NOMAD CAMPING JOURNAL
TEST SERIES BY ED MORSE
INITIAL REPORT - November 11, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 02, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 05, 2010
ed dot morse at charter dot net
Grawn, Michigan USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Last May I did a 2 week hike in Northern Minnesota. My starting pack weight was 35 lbs (16 kg), including 10 days of food and 2 qt (2 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Nomad Adventure Journals
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.nomadjournals.com
MSRP: US$27.00 for Journal with case
MSRP: US$15.00 for Journal only
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 11.5 oz (326 g)
Journal only: 9.2 oz (261 g)
Case only: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Journal only; 5" by 7 " (12.7 cm by 17.8 cm)
Journal w/case; 6" by 8" (15.2 cm by 20.3 cm)
Journal only; 5" by 7 " (12.7 cm by 17.8 cm)
Journal w/case; 6.25" by 9" (15.9 cm by 22.9 cm)
My initial impression was that the Nomad Adventure Journals "hiking / backpacking & camping journal" is a very nice camping journal but it is not for hiking or backpacking. I think, as a backpacker trying to lighten the load, the journal is just too heavy (and bulky) to carry in my pack. At this time I think the "hiking / backpacking & camping journal" would be very nice for car camping. The front and back covers of the journal are as thick and stiff as a hard cover book.
There are many very nice features. According to the website:
"The 3-in-1 Nomad Hiking-Camping-Backpacking Journal is the most comprehensive outdoor logbook available. There is plenty of room to log every detail from your hiking, camping or backpacking experiences. Whether you are going to the mountains for the weekend or backpacking in Europe for a month, this journal lets you preserve the experience.
Trail information (terrain, conditions, difficulty, distance & more)
Recommended maps and guidebooks
Hiking and driving directions
People you met along the way
Grub & Grog
Plenty of room for extra notes
120 pages (29 daily entries)
And much more…."
There are 60 sheets, or 120 pages in the journal with forms provided on the pages for 29 daily entries, by my count. The first page has the journal name with space provided for the owner's name, address and phone. The second page, back of the first sheet, is about Nomad Adventure Journals and their products. The daily entries start with the second sheet with two sheets (four pages) for each daily entry. The first 2 pages of each daily entry is a form with lines to add information I might want to know about a campground and hiking trails.
|first daily page|
The next two pages are lined with the full page for "Observations / Notes". The last page is an index form.
|second daily page|
|last page index|
The journal case is grey on the outside and black on the inside.
There is a zipper to completely close the case.
Both the front and back covers are padded. Inside the back of the case cover is a pocket for the back cover of the journal. There is also a loop inside the right back cover in which a pencil fits.
There is also a smaller mesh pocket inside the front cover of the case.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
I could find no instructions either on the website or with the journal.
TRYING IT OUT
I have not yet had an opportunity to actually try out the journal at a campground or trail. I will be checking out a few campgrounds down in Florida in a few weeks. This car camping trip will be to help plan a backpack hike next February.
The Nomad Adventure Journals hiking / backpacking & camping journal appears to be a very complete way to record information about a campground. It looks like a good way to maintain a record before and after a hike. I can't imagine actually taking the journal along in my backpack. The forms on the first two pages seem to cover all the information I would want when planning a hike.
I don't do much car camping so this will be a difficult journal for me to use most effectively.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I am not generally a campground camper so this testing requires a different mindset for me to camp with people around and civilized facilities. I camped at two different campgrounds in the last two months, both in the Ocala National Forest in central Florida.
The weather was a warm 76 F (24 C) the first day with a low of 55 F (13 C) in the morning at the first campground. At the second campground there was a high temperature of 74 F (23 C) with a low in the morning of 64 F (18 C). The moon was near full and very bright both days. Even with a slight cloud cover the second night it was bright enough so I didn't need to use a light to walk around outside during the night.
The terrain is relatively flat while the trails are open and mostly sandy. This is true of nearly all of the Ocala National Forest.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Nomad hiking/backpacking & camping journal did very well for the intended purpose. I drove to two different National Forest campgrounds while we were in Florida to visit relatives. After I had my tent set up and all camp chores done I filled out the spaces in the journal. Here I am sitting at a picnic table making out my notes for the day.
|writing in the journal|
It did seem a little odd to sit at a table rather than on the ground leaning against a tree while writing down my notes for the day.
There are spaces provided for several specific types of information about the campground and hiking trails. There is also one page which is lined on both sides for observations and notes. The Journal seemed to encourage me to take much better notes than I normally do.
I tried to fill in all the spaces in the first two pages. Then I wrote extensively on the pages labeled Observations / Notes. In the small and cheap notebooks I normally carry when backpacking I might use four or five pages for a long and interesting day.
In my opinion the Nomad hiking/backpacking & camping journal is not an item I would buy for backpacking. I prefer to keep both weight and space for whatever I carry as small as I can and still be reasonably safe and comfortable. This journal is just too big and heavy to justify the weight and space in my backpack. I will carry the journal on my next backpacking trip so I can give it a good workout.
If I was a vehicle (automobile, truck or recreation vehicle) camper I would consider the journal a neat way to record and store information that I might want for a later return to the same area. The first two pages have spaces provided for nearly all the information I want about the trail and location of the campground. The only items I see left out of the Campground Information section are toilet facilities, showers and swimming availability.
This journal would have been very useful in the years when our boys were growing up and we drove to campgrounds all over Michigan. We would have enjoyed filling out the information together which also would have been good reference for a later trip to the same area. My wife was concerned with what toilet facilities were available. Our sons were only interested in how close we could camp to the swimming area.
This concludes my Field Report.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
All the following information was taken from my notes in the Nomad Hiking/Backpacking & Camping Journal I've left out the coordinates of each campsite and directions for driving. I would not usually write such a detailed report in a gear test but the following shows the space available for details.
I've used the Nomad hiking, backpacking & camping journal six more times at different campgrounds in the last two months. My use was all on one backpacking trip in the Ocala National Forest (ONF) in central Florida. I started at the Clearwater Lake Recreation Area at the south edge of the ONF where my wife and her sister dropped me off after leaving my car at a campground near the north edge of the forest. The warmest it got that day was 51 F (11 C) with a low during the night of 40 F (4 C) with cloudy skies. In my view this is ideal hiking weather. I was looking forward to a leisurely eight day hike. I wrote up my notes while sitting at the picnic table after everything was cleaned up and put away.
The next morning I hiked north on the Florida Trail toward Anderson Springs Recreation Area. I found some logs and trees down across the trail but they were not hard to get over or around since the forest is mostly very open. The high temperature during the day was 56 F (13 C). The rain started at about 1 PM, soon after I had a relaxing lunch. I got to Anderson Springs Campground at 2:35 after walking 11.0 Miles (17.7 km). I got my tent set up (still raining) and got the food bag hung in a tree. When I checked in and paid the camping fee the manager told me there was a 30 % chance of rain the next day. The rain continued through the night with a low temperature of 45 F (7 C).
The next morning I hiked north. I planned to get water at a day use area and camp in the forest a few miles further north. I missed the turn to the day use area and when I passed the general area I planned to camp it was still raining hard. The high temperature was 64 F (18 C). I kept on walking. The rain slowed and finally quit about 2 PM. I got to the Juniper Springs Campground at 3:30 after walking 19.6 miles (31.6 km). When I registered and paid the $10.50 fee I jokingly asked for a dry place to set up my tent and near the showers. The very nice manager assigned me to the campsite next to the auditorium shelter. Then she said they didn't often allow it but if I wanted to set up in the shelter there would be no problem. I did just that, setting up the tent on the concrete floor. After I got the food bag hung in a tree I even took time for a shower. I had planned to take lots of pictures of my campsites, writing in the Journal and of the springs at most campgrounds. I forgot to protect my camera in a Ziploc bag when the rain started. When I tried to take pictures the camera did not work. Consequently I got only two pictures on the whole trip and not any that I really wanted. The next morning the tent was completely dry.
The next day I hiked 11.9 miles (19.2 km) north to Hopkins Prairie campground. This was one of the two primitive campgrounds I used on this trip. This campground had an unusual (to me) water pump. It was a metal box about two feet (60 cm) off the ground with a pipe out one side and a hand crank on the adjacent side. I was doubtful about the water but the campground hosts said it had just been tested and certified good. They also said they had been charging hikers $3 to camp but had recently been told that people hiking through on the trail did not have to pay. The high temperature during the day was 64 F (18 C) with a low during the night of 55 F (13 C).
The fourth day of hiking I walked 11.3 miles (18.2 km) to Salt Springs Recreation Area. It was 50 F (10 C) when I started hiking and got up to 64 F (18 C). This was the fourth and last managed campground with full facilities I would use this trip. I paid the $9.25 fee (half price for National Park Passport holders) and walked on back to my assigned campsite, which happened to be right next to the toilet and shower building. When I got to my campsite there were people picking up wood. They said a tree had fallen in the recent storm and the park management had just cut it up that morning. They invited me over to their campfire later. I did go over later and we talked about different experiences for a few hours. They told me that a heavy storm was predicted for the next day.
I altered my plans again for my fifth day of hiking. I studied the maps while thinking about a predicted storm and decided to walk roads to the next campground. After a short walk from Salt Springs I saw a hunting and fishing store. My rain gear had not performed well at all and I had gotten very wet. I was sure a fishing store would have Frogg Toggs. I went in and bought a set. I talked with the manager while paying and he offered to drive me to the trail. He also told me a strong storm front was moving in. He left me at the trail at a county road that didn't show on either map I had. I walked about eight miles (13 km) northerly to Delancy Lake Campground. This was the second primitive campground at which I stayed. The trail remained flat with open forest and very little underbrush. There were occasional stands of palmetto all along the trail. The sky was getting darker and the wind stronger as I walked. I got to Delancy Lake Campground at 10:45. I got the tent set up and ate lunch then hung my food bag. I was just putting the last of my gear in the tent when the rain started at 11:45. I got inside and wrote in the Nomad Camping Journal and read until the rain quit at about 5 PM. I quickly put on my new rain suit and fixed and ate a hot meal. I just got things cleaned up and put away when the rain started again. While I lay in the tent writing and reading I was sure the tent would blow down or the rain would just pound right through. I did have to get out once to close the vestibule on one side to shut out the strong wind. It was still raining when I fell asleep. It quit sometime during the night and the tent was dry when I got out in the morning.
The next day I hiked the last seven miles (11 km) to my car and the end of a mostly wet hike.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Nomad hiking / backpacking & camping journal did very well on my six day hike. I left the zipper case home and carried the journal in a Ziploc bag which was carried deep inside my pack. When the afternoons in camp were relatively nice and dry I wrote most of my notes sitting at a picnic table. When it was raining and after the early sun downs I did my writing in the tent.
The journal has spaces for everything I might want to record and refer back to regarding a campground. There is plenty of space for additional notes.
I carried the Nomad waterproof trail journal in an easy to reach pocket. I stopped and wrote notes a few times while hiking in the rain. I also carried my maps and planned schedule in the same pocket that I thought was water proof. Everything in the pocket got wet when it rained long and hard. The sheet with my schedule was ruined and my Ocala forest map is in very ragged shape. The Florida Trail map and the Nomad Waterproof Trail Journal had no damage at all.
Since the Nomad Camping Journal was in a Ziploc bag, inside a garbage bag with my down quilt and the pack covered with the pack rain cover there was no chance it could get wet.
I think the words hiking and backpacking should be removed from the name of the journal. For this backpacker it is just too heavy to carry backpacking. It weighs 50 % more than the paperback book I carry and is much more bulky.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Over 30 years ago, when our sons were young, we were campground campers. A journal like this one would have been great to have each time we went. Now I'm a backpacker trying to get my pack weight lighter. I almost never camp in established campgrounds.
I will continue to use the journal - to record information about motels we stay in our travels east, south and west from home.
I would like to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to use and test this camping journal.
This concludes my Long Term Report.
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