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New to backpacking
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Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
New to backpacking on 03/18/2010 10:47:10 MDT Print View

Hi all,
My wife and I are regular campers, hikers and rock climbers but are very keen to get into some backpacking. We have saved the money for the equipment and picked out a lot of stuff that I'd like to run by you all for feedback.

Osprey Aether 70 or 85
Osprey Ariel 65 or 75
Osprey UL raincover UL x2
thermarest prolite small or med x2
hubba hubba hp or carbon reflex
msr hydromedary 3L x2
mountain hardware piute 20 x2
msr hyperflow microfilter
msr packtowel x2

We already have couple of dragonfly's and medium fuel bottles. (will only take one with us obviously). We also have
a pair of msr ti fork + spoons
a light my fire firesteel
2 sea to summit ponchos
a first aid kit
2x petzl tikka plus
most of our lightweight and warm clothing.

We're still unsure about pack sizing unfortunately.
Also, unsure about the tent. The hubba hubba is a lot less mesh and aluminium poles so would be warmer and stronger in winter? but also a pound heavier. (would just take fly and footprint in good weather which is 900g for carbon reflex2 and 1200g for hubba hubba hp)

Have also looked at the marmot helium instead of the MH piute but the cost difference is quite a lot for a small weight reduction.

Thanks all for your help. :)


Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
also: on 03/18/2010 10:48:23 MDT Print View

forgot to mention that we have an msr flex 3 system that we would use (only take 1 pan, 2 cups, 2 bowls) (approx 750g)

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
Re: also: on 03/18/2010 12:26:09 MDT Print View

Osprey UL Raincover: Just use a Hefty Trash compactor as a pack liner. Save $80 & 2oz

Msr hydromedary 3L: If you need 6L of water you. Then purchase two 3L Platypus and save $34 and 4oz

Prolite: Look into a thermarest or zlite and save $80+ and about 1oz

Packtowel: Go to Goodwill and get two banadanas for a couple of bucks and save close to $40 and 4oz

Save more money by losing the filter and just using chlorine tab and since you have two 3L platypus' you could get the Frontier Pro filter and make your own filtration system. Cost is an additional $20 for the filter.

So far you have saved $234 (excluding filter), now go and look for better bags and a lighter stove.

Then take your gear to an outfitter and load up some packs for the right size and fit.

Edited by ChrisFol on 03/18/2010 12:30:16 MDT.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
thanks! on 03/18/2010 13:35:09 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for your reply. Got some great ideas for me to look into. I'm pretty set on the backpacks. I know theyre a bit heavier than some others but they'll last for ever. And i've already got the stoves, wouldnt go anywhere without them! Theyre the best thing ive ever bought!

Why do they make the platypus ones so much lighter when they're both made by cascade designs?
I opted for 2x 3L ones because we live in south australia and summers can be extremely dry and busy camp grounds can often have empty rain water tanks.
Did you mean the ridgerest mattress? are they comfortable?
The pack towels i was talking about are the small ones. only about 0.6oz - 1oz. Just for drying dishes etc.

can you give any feedback on the tents or sleeping bags?

Thanks again.


Edited by benen on 03/18/2010 13:48:03 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: thanks! on 03/18/2010 13:44:19 MDT Print View

Have you checked out Tarptent or Six Moon Designs for two-person shelters? You'll probably save weight and money.

Chris Gray
(ChrisFol) - F

Locale: Denver, Coloado
Re: thanks! on 03/18/2010 13:58:53 MDT Print View

"I'm pretty set on the backpacks. I know theyre a bit heavier than some others but they'll last for ever"

It is not all about the weight, the issue is that these packs may be too big for your needs once you have slimmed down your gear list.

"Why do they make the platypus ones so much lighter when they're both made by cascade designs?"

I don't know, but I also find these Platypus bottle to be more useful. Other cheaper and lighter options are generic water bottles from the store (Aquafiner, Smartwater, Gatorade etc).

"Did you mean the ridgerest mattress? are they comfortable?"

I mean the Therm-a-rest Ridgerest or Therm-a-rest Z-lite. I own the latter and the deluxe version of the former and find both just fine for sleeping on.

"The pack towels i was talking about are the small ones. only about 0.6oz - 1oz. Just for drying dishes etc."

The cheapest MSR packtowel I could find is around $8-- that is $16 for two. You could purchase two bandana's that are multi-use items for $2 and weigh about 1/2 ounce.

Tents: For less money than either the Hubba or Flex Carbon look at Tarpent shelters.

Bags. It really depends on your budget: Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Montbell etc make excellent bags but they will run you close $450+ each. Campmor has a +20 degree bag for a budget price which people like. There are a lot of options for sub 3-pounds bags out there.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
new to backpacking on 03/18/2010 14:00:11 MDT Print View

no i haven't but I will do :)
I just realised that the helium don't come in a left and right zip so we couldn't zip them together! no good. The company we are buying from wont ship western mountaineering to australia so im running out of options. Might have to go for the piute.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Take your time! on 03/18/2010 14:03:53 MDT Print View

Unless you have a big trip planned, take your time in researching all the gear you can.

With lightweight backpacking, there is a lot of emphasis on technique and knowledge which accompanies the lighter gear we choose to use. If you really get into backpacking, you'll rethink your approach several times--its only natural. I've rethought how I want to take soap probably about 3-4 times! Just for soap!

A gear list is constantly evolving, so take your time and REALLY research each piece of gear.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
thanks! on 03/18/2010 14:05:22 MDT Print View

Thanks again chris. You've being very helpful. It would be nice to fit everything into a smaller pack. Hopefully we can but I'd like to keep my options open for longer trips also. It makes it really hard when I'm ordering online and that I dont have all of my gear before I go backpack hunting.

Thanks again :)


Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
new to backpacking on 03/18/2010 15:14:56 MDT Print View

thanks Travis, yeah I have spent a ridiculous amount of hours slaving over the computer reading review after review of everything! There's so much to think of and its a lot of money to spend so I really want to make sure I get exactly what I want.


Edited by benen on 03/18/2010 15:16:06 MDT.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: New to backpacking on 03/18/2010 18:32:42 MDT Print View

Doesn't make much sense to spend big $$ on a 3# tent and then get a 6# pack. As noted, you also just won't need the volume if you lighten up (or start light). Volume of 50-60L should be enough for the vast majority of trips. Lots of packs out there plenty durable for normal use that weigh 4# or less.

Tent: also consider the Copper Spur 2. $100 cheaper, 3.5#.

Stove: I have a Dragonfly, too, and have loved it. But it weighs nearly a pound, and a canister stove or my alky stove weigh about 3 ounces. In other words, about 75% lighter and just as effective for 90%+ of backpacking uses.

Sleeping bags: Piute is one of the nicest 600FP bags I've seen, and the price just came down $50 this year. They'd always been $200, last year they jumped to $300, now they're $250. If you're looking at a $369 Helium, consider the Western Mountaineering Ultralite at $385 and 1# 13oz. Or for a bag that can do pretty much anything but winter, check out their 1# 3oz Summerlite at $315.

If you're back sleepers and like hard ground, go for the Prolite. But if you're on your side at all, most people would prefer a thicker mattress. Could consider a NeoAir, although that pad won't push lower temps as well. Maybe a Prolite Plus, or a BA Insulated Air Core, or a down air mat from Kookabay.

Consider the Sawyer SP121, a 1.8oz inline or gravity-feed filter. It's also cheaper.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
new to backpacking on 03/18/2010 21:18:45 MDT Print View

thanks for your reply :)
I'm tending towards the carbon reflex from replies i've had in another thread and I'll definitely consider an alcohol stove if my pack seems to be too heavy.
I can't get any western mountaineering stuff shipped to australia unfortunately which is why i'm opting for the piute.

So you think all that stuff + food and clothing will fit in our packs if we went for the aether 60 and ariel 55? considering there will always be two of us to split up the shared items (tent, stove etc.)
They practically weight the same as the larger packs though. I had a look at the exos in person and it seemed a bit flimsy to me.



Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Pack size on 03/18/2010 21:52:15 MDT Print View

One of the great things about buying smaller packs is that they force you to think in terms of smaller -- and therefore lighter -- gear.

My wife and I decided to take the ultralight plunge just a little over a year ago. We bought Golite Jam 2's. Hers holds 2600 ci, mine holds 3100. We took a five day trip in the Sierras last year with no problems. The bear cannister fit inside my pack and we even strapped snowshoes onto the outside of our packs!

Since some of our gear was still heavier, I think my pack was 34 lbs when we started that trip. I was comfortable the entire time.

The ultralight bug bit us hard last year and we continued to improve our set ups. Now our baseweights are both well below 15 lbs and there's plenty of leftover room in our packs. I have no doubt that we could go out for a 7-10 day trip without an issue.

Our Jams weigh less than 1.5 lbs apiece. Go with smaller packs, you won't regret it!

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
sleeping mat on 03/18/2010 22:07:12 MDT Print View

also, we both tend to sleep on our sides a lot so I might look into the extra weight but comfort of the prolite plus. Thanks for the tip :)

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: new to backpacking on 03/18/2010 22:09:28 MDT Print View


Edited by annapurna on 05/01/2010 22:18:36 MDT.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
packs on 03/18/2010 22:10:26 MDT Print View

Thanks Nate,
It's very tempting but its also scary! I'd be devestated to discover that we spent all that money on packs and then they were too small to keep us comfortable! As i said before, the larger ones are only 100 grams more and the compressions traps can keep the pack tight for much smaller loads. Not sure whether to play it safe and just get something bigger. But i dont want to regret that either! haha.

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
hermitshut on 03/18/2010 22:11:19 MDT Print View

thanks anna! i'll check it out!

Benen Huntley
(benen) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
hermitshut on 03/18/2010 22:15:00 MDT Print View

Wow that looks great anna! I think i might go for the ultralight! Its so freaking light!

This forum has incredibly helpful. Thanks all so much for your quick and useful replies!

One quick question. Do the ultralight bags zip together if you get a left and a right?

Edited by benen on 03/18/2010 22:15:48 MDT.

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
RE: New to backpacking on 03/18/2010 22:46:25 MDT Print View

Hi Benen, you've certainly picked out some nice gear. It's what the mainstream thinks of as lightweight gear. There is however, a whole world of small gear makers offering significant weight savings AND no loss of durability or functionality. In fact in many cases their products are MORE functional and exhibit very high levels of craftsmanship. Here are a few:

Packs: ULA has several packs that would suit your needs. Quite comparable to the Aether 70 is the ULA Catalyst, a pack that Chris Townsend considers the best of the "lightweight load-haulers." Nice pack, built with Dyneema Grid so it's super-durable, twin aluminum stays, an awesome hipbelt, and features useful to trail hikers. It's much bigger than ULA's specs would have you believe. Price is pretty reasonable at US$250, weighs 47oz.

Tents: Henry Shire's Tarptent line is highly regarded on this site, and for good reason. There really is noone who builds the range of light tents that Henry does. For two man tents, you can have a really light single wall tent with the Double Rainbow at 40 oz., or a really tough, light double wall tent with the Scarp 2 at 54 oz. The Scarp 2 would also allow the option of setting up the fly only. Tarptents are spacious, well ventilated, handle winds well, and are light compared to almost anything else. They're also priced fairly; the Double Rainbow is US$265, the Scarp 2 is US$325.

Sleeping Bags: This is where you'll spend some money. You will also have these for a long time if you buy something nice, so it's worth spending a little more. Have you checked out Montbell bags? Highly regarded and priced a little cheaper than Marmot, the UL Spiral Down Hugger #1 is rated at 15F, filled with 20 oz. of 800 fillpower down, total weight is 32 oz. Price is US$329.

Stoves: You can make an alcohol stove from leftover food or drink cans, so it's basically free. You can make a really light cookpot out of a Foster's can with a side-cutting can opener. A light canister stove can be bought for less than US$40. The alcohol setup will save you a pound, the canister stove 8-12 oz. This is for a weekend trip. The weight savings with a canister stove on a long trip is even more dramatic.

Check out the reader reviews for even more examples of really light gear.

Nick Truax
(nicktruax) - F

Locale: SW Montana
Re: Hermits hut/WM bags etc on 03/19/2010 00:00:33 MDT Print View

Yup, Western Mountaineering bags will zip together w/opposing zips. My vote goes for WM, definitely worth the extra few bucks for a high quality product. My lady and I use 2 summerlites, often zipped together FWIW.

+1 to a bandana in lieu of the pack towel. Pack towels are marketing hype for the most part and not as versatile.

+1 to finding a lighter stove. Many options for lower cost and much lower weight.

Dromedaries may be overkill, YMMV

Packliner/stuffsacks instead of packcover. Another marketing ploy IMO

The filter can be replaced w/ CL dioxide or w/a steripen at a significant weight savings.

MSR flex - drop one bowl and eat from the pot if you are set on this system

I also say +1 to the prior recommendation of going w/ a lighter pack, specifically after purchasing and refining most or all of your other gear - esp the big 2 (of 3). This will save you headaches, cost and unused volume/suspension in the long run. Good luck on sorting it all!

Edited by nicktruax on 03/19/2010 00:12:50 MDT.