Gear Review: ZPacks Hexamid Twin (2014)

Hexamid Twin, Zpacks, Lost Coast

Quick and Dirty
Gear Type: Shelter/Tent
Material: .51 Cuben and Nano-noseum
Weight with Poles and Stuff Sacks: 13.5 oz
Trail weight: 13.5 oz with no floor, 18 oz with optional cuben floor
Price: $320 – $530
Link:  Hexamid Twin
Pros: Easy pitch, very lightweight, innovative design
Cons: Lacks headspace opposite of the door

The Zpacks Hexamid Twin (Hexamid) is a ultra-light sub 13 oz “fully enclosed” singled-wall tent or 18 oz with the cuben bath tub floor.  Zpacks uses .51 cuben fiber and a nano-noseum door and floor to ease construction.  The Hexamid is the only production tent on the US market that uses a noseum floor.  Zpacks claims that it is plenty durable for trail use.

Our Hexamid was purchased specifically to be used for solo and two person trips without the dog.  Our Hexamid is not the current storm doors model.  Instead, it is the 2013-2014, bonded model with the roll-down beak.  By far, this is one of the most beautiful tent designs on the market.

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Trail Report- Matilija Creek, Ojai, California

The Quick and Dirty:
Location:
 Matilija Creek trail located 30 minutes north of Ojai, California inside the Los Padres National Forest
http://caltopo.com/m/6S4R
Distance: about 12 miles round trip to Upper Matilija Creek Campground. 
Difficulty: Easy however the short switchback from Middle Matilija Creek to Upper Matilija Creek is not very well maintained. I would avoid this area during the rainy season as the integrity of the trail is questionable and looks prone to landslides.
Permits: Permits are not required for this trail, however we used an Adventure Pass to park at the trail head.
Dogs Allowed: Dogs are allowed within Los Padres National Forest.

This summer has been an exceptionally warm one in Southern California. With the weather still in the high 90s, we were hoping to catch another backpacking trip to the Eastern Sierras before winter hit. We planned a trip with our group of friends to Cottonwood Lakes inside the John Muir Wilderness area but decided to cancel the day before due to thunderstorm warnings. As a backup, the group decided to check out Matilija Creek trail because it is one of the few places in Southern California where there is still a reliable water source. Located 30 minutes north of Ojai, California, inside Los Padres National Forest, it took us 2.5 hours to get to the trail head from South Orange County Saturday morning.

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Fall foliage in Matilija Creek, Los Padres National Forest

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Food Preparation- 5 Day 2 Person Backpacking Trip

As avid backpackers, Louis and I have our responsibilities down pretty well when it comes to preparing for a backpacking trip. Louis packs the gear (tent, stove, fuel, etc). and it is my responsibility to prepare and pack the food for us. I got pretty tired of the ready made backpacking food early on and decided to explore other options. Since our gears are ultralight, I try to do the same for the food without giving up on taste. I try to strive for the following when packing for food:

  1. Count calories and bring the exact amount we need. There are been many times where we brought way too much food and had to haul half of it back home.
  2. Try to only pack one hot meal per day. I’m even trying to cut back on this for long mileage days (10+miles) since we are usually too tired to cook at the end of the day.
  3. Bring lots of high energy snacks while we hike during the day. Low blood sugar can really slow you down when you are hiking.

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    We managed to fit all 5 days of food for 2 people in our Bearvault BV500.

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Lost Coast Camp Sites

One of the biggest issues we had with finding information for our trip was understanding common camp grounds along the Lost Coast.  With the exception of a few places, most of the campsites will have water or creeks available. Below is a quick guide to some of the popular camp sites along the northern stretch of the coast.  Sites are listed north to south.  Each site will have information including type of camp site, size, conditions of soil, natural wind protection, and water availability.

Size will be broken out by Large (6+ sites), Medium (3-5 sites), Small (1-3 sites) established camp sites.  There are plenty of viable sites along the trail, but we chose to use established sites for LNT (leave no trace). Continue reading

Trail Report- Lost Coast Trail Day 4 – Gitchell Creek to Black Sands Beach and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

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The Quick and Dirty:
Location: 
Lost Coast Trail
Distance:
Day 4 – Hike from Gitchell to Black Sands Beach – 3.9 miles.
Drive to Sinkyone Wilderness State Park (through a redwood forest/jungle) for Lunch. Drive out to Mendocino for a mini-vacation. 
Difficulty:  Easy 
Duration:  2 hours

The next morning, we woke up late and headed out and saw the remaining group behind us catching the low tide.  We walked along the wet sand for good footing and got to the parking lot about 1.5 hours later. We heard it is common for thieves to break into cars and were not surprised to see the car next to us with it’s windows smashed in.  We were just glad that it was not our own car.

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Car that was broken into at Black Sands Beach

We decided to drive down south to the ranger’s station to check out Sinkyone Wilderness State Park.  We stopped by the Shelter Cove General Store to pick up some fresh fruits and tea, then headed out towards Sinkyone. The drive was beautiful, it gave us a great view of alder and redwood forests we did not see during our Lost Coast hike, but we would not recommend small sedans driving through the road.  It is a narrow pave road, then slims down to a dirt road.  Driving the road on a wet day would be horrible.  We overheard the lady at the General Store mention that she sends out tow trucks to pull out small cars all the time.  Never the less, every car that showed up that morning was a small sedan.

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Originally we wanted to do some more hiking inside the Sinkyone, the Lost Coast stretches an additional 24 miles south of Shelter Cove. However, Louis’s feet hurting from the previous 50 miles.  We took a quick tour around the ranger’s station, got a free cup cake from the host and a walk out to Needle Rock and Johns Beach for lunch.

Needle Rock at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

Needle Rock at Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

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Sweet little lunch spot above the cliffs

We hopped back in our car and drove two hours to Mendocino for a two night stay at the Inns of Glendeven before making the drive home.  Glendeven was a awesome place to stay.  Just off Highway 1, it has chicken coups, llamas, organic vegetable gardens, and bee hives.  Free wine tasting for guests at 6PM every night and a large selection of local wines and jams.  Just outside our door are trails to two State Parks.  Every morning we took a stroll before breakfast to the bluff tops.  Definitely worth the stay.  A HUGE thanks to Jeff  from SoCal Hiker for his recommendation at the Inns of Glendeven. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end our trip.

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