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Suggestions on new UL gear
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jacob huwe
(uticafats) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Suggestions on new UL gear on 11/05/2009 09:28:05 MST Print View

I’m making the transition to UL and need some advice on gear selection. I know gear is a personal preference, but would appreciate any help you may give based on your collective experiences.

My situation:

The majority of my gear use will be for overnight and weekend trips in the North East (Adirondack Park NY, VT, NH etc.). This will be 3 season hiking with temperatures ranging from the 20’s in early spring/late fall, to 80’s in the peak of summer. I will plan on at least 1-2 seven day trips as well durning the summer.
The time will be split between solo hiking, hiking with my wife, and hiking in a group. I may also take my 65 lb Yellow lab along on weekend trips.

I’m 5’10” 170 lbs and a warm stomach sleeper (no hammocks, but I can sleep in a mummy bag)
My wife is 5’6” 130lbs with no sleep issues

I do not mind spending money on the right gear for the job.

Only 10% of time will be spent in the 20 degree range so I can purchase extra “add on” gear for this limited exposure.

I have a temporary gear list posted. I’m aiming at sub 8 lb base pack weight. I plan on reducing or even adding to this as I become more familiar with my gear and ability it use it most efficiently.

With this is mind here are my thoughts:

Shelter ideas:

GG Spintwin
Six Moons Lunar Duo

This is where I’m having the most problems. I like the versatility the GG Spintwin offers and the minimal weight. It will work solo, w/ the wife, and I hope, w/ the wife and the dog (any experience with this?). I have always used a double wall tent and have no experience with tarps. I’m concerned about weather, ticks (Lyme Disease), and the dog not being confined at night. It seams that the Duo will solve these issues, but add close to 2 lbs to my pack if I’m traveling solo. Should I just buy both and forget about it?

The Spintwin also raises the question to bivy or not to bivy. Like the tarp, I have never used a bivy. I think it will offer protection from weather and bugs while reducing heat loss from my sleep system from wind. How does a bivy work while sleeping on you stomach?

Sleep System ideas:

WM Summerlite or Ultralite
Quilt (Most likely Nunatak Alpinist or Ghost/Specialist)

I have always used a 20 degree synthetic mummy bag. In my attempt to cut weight I’m exploring the option of the 32 degree bag. When temps hit the 20’s I plan on sleeping in my Mont bell UL down inner jacket, polartech pants, hat etc. I may even use a bag liner. These claim to add up to 10 degrees to the bag. Is this true? The WM Ultralite seems like the safe choice, but is an additional 10 oz. I like the idea of the quilt, but I’m worried about my lack of experience with one. The Nunatak Arc Alpinist is only 1 oz heavier then the Summerlite and is rated to 20 degrees. It can also accommodate a stomach sleeper somewhat more comfortably then the mummy bags. Are drafts going to be an issue with temps in the 20’s? Will the UL jacket be enough? Once again, temps in the 20’s will only constitute about 10% of my trips. I would rather carry less weight for the majority of the season and take extra precautions in colder times. Do I have to use a bivy to achieve the best results in colder temps?

Pack ideas:

GG Gorilla or suggestions

At times my hiking is done in an area that requires the Backpacker’s Cache Bear Canister (at close to 3 lbs Arghhh!). I contacted GG and asking if the Mummer will accommodate this and they said most likely not. It this the case? I like the versitility of the Gorilla. It can be striped to about 15 oz if needed and can carry the bear canister. I’m open to suggestions.

Thanks for all your help.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Suggestions on new UL gear on 11/05/2009 14:35:07 MST Print View


I haven't been backpacking with dogs in years. I would be concerned that the floor in the Lunar Duo (or any ultralight shelter) wouldn't be up to a dog. Anyone with experience care to comment?

So it looks like you are trying to go from 1-2.5 "people"... or maybe room for 4 depending on how "young" your lab is :-) You might want to consider two shelters. One that is good for 1+dog (mld duomid + solo nest?), and a second which is good for 2+dog (floorless tarptent rainshadow).

Regarding bivys... I didn't have a problem being a stomach sleeper. The added protection was helpful when using a flat tarp. The thing I didn't like about the bivy was that the space wasn't that large if I was hiding from bugs. Often I would finish hiking in the early evening. I was still hot from hiking and really wanted a bug free space when I could cool down and get started on my camp activities. I couldn't do that in the bivy.

Sleep system:

WM and Nunatak make fine products. If you don't mind the narrow diameter of the summerlite/ultralite, then I would go with one of them because you can use them like a bag or a quilt. They feel too confining to me so I went with a quilt. I use a ghost down to 30F wearing a base and polarbuff as a hat, and down to 20F with an extra warm hat and a wm flash vest. Other people (like my wife) need a lot more insulation to be comfortable. I haven't had significant problem with drafts once I got used to using the quilt. I would think the montbell ul inner down jacket would be a good pairing.

You have a closed cell foam pad to sleep on. If that works for you, great. Personally, I am hooked on insulated air mattresses like the BA Insulated AirCore.


I like the Gorilla... but if you plan to use it stripped down, that I might look at packs which are pure frameless packs. I have been very happy with the gorilla with the frame and sit pad. The Gorilla should have just enough space for the bear canister... I would imagine that it would not be a good match with the mummer.


Edited by verber on 11/05/2009 14:36:47 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Ultra 20 on 11/05/2009 15:38:34 MST Print View

Consider Golite's Ultra 20 for your sleeping quilt. It's rated to 20F but realistically good to about 30F so it's a nice quilt for your conditions. With the Montbell U.L. down Inner jkt, a hat and some baselayer or fleece pants it should be good to 20F. At $220 retail (and often available for less) it's a good deal on a nice 19oz quilt.

jacob huwe
(uticafats) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Re: Ultra 20 on 11/05/2009 16:28:59 MST Print View

Thanks for the advice. The Ultra 20 looks like a good choice for what I need. Also, I just found out that my credit card reward program offers some Golite products including the Ultra 20. I can cash in my reward points and use the saving to buy the Spintwinn. Two birds with one stone! Thanks.

jacob huwe
(uticafats) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Re: Re: Suggestions on new UL gear on 11/05/2009 16:40:06 MST Print View

Good point on the tent floor. I'll bring a closed cell pad for the dog to protect the floor. After a hike she rolls into a ball and crashes so hopefully that will take care of it.

I see your point regarding the bugs. Maybe I'll take the weight penalty and carry the Duo durning the height of bug season.

I do have a BA insulated air core mummy. At 22oz I'll save it more those nights when I think it will hit the 20's and carry the Nitelite the rest of the time.

Thanks for the advice


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Suggestions on new UL gear on 11/05/2009 17:44:29 MST Print View

"I would be concerned that the floor in the Lunar Duo (or any ultralight shelter) wouldn't be up to a dog."

I used a Lunar Solo(e) with the lightweight floor option for two summers with my dog, and there was no problem with his claws on the floor. There was, however, a space problem on rainy late afternoons/evenings, which is why I ultimately sold the tent.

Bear in mind that my dog is crate-trained, so when he goes into the tent he just curls up and goes to sleep--he regards it as just another crate. I also trim his claws at least twice monthly.

A closed-cell foam pad is needed anyway to insulate your dog from the ground. It should be stiff enough that it doesn't get wadded up should your dog decide to do the "stand up, then turn around three times before lying down again" routine.

The big advantage of the tent over the tarp is that it provides a bug-free space for your dog as well as you. By the time you have the tarp, ground sheet and netting big enough for three of you, you'll approach or equal the weight of a single-wall tent.

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/05/2009 17:47:29 MST.

jacob huwe
(uticafats) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Re: Suggestions on new UL gear on 11/06/2009 14:46:20 MST Print View

Thanks for the advice. My dog is crate-trained as well so It should not be a problem

Do you have your dog carry any of it's food or water? I have a Ruffwear pack for my Lab but have not used it yet.

Michael Crosby
(djjmikie) - MLife

Locale: Ky
Re: "Suggestions on new UL gear" on 11/06/2009 14:59:49 MST Print View

for backpacking with dogs.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
dog UL floor on 11/06/2009 15:01:12 MST Print View

My golden retriever shares our BD firstlight and the floor hasn't been damaged.

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Re: Re: Re: Suggestions on new UL gear on 11/06/2009 15:25:18 MST Print View

When I take my dog, he carries his own food and a beach towel in his doggie pack. I lay out the towel which he lies on. That pretty well protects the floor.