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Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
AT list on 09/10/2009 15:02:40 MDT Print View

Okay my turn. Sorry long...

Lose 3# and spend $700+. Almost $15 per ounce.

Thats what it looks like to me. I also have some gear I need besides those items to cut weight.

This is really a 3 season early start list for an AT thruhike so its almost a winter list. A Winter setup is not far from this, just a change in worn clothes, extra johns to wear all the time, heavy socks, add a couple of odds and ends like microspikes. Actually wearing more so a bit less weight.

On the spreadsheet link I have a "own now list" on the left and a "lighter future list" on the right. 2 of the big items I could reduce and probably the most bang for the buck would be the backpack and the tent.

If I spend that $700 and lighten my load with 5 days of food at 28oz and 2L of H20 I will be at 29# loaded vs 25.5# after coughing up $700. 3.5# and $700 just does not make sense.

I know I can lose even more weight by going the SUL route a lot of cuben, down quilt, small neoair, gatewood cape, bug tent, skip the rain gear, Cuben pack etc etc.

I actually have a summer SUL and a winter SUL in my spreadsheet at home at 5# and 8-9# but its pretty minimal. I intend to set that up at a later date.

At any rate a MB spiral #1 is about as good as it will get for me. I like the regular neoair on a bluepad. I am a side sleeper, but I could lose the blue pad in warmer weather.

The spitfire is heavy, but I like it. Cheap, easy to set up and barely enough room and its got a real coated floor with heavier material. I can modify it with CF poles and a cuben fly and it will weigh 31-32oz and I can create a bigger vestibule.

The pack is my old Kelty alpine internal frame pack from many moons ago. Cordura, its rugged and I have had it loaded up to about 45-50#. Not that comfortable though compared to new contoured packs but pretty large. I also have a Jam II but not big enough for a thru.

To modify my gear list to get down to around 12#...

Replace spitfire tent poles with CF
Replace fly with Cuben version
Buy 24 oz pack GG mariposa ??

Replace Salsa with MB Thermowrap jacket
Replace Micropuff vest with thermowrap or minima vest
Replace 14 oz cheapo insul pants w BPL or thermowrap pants

Link to the list. There is some stuff on there that might not apply. Specifically some of the SUL stuff.

Edited by tammons on 09/10/2009 15:06:15 MDT.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
me too ... on 09/11/2009 19:12:14 MDT Print View

Serendipitously, I'm starting to think seriously about an AT thru-hike starting in late Feb. What I read varies a bit in terms of temps/conditions to be prepared for; I'm reluctantly going with a 20F rated WM bag to start with, and some clothing to augment, then swap out/mail home a bit over 2 pounds worth of that at Pearisburg, get it back at Glencliff just before going into the Whites.

Shelter: this is so individual, it's hard to sort out. I plan to start with Gatewood Cape and not the net tent that goes with it, but a light bivy, dual use for inside shelters. At some point (maybe also Pearisburg) I'll swap the light bivy for the G.C. net tent. The only concerns I have about the G.C. are that I like the roominess inside my Contrail (especially when the bugs are bad), and I wonder if the cape will have enough ventilation to act as decent raingear, and whether the foot end of my bag will get too close to the wall fabric and get wet --- TBD. I can always do a mail swap for my Contrail plus some sort of raingear (driducks or shorter poncho) if I'm not happy.

Note that the weights you list for G.C. and net tent are a little optimistic. Seam sealed with associated use-as-a-tent harness & short cords and 6 MSR needle stakes plus an elastic belt to use in cape mode, my GC weighs 14.1 oz (400g). I get the net tent at 8.0 oz (227g). I bought some polycro as a groundcloth/floor and trimmed it more or less to fit, that adds 1.3 oz (36g). And I plan to carry a light disposable poncho for use in camp, the one I have weighs 1.7 oz. That's the total weight (25.1 oz) that I balance against my equivalent Contrail setup at 28.5 oz (with polycro groundcloth) plus of course separate raingear, so it's still a significant weight win, just also of course less comfortable as a shelter.

I'm not really clear in your list whether you plan to have warmer sleep stuff (bag/quilt and padding) at the start start and in the Whites vs. lighter for summer, or do you plan to carry all the same sleeping setup throughout? (!).

"Blue pad 4 oz" --- what dimensions? Some have suggested that Neoair isn't super durable (I have no experience), so perhaps a thinlight underneath would help that, dunno ... and/or provide a warmer base for starting out.

Microspikes --- really? I'd be interested in what you're basing that on (and exactly when you plan to start). Last year on the PCT I carried ULA's light (no longer sold) 6-point crampons into the Sierras and quickly mailed them home, so am inclined to be happy in just trail runners.

If you do go with the Gatewood Cape (or any other poncho), no need for a pack cover.

So when you have dashes next to something that must mean you're not carrying it ... like a knife. I'd consider getting a lighter knife rather than going with none; I like a 0.8 oz Wenger Esquire model, but whatever makes you happy --- a very light knife that has scissors is what I like.

Despite the above comments, so much of what you're doing is along the line of my thoughts. I'm bringing a thermawrap jacket as my (only) upper body warmth layer for the whole trip, will use cocoon pants to augment for the beginning and maybe the Whites (but won't bring long johns). I use a GG Mariposa Plus (and liked it a lot last year). I'm thinking that some sort of waterproof mitten shell will be worth while, eVent mitten shells are expensive but that's what I'll go with.

At this point my load isn't looking super light at about a 16 pound base weight at the start, drop to about 13.5 at Pearisburg. Electronics set me back a little (smartphone and bluetooth keyboard for journeling), and I carry a little more padding than some use (might whack back on that more in Pearisburg too). With the cold weather at the start I'm thinking I'll use a ULA gravity filter to start and switch to Aqua Mira when it warms up, but ... hard to really balance that out as it's often a trade-off of filter weight vs. how much water you're carrying at any given time.

I'll be keenly interested in feedback you get from others on this topic. If/as my plans firm up I'll post my gear list hear for similar review. Thru-hiking the PCT last year I found that I worried less about minor base weight nuances as I got stronger and as the amount of food (and sometimes water) seemed to swamp some of that stuff. I want to "sweat the details" a little in prepping for the AT too, but I know that I'll certainly relax about it again after I'm on trail.

Edited by brianle on 09/11/2009 19:14:12 MDT.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
AT list on 09/11/2009 20:31:50 MDT Print View

I am still reworking all my gear I had from years ago. Some of the best of it from the 70's.

I just returned a MB #2 SS for a MB #1 Spiral mostly because its easier to extend a 15dF bag to 0dF than a 25dF bag.

Right now I am just over 15#, but I can get it down to 13-14 pretty easy. Even so at 15# I should be at around 29# with food for 5 days with 2L water.

I have gone back and forth on shelters. Out for 6 months I would prefer something larger, but that vs weight so...

I decided I wanted a real coated tub floor and a net tent with a tight fly, for obvious reasons. The spitfire is cheap, very easy to set up and should be very wind resistant and if it blows away or gets trashed I can buy another one for $100. Almost my complete list will be going with me all the way. That was the idea with the Montbell #2. I have tried that bag in quilt mode and I did fine in room temps. It really does well sideways with your feet hangin out. I would imagine the #1 might be a bit hot, but I would rather be too hot than too cold. Besides I will have a tyvek bivy I can sleep under, IE on top of the bag with maybe a jacket on.

I almost bought a gatewood cape and bug tent. That bug tent should be perfect for shelters. Then I decided to build my own gatewood cape lighter and a net tent with a cuben floor. After thinking about it a bit more decided to go the real tent route. I want at least a dry ducks jacket anyway as an extra layer. The factory spitfire fly weighs 16oz even. The vent is almost exactly in the middle and is big enough to get your head through after modding the inner strap. Velcro the front and back ends up and you have a big coverage hoodless poncho. Fits me but I am tall.

2nd piece of raingear too.

Interesting on the 14oz after sealing. A MYOG 5x11 foot pocho/tarp with a beak creates a lot of room, like 5' x 8'6. That weighs about 13oz in sil and has one seam at the beak. I will probably do one of those out of cuben one of these days. 6-7 oz in cuben.

As far as a wet bag, I plan to carry a tyvek bivy all the way. If I never use it I will send it back or trash it, give it away etc. Also might swap out to a synthetic quilt. I have been toying with building a cuben inflatable climasheil quilt. Dont think I would like to "Try it out" on a 2200 mile thru hike cold.

I am going to carry most of the listed gear all the way. Will send some of it back ASAP, but not much. Like the spikes will go back early. Will swap out my wearing clothes etc. With a MB #1 bag I will never need insul pants once it warms up etc.

My original plan from a few months ago, was a MB #2, 2.5oz XP overquilt, bivy, bluepad, neoair, tent of some sort. Send back the MB #2 and continue with the quilt. I got talked into just using the #1 all the way and dropping the sumemr quilt, lighter etc when combined and more safety with the #1. The MB #1 spiral is 4 oz heavier than the MB #2 SS UL.

The blue pad I have is full length, 3/8". I got it from Bass pro shops. It weighs 4.3 oz stock. Trimmed 4 oz.
The neoair will go on top of that 100% of the time. I am a side sleeper. Polycro GC, tent, tyvek bivy at times, blue pad, neoair. If the neoair goes flat, at least I will have something.

I plan to start in Feb. I have hiked in Dec and Jan on the southern end years ago, and never needed them. I am questioning that. Might just buy or build instep spikes.

I am going to do a shake down section hike for a couple of weeks in Dec somewhere in Ga, so after that I will probably adjust this setup since alot of it is new.

I think I will take a pack cover anyway. Going with a tent, and rain jacket to start, but I have been caught in torrential rains when I would have liked to have had about 3-4 garbage bags, sheet plastic, bivy sack, a folding army shovel to dig a trench around my tent. Thats fun to do at night with a plastic shovel. Also better raingear, better floor on my tent, Large sponge, a real towel or two, etc etc. To me its worth the extra ounce.

That At list linked above is from a multiple list with a AT now, AT lighter, Winter list, SUL winter, SUL summer all in one spread sheet. Some of the items I have, some I dont.

Dashes, no go.

I have carried a swiss army knife with a saw for about 25 years (not the same one, think I am on number 5). It comes in handy. I dont count anything in my pockets in my pack weight anyway.

Wish I had a thermowrap.
Wish I had some cocoon pants.
Wish I had a Mariposa plus.
Nice gear.

I will be starting out with a good bit of winter clothing/layers, but some of it will get shipped back ASAP. The worn stuff is not ont he list.

I have some extra tyvek, so I am going to make some tyvek mitts and booties. We will see how long they last. Probably will add a couple of pairs of latex gloves.

Lighter is nice, but you are right. Food and water are so heavy it gets to a point where you ask if its worth it.
3# costing me $700 is sort of rediculous.

I will probably do some of it and should end up at around 13.5-14 base. 5 days food and 2L h20 = 27-28.5# depending on the wt. of food per day.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
dealing with lots of rain on 09/12/2009 07:48:03 MDT Print View

"... but I have been caught in torrential rains when I would have liked to have had about 3-4 garbage bags, sheet plastic, bivy sack, a folding army shovel to dig a trench around my tent. Thats fun to do at night with a plastic shovel. Also better raingear, better floor on my tent, Large sponge, a real towel or two, etc etc. To me its worth the extra ounce."

That sounds like more than an extra ounce, but I take your meaning. I live in the PNW, where we get rain, but rarely does it rain for both long and very hard, more typically a sort of long extended drizzle is the norm. So having a floorless tent (Gatewood Cape) is one thing I'm a little concerned about, hence the bivy to start with. I'm hoping that extended gully washers won't be too common ...

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
AT list on 09/12/2009 08:35:56 MDT Print View

Continuous gulley washers are hard to deal with anytime.

As far as a poncho tarp like this one...

with a bug tent with a waterproof tub floor, I am not as worried so much about heavy rain as I am switching high winds and or wind driven rain. That rig, I intend to build with a tyvek or sil door. I never have had a tent blow away, but I almost lost a few tarps.

A gatewood cape will take care of that wind driven rain/wind problem due to its shape and down to the ground coverage.
Its a nice piece of equipment.

I think its actually very versatile. You could build a .9 oz DWR nylon inner tent for winter or a very light bug tent for summer, half cuben, half .7 oz mesh, either with a real coated nylon, or cuben tub floor.

Either of those would be as good as any tent anyway. Same diff, IE a fly, inner tent and a pole. Just probably not quite as strong or adjustment free as a superb tent but a good bit lighter. As long as an inner tent has a WP tub floor I cant really see much of a difference.

Gatewood cape and just a bivy might be a different story, depending on how good you are at picking setup locations.

I want a little extra protection so I intend to carry a tyvek bivy and a tent all the way.

All of those times my bag got soaked, if they would have been in a bivy sack, I would have been okay.

That said, I havnt gotten soaked in a long time.

Of course back then there were no waterproof breathable materials. Matter of fact no good synthetic insul either, and you never even much about bivy sacks, except for cold weather snow mountain climbers. Then gortex came along and everybody wanted gortex everything.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
AT list on 09/12/2009 08:51:45 MDT Print View

I live in the Southeast and have section hiked the AT from Springer to VA16 (64 miles north of Damascus, VA) since last summer. We can get torrential rains, but many times if it is super heavy rain, it ends quickly or turns into a steady soaking rain. I met some thru hikers near Winding Stair Gap this past April that said it had rained for the past 10 days (it was their 11th day on the trail). On that same section hike the first few days were sunny and hot with temps in the 70's. I woke up on the third day and it was 60* at 6:30am. By 10:30am it was near freezing with howling winds and snow. We ending up with blizzard like conditions and 10" of snow with drifts up to my waist. I am not saying that that is normal for April, but I am just saying that the weather can turn bad quickly even this far south.

I would really recommend waiting until at least march to start unless you are really prepared for the cold. Most people that start early spend a lot of time in towns and hostels. I know a few people that thru hiked in 2006 that left in mid March. I think they said their coldest night was 14*. You are smart not to get rid of your winter gear until after Mt. Rogers though, I had temps of 39* up there last year the first week of August. Of course when I did my section thru there over Labor Day, it never dropped below 55* so you never know. I was also in the Smokies this July and it got down to 33* near Clingmans Dome.

I will end this rambling with a few other points...

1. You probably wont need the Micro Spikes. Sure there have been a few times where I wished I had them, but if the weather gets that bad, you will probably want to just wait it out in town. During that snow storm in April, I passed 2 shelters full of thru hikers and NONE of them were going anywhere that day. They couldn't believe I was hiking. If it helps any, I have a pair of micro spikes and have never used them.

2. Setting up tents and bug shelters in shelters is not well thought of unless you are the only one there. Many of the shelters are very crowded near the start of the trail and they will actually cram more people in them than really fit. I prefer to tent myself, but a AT shelter during thru hiker season is something everyone should experience at least once.

3. You wont have to carry more than 3 or 4 days food until you get to the Smokies, even there you can get by with 4 or 5.

4. Remember to hang your food as bears do not hibernate here. Many of the shelters the first hundred miles of the trail have bear cables for hassle free hanging.

5. I have never hiked anywhere else in the country so I don't know for sure, but one thing that everyone from around here raves about when they go hike out west is how quickly everything dries. Things like wicking shirts, socks, etc do NOT dry overnight here. Things will dry in the sun, but otherwise good luck. Many thru hikers I have talked to say they get used to being cold and wet.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Thanks for the info on 09/12/2009 09:29:51 MDT Print View

I have hiked a few sections in N Ga back in the 80's, always in winter. I prefer winter hiking but I am older now so we will see.

I am doing a shake down in December. If I cant deal with it, I will leave later.

I have been in the rain, damp, fog, sleet in N Ga on hikes before and I know it can be miseable and the reason for separate rain gear.

I almost decided to go with a ultralamina 15 instead of a down bag and just deal with the extra 16 oz.

All of my down bag experience is from long ago. No tyvek, no DWR etc. DWR helps a lot.

True when I have been on the AT or anywhere int he SE for that matter, when its soggy, everything just stays damp all the time. True about out west. I spent a lot of time in New Mexico, Colorado etc and its alot easier to dry out, IE 20% Relative Humidity vs 90%.

On the microspikes, I am considering, just packing a few shoe screws instead of microspikes just in case. A lot lighter and less expensive anyway.

I intend to carry a MB #1 all the way, just for reasons like you stated. Possible to run into cold weather any time. Swapping out to a 40dF quilt would save me about a lb, but I dont think its worth it, unless I was trying to go SUL. If I did that I would carry extra layers anyway.

I have a bivy I will also carry all the way thru with a bug net, in case I decide to crash at a shelter.

Always hang all my food.