I make no secret about that fact that, when it comes to making gear decisions, I have all the decision-making prowess of a squirrel with ADHD.
So I thought I was good to go when I had settled on a tent as my first backpacking shelter. Then @REI-CarterC revived a hammock post and, next thing you know, I am second-guessing my tent decision (okay, in the interest of honesty and transparency, I was second-guessing the decision for the sixth or seventh time).
So I finally decided to use the "Call a friend lifeline" - A.K.A. Virtual Outfitter - and spent a fantastically helpful 45 minutes talking with Liz. She answered questions and concerns but, more importantly, helped walk me through a process of figuring out which would really suit my needs and be a better fit. Particularly since this was my first shelter.
So to REI in general and to Liz in particular, a genuinely heartfelt thank you for helping me come to the right decision.
And to anyone contemplating using this service but feel like their questions aren't worth it, try it out!
@Dad_Aint_Hip - This is so great to hear! Thanks for sharing with us. We're going to pass your feedback along to Liz.
Are you willing to share where you landed with your backpacking shelter decision? We'll give you some leeway if it changes again (and again!), but would love to know where you sit following your virtual outfitter appointment!
Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that, LOL
Definitely going with the tent. One item that Liz mentioned is that many state parks don't allow attaching anything to trees and that was an excellent point.
And, if that wasn't enough, the universe decided to chime in. About 30 minutes after I got off the call, my 11 year old daughter and I were chatting and she, out of the blue, mentioned that she'd like to go on a fishing weekend this Summer. *I* can fit in a hammock but *we* can fit in a tent. So when one of my kids finally shows interest in hiking and camping, that's the final decision-maker.
Going with the Half Dome SL2+. Now, as long as REI doesn't sell out of them before the member sale in March...
Ummmm @Dad_Aint_Hip ....why limit yourself? Why not a tent AND a hammock? It may be too much weight to want both for a backpacking adventure, but it's great for car-camping (and fishing weekends)!! 😁
I know. I am a terrible person.
@Rob6 yeah, it was kinda implied that I'll likely end up owning both. LOL
Although I had most of my gear dialed in through all the day hiking I've done, I basically have to build up the overnight gear (tent, pad, new pack, PLB or sat msgr, etc.). So it's entirely a budget issue. If the only thing on the purchasing list was the shelter, then I'd have both by now 😄
I'm right there with you @Dad_Aint_Hip ! Budget has a lot to do with my purchases too. That's why I periodically stop at my local REI and check out their "Garage" section, and also peruse the "Good & Used" site. I've found some great bargains at both. Sometimes the timing isn't great, like, finding a great down jacket (Outdoor Research Illuminate hoodie) in July, but the savings are well worth it!
It's fantastic that your daughter wants to join you. I got my kids into outdoor activities at a young age, and now that they are adults, they still join me and my group of friends on hikes, bike rides, and now my daughter is expanding my horizons by getting me interested in "formal" bouldering. The circle of life...
@Dad_Aint_Hip - It's so great to hear that your daughter wants to join you on a fishing weekend this summer! Excited to hear updates on your plans and how it goes once it happens.