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Newbie UL...need gear advice for VA thru hike
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Kristie Kendall
(kkenda86) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Newbie UL...need gear advice for VA thru hike on 04/06/2011 14:33:41 MDT Print View

Hi Everyone,
I am slowly transitioning to lightweight backpacking, and would appreciate any/all suggestions for gear revisions, additions, subtractions...with a couple caveats--I don't want to spend excessive amounts of money and I don’t use down-filled products. I am looking to do a thru hike of the VA portion of the AT beginning on/near May 1 and this is an idea of what I would currently bring (minus food and water weight). Looking forward to your comments!!

Clothes Worn/Packed
Black Native Sunglasses 0.7 ou
Casio SFW300 Altimeter 1.6 ou
Cotton Bandana 0.5 ou
Sierra Designs Hurricane HP 12 ou
REI Revelcloud Jacket, XS 9 ou
Patagonia Capilene 2, LS shirt 4.5 ou
REI Lightweight Polartec Bottoms 5 ou
Northface Vertex Pants 8 ou
REI Sahara Shorts 6 ou
Smartwool Light Hiking Socks (2pr) 5 ou
Keen Tarhee Mid II 28 ou
Stoic Breathe Shirt 5 ou
North Face Reaxion Shirt 3 ou
Columbia Omni-Dry Hoodie 8 ou
Black Thermal Glove Liners 1.5 ou
Leki Cressida Aergon Trekking Poles 15.8 ou
Underwear + sportsbra (2) 4 ou
Prana Quin Dress (for in town) 8 ou

7.3 lbs
Sleep/Carry Gear

Osprey Aura 65 57 ou
Mountain Hardwear Ultralamina 45 24 ou
Thermarest Prolite (womens) 16 ou
Golite Poncho Tarp 9 ou
Outdoor Research Bug Bivy 14 ou
8 Stakes/Guylines 6 ou
Sea to Summit e-Vent Drysack 4.5 ou

8.10 lbs

MSR Windwall 6.8 ou
Snowpeak Giga Power Fuel Canister 5 ou
Bic Mini Lighter 0.5 ou
Scrubber Cloth 0.2 ou
GSI Minimalist (pan, bowl, spork) 6.3 ou
Steripen Adventurer 3.5 ou
First Aid Kit 3 ou
Trowel 5 ou
2 Platypus/1 Nalgene Wide Mouth 7.5 ou
Dr. Bronners Soap 2 ou
Rope (50 feet) 2 ou
Waterproof Pack cover 4 ou
Phone(doubles as camera) and solar charger 10 ou
Mini Toothbrush/paste 0.5 ou
Pen/Mini WP Journal 1 ou

3.57 lbs

Total weight (including items worn and carried) ~19 lbs

Edited by kkenda86 on 04/06/2011 14:42:10 MDT.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Newbie UL...need gear advice for VA thru hike on 04/06/2011 15:55:26 MDT Print View

Sounds like a fun hike, and that's a good start on the list.

First priority: spend money on a lighter pack which weighs 16 oz or less.

Are you going to be warm enough in that bag? If it's a men's bag, the 45F rating is probably equivalent to around 55-60F for the average female. (Edit: Of course, wearing a jacket and other clothing will help. Test comfort in backyard or car camping.)

The poncho tarp might not provide enough coverage for wind-blown rain. Consider a larger 8x10 silnylon tarp instead, or add a bivy bag.

-any extra clothing other than socks: you have lots of extra clothes there

-Columbia Omni-Dry Hoodie (you have other insulation, and could stuff your bag under jacket if still cold sitting around camp)

-You might be more comfortable in light trail runners than the Keen mids?

-drysack and pack cover: use a single trash compactor bag as an inside pack liner at 2.5 oz

-consider using an alcohol stove: You could probably make one for free. I like the Penny stove.

-just take a 16 oz or larger pan to cook, eat out of it or a 0.9 oz 16 oz size plastic Ziploc bowl

-Nalgene bottle: could you treat water in your pot instead, or maybe a spare platy with the top cut off?

-trowel: use tent stake, trekking pole, or stick

-A set of DriDucks makes for light rain gear. Carry duct tape for repair though.

maps in ziploc bag
backup fire source (another Bic?) and emergency tinder
coin cell light (or headlamp)
(I like to carry all of the above on-person in case of pack loss.)
insect repellent
food bag

Edited by AndyF on 04/06/2011 16:04:45 MDT.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Newbie UL...need gear advice for VA thru hike on 04/06/2011 19:06:48 MDT Print View

The first thing you need to do is narrow down your clothes selection

Why do you have a rain jacket and poncho? If you are using the poncho as rain gear, a windshirt might be a better choice here. (-9oz $~60.00)

You have 3 shirts! Drop one and keep one for hiking and one for sleeping (-5oz $0.00)

Pants and Shorts? Plus you have baselayer pants? I would keep the shorts for hiking and the baselayer bottoms for sleeping/wearing under shorts when it is cold in true thru hiker fashion! (-8oz $0.00)

Drop the dress! Raingear is what people wear while doing laundry in towns. You don’t want to lug half a pound over mountains while hiking 98% of the time just so you can have it the 2% of time you are in towns. (-8oz $0.00)

Now for the big 4

A lighter pack would help you out. You could sell your current pack to help finance it? Everyone is different so I am not going to suggest anything specific, but for long distance hiking I would think that something between 24-32oz ought to be plenty.

You bag isn’t terrible, but why are you anti down. Down is the best insulation on the planet and even in the humid and wet east is esaly used. People who talk about the wet down thing are missing two points 1.) If your bag gets wet you have done something crazy wrong, ie you have bigger problems, why don’t you fix the reason your bag got wet in the first place, and 2.) They have obviously never spend a night is a soaked synthetic bag either, because they suck almost as bad as down when wet. Not quite as bad, but close.

Your pad is a good choice if you can’t sleep on CC foam.

That isn’t a whole lot for shelter. A Gatewood Cape would offer a lot more protection for a minimal weight gain and still serve as raingear.


I assume you mean the MSR Windpro? That is way too much stove for the AT in the summer. If you really want to stay with a canister stove I would look into the Snow Peak Lightmax or similar. I would recommend a alcohol stove however as they are bulletproof and much easier/cheaper to find fuel for. Personally I like a Caldera Cone which saves you quite a bit of weight. (-3oz $30.00)

Drop the Fuel Canister for a lightweight Alcohol Bottle. A full fuel canister weighs more than 5oz BTW. It is more like 8. (-4oz $5.00)

I would skip the scrubber cloth as it will be nasty after the first use or two. Fingers work surprisingly well.

That is way too much for a solo pot. If you are on a budget look at the 3.8oz Anti Gravity Gear 3 cup pot. Are you really going to use a pan and a pot? Really? (-2oz $10.00)

Drop the Trowel and use your poles or heel. (-5oz $0.00)

Why so much water storage? You don’t need more than 2 liters. (-4oz $0.00)

Drop the pack cover and get a trash compactor bag as a pack liner. It works A LOT better, pack covers do not work! (-2oz $5.00)

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Good advice above on 04/06/2011 20:28:30 MDT Print View

What Bradford and Andy say!

Good advice above, (except for for Andy suggesting adding TP)

Kristie Kendall
(kkenda86) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
this is goood.... on 04/08/2011 14:20:37 MDT Print View

This is great advice, guys. Thanks.

I love the idea of making my own stove using a cat food/tuna can!

Does anyone have experience using the GoLite Jam? I think its weighs in around 1lb 4 ounces (for women). I have heard good things but not necessarily about its extended usage. Also, in response to the issue with down, it has nothing to do with the sleeping bag getting wet. I agree that my issues run way deeper if I'm letting my sleeping bag get wet in the first place. I simply prefer synthetic because its not an animal product. What are your thoughts on the MLD Spirit quilts? I'm wondering if the 30* would work well?

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
JAM on 04/08/2011 14:35:53 MDT Print View

- The JAM pack is sort of the mainstay of the lightweight pack arsenal. It is a little heavy by true UL standards, but I hike with mine all the time.

Don't stress about it's long term use - It will last forever, pretty much. I can't imagine it giving out unless you loaded it with 40 pounds for long trips. If nothing else, it is a good "intructory" pack, you might get a lighter pack down the road, and you can always use the JAM as a really nice travel pack.

- Down is lighter ounce for ounce than synthetic. It also lasts longer than synthetic. I don't know what to say about the treatment of the ducklings (do they kill them to get the down? I don't know?)

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Huh? on 04/08/2011 14:49:25 MDT Print View

"Down is lighter ounce for ounce than synthetic."

Last I checked, an ounce of down weighs exactly the same as an ounce of synthetic.

(J/K, Mike, we all know what you mean. :) )

Edited by ben2world on 04/08/2011 14:55:20 MDT.

Don A.
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
Jam Pack on 04/08/2011 15:04:22 MDT Print View

My current pack is a Jam and I've been happy with it. I would prefer something lighter but hate to change with the Jam working for me (to say nothing of the $'s). I trimmed some of the excess and, for me. useless straps to lighten it a bit. I've also found that I'm more comfortable hiking without the hip belt secured. If I didn't like the belt pockets I'd probably cut the belt off.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: this is goood.... on 04/08/2011 15:16:09 MDT Print View

I understand.

I don't own one but the MLD Quilts get great reviews and use the best synthetic insulation available.

William Zila
(Ultralightwillinn.m) - MLife

Locale: Albuquerque
Down vs synthetic on 04/09/2011 08:52:52 MDT Print View

I am not a expert in Any way but my guess is that getting the down is not anymore harming then te manufacturing process to make synthetics but like I said I am not a expert

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: this is goood.... on 04/09/2011 09:07:48 MDT Print View

Alcohol stove: I have a spare alcohol stove you can have if you want it. It's in great shape.

Quilt: I also have a BPL 240 synthetic quilt I bought on sale here. Never used. Size medium is good to 5'6", I think. I thought I could make it work for my 5'8" height, but it's a tad short, a smidgeon really. A nano tad short. You get the idea. If you're 5'6" or shorter, it would probably work very well for you and keep you toasty. I'd sell it for the same I paid for it, $155. (Well, I actually paid 153.89, but you know....) Since you're in the area I'll even deliver.

You can have the stove regardless of whether or not you buy the quilt.

Let me know.

Kristie Kendall
(kkenda86) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Re: this is goood.... on 04/13/2011 11:36:59 MDT Print View

@Douglas --Thanks for the offer! I am definitely interested in the quilt, but I think I might do a little more shopping around/try out the MH ultralamina before I head down the quilt route. If the MH is a no-go and you still have that quilt, I would love to buy it from you.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: this is goood.... on 04/13/2011 12:05:20 MDT Print View

No worries Kristie, just let me know.

Do you want the alcohol stove, or are you determined to make your own? ;-)

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Newbie UL...need gear advice for VA thru hike on 04/13/2011 12:56:47 MDT Print View

As to the stove: there is a nice set of instructions on Andrew Skurka's site about making a simple cat-can stove.

Just be sure to match the flame-pattern on whatever alcohol stove you make/buy/borrow/steal to whatever pot you are going to use. If the flames come out the top, you'll need something with a smaller diameter. If the flames comes out holes in the sides, you'll want something a little larger. That way, you are getting the most efficient use of the alcohol.

Jason Klass has a video about choosing the correct pot and stove combo.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Newbie UL...need gear advice for VA thru hike on 04/13/2011 15:21:23 MDT Print View

Not to be critical and go with 19# if you want.
19# is not that bad compared to the old days but
you should be able to hit 12-13# by swapping some stuff out.

Golite jam is okay, but you need more compact gear than what you have now.
Miraposa etc.

Buy a scale and use the 6# plus 6# rule.
6# for the big 4 and 6# for everything else.

12# base puts you at about 24# total with 4-5 days of food and 2L of H20.

I did not go thorugh the entire list, but I think you will need a regular bivy with a
poncho tarp, water splash and all.

You can do a complete alcohol beer can bag cookset for 5oz and its mostly free.


Everything fits inside the white container which is a country time lemonaid container and it will handle boiling water and is crush proof. The pot is a cut down 24 oz fosters can with a bail handle.

For the big 4 use a 24 oz or under pack, a moment tent, golite ultra 20 and a superlight pad will result in a 5.5# for the big 4 leaving you 6.5# for everything else.