Jul 31, 2008 at 3:39 pm #1230433
I just got back from a five day trip in Mt. Robson National Park, Canada. We hiked to Berg Lake and it's a really fabulous trip. I left my companions to go on to the Skyline Trail and further adventures because I thought "I need to work to pay the bills." (There's no work and the Blue Angels are flying overhead and I'm not sure I should have come home at all.) It was my first extended time to try out my UL gear and all the great suggestions I got here, and I wanted to share my raves and other comments.
Let me make clear first that this was not a trip to cover great distances, and I am not supposing I have any wisdom to offer through-hikers or those with experience in ultralight hiking. I like to hike and look at flowers and admire the view and get to camp in time to get out my paints and sketch the scenery, have dinner, enjoy the sunset. That kind of backpacker. Speaking of through-hikers, for any of you who might know him, we met Crash Test Dummy on his way to Jasper on the Great Divide Trail. He seemed calm and happy, enjoying the ride. He's my new hero of those who have their work priorities on straight. Wish I'd thought of him when I decided I had to stick to my plans and come home so soon.
Cooking/meals: Freezer bag cooking and my Heineken/alcohol stove cookset in a ZipLoc hard container, 1 lb. I am a convert! I was an evangelist, showing it all to everyone who expressed interest and some who didn't. I made my own stove this winter, but after much tinkering and dithering I wasn't yet satisfied and was out of time so I bought a Blackfly from Tinny. It worked great for me, and I liked that it all cools so fast I could pack it up within minutes of reaching boil. The freezer bag meals worked great, and not having to wash a thing was super. I'll post at food about food.
BPL UL 180 quilt: I still can't imagine being happy under this in the Arctic, but after trading the 1/8" gossamer gear pad for my old Ridge Rest, with the night light torso pad on top, tucking the pads into the quilt instead of tucking the quilt around me, wearing wool on bottom and two layers of merino wool on top, draping my montbell jacket on my torso, and using a Grabber brand Megawarmer on the coldest nights, I was warm enough. I think the biggest positive effect was from enclosing the sleep pads in the quilt to remove all cold air.
Sleep pads: Ridge Rest and torso-light. Not there yet. The only really comfortable night was the car-camping night when I could use my winter AND summer Ridge Rests together- but that's way too much weight and bulk for stepping away from the car.
Pack: Go Lite Pinnacle, LOVE IT! I carried no more than 30 (maybe 31) pounds, per doctor's orders, and was very comfortable. Only discomfort was that sharp pain right at the base of my neck along my spine, that I always get after a few hours with a pack on. Suggestions?
Boots: I use a lightweight high boot by Teknica that's no longer made, they weigh in at a pound per foot. I need the support/protection of a high boot and they're so comfortable I don't need camp shoes. Only discomfort was on long stretches of rocky trail, but everybody's soles felt a bit tender after that. I used custom-molded insoles by SuperFeet, and feel that contributed to the happiness of my feets as well.
Clothing: I wore an Ibex wool camisole and Icebreaker lightest weight long-sleeve wool top every day, and while I definitely got sweaty, I wasn't ever uncomfortably hot and I sure didn't stink the way I would in poly pro, and also did not have that awful clammy feeling while trying to sleep. I wore lightweight supplex-type pants from the thrift store, my first trip not wearing shorts, and was very pleased with them. Never hot, quick to dry, kept my legs clean- they sure look dorky in the photos, but for $6 I'll take it. Only thing I missed was getting a tan on arms and legs. I used the Injinji toed socks, decided to try them because if I get blisters they are usually between my toes. My feet felt great until six miles into the last day, which was day three in the socks because of rain/no opportunity to wash them. I put on a pair of regular socks (my bedtime smartwool anklets) over the Injinjis, and the hot spots went away for the rest of the 13 mile hike to the trailhead.
Tent: Tarptent Contrail. Sigh. I just don't know. It only set up nice and taut when I added a guyline from the front beak, tied off at a 45 degree angle to a tree, and when it looked rainy I staked out the sides as well. I stayed dry and had no condensation, but it took 6 stakes and a tree and way more than 3 minutes to set it up satisfactorily. Because of limited space in reserved sites at our later campsites, I ended up having to share someone else's tent, and to be honest, while I was hoping to really get the contrail set-up figured out, I'm glad I didn't have to. I'll keep at it, because I like the idea of a 24-oz tent, but my MSR Microzoid was looking pretty good in my mind's eye as I got soaked while struggling to set up the contrail in the rain.
No chair: People say that once your pack is lighter, you don't miss the chair. That was generally true, except that part of my trips is time spent painting, and my back definitely got tired when I was sitting with my watercolors for an hour or so with no back rest. I'll live with it, though, for the comfort of that light pack! (I know it's not ultralight, but it is really satisfying; if you're interested in my one-pound watercolor set-up, let me know.)
No book: In fact, I did bring a book, because the weather was threatening and I anticipated (correctly) daylight hours spent waiting for the weather to clear rather than hiking. If I had not been with the friends who bring games along, I would have probably read it, too. But for the hit of night-time reading I need, I had an audiobook on my iPod, and that was great. In fact, I fell asleep so fast I think I listened to the same chapter three times before I heard it all the way through! (Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell, a free download but worth the $10 donation requested, the first of a series and very enjoyable. I'd call it sci-fi, they call it speculative fiction.) I might just leave the book home without fear next time.
Anti-gravity gear water bucket: I wrote a review last week after my first weekend using it, it's a GREAT use of only half an ounce! It's nice to have a gallon of water close to hand, enough for a day and then some, and having the water source warmed to ambient air temperature cuts down on boiling time and fuel use as well- especially when the water source has icebergs floating in it!
Thanks, forum mates, for all of your advice and suggestions over the last six months. I wish I hadn't ever broken my ankle, but I'm glad it brought me to lightening my load and re-thinking my backpacking techniques!Jul 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm #1445299
My kit included a nightlight, corrugated foam pad, not a torso-light inflatable pad.Aug 1, 2008 at 12:19 am #1445340
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
…Aug 1, 2008 at 10:30 pm #1445445
Thanks, Mike, for your suggestion. I'll try and get some help with fitting my pack. As to lightening it further, I know I had way too much trail mix and maybe 9oz. of camp 'conveniences' I never touched, but it's tough to imagine how you did 22 pounds on a four-day trip. Maybe in part because I sleep cold…Seems like weight loss in the pack is similar to weight loss on the body. The first big reduction is fast and relatively easy, I did that and got to 30 pounds and I'm glad for it. Reducing from here, more than a pound or two, is going to be real work.Aug 1, 2008 at 10:52 pm #1445446
"No chair: … part of my trip is time spent painting, and my back definitely got tired when I was sitting with my watercolors for an hour or so with no back rest."
Elizabeth, it sounds like you had a great experience!
I was just out at Crosby Manitou State Park and like you I didn't bring a chair. My brother and his wife had each brought a small chair and although I did not envy their giant packs I did miss the chair a little. Have you looked into the different options and what are you considering if you were to get one?
I'm still undecided myself but have found a few different options. The Kirafu Field Chair looks like a light option. I currently have a GCI Trail Sling that was a gift from my brother (the same chair he carries) but at 30-some ounces it's a bit of weight.
Other options I've seen are the Sling-Light and the Trekker Chair.Aug 4, 2008 at 8:37 am #1445636
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
I expect a trip-report from Crosby Manitou! But on to the topic at hand. Elizabeth, thank you for the detailed description of your first-time experiences. This attention to detail and what did/didn't work is very useful to folks just getting into the UL backpacking.
I would suggest setting up the Contrail at home a few times and even contacting Tarptent for suggestions. Henry Shires, the company owner is widely known for his quality customer service and I assure you that tent will set up taut if done properly.
Lightweight chair: I am currently researching some options to create a truly ultralight chair as it seems to me that it is something that could be created from gear one is already carrying. I've seen some backpacks that the shoulder straps and sleeping pad combine to form a chair – – something along those lines.Aug 4, 2008 at 12:21 pm #1445670
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
Tarptent Contrail. Sigh. I just don't know…
I know what you mean. I used my new Contrail for the first time last weekend on a 4-day trip into the Oval Lakes region of the Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, and I came away with much the same feeling.
I've previously used a Zoid 1, the slightly bigger brother to your Microzoid, and while my Zoid 1 truly sets up in a couple minutes (with as few as 2 stakes) regardless of site configuration, I found the Contrail's setup was more demanding. I enjoyed the Contrail's light weight, headroom, and overall roominess, but setup was more time consuming (and bothersome) than I expected. Stake out, re-stake as needed if the angles don't work right for that particular camp site, tweak the lines to even things up, re-tweak as the fabric sags, etc.
I was also quite fond of the Zoid 1's side entry, and going back to a front entry with the Contrail does take some getting used to. At the moment I'm not sure which tent I'll use for future trips. I really wanted to love the Contrail, and based on pre-trip backyard setups I thought I would, but now I'm seriously thinking that an extra pound+ for the Zoid 1 is not much of a penalty for the ease of use it provides.
Too bad there's no aftermarket source for MSR rainflys. I bet if I could get a Zoid 1 rainfly replacement made from any of the ultralight tarp fabrics I could drop 8-12 ounces from the total weight of that tent – which is just a hair over 3 lbs now.
Anyway, glad to hear you had a great time! I've managed to drop almost 20 lbs from my average pack weight over the last few years, and the result has been more enjoyable trips and far less Tylenol consumption. I'm a believer!Aug 4, 2008 at 7:20 pm #1445729
Dave, i am currently remaking a fly in sil for another forum user. If it goes well i would consider making one for your Zoid if you're interested.
Moonbow gear may re-make flys and tents in UL too. Might be worth a lookAug 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm #1445993
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
Let me know how the rainfly replacement project works out. Are you having to dis-assemble your friend's factory rainfly to obtain a piece pattern for the new sil version?Aug 6, 2008 at 2:14 pm #1445995
No i am not taking it apart. I don't really work off patterns well. His is all straight lines so he measured it for me and i have one in my hand that i can keep checking back with. I should be starting it in a few days.
I'll keep you posted
-TimAug 6, 2008 at 2:46 pm #1445998
Specialty Outdoors looks like they would do the work for the fly, there is an example of a silnylon fly made for a Sierra Designs tent on the website. They have the price at $450.Aug 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm #1446012
Reading over her site, she says she no longer works on tents. Maybe she can offer advice though.Aug 6, 2008 at 5:28 pm #1446017
to me $450 for a fly isn't worth it anyway. You should be able to get a magic spider to weave you a magic spider silk tent for $450. Thats crazy. For a 1.1 sil (not cuben or spider silk) fly that didn't even fit tight. Sad
-TimAug 6, 2008 at 6:44 pm #1446036
Tim do you have a line on any magic spiders?
are there any issues with misting through magic spider silk? Most importantly, does it come with a terrible curse like that goblin woven cuben?Aug 6, 2008 at 7:09 pm #1446041
for only $450 i'll send you my new spider silk tent. It is completely invisible. No misting at all. The water doesn't even deform from the full droplet, it's a sight to behold. The perfect shelter for stealth camping. I'll ship it in an invisible spider silk box. Expect it the day after i receive the paypal. I will warn you it may be hard to keep track of!
Sorry no more off topic drug induced posting from me…for nowAug 7, 2008 at 1:29 am #1446083
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
What sort of stakes do you recommend with this?Aug 7, 2008 at 4:11 pm #1446221
Do have any pics of your paitings? That sounds like such a nice idea. My mother was fond of painting and spent many hours enjoying her passion. I was not blessed with the talent.Aug 15, 2008 at 5:37 am #1447181
OK I have a crazy idea… I have one of these somewhere http://www.nadachair.com/
I've never used it for hiking, and as I'm not sure where it is, I can't vouch for its weight, but I don't recall it being heavy. It seems they have one that's as little as 8 ounces now.
I'm not sure the logistics of this idea, since you'd need something to sit on that allowed your legs to be underneath you, but with the appropriate rock/log this would probably be pretty comfy.
Also, rather than buying one, with some ingenuity one might convert a pack belt into something quite similar.
It looks like they now have newer models that are actually fanny packs! Pretty cool idea.
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