- Jul 17, 2017 at 5:40 pm #3479366Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
For somebody who has only been exposed to UL backpacking for a few years, the SUL and UL categories are helpful milestones to work toward, mainly for learning and training purposes rather than for comfort and enjoyment. 10 lbs and 5 lbs are nice round numbers in our base ten numbering system that represent arbitrary yet useful weights. As Nick said, it’s often more comfortable to carry a little extra weight. But pushing for SUL is a great way to learn new skills, expose limitations of certain gear or techniques, and to discovery unexpected ways to reduce weight with little or no penalty on comfort or safety.Jul 27, 2017 at 8:46 pm #3481481
Ah, but you’re commenting in the wrong thread then, Roger. The enjoyment comes in many forms.Jul 29, 2017 at 7:08 am #3481679
I’m not about to go out and buy a bunch of lighter replacement gear simply for the sake of being able to take a trip with a sub-whatever-pound loadout. But the fact that I can go on a one to three night trip and have a baseweight of less than three pounds using gear I already own or have made is an exercise that brings me joy. Now the question is whether or not my 41 old body will accept spending the night on the Gossamer Gear Thinlite the same way my 31 year old body did. Perhaps I should bump up over the three pound mark for sanity’s sake…Jul 29, 2017 at 3:36 pm #3481738
whether or not my 41 old body will accept spending the night
My children are older than that!
CheersAug 1, 2017 at 9:55 am #3482304
Sam, sleep on the floor a couple of nights before the trip. You’ll be fine. For me the turning point was 60, not 41. I can still go SUL with a small NeoAir. Did it last week.Aug 1, 2017 at 10:53 am #3482317Aug 1, 2017 at 12:16 pm #3482344
For 3 seasons I use a NeoAir and a 1/8″ foam pad. Foam pad is “waterproof” but the main purpose is to help mitigate potential punctures. I rarely use a ground sheetAug 7, 2017 at 9:08 pm #3483684
Heading out tomorrow afternoon for a quick solo overnighter. Only going to do about 15 miles total but it’s the amount of time I could manage away from the family during our vacation. I’m excited to get some time in the woods. I’ll be bringing a very lightweight kit with me and since I’m such a youngster I doubt I’ll have any problem sleeping on my little foam pad.
Worn 3.13 lb
Packed 3.02 lb
Consumable 3.6 lb
Total 9.75 lbAug 8, 2017 at 6:32 am #3483725
Snip the tips off a couple of straps and you’re officially XUL. :^)Aug 11, 2017 at 1:52 pm #3484400
Opted to bring a second water bottle so I could have the convenience of always having one with clean, treated water in it, and one with dirty water that’s “treating” (Aquamira) in it. I also decided to put my food into a cheap plastic shopping bag rather than putting it into my pack loose. But grams add up and I missed the “XUL” mark.
I got to explore a section of the North Country Trail I’ve never been on in a part of the country I’ve not had a chance to backpack at all. The section of trail was about 16 miles and for being in an area with a fair amount of population I saw very few people, no houses, and only a handful of cars. We visit this area somewhat often as it’s where my wife’s family lives and I hope to make an overnight trip on various sections of the NCT a regular part of my visits here.
Base Weight 3.45 lb
Worn 3.35 lb
Consumable 3.6 lb
Total 10.4 lbAug 12, 2017 at 3:51 am #3484453
Looks good, Sam.
I am always interested in the shelter/clothing/sleep/cook choices for this sort of kit.
Tarp and polycryo groundsheet? Quilt?Aug 12, 2017 at 7:24 am #3484460
Hey Bob, like any good UL’er I keep meticulous lists. The following are all actual weights using my little scale and any items added at the last minute have been properly recorded to keep me honest.Aug 12, 2017 at 8:02 am #3484470
Thanks for the gear list… I like to peruse lists because occasionally I learn things.
I know what you mean by “keep me honest.” A little game I play with myself is to make my list as excruciatingly accurate and complete as possible and check TPW with a digital hanging scale at the trail head to see if it matches. :^)Aug 13, 2017 at 7:17 pm #3484758
Hey Nick, is the best reason for going SUL so that a hiker has room for a cheesecake in their ruck?Aug 13, 2017 at 10:33 pm #3484790
That’s a good a reason as any, Sam!
The smarter UL hiker will hike with Peter V and he’ll bring at least one whole cheesecake to share :-)
I still need to bring a cheese burger on one of my trips — that was an awesome avatar.Aug 13, 2017 at 10:44 pm #3484793
Here’s a gear list for you. It’s a long post written for my kids in a letter that I later put on my blog and the list is at the bottom of the blog post. Nowadays I don’t try to get so low in weight, but it was a good test to see what I could do in rain and temps down to freezing and was one of my more memorable trips in the past few years.
My last trip a few weeks ago in the Sierra Nevada had a total pack weight with 4 days of food and water at 11.5 lbs. Base was a bit over 6lbs and included a Ursack. Now, on most of my fast and light trips, my base is a bit over 5 lbs. I can easily get it under 5 lbs, but I figure what’s the point. Besides I’d have to leave my NeoAir at home and at my age I don’t want to.Aug 14, 2017 at 4:33 am #3484814
Excellent piece, Nick!
An incredible amount of thought and effort for planning the trip and the write-up, photos and charts detailing philosophy, gear and route selection. Superb case study for aspiring SULers.
I have done very few desert trips — and they were a long time ago — so it would take me a while to develop the skill set to go SUL and solo in that environment.Aug 14, 2017 at 10:26 am #3484872
That’s acclimation, but has resulted in a low toleration for cold. I now need much more insulation in snow than when I was young, although I still have my mountain SERE knowlege, which isn’t appropriate for normal day-to-day operating in snow, with an eye to the goal of avoiding a survival situation.Oct 19, 2017 at 10:24 pm #3497601Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I just posted about treating my inner solo tent wall with DWR to keep it from absorbing condensation moisture/frost. Things like that are in the SUL mindset. This forum is full of ideas like that and I love it.
As Ryan said in the article posted by Ken, SUL is a mindset as much as it is SUL gear. It’s about making one item, like a light fleece balaclava, do double duty for both say, night time wear and day wear in snow or wind storms. It’s about re-packging our food, about always doing a post-hike “debrief” on what worked, what did not and how we can better modify our gear list.
Which brings me to GEAR MODDING. This is one way I see SUL ers and UL ers actively bringing weight down and being true “gram weenies” in an unabashed manner. Can you get by in high winds with just Spectra tent cord guy lines and leaving that extra pole at home? Or, for winter, does getting that optional tent pole permit you to make an already light 3 season tent into a light but safe 4 season tent?
And Ryan’s dictum of doing with less is something we all try to practice. Will you be OK without rain pants at 8,000 ft. in October? Do you need that wind shirt AND a regular synthetic shirt? Where does frugality of the gear list end and lack of safety begin by being minimalist?
The SUL gear industry may be lagging but the SUL mindset is alive and well.
May this SUL forum live long!Oct 19, 2017 at 11:17 pm #3497611
Years and years ago, when Carol Crooker was the Production Editor, I remember commenting to her that one night on one trip (in summer) was a bit cold and I had all my clothes on in bed. Her reply was most unsympathetic (grin): ‘If you had any excess clothing not in use you wouldn’t be UL.’
CheersOct 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm #3497663
Experience and repetitive use of the same set(s) of gear have proven to me to be the best way to know what I can or can’t do away with. Applying a scientific method of sorts, swapping just a thing or two out over the course of a season or two.Oct 20, 2017 at 8:16 pm #3497693Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes Often
“if you had any excess clothing not in use you wouldn’t be UL”
Amen. I’ve slept in my Helium II rain jacket many a night. I know, some would say that it doesn’t breathe well enough to sleep in……whatever!
CCF foam as 1) pack frame 2) sleeping pad (under legs and feet) and 3) camp seat, is one of the basic fundamentals of SUL, yet I’m not sure everyone who attempts SUL puts it into practice.
I’m just glad to see the topic back on BPL again. There seems to have been a reaction against it on this site for awhile. I personally loathe weight as much as I ever did. Long live SUL!Oct 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm #3497699JCHBPL Member
I follow JCHL principals. Specifically, I go as light as possible such that JCH is still comfortable. There is no specific weight that qualifies as JCHL, as it changes every trip. Sometimes it even includes a chair and a couple beers :)Oct 20, 2017 at 8:50 pm #3497701
In my case it’s ‘such that Sue is happy’, but it’s the same thing.
CheersMay 29, 2020 at 4:23 pm #3649971Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Persactly why Andy Berner said – we find UL gear that meets our comfort standards.
->My Osprey EXOS 58 isn’t the lightest backpack but it is light and it is the most comfortable I’ve found.
->My REI FLASH Insulated 3 season air mattress is full length at 15 oz. but it is comfortable.
->My Tarptent Notch Li double wall solo tent ain’t the lightest but it is comfortable.
So I have UL gear but not SUL gear and I’m able to be comfortable. If a frameless Dyneema pack the size of a medium daypack fits all your backpacking gear fine. It ain’t for me and won’t fit my gear. I was done with tarps in the ’80s and done with frameless packs in the ’60s so Sonny, I just wanna be comfortable – on and off the trail.
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