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College student looking to go light
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John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
College student looking to go light on 12/27/2010 13:18:46 MST Print View

Hey guys, long time lurker on the forums, figured I'd finally join up and see if I could get some advice on putting together a gear list.

A little about me: I'm a college student at Appalachian State University, and looking to put together a good list of durable, multi-use items while staying as lightweight as possible. I work on campus, but even so I do have to keep the hobby on a budget at the moment. I like the MYOG threads, but am not really confident enough in my abilities to rely on it for the big stuff.

Unfortunately, I started off getting gear before I became a reader of this forum, so some of the things I have now, while not heavy as they could be, are also decidedly not ultralight.

I've got some Christmas money burning a hole in my pocket, and want to round out my list for 3-season use up in the mountains. One of the neat things about going to ASU is that I actually get to take a Backpacking/Orienteering class for a PE credit, so I'd like to have a kit that isn't embarrassingly heavy or full of unnecessary items when I show up.

Two lists; one of things I own now, and one of things I've considering getting, either to fill holes in what I need (tent, cooking supplies, etc) or to lighten up what I currently use.

Anyways, any and all advice is welcome, so help me lighten me up!


Edited by Jabber on 12/27/2010 13:47:21 MST.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Current gear list (partial) on 12/27/2010 13:32:03 MST Print View


Category Item Specific Item Weight (oz)

Tent Tarptent Contrail 21.1
Stakes Easton stakes (6) 3.2
Floor MYOG Tyvek floor 5

Pack BPL Absaroka Backpack 34.2
Cover Sea to Summit Pack Cover (Small) 3
Stuff Sack (ditty bag) Sea to Summit 2 L Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 0.8
Stuff Sack (food) Sea to Summit 20 L Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 1.4
Stuff Sack (clothing) Sea to Summit 13 L Ultra-Sil Dry Sack 1.8

Bag/Quilt GoLite Ultralight 3-Season Quilt 24
Pad Thermarest Z-Lite 3/4 Length Pad 9.4

Pot Evernew 600 mL Titanium Pot 3.4
Utensil Backcountry Long Handled Ti Spoon 0.56
Stove System Caldera Sidewinder for Evernew 600 pot
Firestarter Bic Mini 0.4
Backup Firestarter BPL Firelite Mini Kit (in 5x4 aloksak) 0.81

Water Bottle Platypus 2L Bottle 1.3
Bottle Platypus 2L Bottle 1.3
Water Treatment Aquamira (repackaged) 3

Trail Essentials Compass Brunton 7DNL 0.7
Knife Swiss Army Classic SD 0.6
Light Photon Freedom II Micro Light 0.22
Whistle BPL Safety Whistle 0.75
Bandana REI Cotton 1

Lip balm Burt's Bees
Toothpaste/Soap Dr. Bronner's (repackaged)
Sun block
Toiletry bag aloksak 0.4
Shop towels
First Aid Kit See List Below (in aloksak) 2.3

Extra Clothing
Socks Darn Tough 2.4
Insulated hat Smart Wool Lid Beanie 1.8
Balaclava Terramar 180 Weight Merino Wool 1.4
Insulated top Marmot Reactor 1/2 Zip 9
Wind/Rain Shell Driducks 6
Clothing Worn
Hiking Pants GoLite Yunnan Pants 11
Shoes New Balance MT814 Trail 25.4
Socks Darn Tough 2.4
Trekking Poles Black Diamond Contour Elliptic 19.2
Sun hat Columbia Waterproof Floppy Hat 2.8
Base layer bottom Cross Country Shorts 4
Base layer top Icebreaker 200 Sprint Top 8
Sunglasses Suncloud Roadie Polarized 1.1
Watch Ironman Marathon Watch 2.6

Edited by Jabber on 01/19/2011 22:19:54 MST.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Possible kit upgrades on 12/27/2010 13:41:00 MST Print View

Planned buys:

Sleeping bag: GoLite 20 Quilt
Wind/Rain shell: DriDuck's
Stove: Caldera Keg (H)
Fuel bottle: 0.5 L Platypus
Utensil: REI Long handled Ti Spoon
Light: Photon Freedom
Hydration pack: Platypus 2 L Hoser or Big Zip
Water treatment: Aquamira Kit
Lighter: Mini Bic (orange for visibility)
Compass: Brunton 7DNL or Silva 7 (same thing)

Edited by Jabber on 01/02/2011 21:15:45 MST.

Weiyi Wang
(wwyjedi) - M

Locale: mid
pretty solid plan. on 12/27/2010 13:45:54 MST Print View

if you want to save money and go all the way, switch to tarp + bivy combo.

Edited by wwyjedi on 12/27/2010 13:46:27 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 12/27/2010 13:46:03 MST Print View

That list isn't that heavy

I wouldn't drop whistle, no need for flint though

What do you use for a wind and rain jacket?

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Wind/rainshell on 12/27/2010 13:55:49 MST Print View

Had a Marmot windshell before, but no longer fits. Need to find something to cover that area.

I know the list isn't as terrible as it could be, but I also know there are people on here walking around with less than 10 lbs base weight. I may not hit that, but I know I can get a lot closer while still remaining comfortable.

Edited by Jabber on 12/27/2010 14:02:23 MST.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Tarp + Bivouac on 12/27/2010 13:59:40 MST Print View

Tarp and bivy sounds good if I can find some light ones. The Tarptent I'm looking at is listed at 28.5 oz, so it shouldn't be too hard to find something lighter.

John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
List on 12/27/2010 14:53:57 MST Print View

I'm also a college student, and over the last year and a half I have put together a gear list that gets me in the mid 8 pounds base weight. I did everything on a budget, and a lot of MYOG things helped me out.

The sleeping bag definitely has to go. You could easily save a pound and a half and a bunch of space by switching to something lighter and more compact. My budget was around $150-180 for a sleeping bag(lightly used, diddnt care if it had been used a little by someone else), and some ones I considered were the Sierra Designs Nitro 30 ( highly reviewed here) and the Marmot Arroyo. I went with the Nitro 30 and I couldnt be happier. I have taken it down to the mid 20's, and been comfortable. Weighs in at 29oz with the stuff sack. If you wanted to MYOG a sleeping bag, that would definitely be cheaper, and probably lighter too.

For a shelter, I used to just use a Eureka Solitaire. It was just a budget tent until I could afford a TarpTent or something similar. I eventually sold the solitaire, and am now in the process of building the orginal Tarptent, whose design is free. I wasn't quite yet comfortable with using just a tarp, but the original tarptent has lots of protection, and also bug netting so you dont have to use a bivy. I plan on completing the tent at about 19-20oz(including poles, and I also decided to put two beaks on, the weight could be down to at least 18oz). The cost of the tarptent is only about &70-80 to build, and thats waaaaaaay cheaper and lighter than anything you will find commericaly for that price.

Other than that, your list actually looks really good. Your hiking pants arent that heavy, they are nice pants, and the money that new pants would cost could be well spent somewhere else. I backpacked for 4-5 years with jeans (i know, kill me) before I finally switched to convertible nylon pants like you have.

Edited by skyzo on 12/27/2010 14:56:20 MST.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Tarptent on 12/27/2010 15:19:18 MST Print View


Thanks for all the advice. I'll have to look into that tarptent design, didn't even realize it was out there. I'm glad you approve of the pants, they may be a little heavy but I like them quite a bit. No worries about the jeans either-spent a week backpacking through New Mexico last year in them. Learned pretty quickly why they don't get used around here haha, they're heavy enough to begin with, and that's before it rains.

Now if I can just enlist my seamstress mother to help with this tent...

John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
Tent on 12/27/2010 16:58:08 MST Print View

Yeah, im really excited about building mine. I have never even sewn before, but I borrowed a sewing machine from home, and am just going to practice on scraps before I tackle the main thing. It doesnt look too complicated, but if theres a way to mess up, im sure that I will somehow do it :)

I've never built a quilt or anything, but ive looked into it a ton, and a climashield quilt would be a good starting place.

I wouldnt drop the whistle, but the mirror and flint could go. i carry a small bic lighter (sometimes 2) and they weigh like .4oz each.

The deuter could definitely go too, I just use the hoser kit for my platpus, and so its only like an ounce more.

Another MYOG thing you could make is a pot. The titanium stuff is expensive, so if your on a budget just go down to the store at buy a 24oz heineken for a buck or two, chop off the top, and you have a 1.2oz pot. I dont know if your worried about BPA, but im not, especially for the maybe 20 nights a year I cook in it. I woudlnt bring it on a thru-hike, but just for weekend and stuff, not much to worry about.

Stephan Doyle
Re: Current gear list (partial) on 12/27/2010 17:01:31 MST Print View

The Icebreaker 200wt stuff is nice, but I'd hardly call it insulating. Not a second layer for most nights. You can use the top as a long-sleeve baselayer (wool is my preferred first layer). The pants can help with insulating on cold trips underneath the pants and for sleeping.

The bladder is heavy. Use bottles.

Keep the whistle.

Those hoodies you mentioned are a lot less warm than you may think. Especially the merino. The R1 is a fantastic piece for what it is, but make sure that's what you're looking for before purchasing it.

So many options for shells. What's your budget?

The Moment is a great investment. Weighs about a pound more than an UL tarp and bivy combo, but it's an absolutely superb tent.

For a bag, WM or Montbell make some of the best bags depending on your preference. You may also want to look at quilts, which can be more comfortable and even lighter than a bag.

100wt fleece is idiot-proof and great when wet (comparatively), but it's heavy, bulky and not very warm. I wouldn't want to be much below 50º with a 100wt fleece for an extended period of time. Still, fleece always has uses and will be a piece of gear you keep around for a long time. I like the First Ascent Cloud Layer or whatever they call it – look for a sale and you can get one at a significant discount. Any will do though, just make sure it's poly fleece not cotton fleece.

For a mug, BPL makes one, as do several others. If you are just going to do dehydrated meals, ~500mL is enough. I have a SnowPeak.

Probably want a windshirt, too. Lots around here like hoods so the Patagucci Houdini has a big following.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Losing some chaff on 12/27/2010 17:30:33 MST Print View

Alright, just dropped flint from the list and will toss off the Deuter in a moment. That puts me down to a 1L Platy for water, what else would you guys use?

As for a shell... my biggest thing is value. I'm willing to pay more if I'm getting a great deal. I'd like to stay around 200 or less unless there's a convincing reason to save up for more.

Poly fleece and not cotton fleece. Got it, never would have thought about that.

Food is just going to be dehydrated or Mountain House style meals.

Houdini looks solid and not too pricey. Good idea.

Actually, with the Houdini as a windshirt, Icebreaker as a base layer and fleece for a mid-layer, I may not need a hoodie after all.

Edit: Houdini's a little hard to find. Other windshirt suggestions?

Edited by Jabber on 12/27/2010 17:34:46 MST.

Stephen B
(8bodi7) - F

Locale: Michigan
re: Upgrades on 12/27/2010 17:37:26 MST Print View

I'm a college student as well and was raised always looking for great deals. The following is my first reactions, but there are plenty of other options beyond the examples I have here.

-Trail Runners - Try a bunch on. It felt like I tried on the whole store and New Balance 883 were the only ones that I have found to fit my weird shaped extra wide feet.
-Gaiters - Can you get by without them?
-Beanie - Is the Gore Windstopper Balaclava adequate to do double duty here or are you looking to replace it?
-Pants - My personal preference is to use my rain pants when I need pants and wear my shorts any other time.
-Insulating jacket/Long Sleeve Hoody - Do you need both of these categories or can they overlap? i.e. a fleece zip up/pullover
Rain Coat - DriDucks wins if you won't be doing much off trail travel. You can't beat $15 for 5ish oz.

- Shelter - I haven't used a TarpTent, but you probably can't go wrong with one. There are lots of cheap options for 5x8 silnylon solo tarps though. Or 8x10 for two person.
A 5x8 is really easy to make yourself. Just need to cut the right size, fold/sew edges, and attach tie outs. You can add a netting skirt or a breathable bivy if worried about bugs, etc.
- Bag - Tons of possibilities depending on how much you are willing to spend/how light you want it. I was surprised that a climashield quilt was actually pretty easy to make.

Water - Tablets weigh less but are more expensive than drops when it comes down to per liter. I won't recommend one over the other because I can't remember if they are exactly comparable with respect to effectiveness.

- Definitely go with a MYOG alcohol. I use an unpressurized pepsi can style. I know the fancy feasts work well too.
- Mug/pot - titanium is expensive and there are alternatives that are just as light. Especially if you make your own lid for them. One option is a grease pot from k-mart. There are also the IMUSA aluminum mugs (walmart carries?) that may be better sizes/weights depending on what you're looking for.
If you can't find them at k-mart/walmart all three are available here:
Another option is for a 2Q or 3cup aluminum pot. Both lightweight and inexpensive compared to titanium.
- Spork - I used to use the LMF then switched to a Sea to Summit alpha light long handled aluminum for $7 to keep my knuckles clean while eating out of freezer bags.


edited: formatting

Edited by 8bodi7 on 12/27/2010 17:42:04 MST.

Stephen B
(8bodi7) - F

Locale: Michigan
re: Windshirt on 12/27/2010 17:48:40 MST Print View


I've got by without a windshirt, but am going to make one more for the winter, but to try in the summer as well. I know many people swear by them, but you may be able to get by with just a shell. Especially if it has plenty of venting.


edit: Someone mentioned this windshirt awhile ago because of the price on ebay. It lacks a hood though...

Edited by 8bodi7 on 12/27/2010 17:50:49 MST.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Re: Stephen on 12/27/2010 17:52:28 MST Print View

Gaiters: I'll wait and see if I need them. A little concerned about debris getting into my socks/shoes, but obviously this will be affected by what kind of shoes I wear.

Balaclava: Not nearly as breathable as I'd like, so I am looking to swap it with a beanie. It'll probably stick around for colder trips as it's great at keeping the wind off, but the mucus accumulation around the nose/mouth is more than I would prefer ;)

Pants: Sounds smart to me. I might take the Icebreaker leggings out of the pack/list.

Jacket/Hoody: Overlap would be fantastic. I doubt I need both.

Rain Coat: Looking at DriDucks now. 5 oz sounds great, though I'd be curious as what alternatives are out there if I'm looking for something more durable.

Thanks for the shelter tips, planning to read up on making a climashield quilt.

I've got 2 mini-tuna cans/future stoves in the dishwasher now, sharpie, tape measure and hole punch at the ready.

Good point on the long handled utensil-eating could prove messy otherwise.

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
eBay on 12/27/2010 17:55:55 MST Print View

Just took a look at the windshirt. Looks like a good deal, but I'm not sure how the sizing/fit are on it.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: eBay on 12/27/2010 18:26:01 MST Print View

maybe take your time and let your kit evolve. No need to spend money all at once. The first thing that I would ditch is your sleeping bag. Maybe sell it on Ebay and then use the money to buy a Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, or Montbell bag. That helps defer the cost. For me, Western Mountaineering is the bag I would choose, but then again, I own 3. You can get buy with an alcohol stove that can be pretty cheap. The suggestion about Dri Ducks is a good one too. They're not durable but could last you a season or three. The pants you are wearing is not that big of a deal as you are just wearing them, but wearing trail runners will make a huge difference. I do not hike with gaitors but that is a matter of preference. Good luck and welcome to the sickness

John Castro-Rappl
(Jabber) - MLife
Re: Ken on 12/27/2010 18:55:57 MST Print View

I'm pretty sure that'll end up being what happens. That way I can just keep an eye out for sales on holes I still need to fill.

MB, FF, and WM are the top few I'm considering. Posted an ad on the local craigslist for the sleeping bag, if no takers I'll put it up on ebay to see about funding a lighter bag.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
el cheapo on 12/27/2010 23:35:36 MST Print View

rain jacket before windshirt

lot of people get by without a windshirt, if its that windy that you need one in milder temps you can just wear yr rain jacked mostly unzipped ... decide later if you need the windjacket unless u see a mad sale

there are alot of credible sleeping bags out there at decent prices ... en-rating will tell you if that cheaper sleeping bag is some what comparable to that $$$$$ bag for insulation ... yr bag isnt awfully heavy about the same as the best synth bags, and it is en-rated to 21f, so it is a coin toss

backpack ... just use what you have .... or sell it and get something lighter, just make sure you try yr new packs on before buying

youll want a good down or synth jacket for warmth .... or a heavier fleece

it all depends what temps and environments youll be going in

John West
(skyzo) - F

Locale: Borah Gear
Jacket on 12/28/2010 08:48:29 MST Print View

Yeah thats what it pretty much boils down to, is what kind of climate you will be hiking in. Im not really familiar with Appalacian weather, but if it gets down into the 30's-40's at night you are going to want a heavier jacket than just that fleece.
Look at some of Patagonia's stuff, like the micro-puff or nano-puff, you can find them used on here every once in awhile anywhere from $75 to $125 or so.