Forum Index » SuperUltraLight (SUL) Backpacking Discussion » Anyone done a SUL Thru-Hike?


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Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: SUL on a thru on 08/04/2013 20:04:16 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."

Warner Springs Monty averaged under 5lbs for a PCT thru. There were places that temp gear had to be added. I also read somewhere, where he wrote that his kit is now in the 6-8 lb range, and that his SUL thru was an ego thing, and he is much happier with a little more weight.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: SUL on a thru on 08/05/2013 04:24:02 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.

It gets a bit more complex too when you are not in the 'dry summer' region of America. In many places in Alpine regions you need to be carrying a bit more gear to handle the odd blizzard and so on. Being cold, wet and hungry for a week on end ceases to be amusing.

Cheers

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
Matt Kirk on 08/10/2013 12:01:01 MDT Print View

Well since its timely, I will add this.

Matt Kirk just completed his record unsupported hike of the AT, 2185 miles in 58.5 days. Here is his gear list

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApPth1tdz8ihdHhnVXRZU2JBazRGd1pLaV9pdmlFc1E#gid=0


5.25 lbs. Technically not SUL if you are going to split hairs ,but thats with 7 oz of cell phone, charger, usb adapter, etc. He kept online journal and pics of the hike for validation purposes. And needed good light and batteries for night hiking.

His gear and approach, is SUL without a doubt. He needed certain items for a record setting hike however.

Edited by livingontheroad on 08/10/2013 12:07:26 MDT.

Critter Hampton
(TheCritter)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
My first post in the forum on 12/24/2013 10:30:36 MST Print View

Hey guys I'm new to this particular forum and I'm finally getting up the confidence to post here in the presence of some amazing people.

In response to the original post I circumnavigated 100 miles around Mt Rainier with about five pounds of gear and 20 pounds of food, without resupplying. I did it over 8 leisurely days in rain and near freezing weather.

Sometimes I backpack critter style which utilizes no sleeping bag, no pad, and no tent. I have a plan worked out to do a 30 day/300 mile hike with 5 pounds of gear and 60 pounds of food. I need to find a lightweight backpack capable of carrying that much weight.

I love backpacking and I do this all for fun. Here's a video of the basic gear I carry:Click here.

Edited by TheCritter on 12/24/2013 16:40:23 MST.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: My first post in the forum on 12/26/2013 07:57:02 MST Print View

"Sometimes I backpack critter style which utilizes no sleeping bag, no pad, and no tent."

Hi and welcome aboard. Hopefully this won't come across like I'm challenging you but could you describe what you do to protect yourself from the elements and insulate yourself from the ground?

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
SUL on 12/26/2013 16:22:44 MST Print View

While Matt Kirk did, more or less, have a 5 lb BPW, he was also doing massive miles per day. If you are hiking not-quite-40 MPD, you need even less insulation and layers than someone hiking "only" 25 MPD. His window of hiking was much shorter than average (!) and environmental considerations were a lot less. The AT can get nasty with the weather, but if you pick the "perfect" two months, it is reasonably consistent as well.

So, can SUL be done? Sure.

But under very specific conditions and parameters.

For us mere mortals, a typical ~4-6 month hike with a 5lb BPW would be very difficult. A speed hiker cranking out the close-to-40MPD has a better change of this gear category.

A thru-hike on a shorter trail with very specific environmental factors that don't change would be another possibility, too.

As a side note, I find once you get below 10lbs, I personally don't notice the difference. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 12/26/2013 16:25:25 MST.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: SUL on 12/26/2013 20:43:49 MST Print View

I almost never go UL.
85% of the time it's SUL.

Leave the stove at home, use an 1/8" pad, and don't bring any text gadgets or extra clothes.

It's hare to go over 5 pounds when you only bring what you "must" have.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Jmt on 12/26/2013 21:01:32 MST Print View

Speed attempts on the JMT ain't exactly multi-month either. ;)

"A thru-hike on a shorter trail with very specific environmental factors that don't change would be another possibility, too."

This thread is reminding me of the "Can I hike the PCT for only $1000???" type threads.

Theoretically possible for some. Not likely for most. And a lot of fudging of numbers to,show how it is possible for most. :)

Edited by PaulMags on 12/26/2013 21:08:55 MST.

Critter Hampton
(TheCritter)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: My first post in the forum on 12/27/2013 08:56:35 MST Print View

"Hi and welcome aboard. Hopefully this won't come across like I'm challenging you but could you describe what you do to protect yourself from the elements and insulate yourself from the ground?"

I sleep on a pile of debris. I usually put the debris in a trash bag or under an ultralight barrier. A trash bag is easier for transporting debris like leaves and pine needles.

Edited by TheCritter on 12/27/2013 08:57:27 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
SUL? Not for long trips. on 12/27/2013 10:34:22 MST Print View

Well, it sort of depends, but I have found SUL weights to be inadequate for comfort when on long multi-week trips, let alone long multi-month thru hikes. For example, the simple light I carry will need new batteries about once a week. I will need to carry extra's if there is no resupply shops that have them. Often, this is hard to determine ahead of time. An extra set of socks, some sort of good weather protection for two or three days of steady rains. And so on. I generally go UL for most trips, and don't try to reach the SUL weights. Generally, a 1# pack, 1# bag and 1# of shelter (all within a couple ounces) is pretty much required for all SUL trips. More comfortable hiking/camping starts when all of this stuff is closer to 1#8, but this will quickly leave little room for anything else with typical SUL gear. A fairly light weight 0C/32F system starts at about 6 pounds. I generally cannot aford all the cuben tarps, super expensive 900FP down jackets, etc, so I end up at about 8 pounds for the same system. If I am out longer than a week, I can expect this to reach 9-11 pounds. I need more comfort, and more reserve capacity. Even the NeoAir (at 13oz) will qickly break the SUL bank, but these old bones require it. Batteries and miscelaneous things(a more elaborate repair kit, a larger bottle of supper glue, 3-4 band-aids rather than 1-2, more duct tape, etc...) All this weighs. I never plan on needing this stuff. But, sheist will happen. I bring a cup. I don't for three days, simply living out of my pot. It is nice to be able to have coffee/cocoa AND eat breakfast and supper. I bring a third pair of socks. A set of long johns for sleeping in acts as reserve clothing for 32F weather. All these little things account for the difference between SUL and simply UL. In good weather, SUL is easy. As conditions get more iffy, you need more gear to cover your butt...well, at least to warm it up a bit.

Will Rietveld wrote a good series on Mountain SuperUltraLight a while back. Following his reasoning is about the same. It starts here: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/mountain_sul_part1.html#.Ur255dJDuoU
I think he did 4 segments.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: SUL? Not for long trips. on 12/27/2013 11:33:58 MST Print View

James,

I think you are looking at what SUL completely wrong.

It is not a 1# pack, 1# bag and 1# of shelter (all within a couple ounces). This is nowhere near what it takes to go SUl.
Every ounce counts, (some even grams).

1# pack should be a sub 10 ounce pack or even a sub 6
1# shelter is not a shelter, it is a tarp that weighs nowhere near 1# and again should be 6-10 ounces.
Both of these can even be cut in half and still work.

The bag, I agree on 1# but with just the other 2 above, you are already saving over a pound
Heck, you get a 3.5 ounce tarp and a 4.5 ounce pack and you are saving 1.5#

Add an 8 ounce jacket, 6 ounces of padding and a 1# quilt and you have a 2 ½-3 pound base.
Not the 6# you are referring to.
You just do not take a 13ounce pad on a SUL trip. On soft ground, closed cell is more comfortable anyway.

None of the above gear takes anything away from comfort.
On a longer trip, you would need a 10 ounce or so pack to carry more weight.
Still nowhere near 6#.

With 3#, I’m sure you could get the rest of what is needed to get you SUL.

I thing going SUL is like a person going on a diet.
The person can’t just say they are going to do it and complain that it’s too hard because they can’t see where the better source of calories comes from.
You have to change your life-style and adapt to what works instead of what you already know doesn’t.

Edited by awsorensen on 12/27/2013 11:35:26 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: SUL? Not for long trips. on 12/28/2013 07:42:44 MST Print View

I don't actually use that stuff. It is all way too heavy, 'cept the bag, ha, ha.

I usually manage with lower volume components in my pack. I never shoot for a weight in the ADK's because the weather/climate is too variable. 32F/0C is my summer kit. I have take For two weeks or less, I take my Murmur(~10oz), with an extended sit-lite pad for a frame and sleeping(~7oz). My tarp is plain old silnylon and weighs 14oz. I have had it down to about 25F a few times, but wasn't very comfortable. I was just pointing out that the 1pound weights were *maximum* and still be able to go out SUL. I never bring more or less for 3 season stuff, but the length means I bring more items related to the stuff I do bring, like batteries for the Opti, an extra length of guy line, other stuff I am not thinking of at the moment. Grams count shooting for SUL. I typically hit M-SUL weights for less than a week out, though. I have hit SUL weights for weekends. I just don't get real excited about it. The food is ALWAYS my bigest weight. At about 9 pounds for 6 days, it remains the single bigest, heaviest item in my pack when I leave.

Some say food/fuel/water doesn't count towards base weight. Some say "consumables" don't count. I am with the food/fuel/water crowd. My pack weight for a week is around 15 pounds. Pack weight for two weeks is around 21-23 pounds. SUL for 145mi? Easy. SUL for 320mi is more difficult. Neither is impossible. SUL for 745mi? I don't think so, but it is possible for a few. For longer, the weight of a pack alone starts breaking the bank, since the Murmur and the like simply cannot carry that kind of food weight. Unless you cheat and resupply every 3-5 days. Water is not considered a resupply item, though, in the deserts I suppose it is. Generally anything that can be resupplied in the woods, I don't consider "resupply". This is perhaps the bigest difference between thru-hikes and trip-hikes. On trips, I don't resupply.