Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
New to lightweight backpacking
Display Avatars Sort By:
Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
New to lightweight backpacking on 02/11/2010 23:15:47 MST Print View

Hello all,

This is my first post to the BPL forums. I have lingered for a while and figure it was time to jump in. Forgive me if this is long winded.

I am new to backpacking and am trying to get started right by going light. Since I am new, going Extreme SUL is probably not a great idea but maybe in the future.

What I need is input on my gear list. I live in the boring Midwestern USA but will probably be taking trips out west (Grand Canyon) and trips in the Appalachian mountains. I have sought out gear that is best suited overall for different climates and conditions.

A shelter has not been purchased yet but I am considering either a Tarptent Moment or a SMD Gatewood Cape with the Serenity Net Tent.

All gear was weighed on a small digital scale.

Gear in pack Weight (oz)

Osprey Exos 46 Pack 37
Tarptent Moment 29
W.M. Summerlite, 32 deg. 21
Thermarest Neoair, size R 13.2

MSR Pocket Rocket 3
S.P. Ti Mini Solo Cookset 5.8
Folding titanium spork 1

1.5L Nalgene Canteen 1.4
Transparent 1L Nalgene 4.6
MSR Hyperflow Microfilter 9.4
Steripen Purifier 4

First Aid Kit 5
Emergency/Survival gear 1.8
S.T.S. 2L Drysack 0.6
Compass 0.8
Petzl E+Lite Headlamp 1.6
Hand sanitizer 1.6
MSR Packtowel 3

Colombia Omni Dry Rain Jacket 16
TOTAL: 159.8

Gear worn or carried
Columbia Silver Ridge Shirt 9.6
TNF Paramont nylon pants 18
Smartwool socks 4
Vasque Wasatch GTX boots 64
Victorinox multi- tool 8
Wide brim hat 7

TOTALS Weight (lbs)
Gear in Pack 9.9875
Gear worn or carried 6.9125
4 days of food, 1lb/day 4
Water, 2L 4.41
Fuel Canister 0.875
Everything Skin out added up: 26.185

I know not everything is not on this list, such as some extra clothes, but this is mostly what I have for now. My biggest problem is that I will not be able to get out much but wish to have some nice gear when I do. I have considered the prospect of doing the PCT or AT in a few years. Given this, I would like recommendations on how appropriate some of my big items are for a trek like that. I cannot afford to buy tons of different gear so the best overall fit is what I am looking for.

Much of this gear is stuff I have used on dayhikes and figured it could be expanded upon.

This is also two fold as I like to keep a grab-and-go 72 hour kit for emergencies and lightweight gear is key. Multiple use items are important in an emergency kit.

My list was created with Excel and saved as a PDF on my profile. It is a little more detailed and has my justifications for some items.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Edited by radio_guy on 02/11/2010 23:28:04 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: New to lightweight backpacking on 02/12/2010 03:24:18 MST Print View

Welcome Ryan

Of course you can go with what you have right now - and it isn't bad. But for the future, some comments:

> MSR Pocket Rocket 3
Not a particularly good stove for several reasons, but it will do for a while. Read our Stoves articles.

> MSR Hyperflow Microfilter 9.4
> Steripen Purifier 4
You do not need both of these at once.
The Hyperflow is OK but blocks rather quickly in anything but crystal clear water - read our review of it.
The Steripen is good (my preference), but you need the right batteries (NOT the cheapies) and to store them outside the Steripen between actual uses. Again, read our review.

> First Aid Kit 5
> Emergency/Survival gear 1.8
> Hand sanitizer 1.6
Definitely a bit overboard on the emergency stuff. Typically one might use a few Band-Aids. Anything more serious - you need help.

> Colombia Omni Dry Rain Jacket 16
Rather heavy. If you have it now, go with it (hey, $$), but start looking at silnylon ponchos.

> Vasque Wasatch GTX boots 64
HEAVY! And prehistoric. We wear light joggers.

> Victorinox multi- tool 8
HEAVY - and largely un-needed too. While some carry all sorts of huge knives, many of us carry ... a razor blade.


Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Too much heavy gear on 02/12/2010 08:52:33 MST Print View

Hello Roger and thank you for the input.

I read about the shortcomings of the MSR Hyperflow but got it for a good price on sale. Most of my gear has been picked up while on sale or with some sort of discount.

Some miscellaneous items were purged before posting the original list and about 16oz was shaved off by eliminating some stuff sacks, containers/cases, and slimming down the first aid/survival kit.

Parting with my pocket knife is rough because I am always fixing things with it. It has a built in flashlight and a magnifying lens so it could be counted as several individual items combined into one.

My boots are heavy but comfortable. I prefer them over low cut shoes. The heavy rain jacket is what I have for everyday use, something lighter would be nice. I have considered some lighter rain gear options including using a Gatewoood Cape for shelter and rain gear.

I will look into the reviews and articles you suggested.


Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
RE: New to lightweight backpacking on 02/12/2010 09:50:57 MST Print View

As Roger pointed out, you can head out into the backcountry with the gear that you have right now an be just fine, so besides the purchase of a tent, you really do not need to spend any money. However points for future reference:

-MSR Pocket rocket, you could switch out for and alcohol stove set-up and shave a few ounces.

-The Nalgene bottles are overkill IMHO-- some generic plastic waters bottles (Smartwater, Aquafina etc) that you can purchase at any store will shave some weight also.

-First-aid kit, survival kit and hand-sanitizer weigh a total of 8.4oz-- that appears a little excessive. When I head out with my wife my kit weighs a little under 3oz-- when solo, I could get that down to a litte over an ounce.

-As Roger said, there is no need for both the Steripen and Hyperflow.

- Your rain jacket, is double the weight of some of the lightest jackets (not ponchos) out there, but what you have is fine. I had a Marmot Precip, but unfortunately it needed replacing and my new jacket, I ended up getting for a steal (cheaper than anything on the market), but it weighs double the weight and I am just fine with it.

- The Victorinox is also heavy, there are much lighter multi-tools on the market.

Edited by ChrisFol on 02/12/2010 09:56:23 MST.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Replace some items on 02/13/2010 14:46:22 MST Print View

Thanks for the input Chris.

I have considered using a Smart Water bottle due to their lightweight. The main reason I prefer a wide-mouth Nalgene is that the Steripen and filter can be used easier with them.

The first aid kit can probably be trimmed down some. To be honest, it is still much lighter than I have used in the past.

The Victorinox will be hard to give up. I will consider some lighter alternatives.

Ted E
(Mtn_nut) - MLife

Locale: Morrison, CO
Re: Replace some items on 02/13/2010 15:14:25 MST Print View

hey, i have a steripen traveler (same as adventurer) and it will work with the wide mouth Gatorade bottles. With my Gatorade bottle and a 2.5 L soft platy bottle, i can carry almost 4L of water if necessary and they weigh just under 3 oz. empty. you can also mark up the Gatorade bottle with fluid measurements for using it while cooking.

look at the victorinox bantam. They're cheap, and they have a good knife, can opener, bottle opener, flathead screwdriver, toothpick and tweezers. and it weighs just over 1oz. or if you get the alox version, it weights 1 oz, but you loose the toothpick and tweezers.

oh, use a coffee filter to pre-filter your water, and maybe look into using a lightload towel. they're cheap and only weigh .5 oz.

Edited by Mtn_nut on 02/13/2010 15:18:14 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Replace some items on 02/13/2010 16:59:18 MST Print View

> maybe look into using a lightload towel. they're cheap and only weigh .5 oz
They don't work very well at all though. I've tested them.


Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Good ideas on 02/13/2010 21:41:10 MST Print View

Ted, you have some good ideas. I never realized that a Gatorade bottle would work with the Steripen. Those bottles are pretty rugged too.

Finding a replacement knife is hard, mine already has everything I want plus some (built in white LED flashlight). Scissors and one of those mini corkscrew screwdrivers (for fixing eyeglasses screws) are a must. By the time I get a different one, it is only a couple ounces lighter than what I already have.

Does anyone have experience with how well a coffee filter and Steripen combo works?

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Good ideas on 02/14/2010 06:44:58 MST Print View

That's a pretty good list for just starting out.

Rain jacket:

If you want to spend a little money, there are two size large Marmot Micas for sale on Gear Swap right now, here and here. Shave 9 ozs off right there.


If you ever think of retiring the the Vasques, look at these Inov-8 boots that weight half or less than what you're wearing now.


Do you need both pots? I do boil a bag type stuff(Mountain Home, I still need to graduate to Freezer Bag Cooking), so I only need one pot that holds 12oz of water. Same pot can then be used for tea, coffee, etc after eating.

Also, you could likely save some weight by making a new lid(s) for you pot(s) out of a pie tin as illustrated here. For my SP700, I used spare aluminum windscreen that I believe save at least .5oz.


Those are two great choices you're looking at. The Cape requires a trekking pole, and I don't see those on your list. I've kicked around the idea of a poncho tarp lately and decided for myself that it's more suited to situations where rain in unlikely, and when it happens, it is more and the hit-and-run thunderstorm variety than the lasts all day and night kind. Because if my shelter is my raingear, I'm stuck in my shelter until is stops raining. I have read on BPL that it is possible with practice to set up and take down the Cape while wearing, so if you are of the hike till dark and then eat and go to bed variety, it might work for you.

I don't have a Moment, but owning a Rainbow, I can highly recommend TT products generally.

If the tarp + bugnet combo appeals to you, look at Alpinlite Gear. A tarp and bugnet combo weighs 18.6 oz. Trekking poles again required.

First Aid Kit:

As Roger wrote, there isn't much you can put in your First Aid kit that would be reasonably helpful in the field and weigh more than 3oz or so. Myself, for instance, started out with medical gloves(why would I need these for self-administering?) a splint (duct tape along or tape + stick should be fine) and more band-aids and ointments than a single person could possibly use on a weekend or even week-long trip.

What's in that survial kit? I think of my whole pack as my survival kit.


What would you use a towel that you couldn't use a bandana or your shirt for?

Hand sanitizer weighs quite a bit as pointed out. Spending money again, go to BPL or Gossamer Gear and buy a 3 or 5 pack of .25 oz droppers. Good for Hand sanitizer, soap, DEET, baking soda for toothpaste, water purification chemicals and weigh .5 oz when filled.

Unless you really need the space, and you shouldn't based on that gear list, take the removeable lid off the Exos and save ~4 oz. If you don't use the stow-and-go trekking pole bungies, take those off and save another ~1oz. I can't recall if the Exos has a hydration pouch(I tried out an Exos at home before going with another pack.) but if it does, and you don't use it, cut that out and save a little more weight. Trim excess strap length, etc The Exos can easily be a 30-32 oz pack.


I'll add my voice to the chorus asking you to really think about why you bring it. If you really use it, bring it. But I brought a similar victronix along at first, with visions of all the scenarios where I'd need a multi-tool. But in the last two years, I've never needed anything more than a sharp blade to cut guyline, cut up some cheese, or make some wood shavings for a fire. 99.9% of trips I've never had to cut anything. So a straight razor or much smaller knike has always sufficed. But if you use the Victronix, you use it. Hike Your Own Hike.

Edited by jrmacd on 02/14/2010 06:47:17 MST.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
The fine details on 02/14/2010 22:39:04 MST Print View

You bring up some good pointers James!

The Mica rain jacket is nice but I would need a medium. Still, it appears to be a good lightweight option.

Boots: Yeah, I know they are heavy. They are less than a year old. I got them for a Grand Canyon rim-river-back to rim trip last year and they were awesome, no blisters at all. I don't think they are going to wear out anytime soon though! The Inov-8 boots are tempting.

Cookware: I have considered ditching the smaller pot, it would not see much use anyway.

Shelter: I have fought back and forth between the Moment and Gatewood Cape. Tonight I found out that a friend recently purchased a TT Moment and thinks highly of it. The Gatewood is a cool idea but can be a risk relying on one item for multiple purposes, especially if it gets damaged. We can get lots of rain around here so a dedicated shelter protected in my pack is probably the route I will take. The Moment is much easier to setup and requires only 2 tent stakes or can even be free standing. The Alpinlite Gear combo you mentioned does seem very good for the price and may work for some though.

First Aid/Survival: It is an Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight .5 that has been slimmed down some. Some people I hike and travel with do not carry any first aid stuff so I am the "go to" guy (which is why I carry the bulky Victorinox too). Another critical item in there is a venom extractor pump (1.2oz). This is insurance for rattle snake bites or scorpion and bee stings. If you are hours from help, it could save someone's life. It is not carried unless in the desert.

The 1.8oz survival kit contains the following items all sealed in two mini ziploc bags:
Small roll of duct tape
AMK signal mirror (we hike off-trail sometimes, must have)
4 Micropur water purification tablets
AMK rescue whistle
10 waterproof matches with waterproof tender
Small fishing kit
Small compass
Safety pins

Towel serves two purposes: it stows in the pot and keeps my stove from rattling around, it is there for if I want to take a jump in the lake or need to brush condensation off the tent.

The .25oz droppers are a good idea.

Exos 46 Pack: 37oz empty. Tons of extra strap could be cut off of it. I plan on using the top cover for easy access to the first aid kit and rain jacket. It is still pretty light for a full featured, full adjustment, back-vented pack. I am willing to sacrifice a few ounces here for comfort.

Knife: I have always carried a Victorinox and some people probably think it is my best friend. There are a few tools that are a must for me as listed above. Searching around on the Victorinox site, I found some "slimmed down" versions that would suit me very well, such as the Explorer Plus. I currently have a Cybertool 34 Lite. A simple razor is just too basic for me but I can see where it suits others.

Thanks for the useful input!

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Redundancy... on 02/15/2010 06:46:29 MST Print View

At least three items (your water filter, emergency compass and emergency whistle) are redundant. You have a whistle in your Osprey sternum strap, and a compass listed in your gear.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
New to lightweight backpacking on 02/15/2010 07:07:15 MST Print View

Ditch that extractor. They don't work. No substitute for antivenom. If you get bit you need to get out. 25 years camping in the desert and I never been bit, or stung.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Re: New to lightweight backpacking on 02/15/2010 07:47:00 MST Print View

Looks good to me. I say go for it and work out what you can leave at home on the next hike.

I do have a question. Why are you carrying both of these ??
If you really do need to filter before you use your Steripen, there are lighter options.

MSR Hyperflow Microfilter 9.4
Steripen Purifier 4

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Redundant gear shakedown on 02/15/2010 14:08:14 MST Print View

Ok, so let's say I remove the following items:
(Scale is accurate to 2/10 of an ounce)

Emergency compass, 0.2oz
Venom extractor, 1.2oz
MSR Hyperflow, 9.6oz
Smaller pot, 1.6oz
Petzl E-Lite storage case, 0.6oz
Redundant tweezers and safety pins from first aid kit, 0.4oz
Fabric zipper pull off first aid kit (no use), maybe 0.1oz
Swap out heavy Victorinox for a lighter model, maybe 2oz
Swap out 1L Nalgene with 1L Platypus or Gatorade, 3.4oz

Weight savings of 19.1oz (the weight of my W.M. sleeping bag minus stuff sack!)

So, now that I have stripped down stuff even more, I need to do more with less. Many have commented about using a lighter filter with the Steripen. An Aquamira Frontier Pro is a 3 micron filter with carbon, good for removing some particles, chemicals, taste, and possibly for metals like other carbon filters. Using a Platy to collect water, screwing the Frontier Pro on, squeezing the water through the filter into a safe bottle for the Steripen is what I am considering. It would only weigh about 5 oz as well and uses activated carbon, something the Hyperflow does not have.

The Platy and Frontier Pro could be used independently with Micropur tablets for a SUL kit.

Any thoughts?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: The fine details on 02/15/2010 14:36:23 MST Print View

Continuing ...

> The Gatewood is a cool idea but can be a risk relying on one item for multiple purposes,
> especially if it gets damaged. We can get lots of rain around here
Yeah, well thought out. The Gatewood may be fine in drier areas, but if you are expecting a lot of rain it gets too tricky.

> First Aid/Survival: It is an Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight .5 that has been
> slimmed down some. Some people I hike and travel with do not carry any first aid
> stuff so I am the "go to" guy (which is why I carry the bulky Victorinox too).
I do not buy that logic. If I do not carry water, must you carry some for me? Your partners should carry their own Band-Aids.

> Another critical item in there is a venom extractor pump (1.2oz).
I live in Australia. We have way more venomous and lethal snakes than any other country in the world. I don't think I have ever heard of anyone here carrying a venom extractor pump. Few bother even carrying any snake-bite kit. We just leave the snakes alone. Guess what? The very few people who get bitten by a snake are usually tough young males trying to kill the snake.

> The 1.8oz survival kit contains the following items all sealed in two mini ziploc bags:
Not all of these are really useful in the field, but the shops like selling them. $$

>Small roll of duct tape
Marginal. I don't carry any.

>AMK signal mirror (we hike off-trail sometimes, must have)
Sorry, but it's pretty useless. To whom will you signal? How? When? A camera flash can be used in emergency.

>4 Micropur water purification tablets

>AMK rescue whistle
Marketing triumph, but of little field value.

>10 waterproof matches with waterproof tender
OK. I would substitute a mini-Bic myself.

>Small fishing kit
Come on. When would this be used? You might be better off studying the map and heading for home.

>Small compass
>Safety pins
OK to both. Useful.


Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Gatewood/Moment on 02/15/2010 16:39:10 MST Print View

I own both an SMD Gatewood Cape and a TT Moment. The Gatewood is an elegant design- indeed the very concept of a poncho tarp is esthetically pleasing- and it's probably the best ponchotarp available. But I gotta tell ya, the extra weight of the Moment is worth it to me for most applications. It is roomy (I'm 5'10"-ish), has a large vestibule, and pitches easily and quickly. The Gatewood requires minimum 6 stakes and, as others have mentioned, a trek pole. Pitching is pretty simple, but not simple like the Moment.

I'll still carry the Gatewood on the occasional over-nighter when I'm in a Psycho-Lite mood and just want to prove to myself that I can do that crazy stuff, or if I'm trying to make epic distances in good weather. But the Moment is a palace. And bug-proof. Given that you aren't trying to go Psycho-Lite I suspect that you would be happier with the Moment.

I also would second rethinking your cooking setup. I've also become a big fan of alcohol stoves. (But they are best used for boil-water type meals, and tend not to simmer well.) Trail Designs's Caldera Cones are pretty popular, and light, and can be used with Esbit tabs, too. They make titanium versions that will burn wood as well. (But $$$.) I think they are great. The full sized cones can be challenging to pack in a rational fashion, but they make a smaller version called a the UL Compact for use with several models of small <1L pots that will pack inside the pot. I like the MLD 850mL pot. I think it is the Perfect Stove System- at least for hikes with less than a week or so between resupplies. (In case you haven't looked up the incredible stove reviews and analyses here on BPL, the lower efficiency and heavier weight of the alcohol compared to pressurized gas makes alcohol stoves actually HEAVIER than the gas stoves for longer trips, but they are lighter for shorter trips when you carry less fuel.)

And, of course, alcohol stoves are just plain fun!

Brother, after decades of wearing boots I became a convert the first time I carried a light pack with trail hiking shoes. Like most converts I'm now a bit of a zealot. If you really need the ankle support look into those Innov8s.

But, HYOH.

I'll pimp Sawyer for a second, as a water filter. I simply cannot understand why more people don't use them. Look them up in Gear Review here on BPL.

But if you listen to all of us too long you will spend epic amounts of money and end up with a 6-lb pack, which you have stated is not your intent at this time. Your current load (especially with the modifications you mentioned) is at least ACCEPTABLE to most of the fanatics here. Go hiking.

Edited by acrosome on 02/15/2010 16:46:20 MST.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Thanks for the great input! on 02/15/2010 23:45:09 MST Print View

Regarding shelter:
I have decided to go with the Tarptent Moment. I sacrifice having to carry 10oz more gear over the Gatewood but the cash saved can go towards a decent rain jacket replacement($215 for the Moment, nearly $300 for a full Gatewood Cape and net system). For my use, it seems better to have a dedicated shelter and rain gear.

Water treatment:
The Sawyer units look interesting. One of their models appears to use the same hollow tube technology as the MSR Hyperflow. To be honest, the Aquamira Frontier Pro with Micropur tablets or a Steripen looks like a good lightweight system that would be simple and safe to use. I would have a "coarse" filter to block most critters and debris, carbon to remove tablet taste and chemicals, and the Steripen/tablets to kill the nasties. One of my biggest concerns would be the slow flow rate.

First Aid/Survival:
The entire first aid and survival kit is down to 5.2oz. It used to weigh about a pound. Many things were removed such as the venom kit and redundant items.

I have really considered the Caldera ULC Ti-Tri and may get one in the future. It would be awesome for my emergency kit. I will stick with the easy to use canister stove for now.

The constructive criticism here has been a good way for me to shake down my gear. About 1 pound has been shed from the recommendations of this thread with what I currently have.

My goals now are to obtain a good rain jacket and other clothing items. Lighter footwear options may be considered as northern hemisphere spring approaches.

I want to thank all those who have posted thus far. Your years of experience and recommendations are valuable to a beginner!

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Emergency Tri-Ti? on 02/18/2010 18:53:59 MST Print View

Well, why would you need the Tri-Ti for an "emergency", though? In an emergency make a campfire- all you have to carry is a firestarter. I don't think that even the most rabid LNT fanatic would begrudge you a campfire if you were freezing to death, or were lost in the wilderness and had to cook your dinner lizard, or whatever...


Edited by acrosome on 02/19/2010 07:31:52 MST.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Emergency gear on 02/19/2010 21:42:05 MST Print View

I have always had a grab and go emergency kit and a Ti-Tri would be multi-fueled, kinda like a SUL equivalent of a MSR Whisperlite International liquid stove.

I see your logic though.

Nick -
(byproxy) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
why on 02/21/2010 17:39:41 MST Print View

i know i'm new here... and i certainly appreciate and respect the spirit of the site (getting as light as possible) and love all of the valuable information, but have to ask roger why he would say:

>AMK rescue whistle
>Marketing triumph, but of little field value.

i'm just getting back into backpacking so maybe i'm off base, but I have been whitewater rafting for a while now and a whistle is a primary necessity. on the trail i can only imagine the helpfulness this would provide in a true emergency situation. if alone and you survive a fall down a ravine or something, you can use it to alert rescuers to your location (you can only yell for so long before the voice goes). in a group if you separate for some reason (bad form perhaps?) the lagging group can use to alert the lead group if something happens that requires assistance. i'm not intending to argue, just wondering the reasoning that lead you to this conclusion. for the minimal weight, it seems to be of tremendous value in a true emergency situation.

Also, with respect to:

>Small fishing kit
>Come on. When would this be used? You might be better off >studying the map and heading for home.

agreed, in the spirit of as light as possible, this would be a total waste... but come on, who doesn't love fishing!! hehehehe. for me, if i'm going to be going somewhere that has fishing opportunity, i'll pack the extra weight.