Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike
Display Avatars Sort By:
Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike on 03/18/2010 21:40:56 MDT Print View

I've mentioned on a couple of other threads that I want to do a 116 mile hike in three days.

With food and water, my current gear list will put me at about 23-24 lbs when I start out. I'd like to take that figure down as far as possible to help me knock out the 40 mile days.

My budget is low here. I need to keep everything under $200 if at all possible.

My main areas of opportunity are:

Shelter -- currently have a Tarptent Cloudburst 2. I'd like to get a tarp, but won't use it a whole lot after this trip except as perhaps a cooking shelter on multi-day backpacks. What's a good compromise between weight and price? Also, do I have to use a bivy with it?

I won't be using trekking poles on this hike since I'll be running large portions of it, so those are out as far as options to set the tarp up go.

Seriously, I know nothing about tarping, so I'd appreciate any advice.

Sleeping Pad -- currently use a size long Ether Thermo 6. I'm thinking maybe a Ridge Rest? Or should I consider something even lighter? If I get a size long, can I avoid buying a bivy?

Bear Avoidance -- have a clunky bear canister. Obviously, I'm not going to cart this puppy along on a speed hike. Is an Ursack worth the money, or should I just brush up on my bear bag hanging skills? (I'll be hiking in MA)

Sleeping Bag -- Through a weird series of events, I will have a size long NWT Marmot Hydrogen in a week or so. I haven't decided whether to just use this -- it's a good bag, after all -- or sell/trade it on gear swap and get a good quilt that can handle a 30 degree night if necessary.

Baselayer -- Not a weight concern, but I need a good baselayer that'll keep me cool during the day and comfortable at night. I'll be hiking in June, so figure a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 90. The bugs will be bad. Is there such thing as a longsleeve merino baselayer that I'll be able to hike a long day in during summer heat?

I love my Smartwool midweight that I bought last November, but as temperatures are creeping into the 60's, it's already getting too hot.

Thanks a ton!

Edited by Knaight on 03/18/2010 21:42:07 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike on 03/18/2010 23:34:09 MDT Print View

you're doing great and I'm sure you'll achieve your goal.

you're talking about 2 nights, correct?
its not hard to suffer for 2 nights.

23-24 lbs sounds like a lot for 3 days & 2 nights.

how much does your food weigh ?

how much do you plan to carry? having the location of refill spots dialed in can help cut this down.

I'd just go with a light weight bivy and a plastic trash bag for your pack. Or just lay a tarp over yourself if its cheaper. This trip is summer right ?

Sleep Pad
Short Ridge Rest, trimmed a bit for further savings.
54" x 20" x .625" ,weighs 250g with corners trimmed.
a 3/8 ensolite summer pad the same size as above is even lighter. not comfy but adequate in summer.

Bear Avoidance
do they still have bears in Mass. ?

I'm partial to Patagonia Capilene 2 Long Sleeve Crew.
Its my first layer, summer or winter.
but there are many good choices out there.
For me at least, Cap 2 has a loose enough weave that it doesn't get too warm (in a light color).
easy to roll the sleeves up.

Edited by asandh on 03/19/2010 00:02:32 MDT.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Re: Re: Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike on 03/19/2010 05:05:05 MDT Print View

Art, thanks again for your continued support for my trek!

My consumables will probably weigh more than my baseweight, when it's all said and done. I figure I need to carry around 4,000 calories per day in order to keep going at this level. I haven't quite figured out what my diet will be, but I imagine this will be around 2.5 lbs per day.

I think I can get away with a liter of water for most of the trip, except for a short 15 mile section where I'll probably carry two.

So that's roughly 9-10 lbs of consumables at the start of my trip. With my current baseweight, that will put me around 23-24.

I imagine I can save three pounds or so by switching out the Tarptent and Ether Thermo 6 for lighter options. I don't think I'll need a lot of comfort to fall asleep after a forty mile day.

I like the idea of just taking a bivy and a garbage bag. Not sure why that didn't occur to me. A small tarp thrown over me might be better, as I'm more likely to use it again, but either way...that's a good solution. Any suggestions on bivies or tarps? ID has a 5x8 foot silnylon tarp that's $70 for 7 oz. I can't imagine I'd come up with anything much more reasonable than that.

And yes, we still have bears here in Western Massachusetts. Not so sure about the Eastern part of the state, but the population out here numbers about 1700.

How's the smell factor on the Cap 2? I won't say how long I've actually gone, but I love how long I can go without washing my Smartwool, haha. Since I run in the thing nearly every day, that's a big bonus.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
paring down gear on 03/19/2010 07:19:11 MDT Print View

Id definately go with the tarp. The ID sounds good it seems to have a good price weight ratio. You should have plenty of trees and downed wood to use it without poles. Bring enough light cordage and practice setting it up in multiple configurations before the trip since you haven't tarped much. Not fun to learn after 40 miles in the rain. You should be able to get away with a short closed cell pad and your pack without a bivy just bring some light plastic for a groundcloth. 99% of the time in N.E. I am more worried about rodents than bears a decent hang should be fine. Good luck and have fun.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
lighten up on 03/19/2010 08:00:30 MDT Print View

Time to shave the grams! "Race pace" means suffer pace. For example, bring just what you need to sleep wel enough to keep going, which may not coincide with comfort.

The almost pathological need for a ground cloth and bivy with a tarp is a mystery to me. Just don't set up in a mud bog and you'll be fine. A 5x8 tarp will just keep you dry if you set it up properly (ie under a nice fir tree). A Montbell bivy might be a better use of the funds. They're light, super tiny, and when you're knackered nothing beats a bivy for convenience. If you don't expect rain, you could always bring an Adventure Medical emergency bivy. 3 oz and 15 bucks.

I'm a big fan of the cut-down 48" Ridgerest. Anything less and I don't sleep well. Again, no ground cloth.

As much as I like wool, I don't like it in the summer. Capilene dries faster, and who cares if you stink? I'd get a light, LS synthetic top in light gray.

Edited by DaveC on 03/19/2010 09:58:11 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: lighten up on 03/19/2010 11:40:53 MDT Print View

Generalities -

Stating the obvious: You will probably be a bit tired at the end of a day. And it will be dark.

Trying to figure out how to hang your food is time consuming. Use Alock Sak Oder Proof (OP) bags, have dinner a couple of hours before stopping, and don't stop in the common places. The bears won't find you.

If you tarp be sure you are efficient getting it up. Without trekking poles, you'll be looking for the "perfect" set of trees or scouring the undergrowth for poles. You don't want to be spending 20 minutes setting up when you are brain dead. If you plan on using a bug bivy with it, setup becomes longer, more stakes may be require, etc.

A bivy with a bugnet window would make things simple and fast. But be sure you can vent in the heat of June, and not get eaten alive. The Six Moon Designs Meteor seems likely a candidate, and a pattern is posted if you're into MYOG.

Weight - Wowzer! 22# for three days is a lot of weight. Have you actually tried running with that amount of weight? On your first day, you'll have good reserves to call on. Look carefully at your food program. High calorie, easy-to-eat-on-the-run has to be the priority. I like a mix of bars,Chex Mix, and Pringles in 250 calories Snack-sized Ziplocks. Fast and efficient. No need to stop. A small OP with a midnight snack or two is a good way to keep the calories high.

Ditch the Thermo. More luxury than you'll appreciate on this trip, and again more time in in setup and breakdown. You cannot afford an hour to get things packed, and a tight kit will make a big difference.

You don't mention water. I suggest tablets. Again, fast and efficient while on the run.

And if bugs are as bad as you suggest I would consider a UL head net like those on this site. It would go a long way to preserving you sanity. You'll be able to focus on the trail versus swatting constantly.

And take a look at This Link for another perspective.

Edited by greg23 on 03/19/2010 12:22:03 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: lighten up on 03/19/2010 11:41:26 MDT Print View

+1 on the Chenault method.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Lightening up on 03/19/2010 12:11:32 MDT Print View

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- I love this site!

Thanks for all of the insight. Lots of good points here.

The 23-24 lbs is WAY above where I want to be for this trip. Ideally, I'd like to start at 15-18 lbs and end up a whole lot lower. If I have to start with 20, though, I'm pretty sure I can make it work. I've been doing all of my practice hikes and trail runs with a 15 lbs pack and I'm doing pretty well so far.

I've already planned on switching from a filter to tablets for water, so that's almost a pound right there.

My diet will probably consist of Clif Bars and perhaps a couple blocks of cheese. I've found bars and cheese blocks to be super easy to eat while moving at a fast pace. The calorie to weight ratio is acceptable, and I'll be getting a fair bit of nutrition as well. I might bring a couple of chocolate bars for when I arrive at camp.

I've hung bear bags before, although it's been a while, and it's true that they can be a huge pain if you don't happen to have a perfect tree within a couple hundred feet of your campsite. I hadn't even considered that I won't feel like hanging one after 40 miles. Alock Sack / Ursack it is!

A short Ridge Rest is definitely what I've been leaning towards; based on the consensus here, I'll pick one up pronto.

I'm still torn between the tarp and the bivy. It'd be nice to just climb into a bivy and call it a day, but I feel like an open tarp might afford me a better night's sleep. I'll also reuse the tarp here and there, so it might make a better investment. I might take my time in making a decision on this one...

As far as the sleeping bag goes, what do you think the chances are I could sell or trade the NWT Marmot Hydrogen for something along the lines of a No Sniveler? I think a quilt might suit my purposes better, and the weight savings would be a plus as well.

Thanks for the link to the hiking efficiency article. I'm checking it out now.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
"Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike" on 03/19/2010 12:18:08 MDT Print View

+1 on the 5x8 ID tarp. I have one that I throw in my pack for day hikes. There are numerous tie-outs so setting up can be fast. With pre-set guylines, you can tie one corner to a tree (a few feet out) then stake down the other corners in a flying V shape and you're done. Use Kelty triptease to help you "see" at night. Add a Tyvek or GG polycro groundcloth. No need to get out the bivy unless its raining hard or really buggy.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
"Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike" on 03/19/2010 12:23:13 MDT Print View

ID 5x8 on sale for $59.98 at (+ free shipping)

Also, REI dividends are out, so the 20% off deal is coming up soon.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: "Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike" on 03/19/2010 12:33:39 MDT Print View

A thought about tarps - You can always get a carbon fiber "front pole" and be ready to go for under an ounce. Then setup would be consistent and fast every time.

And do think about bug protection while sleeping.

Justin Tremlin
(notu) - F

Locale: Central Washington
Marmot Hydrogen Option. on 03/19/2010 12:34:39 MDT Print View

I have an older Marmot Hydrogen with 3/4 zip that I converted to a quilt about two years ago. This removed about 6oz and works well. It just required a sewing machine and about a half an hour (plus two hours to clean up the mess). If you decide to do this I recommend pushing all of the down to one side of the bag (opposite the zipper). First: Remove the hood. Sew two lines about a half an inch apart then cut between them (This helps minimize any loss of down), Then cut out the zipper section to a width of 6 inches (again with the sewing two lines method). Now turn the bag on in its side (open space down). You can then finish the edges by folding them over with a finishing stitch. If you like you can cut out the toe box and install a draw cord. This helps in ventilation and even allows you to walk around in your bag (slowly). You can also sew in two tie cords at the neck opening of the bag (you can tie them together when it is cold out to minimize drafts).

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Marmot Hydrogen Option. on 03/19/2010 13:15:19 MDT Print View

I did a similar thing to a Montbell #5.

I first removed the hood, and left it open for access to the down.

I removed the zipper and anti-snag panels from the bag, and left the edges open.

I used a vacuum cleaner with some bug netting attached to the end of the hose to extract the down from the hood, which I then relocated to the chest section of the bag, before sewing the edges shut.

The result was a high loft quilt, good to 30°F, if on a well insultated matt.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Modifying a sleeping bag on 03/19/2010 17:45:06 MDT Print View

Not a bad idea, but since it's new with the tags, it almost seems a shame to cut it up if I could just as easily sell or trade it to someone who'd really like one and get a quilt for myself.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Modifying a sleeping bag on 03/19/2010 17:48:29 MDT Print View

I got the #5 in some reeediculous blow-out sale last year for $125.

It was a no-brainer.

Your luck may vary.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
$125?? on 03/19/2010 17:56:11 MDT Print View

Wow. Nicely done.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: $125?? on 03/19/2010 18:00:07 MDT Print View

That sale caused quite a bit of moral consternation, depleted bank accounts, and marital dispute. (none of which apply to me.)

But it was Fun.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
race pace on 03/19/2010 20:33:42 MDT Print View

You really want to suffer? I carried less than 5lbs of gear and 1 lbs of that (or more) was electronics (camera, spot, gps) for a 19 day race. For 3 days and 2 nights you can cut to the bone if you know how to improvise and take care of yourself, esp with friends to suffer with. Of course this may mean moving when you don't want to (middle of the night in the rain) and napping when weather allows.

Heatsheets bivy
20x40" 1/8" thinlite pad (1.25oz groundsheet and pad)
2oz total Esbit stove system (pot, windscreen, stove, spoon, etc)
Enough clothes to keep moving in the worst weather you expect (for summer this is typically only rain gear for me and a synthetic vest, maybe a hat and liner gloves depending on if i'm in a hoody or just long sleeve shirt)
Headlamp/MP3 and batteries to match
2L Platypus or 2x 20L Gatorade bottles w/ MP1 tabs (2 bottles/platypus system has the advantage of one good while one is treating)
Emergency first aid/fire starter

Two hot dinners, your favorite candy, sports drink like perpetuem or homemade, nodoze and/or coffee, bacon, whatever sounds good to eat. 10k calories is more than enough if you can start with a mondo breakfast, pace yourselves and use the candy when you need external motivation. The hot dinners and stove aren't necessary but I've found a quick cook break and heavy calorie meal (add olive oil or butter) give a boost to do battle with the night. Plus you can make hot instant coffee that way that can go in your gatorade bottle.

Just remember things like this "well the food is gone but at least it's raining really hard!"

EDIT: My guess is you'll be running less than you think. That's fast and long hiking pace most likely. Plus your feet will be happier not running. Also the OP sack will be more than enough for bear protection if you're not stopping much to sleep anyway :)

Edited by Pivvay on 03/19/2010 20:38:02 MDT.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Re: race pace on 03/20/2010 05:54:46 MDT Print View

Water -- I'm undecided on which system to take. I like the idea of having a bottle that's always ready to drink, but I think I can hike a bit more efficiently with a bladder. Tabs take a half hour to kill everything, right? I can go that long without a drink. Either way, Platypus is definitely the way to go. They make great inflatable pillows!

Pad -- I've considered the 1/8" thinlight. I'd never want to sleep on something like that in most cases, but as I'll be dead tired, I do wonder if I can make it work.

Bivy -- Is the heatsheets bivy durable enough to use two nights in a row? If so, that's something worth considering.

Stove -- I'd thought I might just leave this behind all together, but I'm guessing you're probably right about the boost from a hot meal.

My current alcohol kit is 4.5 oz, plus I'd need about 3 oz of alcohol to cook with. What do you use for an esbit "stove"?



David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
heatsheets on 03/20/2010 08:41:06 MDT Print View

The heatsheets bivy (the lighter one) is durable enough to use for more than a few nights. Expect substantial condensation if you're tucked all the way in, but it will keep the rain off.