You are me, a couple years ago! BTW, how old are the kids, it might help with planning gear.
they are 11 this year and they carry at the most a pot or a piece of the tent beyond their own bags, clothes and when we're late in the hike a Bearikade weekender each with the lightest part of our food load between Whitney and MuirTrail Ranch. That section of the trail, I think they'll have clothes and the food canister, I have everything else.
Their load is actually the much more important part to optimize than mine, but the more I can shave off my load, the more of their stuff I can carry.
You can go a lot lighter, but you have to change old ways of thinking... and that is the toughest part!
my old way of thinking was Ultra Light - at least comapred to what others were doing in the 1980s. I did the Muir Trail with a 20 pound pack when most others carried 70. The thing is, I have grown to like certain gear items and appreciate how they work when I actually do need them. For example the fleece jacket, which works when wet, which makes agreat pillow and generally is my clothing in the am and pm. Hard to beat the comfort it provides.
Boots are similar story, but add a safety margin I am not willing to sacrifice on this trip. Right now I can still keep up or outpace my kids, even with 50 pounds on me, so saving weight is fine, but safety comes first.
The hike is ultra-long for 11-year-olds and it has to have some moments of comfort. The tent for example is a must - nothing beats a "home" that feels like a little house for them, especially with a hot cup of cocoa. Amazing how such little things can become highlights of the day.
Same with cooking and eating well. Gummi bears and Sharkies can make a day! There is a lot of stuff I have in the gear bin that isn't going this year, while others on the trail would think I'm nuts not to have them- e.g. bear spray and water filter.
I used to travel light, even with my Whitney 95 and Lowa Banff boots. My attitude was that you would have to pry them off me!! But I have found that as you lighten the load, more and more things can be replaced. So just consider the input and be flexible in your thinking. I have many of the same items you own, only now they stay in my gear closet. So here is my input for what it is worth or not worth :) and some might be repeats from previous posters. Obviously you probably won't be able to replace everything, even if you wanted to, due to cost.
I wouldn't be posting here if I wasn't interested in input. Hearing what others would do does allow me to challenge everything once over. Compared to last year, I think I am already 5 pounds down, and may lose another one or two (and that is after adding the tripod)
Ultra-Light isn't the goal - I just want to refine what I know works, but could work better. The real challenge is to get the kids' loads down and I think I am on the right path there with new UL packs and lighter sleeping bags, lighter clothes wherever I can find them in their size.
A few years from now, the boy may want to go for a PCT through hike (he already indicated), and I may just take him up on it. Given the restrictions on time available due to job, it would have to be a very fast hike, and at that time we're probably going to shed all the old habits and go extremely light (it would have to be southbound 10-11 weeks, start in early to mid June, but that is another story)
Baselayer Top - BPL Merino Wool Hoody awesome!
$100... ouch. I'll keep it on the wish list.
Trekking poles - I just started using these, after 20+ years with a Tracks hiking staff. GG LightTrek 4 @ 3.4 oz for the pair, also double as poles for tarp.
am quite happy with the REI - no comparison though, but I like that they fold up, since we don't use them all the time. There's a guy here in town who is selling the GG carbon poles right now - I was looking at these and may get them before the hike and try them during our warmups. Probably would work. I will lose the straps from my REIs and drop an ounce or two anyway, so the weight on those will change even if I don't go with the GG poles.
Boots - Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra Trail Running Shoes at 29.4 oz. I am a cross country hiker type of guy and with a lighter load, these are great and also work as my stream crossing shoes and camp shoes. It is amazing how much better I feel at the end of the day with the weight reduction.
and how do they work on fist to football sized rough boulders? We aren't just hiking on the Muir Trail, but take quite a few alternate routes that can be cross country. I am definitely not ready to try this on a hike like this year's trip. Perhaps in the future on shorter trips, so I get a sense of how this works before hitting the PCT or similar challenge.
Fleece - no, no. I now use either a Patagonia Down Sweater at 11.7 oz or a Montbell Extremely Light Down Jacket at 6.1 oz.
I know last year I would have not liked a down thermal layer, but if there is any place where they work well, it's probably the Sierras. I have been looking at down sweaters and may still go for one if I can find a solution for my sleeping pillow, which has been my fleece. I like a thick tall pillow for when I sleep on my side (yeah, I know, I should just change my habits :-))
Gortex Pants/Jacket - ouch. I have actually owned both Prcip items. Go with a poncho or even DriDucks (oz for jacket & pants) if you are careful.
I never liked ponchos when I actually needed them. I've used Goretex and Ponchos alternating and I keep going back to Goretex. Also works as a thermal layer when your weather doesn't live up to Sierra textbook. I like the rain gear to breathe somewhat and am willing to sacrifice some weight for gear that has performed for me in the past. Don't mind a few ounces if it keeps me dry when it matters.
Sprint Aquatics - use your hiking trail runners.
but I'm not downgrading the boots, so that's as light as I can go on the water crossings. Hey, last year my flip-flops were three times the weight so I was thinking I was doing good here :-)
Other shirts - not needed. You wear your only shirt.
well, that is an option, but I do like to wash them on occasion on a month+ trip. Probably can still do that, just not at camp, but in the middle of a hot day and just wear it dry.
Gregory pack - okay, I have the same one, I love it, and it is in the closet. A ULA Catalyst (for example) weighs 47 oz, holds 75L and can easily handle 30 - 40 lbs, and more for short periods.
30-40 is normal on this trip, and it will be up to 50 at times when we get the 8-day food load packed, especially should I carry more than one bear canister (reason for the sleeping bag compression bag - need room down there for a second canister)
Rain Cover - use a double duty poncho/tarp or even a bag liner at 2 oz or less.
well, maybe all the ponchois I used to have were poorly designed (that goes back to 1983 German Military and their HEAVY fully waterproof ponchos) - I remember how my down bag was dripping wet last year in spite of the poncho over the pack. Another reason for the "compression bag" below is that I want anotehr layer of water protection on that down bag.
Stuff sacks - there are lighter and more expensive ones.
aren't there always? :-)
Pad - Torsolite torso length pad from BPL @ 10oz versus your 24.2, and not sack needed. Takes a little getting used to. After the first couple of nights you get used to lighter, thinner pads.
I just can't see myself sleeping on anything shorter than my body. Tried it, even super thin closed cell foam 3/4 length. Perhaps I'll give it another shot this year, test it in camp nights before the hike and decide then.
Tent - you can really get by with a large tarp... but you need to consider the possibility of getting your down bag wet. So this is a long philosophical discussion.
see above - tent is home - plus, the few 3-person tarp tents out there don't really save much weight over what I have. I'd do it if I was solo (actually, a bivy is fine in the Sierras for me by myself), but not with the kids.
1 Liter Nalgen - Gatoraide bottle @ 1.5 oz or Platypus at .9 oz.
may do a gatorade bottle - have to do some long term durability testing first. Paltypus isn't wide mouth and we do a lot of mixing stuff. we used the Nalgenes last year because we brought the MSR Hyperflow filter that screws right on. Not taking that any longer, so the bottle can change. Like widemouth for drink mixes.
Stoves, cookware - already discussed. I have moved from a Snow Peak Giga Stove to alcohol... however, on a long trip the Snow Peak is more efficient, and this is probably a push.
8+ days between resupply, cooking for 3 - no issues with propane/butane. I am looking at getting the Evernew 1.3L pot with cozy to shave off a few ounces on the cooking gear and save fuel. Have never used a cozy, but I know the blanket around my water heater works wonders, so I guess this may just be worth doing to save fuel/weight on the long legs.
Towel - just wear a bandana at .9 oz and it is more versatile.
don't like bandanas anymore (once the hair on top of the head went thin, I switched to hats - wearing glasses I also hate the glare without a hat.
Razor? nah, just grow a beard.
did that last year - don't like the feel of it and figure that in the big picture, a razor probably can also double as a tool for whatever may need slicing and dicing
Deet - you can get by with a mini-dropper bottle on this trip @ .5 oz.
not for 3 people in June/July. Used up the REI sized bottle in less than 14 days last year. Late June into mid July is the worst time for skeeters up there. They sure can mess up your day. We're doing the Permethrin thing again, so that may help when we wear clothes covering our bodies. Didn't see to do anything last year, but then we used US military stuff, not the (less potent) consumer stuff. Maybe the stuff we got was expired, but the bugs ignored it.
Emergency Blanket - I carried the same one for 30 years and never used it. It is in the junk drawer now, and one of these days will use it as a ground sheet, until it fails.
Camera gear - sigh... this is such a personal thing. Could you get by with just a digital camera with several SD cards? Mine takes movies, but I have never tried it. To be honest, other than snapshots, I find cameras a pain and they suck up lots of time. Years ago I used to take a heavey SLR. I know you want to capture an epic trip with the kids, and that is a good thing, but how good do you want the quality to be? I like pictures, and more importantly like to reminise.
I've hiked the place without camera altogether at least twice. Not the point this year. a) I've made a living as a photographer for many years, and it's in my nature to want to record things I see, b) this is for my kids, c) I now work with video for a living, so I'm not really going out on a limb here and will back some crappy footage I'll never look at again. We may leave the point-and-shoot behind, but my daughter may insist to bring it.
As a former still photographer, I used to despise video for these kinds of things (mountains don't move - who needs video?). But that's not what the camera is all about for this trip. It's for the kids and as a document of their achievement, something they'll treasure forever.
Muir Pass '08 Scenes
Making cookies at Reds Meadows '08
There will be an edited "feature length" clip from last year's hike before we head out again.
Tripod... you might look at the gorilla pods... need to wrap them around something, but lightweight.
maybe if I can find a way to wrap them around a tripod made of hiking poles, because 9 times out of 10, there's nothing there to wrap the gorilla thing around where you want to put the camera. Tried to do that last year and most of the time ended up putting the camera on a single hiking pole to semi-stabilize it mono-pod style, but for video, that just doesn't cut it. There just aren't enough trees on this trail where you need them.
You could easily get your base weight under 20 lbs, switch to trail runners and enjoy the trip more.
I know it's possible, and if I left the camera behind, I'd be pretty darn close to that. I'll update the spreadsheet later today, and it probably will drop a few ounces where I plan to make additional changes.
I sure hope the Ursack gets approved this spring, because I am holding out on getting two more Bearikades for the kids to haul. With the Ursack, I could get their aluminum bag liners wrapped around my Bearikade during the day and if they packed all the light fluffy items that don't fit into my can, it would really cut the weight on their packs during the two segments where we need the extra food space. Again, it's all about the kids having a good time. Too bad that there's hardly any really good gear available in their size.
Bottom line is to make it as comfortable as possible for them. I know I can do this hike even with a 60 pound pack, but obviously, if I save weight I can carry more of their stuff, so they benefit.