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How do you Go Ultralight Without Spending Major $$$? (please ignore previous thread).
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How do you Go Ultralight Without Spending Major $$$? (please ignore previous thread). on 03/12/2005 19:45:02 MST Print View

I've only been backpacking for about 5 years, but I want to go ultralight because I like to travel fast. Most of the stuff that I have now is pretty heavy. My sleeping bag is one of those old rectangular ones that is filled with some sort of synthetic that is a FANTASTIC sponge and I have an old Kelty dome-style 4-man tent, even tho I usually go solo. My backpack probably weighs about 4 lbs. I don't have alot of money to spend (say 400 max), but I want to get something that is light and durable. Any Suggestions???? Thanks - Frank

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
going ultralight on the cheap on 03/12/2005 20:05:01 MST Print View

Join the yahoo group Backpackgearswap and watch for items. Quoting from the main page:

"Hikers invariably end up with gear they do not need or have need for gear they cannot justify buying. This group enables hikers to swap, sell, or give away gear.

As a spin-off of, this gear may have been acquired while doing gear tests or as independent purchases."

Wandering Bob

Ezra Johnson
(Ezra3606) - F
cheap on 03/13/2005 07:52:21 MST Print View

Lets brake it down. I am assuming you don't want to make your gear. Making it all would be the simple reply.

-Get last years model of the golite Breeze for $40 Make sure to line it with a garbage bag 14oz

-By a 6*8 sheet of 1.1oz sil nylon eather at super Wal-Mart for practically nothing or get it off the net for cheep too ($20). Use sticks as stakes and find some kite string. Ground cloth is a emergency blanket $5. If you need bug netting buy it at home depot for real cheap and hang it from the tarps top. 3oz 6oz

Sleeping Bag:
-Errrr hear you eather have to make it or spend big bucks for something lite. Whats on this site seems like the lightest one is going to get. I'd say shop around and find the cheapest 20* bag under 2Ib. The mountainsmith seems pretty light and cheap. Although my advice is splurge here and get a *BEEP* good bag for $360 from nanutuck or the one from this site thats a pound. So I'm going to assume you splurged. 16oz

Sleeping pad:
-GO to Wal-Mart and get that foam rubber blue pad for $5. 4oz

-Make a alchole stove. 1oz

-Go to Wal-Mart and get a Marro grease drip pan for like $6 and make the lid and windscreen out of stove liner for $5.Altogether windscreen lid and pot less than 4oz

-Get a 1liter bottle from some recycle bin. While your at it get you fuel bottle too 1oz

-Go to radio shack get two LED lights and 2 of those flat batteries that you put in watches. When the positive hits the positive and the negative hits the negetive it lights up. Attach it to your head with string or I suggest just holding it when you walk. O keep it attached to the batteries with electrical tape. When you want to turn it off just unattach one of the sides. This has got to cost less then $5. If the above sounds to complicated when your at walmart theres a 1oz flashlight. I'd say get that. Ray Jardine uses it.

Stuff sacks:
-Plastic bags you find at gracery stores. Double or triple them up they seem to brake.

Rain Gear:
A Umbrella. 10oz or less if you modify like Jardine did.

-Don't need one

Miscallanues stuff (put all this stuff in a zip lock):
-Spoon Lexan or GST outdoors kick but
-First aid(consisting of one bottle of IBprofen)
- Rap a little duck tape around the water bottle.
-cut a toothbrush in half and get travel size touthpast.
-little bottle of mousterizer for the feet.
-little bottle of antibacterial ountment.
-nail clippers or one of those super small swiss army knifes that have scissors.
-Journal-loose leaf paper and a pen
-If I forgot something email me.
-Lets call this bag 4oz to be save.

Clothing: (find all at thrift store)
Bathing suite bottoms or running shorts
Soccer sinthetic Jersey on top.
sinthetc socks (these might cost a little but well worth it)
trail running shoes (again cost a little but well worth it I suggest the montrail hard rocks)

-Wind shirt with no lining
-Fleece hat
-long underwear
-extra pair of socks
-If you want a fleece pullover obviesly get a real light half zip.
-WInd/rain pants
-Lets call this all 2.5Ibs

Okay I think I didn't forget anything. SO lets add up weight and cost. This is just a estimate. I'm assuming the clothing cost $20 and your getting the best sleeping bag you can find.

-Around $500 with the $360 sleeping bag.

-10Ib assuming that you have 2Ib of clothing.
-8Ib of food for 4days and 2 pounds of water and fuel and you have a 20Ib pack.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Cheap on 03/13/2005 11:23:01 MST Print View

Yep, the bag / Sleep system will be your most expensive part, but well worth it.
You can find a down Kelty Light Year +15 (43 oz. ) for about $150-175. I have one and works well except for really cold (below 0) nights. Just remember your clothing is part of your insullation.
You could go higher, but you wanted cheap... right. You'll need to make sure it stays dry so a bivy (figure $100 +-) would help.

Look for deals at

You can get some 4 mill plastic sheeting at local hardware store, cut to size (8'x10') for tarp. Not as light as silnylon, but lots lighter than tent and cheaper. Sheet bend the corners. Use left over piece for ground cloth. Oh yeah, you'll need some para-cord. Use sticks or trees for ridgeline support.

Ezra'a idea for last years GoLite Breeze is a good idea.

You don't have to do it all at once either. Sounds like your most concerned with bag and tent first (good idea since those, and pack are usually heaviest).

Good luck hunting.

Awesome!!! on 03/13/2005 13:52:09 MST Print View

Awesome, Ezra! Thanks!! I had to print out your list and i'm researching where to get the stuff right now. - Frank

Thanks on 03/13/2005 13:58:50 MST Print View

Bob and Mike, thanks alot for the advice, too! I'm gonna look into that group on yahoo and, to see what kind of deals they've got. - Frank

Frank P.
(CThiker) - F
Forgot To Mention A Couple of Things... on 03/13/2005 14:12:04 MST Print View

I forgot to mention a couple of things. One is that I hike in big-time Black Bear country. The other is that I usually go without resupply, so if anyone knows of a good, light, backpack that can handle a bigger load (because of food, only) - it would be much appreciated. Thanks!

James E Naphas
(naphas) - F
Bigger but still light packs on 03/13/2005 21:11:21 MST Print View

Check out the gossamer gear G4 ($85 at, or construction instructions available at Alternatively, perhaps the golite gust; apparently there are still a few 2003 models available for $59.95 at They're both around 4000 cu. in. in capacity, and can handle a bear canister if need be.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
cheap recommendations on 03/14/2005 01:50:05 MST Print View

Without knowing what you have it would be hard to recommend the best way to spend $400. You might think about posting your existing gear list as ask people to suggest a "makeover".

Things I would suggest would be:

0) Pick through your gear list and leave behind things you don't need or use.

1) Switch to a home made alchohol stove for three-season solo trips if you are using a white gas stove today. This will most likely save you something like a pound.

2) Get a down quilt or sleeping bag. If you look around you should find something decent on sale for $150.

3) Think about switching to a tarp. You can get a decent sil-nylon tarp for less than $60. If you don't feel ready for a tarp, pick up a used Shires Tarptent (I predict a number will come on the used market as people upgrade to the Squall2/Virga2). If you really want a tent, try the Serria Designs Light Year ($125 new, <$100 used).

4) Switch to a lighter backpack: granite gear vapor trail $149, Mountainsmith Ghost $120, if you use a foam pad check out last years six moon designs starlite on sale for $99.

A few other thoughts

Edited by verber on 03/14/2005 01:52:27 MST.

Frank P.
(CThiker) - F
Good Idea on 03/14/2005 15:22:25 MST Print View

You're right, Mark, it would be helpful to post what I have. I'm going to open a new thread about the same stuff called "Gear Makeover." It'll list all of the main stuff that I have now. Thanks - Frank

Edited by CThiker on 03/14/2005 15:23:21 MST.

canyon steinzig
(canyon) - F

Locale: Nor Cal
sooo, go to Wal Mart on 03/14/2005 22:05:29 MST Print View

So, a population of generally wealthy (educated westernen UL backpackers) met one from the ghetto?) should go to Wal Mart to support a corporation that is anti union and exists only by the exploitation of the rock bottom third world manufacturing costs? Hmm, I'm not sure I can get behind that. I say go to a thrift store, by recycled stuff, and good quality cottage stuff. that is my mane approach. Oh, not sanctimonious BTW, I have plenty of chinese made gear, but from a philosophical and justice perspective I try to steer away from that modality of aquisition.

E. H. Clemmons
(sclemmons) - MLife
I love Wal Mart on 03/15/2005 21:46:15 MST Print View

Many other people do too. Just so you know.

Shop wherever you like, but don't be bad mouthing Wal Mart when the thread is titled "Without spending major $$$". If you haven't tried their greasepot, don't knock it. Or the cat food prices.

Pretty preachy for a backpacking website, don't you think?

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
as if Wal Mart were the only option on 03/15/2005 22:22:49 MST Print View

thrift stores,regionally owned chains,garage sales,fleas,classified ads,supermarkets,
and I'm sure there are many other alternatives to rapacious,union busting,community destroying,
employee unfriendly entities such as Wal Mart.
We have all of the above in my mini metro area of 150,000 people in S. Oregon (where,incidentally, 2 small towns are actively fighting 2 Walmart super centers from sprouting up). I'm sure most other communities in the U.S. do, too.
Preachy? tough.

Edited by kdesign on 03/15/2005 22:31:21 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
larger pack on 03/16/2005 03:35:13 MST Print View

GossamerGear G4 or GoLite Gust. both very good choices.

G4 has better organization capabilities (if that is impt. to you). perhaps a bit more "fragile" than the Gust if you need to "bushwack". i own the smaller, more fragile G5 - very nice pack, but too small for your requirements perhaps. GossamerGear is a top-notch company; very trustworthy; ship immediately. you can order a "Semi-Custom" G4 in heavier, stronger, more robust Oxford cloth, but the price is a bit more. 5 days food is no problem in the G5, but the rest of your gear needs to be very light weight & highly compressible (for those items that compress). G5 is a more expensive pack, extremely light weight, & a less robust fabric - not recommended if bushwacking is a must.

Gust - i own an '03 Gust - Spectra fabric. newer Dyneema not much different. very robust material. nice pack, but a little anemic in the external pocket category. have seen plans on the web for making/attaching easy to reach side pockets - but i forget the link. this appeared easy to do. do a web search, i'm sure that you will find the link.

G4 is around 16oz. (depending upon options and material, if semi-custom), & the Gust is a bit heavier (19-20ozs depending upon model year).

both req. the use of a "virtual frame" constructed of your sleeping pad. the main diff is that in the Gust, you roll your sleeping pad into a cylinder & put it in the pack first. the G4 has an external pad pocket. you fold the pad (30"-40"max pad length) & place it in the pad pocket which then "rides" against your back for cushioning. this leaves more space inside the pack's main compartment for your gear/food. structurally, a cylinder is stronger than the folded pad, but i haven't had any problems with "frame collapse" using either pack with 19-20lb total pack weight.

hope this info helps.

Edited by pj on 03/16/2005 03:39:46 MST.

Frank P.
(CThiker) - F
Thanks Paul on 03/16/2005 12:56:22 MST Print View

Hey, thanks Paul - I think i'm going to go with the GoLite Gust mainly because of the additional support that a cylinder gives (I guess i'll start of "lightweight" and then work my way to "ultralight" if need be). I'm going to look around for a deal, tho, and maybe i'll get the '03 or '04 model since you said that the fabric really isn't all that different. Finding a good pack was actually the area that I knew the least about, so that info really helped. Thanks - Frank. BTW (not to Paul) - I couldn't care less about Wal Mart, Canyon, one way or the other. Please keep that sort of opinion off of this thread. I'm looking for ideas about how to go ultralight here, and that didn't help at all. These people who suggested Wal Mart were only doing that, making a suggestion. If I want something that is Anti-corporation/ Anti-product, I'll start a new thread on it. Oh, and about the ghetto aside - I thought that I'd just let you know that you used the wrong form of main. It's not mane, but you could try out Maine too if you like how it looks. It certainly isn't China. - Frank.

Edited by CThiker on 03/16/2005 13:21:11 MST.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
One more pack option on 03/16/2005 16:41:41 MST Print View

Frank, another pack option is the ULA P-1 or even the larger P-2. I recently bought the P-1. Brian Frankle's service is outstanding. I've hiked with the pack a couple of times now. This last weekend with my sons' scout troop involved 5+ pounds of extra gear -- total pack weight was around 25 lbs. It was very comfortable to me. The reviews are mostly positive. I added the 2 hipbelt pockets as options above the $125 base price. So, it's a little more expensive than the Gust. I chose the P-1 because I liked the suspension and the organization features. I'm pleased with the product and thought you might find it a quality, affordable option as well.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
GoLite Gust on 03/17/2005 13:55:08 MST Print View

Frank, last night I heard Coup of GoLite present his story about last summer's 3 hikes without resupply. He covered the trips, why, how, and what he got from it all. It was a great evening. I even scored some swag - a 24 Pack pack. I may have to take up adventure racing now.

What I'd failed to appreciate is just how HUGE a Gust really is. The diameter is comparable to many other packs but the height and overall volume is enormous. That works for Coup as he was carrying 50+ pounds of food at the start in Colorado. I can't imagine how for my shorter trips that I carry enough gear, food, and fuel to fill that enormous volume. It's huge.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Coup's gear list on 03/17/2005 14:25:15 MST Print View

Yes, I thought Coup completed an amazing feat of thru hiking the 498 miles without resupply. Here is link to his gear list:
The Gust is capable of hauling quite a bit of gear. Although I like the added mesh pockets offered in the GoLite Breeze, even though I use the GoLite Race pack with the waist belt gusseted pockets. Nice to have compass, knife, light and gps right there.

Edited by mikes on 03/17/2005 14:28:28 MST.

Frank P.
(CThiker) - F
Packs on 03/18/2005 21:36:07 MST Print View

Phil - I might go with the P-1 or I might go with the Gust. Guess that I'll have to try them both out before I make a decision. However, I'm still leaning towards the Gust (slightly), at the moment, because I almost never resupply. Thanks for the info...I'll let you know when I've made my decision - Frank

Edited by CThiker on 03/18/2005 21:46:08 MST.

Frank P.
(CThiker) - F
Packs and GoLite's Coup on 03/18/2005 21:44:15 MST Print View

Mike - I checked out that link...Coup did accomplish something pretty amazing. The gear list seemed a bit biased towards GoLite (for some reason), but it is a good guideline. His food list is really nuts, so I might try something like that in the future. Thanks - Frank

Edited by CThiker on 03/18/2005 21:47:56 MST.