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Starting with the Basics
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Brian Hudson
(brianh) - F
Starting with the Basics on 11/20/2008 09:28:43 MST Print View

This isn't a full gear list, I just want a few suggestions about my current selections so far. I'm not exactly aiming to be ultralight, more of a mix between ultralight and light. I think a weight of about 25 lbs with food for about 3/4 days should be good.

I plan to use this equipment for multi-day hiking in South Jersey or PA, but I want my options open for month or longer hiking along the AT.

I'm trying to purchase most of my gear through EMS because of a friend who works there. I also have a decent giftcard and membership to REI so I can break away there if needed. Hopefully EMS can special order some items for me though.

Anyway, my thoughts for now have been:

GoLite Jam2

Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1
However the tarptents have caught my eye.

Sleep bag:
I think I should stick with Synthetic, I'm worried I can't take care of a Down bag. I'd like to get more experience before I get one. I haven't set my mind anything here. I'd like to get a lighter option than EMS or REI has. These are the best I can find with a 20 degree temp.
North Face Cat's Meow
EMS Velocity

Please let me know what you think.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Starting with the Basics on 11/20/2008 09:43:16 MST Print View

Do you know if you sleep warm, cold, or normal?

The cats meow is more like a 30 degree bag based on reviews I've seen. Would a quilt work or are you limited to a bag?

Brian Hudson
(brianh) - F
reply on 11/20/2008 13:04:26 MST Print View

To be honest I'm not sure about my sleeping needs. I figure I will consider myself a normal sleeper and if that doesn't work I'll adjust accordingly. However, I have a feeling I may be a warm sleeper.

I never considered using a quilt. I did a little searching on them and I'm really excited to get a close up look at one. I'll have to look into this more.

Thank you

Brett Grizzle
(bdgriz) - F

Locale: Northeast GA
re starting with the basics on 11/20/2008 15:27:22 MST Print View

the Jam2 should work out great, about the right size/load carrying ability for the AT.

If you spend much time camping on the AT when the thru-hikers are coming through, you'll see tarptents galore. there is a reason for this, Henry makes a great product that's light weight and works well.

The AT can be very wet, a synthetic bag isn't a bad idea.

and lastly, if you have gear that works for a 4 day hike on the AT, that same gear will more than likely work for a month or however long you want to hike on the AT because you almost never need to go more than 4 or 5 days between resupply point.

Pedro Arvy
(PedroArvy) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne
Get a down bag on 11/20/2008 15:43:42 MST Print View

Get a down bag, you will take care of it. It's too expensive not to take care of!
Put all your gear in a giant plastic bag inside your back pack.
That should easily keep it dry.
Synthetic bags are significantly heavier for the same warmth.
I recommend a Western Mountaineering Ultralite as a great 3 season bag.
I have recommended it twice to 2 beginner hiker friends and both loved it.

Also, go the tarp tent. A Contrail is nice.

Edited by PedroArvy on 11/20/2008 15:45:14 MST.

Roman Ryder
(RomanLA) - F

Locale: Southwest Louisiana
Great Choices on 11/20/2008 15:47:04 MST Print View

Those are all solid choices. I considered a Jam2, but decided to go with a Granite Gear Vapor Trail for my first pack. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get my load small/light enough initially. I plan to buy a Jam2 in the future, to drop another pound. I'm going to replace my tent with a Big Agnes SL1 (maybe tomorrow!). I'd like to get a single wall tent, but the condensation would be horrible where I live. I'll probably pick up a TarpTent Contrail to use in other areas though. I tried a Cat's Meow, but it was too small for me. I ended up going with a Montbell Super Stretch Burrow Bag #2 (it's a 25F bag and I was warm in the 30's with no base layer, so I believe the rating is correct). I would have gone with the down version of the bag, but I wasn't sure if I'm allergic to down or not.

Edited by RomanLA on 11/20/2008 15:49:08 MST.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Starting with the Basics on 11/20/2008 15:50:23 MST Print View

I generally use down but my MLD quilt is a little lighter than my WM Versalite and nearly as warm.

Edited by simplespirit on 11/20/2008 16:28:36 MST.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Starting with the Basics on 11/20/2008 16:59:00 MST Print View

Brian, I have a Jam2 and its a great lightweight pack, but I am concerned that your other choices dont match up to a light weight load that best works with the Jam2. A cats meow and a double wall tent are leaning towards a base weight of 16+ lbs...I know I am making a lot of guesses about everything else, but you can tell a lot about a persons list by looking at the big three. I would recommend going with a semi framed pack based on where you are probably at with your light weight journey. Take a look at the Granite Gear vapor trail or the Gregory G-Pack.

Or your other option is to go with lighter weight options for your shelter & bag. I would not hesitate to go with a down bag...a marmot hydrogen on sale is a steal of a bag. If you really want a tent then try a single wall. There are multiple options under 2 lbs.

Before buying a pack I'd suggest you make a list of each and every thing you plan to carry. Weigh each item with a decent digital scale and add up the weight. Post that list and we can help out more then you will want:)


Brian Hudson
(brianh) - F
wow, great feedback! on 11/20/2008 22:00:36 MST Print View

Lots of great comments.

A lot of the gear suggestions are great, I really wish I had a lot of these items available to me. The problem with many of them is that I cannot find them in local retailers. I'm trying not to get too carried away with spending. The more I can get from EMS the better (30% or more off regular pried items) for my wallet. I wish some of the gear created by larger companies can be specially ordered and still receive my friend's employee discount, but I'm not getting my hopes up. :)

I'm probably going to stick with synthetic. I feel overtime I will get too comfortable with it and baby it less and less. Also, I'm interested in modifying a bag into a quilt thanks to Chris' suggestion, and I'd like to have my first try on a less expensive item. Can't return it once it's been 'damaged'.

A list is a great idea. I just can't give any weights, I don't own the items nor do I have a scale. I should get one. I haven't bought it yet, but I'm kinda set on getting the Jam2, but let me know what you think after you read my list. Is 16+ lbs not a good base weight for this bag? I've read it can handle under 30, but my aim was to keep it below 25.

I'm open to changing the tent around, but I'd really like to have it come through EMS, and they don't carry too many lightweight options. I think they have tarps, but I'm not ready to go there yet. Having critters snuggle up next to me is keeping me away.

Unofficial list:
-Sleep Bag
-Sleep Pad
-stuff sacks to hold gear separately
-Pack Liner
-Groundsheet (garbage bag)
-Rain Gear
-Base Clothes (shirt, pants, underwear)
-Thermal Underwear
-Socks(2 pair)
-Stove + Fuel
-Water Container(s)
-Water Treatment
-Compass + Map
-Digital Camera (considered my luxury item)

I'm probably forgetting some important things, but I figure this is a good start. This is focused toward a 3 season hike.

Jamie, I know it isn't specific at all but I hope it gives you a better understanding of my estimate weight.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: wow, great feedback! on 11/21/2008 01:04:29 MST Print View

Quick read through -- gloves.


Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
GEAR list for Brian on 11/21/2008 08:32:53 MST Print View


Here's a really good "intro" gear list from the summer NOLS lightweight courses. A lot of work went into this list to make it helpful to the first time user...


Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Gear list for Brian on 11/21/2008 08:44:58 MST Print View

The JAM2 is pretty small for a 20 degree synthetic bag. It probably wont fit.

- and -

You wrote:
"I'm worried I can't take care of a Down bag."

Oh c'mon - Please - Be real. Just put it in a plastic bag when it's in your pack, and dry it out on a nice sunny day. You'll be FINE.

You want a "full" tent AND a synthetic bag? If you have a tent, you can keep a bag dry.

And - Why a 20 degree bag for New Jersey? Are you planning on winter camping? A 40 degree down bag AND a "full" tent will be perfect for anything in a 3-season east coast environment.

I suggest a 40 degree down QUILT (GoLite makes an really nice one!)

I also suggest a simple TARP. The only reason to use a "full" tent is for severe bug camping, and that's really just a few weeks a year in New Jersey. The rest of the year would be fine with a tarp.

And yes, a 40 degree DOWN quilt AND a simple TARP would be perfect, and very lightweigh. Sleep in your clothes. Do this and you'll enjoy the hiking SO much more...

Also - you wrote:
"I don't own a scale."

Well, this is the MOST IMPORTANT item you ca have if you want to do any kind of light weight camping. Really!

Edited by mikeclelland on 11/21/2008 08:48:12 MST.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: wow, great feedback! on 11/21/2008 10:10:48 MST Print View

"I'm interested in modifying a bag into a quilt thanks to Chris' suggestion, and I'd like to have my first try on a less expensive item."

I suspect your cost in time and money will be lower to make it from scratch.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: wow, great feedback! on 11/21/2008 10:45:44 MST Print View

Take Mike's advice -- buy a scale before you buy anything else. Without a scale, you are just guessing at the weight of your gear.

Look at used gear if you want to save money. Also consider a RayWay kit if you really want a synthetic quilt, rather than modifying a sleeping bag.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Starting with the Basics on 11/21/2008 18:50:37 MST Print View

Brian, Let me toss out some ideas...first please consider the scale investment. $30 bucks on a digital scale from walmart will be extremely usefull. Next buy the book Lighten Up...everything in the book is great except for the pictures...just kidding Mike the pics are awesome.

I think several of us are thinking the same thing which is the Jam2 is a great pack, we just need to adjust a few things for you if you want that pack to work. As Mike points out a 20 degree synthetic bag will eat up that pack.

Here are my suggestions. As I go through these consider any item you want and go to a search engine and type "item sale" "marmot hydrogen sale" results in sale price of 232 vs 309 regular price... 25% off. Look to get most stuff around 20% off. This is so you are not stuck with an item from EMS trying to save a few $.

-Pack = Jam2 (yes since you are going to trim other items)
-Shelter = tarptent Contrail or Sublite Sil or six moon designs lunar soloE or Gossamer Gear The One (~1.5 lbs)
-Sleep Bag = golite ultra quilt or Jacks-R-Better No Snivler or marmot hydrogen or western mountainering megalite or montbell UL hugger #3 (all at or under 1.5 lbs)
-Sleep Pad = gossamer gear thinlight 3/8" or ridge rest or walmart blue foam (trim it down so its under 6 oz)
-stuff sacks to hold gear separately = REI Ultralight stuffsacks (you need 2 ... one for food and one for other items, pack your sleeping bag into the Jam2 without a stuff sack)
-Pack Liner = garbage bag
-Groundsheet (garbage bag) = none if using tent
-Rain Gear = Marmot Precip Jacket and Pants or Golite Virga Jacket and Reed Pants
-Base Clothes (shirt, pants, underwear) = LS synthetic T-shirt (REI MTS), lightweight convetible pants (REI sahara), synthetic underwear (exofficio worth the $)
-Thermal Underwear = none beside your base clothes already listed
-Jacket = Montbell Thermal Wrap or REI Woodland Fleece Jacket or REI Spruce Run or Mountain Hardwear compressor (im suggesting synthetic... the Montbell will save weight, but all under 16 oz)
-Socks(2 pair) = smartwool low cut (1 worn and 1 extra)
-Bandanna = 1 only
-Hat = Boonie Style, Columbia makes one I like + fleece cap
-Stove + Fuel = Alcohol (minibull designs sell many choice or get a caldera cone system)
-Pot = 550 snowpeak ti mug or Heineken 24 oz can pot
-Spork = titanium or GSL collapsible plastic
-Windguard = tin foil windscreen and foil lid for mug
-Lighter = mini bic
-Water Container(s) = 1 liter platypus and 2 liter platypus
-Water Treatment - Katadyn Micropur Tablets (no filter)
-Headlamp = 1 oz black diamond ion or just bring a photon freedom
-Firstaid = a couple of gauze pads, duct tape, 20xibuprofin, 4xBenydril, 4xImodium
-Compass + Map = color photocopy the section you will hike, a button compass works for me
-Knife = Swiss army classic (dont buy a bigger knife)
-Toothpaste/Brush = infant toothbrush and almost empty travel tube of paste (or brush with Dr Bonners soap)
-Digital Camera (considered my luxury item) = any 4-5 oz camera that is rechargeable for shorter trips (rechargeables last 3x times a set of double A's)

Items you are missing, or just not specified
- Fleece Hat (wanted to make sure you see this)
- Fleece Gloves
- DEET in mini dropper bottle
- Sunscreen in mini dropper bottle
- Camp soap in a mini dropper bottle
- Fuel Bottle - a contact solution bottle works great
- 30 feet of spectraline and plastic carabineer to bear bag
- book of matches (backup fire)
- hiking pole(s), i use only a staff but most of the shelters listed will need some pole or add lightweight ones if you dont hike with them

Please note that I am not suggesting the lightest items, but rather suggesting items that are tested and fairly durable that are also pretty easy to find and get for a fair price. The killer item is going to be the down bag, but worth every penny. If you want to save weight and bucks make the jump to tarp camping. My guess is with this list you can easily get your base weight under 10 lbs more likely 7 to 8 lbs.

Hope this helps


Edited by jshortt on 11/21/2008 19:05:48 MST.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Starting with the Basics on 11/21/2008 19:10:29 MST Print View

Brian, One more idea...if you really want to stick with a synthetic bag and you can sew, consider buying a ray-way quilt kit for 75 bucks.


Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Starting with the Basics on 11/22/2008 09:45:31 MST Print View

Brian, I realize this list is not going to show up well, but maybe you can decipher it. It is just packed items. It is a list with a total cost of $860 and weighs 7.27 lbs. It would include almost everything from scratch and keeps you inside a tent, but does have you using a quilt. The big items are sale prices I found researching a few sites this morning.

Item = Example oz cost
Pack = Jam2 21.0oz $69.00
Shelter = Contrail 24.0oz $150.00
Sleeping Bag = Golite Ultra 20 19.0oz $180.00
Pad = GG Thinlight 3/8" 6.0oz $20.00
Stuff Sacks = 2xREI Stuff sacks 1.2oz $18.00
Pack Liner = garbage bag 1.5oz $-
Ground Sheet = none 0.0oz $-
Rain Gear = Golite Virga & Reed Pants 13.6oz $115.00
Jacket = Thermal Wrap 8.8oz $105.00
Socks = smartwool PHD 2.0oz $20.00
Cold Hat = fleece cap 1.5oz $10.00
Stove = Caldera Cone+stove 2.0oz $30.00
Pot = 550 snowpeak 2.8 $25.00oz
Spoon = GSI Collapsible Spoon 0.3oz $6.00
Wind Screen = using cone 0.0oz $-
Lighter = mini bic 0.5oz $1.00
Water Containers = 1 lt + 2 lt platy 2.1oz $20.00
Water Treatment = Micropur Tabletsx18 1.0oz $10.00
Flashlight = Ion Headlamp 1.0oz $20.00
First Aid = Gauze, tape, pills, needle 1.0oz $-
Map+Compass = Photocopy+button compass 1.0oz $10.00
Knife = Swiss Army Classic 0.8oz $10.00
Teeth = Infant+travel paste+floss 1.0oz $1.00
Gloves = Fleece Gloves 1.5oz $10.00
Bug Dope = DEET in minidropper 0.5oz $5.00
Sunscreen = Sunscreen in minidropper 0.5oz $5.00
Soap = Dr Bonners in minidropper 0.5oz $5.00
Bear Bag = 30' spectra + mini biner 0.8oz $15.00
Extra Fire = book matches 0.5oz $-

Total Weight in oz 116.3
Total Cost $860.00 (internet current sales)
Total Weight 7.27 lbs

Adjust for yourself, just watch those little things that add pounds a self inflating matress:)

If you want alternatives to any item just ask.


Edited by jshortt on 11/22/2008 10:05:31 MST.

Brian Hudson
(brianh) - F
Re: Starting with the Basics on 11/22/2008 12:19:09 MST Print View

Wow, this community is amazing. I never expected to receive this much help and information.

Thank you for helping me with all of this. Especially Jamie and Mike. Again, thank you for all of the great suggestions.

Last night I ordered the Sublite Sil. I looked over all the tent options suggested and shopped around for while. This one was on sale and in the same price range I was in with my initial choice (even with the employee discount), and weighs less than half the weight. Not to mention all the appraisal I've heard about this company and product.

This is going to be a slow process for me to pick all the gear even with all the help. I never expected anyone to come up with a full list of suggestions and even search into prices. This is fantastic. I am truly grateful.

For the sleeping bag I found that REI carries the Marmot Hydrogen and it's on sale with a membership. It's listed for $300 and with 20% it knocks it down to around $240. I have a $100+ in gift cards and annual dividends. So is this bag worth it for ~$140 and using my gift cards or should I save the gift cards and look somewhere online? I'm going to go to the store when I can to see what I like and don't like in a bag. The prices you listed make me reconsider getting the hydrogen, and using the gift cards toward other items found in the store, like rain gear.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Once again, thank you for all the help.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Starting with the Basics on 11/22/2008 17:20:29 MST Print View

Brian, Nice choice with the sublight sil! As far as a bag, I have a hydrogen and I think it is one of the best mummy bags for the price. A buddy of mine took mine down to 20 degrees with significant wind just 2 weeks ago at 5500 ft on Mount Mitchell inside a bivy+tarp and he was fine. I've had it into the 20's several times before and it was great. The other bags that get a lot of attention are western mountaineering bags, but they are slightly tighter fit and cost more, but people love'm too.

With that tent choice and a 1.5lb down bag...the JAM2 is going to be perfect. One word or caution...Golite is about the release a new version of the Jam2 which is why the Jam2's are onsale everywhere. Personally I like the current model, but the new model is adding more to the back panel and possibly pockets to the belts. It also adds about 2 ounces so for me I'd buy the current one, but many folks will want the new model. But then again I've cut my Jam2 down to 16 oz so I really want less pack.

I found most of the prices at or Both are great places to make purchases. One thing about REI is if you buy the hydrogen from them and decide later that it is not right for you...they will take it back used and refund you the price in questions asked. So it makes buying the hydrogen a no risk option from them which is what they want.

Glad to help, Jamie