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Budget Improvement on 12 pounds
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Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Budget Improvement on 12 pounds on 07/26/2012 13:35:46 MDT Print View

I just returned from hiking the Long Trail in VT, which was 280+ mi in 16 days (+1 rest day), in which I carried about 12-13 pounds of BPW. I've spent most of my budget money on buying a new pack + sleeping bag before the LT trip, but now I'm looking to see what else I can cut out of my pack weight before I go hiking again in the White Mountains and the Adirondacks. I've already got some ideas, so I'll include both my LT gear list and my proposed improvements. My questions are below.

Weights are either exact (if I could find them online) or they have a ? next to them (in which case they are very approximate)

Esbit Fuel Cube Stove - 3 oz (replace with Esbit Titanium, 0.4 oz and $14.95)
Tin foil Wind screen - 0.3 oz
MSR steel bowl - 4 oz
Steel Spoon - 4? oz (replace with Sea To Summit Alpha Light Spork, .3 oz and $6.950

Sleeping bag - EMS Velocity 35 Long - 31 oz (thinking about returning this to EMS to get $189 for a different bag)
Tent - REI Quarter Dome (minimalist shelter with poles, fly, and groundcloth weighs 54? oz). Doesn't keep the rain out well. (Possibly replace with REI Minimalist Bivy - Long, 17 oz and $109)
No Sleeping pad currently - I own a 14 oz Thermarest Z Lite (possible replace with Klymit Inertia X-Light, 6.1 oz and $89.95)

Clothing (carried)
EMS Fleece 9? oz
Spare hiking socks
Sea to Summit Poncho - 13 oz (replace with Sierra Designs hurricane HP, 7 oz and $36.83)

Pack - Osprey Talon 44 - 38 oz
First Aid Kit -Haphazard materials in ziplock, about 12 oz (need new kit)
Water Treatment - Iodine tablets, coffee filters to prefilter - 3-4 oz
2 Nalgenes (1 liter) - Total 12.4 oz (replace with Platypus bottles, 2.4 oz and $12.95).
Note: Platypus bottles have a narrow neck, so how do I prefilter?
Headlamp - Black diamond Gizmo, 2 oz
Miscellaneous other (headnet, pen+pencil, toiletries) - 4+ oz

Approximate Long Trail BPW: 13 lbs
With above improvements (except sleeping pad): 9.3 lbs costing $193.63

Goals for improvement:
1. Spend less than $200
2. Get pack weight under 9 lbs (less if possible)
3. Acquire/make a proper First aid Kit
4. Find a way to prefilter using soft plastic bottles
5. Add a sleeping pad and pocket knife back into the list (optional)
6. A little more warm weather gear going into autumn (optional)

As are all pack lists, this is a work in progress. Any advice?

Andrew McAlister
(mcalista) - F
FAK on 07/27/2012 09:13:26 MDT Print View

Take a critical look at your first aid kit - 2-3 oz should be your target. You don't need to buy a new one, just strip down your existing one.

Basically, painkillers, tape, antiseptic, and a pressure bandage are all that really should be required.

Edited by mcalista on 07/27/2012 09:14:13 MDT.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Re: Cook Kit, Water, FAK, Sleeping System on 07/27/2012 10:13:36 MDT Print View

For the cook kit, if you're wedded to esbit, then why not take the bottom of a soda can and cut it off? It offers a nice "dish" area for the esbit to burn in and weighs ~0.25 oz (more or less depending on where you cut the can). Best of all? It'll cost you less than a buck.

Along the same lines, what kind of cooking are you doing? If it's FBC methods (which I recommend for long days on the trail; it's just easier overall), go over to a 2-cup system (you can find various deals out there on aluminum that'll weigh in the 1 to 2 oz range; personally, I like Zelph's reduced-capacity two-cup Foster's pot; scroll down to see it).

Can't really improve on the spork weight, but Wal-Mart offers a blue nylon spork in a 4-pack for about $5.

If you do return your EMS Velocity, then it might be worth a look at the Jacks 'R' Better Sierra Sniveller; it can perform as both a quilt (rated to 30*, conservatively) and a puffy layer around camp. Might allow you to remove the fleece from your pack; might not. Weight is 24 oz. for the long size. If you return your bag, the quilt would come out to ~$80 plus shipping.

For your FAK, what are you carrying? It would seem rather heavy for a personal FAK. For me, I carry the following: one pair nitrile gloves (avoid latex, due to some folks' allergies), two pieces of sterile gauze, an ACE bandage, a small baggie of meds (4 per day Ibuprofen, 2 per day Immodium, 2 per day Benadryl), a small tube of superglue (doubles as repair kit item and emergency bleeding stopper), a small spray antibiotic (Neosporin), and some vaseline-slathered cotton balls (doubles as firestarter and blister prevention).

For the water bottles, have you considered Gatorade bottles? They're widemouth, easy to use those shock cord loops everyone loves on their shoulder straps (the indent about a third of the way down the bottle is useful for that), durable, light, and less than $5 a piece.

As to the pad, if you do decide to go with a quilt, I'd go with the Thermarest rather than the Klymit, but it'd be worth researching pads before deciding on the quilt. I use an hammock (and, therefore, an underquilt rather than a pad), so I'm not as familiar with them as I could be.

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Thanks! on 07/27/2012 14:55:31 MDT Print View

In terms of the FAK: Thanks for the advice! I probably overestimated the weight, but this gives me a good idea of what to buy.

For cooking: I have been doing just add water backpack meals, but so far I've been getting away with just using regular gallon ziplocs to make them. I like large, high calorie meals because I'm somewhat underweight, so I would prefer to be able to boil 3 cups or more. My current bowl can boil 2.5 cups, and I can't imagine going lower than this.

I'll try out the aluminum can Esbit idea--I want to see if I can make one that functions both as a stove and pot holder (and maybe I'll even be able to lose the windscreen).

Thanks for the gatorade bottle reminder! I saw them all over the AT but forgot about them while making this list. I'll probably use either 1 gatorade bottle and 1 platypus, or 2 gatorades if I start running low on cash.

Does anyone know how well the REI Bivy stands up in rain when used without another shelter? I'm really looking for any shelter that's light and cheap, whether its a hammock, tarp tent or bivy or whatever.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Re: Thanks! on 07/27/2012 23:03:01 MDT Print View

Note that FAKs are always personalized, so go with something that makes you feel safe. Better that you have something you know how to use than to not have it; conversely, don't carry anything that you don't know how to use.

Oh, and I left out tweezers. Good tweezers: they're good for splinters and ticks. Don't try to get by with the pair in a Swiss Army Knife; it won't work in the long run.

What's a typical meal for you? Personally, I never use more than 2.25 cups of water (and that is only to rehydrate jerky in field shepherd's pie); most of my dinners (my only real hot meal; breakfast "coffee" doesn't count) run in the 400 to 600 calorie range for the hot portion, supplemented with sweets or chips for an additional 200 to 300 calories. I find 2 cups to be plenty for the majority of them, but I suppose that most of mine are homemade cobbled-together mixes rather than prepackaged stuff.

You probably can make a pot stand with the can bottom...hrm...shouldn't be too hard, as long as you have access to an Xacto knife or a good pair of scissors. Maybe some steel wire or tent stakes (don't use aluminum tent stakes; I made that mistake with home made alchy stoves and they melted down to slag) inserted into holes in the can? I dunno; play with it.

No idea about the REI bivy, but if you're looking for an inexpensive hammock (and aren't willing to DIY), check out the Warbonnet Traveler, ButtInASling Weight Weenie Micro, and Grand Trunk Nano-7. All three are $80 or less and as lightweight as any hammock on the market today. Note that you'll still need a tarp (and, depending on which you choose, suspension and perhaps a bug net); what's probably the best tarp on the market for weight vs. cost is the Wilderness Logics Tad Pole.

If you are willing to DIY (or just want to learn about hammocks in general), check out Hammock Forums. All the folks there are very welcoming and helpful, but beware: your head may explode from information overload! It took me the better part of two months to get an handle on everything I wanted to learn, and I'm still finding new stuff to think about after being a member for a year.

Hope it helps!

Tim Cleary

Locale: Lost
Two items stand out on 07/29/2012 19:06:43 MDT Print View

First of all, looks like you have made some great choices weight wise in many categories. I can't stand Esbit but if it works for you, great,'and very light obviously.

Tent, 54 oz. pack, 38 oz. those two are near half total weight. Those stand out a bit. On tent: I find it interesting that you are ready to go from a full double walled tent at 3.5 lbs down to a 1 lb. bivy. While as a 20 year member I am glad you are shopping at REI, there are lots of great solutions in between that you won't find there. Example: SMD wild oasis tarp w bug screen at maybe 15 oz. plus a polycryo ground cloth gets you to maybe 18-20 oz but far more comfort.

Same on the pack front. At or near a base weight that you'd like to get to, a ton of frameless options out there. GG kumo or SMD swift or ULA packs. You are already at a good volume, that means you should have notrouble living with some of the super light options. I am not even going to mention cuben, that is expensive stuff and not that durable (for my taste at least, many others swear by zpacks and MLD), just can't justify the $ even if I am envious of the weight).

You've made a lot of the harder choices, so sub 10 is well within reach.

BTW Mike C. would be proud of your no TP solution. As to your heavy nalgenes, less so. Enjoy Gatorade?

Finally the best tip I can give you from my experience is BpL gear swap. Lots of great deals and ideas out there. Good luck, keep everyone updated.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Budget Improvement on 12 pounds on 07/30/2012 07:51:05 MDT Print View

You can save weight with your FAK, sleeping bag, pack and shelter.

I just purchased a REI Stoke 29 for light overnighters, about 20 ounces. I have a small amount of gear that fits easily in it.
You could look into a tarp for a high value low weight option.

You can save 12 ounces on the bag if you change to Montbell, WM or look at quilts.

The bag and shelter will probalby reduce volume needed in the pack so it might be better to look at a pack replacement last.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Budget Improvement on 12 pounds on 07/30/2012 08:21:16 MDT Print View

My suggestions:
1.Look at Tim's Enlightened Equipment Rev-X. Versatile. Light. Priced right. Golite has some nice deals on quilts too.
2.Ditch the heavy tent and go with a tarp or tarp-tent. A search of "silnylon tarps" will give you a lot of inexpensive options that will allow you to get most of the way to your goal. Just add a window shrink wrap groundcloth and maybe a headnet in bug season.
3. You can go a lot lighter on the pack. I'm a big fan of a frameless pack. They are light and keep close to your body for good balance. The downside is a little more weight on your shoulders and a sweaty back.

Edited by alexdrewreed on 07/30/2012 09:29:55 MDT.

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
The Food Issue on 07/31/2012 15:21:45 MDT Print View

John - my dinners are much larger, in the range of 800-1200 calories apiece.

To all:
My problem with a lighter pack basically comes down to food. I eat 4500 calories/day while backpacking, and its important for me to do so because losing weight becomes a health issue.

At 125 calories/ounce, this means I'm carrying 2.25 lbs of food per day, and I carry food for up to 5 days at a time.

When food, water, fuel, and 9 lbs base weight are all accounted for, that brings me to about 25 pounds of pack weight. This is doable for me, but I can't really see carrying that amount of weight in a frameless pack.

Any ideas on a lighter pack that can still hold 25 pounds without issue?

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Frameless pack on 07/31/2012 15:47:27 MDT Print View

I think you can go 20 lbs your first day in a frameless. The pack alone will lose about 2.5 lbs. I bet you can shed a couple other things or pack more calorie dense and get down to about 20. Of course its going to get a lot lighter each day.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Thoughts on 07/31/2012 16:03:49 MDT Print View

I'd return the velocity if you are not happy with it - and get the WM Summerlite. I'd also go for a ULA OHM or Circuit, or the Gossamer Gear Gorilla or Mariposa (new ones). Best money you will ever spend -- I've tried quilts for 3 season / shoulder season use, but prefer my WM bags. I loved the ULA Circuit that I had, and now I have a new GG Gorilla and like that as well. For the weights you seem to be carrying (30 lbs or so) I'd forget about a true frameless pack altogether. They are not that comfortable IMHO at those weights (I've carried both the MLD Exodus and Burn with up to 33 lbs and anything over 24 lbs is really not comfortable.)

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: The Food Issue on 07/31/2012 17:22:28 MDT Print View

"My problem with a lighter pack basically comes down to food. I eat 4500 calories/day while backpacking, and its important for me to do so because losing weight becomes a health issue.

At 125 calories/ounce, this means I'm carrying 2.25 lbs of food per day, and I carry food for up to 5 days at a time."

If you bump your calories/oz up to 135-140 you can knock your weight down to ~2#/day, saving yourself ~1.25# of food weight. This will take you down under 24#, which puts you in the sweet spot, comfort wise, for a ULA Ohm pack. It would be a great pack, IMO, for the type of packing you describe. Stripped down, it weighs ~1# 6 oz, and will last you many years with decent care.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Re: The Food Issue on 08/01/2012 13:18:11 MDT Print View

Re: a pack that can handle 25+ lbs at light weight.

If you're willing to DIY, our very own Daryl Clark has a basic backpack design that isn't hard to find the materials for or use. I used it in my DIY Molly Mac Pack-inspired pack.

I'm on the beta version right now (haven't done a thread on that one yet), and I can say that the frame will handle up to about 30 lbs comfortably. Above that, comfort drops off pretty sharply (though I think that's due to my waist belt and shoulder straps rather than the actual frame's capacity; I've carried up to 65+ lbs on it for firewood over short distances before, and the frame handled the load...okay...but the waist belt and shoulder straps were uncomfortable). I probably wouldn't carry more than about 35 or 40 lbs with a frame like that, and I'd want to reduce that weight as quickly as possible.

If you use pre-made shoulder straps and waist belt, you can get away with a simple sack for a pack on that frame. It shouldn't run you more than about $80 or so if you budget shop and already own a sewing machine (the real kicker).

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Improvements in the works on 08/01/2012 16:58:06 MDT Print View

DIY is hard for me for that exact reason: I don't own a sewing machine. I'm definitely going to try and make some improvements on the pack front, not sure what exactly yet--although these are some good ideas.

I've been experimenting with a tin can stove and also a prefilter for my new gatorade bottles. Neither is perfected to my satisfaction yet--if/when I get them working I'll post pictures.

HOWEVER, I recently took a close look at my 13 oz Sea to Summit poncho and discovered that it's got tie ins to act as a tarp shelter! I've got that setup in my backyard right now, which was a breeze to setup (my first time setting up a tarp shelter).

I'm excited about that, and only a tiny bit irritated with myself for carrying that poncho 300 miles without noticing. I had over 3.5 pounds of extra weight the entire time!

To date, I have spent less than $5 but have shaved off approx 4 lbs 2 oz (although I'll likely end up adding a bivy sack to keep off rain spatter).

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
. on 08/01/2012 17:25:44 MDT Print View

Use the $189 for a Stoic somnus 30 long, about the same price.

Mine weighs in at 1.65 with stuff sack.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
bivies on 08/01/2012 17:38:22 MDT Print View

I haven't used my REI minimalist much yet, but I have some experience with other bivies and can't say I'd recommend one for what it sounds like you're planning. IMO, they're mostly useful as emergency shelters, and I only carry one when there's a non-negligible chance of something like getting caught on a ridge in a howling wind and driving rain. When I do carry a bivy, I dual-use it as my main shelter, but it has downsides, mostly condensation. It's also not so easy getting in and out of a bivy in anything more than a light rain without getting everything wet.

If you're just going to use it to prevent spatter from getting the foot of your tarp, you'll be ok, but it's overkill. You could probably make something lighter and more functional without much work. (I've made something using silnylon, mosquito netting, and some Propore cut from a Driducks poncho, but haven't tested it enough to say how well it works.)

The alternative, which the tarp folks seem to tend to favor, is just to have a big enough tarp to give you the coverage you need.


Bill S.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Re: Improvements in the works on 08/02/2012 13:57:16 MDT Print View

Make sure that the bivy sack has an integral bug net or get an head net for those summer trips. Being down in FL, that's anywhere from...well, about late February to mid November. Admittedly, it's going to be a shorter span up in your neck of the woods, but an head net can be as low as 1 oz and $5, and it's definitely worth it for mosquito-thick nights.

If you've got a baseball cap or visor, it'll keep the net from hanging down onto your face and letting the flying hypodermic needles suck you dry while you sleep.

For the prefilter, do you normally carry a bandanna? If so, use that. I find that a simple cotton bandanna (the only cotton I carry when temperatures are going to be lower than eighty degrees at night) is one of the most useful trail tools I own. It's a sweat rag, a water prefilter (rinse it before using it here if you've been using it as a sweat rag), sun protection for the top of my head and neck (I use a visor), a pot grabber, etc., etc., etc. Wal-Mart carries 'em for $2 a pair. If you're worried about dye leaching into your water (I'm not, but some folks are), get the white ones.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Improvements in the works -- bandana on 08/02/2012 14:07:01 MDT Print View

"Wal-Mart carries 'em for $2 a pair."

My local Dollar store sells them for $1 a pair. You really can't beat a deal like that. I buy them in different colors and use them for photographer camouflage when I am out after wildlife.


Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
New Gear List (down to 5.4 lbs!) on 08/04/2012 17:34:21 MDT Print View

New and improved gear list!

From info on this forum, I converted a Gatorade cap and a wire mesh coffee filter into a lightweight prefilter. I assume this is fairly standard so I wasn't planning on posting pictures or anything, but if someone is interested let me know.

My DIY stove attempt did not go well so I'll buy the Esbit titanium.

I've returned my pack to EMS and will return my sleeping bag. I'm reviewing options for a new pack but leaning toward the Osprey Hornet 32 (20 oz, $139). I intend to return the sleeping bag in favor of a Revelation X bag (I'll probably go with a warmer 10 or 20 degree version as colder weather is approaching).

I've temporarily ditched the bivy sack from the list because I'm only going to be doing weekend trips for a little while, but I'll look for a system that can endure heavier rains for my potential AT thru hike next summer.

For the rest of the list, items I haven't yet ordered have an asterisk next to them:
*Esbit Titanium, 0.4 oz
Tin foil Wind screen - 0.3 oz
*Snow Peak Titanium bowl - 2 oz
*Sea To Summit Alpha Light Spork .3 oz

*Sleeping bag - Revelation X 20 degree 21.25 oz
Shelter: Sea to Summit Poncho - 13 oz
Gossamer Gear Polycryo ground cloth - 1.6 oz
*Sleeping pad -possible Klymit Inertia X-Light, 6.1 oz and $89.95
Need a pad recommendation

Clothing (carried)
EMS Fleece 9? oz
Spare hiking socks

Pack - Osprey Hornet 32, 20 oz
First Aid Kit about 2 oz
Water Treatment - Iodine tablets, DIY prefilter (see above description), 1-2 oz
2 Gatorade Bottles, 4 oz
Headlamp - Black diamond Gizmo, 2 oz
*Leatherman Style - .81 oz
Miscellaneous other (headnet, pen+pencil, toiletries) - 4+ oz

Total Weight - approx 5.4 lbs

I'm going to do some research on the forums to find a good sleeping pad--that's the only thing this list seems to be really missing.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: New Gear List (down to 5.4 lbs!) on 08/04/2012 18:07:15 MDT Print View

Be careful, that miscellaneous other business at 4+ ounces can get you into trouble. Sometimes it ends up being a pound or two. You will be better off to try to itemize everything.

I think the Snow Peak titanium bowl is 1.8 ounces. At least mine is. It was advertised as 1.6. Oh, the nerve of those guys!