Mar 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm #1314344
Hi folks, while I've had a gear list drawn up for about two years now I've finally come to the point where I really want public feedback. I'm going to be hiking the JMT starting mid-June from Lyell Canyon south and maybe exit at Horseshoe meadows or Kennedy Meadows instead of the usual route since I've been up Whitney twice before.
This is my first long distance >50 mile backpack so I really want to get a gear list that is functional and light. I'm not aiming for SUL or for 20+ mile days but something where cranking 15 miles out a day isn't going to leave me dead the next day.
I'd like to get my base down to between 11-12lbs. Given that food weight will shoot my total up by 10-15 pounds for that long stretch from Muir Trail Ranch to my exit.
Some concerns and limitations:
1.) I'm albino so sunburn must be avoided at all costs – which means I prefer long sleeves and pants over shorts and t-shirts to reduce sunscreen use.
2.) How to deal with bugs? Right now, I'm thinking that the Houdini is great for that since the little vampires shouldn't be able to bit through that. Hopefully when I'm moving, they will be calm.
3.) Cold. I'm currently planning on using a 30 degree bag but really I've been up in Tualomie meadows before in mid-summer and been cold cowboy camping in it and wearing my Atom LT, R1, and nylon pants. I'm thinking of bringing some BD fleece leggings for sleeping and camp.
4.) What stove should I bring if alcohol is banned? I have my TriTi but Esbit is just a mess and maybe a bit toxic.Mar 12, 2014 at 6:49 pm #2082284
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
The 82.9 ounce McHale pack screams at me :)
Scratch the squishy cup and bowl
The 1.3 liter pot is big for solo use
Don't know what is in your 7.2oz medical kit. If that is all first aid, that's a lot.
Do you need both tights and leggings?
Scratch the spare pair of underwear.
Do you need two mid layer items?
Scratch the spare tee shirt.Mar 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm #2082288
do you have a strategy to avoid bear cannister areas?Mar 12, 2014 at 7:15 pm #2082290
Your woven (not knit, they bite through that) longsleeved shirt and pants should keep the bugs off most of you; repellent and/or a headnet (Peter's are the best!) should take care of the rest.Mar 12, 2014 at 7:16 pm #2082292
I agree that you don't need two mid layers. I would pick one, or replace both with a lightweight down. If you get cold, you can layer the wind shirt and rain jacket on top of it. I also don't think you're going to need leggings and tights.Mar 12, 2014 at 7:20 pm #2082294
Hopefully you are aware that, except on a tiny fraction of the JMT, that the ursack is not legal. Its not even that it has been neglected – it is specifically banned.
Likewise there is an ongoing debate on whether alcohols stove are allowed – basically it could go either way according to the vague regs, and depends on which ranger you ask – ask 5 of them and you will get 7 different answers. All other stove, like esbit, would probably be LESS welcome than alcohol stoves – the issue (and the vague regs)is the open flame and the ability (or not) to instantly turn it off. The choice is probably between the alcohol stove and a canister. I will be taking a canister
Yes the McHale pack is about twice the weight you could get away with , but I still wish I had one.:-) You may be happy you have it when you leave with 100 miles worth of food in the southern half.
I'm hesitant to criticize your pad since sleeping is so personal, but it is a bit on the heavy side for what you probably need in the sierra.
I agree with Dale's implication that you may be doubling up on functionality with the mid layers. You might get more potential warm with a lighter mid-layer you will still feel comfortable hiking hard in and an UL down jacket. The net weight would be a bit less, but the down jacket might extend your temperature range, and might work nicely with your bag if it dips a bit below your comfort range one night.
Keep in mind that Tuolumne meadows that you cite as being cold (8600 ft elevation) is representative of the lower elevations you may be at.Mar 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm #2082310
First off, thank you all for your suggestions! Please keep them coming.
Dale: I'm starting to come around on leaving the R1 at home and getting a warmer jacket than the Atom LT for this trip. I'd still need something warmer than the desert-weight OR long-sleeve Echo.
Bots: Didn't realize Ursack had been fully banned thought I'm hoping that the girzzly test people pass/fail it in April. I'm going to have to go get a hard sided canister (or rent) which does suggest the McHale pack might be a good idea – it carries. On temps, I've spent a few other nights up high, around 9,500 at sawmill out by Saddlebag lake and at Outpost and Trail Camps on the way to Whitney. So yeah, I expect at freezing and/or windy nights. Hence my cold concerns.
d k: thanks for the bug headnet advice. I also find that SPF 100 (no joke) sunscreen seems to make me somewhat less popular with the bugs.
I'm pretty open to rec's regarding down jackets – needs to be warmer than the Atom LT but ideally it's what I put on for sleep or camp. I'd also appreciate any ideas on light thermal layers. I'm afraid merino is out since I'm allergic (one very itchy silk-weight $60 shirt someone should buy off me – used one day in the city).
Also, which to leave at home the running weight tights or the BD fleece leggings? My inclination is to ditch the running tights since I wear pants and don't find cold legs to be a big issue when hiking unless we're talking windy and 45 degrees… thoughts?
Also, which canister stove then?Mar 12, 2014 at 9:02 pm #2082316
@daviddrakeLocale: North Idaho
If your question is, 'Can I get to a 11-12# BW with a 5# pack?' then the answer is, 'Not with that shelter, that bag, that pad, and a bear can.'
Cold: replace one or both of your mid layers with a puffy. Lighter and warmer.
As a far as stoves go, with the length of your trip, a canister stove is prob. no heavier than an alcohol setup. The FMS-330T is 1.6 oz and costs ~$30.Mar 12, 2014 at 9:16 pm #2082322
Though the bear can does too – I'm wondering if any savings the collective BPL wisdom will provide will be eaten up by a hard sided bear can.
Regarding shelter: It's not locked in yet but the pack is and UL 7 pad are. How much more could I realistically get down?
Edit: I also might switch from boots to trail-runners if I knew how to stabilize my weak left ankle better. I sprained it very badly in my early 20s and it re-sprains about once a summer even in boots.Mar 12, 2014 at 10:48 pm #2082354
" I'm wondering if any savings the collective BPL wisdom will provide will be eaten up by a hard sided bear can."
Yes, but you have no choice where you are going. If it makes you feel better you can consider it "carried" weight.
Actual weight for for gram weenies. Sure, for half of the JMT the pack might be overkill, but I predict when you are fully loaded the McHale will *feel* lighter than a lighter pack with that load. On the other hand even an Arcblast pack can fit a bear can, and it weighs 16 oz.
You could gain a few oz and some volume by ditching the rain jacket and getting a zpacks poncho/groundsheet. I think this would work in the sierra in the summer just fine.Mar 13, 2014 at 8:17 pm #2082629
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Sorry but I have to disagree with a 83 ounce pack feeling lighter for any reason.Thats 5.2 pounds!
That is as much as some people baseweight around here, including mine. I have a 10 ounce pack and it has a ccf frame that carries and transfers the load just fine.
If you want to get a 10lb baseweight you have to switch that out. That is the truth sorry, I know you probably paid a pretty penny for it but its not neccessary.
Check out Zpacks! Get a pack and a bunch of thier other gear and your knees will be happy walking down the trail! good luck.Mar 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm #2082644
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"Sorry but I have to disagree with a 83 ounce pack feeling lighter for any reason.Thats 5.2 pounds!
That is as much as some people baseweight around here, including mine. I have a 10 ounce pack and it has a ccf frame that carries and transfers the load just fine."
I am not going to advocate a 5# pack. But he is saying up to 15 lbs of food, add 3 lbs for a bear canister, and some water and fuel and you have 20 lbs right there.
So base weight means little, we need to focus on the total weight! A pack that weighs more than 10 ounces with a proper (e.g., real frame) is going to carry much, much easier.
When I looked at the gear list, there are several items that duplicate some other function, or things I wouldn't take; as others have already commented about.
Here is my concern. The OP asked to reduce weight by 3 to 5 pounds, but didn't include the bear canister in the gear list. So now he needs to reduce weight by 6 to 8 pounds. That is a lot of stuff to delete or replace. And in my mind that means once everything is changed out, he really needs to take a few trips to live with the new kit. Don't want to get in the middle of the trail and find out the changes don't work for him.Mar 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm #2082659
Elemental Horizons Kalais Pack (save 3 lbs) Fits a Bearkade Expedition.
Zpacks Arcblast (save 4 lbs) Fits a Berikade Weekender.
"Sorry but I have to disagree with a 83 ounce pack feeling lighter for any reason.Thats 5.2 pounds!"
This is too strident for me. And I am someone who goes to the sierra with a base weight WITH a large bear can of less than 10 lbs.
Criticize the idea that he has to hit some arbitrary goal weight, but don't criticize the pack. It is weight probably better spent than in other areas, and he already owns it. For some people it WILL feel better, and WILL be necessary depending on their mileage and how important that confort is. To not understand this means you are only thinking along certain lines, and it would be good to remind yourself every once in a while that those lines are very fringe, as is a lot of what we obsess on here at BPL.
But yes, sometime it is clear just from the starting gear list that there is still a pretty big conceptual barrier between what the poster says they want, and what is remotely possible within their set boundary conditions. The pack is way big, and more fundamentally there is little to no systems conception, so little thought about how the pieces fit together.
As Nick implied, the gear jump required if he is serious will be big enough that the OP probably need to discover himself through shorter experimental trips first if this is really what he wants.Mar 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm #2082795
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
"" I also might switch from boots to trail-runners if I knew how to stabilize my weak left ankle better. I sprained it very badly in my early 20s and it re-sprains about once a summer even in boots.""
A few years ago I sprained my right ankle so badly that it took a full year to heal. The doctor told me while examining me that I'd have been better off to break it. I told him, "I saw the root, as I was stepping down. I saw it. I don't know why my ankle rolled- I must have weak ankles." He told me that "weak ankles" are a myth. It's not that we have weak ankles. It's that we walk 99% of the time on hard, flat surfaces and the speed of the connection between our brain and our ankle gets slower and lazier because it's not needed. He told me what I needed to do was speed that connection up, by doing balance exercises. He had me balancing on one foot and writing the alphabet with the other. Balancing on one foot, and tapping the other foot in front, to the right, in back, to the left…with my eyes closed. Yoga balance poses are also awesome for this- tree pose, for example- practice doing it normal, then try looking up. That changes everything. More of a challenge is to close your eyes.
I used to swear I needed boots. Now I don't. I hike and backpack in trail runners and have for the past two seasons, not only injury free but more-or-less blister free as well. I was never able to go blister free in boots- they simply keep too much moisture inside them. I'm not particularly lightweight, either. My full loadout is between 25-30 lbs, generally.
And your legs will feel so LIGHT in trail runners! It truly makes a huge difference in your fatigue level at the end of the day, even if you don't do a thing to reduce the weight on your back.Mar 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm #2082801
Well I appreciate the honesty so far in this thread and at this point, I wish I could rename the title since it's clear with an approved bear can I can't get to 12lbs without a major overhaul. At this point, I'd be happy with a base of 15 with a Bearikade weekender or maybe an expedition. I'm freaking horrible at figuring out how much volume food takes up.
I used to own a GG Escape AC (53 oz) pack and took it out a few times. It was miserable to carry just on a 2 day trip up to the high camp below Whitney with 35lbs in it. Now, I had a friend bring his tent which turned out to be a 10lb mountaineering tent and we ended up renting a Garcia bear can so there went any hopes of UL. But, the pack was also uncomfortable on a few other short trips with ~25 starting load. What I learned from these trips is that total carried weight not base weight is the number to care about. Both in terms of pack comfort and in terms of gear. Reducing my fixed weight (base) is good but it's hard to carry 7 days of food at ~2 PPD and end up with a total weight less than 25lbs unless you are at a base of 10lbs. Now, I would be VERY interested in a lighter pack that could still carry 30lbs well – but my understanding is that the McHale packs pretty much can't be beaten at weights above 25lbs.Mar 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm #2082803
Oh I love my trail runners for day hiking and such. Yeah, I've never found boots that didn't cause sweat build-up. Moist feet are the source of all blisters as far as I can tell. I've started rock-climbing lately and noticed that my balance is getting better. I'm still a little uneasy about ditching the boots for long trip but as folks have mentioned here I do need to plan a shake-out run before a 3 week trip. So, probably should try TRs there.
How frequently were you doing the balance exercises?Mar 14, 2014 at 1:11 pm #2082814
@cameronLocale: The WOODS
Can you take things off the McHale? Looks to me like a lot of his packs have removable packets etc. Might save some there.
I would get an Exped Lighting 60. They are starting to go on sale for as low as $139. Mine is 38 oz so you are saving basically 3 pounds right there.
If you think it will work for you try a short Thermarest Prolite, its 11 oz and cheap, 5oz right there.
I'm inclined to think you could live without the BD Grid leggings but warmth is a personal thing so maybe you need them. I've used rain pants as an additional layer one the occasional cold morning.
Could you live without the R1? Saves more right there.
Here's my total weight savings
-Replace pack – 51 oz
-Replace pad – 5 oz
-Ditch leggings – 7oz
-Ditch R1 – 11oz
Total savings of 74 oz!
This brings your baseweight down to 193 oz or just under 11 pounds plus the bear canister. That is entirely reasonably in my opinion. You could get a bit lighter by replacing EVERYTHING but I doubt you want to spend that kind of money.Mar 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm #2082847
I've updated my gear list and it looks like I'm below 16lbs now! Now if I can just break under 14…
– Removed Ursack added Bearikade Weekender: + 17oz
– Removed Patagonia R1 (double counted for 2 pieces – yikes): – 20oz (!!)
– Added in REI eVent rain pants: +11.6 oz
– Removed Rain Kilt, Fleece Leggings, Tights: – 13oz
– Paired down Medical Kit: – 3.4oz
– Added spare RX100 battery
Note: First aid kid also contains knife/scissors
New base total: 15.46 lbs
Total Skin-Out: 20.91 lbsMar 15, 2014 at 12:57 pm #2083004
@daviddrakeLocale: North Idaho
"it's hard to carry 7 days of food at ~2 PPD and end up with a total weight less than 25lbs unless you are at a base of 10lbs"
True. But it's not difficult to get food down to 1.5 PPD and (figuring 125 Cal/oz avg) still have enough to eat. That's real weight saved over a week long trip–as you say, it's the total weight carried that matters.Mar 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm #2083032
@glenn64Locale: Snowhere, MN
Hmmm, well..FWIW… Guess I see it as either re-tooling your entire practice, and nickle and diming all your weights down to shave 2 pounds, or chop that 2 pounds off with a different pack. Dollar per ounce it would be cheaper to just replace the pack I'd think. But you already know that, and it's been covered enough already.
Outside of that, I guess just resolving yourself to the idea that you'll be secure with a bombproof pack, and if it weren't for the canister and the luxory pack, you'd be pretty close to the 10 pound mark anyway.
Sure, I'd ditch the spare underwear, and refine a few of the trinkets on the list, but that's just cutting drag on a big pickup with a V-10 under the hood. You won't achieve high mileage without a compact car, but that doesn't make it wrong.
Another way to cut 2 pounds? Wait until day two, after you've eaten your first days worth of 2 pounds of food. ;)Mar 15, 2014 at 8:09 pm #2083096
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
"How frequently were you doing the balance exercises?"
Andrew, I find that once or twice a week is sufficient for me these days and the session doesn't have to be very long- maybe 15 minutes.Mar 15, 2014 at 8:20 pm #2083105
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Why not take the rain kilt and ditch the rain pants? That saves about 9 oz.
Also you can do way better for an insulating layer than the 13 oz atom. I used the montbell ex light down puffy at 5 oz. it was sweet!!
Also I did NOT heed the advice and actually brought a short sleeved shirt. Waste. Total waste. And if you are as white as I am you will never, ever wear it. Too cold at night, too sunny during the day. So either go for another long sleeve for sleeping, or just take the one shirt.
And + a dozen or so about carrying a 5 pound pack.Mar 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm #2083342
" At this point, I'd be happy with a base of 15 with a Bearikade weekender or maybe an expedition. I'm freaking horrible at figuring out how much volume food takes up."
Go to Hobby Lobby if you live near one, they sell little paper mache boxes. Buy one that is about 80-100 in3, or build yourself an exact small one out of thin wood.
Put a days food in it. Set minimum of 140+ cal/oz overall for all meals and snacks. If you stick heavily to peanut butter, olive oil, pepperoni, tortillas, precooked bacon (yum), trail mix, and junk foods, you can get 4000 cal into 80 cubic inches. Plan to eat heavily at TM, RM, VVR the first week to make up for any calorie deficit, and accept the calorie deficit you will run the last week+ to WP.
do this and you can get 8 days food in the weekender, and another day not in it when leaving MTR. 9 days food should be plenty for a light hiker to get to WP.
All food must be repackaged in ziplocks and rolled up tight. Any snack foods need wrapper pierced with needle, expel all air, then put a small piece scotch tape back over the hole if desired.Mar 23, 2014 at 4:32 am #2085343
I have never used a McHale, so can't compare, but I have carried 28 lbs in an arcblast and it carried like a dream. I know it doesn't seem like it, but the support is great. I have also read that adding the lumbar pad makes it even better. Again, I don't have experience with McHale, but based on my experience and a lot of other reviews I have read, I think it is a low risk swap out. Also, remember that as you eat food, your pack weight drops. I consider this important because I would rather have an uncomfortable pack for a couple days (until you eat enough to make the pack comfortable) than carry an extra 3-4 lbs for the entire trip.
-11oz for rain pants seems like a lot for something you will likely rarely wear. I have a pair of Luke's pants that are in the 4oz range and much cheaper. Can't hike in them, but I can't hike in any rain gear without wetting them out from the inside.
-I made the switch to trail runners and can't believe how much better they are. I used to have soaked feet despite avoiding getting the boots wet. Now I don't care and I never get blisters. Just make certain you have good quick dry socks and trail runners that are designed to drain and dry fast.
-2 lbs per day of food is a lot. 1.5 lbs is more typical, but everyone is different.
Edited to add bullet points instead of adding another post.Mar 25, 2014 at 5:52 pm #2086151
I've updated the gear list spreadsheet to make it aesthetically easier to see the sub-category totals and added some italicized and purple text next to gear that would be need to be purchased.
I also added in a section to estimate my consumable weight and calculate total carried. I'm seeing that with an Arc Blast I'd likely be ~30lbs with 7 days of food and 2 liters of water and an 4oz fuel canister. I'm guessing I'd actually need to carry and 8oz fuel canister (is that about 13oz?)
– Possible swap REI eVent rain pants for Montbell Versalight: -7oz
– Possible swap Arcyteyx Atom LT for Cerium LT: -5oz (ugh $$$)
– Possible swap Mchale for 60L Arc Blast: -55oz (!)
Woot! 12lb base weight with all swaps.
Edit: Saw the gear forum thread about my jacket question so no need.
@Jen M: You know, I am indeed pale (can't tan albino power) so yes – might as well ditch that extra short sleeve shirt or swap out for a second long sleeve. Not sure which I'd do since I can see utility in having a sleeping shirt or a swap for when I "wash* up in a lake.
Jason, Jenn, M.B: Ok, you've convinced me to lower my estimate for food to 1.75 PPD (low body fat % = high metabolism). Thanks for your comments. Overall, I believe that I've got a pretty good system to protect me from light rain and wind while hiking, sun on nice days, and use the wind layers and insulation to stay warm at night.
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