Root Family

Root Family

Mar 31, 2012

Gear Review: Big Agnes Copper Spur Ultra Light Tent

OK, so this review is coming as a result of my stupidity. I had the good fortune of using Nick's tent due to me grabbing the wrong tent, but the right tent poles on for our backpacking trip last week. I was so excited to be using my new MSR Hubba Hubba backpacking tent, but was so disappointed when I opened my stuff sack to find my POS $30 Bivy tent (I had put this one in a stuff sack identical to my MSR tent in case my brother needed it). Total disappointment. The first night Caiden and I opted to just stuff ourselves inside the bivy tent (with no poles) and just sleep under the stars. We got a little cold that night, so the second night Nick offered this tent for me to use (he brought it "just in case") and I jumped at the chance. In lieu I offered to do a gear review on the tent.

First of all, you can't beat the fact that it's a 2 person tent and it only weighs 3 lbs 12 oz and that weight includes the footprint. This tent was packed in it's original case and the measurement was 6" in diameter by 18" long. I personally like to put the tent, rain fly, and footprint in a stuff sack and carry the poles externally on my pack, but I still had a ton of room left over in my Osprey Aether 60.

The tent sent up really quickly. I love the design of the new tents where you don't have to slide your poles through long tubes connected to the tent. The poles are pre-assembled; you just snap them into place, set the corners, then connect the tent hooks to the poles. The rainfly goes on equally as fast.


I like that they didn't waste any space wit this tent; since it's rated for two people it gives a good amount of "move around" space at the upper end (42") and at the foot (a cozy 22"). I comfortably fit two Big Agnes Insulated Air Core sleeping pads in the tent (20x72) with room to spare at the foot (or head).

Sand Creek camp

Sleeping in the tent I'm sure would have been comfortable, however I had a terrible experience with my new sleeping bag that affected it. Still, the tent did seem to provide better protection from the elements and I could tell it kept heat in because there was a lot of condensation built up on the inside of the rain fly the next morning (we were camping in a desert, so the condensation was not from humidity in the air).

Sand Creek camp

I think the only negative for this tent would be the tag price with a standard price of $400.00, however with Big Agnes, you always get what you pay for. They offer great quality-made products that hold up and last for a long time.

For more information on this tent and specs, visit this item's web site: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2

Mar 30, 2012

Boulder Mail trail to Sand Creek March 2012

This was a trip we had originally intended to be at Capitol Reef to hike Spring Canyon, but the Rangers there were paranoid and talked us out of doing it. We headed further south across Boulder Mountain and opted to hike the Boulder Mail trail down into Sand Creek.

The Boulder Mail trail begins just outside of Boulder, UT next to the the rudimentary airplane landing strip they have bulldozed there. It starts off on a high desert plain with low-growth pine and desert brush, then descends into the sand creek area, which is comprised of bigger trees and a lot of slick rock. We opted to camp in the sand creek area just because we only had one night, but the trail continues up and over another ridge and drops down into Death Hollow, which is something I hope to be able to do someday and a beautiful canyon from all reports I've seen.

The hike in and back was about 9 miles, plus we did a mile or so of exploring around the area, so we logged 10 miles in. I didn't sleep very comfortable on either of the nights as told in my gear review on my my new sleeping bag. I'll have to keep an eye out on a good deal on a better bag.

Here is a video I made about the trip with my new GoPro2. A little rough, but hoping to make something better in the future.

Here is Nick's Trip Report with a lot of great pictures. Sand Creek

St George Mountain Biking March 2012

I visit St George every few months for work and on my most recent trip I decided to bring my Downhill bike along and do some exploring around some of the marked trails. It's so funny when you drive around the area you have no idea how close you are to some awesome trails, often times right off the road. I referenced for all my trail information. No downside to that website as they provide as much information as you could possibly need, but I think like any situation, you still don't know what it's like until you're there.

 Day 1 we rode the Church Rocks to Prospector trail, which was right across the freeway from my hotel. This was my first time riding slickrock areas and I had a blast. We left our hotel and rode through a residential area, then on up near a large water tower, through a huge culvert that runs under the freeway, then made our way over to the Church Rocks area where the slickrock started.

 My bike is heavy, so at times I had to jump off and start pushing a bit, which I have no shame doing. Once up on top of the small rim, it was rock and roll from there on out, then a nice downhill section. Church Rocks can be done as a loop, but I knew that the Prospector trail can also get us back to our hotel, just at a different location. As we rode prospector it started to get darker and I wasn't quite sure where our crossing point was going to be for the freeway, so we opted to take a shortcut through another wash/culvert, over a wire fence, through piles of tumbleweeds, then up a steep hill to the frontage road that would lead us back to our hotel. I can't wait to get back and ride both Church Rocks and more of Prospector.


 Day 2 we went over to the Green Valley gap/Bloomington area of St George. On my last visit I rode the Bloomington area and had fun there too. On this ride I wanted to explore more of the area and get a ride out to the far end which is called Stucki Spring. I did my best to study a map, but not close enough because with all the trails criss-crossing it got really confusing. Despite it all, I still had a blast and the next time I'm down there I'll know certain spots where I should have turned, etc.


Mar 29, 2012

Gear Review: Kelty light trekker 20 degree down sleeping bag

Kelty light Trekker 20* down bag

I was able to get this bag out and use it for the first time this past weekend on our camping trip to the Capitol Reef/Escalante area. This was the first down sleeping bag I purchased and I was mostly excited about the possibility of having a down sleeping bag and getting one at an awesome price ($60 on sale), but I didn't think to look at he brand I'm dealing with.

Kelty does make some decent outdoor gear, but I think since they're owned by a private investment firm, their product quality has likely slipped over time to take a back seat to better brands out there (of which are also likely owned by other private investment firms, but their quality seems to not have slipped). However, I figured if it was truly a down sleeping bag that I'd enjoy it.

The first night I used it sleeping under the stars without my tent in about 40 degree weather outside Capitol Reef NP at Meeks Mesa. Being that the forecast only called for 40 degrees, I figured my 20 degree rated bag would be just fine, but I was pretty uncomfortable that evening. I went to bed wearing wool socks, jeans, and 3 layers of shirt (breathable tee shirt, long sleeved shirt, and a long-sleeved button-up shirt). I used my down jacket stuffed in a sack as a pillow (I can't sleep without a pillow) and I only recall being in and out of sleep all night long.

I tried really hard to be objective about my comfort level. Was it because I was sleeping without a tent (I would find out the next evening that wasn't it)? Was it because I was trying a new sleeping pad (gear review to come for that soon and I found this to not be the problem either)? Was it because I'm a larger guy trying to stuff myself into this mummy bag (I'm 5'11" and 225 lbs)? Maybe. Could it be that since US products aren't required to truly be rated at what they state, that my bag really wasn't a 20 degree rated bag? I'm thinking yes.

The second night we backpacked in starting at the Boulder Mail Trail near the Boulder air strip. That same evening I experienced the same cold discomfort. Keep in mind that it takes a lot to make me cold as I have plenty of insulation on my body (yes, it's all muscle), but on this evening I actually was in a tent, I added another layer inside my jeans of fleece PJ's, I wore my beenie, AND I ended up putting my 750 fill down jacket on. By then I was warm enough, however I was uncomfortable the rest of the evening because I didn't have any sort of pillow to prop my head on. I tried to blow up one of my dry sacks, but the air eventually leaked out. I'm blaming my lack of sleep both nights on the sleeping bag.


Lightweight at only 2 lbs 8 oz
Stuffs into a small compression sack and takes up hardly any room in your backpack


I have my doubts about it holding up to its 20 degree rating - This was the major issue with my discomfort.
A little too tight for my frame, but wasn't necessarily a major problem

As a comparison my son brought along our REI synthetic filled 25 degree bag and he had zero issues with being cold. In fact, at times he was half out the bag at night because he was so warm. I've used the same bag before and did not have any issues with being cold either, but the down side is that it's synthetic filled, is a couple of pounds heavier and takes up more space in your pack. I would have traded all that for a good nights sleep.

I'll have to keep my eye out on a good down bag deal. Anyone else have any suggestions for bags they really like? I'm talking more to the "larger", um, I mean, "MUSCULAR" crowd out there for advice on down bags.

Mar 19, 2012

Crystal Hot Springs

We spent part of a Saturday hanging out at Crystal Hot Springs with our friends the Beatty's along with a few other members of their extended family. It was actually a lot funner than I thought it would be, but I'm sure the water slide helped :-).

Here is a little video montage I created from the trip. I want to get out and visit some more rural hot springs in the area. Anyone have any other suggestions besides the Diamond Fork and Mystic Mikes? I actually have never been to either of them (and I plan to), but I'm curious where else they are located in the state.