Over the last weekend I was able to escape reality and go camping which is always an escape for me. This trip was especially exciting for me as I was trying out a few new items for the very first time. I had saved some money to purchase a few new camping items to make my trips more enjoyable; the North Face Tadpole 2 tent, The North Face Aleutian 2s sleeping bag and an Alps Mountaineering sleeping pad. I purchased these items to replace my old tent and sleeping bag and the sleeping pad, well, this was a first for me but getting older the ground seems to get harder. Here’s a quick synopsis and a gear review of the new items I purchased. Upon arrival to the campsite, our new home for the weekend, I began to set up as I was anxious to play with all my new gear. Below I have reviewed my first initial run with these items as well as given a bit of insight of why I upgraded and what I upgraded from. Enjoy!
The North Face Tadpole 2 Tent
Why I Upgraded: My last tent was a large 4 person car camping tent and I wanted to minimize a bit and be able to also go backpacking when given the opportunity. My old tent had gotten me through many nights and was put through much use but ultimately was bulky and showing the abuse of many years use. My thoughts on The North Face Tadpole 2: I did a bit of research before purchasing this tent and knew it had been in The North Face line up for many years and had received good reviews all over the board and I must say; it did not disappoint. This tent is a smaller set up than any tent I had stayed in before but is designed in such a shape that once inside the tent you forget about the smaller size. I purchased the footprint as well for the Tadpole which ended up working very well to protect from the morning condensation. I did sleep in this tent alone but I could see how 2 people would be able to squeeze in no problem but alone in the tent I had room to lay out my belongings and stretch a bit. Some of the main things I like about the tent is the unique shape (which received a compliment from fellow campers), the zippered entrance and the durable lightweight tent poles. The shape, like stated above, keeps the size minimal but surprisingly adds a great deal of size inside. Tent entrances are often taken for granted and I have dealt with poor ones so I know to appreciate a good one. The entrance on the Tadpole zips completely in almost a circular zipper allowing for an easy in and out. The aluminum poles are super light and feel durable to the touch. These poles snap into place easily and allow me to feel assured they are going to work great for many years. Overall I have no bad things to say about this tent but in doing research ahead of time I already kind of knew that would be the outcome. If you are in the market for a new tent whether you go Tadpole or another route I highly recommend getting a footprint. It was a beautiful summer night and even with perfect weather the ground was still wet with dew in the morning and with the footprint absorbing this, my new tent remained clean, dry and in perfect condition.
The North Face Aleutian 2S Sleeping Bag
Why I upgraded: My last sleeping bag was also a North Face brand sleeping bag. It was the Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag from The North Face, yes, it’s a woman’s sleeping bag and I am a guy. I won the sleeping bag in a contest when I was young and it has suit me well through the years but has always been a bit snug so upgrading was inevitable. My Thoughts on The North Face Aleutian 2S: This sleeping bag was a definite upgrade for me as far as space to move around goes. And although this sleeping bag offered great padding and a roomy fit it actually packed down quite small. I wouldn’t classify it as a backpacking bag but it would work for a small trip. The Aleutian offered a very great finish for a fairly inexpensive sleeping bag. In this sleeping bag I was able to sleep on my side, stomach and back comfortably and the bag didn’t bunch up or do anything weird with all my moving around. The Aleutian is going to be a great sleeping bag if you want the freedom of movement allotted from a bulky bag but found in a bag that can actually pack quite well. This sleeping bag seems like it will be good for mild nights but would not be warm enough for extreme cold. The temperature rating of the bag notes it is best for a low temperature of about 40 degrees making this sleeping bag best suited for summer months. I haven’t really winter camped and get fairly warm when I sleep so for me this is going to be my all the time sleeping bag and will make it out in the fall and spring just as much as in the summer. In the end I would absolutely recommend this sleeping bag if you are in the market for one; it gives me the feeling it will hold up for a long time and has already given me one of many more good night sleep.
Alps Mountaineering Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad
Why I Upgraded: I didn’t! I’ve been sleeping without a sleeping pad or any other cushion for the ground for my entire camping career so I figured it was about time to remedy this. At nearly 30 my back and body don’t bode so well the next day after sleeping on the cold, cold ground. As this was my first experience with a sleeping pad the review may be bias but you’ll just have to judge that yourself. My Thoughts on the Alps Mountaineering Ultralight Air: This sleeping pad was SUPER easy to set up. I just removed it from the package and laid it out. This specific model auto inflates so just let it do its thing. After it sets itself up you can give it one or two final blows and it will be good to go. I actually forgot to give it a final couple blows manually and close the valve and the pad held up all night long on its own inflation just fine. I was always a firm believer in sleeping right on the ground with the tent between me and the dirt or grass but after sleeping with this sleeping pad I have changed my opinion. I normally am up and cannot get back to sleep at around 6 or 7 in the morning but not this morning. I awoke at 7 and noticed nobody else up so I laid my head back down. I awoke at 9am feeling refreshed and didn’t miss anything as everyone else was still asleep. I stepped out of my tent feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Having not too much extensive knowledge of trying multiple sleeping pads I must still say this is the best pad on the market. OK, fine, there may be better and more cushioned models available but this pad offered me great comfort for sleeping and is a great deal. The overall pack on this pad is a bit large and it may be a bit heavier than more backpack inspired designs but the pad itself offers a decent thick air bladder which gave me great comfort. So, overall I definitely recommend spending some extra dough on your comfort while camping. Not only will you get a better night’s sleep and be ready for hiking, kayaking or simply breaking camp but you will actually WANT to go camping more, you know, if this is possible.