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advise me ultralighters!
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Bren Knowles
where to start cutting weight .. on 08/21/2011 23:10:07 MDT Print View

Hello all, I'm new to the forum and could use some advise

first off, I'm in southern california right now where I will be living outdoors until december, I also hike in the northeast where I am from, and have a costa rica trip in the works for december. For right now though I am focusing on where I am.

I consider myself and avid backpacker, and I am really starting to think (alot) (way too much) about the ultralight/minimalist style, because on my last trip I realized "wow, I'm not having as much fun as I should, this pack !$#%@#* hurts..."

I'm on a serious budget, working as an intern in the biological field and. I guess what I am looking for are some tips where I can lose the most weight within my small budget. I don't have the means to weigh all my gear right now, but this is what I am working with.

Packs I own:
Kelty santa fe pack, 4000
Marmot pack in the 2200 range
Small old REI duffel style pack

Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight 2 (3.75 ish)

Kelty 20* synthetic rectangle bag that has lost most of its loft, so I typically wear clothes or use a fleece liner when I expect cold. I've been underprepared with this bag before above the treeline.
Big Agnes Air Core, got this on sale, and seems light enough to take with me
Lots of merino wool underwear
surplus Desert Parka liner (didn't realize I even had one until reading these forums)

aluminum mess kit pot with aluminum foil for lid, Titanium spork, gsi plastic mug
pocket rocket, half full fuel canister
*thinking of making an achohol stove

katadyn hiker water filter
*considering tablets
kleen kanteen, 2 40s and one 22
*will start using gatorade bottles

steel carabeener and cord for bear bag, petzel headlamp, small swiss army knife, larger knife worn on belt, sunblock, toothpaste and repel all in film canisters, contact case, glasses, 2 lighters, tp, spare batteries, map, compass, pen and paper, tooth brush....etc

Just ordered a pair of lowa treking boots, half shank, will use for work and for backpacking

borrowing some black diamond poles from work


One idea I had is to invest in a decent sleeping bag now. Then getting some kind of tarp system going for fall

Another idea is go for an ultralight hammock, but im concerned about staying warm.

WHEW Sorry for the long post
Any ideas?

Edited by actionpocket on 08/23/2011 01:21:00 MDT.

Anthony Analetto
(Fubar2us) - F

Locale: MidWest USA
Forums on 08/21/2011 23:30:19 MDT Print View

I was new to the light packing idea myself not too long ago. I have found the forums very helpful when working with a budget.

Have you ever thought of usuing a quilt. I have found it very enjoyable and weight saving. as a side sleeper I also use a small therm-a-rest.

There are lots of tent options to be had. if you can't bring yourself to part with the traditional tent TarpTent makes some great tents that can be had for about $200 on the forum depending on which one you want. there are other brands and a variables as to the set ups but most put pictures up and a quick internet search with give you lots of details on the different shelter setups people use. I recently puchased a bivy and golite poncho tarp. have not had a chance to try it yet but it is an idea for weight savings.

Bags are all about you and your personal comfort. I myself need something as far as back support goes so a ULA Circute works for me. Golite and others that use your pad as the frame help some but I could not get comfortable with any of the ones I have tried. If you have the chance try a few ultralight packs to see what works and what does not.

Rodney OndaRock
(RodneyOndaRock) - F

Locale: Southern California
Re: advise me ultralighters! (kitchen?) on 08/22/2011 00:52:48 MDT Print View

Please tell us what is your budget for lightening your load, as well as what are some things that are a "must have" versus negotiable.

To have a serious evaluation, you need to weigh all your gear. first aid kit, food, clothes, electronics etc. so you can make an educated decision if item X that you rarely use is worth the 15 oz of trail weight. at least do an Internet search for brand products to find the listed weight on the specs page. Go to REI sporting goods, they dont mind if you weigh your gear using their store geal scale. Just let them know in advance so they dont think you are stealing.

Is your backpack bag comfortable with 20 lbs but hurts at 40 lbs? I ask because if the bag will hurt at any weight, then we can address that issue separately from weight reduction.

You stated that you are backpacking for 10 days straight. at about 1.5 lbs - 2 lbs of food per day, that's 15 to 20 lbs of food. Are you really carrying that much or do you have food drop or food cache?

Everyone's preference is different, but I have managed to plan my meals, so that they are eatable without cooking. Eliminating the need and weight for a stove, fuel, pots etc. that could save you 5 or more lbs easily.

I understand there is a psychological comfort factor with a hot meal. My intent is not to change your mind, simply share what works for me. Although most of SoCal you cannot have a camp fire without a permit... and they issue those in cold season.

instead of hot coffee in the morning, consider chocolate covered "gourmet" coffee beans. and if you are doing food drop or food cache, then perhaps those triple expresso thin tall cans, at least for the first day after the food cache.

consider a big variety and flavors of jerky: beef, turkey, buffalo.

Also, smoked salmon, salami, dry cured sausage, block of dry cheese, or laughing cow soft cheese that doesn't need refrigeration, as well as (pre) hardboiled eggs.
there's even chicken/tuna/spam singles in a foil pouch, ready to eat.

for starches: pretzels, crackers, bagels, bread buns, with those single servings of Smuckers jam, and Nutella hazelnut choc spread is also sold in single servings. if you take the single servings of Philadephia cream cheese, make sure you pre-freeze it, and consume it on your first day.

I'm sure you know about high caloric dense nuts that dont require cooking.

for the first 24 hours, I prepare in advance at home some cooked ground beef and mix it with cooked rice, then I vacuum seal (or use ziplock bag) and freeze it. by the time it thaws on day-2, its ready to eat with chopsticks straight out of the bag. I include those single servings of salt/pepper from fast food joints.

my personal preference is to stick with the katadyn filter, unless you know all the water in those 10 days is clean. Otherwise, a purification tablet does nothing for the muck and the mud. the filter is my one luxury item.

Also, if you get cold at night, a poorman's trick is to eat your high caloric big meal before bed time, because your body is like a furnace, feed it and it will keep you warm.

PS: break your toothbrush handle in half. Some guys here drill holes in the handle to shave ounces.

by the way, the swiss army knife is a cool idea, but I eventually realized I only need 2 or 3 things on it, and don't need a phillips screw driver, a bottle opener, that useless nail file, etc. I'd say plan to leave it at home, you already travel with a real knife.

There is a neat boyscout project to stuff as many survival items in an altoid tin check it out, and if you have heavier duplicates, get rid of them.

you can also trim down your "lots of underwear" inventory. keep it simple: 1 to wear and 1 that you wash and air dry during the day. rotate.

Edited by RodneyOndaRock on 08/22/2011 01:07:38 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: advise me ultralighters! on 08/22/2011 06:24:31 MDT Print View

look at the community gear lists listed under COMMUNITY@BPL.

You will have to spend some money. No getting around that. Get a quality sleeping bag. It will last a long time if you take care of it.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
simple suggestions on 08/22/2011 07:05:48 MDT Print View

YES, get some new sleeping insulation. A mummy bag will save weight just by design, a quilt more so. If you're on a budget, stick to synthetic or troll the gear swap forum looking for used down items that fit your budget. Replace that tent with something lighter. You have a ton of design options in an UL solo shelter and gear swap is always buzzing with tarps and bivies. Most of your other stuff you can lighten just by taking less. These you will have to invest in.

I would skip the hammock idea for now. You already have a decent pad, cheaper to keep using that.

How long are you out at a time for research? You could probably put your toiletries into mini dropper bottles or other containers smaller than film cans.

How involved is your research? Alcohol stoves are light, but spend too long without resupply and the fuel costs add up. They're also a bit more fiddly, which you may not want to deal with when you have work to be doing. There are lighter stoves than the pocket rocket that offer the same simplicity. Get rid of all but one pot from the mess kit and do freezer bag cooking. If you don't need the mug for hot beverages, ditch it; eat from the pot and drink from your H2O bottle.

Ditch the duplicates. One knife, one set of underwear and socks (a second set for sleeping/rotation if you wish, but stop yourself from taking "lots"). Get a lighter headlight. Switch the biner (or anything steel--does that tent weight include steel stakes by chance?) for something made of aluminum or titanium

Soda and bottled water bottles are lighter even than Gatorade bottles. If you are out for extended periods of time, aquamira drops will be more economical than tabs.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: advise me ultralighters! on 08/22/2011 11:34:55 MDT Print View

Edited by annapurna on 08/22/2011 14:36:52 MDT.

Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
advise on 08/22/2011 11:38:40 MDT Print View

My advice is to sit down with a spreadsheet and a scale. I realize you said you don't have the means to do that right now, but scales aren't expensive and spreadsheets just take time. In short, due diligence. I'll be happy to help you refine what you have... once you do the work to quantify what you have.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: advise on 08/22/2011 13:11:25 MDT Print View

A scale gives you much more information about a particular item or set of items and takes out the qualitative aspect of things. Instead, it opens your eyes to the quantitative aspect. An example would be repackaging sunscreen or bug spray like you've already done. I recommend making your own alcohol stove it's relatively inexpensive to do and you'll learn quite a bit in the process. Also if your budget allows, take a look around for an REI that might be having it's Members Garage Sale sometime soon. I've found quite a few of my items that way at a considerable the discount. I've also found that it's much easier to lighten the load by not bringing something rather than spending a great deal of money for a lighter version of the same item. If you have more time than money, compare other BPL gear lists with your own. Figure the weight differences and how much it would cost you do get a similar item. Cost per ounce is important when you're on a budget. This way you can figure which items are the least expensive to replace and offer the most weight loss as well.

Some post offices have a digital scale in the PO Box section. They're usually separate from the main office space and open 24hrs. Find a local one and bring in your box of gear when it's not busy.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: advise me ultralighters! on 08/22/2011 13:13:22 MDT Print View

There are several articles or threads in the forum that deal with budget gear. This is one of them

Bren Knowles
Hey, thanks for all the great replies ! on 08/22/2011 21:46:38 MDT Print View

I am considering using a quilt, it's a new concept to me. I think the part of the tent I would miss most is the bug screen.

some great new tips thanks! My budget right now is about $200 then in a couple of months I can spend another hundred. I just made a (necessary) boot investment. I will borrow some scales ASAP to weigh my stuff. I am not actually on the trail for 10 days, sorry I didn't word that correctly. 4 day trips.

I'm pretty good about food and clothes weight, my normal diet isn't that much different from my backpacking diet. This is also where I am least likely to compromise, since I always bring some veggies, and sardines. Also, I am only using one pot from the mess kit, I think it holds about 30 oz, and is very light, though aluminum doesn't seem very efficient.

I am adept at doing my own research, but there is just so much gear out there that I was starting to get overwhelmed, so I really appreciate everyone who responded.

I think I should wait on a new pack, since my bag and tent both take up a bit of space. Seems like the sleeping insulation is the first place to start. I've been neglecting this part of my gear for years.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: advise me ultralighters on 08/23/2011 05:59:32 MDT Print View

When you're really ready to geek out, this tool is useful:

Pack/gearlist options calculator

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
advise me ultralighters! on 08/23/2011 07:34:50 MDT Print View

Basically you need to work on your big four and get those items under 5-6#.
If SUL even less. Leave all the extra stuff at home.
Carried clothing can be very heavy so work on that next.

Those are the most expensive items, IE big 4 and clothing.

Next go cold food or set up a 5 oz bag/alcohol cook set - cheap and almost free.

Switch to a Sawyer gravity water or just drops - again cheap.
The new squeeze filter setup is very light.

Your base weight should be 12# or less.
6-8# is my preference in mild weather.
8# is doable and not that expensive if you shop it, myog and buy some used.
When you get into the 4-5-6# area it can get very expensive.

Jeffrey McConnell
get a bag or a quilt now on 08/23/2011 11:39:25 MDT Print View

With $200 to spend now I would spend it on a down bag or quilt. First, decide whether or not you want to go the quilt route. It's a great way to save weight and if you do end up getting a hammock later on, you'll be glad you have a quilt instead of a bag (although there are some that prefer bags in a hammock).

After the bag I'd think about replacing the pack and shelter, unless you they are really working for you. Some people just aren't into the tarp and bivy set up. If that's you, that's ok because there are other options. Check out Tarptents and specifically the Moment and Rainbow. They are popular choices and may work for you.

You can also find good prices on packs - you don't have to spend a ton. I'd work on figuring out which shelter you'll be using first though.

Edited by Catalyst on 08/23/2011 11:41:46 MDT.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: get a bag or a quilt now on 08/23/2011 20:51:38 MDT Print View

I say, skip the bag and get the quilt.
The quilt is lighter and packs smaller.
The quilt can be used in the future when (not if) you go to a hammock (your back won't last forever, I know).

If you are willing and able to make some of your own gear, a hammock system can be affordable for all but extreme winter. Otherwise, hammock gear can be expensive and cheap tents are available in lots of places.

Bren Knowles
going with a hammock on 08/26/2011 23:51:21 MDT Print View

I haven't yet weighed my gear, but I am able to get a popular camping hammock through work for a very good discount, so I am going to pick one up and also an Integral Designs Siltarp 2 to cover me in rain. That's a start, the bag I have plus base layers should hold me over for the next couple of months. ..