Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
My XUL Challenge Gear List
Display Avatars Sort By:
Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
My XUL Challenge Gear List on 07/17/2011 18:41:10 MDT Print View

First, the list:

The list contains all non-consumables in the "pack". Plus a few misc items worn or carried. I'll flesh out the consumable, worn, and carried items later, but this includes everything I need to meet my XUL definition.

(full definition and justification can be found across my several posts at:

I'm going on Alan's guidelines for what to count as worn or carried, found here:

I didn't think putting together an XUL list would be very hard. I figured I had nearly the same gear as Alan did, and would just have to copy/paste and tweak a bit: I'd use my MLD Poncho Pro instead of his Tarp/Jacket/Rainchaps and hit about the same weight, I'd use my GG Murmur instead of his GG Whisper, etc. I have the same JRB Stealth quilt he had, and my longer model only added 2oz. or so. This should be easy, right!?

I sat down, added the pack (10oz ish), quilt (16oz ish), and poncho tarp (10oz. ish), glanced at the total weight and saw I had only 4oz. to spare under 2.5lbs for EVERYTHING ELSE, and there were several big items to go: Cook system, sleeping pad, stakes, etc.

I was disheartened. I thought I could be extreme(ly light), but it turned out I was only super(light). I decided I'd make an SUL list instead, apologize to Craig for not being able to partake in his XUL challenge, but still get the ball rolling on people posting and talking about SUL trips and gear lists so that would do some good. I wasn't willing to buy a new pack, sleeping pad, groundcloth, stakes, etc. just for this little challenge.

But once an idea has seeded, I can't ignore it. My mind was simmering with what-ifs and alternative strategies. Finally, I hit the main breakthrough that reset my determination to make an XUL list: at 2.5 lbs and only a handful of items, why do I need a pack at all? Why not just bundle everything on top of my sleeping pad, wrap it in my poncho tarp, and rig a harness from shock cord?

And that's my plan.

My XUL list certainly isn't as elegant as Alan's--it's far from purpose built--but I didn't have to buy a single piece of gear to put it together, and should be able to reach the same league in functionality.

I'll yo-yo the Skyline to the Sea Trail this week with this loadout and post a TR upon my return.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
XUL on 07/17/2011 18:58:08 MDT Print View

I see this was built with what you had but here's my suggestions for pursuing this weight range for the future.

Your pad is heavy, look at a trimmed down GG 1/8 thinlight pad. 2oz (save 4oz)
Shelter/shell is heavy look at;
Zpacks cuben cloudcape is 2.1oz in the "lite"
MLD cuben pro solo tarp is 5.0oz with guy lines/cordlocks (save 3.9oz)
Stakes are super heavy titanium stakes (save 2oz)
Home made headnet (save 0.5)
LT3 poles (save 4oz)
Pack Zpacks zero smallest with minimal features (save 7oz)

Cheaper options:
Sea to summit pocket daypack
gossamergear riksack
homemade simple pack

There is over a pound saved.
I laughed to myself when i said a 6ounce pad is "heavy"

Edited by rcowman on 07/17/2011 19:14:14 MDT.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: XUL on 07/17/2011 20:52:52 MDT Print View

Anybody have an R-Value on the 1/8" thinlight (or any other GG pad for that matter)? I don't think it would be adequate for the near freezing conditions in my definition. Alan's list had the 3/8 inch one, which he said was still cold, and I couldn't cut it down nearly as much as him (his was 12-16" wide, my shoulders are 24" across). Also, the z-lite egg shell pattern is cooooomfy and folds into a perfectly flat surface to strap everything else to.

Also since I'm not actually using a pack, just shock cord, the zPacks Zero would actually ADD 2.5 oz to my setup.

Otherwise, yeah, this stuff is lighter than my current stuff. That said, I think I'd still keep my current choices until I win the lottery:

The Cloud Cape + Cuben tarp saves only 3 ounces, and costs $220 more.

Trekking poles count as "carried" so they wouldn't effect my pack weight at all, thereby allowing me to carry other things to achieve a more elegant solution to my XUL definition. The LT3 poles also aren't collapsible and don't have wrist straps. At these weights I'll be running quite a bit, and running with a 4 foot pole is annoying. I also feel the power transfer improvement that comes from wrist straps vastly beats the one oz savings.

Ti Stakes. Yeah, I'd like some of those.

Headnet. Could probably just skip the headnet altogether if going as light as possible was my goal. I added the headnet as a comfort item. Also, the headnet would cost me the fabric materials plus however much a sewing machine runs ;-).

Here's a question though: Say I had all the money on earth and could just buy this absurdly light stuff and save this weight. What do you think I should add on (to my pack, specifically) that would most improve my experiences while keeping to the XUL limit of 2.5lb BPW? I'm thinking an actual pack might be an option, but what else? Maybe a bit more water capacity would be useful? My steripen so I don't have to taste that awful chlorine? Maybe some gloves or a hat (my quilt is long enough to cover most of my head at night)?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: XUL Challenge Gear List on 07/17/2011 23:23:52 MDT Print View

For starters, I am not interested in a XUL kit because it is not something I would use all the time. However, since I do a lot of hiking in So Calif, it is easy to get under 5 lbs excluding consumables. I do it all the time. But I can leave stuff at home like rain gear or even a shelter, so the kit would not really be a "bona fide" XUL kit. Plus the kit is for a weekend or 3 days. I really look at what you can do with your kit for a week or more, without any kind of re-supply. IMO a XUL kit should be something you could take on a trip longer than a weekend.

The other thing is that I often hike where water is not plentiful, so a light pack will not be comfortable, given the amount of water that I have to carry at times. The Sierras are different as water is usually plentiful.

IMO, any kit should include:
- Warm enough quilt/bag
- Shelter
- Rain gear
- Stove for 'emergency' hot drinks/food
- Map
- Compass
- Light
- 1st Aid
- Whistle

I do not always bring a stove, map, or compass. In familiar territory sometimes I leave the map and compass home.

FSO including consumables is the most important weight, because it determines if your pack is up to the task.

Here is a kit I quickly put together, with stuff I have and use.

GG Murmur Pack (modified) 7.0 oz
MLD Silnylon Pro Poncho/Tarp 8.8 oz
MLD Ti Stakes (6) 1.8 oz
1/2" X 19" X 44 Padded Frame Sheet 3.6 oz
Ephinay Quilt 12.0 oz
Montbell U.L. Windshirt 2.7 oz
Outdoor Research PS50 Watch Cap 0.5 oz
Caldera Cone GVP Keg Stove Kit 3.0 oz
Cuben Food Sack 0.2 oz
Platypus 1 liter water sack 0.9 oz
Snowpeak Titanium Spork 0.5 oz
Bandana 0.9 oz
First Aid Kit: 1st Aid Ointment (2) 0.1 oz
First Aid Kit: 1st Aid Towelettes (2) 0.2 oz
First Aid Kit: 2" X 2" gauze (2 ea) 0.1 oz
First Aid Kit: Cuben sack 0.1 oz
First Aid Kit: Leuko Tape 0.1 oz
First Aid Kit: Medium Bandaids (4 ea) 0.2 oz
First Aid Kit: vial w/7 Advil 0.3 oz
Personal Kit: Derma-Safe folding knife 0.3 oz
Personal Kit: Dr. Bronner's soap 0.4 oz
Personal Kit: Finger Toothbrush 0.1 oz
Personal Kit: mini BIC Lighter 0.3 oz
Personal Kit: Toilet paper 0.8 oz
Zip Lock Bags 0.3 oz
Map 1.0 oz
Silva Polaris Compass 0.9 oz

Asics Piranha SP 2 Racing flats 10.6 oz
BPL Merino Wool Hoody (small) 7.5 oz
Salomon Running Shorts (M) 7" Inseam 3.8 oz
Wright Socks 1 1.6 oz
Fox 40 micro whistle 0.2 oz
GG LightTrek 4 Trekking Poles 6.8 oz
Maui Jim MauiReaders Sunglasses 0.6 oz
Photon II Micro Light (on lanyard) 0.3 oz
Timex Expedition Watch 1.2 oz

Pack 7.0 oz
Shelter/Rain gear 10.6 oz
Sleeping 14.0 oz
Pack Base Weight: 2 lbs 13.5 oz
Worn 2 lbs 0.6 oz
FSO (no consumables): 4 lbs 14.1 oz

Some comments on the gear:

Base weight is almost 3 lbs. I could easily get it under 2.5 lbs by purchasing a small cuben pack and a cuben poncho/tarp. I am not interested in owning either.

I could take only my cuben tarp and wrap it around me for rain gear. I did that once. Very impractical. So I included the MDL poncho/tarp. I have a lot of use with the MLD Poncho/Tarp to include light snow. But I prefer a large cuben tarp (~ 8' X 10') and my Marmott Essence jacket.

My old Murmur stripped down was about 6.3 oz. But I gave it away last week, so I entered the weight of my newer one. It is stripped down.

I have an early enLIGHTened Ephinay quilt. It is 100% cuben shell. So it is water proof, except for the seams. It is fine under a poncho tarp. But other quilt materials may require a bivy for those who would consider only a poncho/tarp and no bivy.

The padded frame sheet is one of Steve Evans' and is water proof. Kinda of thin and I have slept on it, but not real comfortable unless I can find some duff or soft sand. After a few days on the trail, it is okay... just the first couple of nights are tough. But I included it as my only mattress, because I have used it that way in the past.

I need a windshirt and prefer my Houdini, but I have used the Montbell a lot.

I only included a 1L platy, assuming water will not be scarce.

I could use a plastic spoon, but I never do so I put in the Ti spoon, because I will never change.

I did not include an insulation layer. I can wrap up in my cuben quilt, and have done so. But normally I take by MB ExUL down jacket.

The Piranha shoes will easily do a 3 day trip with long miles, I have done it many times. But volcanic rock will ruin the soles in 3 days.

Nowadays, in 3 season weather, I normally wear Rail Rider eco-Mesh pants. But sometimes I only wear shorts. For years I only hiked in Patagonia Baggies.

I rarely take a camera, so I left it out.

I could leave the watch home, but I take one on almost every trip so I put it in the list.

I use water tablets, so they are consumables.

I can get by without trekking poles, but in the desert it is hard to find suitable tent poles. So I left them in.

I have a dark complexion and live in the desert, so I can get by without a hat. A bandanna can do double duty.

I can get by without sunglasses, but old age makes it hard to see up close, so I included my bi-focal Maui Jim sunglasses.

I am a curmudgeon and bugs hate me, so no DEET.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: XUL on 07/17/2011 23:32:47 MDT Print View


Some thoughts...

Forget your base weight, concentrate on FSO. It is the real important thing, IMO.

1/8 is too thin really, but you can get by with some forest duff or other natural insulation for a night or two unless it snows. Not real comfortable either.

I would forget trying to wrap your gear in your poncho. Too hard to get it nice and compact and staying that way. Plus if you need something, are you going to undo everything. You could put everything in a cube sack, which would be a little easier. But even that is a pain because you will be carrying food and water. Really a pack or even on of Thom Darrah's Bandoliers are needed; otherwise the hike will not be fun at all and you will have defeated the purpose. Plus what are you going to do if it rains?

Again, focus on the FSO. BW is a misleading number. I made a couple of comments on this in a previous message I just posted.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: XUL Challenge Gear List on 07/17/2011 23:33:29 MDT Print View

Having backpacked with you, I know that you know what you're doing and this kit would work for you. I think on our trip you were borderline "XUL" without even trying.

I think your attitude on this is spot-on.

I see XUL as pretty arbitrary if it's only for the sake of numbers. What's another couple pounds if it adds a substantial margin of versatility, comfort, and safety?

On the other hand, where XUL shines in my book (and why I care at all), is its potential for serious mileage/running endeavors. Definitely the way to go if I were to try the C2C loop we did or something similar in a single night/2 days.

"I am a curmudgeon and bugs hate me, so no DEET."

Classic. :)

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Counterpooint on 07/17/2011 23:58:24 MDT Print View

I disagree on the relevance of FSO to this endeavor. My arguments are in the definitions thread linked to in my first post. Basically, FSO varies tremendously with the size of the individual, BPW varies much less, so its better for comparing strategies across individuals. BPW is also consistent with the accepted definitions of SUL, UL, and LW, as I understand them. FSO with consumables is obviously important if you're packing for a trip, but this pack is for an exercise, and a trip designed to grade the success of my solution to that exercise.

I explained my rain plan explicitly in my first post, right? It's not perfect, but such are the sacrifices of not being perfectly prepared for everything.

EDIT: guess I deleted it from my first post. The plan is to wrap the pound and a Half of stuff in my sleeping pad with shock cord.

XUL, by my definition, is totally arbitrary, but it's a fun exercise. " if I can only bring this much, how do I maximize my comfort and safety?". Really makes you think not only about what's necessary, but also about the first things you might bring once you've got survival covered. It makes optimization the central goal, rather than sufficiency, which I think is a novel and more positive approach.

I'm not sure how well the shock cord pack will work either, but it's the only way for me to complete the challenge I've made for myself, so I'll give it a shot. I bet I can fold the poncho in such a way that access isn't too difficult. Its this sort of thinking outside the box that I had originally hoped the exercise would encourage. Normally, going for an arbitrary number WOULD be missing the point, but on this trip, it is exactly the point. I, and hopefully others, will learn from the exercise and derive more enjoyment on their more serious trips.

You make a good point about the trip duration limits of my proposed setup. If I had any plans of doing XUL on a regular basis as more than just an exercise, I'd probably get a Cuben pack and tarp and that would solve that problem. Since I'm not an ultra runner, I'm very happy with my more usual SUL setup, which parallels the one you posted above in many ways.

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 07/18/2011 00:33:25 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: XUL Challenge Gear List on 07/18/2011 00:08:10 MDT Print View

Craig said,

"On the other hand, where XUL shines in my book (and why I care at all), is its potential for serious mileage/running endeavors. Definitely the way to go if I were to try the C2C loop we did or something similar in a single night/2 days."

Absolutely. When we look at adventure racing, mountain climbing, rock climbing, mountain biking or lightweight backpacking they are all different sports... but with some common threads. We look to each and see what we can use for the particular sport we are enjoying at the moment.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Counterpooint on 07/18/2011 00:37:41 MDT Print View


Here is how I view base weights. They just give you a perspective of gear. A way to look at gear. A way of comparing other folks' gear. Now if someone is at 8 lbs, you could provide some input on gear that would get them under 5 lbs, without sacrificing function and comfort... other than lightening their pocketbook to get there :)

Light, UL, SUL, or XUL really doesn't matter. It is how much your body is carrying.

If I get my base down to 2.5 lbs and have another 6 lbs on my body, my body is carrying 8.5 lbs. Now if my base is 5.5 lbs, and another 3.0 lbs is on my body, I am still still carrying 8.5 lbs. My body (other than my shoulders) really isn't going to notice the difference that much. And my base has gone from XUL to UL.

Now if I have 11 total oz in shoes and you have 2 lbs in shoes, guess who is going to get tired first, assuming all other things equal?

Now lets talk about Craig and me, since we have hiked together. He is bigger than me. His pack is longer, his sleeping bag is longer and wider, his clothes are longer and wider, and his feet are bigger. I can have a much lighter base weight and FSO weight than him... even if we have the same exact kit, his is going to weigh more. But his body is stronger. He can move quicker and faster with the extra weight. So my lighter kit and FSO means little... I can't keep up if he pushes.

Now add food and a lot of water and base means nothing if you are carrying 6 liters of water... as a matter of fact, you will be much better off with a 3 lb internal frame pack.

I am not pooh-poohing SUL or XUL, they both challenge us. But if I need to carry 4 liters of water between every water source, the Murmur is not going on the trip :)

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Counterpooint on 07/18/2011 00:58:01 MDT Print View

I made a mistake of thinking everybody would read the "XUL definitions" thread before this one.

Comparability was largely the point of this exercise for me. Not because the gear is that interesting, but because it illustrates the various strategies behind the gear selection. The various possible, and hopefully creative, routes to the same conclusion. It's the thinking that interests me.

Pack weight and worn weight are fundamentally different. Pack weight is invariably dead weight. More pack weight in a given pack will slow you down. Worn or carried weight, however, can speed you up. Long pants in thorny areas? Heavier but faster. Trekking poles vs none? Heavier but faster (in my experience). Full shank shoes on sharp rocks? Heavier but faster. It's wrong to say that "the body" feels a high pack to worn weight ratio the same way as the inverse, because the worn weight, to great extent, dictates what the body IS and is capable of. Worn weight is frequently augmentation, pack weight is invariably detrimental.

I also disagree that Craig's base pack weight should necessarily be substantially different from your own. That argument is already posted in the definitions thread. FSO will be different, but as you point out, it will be proportional to your respective frames,

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 07/18/2011 01:13:25 MDT.

Chris Lucas
(ChemE) - F

Locale: SC
Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 06:42:19 MDT Print View


I offer this as a counterpoint to you go faster do more argument. Not all worn weight is augmentation of the body. The common lanyard with the knife, whistle, and light is a good example. These things make you safer sure, but putting them on your neck to get them out of your base weight feels disingenuous. I always include them in my ditty sack in my bag even though the whistle rides around my neck. A minor point to be sure but it goes to illustrate a larger point. I almost feel that XUL needs to have both a base weight component AND a worn component. After all, with a 2.5 pound base weight, it is very likely that that is only 50% of your FSO weight. I could decide to wear my insulation, wind, and rain layers, put my first aid kit in my pocket along with my ditties etc. At some point it just becomes a shell game. I get trying to normalize things so that a little guy like me doesn't possess a huge advantage in the FSO arena but it opens the door to a different kind of tampering (and perhaps that soft word is even too strong).

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 08:42:53 MDT Print View

A worn weight (worn base weight) should really only include clothing, eyewear, watch and trekking poles. Everyone knows we can stuff our pockets with junk to impress our friends with our low packed base weight.

Edited by jshann on 07/21/2011 08:44:16 MDT.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 08:44:31 MDT Print View

I didn't say all worn weight was augmentation, I said "frequently", and I stand by the assertion that the vast majority of worn or carried weight (clothes, hat, shoes, trekking poles, etc.) is just that.

I made and countered all of these points in previous posts in this thread.

@JShann: I suppose you could, but if you're bringing enough stuff to stuff your pockets you're probably not going to be XUL either way ;-). Plus it will be unavoidably obvious in the gear list that that's exactly what's happened, so you'd only be fooling yourself. As said above, I chose to base what can count as "carried" on the XUL load out that was most familiar to me by a highly respected member of this community: You'll note that those items that aren't "clothes, poles, shoes" amount to much less than an ounce, and are probably used as frequently as a watch (ClO2 tabs, for instance), so they make good sense to carry in a pocket--so the pack needn't be removed several times a day to use them--and thereby count as carried weight. I don't think debating whether <1 ounce has been properly allocated is worth the word count. If you're going to carry it, with good reason to carry it on your person rather than in your pack, then count it as carried. Any way you cut it, if you're enthusiastically pursuing XUL you won't be carrying much.

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 07/21/2011 09:01:43 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 09:06:41 MDT Print View

Alan's XUL definition was not the first, but you are right it includes worn and packed base weights. It's more of a feat category since nobody is routinely going "Alan XUL" on 3 season trips in rain and temps in the 30's. Trying that solo is not putting safety first.

Edited by jshann on 07/21/2011 09:08:36 MDT.

Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 09:15:04 MDT Print View

I bet there might be some ultra-runners or thru hike record seekers are doing something pretty similar with regularity. That said, I sure won't be. Still a fun challenge.

What other XUL lists would you recommend be seen by those inclined?

Edited by AttaboyBrad on 07/21/2011 09:15:51 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 09:31:45 MDT Print View

"Trying that solo is not putting safety first."

Perhaps 2.5 pounds in the hands of a fit, experienced person is far safer than 15 in the pack of an idiot.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 10:01:48 MDT Print View

Brad asked, "What other XUL lists would you recommend be seen by those inclined?"

I've not seen many attempt "Alan XUL" and you can't deviate much from his list if you are to keep your total base weight (FSO base weight) below 5 pounds. You've probably figured that out after messing around with the gear weights. I did try it a couple years ago on a short overnight trip. It was interesting and could be made easier with some gear mods. Forcing the worn weight into the equation definitely limits what you can wear.

Edited by jshann on 07/21/2011 10:02:56 MDT.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Re: Counterpoint on 07/21/2011 12:37:09 MDT Print View

not exactly xul but close with some.

Edited by annapurna on 07/28/2011 19:59:40 MDT.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Counterpoint on 07/23/2011 08:46:03 MDT Print View

I take everything I'm not going to wear at all times, (clothing) and consider everything else packed weight. Just because you throw it in your pock doesn't mean you are packing it. It can be around your neck, in you hands or in your pocket. Just because it is not in your pack does not mean you are packing it.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Poles on 07/24/2011 18:13:00 MDT Print View

Hiking poles W/O wrist straps are like (lace-up) shoes W/O laces.

By saving what, maybe 2 0z. for 3/4" wide straps & plastic buckles you give up the advantage of push-off and must use your forearm muscles a lot more.

As a CX skier (racer and Patroller) I can say I'd never, ever use walking poles W/O straps. BUT, for straps to be effective ya gotta use them the way XC skiers do, straps forming an inverted V in the web of yer thumb.

Once you use them properly you'll always want straps on yer poles.