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making the transition, seeking help with gear
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Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/17/2008 23:20:52 MDT Print View

I am making the transition to ultralight gear.

current gear:

-arcteryx bora 80 pack
-big agnes pitch pine + insulated air core pad
-msr miniworks water filter
-caldera cone setup w/1.3liter titanium evernew
- mountain hardwear hammerhead 2 tent

the tent is around 7lbs, the msr is really too heavy, the bora 80 is a long distance winter pack, so i will need a new pack as well. i think the big agnes is fine, the pitch pine is one of the lightest bags there are.

so those are the big weights guys, now to lighten up. I would like you guys to recommend me a tent that is strong, i don want a tarp that will leak in the tub, and blow over in a storm. I prefer some strength, weatherproffness. As far as weight, sub 3 lbs. I am considering hammocks, but am turned off because of the winter issues with them. I also need some filtration suggestions. I was thinking of iodine with a gold coffee filter for the floaties.

As far as packs, i need something that balances and is comfortable. the whole point of going light is comfort, and i do not want a superlight pack that pulls on my shoulders or does'nt provide comfort. I am looking for 2lbs or less in a pack. Current considerations: ULA packs, Aarn packs, Mariposa plus, golite pinnacle. Aarn packs fascinate me the most, and i think while they weigh more, they will feel lighter.

also for fall and winter clothing: i need some ultralight ideas for clothes for these seasons. The coldest temps i will probably encounter will be 30F.


Thom Kendall
(kendalltf) - F

Locale: IL
re: making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/18/2008 07:14:55 MDT Print View

Please take no offense but I smell a noob. LOL I am more of a lurker than a contributor on this forum but I would say that everyone has an opinion. I still use primitive camping gear because it is lite and I like it but on to your question. I would read through the gear lists to get ideas. If you have not I would also recommend picking up the backpackinglight book. Ultra lite is more a state of mind than strictly gear. I would also suggest you find someone around you that is an ultra lite (if possible) and try their gear if they let you. I am sorry I am not more help but I do not use modern packs, tents, or clothes. Best of luck with your transition. TFK

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
background on 10/18/2008 09:24:21 MDT Print View

i am new to ultralight hiking. but have been hiking since i was a child with my father. I know a great deal about natrual survival, so ultralight techniques are nothing new to me. I have taken several mountaineering courses while at university and have experience through two survival courses. I have been hunting and fishing all my life. None of this is new to me except the gear. We never had any nice gear and never needed any. Just now i am deciding to invest in this stuff. So i am new to these technologies, but as far as the strategies employed such as living off hte land, fire starting, food catching/gathering, constructing shelters, natrual navigation, finding water, etc, none of that is new. my issue is the new technology. I do not have time to sit around and read all the reviews of new gear, nor stay up-to-date daily with what comes out. so i simply need suggestions about the new technologies in clothing, shelter, etc.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 10/18/2008 09:28:26 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/18/2008 10:32:40 MDT Print View

Isaac, It sound like you are making the the same step I did a little over a year ago. I went from a base weight of around 27 lbs to 14 lbs by swapping out some of my big items. Here is what I moved to...

pack = Gregory G-Pack (2.7 lbs)
bag = marmot hydrogen 30 degree bag (1.4 lbs)
pad = ridge rest (9 ounces)
tent = MSR Hubba (3.2 lbs)
rain suit = marmot precip (1.3 lbs)

Though these are not the kind of items that gain much attention here I would recommend each of them for an initial peak into lighweight hiking. Some other options might be a Granite Gear Vapor Trail Pack or a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1.

Side note...I found I gained so much freedom by dropping 10+ lbs I wanted more and fast. I have swapped out most of my items at least one time over as I explored different light weight techiniques. Now I'm down to 5-6 lbs for my base weight. Only problem is it isn't cheap.


Edited by jshortt on 10/18/2008 11:28:25 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
danke on 10/18/2008 11:40:12 MDT Print View

danke (thankyou)

what is your current items for weights 5-6lbs?

Edited by isaac.mouser on 10/18/2008 11:42:54 MDT.

Scott McCain
(Highlander366) - F - M

Locale: Idaho
Help with your Gear on 10/18/2008 12:11:55 MDT Print View

Issac seems that we may have had the same tastes in gear. My first set of bping purchases looked like this:

Arcteryx Bora 80
Big Agnes Encampment + Insul. Air Core
(No filter)
Optimus Nova Stove
Sierra Designs Omega
Total Weight - 363.5 oz. or 22.72#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Current Gear:
ULA Circuit
Western Mountaineering Megalite/ Z Lite
Aqua Mira
White Box Stove
Tarptent Double Rainbow
Total Weight - 129.6 oz. or 8.1# (Weight Savings - 14.62#)

I love all my gear and really have no desire to change any of it. The only exception is I am starting to jump into MYOG and want to make a tarp. TT DR is not big enough for me and the two kids.

To answer some of your questions:
Ref filters - Aqua Mira and a bandana work awesome and weigh little.
Cold Temps - I use Patagonia R1 top and bottoms, Smartwool socks, Icebreaker gloves, Smartwool beanie, and a Western Mount. Flash Jacket. This can take me below 30. My rain wear I have Precip tops and bottoms, both work great in mod-heavy rain plus cut the wind quite well.

Hope this helps...

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/18/2008 12:33:54 MDT Print View

Isaac, It depends on the weather...but on my last trip it looked like this for the major items (20 degree plus weather)...

Pack - Golite Jam2 - 19 oz (trimmed straps, removed hydration sleeve, dropped sternum strap)
Bag - Golite Ultra 20 quilt - 18.65 oz (dropped the under straps)
Bivy - Montbell Breeze Dry Tec - 6.3 oz
Pad - Gos Gear Thinlight - 3.4 oz (trimmed to 38")
Tarp - Integral Design 5x8 silnylon - 6.8 oz
8 Ti stake and 24' spectraline - 3 oz
Insulating Jacket - Montbell UL down inner - 6.9 oz
Rain Jacket - Golite Virga - 8.25 oz
Rain Pants - Golite Reeds - 4.75 oz (I removed the zippers)
Stove - Homemade V8 Can (0.30 oz)
Ti Mug/Pot - Brasslight 550 w/lid and handles - 3.15 oz
Light - Photon X - 0.3 oz
knife - swiss army classic - 0.75 oz
water purification - Katadyn Micropur Tablets < 1 oz
other clothes - fleece hat (1 oz) and gloves (1 oz)
plus other small misc items.

If it is going to be 40+ degrees and only a few nights I can get by with...

Pack - Golite Ion - 7 oz (removed sternum strap and hi strap)
Bag - Montbell Down Thermal Sheet - 14.5 oz
Tarp/Rain Gear - Integral Designs SilPoncho - 8.65
WindShirt - Golite Wisp - 2.85 oz
Drop the rainjacket and pants (use poncho)
Keep the other items (bivy, light, stove, pot, etc).

The thing was I had to learn to reduce my gear enough to no longer need a framed pack, I had to learn to not be afraid to sleep outside a tent (my personal issue) and to be ok with solo travel, I had to learn how to pack a frameless pack, sleep using a quilt and pad, I needed to think through first aid situations, learn to cook, eat, drink from one pot using minimal fuel, etc. The trick was I didn't do it at once, each trip I decided to try something new. It has been a blast.


Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Making the Transition on 10/18/2008 12:53:18 MDT Print View

Hi Isaac,

Like you currently, I went through the same progression to "lightitude" a few years ago. I was also coming from a lifetime of outdoor experience, working in both outdoor retail and experiential education. A big part of the transition for me was mountaineering; self-supported trips required a critical eye when it came to what gear made the cut. A rock rack, screws, deadmen, pickets, ice tools, ropes; that stuff weighs a ton, but you're not climbing anything without it! Anyways ...

Something like the Gregory G-Pack (I still use mine) or maybe the REI Cruise UL would be a good place to start. Not too expensive, still has a good frame so it can support a decent amount of weight while you make the transition, and pretty widely available. If you wait a couple of months, the new REI convertible pack looks pretty interesting, the removable frame will allow you a frameless pack when your baseweight is really light, and a frame for heavier loads.

For a tarp, I really like my GG White Lightnin tarp. There are lighter options, but the webbing makes setup pretty quick if you're super-experienced with tarps. I also really liked the bias-taped ridgeline seam; I never worry about too much tension on the ridge seam! Plus, when you get really comfortable pitching tarps, you can just cut the webbing off and make some small loops. I'm about to do this to mine, and I'm going to add some linelocs to keep setup and adjustment simple.

The options mentioned above are also relatively inexpensive; the packs are under $150 and can be found on sale often. (I bought my G-Pack for $75 from STP) The tarp is about $125, I got mine for $90 on sale if I remember correctly.

Good luck on lightening up, it has made my trips so much more enjoyable. Your in the right place; this is the best online community in existence. See you out there!

Rick Cheehy
(kilgoretrout2317) - F

Locale: Virginia
Re: making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/18/2008 17:25:22 MDT Print View

Mariposa plus is a very nice pack and on sale right now, not for off trail survivor type bushwacking, but most ul packs are flimsy. Packed well it'll treat you right. Tarp and flimsy are not always the same, but I think you might dig the tarp tent rainbow, if you carry poles. Imo "feels lighter" is always a lie when all is packed well.As for clothes if you're not wearing smartwool (or any marino wool) it will change your life man. Then get the lightest down (lighter) or synth(safer, possibly) sweater you can afford and cover it up with a winshirt. This site has great clothing options if you got the cash to blow.Also try sierra trading post and rei and shop the sales. Find something you like, post it on this site and get 300 opinions by morning.If you get something lame, turn around and sell it on this site one mans trash...But the most important part of the thinking process is light is right.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/18/2008 18:30:13 MDT Print View

If you're going off trail... don't get a Spinnaker or Sylnylon pack... go with a 210 denier pack from ULA of Six Moon Designs. I got the 26-30oz SMD Traveller for my Ground SAR works and altho' I find it a little big (altho' it may be just right for winter)... I love it. Awesome pack.

But for on-trail recreation hikes, I always turn to my 3.8 oz Gossamer Gear "Whisper" pack. Of course, such a pack only works with a sub-8 pound base weight... preferably around a 5 pound base weight. And 'pulling on your shoulders' isn't really an issue with such a setup because the most the pack will ever weigh (with food for 3-4 days and some water) is maybe 15 pounds... at it's heaviest.

As for the comment about tarps leaking of falling over... I guess it depends again on where you're using them and the conditions. I've used tarps, tarp tents, the Gossamer Gear Spinnshelter and "The One" and they are all rock solid and don't leak. Tarp Tent makes really good solid shelters. But if you want something more traditional (double wall)... then the Hubba is a great bet.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Packs on 10/18/2008 21:35:08 MDT Print View

My first weight drop, if you want to call it that, was down to a Kelty 50th Anniversay. Shortly after that, I went to a REI UL Cruise 60, which I've been very happy with. Just went down again, got a Gossamer Gear Mariposa on their garage sale, that I'll be testing against a Golite Jam2. And the Mariposa Plus is supposed to be a heavier fabric than the normal silnylon, FWIW.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
making the transition on 10/18/2008 23:09:24 MDT Print View

I started the transition 4 years ago; I'm still shaving off an ounce or two here and there trying to get the weight a little lower. For some things, though, I require comfort--especially in my sleeping system.

Here are my "big 4." Some of what you want depends on where you're going to be. I'm in the Pacific NW 3 season and sometimes high in the Rockies in summer (the latter region has more "interesting" weather and below freezing nights even in midsummer):

Pack: Six Moon Designs Comet, with the optional stays, 27 oz.
Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering Ultralight Super, 24.8 oz. (short size)
Pad: POE InsulMat Max Thermo (now the Ether Thermo), 16.9 oz.,(48" length)
Tent--seems to be eternally in transition:
Started with Tarptent Squall 2, 36.3 oz with side stakes and guylines and too much seam sealer (this was my first seam-sealing attempt)
Switched to Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo, 26 oz. with stakes and seam sealing (not so much seam sealer this time). Found that when tied to tent by inclement weather the tent and its ventilation system are too small for me plus 80-lb. dog. It is definitely a solo tent--get a two-person tent if you're taking a dog or small humans.
Currently back with the Tarptent Squall 2.

Both the SMD Lunar Solo and the Tarptent Squall 2 have held up really well against full-body Labrador Retriever tail-wags, dogs and kids running through and tripping over guy ropes, me tripping over the black front guy rope of the Lunar Solo in the dark, Rocky Mountain cloudbursts complete with torrential rain, high winds and hail. They look fragile but are plenty strong. They are definitely not winter tents, however.

I plan to get the Gossamer Gear Squall Classic when they start making them again. Estimate the same weight as the Lunar Solo, but should have more room and better ventilation for me and the dog. Ask me a year from now about this tent!

The usual advice is to buy the pack last, after you've bought the rest of your gear. That way you know the pack will fit the size and weight of the rest of your gear, and you can try out the pack with what you'll actually be carrying (include the equivalent of a week's food, fuel and water) to be sure the pack will be comfortable with what you'll really be carrying.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Transition on 10/18/2008 23:39:19 MDT Print View

I also carry the POE Insulmat Max Thermo. It is an essential; I can't sleep without it.

Edited by skinewmexico on 10/18/2008 23:40:49 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/19/2008 01:02:35 MDT Print View

the msr is really too heavy... indeed. I would suggest aqua mira or any other Chlorine Dioxide based treatment. More effective than iodine, and not as nasty tasting. Or do a gravity filter using a couple of platypus containers and an inline filter. Since I used a platypus for hydration, it's just an extra 6oz to have a system that processes 3L of water in around 4 minutes by holding up or hanging it on a tree.

As to shelter... lots of choices. I am not sure the phrase "don't want a tarp that will leak in the tub". Does that mean you want a fully and sealed and waterproof bathtub floor, or does it mean something else? I wouldn't rule out tarps or tarptents. Several are surprising good in nasty weather. For example, there was a report on this forum about using a MLD superfly which weights around 12oz in a fairly nasty storm. My experiences with the superfly (simular to the golite shangri-la 2) are very similar. Lots of other suggestion on my recommended shelter page.

If you are comfortable using a hammock and go places where you won't have trouble hanging... that don't give up on a hammock just because of cold weather. Yes, you will need under insulation. But one of the hyper-light hammocks + under quilt + over quilt can be approx the same weight as an insulated air pad, quilt or sleeping bag, shelter.

As far as packs go... all the packs you mentioned are decent packs. I would add to the list the granite gear vapor trail (what I have been using for several years) the packs from six moon designs.

> also for fall and winter clothing... low of 30F

I typically have found that a light base (I like powerdry) + a windshirt are enough protection for me when I am moving. When I stop and need to warm up I have found that one of the lighter weight high loft jackets using either down or synthetic insulation have worked well. Something like the montbell thermawrap jacket or vest, down inner jacket or vest. Several other companies like feathered friends, patagonia, BPL, and several others make jackets that compress nicely, weight less than 8-12oz, and are quite warm.

For a lot more thoughts see my recommended outdoor gear pages.

Edited by verber on 10/19/2008 01:05:23 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Making the Transition on 10/20/2008 22:42:46 MDT Print View

I'd like to comment that Mark's website is an invaluable source of information. Unlike many sites, he makes an effort to keep up with recent gear innovations. I've recommended it many times!

Michael Oppegaard
(mike_o) - F

Locale: Coastal NC
Squall on 10/21/2008 10:39:25 MDT Print View


How has the squall held up to toenails? I'm looking at the squall 2 now, especially since it is on sale but I'm worried about the floor and my dogs nails.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Help With Gear on 10/21/2008 12:04:30 MDT Print View

I would recommend the following:

Tent: I would go with a tarp tent, by, or maybe (there are fewer offerings from Gossamer Gear). A single walled tarp tent is a very good compromise when moving to ultralight. You get all the bug protection and a lot of room, while saving a bunch of weight. A single walled structure has disadvantages, but makes up for that with their weight savings. The tarp tents mentioned all have good ventilation, which helps reduce condensation (the biggest drawback to single walled tents).

Pack: Go for a good compromise pack. The packs mentioned (like the G-Pack) are good choices. I would put the Granite Gear Vapor Trail in that category as well (I like mine quite a bit). If possible, try a pack on before buying (although there are some great packs out there that are mail order only). I agree that comfort and support are more important than saving a few ounces (especially if you are still carrying a fair amount of weight).

Water Filter: A pump filter is heavy. Consider switching to an inline filter with a platypus or treatment. With an inline filter, the water bottle is "dirty" but the water you drink is always filtered (you just have to remember to use the filter). Water management is tricky and will result in more weight savings than any choice of method. If you know that you will be crossing several streams, then you should not carry water, but instead drink plenty at every water crossing. Of course, you don't want to make a mistake and run out (it is much better to carry too much water than to go thirsty). An inline filter has the advantage over treatment in that you can get clean water immediately (which can save some time if you drink water as you go). Other than that though, treatment saves weight.

Bag and Pad: You may want to leave these alone. If I'm not mistaken, the Pitch Pine is a 40 degree bag. Since the sleeping bag doesn't provide a huge amount of warmth, you want to make sure your pad does. An insulated pad does, so you are in good shape. You might consider closed cell pad (from Gossamer Gear, for example) but that might not be as comfortable (and, depending on how thick it is, as warm).

Don't forget to search this site for reviews and gear reports. A lot of stuff gets reviewed here by experts and then forgotten. For example, there is a lot of talk about the Aarn packs (an intriguing design) and it turns out two of their packs were reviewed several years ago.

Edited by rossbleakney on 10/21/2008 12:06:14 MDT.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: seeking help with gear on 10/21/2008 22:26:19 MDT Print View

The Double Rainbow with the optional liner gives the effect of a double wall tent without the weight.

But if you want comfort, it's hard to beat a hammock. The insulation can be managed, it's just a matter of getting what works best for you. One of the simplest ways of staying warm down to around 40 F is a wide 1/4" Gossamer Gear Thin Light inside the hammock.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Re: seeking help with gear on 10/21/2008 22:33:30 MDT Print View

For clothing, consider something like the Montbell U.L. Down Inner Parka along with Merino wool base layers. I've found Icebreaker wool especially nice, and the stuff from BPL here feels great and is really light. It seems a little fragile though since it is so thin.

DriDucks are inexpensive and light rain gear.

Personally I like the REI Sahara convertible pants.

There are a lot of clothing options out there, and everyone pretty much has a different opinion of what works for them. I think that is one area you just have to experiment a little. Fortunately any mistakes can be relegated to 'casual' use.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
making the transition, seeking help with gear on 10/22/2008 00:41:24 MDT Print View

Mike, re dog toenails: In the 5 years that Hysson and I have been camping, I haven't had a problem. I do keep Hysson's claws as short as I can, clipping them twice monthly. There was no problem even in the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo with the ultralight floor (a bit thinner than what's in the Squall). However, he's in the tent only at night to sleep or (when we were in Colorado) during the every-evening thundershower. He was tired enough during our Colorado trip last summer that he slept through all the thunder, lightning, hail, etc. I have a piece of Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad under him.

Keep a close watch on your pooch and don't let him scramble around on the tent floor--or your sleeping bag! I think that crate-training a dog really helps him to adjust to lying there quietly in the tent.