November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
What am I doing wrong? Do you see something I
Display Avatars Sort By:
Sean Krajacic
(photosean) - F

Locale: Midwest
What am I doing wrong? Get me down!!! on 01/02/2013 13:54:56 MST Print View

I've gotten a bit heavier for this season - about .025 ounces (not a typo, that's 25 thousandths of an ounce). I hung the hammock up (in the closet) for this season and bought a tarp tent.

I battled a pretty bad storm and a bit of hypothermia in 40-degree weather, last year at Isle Royale. It was enough to give the ground another shot and pack some synthetic insulation. (I'm switching out my MontBell UL Down Inner for the Patagonia Nano Puff, a 2.5oz increase)

I'm a long, long way from the sub-5-pound club, but I think I'm fully capable of joining the 6-pound ranks.

What am I missing? (Better yet, what should be missing.)

I plan to go back to ISRO with this exact pack list during the same time period this spring. So, I'll expect the same temps, mid 40s during the coldest nights to mid 60s on the warmest days.


Edited by photosean on 01/02/2013 13:59:45 MST.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: What am I doing wrong? Get me down!!! on 01/02/2013 18:16:30 MST Print View

I, too, suffered some near-hypothermia during a cold Spring afternoon (high temps in the 40s, misting rain all day) on Isle Royale, so I sympathize. I'm not sure of exactly what ou're asking for here, but unless you sleep pretty warm, I'd recommend a warmer bag-- 25 degrees, I'd say. Most people tend to feel colder on Isle Royale, because the breezes off the lake are very cool.

Sean Krajacic
(photosean) - F

Locale: Midwest
clarificaiton on 01/02/2013 18:39:26 MST Print View

You're right, my post wasn't really clear. I'm looking for a way to shed a pound, or a few ounces - heck, even grams. I've been stuck right around 7 pounds for a couple of years, no matter how I switch up the gear, or how many days I'm out in the wild (usually 9-14 days).

The posted list is a bit different than last year's - now with slightly warmer clothes and the ground sleep system.

I would have been fine warmth-wise last year, but at the height of the storm in the middle of the night me and my hammock ended up in a shallow river (the river wasn't there when I pitched the hammock). Me, all of my clothes, and my sleeping bag were soaked. My insulation was down, as was my sleeping bag. I rehung my hammock and tried to sleep in the fetal position in my wet gear until the storm stopped. Three hours later, after the lightning subsided, I hiked to keep warm. The next night was rough too - my clothes and gear were still wet. (Hence, the wool base layer and the primaloft jacket)

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
You have to start Nit-Picking on 01/02/2013 18:54:20 MST Print View

To get lower than 7lbs I think you need to start nit-picking. I would check out John Abela's gearlists as he has quite a few iterations at various base weights to see where you can cut. Every ounce counts and to break 16 oz you need to find 16 items you can take 1 oz off of. So here is where I would start.

Can you cut the thinlight pad down? Do you need the thinlight pad and a ground sheet? Change it to a mummy shape or shorten it to 4 feet and use back under you legs. Someone (I think Sulak) made a waterproof thin pad that could be used for both pad protection and as a groundsheet.

2L bladder -- cut save 3.3 oz, if you need the capacity replace with 2L evernew type bottle.
Running shorts -- are in addition to the pants you wear? If so could they be cut or replaced with a 2 oz version
Camp Sandals -- just 2 ozs but an easy cut.

Toiletrees seem heavy at 5 oz, I realize you need back up glasses but look at the other stuff. Like do you need deoderant or toilet paper.

Filter -- Cut and replace with drops. You are already carrying them as a backup anyways.

Note book-- Cut
Knife -- find a replacement at half the weight.
Backpack -- replace with Zpacks Zero and save 2 to 4 oz (Costs a lot and probably not worth it unless you are just looking for a number)

So thats about 12 ounces of cuts. You could also leave your camera behind for another 10 ounces of savings.

With your current gear it is possible to get down close to 5 if you get rid of everything you don't absolutely need. For me the closer you get to 5lbs the less fun it is. I have gone out as low as 5.5 with no cuben just to see if I could but for me the sacrifices in comfort are too much so usually end up around 9 to 11 lbs.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: What am I doing wrong? Get me down!!! on 01/02/2013 18:56:24 MST Print View

What are you doing wrong?

Focusing on the weight and not the function. Does your kit work well? If so, then quit fretting about it. Just go out and enjoy your hikes.

Sean Krajacic
(photosean) - F

Locale: Midwest
nit-pick on 01/03/2013 07:36:30 MST Print View

Thanks Greg F, those are great ideas.

The thinlight is getting cut tonight.

I just looked into some racing shorts - not sure if they're going to be 2 oz, but definitely lighter than my New Balance shorts.

I went through my toiletries - I still had half a bottle of Dr. Bronners left over from the last 10-day trip, and half a deodorant stick (travel size). So, I know I can bring less.

And I can bring less TP (at least to Isle Royale - most of the latrines at the campgrounds have tp available)

Camera - I've been looking for a lighter weight alternative. Although, it's difficult to find something with a fast lens (f/2.0) at such a wide focal length (24mm) with usable manual settings. Maybe that's a good question for the Gear section of the forums.
Some shots of Isle Royals last year:

Sean Krajacic
(photosean) - F

Locale: Midwest
Fretting? on 01/03/2013 07:48:04 MST Print View

Thanks for your interest, Nick.

I've never been on a hike I haven't enjoyed. There are also many things I enjoy doing during the times I'm not backpacking - like reading trip journals, books on the subject, participating in forums, and last - but not least - "fretting" over my gear.

I spend a fair amount of time looking over my gear, modifying pieces to make them more "functional" the next trip, and searching for other backpackers solutions to similar problems.

To answer your question, "Does your kit work well?" - yes, it does. Furthermore, back in 1999 when I was carrying closer to 40 pounds, that kit worked well, too.

Underneath the "Gear Lists" header for the forums it reads: "Post your gear list here, get some feedback, debate the choices. Trying to cut down from 35 pounds? 6 pounds? It doesn't matter where you're at with your ultralight journey... we're here to help!"

That's all I was attempting to do.

Edited by photosean on 01/03/2013 07:57:40 MST.

Harrison Carpenter
(carpenh) - M

Locale: St. Vrain River Valley
Re: Fretting? on 01/03/2013 09:00:17 MST Print View

That was quite the situation you were in with the hammock. Seriously, a river?

I'm afraid I have to echo Nick. You won't feel many benefits from cutting a few ounces (other than self-satisfaction).

So getting back to your inquiry: If you got that drenched in a hammock, that must have been a helluva storm-- and, possibly, your tarp was insufficient in its waterproofing, or god forbid, you'd hung it up in a gully to low to the ground. Your 'problem' might have been due to your route/stopping point.

ISRO's tent spots are (generally speaking) in dry positions-- that is, they are on top of slight rises, so water tends to drain away. Having a tent might help. I've heard of some people thru-hiking the South shore without carrying any shelter, by occupying ISRO's wooden "Adirondack" shelters. It would be risky to do it, but you'd cut a fair amount of weight (if that's your thing).

Sean Krajacic
(photosean) - F

Locale: Midwest
4-inches on 01/03/2013 12:05:36 MST Print View

I use the term "river" loosely. It was a good 3 inches of running water under my hammock and the surrounding area. That night, the island received a little over 4 inches of rain in just a few hours. I was in an empty group site at Hatchet Lake. It was two-tiered, I was on the lower portion where there were "good" trees. Most of the site was large puddle slowly moving downhill after midnight.

My hammock fell because of user error. I make carabiners out of spliced AmSteel Blue and, in my haste, failed to lock the end properly. It may have held all night had there not been a storm. I don't know what it was: lightning, a tree falling, the trees bowing ... but I woke up to a crash and was weightless for a moment. My hammock bouncing to whatever event had just occurred. That must have pulled loose my carabiner - an hour later I was on the ground in that moving puddle I call a river.

Had I been on the ground, I would have noticed the rising water, moved my tent/tarp and stayed dry and warm.

Edited by photosean on 01/03/2013 12:07:02 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Fretting, nit-picking, or nick-picking? on 01/03/2013 12:18:54 MST Print View


I was not being disrespectful towards you or anyone else. We are here to help each other.

I was a "lightweight" backpacker before a lot of BPL members were born. During decades of hiking I did not have the option of great informational sources like BPL. Once my kit was set, it pretty much stayed the same for 3 decades; depending on the conditions of the trip. Over the years I did replace single items when better, lighter, and most importantly more functional pieces appeared on the market.

In 2008, as I approached the age of 60, I realized I was not as fast or strong as in my younger days. So I joined BPL to see what the current state of the hobby was at. Getting under 10 lbs was easy, under 5 lbs not difficult either. But I started focusing on the weight goal, not the function or efficiency of my gear as an integrated system. I had a misguided perception that lighter was better -- that base weight trumped all other factors.

So each of us should ask ourselves...

Is 9 lbs better than 10; is 6 better than 9; is 4 better than 6; etc. Eventually the hiker gets to the point of diminishing returns. The answer to the above question is, "depends." So you need to look at each item in your kit for function, integration, and efficiency as it applies to the entire system. We need to ask:

Is a Murmur better than a Jam?
Is a Hexamid better than a Trailstar?
Is a Katabalaic quilt better than a WM sleeping bag?
Is a Snow Peak GS-100 better than a Caldera Cone?
Is a GPS/iPhone better than a lensatic compass and map?
Is a Nalgene water bottle better than a Aquafina bottle?
Is a filter better than tablets?
Is a Therm-a-rest better than a NightLite?

The answer to all these questions is, "depends."

In 2010 I posted this in response to a state of the market report on frameless packs:

"As they say in architecture, "form follows function." And in backpacking, function should be paramount to weight. Lightest isn't always best. Although I have a a pretty light kit, I am not entirely thrilled with the function of every single item. Now that it is easy for me to work in the 4lb - 7lb range all the time, I may move to some heavier but more functional items. I am especially concerned with some items that are "throw away," have a limited life span, or require too much care or attention on my part to prevent damage to them."

Today most of my trips utilize a base weight of around 7 lbs, which includes a "heavy" internal frame pack. Works for me, the conditions, and the amount of food, fuel, and water I carry. Total pack weight is much more important than base weight, and base weight should be a function of how much food, water, and fuel you carry on any specific trip; and the gear required for the conditions. Ultimately we need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable.

Sometimes I still go with sub 5 lb kits -- if it is the right kit for the trip. You can check one of my gear lists in my profile. It is under 4 lbs (I think). You can also check several of my trip reports, most of which include gear lists. Trip Reports.

I have a spreadsheet that calculates weights. It is a good tool. For each trip I choose the particular items I need for the trip. After I pick the items, the weight is the weight. So be it. I don't start substituting items to lower the weight any more, because I already selected what I need. I used to be concerned with the total weight, but to be honest that got boring after a while.

And the good news? I only bought 2 pieces of gear last year.

For any gear list that someone posts, to me, the question should be are there better options for the type of hikes I do, the terrain and weather I hike in. Once options for individual pieces are identified, the total weight is what it is. That should be more important than how do I get below XX pounds. Again, all of this is just my opinion. Everyone has their opinion; good, bad or indifferent. Remember, I used to try to get below XX pounds as the goal. Not any more.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Nick's Response on 01/03/2013 13:14:47 MST Print View

Not to pile on but Nick is right on. You probably don't see it because you are in the middle of it but your post with all due respect borders on insanity, at least for those of us that have come out the other side. I pretty much stopped at the 7-8lb base weight because there was absolutely no benefit that I would get from pushing the weight lower. If I want to cut a couple of lbs I will dig a cat hole and, well, lose some weight. Tomorrow I will be heading out for another section of the AT. I will be taking the exact same gear that I used in 2011 on the PCT and there will be zero thought put into the weight or gear choices. That is nirvana.

Step away from the scales and spreadsheets and go into the woods. :)

PS: how much does it cost to join the 5lb club?

Edited by gg-man on 01/03/2013 13:19:50 MST.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Cabin fever on 01/03/2013 17:06:42 MST Print View

Happens to me every winter. I start thinking about the trips I want to do next summer and next thing you know I am standing in snow on the deck with a digital thermometer and a stop watch to determine if pure ethanol boils water faster than methyl hydrate and cutting all the tags off my underwear.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Cabin fever on 01/03/2013 17:12:56 MST Print View

I don't think Sean has cabin fever. He truly is looking for advice. And if he is dead set on joining the XX Club, that is fine too. I linked to several gear lists that do work.

But you are right, winter time does bring out some interesting threads. Good thing I can hike year round where I live.


Doug Wolfe
Why stop??? on 01/17/2013 11:08:35 MST Print View

Just because old man frost is here doesn't mean its time to hang the gear up... Make new goals like lightest winter kit/ lightest winter kit with snow involved. Record low that you have taken your gear and stayed comfortably warm.
F that cabin fever junk I need to be out doing my thing clearing my mind.
For the last 8 years I've done at lease one trip a month and haven't skipped a beat yet.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Isle Royale list on 01/17/2013 12:51:52 MST Print View

Sean, the list looks good. As has been noted you could go lighter, but I see no compelling external reason to do so.

Depending on how early or late season you intend to go I'd actually wonder if you have enough insulation. The Klymit pad isn't especially warm, and you have only one layer for your head. Most significantly if I were going to the magical isle and thought I might be in for some sustained colder rain I'd add another torso or upper body layer. Something like a wool baselayer hoody, Rab Boreas, or light fleece vest.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Keep the filter on 01/17/2013 13:23:03 MST Print View

Greg suggested ditching the filter, but just be aware that Isle Royale is a known habitat of the hydatid tapeworm. Numerous sources recommend nothing less than physically filtering out these little buggers as sometimes chemicals and UV don't kill the larger nasties.

Personally, another few ounces for a filter is worth it.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
filter is worth it on 01/17/2013 14:42:13 MST Print View

1 liter of water = 33.8 ounces.

Your Sawyer filter and backup tablets weigh about 4 ounces which is great and good insurance if you are forced to bring bad water.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
Camera? on 02/14/2013 12:04:46 MST Print View

"Camera - I've been looking for a lighter weight alternative. Although, it's difficult to find something with a fast lens (f/2.0) at such a wide focal length (24mm) with usable manual settings."

That LX3 at 9.5 ounces sticks out like a sore thumb. Even if having f/2 made a big difference (I think for outdoor photography the benefit on one of those little digicams is minimal) are you trying to go lightweight or not?

I picked up a like-new Canon 300HS off ebay last year for $99 to use when hiking. It's just under 5.0 oz including battery. It has wide end of 24mm (though if weight were priority I certainly wouldn't carry extra ounces backpacking just for that). It takes great pictures; certainly sufficient for documenting a trip with nice photos, and even more if you really wanted. There are plenty of small cameras out there that will do the same and save you four or five ounces.

Or you could try just doing a trip without a camera at all. Nobody says you have to do that all the time, but trying one without a camera might bring up some new insights.

Edited by hes on 02/14/2013 12:15:32 MST.