All good questions guys.
No, I have not had an opportunity to try this pack out yet with these weights since I'm still waiting for Ron to ship it out to me. The way I figure it, there will only be a few times when I am carrying 6 days of food, 12 lbs worth. When added to my base weight, this would equal 20 lbs. Well within the range of a frameless pack. On average, I think people carry around 4 L of water. Then there are a few sections where carrying a max of 8 lbs would be the norm. So, on those 4 L sections, my max possible packweight off of a fresh 6 day resupply would be 28 lbs. This would be uncomfortably, but only for a couple of days until I could get the food weight down. I can deal with a few days of discomfort, especially knowing that having to carry that much food isn't the norm. By not hiking in the heat of the day, 1-4, camelling up at water sources, I hope to keep the water to around 4L carried. Of course this is all a gamble since I haven't used this pack, but people wear frameless packs all the time out there, and my base weight is low enough to try it. If I'm really unhappy with the packs performance with higher weights, I'll just get my ULA Catalyst shipped to me, which will definitely handle the weight. Also, I have had MLD put wider shoulder straps on my pack, 2.7" to help distribute the weight.
I haven't listed a hat since I will be carrying the umbrella. Yes, the umbrella is heavier, but I figure it will keep me cooler. I can't stand hiking with a hat on my head since it traps in so much heat. We all know that a huge amount of heat is retained and lost through the head. By using an umbrella, I will allow the heat to escape from my head, allow breezes to blow across my head, and hopefully allow me to need slightly less water. I will be more comfortable, happy, and possibly better hydrated as a result. In the High Sierra, I may be ditching the Umbrella, and using a visor/neck bandana combination. I'll also add that my RR Adventure shirt came in the mail today. I got it one size larger than I typically wear, which looks completely ridiculous, but should be really cool in the heat of the day.
I'm not too worried about getting rained on before Kennedy Meadows. I know that it is a possiblity, but I believe that most people don't get rained on in California but a couple of times. I'm willing to take that risk. At the worst, I'll have my bivy to zip up all the way. Heck, i could even flip it upside down so that the silnylon floor is facing skyward to repel most of the rain. I also think that having an umbrella would help stop the rain from soaking my bivy. Now, this would be a completely miserable night, but I think the odds are in my favor. From what I have heard, the showers in the Sierra are predictable and short. I just don't like the idea of carrying a poncho/tarp and never once using it. Especially when I have a few other options. I'm not going out there with absolutely NO shelter.
I should say that my insulation system has changed since I posted the gear list weeks back. Now I am thinking of using my summer quilt, a JRB Shenandoah, in concert with a WM Flight jacket. The lofty down jacket will keep me warm around camp, and when worn to bed under the summer quilt, and inside a bivy to prevent drafts and retain 5-10 deg of additional warmth, I hope to sleep fairly warm. I'm not totally sure that this will keep me warm down to freezing (which seems to be the typical PCT low temp), and will be testing this out on a 4 day hike in northern GA in a few weeks.
I'm taking hydropel to prevent blisters thru the High Sierra. I had planned on using it in the desert as well, but now I may carry Leukotape for that to ditch the hyrdopel. I will definitely carry Hydropel in the High Sierra with all of the stream fords since Sportslick doesn't work as well when feet are submerged. Well, if someone has experience using Sportslick through lots of water, please let me know. This is all hearsay on my part. I want the Sportslick to prevent chaffing between the thighs, which is an on and off problem.
Finally...pants. Well, the Macabi skirt has an option of converting the skirt into Arabian-looking pants. This may help prevent drafts in camp. In the High Sierra, I'm going to be switching to Rail Riders eco-mesh pants. These will help keep the mosquitos away, breath well enough to stay cool while hiking, and retain warmth in the chilly nights when coupled with my Cap 1 bottoms and rest of my insulation.
Ross: I'm aiming for an April 23rd start date, just before the kickoff to avoid it and be at the very front of the herd.