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Getting equipped... help!
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Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 09:47:26 MST Print View

Hey everyone,

I’m hoping to be part what might be called the “new generation” of UL backpackers. I’ve never backpacked before, so starting from (almost) scratch vs. lightening my gear. My wife & I have done day hikes & car camping, and we’re kinda outdoorsy, so I have a few things…

Here’s where I’m at so far… bought wife GoLight Jam on sale as Xmas gift. I have a day pack and an Osprey used for backcountry skiing, so might try to get by with those until I find the ‘perfect’ UL pack (w/ stays) for me. Right now I like the UL Gorilla pack but it might be a little small. I’ll p/b be carrying most of the gear as I’m 6’4” & 180, she’s 5’2” and 105-110.

We asked for a WM or FF semi-rectangular bag in the 15-25* range as they can be unzipped into a quilt or zipped into a groundsheet to make a 2-person bag, saving weight/space.

We also asked for a SMD Haven Tarp/Nettent. So it adds versatility by using both pieces, or just as a tarp w/ groundsheet. I may use carbon backcountry ski poles to set it up until I get trekking poles.

I also just got her a Arc’teryx beta sl rain jacket she wanted, petzl zipka, and snow peak 450 double wall mug/lid for a little luxury. I have a Snow Peak 600 mug, couple esbit stoves, Kmart grease pot, lexan sporks, hydration bladders, filter bottle, bandanas, sneakers, OR Helium rain jacket, Patagonia fleece, stuff sacks, dry bags, ect.

What are we missing/what do we need? Trying to think as a 2-person unit to save space/weight/money (eg. shared sleeping bag, cook-set, shelter, ect).
Some things that I’ve thought a/b are possibly a Suunto watch/compass. And maybe a Caldera Sidewinder w/ Ti-Tri and 1.3 Ti Pot? Pot cozy? Maybe some merino wool like Icebreaker? Maybe a 850+ down insulation layer? Have one old Thermarest inflatable, but maybe a couple matching Neoairs to slide into the pad straps on the groundsheet? It would seem that pads might be even more important when using only a groundsheet. Another light headlamp, zebralight H51?

Any help you can give me to get equipped at low weight is much appreciated! Saving cash is a bonus but we p/b won’t be doing much ‘MYOG’.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 10:18:45 MST Print View

The first thing that jumped out at me was missing water treatment. I'm not sure just the filter bottle will do.

Here's a duo list from one of my previous trips. This was for August in the SE, so hot with probable rain. It's usually hot enough that I just get wet so you won't see rain gear on the list.

I've changed a lot since that trip but it'll give you a decent idea for a couples list.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 10:44:58 MST Print View

For 3 season the best thing you can do is start off with a spread sheet and dont buy anything outside of your weight goals.

IMO the 6# + 6# rule is a good starting point for an ultralight base pack.

IE 6# for the big 4, 20dF sleeping bag, tent, pad, Backpack and then 6# for everything else.

That gives you a 12# base weight. Add 5 days of food and 2L of water and you will be at around 25#-26# total.

For the big four roughly you want a 24oz pack like a miraposa, a sub 2# tent (per person), sub 2# 20dF bag or quilt and a very light pad setup, like a GG CCF superlight pad with a neoair on top. Also need a WP pack liner. You might also need a pack cover if no poncho.

That is a good starting point. Just buy your pack according to your height and volumn you need.

The other 6# can get expensive. SUL water setup like an aquamira and drops althought he aquamira filter is a PIA, A superlight cook kit, my solo 16 oz kit weighs 4.5 oz with alcohol stove and cozy. Some people like alcohol stoves, some wood, some compressed gas which is heavier.

If you get a larger cookset for 2, just buy all titanium or alternatively you may want to learn how to bag cook, IE no cleanup except for the spoon.

If you do that you are just boiling water and steeping.

Probably want to invest in at least the lightest Ursak for food storage.

Besides that you have clothing which can be very expensive to go SUL,
Everyday stuff and nav,
medical which can be simple,
small survival pack of some sort that has the essentials.

Basically just strip everything out that is not a neccesity and everything you do carry, just make it as light as you can afford.

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Thanks for the input so far guys! on 12/09/2010 14:06:57 MST Print View

Chris, thanks for the Duo List, that’s helpful. As far as water treatment, this is the bottle I have, it was a gift… And I bought some of the water treatment tabs from Walmart. Not sure if the bottle is worth it for practicality/weight. I don’t know much about water treatment admittedly, but I’ve seen in-line filters for bladders that seem practical. All suggestions welcome.

Troy, I agree that I should start a spread-sheet and p/b need to buy a scale soon. Hadn’t heard the 6#+6# rule, sounds good. Think I’ll stick to Esbit, the wing stove I have is ~.5 oz and simple. Might be able to get away w/ just my 600 Ti Mug for solo if I learn to do freezer bag cooking. I’d like to get the Caldera Ti-Tri for 2 people and the option to use wood. Ursak is a good idea too.

Thanks for all the ideas so far, I’ll keep working on it!

Edited by ryandaskier on 12/09/2010 14:07:45 MST.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 14:33:06 MST Print View

Ryan, your line about getting the Arc'teryx beta "she wanted" made me chuckle a little. You could take the jacket back and have enough money to purchase all the remaining things you need to be completely outfitted.

The WM rectangular bag w/coupler works great, though you will need to make sure you get the long one for your size Mitylite is 6'3" and Adler Long is 6'6". make sure your get the correct coupler for the bag (I didn't the first time). I always use the coupler when out with my wife. Not a lot of weight savings (coupler is cotton and a lot of zippers) but there are no barriers between us.

Keep researching, it takes time to come up with what will work best for you.

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 14:45:57 MST Print View

Hey Tad, ha, that might be true but as long as she’s happy. And I got a Arc’teryx shell for my ski jacket a couple years ago so I can’t say anything.

Glad to hear the coupler works well. We’ll make sure to get the long. As far as the weight, I wish they would make a light (maybe nylon) version. Might be a MYOG idea if the zippers can be found separate. Feathered Friends makes a lightweight version for their bags.

Edited by ryandaskier on 12/09/2010 14:47:03 MST.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: "Getting equipped... help!" on 12/09/2010 14:51:45 MST Print View

I was essentially in the same boat as you, starting from scratch. Thus far, these are the things I found very useful and you may want to consider.

- A $49 Dehydrator from Amazon (Nesco 75.. something or other.. look in the food forum). Really saves the weight on hearty, meaty dishes. Super easy. Ground beef dehydrates really well and you can add it to anything. Dehydrate sauces/soups, grind in blender, turn into powder.

Way better, IMHO, than anything commercially available (too salty, and I like salt).

- Yeah make a pot cozy out of dollar store windshield heat reflector (reflectix). Make sure it's double sided. I used a steering wheel protector. You can get the reflectix tape at Home Depot. You save a lot of fuel using the cozy, simplifies cooking and good way to store pot.

I'm going to try freezer bag cooking (reflectix envelope) soon and see how that goes. Hate washing dishes.

- I'm a big fan of merino wool. The magic is in the 150g/very lightweight baselayer clothes. It feels great on the skin when sweating, keeps you warm, and when dry feels like a fresh shirt (unlike synthetic for me). I have no problems using it in the summer in the PNW.

I have the icebreaker stuff. Thus far no problems and looks as good as new. You may want to check out the IO/BIO Contact Merino Hoody. I'd like to give shirt a try. There are many good brands.

- Check out the dri-ducks $18 rain suits, if you don't already have rain gear. I just got a set and gotta say, quite like the fit. Haven't used it in the field yet, but for $18, great to have around.

- Trash compactor bags. Spectra cord (like the ones ZPacks, etc) sells, makes great rope.

Hope this helps.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 15:19:30 MST Print View

6-6 is a good goal and gives you a starting point.
Even if you go over to 7-7 you are still hitting 27-28# total which is still not that bad.

I have a stripped out golite Jam II pack I bought used that weighs 19oz and a couple of others, but bulk is one thing you have to watch besides weight especially with those types of packs. IE a bulky synthetic bag could force you to buy a bigger heavier pack which also adds more weight.

Generally its best to buy your pack last to make sure everything fits.

Esbit is good, but maybe not for 2 people. If you can talk your girlfriend into less hot food and drink you could take mostly anything and you can make an alky stove in about 5 minutes.

Weber fire starters sold at Ace will boil water and are cheap and light but will smoke your pot.

If you were to do a typical 2 cups for BF or Dinner, IE 1 for food 1 for tea, then you would be boiling 1L per, so a 1200 ml pot would be a good.
Although heavier, a compressed gas stove might be in order especially since you can divide it between 2 people, about 8-9 oz each of stove and gas bottle.

Some couples just carry their own individual alcohol kits which is lighter IMO.
If you bag cook I think its best to just pack individual meals for each person anyway.

I will post a link to a google doc spreadsheet later you can use and my sub 5 oz cookset too, if you are interested.

Edited by tammons on 12/09/2010 15:20:56 MST.

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 15:27:12 MST Print View

Hey Scott,
Great tips, don’t think we have room in our very small apartment for the dehydrator right now unfortunately. Sounds like I need to get some reflectix and merino wool. Glad you think I was on the right track with those. I bought the OR Helium rain jacket which I like… might try to go without rain pants for the time being. Haven't decided. I heard about cutting a trash bag and tucking it into your pants/shorts like a kilt. That might be another lightweight solution. Def. like the compactor bag liner idea too. Thanks!

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 15:36:20 MST Print View

Thanks again, good considerations. And that spreadsheet would probably help. You guys are great!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
pants on 12/09/2010 15:49:27 MST Print View

if you have light softshell or nylon pants with good DWR ... try going without rain pants ...

i rarely use em

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 16:16:37 MST Print View

Here is a typical spreadsheet that might help you out.

I am pretty close to this now except I mostly hammock now so I dont use a tent much
and I sold my neoair.

For the big 4, if I was doing it over again, tent style for 2 I would get Mariposa II packs, Tarptent Rainbow II tent, the lightest highest quality 20 degree zip together down bags I could afford, (2) 3/16 GG CCF pads and 2 untralight inflatables of some sort. You should be right at 6# ea with that.

If you cant afford expensive bags then Campmor sells a 20dF down bag that weighs 2#4oz for about $120 for the regular.
Not sure if they sell L/R zip models that zip together like left long to right regular.

Clothing varies, but merino underwear is a good thing, and the montbell thermawrap jacket and parka are nice but expensive.

Here is a photo of my most recent bag cook kit. Its an 18oz job and weighs about 4.5 oz. I use it more for space than weight savings ove rthe 24 oz kit.

You could use a full size 24oz fosters can and the tall country time lemonade container and it would weigh just under 6 oz.
I use a wool glove to lift the pot.

Its almost free to make this kit.

From left to right......

Cut down 24 oz fosters can - with bail handle
Bail handle is mostly for hanging over a fire but it comes in handy. Its coated with silicone. Also locks into place when up. Not shown is a nylon bag for when the pot gets smoked on a fire or weber cubes.

Short country time lemonade/koolaid container - Serves as a coffee/tea cup, and marked in 1/2 cups for measuring. Top is also marked.

Also holds the food bag for stewing, IE put the bag in the container, turn the edges down, fill it with boiling h20, put the lid on and let it stew. When finished eat from the bag inside the container so you have something to hold on to.

Pot support - made from the top of a 12 oz Heineken can.
YOu can make most anything out of SS wire etc. I have made several different types.
This type works well with alcohol, but get soft with hotter fuel.

Bubble wrap cozy - rolled up sitting in the bottom of a red bull can.
The bottom of the red bull can holds the alcohol sort of like a tealight stove.
Alcohol cup is marked for filling.

Wind screeen - with straightened out paper clip to hold it together.
Made out of a disposable alum pan.

Top of the container

Spork - Titanium folding from BPL
The light my fire plastic sporks will fit in the 24 of setup.

1/2 Libman microfiber cloth from Publix.

Everything nests inside the container and its crush proof. Its thick enough if you are just doing quick meals and if you dont have to stew a long time in the summer you dont really need a cozy, so a small alcohol bottle will fit inside.

Best to use everclear though if inside since its not toxic.


Edited by tammons on 12/09/2010 16:22:23 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 17:36:40 MST Print View

Well, you are talking as if you have done your homework, soo, we will skip that stuff.

IFF you have never backpacked, I would suggest a far less expensive approach, though. You and/or your partner may not care for it. For example: The Haven tarp and net tent will run you about $300. A flat tarp and net tent will run about $170. Good gear in both cases. Your choice, of course.

AquaMira...for water treatment as was mentioned already.

You are absolutely correct about the packs. Wait till you have everything else together. Then add in for a weeks supply of food and a days worth of water to
get an approximate volume.

My thoughts only . . .

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 18:40:42 MST Print View

Thanks again! There are some good ideas in there for when I put together an emergency kit as well. That’s similar to what I was thinking, and I may end up with a mariposa at some point. As I mentioned earlier, we’re planning on getting a good ~20* bag and using it as a quilt basically by zipping it into a coupler/groundsheet.

James, the wife liked the privacy afforded by the Haven Tarp/Nettent and I think being double-walled like it is, it provides her with the comfort of the larger tents we’ve used for car camping in the past. She’s not ready for a flat tarp, but if she gets more comfortable we may be able to ditch the nettent for just a groundsheet sometime. If it was just me, I may have gone the flat tarp route.

I’m going to look into the AquaMira and will wait on the pack. Trying to do my research and get it right as possible the 1st time instead of getting things I don’t need/have to upgrade in the near future. Thanks!

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Re: Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 18:59:02 MST Print View

>> As I mentioned earlier, we’re planning on getting a good ~20* bag and using it as a quilt basically by zipping it into a coupler/groundsheet.

If doing that you might want to consider modding it a bit more and put a foot box on it.
With just a simple flat top quilt you will lose heat around your feet in cold weather.
Sounds interesting though.

Still by the time you are finished it will probably weigh as much as 2 campmor 20dF mummies.

There is someone here that posted a pic of a nice double quilt and a double pad setup about 6-12 mo ago.

Dont have a link though. If you look around enough you might find it.

Edited by tammons on 12/09/2010 18:59:41 MST.

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/09/2010 21:33:58 MST Print View

Interesting, I was already thinking about potential mods since FF makes a UL nylon groundsheet and a deluxe sheet one w/ fleece

I was thinking of the potential of a lightweight nylon base & using a little velcro for a removable piece of fleece/other blanket to add warmth/comfort when needed. With a warm bag under 3# and a liner ~1#, should be able to be together a nice 2-person set-up ~4# total weight. WM Alder bag (long) w/ their cotton coupler is 3#5oz.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Getting equipped... help! on 12/10/2010 05:01:16 MST Print View

Yes, I well know that feeling. I gradually introduced my wife to basic shelter camping. We started with a small tent. Added a tarp...about ten years later we got another tarp and lighter tent with removeable inner canopy. We dropped the fly and just brought the tarp/canopy for a year or two. Then we got another tarp and a light bug net tent for "woods" camping. Now that's all we bring. The whole process took about 20 years...I am glad to hear your partner is amenable to it already.

The tarp will also reflect heat, making a pleasent camp. It will also act like a big "ear" and let you hear the loons across the lake well when you get back in it.
It makes a good wind break, up to about 20mph. One of those items that I really like to have. Either with a tent or as my only shelter, I always have a tarp.

There are a lot of chemical treatments out there. Aqua-Mira is as good as any, better than most. A couple micro-dropper bottles from the BPL site will let you drop about half the weight and size. But, it does not store for too long. (BTW: use a drop extra per liter if you use smaller bottles.) I also have a Steripen Aventuror (not the new one: Opti.) Soo, on long trips, if I need fast water, I use it. If not, I just use AM.

Stoves and fuel....well, I count on my stove for water backup. I *must* have water.
My break-even for fuel is about 3-5 days with two people (WG vs Alcohol.) Avoid a Simmerlite. I burn about 3 times as much fuel as in my SVEA to accomplish the same thing. A very ineficient stove.

For WG, I like my SVEA. No pump to break. Super reliability. An integrated tank. A slow burner (max 4700BTU.) Comes with a cup. Rugged. Cheap to use. Very efficient on fuel usage. But, it is heavy at 17oz (empty, no cup.)

For Canister:
I don't. Adding the canister weight to the fuel weight makes them about half as efficient as they would otherwise be. Close to a 1:1, weight of fuel and weight of canister (4oz fuel, 3.7oz canister.) Really expensive to use, too. (I have purchased and used several...all given away...) I would use the alcohol stoves, first.
Caldera Cone. Simply the best setup for simply boiling water with alcohol. The bad part is the fuel. Heavy for the heat content. If WG is a 1, Alcohol is about 5/8.
Dirty, smelly, and not real good small stove fuel. Many years ago, this was touted as the one to get for international travel. Now, you cannot travel with it. Most of these weigh a bit heavier than a WG stove.
Good for camping. But, it is dirty. Like kero, it gets soot all over everything, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. You also have to bring a grate. Or, purchase a pot with bail handle. Or a special set up (Bushbuddy, Trail Designs, ilk) Many places do not allow open fires. Wood stoves also count as open fires where they have this restriction...usually. But, fuel is free, soo this is the cheapest to operate.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Getting equipped... help! on 12/10/2010 07:39:10 MST Print View

Search here for "double quilt" and you will read a lot of good info.

I would skip the fleece for the bag. Way too bulky and its heavy.
Remember you are trying to keep weight and bulk down to a minimum.

I would skip the liner too.

How about one of these for $140, 20dF at 2#-10oz.

For $180 you can get the 0dF and if you are going to be out in 15-20dF
weather I would just get the 0dF model especially if you GF sleeps cold.
It would be too hot for warmer weater but..
It weighs 4#.

You could try it without a foot box and see how it works.
If not so hot you could build a climashield double footbox pretty easy.

Alternatively you could have Tim Marshall build you a custom Job.

Another alternate would be to buy a couple of normal quilts like golite ultra 20's
(if you can find them) and baby velcro them together, then you would each have footboxes. Big plus for warm feet.

Good thing about that is they stuff very very small, each of you would carry your own bag, so if one of you ends up totally soaked, like in a river at least you have something.

You might want to consider a MYOG bivy for some extra protection but that adds a little more weight. It would add a little warmth and would help a lot with drafts.

Two ultra 20's or the campmor 20dF rec bag would weigh about 42 oz.

A 1.25 oz Tyvek Bivy would give you some extra moisture protection too.
Just build it big enough to fit your pads inside and velcro some straps on the edge of the campmor bag so you can wrap them under the pads.

You can get that Tyvek material from quest outfitters and it can be glued with WP wood glue.

A 5'x8' with a simple footbox would weigh about 14 oz or so if you keep it simple.
Your total for bag and bivy would be about 3#-8oz.

You would need about 6 yards of 1.25oz tyvek, so about $30.

ryan Ashby
(steveclimber) - F

Locale: So Cal
so on 01/07/2011 00:53:19 MST Print View

so I looked through this thread, and I got to say, all the gear everyone is mentioning is all good, but the most important thing is where are you planning on backpacking? going UL and SUL is entirely based on location, I wouldn't even venture a guess, so where you headed, or where are you planning to head?

Ryan C
(ryandaskier) - F

Locale: Hampton Roads, VA
Re: so on 01/07/2011 10:05:22 MST Print View

We're looking at mainly doing weekend/long-weekend trips, but I'd like our gear to be flexible enough to potentially do a week or more at different times. Not planning a thru-hike anytime soon though.

Areas include False Cape State Park (VA Beach), Shenandoah National Park, like to do some section hikes on the AT. Other potential areas include NE PA, Upstate NY, NC, so mainly on the East Coast.

Also, we've accumulated more gear since the last time I posted (from Christmas, stuff I picked up, ect).

We got the Caldera Ti-Tri Sidewinder & 1.3 Ti Evernew Pot, Ti-spoons, Garmin Dakota GPS, I also got a GG Gorilla, Steripen Protector, and a Petzl Tactikka. And I just ordered a scale so that I can weigh everything.

We decided on getting a couple 20* Western Mountaineering bags that can zip together or be used separately. Someone offered to get them for us as a Christmas gift, but we don't have them yet. We were also given the SMD Haven Tarp/Nettent, but the tarp is out-of-stock, so hopefully we will be able to get those soon.

For cooking, I'm planning on using the Ti-Tri and 1.3 pot for the 2 of us, and my SP 600 mug w/ Esbit stove if I go solo. I'm planning on using Esbit and trying FBC with both set-ups. I also just ordered a Ti-lid for the SP 600 from Don at Four Dog Stoves.

Still need to figure out sleeping pads. Preferably two that will work well together if we connect our bags. And I'm not sure what size I need to be honest (I'm 6'4"/6'5" and 185). Right now I just have an old full-size rectangular Thermarest that I'd like to retire. I've been looking at Neoairs, Prolites, and Kookabay.

I'd like to pick-up some light trekking poles that will work for a tall guy, so I don't have to carry my carbon BD backcountry ski poles. I like flint-locks, but haven't seen a pair of BD trekking poles under 1 lb.

Also don't have a bear-bag/kit(opsak, rope, rock sack)... would like some merino wool clothing, and extras such as cuben stuff sacks/dry bags, ti-tent stakes, polycryo ground cloth, Reflectix for cozies, ect.