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Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike
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Ryan Elsey
(paintballswimguy) - F

Locale: Kansas City
Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike on 03/12/2011 23:24:17 MST Print View

I'll be semi-through hiking the AT this summer. I'll be leaving April-20th, and hiking until i have to start medical school on August 1st.
So essentially, i need most of the through hiking type gear. i will be hiking with a buddy who has already bought all of the group gear and it is all relatively lightweight.

After taking inventory, i've determined that i have two pieces of gear that are in good condition, but I can only really afford to replace one of them.
2004 or so Gregory Palisade (M) in very good condition, but it weighs 7 lb. 1 oz.
Slumberjack Ultimate 20F Long sleeping bag that weighs 3 lbs. 3 oz

While i am by no means a superlightweight backpacker, I would like to lighten the load as much as possible. These are the two items where i saw the greatest amount of weight that I could knock off. Basically best bang for my buck

So, i'm already assuming most of you guys would suggest replacing the pack, which I am fondly attached too and really like, but its huge, heavy, and sweaty on my back. I need a pack that has a frame of some kind. My buddy has the Osprey Aether 60 (3900 ci for a large, but i am a medium size). I would like a pack about this size as well. I like his pack, but think it can find a lighter option.

So for packs i'd like suggestions, Lightweight, yet solid with 45 lb carrying ability, around the 55L to 65L size.
I've looked at: ($250 is the max price i can afford, and thats pushing it)
Osprey Aether 60 (4 lbs, 15 oz) (my favorite, but seems to heavy, compared to the others)
Osprey Atmos 65 (3 lbs 6 oz)
Sierra Designs Revival 65 (3 lbs 14 oz) (probably my favorite in this weight class, need to see it in person though)
Gregory Z55 56L (3lb 15 oz) or Z65 (4lb 3 oz) (I've heard the new gregory's aren't made as well as the old ones though)
Black Diamond Infinity 60 (3 lb 13 oz)

Sleeping bag would be replaced second to my pack since the weight loss is not as great. Aiming for $200 or less.
Sierra Designs nitro 30 long (1 lb 13 oz) (top choice so far)

I have a sierra designs -20F bag and its great, absolutely useless for this trip, but i love the quality and would like to get a lightweight bag as well. But i know little about what is out there, so feel free to help

Any suggestions you all have would be amazing.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike on 03/13/2011 00:04:45 MST Print View

I think you will get unanimous agreement that the Gregory pack gets cut out. You will end up with something that weighs about 2 pounds. I guess you want something with 45 pound ability, but you intend to carry less than that. I guess that you have something planned for shelter and so forth.


Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
Re: Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike on 03/13/2011 01:17:12 MST Print View

Golite has stuff that could meet both your categories. For example, their pinnacle pack weighs 2 pounds and is advertised as having a load-bearing capacity of 40 lbs. with the coupon code BSF10, you can get it (or anything full-priced at their website) for 40% off until April. that's $105 for a pack.

If their quilts come back in stock, one of their ultralite 3-season quilts (1 pound, 11 ounces in long) could meet your needs very well too. I think they're rated by folks with lots of math knowledge (Richard Nisely) at just under 30 degrees, rather than the advertised 20, though. That weight savings, as stated, isn't as much as the that of the bag, but the volume change from switching to a down quilt from a synthetic mummy bag might be a heck of a boon for you, and maybe even allow for a smaller volume pack.

Options to think about! =)


Brendan Lammers
(mechB) - F

Locale: Washington DC
Gregory Z55 on 03/13/2011 01:29:43 MST Print View

Sorry for the unsolicited advertisement here, but I have an old style (2008) Gregory Z55 pack (Large torso) that weighs 3lb 6oz with everything on it. You can detach the lid pocket and could probably trim a few straps to get it down to 3lb or under (I haven't made any modifications so far). It's in great condition, so if you're interested I'd be able to sell it to you for cheap, so if you're interested PM me or I can post my email.

That said, I think most people will recommend that you purchase all of your other gear (e.g. clothing, cooking gear, shelter, other "stuff") and get a good idea what kind of weight and volume capabilities you need. You might look in to something like the ULA Catalyst or especially the Circuit. You could also try Granite Gear, their packs are supposed to be quite comfortable, although I don't own one myself. They have two on clearance that should work great--the Nimbus Latitude and the Nimbus Meridian. Here's the URL:

Also, I bought a Sierra Designs Nitro 30 in size Long as well for the PCT this summer. It's quite nice (it's actually manufactured by Montbell, as it says on the inside tag). I may opt for something warmer since I can be a major pansy when I sleep, but otherwise it's a good choice if you don't have that problem.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
ULA on 03/13/2011 09:18:32 MDT Print View

I'd also suggest getting rid of the pack and getting a ULA Circuit or Catalyst (depending on the volume of your gear--the Catalyst is larger), for a savings of 4-5 lbs. ULA packs have a lightweight "frame" and are great for hikers transitioning between traditional and UL gear.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike on 03/13/2011 09:28:35 MDT Print View

Thats a tough one for sure. What does your other gear look like? Do you have a spreadsheet with base weights and all the things you will take with you? That is very dependent on which pack you could use. You could remove all the extras (brain, straps) from the palisade to drop some weight, but its still going to be beastly at over 5 lbs. The Golite Quest could be made pretty light the same way and its MSRP is $175. The coupon could make it a killer deal for a sub 3 lb pack. Don't forget Granite Gear either. They make some wonderfully comfortable frame packs.

Light sleeping bags are tough to get on the cheap. Based on my experience with an old Slumberjack 30* Super Guide that was in the same line as yours, I wouldn't trust it to within 10* of its rating even though I sleep warm. Check the sales sites (REI Outlet, Backcountry, The Clymb, etc.) and the BPL gear swap religiously for a week or so. If you find a suitable bag with solid reviews, grab it up. You don't want to skimp on quality when you hike for months at a time. You can also have a closet cleaning on the BPL Gear Swap to help finance your new purchases. Best of luck!

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Pinnacle on 03/13/2011 09:30:50 MDT Print View

"their pinnacle pack weighs 2 pounds and is advertised as having a load-bearing capacity of 40 lbs. "

No offence, but this is marketing bunk. 40lbs in a frameless pack is nowhere near comfortable. 25 is. But then at that weight, why use a 2.25lb frameless pack. Go to ULA and get a CDT at 20.

Morgan Strauss
(voodmann) - MLife
Back Sweat on 03/13/2011 09:59:10 MDT Print View

If indeed this is a factor (one that can't be mentally overcome), you might take a look at the Osprey Exos 58. Size medium is 2.5 lbs (manufacturer's listed weight) and 3,500 cubic inches. It has breathable mesh and dead space between your back and the pack supposedly improves ventilation. Someone somewhere called it a cleverly designed external frame pack.

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: Re: Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike on 03/13/2011 10:00:42 MDT Print View

I'd also agree with the ULA Circuit. Great pack, great company to work with.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Back Sweat on 03/13/2011 10:00:47 MDT Print View

East coast is super humid. Isn't sweating inevitable?

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
ULA on 03/13/2011 10:04:13 MDT Print View

I'd recommend a ULA Catalyst as well, its within your price range, and you might be able to score a lightly used pack, from here,off of Gear Swap. You'll have the ability to get a smaller hip-belt for the pack too, "if" needed as you loose weight from the hike. If you can get your gear weight and volume down, I actually prefer the Circuit over the Catalyst.

Look at the Jacks R Better Hudson River Quilt, on sale now. Its a little over your price range though, but will save you a bit of weight and be very versatile for your sleep system.

Mike Hensel
(mike220) - M

Locale: Northwest
Lighter Pack on 03/13/2011 10:16:32 MDT Print View

Look at the Granite gear Ozone (if you can find one), or the new GG Blaze 60. Basicly the same pack but the Blaze is a few ounces lighter and updated.

Very adjustable and will certainly cary 45 pounds if nessessary.

Granite Gear Blaze 60

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

osprey on 03/13/2011 10:19:22 MDT Print View

another vote for Osprey Exos 58. Awesome full featured pack at 2.5lbs.

Mark Cashmere
(tinkrtoy) - M

Locale: NEOH
ULA on 03/13/2011 10:38:48 MDT Print View

I will add another vote for the ULA. Not to eliminate the other options, but I can tell you that I went through the following before settling on the ULA Circuit --

Camp Trails circa 1995, typical early gen internal frame and only weighed surprisingly 4.9 lbs.
Osprey Aether 60 (2009 I think) - picked up on SAC and was impressed with the quality - 3.96 lbs.
Golite LiteSpeed (picked up from a BPL member) - 2.9 lbs.
ULA Circuit - 2.5 lbs.

I am a medium as well although I did end up with a small hipbelt on a medium frame for the ULA and it fits fine. The largest change is giving up all of the backpack 'compartments' but once you slim down your gear and compartmentalize everything that is an easy thing to accept. The ULA is the most thought out pack IMHO out of the ones I have tried. Everything is just where it should be. What I didn't like about the Aether was the top pocket was useless and barely fit over the stays so it flopped around a lot when the pack wasn't cinched down. Also, the stretch material on the outer pockets was too stiff to utilize properly. Finally, no belt pockets (which I have come to find out that I must have). I tried to improvise the belt pocket issue by adding a Granite Gear one which fit fine, but it just wasn't the same as integrated ones. The LiteSpeed is just slightly too small for my gear and I didn't adopt the panel-loader style very well. Lots of stuff ended up hanging on the outside of the pack.

My 2 cents. Good luck in your quest and your trek.

Ryan Elsey
(paintballswimguy) - F

Locale: Kansas City
Thanks for all of the advice on 03/13/2011 10:42:39 MDT Print View

I think i'm going to Davids advice, and finish up with purchasing all of my gear, so that i can know what my final weight will be. ( I just need to purchase rain paints, long underwear, and new socks.) Once i get that done i'll probably come back to you guys for advice based on my pack weight. I need to figure out how I am dividing the gear up with my buddy as well. (tent/stove/steripen/etc) Once i get that done, i'll come back.

Thanks for all the ideas, the ULA packs look pretty sweet, as well as the pinnacle. I will also probably purchase a new bag, to save space in my pack. I hadn't thought of that as being the big reason to get one coming from my massive gregory.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Which Gear to Replace for 3 month AT Hike on 03/13/2011 11:15:49 MDT Print View

Your kit is a system and needs to work as a unit. You really need to know your total gear weight and volume before getting a pack. You don't want to be hiking every day with your pack at the outer limits of comfort either. Your total gear weight is only going to vary a few pounds as you cycle your food stores and a little fuel.

Sell off everything you don't need and get good lightweight gear. What goes on your back is going to be bedroom, closet and kitchen for three months. It will be easier and less expensive to tweak your gear now than in the middle of the hike. You will appreciate every ounce after a few roller-coaster treks from valley to peak.

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
ULA or Granite Gear on 03/13/2011 12:28:27 MDT Print View

I'd agree with Granite Gear packs as well, the old Nimbus Ozone or their new Blaze 60, just make sure that the hip-belt is removable or interchangeable. I prefer the side pockets on the ULA packs though, easier to access your water bottles while on the go. The only issue with ULA, is going through the fitting process, until you get the correct size you need, which is doable before you depart. Order two different size packs at the same time, load and wear them around the house, then send back the pack that's too small or doesn't fit as well.

Edited by mfog1 on 03/13/2011 12:44:58 MDT.

Morgan Strauss
(voodmann) - MLife
Re: Re: Back Sweat on 03/13/2011 13:12:13 MDT Print View

East coast is super humid. Isn't sweating inevitable?

couldn't agree more. Especially with 45 lbs on your back. Would love to see the rest of the list.

Edited by voodmann on 03/13/2011 13:13:07 MDT.

Kevin Haskins
(kevperro) - F

Locale: Washington State
You won't carry that much. on 03/13/2011 14:44:54 MDT Print View

I hiked from Maine to DC in the mid-90s and I don't think I ever carried more than 25lbs. That was back when my backpack alone was 5lbs.

I own a ULA Catalyst and if I were going on another long trip it is what I'd take. With modern gear you should easily be able to keep your load <20lbs, especially since you are going in the middle of summer.

And here is a great value bag that will cut some weight.

Edited by kevperro on 03/13/2011 14:50:58 MDT.

Ryan Elsey
(paintballswimguy) - F

Locale: Kansas City
My gear list on 03/13/2011 17:39:31 MDT Print View

Thanks for the advice on the campmor bag, i'm going to have to consider that seriously, the price is very nice on that.

Heres what I currently own, Most of it is from when I was active in scouts 7 years ago.
Group Gear will be carried between myself and a friend. I listed most of i

Jetboil Flash Java kit (14 oz)
Therm-a-rest prolite plus (1 lb)
Gregory Palisade (7lb 1 oz), Hood weighs 6 oz.
Gregory Pack cover (6 oz)
Slumberjack Ultimate 20F long (3 lbs 3oz)
Mountain Hardwear Tent, weight is with groundcloth, poles, and stakes it is (4 lb, 12 oz )
Camelback Bladder 3L (6 oz)
Steripen Journey LCD (4.5 oz)
Handkerchief (steripen prefilter)
Gatorade Bottle for filtering
Crocs (13 oz)
Marmot Precip (12 oz)
Smartwool Cuffed Beanie (lightweight, not sure though)
Boots are Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex XCR (1 lb 15 oz)
2 pair Basspro Redhead merino hiking socks
Baseball Cap (might get one with vents)
Ray-ban Rx sunglasses (in case)
Rx glasses (worn)
Snow Peak titanium spork
Trowl (1 oz)
Petzl tikka
100% deet bug spray (not sure if we will start with this or mail it ahead)
Adventure Medical Kits, Light and Fast + Blister kit (Hard for a medical student to leave home without it)
1/2 tooth brush, small tube toothpaste(shared)
HTC EVO 4G+USB Charger, serve as camera, and phone for when i'm in town
Doug Ritter Benchmade Mini-Griptillian (friend has swiss army with can opener)
25 ft of paracord for bear bag.
trashbag for sleeping bag, and a few ziplocks
Patagonia Synchilla Marsupial Fleece (13 oz)
SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger unit (his fiancee is paranoid, I won't be carrying this no matter what)
Goal 0 Nomad Solar Charger (I think this is dumb, I won't be carrying this either)
small piece of cotton to clean glasses
Toilet paper, (w/ role removed, its coming, no matter what)
Bic Lighter
7 to 10 iodine pills in first aid kit, in case steripen fails
Tiny bottle of camp soap
tiny bottle of sunscreen

Things I need still before i can start replacing gear: ADVICE IS APPRECIATED :)
I might buy my own jetboil cup, we haven't decided yet. (if not, i will buy a lightweight bowel, or use a frisbee)
Walmart running shorts (Do i need 2?)
Walmart running shirt (Do i need 2?)
2 pair redhead coolmax sock liners ($5 each)
Lightweight trekking poles $45 to $70(max)
long underwear (top)
long underwear (bottom)
Rain pants ($60 for marmot precip) vs ($80 for REI Ultralight rain pants)
2 pair of cheap wicking underwear
Bic mini Lighter
7 to 10 iodine pills in first aid kit, in case steripen fails
Smaller pair of gaiters (not sure if i need this or not)

Items that i want to replace, in order of most needed imo.
1. Backpack (i will reuse gregory pack cover to save money)
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Precip is 4 years old, but doesn't leak yet. I'm taking 1 week off the trail in late May to graduate from college, so i'll buy a new one then if i need it. I also plan on swapping for fresh socks at this point.

I just found out that I would be able to do this on Friday, so i'll that i've spent on gear is $14 for the smartwool beanie and $20 for a fish scale to weigh things.

Thanks for all your input guys!

Edited by paintballswimguy on 03/13/2011 17:46:10 MDT.