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How low will you go?
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 13:28:13 MST Print View

How low will you go with your base weight before saying, "enough"?

It is an interesting game to get a kit down to UberSpartan levels, but I wonder how many won't go to those lengths due to comfort, durability or cost. I wonder how many have dipped their toes in the SUL pool and decided that a few extra ounces aren't that bad. I'm not even thinking about traditional gear, just the gap between say 5 and 14 pounds base weight. Let's throw out the expeditions and the thru-hikes: I'm betting 99% of the multi-day trips by the readership here are 2-3 days, with one or two week-long journeys in the height of summer. I think that calls for a

Cost is probably the least concern to me. Much UL gear is actually less expensive or at a par with the heavier stuff. Packs and tents strike me as being pretty good bargains. There are some exotics like Cuben-based packs and tents, but that seems to be a small niche within the UL world. High end down gear comes up on my radar as being the most desirable and expensive item on most UL gear wish lists.

Comfort are safety are bigger concerns for me. Camping bug free, warm and dry, sleeping well, purifying water, and eating well come up on my radar. Likewise, having the basic essentials to keep yourself out of trouble are important to me. Carrying a pack that won't make you feel like a human pretzel is another item.

Durability hit me when I tried SUL wind pants. You should be able to sit down or crawl out of your shelter without damaging your clothing. Living on your hand and knees in the dirt can be a little tough on clothing. And I would like to be able to get down the trail without having light brush turn my pack into an expensive prayer flag set. I crossed that line and said "enough."

Shelter.... two words: bugs and rain. Sorry, but I would like to escape being eaten alive or becoming a test cast for West Nile virus moving into the region. I do live and hike where it does rain a bit, and I would like to get through the night without waking up in a silnylon swimming pool, or have the wind change direction and find the lawn sprinkler aimed at the open "front door."

What's in your pack?

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 13:42:49 MST Print View

I'm not interested in dropping much more weight from my pack. Now my main goal is to reduce bulk. Less bulk means a pack that looks less likely to be used for overnight camping, which can be a very good thing. So I may be dropping another 2 pounds of my pack, but that's incidental. It's ridiculous for me to make a big effort to lose a few pounds of pack weight when I'm well over 80 pounds overweight. I bet I could easily double my daily mileage and still be much more comfortable if I did nothing more than get leaner.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 13:51:52 MST Print View

I'm in the same boat. It's a balance between comfort and "ultra" lightweight. It's becoming easier to loose the weight around the middle than the weight on the back. As a plus, you might change clothing sizes which can decrease your skin-out weight as well!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 13:57:27 MST Print View

Getting more exercise and losing weight is a big part of hiking for me. A lighter load means more time spent in the woods for me, and longer hikes which is more sustained aerobic activity, etc. I've dropped 10 pounds in the last couple months and got my treadmill speed and duration up. I've noticed the difference on the trail.

But we digress-- how far will you go with your base weight before you say "enough" or even creep up a bit?

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
ul on 11/12/2010 14:09:40 MST Print View

I notice as well that most sul and xul people are not going on thrus or long hikes. I really enjoy a hike when It is more than 3 days. Otherwise it feels like a drive thru. Im at about 10LBS base weight with a hammock setup. I recently had to add weight because my family insists I have a gps with spot and bearspray. I am a father now so everything is more worrisome for my family. With 6 days food im around 26LBS. In no way do i consider this heavy, we used to carry heavy loads for years and didn"t know any better. I think sometimes if you carry sul loads all he time and the zituation arises where you have to go lightweight instead, you may really struggle. I also have to toot the Aarn horn here, having 13LBS behind me and 13 in front when i go on a 6 day hike next week will feel like im carrying nothing. I agree that having a pack that carries properly is essential. Shoulder/trap soreness and uncomfortableness will ruin a trip for me. I like going light, In the summer im less than 20 Lbs most times, but theres no need to go lighter and sacrifice comfort or safety brcause i do everything i want without issue. Plus i dont have to be right all the time, i can handle an extra day of hiking, unpredicted weather or conditions, etc, because im prepared for it.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 11/12/2010 14:11:20 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
10 lbs on 11/12/2010 14:11:47 MST Print View

10 lbs ... if im around there im happy since i use a mostly synth setup anyways

obviously the lighter the better ... but i think when you get down to the 5lb point you make some serious compromises

~10-15 lb will buy you a bomber 4 season setup for the PNW that would last through week long rain storms and blizzards

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 14:24:28 MST Print View

Since I seem to pre-date most of you here, let me comment. I was one of the few who got swept in with reading the Ultralight Challenge in Backpacker Magazine in the early 1980's. In order to cut down the load, mostly we simply went without certain items. For example, to get down to 14.5 pounds (total weight including expendables), we never carried a real shelter. All I took was 2 oz. of cord and 3 oz. of flimsy plastic tarp. One essential was a very light sleeping bag, so an early Feathered Friends bag went 1 lb. 15 oz., and that was just the ticket. No real sleeping pad except for a few ounces of bubble-wrap. No stove. Back then we could boil water over a tiny wood campfire. All I carried for cook gear was one 2-oz. aluminum water ladle and covered the top with aluminum foil. The high country of Yosemite would produce some freezing weather, but I never wore long pants except for some wind pants for the cold. Yes, things were different back then.


Thomas Burns
(nerdboy52) - MLife

Locale: "Alas, poor Yogi.I knew him well."
Depends on the season, really on 11/12/2010 14:25:31 MST Print View

My summer base weight is down to 5.5 lbs., but I'm about to go out with 7.5 lbs. so that I can carry that nice Tarptent Moment, or, for a pound more, a Squall if the weather looks really bad.

Still waiting for my Raku. It will cut my baseweight somewhat because it stands in for a coat and a sleeping bag.


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 15:59:35 MST Print View

I once 'dated' my girlfriend's mother. That's pretty low.......

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Doug on 11/12/2010 16:46:15 MST Print View

I wouldnt say it was low, it may have been a step up.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 17:31:40 MST Print View

Okay, so let's say I reach my body weight goals. I think I could get a summer base weight around 6-8 pounds. Socal winter base weight would probably be about double the weight.

As someone said before, losing weight allows the base weight to be lowered further by getting smaller/lighter clothing and quilt. That's expensive to completely take advantage of though. I don't see myself getting another expensive quilt to achieve a lower summer base weight, so a 20.8 ounce quilt is going to have to be good enough...although if it's warm enough I may just sleep in my clothes.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 18:40:33 MST Print View

That's pretty low Doug : ).

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 18:49:52 MST Print View

At the same time?

That's not low, that's bawls

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 19:02:09 MST Print View


Doug - is this picture the mother or the daughter?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Low on 11/12/2010 19:07:38 MST Print View

Currently I'm finding that I can be quite comfortable out there at about 7-8 lbs baseweight. I don't miss anything at 7-8lbs.

I can go lighter (~6lbs) but only in certain conditions (ie. warm & dry forecast). I might do a SUL trip next summer just to do it, but I'd need to leave the rain gear and pot/stove at home.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: How low will you go? @ George on 11/12/2010 19:07:52 MST Print View


John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 19:28:05 MST Print View

OK this thread took a turn for the worse with the dating my girlfriends mother stuff, so I will attempt to steer it back in the original direction :~)>

Dale, I agree with your assessment of "99% of the multi-day trips by the readership here are 2-3 days, with one or two week-long journeys in the height of summer". At least for me, that is reality at this point in my life because of other obligations. gear is all based on a PCT thru-hike, with the intent that I will work out the bugs now so I am ready for "the big one" later in life when I am able.

My base weight is at about 6 1/2lbs right now, and items such as Dr B's and sun screen are sized to last 2 weeks in between bounce boxes. What I have found is that many of these items used to be way over sized because you don't need to carry a 2 months supply.

Incidentally, I think of this as a fairly luxurious back country kit, but that of course varies depending on your individual style. My last blog update was about this very topic... Breaking the 7 pound barrier!

I too want a durable pack, bug free shelter, etc. and am ever working towards the right balance of these items for my taste. I'm happy with what I have right now, but never content.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How low will you go? photo correction on 11/12/2010 19:33:54 MST Print View

oops - my bad - i'd posted the wrong picture. Here is the corrected photo...


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"How low will you go?" on 11/12/2010 20:18:04 MST Print View

Am I the only one who keeps reading the title of this thread as: "How long will you go?"

I've done a 5lb. base weight very comfortably for a 5 day trip, however conditions were very dry, no low pressure systems in sight, and mild temps (upper 20's-60's). This was a very active trip and evening time only required enough for sleep, which for me is a quilt, thin pad and bivy. The weather, trail conditions, luxuries, current fitness level, etc. are all factors that fluctuate my base weight. I'm going to have to disagree with the comment that "...when you get down to the 5lb point you make some serious compromises." Depends on who you are, what you're doing, knowledge and skill set.

Edited by Eugeneius on 11/12/2010 20:18:36 MST.

Denis Hazlewood
(redleader) - MLife

Locale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Re: How low will you go? on 11/12/2010 20:49:30 MST Print View

'Bout twelve pounds. Three seasons.