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Keeping Ultralight Inexpensive
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Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Keeping Ultralight Inexpensive on 03/31/2009 19:21:23 MDT Print View

As original NOLS goals noted, if you want to make backpacking possible for even underprivileged kids, you need to keep the cost down.

In that spirit, how inexpensive and ultralight a set of gear can anyone come up with? Cost is more important than weight (as long as total pack weight is still ultralight). Purchase is OK. DIY and alterations OK, provided they are realistic for the intended audience.

-- MV

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Keeping Ultralight Inexpensive on 03/31/2009 19:28:25 MDT Print View

I think almost everything UL is either equal to or less expensive than 'mainstream' counterparts -- boots and backpacks, for examples. Just about the only glaring exceptions are tents and sleeping bags.

To that end, make your tent and bag selections early on -- then put in automatic searches on Ebay -- and keep an eye on this and other forums. Bags that are "fairly good and fairly light" -- such as the Kelty Lightyear 25 down bag -- can sometimes be picked up way below retail.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Keeping Ultralight Inexpensive on 03/31/2009 20:21:26 MDT Print View

OK -- that sort of stuff could be put together into a baseline.

Perhaps as the next step one could use stuff not originally intended for backpacking at all, and get still cheaper? Perhaps non-cotton clothing from a thrift store. Perhaps a non-backpack tarp that would do just fine. Perhaps something other than a sleeping bag that would do just fine as a sleeping quilt. etc.

-- Bob

Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Re: Keeping Ultralight Inexpensive on 03/31/2009 22:33:03 MDT Print View

I'd say that at the lower pricepoints, people aren't quite into storming up 14er's and winter camping, its usually the great summer hiking that gets people into hiking, in which case you can get by with pretty regular clothes, a thick fleece, a very cheap synthetic sleeping bag or a heavy wool blanket, suncreen toothpaste TB etc. and probably a light alcohol stove. I bet with some thought, and some assumptions, you could get a 40*+ list for under $300 at least.

I think the main thing is getting the confidence to go out on a weekend with a nice forecast and not worry that you brought too little.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Keeping Ultralight Inexpensive on 03/31/2009 23:22:54 MDT Print View

There's always Grandma Gatewood. A cheap poncho, a shower curtain tarp, an army blanket, a blue foam pad and a nylon backpack or gym bag. Don't need to cook or you can make a an alcohol stove. Jon had good suggestions for clothing and hygiene. Should be able to come in under $75 and about 10 lbs.

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
SUL/SUCheap on 04/01/2009 01:05:14 MDT Print View

I agree with Nia,
I just spent a bunch of time on the walmart site and could build an SUL kit for less than $75 easily. unfortunately, BPL dropped me mid post. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow with links and such.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Keeping UL cheap on 04/01/2009 11:18:23 MDT Print View

If you relax the requirement and go with "Keeping lightweight cheap" then options abound. This is the route I took to outfit my wife and I and our three college-aged children.

It took time, though, perhaps 8 months to outfit all five of us with lightweight gear, and UL in some cases. In the end our base weights were between 12 and 15 pounds. Since then I've replaced a number of items, e.g. some of our 1 1/2" thick 26 oz Thermarest pads have been replaced with 1" thick 13 oz versions.

Ebay was my main source. Used clothing and equipment can go for VERY little, but know your brands and pay attention to the shipping costs

One of the best deals was a name-brand Goretex rain suit (top and bottom) for under $20 (incl shipping). Maybe it weighed 12 oz more than the latest UL wonder, but I didn't care at that point. Clothing that needs minor sewing repairs can be very inexpensive, as can other gear that needs minor repairs.

Another great deal was an UL WM sleeping bag for around $100 (list $250). I think I got an MSR Pocket Rocket stove for under $20. I could go on...

After Ebay, closeouts and similar sales worked well. And I sewed tarps, wind breakers, stuff sacks, etc.

About the only thing we paid list price for was trail shoes. These had to fit well so we just got them from the local mountain shop.