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New to UL -- Rocky Mtn, 3 season kit
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Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
New to UL -- Rocky Mtn, 3 season kit on 09/20/2012 19:08:06 MDT Print View

Hi there everyone,

I'm hoping for some feedback to improve or lighten my Rocky Mtn. 3 season kit. I've been working on it all year after a backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park last fall that aggravated a back injury.

I've done a lot of research in these forums and on blogs. I'm ready to share my list, and ultimately, I'm ready to consider buying a new pack. I already have a new shelter, sleeping pad and quilt, and I hope to buy a pack that will suit my frame and the 10-12 lb. weight of my base kit. I would like to have a pack with side pockets that can be accessed while hiking.

I'm sharing this info because I'm hoping for pack recommendations..

A little about me:

40 yr. old female
145 lbs
5'10" athletic/thin build
upper back injury
recent graduate of survival course- so survival gear is important to me.

Psychological barriers: fear of hypothermia, fear of bears, fear of tarp tenting, light sleeper in wilderness- tents give me a sense of security so I can sleep well.

This is my list. I'm looking for suggestions of items that could be removed safely, items that should be added, and for suggestions of a better piece of gear to replace those listed in red ink.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
gear list on 09/20/2012 20:09:00 MDT Print View

Raquel- a couple of things- you have extra socks and sleep socks, use a pair socks for sleep socks that can double for worn socks

you can save an oz or so w/ a 500-600 ti mug to cook in (plenty for boil in bag meals)

if you're looking to replace your shelter there are a few options that are closer to the 1 pound mark (w/o going to to a tarp :))

MLD Cricket- w/ an inner tent- nice shelter and w/ the inner it's just like a tent

if your happy w/ the pack I don't see 22 oz as overly porky for a pack, there are lighter ones but is it worth it to save a few oz?

I think you can get your first aid/repair stuff closer to 2 oz w/o too much angst, toiletries could probably shave an oz or two as well- for weekend trips you need very little sunscreen, DEET, soap etc- use the ultra mini droppers so your not carrying more than you need

survival stuff, but no knife? :)

you only need a ground cloth if your tent/tarp has no floor or if you aren't using a bivy- if you have a floor or bivy you don't need a ground cloth for most conditions


Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Survival gear on 09/20/2012 21:50:03 MDT Print View

I always thought the survival kits were for non-backpacking situations. In your backpacking gear you already have much of this stuff:

Nix the Thrash bag, you have a plastic pack liner right?
Nix the Veggie bag with twist ties for water collection. Use your platybottle to collect seeps or if it was for a solar still, use your clear plastic packliner.You also had a ziploc bag for your map, and perhaps an OPsak for food?

Etc. look at the list of survival gear and then check which backpacking gear can perform that.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
which season? on 09/20/2012 21:56:49 MDT Print View

Don't you think you should split your 3 season list into 2 or 3:
Spring: lot's of deep wet snow on most trails, long days, cool temps
Summer: little snow cover, hot temps, thunderstorms
Fall: some fresh snow possible, cool temps, short days

These require some changes in insulation, lighting and especcialy footwear choices, that I don't see happening in one list.

Indeed, had their Ti kettle on sale, but at 3.9 oz that doesn't save any weight. Replace the lid wit a foil one and it should be a tiny bit lighter.

Shirts: take only one shirt: if it's going to be hot all weekend, take the shortsleeve, any other time take a thin longsleeve zipneck. If it's warm, roll up the sleeves and unzip the front.

If you wear synthetic hiking socks you should wash them every night, but they will be dry enough to wear by morning, so ditch the second pair. For shoulder seasons see articles on BPL.

Bandana or Buff: take just a plain, non fleece buff for summer.

No rain pants? In summer, ok, but in spring and fall in the mountains?

No bra or underpants?

In shoulder seasons you could get a lot more warmth for very little weight by swapping you silk long underpants for Down pants.

In fall, a Photon freedom seems rather insufficient for long evenings and possible some night hiking(by accident)

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
Great suggestions! on 09/21/2012 06:29:26 MDT Print View

I'm actually getting ready to test this setup out this weekend- going to the Buffalo Peaks Wilderness and I'm very excited. Hoping my back injury will like the new weight.

But these are wonderful suggestions, and I'll respond to the them individually next week..

Any suggestions for a new pack? Unfortunately, my Golite pack does not have the side pockets I like for water bottles (the bottles keep popping out!), so I either need to learn to sew to add better pockets, or get a new pack.

Edited by flutingaround on 09/21/2012 06:30:04 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
packs on 09/21/2012 07:16:33 MDT Print View

I can highly recommend two different packs, but they aren't going to shave any weight over what you have- although they both have good mesh side pockets (and they both have lightweight frames that lets them function as 5-7 day packs)- the Osprey Hornet and the ULA Ohm

if you decide to go frameless look at offerings from MLD, Gossamer Gear, other

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@ Mike on 09/23/2012 21:49:27 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for all of your suggestions- I took out one top layer and one pair of socks and everything was fine :) I also removed some of my survival gear.

On my cook mug- The Olicamp was affordable, but I will go Ti when I can afford it.

I'm really torn about the knife situation and go back and forth about it. I did bring it along on this trip.

Regarding the tent suggestions- I just picked up the two walled Kilo 1P for $200 and enjoy all 2 lbs. of it, but I may decide to go lighter with a two walled shelter if I can afford it...I'll keep an eye out.

I really appreciate you looking at my list- It helped a lot! My packout weight was 17 lbs for this trip- and I had some binoculars, fresh food, a phone and a book. Sweet. :)

Edited by flutingaround on 09/23/2012 22:00:56 MDT.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@Tjaard on 09/23/2012 21:59:57 MDT Print View

You are so kind to analyze my list. I did look at my survival gear again and I took out the veggie bad and garbage bag. You were right, I had the veggie bag to use as a solar still if needed, but it was redundant.

Regarding a list for each season - great idea - I think I will grow into that. The list I have now is primarily a summer list and I added additional gear at the bottom that could be added in for spring or fall conditions.

I switched to the lighter Buff as you suggested, and it turns out it was for the best because I had to wear it over my face while sleeping instead of using it as a pillow as planned.

I do have a nice pair of rain pants and wind pants listed on the bottom of my list as additional gear if needed depending on the forecast.

Good call on the silk undies. We were in the low 30's this weekend and the silk undies didn't cut it. So sad about that though because they are so light!

I didn't list my regular undies because I don't have any in my pack for weekend chart is for weekend or 3 day trips. Suffice it to say that I have wonderful undies!

Photon is great if for in camp use when I don't plan on night hiking. I think it would be fine if I had to hike at night in an unplanned emergency. I would bring a regular headlamp if I plan to night hike before bed...

Lastly, I'm ALL over the down pants...great suggestion! Goosefeet, here I come.

Edited by flutingaround on 09/23/2012 22:03:09 MDT.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Re: @Tjaard on 09/23/2012 22:25:40 MDT Print View

I do have a nice pair of rain pants and wind pants listed on the bottom of my list as additional gear if needed depending on the forecast.
Oops, I hadn't noticed that.

Good call on the silk undies. We were in the low 30's this weekend and the silk undies didn't cut it. So sad about that though because they are so light! Lastly, I'm ALL over the down pants...great suggestion! Goosefeet, here I come.
Actually the down ones are lighter, the Goosefeet ones I am giving to my wife for her birthday(hope she doesn't read this!) are 5.4 oz!

I didn't list my regular undies because I don't have any in my pack
But they need to go in "gear worn".

Photon is great if for in camp use when I don't plan on night hiking. I think it would be fine if I had to hike at night in an unplanned emergency. I would bring a regular headlamp if I plan to night hike before bed...
Exactly, that is whgy I meant I think it's hard to have one list for all trips. In June, there are some 14 hrs of daylight, pretty unlikely you will(have to) night hike, in October there are only 11 hrs of daylight, so the odds of needing to hike in the dark are much higher

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Backpack on 09/29/2012 00:49:34 MDT Print View

You said you have a back injury. In that case I would at least consider INCREASING your base weight by getting a pack with a proper internal frame, or atleast a framesheet and stays. Something that will transfer a significant portion of the pack's weight to your hips instead of shoulders. This should help with any back injury, regardless of location (maybe less so if it's lower back, but should still see some benefit).

The Osprey Hornet is a good contender, as would be the Talon or Exos product lines. Outside of Osprey I don't have much experience (new MH Thruway and Summit packs have framesheets, but no stays). Just something to consider.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@ Dustin on 09/29/2012 07:59:37 MDT Print View

Thanks so much for pointing that out. I think you may be onto something. Even with my light 17 lbs. pack on this last trip, my upper back injury was aggravated and my shoulders were sore. I'm pretty sure I have the wrong pack right now, and I have been scouring the forums for ideas.

The only reason I had 17lbs on my back--I had to bring some reading material that needed to be read before Monday for work, and my buddy wanted a fresh meal. I think normally I would be in the 15 lb. pack out range for weekend trips.

I'm thinking of trying

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus
Granite Gear packs
Elemental Horizon Packs

Hoping for something that will work with my female form.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: New to UL -- Rocky Mtn, 3 season kit on 09/30/2012 22:19:59 MDT Print View

Hi Raquel,

The ULA Circuit may be another pack option. It has a carbon fiber frame with aluminum stay, different hip belt size options, two shoulder strap styles, adjustable torso length, and transfers weight to the hips pretty well.

FWIW, I am a guy but have a similar weight/height/build to what you describe and found a Circuit with a Medium torso length, small hipbelt, and S-curve shoulder straps (female specific but fit thin guys well) to work fine for loads up to 25lbs. It starts to get uncomfortable above that for me though.

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: New to UL -- Rocky Mtn, 3 season kit on 10/01/2012 00:06:58 MDT Print View

I'll second the ULA recommendation. I just got in from a three day trip in Indian Peaks Wilderness, where I was expecting frigid temps overnight and took a 4 season Hilleberg tent, a 10F sleeping bag, an Exped DownMat 7 (not the UL version), and lots of down clothing. I could have fit my packlist into my Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus easier than into my ULA Ohm, but the latter's carbon fibre frame made hauling my 25lb+ load much more comfortable than with the frameless Exodus. I added a MLD packlid to my Ohm to add a little extra capacity, and on Saturday took some of the load from one of my hiking partners who started suffering from blisters on his heels.

Friday night, our gear choice was warranted. Temps dipped to the lower 20s and there was a heavy frost on the ground in the morning. Saturday night was much milder, and we could have easily dropped our pack weights by 3lb each for those conditions. However, the weekend trip was an excellent lesson in the need for volume as well as load handling. Down jackets and pants, hats and gloves soon add to the bulk, and make summer backpacks very challenging to use in CO High Country shoulder season. But by adding the packlid, the Ohm became viable again.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: New to UL -- Rocky Mtn, 3 season kit on 10/01/2012 15:52:46 MDT Print View

Good, well thought-out list.

You're probably carrying more stuff in your survival gear and ditty bag than you really need. Only you can determine what. :) A #1 Mora classic fixed blade knife in a plastic sheath is only about 2.8 oz.

Test your matches thoroughly. Do they really work when wet? The ones I was using years ago didn't. Now, I carry a mini Bic and a firesteel.

If you have back issues, a framed pack is definitely the way to go. Make sure you get one with a comfortable hip belt which you can cinch down tight to transfer most of the weight off of the back and onto the hips.

It'll be easy to try an Osprey pack because they're sold in retail stores. I have an older Gossamer Gear Gorilla I like, but I intend to try an Osprey model simply because of the mesh back. Ordering and then returning packs which don't work out is a good strategy as long as you watch return policies carefully and don't mind paying for extra shipping of several packs.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@ Stuart and Ryan on 10/02/2012 18:38:29 MDT Print View

You are kind to think about my pack dilemma and to recommend the ULAs. I will add them to my list. Do either of you have an opinion about the OHM versus OHM 2 ? I already have a larger pack that can accomodate winter camping, so I'm looking for a summer & shoulder season bag.

Edited by flutingaround on 10/02/2012 18:39:05 MDT.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@ Andy on 10/02/2012 18:42:58 MDT Print View

Yes, I agree about the Ospreys being easier to shop in the Denver area. None of the packs I'm looking at right now seem to be available for me to try in a store. I'm hesitating to buy and return them online, but it seems this is the ultralight way to do things. Which Osprey would you recommend I look at? I'm sure I need a frame or pseudo frame of some sort now.

Thanks for mentioning the matches. I tried to start a fire with my matches on my last trip and used 10 matches to try to get one fire going. Until I'm better at starting fires I think a flint and lighter will be more efficient for me. Another thing I can take out of my pack.

I'll look at the Mora too.

Edited by flutingaround on 10/02/2012 18:44:54 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Osprey on 10/02/2012 19:38:54 MDT Print View

I'd look at the Hornet (their lightest framed pack), but also at the Exos and Talon- the come in a few different sizes and volumes. My current pack is the Hornet (I've owned both the Talon and Exos as well) and it's very nicely outfitted for such a light pack

the Ohm is also a good choice (had one of those too :))

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Ohm on 10/02/2012 22:34:18 MDT Print View

I can comment on the Ohm from first-hand experience, but I've not had a chance to try an Ohm 2.0 for comparison purposes. The Ohm falls in between ideal sizing for lots of folks, but I like it for my typical 3 day 2 night trips. It's heavier than certain frameless packs on the market, but the weight penalty is more than offset by significantly better comfort in my experience. And compared with the Circuit, it's significantly lighter (15oz less) for only a ~300 cu in volume reduction.

Others may chime in, but when I compared the two versions of the Ohm on the web, the main difference seemed to be the interchangeable waistbelt with more padding and slightly bigger pockets. I've read opinions that the lack of connection between the Ohm 2.0's waistbelt and the frame make weight transfer to the hips less effective, but there seem to be lots of fans of the newer generation pack.

Having transitioned from an Osprey Aether 70 to an Osprey Exos 46 to the ULA Ohm, I've come to realize that having a bigger more padded waistbelt is not always a good thing, and for most people it's overkill at lower weights. I could never get comfortable with the Aether, despite its custom moulded waistbelt. The Exos was an instant improvement, although it had other quirks that kept me looking.

If you're reasonably close to Boulder, you're more than welcome to try my Ohm for size (medium torso, medium waistbelt). Just PM me and we can work something out.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Retail packs? ?Granite Gear? on 10/03/2012 20:49:04 MDT Print View

I don't have any personal experience with their womens packs, but Granite Gear is another retail brand that is less heavy than most, and I, and many with me, find them very comfortable.

Like the Ospreys, they would be worthwhile just to try on, since they don't require a commitment, then you can' always decide to order a few cottage packs after that.