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UL on a budget
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John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
UL on a budget on 07/28/2010 11:31:12 MDT Print View

Hi, so I've been putting together gear slowly over the course of the last few months, waiting for sales and good buys, and I think I've came up with some decent gear, at 11.5lbs base (including fishing stuff which most people don't include), at a pretty low cost.

The only things I havent bought that are on the list is the backpack itself and the sleeping bag. The ones list are choices that I think are a good price/performance match, but if anyone could think of another one that fits the bill, let me know please.

My gear list is here

I know alot of people are going to criticize the eureka, but I got it for $60, and at only 3 lbs, I cant justify spending over $200 just to shave a half pound.

Thanks guys and let me know what you think!

edit: also, do you think that I am skimping on extra clothing carried, this list is for my april-october adventures, and not any winter trips. Location is in idaho.

Edited by skyzo on 07/28/2010 11:33:38 MDT.

Joe Cangelosi
(JoeFish) - F

Locale: All Over California
Re: UL on a budget on 07/28/2010 11:52:22 MDT Print View

hey, John,

You might want to reorganize your list a bit. For example, your water treatment is under "emergency" yet you will treat all the water you drink, yes? You list a garbage bag under cooking, but is it a pack liner? Or a bag for garbage?

A few observations:

Yup, the tent is heavy. Have you considered a tarp? Do you have any experience with tarping? I'm working on a tarp setup right now that weighs around 20 oz and is under $30, but would require some skill and specific conditions.

Your utility cord is pretty heavy. There are several options at the hardware store that weigh half as much. Look at mason's line.

If you're going to be at any elevation, I think you're going to want something warmer than a microfleece for camp, or inclement conditions. Patagonia has a lot of new models out, meaning that last year's models will be around cheap (though you may end up with a snot green or blaze orange). Maybe even just a vest in addition to the fleece. First Ascent is also decent and relatively inexpensive, though I always try to have this layer be synthetic.

What are you going to fix with your leatherman? A mini swiss army knife at .5 oz will have everything you need...unless you need a bigger knife to deal with the fish?

I used to always carry a space blanket, but with synthetic down and decent rain hear, I nixed it. YMMV.

A grill? For what? Fillet the trout and lay them skin side down on the coals. Come out perfect every time. If you're in a no-fire area, poach them.

If the trash bag is a pack liner, it's a lightweight one. A leaf bag weighs just under 2 oz and is worth it. A trash compactor bag weighs a little more but is bullet proof.

What are you doing about food storage? Is that what the utility line is for? You'll need more than 25' and some stuff sacks. Search for the "PCT Method" on this site to get some good ideas. Also, I use OpSaks no matter how I'm protecting my food.

Those are my thoughts, but it's a good first try! Consider the tarp!!

Edit: I just noticed you said you haven't bought the sleeping bag yet. You might want to look at the REI Halo at a decent weight savings for not much more money. Also, look in the gear swap here. I just picked up a WM Highlite (16oz for 35 degrees) for 200 bucks. There are deals out there!

Edited by JoeFish on 07/28/2010 11:54:40 MDT.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
pack; missing items on 07/28/2010 12:40:31 MDT Print View

Wow, 11.6 lb base weight including fishing gear is great!

Instead of the Granite Gear Virga, you might want to consider a Gossamer Gear G4: Similar price, 4 oz lighter. I've been happy with mine, and it's designed to work with the Night Light pad (which you already own) as back padding.

What's in the 4-oz first-aid kit? That seems like a huge amount of weight to me, and often these kits include useless gimmicks like a snakebite kit. Are there consumables in there that can be repackaged into smaller amounts?

Some items you may need to add:
-head net
-pack liner (e.g., a trash compactor bag)
-soap or alcohol wipes (extremely important for avoiding diarrhea from hand-to-mouth contamination after taking a dump)
-Bic lighter
-other emergency fire-lighting equipment (birthday candles, tinder)
-moleskin, duct tape
-flashlight (e.g., 0.7 oz Photon Freedom)

Yes, the tent is very heavy. Tarps are much lighter. If you just want bug protection in the evening, what works for me is long sleeves, long pants, a head net, and a little DEET on my hands. I sleep with a head-net on at first, then usually take it off once it gets cold enough for the bugs to stop buzzing. I sometimes use earplugs to block out the noise from bugs in the early evening so I can sleep.


Edited by bcrowell on 07/28/2010 12:42:17 MDT.

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
UL on a budget on 07/28/2010 13:08:44 MDT Print View

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions guys, they are very helpful.


Ive been considering a tarp, but I have never tarped before, so I dont know much about it.

I looked up the PCT method, and that is much better than the method I had in mind. I was just going to use the trash bag in a tree and use the 25' of cord to hoist it up, but the PCT method is alot better, and I will look for some stuff sacks and the Opsaks you were talking about. The leatherman is kind of a just in case thing, it weighs a little under 2 oz, and has been very useful in the past, I could probably nix it, but for the weight I would rather carry it along.

Im interested in the poaching fish method you suggested, I will have to look it up, it would be nice to not have to carry a grill, its not that heavy, but kind of a pain to get clean.

I kind of figured that the microfleece would not be enough, which item in the Patagonia line would you suggest to replace it. I was looking at the nano-puff, and its only a few ounces heavier but looks like it would insulate a whole lot better.

I really like the looks of the G4, I had looked at it earlier in the year, but forget about it in my recent pack search, I will keep it in mind.
The 4oz aid kit includes some of the items listed as missing, like the DEET, sunscreen, chapstik, ibruprofen, and duct tape, but I do need to find a flashlight, and that photon looks pretty light and handy. I recently went on a trip to an alpine lake at about 10,000, and the mosquitos were so bad I had to wear long sleeves most of the time like you said, its a bummer.

Joe Cangelosi
(JoeFish) - F

Locale: All Over California
Re: UL on a budget on 07/28/2010 23:59:33 MDT Print View


I hike in long sleeves in almost all conditions. The double polyester t-shirts from REI are cheap, resilient and incredibly breathable. Not having to carry, smell like and wash off sunscreen is big plus for me, ditto for bugs. Also, not to start a big thread drift, but I don't use DEET- it is awful stuff. I carry a small amount of picaridin as a backup only- I rely on long sleeves and a headnet unless they're really biting. +1 to what Ben said about the soap- there is absolutely no subsitute for vigorous handwashing, no matter what people tell you about hand sanitizer, etc.

As for cooking fish, there is nothing to look up. Poaching just means to gently boil the fish pieces in some water with maybe a bouillon cube until the fish flakes a bit. Eat like soup, or on crackers, or just by itself. "Grilling" directly on coals is as simple as it sounds, just make sure the layer of coals is even. Don't flip the fish over, just get it up off the skin and it will be cooked through. If your fillets are really thick, you can make a little pup tent of aluminum foil to make sure they get cooked all the way through.

Don't try and hang your food in a trash bag. They tear too easily. The opsaks really work inside the stuff sack. I watched a marmot walk right past an opsak full of prunes and peanut butter. They are pricey but reusable.

Poke around here for more on tarping technique. Try here, too, for basics:

I always try out new shelters car camping, so I can run to the car and get the tent if it doesn't work out :-)

But yeah, like Ben said, you are doing great!

Edit- about your patagonia question, the micropuff vest, nanopuff pullover and down sweater zip-up are all kind of the same idea in a different package. I did a lot of research and just got the nanopuff.

Edited by JoeFish on 07/29/2010 00:04:59 MDT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: UL on a budget on 07/29/2010 06:43:28 MDT Print View

As far as sleeping bags, I don't know how much you can stretch your budget, but if you can squeeze a bit more out of it, go over to gear swap and get this Marmot Hydrogen for a pretty good price. More expensive than what I saw the Never Winter listed at though. Other slightly more expensive but lighter bags include the Montbel UL Spiral Down #3, which I used for a bit and found quite nice before I bought a quilt, or the Sierra Designs Nitro 30, which was reviewed well by BPL as a bargain for the money.

I don't know that you're skimping on clothes. You may be bringing too many. You don't list what you are wearing, but unless you use them for sleeping, I might drop the Terramar baselayer as unneccesary. They won't provide that much extra warmth. Also, any 'change of clothes' could be dropped. Putting clean clothes on a unwashed person sort of nullifies the affect of clean clothes. I just rinse out my socks in a creek or stream, wring them, and then put them back on and let them dry on my feet.

The tent isn't bad at all for the price. We can only afford what we can afford, and it will serve you well while you decide if you want to try tarp camping. I think you can skip the ground sheet with the tent though. The GG groundsheet it great for UL tarp camping, but I don't think it's going to provide that much additional protection for your tent floor. Just pay attention to the ground where you set up.

A pretty good list though.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
UL on a budget on 07/29/2010 07:36:42 MDT Print View

Wow, did you just use "Patagonia" in a thread on UL on a budget? Maybe I'm just a cheapskate, but I get a Patagonia Pro form and don't feel like I can pay those prices. You might check out the BPL review on insulating layers from a couple of months ago.

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
re: UL on a budget on 07/29/2010 21:40:33 MDT Print View

I think im going to try and pick up a nanopuff, looks like its a pretty warm jacket, and isnt too heavy either. I think I will also nix the Terramar like James suggested, but I do think I will still consider the Terramar bottoms for sleeping, and if I get cold at night (not usual, very warm sleeper) I will just put on the nanopuff or the extra long sleeve t-shirt.
As for a bag, Im actually looking at possibly buying an Arroyo from a friend. Its a 30 degree bag, and 75% of my backpacking is done in the summer/early fall, and it also cuts off 9 ounces from the Never Winter bag, so I'm looking forward to hopefully getting that bag.

Joe Cangelosi
(JoeFish) - F

Locale: All Over California
Yes I did on 07/29/2010 22:26:29 MDT Print View

@Joe - I thought I was the official cheapskate, no?

Patagucci puts out a LOT of volume, so I find it pretty easy to pick up their stuff WAY below retail. I just paid $90 for the puff, but I found it elsewhere for $70- I paid a premium to avoid MonkeyShit yellow.

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
Re: Eureka Spitfire on 08/02/2010 07:24:41 MDT Print View

I f*ing love my Spitfire. It's a fantastic little tent. I have a single-wall tent and a tarp now as well, which I prefer for long hauls b/c of the weight savings; however, for quick one- or two-nighters, I still grab my Spitfire because it's super comfortable and the footprint is small enough to set up practically anywhere. I used it for 3 straight weeks with 0 complaints walking the Long Trail. Plus, you won't feel nearly as annoyed with yourself for putting a hole or a scratch in a $60 tent as you would with a $200 shelter. :)

John West
(skyzo) - M

Locale: Borah Gear
Re: Spitfire on 08/02/2010 09:53:40 MDT Print View

Kate, I haven't used the spitfire much, but on the few times I have, it is ultra comfortable, and its worth it to me to carry an extra pound for something like that on shorter trips. Its like backpacking in a one man castle. I hope to enjoy mine as much as yours!

Richard Hanson
(RHanson) - F
Try a tarp! on 08/02/2010 15:03:53 MDT Print View


I was also not sure about tarp camping so I just started with a very inexpensive (only $8) 8x10 blue hardware store tarp and tried it out for a bunch of weekend campouts including one with a major Texas thunderstorm. On that occasion I pitched the tarp very low and got a slight amount of spray under the tarp but I was surprised at the sandy dirt that got blown about. Now I have an MLD tarp and I am not ever going back to a tent. I especially love the fresh air, the views, and the feeling of freedom that comes with tarp camping. Clearly, the tarp is not for everyone but it is also very inexpensive to experiment with the concept to see if you like it.


Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
I heart tarp camping on 08/03/2010 19:46:24 MDT Print View

Good tarp praise!