Choosing Shelter for the PCT

A little less than a week ago, my partner and I decided to hike the first month of the PCT solo and meet up around Kennedy Meadows to do the rest of the trail together.

I wrote about my concerns with cowboy camping in Southern California, and then realized that if it rains, I can't sleep under the stars (duh). So I started looking for a waterproof bivy sack.

As it turns out, waterproof bivy sacks don't really work. Waterproof bivy sacks work when it's sprinkling, but not when there's a downpour. So, I came to the kinda late conclusion that we need a second tent. We're a month away and need a tent. We don't have any money to spare, so we need a super-cheap ultralight tent. For one month. Good. F-in. Luck.

Renting an ultralight tent

Nope. Renting an ultralight tent for a month? Might as well buy one. We looked at the University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness Center, REI, and several other tent rental services. All were way too expensive to justify it. So, that option was out.

Buying a cheap 1-man tent

Skimping on price for a cheap 1-man tent meant sacrificing more than just the ultralight benefits. We looked at a few options, the most attractive being the Wenzel Starlite 1-person tent. After doing all the review-reading that I'm so accustomed to doing (almost 100 reviews on different sites), it sounded like a not-great option for holding up against the elements. All the other options were too crappy of a weight-to-price ratio to warrant going up in price for minimal quality improvements. My base weight would have gone to shit. So I went to option 3.

Borrowing an ultralight tent

Serendipity has been my friend, and Alex's friend planning this year's trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. Last summer, when we were originally supposed to be hiking the PCT, we met two new friends at a food & music festival called Wild Springs, put on by Eat for Equity. These friends, Corey and Mark, had just finished the PCT one year previous. We found this out because we were using our Zpacks tent to sleep in. They immediately recognized it as a super-nice ultralight tent, and asked if we had done the PCT. We told them the story of postponing our trek, and they told us the story of completing theirs.

Now, one month away from starting the PCT, in need of a second tent, would Mark and Corey save the day?

Alex sent Corey a text in the morning.

Do either you or Mark still have your ultralight tent that we could borrow or rent for a month?

We continued researching tents, renting them, buying cheap ones, and crossing our fingers extra hard in hopes that Corey would send the affirmative.

It came that evening.

Howdy! Yep we've both still got our tents and you are welcome to borrow one of them! Mark and I both still have our tents. I have the Big Agnes Fly Creek and Mark has the one from Lightheart Gear.

AMAZING! One month out and we have two tents. I'll be going with the Big Agnes, and now my tent will be lighter than Al's! HA! Every day we draw closer to our departure date, it seems more and more that The Trail Provides. I'm grateful for friends and their generosity.