Forum Index » SuperUltraLight (SUL) Backpacking Discussion » SUL and thru-hikes


Display Avatars Sort By:
Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
SUL and thru-hikes on 07/28/2011 09:28:31 MDT Print View

Do people go SUL and thru hike any of the three major U.S. long distance hiking trails? I'm not a hater or a troll. This is just something I've been wondering since this new forum was started. I'd be interested in reading a trail journal or other account of anyone that has. If you know of any, please link me.


Is SUL 5lbs. FSO or Ryan's definition of base weight: "Base Weight is herein defined as the dry weight of gear and non-consumable supplies in your pack, excluding clothing worn, items normally carried (like trekking poles), and food, fuel, and water"? That would seem to make a huge different in whether someone is SUL or just plain-UL.

Edited by deGuerre on 07/28/2011 11:29:39 MDT.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
SUL thru-hiker on 07/28/2011 12:15:16 MDT Print View

Triple crowner, Brian Doble, yoyo-ed the AT in 180 days in 2008. If I remember correctly, his base pack weight was 4 lb (not including food). He had a blog at wordpress (something completely different) but the content seems to have gone missing.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: SUL thru-hiker on 07/28/2011 12:21:38 MDT Print View

Warner Springs Monty did the PCT in 2007 with an average base weight of under 5lbs.I tried to look up Brian Dobles' site also and it seems to be down.Francis Tapon did the AT with a heavy 6.78lb pack.I believe Krudmeister did the PCT in 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR6KLYZ4-9U
about 4min 30sec into the video he shows the gear he hiked with.
Another:Joe Valesko did on the PCT
http://www.zpacks.com/about/pct_gear.shtml
Close on the CDT at 5lb 12oz summer 6lb 8.4oz winter
http://www.zpacks.com/about/cdt_gear.shtml
Warner Springs Monty
http://www.pcta.org/planning/before_trip/resources/mentors.asp
http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=296588&back=1
http://gossamergear.com/wp/tribal/trail-ambassadors/warner-spring-monty
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/6548967/Gear-List-2305-%28Warner-Springs%29-Monty-Tam-metam01earthlink
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/lw_testimony_fun_goes_up.html

Edited by annapurna on 07/28/2011 20:37:58 MDT.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Brian Doble and SUL on 07/28/2011 20:23:02 MDT Print View

Yes, Brian did travel mostly SUL when he hiked the big 3.
He has something pretty good in the works for 2011.

More soon!

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: SUL and thru-hikes on 07/28/2011 20:30:10 MDT Print View

Should be easy enough to go SUL on the AT and PCT since you resupply often. CDT maybe not so much. And an Andrew Skurka epic is likely completely out of the question.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: SUL and thru-hikes on 07/28/2011 21:21:36 MDT Print View

Technically resupply wouldn't really have much to do with it as that wouldn't affect ones base weight. You could have a 3 pound base weight and have to carry forty pounds of food and still meet the definition of a SUL hiker. Now changing and variety of conditions between points where you can change out gear would have a lot to due with it.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
SUL Pack on 07/28/2011 21:43:39 MDT Print View

It would be tough using a 4-6oz SUL pack if you need to stuff 40 lbs of food in there.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: SUL Pack on 07/29/2011 07:59:28 MDT Print View

First off I was exaggerating a bit to make a point. But to be "SUL" you only need a 5lb or less baseweight. That doesn't mean you have to use a 4-6oz SUL pack. I have done a few trips with a 5lb baseweight using a pack in the pound range. My MLD Ark is 15.1 oz and could carry as much food as your shoulders can handle.

That being said, it is more difficult to do a thru hike SUL style than a shorter trip. It is also very difficult to do very long trips, but just saying that technically it could be done.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: SUL Pack on 07/29/2011 20:34:05 MDT Print View

I applaud anyone that can carry 30+ pounds in a stuff sack with shoulder straps for 15-20 mpd.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: SUL Pack on 07/29/2011 21:07:05 MDT Print View

grandma gatewood


: )

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Re: SUL Pack on 08/15/2011 05:53:08 MDT Print View

I agree that SUL doesn't mean you have to use pack not designed to carry heavier weights. I think its totally possible to do Skurka style crazy trips in the right places, without much resupply. Heck, Arctic1000 was done with (from memory) ~7lb base pack weights.

Try something like this:
http://mchalepacks.com/ultralight/detail/sub_pop.htm
The 4000cu in pack there is 2 pounds four ounces. That leaves 43 ounces for the rest of your gear. I don't have a mchale (yet) but I have zero doubt in what Dan says about that pack being comfortably good for 40lbs, and its probably durable for 20 thru hikes.

~14 ounces for a cuben 40F Enlightened designs quilt (no bivy needed).
~10 ounces of warm clothing (not hard)
~4.4 ounces MLD cuben poncho...the cuben quilt means you don't need a water resistant bivy for spray. Take some overmitts if you are worried about getting cold/wet arms and hands and move fast...this won't be an issue if you are banking on conditions where a 40F sleeping bag + some warm clothing is warm enough at night + you are fit.
~2 ounces for pegs and lines (easy). Use one of the guy lines for pack compression if needed
~5 ounces for matt

I'll stop there, anyone reading this in this forum will find the remaining 7.6 ounces an absolute luxury for anything else they need (eg cooking gear, etc).

Actually writing this I feel like blowing $1500 on gear and going for a long walk...

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
SUL and thru-hikes on 08/15/2011 19:29:49 MDT Print View

You can pack super ultralight, and then have a whole lot of extra room for food supplies. But yes, you would need to suck it up and get a heavier pack. Who cares if the pack weighs 2 more lbs if it will make the pack feel 10 lbs lighter and have less effect on your body? You might not seem as cool on the internet with a 4lb pack, but the only people you have to prove anything to in the wilderness are your are mr. shoulders and mrs. hips.
Then again, once you get up in the 40-50lb range in supplies, a couple extra pounds here and there for a tent, heavier pad, ect. starts to feel a bit more inconsequential.
But if you want to spend lots of time in the woods with no resupplies, heavy food is just a fact of life. You can only go so light with it unless you are fishing/hunting/foraging which would take time out of your day.
If it makes you happy though, you could include a heavy pack as a "variable" and claim to have a much less base weight. If you have something to prove.

Edited by justin_baker on 08/15/2011 19:33:27 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Feel on 08/15/2011 20:14:09 MDT Print View

"Who cares if the pack weighs 2 more lbs if it will make the pack feel 10 lbs lighter and have less effect on your body?"

A pack with a more robust frame might 'feel' lighter to some select tissues in your hips and shoulders, but the additional weight of that pack still has a negative contribution to your overall fatigue level, so you need to balance these two. A 2 lbs heavier pack is 2 lbs heavier to your legs that have to carry it every step of the way. I'm not saying get an uncomfortable pack, just that you need to think about the entire picture. Your hips and shoulders might be a bit happier with a more robust frame, but your leg muscles, knees, ankles etc all need to carry that extra weight too, so there is a very real downside. This toll isn't as obvious as sore shoulders because it's just 'overall fatigue' but it does make a real difference. IMO, get the lightest pack that is still sufficiently comfortable to your shoulders and hips.

One mistake that seems to happen a lot is that people try one UL frameless pack and then they decide it's not for them and they go back to using a 3-5 lbs knapsack that supposedly feels lighter than that 1 lbs knapsack ever did. A lot of people seem to miss the middle-ground where you get a great pack with stays or even a light internal frame for 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. Something like the ULA Circuit (2.25 lbs) is likely the heaviest pack I'd ever consider. IMO, pretty much anyone can find comfort in the 1.5 - 2.5 lbs range even at 40 lbs. I can't think of any reason to ever start looking at 4 lbs packs unless we're planning a long winter mountaineering expedition.

For 3 season hiking, I can't think of too many scenario's where you'd ever be over 40 lbs. If you have a reasonable 8 lbs baseweight and you carry 1.4 lbs of food per day, you would only be at 26 lbs with 10 days of food and 2 quarts of water. At 40 lbs, you could pack 15 days of food and 3 quarts of water.

Edited by dandydan on 08/15/2011 20:20:44 MDT.

Clint Hewitt
(WalkSoftly33) - F

Locale: New England
Re: Feel on 10/04/2011 15:36:17 MDT Print View

Dan,

1.4lbs per day is a little light when considering consecutive days a thru-hiker puts in. The appetite increase dramatically, 2 to 2.5 lbs of food a day could be consumed and certain individuals would still be hungry, considering the miles per day some put in. That works out to an extra 6 to 11 lbs of food for that same 10 day stretch.

A four pound pack is not needed for a thru hike but for some it might be. What works for them. I think there is some advantage in going from a frameless to a minimal frame so those times when a resupply is large. You have some support.

This is probably more important on the PCT and CDT versus the AT depending on hiking and resupply style.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Feel on 10/04/2011 16:07:30 MDT Print View

"Who cares if the pack weighs 2 more lbs if it will make the pack feel 10 lbs lighter and have less effect on your body?"

"A 2 lbs heavier pack is 2 lbs heavier to your legs that have to carry it every step of the way."

Maybe a different perspective?

Assume a hiker weights 175lbs with 30lbs of all gear (FSO). Now said hiker gets a pack that weights 3 lbs more. Total weight goes from 205 lbs to 208 lbs, and increase of 1.463% in weight the legs have to carry. Since we spend more hours in our pack than doing any other activity, the comfort is well worth the increase to me, especially if it is a McHale.

Add more food or water to the pack and the percentage goes down, but the comfort factor of the pack creates a larger differential.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Feel on 10/04/2011 17:06:01 MDT Print View

+1

While there is more strain on some parts of the body from the extra 1.x% of weight from the extra pack, I know that unless I work out hard at the gym 10 hours a week for the next year and get my upper body to the equivalent of your average special forces operator (and then some), there is no way I'm going to be able to smash 50km per day with a pack that has no frame, no waist belt and relatively flimsy shoulders straps (Edit: with more than 20lbs on board). The amount of extra effort on my whole upper body, and the cutting in of my shoulders, just isn't worth it. My legs are highly efficient and powerful from years of running, hiking, long distance cycling and gym work. They can easily take on an extra 1.x% of load in order that I remove the xxlbs of weight that my upperbody has to expend strength and energy to stabilise and control with every step.

Edited by oysters on 10/04/2011 17:06:56 MDT.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Feel on 10/05/2011 08:05:34 MDT Print View

> Assume a hiker weights 175lbs with 30lbs of all gear (FSO). Now said hiker gets a pack that weights 3 lbs more. Total weight goes from 205 lbs to 208 lbs, and increase of 1.463% in weight the legs have to carry

Nick, I don't think you can do that math. It's apples to oranges. The weight of your body is very different from the weight of something that's off your body. It doesn't "weight" the same. It's not only about contact points (shoulders, hips...) but also center of gravity displacement (upwards and backwards) which concentrates preassure on certain muscles and joints. You could do that math if the 3 lbs would be evenly distributed across the whole body and then I agree the weight increase would have little impact but this is clearly not the case.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Feel on 10/06/2011 19:00:35 MDT Print View

So if you balance your pack weight out with a front pack...? Wouldn't take much to displace that extra pound or two, just a pound or two the other way. That mostly solves this problem.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Front load on 10/07/2011 01:50:39 MDT Print View

it helps with the backwards part of the center of gravity move but not with the upwards and it brings along a new set of problems: more packing tools, effective change of "body" size and shape (depends on the size and shape of what's at the front)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Feel on 10/07/2011 07:27:41 MDT Print View

Our spines are not designed to carry 30lbs of vertical load hanging from our shoulders. Not to mention the strain on the neck, shoulder and back muscles. And this is what we do with most UL packs. A properly adjusted and loaded internal frame pack will remove all the weight from these points and concentrate it on the hip and legs muscles where it belongs, which lowers the center of gravity. McHale does this better than any other manufacturer. And unlike most internal and external frame packs, the McHales belts do not slip down on the hips when hike for long periods of time... the pack stays in place at the optimal contact point. I still stand by the weight is carried by the legs no matter what pack you use, and agree that poor loading and balance can cause a poor walking posture that could cause excess strain on certain muscles. But not an addition 1% of the mass.