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Rethinking my gear
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Ben Satterfield
( - F

Locale: Virginia
Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 10:18:39 MST Print View

First off, great community on this forum. I have been reading and soaking up tons of info for about six months.

Anyway, I have been using the same gear for the last 15 years. Some of it starting to show its age a bit and needs replacing. 95% of my hiking will occur in Virginia's part of the AT.

Backpack - Lowe Alpine Netherworld, considering Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 with Raincover

Sleeping bag - TNF Cat's Meow, considering Mountain Hardware Ultralamina +32 Reg

Sleeping Pad - Therm-A-Rest Guidelite

Bivy Sack - TNF Flight Bivy, was using a tent from Walrus called the Rapeede IV

Rain Jacket - Lowe Alpine (not sure of the model), considering Marmot Precip Rain

Stove - MSR Whisperlite and 20oz fuel bottle

Cookware - An old MSR cookset, considering REI Ti Ware Titanium Pop 0.9 Liter

Cup - Old metal cup from BSA, considering MSR Titan Mug

Utensils - Old BSA Knife, Fork, Spoon, considering Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork

Headlamp - Petzl that used the big square battery, considering Petzl Tactikka Plus

Hiking Poles - MSR, not sure of the model

The stuff I bought in the 90's works great, heavy, but great. I'm not getting any younger so I would love to shave my pack weight from 50 lbs. down to 30 lbs. (Clothes, Food, other stuff make that weight)

As I get closer to my April trip I'll try to weigh out everything and list it more thoroughly for you guys.

Thanks for any input,

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
RE: Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 11:17:32 MST Print View

- You can lose 3lbs+ just by changing your current 6lb pack to something that is sub 3lb.

- Guidelite, consider ditching this 1lb 6oz pad and picking up a CCF pad like the Ridgerest or Zlite etc and save yourself half a pound or more.

- The Whisperlite is also heavy-- look into an alcohol stove or a canister stove like a Pocket Rocket or Gigapower and save 10oz or more.

- If you do not want to spend all that money on a Ti pot, then look at AGG's 3-cup or 2quart pot and save yourself some money and weight.

- Ditch the utensils. Look for a Ti or Lexan spork which will weigh less than an ounce.

- Nix the cup-- just eat out of the pot.

Just by changing your pack, pad and stove you can save a minimum of 4lbs.

NB: You may find that once you cut down your gear that even the Deuter pack will be too much pack for what you need-- so purchase your new pack last.

Edited by ChrisFol on 03/11/2010 11:21:16 MST.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 14:03:56 MST Print View


30 pounds of gear (what we call base weight, or weight without food and water) is still awfully heavy once you add in a weekend's worth of food and a couple of liters of water. It's not hard to get base weights around 20 pounds with complete comfort and without spending a ton of money.

Re: Shelter, a waterproof/breathable bivy is not particularly useful for most hiking in Virginia, in my experience. Just do a little thought experiment and think about setting up camp in the pouring rain. How will you get your sleeping bag inside the bivy? Then, how will you get yourself inside the bivy? Now, what happens when you need to pee in the middle of the night? Realize that all the rain that comes inside the bivy will stay inside that waterproof fabric, too, soaking everything inside.

There is a place for a very light, non-waterproof breathable bivy when used with a light tarp. Many hikers on BPL use such a system. However, for the same weight as that TNF bivy, you can have a Tarptent Contrail, a fully enclosed, storm-worthy shelter with complete bug netting which has been used by many long distance hikers with great success.

As for the other stuff, you can save a significant amount of weight, money, and complexity by choosing other alternatives. Examples:

A simple canister stove is half the price and 1/5 the weight of the Whisperlight (which is neither light nor quiet -- two lies in one!) An alcohol stove is free if you make it yourself, and 1/100 the weight of the Whisperlight.

The MH sleeping bag is nice, but down bags are a better long-term purchase. They'll last forever with proper care, plus down bags are lighter and compress smaller for the same warmth. Not cheap, of course, but even some less expensive down bags are good bargains. Look for sales.

The Thermarest Prolite Plus is lighter and just as comfy. The Ridgerest is even lighter, much cheaper, and totally foolproof. No repair kit necessary. Not as comfortable, of course.

The Tactikka is fine, though I prefer the Zipka for its form factor. The Precip is a nice jacket, too. The REI cook pot is a good choice for solo hiking, though any aluminum pot like the choices from will work, too (like this one:

Good luck and happy trails.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 18:19:19 MST Print View

Your list (above) of gear purchased in the 90's is what can be called a TRADITIONAL list of gear.

You are asking for help on a LIGHTWEIGHT FORUM.

Are you prepared to take the dive? It will involve replacing EVERY bit of gear. Every item on that list is heavy enough that it simply doesn't belong in lightweight backpackers arsenal (keep it all for car camping).

The benefits of starting over are amazing.

Are you game?

Review my on-line gear list:

Jeffrey McConnell
sleeping bag and other things on 03/11/2010 20:31:54 MST Print View

If you're looking for a deal on a new sleeping bag, has a killer deal on the Sierra Designs Nitro 30 that BPL recently reviewed. Great bag at a great price. You can find it here: (

The precip is a nice jacket. (here comes the shameless plug)...I have a blue one in size small that I could let go for very cheap if the size is right. Its been taken on a couple trips but only used once.

Alcohol stoves are great and super light. The one I use is here: He has instructions on how to make one, or you can purchase one from him if you are not mechanically inclined.

I've recently been converting my gear from traditional to lightweight. The gear swap and gear deal forums are great. They will help you save a lot of money. You'll be amazed at how much weight you can drop with just a few changes.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Rethinking my gear -- headlamp on 03/11/2010 20:40:52 MST Print View

"Headlamp - Petzl that used the big square battery, considering Petzl Tactikka Plus"
Personally, I think advances in flashlight/headlamp technology is the greatest. I had one of those old Petzl headlamps, and usually carried a spare battery -- heavy. New lights are way lighter, have longer battery life and have a nicer brighter beam.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Sleeping pad on 03/11/2010 20:50:46 MST Print View

Indeed closed cell foam pads are cheap, light and bombproof.
If you want more comfort but still lightweight (Not UL), the only option is the Neo Air from Thermarest. Nothing else is that thick(2"! ! !), that light and that warm.

What ever pad type you choose, taking a thigh length one instead of a long one drops both weight and price, without sacrificing much comfort. Put your backpack under your feet.

I would also suggest getting the Backpackinglight book, it will discuss the hows, whys and whats much more thoroughly then a forum can, then come back here and ask for specific item recomendations.

Hal Potts
(halpotts) - F

Locale: Middle Tennessee
Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 21:21:12 MST Print View

Ben, if you have been carrying 50 lbs you about to change your life! In the last year I have switched over to lightweight with the help of this forum and now carry 15 to 20 lbs and am very comfortable. It has completely changed backpacking for me.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 21:36:20 MST Print View

>you want more comfort but still lightweight (Not UL), the only option is the Neo Air from Thermarest. Nothing else is that thick(2"! ! !), that light and that warm.

I beg to differ, good sir. I beg to differ!

(he does down air mats also)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 22:30:43 MST Print View

Hi Ben

As others have said, you are about to experience a bit of a revelation. You're starting from 50 lb base weight: remember that some here go walking with 5 lb. The difference is truly phenomenal.

My best advice is to read other peoples' gear lists carefully, to see how it is done. Yes, some rather extensive replacements are in order. ('Extensive' does not have to ALWAYS mean 'expensive', but ...)


Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: Rethinking my gear on 03/11/2010 23:24:16 MST Print View

Hi Ben,

As many others have mentioned, you are in for a pleasant suprise as regards "seeing the light." Most of the forum members here have three-season baseweights (weight of carried gear minus consumables) that are 15 lbs or less. Many are less than 10 lbs, and a few are under 6. And we don't get wet, hungry, cold, or any of the other things some traditional backpackers accuse us of. Lightweight and UL backpacking is about reducing the suffering, not adding to it!

I would expect that, considering the weight of your listed items, there are a number of redundant/unnecessary items in your pack. This is a good place to start. Make a gear list of everything you'd take on a trip of given length and conditions. EVERYTHING. Consider what you actually use, might use, and would never use. Think about the quantity of things you take. Too many spare clothes, too much stove fuel, FA supplies, repair materials, etc is just dead weight. I've seen people with a 100 ft of paracord, a big roll of duct tape, an FA kit sized for an expedition, and a spare 10x10 tarp, just in case. In case of what? What's going to happen on a three day trip? Post that list here and let the forum critique it. You'd be suprised how much the little stuff weighs; ounces add up to pounds. On that note, GET A SCALE! Seriously! An accurate scale is important to this process.

As has been mentioned, reconsider the bivy. Bivies are very challenging to use in real-world conditions. The only time I carry a storm bivy is on fast overnights where I hope I won't have to use it. A Tarptent is much more useful for most backpacking, especially in the SE. It seems odd, but WPB bivies are terrible rain shelters; they're much more user-friendly in snow. Tarptents are easier to ingress/egress, allow you to change clothes, give you some space to segregate wet and dry gear, and are much less stuffy and condensation-prone. Not to mention, the idea of being pinned down in a bad storm in a bivy is horrible. You'll go insane, and you probably won't even stay dry for your troubles.

There are a number of items you can make or purchase for minimal cost that will be much lighter than what you're currently using. Try making a catfood can alki stove. Weighs an ounce or so, cheap, and not much more fiddly than a Whisperlite. I like coffee, so I use a Snow Peak canister stove. Weight is 3 oz., fuel weight is a wash, and I have water boiling usually before a white-gas stove is even lit. Pick up a cheap pot from AGG or a walmart grease pot. If you really wanna shock yourself, weigh all the stuff sacks and such you normally carry. If you can sew, make up some silnylon stuffsacks. If you cant's sew but want to learn, buy a machine, get someone to help you set it up, then practice by making silnylon stuffsacks. Then get some EPIC from OWFINC and make some 4-5 oz WPB rain pants.

I can respect your wanting a synthetic bag, but personally I prefer down. After 30 years or so, I've never gotten one wet, and I've only had loft-reduction problems a couple times, both of which were operator error. Down is lighter, more compressible, and has a much longer service-life. I have a Moonstone down bag that's pushing twenty years old and it still has plenty of life. Down also is more comfortable; I find it both warmer and cooler than synthetics. I always feel kinda slimy after a couple of nights in a synthetic bag.

You've got alot of good tips from some pretty experienced UL packers, so this will give you a few days/weeks of homework. Get that pack weight down and we'll start hammering you on lighter footwear. Before you know it Mike C! will have you convinced to leave the TP behind.

Welcome to the LIGHT side Ben!

Ben Satterfield
( - F

Locale: Virginia
Thanks on 03/12/2010 07:13:52 MST Print View

Thanks for all the replies already. Yes I am wanting to shed off a ton of weight. My only restriction is not having endless money. So I'll have to add one piece at a time. (But who doesn't have the problem) Thanks for the tip about buying the pack last.

There are two situations that add additional weight to my pack. Extra items that I take when my 4 year old goes hiking with me. Or when I go with the Boy Scouts and carry some extra supplies for that scout that needs something.

But regardless, I am wanting to rethink my gear. Lighter is the most commonsense direction to go in. I am going through my gear list in my head right now and thinking of all the extra stuff I have carried for the last 20 years. Stuff that I have never used but carried for that "just in case".

I'll be hiking in April and plan on not taking those "just in case" things. I'll post again with what I took.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
gear costs? on 03/12/2010 09:12:29 MST Print View


Please - - Do NOT stress too much about money, almost EVERY piece of LIGHTWEIGHT gear is significantly LESS expensive than "traditional" gear.

THere are just a few key items that are more costly. It is a myth that lightweight gear is MORE expensive.

Your FIRST purchase simply MUST be a digital postal scale (less than 30 dollars at any office supply store). There is no way to proceed forward without this vital tool.

And - Focus on THE BIG THREE first! (Backpack, shelter and sleep system)

Also - Get Don Ladagan's small book LIGHTEN UP!

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Rethinking my gear on 03/12/2010 09:16:16 MST Print View

A couple of additional considerations:

Shelter - Six Moons Designs Gatewood Cape (Add a Serenity Nettent for bug protection)

Sleeping Pad - Big Agnes Clearview (Much cheaper than a Neoair)

Rain Jacket - Marmot's Essence and Mica jackets (Lighter than the Percip)

Rain Pants - Ultralight Adventures Rain Wrap and Mountain Laurel Desgins Lightsnow Gaiters (Cheap, light, less humid, multi-use, and easier than rain pants to put on/off)

Edited by akajut on 03/12/2010 09:18:06 MST.

Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Been Where You Are on 03/12/2010 13:50:23 MST Print View

I love your gear list..I had almost the same stuff and it is really quality stuff. Here are some of my suggestions. We both hike on the east coast with rain, bugs, ants & ticks. Tarps and Bivys are not your first shelter of choice in those conditions. I would stick with a tent with a floor and attached bug netting. I own several but my favorites are Tarptent Contrail and 6 Moon Design Lunar Solo. Since you already use treking poles these would work for you. I have Marmot Precip Raingear. It is heavier but I hike it all year and pit zips are great for east coast weather. If you are getting older you may want to first lie down on a Thermarest Neo Air and a Big Agnes Pad before you go to a thiner pad. If you have the Lowe Alpine check out Granite Gear Packs. A good transistion from your stove would be a SnowPeak Litemax Cannister. Please realize this gear that I am reccomending is more on the Lightweight side than UltraLight. This gear can get you to Ultralight but still be used on family camping trips and on scout trips where you need simple, quick and reliable stuff because you are the trailboss and the packmule.

Brendan West

Locale: Northeast Pennsylvania
Re: Rethinking my gear on 04/01/2010 00:14:21 MDT Print View

As someone who only recently "went ultralight," I have one MASSIVE suggestion on where to start lightening up:

Your stove.

This video by Andrew Skurka "Changed My Life" (or at least my pack weight):

I realized I already had everything I needed to make and use a UL stove, except denature alcohol.

Fancy Feast cat food can: (I have a cat, so I had one. Actually like 30) 99ยข
Hole puncher: (I had one) $1.29 at Staples
Sharpie: (I had one) $1.89 at Staples
Denatured alcohol: $5.49/quart at Lowe's
Fuel bottle (soda bottle): $1 at any gas station
= AT MOST less than $10

After all that, you get a 0.2-oz. bomber stove.

I'll tell you what, after the realization that I could save so much weight with such a simple project (and it was FUN), I had an epiphany about weight, joined Backpacking Light and here we all are today.

I think even Mike Clelland can get behind a 0.2-oz. stove that costs anywhere from nothing to $4 to make.

Edited by bderw on 04/01/2010 00:20:56 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Rethinking my gear on 04/01/2010 00:25:33 MDT Print View

>I think even Mike Clelland can get behind a 0.2-oz. stove that costs anywhere from nothing to $4 to make.

Yes, but he'll call you out on the toilet paper EVERY time!! (said with love, Mike!)
BTW, why IS there an exclamation point after your name?

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
(!) on 04/01/2010 11:35:29 MDT Print View

TRAVIS wrote:
Yes, but he'll (Mike C!) call you out on the toilet paper EVERY time!! (said with love, Mike!)

Mike C replies:
I pick up used toilet paper and dispose of it way too often in the backcountry.

It is due to lack of education, nothing else. If you do NOT take TP into the mountains, you won't leave it around for me to have to deal with...

And - The ! at the end of my name started as a joke about 17 years ago. I would write it on my gear with a sharpie, and if I didn't add it, my pals would point it out (or add it themselves) and now I'm stuck with it.

Tony Fleming
(TonyFleming) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Wrong thread on 04/07/2010 19:02:02 MDT Print View

sorry wrong thread

Edited by TonyFleming on 04/07/2010 19:03:04 MDT.

Ben Satterfield
( - F

Locale: Virginia
Update on Rethinking my gear. on 11/29/2010 12:45:34 MST Print View

Just wanted to update what I have done since May. Two weekends ago I carried 31.77 pounds (instead of +50, from the year before).

Things I'm planning on changing next are lighter boots (Innov8 318), a top quilt (Storm Crow 3Season), rain suit (DriDucks), and backpack (ULA Ohm - if I can cram all this crap into it :)

Items Worn / Carried
Boots - Montrail - 40.75 oz
Shorts - Nike - 5.13 oz
Shirt - Running Shirt - 5 oz
Socks - Adidas - 1.75 oz
Trekking Poles - MSR Denali III (w/ some wrapped Duct Tape) 18.6

Sub Total 71.23 oz

Sleep System
Sleeping Bag - TNF Cat's Meow - 42 oz
Hammock - Warbonnet Outdoors Blackbird 33.13 oz
Tarp - Warbonnet Outdoors Big Mamajamba 14.38 oz
Underquilt - Warbonnet Outdoors Yeti - 11.63 oz
Stakes - MSR Ground Hog (6) - 4.26 oz
RidgeLine and GuideLines - 5.13 oz

Sub Total 143.9 oz

Extra Clothing
Hat - Patagonia Beanie - 2.25 oz
Jacket - Montbell Feelce - 16.87 oz
Rain Jacket - Lowe Alpine TriplePoint 29.62 oz
Rain Pants - Lowe Alpine - 12.62 oz
Shirt - Patagonia Capliene - 6.75 oz
Socks - Adidas - 1.75
Long Johns - Patagonia Capilene 4 - 5.75 oz
Gaiters - OR Verglas - 7.4 oz
Stuff Sack - Zpack Medium - 0.25 oz

Sub Total - 95.19

Packing Material
Backpack - Lowe Alpine Netherworld 90 - 96 oz
Backpack Cover - Lowe Alpine Large - 6.38 oz
Whistle - 0.14
Carabiner - 1.3 oz
BSA Carabiner - 0.75 oz

Sub Total - 104.6

Cookwear - Backcountry 700ml Pot - 3.8 oz
Mug - Mountain Laurel Designs Mug - 1.6 oz
Stove - DIY Alcohol Stove (Penny) - 0.75
Fuel w/ Bottle - 10.75 oz
Windscreen - 1.63
Pot Stand - 1.13
Utensil - Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spoon - 0.2 oz

Sub Total - 20.61

Personal Hygiene
Toilet Paper - 0.88 oz
Tooth Brush - 0.38 oz
Tooth Paste - 0.63 oz
Medicine - 0.05 oz
Contact Case - 1.1 oz
Solution for Contacts 1.13 oz
Glasses - 5 oz
First Aid Kit - 4.88 oz
Stuff Sack - 1.38 oz

Sub Total - 12.43 oz

Backup Firestarter - 1.6 oz
Knife - 3.5 oz
Lighter - 0.75 oz
Head Lamp - Petzel Tac Tikka Plus - 2.75 oz
Candle Lantern - 6.13 oz
Compass (w/ Mirror for contacts) 1.88 oz
Stuff Sack - 1.38

Sub Total 17.99 oz

Hydration Supplies
Water Bottle - Nalgene 38.2 oz
Water Bottle - AquaFina - 18 oz
Water Filter - Pur Pro Hiker - 18.5

Sub Total 74.7

Misc Supplies
Batteries - 1.75 oz
Bear Rope - 4 oz
Lint - ? oz
Cell Phone - 6 oz

Sub Total 11.75

Weekend's worth is 27.27 oz

Total skin out weight 579.58 oz or 36.22 pounds.