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8 pound base weight
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Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 19:26:56 MDT Print View

This was approximately my overnight pack for this summer. I didn't use my G5 Whisper, instead using a modified JAM.

The list reflects warmth and comfort when solo camping. I am working on a book on ULTRALIGHT camping, and I created this list as an example for the readers who might be intimidated by the concept of leaving "traditional" items behind.

Would this list seem daunting to try yourself?

This image below might be hard to read. I can't figure out how to add this as a PDF to my profile page, the list presently on my profile page is my 2008 list.

revized LIST 2010

Edited by sharalds on 09/21/2010 21:08:12 MDT.

Dondo .

Locale: Colorado Rockies
8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 19:32:36 MDT Print View

What?! No toilet paper?!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 20:00:18 MDT Print View

8 pounds is not too difficult. 5 pounds is my "wow" point.

What temperature range can you handle with this kit, Mike?

BTW, you forgot your knife.

Now, that's a knife!

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 20:07:03 MDT Print View

Mike's is smaller than yours. Uh....I mean lighter. See razor blade.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 20:19:55 MDT Print View

That is my razor. What do you shave with?

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
. on 09/19/2010 21:09:53 MDT Print View

nix that bear spray and just use Dales knife for protection

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: 8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 21:48:11 MDT Print View

Looks good; you pretty much summarized my "comfortable" summer in the Sierra/general 3 season kit.

I think the only things that would intimidate a newcomer about this list are the tarp, bivy, and homemade stove.

If they we're replaced with a Contrail and Snowpeak Gigapower or something similar, my new-to-backpacking mom and all her friends would be comfortable and confident carrying that kit and still come in at under 10lbs.

Eric Fredricksen
(efredricksen) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley
Looks a lot like my kit on 09/19/2010 21:53:05 MDT Print View

That's pretty close to my current list (not the list on my profile, which isn't current). Most of my lightweight backpacking is armchair style; I'm fairly well informed by this site but I don't get out very much.

Anyway, this is like my version 2 kit. Once I got out once with my version 1 kit, I made some changes and shed a few pounds and got comfortable with something more like this.

So speaking for myself, I am comfortable with this but it took me 2 steps to get there.

(As an aside, you're about 1/2 lb under my BPW, yet item by item your list seems heavier. I'll have to try to figure out where the extra weight is on mine.)

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
"Daunting" Gear List Not Necessary for a Comfortable / Enjoyable Hike on 09/19/2010 21:59:51 MDT Print View

Methinks the use of a bivy and tarp has merits of its own -- and it's no surprise at all that many prefer this setup. However, for those who prefer tenting -- one can easily bring along a tent and still keep pack weight down to a comfortable / manageable level.

Comfort weight can be defined as the load at which the particular individual can hike for hours each day -- day after day -- without really feeling the weight on one's back.

My personal "comfort weight" is around 25lbs -- and for a week-long, 3-season hike, I can very easily accommodate a light weight two-person tent!

If people prefer taking a tent (or a book or whatever) and their total pack weight is within their comfort zone -- then they should feel absolutely free to take those items with them!

To many of us, our UL gear choices are simply a means to achieving a comfortable hike -- and not an end to itself. I know some people get their kicks out of hiking "as insanely light as possible" -- and that's perfectly legitimate too. Each to his or her own. But seriously, no gear choice (e.g. tarp) is inherently better than another (e.g. tent) -- for everyone and for all occasions -- just because it weighs less.

Edited by ben2world on 09/19/2010 22:13:38 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Daunting on 09/19/2010 22:01:34 MDT Print View

Here are the things that stood out to me as daunting for a new hiker:

1) Sewing your headlamp to your warm hat
2) Rain skirt instead pants.
3) Ziploc bag pillow
4) Tarp + Bivy

The Tarp + Bivy combo might not sit well with some readers who want a bit of tent space to do whatever. The SpinnTwin tarp (9.8oz) + Bivy (5.9oz) isn't really any lighter than some tarp + inner net tent combo's so it may be better to recommend one of those. For example, the MLD Patrol Shelter (8oz tarp in Spinn) plus MLD Serenity Shelter (8oz inner net tent) is virtually the same weight and cost but it gets the hiker out of a bivy and into a small net tent where you can at least sorta sit up.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Comfort Ben on 09/19/2010 22:10:49 MDT Print View


Your 'comfort weight' idea seems to not place any value on going lighter than ones 'comfort weight'. I get the impression that you are saying if your pack weight is under your comfort weight and you'd like to add a luxury then go for it. Accurate?

For me, 25 lbs is also the weight at which I find my pack quite comfortable. At 30+ lbs it starts to become a burden. However, just because I'm comfortable at 25 lbs doesn't mean it's not advantageous to go even lighter. Once I get under 20 lbs my pack starts to feel excellent and once I'm sub 15 lbs it's downright awesome. Everyone is going to hiking happier at 15 lbs than 25 lbs even if they are comfortable at 25 lbs. If you only tell people to lighten up until their pack is comfortable then they are going to miss the joys of skipping down the trail with 10-15 lbs total pack weight.

With your comfort weight idea the goal seems to be avoiding getting 'overwhelmed' or worn out. That's not a bad way to hike, but going even lighter can be even more satisfying as you start to forget your pack even exists. I guess ultimately one needs to weigh their options. Which will lead to a more fulfilling hike overall....that extra book or a pound less on their back? Most backpackers think they know the answer to this without really understanding what the hike would be like with less weight. If the hiker makes a number of these choices and ends up with an extra 5-10 lbs they can significantly degrade their hiking experience while thinking they've enhanced it with those 2 books, bottle of wine and candle lantern.

Obviously no one should go so light that they can't meet the others goals of their trip (ie. comfort in camp) but with one's goals in mind, it's always best to go as light as you can and still meet those, rather than stopping to worry about weight once you've hit a target.

Edited by dandydan on 09/19/2010 22:20:56 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Comfort and Diminishing Returns on 09/19/2010 22:22:12 MDT Print View


I think you will agree that all depends on each individual's priorities, interests, desire to experiment, etc.

While my own comfort weight is around 25lbs -- depending on my priorities or even mood du jour -- I may pack some "frilly items" up to my comfort range -- or simply go lighter because I can do so safely and comfortably -- and so why not? Most of us probably go through similar fluctuations... sometimes we bring a fancier camera and a couple of extra lenses... and sometimes we opt for a lighter option -- or do without. Ditto for many other gear pieces.

My point is that we needn't send a message to newbies that they somehow have to go all out and master a "daunting" UL gear list to enjoy the many benefits of UL hiking. They may well enjoy tarping after giving it a try -- but they certainly don't have to tarp if they prefer not to -- and still enjoy UL hiking.

Maybe I am being unfair to Mike since he's simply presenting an option and isn't obviously pushing any one thing -- but I guess it's from the cumulative reading of his past posts where there seems to be a constant push toward tarping -- and only tarping -- like it's the only acceptable shelter option any more!

Finally, while recognizing there are additional benefits to going below one's comfort weight -- there is a diminishing return from further weight shaving, the further one goes below one's "comfort weight".

Edited by ben2world on 09/19/2010 22:44:26 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Re: Comfort Ben on 09/19/2010 22:33:08 MDT Print View

"my point is that we needn't send a message to newbies that they somehow have to go all out and master a "daunting" UL gear list to enjoy the many benefits of UL hiking. They may well enjoy tarping after giving it a try -- but they certainly don't have to tarp if they prefer not to -- and still enjoy UL hiking."

I agree with this. There are so many different means to an end with UL hiking. No technique or type of gear is so crucial that UL hiking can't be experienced without it.

If I was writing a book, what I would want to say to new hikers interested in UL hiking is:

#1 - You need to understand what function you want (and this will change)
#2 - Find out how you can achieve this function for the least weight

Number 2 is the easiest part. Number 1 sounds easy but actually is difficult once you realize just how many different options are out there. It takes a ton of research and experimenting. Tarp? Bivy? Tarp + Bivy? Tarp with bug netting? Single Wall? Double Wall? Hybrid Wall? Hammock? etc. The more a beginner learns, the more then realize how much they don't know and thus begins the need to experiment. Most people don't get this far and just stick with what they are comfortable with. That works okay but you can miss out on lighter and possibly better functioning gear/techniques. It seems that most people new to UL hiking simply try to replicate their existing gear list with the same gear items but lighter. Obviously this works somewhat, but you don't get the full benefits if you don't consider and experiment with other ways of doing things.

Edited by dandydan on 09/19/2010 22:40:14 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: 8 pound base weight on 09/19/2010 22:38:35 MDT Print View

A mug and a pot lifter? What no mug handles? If so ditch the lifter. Personally I would have handles on the mug. Can't loose those. And sure it's heavier but a Mont-bell inflatable pillow is 2.4 ounces. An easier sell to a newbie, and comfortable with the cradle shape.

You don't tell us your clothing size. A small is going to weigh much less than an XL. Everyone doesn't wear a medium.

Edited by kthompson on 09/19/2010 22:40:48 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Experiment on 09/19/2010 22:39:50 MDT Print View

Yes, I agree with options and experimenting. And if presenting the benefits of going UL or even SUL -- then present the concept of diminishing returns as well. Let newbies see the whole spectrum -- so they can experiment and find their own "sweet spots".

Edited by ben2world on 09/19/2010 22:42:41 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Experiment on 09/19/2010 23:13:11 MDT Print View

On diminishing returns:

There's something to be said for every experience.
I remember my first tarp+bivy trip in the high Sierra. I got SLAMMED by a storm while camped at the treeline just below the north side of Forester Pass.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't wishing for a bathtub floor and a full rainfly that night.

But that morning I woke to the most amazing silence, save for the occasional rumble of thunder from down the canyon, completely shrouded in fog. As I rolled over under my tarp, I caught a black bear about 300 yards away down the hill, tramping through the brush. For 20 minutes I watched it make its way in and out of the vegetation, sniffing around for food. It was one of the coolest mornings I've ever had.

It wouldn't have happened if I was cozy, zipped up in a tent.

Certainly there is a point of diminishing returns in regards to comfort, but I've also found that as one carries less, a deeper connection is often created. Like leaving the stove at home altogether. Are wood fires always as convenient as sparking a stove, especially in poor weather? No way, but then there's the magic of the campfire. A cushy inflatable pad and pillow allow you to sleep on anything...but you also miss out on the process and creativity of finding cool camps tucked in the bush and scraping together some litter to make your bed softer...

I've had a ton of experiences where less actually became more. There's something to be said for the aesthetics and connection that come with carrying a very minimal kit.

Comfort can often be traded for other rewards.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Experiment on 09/20/2010 00:19:06 MDT Print View

You make a great case for tarps -- or at least for giving them a try, Craig! But will you actually take a position like Mike's -- reading his past posts -- that tarps are the only way to go? Maybe I just keep reading Mike wrong -- but that's the vibe I get from him...

Anyway, enough from me about the tarp. Sorry, Mike. I yield the floor...

Edited by ben2world on 09/20/2010 00:26:04 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Bear spray or bowie knife on 09/20/2010 00:25:11 MDT Print View

Jason quipped, "nix that bear spray and just use Dales knife for protection"

I'll take the bear spray, thank you very much. A knife like that has self defense value in that the intended target might start laughing hard enough to give you time to run away. I don't think a bear has a refined sense of humor, so I'll go with the spray.

Although I prefer something a little heavier than a razor blade, my knife weight budget stops around 3.5oz and I can easily get by with less.

Mike makes a good effort in trying to knock people off their "traditional" gear stool. I carry more survival and safety-related gear than most SUL devotees and I prefer poly fill insulation over down, but the rest of my kit is fairly Spartan. I'm satisfied with that mix.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
8 pound base weight on 09/20/2010 00:49:10 MDT Print View

Mike: keep us up to date on the book... it sounds like a challenge that I could use.
Having dumped both "tradition" and "stuff" out of my life, it's time to haul the contents of my gear drawer down to the Post Office and weigh what's left.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
8 pound base weight on 09/20/2010 01:29:22 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/29/2015 15:23:17 MDT.