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Trying this Ultralight thing...
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Andrew Fisher
(afisher99) - F
Trying this Ultralight thing... on 06/06/2011 12:36:08 MDT Print View

I will say that while I am not new to backpacking (been spending 20 - 30 nights out for the past 15 years), I have been guilty of carrying the kitchen sink. When you see my list, you'll shudder, but keep in mind, I have been shaving weight (which should scare you about what I used to carry...). I don't think I will ever get down to the 25 lb week long pack, but I would appreciate some advice on where to shave ounces - especially in the clothing arena.

I also don't think that all of my 'creature-comforts' are going to be so easy to get rid of - I have tried hammock/tarp routes, but I've found I just prefer a tent. Been researching the Stealth Quilt, and my only hesitation is that I'm a very cold sleeper - would be a great summer idea, but I dunno how well it would work in the shoulder season and winter.

I also understand that my camera choice is, well, not very light... however, I have sold three photographs from my trips at a local gallery - not for very much cash, but it is gratifying when someone buys them...

My 'big' trip this year is hiking in Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks - which includes a piece of gear that I normally would never bring, a bear canister. Unfortunately (well, fortunate if you are a bear, unfortunate if you have a wonky back), that's a requirement. I will also be leaving the boots behind on a few weekend trips before we go in August, to see if I can go with just trail shoes - I've broken my right ankle twice, and sprained it numerous times, so I like the security of a boot (that said, if anyone knows of a light boot that still provides bomber ankle support, I'm all for it). Alright, I'll shut up... let the horror begin...

Tent: MH Sprite 1 = 47 Oz
Bag: MM Pinnacle = 40 oz
Pad: Therma-rest Pro-Lite 4 = 16 oz
T-Shirts: Icebreaker Superfine Tech Lite (2) (Just splurged on 2 of these) = 8 oz (est.)
Pants: REI Endeavor Pants = 12 oz (est.)
Socks: Smartwool Hiking Light Crew (2) = 6 oz (est.)
Underwear: Ex Officio Boxer Briefs (2) = 6 oz (est.)
Jacket: Mont Bell Parka = 14.2 oz (also doubles as my pillow at night)
Hat: OR Sombriolet Hat = 4 oz (est)
Rain Shell: Marmot Precip = 13 oz
Boots: Asolo Powermatics = 27.7 oz
Hygiene Items = 6 oz (Purell, Toothbrush, Toothpaste)
Headlamp: BD Icon: 6.6 oz
Batteries: 0.6 oz
Canon 50D/Lens: 27 oz
Toliet Paper: 0.3 (est.)
BD Trail Back Poles: 20 oz
Nalgene Bottles (2): 12.4 oz
MSR Miniworks Filter: 14.6 oz
Plastic shovel: 0.4 oz
Tool: Leatherman Skeletool = 0.5 oz
Stove: JetBoil: 15.25 oz
Canisters (2) = 13 oz
BearVault = 41 oz
Utensils: Sea to Summit Airplane Grade Utensils: 0.3 Oz
Mug = Titanium mug = 3 oz
Trash Bag = 3 oz
Zip -loc bags = 2 oz

Backpack: Osprey Argon 85 = 79 oz.

I'm estimating about 5 lbs of food for 6 days, and at any given point, I'm carrying 4.4 lbs of water (2 liters)

This would make for a total of: 36.87 lbs on Day One.

I'll probably have a couple of other items thrown in there, so I would put it at 40-42 lbs for a realistic weight.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Trying this Ultralight thing... on 06/06/2011 13:29:08 MDT Print View

Hi Andrew,

Congrats on the recognition of your photography!

It would help bring in more suggestions if you told us where you typically hike, for how long, and what the temperature range is. One convention which is often helpful is to separate your gear into separate total weights of:

1. Base pack weight (no food, water, or fuel)
2. Gear and clothing worn or carried (pants, socks, trekking poles)
3. Consumables (food, water, fuel)

The base pack weight is the main focus of course. Getting it down to 11-13 pounds shouldn't be very difficult if you're prepared to spend some money on lighter gear.

Just some quick items you could save weight on:

Tent and bag: You can probably save some weight here, depending on the weather and bugs.

Clothing: Carry only necessary insulation and 1 extra pair of socks

Filter: The new Sawyer Squeeze looks like a good option. I don't treat filter or treat water at all sometimes. Another option is AquaMira drops or non-iodine tablets.

Rain jacket: A DriDucks jacket is 5-6 oz, but much less durable

Hygiene: repackage stuff into small dropper bottles or tiny containers

Water bottles: use a soda, water, or Gatorade bottle, or get a Platypus or two

Stove: Use a 4-5 oz aluminum 3/4 quart pot or even lighter titanium pot, and make your own Supercat alcohol stove and windscreen.

Once you've shaved the weight down on everything, it'll all fit and be comfortable in a lighter pack! :)

Inov8 makes some light boots. I haven't tried them, but I like their shoes. Boots or shoes with a thinner sole (for less height and more ground sensing) and less heel rise *might* help you with ankle stability. I've found that not being afraid to take a controlled fall helps too. :)

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Trying this Ultralight thing on 06/06/2011 14:51:23 MDT Print View

You have a lot of heavy stuff.

If you want a simple way to think about this,
6# or under for your big 4
6# or under for everything else excluding the bear canister

IE typical not too expensive for the big 4 might be 24oz pack like a GG Miraposa, 21 oz quilt like a golite ultra 20, 14 oz pad, 30 oz tent like a moment or lightheart, 2 oz dry bag = 5# 11oz

A lighter version might be a 6oz Zpack cuben pack, 14oz MYOG down quilt out of M50, 11oz pad like a small prolite 3, 7oz 4'6 x 9' cuben poncho tarp with stakes, 3oz MYOG bivy out of m50 and cuben, 2oz polycro ground cloth. 2oz dry bag = Sub 3#.

Add a 2 oz emer rain jacket.

You can knock off about 10# from your listed weights as below.

Tarp and bivy or a SUL cuben tent like the lightheart. Save 20oz or more.
Golite ultra 20 quilt will save 18oz
Short neoair and a 1/8 pad will save 4 oz.
One T-shirt save 4 oz
Who needs underwear save 6 oz

Good jacket choice.

Hat 2.5 oz version saves 1.5oz

If you are in a mostly dry climate you can use a 9oz poncho tarp with bivy and get rid of the rain gear. You will want to carry a 1.5oz dispoable rain jacket. Thats about 16oz for shelter and raingear combined.

Boots dont go in your weight unless you are carrying them on your back. Trail runners are lighter. 1# on your feet is worth 5# on your back. Save 27 oz.

Lighter Headlamp and save 4 oz
There is a waterproof P+S camera that weighs 5oz but cant remember what it is right now.
Saves 22 oz

GG Carbon fiber Poles saves 12oz
2 Platys saves 9 oz

Geigerrig bag and stripped aquamira pro plus a small bottle of clorine - 11oz Saves 3.5 oz
(You can do this even lighter using a 2L platy instead of a geigerrig, like 6 oz)

Lighter Stove like an alcohol stove saves 13 oz min
(My entire cook kit stove and all weighs 5 oz)

Canisters ditch them saves 13 oz
BearVault = 41 oz Dont know much about bear canisters, but there are lighter options I think.

How much does your backpack and dry sack weigh ??

If I add up all the weight savings above I come up with about 10# in weight savings and also a lot lighter wallet.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Trying this Ultralight thing... on 06/06/2011 16:22:59 MDT Print View

Tent: MH Sprite 1 = 47 Oz – Check out the Tarptent Rainbow for a good “transition to UL” tent.

Bag: MM Pinnacle = 40 oz – Not a bad bag, but a bit heavy. If you aren’t ready for a quilt what about the Western Mountaineering Versalite?

Pad: Therma-rest Pro-Lite 4 = 16 oz – Probably not worth changing at this point.

T-Shirts: Icebreaker Superfine Tech Lite (2) (Just splurged on 2 of these) = 8 oz (est.) – Does this include what you are wearing? Do not bring more than one extra shirt used for sleeping.

Pants: REI Endeavor Pants = 12 oz (est.) – I assume you are wearing these, if not drop them.

Socks: Smartwool Hiking Light Crew (2) = 6 oz (est.) – After switching to trail runners go to a ligher sock. I like Defeet Wool-e-ators at 1.65oz per pair. Another plus they dry faster.

Underwear: Ex Officio Boxer Briefs (2) = 6 oz (est.) Wear a pair and don’t bring extras. You can wash them out mid trip if needed.

Jacket: Mont Bell Parka = 14.2 oz (also doubles as my pillow at night) – Nice choice

Hat: OR Sombriolet Hat = 4 oz (est) - Again, I assume this is worn.

Rain Shell: Marmot Precip = 13 oz – Consider trading out for a DriDucks (5.1oz), Marmot Essence (6.4oz) or OR Helium (7oz)

Boots: Asolo Powermatics = 27.7 oz – Switch to trail runners, your feet will thank you. I was a long time holdout for one piece leather boots and tore three ligaments in my ankle in 2007 (not backpacking related) and switching to trail runners was the best move I ever made.

Hygiene Items = 6 oz (Purell, Toothbrush, Toothpaste) – You could probably cut this weight in half by repackaging, etc.

Headlamp: BD Icon: 6.6 oz – Holy Cow! There are plenty of great lights out there for 3oz and some under 2oz that work fine even for night hiking.

Batteries: 0.6 oz – What are these for?
Canon 50D/Lens: 27 oz – Yes this is heavy, but it is obviously a passion so I am going to leave it alone.

Toliet Paper: 0.3 (est.)

BD Trail Back Poles: 20 oz

Nalgene Bottles (2): 12.4 oz – Another easy fix. I can’t believe so many people still carry ¾ pound in empty bottles. 2 Gatorade bottles are 3.6oz and super durable.

MSR Miniworks Filter: 14.6 oz – There are many good light options here, but I like Aquamira, which is 1.1oz for a little over a weeks worth when repackaged.

Plastic shovel: 0.4 oz – Drop. Use your heel, tent stake, stick, trekking pole, rock, etc.

Tool: Leatherman Skeletool = 0.5 oz – If it is really that light leave it alone, however I am not aware of a 0.5oz multitool.

Stove: JetBoil: 15.25 oz – Jetboils don’t make since that often for solo hikers. You might look at a nice alcohol setup like a Caldera Cone or a light canister stove like the Snow Peak Gigapower.

Canisters (2) = 13 oz – Two canisters? I could get 17 12oz boils out of the small Snow Peak canisters back when I used a canister stove. I don’t see how you would need to boil more than that between resupply points.

BearVault = 41 oz – necessary evil

Utensils: Sea to Summit Airplane Grade Utensils: 0.3 Oz

Mug = Titanium mug = 3 oz – Drop, eat out of your cookpot

Trash Bag = 3 oz – Drop, put garbage in used ziplocks from FB cooking, snacks, etc.

Zip -loc bags = 2 oz

Backpack: Osprey Argon 85 = 79 oz. – Packs can be personal, but this is a HUGE and HEAVY pack. You might find something like the SMD Starlight, Gossamer Gear Mariposia Plus, or ULA Circuit will meet your needs for a lot less weight.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
this is a "TRADITIONAL" gear list on 06/06/2011 16:41:31 MDT Print View


Okay - I started trying to review our list and give you some feedback. But what you are listing here is a "TRADITIONAL" gear list. And - remember - this forum is for LIGHTWEIGHT backpacking.

For instance, you listed:
Nalgene Bottles (2): 12.4 oz

This is kind of a representation of your entire list. No lightweight backpacker uses Nalgene 1-liter bottles. Two 1-liter water bottles from the grocery store (or out of the recycle bin) weigh less than 2 ounces. Saving over 10 ounces!

Beyond the Nalgene bottles, you list a LOT of traditions items: Tent, canister stove and water filter.

My advice, review some gear lists and then make your own list (with everything!) without stating: "I'll probably have a couple of other items thrown in there."

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Keep it up. on 06/06/2011 18:48:32 MDT Print View


normally I don't comment on gear lists -- I'm still on my journey from "traditional" backpacker towards "ultralight". After reading Mike's comment I feel compelled to chime in. I bought his book and love many of his tips. I also appreciate all the time he invests to review other people's gear lists and help them to lighten their packs.

This time he "gave up" because he felt that Nalgene bottles make your list a "traditional" gear list. I guess from his point of view he is right, but wonder whether his comment is potentially "discouraging" you in your effort to lighten your load. Working with Boy Scouts I have started this journey with a very heavy pack -- after all a Boy Scout has to "Be Prepared". By now I would consider myself "lightweight", but I have still a long way to go to get "ultralight".

For me it has been a gradual process. Every trip I would try something new that is slightly out of my comfort zone. From (heavy) free-standing tent to lighter tent that uses my trekking poles to tarp poncho. I don't think I could have done that in one step. Otherwise we could just all copy a gear list from here and be done. For me the process includes learning new skills and becoming confident that with those skills I will be as safe and comfortable with the new lighter items as I was before with the "traditional" items.

Enjoy your trip to Kings Canyon,


P.S.: Depending on your financial situation you might want to consider a couple of new items.

Sleeping Bag: WM SummerLite should be good enough in August and would save you 21 oz
Backpack. If you are not ready yet for a frameless pack (I'm not), you might want to look into the Osprey Exos 58. That would save you 61 oz over the Osprey Argon that is 101 oz. So these two items alone save you over 5 lbs. BTW. a big pack invites to throw in this or that. The Exos 58 has enough space for Bear Canister, clothes, sleeping bag, etc.
Nalgene Bottles: Mike is right. I used to have them too. You can easily save another 10 oz.
Leatherman: The Skeletool weighs 5 oz. It took me a while to give it up. Now I have the Style (0.8 oz) and it is absolutely sufficient.
Stove: If you don't want to give up the JetBoil, you can look into the JetBoil Sol Ti to save another 5 oz.
BearCanister: Look into the Bearicade Weekender. It should be fine for 6 days and would save another 10 oz
Rainjacket: DryDucks cost only $15 and would save you 7 oz
Headlamp: Petzl Tikka weighs 3.1 oz and saves you 3.5 oz. There are other lighter options too
Trekking poles: LT4 from Gossamer would save you 12 oz

So without really changing your current style of backpacking you could save 124 oz or almost 8 lbs. In my experience it has been worth the money. As you can see by the frequent gear swaps you will most likely find that once you are down at a certain base weight and comfortable with it you can save more weight by spending more money on different lighter items. It is a journey and certainly not done in one big step - at least not for me.

Lance Marshall
(Lancem) - F - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Keep it up. on 06/06/2011 21:53:48 MDT Print View


You've undoubtedly read about and viewed lightweight gear lists here. Compare yours side by side with other typical lightweight lists and revise yours accordingly. Also, purchase a scale that weighs in grams and fractions of ounces.(Your weight figures appear to be manufacturers numbers and estimates.)

Reorganize your gear list using categories and breaking out all individual items. For instance, list all stuff sacks/bags separately from what goes in them, list stakes separately from your shelter, list your utensils separately, not as a set. Be truthful with yourself and include EVERYTHING: your ID, comb, car key, etc.

Items possibly missing or needing to be listed separately:

Warm hat
Sleep socks
Lip balm
First Aid/ Repair Kit
Wallet(ziploc) w/ ID $ Insurance etc

Here is one possible revised gear list. It still includes a sleeping bag instead of a quilt and a tent instead of a tarp, etc, but it's much lighter (and complete) than your current list.

Sample gear list  2 for Andrew

You could reduce your weight even furthur. Peruse the gear lists and forum discussion for ideas.

Hope this helps

Edited by Lancem on 06/06/2011 22:01:31 MDT.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
feedback and insights on 06/06/2011 23:07:01 MDT Print View

Feedback insights:

I went thru your gear list, and pretty much every item would be considered "traditional" gear. Especially your pack! I felt like I was a sorta harsh, advocating that you NIX or REPLACE almost every item. Please know, the lightweight gear that is available these days is really high quality (and mostly pretty cheap).

I encourage you to do an ACCURATE gear list, no estimations! Weigh each item and put it into a spread sheet. And please don't say: "I'll probably have a couple of other items thrown in there"

Tent: MH Sprite 1 = 47 Oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. A tarp at no more than 10 oz.

Bag: MM Pinnacle = 40 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. No more than 24 oz.

Pad: Therma-rest Pro-Lite 4 = 16 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. No more than 10 oz.

T-Shirts: Icebreaker Superfine Tech Lite (2) (Just splurged on 2 of these) = 8 oz (est.) ------- Not part of pack weigh, part of gear worn on day one. No need for two shirts, one is plenty.

Socks: Smartwool Hiking Light Crew (2) = 6 oz (est.) -------------- Your estimate is too high. Less than 2 oz per par total.

Underwear: Ex Officio Boxer Briefs (2) = 6 oz (est.) ------- Not part of pack weigh, part of gear worn on day one. No need for two pairs, one is plenty.

JJacket: Mont Bell Parka = 14.2 oz (also doubles as my pillow at night) ---------------- Replace with a Montbell down inner jacket at 7 oz.

Rain Shell: Marmot Precip = 13 oz-------------- Replace with a DRIDUCKS jacket at 6 ounces, saving over 7 oz.

Hat: OR Sombrero Hat = 4 oz (est) ------- Not part of pack weigh, part of gear worn.

Hygiene Items = 6 oz (Purell, Toothbrush, Toothpaste) -------------- Yikes, this is a lot. Revise to less than 3 oz total.

Headlamp: BD Icon: 6.6 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. Aim for 1 oz.

Batteries: 0.6 oz ---------------- NIX.

Canon 50D/Lens: 27 oz --------------- Yikes, thats a lot!

Toilet Paper: 0.3 (est.) ---------- NIX, no need.

BD Trail Back Poles: 20 oz------- Not part of pack weigh, part of gear carried.

Nalgene Bottles (2): 12.4 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. Two 1-liter water bottles weigh less than 2 oz.

MSR Miniworks Filter: 14.6 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. Aquamira drops repackaged in smaller bottle weighs approx 2 oz.

Plastic shovel: 0.4 oz ---------- NIX, no need.

Tool: Leatherman Skeletool = 5 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter. A single edge razor weighs 0.1 oz

Stove: JetBoil: 15.25 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter, like an Alcohol set up.

Canisters (2) = 13 oz ------------- Replace with something lighter, like an Alcohol set up.

Trash Bag = 3 oz ------------ 2.2 oz max

Zip -loc bags = 2 oz ----------- 2 ounces of ziploc bags? THis is way too much.

Backpack: Osprey Argon 85 = 79 oz. ------------- Yikes! THis is WAY TOO MUCH! Replace with something MUCH lighter. Save 45 ounces.

Edited by mikeclelland on 06/07/2011 11:44:32 MDT.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: feedback and insights on 06/07/2011 00:28:03 MDT Print View

Basically going to reiterate what everyone else has said. You have a lot of redundant items and then a lot of heavy items that can cheaply be replaced by light items (*cough* nalgene *cough*).

I would say your pack is probably your biggest problem. It's simply WAY too big, allowing you to pack everything. I know you're supposed to buy the pack last to fit your gear load/volume however you may do well getting a ~2lb bag in the 40-50L range which will force you to cut back on what you take.

As for making the most weight savings, it's going to be in all your items over a pound. Most of those items can readily be replaced with items weighing tens of ounces lighter (Pack, Shelter, Bag) without sacrificing your style of backpacking.

You can get full mummy bags much lighter. And with the full down parka, wear that to bed and you'll still maintain similar comfort temps.

Tents can be 24oz (Six Moons Trekker) and going to tarps and lighter fabrics only lightens the load.

The multi-tool needs to go. It's 5oz of useless weight. When was the last time you saw nuts and bolts that were worth fiddling with?

I know you have a lot of fancy gear, and it's hard to not use it since you paid money for it. At the worst, you now have loaner gear that you can make friends carry if they don't have any gear that's not terrible.

Lightweight is a state of mind, not state of gear.

Fred Thorp
(BFThorp) - F
Trying this Ultralight thing... on 06/20/2011 13:08:21 MDT Print View

I say if you're having fun, who cares. I was not. So with some help from the educated here and a few others, I cut some gear or exchanged. Now I fell like Gene Kelly. Not really but kinda.

Will Webster
Camera on 06/20/2011 14:14:24 MDT Print View

I understand your reluctance to replace your DSLR with a P&S, but you might consider some options:

Ultralight option:
> Canon S95, but it's got a small sensor so you'll be limited in low light and dof control.

Lighter but not UL options:
> Buy one of the Rebel series bodies. If you don't need the latest version you can pick a used one up pretty cheap. Try KEH or the buy & sell on The user interface isn't as nice but they are capable of capturing excellent images.
> You don't specify the lens; is there a lighter alternative?
> The Sony NEX series has the same size sensor as what you're using now; 20 oz with a mid-range zoom.
> If you can live with a fixed 35mm equivalent fov and have an extra $1200, look at the Fuji X100 (15 oz).

EDIT: According to wikipedia your 50D body weighs 28 ounces by itself, so with lens it's a lot heavier than you list.

Edited by WillWeb on 06/20/2011 14:23:21 MDT.

Mat Tallman
(wehtaM) - F

Locale: Midwest
weight on 06/21/2011 21:54:25 MDT Print View

I'm not sure it's been mentioned, but you're 22oz short on the weight of the pack.
Its listed weight is 101oz, that is a horrendously heavy pack, many people on here have entire pack weights, fully loaded (minus food and water) which are lighter than this. That should not necessarily be a goal, but rather a reminder of what is possible. I think getting a pack much smaller and lighter than this should be a top priority though, tons of weight to be lost here, and a much smaller volume will encourage you to leave unnecessary items back at home.

Also, you mention 5 lbs of food for 6 days, or approximately 13.33 oz of food per day. Typically, a pretty good caloric density for food is 130-140 Cal/oz. Even at a very favorable 150 Cal/oz, you're only going to be taking in 2000 Calories per day, which is probably enough for the average sedentary office worker, but not someone lugging a very heavy pack, or even someone carrying a very light pack. Plan on approximately doubling that food weight, or at a bare minimum, 1.5 lb per day of food in excess of 130 Cal/oz average.

Mike Clelland's recommendations above illustrate the wide-open possibilities that ultralight backpacking can offer in its purest form, but I'd recommend a slower transition to this style than immediate immersion as he has recommended. I think most people that have made the transition from trad to UL would agree, you're more likely to NOT get scared off by the more minimalistic approach by making some more gradual changes.