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Appalachian Trail (MA section) June 2010
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Ryan Twohey
(cmassrunner) - F
Appalachian Trail (MA section) June 2010 on 11/11/2009 00:53:22 MST Print View


I'm new to this site, so i apologize if this question has been asked elsewhere, or if i'm posting it in the wrong area. I'm an amateur hiker (3x Philmont Scout Ranch, eagle scout, various weekend trips in MA) who's become fascinated with ultralight backpacking. I'm also an avid runner, running between 70-85 miles most weeks. I'm going to be running (note: trail running is almost more like hiking than running at times) the MA section of the AT in June of 2010 for charity in a time-trial format. So i'm trying to go as light as possible. I'm assembling a gear list now, and i was wondering if you could critique it; offer suggestions?

Integral Designs Silicoat backpack - 4.5oz

Equinox ultralight bivy cover - 6.5oz

Saucony speedlight shirt - 3oz (change shirt on restock, clean @ water stops once a day)
saucony performance short (See above) - 2.1oz
Patagonia capilene bottoms - 3.7oz
generic light longsleeve - 4oz
2x saucony elite socks - 6oz (3oz p/pair)
1x Saucony grid A3 flats - 6.7oz

Bug net - 1oz
Photon light - .2oz
fire starter - 4oz
Map - 1oz
Aircore Pro Ursalite rope - 1.3oz
trashbag for raincoat - 1oz
MSR pack towel ultralite - 1.2oz
empty plastic soda bottle - 1oz

1.5lbs (will restock 1/2 through)
Purification tabs - 1oz

Total weight carried: 60.4oz (3.77 lbs)

any suggestions?

I'm guessing this will take appx 5 days, possibly 4l. The only way i could possibly see of reducing weight would be to replace the food w/ Joe's Moose Goo (would this be a good idea?)... as this would most likely cut weight considerably.

Sorry for the length of the post, forgive me.

Edit: oh, i'm going to be restocking food, and exchanging clothing, about 1/2 through. i'm going to purify/drink water as i come to springs, and wash clothing in rivers when possible. I won't need food for meals when i first leave, when i restock, and when i arrive on those respective days, so this will cut down even more excess weight. The rope will allow me to set up the bags as a shelter.

Edited by cmassrunner on 11/11/2009 12:38:12 MST.

Ryan Twohey
(cmassrunner) - F
Change on 11/11/2009 01:40:49 MST Print View

just found Aircore ursuline pro rope, which is 1.3oz, which brings my total weight to 4.7lbs and, when you subtract the articles of clothing i'll be wearing, it means i'm only carrying 3.77 lbs.

good idea? bad idea? misguided fool?

Edited by cmassrunner on 11/11/2009 03:04:21 MST.

Gordon Towne
(gordontowne) - MLife

Locale: New England
Re: Appalachian Trail (MA section) June 2010 on 11/11/2009 07:17:32 MST Print View

I would replace the empty plastic soda bottle with a Platypus bottle. You could cut about 8 oz right there for very little money.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Appalachian Trail (MA section) June 2010 on 11/11/2009 08:08:49 MST Print View

Fist off I assume that you are going to be staying in shelters since your only shelter is a water resistant bivy, but what if the shelters are full? You need to take some sort of tarp to supplement your bivy if you have to camp one night. You could replace your trash bag rain jacket with the 3.9oz MLD Cuben Poncho Tarp and have an emergency tarp for only a 2.9 oz addition. Another option would be the 3.9 oz MLD Speed Tarp (The speed tarp is a lot bigger and would offer better protection but it can’t replace your “rain jacket”.)

I also see that you are only sleeping in a baselayer and bivy. I don’t know what it is like in Massachusetts in June, but I have been on Tennessee/North Carolina/Virginia sections in June/July/August with temps in the high to mid 30’s. I have had snow on Mt LeConte (Smoky Mountains – off the AT ~6593’) in late June, so I would check the weather before you go, account for elevation (around 4* per 1000 feet in humid environments), and perhaps even practice in your backyard. If you decide you need something more to sleep in, for the absolute lightest look at the MLD Spirit Quilt (13oz) Mont-Bell Thermal Sheet (13.4oz) Backpacking Light PRO 60 Quilt (12oz) Backpacking Light Pro 90 Quilt (13oz)or Nunatak Arc Edge (11oz). You also might consider buying the Mont-Bell UL Inner Down Jacket and Pants combo (~13.7oz) and sleep in that.

I don’t know what type of bug net that is, but if it just a head net, you can get one that weighs an ounce here at BPL.

I would replace that fire starter with a mini bic and either some spark light fire starting tabs, or repackaged hand sanitizer.

Either you are including the weight of water in your soda bottle weight or you have a miscalculation. It should be in the 1 to 2oz range.

I might get flamed for saying this, but if you are just doing the AT you could get by without a map. The trail is well marked and easy to follow. Or better yet, you could replace both your map and your pack towel and get an Anti Gravity Gear Mapdana.

I don’t know if I would say bad idea or misguided fool, but I will say that that is a very, ultra, super, uber minimalist list. In my opinion SUL backpacking is borderline unsafe, when equipment is not being replaced by knowledge and experience.

Edited by Mocs123 on 11/11/2009 08:42:18 MST.

Zachary Crane
(zcrane) - F

Locale: Midwest, USA
MSR Pack Towel on 11/11/2009 08:20:45 MST Print View

This is pretty minor, but does your MSR towel have that loop that attaches via snaps? If so, cut it off - snaps included. You'll have a little notch cut out of the towel, but you'll also save about 1/3 of the weight of the towel.

Spruce Goose
(SpruceGoose) - F

Locale: New England
Appalachian Trail (MA section) June 2010 on 11/11/2009 09:28:37 MST Print View

The AT through MA is less than 100 miles. It sounds like you're young, and you're a pretty serious runner. If you train well between now and June, you could probably this section in 3 days without much problem.

I did it in 3 days, carrying my normal backpacking gear (approx 12 lb base weight) The only running I really did was on the downhills.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Sleeping bag & light insulation on 11/11/2009 21:36:07 MST Print View

I live in the approximate area you're looking to hike through, and trust me, there's a pretty decent chance you could have a night in the 40's or lower. Those are temperatures that could put you at risk for hypothermia without at least a little insulation.

If you want to go as minimalist as possible, get a quilt rated for 30 degrees or lower that you can also wear around camp. That should allow you to skip an insulation layer all together in a safe manner, although not necessarily in a comfortable one.

A Golite Ultra 20 might be overkill in a bivy, but if you're using shelters and no insulation layer, you'll probably be comfortable. Granted, this is just hearsay. I don't have the quilt myself, but plan to add it to my gear list as my regular 3 season bag as soon as I can find a size long on sale. This thing is only 19 oz. You could also look at one of the BPL 90's. That might do the trick for you, and it's both lighter and cheaper. But please, bring something warm.

I'd also recommend a just-in-case poncho to cover you and the insulation layer.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
What about... on 11/12/2009 11:00:34 MST Print View

I don't see any first aid on your list. Even with help nearby I'd at least carry some duct tape. That and your bandanna *could* see you through *if* you're resourceful.

Edited by veriest1 on 11/12/2009 11:01:42 MST.

Ryan Twohey
(cmassrunner) - F
Appalachian Trail - Mass section on 11/17/2009 22:22:01 MST Print View

Sorry for the late response, i've had some computer issues the past week or so.

Gordon - It was a typo, my mistake.

Bradford - The Cuben is a great idea; i hadn't thought of that. I'm going to be buying most of my gear over the course of a few months (to make it a little more affordable), and that'll put the Cuben within reach. Thanks for the suggestion! As for the cold, i've had to deal with similar conditions before, so i feel like I could deal with it. To be on the safe side though, i'll be doing a few "demo" hikes, and if conditions were truly bad on the trail, i could stuff the bivy to make it more insulated. I've also read of some ultralite hikers who actually do some hiking @ night because of the cold. If i had to do this, i would, but i wouldn't prefer it. The Mapdana is a great idea too!

Spruce Goose - Thanks!

Nate - I'm from Central MA, so i figured the summer nights were similar temperature wise unless one was up on the hills. I could be very wrong though. I've highlighted some of my ideas previously (stuffing sack, moving during the night, stuffing poncho in bivy sack as another layer, etc), so i won't go into lots of detail about them. I've also debated just wearing all my layers (shorts, pants, short-sleeve, long-sleeve) to bed as well. I'll have to look into some ultralight insulation . Thanks for the suggestions!

Larry - Oops, that's on my original list but i forgot to type that into this one, another typo! My bad!

I understand the list is a super-ultralight minimalist list, but i do feel that it's adequate for it's purpose. When i'm not running/hiking, i'll either be eating or sleeping. Nothing else. I'm not trying to be cocky by stating my Eagle Scout rank, or having gone to Philmont "x" number of times, because it's a different ball-game (and i'm a relative newcomer to ultralight packing).

Thank you all for your kind and very helpful suggestions.

Edited by cmassrunner on 11/17/2009 22:22:50 MST.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Mass temperatures on 11/18/2009 10:39:18 MST Print View

Ryan, in all likelihood, you'll probably be fine. But the AT does run through the hills, and there are several nights in every summer month that get pretty cold. There's a good shot you'll hit it right and won't need the insulation. But in my opinion it's worth the insurance of a light quilt or something similar.

It sounds like it'll be a trip to remember, so here's to hoping that the memories will be warm ones. ;)

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Re: Appalachian Trail - Mass section on 11/18/2009 14:50:02 MST Print View

Ryan, This June was very wet and cold. The low for the month in Pittsfield was 35F, probably colder in the Taconics and Greylock. In the first half of the month, there were many nights with a low of 45F and days that didn't get out of the 50s. Plus, it rained just about everyday. I'd say that for June, 2009 you need more warm clothing and warmer sleeping gear. You need something to keep you warm when you stop, even briefly. The scenario to think of is rain for 48 hours and temperature of 40 to 50. You need to know about hypothermia and how to avoid it. You may also need more food, again to avoid hypothermia (it's harder to stay warm without fuel).

Sleeping: at least a 30 degree quilt. If you can check the weather forecast and it'll be warmer, maybe just a cut down blanket. If you want to see how your proposed gear will do, try taking a nap in your backyard the next time it rains this month. Today was way warmer than many days in June here in Northern Worcester County.
Shelter: unless you are staying in the AT shelters, you should have something better than trash bags, i.e., a small tarp.
Clothing: an average June, I'd say a fleece jacket and a fleece hat. This June an additional layer beyond that would have been reasonable ( or use your sleeping bag/quilt to stay warm IF YOU CAN KEEP IT DRY).
Raingear: either the poncho tarp already suggested or a dry ducks top.
All this should be 1.5 to 2.5 lb.

There are some steep places that were slick when wet this summer (and it was wet all summer), so watch it on the steep rocky wet parts.

If you're hiking after dark, you need a better light for the steeper parts.

It should be a fun trip.