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Given this gear and $300 in "fun money", what would you do...
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Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Given this gear and $300 in "fun money", what would you do... on 12/18/2010 15:01:41 MST Print View

Hey Folks! I'm new here, but it looks like a fun community. I'm hoping you can help me out with a littel advice...

Obviously, the goal here is to bring down my packed weight, but I have certain requirements/restrictions I need to meet (some self-imposed, some based on Scouting requirements or principles).

Situation: I'm heading to Philmont with my scout troop for a 75-miler in Summer of 2012 (10 days on trail). Warming up with a series of 15 to 60 milers over the next 18 months (including 60 miles on the AT in summer of 2011).

Background: Active Boy Scout Leader. Male. 5'10". Backpacking for more than 20 years. Generally pretty frugal. Back injury left me relatively sedentary three years ago. I did 50 miles at Boundary Waters this year, but had to rely on others to portage canoes. At one point, I was up to 310 pounds. Two surgeries later, I'm finally up and moving and dropping the weight. Down to 270 pounds, with 50 more pounds to go to meet Philmont health requirements.

Concerns (in order): Comfort - even if I get to 220lbs, I'm still "wide-framed" and need to sleep comfortably (easy on the back). Value - catching up from medical bills and two brief spells of disability doesn't leave a lot of "fun money". I can't afford to buy gear specifically for a single event. Durability - whatever I buy has to last at least 75 camp nights and 300 trail miles.

Current Gear (prefaced weight in ounces):
86 Backpack & cover (Jansport Carson 90, 5500ci, external frame)
59 Sleeping Bag (Alps Mountaineering Clearwater 20 deg - Wide)
24 Sleeping Pad (Pacific Outdoor 72x20 insulated air mattress)
74 Tent (Alps Mountaineering Lynx 2.0, 90"x60" + 2 vestibules)
10 Groundcloth (Fitted footprint)
04 Stakes and guy-lines (10 sturdy aluminum stakes, Triptease guy-lines)
04 Personal Mess kit (REI 12oz cup, REI bowl, lexan spoon)
10 Hydration Bladder (3 liter Camelbak Omega bladder)
08 Underwear (packed) (2 pair Starter poly boxer briefs)
08 Socks (packed) (2 pair Smartwool mid-crew hikers)
20 Pants (packed) (Alpine Design convertible pants)
06 Shirt (packed) (Coolmax T-shirt)
08 Sleep Clothes (Shorts/light socks)
20 Insulation Layer (Fleece hoodie)
16 Rain Gear (Frogg Toggs Trail Pack)
03 Headlamp/Flashlight (Princeton Tec Spot)
04 First Aid Kit (Home-made, carried in pocket)
06 Survival Kit (Just-in-case stuff, carried in pocket)
06 Misc. Gear (Lighter, matches, lip balm, sewing kit, duct tape, spare cord)
08 Toiletries (TP, Toothbrush & paste, camp suds, small camp towel)
16 Backup/camp shoes (Generic Crocs)
32 Stool/Camp seat (Cabela's 4-leg camp stool)
28 Trekking Poles (Alps Mountaineering w/anti-shock tip)
04 Lanyard (Triptease with whistle/compass/therm, Photon X light, pocket knife)
464 Total Ounces (29.0 pounds) - Does not include clothes worn.

Note that these weights are rounded off to the nearest ounce. I'm not a gram-wheenie, so that's about as accurate as I need to be. If something saves less than an ounce, it better be dirt cheap.

I only do three-season backpacking. I'm generally happy with my gear, and can pack it for a 6-day, 50-miler with no problems. I am not an "ultralight" backpacker or "fastpacker", and don't have any intention of being so. I very rarely do more than 10 miles in a day, and always at a pace slow enough that kids can keep up, so light weight and the ability to move fast generally takes a back seat to in-camp comfort, cost, and durability. Still, given my current gear list below, if I wanted to lighten my load, how/where would I get the most bang for my $300?

Pack limits: Must be able to carry 60 pounds and 4500 cubic inches, regardless of my own gear (it's a contingency thing). Must transfer weight to hips very well (doon't need more back issues).

Sleeping bag limits: Prefer wide bag, but can get by with standard if cut right (wide shoulders, moderately wide hips).

Sleeping mat limits: Would like to go to a wide mat (I'm wide-framed and re-adjust/roll frequently). Current "insulated" mat really doesn't add any insulating value, but is very comfy above 40 degrees.

Tent limits: Must be fully enclosed, free-standing, and have at least an 86"x48" foot-print (small 2-man tent). Good in heavy rain, driving winds, and a light snow. Because I frequently re-adjust, roll, and snore like a chainsaw, I do not share a tent.

Stool/chair: Gotta have one. Too old and broken to be sitting on the ground.

All my backpacking is done "crew" style (never fewer than 5 people), so crew gear like stoves, fuel, cook kit, large first aid kit, bear bags, water purifier, dining fly, etc. is intentionally left off this list. My portion of that stuff usually runs about 4 pounds, plus another 12-15 pounds for food and water.

Your turn. Where would you start?

Fat Boy

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Given this gear and $300 in "fun money", what would you do... on 12/18/2010 15:52:07 MST Print View

I would start by reading all of the articles on this site by Doug Prosser (Start with this one). In fact, I would read each one several times. His articles show what is possible when you get rid of pre-conceived notions about what is necessary.

Then, I would think seriously about leaving some or all of this stuff at home:
10 Groundcloth (Fitted footprint)
04 Personal Mess kit (REI 12oz cup, REI bowl, lexan spoon)
08 Underwear (packed) (2 pair Starter poly boxer briefs) - No real need for extra
08 Socks (packed) (2 pair Smartwool mid-crew hikers) - One spare pair only
20 Pants (packed) (Alpine Design convertible pants) - One pair of pants (worn) is enough
16 Backup/camp shoes (Generic Crocs)

These can be lightened significantly at little or no cost:
04 First Aid Kit (Home-made, carried in pocket)
06 Survival Kit (Just-in-case stuff, carried in pocket)
06 Misc. Gear (Lighter, matches, lip balm, sewing kit, duct tape, spare cord)
08 Toiletries (TP, Toothbrush & paste, camp suds, small camp towel)
10 Hydration Bladder (3 liter Camelbak Omega bladder)

Finally, I would look for good deals on lighter items for the following
59 Sleeping Bag (Alps Mountaineering Clearwater 20 deg - Wide)
74 Tent (Alps Mountaineering Lynx 2.0, 90"x60" + 2 vestibules)
20 Insulation Layer (Fleece hoodie)

I'm also curious about some of these requirements:
Must be able to carry 60 pounds and 4500 cubic inches, regardless of my own gear
Stool/chair: Gotta have one. Too old and broken to be sitting on the ground.

Also, the crew should really work on reducing the weight of crew gear carried, and think about having the strongest, fittest scouts carry most of the crew gear...

Edited by jdw01776 on 12/18/2010 16:04:58 MST.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Fun Money! on 12/18/2010 16:03:18 MST Print View

So you are in luck, a lot of gear that will significantly lighten your load is pretty cheap. As you will probably know, the big 3 are the heaviest, and also the most expensive items to get cheaply. I have never gone to philmont on a normal trek (only on a special trek) but I am curious as to why you need a pack that can carry 60 lbs. You say it is a contingency thing but if you have bad back you probably shouldn't be carrying 60 lbs. I would recommend a ULA pack as they (in my opinion) have very good load transfer.

As far as the extra pair of pants is concerned: drop them. It will save you over a pound for free.

Also: a lot of weight can be saved and still have your requirements met if you go with a tarp tent. You can EASILY drop 6 lbs from your weight for ~300 dollars if you buy gear from the swap forum. Also if you take a close look at your gear I bet you could drop another pound or more for very, very cheap.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Re:Given this gear and $300 in "fun money on 12/18/2010 16:05:45 MST Print View

I think that this presentation would be helpful. It is all about making your own gear on the cheap directed towards scout leaders. Jason knows what he is talking about.

There are 2 more in the series.

Hope that helps!

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Given this gear and $300 in "fun money", what would you do... on 12/18/2010 16:38:24 MST Print View

I'm curious about the 60# and a giant pack requirement too.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Given this gear and $300 in "fun money" on 12/18/2010 17:07:34 MST Print View

Think about it like this: it is quite possible that you only need some of the things on your list because you are carrying too much weight to begin with. Heavy gear needs supportive boots, a heavier pack and those "comfort" items you bring for camp because your body is too tired, regardless of the miles you put in that day. Replacing some of the gear is going to help you be less tired in camp, and being less tired while hiking and in camp is going to help you get rid of some of the gear. Even if you get your base weight down to sub-15 pounds or more, you don't have to hike any farther each day -- BUT you will feel better.

An example: I used to use a hydration bladder too. But I've found that with a lighter pack, it is just as easy to use plastic water bottles because it isn't such a big deal to sling my pack around to grab a bottle (if I can't reach while walking). My overall lighter weight means I can use bottles that weigh 2oz instead of a camelback that weighs 10oz, and that's half a pound that I don't have to carry. The little changes add up, allow you to go lighter which often means you can go lighter still. And that you may not need that camp stool!

Now, specific changes with your $300:

Pack: most people here would say to replace your backpack last, after you have replaced other gear. However, that pack is a monster. To keep a similar size, check out the REI Flash 65 (lists at $169.00 but wait until the next 20% time) and use a pack liner instead of a pack cover).

Tent: look at the Rainbow on for $225.00. Narrower than yours now, but if you're the only one in it, this is a place to sacrifice a little elbow room to save weight.

All these things need to be replaced/lightened/removed too:
Sleeping bag
Insulation Layer
Backup/camp shoes
Stool/Camp seat
Trekking Poles

Check out threads here and Jamie Shortt's site for a $350.00 "cheap" gear list for some more good ideas:

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Responses and more info. on 12/18/2010 22:55:23 MST Print View

I've read a few of Doug's articles, which is what inspired me to trim weight and post here to begin with. Doug has much deeper pockets than I do, and is willing to sacrifice a little more comfort than I am. We all draw our line somewhere. I might be in Doug's camp (so to speak) some day, but for now, I still have some basic "must haves".

Even after surgeries to reattach a foot and rebuild a shoulder (I'm held together with plates, screws, and staples), I don't get tired or sore after 10 miles on the trail with a 40-pound pack weight. I'm hoping this second back surgery puts me back at that level. Of course, if I can half my pack weight, so much the better!

My two "must haves" are a chair/stool, and a sleeping pad at least 2.5" thick to allow side-sleeping. I can lose close to a pound going with a lighter stool, but is that the best use of $100?

The full enclosure tent requirement comes from allergies to even non-poisonous insect bites. Bugs might not be too much of an issue at Philmont, but they can get all sorts of ugly at some of the other places I've camped (including flying Buicks at Boundary Waters). The Rainbow tent looks promising. If money weren't an issue, I really like the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 or Copper Spur 2.

I'd thought about losing the groundcloth, but I keep coming back to making my gear last. 100 nights is hard on the bottom of a tent (especially with a rolling fatty like me), and I can picture the bottom of the tent covered in duct tape patches. Would fresh duct tape patches be hazardous in bear country?

The backpack size requirement stems from having to regularly overpack on training trips with inexperienced scouts or trips where I expect to need extra gear due to less ideal conditions (light winter). Also, on more than one occasion, I've had to pick up an extra 10 or 15 pounds of gear when a crew member went down. So I guess the requirement should be that I need to be able to pack all my regular gear, plus 15 pounds/1000ci.

To clarify, the pants aren't really an "extra" pair. They're the ONLY pair. They're my insulating layer, and meet some Philmont activity requirements. I would normally hike in light shorts. If I start off wearing the pants, I'd take the shorts (6oz) for a spare (and laundry day). Still, I'd probably end up packing the zip-off pant legs from the start, so I figured I'd just list the pants as packed gear.

So it looks like dropping that first three or four pounds is going to be pretty easy... Trim the personal first-aid and survival kits down (they're carried, not packed, anyway), replace the camelbak with water bottles, drop one pair of undies and socks (won't go without at least one set of spares - I sweat a lot), replace separate cup and bowl with a single 16 ounce cup, find a lighter jacket, drop the headlamp and pick up a second Photon X.

I agree I have the most room for improvement in the pack, tent, and sleeping bag. If I can get these down to 7 pounds, I'd be ecstatic.

With the pack, I don't think I can go frameless. How well do the closed cell foam pad "frames" transfer weight (GoLite Jam Pack, REI Flash Pack 30)? I like the REI Flash Pack 65, but for the money, is there something both framed and lighter (closer to 2.5 pounds than 3.25)? I know that's a fine line, but if I'm going to spend $200, I'd like to get three pounds out of it. At $225, the Rainbow tent gets me 2lb 10 oz.

Thanks again, and keep it coming!

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
hmmm on 12/18/2010 23:06:28 MST Print View

agreed with above. your pack should typically be bought last, but it'll be the fastest and most cost effective way for you to shed some pounds (other than not bringing a bunch of stuff you have listed). your big 4 definitely need some change. you can probalby make 2 decent changes to your big 4 for that kind of cash... keep your eyes peeled on the gear trade...
see if this guy's tent includes the bug net...

lafuma makes some really light and cheap summer bags. what kinds of temps will you be seeing at philmont?

are there trees there? you can get a nice hammock setup for fairly cheap...

my thoughts for free changes:

04 First Aid Kit (Home-made, carried in pocket)
06 Survival Kit (Just-in-case stuff, carried in pocket)
06 Misc. Gear (Lighter, matches, lip balm, sewing kit, duct tape, spare cord)

are those not part of the "crew" first aid kit and misc. gear? if they are, why are you carrying them? make some tough 16 year old hump the 1st aid. you can still be there to administor it...

i would not take a 2nd pair of pants unles you plan on destroying the 1st pair...

32 ounce camp stool? take a 20"x20" piece of ccf pad and sit on that...

10 stakes? unless you're going in winter, do you need more than 4?

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Philmont temps and questions. on 12/18/2010 23:51:26 MST Print View

>> what kinds of temps will you be seeing at philmont? are there trees there? you can get a nice hammock setup for fairly cheap...

Temps can tickle 30 degrees, but I need a bag that will go to 20 (can't afford single-event gear, and I sometimes backpack into late fall). Hammocks are not allowed at Philmont.

>> (re: first aid and survival kit) are those not part of the "crew" first aid kit and misc. gear?

The survival kit is for my own peace of mind. I know I can (and have) survive a weekend with just that 6 oz of gear. It goes with me on all day hikes. I can probably pare it down to 3 or 4 oz.

There is a crew first aid kit, but I like to carry my own. We're not likely to be separated at Philmont, but on other trips, we'll split the group for some activities. Still, it can probably be cut to 2 or 3 ounces.

>> 32 ounce camp stool? take a 20"x20" piece of ccf pad and sit on that...

It's not the cushion. It's the getting up and down. I don't bend well.

>> 10 stakes? unless you're going in winter, do you need more than 4?

Probably can do it with 2 most nights (just to peg out the vestibules). Maybe 6 if a late summer storm moves through (I hear they can get ugly).

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Sleeping Pads on 12/19/2010 11:18:17 MST Print View

I'm a side sleeper as well and I have bony hips. I've found that a ridgerest deluxe + ridgerest regular isn't quit enough for me after a few nights. However I find a Prolite small (or XS for that matter) paired with a ridgerest is quit comfortable. Almost luxurious actually. You can cut the ridgerest down to get the weight pretty reasonable.

Here's a pretty good read about sleeping pads and their insulation I was recently linked to. The author, Alex, is a member here.

EDIT: You might consider a hammock for future trips where they're allowed and just bring your stool to philmont. Those hammock guys look pretty comfortable sitting in their hammocks around camp. Probably more comfortable than your stool. This could nix the weight of your tent and the stool on a lot of your trips.

Edited by veriest1 on 12/19/2010 11:31:37 MST.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Pack on 12/19/2010 12:20:51 MST Print View

As far as packs I would look at:

ULA Circuit ($200 and 36 oz)
Gossamer Gear Mariposa ($145 right now and 23oz)

Both of these packs have frames that carry very well. I have owned or used both (Mariposa at Philmont even). They should also both be large enough to carry any "emergency" stuff with the extension collar. I prefer the Mariposa because of the pockets (you could probably carry the stool on the outside).

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions about philmont/ what I took.

From a Scout to a Scouter: thanks for all the sacrifices you make as a scouter to make sure we have a good time!

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
Re: Given this gear and $300 in "fun money", what would you do... on 12/20/2010 12:04:15 MST Print View

One thing that hasen't been mentioned is MYOG make your own gear.

The big question is are you patient, creative, and handy with or willing to become familiar with a sewing machine.

If so could become your best friend:
Kinsman Pullover Kit- $55 finish weight as low as 7oz save 13oz
Liberty Ridge Pants Kit- $30 finish weight as low as 2oz add zipper at knee for a few bucks add cheap fleece pants 8oz save 10oz
Tarptent Kit- $75 not sure about the weight sub 24oz most likely but you could add or subtract to "create" the free standing (kinda) full enclosed tent you require for say another $10-20 in materials to add some extra tie outs, build a bathtub floor... save 24oz plus/minus
Down Quilt Materials- $140 finish weight around 16oz save 43oz

Thru-hiker cost- 320
weight savings- 90oz = 5lbs 10oz

by the way no affiliation with thru-hiker just think it is a genious way to bring simple sewing to us. I am in the process of fighting thru I mean making the down jacket with some modifications (add a hood, loose the pockets, and shorten the zipper to half zip like a pullover)

Edited by earn_my_turns on 12/20/2010 12:06:33 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 12/20/2010 13:41:14 MST Print View

Like someone said somewhere

You don't necesarily save money with DIY

It's easy to screw up and spend your money on nothing useful

Often, you'll make something, then want to perfect it and make another requiring buying another set of materials, although sometimes you can re-use some of the original materials

With DIY you can get exactly what you want, and if you enjoy doing it, you get that enjoyment

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
quick on 12/21/2010 16:45:39 MST Print View

run, don't walk here:

pick up that rainbow for $80

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Wrong link? on 12/21/2010 17:02:05 MST Print View

I appreciate the link, Josh, but it takes me to a post for "Brawny Gear, Nunatak, Tarptent, Marmot, Montana, Vargo, OR...". I didn't see any mention of the Rainbow.

It's just as well... Christmas has me tapped out for the next couple weeks, and I want to let all this sink in for a bit anyway before I decide just how much I'm really willing to spend, and more importantly, how to split the budget between me and my less experienced, but far healthier son. Some of the gear I retire will probably find it's way to him...

With the suggestions I've taken from this thread, and without touching the big four, I'm down to about 23 pounds for a base weight (plus a pound and a half of crew gear if we come up with the right stoves & pots). GoLite is offering 40% off a first purchase. I think I might go try the Pinnacle pack on for size at REI this weekend. Still gun-shy on a frameless pack.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
tarptent on 12/21/2010 19:35:45 MST Print View

sure ken, it was the tarptent on that listing... 23 lbs isn't too bad for an initial cleansing! next time you're out hiking you'll notice the difference at the end of the day and also on your big inclines. it'll likely drive you to lower your pack weight even more... keep us posted

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Check out the Gear Swap forum on 12/21/2010 19:42:34 MST Print View

If I had $300 and wanted to maximize the gear experience, I'd head over to the Gear Swap forum. People on generally treat their gear very well and are quick to switch it out for something else. Thus, most of the gear has quite a bit of life left in it (some of it never was used in the first place).

I think you would likely get twice as much gear for the money and if something wasn't to your liking, you could turn around and basically get what you paid for it by reposting it on Gear Swap.

Just my two cents.


Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: on 12/21/2010 19:55:34 MST Print View

I'd suggest just spending 20 odd $ and order Trail Life and re-gear after reading it.

Tyler Hughes
(catsnack) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Philmont on 12/21/2010 21:49:18 MST Print View

I have been to Philmont as a scout in a normal crew (12 days), in the special "Rayado" trek (21 days), and as an assistant leader in two additional normal crews. All of the trips have been in their normal summer season. I have seen temps from 100 to 10 + 60mph winds and hail. I have also seen rain for 10 days straight, so breathable rain gear is critical to comfort (I only had the cheap non-breathable stuff, and I was soaked from condensation). Bugs were never bad, and every campsite has its own perks for comfort. The things I wish I had, but didn't:

-More comfortable sleeping pad (thicker is better)
-Breathable Rain Gear
-Lighter-weight Boots (I had Vasque Sundowners, but a lighter pair of anything would have been amazing)

My pack was an old-school Kelty external frame. It wasn't super-heavy, but not lightweight (same pack I use now, 10 years later), but it will hold as much as you put in it. I basically took what was on the list for required gear, but I those 3 things would have made all the difference in the world.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Six Moon Design Traveler on 12/22/2010 23:06:08 MST Print View

Thanks for all the advice, folks. I think I found the pack for me! The Traveler from Six Moon Designs is a panel/front loader that holds about 60 liters. It has an optional frame insert. With the frame, reports are that it carries very much like a traditional internal frame, with excellent load transfer to the hips. All this, and it weighs in under two pounds!

Trimming items as suggested here, running a two pound pack, and swapping to a lighter tent like the Rainbow, I should be able to hit a 16 or 17 pound base weight. With a pound of crew gear and 10 pounds of consumables, I should be sitting pretty, having room and load capacity to spare.

I'm not buying anything just yet... I still need to let all this sink in and see where things are at come spring (when I'm physically cleared to carry a load).

Thanks again,