May 31, 2011 at 12:19 pm #1274693
I'm doing the JMT solo in August and would love it if someone could take a peak. I'm trying to pick out a tarp which is proving difficult. I'm tall, and there are SO many options. I think most of everything is is just about "set" for review, except re-packaging and re-weighing some things (5.2oz dr bronners is NOT all going with me, and neither is the bottle, for example). I've put notes to items like this however.
I'm debating a few choices, including not taking trekking poles (save 18 ounces, what do you all think?), switching over to a quilt to shave about 15 ounces (so sad to retire my nice bag! also expensive).
I might also add some spare batteries, or perhaps ditch the camera all together. I might also add a stuff sack or two.
I suppose what I'm after from posting this is to know if I can leave anything, need to add anything, or need to switch anything. Also if you have any tarp recommendations.
Thanks for looking!May 31, 2011 at 12:22 pm #1743203
Also for reference I figured out my old base weight was tipping 25lb!May 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm #1743242
I was looking at the chisos quilt and found that for 85 cheaper you can buy a very similar quilt from hammockgear.com
Mine shows up on thursday and I can do a bit of an initial review if you want.May 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm #1743255
Josh that'd be WAY helpful, thanks!May 31, 2011 at 5:35 pm #1743350
take the camera- don't want to leave that behind
take trekking poles if you normally hike w/ trekking poles, these obviously offer a great advantage when pitching a tarp/shelter
I suggest giving Ron at MLD a call and talk about your tarp needs- he's got a VERY wide selection of tarps and lightweight shelters that are sure to cover your needs
if you don't take TP you'll score big points w/ Mike C! :)
I like carrying the same socks that I use for hiking as my spares- they sometimes get used
I think a down jacket will be more versatile for the weight vs a vest, either of the jackets you have listed will be good
"sauce holder" as in alcohol "sauce" or as in food "sauce"? if the later you can a lot a smaller/lighter containers that should do the trick
for re-packaging sunscreen/bug dope/sauce/etc these type of lightweight bottles really lighten things up
I use a small wisp toothbrush and tooth powder in one of the little bottles- together they are under an ounceMay 31, 2011 at 5:58 pm #1743362
(I havent'y looked at your list yet, but I have only a few minutes at the computer, so either I comment or forever hold my piece)
Your trekking poles are a unique gear item. From a metabolic point of view they cost you about 5-10% more calorie burn per unit time walking with them vs without them. Meanwhile, from an endurance point of view, they offer more than that in increased duration of sustained cardiac output (be that walking uphill, downhill or neutral ground).
When you do an "armchair" crunching of the numbers, the idea of "poles or no poles" really transcends that of how much they weigh. Of course, if you are part of this forum then you will probably be gravitating towards lighter poles vs heavier poles. But, the real cost and benefit of the poles will boil down to how much further per day you will be able/willing/comfortable to go vs how many extra calories it will cost you take them. If you are looking to loose some weight (like 80-90% of the population) then its a no-brainer. If you are already a bit on the cachectic side then you might find the added fuel expenditure unwanted (this is highly unprobable based on many other factors as well),
Hope this helps.
JohnMay 31, 2011 at 6:18 pm #1743369
Here is another question that is not purely about weight.
I listened to a talk not too long ago. It was one of those TED.com talks (great organization if you haven't heard of them…just be careful, just because these speakers are brilliant doesn't mean they aren't biased ).
The monologue was about the human tendency to conduct our present state in terms of the anticipated memory of the present state (eg we conduct ourselves through our holidays in ways that indicate that believe the memory of the event is more important than the actual "in-the-moment" experience of the event.
Think about that for a minute. Cameras are a perfect example. With a camera, you will forfeit your full experience of an event/moment just so you can frame the perfect picture of the moment.
Now, that is apparently human nature.
So, you have to decide (once you buy into the BS I am slinging here), is it important to release yourself from the human norm of behaviour and attempt to fully experience the current event ("live in the moment") and ditch the camera. Or, will you accept that human nature is human nature and you intend to be able to fully appreciate and share the experience, through pictures, with your loved ones, for years to come.
Its about your philosophy, not the weight. But, if you bring a camera, bring a light one…your loved ones don't need high-def to appreciate the events with you.
Remember: humans are happiest when, once they have made a decision, that they perceive that there is no option to change that decision.
JohnMay 31, 2011 at 7:17 pm #1743403
I don't think it's true. Growing up in the 60's and 70's and being a Philosophy and Lit major I certainly knew the routine. It was capable of deluding you into thinking that it was good to not have your mind in gear. Think of it this way. If the experience is better than the poem distilling it, then you won't write the poem. The same with a photograph. You cannot share a memory except orally that will substitute for either. My parents left little record. Stills, letters. I was the only one to film them before age took its toll. I have the only non-oral link for them for the new members of the family.In general terms I agree with Spinoza that Human to Human contacts are of the highest order of Human Experience, but he never anticipated the ability to present something as complex as film. Besides William James would tell you that you are simply afflicted by the Sentiment of Rationality.May 31, 2011 at 7:25 pm #1743405
@snusmumrikenLocale: SF Bay Area
Looks like a good list. Some thoughts:
I'd be freezing in a 40 degree quilt! A bag in the 15 to 30 degree range is what most people bring. Stick with the Arete.
Spot – this one deserves its own thread, but I'd say no not worth the weight.
Delete – the rain pants. Just hike in the rain in your nylon pants. Once the sun comes out they will dry soon enough. If not stop, set up camp and change into your dry long johns.
Add – If you have long john bottoms you should also have a long john type shirt so that you have something dry to change into top to bottom.
Delete – Bear spray. Really, this is not needed.
Add – maps.
Add – sunscreen.May 31, 2011 at 7:30 pm #1743407
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Bear spray???????????? Really???
Please leave that at home…so not neededMay 31, 2011 at 10:25 pm #1743468
Ya know I don't normally use trekking poles. The only time I have was for the Zion narrows where it was a lot of rock hopping and stream fording and I appreciated them there. I think I can leave them.
I think I might leave the camera as a me experiment because generally I agree.
I'll give Ron a call, that's a very good point, getting some expertise from someone who makes tarps. I just hate being so ill informed and asking questions, but I guess I'll get over it.
I might get a down jacket if I'm keeping a 40 degree bag. I always sleep hot is the only real reason I think this is okay.
Sauce holder as in food sauce. I've just heard ala Mike Clelland that they're good to use for the purpose. Most bottles I was playing with didn't really close as well as these either. I plan to use a ton of sauce if I can help it =).
Can someone please school me on the bear spray topic? I'm lost. I only bought it because, well, REI had it, I've never been in bear country, and I assumed I needed it.
Thanks for all the help everyone! I feel much more settled about my choices, and more sure I need to question others =)May 31, 2011 at 10:29 pm #1743469
@erikdtzLocale: Los Angeles
I'm in the same boat as you. New to the ultralight backpacking and also doing the JMT solo in August. Maybe we will run into each other.
I like your list and while I am definitely a "newbie," here are some ideas that others have shared with me.
Don't get the natural mosquito repellant. I used some last summer while doing the Rae Lakes Loop and it didn't work. Just get the 100% deet.
Definitely take a camera. But there are lighter and less expensive ones (unless you own one already) than the Canon Power Shot. I just purchased this one and I love it. Only 2.5 ounces.
If you don't use trekking poles now and don't need them for whatever tarp or tent setup you got going, then don't bother. Just my opinion though.
Get rid of the rain pants. You won't need them.
Definitely take a beanie. There are some really great lightweight options, like PossumDown that's sold on this sight.
I like taking a book too. I'm going to whack my book into three pieces and mail the other two parts to my two resupply spots.
Wild Ideas makes the Bearikade Weekender and gives JMT thru hikers a flat rate. I think it's about $60. It weighs 31 ounces.
Don't bother with the bear spray and holster.
Definitely take a hat. Maybe with some sort of neck cover?
Hope this helps some!May 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm #1743473
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Can someone please school me on the bear spray topic? I'm lost. I only bought it because, well, REI had it, I've never been in bear country, and I assumed I needed it."
There are brown bears, also called grizzlies, and then there are black bears even though they might be brown, black, or cinnamon. California has not had any brown bears for 80-90 years, and on the JMT all you will find are black bears. In Montana or Wyoming or Alaska, brown bears can get very dangerous, and human fatalities happen every year. You must distinguish between the two.
Technically speaking, any carnivore that large can kill you, or at least harm you. However, black bears rarely hurt anybody in California. They are more like oversized wild dogs. You don't want to get too close to them, but… really… they just want to steal your food. If you were incredibly stupid and let the black bear get its paws on your food, and then if you tried to take it back, the bear might take a piece of you. Or, if you got between a mother bear and her cub, that mother bear may chase you up a tree. Largely, a black bear will do anything reasonable to steal your food. Yosemite black bears have a reputation of being very intelligent. And then humans assume that they are smarter than the bears. That is when the bear pulls some neat trick and steals the food anyway. They are particularly good at breaking into cars.
So, I would not even consider carrying bear spray anywhere in California. I will be carrying it in Wyoming.
–B.G.–Jun 1, 2011 at 6:16 am #1743519
^ agreed- in grizzly country I don't leave home w/o it
if you don't use trekking poles, then insure you have what you need to get a tarp/shelter up w/o them
two 1/2 liters for "sauce" sounds excessive to me, I carry a small bottle (like I linked above) filled w/ a habanero sauce :)
don't leave the camera at home!Jun 1, 2011 at 7:25 am #1743536
@gregfLocale: Canadian Rockies
Even in Grizzly country (maybe not Alaska I haven't been) bear spray tends to be overkill. The stadard advice of making noise around blind corners, near creeks that mask your noise, and when you are hiking into the wind will eliminate most bear surprise bear encounters. Then calmly backing away from bears talking loudly will take care of the rest.
Just remember that you drive to and from the trail head and that risk is far far greater then any other you will encounter on the trail.Jun 1, 2011 at 7:40 am #1743541
One trekking pole option, especially if you don't normally use them, is to bring one pole. you won't use it much for trail propulsion, but it will come in handy for balance when stream crossing and numerous other times.Jun 1, 2011 at 5:03 pm #1743723
Never used it, and I live in Bear Country. Both types of bears are common here. I have seen numerous bears on the trails. I have been followed for half a day by a bear once. I have accidentally been in the same clearing as a mother bear and its two cubs. I have been false charged by a bear once.
I can't say that bear spray would have helped me in any of those situations, even if I had it and things were going poorly.
I'd rather bring a knife to imbed in my partners thigh before I start running, than to bring bear spray.
Just kidding of course.
But, I wouldn't bring bear spray, and that's from someone who needs full mosquito netting protection at night as I am such a wimp
JohnJun 2, 2011 at 12:49 am #1743874
Got the quilt from hammockgear.com today. First of all the customer service of Adam and Jenny is awesome.
Took it out of the box and it is one well made piece of gear. First quilt so cant really compare to others. Was like 65 today so trying it out real quick was extremely warm. Supposed to be going on a trip friday so hopefully can make a better review then.Jun 2, 2011 at 7:09 am #1743919
Thanks for all the bear spray info. I'll be leaving it at home.
Thanks for keeping me up to date Josh, I'm glad at least initial glances are proving super promising =)Jun 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm #1744719
A few notes…
Long Sleeve: You're worried about the L/S in summer. The main benefit of a L/S in summer is sun protection (minimizes amount of sunscreen you need to carry). Since you have a windshirt and will probably wear it most of the time, you can most likely ditch the l/s. If you still want, I'd recommend the light gray Phase SL longsleeve from arc'teryx. Mine weighs 3.8oz and I can wear it in the summer out here (AZ Desert Rat). It dries incredibly quick, feels durable for the weight, and so far odor-less after a couple days of heavy wear (haven't done a full week in it).
Insulation: I was just given a M.B. Down Inner Parka. A bit late out here, so I haven't field tested it cool conditions. What I do know is that it only weighs 8.2oz in medium (others have also commented that it runs a bit light from the spec). Having a hood and supposedly .5oz more down than the jacket…I would suggest just moving up to it. That hood will provide lots of versatility and warmth (40F quilt should work well enough even if you get caught in a summer blizzard). It also only costs you $20 and 1oz to do so.
Head Warmth: Regardless of a down jacket or parka, you still want a separate warm head piece for while on trail. The Possum Down looks like a great option and minimal weight. I'm a personal fan of Buff Headwear. If you don't know what it is, it's basically a tube of fabric that can be worn as a beanie, balaclava, scarf, and dozen other configurations. The Merino Buff weighs 1.8oz, has a lot more length than the original (so may be able to cut in half) and is that wonderful warmth/coolness that is wool. Depending on how you wear it it'll keep your head warm and the sun off you.
I get cold easy though, so if it seems like warmth overkill, the regular buff could also work. I wear the regular religiously in the desert during summer as a balaclava. Keeps the sun completely off my skin, dust out of my lungs/eyes, and, most appreciated, creates a humid microclimate for my mouth/nose. This creates an evaporative effect that cools incoming air with every inhale. It also dramatically reduces how much liquid I lose due to respiration and is great for maintaining hydration in bone-dry desert and alpine air. I never understood why Bedouin's were so completely wrapped up until I forgot sunblock in Death Valley and tried it out for myself, I was an instant convert.
I forgot to mention trekking poles. I use the the LT4s from Gossamer Gear and love them. On flat ground I don't really weight them much, so don't get that speed boost of pushing off with them. But for all ups and downs I rely on them heavily. I had some ITB and knee problems when I first got back into hiking and they were invaluable in easing the pain in my legs. You may find that once you get used to them you feel "fresher" at the end of high mileage days. Granted my poles weigh only 7.5oz combined, not over a pound. I don't think I would like traditional heavy poles because of the heavy swing weights requiring more upper body energy expenditure.
I would suggest some experiments. Do a long day hike you're familiar with with the poles, then the next weekend do it without poles. Try to eat the same and have similar weather if possible. Time your hikes and take notes on how tired you feel after each one. This does give the advantage to no poles (since you should build/maintain muscle mass from the first hike with poles). If no significant difference or they just annoy you, don't bother. If you see some benefit then you can take them with you.Jun 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm #1746188
@nix_is_lostLocale: East Bay Area
What's up all? First post here.
Couple of things. I hiked the roughly the last 25 miles of the JMT (we came in at Bubbs Creek) to the top of Mt. Whitney in the beginning of August 3 years ago.
First, especially the latter part of the JMT that I did, it gets cold up there in altitude at night (you're above 10,000ft the whole time). One night was as cold as 26 degrees, albeit we did camp just passed Forrester Pass, a little below 13,000. You will definitely want your sleeping system (whether you choose a bag or quilt) rated to 20-25 degrees.
As for the Dr. Bronners. That is a rough one as toothpaste, but suffices. I'm weird about brushing my teeth and toothpaste is a small weight sacrifice I make. One thing to think about with DR. B is how scented it is, especially the standard (peppermint). You wash yourself with it and that's all you smell. While stinking of green bubble gum isn't the worst of things, bears might find it interesting as well. I've been using "No Rince Body Wash" for a bit now, and I love it (http://www.rei.com/product/824348/no-rinse-body-wash-8-oz). It's unscented, so perfect for bear country, and easy as hell. Just rub on skin, and wipe off with a dry towel (or bandana).
Instead of Gatorade bottles, try Smartwater bottles, taller and thinner, they pack quite nice.
Definitely want a beanie. Northface makes a nice merinol wool one that has a fleece wrap around the bottom half of the inside for double warmth on the forehead and ears, while leaving a little more breathability on the top of the head.
As others have said, ditch the rain pants. I got rained on twice and snowed on once while hiking on that trip, I was just fine in the nylons with thermals underneath, never even noticed it. In the case of the little bit of snow we got, we just set up the tarp and chilled under there. Good nylons will work just fine.
As for trekking poles. When I did this hike a few years ago, my friend and I were both sans poles. Of all the people I met on the 84 mile trip (42 miles each way), and there were a good amount of people we met, mostly seasoned backpackers, I think there was 1 other person besides us not using poles… Really had me thinking. Now I own a pair and I won't backpack without them. Just my 2 cents anyway.
On a final note, I do hope you plan on summitting Whitney at the end of your journey, it's an amazing view and totally worth it. I'll actually being going again in the middle of August with a couple of buddies (13th to the 19th, 7 days, 72 miles coming from the south up Cottonwood Pass and atop Whitney, then back). We're doing the summit the same as we did last time, hiking up at night and watching the sunrise. Stunning…Jun 7, 2011 at 7:49 pm #1746282
This is the gear list from my 2009 JMT hike, late August/early September.
A few differences in a quick compare with yours:
1-sleeping bag: I think a 40F bag is optimistic. May not need a 20F bag like I use (am a cold sleeper) but you'll almost certainly encounter a few night at/below freezing and you don't have much additional warm stuff.
2-hat: recommend a wide brim to keep the sun off your neck, nose, and tops of ears
3-hygiene: recommend carrying lip balm, ultrathon for bug dope, and yes some TP. I use quartered shop towels 4 packing 4 per day.
4-hiking poles: a must if you are tarping above treeline
5-camera: recommended bringing one. if either spot or camera, take the camera.
6-knife: suggest something more substantial than a razor blade
7-socks: bring an extra pair hiking socks. I found out after a few days on the trail that wearing 2 pair was much better than only one.
And then a lesson learned…take a look at the frontier pro filter made by aqua mira. Screws onto your 1 liter platy. For 1/2 oz more you get instant chem free water.Jun 10, 2011 at 8:40 pm #1747705
@rlmckayLocale: Wanaka NZ
Hi Mike – I am also doing the JMT in August – We are from NZ and seasoned Kiwi trampers (I know it has a sexual connotation for you Yanks, but that's our term for hiking/climbing down here!). We depart Happy Isles on August 9.
I have been light weight for the last 6 or so years (checkout http://www.lightweighttramping.blogspot.com)
I could spend an hour on your list, but like to comment on a couple of things only that my help you.
1. Tarp – checkout Zpacks cuben solo and SpinnTwin at Gossamer Gear.
2. Bivy – you can't go past Ron Monk at MLD – his Superlight biv is ace!
3. Sleeping Pad – Kooka Bay 3/4 matt is light and very comfortable.
4. Headlamp – check my site for the dope on Fenix
5. Bear Cannister – we are renting the Weekender from Wild Ideas (carbon fiber)
6. You want a jacket – Monbell UL is good(I have their vest). Also checkout Backpacking Lights Cocoon – I have an original one, excellent weight/warmth ratio. It goes on every trip.
7. Walking poles are a must – Many people in NZ use only one – I changed to two a few years back – Best thing I ever did!!!
8. Hat is a must – OR Helios wide brim is great.
9. Jetboil too heavy, go for canister gas with MSR Rocket stove (search this site for research on stoves and fuel consumption Vs weight), Use dyhy food and only use fuel to boil water.
10. Forget rain pants – wear shorts (but have longs for night camping)
11. Get possum gloves – we need you Yanks to buy up big on these to help eradicate our possum plague in NZ!!! Marry these up to event mitts from MLD
I could go on and on – Hope this helps – feel free to contact me to brainstorm – Hope I see you on the trailJun 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm #1747743
I've updated the spreadsheet to reflect some gear changes I've made since my initial posting. I would've done this earlier, but I thought you lightweighters moved on to helping someone else! Thanks
Smartwater is a great idea, I'll check into those. I'm going to using a wool balaclava as a beanie when I need one for sure. I'm not using a poncho tarp for rain gear. I do plan to summit Whitney, Excited!!!
I am coming to the idea of wanting a 30 degree quilt. Damn they're expensive when you want the best! I miiiight go with a liner this time around to bring my bag to 30, deciding. I'm bringing an OR runrunner now for hat. I am using a tarp, and I suppose I will be above the treeline, so thanks, it turns out I need one or two, better to know now!
I very much like the idea you put up Robin, but have made some cheaper gear choices. I am getting a Montbell Thermawrap so not ALL my warmth is in down (in case of it getting wet). I bought a backcountry boiler so hopefully Devin comes through before my trip (end of July into August). That possum bit is hilarious! I have been debating those e-vent mitts, you may be sending me over the edge there. I'm a bit confused actually, since I'll be using a poncho, doesn't that meal I either get wet hands/arms, or I just shove em inside my poncho to hopefully keep em dry? Never used one like this in the rain before (golite poncho/tarp). I hope I run into you Robin! Sweet tarp =)Jun 14, 2011 at 9:34 am #1749039
I've gone quilt! I'm excited to get my base weight down to about 7.6 pounds. I'm thinking I'm as close to set as I'm likely to get and would love a final review.
The consumables I'm still playing with quantity. Do people consider sunscreen a consumable? Not the bottle, but the substance. This might be too anal retentive =P.
I'm not planning on bringing a camera, it's a personal choice.
I'm not planning on bringing trekking poles. I have some, but in the end I prefer to not use them. I'll use sticks for my tarp, and bring them with me when I go above the tree line. Sleeping low this shouldn't be a big issue.
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