Gear testing: First night in a Therm-a-Rest sleep system


Many thanks to Therm-a-Rest for supporting Pacific Crest Trail Association! In addition to financial support, the company provided all five of our regional representatives with new sleep systems this summer. Bob Woods reports back with his first bag nights: a trip talking policy with other PCT managers.

I was very excited about our three-day backpacking trip in the William O. Douglas Wilderness. Seven representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and two from the Pacific Crest Trail Association, including me, were on the trip. Our goal was to hike 30 miles from Chinook Pass to White Pass. On the way we would be discussed Wilderness management issues and the PCT experience; two of my favorite topics.

We car camped the previous night at a campground. My PCTA colleague was there with her husband and their 8-month old baby boy. He is new to camping. He loves it but doesn’t quite understand that the tent is a place to sleep rather than play all night. Evidently, he was up all night fussing and crying and would not sleep a wink. My tent was about 20 feet away. I didn’t hear a thing and slept through all the commotion. I’m a fairly sound sleeper but even I was amazed that I didn’t wake up. Could it have been the new Therm-a-Rest sleep system I was trying for the very first time?

Trail-Sign Mount-Rainier

The first day on the PCT, we hiked about eight miles. It was a gorgeous day with blue skies above and an explosion of colorful wildflowers at our feet. Massive Mount Rainier dominated the scenery and made an awesome backdrop for photos. We stopped and cleaned up a few campsites along the way. There were some great discussions about how to limit our human impact and reduce our footprint in the wilderness. My next night’s sleep was just as good as the first.

Tent Trail

The second morning started off a little foggy and then the clouds rolled in. You couldn’t see more than 100 feet in any direction. You could sense the presence of Mount Rainier close by but it was constantly shrouded in clouds. Hiking in the clouds is an interesting and mysterious experience. It’s also a wet experience. It’s not necessarily raining but, somehow, everything still gets wet. There was a slight miscalculation and we ended up having to hike 17 miles rather than our originally planned 11 miles. That’s a pretty big difference! We rolled in to camp around 8 p.m. It was 9 p.m. by the time everyone was set up and eating dinner. I crawled into my tent, zipped up my new bag, and slept like a baby should.


Bob Woods – Pacific Crest Trail Association, North Cascades Regional Representative


Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.