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SUL Wt Goals
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George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
SUL Wt Goals on 08/03/2011 10:11:43 MDT Print View

Was thinking about reasonable weight goals to shoot for when putting together SUL. Easy info that'd be good to know the first day you start thinking about going SUL.

What do you think?

SUL Wt Goals For Comfortable Weather

Item Lb
==== ==
Pack < .5
Pad < .5
Bag < 1.5 ---updated
Shelter < .75 ---updated

< 3.25 lb
without wt for kitchen, extra packed clothing, hygiene, medical, etc

kitchen < .5

1.25 for extra packed clothing, hygiene, medical, etc

Edited by gmatthews on 08/03/2011 10:29:44 MDT.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: SUL Wt Goals on 08/03/2011 10:22:15 MDT Print View

there are lots of sub 20oz bags and some sub 16oz quilts out there, so shout for less that 1.5lbs for both pad and bag. look for sub 0.75oz shelter options or multi-use items like ponchos.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Goals on 08/03/2011 20:13:46 MDT Print View

I would say that 0.5 / 8oz is generous for the pack because there are 1oz packs out there, and it's pretty easy to put together a nice robust and nicely featured 1.5oz cuben pack for under 5oz. Going with a nice light 3-5oz pack really frees up a lot of weight which will be much appreciated elsewhere. With that said, there are many ways to go SUL. Some people will want to stick with a DyneemaX pack, and then 8oz really is the minimum.

Chris Lucas
(ChemE) - F

Locale: SC
Agreed on 08/04/2011 00:05:56 MDT Print View

Going under 3 oz. for a cuben pack is extremely easy so to me 8 oz seems like a ton. Those 5 oz are better spent elsewhere like for me adding a kitchen and 2" air mattress for full comfort SUL.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: SUL Wt Goals on 08/04/2011 04:56:52 MDT Print View

George, A couple of questions...

#1 are these goals that you should go after or are you wanting to discuss what goals might be for the general backpacking population that would want to try to get to sub 5?
#2 what is comfortable weather? a kit that can handle below freezing with rain or sleet?
#3 is this meant to handle all approaches...i.e. poncho tarp, tarp, others? because I have found that the goals should change slightly depending on the approach.

If I assume this is general goals. I would encourage the use of these assuming non cuben gear because you can certainly do SUL without cuben gear and the cost differential is significant. I would not want have goals that can only be reached with a $250 tarp when a $50 tarp will work just fine.

On weather...I will assume 30 degree nights with a kit that can handle solid rain.

Next I would suggest taking another look at Chapter 15 LWB&C, Ryan suggests weights for items in a sub5 kit. I have read this chapter at least 30 times.

Given the above background here are my comments. First I would convert target to ounces to provide additional granularity, but I will stick to lbs for now realizing any one of the big 3 might be +- 2 oz.

Pack - 1/2 lb agreed this is a Murmur - $90 (7.9 oz)
Bag - I would suggest 1 lb - this would be a Katabatic Palaside or Arc Ghost
Pad - 4 oz - trimmed 3/8" CCF
Shelter - 1 lb - 8 oz tarp (NON cuben), 2 oz stakes and line, 6 oz bivy

Total is 2.75 lbs.

Cook kit - 1/4 lb - ti cup, ti spoon, cat can stove, foil wind screen, foil lid (if cooking kit contains water purification, water carriers, and lighter then yes go with 1/2 lb)

This leave - 2 lbs for everything else

The biggest concern I have with your goal is in the remaining gear. I would suggest that 1.25 lbs is not enough to have proper safety items, hygene items, and extra clothing.

Extra clothing -

If not using a poncho tarp....

fleece cap - 1.5 oz
fleece glove - 1.5 oz
puffy jacket - 8 oz
extra stocks - 2 oz
rain gear - 11 oz (anything less means goals require poncho, non durable rain gear, or no rain paints)

this is 1.5 lbs, if you are using a poncho tarp then the above list can swap out the 11 oz rain gear for a 3 oz wind shirt, but now the goals only work for people who are skilled in poncho tarping and you should probably add in 2 oz to the shelter weight target.

If I have done my math right 2.75 + 1/4 + 1.5 lbs leaves a round 1/2 lb for light, fire, whistle, compass, cutting device, first aid kit, hygene items, deet, sun screen, water purification, water carriers, bear hang kit, etc (1/2 lb will be cutting it close).

For what it is worth my suggested goals aren't just theories, I have tested and practiced these goals using items that are not made of cuben. Yes I own cuben and think it is great I'd just wouldn't set goals in general that can only be achieved with limited approaches or limited budgets.


Edited by jshortt on 08/04/2011 05:06:48 MDT.

Chris Lucas
(ChemE) - F

Locale: SC
Cuben on 08/04/2011 05:53:05 MDT Print View

My zPacks zero cost me almost exactly what my Gossamer Gear Murmur did yet is a full 5 oz. lighter and every bit as functional. Cuben certainly has its place and it needn't be prohibitively expensive either. I personally don't see the utility in setting guideposts which ignore one of the better fabrics we have at our disposal.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Cuben on 08/04/2011 06:06:55 MDT Print View

Chris, I agree with the zpacks zero, but if we are talking general goals I am not aware of too many other non cuben options that are significantly below 8 oz that I would suggest a general goal any lower than 1/2 lb.

Again for goals I am looking for targets that work under the most conditions possible. Techniques, finances, options, etc. I would say my goal of 1 lb for a bag is the most restrictive. There are not many options to make this happen.

Also if using pounds it is just nice to have them in round number like 1/4, 1/2, etc.

I'd say a goal of 1/2 lb is still reasonable for a pack, you just found an option that would give you 3 oz to spend somewhere else...i.e. on a bag so now you can use WM summerlite instead of a quilt.

Lastly my goal posts don't ignore cuben, certainly it is still a great option. I simple argue goals that don't "require" it are much more applicable to a wider audience. I believe that goals that can be applied to wider audiences are better than goal that can only be applied by narrower audiences. This is why is was my first question to George.


Edited by jshortt on 08/04/2011 06:09:46 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: SUL Wt Goals on 08/04/2011 06:40:33 MDT Print View

>#1 are these goals that you should go after or are you wanting to discuss what >goals might be for the general backpacking population that would want to try to get >to sub 5?

General like you assumed I meant. And, affordable by most backpackers. I'm assuming backpacker already has traditional gear or UL gear. Now backpacker decides to go SUL. What is a good weight guide to reach safe, comfortable gear list? I did this a few years ago after reading your (Jamie's) SUL trip. Jamie's trip report inspired me to try SUL. I then used Ryan's book for the details. Over the years, seems like it is much easier to go SUL and cheaper.

But is it that clear and easy for a backpacker on day one of building the SUL gear list? Is it affordable? Is it within reach only needing a bit of inspiration?

>#2 what is comfortable weather? a kit that can handle below freezing with rain or >sleet?

Yes, down to freezing or about 30 degrees F. Handling rain for sure.

>#3 is this meant to handle all approaches...i.e. poncho tarp, tarp, others? because >I have found that the goals should change slightly depending on the approach.

Might be good to have different paths. Goals based on if backpacker wants a fully enclosed tarp/tent, tarp and bivy, poncho tarp, etc. Maybe a transition from traditional to UL to SUL.

Maybe we can unofficially update Ryan's chapter based on our weight guide.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: SUL Wt Goals on 08/04/2011 06:51:04 MDT Print View

with Jamie's input...

8 oz Pack 0.50 lb <$100
16 oz Bag 1.00 lb <$200
4 oz Pad 0.25 lb <$50
16 oz Shelt 1.00 lb <$200
44 oz Total 2.75 lb <$550

Cook/Water .5

Extra clothing 1.5

2.75 + .5 + 1.5 lbs

>> leaves a round .5 lb for light, fire, whistle, compass, cutting device, first aid kit, hygene items, deet, sun screen, water purification, water carriers, bear hang kit, etc (1/2 lb will be cutting it close).

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: SUL Wt Goals-Ryan's article on 08/04/2011 06:52:40 MDT Print View

Here is a link to that George. For those who haven't read it,

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Cheap as Well on 08/04/2011 07:16:46 MDT Print View

I'm really excited about the thought of trying to get these goal costs down. I'm a college student taking a lot of hours, so working for much money isn't really an option. The only way I made it to SUL was by making all of my own gear during bits of free time, but that isn't an option for everyone.

With this in mind, I'm not totally sure a 16oz bag for under $200 is very reasonable. Please correct me if I am wrong, but about the best option for a (rated) 30* bag I can find would be maybe a MLD Spirit 30 at 18oz for a regular length and costs $180. Another option (that I haven't made yet or tested) would to be to just use the combination of the puffy jacket I think we are including in our clothing weight with the MLD Spirit 45, but I think that would be pushing it at 30* according to MLD's description.

Also, $50 is seems too much for a closed cell foam pad. I would say $25 would get this item for you, such as item cost and shipping for a Gossamer Gear Thinlight.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Cheap as Well on 08/04/2011 11:04:11 MDT Print View

Chris, Glad to see your post. I am passionate about making LW, UL, and SUL gear available to a wide audience which is why I find this thread so interesting. Again it is not to down play the fact that a specific item might indeed come in well below any of these goals, but instead to provide as many options to as many people as a college student on limited funds.

I will say you found the weakest link from weight and cost perspective...the sleeping bag/quilt.

The 16 oz target is hard for a 30ish bag. Yes extending a 40-45 degree quilt with your 1.5 lbs of clothing gear is a great approach. My experience is if the temp dips below 30 you will be pretty cold, but will come out fine the next morning.

Some options are....

MLD spirit quilts as you pointed out
JRB Shenandoah (or stealth) for $190, ~16 oz, 40 degree
Westrn Mountaineering Highlite for $270, ~16 oz, 35 degree
Katabatic Palisade, $315, 17.5 oz, 30 degree
Katabatic Chisos, $285, 14.6 oz, 40 degree
Nunatak Ghost, $365, 15 oz, 32 degree
Thru-hiker quilt kit, $160, ~16 oz, 30 degree (w/down left over) - Cheapest if you can sew

Given this if we need 30 degree kit then I would up the $ goal to $300, but if 40 degree will work then I would leave it at $200.

As far as packs go...a great alternative is a Ray Way pack at ~9.0 oz for $58


Edited by jshortt on 08/04/2011 11:26:16 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
2003 Ryan's SUL List on 08/04/2011 11:26:27 MDT Print View

Pack 15.5 oz

Pad 1.9

Poncho-tarp 6.3
Bivy 6.9
Guys .4
Stakes 1.5
(15.1 oz shelter)

Bag 15.2
.5 sack
(15.7 oz bag)

Pack - Shelter - Sleeping

Modified GVP Gear G5 Spinnaker (5.9 oz) or GoLite Dawn (15.5 oz)
3/8" foam torso-sized sleeping pad (1.9 oz)
Spinnaker cloth poncho-tarp, 5' x 8' (6.3 oz)
Six (6) 1/8" x 6" titanium skewer stakes (1.5 oz)
Twelve 3-foot lengths of Spectra line for guylines (0.4 oz)
Pertex Quantum-shelled Arc Alpinist X down sleeping bag (15.2 oz)
Spinnaker cloth sleeping bag stuff sack (0.5 oz)
Quantum - Silnylon bivy sack (6.9 oz)

Clothing Worn and Items Carried

Smartwool Aero long sleeve crew shirt (6.0 oz, worn)
Spandex shorts (3.0 oz, worn)
Cloudveil Prospector Pants (9.3 oz, worn)
Smartwool Trail Running Socks (1.4 oz, worn)
Montrail Vitesse shoes with Superfeet Inserts (26 oz, worn)
Tilley LT Hat (3.0 oz, worn)
Cotton bandana (1.0 oz, worn)
Bozeman Mountain Works Stix X1 carbon fiber trekking poles (5.4 oz, carried)
Emergency whistle worn on Spectra cord lanyard (0.3 oz, worn)

Extra Clothing Packed

Montane Aero Wind Shirt (2.5 oz)
Bozeman Mountain Works Cocoon hooded pullover / Primaloft insulation / Pertex Quantum shell (9.0 oz)
Spare pair of Smartwool Trail Running socks (1.4 oz)
100-weight fleece watch cap (0.9 oz)
Thermax gloves (0.9 oz)
Spinnaker cloth clothing stuff sack (0.5 oz)


Mini-Pepsi stove with wire pot support (0.35 oz)
foil windscreen (0.2 oz)
Platypus Lil' Nipper bottle for fuel (0.7 oz)
Box of wooden matches in Ziploc (0.3 oz)
Snow Peak 600 mug (2.8 oz)
foil lid for mug (0.05 oz)
Lexan spork (0.25 oz)
Silnylon food storage bag with 35' Spectra bear bag cord (1.7 oz)
2L Platypus bag, 1L pop-top Platypus bottle (2.3 oz)
Aqua Mira repackaged in eyedropper bottles, with mixing cap (1.1 oz)


Black Diamond Ion Headlamp (1.1 oz)
Noseeum mesh headnet (0.7 oz)
Small dropper bottle of DEET (0.3 oz)
Dermatone stick (0.5 oz)
Sunglasses (0.5 oz)
Finger toothbrush (0.05 oz)
Dr. Bronner's in dropper bottle (0.25 oz)
Alcohol hand gel in small bottle (0.5 oz)
TP: 4" x 4" blue shop towel squares - 1 / day (0.5 oz)
Blister & minor wound care supplies (1.0 oz)
Small stuff sack for organizing these essentials (0.5 oz)

Total Weight in Pack: 4.34 lbs with G5 Pack (4.94 lbs with GoLite Dawn Pack)
Total Weight Worn or Carried: 3.47 lbs
Total Skin-Out Weight Less Food, Fuel, and Water: 7.81 lbs with G5 Pack (8.41 lbs with GoLite Dawn Pack)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Bags on 08/04/2011 12:46:59 MDT Print View

Regarding sleeping bags and quilts on a budget, the GoLite quilts are pretty much hands down the best value. The MSRP is quite reasonable and they pretty much always have a 40% off coupon out there (there's one now, check out the gear deals forum).

The Golite 1+ Season quilt (40F rating) is 20oz and comes to $132 with the 40% off coupon. There are quilts that use a bit lighter shell fabrics to save up to 4oz, but not for $132. It's probably a better use of your money to buy this and then shave the ounces elsewhere.

Even better but hard to find, the previous version of the GoLite quilt was called the 'Ultra 20' and was optimistically rated at 20F for just 19oz. Even if you assume a 30F rating, 19oz is still quite good when you're only spending about $130. These quilts used a lighter fabric than the current Golite quilts, which is why a better temp rating was possible at less weight. I have one of these and it's been awesome. The only way to get something better is to spend hundreds to save a couple ounces.

Regarding SUL in general, I'm going to stick with an inflating pad (rather than a CCF one) because the trade off in comfort isn't worth it to me to go with a ccf pad. I'm currently using a 9oz NeoAir small and I would consider a 6oz Klymit X-frame for summer use (too low R-value for spring/fall). The problem is that I don't really want to spend money on gear that is really only useful 2-3 months of the year. My goal is to get to SUL while still using an inflatable mattress and have enough warmth to go camping in temps down to about 25F so I can do it 5-6 months of the year. I can currently come pretty close (5.1 lbs) if I opt to go without the stove and just eat cold food. Here's where I'm at...notice the quantity for a lot of items is 0 as they would be left at home.

Close to SUL

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Bags on 08/04/2011 14:01:44 MDT Print View


Interesting point about pad. When I did go SUL a few years ago, I did not like the pad because I got too greedy. Afterwards, I'd add weight of a comfortable pad.

I'm still going to try the GG torso and 1/8 thin combo again on my next trip - I'm okay with that but just barely. Might try tweaking my lists and go with another pad.

Also, the bag price/weight you noted above looks really good for someone who is considering SUL and is stuck on that piece of gear. Looks good for anyone in fact : )

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Dan's List on 08/04/2011 23:16:12 MDT Print View


You could be full SUL if you drop your extra pair of underwear and your clothing storage bag you would make the 5 lbs barrier.

I like the philosophy of your list. Most of your expensive items are ones that you would use in your UL kit as well.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

List on 08/04/2011 23:43:06 MDT Print View

I've been thinking a bit about the underwear....mostly that 60g (2.2oz) seems like a lot for one pair. Underwear is an area that I've never really explored, but I haven't been super happy with the undies I've been using so I should experiment a bit. I've heard a lot of good things about the ex-officio briefs and I bet they're way lighter too. Anyone got recommendations?

It would be fairly easy for me to go 'summer SUL'. I'd just have to replace my 19.2oz sleeping quilt with a nice light 13oz 40F one and then I could be sub 5 lbs even after adding back in some other nice tidbits....maybe even the stove. However, I'm really trying to keep this kit applicable to at least the warmer half of the year which is why I don't want to pick up a 40F quilt. I've been wanting to buy a replacement 25-30F quilt for my Golite that uses even lighter 7D fabrics and 900fp down to save 3oz or so, but no one seems to be making these. Perhaps Javan will make some with the new sevenD fabric. Eventually I'll get a quilt around 16oz and then that'll make SUL quite a bit easier.

Chris Lucas
(ChemE) - F

Locale: SC
Up the Ante on 08/05/2011 01:30:47 MDT Print View

I'm going to one up you and say that I want my next quilt to be a k-step wearable quilt made from 900 fp down and either SevenD or CT0.3K.08 depending on how light I want to go with it. If I decide to go with cuben, it will be MYOG since bonding it is extremely easy.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
re: Dan's list and going commando on 08/05/2011 02:44:41 MDT Print View

Dan, first of all nice list :) I would nix the deodorant, unless you are going with your significant other, in which case, it might be needed. I am lucky in that my wife does not care when I am a little stinky.

Next, about underwear. I used to always take an extra pair "just in case", but over the past spring and now summer, I have experimented with only taking one pair (which I wear out with me, and I count as clothing worn). I am not sure how long you go out or where, but what I have found to be a great routine for me in my area on overnighters and weekenders in warmer weather, and goes like this:

1. Hike for a while and get sweaty. My boxer briefs get damp with sweat, sometimes soaked.

2. Set up camp, then go to the nearest body of water and take a swim using underwear as swimming trunks. Now I have clean-ish (or at least much cleaner) undies.

3. When done swimming, take undies off wring em out, then put on pants and go commando.

4. Go back to camp and dry undies by the fire, then put dry undies on as PJs before going to sleep, and let pants air out overnight.

Hope this helps, unless you don't like going commando, in which case you can get silk undies that are lighter (but warmer and perhaps not the best for multi-use as swimwear).

Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
Re: re: Dan's list and going commando on 08/05/2011 08:40:01 MDT Print View

Nice list, Dan.

I do Cesar's list (steps 1-3) for my ExOfficio boxers. I'm a nut about getting under my quilt in clean clothes, so I pack a pair of silk bottoms for bed (or Cap'3 for the colder seasons).
I like ExO's, but they are definitely synthetic and I can sweat and stink in them by simply wearing them in town for half the day - never mind a few days on the trail (which means almost daily washing, as Cesar describes above)! I love the drying time of the synthetics but hate the stink. I'll be looking into something merino when the budget allows.