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PCT Campsite Video and Tent Review

Every evening on the Pacific Crest Trail we were on the lookout for a campsite. Sometimes the search was easy and in a few minutes we found a flat pre-established site with a view. Other times, after walking an extra hour and a half, with daylight almost gone, we had to settle for a tiny spot between bushes. We photographed all our campsites along the PCT and created this short fun video with the assistance of Joe Sofranko. Enjoy!

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 tent performed well during our PCT thru hike. It’s very light. Out of the box this two-person tent weighs 2.6 pounds. We left the stuff sack at home and brought only 6 Vargo titanium tent stakes, bringing the weight down to 2.3 pounds. The Fly Creek UL2 was cozy for the two of us with only a few inches to spare on either side of our sleeping pads, but its small size allowed us to pitch the tent in itty bitty spots when necessary.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2The tent’s single Y-shaped pole made for a fast and easy setup — we were done in 3 minutes. The rain fly kept us dry in storms and the tent’s mesh kept mosquitoes at bay, even when hundreds of them were trying their hardest to bite. Durability was decent for an ultralight tent, but our zipper broke after 700 miles of camping in the sandy deserts of Southern California. Our second Fly Creek UL2 tent withstood the remaining 1900 miles of trail without issue. Overall we would recommend this tent.

Though we have praise for the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2, after hiking 2600 miles we know that every ounce counts. On the Appalachian Trail we will be using a prototype of Gossamer Gear’s new Spinn Twinn tarp. We’ll save weight on tent poles by supporting the tarp with our trekking poles. Using one item for multiple purposes is one of our favorite weight saving strategies.

Here are a few campsite tips which are helpful regardless of which shelter you use:

  • If the ground is too hard for stakes, wrap the rainfly cords around large rocks instead.
  • Camping away from low-lying lakes and streams is warmer and reduces condensation.
  • In windy areas, face the narrowest part of the tent towards the wind.
  • Set up camp on durable surfaces and in pre-established campsites to avoid damaging vegetation. Leave no trace.

But enough about tents — here’s a brief update on our Pacific Crest Trail photo book. In the past few days we have seen the initial results of all our hard work. We’ve been at Shapco Printing in Minneapolis checking the pages as they come off the press. The photos look beautiful and it’s exciting to see the PCT come alive in printed form. In the next four weeks, the large press sheets will be cut, folded, and bound together into a cloth-covered hardback book. If you haven’t already, you can still pre-order a signed book!

Comparing proofs to a sheet fresh off the press

Comparing proofs to a sheet fresh off the press

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan #

    So they are showing you difference exposures and color samples, so you can pick which looks the most authentic to the original photograph? This is so exciting. It looks as if the pictures are going to be quite large once the book is finished! Wow!

    January 27, 2013
    • Close. We were comparing inkjet proofs of the images to the press sheet they had just printed. When the images on the press sheet didn’t quite match the proofs, we worked with the press operator to adjust the ink colors on the press for the best match. Soon the press sheets will be cut into 12 by 9 inch pages. We hope the large size will provide an immersive experience for the viewer. The final printed pages are everything we hoped they’d be!

      January 28, 2013
  2. Thanks for your feedback on the tent. For 2 people, I either bring my SMD Lunar Duo, or at times have used my Hexamid Solo Plus. Both of these are great tents, however, I will admit, at times, I miss a more traditional tent. Probably mostly due to the “free-standing” abilities. Either way, I have been thinking about picking up a different tent to have, just for those times that I may want something different… Anyway, the FCUL2 is on my list, some others are the Seedhouse SL2 and the Copper Spur 2…

    January 27, 2013
    • The Fly Creek UL2’s free-standing design has the advantage that even if the stakes pull out in high winds, it doesn’t collapse. The tent’s two rear corners must be staked out for maximum internal space, but that’s pretty easy and the unique design keeps the tent light.

      January 28, 2013
  3. Sabrina #

    Nice! Such a creative and cool video on your tent!
    And how exciting it must be to see your book being born! Congratulations!

    January 27, 2013
    • Thanks Sabrina! We have put so much time and care into the book that it does feel like our baby in some ways. It was awesome to see the pages rolling off the press!

      January 28, 2013
  4. Ted Mason #

    Hi Guys,
    How I have enjoyed your journals and amazing photos over the months! I am looking forward to your book and following your amazing adventures. You may not remember me. I had to get off the trail at Sierra City with foot problems, however I am good to go and hope to try again this year. Best Wishes, Big Wuss (Ted Mason)

    January 27, 2013
    • Hi Big Wuss! We remember you fondly. You gave Shutterbug his trail name, after all. :-) Sorry to hear you had to get off the trail, but we’re glad you can try again. Thanks for your kind words!

      January 28, 2013
  5. Chris #

    Loved the video! Well done. Added another dimension to your adventure for us ‘chair’ hikers.
    The book looks exquisite and I can’t wait to receive it. My best to you both.

    January 27, 2013
    • Thanks Chris! Exquisite is absolutely what we’re going for with the book. Where the video provides a fast, energetic view of our journey, the book is elegant and focused.

      January 28, 2013
  6. margaret alexander #

    So, when I went on the Joe Sofranko, I couldn’t find your video. Pls help!

    January 27, 2013
  7. Nice video!

    January 28, 2013
  8. Denise #

    Fantastic video! & Who plays that wonderful song? I’m a big fan of photographing my own little tent that I’ve been using for over a decade on many a camping excursion. I love my tent!…. so this resonates with me.

    January 29, 2013
  9. Anna and Chris,
    Thank you for the photos of campsites. It’s a reminder of how hard it can be to find a flat spot.
    Precious memories of walking those extra miles to squeeze into a narrow refuge.
    See you on the trail.
    Dana Law

    February 8, 2013

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