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Megan S.
(megslegs) - F
Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 06:31:37 MST Print View

After a few years canoeing I went with my husband to hike the Long Range Traverse at Gros Morne in Newfoundland a couple of years ago. Canoeing had ruined me! My pack weighed a ton. All the lessons of minimizing weight for hiking I had learned over the years vanished as we packed just way too much (which is normally fine in a canoe). The first day was a very challenging vertical hike and the weight of our packs killed us.

This year we are going to the West Coast Trail for 6.5 days. This is my second time there. I would like to get our packs to around 20-30 lbs each for this trip as there are multiple long, vertical ladders on this challenging hike. I realize that for many of you this is an insanely heavy goal, but the reality is, we (my husband and I) have most of our gear already (long, full length thermorests, a 6.7lb two-person tent, etc...). We also are probably not going to chop off the ends of our spoons, nor are we going to leave our mugs at home (I love my morning coffee too much). That said, variables we have to play with are:

1-Raingear - we both need new rain pants and hubby needs new jacket, too. Any recommended brands?
2-first aid kit - we have a mammoth one that we could pare down, but would love a recommended lightweight content list
3-food, of course. We are quite prepared for breakfasts, but would appreciate some recommended ideas to keep weight down for lunches and dinners. We usually eat PB and J for lunch, with some trail mix/gorp, string cheese, and/or jerky, and some powdered juice. For supper we usually have a mountain house dish with some fry bread and dessert. We ALWAYS overpack food - for example, we always bring one bottle of wine )this year we may leave the wine at home). And we always have tons of stuff left over.
4 - Clothing. Any recommended brands of pants, warm tops, etc...that can keep the weight down? Anyone have a good clothing list?

Again, we are not planning on investing in much in new gear, so the weight of our tents, sleeping bags, mats, packs, and cook stove/pots are a given. But if anyone has advice as to the above, I would greatly apprecaite it. It is so much easier to enjoy a hike woth less weight!

Thanks!!!

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Well... on 01/25/2011 07:06:57 MST Print View

Start by weighing everything. Literally everything you plan on carrying and find out where the weight is.

If you're looking for advice on lightning up the food you pack (great idea btw) you'll probably want to go the freezer bag route and dehydrate your own. I like to only cook my evening meal and make coffee in the morning. This cuts down on the amount of fuel you'll need but it also means less cleanup and no need for a seperate coffee mug. If you're cooking for 2 out of a bigger pot then consider packing only the cook pot and two bowls that can double as cups.

Consider a wood stove. You can make one cheap. Alcohol might be a bit slow if cooking for two people at the same time.

Consider investing in lighter tent stakes. Will you need the inner tent? Can you get by with just the rain fly as a shaped tarp? One way or another divide the weight.

A lot of packs can be trimmed a bit for good weight savings (more than a few ounces).

Are you carrying full sets of utensils? You don't need to.

That's just some stuff off the top of my head but if you weigh everything, compile a spreadsheet, and post it you'll get a lot more feed back. Include a budget too.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
non-ultralight on 01/25/2011 07:16:09 MST Print View

Megan- you'll find that most folks can readily reduce their pack weights be simply taking less gear, clothing seems to be one where folks like to pack like they are going on vacation- for a week long trip the only "extra" clothing needed is a pair of socks- no need for multiple shirts, undies, etc. Quick drying garments (which your inner garments should be) can be washed easily along route.

For rain gear where bush whacking isn't the main emphasis, Driducks jacket/pants are tough to beat- they breathe quite well (actually better than most), are very lightweight and when you see the price you'll be really surprised :)

I'd suggest going through the community gear lists posted- not so much for what shelter to take, but to see how little is actually going into packs.

Mike

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 08:05:15 MST Print View

The biggest chunks (and simplest to find) of weight are almost always in the tents, sleeping bags, mats, packs, and cook stove/pots. Since these are off the table, you're going to be left finding nominal amounts in food and clothing. Try to use clothing for double duty, and don't take unnecessary spares. I'm really fond of the FBC cooking method too.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 09:01:47 MST Print View

1-Raingear - we both need new rain pants and hubby needs new jacket, too. Any recommended brands?

As mentioned previously, DriDucks are light and cheap (but not very durable). Coated membrane gear like Marmot Precip is pretty good. Jackets run in the 12oz range and can be found on sale for $60-$70. Do absolutely buy rain gear that has ventilation-- pit zips, venting pockets, etc.


2-first aid kit - we have a mammoth one that we could pare down, but would love a recommended lightweight content list

The Adventure Medical Kit 0.3 or 0.5 kits are pretty good for off-the-shelf light kits. Compare the contents if you want to pick from your existing kit. Waterproof bags like Aloksaks can help get the weight down.


3-food, of course. We are quite prepared for breakfasts, but would appreciate some recommended ideas to keep weight down for lunches and dinners. We usually eat PB and J for lunch, with some trail mix/gorp, string cheese, and/or jerky, and some powdered juice. For supper we usually have a mountain house dish with some fry bread and dessert. We ALWAYS overpack food - for example, we always bring one bottle of wine )this year we may leave the wine at home). And we always have tons of stuff left over.

Platypus does make a bladder for storing wine if you must. Dehydrated is the way to go with food. There is a food/nutrition forum here that is great. I eat mainly what you have listed.


4 - Clothing. Any recommended brands of pants, warm tops, etc...that can keep the weight down? Anyone have a good clothing list?

IMHO, clothing is one of the most variable and troublesome areas for UL travel (and expensive). As others have said, cut down on multiples and don't overdo it.

There are many opinions on clothing systems, which we like to argue over endlessly here. Layering is the constant and you want to find a selection of clothing that works together. Avoid "monolithic" garments that incorporate your only shell and insulation together-- you want to be able to use any of you choices together.

My typical 3-season layering system is like this:

Starters:
Silkweight tee and breifs
Merino wool socks
Zip off nylon pants

For cooler weather, I would add long johns

Mid layers:
Power Stretch hoody
(many don't use this layer)


Insulation:
Primaloft jacket or vest (many use down)
You will see two basic categories for jackets: thinner models like the MontBell Thermawrap at about 10oz and thicker, heavier ones like the Patagonia Micropuff or Mountain Hardwear Compressor that are 16-19oz. There are down equivalents to both ranges. For really cold weather or cold-blooded hikers, there are the big puffies with 800 down fill and the like.

Windshirt:
Windshirts are great UL hiking gear. You can buy ones that are 3oz. They are what we used to know as a wind breaker, giving protection from wind and light rain. The Patagonia Houdini is a good example. Read the reviews as some are sweaty-- you want good breathability. Rain protection is provided by the outer coating, "DWR" (durable water repellent).

DWR is important in your breathable rain gear too. It is what makes the water bead up on the surface rather than soak in. Some are renewed in drying in a dryer, and they will need to be re-coated over time. There are sprays and some wash-in products, depending on the garment type.

Rain gear:
Poncho or
Breathable jacket and pants

Hat, gloves and bandana. Hats and gloves really add comfort and the *perception* of being cold.

So, on the trail you might find me with the basics plus a windshirt, adding the mid layer and/or jacket/vest for cold rest stops and camp. The silkweight long johns under rain pants work well, especially in cold rain, where the long johns aid moisture control and keep the cold rain shell off your skin. You can sleep with some of the insulation on too, extending the range for you sleeping bag. Power Stretch is great for sleeping.

You don't need a lot of insulation when on the trail-- you are working and you have the pack on. You do need it when you stop. If you feel a little cool at the start, you won't three switchbacks up the hill :)

Have fun!

Megan S.
(megslegs) - F
So far these are helpful on 01/25/2011 12:20:33 MST Print View

So far this feedback has been great. As a group, Ultralight folks tend to be so technical and numbers-oriented/scientific about in a way that is very helpful. I will weigh everything and spend the next few motnhs pondering how to make things smaller/weigh less. What is the best method of weighing something like a sleeping bag or a pack? Are there bathroom scales with oz. or grams on them?

In the meantime, I welcome any one else's advice on general load lightening.

BTW, another question, how much do your packs tend to weigh for 6-7day trips (with food)? How much poundage of food per day is good to shoot for?

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Scale on 01/25/2011 12:31:44 MST Print View

You can get a cheap scale on EBay, or Office Depoet has them for about $25. I think the number I've seen thrown around for food was 1.5# per person per day. I'm sure that would change depending on the person, the climate, and season.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 12:42:35 MST Print View

Buy a scale that measures to grams, not just ounces.
many on the market.

that said, it seems silly to be trying to eak out savings in grams when you could knock big chunks off.
unfortunately you have taken off the table most items that could quickly and easily cut weight.

example : trying to cut 2 oz off a rain jacket when you could cut 2-3 lbs off a tent.
I am not a tarp person, but many here are, and they can give you great advice if you're willing to shelve your heavy tent for a cheap light weight tarp.

someone else did mention seeing if you could just bring the outer part of your tent if its double walled. this is a good tarp alternative.

evaluate your budget and consider at least a couple heavy weight items you could put back on the table for replacement. weigh the alternatives (literally) and determine which replacement item would give you the most weight saving per $$$.

Leave Stuff at Home
evaluate every item realistically and ask if you really need to bring it.
The cheapest and easiest way to cut weight is to leave stuff at home.


Packs
many packs have far too many unneeded bells and whistles on them. it is fairly easy to lighten your pack simply by cutting off things you don't really need.

Edited by asandh on 01/25/2011 12:54:38 MST.

Derek B.
(derekb) - F

Locale: Ottawa, Ontario
Re: Re: Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 13:16:09 MST Print View

+1 on making a spreadsheet that lists not only items and weights, but also alternative items and weight savings per $. I did this and was surprised to find out that many of the items I had been thinking of buying really made very little difference compared to a few big ticket items. One smaller example is the Driducks rainsuit mentioned above, which costs only about $15, but allows far more weight savings per $ than say, buying a UL down jacket to replace your fleece jacket. Buying a lighter pack costs about the same as replacing a thermarest with a lighter pad, but allowed me to drop 5 lbs in one shot, instead of half a pound. You don't need to replace everything at once, but you can at least figure out how to spend your money to get the most weight savings for each dollar you spend.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
wood vs alky on 01/25/2011 13:32:17 MST Print View

"Consider a wood stove. You can make one cheap. Alcohol might be a bit slow if cooking for two people at the same time. "

How could alcohol be slower than a wood stove? You still have to gather wood if you dont already have it gathered, then get it lit, then let it burn. I just pour in my alcohol and light it. I use a caldera cone btw, if it matters.

Use duc-tape to repair frogg toggs(dri ducks) when they recieve a tear. You should alreayd be carrying it, so no weight penalty there. My frogg toggs top and bottom are about 12oz total, at a site online they ran me about 25$ including shipping. Not a bad deal. Just remember to take time to check them over occassionally for holes. Also they have poor hoods, consider a mesh hat or one of those headless hat things(forgot the name, golfers wear them all the time).

Edited by isaac.mouser on 01/25/2011 13:34:25 MST.

Robert Larue
(RobertL) - F
NEW Re: Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 13:49:46 MST Print View

When I first started the switch to lighter gear I changed my shelter, ground pad and pack. If you address those and a few other big items it's easy to get your base weight down to below ~20 lbs.

Pack: as mentioned above just modify the ones you have. The cost is zero. Take out the aluminum stays and plastic panel. Take off the hip belt, lid and things used to secure ice axes. I have an old 45L gregory roll top that I got down to 2 lbs 7 ounces. It's not the lightest thing but I'm sure that it was about 5 lbs before. All of the modifications were reversible. This will also give you an idea if you like using a frameless pack.

Pad: Get a short Z-rest. ~25$.

Shelter: Honestly, I can't even imagine using a tent somewhere with such a high probability for rain (more like setting up a tent in the rain). If you're in Canada, get a big silnylon tarp from MEC, either the house brand or the Integral Designs Siltarp 2 (~14oz). If you don't like the idea if sleeping on a groundcloth. look at the Integral Designs Bug Shelter (http://www.integraldesigns.com/product_detail.cfm?id=827&CFID=1533871&CFTOKEN=87414240). I've used it with a tarp extensively, and in some pretty foul weather. The tarp + bug shelter weighs 2.5 pounds combined - for a HUGE interior space. 1.25 lbs per person isn't that bad either... You won't believe the about of space this kind of setup saves in your pack. It could easily save you 5 lbs from your current tent.

There are lots of great shelter options out there and this was just an example of what I used to while getting used to a tarp. It would cost around 300$ - just a tarp is 125$. Shop around, see what will suit you. Putting some money into your shelter system will pay off.

Next up... sleeping bags? You can save big weight here but the cost is high unless you make your own.

Weigh all your trinkets and cooking gear. They really do add up. Get rid of half of them or something arbitrary like that. Decide what to bring and make it final and don't start adding "just in case" items the night before you leave.

Clothing: Pack less. Ditch the fleece.

Should footwear be in the discussion??

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Footwear on 01/25/2011 14:08:32 MST Print View

Footwear is of utmost import and should be in the discussion. 1lb on the foot = 5-8lb on the back. Light trail runners that fit properly should be fine for most situations.

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: wood vs alky on 01/25/2011 18:41:46 MST Print View

"How could alcohol be slower than a wood stove?"

I'm simply not sure if a standard alcohol stove can make heat long enough if they like to cook - especially for 2 people. Meaning they'd end up taking turns or carrying two stoves. A wood stove seems like it'd be easier to keep feeding but I guess a bigger alcohol stove could be made. The problem would be how fast you'd reach the point where canisters of fuel actually offer weight savings over alcohol. Therefore a wood stove could be an interesting option for them because it negates the need to carry fuel. Sorry I wasn't real clear there. In my defense it was a few hours past my normal bed time and I was typing on a phone.

If you were planning on buying fancy new rain gear but end up going Driducks then consider spending the money you save to cut some pounds off your sleeping bags or shelter. Lighter rain gear and lighter shelter/sleeping bags is a win/win situation.

Clothing wise merino wool is amazing. I/O Bio from Backcountry.com goes on sale a lot and seems comparable to Ice Breaker and Smartwool (I use all 3 brands depending on what's on sale). Montbell makes the best insulated clothing IMO. If you're carrying Driducks jackets or other highly breathable rain gear (that'd be Event I guess) then you won't need a wind shirt or any other "shell" clothing.

Military surplus wool glove liners are cheap (I paid $2.50 locally) and effective lightweight gloves (great pot holders too). They itch a bit but I don't notice it on my hands like the rest of my body. Of course YMMV there. Mittens are a bit warmer than the 5 finger variety. Add a water proof shell or a windshell over them and/or latex gloves under them depending on the conditions for more warmth.

Edited by veriest1 on 01/25/2011 18:51:12 MST.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: Gear for the Non-ultralight wanting to go a little lighter on 01/25/2011 18:45:58 MST Print View

i met an interesting canoe group of 4 on the Horton river in '09. we stopped to chat (and they FED me !!! )(i mean .oh God, they had hot coffee and Bailey's..)
we compared gear tidbits. the "food list" had the most disparity.
me - a slip of waterproof paper printed both sides so small it took teenage eyes to read it.
canoe people (though granted.. EXcellent food. and Lots of it !) - SIX PAGES.. printed one side and eff'n LAMINATED !!!!!
(they made it to paulatuk from coleville lake even with all their stuff)

have never run into canoe people without good booze. so keep that thread going for sure.
but as the others say.
make a list, put it on a spreadsheet.
WEIGH IT.

then you can see pretty quick what your options are.
ebay scales are fine. mine was 8 bucks and works ok.

do not fear the 1" thick x 47" long mattress. you can, and will sleep ok on them if you walk far enough.
20~25 is a very easy target to hit.
the list will show you how much weight you are loosing to the tiddly caca that seems to add up magically.
cheers,
peter v.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Suggestions on 01/25/2011 21:51:30 MST Print View

RAINGEAR> Cabela's Rainy River PacLite GTX parka ($99.) and pants ($99.) VERY durable. Size Large, Tall parka weighs 15 oz.

PANTS> .511 brand nylon "FBI" pants (they have double seat & knees and run $50. U.S.)
A much better deal than RailRiders nylon pants.

OTHER CLOTHES> All synthetic is best, from the unmentionables to the outer layers.

FOOD> Buy the book "Freezer Bag Cooking" do the recepies and you'll have tastier meals, and healthier too.

HAT> wide brimmed with GOOD DWR sprayed on and a mosquito headnet that has elastic armpit straps to keep it on & sealed (against your tightly woven, bug proof .511 nylon shirt). You can add the elastic armpit straps yourself.

AND...

If you can afford a new canister stove the Brunton Flex is an excellent stove and light as well. It's made by Primus with Brunton's improvements over the Primus Crux.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/27/2011 11:17:26 MST.

Megan S.
(megslegs) - F
Thanks! on 01/25/2011 21:59:49 MST Print View

Fortunately, our sleeping bags, while not the very lightest on the market, are quite light at 2 to 3 pounds apiece. Looking at the tables and gear lists you have pointed me to, this looks not too bad.

Also, we have pretty light (20 ounces apiece) sleeping pads. Our tent is heavy at 6 pounds. Not nearly as light as a shelter. We do have a really good lightweight tarp, but I would have to spend some time thinking about a shelter - it kind of seems worth the 3-4 pounds to sleep in a tent, especially in such a wet area that gets chilly at night...but then again, the best night outdoors I ever spent was under a clear plastic tarp in a low-impact hiking trip I took with an outdoor ed class in late fall.

The backpack frames/hip pads are not optional for me - I fractured my spine once and have a body riddled with kinks as a result, and need all the padding and extra support. I have had a frameless pack, and couldn't go back, even with a 10 pound pack, due to my injuries. After all this input, though, I think our weight goals are attainable. I am definitely going to order a scale with grams. Thanks everyone for advice. And if anyone has any other secret "weight loss" tips, please share!

Larry Dyer
(veriest1) - F

Locale: Texas
Re: Suggestions on 01/25/2011 23:15:11 MST Print View

"OTHER CLOTHES> All synthetic is best, from the unmentionables to the outer layers."

I would argue that synthetic is good but wool is even better.


As far as the 6 pound tent goes: if you can split the weight up that'd still be just 3 pounds each. However, a Duomid or some other sort of tarp tent will still be lighter. http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=47&products_id=105

In silnylon and with the optional bugnet it's a fully double walled tent for under 2 pounds at just 29 ounces.

Edited by veriest1 on 01/25/2011 23:17:58 MST.

Mark Ryan
(Sixguns01)

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Re: Scale on 01/28/2011 08:51:33 MST Print View

Scales-

Target/Walmart- $15 for a digital food scale. Grams, Ounces, and Lbs-up to 10lbs.

Bed Bath and Beyond-$20 Handheld Digital Luggage scale. Ounce and Lbs-up to 100lbs.

Weigh each piece or set of gear separately then weigh the pack with everything in it. Double sure; make sure my math is not off.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
weight for cheap on 01/28/2011 12:05:41 MST Print View

Sounds like you'll get the most savings by only bringing as much food and clothing as you actually need. Be fearless, as being cold and hungry is really not a big deal.

To whit:
Rain coat and pants (Patagonia's new Torrentshell pullover is $100 and weights 10oz)
Nylon hiking pants
Synthetic undies (1 only)
LS baselayer shirt
Fleece or synthetic puffy
Socks (2 pair)
Fuzzy hat and gloves

That's it! Bring nothing else, you won't need it!

Use Via, and mix and drink it in a water bottle.

If I go much below 2lbs per day of food (for a longer trip) I find my performance suffers. Figure 6oz dry weight for breakfast, 8oz for dinner, the rest for snacks. candy bars, dried meat, cheese, chips, chocolate, snack mixes, etc. Aim for snacks in the 100-150 cal/oz range. Bring a variety so you'll have something to look forward to.

So, for a 6 day trip in typical three season weather I get 8-9 lbs baseweight, 12 lbs of food, 20-21 lbs total.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Going lighter is simple on 01/28/2011 12:51:02 MST Print View

I'll be the bad guy here and tell you that you dont need a scale. (nervous silence overcomes the room)

You dont have to weigh every little tidbit and type it into an Excel spreadsheet. Leave that to the folks that can take their spreadsheet to the store and "buy" their weight down. David got it right, what you need is experience, common sense and courage.

Clothes: You dont need a scale to tell you that 3 warm layers is redundant and paranoid. Instead, put all your layers on together until you are wearing enough layers to get you through even the coldest weather you'll encounter on your trip. Remember, clothes only needs to keep you warm during the day, at night you'll be in your sleeping bag. The clothes you are wearing is the only clothes you will take, put everything else back. Excellent hiking clothes is very cheap, find athletic clothing at the thrift store. done.

Food: You already said that you always come back with tons of extra food. make yourself one day's ration, using the same food you plan to take, then try it out by going for a nice long day hike and eating only that food you prepared. If its enough, then make six more of those and that's all the food you take.

I dont own a scale and my base is under 8lbs. You have the experience, have faith in yourself.


EDIT: I forgot to mention one little detail...I'm a complete newbie compared to most of the folks posting here. I owe much of what I've learned to these folks. They definitely know their stuff and if you do follow their advice you will be in good shape for sure.

Edited by Lopez on 01/28/2011 16:23:32 MST.