’
Here is something a lot of us have been waiting for… the Mountain Laurel Designs LittleStar – the solo version of the crazy popular MLD TrailStar!!
I know I am not alone when I say I am very excited to see shelter hit the market.
The Mountain Laurel Designs TrailStar has been one of, if not the, most desired and awarded cottage made shelter over the last few years. Its ability to handle horrific wind conditions has proven to hikers around the world that it is a shelter to be contended with.
For some of us though, we felt the original TrailStar just had to big of a footprint. I know I am not alone in that. Every time I have seen a TrailStar setup I just went “wow, that sucker is huge”. Those of us who have felt that way have been long waiting for MLD to release a smaller version of the shelter, and now they have done so.
Mountain Laurel Designs is stating that the LittleStar has a 15% smaller footprint.
They have also indicated that it “will handle wind as well or better than the larger TrailStar“, which of course makes sense as there is less material for the wind to sit and pound against, due to its 15% smaller size.
In the world of hiking rain mitts, there are very few that really stand out to me. Without a doubt the one at the very top of my list is the Mountain Laurel Designs, eVENT Rain Mitts.
I have been using these rain mitts from Mountain Laurel Designs for a few years and absolutely love them.
There are actually very few rain mittss on the list of UL/SUL rain mits these days. The ones off the top of my head are the Mountain Laurel Designs, eVENT Rain Mitts, the Black Rock Gear Overmitts, and the ZPacks WPBCF Rain Mitts. The Black Rock Gear ones are the lightest ones out there (13.6 grams) but also the ones most prone to suffering damage because of their use of 0.34 cuben fiber and they are also the least breathable ones. The ZPacks WPBCF Rain Mitts are mid-weight (23 grams), and are 100% made from WPB CF so their breathablity is better than the ones from Black Rock Gear, but nowhere near as good as the (36 gram) eVENT ones from Mountain Laurel Designs.
As I have written so many times over the last few years, it is always my goal to go as light as possible, yet also strike a balance between weight and usability. This is one of those times when the additional 10-20 grams of weight are put aside for the fact of usability – specifically breathablity.
A few days ago, on January 15, Ron Bell from Mountain Laurel Designs announced on their facebook page that a new 2013 version of the Sawyer Squeeze had been released. (read my review of the original 2012 product)
The announcement included the fact that (a) Sawyer has redesigned the water bladder material, (b) they have reduced the included bags from three bags to a single bag, and (c) they have reduced the price a few dollars.
Ron Bell, like a few of us in the hiking industry, have been in contact with Sawyer since the release of the Squeeze filter, about trying to resolve the high failure rate issues with the original Squeeze bag. Thankfully Ron has a larger voice than some of us and has actually been able to get some direct input on these new bags.
I, and others, have been huge supporters of the Sawyer Squeeze filter. But we have not been able to support the bags that Sawyer produced. The Squeeze filter itself is the absolute best filter presently in the hiking world on a performance to weight ratio. As I try to make a key point of within my review of the Sawyer Sqeeuze it is the only filter out there that provides us with an Absolute One Micron filter – and that word “absolute” is a big issue. Do a search for the word “absolute” on the CDC page concerning water filtration if you do not believe me. If you do not want to believe both the CDC and myself, just do a google search for “absolute vs nominal micron” and research it yourself. Simply put, as a backcountry hiker, what I want in my backpack is an Absolute One Micron filter, and the Sawyer Squeeze is the one filter out there that provides me that level of filtration – and does so at only 93.64 grams (3.303 ounces) Read the rest of this entry »
In the world of hiking keeping your hands and your feet warm are a vital key in the quest to having a successful hike. While your hands and feet, arms and legs, are not as vital as keeping your core temperature under control – a situation the vast majority of sul/xul hikers rarely face – the necessity of keeping ones hands and feet warm goes a long way towards the overall well-being, pleasure, and adventure, of being outdoors.
The Black Rock Gear Undermitts are perfecting for helping you keep your hands warm throughout most of the climates and conditions that most of us, all but those who go into the most extreme environments, face each and every time we go out.
For many years a lot of people have been using gear made by Black Rock Gear to keep their core temperatures as stable as possible. They have been the manufacture of the highly popular – and always in demand – Black Rock Hat which has been used pretty much around the world by those going out for a day hike to those hiking the highest mountains in the world. The Black Rock Hat gram for gram (19-25 grams / 0.67 – 0.88 ounces) is very likely the best down hat on the market and one or two of them are almost always in my backpack.
As a hiker in the Northern regions of California I encounter cold ocean wind, rain forest rain, and high mountain snow over the course of a year hiking. Having a good hand layering system has proven to be important to me.
A number of months back I wrote an article and corresponding spreadsheet which went into detail many of the lightest fully enclosed solo shelters on the market. It quickly and to my surprise, became a sort of de facto reference guy for hikers around the world. Since it was published I have received countless requests to put together a similar article that focused on two person shelters. So a number of months ago I started working on compiling the mass amount of data that is required to put together an article and spreadsheet of this kind. It has taken me much longer than I expected it would, but I am now ready to release this.
I think it is important to note a few things from the very start.
First is the fact that I had initially set some minimum and maximum weight limits for the chart and have had to change it along the way. I asked the public for feedback and asked many cottage owners for feedback regarding this as well. It was wonderful. I have, however, made slight modifications to the maximum weight limit that will be focused on within the chart. Details of why are explained below. What I would like to mention is that I have received an amazing amount of feedback from almost all of the cottage owners. It has been an honor and pleasure.
Next aspect to note is the fact that this is not an all-encompassing list of the lightest two person shelters in the world.
There are a number of reasons for this, but the two primary reasons are:
(1) I initially set some criteria for what the spreadsheet would be based on in regards to Total Shelter Weight. Along the way the maximum weight changed a few times, all as a result of the list of shelters becoming much too long to detail them all; it would have taken countless hours of work. As it is this article has consumed a little over 65 hours of work and over two hundred emails. There simply had to come a point where I was forced to reduce the maximum weight limit in order to reduce the amount of work, the complicated, and length of the spreadsheet. When I started this article there were a number of shelters that I wanted to include but they ended up being well over 1300 grams Total Shelter Weight – and if I were to include them than people would make the case that I should have included others in the same weight category, and a list which is already long enough would have become three to four times longer. I very much respect these cottage companies out there producing amazing two person shelters that are in the 1000-1200 gram range, make no mistake about it.
(2) There are a number of companies out there that fail(ed) to provide the true weights of their shelters. Most of them simply do not list accurate Total Shelter Weights on their website. There were around a half-dozen companies that I emailed asking for accurate numbers on their shelters and they never responded. I would be doing a dis service to my readers to pull numbers out of nowhere and use them just for the sake of including a specific shelter. Companies that do not publish exact weights of their shelters are doing nothing but losing business. I can say that for a fact, as last year I was looking at one specific shelter that I really wanted, but the company fails to list accurate weights of their shelters. Rather than dealing with the back-and-forth emails to try to get it out of them, I simply moved on and purchased a shelter from another cottage manufacture. So again, there are a few shelters on the market that I highly suspect might be less than 900 grams, and even more under 1300 grams, but because they fail to provide technical details about their shelters on their websites, and in many cases never responded to my emails, their shelters are not within the chart. I make no excuse for this. I simply will not make up numbers on my own because a company is unwilling to provide information that their customers should have.
How to carry water while hiking… this is one of those issues that very much falls into the HYOH factor, and I have never been a huge advocate for one specific method over another.
When I first started hiking I used the Everyday CamelBak bottles. Those got replaced with the CamelBak 70oz Antidote Reservoir which got replaced with the Platypus Big Zip 3 liter, which got replaced with a Hydrapak 70-Ounce Reservoir and so on and so forth. I even bought myself a Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack somewhere along the way. One of the few bags I never did buy was the MSR Dromedary Bag.
When I got close to reaching the SUL weight I knew that none of those were going to be able to keep being used so I made the switch over to using water bottles such as Gatorade, than to the Smart Water bottles which were a bit lighter and proved to be durable enough. This meant that not only did I get to reduce the weight of using a reservoir but I also no longer needed to weight of the reservoir sleeves within backpacks. (extra perk: no longer needing a backpack with a hole in it to push your tube through, thereby making it just a weebit more water resistant)
Through a set of events I never saw coming and I did not realize until after it had all happened, I am now back to using bags to carry my water in… Read the rest of this entry »
I just got word about two hours ago that Mountain Laurel Designs has formally announced an initial product release of a cuben fiber version of their hugely popular TrailStar shelter called the Cuben TrailStar!
This is some pretty sweet news for those of us that are SUL hikers because it takes the weight of this tarp (MLD calls it a ‘shelter’, I consider it a tarp, as it is not a fully enclosed “shelter”) from 482 grams (17 ounces) down to 283 grams (10 ounces). Ron Bell, the owner of MLD, noted that if you remove the 10 LineLock 3’s that it has you can save around one ounce, so you could end up with a very sweet 255 gram (9 ounce) tarp!
The price on the Cuben Fiber TrailStar is $335 USD.
One of the many awesome features of this tent is that it is made up of five panels of the same length, and each panel is 7 feet long. Hikers around the world have been putting the TrailStar to a test over the last few years and every single report I have read about it says its the most rock solid tarp they have ever seen in the wind – and a lot of reports out there documenting its very strong in snow too!
Here at HikeLighter.Com I prefer to focus on gear that is SUL/XUL in nature, obviously, so it should be safe to say that MLD bringing the TrailStar into the Cuben Fiber world I do not think there are very many SUL hikers out there who are going to argue the fact that this new Cuben Fiber TrailStar is going to be a serious contender in the SUL tarp industry for a rather long time to come!
It is made, like all of the MLD Cuben Fiber tarps/shelters, using 0.74 cuben fiber. The 0.74 CF has been proven to be the sweet spot for tarps – it holds threads very well, it resists water permeation better than the 0.51 cuben fiber. It will last long, will probably never tear if a pine cone lands on top of it (with the possible exception of a Pinus lambertiana cone), and while most SUL hikers have gotten over a need for privacy, the 0.74 provides a little bit more see-through protection than the 0.51 does. Not that that matter of course, right ;)
The TrailStar gives you a whopping 50 sq/ft of space underneath it. The one chance I have had to see a TrailStar I was amazed at the room it provides. Another neat thing about the design is it gives you the ability to really set it up in some unique ways. I remember seeing some photos awhile back of a guy that had setup the TrailStar in some really unique configurations – possible because of the five equal sides. With enough guyline and a tall enough piece of wood you could have this be a raised shelter for a group, or you can put it all the way down to the ground for some serious protection in hard driving rain.
As you can see in the photograph above there is the ability to use one of the five sides as a raised entrance. Just use a second pole or stick and you got yourself a nice entry that can also give you some nice air flow to reduce condensation. Or, close the door for if you find yourself getting pounded by hard wind or driving rain or snow.
All in all, if you are looking for a tarp that will give you a serious amount of room that is under 284 grams (10 ounces) you should be giving this new Cuben Fiber TrailStar a serious about of consideration!
(disclaimer: I do not own this tarp, I was not paid to write this article. This is one uber sweet tarp and thus I am announcing it to my readers!)
For the better part of the 2010 and 2011 hiking seasons I invested a great deal of time and money buying and trying different shelters that are presently on the market that meet the sub-20 ounce mark.
To me a sub-20 ounce shelter setup is something that should be considered a SUL/XUL shelter so if it is over 20 ounces I have kept it out of this review. I fully realize there are a lot of hikers out there who feel that there are some truly amazing tents that are in the 20-25 ounce range – and I agree, there are. As a SUL/XUL hiker I have come to realize that ounces count – and grams compile really fast – and that in order to achieve and maintain a truly exceptional SUL/XUL base back weight I decided early on that the 20-ounce range was going to be the limit for this review. This really did narrow down the available options, and the list I came up with is by far not a complete list of sub 20 ounce shelters that are on the market or that can be concocted together, but if it is missing anything, you can always let me know.
Again I just really want to lay forth the fact that I fully understand that there are some exceptional shelters out there in the 20+ ounce range that in their own right deserve some huge praise, but the goal of this Shelter Comparison is to compare those shelters that are in the sub 20-ounce range.
It is also important to recognize that this list is specifically targeting the “enclosed shelter” setups and does not include tarp-only settings. This is key because as I have presented a 2 ounce tarp is really all a person needs if they just care about basic protection from the rain.