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How light should I go?
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Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 19:47:29 MDT Print View

Here's the deal...

I'm planning to hike the Coastal Trail in Lake Superior PP in the coming weeks.

Here's the link:
http://www.lakesuperiorpark.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=77

I've never been there before but the trail is quite exposed to the big lake and therefore can be windy and wet. Day temps will be about +10*C and nightime lows of -5*C at the worst. Not that it will be raining alot, but April/May is considered the wet months.

My dilemma is that I have put together 2 lists and can't decide which to go with.

List #1 is about 5 lbs of gear and uses a poncho tarp, bivy, and minimal sleeping pad.

List #2 is about 7 lbs of gear and use a Cuben DuoMid, dedicated rain jacket and pants, and a full length Neoair.

I would consider List #2 to be pure luxury while on the trail while List #1 would have some trade offs in comfort (especially if it rains alot) for the reduced weight (~2 lbs less).

I'll be carrying 8 lbs of food with each list so my starting backpack weights including gear and food would be List#1 = 13 lbs and List#2 = 15 lbs.

My question is, should I go with the lighter weight and move faster or take the heavier list and live like a king? Any advice?

Edited by Steve_Evans on 04/18/2009 19:50:35 MDT.

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 19:58:57 MDT Print View

Will 2lbs make an appreciable difference in your speed?

I just keep thinking about that poncho tarp, setting camp in the rain, and packing up in the rain, for 2 or more days in a row.

Just thinking out loud.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 20:03:57 MDT Print View

Chris, I hear you, that's one of my main concerns. Raining for 3 days or so, and living under my little poncho/tarp...it's just that I put so much work into lightening my pack and now that I am going to check off one of the hikes on my bucket list, I'm not even going to bring my lightest stuff!

Like you said, it won't really make a difference in speed, I guess it's more of a mental thing. Just looking for comments and others opinions.
Thanks.

Off topic: Still haven't got that thorofare stuff from the PO...I'm convinced their was an UL hiker working that day.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 20:13:20 MDT Print View

Go ahead, live like a king. You're still really lightweight. You've got the best of both worlds, IMO.

Saving 2 pounds out of 15? That's not going to make a huge difference to how you enjoy your hike.

What's the advantage? A small increase in speed. Big deal. So you will get to the end of the trail a bit faster. IMO once you drop below 15 pounds (or even 20) of pack weight you're really not gaining a huge deal *unless* you're trying to cover large distances, you're trying to see how light you can go, or you're doing a lot of ascent/descent. Or you just love feeling "light".

Having said that, maybe you want to try the lighter kit just to see how it works in those conditions. If you are miserable at least you'll know for sure next time.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 20:18:34 MDT Print View

> it's just that I put so much work into lightening my pack and now that I am going to check off one of the hikes on my bucket list, I'm not even going to bring my lightest stuff!

Lightening your pack is always about taking your lightest gear though is it? For me, it's about balancing on-trail comfort with in-camp comfort. You spend half your time in camp, so focusing on maximising trail comfort (pack weight) neglects the other half of the story. IMHO, you gotta balance the two. And once you're down to the kind of weights you are at, maximising camp comfort is where the most gain is to be had.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 20:21:59 MDT Print View

Go as heavy as you need to have FUN. I can go stupid light and have learned to do so for racing or crazy long distance travel but when I go out for the heck of it I add in a few pounds for sure. Tent when it's going to rain a lot, hooded puffy because it's so cozy, double pads, GOOD FOOD etc. Even with all the "extras" I still end up lighter than 99% of the people on the trail.

Ultralight is a mindset. Don't take gram counting so far you don't enjoy your trips.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 20:39:24 MDT Print View

Hi Steve

But pack weight is only part of the story, NOT the full deal. Physical condition is also a key factor, and I don't mean 'fitness'. If you are cold and wet the whole time the hit on your performance may be much larger than the hit caused by an extra 2 lb.

Then there is the reason you go walking: for fun. It is not an endurance race (or a suffering test). Sue and I have spent weeks walking in bad weather, but we made sure we had a good tent to recover in each evening. So next morning we were able to take off 'in comfort' to face the rain again. It matters.

Cheers

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 20:58:43 MDT Print View

>>Then there is the reason you go walking: for fun. It is not an endurance race (or a suffering test).

I wholeheartedly agree with your comment, Roger. But judging from some of the posts that I've read here, there seems to be a subset of BPL members (and staff?) who actually enjoy suffering.

Edited by Dondo on 04/18/2009 21:26:45 MDT.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 21:06:37 MDT Print View

Steve, I'd take your seven pound list in a heartbeat. Having done the poncho/tarp thing, I think it's best use is when you're not expecting much weather. It gets pretty cramped under there.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 21:09:13 MDT Print View

<--enjoys suffering.

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 21:11:35 MDT Print View

Thanks for that, Matt. Can I see more hands?

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 21:36:25 MDT Print View

Hey I enjoy suffering with the best of em but I also like sleeping warm and cozy in a tent, eating bagels, cheese and bacon for breaky ;)

Chris Chastain
(Thangfish) - F

Locale: S. Central NC, USA
Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/18/2009 21:52:14 MDT Print View

> I put so much work into lightening my pack and now that I am going to check off one of the hikes on my bucket list, I'm not even going to bring my lightest stuff!

Ah, don't sweat it. I often don't bring my lightest kit, and I save my lightest stuff for special trips.

Having said that, there is a lot to be said for suffering too!
wink smiley

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Good trail choice on 04/19/2009 00:16:00 MDT Print View

...and good pre-trip thread

I've dayhiked sections of that trail and it's spectacular! The climbing routes along some of the cliffs can be rather fun, albeit usually need cleaning - and of course, the swimming is great (year dependent - and obviously a different time of year than now). Keep an eye for the pictographs too.

I don't really have any great contribution to the discussion. Just make sure you're comfortable enough to enjoy the area to the max and not getting distracted by unnecessary concerns. It looks like you're doing this by taking the time to plan well and asking the right questions in advance.

Enjoy and post some pictures when you get back (unless you're doing a satellite-linked blog, eh?)!

Edited by biointegra on 04/19/2009 00:21:01 MDT.

. .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Ok, a con-tribute on 04/19/2009 00:26:19 MDT Print View

Edit:

Make sure you take the NeoAir pad so that you can test it out and beat Roger to a review (posted, that is). ;)

Also, I definitely recommend the raingear and better protected shelter system after recalling what some of the storms can be like there. Also it wouldn't be unwise to be prepared for an (un)intentional swim.

Cheers/

Misfit Mystic
(cooldrip)

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Roger nailed it on 04/19/2009 00:44:42 MDT Print View

I think Roger nailed it with his comments about physical condition; I just ran into this on a big hike of my own. Hiking in a high river drainage, I ran into wet conditions I wasn't prepared for. Days of rain with a tarp that's a bit too small stinks! My condition began to deteriorate, and my confidence and outlook eroded with it. I wasn't having FUN anymore. Luckily I was able to abort when faced with impossible creek fords, but I learned my lesson. The next time I see a forecast like that, I'll be in an enclosed shelter big enough to stay dry in, and I'll carry a little extra weight in raingear and my sleeping system to insure my comfort.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: How light should I go? on 04/19/2009 08:28:45 MDT Print View

OK, I'm convinced. I'll take the 7 pound list. Thanks everyone. All great comments and they really made me rethink stuff. This is supposed to be a vacation after all!

It should be a nice time, 6 days is pretty standard for the route...even for those with traditional loads so I should have lots of time in camp to explore and relax - the Duomid is great for this as it is huge for one person.

I'm taking the Neoair because last week I did a sub-4 trip and froze all night as my pad was just a GG Torso and thinlite combo...this didn't cut it. Hopefully adding the Neoair will allow me some comfort/warmth as temps should be a bit lower up there.

Aaron, good to know about the trail. The only real info I have about it is from the park ranger when I talked to him on the phone and the map. There really isn't much info regarding "detailed" trip reports on the net. I'll bring the dedicated rain gear like you suggest. I had heard that some of the storms can get a bit nasty if you are right on the coast.

Now it's time to refine my list...maybe I can get it a bit lower ;)

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/19/2009 08:33:36 MDT Print View

Good decision, and you'll find no quibble with me here.

As I have said before, packweight is often a pendulum. At first, the pendulum is high and falls fast as pack weight drops quickly. However, after you bottom out, it swings back up and you add comforts. I have done this with Thermarests, for example. Somewhere, it balances out and you carry only what you want to carry. Whether this includes comforts is up to you.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/19/2009 08:57:17 MDT Print View

Thanks Matt. If I remember, your playground is the SHT is it not? I 'think' that the coastal trail and the SHT have the same terrain and weather, but just on opposite sides of the lake. Would you sport a poncho/tarp this time of year (for 6 days) or go with dedicated shelter and rain gear for weather protection? I'll stick with my 7lb list, I'm just curious.

Dan Cunningham
(mn-backpacker)

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
Re: Re: Re: Re: How light should I go? on 04/19/2009 09:05:55 MDT Print View

Steven - Your 7 pound base is a little under 5 pounds less than my planned SHT thru-hike gear list (I start May 16th), so we obviously have different needs, and we probably have different styles of hiking (I also am carrying a 2 person shelter - wife is coming with). That said...

In the spring when it can rain and rain and rain, and temps can easily dip down to under freezing, I wouldn't try to skimp too much on rain gear, shelter, or insulation. Comfort is one thing, but safety is another. Hypothermia can sneak up on you faster than you think in these conditions. It's not like the mountains out west where you know the sun will come out the next day. Just some food for thought.

Edited by mn-backpacker on 04/19/2009 09:06:58 MDT.