Sep 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm #1263475
@mikeclellandLocale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
This was approximately my overnight pack for this summer. I didn't use my G5 Whisper, instead using a modified JAM.
The list reflects warmth and comfort when solo camping. I am working on a book on ULTRALIGHT camping, and I created this list as an example for the readers who might be intimidated by the concept of leaving "traditional" items behind.
Would this list seem daunting to try yourself?
GOOGLE-DOCS link to PDF:
This image below might be hard to read. I can't figure out how to add this as a PDF to my profile page, the list presently on my profile page is my 2008 list.
.Sep 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm #1647055
@dondoLocale: Colorado Rockies
What?! No toilet paper?!Sep 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm #1647066
8 pounds is not too difficult. 5 pounds is my "wow" point.
What temperature range can you handle with this kit, Mike?
BTW, you forgot your knife.Sep 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm #1647070
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Mike's is smaller than yours. Uh….I mean lighter. See razor blade.Sep 19, 2010 at 7:19 pm #1647074
That is my razor. What do you shave with?Sep 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm #1647090
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
nix that bear spray and just use Dales knife for protectionSep 19, 2010 at 8:48 pm #1647094
Looks good; you pretty much summarized my "comfortable" summer in the Sierra/general 3 season kit.
I think the only things that would intimidate a newcomer about this list are the tarp, bivy, and homemade stove.
If they we're replaced with a Contrail and Snowpeak Gigapower or something similar, my new-to-backpacking mom and all her friends would be comfortable and confident carrying that kit and still come in at under 10lbs.Sep 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm #1647095
@efredricksenLocale: Silicon Valley
That's pretty close to my current list (not the list on my profile, which isn't current). Most of my lightweight backpacking is armchair style; I'm fairly well informed by this site but I don't get out very much.
Anyway, this is like my version 2 kit. Once I got out once with my version 1 kit, I made some changes and shed a few pounds and got comfortable with something more like this.
So speaking for myself, I am comfortable with this but it took me 2 steps to get there.
(As an aside, you're about 1/2 lb under my BPW, yet item by item your list seems heavier. I'll have to try to figure out where the extra weight is on mine.)Sep 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm #1647098
Methinks the use of a bivy and tarp has merits of its own — and it's no surprise at all that many prefer this setup. However, for those who prefer tenting — one can easily bring along a tent and still keep pack weight down to a comfortable / manageable level.
Comfort weight can be defined as the load at which the particular individual can hike for hours each day — day after day — without really feeling the weight on one's back.
My personal "comfort weight" is around 25lbs — and for a week-long, 3-season hike, I can very easily accommodate a light weight two-person tent!
If people prefer taking a tent (or a book or whatever) and their total pack weight is within their comfort zone — then they should feel absolutely free to take those items with them!
To many of us, our UL gear choices are simply a means to achieving a comfortable hike — and not an end to itself. I know some people get their kicks out of hiking "as insanely light as possible" — and that's perfectly legitimate too. Each to his or her own. But seriously, no gear choice (e.g. tarp) is inherently better than another (e.g. tent) — for everyone and for all occasions — just because it weighs less.Sep 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm #1647099
Here are the things that stood out to me as daunting for a new hiker:
1) Sewing your headlamp to your warm hat
2) Rain skirt instead pants.
3) Ziploc bag pillow
4) Tarp + Bivy
The Tarp + Bivy combo might not sit well with some readers who want a bit of tent space to do whatever. The SpinnTwin tarp (9.8oz) + Bivy (5.9oz) isn't really any lighter than some tarp + inner net tent combo's so it may be better to recommend one of those. For example, the MLD Patrol Shelter (8oz tarp in Spinn) plus MLD Serenity Shelter (8oz inner net tent) is virtually the same weight and cost but it gets the hiker out of a bivy and into a small net tent where you can at least sorta sit up.Sep 19, 2010 at 9:10 pm #1647100
Your 'comfort weight' idea seems to not place any value on going lighter than ones 'comfort weight'. I get the impression that you are saying if your pack weight is under your comfort weight and you'd like to add a luxury then go for it. Accurate?
For me, 25 lbs is also the weight at which I find my pack quite comfortable. At 30+ lbs it starts to become a burden. However, just because I'm comfortable at 25 lbs doesn't mean it's not advantageous to go even lighter. Once I get under 20 lbs my pack starts to feel excellent and once I'm sub 15 lbs it's downright awesome. Everyone is going to hiking happier at 15 lbs than 25 lbs even if they are comfortable at 25 lbs. If you only tell people to lighten up until their pack is comfortable then they are going to miss the joys of skipping down the trail with 10-15 lbs total pack weight.
With your comfort weight idea the goal seems to be avoiding getting 'overwhelmed' or worn out. That's not a bad way to hike, but going even lighter can be even more satisfying as you start to forget your pack even exists. I guess ultimately one needs to weigh their options. Which will lead to a more fulfilling hike overall….that extra book or a pound less on their back? Most backpackers think they know the answer to this without really understanding what the hike would be like with less weight. If the hiker makes a number of these choices and ends up with an extra 5-10 lbs they can significantly degrade their hiking experience while thinking they've enhanced it with those 2 books, bottle of wine and candle lantern.
Obviously no one should go so light that they can't meet the others goals of their trip (ie. comfort in camp) but with one's goals in mind, it's always best to go as light as you can and still meet those, rather than stopping to worry about weight once you've hit a target.Sep 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm #1647101
I think you will agree that all depends on each individual's priorities, interests, desire to experiment, etc.
While my own comfort weight is around 25lbs — depending on my priorities or even mood du jour — I may pack some "frilly items" up to my comfort range — or simply go lighter because I can do so safely and comfortably — and so why not? Most of us probably go through similar fluctuations… sometimes we bring a fancier camera and a couple of extra lenses… and sometimes we opt for a lighter option — or do without. Ditto for many other gear pieces.
My point is that we needn't send a message to newbies that they somehow have to go all out and master a "daunting" UL gear list to enjoy the many benefits of UL hiking. They may well enjoy tarping after giving it a try — but they certainly don't have to tarp if they prefer not to — and still enjoy UL hiking.
Maybe I am being unfair to Mike since he's simply presenting an option and isn't obviously pushing any one thing — but I guess it's from the cumulative reading of his past posts where there seems to be a constant push toward tarping — and only tarping — like it's the only acceptable shelter option any more!
Finally, while recognizing there are additional benefits to going below one's comfort weight — there is a diminishing return from further weight shaving, the further one goes below one's "comfort weight".Sep 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm #1647104
"my point is that we needn't send a message to newbies that they somehow have to go all out and master a "daunting" UL gear list to enjoy the many benefits of UL hiking. They may well enjoy tarping after giving it a try — but they certainly don't have to tarp if they prefer not to — and still enjoy UL hiking."
I agree with this. There are so many different means to an end with UL hiking. No technique or type of gear is so crucial that UL hiking can't be experienced without it.
If I was writing a book, what I would want to say to new hikers interested in UL hiking is:
#1 – You need to understand what function you want (and this will change)
#2 – Find out how you can achieve this function for the least weight
Number 2 is the easiest part. Number 1 sounds easy but actually is difficult once you realize just how many different options are out there. It takes a ton of research and experimenting. Tarp? Bivy? Tarp + Bivy? Tarp with bug netting? Single Wall? Double Wall? Hybrid Wall? Hammock? etc. The more a beginner learns, the more then realize how much they don't know and thus begins the need to experiment. Most people don't get this far and just stick with what they are comfortable with. That works okay but you can miss out on lighter and possibly better functioning gear/techniques. It seems that most people new to UL hiking simply try to replicate their existing gear list with the same gear items but lighter. Obviously this works somewhat, but you don't get the full benefits if you don't consider and experiment with other ways of doing things.Sep 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm #1647105
A mug and a pot lifter? What no mug handles? If so ditch the lifter. Personally I would have handles on the mug. Can't loose those. And sure it's heavier but a Mont-bell inflatable pillow is 2.4 ounces. An easier sell to a newbie, and comfortable with the cradle shape.
You don't tell us your clothing size. A small is going to weigh much less than an XL. Everyone doesn't wear a medium.Sep 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm #1647106
Yes, I agree with options and experimenting. And if presenting the benefits of going UL or even SUL — then present the concept of diminishing returns as well. Let newbies see the whole spectrum — so they can experiment and find their own "sweet spots".Sep 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm #1647112
On diminishing returns:
There's something to be said for every experience.
I remember my first tarp+bivy trip in the high Sierra. I got SLAMMED by a storm while camped at the treeline just below the north side of Forester Pass.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't wishing for a bathtub floor and a full rainfly that night.
But that morning I woke to the most amazing silence, save for the occasional rumble of thunder from down the canyon, completely shrouded in fog. As I rolled over under my tarp, I caught a black bear about 300 yards away down the hill, tramping through the brush. For 20 minutes I watched it make its way in and out of the vegetation, sniffing around for food. It was one of the coolest mornings I've ever had.
It wouldn't have happened if I was cozy, zipped up in a tent.
Certainly there is a point of diminishing returns in regards to comfort, but I've also found that as one carries less, a deeper connection is often created. Like leaving the stove at home altogether. Are wood fires always as convenient as sparking a stove, especially in poor weather? No way, but then there's the magic of the campfire. A cushy inflatable pad and pillow allow you to sleep on anything…but you also miss out on the process and creativity of finding cool camps tucked in the bush and scraping together some litter to make your bed softer…
I've had a ton of experiences where less actually became more. There's something to be said for the aesthetics and connection that come with carrying a very minimal kit.
Comfort can often be traded for other rewards.Sep 19, 2010 at 11:19 pm #1647123
You make a great case for tarps — or at least for giving them a try, Craig! But will you actually take a position like Mike's — reading his past posts — that tarps are the only way to go? Maybe I just keep reading Mike wrong — but that's the vibe I get from him…
Anyway, enough from me about the tarp. Sorry, Mike. I yield the floor…Sep 19, 2010 at 11:25 pm #1647125
Jason quipped, "nix that bear spray and just use Dales knife for protection"
I'll take the bear spray, thank you very much. A knife like that has self defense value in that the intended target might start laughing hard enough to give you time to run away. I don't think a bear has a refined sense of humor, so I'll go with the spray.
Although I prefer something a little heavier than a razor blade, my knife weight budget stops around 3.5oz and I can easily get by with less.
Mike makes a good effort in trying to knock people off their "traditional" gear stool. I carry more survival and safety-related gear than most SUL devotees and I prefer poly fill insulation over down, but the rest of my kit is fairly Spartan. I'm satisfied with that mix.Sep 19, 2010 at 11:49 pm #1647127
@simauliusLocale: Bohemian Alps
Mike: keep us up to date on the book… it sounds like a challenge that I could use.
Having dumped both "tradition" and "stuff" out of my life, it's time to haul the contents of my gear drawer down to the Post Office and weigh what's left.Sep 20, 2010 at 12:29 am #1647129
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Sep 20, 2010 at 1:44 am #1647136
As sad as this my sound, after all the help I've received from reading your posts I consider it to be some sort of honor to critique one of your lists Mike!
Now, all brown nosing aside, while I like this list it seems like you go to the far extreme in some cases but not in others and while it may make sense to you a complete noob won't see everything the way you do. For starters, depending on which way you're going to lean the list, I'd think a ULA pack would be a better choice than the Jam. A modified CDT should be lighter and cheaper to buy outright. For not much more money than the Jam one could also get an OHM. Niether of these packs should really scare an UL noob and are readily available. Well, they shouldn't scare a nooblet as much as a tarp/bivy combination may since having a pack they end up not liking may make them uncomfortable but won't get them killed.
What size tarp are you touting as a 2 person tarp? If it's big enough the bivy could stay at home. Although maybe it's being included for the safety margin since lack of experience may cause someone used to tents to pitch their tarp in area where they'll be exposed to run off. Couple this with ability to seal out drafts for someone inexperienced with the quilt and I think I understand where you're going. I'm thinking this list would make a fine gateway drug to poncho tarping! ;)
You might also include a Victronox Classic in the list instead of the razor blade. It's still light but can be very usefull in my opinion and in the opinion of many others from what I've seen.
Therefore I say you should make a more standardized list for the average person who's going to buy a Jam (don't get me wrong it's a fine pack but there are others I think are better) and then provide the more extreme ways to get the weight down even further once they figure our how the "basic" list is going to work for them. At that point they can ask questions like, "Do I really need this Swiss Army Knife? Do I use more than just the blade or scissors? Should I just carry a razor blade or should I take my knife apart and just carry the scissors?" Also, since I've started carrying a Colgate Whisp instead of a standard toothbrush I find the toothpick from the Victronox is less beneficial so that's something to consider as well. Then, after all this, provide the list you've been carrying in the same situations you're providing sample lists for and explain why you go extreme in one area and not others and so on and so forth.
I also think you may be an ounce or so off on the quilt and sleeping pad. The current 40 degree Golite bag (the lightest they currently sell if I'm not mistaken) in regular is 20 oz. instead of 19 according to their site. The short is a dimunitive 17 oz. and the long is all of 22 oz. Furthermore 9 or 10 ounces may be a more real world weight on the torso pad unless you get into 1 or 2 specific ones (I'm thinking BPL torsolite and Neoair). This is also a place where you could offer more wieght savings for people who can sleep just fine on CFM pad.
I'm not sure I'd consider lip balm to be a luxury item either. Chapped lips are really annoying and easily dealt with for minimal weight.Sep 20, 2010 at 6:15 am #1647160
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Great list! Of course, some won't want to try everything on it, but isn't that true of EVERY list? Having multiple ways to get close to your listed weight (using others' examples in this thread) will round it out perfectly.
I appreciate the thread.
ToddSep 20, 2010 at 7:01 am #1647168
I agree w/ a lot of the statements here- if the goal is to get to a 8 lb base weight- there are several ways to skin that cat. An option for a light tent vs bivy/tarp, an option for a light bag vs a quilt, an option w/ clothing, etc
Oh and a option for TP :)
I think the list is fine, w the caveat that this is just one (of many examples) to get you in that 8 lb range
I've seen some of Ryan's lists and he lists a maximum weight- that puts more of an onus on the reader to decide where they are going to pare (w/ a maximum weight at the upper end)
I think listing examples of gear is good as a beginner is not well versed in the current gear available- when they search for Golite Jam- they will inevitably bump into other packs (and paying close attention to the weights)Sep 20, 2010 at 7:03 am #1647170
Where did you find a synthetic hoody at 7.5 ounces?Sep 20, 2010 at 7:10 am #1647174
My gear matches yours 95%. But another approach that could be taken is to take each area and go through the pros and cons of each area and explain the why behind the choices you made. The best example is tarp/bivy vs tent. There are many other factors that for for me makes a tarp/bivy superior; namely speed of setup and teardown. But there are are disadvantages as well especially in some areas of the country. Another area could be headwear and headlamps. Your idea of sewing the headlamp onto the warm hat is similiar to my setup where I put the headlamp on the back of my visor (Headsweat Supervisor). Both eliminate the strap but each has its own advantages.
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