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Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack
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Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 04/29/2008 00:16:47 MDT Print View

Hey all,

I've posted my gear list in my profile. Please have a look and offer some constructive criticism.

I'm doing a 7 day six night hike with my girlfriend in Glacier National Park this August. My gear list includes every piece of shared gear and all of my own stuff, so it is a bit heavy. Still it's not too bad and I'm looking at this list as a worst case scenario given that I expect Gillian will not let me carry *everything*.

Still I wanted to use this as a starting place for our Glacier trip and the long weeknd type trips we make to the Adirondacks. This will be our first summer using Ultralight techniques and this is my first gear list, so have at it.

(By the way, I included the weight of my backpack in my baseweight. Is that the right way to calculate base weight?)

Edited by Ramapo on 04/29/2008 00:18:31 MDT.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 04/29/2008 09:21:08 MDT Print View

Very good start! You will enjoy Glacier very much. I was there last year in August. I will offer my opinion, and in no random take it with a grain of salt.

Glacier seems to be dryer than I would have expected, given previous trip to Montana from my childhood. When I arrived in August of last year, there were no slushy run-off trails and not one mosquito! In addition, you are dealing with well worn trails and established campsites. So plan according to that. (Unless you are going to the Coal Creek area! But I seem to think you mentioned the north section of the park)

You can bring the lightest weight silnylon sack you can find to hang your food with and the aircore rope. No bear kit or special bag needed.

Gaiters are probably useless and hot in the environment.

A windshirt and rain jacket are always redundant weight in my book. Either a water-repellant windshirt or lightweight water-proof jacket should serve both purposes.

I would glady trade a pair of extra underwear for a third pair of socks. Socks get way more wear and tear and create way more comfort later in the trip than underwear. (But I do not backpack with my it is ok if I don't smell sweet at bedtime)

Everything about your kit is leaning toward "ultra" light with the exception of your pack. I realize you want a pack that can load your friends gear too, so that may be the consideration. You may consider getting into an ULA pack though, you could probably shave a half pound and lose no room or comfort.

It is expected to include the weight of your pack as base weight in my I consider base anything outside of food, water, fuel, and whiskey go in as seperate areas on my spreadsheet.

You might want to check out the Gossamer Gear Nightlite 3/4 pad as well. I used a sawed off Ridgerest for many years and have recently switched to the Nightlite. They are more expensive and seem to have a little less durability, but you get more length for the same weight, and the egg-crate form is comfy.

One final thought. Even if you do not fish regularly, consider bringing a light-weight setup along. You do not need any kind of license inside the park (a fantastic bargain for Montana) and the fishing is stellar for brook trout and the like. At one lake I was at, you could throw a small twig onto the surface, and have the little 8 inchers rise to check it out!

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 04/30/2008 09:58:29 MDT Print View

Hi Scott. Thanks for looking my list over. I appreciate the feedback.

It's interesting to note that you found glacier to be dry. I was just considering dropping my haydration system in favor of two one liter bottles given that I assumed water would be relatively abundant. Still, I think it might for our trip. We're hiking the Northern Traverse, starting at the Customs Station in the NE corner of the Park on the Canadian border and essentially following a series of streams, rivers, and lakes westward across the Park.

I hope the mosquitoes are absent for use too!

So, it sounds like gaiters might be overkill.

I understand that the windshirt and rain jacket aren't both necessary strictly speaking, but I really prefer to wear a windshirt unless it's raining. I figure that on a trip like this, with a pack that can haul the extra weight, I can suck up the extra 3 oz. We'll see though, I'll take just the rain jacket on my next long weekend trip to the 'Dacks and see if I miss the windshirt.

And with respect to the pack, I've tried several and, so far, I get the best fit with the Nimbus Meridian. I have a ULA Catalyst at home and I'm going back and forth with Brian to see if I can get a good fit dialed in, but no dice so far. I like the Catalyst, but it isn't very adjustable. And, although it's tough to say for sure without getting a good fit with both packs, so far the Nimbus Meridian carries the weight far more comfortably. It's a bummer to see my base weight jump up 3+ pounds because of the weight of the Nimbus Meridian, but I'm willing to carry a slightly heavier bag if it does a better job of hauling my gear comfortably than the lighter packs.

For what it's worth, I use a much lighter pack, the Granite Gear Virga, when I'm not in Mule Mode.

Same applies to the underwear situation...the compromises we make when hiking with significant others, eh? That said, do you really think I'll wear through 2 pairs of socks in 1 week?

Lastly, the fishing pole idea is awesome. I'd been vaguely considering it, but hearing how abundant the fish are makes me really want to take a rod. First I need to remember/learn how to fish though!

Thanks again for the comments.


Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 04/30/2008 21:03:09 MDT Print View

Quick and dirty - here are the things I'd leave at home:

Rain mitts (it may rain but it won't be so cold you need these)
Rain pants (your legs will get wet - don't worry 'bout it)
Gaiters (the trails here don't call for gaiters)
18' of extra cord (you've got your bear rope already)
Snowpeak lid (bring aluminum foil instead)
Sigg bottle (no need since you've got the other systems)
Frontier Pro (you'll only need the Aqua Mira)
Leatherman (you've got a knife already)
Book (enjoy the scenery and talk with your sweetie and campmates instead)

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 04/30/2008 22:00:32 MDT Print View

Well, I figured with the gear you had called out, that there was a reason you choose the backpack you did. I say, great! Considering the lighter alternative and then choosing what works best is most ideal. To sacrafice function over weight is not always best.

Water is abundant in Glacier. Do not get me wrong. I was just refering to my assumption that farther north (I live in California), the thaw and run-off would occur later in the summer and leave more of that mud and bugs situation you have in the Sierra's in June. It seems the park regulations are set-up to give the impression that July is really when things break free...but I think the drought and global weather pattern changes have had an impact on Glacier's climate. I remember being in the Bear Tooth mountains as a kid in late summer seing gigantic bugs of all sorts. I saw no remarkable bugs while in Glacier for 6 days.

That said, I would stick with the hydration system that works best for you. I find, I love to suckle a bit of wetness more frequently while hiking than I would have thought. Over the years I have always used either a Camelback or Platypus bite-valve style aparatus. In addition, I have carried 1 liter nalgene collapasable bottles (for treating water and chores) and a homemade, ultralight gravity filter bag for the group at camp.

Glacier was my first trip using two 1 liter aquafina bottles exclusively. While I did find the two bottle system much simpler in camp with regards to keeping treated water seperate, etc., I really found them in-accessible when walking. I could not reach them convieniently with my pack on. I do not want two 1 liter bottles strapped to my straps either. So, I found myself walking with a dry mouth...which was not too fun. I am thinking I will see if I can get a platypus hanging bag to convert to a feeder valve for my next I can multi-use that. But ultimately I don't like having to dig out and place back the internal water thing sheesh, I am just a big baby!

Fishing: The best bet for starters. A light-weight, collapsable or 3 piece rod, and a small spinning reel, with 1/16 oz and 1/8 oz lures should cover streams and lakes. Powerbait is also useful with a few small weights in those lake areas. Panther Martin brand lures(gold with black) are generally fail-safe with smaller trout.

Good luck and have a blast. Also, plan to spend the money on a bear spray canister when you get there (you cannot bring them on the pawn it before leaving the park too). You may hesitate, thinking it is a tourist come-on, but when you see trail crews wearing them on their have to assume it is for a reason.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Fresh Socks on 04/30/2008 22:08:15 MDT Print View

Almost forgot. You will not wear through most socks in the mileage you are considering...I just find that no matter how much I wash them, that lake/stream water never makes them soft again after a long days trudge. Once soiled and compressed, only detergent gets them back. So I carry an extra pair as a luxury. I never notice that my Ex Officio underwear (by far better than Patagonia, REI, Mountain Hardware, you name it I tried it) have an issue. I wear them for a swim after each day...and they dry out in a less than an hour...and I am ready for another day.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 05/01/2008 08:49:08 MDT Print View

> "...but when you see trail crews wearing them on their have to assume it is for a reason."

Frankly, when I was on a trail crew there I only wore bear spray while working because it was a federal requirement. On my off days I would only bring bear spray when I was going off-trail in brushy or really bear-prone environments.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 05/01/2008 12:18:16 MDT Print View

To each his own. In August...there were so many huckleberry choked trails that I could imagine why bears would be likely to try and hang out when people were not around.

I think you either subscribe to the notion that wearing a seatbelt when driving, a helmet when riding, or bear spray in backcountry is a good idea based on percentages. You are probably correct in assuming the chances of seeing them on a main trail are lower...but people have encountered and been mauled on main trails as recently as 2005. The trail crew I came across was far from anywhere someone could "regulate" them...and did not strike me as guys who would do something because it was "required". They had the sprays on their belts while digging large rocks...I probably would have choose to set it to my side based on the difficulty of work and the potential to get in the way. It struck me as a choice they made to have it handy. It made me feel less silly for having carried one.

All that said, understanding bear behavior, how to avoid situations, and using common sense are more important than carrying bear spray. But why not have it just in case?

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Glacier In August: Mule Mode Backpack on 05/01/2008 16:58:33 MDT Print View

> "...But why not have it just in case?"

Well at that time when I was living in that environment the reason "why not" was because it was an extra 11 oz. I don't live in grizzly country anymore so it hard to say if I went back if I'd carry it or not.

It provides a great level of emotional security if nothing else and that may be reason enough for someone to carry it. In the last issue of Backpacking Light Magazine the main subject was bears and reading some of Ryan Jordan's close-encounters may be reason enough for someone to carry it.