Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Adam Cuthbertson
(fretster) - F

Locale: Lynnwood, WA
New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions? on 05/02/2011 20:34:10 MDT Print View

Hey guys, first time posting here but have been reading for a little while. I've started wanting to get away from the 40lb backpack and 4lb boots as frankly it can (and has been) an ass-kicker when it comes to getting out into nature. I'm also trying to do this somewhat frugally (although that seems to be somewhat an oxymoron with some of the gear out there) and would like your opinions on what I have as well as with what I should purchase or at least look at.

I haven't gotten into doing any extended trips; usually I just end up getting out there on a long weekend with my camping buddy. I would like to do longer trips, but between my work schedule and the like that isn't too likely to happen. I'm thinking 4 days would probably be the max at the moment. For what it's worth, I live in the Seattle area of Washington state, so when it's not raining it'll likely start at any moment.

On to the gear list!

Backpack: REI Flash 18
Sleeping bag: Big Agnes Pitchpine 40deg SL // Sea to Summit Thermolite Extreme Mummy Liner
Cooking: Backcountry Titanium 700ml pot // Esbit folding titanium stove // Jetboil plastic spoon
Clothing: Marmot Precip Jacket // REI Convertible Pant // REI Revelcloud Vest
Shelter: GoLite Den 2 Shelter

I've also got some other odds and ends; Adventure Medical .9 Kit (I think that's the one), Petzl TacTikka Headlamp, the 10 essentials. Some stuff I'm looking for as of now is long underwear (I'm on the fence with Smartwool ($$) and something like the Capilene that Patagonia has); a hat to wear while sleeping; shoes (I was thinking of getting these at Nordstrom Rack as they tend to have some nicer outdoor shoes on occasion).

I realize my backpack choice may be less than ideal, and am open to suggestions on an alternative. I ended up with a $450 gift certificate for so most of my purchases would ideally be from them or one of their other sites.

Thanks guys!

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions? on 05/02/2011 21:44:09 MDT Print View

First off, welcome to Backpacking Light Adam! My first post on the forums was right here at gear list as well. You will certainly find a wealth of knowledge on these forum boards.

Pack: Is that the daypack style Flash 18? You may want something with more durability and volume. I would suggest getting a pack last. Get all your other light gear together and figure out what size it will fit in. Considering you are only planning on short trips, something in the 30-50L range may be ideal. I use an Exos 46 as my three season pack. Good frame and pretty light, you may want to consider something like the Exos 34 with the gift card.

Bag: should work good for warmer months, pretty light and packs small. No experience with the liner. If you hang around here long enough, you will probably end up wanting a Western Mountaineering or a quilt. For me, A 20*F WM Ultralite would be awful tempting with that gift card. Good three-season bag for moderate climates.

Cook kit: Esbit is good, consider making a cat can alcohol stove. Fuel is cheaper too.

Clothing: Lots of weight can be saved here but stick with what you have until you realize what you want or need to change. Since you are considering wool layers, I can highly recommend Icebreaker 150wt t-shirts. ~$50 but worth it. Consider matching 150wt bottoms to help with your sleep system. Wool socks are great as well. The vest is light and versatile. The rain jacket is a little heavy.

Shelter: Do you prefer solo or sharing? The weight of a normal double wall tent can be split between two people. A single wall shelter like a Tarptent is a pretty low cost and lightweight solo alternative. Big Agnes makes some decent UL double wall tents that the gift card could be used for, such as the Fly Creek UL1.

First Aid Kit and 10 essentials: Lots of this can be whittled down to save some weight. Some of it you might not even need. The "10 essentials" can get heavy if they are not multi-purpose. Narrowing down my emergency kit was one of the hardest things for me to overcome. I ended up saving over a pound in the end though and feel just as safe.

One thing I do not see is a sleeping pad. Many to pick from. For moderate weather above 35*F (which is what I am assuming from your other gear), the Thermarest Neo-Air is popular. The Z-Lite is a little bulkier but cheaper. Both can be found a backcountry.

Hope that helps!

EDIT: Keep an eye on Gear Swap, good stuff for good prices can come up on there.

Edited by radio_guy on 05/02/2011 21:55:00 MDT.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Gearlist on 05/02/2011 21:56:29 MDT Print View

Hi Adam,

Here's what I would get if I had to buy from backcountry:

Backpack: Without a doubt, a Golite Jam over the REI pack - I hear the REI packs do not carry well. Edit: Or the Exos 46.

Sleeping bag: For WA you'll definitely want a warmer bag. I'd say at least 30deg or so. The Montbell Super Spirals are good bags, but I would go with the Western Mountaineering Ultralite if you can afford it. Do you have a sleeping pad? The Big Agnes Clearview Mummy pads are a good less expensive option and can be taken down to about 20 degree without needing another pad beneath it.

Cooking: Backcountry Titanium 700ml pot // Esbit folding titanium stove - these look good, and get that backcountry long handled spoon instead.
Clothing: Marmot Precip Jacket // REI Convertible Pant // REI Revelcloud Vest - looks good to me
Shelter: Assuming you've spent all your other money at backcountry, this is where I would spend your other money. For tents look at tarptent, or tarps from Gossamer Gear, MLD, etc.

Look for sales on the wool (brand doesn't much matter in my opinion), and Montbell trail runners are often on sale plus coupon at SierraTradingPost.

Edit: Looks like me and Ryan were on the same wavelength :)

Edited by ChrisMorgan on 05/02/2011 21:58:13 MDT.

Derek Kind
Ideas on 05/02/2011 22:36:38 MDT Print View

I've gone through a lot of your same choices the last year, so maybe I too can help...

For Merino wool, you can look for the brand Minus 33. I've found a couple of their shirts really cheap and they're very good quality - can't speak for their underwear if they have them, but the brand seems to be a good economical choice. Capilene gets a lot of reviews for synthetics, just be warned a lot of people also mention how much it smells, if that's important to you. Merino shirts are really good for preventing smell.

Besides the items you list, your other big purchases will be a tent and sleeping pad. There are a lot of options for pads, and your choice will depend on the temps you're sleeping in, the shelter you use, whether you want a big comfy pad or can get by with a short skinny one....luckily there's lots of advice to be found on BPL. :)

For sleeping bags, have you looked into quilts? Not necessarily cheaper, especially from Backcountry, but possibly lighter and you may like sleeping in one. Either way, try to envision the temperatures you'll be sleeping in before you pick a bag. I'm curious as to why you're thinking of getting the bag liner?

I think I have that Backcountry Ti 700ml pot - it's the one that looks like a mug, right? I've weighed it at 4oz with the lid and it seems like a nice mug...just to give you options though, there are cheaper and slightly lighter pots out there, like this one that you may be able to find at Wal-Mart:

For the rain jacket, you can certainly go lighter than the Precip, but granted it may be more solid than lighter options and I see it's on sale. Maybe others will give you alternatives.

Good luck, have fun spending that gift card. :)

Edited by berethorn on 05/02/2011 22:38:54 MDT.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions? on 05/02/2011 22:58:55 MDT Print View

Adam, the best advice I can give you- read, read and read some more. I also live and hike in the Seattle area, so here is my take on your list-

Backpack: REI Flash 18- Unless you have a sub 5 lb base weight this pack might be on the small side for you. I would suggest the Golite Jam also, it is on sale at Backcounty for $119

Sleeping bag: Big Agnes Pitchpine 40deg SL- I think this bag is not warm enough, I was out last weekend and it was 28* in the desert, I was hiking by Vantage. I've had it snow on me in the cascades in August, 2 years ago. I agree with the WM ultralight but it is very expensive, so you might look for a 20* bag on the gear swap or at Backcounty

Sleeping pad- don't get the BA clearview, you will freeze- I know this from experience. If you can get away with a thin pad go with a Z-rest from Therm-a-rest or get a lightweight Self-inflatable, if you have money left over you can look int the "insulated air" mattresses, but they are very expensive so I'd add them later.

Sea to Summit Thermolite Extreme Mummy Liner- I don't think a liner is worth the price or weight. They don't add more than 1 or 2 degrees of warmth.

Cooking: Backcountry Titanium 700ml pot- this would work, your choice

Esbit folding titanium stove- works

Jetboil plastic spoon- any lightweight spoon work- I'd get a long handled one

Marmot Precip Jacket- good option for a start, you can get something lighter

REI Convertible Pant- personal choice, I don't like hula hoops around my thighs. There are options at Backcountry

REI Revelcloud Vest- unless you don't get cold I'd get a down sweater, Backcountry has a few on sale right now.

Shelter: GoLite Den 2 Shelter- there are lighter option available

Adventure Medical .9 Kit (I think that's the one)- you can make your own for less money and lighter

Petzl TacTikka Headlamp, get the Petzl E02 P2 e+LITE, its better (lighter and better)

long underwear- capilene is good, but I think UL wool is better

hat to wear while sleeping- I like a wool skull cap or 100 fleece balaclava, Amazon had some on sale for $6.95 last week- vary nice for the price.

shoes (I was thinking of getting these at Nordstrom Rack as they tend to have some nicer outdoor shoes on occasion)- go with some trail runners! I don't think the rack has any so you will have to go elsewhere. They have a number at Backcountry

the 10 essentials- search the forums for the best, cheapest and lightest things for "the essentials"

I think you can get a lot of what you need at Backcountry with your gift cert. I wish someone would have given me something like that when I started paring my weight down.

You might look at the "Gear List" forum and use some of those as a baseline for what you might want to look for.

Good Luck.

Edited by bestbuilder on 05/02/2011 23:06:32 MDT.

Adam Cuthbertson
(fretster) - F

Locale: Lynnwood, WA
Re: New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions? on 05/02/2011 23:48:19 MDT Print View

Thanks for all your recommendations on gear as well as the warm welcome.

The list of stuff I put on here is what I currently own and was going to use for lightweight packing; it's not on a shopping list. Although I can return some of the things (well, most of them) since they were bought from REI and Backcountry and they have stellar return policies.

My thoughts about the bag liner is that it claims to add 25 degrees to the bag and also keeps it from getting filthy since it's a down bag and cleaning those have definite cons. I've not used a liner before, but had heard good things about them; although from what you folks have said they don't seem to be worthwhile. The sleeping pad, I was planning on getting a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core to use with it. Some of the bags you folks have recommended look pretty darn nice (and expensive), I can't really justify a $400 sleeping bag at the moment; what would be a decent middle ground to go with? I know that Backcountry frequently has Rab bags on sale and I've heard good things about those, but my only real experience with sleeping bags has been with Big Agnes gear.
I haven't really looked into quilts and frankly am not at all familiar with them. I just checked on Backcountry and only came across a couple GoLite ones which look a lot like a sleeping bag with the back removed.

My other backpack is an Osprey Aether 70 which is a great bag and fits like a dream. But, since I'm trying to get away from carrying a ton of gear; and that bag is fairly heavy on its own, maybe I'll trade that in at REI for an Exos (46 or 34) since I've enjoyed my Aether so much.

What would good alternatives be to the REI pants and vest? I actually took the vest out a couple weekends ago and found that it didn't really provide that much warmth, although I wasn't sure what to expect from it. I might just return it since I bought it with the idea of it keeping my core warm and it didn't really seem to do that too well.

The folding esbit stove is currently on order (the site I got it from is backordered) as is a base trangia model. They were both cheap enough I figured it'd be worth getting the two of them just to experiment with. The only stove I've used in the past is a Jetboil, which works great, but takes up a lot of room and the weight adds up a lot especially with the fuel canisters.

I haven't gone solo camping before and frankly don't have a huge urge to do so right now. My friend I go camping with has a nice Big Agnes lightweight tent (I forget the name) that we usually divvy up and it's been great to use. We've taken my GoLite out a couple times and it's worked great as well; he actually borrowed it once for a solo trip and was really happy with it.

Thanks for all the help!

Derek Kind
Re: gear on 05/03/2011 00:13:09 MDT Print View

Sorry, guess we didn't realize you'd already bought that stuff! :D

I have no opinion on the liner, I just wondered why you had it. You may find it unnecessary, but then again you may love it - and you might be able to get away with JUST the liner if you camp in really hot conditions.

Quilts: quilts ARE sleeping bags with the backs removed... the theory being that the insulation you lie on doesn't insulate you at all because it's compressed. By removing the extra insulation and material where the back would be, and the zipper, and the hood, the quilt should be considerably lighter without sacrificing warmth. Also, if you find bags constrictive and uncomfortable, you may find the quilt a lot friendlier. It's certainly easier to get out of quickly in the middle of the night. You sleep directly on the pad and wrap the quilt around you like a blanket or around the pad - some have straps for the purpose. I'm going to be getting my first quilt soon and I can't wait because I've never been happy in bags. There's a lot of people on the forums here who love quilts, but there are others who don't. I thought to mention it, because the bags are so standard that many people don't know there's anything different. I certainly didn't.

You can check the Gear Swap for deals. There are GoLite Ultra 20s that go on sale from time to time. It's the one I'm trying.

Adam Cuthbertson
(fretster) - F

Locale: Lynnwood, WA
RE: New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions? on 05/03/2011 00:18:25 MDT Print View

Yeah the stuff I had listed out is what I already own and I was kind of looking for a "fill in the blank" kind of deal haha. Although all the replies have definitely helped out a lot; I'm going to return that bag and liner and just go with something that'll work for sure, I shouldn't rely on a liner when the temps are -10 of what my bags rating is.

Sounds like the Big Agnes style is kind of in tune with the whole quilt deal then. The backs of their bags are not insulated and instead have a sleeve that you slide their inflatable sleeping pad into (there's several options for the pads; insulated, etc). How does this one look to you as a better option to my Pitchpine? --

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: New to lightweight backpacking; trying to get some gear together, advice/suggestions? on 05/03/2011 00:24:49 MDT Print View

Adam, I mean this in the best way, please read GEAR LIST ETIQUETTE
After you do it will help you and those helping you.

Now to answer your other questions:

My thoughts about the bag liner is that it claims to add 25 degrees to the bag- NO WAY! Its all marketing hype. It might keep the bag clean but it will not add any real warmth. I would rather wash my bag then deal with a liner any day. Sleep with a clean base layer (much lighter) and you'll have no problems.

>The sleeping pad, I was planning on getting a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core to use with it.<- these work but mine doesn't keep me warm past 30*, so plan accordingly.

>I can't really justify a $400 sleeping bag at the moment<- I understand, the Rab on sale (30*) is a good buy, also the golite 20* quilt is great but you have to be ready to make the jump. Do some research, you might be ready for it.

>backpack is an Osprey Aether 70<- You are right, good pack, too heavy! But until you get your shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and your clothing figured out don't get a new pack. You need to figure out how much space you will need before you get a new pack.
You can go try out the Enos and the Jam, REI carries both (I have both but use the enos only for winter), but don't get anything until you have everything else figured out.

>Pants<- get any regular lightweight non-zipoffs, you can wear longjohns under them when its cold.

>Vest<, I don't use one hiking, as I said before look into a down sweater or a fleece jacket (heavy and bulky) will keep you warm in the evening and morning.

>Esbit<- practice using it at home first (I think they are a little messy and smelly). The Jetboil is too heavy for any real value. Alcohol stoves like the Caldera Cone are great for you length of trips, you can get one to fit you BC 700 pot.

Stay with the tent until you figure out more of what you are doing.

Edited by bestbuilder on 05/03/2011 00:28:15 MDT.