Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
SUL done with super cheap budget?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
SUL done with super cheap budget? on 01/26/2012 10:43:07 MST Print View

Alrighty boys and girls. Summer is fast approaching and I'm trying to create a SUL kit that I can do some fastpacking with in late spring thru very early fall in the north cascades. This will only be used for single overnighters or really long out and back trails. My wife says I can't buy any new gear so that's limits me to either stuff I already own or things that I can make. FYI I'm not a good or bad sewer but just haven't had the time to practice. My current setup is 7lbs but I can't fit it in a 30L pack (the one I use for running with) very well and that's without my sleeping pad attached (it is included in my baseweight though). My sleeping bag, REI subkilo 20 takes up the most room even when it's in a compression sack. Here's my breakdown of the main items:
Pack: REI UL jet 30
bag: REI subkilo 20
Pad: zlite small length (Bulky,may need to cut down length more)
Shelter: MYOG plastic tarp 7x9
Water: steripen with a .5L Platy
Cook set: SP 600 w/MYOG penny stove
Rain gear: cheap plastic stadium poncho
Insulation: FA down sweater or FA down vest

I figured I could ditch the stove setup and go cookless which will remove some good space in my pack. My biggest concern is a sleeping pad. I'm having a hard time finding room to attach it to on my pack. Any ideas that won't have it falling off when bouncing down the trail?

For my sleeping bag I was thinking of using the top section of my car camping bag and cutting it up to remove extra weight and then using a AMK bivvy as my bivy. This would create a VB effect I know but then I could possibly leave the tarp at home on trips that have nice weather. I'm just not sure about it's temp rating and if I'd be comfortable waking up a little wet. Thoughts?

All ideas are welcome!

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: SUL done with super cheap budget? on 01/26/2012 11:00:39 MST Print View

Mathews stuff is a lot of cheap homemade gear but you might get a few ideas from his video

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Fool on the hill on 01/26/2012 11:09:24 MST Print View

Thanks Anna. I read his blog regulary and he's he has some great ideas. I'm just worried about my sleep setup since I'll have typically colder nights then his spartan setup of just windbreakers and a nylon bivy on those warm east coast nights. I figured I'll still be below treeline but not by much. If I go above treelike for a night then I'll have to use a makeshift bivy since my plastic tarp would be shredded in any wind.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Fool on the hill on 01/26/2012 11:41:00 MST Print View

These are sul lists with photos that fit in smaller packs than you are using,I own both the ion and the jet ul and the ion is 330 cubic inches smaller.Most people on these lists(myself included)use a quilt.Have you tried putting everything in without using a stuff sack so that everything just molds around the bag instead of a big hard lump at the bottom of your pack?Here is a link(although I am sure you have already seen it:)

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

SUL on 01/26/2012 12:08:17 MST Print View

You've got some nice and affordable gear, but it's going to be almost impossible to achieve SUL with that pack and bag.

If you're actually wanting to get to a 5 lbs base weight, you can't really have a 22oz pack and 29oz bag.

That's 51oz right there out of your allowed 80oz. Add your 10oz pad and 10oz FA vest and you're almost at 5 lbs before adding in your shelter, rain gear, cook system, other clothes and misc. gear.

You can do SUL cheap, but you need to get the big three really light. I'd look at a simple frameless pack in the 4-12oz range (MLD, Zpacks etc). For $100, you could get a Zpacks Zero and drop a full pound.....or make your own for less.

Edited by dandydan on 01/26/2012 12:08:57 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Fool on the hill on 01/26/2012 12:26:59 MST Print View

Here is Rob with a 5lb pack weight using a jet ul,I don't know everything he was carrying but he looks like he trimmed his pack and is using a cuben tarp(there are a couple of other photos of his stuff under his tarp)but maybe someone who was at the Point Reyes meet or Rob himself could tell you.The meet took place in January and was raining.

He trimmed his pack down to 15oz

Edited by annapurna on 01/26/2012 13:53:00 MST.

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
MYOG pack on 01/26/2012 14:08:39 MST Print View

Dan- I have blueprints of a pack I want to make but I'm just worried about running or jogging with it. I'll have to add reinforced shoulder straps and hipbelt to deal with the excess bouncing. I have been thinking about ditching the SUL idea all together and go for a 6lb base just so I can have a pack that I'm already comfortable with. Plus I wouldn't have to buy anything that way. I have been toying with the idea of cutting my zlite down to 6 sections but if I tried to use it as a frame for my current pack it sticks out the top a couple of inches. Not a huge deal breaker but I'd like my pack to be able to close so nothing bounces out. I guess I could just sew on an extension collar to my pack... That may be a pretty good idea! That'd give me a little extra room too so everything may fit a little nicer. Thoughts?

I knew if I asked for help some idea would come to me!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

6 lbs on 01/26/2012 14:41:45 MST Print View

Just going for a 6 lbs base sounds like a pretty prudent strategy to me.

I've never gone for a SUL hike myself. I'm usually at 6-7 lbs. Only recently have I acquired the gear that would make SUL possible, so I'll probably do a SUL trip or two this coming summer, but I'll normally stick around 6-7 lbs where I'm totally comfortable.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: MYOG pack on 01/26/2012 14:50:38 MST Print View

adding an extension collar

need to be a member to read these

how to turn your sleeping bag into a lightweight quilt

I live in Seattle and I see that you do also,if you are careful with your gear I could possibly lend you a cuben fiber tarp,I have several.

Edited by annapurna on 01/26/2012 15:05:39 MST.

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Anna's insight on 01/26/2012 15:27:47 MST Print View

First off thanks so much for kinda offering me a tarp to use! But, recently I moved north to Bellingham so I don't make my way down there anymore. I checked out Konrad chen's article about the same pack I have and how he made and extension collar for it. That's exactly what I'm going to do. I found just enough 1.3oz silnylon to make the collar "if" I don't mess up! I just cut down my zlite a minute ago and figured the extension collar should be a great addition to the pack. Hopefully, if my daughter goes to sleep early tonight I'll have it all sewed up before going to bed :)

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: SUL done with super cheap budget? on 01/30/2012 17:16:38 MST Print View

@ D & D

6-7 lbs seems to be a sweet spot for comfort, cost, utility and weight for many. The extra pound or two can go a long way in any of those areas and the 5lb. SUL target is wholly arbitrary anyway. You probably will not notice a limiting difference with the extra bit of poundage. I look at SUL as a fun exercise rather than a practical pursuit and have enjoyed hiking trips thusly rigged, but I usually end up around 6.5 lb. +/- with my base weight.

@OP - the REI Sub-kilo is a decent bag for the price, but you may consider selling it or returning it and putting the $ towards something much lighter, such as a WM HIghlite, or a quilt. You could potentially save a pound right there without breaking the bank.

Stephen Burgess

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: SUL cheap on 01/30/2012 17:40:16 MST Print View

I agree with others that SUL is tough to achieve with little cash outlay. However, I have been using a Blizzard Tube occasionally this past year with good results, and it costs all of about $40. For what you are describing you can pack the tube for 1.2 lbs and leave your tarp, sleeping bag and ground sheet at home. My daughter and I spent the evening at Panhandle Gap this past year on an unplanned bivy when we were stymied by frozen snow at 11 PM with little to no boot track. We donned all our clothes and hunkered down in the tube with a cuben tarp over us and spent a fairly comfortable evening. Originally we had planned a fastpack of the Wonderland using this system (but at lower altitudes).unplanned bivy setup at Panhandle Gap
When unpacked the tube is not small but I attach it via straps to the bottom of my ZPacks Zero (Xtra small) pack. Cheap, rugged, warm....a good possibility for you if you want to try unconventional. Here are some links if you want to investigate further: recent discussion:
Link to my blog on using this product in a system:

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Bag on 01/31/2012 15:26:20 MST Print View

I bought the SubKilo 20 at the REI garage sale a few years back for $50. At the time it was worth somewhere around $250 I think. So unfortunately I can't return it. But it's been a good bag so far so no real complaints other than weight.

I have been looking at the Blizzard bags though. I really like the idea of leaving the tarp and bivy at home for those real light and fast hikes. Do you find that it's really noisy at night? Do you need ear plugs?

Stephen Burgess

Locale: Pacific Northwest
re: Blizzard bag noise on 02/01/2012 10:36:16 MST Print View

Anyone who has been doing this for some time knows that everything is a compromise, that there is usually no perfect solution for all circumstances. That said, the Blizzard bags make some noise, there's no getting around it. Whenever you move you get that snap, crackle and pop like the elves are chowing on cereal right next to your head. I find this true of both the long jacket, which I've used as a sleeping bag, and the tube. I don't wear earplugs, it just doesn't bother me that much. There are so many other things when sleeping outside that can disturb your sleep (wind, flapping flaps, curious rodents, thrashing tent mates etc) that I find the crackle of the blizzard no more bothersome than other things. Fortunately, these products are so cheap that you can probably afford to at least try it for yourself and see if you can live with it, unlike buying a high priced item. Skip a few lattes and take the plunge, and let us know how you fare!

Dan Johnson

Locale: PNW
Condensation? on 02/01/2012 17:54:00 MST Print View

@ Stephen
Being up here in the PNW how do you find the Blizzard bag to do with condensation? Would you rate it the same as an AMK Bivvy (which is just a sweat box)? I guess I won't be wearing my down pieces under it so there goes my main source of insulation. Maybe i should make a MYOG synthetic vest to deal with the condensation and let it dry in the morning.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
SUL done with super cheap budget? on 02/03/2012 12:13:35 MST Print View

My 2 cents you can take with a grain of salt.

You can go SUL and cheap but you need to MYOG for some of it.

I would skip the plastic tarp and build one of these at 7.5 oz out of 2nds sil.
Looks pretty easy. I am working on one now. Note you have to buy 66" wide sil to make it out of one piece.
Add 2 oz for stakes so 9.5 oz. 3 yards $20

A stripped Golite Jam II (the older one) weighs 18 oz.
Bought mine for $50

1.25 oz tyvek bivy - 8 oz - Sub $4 per yard on Amazon and you can glue it.
$24+- Might want to add some .7oz mesh.

GG 1/8 pad ($10) and a Neoair small (on sale for $65) 11.5oz total.

MYOG M90 Climashied quilt - sub $100
Similar to a Spirit quilt reg size - 48dF 12oz, 27dF 21 oz.

Polycro/Frostking (makes 2 or 3)ground cloth 1.5 oz

Dry bag 2 oz
Bought 5 for $15


3.9# for summer and 4.5# for 3 season.

You can go lighter if you go with a cuben pack - Expensive.
Also lighter if you use a Campmor extended poncho tarp - 9oz - double use as rain gear.