|For a midsummer
vacation we added a little twist to the trip this time!
With the 4th of July approaching, we made the usual call
to the dog kennel and there was no vacancy in the inn for
our spastic mutt. We wasted a couple of days just
around the house trying to figure out if we were going to
delay the trip until Monday when we could drop him off, or
go boating instead, and finally decided that we should
give a longer flying vacation with the dog a try.
This would add some challenges though, as we knew we
intended to camp some, maybe stay in hotels some, and we'd
have rental cars...any one of which isn't always dog
To add to the hurdles is the limitation of (S) (P) (A) (C) (E). We've had plenty of trips with just the 4 of us now, with either SCUBA gear or camping gear along, and that puts us near gross, but almost always leaves bags of clothes piled between the people in the back seats, to be able to fit everything we bring. If we were bringing the dog, one restriction was going to be, we can't bring more "stuff" than we can fit into the baggage area, because the dog will need all the space between the back seat peeps. Not only that, but he'll need MORE than just the space on the seat, he'll need his own space. With that in mind, we set out to pack lightweight, buy some lightweight camping additions, and build a small padded table for the dog to extend over the tunnel area.
For the camping gear, we didn't get to push it as far to the extreme as I wanted to yet, but see the end of this write-up for some details on the gear changeouts we did. I'd highly recommend them to anyone who backpacks, and who travels with families in planes. I only wish I had done this sooner, as we wasted money by buying twice. From a clothes perspective, we limited it to about 5 or 6 changes of clothes, shorts only with 1 light jacket, and only 1 type of shoe per person. One long pair of pants but they must be thin and light.
|The night before
the trip I was still working on the dog table. I got
a 2x2 square of 3/8" plywood, and some 1.25" PVC pipe and
2 end caps, and got to work. I first figured out the
width I wanted as max width, and that was 18". That
gave enough room on each side for people legs, IF you
taper it a little. So I had a rectangle that went
back about 4" under the rear seats, and right up against
the back of my furthest back front seat. Then I
notched it forward in the center where it was under the
rear seat armwrest, so the armwrest seat filler pad would
still sit flush with the seat cushions. Then I had
the peeps put their legs in place and I marked where to
begin the taper to give enough legroom. The rear
side of the board was about 12" wide, the added 4" log
tabs that go under the rear seat cushions to just help
hold the table from sliding. The board widens
slowy as you go forward, and reaches full width maybe 4-6"
from the front of the board. That shape seemed to
work well, so we took a grider to the edges (that's all I
had on hand) and rounded them smooth. Then I marked
where I wanted the stabilization legs, under the wide
front area, and drilled 2 holes of about 1/4". I
took my PVC caps with flat tops, and drilled 1/4" holes in
them, and mounted them to the board with carriage bolts
that were as short as I needed to save weight. Then
just cut the legs to the length that makes the table sit
still and not rock, but leaves the bulk of the weight
laying on the tunnel for added stability and
non-movement. Covered it temporarily with 2" of
shipping foam (I'm going to put on 3-4" of nicer foam
now), and then got a grey towl to lay over the top.
(This will also get trimmed and secured better soon)
Wala!...we had our space. The 2 photos above show
the dog sitting there during the final test fitting.
The next day we got up to leave and it was IFR conditions out, so I filed an IFR plan out of the area to the west. We had decided to start by visiting all the pals in Salt Lake City area, and then go to Glacier National Park. Originally we were thinking Sequoia and Yosemite, since the kids have never seen those, but none of us had been to Glacier before either, and during the summer, I am not going into the hot SouthWest. It was a beautiful IMC climb to sunny skies on top, where we were routed around a bit as we crossed the MSP class Bravo. We had a great non-stop flight all the way to KCUT (Custer, SD) for fuel. With the dog on board, we decided not to stop for food, but pack what we needed to survive. The flight was smooth, at 10,000'.
|As you can tell,
our little sphincter breath boy was doing great for the
trip...he does just what bored dogs do in cars....lays
down and sleeps. Everyone had just enough room, and
all of our gear was stuffed into the baggage
area. We got another good look at Mt. Rushmore
from the air on the way into Custer, and saw Crazy Horse
as well. Departing Custer we could see Devils Tower
in the distance. As soon as we left Custer though,
it was a whole different flying world. We were in
non-stop, unrelentless turbulence. We tried 8,500'
for a while, and then tried 10,500' for a while, but I
know we were still a few thousand feet from comfort, and
we were pushing huge headwinds as it was. Density
altitudes in the mid-13K' range finally made us put on
Oxygen as the turblence and altitude started giving me a
headache. But, Charles Lindberg there, was doing
great. Going west into a headwind is never fun, but
the turbulence in the afternoon over that high country
just doesn't let up....with ground elevation being
4,000-8,000' higher than home, you just don't have
headroom to get above the heat.
|Arriving in Utah,
Sean was nice enough to set me up with some hangar space
and his truck, so we could get headed to Scott's for a
couple days. It's always nice hanging out in Salt
Lake City. From the hills we could overlook the
entire valley, while hang-gliders and para-gliders soared
over the ridges above us. There were a couple dozen
at least! The dogs got to play, and so did the
kids. At night the fireworks were going off as many
people lit them from their back yards.
|The dog was
definitely happy to be along on the trip, especially when
he could play in the yard, or meet Sean's dog who's
practically a twin. Golden's are always so
happy. After a couple of days though, it was time to
get on with the trip! Glacier NP is a bit over 3
hours North from SLC, so we plugged in KGPI into the GPS
and followed the pink line as much as we could as we wound
between the moutain passes. Flying by Park City it
was cool to see the Canyons ski resort in the summer.
|Flying over a more
open plains area in perhaps Idaho?, we flew over an area
that said something to the effect of "Due to National
Security Concerns pilots are asked not to fly lower than
6,000". That really gets you scratching your
head. I wonder what they do out there in that series
of factory looking things they have built...
Entering the mountains again we spied a cool cave in the hills that seemed to have a road running up to it, but it was impossible to see if it went back real deep or not. Neat stuff!
|Even in hot Utah,
there was still snow in the peaks of the mountains, but it
started to be much more so in the distance as we were into
the further North areas of Montana. We arrived at
Glacier Jet Center where we had our overpriced but nice
car waiting for us, and the people were real good at the
Jet Center. We wanted self-serve to save $, but
there is a facility fee every night and you get 1 night
waived with fuel, but only full serve, so we paid too much
for fuel and sucked it up. It wasn't but a few
minutes and we were in the car headed for Glacier NP,
hoping to get campsites for the night.
Glacier has numerous camping areas, but only 2 have showers available. Unfortunately, according to the nicely made Glacier National Park Camping Status page, we could see that those fill up in the a.m. by about 8-10am at the latest. So we headed up the awesome drive (You really HAVE to go drive the "Going to the sun Road" in Glacer) to the first of the cool campsites we could stay at.
We ended up at Avalance campground, about 1/3 of the way up the road which crosses the entire park. Passing by beautiful Lake McDonald, and a very great looking river. The campsite filled 5 minutes before we got there, but we were able to stay in the non-vehicle camp site as no bikers had shown up yet. The second night we stayed at the same campground because it was pretty nice, but stayed in a normal site. Sadly, all camp areas are mostly gavel based, so you definitely want to bring a tarp and some sort of camp pad, but with our camp pads we were very comfortable. Of course it was only a few minutes after arrival with the dog did what all dogs want to do....SWIM. It was a bit scary as the river was flowing VERY fast, and there's no way, if he would have went further out, that he'd have made it back to shore. Instead he'd have been taken over the rapids if he wasn't careful. But he did ok and we got him to play in less dangerous areas of the river. The water is a light blue color, I think from the cold minerals and also from the TONS of aeriation that the water gets as it crashed over rapids. Also, up in Avalange Gorge the water gets completely pummelled and turns white with air, so that probably helps too. Either way it's very cold refreshing water.
pictures were taken along the drive East along the Going
to the Sun Road. The road climbs along mountainsides
and eventually reaches over 8,000' before it descends back
down to the East side of the Rockies. It's an easy
drive all the way East and back. There are many many
waterfalls along the route to stop and see, and lots of
great mountain views. It's amazing how much snow there is
in the high country, and much of it that you could touch
and see wasn't really even melting fast. In
Wisconsin that snow would be melted in a few days!
Back at Avalanche campground we took some of the hiking paths. This is where Glacier just isn't my favorite park, but is extremely beautiful. At Glacier, all areas that are not developed are mostly off limits to pets. This means you can't even walk them on a path for a hike, despite the fact that we always bring baggies to clean up after our mutt.
The hikes however are fantastic, and 2 rows below you can see photos of the water in Avalanche Gorge.
After our 2nd night in Glacier it was time to pick a different park for one more day of vacation. Glacier is pretty close to Yellowstone, from an RV-10 perspective, so that would be an easy trip, but we wanted to cut our trip home into 2 pieces, so we headed more East to South Dakota, specifically KRAP (Rapid City) where we knew we could get a car, and drive up into the Black Hills. Climbing out of KGPI we took it up over the peaks and flew directly over the Rockies, for a very cool flight. We decided not to fly direct to KRAP because that would have put us over the inhospitable but beautiful terrain with fewer nearby airports, so a more straight East route would get us past the mountains faster.
Once again, over Montana and Wyoming, we were in the bumps, so we pushed it up to 11,500' this time and tried to get the best ride we could. You can see the kids taunting the poor dog with Pringles, as we flew along on O2. At 11,500' we were rewarded with an 8.9gph fuel flow, stretching our range and cutting our fuel flow.
As we neared Custer, we routed around Devils Tower to get some pictures, as from our previous trip there we didn't get the most clear pictures that I'd wanted. That really is one fascinating rock!
Arriving in Rapid City they hangared our plane (extra charge) so that we'd be out of the weather. EVERY time I go near Rapid City, there is ALWAYS a thunderstorm nearby. The place is a thunderstorm magnet! And after last year's rudder denting, and breaking the rudder stops, I was not going to deal with that again. We even shared the hangar with another RV10. They also found us a rental car, and it was the very one and only car left, so we were stuck with what we got. It was a fine ride, being an almost brand new Dodge 4-door pickup. The very interesting thing that I experienced though was that Dodge found a way to take a very nice vehicle and totally remove a good share of it's manly cajones, by doing this incredibly dumb looking and operating shifter design. Yes, that's a knob on the dash, much like a volume knob, that you shift the truck with. It's ridiculously clumsy to deal with in a parking lot situation, and it has absolutely NONE of the manly manual shift lever feel. I was very impressed that the truck had 8 gears, some of which can be manually shifted on the wheel, but I think this shifter knob is a big stinking bomb of an idea. Otherwise, the truck was wonderful.
We drove up to the same campground that I had taken the young ones last fall, which was a fantastic place to stay. As we drove up into the black hills, there were piles of snow in the ditches. NOW I was really confused! SNOW?!?! I asked the camp tender and he said no, it wasn't snow, but piles of hail left over from the recent hail storm. REALLY!?!?!?! I said. Yes, indeed it was. He said they get pea to baseball sized hail all the time, and recently it covered the entire ground at camp. Amazing! At this point I was feeling great about the hangar.
The first thing after setting up camp was to deal with the stench left on our bodies from 3 days with no showers. It was time to fix that. There's a lake for swimming right in the campground, so we were off to the water! To save weight, we had each packed a towel, which I'll explain below when I talk about the camping gear.
The next day we did a little hiking...South Dakota is VERY dog friendly and we had a blast there with him. We also ate at Peggy's Place for breakfast, just because they have great food.
By noon we were ready to blast off for home. We had everything packed and loaded in no time and on departure we were lined up number 2 behind Delta, which I think was being flown as Skywest 4584. It was not too bumpy once we got up to our planned 9,000' as we cruised home. We were a bit slower than normal with this load and balance, so our cruise was about 155kts TAS, burning 9.8gph. Plenty of fuel to get us all the way home. On this leg, we originally started at 9,500' as a VFR flight, but along the way, knowing there were going to be clouds below us as I approached central Minnesota, I decided to switch over to IFR, and filed with foreflight an IFR plan that I could pickup in flight. I filed it, waited a couple minutes, and then asked the controller who was giving me flight following if he had it, and sure enough, it was ready to go. Once again, foreflight rocks for filing plans, and if you just remember to NOT use CSC DUATs as the interface, you'll have a quick and reliable experience and not have to feed the demons that run CSC DUATS. Once again in the row below you can see the storms by KRAP after we left.
More Storms Near Rapid City
After a while we were flying directly towards the one and only cloud bank big enough to force us over, under, or around, so I requested 11,000' to keep a smooth ride, and we got our request. We were still at 151kts, but now down to 8.9gph once again.
As we neared central MN, we were over an almost 100% solid undercast, which was actually what I was hoping for. I really love flying instrument approaches on smooth days with stratus clouds, and this day would be perfect. With ceilings well over 1000' we could do an easy approach, and this one turned out to be picturesq. We were first on top, then between layers in sun, then in solid clouds for a while, and then poof, we pop out the bottom. I have some iphone videos of the ride through the clouds, just to remind me how fun it is. After breaking out, Andrea brought the plane to our final landing of the day, and in no time we were in the car headed home. One thing was vastly different on this trip....whereas usually we're off to the kennel to pick up Chuckles on the way home, this time he was still with us, having survived almost 18 hours of flying!
|Now here is more
info on the camping gear that made it possible to do this
trip. As I mentioned before, I think any x/c
traveling pilot may be interested in some of these items,
because in our case it was the only way we could have done
|First of all, from
a food perspective, we bring these packets of dehydrated
food. Now you may laugh, but we actually find this
stuff delicious, and I'd not mind it a bit if we had this
for supper a couple nights a week. It's really good
meals, that generally only need boiling water to
complete. I usually eat a whole package, while the
other 3 share 2, but if I don't feel like a pig, we can
split 2 packages for 4 people. It costs anywhere
from $5-9 per meal, so it's not real expensive, but it's
super light weight, and won't expire on you, so you can
buy it and store them for years. I have a very
small, (about the size of your fist), folding MSR gas
stove that runs on coleman fuel but can also run on
diesel, or car or airplane fuel. Perfect for when
you don't know if you can bring enough fuel for the entire
trip. We've never run out of coleman fuel on our
trips, but it's nice to know you can fill it off the
airplane's sump if you have to. We carry the stove
inside one metal cooking pan for boiling water, with a
handle that folds over the lid and snaps it all
together. Very compact. We light it with a
The orange package above we havne't used yet, but they're water unnecessary body wipes. We did try the bottle below. It's supposed to wash hair and everything without water. We put it on and then swam.
The real marvels of the trip were in the sleeping pads. Normally I was a budget pad kind of guy, but I somehow convinced myself that $149 was an acceptable price (they did give me 10% off) for the NeoAir Trekker sleeping pad. That was for the tall and wide model that is 25" wide for my big behind. I found it to be EXTREMELY comfortable, as it's plenty thick to not notice any rocks under you at all. Just today, post trip, I in fact returned Andrea's pad for a 2nd one of these, because I really think that if you're going to airplane camp, that's the pad you want.
The above tent is a cheap $100 Wenzel from Scheels, that just got returned and exchanged for a much better tent. It was a fine tent for nice weather use, and for our trip we were never in rain and the temps were ideal for that tent. But, it had a manufacturing defect where the screen was pulled out from a seam by the zipper for about 3" so that was enough to push me over the edge. It wasn't *really* the tent I wanted. I want: A lightweight, square or rectangle, 10'x8' to 10'x10' sized tent, with aluminum or carbon fiber poles, with a FULL rain fly, with mesh on the high sidewalls for when it's hot, and vents in the fly, and a small vestibule, that weighs LESS than 15lbs, but takes up no more than the 9"x9"x25" or so that the Wenzel did when thrown into the plane. I tested a tent from Scheels called the Kelty Scheels Classic 6 which was very nice, and much taller and nicer inside, but found that the poles were magnetic...so they were partially steel. They were also pretty large in diameter, and came with some pre-bends in them to round the roof line. This wasn't good enough. I wanted NOT to use steel poles, because of weight. I also didn't want fiberglass poles because of weight, although the Kelty Acadia wouldn't be too bad of a tent. I wanted ALUMINUM poles (or carbon fiber), just like the airplane is made of, because they are lighter. I also didn't want the poles to have much of a pre-bend to them, for space reasons. The pole pack on the Scheels Classic alone was large and heavy. One other thing about fiberglass poles. You know how much of a pain it is when running the poles through the pole sleeves, how those steel pole joints always snag each and every pole, and it takes a lot of work to slide the whole pole thru? Well, with the nice aluminum DAC poles, there are no joints to snag...so setup of the tent is much nicer. So after shopping for many hours over many nights, I found the right tent for us...the Kelty Trail Ridge 6. It's larger in package slightly than the Wenzel, and a little heavier (by 2 lbs), but appears to be much nicer (at 3x the price it should be) overall. It won't pack quite as small, but it's pretty close, and I can compress it with straps to make up the difference. More on the tent below....in the update from 8/6/14.
Another step we took was getting the kids new down filled mummy bags that are good to 20F. I think our existing sleeping bags, some EXCELLENT Wiggy's Lamilite bags, are maybe good to 0F or something like that, and they're super comfortable, but, they are huge when stuffed and compressed compared to these Kelty Cosmic Down bags. So the kids got them. Now, I'm going to shop for a couple of rectangular zip-together, down filled 20F bags for Andrea and I. I'm guessing I can stuff them into about 60% of the space that our existing bags fit into.
Also, above and below are pictures of the Therm-A-Rest Proile and Trail Lite pads we brought with us. The orange ones were the kids Ladies model Prolite pads. Being 20" wide, and shorter, the ladies models (with rounded ends) work well with mummy bags and the girls and are nearly as small when packed as my NeoAir Mens Large pads. Yes, they make NeoAir womens models that would be even smaller, and I'd recommend those over these prolites, but I didn't know that in time and these prolites aren't THAT big so I'm going to keep them rather than spend more and return them. The green Therm-a-rest Trail Lite though is now gone...I don't want that one and below you'll see why.
|Above in picture 1
and 2 are the sleeping pads. Mine is on the left,
the NeoAir. The middle is a Prolite womens.
The Green one is our own bag, but the Green Trail Lite
inside. You can see how much more space is wasted
and you get less thickness of a pad too! So back to the
store with the Trail Lite!
Picture 3 above is a nylon stuff bag that we use for clothes, one per person. No suitcases allowed on trips like this....too much space, and too much weight. Next trip I'm going to add the addition of using COMPRESSION sacks on our clothes. That will save a ton more space yet!
Picture 4 above is all of our sleeping bags and packs. You can easily see how much bigger Andrea's and my bags are than the not-even-compressed Kelty Cosmic Down bags of the girls. And getting rid of that big sleeping pad will help a lot.
|Above is the tent
that is now returned. It was ok, and at 11lbs 9oz,
was a great travel size. I only wish the good tents could
pack that small. Maybe they can, with a compression
sack, we'll see.
Picture 2 above is my NeoAir, the Trail Lite, and our old sleeping pad, all compared. Actually, picture 3 is the Trail Lite and the old pad, and picture 4 is the NeoAir and the old pad too. So you can see that going to all NeoAir pads will significantly save space, and weight. They are VERY VERY light. When buying the NeoAir, I have the 2014 Trekker model, which is 50% more R value than the 2013 model, so don't buy an old one if you need a warm pad. Also, I would probably steer you to the NeoAir All Season if you want an even warmer pad. It's got even more reflective insulating properties inside.
Finally, I told you I'd mention our towels. Well, for towels, we originally had bought 2 stuffed camp towels that came in mesh bags. They were just microfiber cloths, that were about as big as 4 of them sewn together. They were like $10 or $18 each! I kew I could do better than that! So I bought a multi pack of microfiber cloths...pretty ones that came with 3 different colors....Walmart...$10 for 12 towels. Then I had one of the kids sew 2 of each color together. At 14"x28" total, this hand-towel sized towel was now our camp towels, one per person! Yeah, it's a little small, but even for a tubby lardo fat-arse like myself, it worked fine.
So you can see how the proper camping gear can make all sorts of things possible in camping with the RV-10. We were able to bring not only our camp gear but our dog, and after I finish a little more shopping, we'll have even more space back. So enjoy your RV-10, and don't skimp too much if you have to travel with 4 or 4+!
Kelty Trail Ridge 6 Tent
|It took me a long
time to come across this tent. This one is 13lbs
13oz of trail weight, with an 8'x10' floor giving 80sqft
of floor area. 80 was what I considered a minimum
for a "comfortable" tent for 4 people and 1 dog.
When on this Glacier trip, we found that 10' of width
worked well for 4 of us to sleep side by side, which gives
2.5 feet per person of width. With 8' of height,
it's got plenty of space for a 6'+ person like me, AND
some bags of clothes at your feet. The tent is
listed as packing into a 9x9" by 25" long roll. This
is not super tightly compressed either. I think by
separating out the poles, and using compression bands
around the tent, it could be crunched down into two rolls
that would be easy to pack in the plane, perhaps being the
bottom layer in the baggage compartment.
Incidently, at OSH 2014, some friends had an REI InCamp 6 tent, which also looked to be pretty good, with a spacious interior, and near vertical doors that are large. It had more pole sections, so was slightly more complicated to set up, and weighed about 1lb more, but that would be a good alternative tent to this one too.
A Funky Panorama View
|To me, one of the
big things you want in a tent is just like what you want
in an airplane...simplicity. This tent, with
primarily 2 poles to hold the whole thing up, sets up very
quickly. There are 2 additional poles that in
seconds, snap over the top of the tent to hold the two
doors (yes, this has 2 full sized doors which is nice)
more vertical, giving more internal space. While I
do like this feature, I personally would have preferred to
just save the extra weight and not have the 2 additional
poles. But, it does make for a very spacious
interior, where you aren't cramped by side walls that lean
As you can see from the photos, I can stand inside this tent, with no gear loft installed, and I'm nearly 6'2". So for most families, this will be a comfortable tent for changing and working in. Notice that the sidewalls are mostly mesh, also. This will be a fantastic tent for venting, if you plan to sleep on a clear night under the stars. They left the door as nylon, because once you install the rain fly, this will still allow you privacy, even if you open the fly for ventilation. This means that as long as it's not raining, you can open the front and back fly doors, and that will allow lots of air to flow through the tent, and you still have privacy with the door zipped.
|Continuing on the
topic of the fly and the venting, check out how the fly
comes out far from both doors. This gives you a dry
area to remove your shoes OUTSIDE of the tent, where they
won't get rained on, and you have plenty of room for a
couple of backpacks outside of each door if you wish
also. And see below, the fly has triangular vents
that have props to keep them open that you can use to keep
the ventilation going even with the fly zipped up.
With a full fly on, this is a good 3 season tent and
should keep you plenty warm if you have good sleeping
|As you can see from
the pictures, the 8x10' interior has lots of space. I
couldn't, with my phone, get a good picture showing the
entire interior, and without putting in a queen sized air
bed or something for perspective it's hard to show how
much room you really have. If you put a queen bed in
this tent, you will have probably that much space left
over on the other side of the tent, and, still probably
have about 2 feet of foot space for bags at the foot of
|The one thing that
I haven't found with the tent yet is the gear loft, but
according to many reviews, this tent should come with
one. Either I didn't pay attention and it's under
the tent on the grass, or they forgot to include one, but
I'll be calling Kelty tomorrow to find out what the story
is. Otherwise, these pictures give you a good idea
of how this tent sets up and works. It should make
an excellent family tent. Now, I have found that if
you want to cut the weight a small amount, you probably
can save 2 or 3 lbs if you instead by TWO tents, that are
3-man tents. A 3-man tent is *really* a 2-man tent,
and you'll not get a tall roof on a light tent, but that
helps save weight. Also, a 3 man tent with low walls
will use skinny aluminum tent poles, so you'll save a
little there, although you'll now have twice as many
poles. But for ultimate weight savings, 2 tents
would probably be lighter. I'm not sure if they
would also be smaller in pack size, but they should be at
least close, overall.
Here's an update from 8/2014: One thing that irritated me more than a little was that Kelty no longer is including a gear loft with at least this model of tent. If you buy online, you'll find some places list it as included and some don't. Kelty only recently stopped including it. One RV-10 friend of mine bought the same tent on Amazon and got the loft, while I got it from a local store and didn't. I finally settled on a gear loft that looks like it can be made to fit properly...it's the Marmot gear loft. It's actually nicer than the one Kelty used to include, because it has separate hanging pockets where you can put eyeglasses so they don't get scratched by wallets and keys and other items. It'll set you back about $22 online.
Then for stakes, I decided to try some of the lightweight titanium stakes by Vargo. They have a sharper point rather than flat blunt so they drive easier, have a nice hook, and are lighter than the original stakes. The tent comes with 14 of the standard steel stakes. 6 of these set you back about $20. Also pictured below are some aluminum stakes that Walmart sells. Those 3 sided ones hold better in sand and snow, but they're a little bulkier overall. They are very light though. I'll probably carry the titanium with a couple of aluminum ones, but most people consider the standard steel ones to be pretty crappy.
Also, Andrea got to test out the tent in a long long night of heavy rains, and found that it was dry as a bone, with the tent and the footprint under it. Another couple with an REI tent (not that the tent is bad), got soaked in the same storm. So it looks like we picked a winner.