Super Ultra Light / Super Ultra Cheap
I have been quietly working on this idea for a few months. You can go back and check one of my threads about the new external frame I was working on where I mentioned a material I had discovered that worked well for Pack Bags. This material was used for bags to hold something and the bag was made to be thrown away after being used. I started thinking about other materials that might be recycled into SUL gear.
SUL as definded here was very easy for me to achieve using the new materials such as Cuben Fiber and a few others. There is however, a cost factor and I started looking for other material that were free or cheap.
This really came to light a few days ago when someone here had a light weight Down Quilt made and the cost was posted was $450. I have been making most all my gear now for several years and I guess I lost track of what things are selling for.
Is it really necessary to spend that kind of money to have SUL gear?
Can we find enough really cheap or almost free (as in recycled) material to build a decent set of Super Ultra Light (SUL) gear?
I think so but most of this will require sewing your own gear. Sewing is not as hard as you might think. Start small and work toward the more complicated things. Things in you live may get so bad over the next few years that you might be very glad you know how to sew.
The complete gear list has to be under the 5 pound weight limit as defined by BackpackingLight.com as SUL and survive a continuous hike of at least a 165 miles on a trail system such as the Appalachian Trail. The material used for this gear needs to be readily available so as many folks that want to us it can get it.
I think the total - weight / cost - will be a good surprise to many.
1 - Backpack:
I have been playing with one type of material that turns out to be good for packs. I have even used this material for shoulder straps and hip belts.
You can see the first pack bag I made out of this material in this picture.
The material weighs 3.4 ounces a square yard but the total weigh for a decent size pack should be well under one pound. The material is very strong and easy to sew.
The real $$ cost of this pack (the material is from something meant to be thrown away) might be $5.00. I will post more about this material as this project moves forward.
2 - Bivy:
Gossamer Gear (GG) sells a "Polycryo Ground Cloth.
I bought one of their (2) packs several years ago. At the time I thought this stuff might be good for other things but since I was using a lot of Cuben Fiber I never made anything with it. When I first got mine I weighed it to see what the square yard weight was. It is 0.568 ounces per sq yard.
The ground cloths cost (2) for $8.00. Now that I am looking for cheaper alternative materials I am re-looking at what I might be able to make with this material.
I have made several Bivys using Cuben Fiber as the bottom and Pertex Quantum as the top. I will try a Bivy using one of these Polycryo Ground Cloths for the Bivy Bottom.
From GG about the Polycryo Ground Cloths:
"The Polycryo ground sheet is constructed from industrial grade cross-linked polyolefin. This material is extremely tough for it's weight, with amazing puncture resistance. It has a tensile strength of 15,400 p.s.i. (1,083 kg./sq. cm.) per ASTM D-883. It is waterproof, but very slightly breathable (1.09 gms of water vapor/100 sq.in./24 hours). At 0.55 oz./sq.yd. (16 g.), it's HALF THE WEIGHT of our Spinnsheet™ ground cloths. You will have to replace this more often than tougher alternatives, but it's very economical. These single ground cloths are shipped as a 2-pack so you have an extra. Our medium size is 40" (102 cm.) wide.'
Ground Cloth Link
Frogg Toggs make a poncho out of a very nice material that is said to be 100% waterproof and breathable. It would seem that this material would make a good top material for the Bivy. I need to find out the size of this item but just in looking at it I am sure it is big enough.
Frogg Toggs Poncho
I believe that Frogg Toggs is made from something like 3M Propore. I have a sample of the 3M Propore and it weighs 2.37 ounces a squard yard.
A Bivy made from the GG ground Cloth and the material from a Frogg Toggs Poncho should weigh about 6 ounces.
Cost: I have found the Frogg Toggs Poncho listed on two different web sites. It is selling for $11.50 at one place and seems to be on close out at $8.95 on another web site. I will call both on Monday and confirm prices. Using what seems to be the MSRP of $11.50 for the Poncho and $4.00 for one GG Ground Cloth, the total Bivy cost would be a bit under $16 plus shipping, tax etc.
3 - Shelter - Tarp
My first thought is to make a tarp out of 3 GG Ground Cloths sewn, glued or taped together.
The Tarp would be about 10" by 12' and the tarp material weight would a little less than 2 ounces. Add in some weight for the tie out line ( 1.42 oz) 6 stakes made out of - you pick it ( 1.23 oz) and a few secret things and you have a big tarp that weighs under 5 ounces.