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​Packing It Out: Our Backcountry Homes

Home means different things for many people. Some will say that home is simply where the heart is. I can agree with this for the most part. Though, after kayaking the length of the Mississippi River and hiking over 3,000 miles through 15 different states, I think it's safe to say that home for me isn't always where my heart is, but rather where I'm warm and dry. With the majority of these last few years spent sleeping outside, home for me has primarily become a tent and sleeping bag.

During this year's thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, my home is a Sierra Designs Tensegrity 1 Elite tent and a Mobile Mummy 3-Season sleeping bag. I've used these two pieces of gear every day throughout this year's PCT effort, and I have to say that these two pieces have single-handedly transformed my life in the outdoors. I live pretty well while in the woods, but I didn't expect these two pieces of gear to have such a positive effect on my outdoor experience. Let me explain.

Tensegrity Elite 1

When looking for a quality tent, there tend to be three things worth looking at. These include weight, space and setup. Each of these qualities play a critical role in the making of a top-notch tent. The Tensegrity Elite gets top marks in each of these categories.

The Tensegrity weighs in at just over two pounds. This is an impressive weight for a fully enclosed shelter. I've personally carried lighter shelter options, but often found myself having to sacrifice the shelter’s livability or weather protection in order to achieve the lighter weight. After two months of a sleeping in the Tensegrity, I'm convinced that Sierra Designs found the sweet spot when designing this tent. They achieved a weight that is competitive with others in the market while maintaining space and protection.

One of my favorite qualities of the Tensegrity is its livability. No other shelter I've used has given me three windows, a vestibule and room to stretch for anywhere near two pounds. The ability to peer out in any direction means I no longer miss any sunrises or sunsets, which are arguably at least half of the reason I go outside in the first place. Having a large viewing area while in the tent keeps me engaged with the outdoors. I love this aspect. If I want privacy, I simply zip up my windows and I'm blocked from viewers. Having the windows zipped up prepares the Tensegrity for unfavorable weather. About the only thing better than this tent’s livability are the setup options.

First off, how many tents even give you setup options? I know, not very many. The Tensegrity really raises the bar with not two, but three setup options. Every setup option is pretty easy to master once you practice a few times. The standard setup is ideal for most situations, especially high winds or rainy conditions. You can roll up the vestibule for an ideal stargazing setup. As I write this I am looking up at the stars while laying in the Tensegrity. The last option is an awning setup where the vestibule is setup straight out, giving your tent a protective front porch. With these three setup options, I can say that this tent has easily become my go-to shelter.

Mobile Mummy 3 Season

The function of any sleeping bag is pretty straight forward, it should keep you warm while you’re sleeping. With the Mobile Mummy sleeping bag, Sierra Designs took the basic functions of a sleeping bag and revolutionized them. No longer is your sleeping bag just for the night time snooze. The Mobile Mummy was designed to be used as a garment, as well as a sleeping vessel. Yes, you read that right. Not only is it designed to keep you warm at night, but this bag allows one to take care of all of their morning and evening chores without ever having to leave the sleeping bag.

At first I didn’t know how much I would like the Mobile Mummy’s proposed garment feature. With two baffled arm ports, there was worry that the bag might not seal well. Cold sleepless nights are never enjoyable. After over 1,300 miles with this sleeping bag, I can definitely attest that the arm ports are a wonderful addition to a sleeping bag. They don’t leak and are an incredible convenience during the middle of the night when nature calls or literary inspiration strikes.

The Mobile Mummy’s center zipper is always a pleasant feature. The zipper is double handled, which allows the footbox to be vented. Personally, my legs always sweat during the night, not anymore. I love being able to keep my core and head zipped up while still being able to let my lower half breathe. The center zip is also sweet because it is ambidextrous. This might not be a perk for some, but I grew tired of left and right sided sleeping bags.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed using the Mobile Mummy 3 season on this year’s thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. The temperature ratings are true to their listing and the bag’s overall weight is on par with others in the market. Finding a warm quality down bag isn’t much of a challenge anymore, but finding one with added features that make your life in camp even easier is a tougher find. The Mobile Mummy is my new go-to bag for outdoor travel.

In Closing

The Packing It Out crew is in love with the Tensegrity 1 and the Mobile Mummy. Sierra Designs is tapping into a realm of backcountry living that resonates well with us. Going into the backcountry shouldn’t be a “Roughin’ It” experience. Instead, it should be focused on “Smoothing It.” George Washington Sears puts it best:

“We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home.” Woodcraft, George Washington Sears

With the Tensegrity tents and Mobile Mummy sleeping bag, I find myself two more steps removed from the “Roughin’ It” approach to backcountry travel. I guess the only issue now is that once you get spoiled, it is really challenging to go back to what you were using before.


Seth “Cap” Orme

A day in the life of Packing It Out- presented by Gear Junkie. Watch the video: