Any recommendations? I would be interested to know what gear would be essential to be comfortable in May, and conversely how busy it actually gets in August, i.e. are open campsites hard to find?
(Background info, we both have 20-25 degree sleeping bags, but not very high R-value sleeping pads and little to no cold weather hiking clothing.)
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- 35 deg bag with a liner
- R-4 pad
- Nylon shirt
- Mid-weight base layer (top)
- Mid-weight+ fleece
- Rain Jacket
- Nylon zip-off pants (zip-off not required)
- Mid-weight base layer (bottoms)
- Rain Pants
- 4 pair smartwool socks
- Fleece Stocking cap
- Gloves (fleece)
Temps were upper 30s at night and what I had was adequate sleeping in my base layers. Would have been uncomfortable if it got much colder, with that sleeping bag. Wore rain pants around camp for warmth at times. One night I wished I also had my puffy jacket in camp, but was OK without it.
So what I'd suggest:
- Bags should be adequate if you're prepared to sleep in base layers.
- You could add z-pads under your pads for warmth, relatively economical and light. Or any cheap foam pad.
- Frogg Toggs are economical and effective (if not stylish) for rain gear. I highly recommend having pants for extra warmth, even if you don't hike in them (I rarely do).
- Bring only synthetics or wool.
- I think gaiters are (almost) essential that time of year. You'll certainly stay dryer and more comfortable, although folks do it all the time without them. OR Rocky Mt gaiters worked great for me--at times the water/mud was deeper than my boots.
- I didn't use the gloves much, but they were nice to have.
- Bring 3-4 pairs of socks, and make sure 1 stays dry for sleeping.
I should add that the only difference between what I brought on this trip vs others is heavier base layers, heavier fleece, gloves, and an extra pair of socks (and the gaiters were new for me).
Hope that helps!
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• Wool Socks (3 Pair) - 1 of these is for sleeping only
• Wicking T Shirt (2)
• Long Sleeve ¼ Zip Light Pullover
• Fleece Jacket
• Rain jacket
• Rain Pants
• Mid weight base layer pants & Top - sleeping only
• Wicking Shorts
• Sock Cap
• Sandals - I took a pair of Keen H2Os for camp use
• Sleeping Bag - 40 Degree Synthetic
• Therm a rest Neo air Sleeping Pad
I missed a pair of gloves and would have appreciated having a pair a few times.
I sleep really warm and have taken that bag, pad, midweight base layer, sock, cap combo down into the mid 20's and have still been comfortable. In the shelters we stayed in, I froze. I've never felt so cold, even setting up the tent inside for additional wind break. My son was in a 30 degree bag and was using his closed cell foam pad. He was too warm and stopped sleeping in his base layer. I chalked it up to the amount of convection loss on the raised floor of the shelters and my inflatable pad. I needed another insulating or reflective barrier and didn't have one.
May was a wonderful time to be on the East end of the island. We took the Ranger over on it's first trip of the season and practically had Daisy Farm to ourselves one night. 2 years later I went in early Sept on the West end and saw very few people, save 2 young ladies on the same itinerary and a group of fishermen at Malone. Weather was similar, with September being a tad warmer at night. My gear list was similar with the addition of gloves, which of course, I didn't need. Plus, I took a hammock instead of a tent.
I think you'll enjoy either time of the year.
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