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2009 SHT Thru Hike List
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Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
more on 01/28/2009 19:06:40 MST Print View

Mike - The Pack, Shelter, Sleep System weigh in at a whopping 8 pounds 0.2 oz! That's a LOT. A true ultra-light hiker could easily go out with their entire base weight WELL under that number.

Uh... okay. I guess I'm not true then, but thanks. Keep in mind it's for 2 people for the first half - the kitchen, shelter, first aid, and some other items are shared.

Mike - Ospre Exos 46 is pretty heavy. There are lot's of lighter backpacks.

I think that you can find packs lighter than 2 pounds goes without saying.

Mike - What's a "mylar bag liner" ?

Really? It's a polyester based oven roaster bag - somewhat strong, very light, and waterproof. If lining a silnylon stuff sack (which would be used to make your sleeping bag take up less space), the tend to work pretty well. In fact, it's mentioned in BPL's own book that mylar bags combined with silnylon are a good UL method of protecting sleeping bags.

Mike - Why the stuff sack for the sleeping bag? Just use a trash compactor bag in the pack.

See above - smaller package. I'd also rather individually protect my sleeping bag from moisture. It's one minor ounce of insurance.

Mike - Why a true tent? WIll a tarp suffice?

I'd argue it's not a true tent, but whatever. I have a 13.5oz 8x10 ID SilTarp 2 and a 7.5 oz sheet of tyvek that would be perfect size. With the titanium stakes and guyline it's about 23.5 ounces. But, no - my wife is coming. :) I could use it for the second half, but there will be rain and bugs (ever been to Northern MN?), I don't have a bivy, etc, etc, etc.

Mike - Why a butane stove? Alcohol is lighter.

Covered that already. Stove is lighter, fuel is heavier. Take your pick. For the second half, I'll probably grab my alcohol stove. Most of our trips use the alcohol stove (homemade redbull variety).

Mike - Toilet paper AND wet wipes (and more wipes in the first aid kit?) Why both. You CAN leave the toilet paper behind...

Good point on the wet wipes. Those can stay behind.

Mike - a 2.5 oz headlamp? THere are lighter options...

True. I tried the little photon things, it was okay but I prefer my lamp.

Mike - The DriDucks are a fine option, but BE careful (especially with the easily ripped pants)

I ripped out one pair of pants squatting down, so I understand the fragility of the material. They handle long sustained rain well?

Mike - A 2 oz compass?

Ya know, it's probably one of those things that I REALLY don't need for this trip, but always carry. Really, it's supposed to be the best marked trail in North America. I've never even been remotely lost. Out it goes!

Mike - Cut the bandana in half.

Nope - I shave my head. If I don't wear the brimmed hat, the bandana is on my head. It's a big enough head that 1/2 of one wouldn't cover it. Good idea though.

Mike - A 15 oz jacket? For May?

Been to Northern MN in May? I will defer this to Sam and Matt - what do you think? I doubt I'd use it while walking.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
more on 01/28/2009 19:27:57 MST Print View

Sam - 20.00 - ULA Conduit

Requires a foam sleeping pad. See below.

Sam - 06.00 - Gossamer Gear Thinlite and Nitelite

I have a Ridgerest that I used for a couple of years. I switched to the BA air core because I got a lot of hip pain when sleeping. The air matress makes a big difference for me.

Sam - 12.00 - Silnylon or Spinnaker tarp

Not going to happen with the wife - period - end of discussion. Perhaps on the second half I could.

Sam - 01.00 - Whitebox Stove

I already have a very good RedBull stove that works great with my mug. It's only .5oz and the screen is only .75oz, so I'm set if I want to go that way. You can see it here.

Sam - 00.00 - leave Aquafina at home

Not a bad idea, but I like the backup. Will consider...

Sam - 00.00 - leave Frontier Pro at home
00.50 - Aquamira/Micropur Tabs

Giardia is common on the SHT (yes?), and it takes the tabs a long time to kill it. I'd rather let the tabs kill the bacteria and viruses and then be able to drink through the filter in 15 minutes. I can carry less water this way, which is way heavier than the 2 oz filter.

Sam - 00.00 - leave TP at home

I'm not there.

Sam - 00.00 - leave Wet Wipes at home

Yeah, I agreee on this one.

Sam - 00.00 - leave Insect Repellant at home
00.00 - leave Headnet at home

No bugs toward the end of May after Memorial weekend?

Sam - 00.20 - Photon Freedom

I have a certain level of psychological comfort from the brighter headlamp. Tried the photon, didn't do it for me. This is not a functional issue, it's a psychological one.

Sam - 00.00 - leave Rain Pants at home

I did this twice with no bad results, but it was warmer. My legs never get cold though. Perhaps they can stay at home.

Sam - 00.00 - only need the pair you're wearing

I like dry socks to sleep in, or dry socks the next day. If my feet wet out, it's make my day to throw on dry socks.

Sam - 04.00 - Tilley LT5

I've been eyeing this hat - thanks for the recommendation. I'm not happy with my current hat.

Sam - 32.00 - Inov-8 Terroc 330s

I've read a lot about Inov-8 shoes, but have never tried them on. I see there are some local running shops that carry them, so I'll have to try them out.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
SHT Pics to see! on 01/28/2009 20:08:27 MST Print View

Here are a couple of favorites from fall hikes on the SHT...The trail beckons you!!

The trail beckons you!!The "missus" and I overlooking Bean (Bear?) Lake just north of Silver Bay.

The "missus" and I overlooking Bean (Bear?) Lake just north of Silver Bay.

Edited by Beep on 01/28/2009 20:12:48 MST.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
One more on 01/28/2009 20:16:52 MST Print View

Poplar River overlook between Lutsen and Lake Agnes

Poplar River overlook between Lutsen and Caribou Lake

Joe L
(heyyou) - MLife

Locale: Cutting brush off of the Arizona Tr
uncomfortable hats on shaved head on 01/28/2009 20:25:25 MST Print View

This won't lighten your load.

Could the timing of the hat discomfort be related to regrowth of your hair? I assume you start a trip with a fresh shaved head. Very short facial hair often itches. Wouldn't that be the same on your scalp with the added irritation from the hat rubbing on the regrowth?

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Nice pics! on 01/28/2009 20:47:20 MST Print View

I think I'm rescinding the idea about getting an Exos pack. The thing is, I have a Latitude Vapor right now that is very very comfortable. My only complaints...

1. it's now easily 600-800ci bigger than I usually need, it was great when I had more/bigger stuff in it
2. I worry about the zippers, although they seem solid and give me no real reason to worry (i love the access!)
3. it's a little heavier than it needs to be at 2lbs 10oz.
4. The backpanel is a gets warmer than I wish it would

A Vapor Trail could solve 2 and 3, some of 1, and I can live with 4 (most anything else will be warm too). It's a "safe" pick because I already own the same frame with a heaver bag on it, so I know I'll like the fit.

Any other ideas? It must have a frame/backpanel because I sleep on an air mattress. Call me dumb for not going crazy-UL, but I get very sore side sleeping on foam. Loads will almost always be under 25lbs.

William - love the pics, and I've been to both of those lookouts... beautiful views!

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
regarding my head on 01/28/2009 20:49:42 MST Print View

Could the timing of the hat discomfort be related to regrowth of your hair?

Probably not. I don't literally shave my head. I have a professional barber clipper that I use to cut it - no guard, shortest length. My profile pic is pretty close to my regular length. Thus, no scalp irritation from a razor. My head will itch from hats even if I haven't clipped it for a week or more. It's the lack of hair on the top that's an issue. ;)

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Jacket on 01/28/2009 21:04:10 MST Print View

Whenever I go up north in spring and fall I always prep for lows near 30F and highs toward 90F. My torso layers were the following:

Target champion wicking S/S (leaving at home next time)
Target champion wicking L/S
Montbell Thermawrap PARKA (not jacket)
BD gloves (going with powerstretch next time)
MLD eVent Rain mitts
Marmot PreCip jacket
thin fleece beanie

Note that I did not take a windshirt. I don't think the wind is severe enough in MN to really justify it outside of shoulder seasons (the "+" is 3+ season), and at that time you're probably wearing a softshell torso layer most of the time. The windshirt I owned at the time was a semi-breathable Marmot Ion. I was never cold in camp, even when temps were in the 30s. I got to camp at about 6 p.m. and were sleeping by about 8 p.m. I carried a Vapor Trail - had I not needed to carry a tent I would have taken a homemade sil nylon pack that weighs in at ~17 oz. I think the VT is the answer to year-round backpacking outside of serious mountaineering - but GG does make the Alpine Vapor.

My brother took two REI baselayers (S/S and L/S) and a thin 100 wgt polartec fleece pullover - he was slightly cold in mornings. His bag, and EMS velocity 35, was not accurate for the conditions we faced. He wore his PreCip jacket occasionally as a wind layer.

My current list torso layers look like this for similar conditions:

R1 Hoody (or Capilene 1 LS + fleece beanie)
Thermawrap Parka
GoLite Ether (coming soon!)
Rab Drillium (eVent shell) (or GoLite PonchoTarp)
BD powerstretch gloves or thin liners (SmartWools, e.g.)
MLD eVent mitts

To make a real point, I believe you need a decent insulating garment for northern MN in May. Options include a Montbell Inner down Parka or Thermawrap Parka, Cocoon 60 hoody or similar garments. It snowed on me on the third day of my hike and there were still large deposits of snow and ice in shadows.

I wouldn't worry about bugs - it's too cold for them still. You might have a minor problem if you get a lot of rain in mid to late April.

Edited by citystuckhiker on 01/28/2009 21:09:50 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: 2009 SHT Thru Hike List on 01/28/2009 21:06:34 MST Print View

Photo @ Jim
Jim I'd agree with you but I'm not sure which photo album you might be looking at. I have those pictures posted in at least three locations.

That'd be This one

Jeremy Gus
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
more thoughts on the SHT list on 01/28/2009 21:12:41 MST Print View

Great thread!

My head will itch from most hats I wear even with a full head of hair... maybe it has more to do with dry skin than anything...

I used a cut down 12x20 closed cell foam sit pad in the back panel of my GG Mariposa Plus, but it was for my end of October trip. I didn't notice much sweat, but it was very cool. I think I might try 4 sections of my z-lite instead (which equals two layers folded) and maybe the egg carton pattern will leave some air pockets against my pack that will reduce heat against the back...

I also have an Osprey Atmos 50 that I used for my Memorial Weekend trip last year and loved it... Very comfortable and the mesh panel was very nice. I decided to switch out to the GG in order to go lighter. I will be curious to see how it works in warmer weather against my back. On the flip side, I don't sweat all that much.

At this point, my wife will probably use the Atmos and I will use the GG as well as front carry our little guy (currently 21 lbs). If all goes well, we hope to do a very short mileage trip on Memorial Weekend as a family... i.e., I need to convince my wife it's a good idea!!

BTW, there were no bugs on my Memorial Weekend trip last year on the SHT. But it was also a colder spring which keeps them at bay...

Edited by gustafsj on 01/28/2009 21:17:17 MST.

Jeremy Gus
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
SHT October 2008 on 01/28/2009 21:32:58 MST Print View

Here's a couple pics from last fall...

This first one I think is poster worthy, I guess one gets lucky taking pics every 1000 pics or so. :-) This is a little creek just north of Finland Rec Center.

Creek just north of Finland Rec Center

The second pic is of me and my buddy... He hasn't quite caught on to the ultralight packing yet. He was proud to be carrying 40+ lbs compared to my 20. Way overloaded my Atmos 50!!

Me and Bman

It was probably 15-20*F that last morning, very windy and a little snow on the ground. Perfect hiking weather!!

Edited by gustafsj on 01/28/2009 21:36:32 MST.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Legs on 01/28/2009 22:00:51 MST Print View

If I remove the DriDucks pants, then I have nothing but the REI Sahara pants for my legs - that's it. I know they dry fast, and legs don't get cold as easily, but... any input on that issue? Not that the DriDucks added much.

Without them, and using many of the suggestions so far, I'm getting down there. I put on the alcohol stove since I'm using it for the second half. If I resupply, the alcohol stove is also lighter for the first half.

I've updated the list at the top post. It's sitting at 11 pounds 9 oz.

Edited by mn-backpacker on 01/28/2009 22:25:01 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: 2009 SHT Thru Hike List: Pack on 01/29/2009 08:14:56 MST Print View


Allow me to suggest ways you might be comfortable with a frameless pack with the pack weight you seem likely to end up with. (fully realizing that YMMV)

In my experience (almost all with a GraniteGear Virga), frameless packs really do make their own suspension system if they are fully packed. The trick is keeping them fully packed as you eat your way through your food volume.

A pack's compression straps can help that but the lighter GraniteGear packs have just two per side and most people consider the lower one to be less than useful.

But you can usually make the non-food part of your pack's contents be variable volume:
* pack your insulated items (sleepbag or quilt and cold weather clothes) in an oversized stuff sack or loose in the pack so it can expand to use more volume or be compressed to us less.
* partially inflate your sleeping pad to add volume

If you live near Mpls/StP and would like to give this a try I'd be happy to let you try this out with my GG Virga (size reg)

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2009 SHT Thru Hike List on 01/29/2009 10:04:15 MST Print View

@ Dan - you've come back with excellent responses to all suggestions either for or against. I will secede most of my suggestions based on your response except for the backpack. You're talking about total pack weights under 30 lbs so the Vapor Trail or Virga will suffice perfectly. As Jim mentions the gear provides the stabililty so no need for a foam pad as a frame.

To all who posted photos, they are excellent. One of my favorite views on the SHT is the Poplar River overlook on the way out to Lake Agnes from Lutsen (as seen above in William's photo).

@ Jim - your guess is as good as mine on the location of that beaver dam. I'm embarrassed, but the longer I'm away from the North Shore the more I forget particular spots. I think this spring I'm going to have to get back home and find some time to head up there for a weekend.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: 2009 SHT Thru Hike List on 01/29/2009 10:16:53 MST Print View

Lake Agnes from Lutsen

Speaking of Lake Agnes. This panorama is from Todd Williams. Pretty sure it's from the headland between the two campsites.SHT Lake Agnes

I'm enjoying snow camping ... but pics like that are making me pine for spring

Edited by jcolten on 01/29/2009 10:18:16 MST.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Re: 2009 SHT Thru Hike List on 01/29/2009 10:21:21 MST Print View

>>Speaking of Lake Agnes. This panorama is from Todd Williams. Pretty sure it's from the headland between the two campsites.

Yep, I know it well. That's the first "big" view of Lake Agnes...and a favorite lunch spot for day hikes that start at the Lutsen ski area. (Yes, we have ski slopes in MN...short ones!)

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: 2009 SHT Thru Hike List on 01/29/2009 15:43:52 MST Print View

I've hiked and paddled in that region and that time of year, and I have to say that I think your list is probably spot-on, except I might actually add a layer.

Ever sat through a snow or hail storm wearing only a pair of thin hiking pants and delicate rain pants? There's just something about sitting around in sub-freezing temps in a thin pair of pants and one thin jacket that makes me all warm and fuzzy... er, I mean "shiver." Seriously. Chances are quite good it will be snowing. Do you run warm enough to be in camp and not freeze your carcass off in those conditions? And do you think it could be a good idea to have some extra safety margin in what are ultimately the wettest, coldest imaginable combination of weather? Just sayin'... I'd probably stick with your original ideas here. And add the midlayer top back in. My experience there, but YMMV.

The bugs hatch in late May, first week of June latest. Anyone who wants to be in that area under a tarp is a masochistic freak! I remember many mornings waking up in a double-walled tent that sounded suspiciously like a popcorn maker--because of the hundreds (thousands?) of biting insects bopping around above my head, trying to get in the tent to bite me. Black clouds of bites unite. Not the time or place for a tarp. Sanity and comfort are more important than counting the last few ounces you could save. That goes for a decent pad, too.

Good list, Dan. Kudos.

I believe that there is more than one "true" way to hike, even ultralight. There is no one "true" way or path. We each need to make our own decisions based on personal experience and varied environmental considerations. To say that everyone should do essentially the exact same thing is absurd and close-minded. Ultralight--or just light--hiking is in large part about opening your mind, not just counting the last fraction of an ounce. There are good and valid reasons for not carrying the absolute lightest options available. YMMV, HYOH, and most importantly, have fun out there!

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Clothing on 01/29/2009 17:05:48 MST Print View

The input here is fantastic!

Regarding the layers - I think I mentioned it above, but I'm doing a hike on the southern end of the SHT the weekend before with a buddy. He wants to get out (his first backpacking trip!), and I want to try some things out a little. I'll see how my layers feel at that time, and should be able to make some good decisions.

Also, if I need to, I can drop anything I want, or add anything I want 1/2 way through when I pass the car.

And Brad - I agree. I'll take my sanity hiding from the bugs behind mesh over the weight savings of a tarp.

My wife keeps seeing me double checking weights on my digital scale... she taunted me for being so keyed up for a trip that's several months away. I don't care, it gets me through February. :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
My Input on "The List" on 01/29/2009 21:36:56 MST Print View


I am impressed with your advanced planning and attention to detail.

The new Conduits do well with self-infating mattresses. The pad sleeve has been replaced with a couple of straps and Brian now recommends using a 3/4 length self-inflator. Since you could get down into the 20Fs, an ultra-thin closed cell pad might be warranted in addition to an air unit. My Prolite 4 small is a perfect size for this pack. I have a BMW 10oz mattress that is still in the box, but I am sure it is going to work well in the ULA pack. Sounds like the new Therarest is still VaporWear, and it weighs 4oz more than the BMW.

Base layers and pants: My 30 x 32 REI Mistral soft shell pants weigh 13.3 oz, so I would ditch the REI Saharas and maybe bring an Ultralight base layer. In 50F and under, the Mistrals are not too warm, and they do breath somewhat and are water repellant. REI has them on sale for $99. When high temps start getting into the 60s and above, then the Mistrals stay at home with the wife.

A 2L platypus or Nalgene soft water bottle weighs around 1 oz or less? versus your 1.8L bladder @ 3.5 oz.

You say you sleep warm... you could use a much lighter bag, but that is a major investment!

I would skip the underwear... savings of 3.5oz, of course this is a personal preference.,, but I would not skip TP!!

I would probably go with my Montbell wind shirt @ 2.9 oz and my Montbell Extremely Light Down Jacket at 5.7 oz... saving around 7oz on your REI jacket -- although the Thermawrap is a good option too.

I know you are stuck with the tent, but I would go with my GoLite tarp/poncho and MLD Soul Bivy or just my 6 Moons Wild Oasis. The tarp/poncho @ 10oz plus stakes handles my rain gear/pack cover and shelter. The bivy @ 8.8oz is insurance with a tarp. I have used the Wild Oasis down to 20F and lots of snow/rain with good results... and it is under a pound.

For this time of year, I would ditch the hat and use the bandana and/or fleece cap for the head. Where I live, hats are a must with summer temps sometimes exceeding 120F and I wear one almost all the time, but not necessary on this trip... however I almost never leave home without it.

A Classic model Swiss Army knife weights about an ounce less than your knife.

Since I am a new member... no one knows me, so assume I know nothing :)

I did upload my master gear list a few days ago. It shows the stuff I usually use in the high desert this time of year when the lows might get to 30F (although a month ago I hit lots of snow and 20F). I can even pare the list further, but as an aold fart pushing 60 I do have a few indulgences. Since it is a master list, you might want to cruise through it -- just to look at weights of different items. I find that it is a pain in the butt to search all kinds of Websites for weights. Most of the items I weighed on my postal scale, but a few are published weights... as my wife whines when I am "playing with my toys" at night.

Lastly, a $1 investment in a Lottery Ticket has a 1 in 200,000,000 chance of financing your upgrades and trip.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Itinerary is posted... on 01/31/2009 19:02:29 MST Print View

For those following this thread, I have posted my itinerary HERE and would love some input.