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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic gear list on 12/06/2011 18:50:21 MST Print View

It's in my profile, maan.

The 2012 course is in the SE Chugach, from Thompson Pass to McCarthy. My list from this year, in the central Alaska Range, can be found in my race report article on this site.

I'm hoping to go lighter than last year. In fact, before I did the math I was hoping to be sub 25 FSO, but that's tough with 8+ pounds on packrafting gear, 7000 calories or more, and all the insulation I want to have (based on the crap weather which turned us around in 2011). In any case, I want to go all-out and have the lightest load I can.

A few notes:

-Based on the forecast I might leave the fleece vest behind, but probably not.
-The water options are bigger than last year, so I want a PFD.
-I could make a lighter pack out of 1.2 oz+ cuben. Not sure it'd be worth it, as the suspension components in the current pack are as light as I'm willing to go.
-Tarp is to keep rain off while napping around a fire. A 4' by 7' flat tarp would likely get the job done.
-Leaving the stove at home is tempting, but having hot soup and coffee during breaks last year was a huge moral/performance booster. Might split a Jetboil with a partner.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Shoes? Insulation? on 12/06/2011 20:09:33 MST Print View

David I see you seem to still like the X-Counties. I'm impressed you are confident enough in them to take them on a race like that. I though they might be a bit light?
How much do you plan on sleeping? Would a MYOG wearable quilt be a good idea instead of your jacket? Guess it depends on how much you wear it while moving.
How are you planning on getting your water bottle since your pack has no pockets? Are you going to hang it somewhere or just keep it inside?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: shoes and sleep on 12/06/2011 21:07:59 MST Print View

I'm pretty sure that with proper training I'll be fine with the X Countrys. I might run them with a thin plastic "insole" under the stock insole to provide a bit more rock protection.

Only plan on sleeping in 1-2 hour stretches. Insulation is for packrafting in cold weather, and hiking if things get nasty.

Bottle will either to strapped to shoulder strap, or I might swap it for a 2 liter hydro bladder. I'm experimenting with liquid calories and if I go that way a bladder will be more expedient.

Edited by DaveC on 12/06/2011 21:09:51 MST.

Gabe Joyes
(gabe_joyes) - F

Locale: Lander, WY
rab xenon on 12/06/2011 21:19:05 MST Print View

I almost bought a rab xenon this summer, but decided I didn't really need it. I was very impressed with it and I think it would be perfect for something like the classic.

For what its worth, I think the stove would be worth it... hot stuff when your cold is priceless. I guess that a little bit depends on the weather forecast though.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Water Bladder on 12/06/2011 22:21:28 MST Print View

I talked to a runner on a 50 miler in Texas and he was doing the liquid calorie thing. He seemed to like it but he said he had to tweak the mixture a bit. If I recal it was to thick at one point and got gross after a while. I can't recal exactly but I think he also said there were clogging issues at the bottoom where the hose goes in. I guess if there was enough slug that could happen (His was probably a lot more than 2 liters though so there would have been more mixture to gunk up the thing).
What about food access?
Thanks for posting.

Eric Swab
(ericswab) - M

Locale: Rockies
2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic gear list on 12/07/2011 20:02:25 MST Print View

Would a good alcohol stove with a windscreen help save weight or are conditions rough enough that the extra heat and fast boil times are worth it?

I know in your trip report the heatsheet bivy didn't work well, but would at least a heatsheet ground cloth help add some warmth?

Will you have a similar gear list for the Bob Marshall open or be posting it?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: stove and bivy on 12/07/2011 21:22:07 MST Print View

I've thought about an alc or esbit stove. With my Trappers mug that rig is so light. Might go that way, though the speed is rather nice.

I'm thinking about stuffing a folded Thinlight into the pad pocket on the pack for a bit more ground insulation during naps. Though this year at our last bivy I feel asleep by the fire before I even took off my shoes.

This list is pretty close to what I expect to take on the Bob Open. Some small snowshoes and perhaps crampons will be needed as well.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic gear list" on 12/07/2011 21:52:06 MST Print View

In the event sh@t hits the fan and weather turns for the "worst", will the R3 and Xenon pairing be adequate insulation? I understand this race epitomizes the phrase "fast and light" and I perceive that to mean constant forward motion with minimal impedance, but I can't help but wonder Dave how you would fare sacked in waiting out a heinous low pressure system midway into the Classic with only the necessary caloric ration to complete the race in your pack/gut.

The gear stuff is cool and insightful, but I'm more interested in the specifics of your physical training and caloric supplementation and how you intend to manage those aspects of preparation for the Classic. Do the handful of 24-48 hour solo tuneup trips you take in the spring really carry over much into the Classic, from an endurance standpoint? Do you need consistent daily/weekly fitness building and conditioning. Of course you finished last year with brilliance, so please don't mistake my questioning as doubtful, the endurance junkie in me wonders what could be possible if you really got after it this spring from a fitness standpoint.

Anyways, thanks for sharing your intentions, goals, plans, process, discovery, etc. with the community here.

Edited by Eugeneius on 12/07/2011 21:53:10 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
AMWC on 12/07/2011 21:58:08 MST Print View

Impressive that you're at the gear list stage already, considering the race was just announced a week or two ago.

I'm mulling over a AMWC bid myself. It mostly depends on how my packraft fundraising goes and my work schedule. I'll know soon if it jives with my 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off work schedule.

Regarding your gearlist:

1) Can you string up your packraft as a tarp (if you end up needing one) instead of bringing the Poncho tarp? Pardon my ignorance if it's way too small, as I'm about $700 away from having legitimate experience with a packraft.

2) For a PFD, maybe ask Ron (MLD) if he'll make you a 'The Thing'. It's basically a 4oz vest with zippers that you can stuff air filled water bottles, bladders etc into to add some floatation. I believe Skurka used on on the AK/YK exped.

3) Regarding stoves, personally I'd go cold food and put the weight saved into extra insulation (if necessary). If I did go stove, I think I'd go Esbit because it's really simple. My thinking is that there's gotta be plenty of time for eating while walking, so do virtually all the eating/drinking then, and just use break times for passing out.

4) Do you have a spray deck on your raft?

5) Altimeter? Alarm? How do you wake up after naps?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic gear list" on 12/07/2011 22:13:07 MST Print View

Eugene raises some training questions that I'm curious about as well.

One thought on stoves (I think we're already on somewhat of the same page here):
My personal experiences on harder trips have always led me to believe that a canister stove is worth the weight penalty in return for the morale-boosting effects of a hot, fast meal on demand. In environments like the one you're dealing with, I wouldn't want to fiddle with winscreens, pouring alcohol, and slower boil times; I'd rather pack the extra ounces. I actually think the Jetboil would be a good idea if split with a partner. I know some will say to just suck it up and go cold, but in my experience, hot food can work wonders (I seem to remember you thinking the same thing on your last race). I also have to wonder if being able to cook some hot meals borders on being a safety precaution as well.

I think that the comfort/morale aspect of hot food outweighs the extra ounces/time it takes to cook. When I used to be into ultra-distance cycling, I used to beat myself up about stopping for breaks too long (or at all); until I realized that the extra time I spent off the bike to relax, get some hot noodles/soup in me, and compose myself (read: get my $hit together) ended up saving time in the long run.

Edited by xnomanx on 12/07/2011 22:19:11 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
PFD on 12/08/2011 07:17:38 MST Print View

Okay I'm not a packrafter yet but I'd lean towards keeping a PFD not using "The Thing." I had to swim through some nasty rapids last spring with a cheapy PFD that wasn't really designed for that water, not fun at all.
Also have your experimented to see if a PFD could be used as insulation, or integrated as part of your pack? Just some crazy ideas I was thinking about.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Classic questions on 12/08/2011 08:23:12 MST Print View

The stove issue got rehashed last year, with basically the same results. More than likely I'll buy a Jetboil and hope to split it with a partner or two. A lot of the relevant performance aspects late in the race are psychological, and hot coffee and soup helps that.

On the poncho tarp, it'll be used near a fire and I don't want my raft getting burn holes.

My raft has a deck (it's a 2009). A deck should be considered mandatory for the Classic. Much warmer and safer.

I'm thinking about making a hybrid foam/inflatable PFD. If I could get at least 15 pounds of flotation with less bulk I'd be psyched.

Eugene, with your insulation question you bring up a central issue. To be brief, I believe the current array of clothing, calories, and shelter (tarp) is the right balance of safety. With good judgment and technique it should suffice under just about any circumstances. It's considerably more clothing than I took last year, because of what happened with our bad weather. We had fairly close to the worst weather which could be expected (90 minutes of wet brush, a few hours of rain and a stiff wind, a glacial river crossing, more wet brush, then rain turning to snow), and had to make a choice. To even have a chance of warming up we needed shelter and fire, and that meant we had to turn around and go back into the spruce. With more clothes we might have been able to make the 7-9 hour push over the passes and back into the trees, but it would have been committing, and we decided to not roll the dice like that. My current selection reflects a revised balance which will hopefully provide more options should the forecast turn south.

As for training, the blog post I did this past weekend reflects what I hope will be a more rigorous progression. I'm pretty lazy, and prefer to start the morning off like I am right now (coffee, 'puter) rather than going running. I hope to engage in a bit less sloth this winter. The other side is that those trips in May and June last year were really hard. After the Memorial Day traverse of the Bob I was useless for almost a week. I've long thought that most endurance athletes are too compulsive and under-rest. That Paige and I had no injuries of any kind or any particularly sore joints after (just hurt all over) was a sign of good rest and full batteries going in.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: altimeter on 12/08/2011 08:28:48 MST Print View

Dan, I forgot to put my Suunto Observer into the list. The altimeter is handy for navigation, especially in bad visibility, and the vertical gain per minute function helps with pacing. I could use the alarm, but I'd need to tape it to my ear to hear it. Last year for the two planned (not weather-enforced) sleeps we took we just built a big fire, conked out for an hour or two, woke up when we got cold, built the fire back up, ate, and got moving.

It's worth noting that last year I think everyone except the top two teams had some kind of sleeping/bivouac gear. Don and Chris (third) had a Spinntwin, bivys, and Chris had a light synthetic quilt. Foregoing sleeping gear is about weight savings (but with good UL gear we're only taking 2 lbs a person), but it's more about figuring out how many hours you can stay moving without degrading efficiency.

Beat Jegerlehner
(bjegerlehner) - MLife
Some food for thought on 12/08/2011 15:11:34 MST Print View

You list PD distance poles, which are aluminium? Nominal weight is more than you list. The ultra distance z-pole is a bit lighter despite collapsible design and very robust. The Gossamer Gear fixed poles are 5 oz, and still fairly robust based on my experience with the Lightrek 4 collapsible poles.
For reference the Skinfit Scudo pant is an ~8 oz fully waterproof pant with full side zip. Might be considered excessive for the ultralight person, but zips are nice. The DriDucks pants are ~4oz, but durability is surely to be tested.

The Raidlight Olmo 20L pack is 360G, and you can get another 120g front pocket. Might be too small for the raft though, but it has bottom loops for additional loads. I found the RL packs to be quite comfortable. That said, looking at your packraft weights it seems silly to try to save a few ounces on your pack anyways - comfort and robustness will probably beat any weight savings.

My experience with food @ high densities ... it may slow you down, simple matter of metabolism. Think about how much you weigh, how much you save in weight, and how much less energy you have if you don't take in enough sugars. As a matter of fact I think you're better off with a calorie deficit, but enough sugars to help burn fat (which you carry around plentifully no matter how slim you are) as opposed to carrying foods with tons of fat you can't really process anyways. Depends of course on how long you think you'll rest & sleep.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Looks sweet on 12/08/2011 15:42:44 MST Print View

I have no experience with anything like this but I figure i'll put in my bit anyways.

Going through your gear list you have three different leggings at a total weight of 26 oz. Will you ever be in a scenario in which you wear all three to stay warm? My experience tells me that no matter how "breathable" rain pants are i get too warm in them, especially with two pairs of tights.

My suggestion would be to look into some MYOG VBL rain pants like Dan's 1.2oz cuben ones, with Neoprene ankles and waist. That would definitely be under 4oz and warmer. I figure while packrafting you will not be generating much sweat/heat in your legs so the vbl will be better.

Then I would swap the knickers for some Cocoon pants if you can find any. Same weight, waaay more warmth. Or a synthetic elephants foot for around 8oz. Synth pants or the half bag plus your Xenon would make a warm and comfortable on the go sleep system for powernaps.


I noticed you dont have any kind of pad or groundsheet. Will you be sleeping right on the ground? What about pitching your spin tarp as a groundsheet/lean-to?

Esbit Caldera cone instead of a jetboil?

Ditch the R3 vest for a minimus vest from thru-hiker? Cut the weight in half.

tyler marlow
(like.sisyphus) - F

Locale: UTAH
Inflata-PFD on 12/08/2011 15:45:38 MST Print View

If I were into packrafting I would commission Bender at Kookabay to made a custom inflatable PFD that opens flat as a pad.

Another option would be Kylmit. I dont know how much buoyancy noble gases have compared to plain old air but it would sure keep you warm.

Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F - M
Re: "2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic gear list" on 12/08/2011 16:15:42 MST Print View

I think warm food is really worth it if your stomach accepts it better than energy bars. The more you digest - the more you run. Heatgear's Heatstick should be the ideal stove. I thought it was vaporware but someone seems to be selling it:

http://www.leafgear.com/en/heatgear-heatstick.html
If this is really true, wouldn't it be nice to test one? At least it would be nice to read a review at BPL...

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: 2012 Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic gear list on 12/08/2011 16:24:25 MST Print View

Disclaimer: I have zero experience in a race like the AMWC or in Alaska. I'm only willing to comment because you made mention of using the same or similar kit in the Bob and I do have some time in there.

When morale is down, I'm tired, cold, and wet, I want hot food fast. I wouldn't risk not finishing something of the AMWC's caliber in order to save a few ounces with less efficient cook systems or going no cook. As far as the clothing goes, you've been there and know better than anyone who hasn't what will work and what won't. I guess you have to ask yourself if you're willing to risk a DNF in trade for possibly finishing faster.

Edited by simplespirit on 12/08/2011 16:25:05 MST.

Russ Porter
(Russp17)

Locale: Anchorage
List on 12/08/2011 17:17:24 MST Print View

Nice list,

I think the PFD is a necessity in this area, the rivers are large (very large) I would not use an inflatable pfd. The Copper River though just class II is a serious undertaking to cross. That river is fast and very windy!! I would use a foam one.

I think you will enjoy the Rab Xennon jacket. I'm not going to be doing the Wilderness Classic this year but will be doing the Hot springs Classic in late May

Edited by Russp17 on 12/08/2011 17:18:05 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Classic answers on 12/08/2011 19:52:35 MST Print View

Beat the weight listed is the actual weight of my poles. I did remove the straps. Being able to pack them is nice, and the carbon isn't lighter enough to justify the cost. They survived the race last year, and they'll be going back.

I expect to wear all three leg items listed if it gets cold enough. They layer well together.

Tyler, I like that idea! Will have to email Bender about it.

Fleece is more functional than synthetic when it gets wet. The idea here is that the fleece vest gets worn while packrafting and hiking if its cold, the Xenon is more the reserve layer for breaks and when it gets really cold.

I want to be a bit more disciplined with food than last year and boost my cal/oz density a bit. That being said I really know what works for me (snickers) and will mostly stick with that. Thankfully I've never had substantive issues with endurance fueling.

Edited by DaveC on 12/08/2011 19:57:34 MST.