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new and needing guidance
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Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
new and needing guidance on 08/27/2005 12:40:02 MDT Print View

OK. I've been reading and responding to some threads for a few weeks, trying to learn. But I have to admit at this point that I am LOST!!! I am new to UL, though not to camping, but it really is a whole new universe compared to what I have been doing with my grotesquely weighted pack. I have to say that the UL approach fits right in line with me, (as dedicated trail runner and solo camper) and I am excited about it, but don't know where to start. Unfortunately, money is an issue for me, too. Is the new book by Ryan very good? It looks good, and i will get it. Basically, I would like a good intro. to UL camping. I know there is a long way to go, but general advice would be appreciated. Until then, I continue to surf the web and be mindboggled... Also, I live in Ontario, Canada. Any referrals up here would be appreciated as well. Thanks! This site is inspiring, to say the least!

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Ultralight - Where to start on 08/27/2005 17:41:28 MDT Print View


A few weeks back I did a seminar on Ultralight to a bunch of novices. I put together a list of points that may help you to organize and simply your journey to an ultralight pack.

Good Luck!

6 Easy Steps to an Ultralight Pack

1. Get a Digital Scale and weigh All your gear. Make a Spreadsheet listing Every item you carry.

2. Get rid of unused gear.
a) Make two piles of gear, in one pile place every item you used on your last backpacking trip.
b) In the other pile, place everything you didn’t use.
c) Put away the unused gear in storage.

3. Reduce the weight of your containers.
a) Place all of your containers in a single pile (stuff sacks, water bags, Nalgenes, etc.). Save your backpack for later.
b) Replace heavier version for lighter versions. You can save a pound or two.

4. Simplify your Basic Gear.
a) Dump the Extra Clothing - Take only enough clothing so when you’re wearing all your layers there aren’t any extra clothes.
b) Simplify your Kitchen. - An alcohol stove and titanium pot can save you pounds off your back.
c) Weed out your First Aid kit. - Carrying lots of Band-Aids, compresses and wraps won’t save your life. Having a proper plan on what you’ll do when things go wrong will.
d) Pare down your Miscellaneous Items -(sun screen, rope, repair kits, etc.) Carry only what you’ve used Not what you think you’ll need!

5. Revamp your Shelter and Sleeping System.
a) Look for lightweight shelters. - Lightweight tarps, tarp/tents or solo shelters can save pounds over traditional tents. Understand how to best take advantage of the weight savings.
b) Down Sleeping Bag or Quilt with Waterproof / Breathable Shell. - 800 fill down bags with good shell can be both warm and light. Combine light bag with a down jacket can extend your options.

6. Finally replace your Pack with a lighter model.

Save this task until last after you’ve downsized your gear. This way you’ll know how much volume you’ll need and how much weight you’ll be carrying. Remember: It’s always easier to carry light gear in a heavy pack than heavy gear in a light pack.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
ultra light and where to start on 08/28/2005 08:36:38 MDT Print View

great follow up post and I agree with all that was said. Ultralight can be cheap. You can buy a Gossamer Gear Mariposa for a little over a $120 or you can buy the Gossamer G4 for $85. If you have questions about what items to buy I am sure that we can all steer you in the right direction.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 08/28/2005 08:37:55 MDT.

Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
thanks Ron! on 08/28/2005 18:23:29 MDT Print View

Thanks for the great post, Ron. I have saved it for future reference. I don't think that I'll be buying a scale (they are rather pricey, no?) but I will try to do my best anyway. I work at a hospital and it shouldn't be hard for me to bring some things in to weigh. Unfortanately, even though UL tends to be less expensive than regular gear, I live in Canada, and basically that means that only a tenth of what is available to you is available to me. I have found that, although it is possible to order cross-border, one can be slammed by hidden taxes and horrific handling charges. For example, when I ordered my water filter, it cost me $75 US dollars and I had to pay another $50 CAN just to bring it over!!! Anyway, I can still get ideas and search my resources. Any further insights are appreciated.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: new and needing guidance on 08/29/2005 11:58:45 MDT Print View


I highly recommend that you buy an electronic scale. Many on Ebay are very reasonably priced. This is the model I have:

Search "digital scale" and you'll find a ton more auctions.

I bought my "first round" of gear without a scale, thinking I know what's "reasonably light". I know others will agree that using a scale really helps to focus on selecting appropriately lightweight gear. It's money well worth spending is lightweight is important to you.

Have fun!

Edited by ben2world on 08/29/2005 12:00:24 MDT.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
One great Canadian supplier on 08/29/2005 12:40:48 MDT Print View

Take a look at Integral Designs gear. They're a Canadian manufacturer that turn out great bivy sacks (their Salathe is my personal choice for the buggy, muggy Midwest), silnylon tarps, stuff sacks, and a really nifty gadget called the Silponcho.

Also, look for Coghlan's brand accessories - I think they're a Canadian distributor. They handle a lot of stuff that falls into the Coleman/toy range, but they also carry some Esbit stoves and other small, accessory-type items to round out the kit.

ArcTeryx is another Canadian brand to investigate. My first light packs were in their Khamsin series - about 3 pounds, as I recall - and were very comfortable. They're not ultralight, but they are good and, if you aren't willing or able to get your packweight under 20 pounds, might be a decent option. (The original reason I chose them was to replace a Dana Terraplane when I reduced my weekend packweight from 45 pounds to 25 pounds, and my weeklong weight from 50 to 35.

Edited by garkjr on 08/30/2005 15:37:04 MDT.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Where was my head? on 08/30/2005 15:43:31 MDT Print View

You might also try e-mailing Ryan to see what BackpackingLight charges to ship to Canada. The "Shipping Info" tab under the Resources bar at the left indicates that international orders are charged a "nominal" shipping fee; I'm sure they'd be glad to be more specific about what "nominal" means if they had a specific shipping destination. (Back to the old question of what "is" is, I suppose.)

They carry a fairly complete line of ultralight gear. I've ordered a few things from them, with a couple of minor - and reasonably quickly filled - backorders.

Give them a try - they're good folks.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Canadian Suppliers on 08/30/2005 17:48:28 MDT Print View

There are indeed some fine Canadian manufacturers, but it seems that all of the excellent "cottage industry" suppliers are based south of the border. These people are the cutting edge of the light weight backpacking movement. As Rob McRae has pointed out, we Canadians really pay through the nose when we order from the States - shipping, handling fees, and of course, high Canadian taxes as well.

jacob thompson
(nihilist37) - F
Over the border on 08/30/2005 18:13:09 MDT Print View

I don't know if this is a possibility for you but do you have any friends in the US? I'm from Australia and the price I have to pay here is nearly 75% more than the US and not to mention the total lack of any ultralight gear. I do however have friends in the US who regularly recieve packages for me and send them to me as gifts. Its good because I can send several orders to her at cheap US shipping rates and then she sends the whole package to me. I've saved lots of money by doing this. However if you believe (and you are entitled to) that you should have to pay that tax it probably isn't the way to go.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Canadian Suppliers on 08/30/2005 18:49:55 MDT Print View

I don't think you need to find Canadian suppliers really. Shipping usually isn't that bad. And the thing I've found with ultralight is... MOST of the stuff I need/want cannot be bought locally or even from Canadian websites. Most of the stuff I've bought is from cottage industries based in the US... tarptent, gossamer gear, thru hiker, nunatuk, this website...etc. For basics, REI ships to Canada.

Another idea (if you're up to it) is to buy a sewing machine (if you don't alreayd have one) and make a lot of the stuff yourself!!! You save lots of money and have fun in the process. I just bought one and can't wait to start playing with it. My first project is a bug canopy custom designed (by me) for the Gossamer Gear SpinnShelter. and Ray Jardine (among others) even sell complete kits with patterns and materials included. The only thing I've had trouble will getting shipped to Canada are lightweight poles. The Gossamer Gear poles and Bozeman poles cannot be shipped here due to some weird package size restriction which I'm guessing was meant for stopped people from buy guns online (i.e... very long, very skinny boxes get rejected at customs). However, the MEC sells the new Komperdell Carbon Fiber poles! I got the womens set and removed the straps and they are 10.2 oz. for the pair. Not bad!

Oh... one VERY IMPORTANT caveat... ALWAYS ask the company in question how they ship to Canada before ordering. DO NOT order anything that will be shipped via UPS!!! They are the ONLY carrier that acts as their own customs broker (has something to do with them not being bonded in Canada)... and as a result they will add a $40 charge to anything they deliever to you. You could order a set of dropper bottles for 5 bucks (or whatever)... no customs or duty on something that cheap... shipping would be a few bucks... a little bit of sales tax (GST)... but if it's shipped UPS, those $5 bottles would cost you $50. USPS or FedEx works best.

Edited by davidlewis on 08/30/2005 18:59:02 MDT.

Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
thanks, and what about San Fran? on 08/31/2005 07:21:59 MDT Print View

Yes, all valid points, guys. Thanks for your input. Places like ebay may be a good option. I am not the type to try to make stuff myself, so I will have to be content with what I've got available. I am sure that I can figure things out. I will be travelling to California in October for ten days, and if I can think things through well enough, I should be able to make a couple purchases while there. I will be staying in the San Fran. area (work related all the time) and maybe someone could mention to me a good place to shop for cool UL gear while there, and also where to go for a few hours hike - since that is all that i may have time for.

Edited by emptyman on 08/31/2005 07:22:37 MDT.