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Newbie ultralighter gear list
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Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/12/2008 16:31:49 MDT Print View

Hi folks. I'm accustomed to occasional somewhat-heavy backpacking in the Sierras, but I'm been obsessively gearing up with an ultralight mindset for a 3 day solo in the Olympics. (First attempt at ultralight, first solo, first time in WA!) I've pored over my gear choices for days but I'd appreciate any feedback anyone has on what I've put together (both in terms of safety and weight). It is here:

If that link is too long to work, here's the tiny version:


Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/13/2008 09:27:50 MDT Print View

Overall, it looks like a very good list :)

Just some suggestions/commentary:

Your 20-degree Feathered Friends Swallow bag is probably overkill (especially since you are also carrying the Montbell UL Down Inner Jacket) but its not a huge deal b/c its still fairly light at 2 lbs. Be sure to give your down bag time to air out/sit in the sun (if possible) as the Olympics are very humid/damp.

It would be lighter to ditch the convertible pants and just bring shorts. If it gets rainy, windy, cold, etc. just put on the rain pants.

You don't really need the safari shirt when you are already bringing the synthetic t-shirt and baselayer top

Ditch the Snow Peak bowl and just eat out of your pot.

You probably don't need the knife AND the multitool

I would personally bring the camera, but I like taking pictures. The iPhone is probably fine for just documentation.

BTW, you will love the Olympics

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Fuel consumption on 07/13/2008 09:57:47 MDT Print View

Thanks, Peter! I think I'll take all those suggestions.

I'll throw in one other question: can check my estimate of alcohol consumption? (By the stove, I mean!) I probably want to boil 3 quarts/day, and the Vargo Triad's capacity is 1.75oz, so that seems like 5.25oz/day, which seems like a lot.

Charles Grier
(Rincon) - M

Locale: Desert Southwest
"Newbie ultralighter gear list" on 07/13/2008 10:11:18 MDT Print View

Boiling three quarts of water a day is a lot of boiled water. Are you sure you are not thinking pints and saying quarts? My planning tends towards the conservative; I figure on using one ounce of alcohol per pint of water brought to a FULL boil. But, I usually come back with a little alcohol left over.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Yeah. Pints. on 07/13/2008 10:21:56 MDT Print View

I think I was thinking pints. :)

I'm also thinking I'm overly programmed for cold by the Sierras where I usually camp close to treeline. Marmot Pass is only 6000'.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/14/2008 19:37:58 MDT Print View

I wonder if Vargo triad has different models... My triad uses only 1 oz per cook (not sure if you can fill it over and 1 oz or not). It will cook 2 cups of water to a boil with just that 1 oz. I have done so in sub freezing temps. When using that stove I take 1 oz for morning... that lets me cook enough water for oatmeal and coffee and 1 oz for dinner and that lets me cook enough to do a mountain house meal and cup of tea. So basically I take exactly 2 oz/day and this always works. I also use an old saline solution bottle for fuel...they come in 2 oz, 4 oz, and 8 oz sizes and weigh <1 oz themselves. Best thing is the squeeze lid is perfect for filling the "slow" to fill traid. I have heard people complain about the stove but if you practice filling and using it you should have not problems.

Michael Gardner
(ekim765) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/14/2008 20:35:22 MDT Print View

As somewhat of a newbie myself, I'd say your gear list looks pretty good. One thing that will help you save a couple of oz is by re-bottling some of your liquid consumables, such as the Dr. B's and Jungle Juice into smaller (1 ml) dropper bottles. Especially if you're only out for 3 days. Otherwise, I'll just sit here and be all jealous because you're going hiking and I'm not!

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/15/2008 09:18:21 MDT Print View

I went thru the list, and I guess I got sorta carried away, but here goes...

* * * * * *
The heaviest items are listed at the top:
sleeping bag = 32 oz
tarp-tent = 23.5 oz
GoLite Jam 2 = 22.5

(WSSEM?) = (Wanna Spend Some Extra Money?)
I listed you some lighter options, but they all cost a lot, and there is nothing wrong with the gar listed. Just options to dramatically reduce the weight.

* * * * * *
A 23 oz solo tent? Thats a lot. But it does have bug netting, and oppressive bugs aren't an issue late in the season in the PNW. You have a stout shelter, so that means you can minimize some other things.

(WSSEM?) A tarp is a MUCH lighter option. (19 oz)

* * * * * *
A 32 oz sleeping bag is plenty warm, and Feathered Friends make high quality stuff. But, with a full tent, it may be overkill. The BPL COCOON quilt is lighter, and so its the GoLite ULTRA 20 Down Quilt
(WSSEM?) Backpacking Light PRO 90 Quilt (13 oz)

* * * * * *
The JAM2 is the gold standard. But take a scizzor to anything extraneous. You'll nock a few ounces off. It also has a foam pad in it, and makes a good addition to the
sleeping system under your legs as a pad.
(WSSEM?) Gossamer Gear G6 Whisper "Uberlite" (3.7 oz)


* * * * * *

A 10 ounce URSAK in the Olympics? This is NOT required by the Park service. Remember - You aren't in the Sierras anymore. Ditch it and take a 40 foot piece of string. (less than 2 oz). Three days of food should weigh in at about 4.5 pounds, easily hauled into a tree (and there are LOTS of trees).

Ditch the ground sheet. It's redundant with the tent.

Ditch the space blanket.

Ditch the extra Safari shirt (6.5)

Go down to just one plastic bag as waterproofing.

Ditch the titanium bowl. Better yet, you are solo camping, so a 1.3 liter pot is totally overkill. A simple titanium mug is superior.

Ditch the extra underwear, you'll be fine without' em.

A knife AND a multi-tool. Don't take both.

Matches AND a swedish flint? Don't take both.

30 micro pour tabs for 3 days? That's too much, just re-package what you need. Plus the Olympics is blessed with VERY clean water.
*Read this:

Re-package the soap, talk. bug stuff sun-block and such in smaller containers.

Ditch the back-up light, just take the smaller Photon Freedom.

Ditch the signal mirror. It won't mean anything in the Olympics in the big trees.

Ditch the toilet paper - seriously! Read this:

peace from idaho,

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/15/2008 10:33:24 MDT Print View

Good list Eric. Great post Mike! I can only offer a couple other alternatives.

First, the Gossamer Gear Murmur is a pretty venerable pack at 7.5 ounces and is my choice over the Whisper Uberlight.

Second, in choosing between your knife and microtool, remember how handy the scissors on the Micra will be for opening micropur. If you skip the water treatment, then you might not need either. Benchmade knives are cool, but what do you really use it for?

Finally, I find I can skip gloves for fair summer weather, but YMMV. If I were bringing gloves to ONP, I would want to make sure they were fairly waterproof.

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/15/2008 12:40:10 MDT Print View

I think you've gotten some really good advice here.

From my perspective, however, it's difficult to give a lot of advice to a newcomer to the sport, to help them go ultralight.

Why? Well, it's simple .... you can't specify your preferences as of yet .... do you mind sleeping under a tarp or do you require a floored tent. Do you like a quilt or does your sleep suffer without a full mummy bag?

Back sleeper or side sleeper in the backcountry.

How much hassle factor do you prefer with your gear?

Do you mind replacing your gear every year or two or do you want gear that will last 20 years?

Do you mind sewing? Cold sleeper, warm sleeper?

Not to give you a headache, but as I and everyone else on this site figured out at one time or another, some things you just gotta try before you know if you like em or not.

To start ... I would recommend that you pick less expensive options and get out there hiking with some more experienced folks. Hiking clubs are great for that. You'll learn a lot but also figure out real quick what you like and what you don't. You'll also figure out what your personal safety limits are which is something only experience can tell you.

To Whit: I would recommend:

A used down bag to start.

A 8x10 campmor tarp, practicing different pitching techniques in your backyard ... a LOT before you hit the trail.

A good bug bivy, used is ok.

An alcohol stove and a beer can pot, like the ones at, until you determine just what type of stove you'd like.

A Good high loft synthetic insulating jacket and ultralight windshirt, a very warm hat ... and GOOD wool socks.

Good raingear.

Decant all your liquids into smaller containers like the ones carried here on BPL.

Carry three ways you KNOW you can build a fire.

A used G pack or a Used Granite Gear pack, or something like that.

This way you can get a feel for your preferences without spending a ton of money right up front ... and spend your cash on things you KNOW you want in the second and third season your into the sport.

Just my 2 cents ....

tyler milke
(lecherojr) - F
redundancy in fire and first aid gear on 07/15/2008 13:04:26 MDT Print View

ok, I am brand new here, but I can't agree with telling someone to not carry more than one form of fire starting. That is just being reckless, you take a spill into a river and cant get your soaking wet matches to light...what do you do then?
I advocate carrying at least 2 forms of fire starting equipment, one of them a ferro rod and striker.
I feel the same about a knife, carrying a good fixed blade or folding single blade backed up by a multi tool is a good idea IMO
and unless I read wrong he's got his pack down to 16 lbs for a first time light trip-seems pretty good to me.

Then again, I will always carry more wieght to have redundant survival and first aid gear.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/15/2008 15:17:22 MDT Print View

In reply to the previous posting.

I have a lot of camping experience, and here's what I've learned about myself. I think it's totally okay to take ONE fire starting tool.

I take ONE mini-bic lighter. That's all.

If I fall in a river, it will eventually dry out. THat said, it's stored in a zip-loc baggie, so no worries.

Same for the knife. For solo-camping in the summer I take ONE single edge razor blade (in a holder, 0.1 oz total). If I'm out for a long time, I take that, and a small pair of kiddie scissors.

I think that we can all come up with situations where we would truly require that "just in case" piece of gear. Are these a true concern? Or are they highly improbable? I feel like I am creative and self-reliant, and I should do just fine without ANY extraneous or redundant "just-in-case" gear.

For me - The Wilderness experience is lovely and rewarding. I do NOT see it as a challenge. I find it enormously rewarding to take ONLY what I truly need.


Joe Westing
(pedro87) - F
Re: redundancy in fire and first aid gear on 07/15/2008 15:26:29 MDT Print View

Tyler -

I partially agree w/ you. I think that 2 forms of fire starting equipment is a good idea because:
1) fire-starting gear is generally very light (mini bic, waterproof matches, flint +steel)

2) if you ever do get in trouble or get hypothermic, the ability to start a fire for signaling and warmth is the most important thing you could do. You need to be able to stay warm while staying put (especially since for UL backpacking you are not bringing a ton of redundant clothing)

I like to use flint and steel (such as the Firesteel Mini sold on this site) as 1 form of fire starting equipment because it has a very long lifespan (hundreds of strikes). I like to use waterproof matches (such as the REI Stormproof matches) because they are truly "stormproof" and can light virtually anything.

However, I disagree about carrying redundant knifes/blades/multi-tools. I don't even think carrying 1 knife is truly necessary. I can only see 2 purposes for carrying a knife: first aid and fire building. For first aid, I carry around one of those tiny scissors from the Swiss Army Knife classic. It is not super durable but I keep it protected. It can cut bandages, moleskin, gauze, etc. I cannot think of any other first aid uses for a knife. For firebuilding, I agree that a knife makes building a fire easier and more convenient (and I would carry a knife if I used a wood stove or planned on making a campfire) but I do not think it is really necessary. Any piece of wood that is too thick for me to break with my foot would be too thick for me to cut w/ my knife. If I missed any good reason for bringing a knife please tell me.

EDIT: Mike you beat me to it. Thats what happens when I try to write a longish post :)

Edited by pedro87 on 07/15/2008 15:40:32 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: redundancy in fire and first aid gear on 07/15/2008 18:17:16 MDT Print View

If I am hiking alone, I'd probably take three ways to make fire (waterproof matches, firesteel, lighter) as advocated by most preparedness experts like Cody Lundin, Doug Ritter, etc.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
gear list responses on 07/16/2008 23:49:00 MDT Print View

Thanks, folks! Its very satisfying to get so much good advice about a list I've researched and pored over for days. I'm ready to start on version 2 of the list: lighter and better.

One question re tarps: Do most here use trekking poles? I don't and it seems like that takes away some of the weight advantage vs. a single wall tarp tent (with floor). (19oz tarp + two 2oz poles + bug bivy + ground cloth > 24oz of tent.) I wonder if anyone relies on being able to find suitable sticks at each campsite, which might work depending on circumstances.

And thanks again, folks. Good advice across the board!

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: gear list responses on 07/17/2008 00:07:55 MDT Print View

In the Olympics you will have more then enough trees to use to pitch a tarp. Or as you get closer to your camp site you can use the "ray-way" stick searching method before you arrive in camp i.e., pick up 2 sticks the size and shape you need and use them for poles. Again, there will be plenty of these in the Olympics.

A tarp with or without trekking poles is far lighter then a true tent. You can get a tarp as light as 4+ oz's. A ground cloth is only 3-4 oz's or lighter. A bug bivy isn't necessary either.
Henry's 24 oz tarp tent is really a glorified tarp with a bug bivy built in. It is a viable option depending on "your" needs.
With all of this stuff you have to decide is it "important or necessary"
BTW, you will love the Olympics no matter where you go.

Edited by bestbuilder on 07/17/2008 00:11:49 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: gear list responses on 07/17/2008 00:27:30 MDT Print View

I use tarps pretty exclusivly and I dont use poles. Like he said most places have trees, bushes, and sticks that can be found. I got a pair of MLD carbon fiber poles for tarping just for the convenience. They fold down very small and are cheaper and lighter than trekking poles.

As for fire starting materials, If you go with just one I would vote for a firesteel. It is water proof and it wont run out on you. No need to put it in a ziplock just wipe it off. But, you need to bring some tinder and that you need to keep dry. But, you can learn to find natural tinder in case it does get wet.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Newbie ultralighter gear list on 07/20/2008 20:48:15 MDT Print View

I don't use trekking poles and it's EASY to find sticks. Don't worry, the woods are loaded with 'em.

Please - Post your new list!

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
New list & postmortem. on 07/21/2008 01:22:49 MDT Print View

My trip was a great, brief success
and here are photos of all the lovely wildflowers, etc. The pack felt great, and light, and so much better than previous slogs. I hiked 17 miles all laden the first day (most of them intentionally - had to turn back when the trail got lost in the snow), 12 the next, which I could never have done with the old way.

Due to a pregnant wife, had to negotiate the trip down to one night out, but with the mileage, that turned out to be fine.

As requested, my new list, is actually the same URL as my old
list (which has been updated to exactly reflect what I brought), with a new column for next time. It shaves off 2 1/2 lbs base pack weight.

A few things I brought just to try them out, others because I wasn't confident leaving them out yet.

Brief postmortem: My bag was indeed overkill (but excellent). Maybe I'll get a lighter bag someday, but this one's new.

Same goes for the tent. I'll try a tarp one of these days, if it will save me weight, but the *really* light ones seem to be out of stock everywhere.

I've been studying and experimenting with stoves (a lot!), so jury's still out.