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New pack please help new to UL
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Paul Vannoy
(paulv777) - F
New pack please help new to UL on 08/03/2010 23:04:40 MDT Print View

I'm wanting to get back into backpacking I'm 30 weigh 165 and just did a 30 mile loop in the great burn proposed wilderness with my old pack. I carried way too much weight! around 40 pounds.

I have done a trip since then and have got my base weight down to 22 pounds not counting my pack.

My current pack is a rei new star weighs about 7 pounds and is somewhere around 4600ci.

Also my tent is 5 pounds will be my next purchase to save weight.

I am considering the ULA Catalyst or Circut. and the Granite Gear Meridian or Meridian Vapor. or possibly an Osprey Atmos.

I have kids that I carry gear for too on some trips so I am not yet ready to go ultralight weight frameless.

I do like the made in USA factor of ULA and other similar companies.

Please chime in on any suggestions.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: New pack please help new to UL on 08/03/2010 23:31:57 MDT Print View

Before you decide on any new pack -- first, carefully review your gear. Of the stuff you carried:

1. Can you eliminate some and/or reduce others -- without unduly risking safety?

2. Of the remaining items needed, can any of them do double or triple duty -- substitute for others -- so more pieces can be safely and comfortably left at home?

3. Finally, of the remaining "must take" items -- do you anticipate swapping out -- buying new replacements to cut down on bulk/weight?

I highly, highly recommend that you spend some time combing through the 3 steps above. Once you've settled on your new gear weight and volume -- then you can better shop for an appropriately smaller/lighter backpack -- without risking a potentially uncomfortable mismatch between small/light backpack carrying heavy/bulky gear!

If more questions, please feel free to ask away...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Cart in front of the horse on 08/03/2010 23:32:17 MDT Print View

You will want to get your gear closer to the desired base weight, then choose a pack; otherwise, you'll have a nice light pack and heavy gear that the pack won't handle. I wouldn't blame you for getting some other pack in the interim. There are folk here who go out with a complete kit at 5 pounds, let a lone a 7 pound pack!

I think most of the denizens here have been through a- few metomorphoses along the way to Ulitmate Lightitude-- I have. That might mean a few changes in equipment along the way. At some point you will decide what works for you--- light/lighter/lightest. I can use a 16 ounce pack for summer overnighters, but adding a tent, more rain gear, a heavier sleeping bag and more insulation works it up to 14 pounds for shoulder seasons and so I use a heavier (and larger)pack. And there is a level of comfort that might put the brakes on getting lighter too. It's your hike.

ULA is good stuff, as is Six Moon Designs and other cottage makers. Most of their packs work in the 20-35 pound total weight bracket. Getting closer to 20 pounds with any frameless pack is a good thing.

Something like a GoLite Jam might make a good 'tweener choice for you. Chances are, you can pick up a good used one without blowing the budget.

Paul Vannoy
(paulv777) - F
good thoughts on 08/04/2010 09:40:59 MDT Print View

Yes I do think I need a "transition" type bag Some of my gear is not the lightest but I wont be upgrading it a whole lot right now. I know I still have stuff I can whittle down. I must confess I've never put any thought into my gear and in the past just did short overnighters.

I'm using a gigapower stove with a cheap and heavy 1.5 liter pot

Big Agnes Lost Ranger 3.5# and air core pad 24oz

two man tent 5#

Each time I go out I'm bringing less clothes I've always brought way more than I ever wore at one time.

I use a sawyer inline filter for my camelback.

Also I'm usually with my wife or daughter which means that I have to carry the whole shelter and most food.

What volume range would fit for now and cinch down some when I don't need all the volume?

Paul Vannoy
(paulv777) - F
Paul on 08/04/2010 10:10:43 MDT Print View

Again thanks for the thoughtful responses. after listing my current gear I am thinking that I am putting the cart before the horse.

What are some budget tips on a shelter and sleeping bag and pad? Keeping in mind that I want my wife and daughter to stay warm and dry. They are both able to comfortably carry 20 pounds.

My wife has the same bag/pad as I do.

Daniel Fosse
(magillagorilla) - F

Locale: Southwest Ohio
new stuff on 08/04/2010 10:30:06 MDT Print View

This site is a great resource for lightening the load.

My advise is to weigh all your stuff and make a list of all your gear. If you post it in the gear list thread people will help you trim it down quickly.

Also, if money is a concern, don't go and just start buying gear based on weight and opinoin. Consider your goals for backpacking. Some people engage it as an athletic challenge like adventure racing. They are likely the ones pushing the limit on 5lb base weights. Some people choose to carry heavier loads for more comfort like a bigger tarp or a pillow. Others may have different miles per day in mind. These factors change what you may carry backpacking.

Also, consider having multiple kits. or combinations, for different activities. I just took my 6 year old son on his first trip last week. I chose to use heavier more durable gear. Some 6 year olds may not have the ability to be careful with delicate gear, my kid definately does not. I kept some of my standard backpacking gear for this occasion. With heavier gear I needed a heavier pack, so it's a good thing I kept my good old Osprey pack. When I say heavy I'm talking about a 35lb load for 2 people. I made him carry his clothes and sleeping bag.

While "heavy" is realitive, you could definately do better than a 7lb pack and a 5lb tent, even if you are hiking with kids.

Some people on this forum go with little kids and use a UL kit. I can't afford to replace gear so I choose not to use all my "good" gear when the kids.

Going UL does not have to be expensive. The Gear Swap thread is your friend. If you are really on a budget, keep an eye on the MYOG thread. It is full of clever ideas.

One more thing, read read read, hike hike hike..... repeat.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
lighter gear on 08/04/2010 11:07:20 MDT Print View

Back in my youth I did a lot of heavy backpacking. The last 20 years it was mostly car camping with the same gear with wife and child. I have since used this forum to replace and add gear. There is much good advice here as well as above. I have had a bit of a time with backpacks as far as which worked best for me with size and comfort. It is very important to get your other gear settled first before you decide on a pack. I found I liked the Osprey Exos 34 for solo hiking but am going to try a Aarn pack next week. IMHO you should look very closely at Tarptents for shelter. I am thrilled with the Sublite and may purchase a larger tent when my old Sierra Designs heavy 3 person tent wears out. I have been able to lower my total hiking weight including what is worn, food, 2L water, camera and tripod to 24 pounds for a three day fair weather hike.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: New pack please help new to UL on 08/04/2010 11:49:18 MDT Print View


Assuming your are mostly 3-season hikes in areas that aren't excessively cold or humid... take a look at:

1. Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo or Tarptent Double Rainbow - save 2lbs. over your current two-person tent.

2. Bag - Consider a Western Mountaineering Ultralite and save 1.5 lbs. The WM is rated 20F while your BA Ranger is 15F. But I daresay you might just find the WM warmer -- because WM ratings are generally conservative while BA is known for their "optimistic" warmth and weight ratings.

3. Pad - Consider a Thermarest Neoair pad - save 0.5 lb.

4. Finally, ULA Catalyst is an excellent choice -- although once you've compacted down your gear, you may actually find it too big - save 4 lbs. over your REI pack.

Just saved you 8lbs. above. I bet by leaving unused things at home and making existing things do multiple duties -- you can easily find another couple of pounds (e.g. replace your heavy pot, etc., etc.).

Finally, I'd just like to emphasize again that it makes much more sense to leave out / swap out gear pieces before you buy another pack. If money is tight, it's actually better to have a heavy pack carrying a lighter load than the other way around.

Edited by ben2world on 08/04/2010 12:02:56 MDT.

Paul Vannoy
(paulv777) - F
gear list on 08/05/2010 06:19:49 MDT Print View

rei new star pack 6-7 pounds
Columbia titanium shell
stocking hat
silk top and bottoms
North Face Shorts
Tee shirt
Fleece jacket
Long Sleeve Shirt button up for bugs
Camelbak bladder with sawyer filter
Lexan Cup
Lexan spoon
Primus Aluminum Pot With Lid 1.5 liter And clamp handle
Stuff Sack for food
Total tent weight 6.5 pounds
Big Agnes lost ranger 3.5 pounds
Big Agnes Air Core pad 1.5
Small head lamp with extra AAA
1/4 roll TP
Matches in waterproof container
Space blanket
First Aid kit about a pound
tooth brush travel size paste
allergy meds
hand sanitizer
1 oz sunscreen
chap stick

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
weights on 08/05/2010 08:51:34 MDT Print View

Paul, you'll get more helpful responses if you weigh all the items and post their weights. Looking at your list, I really can't tell where the 29 lb base weight is coming from.

Where do you hike? E.g., if you're hiking in the Sierra in the summer, I would suggest bringing a tarp instead of a tent. Using a tarp does require practicing some skills in advance before you go.

Although other posters have been sensible by suggesting you get your gear's weight down before buying a lighter pack, actually 29 lb is actually already low enough IMO that you can just go ahead and get an UL pack. I like my Gossamer Gear G4:

I've also been happy with a Gossamer Gear 4-oz torso pad rather than a heavy full-body pad.

Jim Cowdery
(james.cowdery) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
leave it behind and keep it light on 08/05/2010 09:27:17 MDT Print View


I started backpacking about ten years ago using my car-camping gear and a 6500 cubic inch pack that weighed almost 8 lbs.

Since then I’ve purchased about five packs, six sleeping bags, 7 tents, etc… I kept spending money on lighter and lighter gear and found that even with the lighter gear I reached a plateau at about 15 lbs base weight.
My advice is

1) Decide what kind of hiking you will be doing. With a wife and children it will probably be 3 season on well traveled trails.
2) Be thoughtful in selecting gear that meets those needs. It doesn’t have to be ultralight but should be the best quality you can afford.
3) Get gear for your wife that is comfortable. I got my wife a down big-agnes sleep system that is not the lightest but is very comfortable. Make sure she has a pack made for a woman.
4) Get your child light bomb-proof gear. My son used a Kelty bag for several years until he learned to take care of his gear. The weight premium wasn’t huge and was off-set by using a closed-cell pad.
5) Everyday house-hold gear can also help reduce weight. Gallon zip-lock bags can be lighter than cotton stuff sacks. Plastic water bottles are lighter than nalgenes. I also us a home-made cat stove that saves me about 1 lb, making the stove is an activity you can do with your child.
6) Lastly, leave it behind! You probably carry much more than you need. These forums will help you question every piece of gear you carry.

If you are real ambitious try making your own gear. I was just at JoAnne’s fabric with my wife. They now carry 1.5 oz reinforced rip-stop nylon for $6.99/yd. There are lots of sites (including BPL) that offer plans and instructions for tarps and packs.

My most-used multi-day pack is my Six Moons Designs Starlight. I also use their lunar solo tent and a Western Mountaineering Alpine light bag. For the quick overnights I use a Z-pack and a homemade down quilt with a simple silnylon tarp.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to be a purist, just keep it as light as you can afford. Welcome to the world of backpacking.

Paul Vannoy
(paulv777) - F
responses on 08/05/2010 09:31:39 MDT Print View

I will get a scale from a friend and weigh all my stuff tonight.


Locale: East Bay
Piece by piece review on 08/05/2010 11:49:37 MDT Print View

I got on this site a little over a year ago. Best thing I did was to go through my pack and look at every piece of gear I had and ask "do I need it?". If so, can I make replace it with something lighter that doubles duty for something else? If not, get rid of it. I saved a ton of weight by doing just that.

Then we replaced sleeping bags, tent, cooking system, all of which were dated and heavy. I researched every one of those here and looked for what made sense to us based upon our family needs and budget. After every trip, I've looked through all the stuff we brought and ditch more stuff if never used and not critical for safety (for example, I Wcarry an EPIRB that weighs a pound).

With kids, I have kept their weights very light. My son is now 9 and fits into an older women's Golite jam. He can carry his Northface tigger bag, his clothes and foam pads for he and his sister and still only be less than 7 pounds leaving room for water. Sister, 6, carries a very light Kelty day pack that just barely fits her Tigger bag, clothes and small water bottle. They do great with these loads, and also frees up space and weight from mom and dads packs.

Lightening up starts one ounce at a time and the scale is by far your best piece of new equipment.

Edited by johnz on 08/05/2010 11:59:25 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Piece by piece review on 08/05/2010 14:19:15 MDT Print View

>> I got on this site a little over a year ago. Best thing I did was to go through my pack and look at every piece of gear I had and ask "do I need it?".

This is so true. For 20 years I carried the same space blanket and candle lantern and never used them once!! Now I am so critical with every single item in my pack. On many trips it is extremely easy for me to get down to 5 lbs or less base weight. 7 or so lbs now includes some "luxury" items. But I have been doing this for a long time, so I am pretty confident in what I will actually need. Plus when I hike I just walk, eat, sleep, and enjoy the things around me. Other than a Photon II and sometimes a camera, if it needs a battery or maintenance it stays at home.