Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 02/17/2012 04:04:03 MST Print View

Or what is the longest number of nights that you have spent out using a SUL system?

Just curious, and looking to learn from someone that has done longer trips--what worked, what didn't, what they might have changed, etc.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 02/17/2012 09:19:10 MST Print View

Joe Valesko

Warner Springs Monty
Krudmeister did the PCT in 2009

Francis Tapon is close

Not exactly a thru hike but she walked across America for 30 years with no pack

Edited by annapurna on 02/17/2012 10:14:16 MST.

Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Thanks on 02/17/2012 10:50:27 MST Print View

Wow, what a wealth of info, thank you very much. I had never heard of Peace Pilgrim before, what an amazing story.

In the future I would like to thru hike some of the long trails here in Sweden, and if I did it in the summer, was thinking of doing it SUL.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Thanks on 02/17/2012 12:02:46 MST Print View

Monty did a PCT with a SUL kit, mostly to see what he could do. From what I remember, he now is closer to 8 or 9 pounds on long hikes. The extra weight and items just make the hike more enjoyable for him.

Here There
(cowexnihilo) - MLife
Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 02/17/2012 13:11:50 MST Print View

I do a lot of my overnighters and weekend trips SUL, but after a couple of days I'm more comfortable with a couple extra pounds. Depending on the type of longer trip, my base weight ends up being from about 7-9lbs.

This is partly a function of the increased weight of consumables which might not be as comfortable in a SUL pack, and partly because I want to ensure that I'm comfortable and safe even if the weather forecast is completely off. A night or two of rain under a poncho-tarp might be fine, but give me a week of rain and I want a little more shelter. Similarly, I don't usually carry a first aid kit on an overnight trip, but if I go out for a week I like to have at least some foot care items and painkillers.

Carefully done and with enough expenditure I'm sure you could put together a nice little SUL system that would be pretty comfortable for extended trips, but I've consolidated my kit to mostly more versatile 3-4 season items and gotten rid of most of my specialized SUL gear. When I go SUL now it's more a function of leaving most things but shelter and sleeping bag behind, rather than having a "complete" packing list of SUL items.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 02/17/2012 13:47:46 MST Print View

Brian Dobble did a AT Yo-Yo in something like 175 days a few years ago with a base weight of less than four pounds.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 02/17/2012 19:35:28 MST Print View

I am by no means in the same class as any of the awesome hikers above when it comes to total trail miles.

Later this year I will be attempting a 400 mile thru-hike with a sub 4-pound BPW setup. Longest stretch w/o resupply will be 8 days, so the first few days of that is gonna suck as the weight of food will be 3x more than my BPW, but such as it is.

I did a little over 500 miles in 2011 with a 4.4 pound setup and another 250 with a sub 2 pound setup.

Realistically though anything under around 4.8 pounds is where it starts getting really hard to do a thru-hike without suffering.

>>> What worked?

No-cook eating. Easily save a significant amount of weight just in food packaging by going over to no cook eating. Basically end up with two or three bags of food, rather than a bunch of different bags of different meals. Also save a significant amount of weight over the entire thru-hike on fuel dead weight. Anymore I make a cup of warm tea at night with half an esbit and that is usually it.

Tarps. Or an insanely light shelter. Last year I did most of my miles with a tarp but for this trip I will be taking a sub 1 pound TSW setup for full bug protection.

High quality cloths. I decided to go the route of going with high quality cloths and putting a lot of trust in a layering system. So far it has worked out.

High risk water treatment. In other words, none. Thankfully I live somewhere that I pretty much never have to treat water. For my hopeful hike later this year I will also not be treating water, so that saves you around 3oz. High risk for 3oz though.

No Stuff sacks. Really, the most stupid thing ever. I see some guys with stuff sacks for this, stuff sacks for that, and stuff sacks for their stuff sacks. I carry a single stuff sack that pretty much everything except my shelter and bag and cloths go into. DRW protects your bag from the rain, shelter does not need protection, and cloths usually go into a big zip-lock bag (which also gets used to clean cloths with a micro-dropper of bleach, and serves as a pillow at night).

The lightest pad, if one at all. I use a GG 1/8th pad. It really does nothing to help me with comfort but it does wonders to give my backpack some rigidity. Could still carry a Zlite and be under 5 pounds.

>>> What did not work?


Shoes that do not fit you properly.


>>> Neatest trick I have learned from other SUL/XUL thru-hikers:

The power of Sealskinz Waterproof Mid-Calf socks when it gets cold. Screw using these to keep your feet dry (that is impossible) but these suckers trap heat inside of them and easily increases your foot temperature a few degrees when you need it most. Mine are 178 grams and I do not think twice about having them in my shoulder/winter gear - not even for a microsecond.

John B. Abela

Edited by JohnAbela on 02/17/2012 19:53:26 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 02/17/2012 19:53:43 MST Print View

Valesko on the PCT didn't add in the weight of his guidebook (map equivalent)...not SUL. Most of those won't be SUL if they are not stuffing their pockets with gear, leaving out necessary gear weights or adding to their food/water/fuel weight (more consumables). Okay, so I am a purist with SUL envy ; ).

Edited by jshann on 02/18/2012 02:09:55 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike on 02/17/2012 20:22:08 MST Print View

I don't think going SUL would be as hard on the AT. I think it would be a lot harder on a western trail where resupplies are farther apert.
I could have lived with SUL gear on the Colorado Trail with the exception of my pack. My food load was just too heavy to make this comfortable.

Also on longer hikes there are weights you don't have on shorter hikes, especially if you're going far between resupplies.
-I had to carry some extra camera batteries if I wanted to take many pictures
-I carried two extra pairs of socks instead of one (very good idea too)
-I carried my cell phone for town stops
-I carried a lot of maps between resupplies.
- I carried a guidebook
-I carried more first aid supplies
-I carried a SPOT. I dont' care for this but its a "Make Mom Feel Good" device.

With the exception of the SPOT I don't see many things I could change if I went out again, at least on the CT.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Re Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike on 02/17/2012 20:26:18 MST Print View


Man I sooo want to do the CT!!

What is the longest mileage distance between two food resupplies? For me that is the kicker between a small pack and a slightly larger pack. Rest of my gear pretty much stays identical, but the darn need to stuff in more food often requires me to switch up to a pack that is another 500 ci in size which gives me around another 4 days worth of food.

Also, did you happen to encounter any snow when you did the CT?


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re John on 02/17/2012 20:53:12 MST Print View

John the CT is great, let me know if you ever want to try it.
You nailed the big problem with the CT. The longest distance between resupply points is from Princeton Hot Springs to Molas Pass (unless you want to try a difficult hitchhike). I believe this is about 180 miles if I recall. What makes this section challenging is parts of it are also really dry. So there are times when you need to be carrying 3-4 liters of water.
When you hit the dry section you still have a good 5-7 days worth of food to carry plus the water so you're looking at 16 plus pounds of consumables.
I believe a CDT hiker would have the same problem if not more so. In fact, come to think of it, I dont' know if anyone has done the CDT with a SUL kit.

I didn't see significant snow but I went in Septemeber. I believe its common to see more if you go earlier.

. .
(CzechClown) - MLife

Locale: JMT/PCT
Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike on 02/17/2012 22:28:34 MST Print View

@ John would you mind posting more information about your no cook foods for your thru- hikes.

Edited by CzechClown on 08/04/2013 16:27:36 MDT.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike on 02/17/2012 22:45:30 MST Print View

CzechClown: @John would you mind posting more information about your no cook foods for you thru- hikes.

I will not go into the whole detail of things, but it usually involves at least these 15 items:

Dehydrated Refried Bean
Textured Vegetable Protein
Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey
Instant Nonfat Dry Milk Powder
Whole Dried Egg Powder
Wheat Germ
Dried Pears
Golden Raisins
Sweet White Sorghum Berries
Macadamia Nut Granola
Soy Grits
Ivory Lentils
Fava Beans
Baby Lima Beans
Hominy Grits

Barry Cuthbert
(nzbazza) - MLife

Locale: New Zealand
Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike? on 08/04/2013 16:19:28 MDT Print View

Check out Cam Honan's (Swami) gear list for the 12 long walks he did in 18 months, including the fastest ever triple crown in a single year. This guy is a hiking legend. There's no weights given in the list, but looking at the gear he uses it would be very close to SUL.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re John on 08/04/2013 16:46:51 MDT Print View

CT Drift -

Everyone hikes a little different, but ...

Resupply -
You can resupply 20 miles south of Mt. Princeton if you hitch HWY 50 into Poncha Spring for a drop box, or 5 more miles into Salida for a Walmart and a Safeway (and a hostel). Most folks have an easy time getting into town, but getting out is a little harder. Nonetheless, many CT'ers make the 25 mile hitch, call it a Zero Day, and take a shower.

And you can resupply at Spring Creek Pass with a 20 mile hitch into Lake City.

In both cases, locals know the drill, and things Usually work out.

So, about 100 miles between these two points.

Water -
I hiked from Spring Creek to Monarch Pass (HWY 50 15 miles west of the CT) in a dry September a few years ago. Doing 25/day I never carried more than 2 liters at a time. But I did have to drop 500' in a half mile to re-fill on Day 3, and climb back out. So depending on when you hike, chances are good you can keep the water to a minimum.

End Drift.

Edited by greg23 on 08/04/2013 16:48:32 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: SUL Thru-Hike on 08/04/2013 17:01:32 MDT Print View

Francis Tapon came pretty close on his CDT yo-yo in 2007.

[ I now see in Link's post]

Edited by greg23 on 08/04/2013 17:04:24 MDT.

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 08/04/2013 17:08:56 MDT Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 09/08/2013 20:17:09 MDT.

SUL on 08/04/2013 18:28:13 MDT Print View

I know of one person who was SUL on the AT for much of it.

He sent his tent,stove, and sleeping bag home, and just slept in his clothes in a mylar bivy. Depended on shelters. He also ran a lot.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/04/2013 18:29:21 MDT.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike on 08/04/2013 19:45:33 MDT Print View

Krudmeister is in my list of links above also.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
SUL on a thru on 08/04/2013 19:58:29 MDT Print View

I suspect there are very few long distance hikers that meet the sub 5lb definition of SUL, its just not worth the loss of comfort on such an extended trip. I know for a fact that several on the lists above are closer to the 6-8 lb. range which I think is the rational limit to what can be sustained for long duration without special circumstances such as counting on shelter for rain protection or hiking in areas where the predictability allows optimization. One thing to keep in mind, my thru hikers have significant additional clutter that bumps up the base weight beyond what is listed. But few if any long distance hikers care if their pack weighs 5 or 6 or 7 lbs. a good crap will equalize the weight.

Edited by gg-man on 08/04/2013 19:59:18 MDT.