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Beartooth Wilderness 6-day list
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David Stapleton
(KamperDave) - F

Locale: VA, DC, MD
Beartooth Wilderness 6-day list on 07/31/2009 08:21:36 MDT Print View

I'm going on a six day trip with two friends in early September. We'll be hiking around the Beartooth area of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. This will be our first backpacking trip of more than three days and our first out west (we live near DC). Expected temps could be from mid 70's to below freezing. Weather is fairly unpredictable.

I am new to backpacking and especially to lightweight. I know there are things on my list that will likely make some of your skin crawl but I would really like your input anyway! I'm also thinking about (hoping) to be able to get my hands on the new TT Moment before the trip, but that might be cutting it too close! I also have a GG Vapor Trail but since I'm starting out above 30 pounds wasn't quite sure if that was the best pack to use.

Gear List



Edited by KamperDave on 07/31/2009 08:24:30 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Nice trip on 07/31/2009 10:17:04 MDT Print View

Should be a great time of year to be there.

Some thoughts:

-Vapor Trail should be fine.
-Too many batteries.
-Sit pad is not needed (for me).
-Get lighter camp shoes (if any).
-I very much doubt you'll need two liters of water. One container to stash in a side pocket and fill from snowmelt and small streams should work just fine.
-Too many extra clothes (shorts and convertible pants?).

David Stapleton
(KamperDave) - F

Locale: VA, DC, MD
Re: Nice trip on 07/31/2009 11:55:05 MDT Print View

Thanks! It's kind of ridiculous but sometimes just having another person say, "You don't need that" is enough.

Any other comments? Maybe I'm so far outside the UL world that you can't even fathom where to start? :-)


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Daves on 07/31/2009 14:48:29 MDT Print View

I'd take a lighter bag, a foam pad, cook over a fire, and have slightly different clothing, but other than that you're taking what I'd take on that trip.

David Stapleton
(KamperDave) - F

Locale: VA, DC, MD
Re: Daves on 07/31/2009 14:53:40 MDT Print View

Haha the dueling Daves. I would love to cook over a fire but we'll be above treeline for about 70% of the trip. Unless you mean esbit.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
beartooth on 07/31/2009 20:47:55 MDT Print View

you might consider bear spray (if it's on your list I missed it)- this is primo grizzly country- I wouldn't hike w/o out it

also there is an early backcountry elk season that opens in September- if it coincides w/ your trip a little orange on the outside wouldn't hurt

your right about the weather, very unpredictable in September- not unusual at all to get snowed on in Sept :)

David Stapleton
(KamperDave) - F

Locale: VA, DC, MD
Re: beartooth on 07/31/2009 22:21:16 MDT Print View

We've talked about carrying bear spray on this trip. One person suggested that only the person at the lead on the trail really needed to carry it. Would you all suggest that all three of us have a can?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
bear spray on 08/01/2009 15:31:24 MDT Print View

I like to have my own, but the lead person carrying is certainly better than none :)

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Bear spray (and holster) on 08/01/2009 17:24:22 MDT Print View

Bear spray is an essential tool in grizzly country.

I recommend that more than one person has it. You'll be in real-deal grizzly habitat. It's to protect the bear, not you.

And PLEASE - do NOT stick it in your backpack. Wear it like a gunslinger - on your hip in a holster.

I know two people who have been mauled by Grizzlies, and they said it happened instantaneously. THey would NEVER have been able to get something off a side pocket.

My friend Tim had stitches all over his head and scalp. I'll NEVER travel in bear terrain without bear spray or a BIG team of fellow campers.

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
WOW on 08/01/2009 18:06:54 MDT Print View

WOW!!!! There are MAYBE 1000 living Grizzlies in the ENTIRE Lower 48 states and MOST people who hike NEVER see one, let alone are attacked by a raging, ferocious bear.

I have lived and worked in forestry and wildlife management in BC, Alberta, the NWT and been in the Yukon and Alaska. I have had about 60 encounters with Grizzlies, been within 10 yds. of three different ones, both armed and unarmed and helped skin several shot by various companions. I taught bear safety to forestry crews that I supervised and gave seminars to tourists on bears as part of my employment.

It is now over 53 years since my first Grizzly encounter and I just laugh at most of the comments made about them by those whose personal "hands-on" experience is slim and none. We have the densest Grizzly population anywhere here in BC and I have lived, alone, among these bears for periods of 3 months without a break and over 5 months with a few breaks.

I NEVER carry spray, after testing it and I only carry one of my purpose-built Grizzly protection guns under certain circumstances. We used to hike, camp and fish plus pick Huckleberries all over my home area of the West Kootenays for decades before spray was invented and we never had a problem.

In my experience and opinion based thereon, spray is just a "feel good" item which is enriching it's makers and, while it does work, SOMETIMES, it is NOT a panacea and actually imparts a dangerous and false sense of "safety" to those who carry it. I have known a few guys who were chewed up and it was because they were NOT paying attention to what they were doing, one being a fellow "Lookoutman", back in the '60s.

I suggest carrying a "freon horn" of the type used for marine emergencies and learning about Grizzly behaviour BEFORE trekking in Grizzly country. I ALWAYS carry a horn, there are now some 20,000 Grizzlies in BC and I often see one, AFTER he is made aware of my presence and thus leaves the area I need to traverse.

I know there will be those here who will disagree with my comments, but, I base my behaviour on a lot of field experience and I am not motivated by EITHER a "preservationist" or a "hunter's" agenda, just what has worked for me for 50+ years.

Edited by Kutenay on 08/01/2009 18:08:22 MDT.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Beartooth Wilderness 6-day list on 08/01/2009 18:08:13 MDT Print View

Okay, my long-winded set of insights:

You have 9.15 pounds listed for your pack, sleeping bag. pad and shelter. Any competent lightweight camper can get EVERYTHING for a week (excluding food and fuel and clothes worn) to come in under 9 pounds.

Except got the pad, the backpack, sleeping bag and shelter are “traditional” weights. I would advocate replacing (if nothing else) that pack. THere are LOTS of inexpensive lightweight options. (GoLite JAM 2)


THE SHELTER: You are going with three people in the Norther Rockies (after bug season) and you have a 2 person tent with bug netting? Get a tarp for all three of you and you are done.

AND - The Tarptent Double Rainbow is a TWO-PERSON shelter, so, you only really carry half of it, because you'll be sharing it right?

Same with the .9 liter pot, and a bunch of cooking gear.

Stuff like lighter, toothpaste, first aid kit, knife (you only need one in a team, trust me), water treatment, duct tape, bear hang, flint steel, fuel, maps and compass CAN (and should) be shared. Factor this in and you'll be WAY under 16.2 pounds initial PACK WEIGHT.

And- Be a whiny PEST when you pack up, don't let your partners take an extra knife just because they always do! Scrutinize their stuff too.

Create a 3 person team kitchen of gar, don't each of you go in with a stove and pots (etc)


You have a MONTBELL UL DOWN INNER JACKET and a 3.75 pound pack? DOn’t let those two touch, it’s like matter and anti-matter. The universe will implode (there was a star trek episode like this) Also - I have a Montbell UL Down Inner Jacket too, and I love it!

Does the STERI-PEN fit in the Platypus?

You have a 4.4 ounce bandana? No way, that’s too much. Cut it down, of find a lighter one.

The SIT PAD is extraneous for sure, but it is a useful item since you cant cut your NeoAir for a splint or something. 2 ounces of luxury.

Toothpaste, hand sany, sunblock are all listed in weights around 2.8 or so. Each should be UNDER one ounce. Repackage in tiny bottles.


Pocket knife - Yes, 1.8 is light, but a single edge razor is 0.1 oz! ANd it costs 5 cents.

Batteries - Put fresh batteries in on day one and don’t worry. Nix all extra batteries. Are you going for a month?

TP and Baby Wipes? Both? - You can NIX both and be fine.

DEET - Early september in the Northern Rockies is the BEST time to camp! THere will be NO BUGS, trust me on this one. You can leave the deet behind!

CROCKS - these are over HALF A POUND? C’mon...

RAIN PANTS - You have synthetic hiking pants, long undies, shorts, convertible pants AND rain pants? TOo much.

SHORTS - convertible pants are shorts, right? (see above)

STUFF SACKS - you list 6 stuff sacks. If you have a TRASH COMPACTOR BAG (you list yours as a Garbage Disposal Bag (at 2.3 oz) and that’s the same thing. You can waterproof EVERYTHING in your pack. THe only stuff sack you truly need is for food and the bear hang. THe rest are redundant with the COMPACTOR bag.

UNDERWEAR - You’ll be fine with one pair, the pair you wear on day one when you walk into the woods.

GLOVES - 2.5 oz is too heavy. A 1 oz pair of thin liner gloves is plenty for most 3-season needs.

GPS - and a compass, and maps? 5 ounces easily saved.


Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
lower 48 bear issues on 08/01/2009 18:42:15 MDT Print View

Reply to Dewey:

I live in the greater yellowstone ego-system, and I've taught wilderness travel and expedition skills in alaska (30 day courses) for over a decade. I've seen plenty of brown bears. Here's the low-down for the lower-48 grizzlies:

Unlike Alaska, we have heavily forested terrain, so it's easy to surprise bears.

I feel much safer in alaska because the bears aren't really habituated. Our local bears know what people food is, and they are smart, and they can become nuisance bears.

Note that I said in my comment about bear spray: "It's to protect the bear, not you."

A fed bear is a dead bear. If the bears (in our very small range) get trained on people food, some federal officer is gunna come in and kill it.

I've carried a horn, and I like the concept. I've been in teams of 16, and carried 4 bear sprays (we hike in smaller groups).

I think that by carrying bear spray in the lower 48's paltry little wilderness ares, you are role modeling a form of respect for the bears. We hike on well maintained trails, and the lightweight hiker is a lot faster than his "traditional" brothers.

And YES - I agree COMPLETELY that bear spray is NOT a replacement for good bear protocols in the backcountry. This is what I teach. It's very simple stuff (not difficult to adhere to) and I'm sure we have similar engrained habits. And, happily, these habits are becoming more common in the lower 48.

It does drive me crazy to see bear spry clipped onto the back of a pack with a caribiner. Lotta good that's gunna do.

I'll also add that bear encounters (the negative kind) are very rare around here. Maybe one a year in the whole Yellowstone Ego-System.

And - that is in part due to aggressive awareness taught (and impelled, in the form of rules). So, true enough, this is a LOW probability / HIGH consequence issue.

My friend TIm heard his dog barking, went out his back door to see what was bothering his dog (his house is backed-up onto national forest) and there was a grizzly protecting a moose carcass. Within seconds, his head was in the bears mouth. He's alive and fine (now) after a lot of surgery.

The bear is dead, the rangers baited it and shot it within days.

I love having something Wild in the Wilderness (the first four letters). Yellowstone and the Tetons (and the mountains surrounding 'em) are lovely and I really believe it's worth respecting and protecting.


Edited by mikeclelland on 08/01/2009 18:47:26 MDT.

Ryan Tucker
(BeartoothTucker) - M
steripen on 08/01/2009 18:42:53 MDT Print View

one advantage of the steripen is not toting water or at least lots of it. i would use a half liter nalgene (must have for steripen) and that is it. if you know the trail you are using has water (most in the beartooths) then you could get away without toting any on your perosn if you wanted. of course having some on your person is a safety issue in case of an injury that might prevent you from moving.

with much less knowledge on the subject i 2nd mike's bear thoughts.

Edited by BeartoothTucker on 08/01/2009 18:46:40 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Deterrant Question for Dewey & Mike C! on 08/02/2009 09:09:38 MDT Print View

I grew up on the east side of the Bob Marshall, worked a couple summers in the middle of it doing trail work, and I've hiked half of Glacier's trails, and a bunch in Yellowstone. Bears do exist, and several times we've surprised each other. I like the advice of you both--act properly, be aware, carry spray AND a small freon horn (also good for an SOS on a windy day), and loudly sing Jimmy Buffett songs when hiking solo (in the '60s & '70s there'd always be a .44 magnum pistol in the group too, hardly SUL). But bears aren't the only critters to worry about out there.

3 years ago a mad mother moose stalked me for 1/4 mile and got right in my face, 12' away. She figured that I was her biggest problem, and she seemed poised to charge hard. There were no climbable trees nearby, and I was stuck in my tracks. I had spray in my left hand, a largish knife in my right, and I kept talking softly to her. Being notoriously goofy animals, I was afraid that maybe the pepper spray would only make her more angry, and the knife would be fairly useless. She finally gave me a loud Harummmph! and abruptly turned and trotted back to her yearling.

My question is this: Do you feel that spray would be effective against an aggressive moose, or might it just make things worse?

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Deterrant Question for Dewey & Mike C! on 08/02/2009 09:34:50 MDT Print View

It's my understanding that moose are much more dangerous than bears and cause more injuries/deaths, partly because they need more 'personal space' in order to not feel threatened. That's what I was told when hiking in Alaska anyway... if it is BS I'd be interested to know!

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
? on 08/02/2009 11:16:20 MDT Print View

I don't know as I have never seen spray used on a Moose and never expect to.

We were always VERY cautious about Cow Moose with "new dropped" calfs when we were working in the bush in June/July and I once had one come after our patrol truck...we took off and did not contest the issue.

Yet, I have stalked within mere yards of several big bulls, with harems, in late Sept. and never been or felt threatened. Of course, I always had one of my .338WMs with me.

Soooo, my humble opinion is that Moose should be treated with caution, just as with bears and less reliance on sprays and more attention to potential surprise encounters is the best option.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Moose on 08/02/2009 11:47:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for your reply, Dewey. I'm now 0-for-4 with female moose, w/ or w/o calves, and I certainly do give them a wide berth, always. But in that one instance, she actually stalked me. I'll always wonder if my pepper spray would have been a solution, or if it would have matters worse...

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 08/03/2009 07:59:50 MDT.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Moose on 08/02/2009 16:16:09 MDT Print View

"...carry spray AND a small freon horn..."

Anybody think this is as light or loud as a freon air horn? It would be nice to refill this at the trailhead rather than worry about expiration dates.!.shtml#pop_pcd_tabs0

Edited by jcarter1 on 08/02/2009 16:18:31 MDT.

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
Complexity on 08/02/2009 16:33:32 MDT Print View

That gadget looks to me as though it is too complicated and fragile for use in bear deterence. I was an "offshore" Lightkeeper for the Canadian Coast Guard here on the BC coast and use the same rugged, simple little horns we had in our small boats....for over 20 years with no trouble.

I would like to stress here, that all too many people make this situation FAR TOO COMPLEX and that, in itself, can cause you potentially lethal problems when you suddenly encounter a bear, especially a Grizzly. You NEED to keep your warning and defence system SIMPLE and be TOTALLY familiar with what you choose to use...or, you may well grab the wrong item at a critical moment and suffer for your error.

I have had crews of 75 people, in tents, for weeks at a time, in the Flathead Valley of BC, just at the Can.-US border, the same on the BC-AB. border at our National Parks and in several other regions of high Grizzly and very high to almost non-existent human use. Bears learn VERY quickly and are far more "intelligent", IME, than most give them credit for. So, I have MY "system" down to a simple and effective one and recommend the same to others.

I do NOT trust sprays and I WILL NOT allow ANY bear to attack or even intimidate me; this has worked for me so well, that I have never been attacked and have never had to kill one in self defence and not one of my crew persons EVER was bothered by a bear, either.

Finally, I WOULD without hesitation, kill ANY bear that I considered a danger to humans and this is the policy of the working professionals of the various resource depts. that I worked for, as it SHOULD be. My final year in the bush was 1993 and a little boy was dragged from his tent, killed and partially eaten by a yearling Black at Slave Lake, AB, where I was stationed.

I talked to the guys who had to deal with this and it was pretty hard on all of us as most of us grew up in the bush and while we are fond of bears, we also like kids.......

David Stapleton
(KamperDave) - F

Locale: VA, DC, MD
Updated on 08/04/2009 07:38:41 MDT Print View

Thank you all for your suggestions. I've taken some of them into account and some will have to wait. Here's the revised list.

MT Gear List