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Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike
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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.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: race pace on 03/20/2010 14:02:51 MDT Print View

You can always bring a 2L platy and a 1l platy too. One thing I learned, don't sweat a couple ounces in the name of speed. Efficiency counts too.

The 1/8" thinlite doesn't work for everyone. I sleep on it just fine during race pace efforts, even on concrete floors! But for $9 they're cheap to experiment with and worth having around.

My heatsheets bivy has at least a dozen nights on it with only a couple small packing tape patches. The heatsheets are much much more durable than a typical emergency blanket. You will soak your sleeping bag if you use it inside the bivy for very long and I was recommending using it alone (no sleeping bag hence the synthetic vest or jacket). This setup is more bold but works well for many people in race efforts. If you expect very little chance of rain, you can also use the heatsheets bivy as a ground sheet and last resort in a short heavy rain. It will keep you dry but since it's non breatheable obviously your sweat will go somewhere. Wearing your rain gear inside the bivy can slow this process a little bit and will keep the insulation a bit drier for longer.

Stove you can take it or leave it. I've done it both ways. I've usually been happy with bringing it on trips where there is no "outside" chance of hot meals like a restaurant but on a bike I cover a lot more ground. I use a BPL ti wing stove and a Sterno can cleaned out as a pot (11oz capacity, 11g). Th rest is just a ti foil windscreen, DQ plastic spoon long handled if you want, alum foil lid etc. I can get 2 boils per esbit tab easy. Since esbit tabs are so light I usually bring one "extra" beyond what I think I'll need.

Anyway lots to consider. Obviously some suggestions are pushing it more than others but take what you think fits your skill/comfort level.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Re: Re: Re: race pace on 03/21/2010 18:21:49 MDT Print View

Yeah, the 2L bladder plus the 1L bottle may be the way to go. 2 oz isn't much of a compromise if it'll help me stay hydrated. Then again, that could also encourage me to carry an extra couple pounds of water when I really don't need to.

Someone mentioned on another thread that they switched to the steripen when they realized it would save them from carrying more water. This makes a lot of sense to me, although I imagine I'd waste more time by constantly filling up and sterilizing the water. Definitely something to consider, though.

As far as the 1/8" pad goes, I sleep pretty soundly on most surfaces and after 40 miles, I imagine I'd do okay on one of these. Like you said, even if it doesn't work, it's only a $9 experiment. It'll just become my dog's pad instead (he's not going on this long trip, but does come on most others).

Only problem with the pad is that the thinlites are out of stock until mid April. Would the BPL Diad be pretty much the same?

The weight of the heatsheets bivy is tempting, but there's a good chance of at least some rain for the time of year that I'm going, so I'm probably better off buying the ID tarp or a light bivy that's capable of breathing a bit. Either way, I'll definitely pick up a headnet. That makes plenty of sense to me.

Because of my limited budget, I think I may skip buying an esbit stove and just go stoveless on this trip. If it looks like it's going to rain a fair bit, I'll bring the extra few ounces for the alcohol stove and fuel so that I can have a couple of hot meals.

As far as getting the weight of my food down, do you have any suggestions for that? I figured a diet of Clif Bars would be pretty solid, but I'll take other suggestions. Is 4,000 calories per day more than I need? I've never backpacked with that many before, but then again, I've never done a 40 mile day before.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Re: Re: race pace on 03/21/2010 20:03:01 MDT Print View

hey nate, sounds like a great trip. I wish you luck.

when I hear race pace, I think minimalism. Cut out everything you do not need. for three days, thats alot you can lose.

If you really want to cut weight and increase mileage, comfort will not be a consideration.
I am not sure how you feel about hiking at night, but by adding a few ounces on a backup headlamp, you could drop over a pound on a sleeping bag by taking your rest during the warmth of the day, or the moderate temperatures in the evening. shelter then could also be made very simple: a rain jacket, and trash bag for your gear. Ridge rest pad cut to my torso length with my pack under my feet has always done me well for ground insulation.

I have always used aquamira or katadyn chlorine dioxide tablets. they are very easy, fast and light.

other gear:
bring some duct tape, minor wound care kit (minimal). leukotape (for feet). some matches and esbit in a plastic bag for emergencies, nav. equipment. headlamp and a backup. rain gear. whatever insulating clothing you will need (minimal if you are moving at night and resting in the day) 2-3 pairs of socks. baby wipes. OP sack for food and large stuff sack (I usually hang this to keep small critters away) 2liters worth of water bottles. Gloves and beenie for night hiking. A backpack that is small and well balanced for fast moving.
that should be all you really need. maybe a small dropper of DEET and a whistle and mini knife for good measure, but that is just the boy scout in me.

for clothing: A pair of running shoes you trust and have broken in. some running shorts or compression shorts. a long sleeve polyester Shirt,( I like the ones with a zipper for ventilation) sun glasses, a alti/baro/compass watch. and wool or poly socks. ( I use smartwool, defeet and asics) Visor if you like.

you could get this kit really really light considering you are not carrying a sleeping bag, shelter, cooking gear.

its all in eliminating unecesary gear, some of the above items are not even really necessary.

for food, 3-4,000 calories should cut it. I also like bringing some sort of sports drink to mix with one of my water bottles.
check out andy skurka's food lists for his reccent treks, he manages to get alot of calories in a little weight.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: race pace on 03/21/2010 20:22:53 MDT Print View


I imagine I'll be able to move a fair bit faster in daylight, so in the interest of keeping my speed up, I'll probably sleep at night and bring a sleeping bag.

That said, I like your direction of thinking. I try to be fairly minimalist no matter what, but I bet there's a lot I could leave behind that I would normally bring with me. For three days, I can stand to suffer a bit, and I don't think I'll need much help to sleep after 40 miles.

If I use an ID 5x8 tarp, a thinlite pad, my Marmot Hydrogen, and my Golite Jam, that puts me at under 60 oz for the big four. I have a 9 oz fleece that should be all I need for insulating clothing. If I work at it, everything else I bring should total less than 3 lbs. Add a liter of water and 6 lbs of food and I've got 15 lbs at the start of the trip. Not bad!

I've checked out Andy Skurka's site before, but I'll have to take another look at it.

Michael Cockrell

Locale: Central Valley, Lodi-Stockton, CA
Speed hike fueling: water and nutrition on 03/22/2010 15:07:36 MDT Print View

Use what many adventure racers, ultra racers (cycling, running, etc.) food replacement fuels.

My favorite is Hammer Nutrition. They also have a great forum to discuss fuel needs, have a revised "product user manual". Their product is focused on keeping out the "ose's" (frutose, sucrose, etc.)

Their user manual has been a great source for deciding the amount of kcal & water a body can use per hour. Above that, and you're just wasting money and risking bloat, etc.

Their are other same-type products from many companies.

One thing interesting on research, is that the body uses almost 1/2 of the kcal of food just to process it. You gain the whole amount by using liquid mixes.

Their website:

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Speed hike fueling: water and nutrition on 03/22/2010 17:53:22 MDT Print View

"One thing interesting on research, is that the body uses almost 1/2 of the kcal of food just to process it. You gain the whole amount by using liquid mixes."

It works great for regular backpacking, too. Perpetuem is all I use between breakfast and dinner on trips up to 10 days.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
hammer nutrition on 03/22/2010 18:08:06 MDT Print View

the hammer stuff is good. I've used it and it works. But I usually take some of that stuff and some food that sounds good to eat, usually junk (cookies, candy, bacon, whatever).

I had only 2 packs of Oreo cakesters in my Iditarod drop bags and I would have traded handily for more of those out there, haha!

Oh yea and from above to Nate...the fastest is moving day AND night ;)

Edited by Pivvay on 03/22/2010 18:09:16 MDT.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Hammer Nutrition ... the good and the bad on 03/22/2010 19:00:42 MDT Print View

First ... I love Hammer products and use them all the time.
Gel, Perpetuum, Recoverite, Enduralytes ....

by whatever way I measure the contents (weight or volume), the large Hammer gel bottles hold only 23 servings, not the 26 servings that they claim.

I haven't complained to them yet.
Anyone else notice this?

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Hammer Nutrition on 03/22/2010 19:18:31 MDT Print View

I keep saying I'm going to pick up some Hammer Nutrition and try it out, but I keep spending my money on new gear instead. I will try the Hammer stuff, though. Too many people have recommended it to ignore it.

Christopher -- I will probably be hiking an hour or two in the dark each day. I'd love to do 45-50 miles the first two days to give myself a shorter day on the third. This would make for a much more enjoyable finish and put me on top of the mountain at the end of the trail in time for sunset.

If I can manage a few more hours in the dark, I just might go for it. The thing is, I've heard that the hours spent on your feet take more of a toll than how fast you go. I think I can work up to 14 hours at 3 MPH, but 20+ hours, even if I go a bit slower, seems pretty daunting.

That said, I have no idea what my body will be capable of when I try this out in a few months. I'm doing an overnight trip next Monday and Tuesday and am just going to hike one way until I can't go much further on Monday, and then hike back that same distance on Tuesday.

Despite my intense training these last couple of months, I have yet to hike a 25+ mile day, so I'm interested to see how this goes. Hopefully I'll do at least 30 miles each day. Either way, the trip will give me a good gauge for the work I need to do to get in shape for this.

Right now, my gear list is still a bit heavy, so that will probably slow me just a bit. I'll be taking a Tarptent on next week's trip, since I haven't been able to get a lighter shelter yet. This is also going to be my first trip using Micropur tabs, so I'm sure lack of technique will cause me to carry more water than I need.

I did just pick up a short Ridgerest, though. It's too cold out to try a 1/8" pad, but I plan to pick one of those up later this spring and try it out as well.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Hammer Nutrition on 03/22/2010 21:34:19 MDT Print View

Have fun. Soon enough gear will be dialed (3-5lbs baseweight is as light as I realistically go most of the time) but the body and mind will keep getting stronger and stronger if you keep pushing them. One step and mental barrier at a time.

Angela Zukowski
(AngelaZ) - F

Locale: New England
where in MA will this be taking place? on 03/23/2010 08:52:00 MDT Print View

Is this taking place on the M-M trail? I'm curious, especially because I know the distance is similar to what you are attempting-but that would include NH too. I can't really think of any trail that distance in MA unless you are doing an out & back.

Most of what I'd suggest has already been discussed. Going stoveless is a good idea.

I live in MA too and while there are definitely bears I might not bother with the ursack. I understand the desire to not have to deal with hanging a bear bag, but it would mean spending more money. To tell you the truth if carrying an enclosed shelter I might just sleep with the food, since it's for a short time. Depends on the area, really.

One last nutrition thing: chocolate protein powder mixed with nido (whole powdered milk) is really delicious. Makes for a nice recovery drink packed with lots of calories. You can buy Nido at the ethnic grocery store in Hadley (not sure where in MA you are but that's Western Ma for me!).

Good luck. Sounds like an awesome hike to attempt.

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
Baselayer on 03/23/2010 13:57:08 MDT Print View

For the temperatures here in the Arizona desert nothing beats Ibex woolies. The standard wollie is 150 weight, so it keeps me cooler than my Smart wools (Ironically I think they are warmer than my smart wool mids too).

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Yep, the M&M Trail! on 03/23/2010 14:49:31 MDT Print View

@ Angela - The Metacomet-Monadnock Trail runs right by my house and I've always wanted to through hike it. I had a chunk of 4 days off this summer and decided to try and do it in 3, resting on the 4th.

I'll be hiking sections 7-12 next week to try and push myself a bit and test out some new gear and techniques.

@ Frank -- I'm checking out those Wollies right now. Thanks!

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Yep, the M&M Trail! on 03/23/2010 14:56:31 MDT Print View

I'll 2nd the ultralight wool shirts. I have a couple light weight woolies and i'm pining after a Patagonia wool 1 t shirt. Someday when I find a good sale or cheap like new used one...

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: where in MA will this be taking place? on 03/23/2010 15:01:53 MDT Print View

"One last nutrition thing: chocolate protein powder mixed with nido"

I've discovered this fabulous DARK chocolate protein powder at my local organic grocery. The stuff actually tastes good just in water! I add it to my hot cocoa at night and my oatmeal in the morning. Unfortunately, I can't remember the brand name!

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
M-M Trail on 03/23/2010 15:10:57 MDT Print View

Have you thought about what you're going to do to get across the Westfield and Connecticut Rivers? It sounds like the Westfield is fordable if it's low.

I'm halfway through doing the M-M Trail in sections, but I might be doing a thru-hike in October. It's a great trail--I'm surprised it's not more popular.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Re: M-M Trail on 03/23/2010 16:04:09 MDT Print View

It is a great trail. I'm really looking forward to the hike, as well as several recon hikes I'll do in advance to improve my overall time on when I attempt the whole thing.

The Westfield should be fordable in late June when I do the through hike. If not, it'll be low and slow enough to swim without any danger. It's not a very wide river. I'll just swim across with a rope attached to my pack, which will be on the shore in a couple of trash bags and be lined with a trash compactor bag. When I reach the opposite side, I'll tow it across. I think that should do the trick.

The Connecticut river will be different. Boats have killed swimmers in this section before, and I don't want to become a statistic. I'll also have hiked 27 miles so far that day, and it'd probably be unsafe to swim 1500 feet in that condition. To make this hike as unsupported as possible, I think I'll barter a ride across at the boat ramp where the M-M trail ends. I'm sure I can convince someone to ferry me across for 10 or 20 bucks.

Trevor Greenwood
(Skippy254) - F

Locale: Colorado
nutrition on 03/25/2010 01:39:11 MDT Print View

I would also like to highly advise trying out the Hammer nutrition. I use it for 24 hour bike races and have used it in the tough conditions of the Leadville 100 and it works great for me.

Good luck and I hope you follow up later with a post on how your adventure ends up.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
swimming with a pack on 03/25/2010 13:33:01 MDT Print View

I've found the "Arctic 1000" technique to be very effective.

-Get lots of air in your drybag(s).
-Lay on pack.
-Kick facing upstream and a bit towards your direction of travel, letting the current ferry you.

It feels more controlled than swimming full on, as you can breath and see easily. It also keeps your torso a bit drier and is thus warmer.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike on 03/25/2010 15:11:36 MDT Print View

I just quickly scanned through the posts, as speed hiking is not something I am really interested in. That being said, it sounds like you might be over thinking this. If I go with the assumption you are not going in weather much under 32F and the terrain is not difficult...

You need to average just under 40 miles per day. I don't see the need to do much running. If you hike 12 hours a day, that calculates to 3.3 miles per hour. That is brisk walking, not running.

Take a look at my gear list in my profile. I think it is a pretty good list at under 4 lbs base weight. You won't be needing to carry much water, and with the right kind of foods you can keep that weight down. You will also notice in the gear list that the total was 17lbs, which included 4 liters of water. The trip I used it one was a 3 day 60 mile loop. First day was a 10K foot elevation gain, which burned up some big time calories. But the total food weight for the trip was 4.7 lbs. I had a day's worth of food left over... just in case I wanted to stay out an extra day.

To be honest, I could par that list down even more. I am doing the loop again in May, and if snow is not a problem, will be dropping the extra food, and using some lighter gear.

Your limiting factor is cost of any gear you want to replace.

Nate Davis
(Knaight) - F

Locale: Western Massachusetts
Re: Re: Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike on 03/25/2010 17:58:04 MDT Print View

David -- That method makes a lot of sense, but I'm not sure I'll have much in the way of drybags on this trip. That said, maybe just wrapping the pack in garbage bags and tying them off will do the trick. It's not a wide river and there's gas station where I can toss the garbage bags in after I cross.

Nick -- I'd love to go that light, but budget is definitely a limiting factor right now. I should be able to get my base weight under 8 lbs, though. I'm going to aim for 2 lbs of food per day, and will probably carry a liter of water on average, so that's 16 lbs starting out. I can make that work.

As far as speed goes, despite being 6'2", I have trouble maintaining a speed of much over 3 MPH without doing a mild jog on at least a few of the downhills. That said, the terrain where I usually go hiking and running can be a bit technical, with quite a few ups and downs. The trail I'm planning to thru-hike is not necessarily flat, but it's much more gentle. I'm trying out a good chunk of it on Monday and Tuesday, so it'll be interesting to see how fast I go. I don't plan on running much on that trip.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Help me pare down my gear for a speed hike on 03/25/2010 18:41:06 MDT Print View


On easy terrain, I probably average around 3 mph or less. But I can pick it up. It is just a matter of getting into a candence. Of course the better shape you are in, the easier it is.