Dec 25, 2011 at 4:04 pm #1283337
While it is cold and dark here in Sweden, I look forward to my next trip to Mallorca, Spain next summer. I was there last summer and went backpacking for the first time there and had a blast.
As I have time now over the holidays, I decided to throw together a gear list for fun (for 2-3 days), and in no time I have what I think is a pretty solid set up that even includes luxuries like a pillow: http://www.geargrams.com/list?id=5162
You will notice no stove, sleeping bag, or even any shelter. This is because I will eat all no-cook foods (mostly empanadas), the average high/low temps in July are around 28/21 degrees C, and the average rainfall in July is 5mm. :) No bathing suit either, just swim in my boxers.
It makes me wonder if most SUL people are simply in the right kind of place for it. And is SUL possible in the winter in colder places? I am not sure I would be willing to go SUL here in Sweden other than in the summer (which I have done and liked), for example.
So for those of you that regularly go SUL, where do you live and what season(s) do you go out?Dec 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm #1815843
@climberslackerLocale: Your guess is as good as mine.
I live in SoCal. For three seasons, going SUL is really not that big of a deal here. No tent, although I do bring a stove.
I think that geography does have a lot to do with it as a (in my case) 23oz saving from leaving my tent at home is a fair amount, as was the ability to not have to bring my 20* sleeping bag (I used my Cuben Quilt). I also went completely without rain gear. I don't KNOW if I could do SUL elsewhere but I also don't think it would be super hard.
Looking at my [gear list](http://www.geargrams.com/list?id=3589) from the trip, I had less than 4 lbs. I think that I could do a SUL trip in real weather.Dec 25, 2011 at 10:41 pm #1815848
@dirk9827Locale: Pacific Northwest
I think the same could be said for UL, to be honest. Summertime backpacking through the mountains of California was an epiphany in this regard after many seasons in the Cascades and Olympic ranges of Washington. I am not suggesting the UL/SUL is impossible in the northern ranges – clearly it is done all the time – just that the summertime climate of California is more conducive to pushing the limits of SUL/UL backpacking.Dec 26, 2011 at 6:09 am #1815873
Between many months of bugs, a sometimes large temperature disparity between day and night, and unpredictable precipitation, I don't think I'll ever go SUL here. I'm barely UL sometimes as my base hovers around 10lbs. It could be done, but it would be below my comfort level.Dec 26, 2011 at 8:27 am #1815897
Definitely a big help. Throw in the height and weight of the hiker too. Someone who is 5'8" and 170lbs in the right area has a pretty big advantage in getting to SUL.
RyanDec 26, 2011 at 8:46 am #1815904
Being also from the midwest with most of my outdoor experience in Minnesota and Wisconsin, I'm surprised you mention a large temperature swing day to night. I agree that it can happen, but during most of the summer at least I find that even bringing a sleeping bag is optional, even up into southern Ontario. We just don't have the swings that the western mountain states/higher elevations do, where this choice would be much riskier. Of course, this is a personal preference; I'm not trying to evangelize or argue. IMO one does need to bring a bug shelter most of the year, though, which adds weight back.
Yes, when the weather is warm and predictable one can drop a lot of weight. I think the point of SUL is that when the weather is warm and predictable, why wouldn't you?Dec 26, 2011 at 8:58 am #1815908
Arizona is a tough place for SUL. It's not that I don't have my base weight under 5 pounds, but the pack I use to do that, really doesn't carry well, with 2 gallons of water. As much as I like the idea of doing miles with ten pounds or less, total pack weight, I think I will need to invent a helium filled pack, in order to do it somewhat comfortably. So, yeah I think geography has a lot to do with it.Dec 26, 2011 at 9:00 am #1815910
Yes, there are many places with large swings in temp. During summer, I find, as you do, that the temperature is pretty stable, but late spring and early fall can bring 40-50 degree differences. Which, now that I think about it, can really happen anywhere. I've had some late summer nights dip into the 40s.
Where do you usually backpack around here? I'm always up for learning about new places to go!Dec 26, 2011 at 9:07 am #1815911
No way could i go SUL in cold/wet.
The only time i can do it is for an overnight trip when i know it won't rain. Living in the path of Atlantic weather systems means we usually get all 4 seasons in a day.Dec 26, 2011 at 9:35 am #1815919
I agree that 40 degrees F is about as low as one could reasonably suspect in the summertime. I've seen low 30s in the BWCA/Quetico, but only once or twice. I worked at the Boy Scout high adventure program up there for a few summers and even that far north I dropped the sleeping bag pretty quickly after early June. Long underwear, day clothing, raingear, hat, wool socks, and a silk bag liner with bug net did me just fine 40-70+ degrees, and I did sleep colder very rarely. Most nights were warm. My last summer I did throw in a light primaloft top from thru-hiker on a July trip that was forecast to be 35-50 degrees and wet for five days (and it was), and that was just fine, though my clients brought more and seemed less cozy.
Ugh, I should have asked you that question. It's been too long for me. My last trip was a spring overnight solo paddle from Galesville, WI to the Mississippi (that tiny stream on google earth/maps will go in spring if you don't mind snags, connect to Black River for one mile then peel off to the tiny outlet on the right one mile downstream which passes under the river road for a water cache), then upstream to Perrot State Park for a run-through over the peaks before a bike via country roads back to the car.
I've always liked Superior: Tettegouche and Porcuipines. I'm looking for nearby places, but living in Chicago with two jobs means I mostly run for fun. My longer backpacking (not paddling) trips were at Philmont and on other trails in that range (Sangre de Cristos), but that has been more than 5 years (yuck) and while hauling a Kelty Super Tioga. Had a fun winter ski trip a couple years ago in the BWCA, but that was sort of an ultra-heavy food-gasm excursion.Dec 26, 2011 at 9:39 am #1815921
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
It's all relative.
Mike, I'm sure trekking with a 7lb. baseweight in the Cairngorms in February would be considered ballsy and pretty d$%n "SUL".Dec 26, 2011 at 9:50 am #1815923
I'll maybe get nearer 7lbs when my cuben Trailstar arrives Eugene.
At the momment, i'm happy with 8lbs in February.:)Dec 26, 2011 at 10:54 am #1815933
The Trailstar does look nice alright, I presume you would not be using it during Midge season.
StephenDec 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm #1816104
I'll see how it goes, Stephen. I've got a few options to use with the Trailstar during midge season.
I may just stick with my Duomid and Inner when the midges are at their worst.Dec 27, 2011 at 1:26 am #1816117
I hear you Mike.
Those Scottish midges are bad, I am sure they are on steroids :-)
If the weather stays mild like the past while it wont help.
I remember Mat saying once they where so bad that when he got home a load of them swarmed out of his sleeping bag.
Getting back on topic, I would love to go SUL but as I suffer something crazy from the cold I always need to pack a fairly warm bag and jacket and trousers for the evening.
A cuben Duomid is on my Wish list.
CheersDec 27, 2011 at 1:57 am #1816118
One night i was camping by a Loch (lake) in Glen Affric. It was very hot, and i was lying naked on top of my sleeping bag. I had the tent door open to catch the breeze. There were no midges about at the time.
I never meant to, but i fell asleep without zipping up the net door.
During the night, the wind dropped, and i awoke to millions of the little b******s devouring me. If anyone was passing, they would have thought i was a lunatic, as i charged naked from the tent and dived into the Loch to escape them! :)Dec 27, 2011 at 5:38 am #1816128
Yeah, bugs also make SUL tougher. In Mallorca I didn't have any problem with bugs, come to think of it, which means I can ditch the head net in my gear list (I included it out of habit it seems). Bugs are pretty thick here in Sweden, and if can be downright torture if you end up camping in the wrong place without any anti-bug gear, like say next to a bog in the middle of summer. Not only mosquitoes, but midges too, plus horseflies, and on top of that lots of ticks. So long as you take a few precautions and have good planning it's really not a big deal, but your baseweight will take a hit. Bug oil/spray, head net, pants/long sleeves, and shelters with netting are all very good to have here.
I have traveled though Scotland several times and the midges are just as bad as Sweden, especially up in the highlands. I remember standing on a beautiful cliff in Tongue, way up north Scotland highlands. As soon as the sun went down, even with a sea breeze, the midges were thick.
I saw on a documentary just the other day that according to a study done in Canada, an exposed arm in the woods during the summertime can get up to 250 bug bites in an hour, if I remember correctly. It was the one where Ray Mears goes on a boat trip through Canadian wilderness.
The worse story I have of being eaten up by bugs was last summer while camping up near the Norwegian boarder next to a lake. I wanted to camp on a cliff above the lake, but my friends wanted to camp right next to the lake so we could swim easier. I wanted to swim too, so I didn't put up a fight, but I did count on getting lots of bugs. It blew my expectations away. We had bug spray and a fire going at sunset, and it made no difference. The midges came a cartoon-like cloud over our campsite and didn't give a hoot about spray or fire, and we were eaten alive. I even had a head net, but the nasty little buggers would crawl under it! They would even crawl up my pant and windbreaker sleeves to feast on me. We all ended up calling it a very early night and hiding out in our tents (thankfully I opted to go with my Big Agnes FCUL 1, which has great bug netting). Even opening and closing the door of the tent to get water or go to the bathroom would cause a mini-cloud of midges to swarm into the tent.
I vote midges worse than any other biting bug, because it's never just one or two or ten or even a hundred of them… it's millions and millions in clouds. And they are so small it makes it so hard to stop them from getting into everything and everywhere. I had a ton of bites on my thighs, and I wore pants, in the above example!Dec 27, 2011 at 5:53 am #1816130
@Cesar. I agree that midges are the worst. We also get ticks and clegs here. They don't freak me out, as you can deal with them one or two at a time.
There was a recent TV news item here about midges. Someone has invented a 'Midgeeater' machine. It gives off CO2 and Methane, so mimics 'food' for a midge. They are sucked in if they come near the machine. The machine is about 3 feet high by 6" diameter. Some private campsites have installed them for the benefit of their customers.
Over an 8 hour period, they can fill up with 2,000,000 midges! :)Dec 27, 2011 at 6:29 am #1816142
Last winter some scientist made a prediction that midges would be killed of by the unusually harsh winter, but instead most of their predators died.
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