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Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Going SUL in the Mountains with Adequate Shelter, Insulation, and Rain Protection. Part 2A: Selecting the Lightest, Most Functional Gear - Backpack, Shelter, Sleeping Bag, Sleeping Pad
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Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: Re No Sub 8 oz Packs on 05/16/2013 08:28:57 MDT Print View

I just received this Z-pack Zero in extra-small size. I chose the mesh pocket, roll-top closure, and got the 2.9 oz/yd cuben-hybrid material.

zpack zero (xs)

Base weight is around 6.5 pounds with:

-Foster can stove system from GOLD
-Rain top and bottoms (marmot verylight fabric?)
-11x8' Hex shaped JRB spinaker tarp (big tarp provides tons of coverage for 1)
-Groundhog and Ti-shepard stakes (6) and 50' spectra line (bear bag)
-Polycorp ground cloth (used as burrito roll bivy in the rare circumstance with moisture blowing through the tarp.)
-Med Neo Air
-45 degree-ish 600-down topbag
-Patagonia down sweater with hood.
-wooleater socks
-2 liter platy and 500ml common plastic waterbottle w/ shoulder strap holster
-Extensive first-aid/little stuff bag

The backpack is new but I've used this kit in the high country of NM/sw Co for a while, including snow. With the gear there's only room for food up to about 3 days in this extra-small size backpack. I generally wear ibex hoodie indie and windpants for the duration of the trip.

Edited by kbuggie on 05/16/2013 08:29:56 MDT.

Daniel Fish

Locale: PDX
... on 05/16/2013 10:36:02 MDT Print View


Edited by on 06/08/2013 19:09:30 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Zero on 05/16/2013 10:55:07 MDT Print View

The pad will fit in but you won't have a lot of room for your other stuff. I would consider a system to strap it outside the pack.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Zpacks Zero Question on 05/16/2013 11:05:13 MDT Print View


I have used 1/2" and 3/4" (GG NightLite) thick pads folded in thirds with my small Zero. Perhaps this information will help you measure your pad. Sometimes I take a rolled 1/8" foam pad to go under my NeoAir -- which means I am not using any kind of a frame sheet.

The only options I have is the sleeping pad holster (which is often left at home) and the water bottle pockets.

IMO, this is simply a stuff sack with straps, so I don't care for the other options. I use this pack a lot for weekend trips and it does a good job.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Sleeping bags on 05/16/2013 20:19:18 MDT Print View

I have a WM Megalite due to my wider shoulders. I had it overfillled by WM with an extra ounce of 800 fill down. It was easily a 30 F. bag before.

Now in overfilled mode it's likely good to about 25 F. with my Thermarest ProLite pad. The ProLite is not UL but my LW pad for a good night's sleep.

And with light poly long johns and an Eddie Bauer down sweater it is probably good to 15 F. without my down mummy-shaped "topper".

Yes, it's heavier than a Summerlite but that was necessary for a proper fit. And one overfill extra ounce for the warmth is not a bad trade-off. (I've seen August nights on the PCT in the high valley south of Olancha Peak that were 24 F . and 16 F.)

Edited by Danepacker on 05/16/2013 21:59:23 MDT.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Re No Sub 8 oz Packs on 05/17/2013 23:57:22 MDT Print View

> The backpack is new but I've used this kit in the high
> country of NM/sw Co for a while, including snow.

There's no way I could use that exact kit in SW CO high country, except at the height of summer. A 45 degree bag is not even close to warm enough for most mountain SUL trips. The rest you could make do, but an 8x11 is a HUGE windsail in alpine winds, so you can't reliably camp above treeline. That looks like a lower elevation kit to me.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: Re: Re: Re No Sub 8 oz Packs on 05/18/2013 06:28:54 MDT Print View

Let me clarify a bit, Brian. That is my kit for summer in the mountains (June - early august). I switch the bag for a WM ultralite on both ends of the summer. However, I sleep much warmer than most temperature ratings listed/discussed on BPL and with the down hoody it works fine for me. Fatty foods and a strong metabolism generating heat are key in my experience.

The tarp is a hex so the 11x8 includes the long beak-like ends, so the full coverage area is more like 8x8. Its made it through hail/ snow a number of times, but I do pay quite a bit of attention to site selection. I also try to tie-off the ends to trees/shrubs rather than stakes for peace of mind during storms. The strong-holding groundhog stakes also go on the likely wind bearing cornerd. In the shoulder season I bring an alpha mid instead.

Edited by kbuggie on 05/18/2013 07:41:03 MDT.

David Gardner
(GearMaker) - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Polycro Tarp on 05/18/2013 09:51:06 MDT Print View


There are a couple of other threads here on BPL regarding the durability of polycryo as a tarp material:

I make the GOLD Gear polycryo tarps, so I'm very interested in their durability under real world conditions. I torture tested an early prototype to failure by leaving it set up outdoors for about six months, and what ultimately failed first was a tape-to-tape connection, not the polycryo material. Doesn't seem to me that packing and unpacking should put much stress on the materials, but I haven't tested that yet. I will do another torture test to failure with my current design, but rather than just leave it set up I will pack and unpack multiple times to see how that affects it. Six months of continuous use is my goal, so I will pack and unpack at least 180 times during the test.

I'm going on a week long trip in the Sierras this summer and will take the test tarp as my shelter. Will post the test results on the first thread listed above.

David Gardner

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Polycro Tarp on 05/18/2013 12:47:17 MDT Print View

While I haven't packed a polycryo shelter, I have crammed, stuffed, folded, rolled my three year old polycryo groundsheet numerous times and still don't have a hole in it.

I have faith in it, when babied a bit!

Sebastian Boenner

Locale: beautiful Rhineland (Germany)
datas about packs? on 05/22/2013 05:41:57 MDT Print View

When I was researching the packs in the comparison chart I wondered about some of the datas. E.g. the volume of the packs:
Is it the overall volume (including side pockets, extension colar etc.)? Or should it be the main compartment only?

E.g. the Murmur Hyperlight is listet with a volume of 2200ci (36L) which is the overall volume given by the manufacturer. The huckePÄCKchen is listet with 1950ci (26L) which reflects only the volume of the main compartment. Due to the manufacturer the outer pockets will add another 8 liters bringing it to 34L in total!

Does the listet weight of the packs include all options (sitmat for the GG packs; bungeecord, hipbelt, etc.) or is it the base weight of the packs with all extras removed?

With more accurate volume to weight ratio listed the packs would be more comparable. But then this would probpaly better fit into a SOTM report. After all when looking for a SUL pack (or any pack) one should do his own more detailed reserach as manufacturers change their designs more often than I change my socks on a hike...

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: datas about packs? on 05/22/2013 07:49:21 MDT Print View

There is really no agreement about accessories, pouches, bungie cords, hip belts, etc with regard to the packs. There is a large discrepency in listed weights, sometimes as much as an ounce or two, since they don't make all the packs identically. There are several methodes: an average taken for 20 or so packs, the first one off a line, individual component weights, and so on. Nor is there full agreement about what should be included with packs, other than having a main body. Some people like hip belts, others don't use them and remove them...the user often decides what is included by adding a shoulder pouch or attaching water bottles to the shoulder harness, or, by simply removing all excess weight(straps, buckles, excess cordage, hip belts, etc.) It would be nice to be able to compare them.

But, I don't believe it is all that important. A pack that is comfortable should ALWAYS be the best determining factor. I find that even SUL packs (like the Murmur, Zero and others) can be brought up to about a pound, or, reduced to about 5oz (or less,) depending on what the user wants/needs.

Sebastian Boenner

Locale: beautiful Rhineland (Germany)
Re: Re: datas about packs? on 05/22/2013 10:06:28 MDT Print View

You're right that the most important part is the fit/ comfort of a pack.
I don't start counting grams on my packs if they don't fit properly. But at least the volume (which would probaply not differ that much from pack to pack) should be explained in more detail. Meaning that it's a huge difference if 2200ci refers to the main body only or if 2200ci means 1500ci in the main body plus 700ci in all kinds of compartments, pouches, etc.
I once purchased a quite lightweight pack that was listet with 20 liters. I could hardly get my sleepingbag into it as most of those 20 liters was divided among several external pockets. Had to sent it back!

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: datas about packs? on 05/23/2013 05:51:58 MDT Print View

I agree. There would be a lot less confusion if they listed both the total and the main compartment. I also purchased a pack like you, a pocketed pack that had 7 large pockets and the main body was about twice the size of one of the pockets. I ended up using it on my bike rides into work. It barley fit 3 8"x11" notebooks in the main body. Like many Osprey packs, the volume went INTO the pack. Filling the pouches left no room.

Edited by jamesdmarco on 05/23/2013 06:58:57 MDT.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Outstanding series! on 05/27/2013 13:05:07 MDT Print View

I've been in the "lightweight" or "ultralight" category for a long time. But this is the first time I've realized that SUL may actually be in reach for me. An enclosed shelter in the SUL category? Really? That had never crossed my mind.

Thank you for laying this out in such an accessible format. I'm not one to be interested in reading about the appearance of a single new product (such as the latest new SUL pack). But featuring ALL of what are in your opinion the best SUL products, laid out in charts with prices, weights, photographs, etc., well that is just enormously helpful and really eye-opening.

Not only does the technology continue to involve, but it looks to me like there is a lot more choice than before, and that the prices are coming way down.

I have one minor criticism, to echo some of the other replies: When baseline acceptable sleeping bag ratings are mentioned, please, it should ALWAYS be stated that it is one thing for men and another for women. Otherwise it looks like you assumed that your entire reading audience is male. (The difference, based on available research, appears to be 10-15 degrees.) I notice that a 30-degree bag is the standard consistently mentioned on BPL. It is time for BPL reviewers to consistently state that it is "30 for men, 15-20 for women." And yes, in both cases this assumes people are wearing all of their warm clothing to bed to extend the warmth of the bag. And drinking warm liquids before bed, and eating fatty foods, and doing jumping jacks to warm up, and maybe bringing Hot Hands or a hot water bottle to bed, and ALL that.

We took 7 newbie women to 11,000 feet in the Sierras, end of August, typical night temps for that time of year (end-of-summer, beginning-of-fall). We told them all to buy 15-20 degree bags and wear all their clothes to bed. Got down to about 34-35 degrees at night and they reported that they were "just barely warm enough." This was doubled up in fully enclosed tents and with sufficient sleeping pads. And most of them still had to pull out the Hot Hands. I can't imagine how much trouble we'd have gotten into with a recommendation to go with a 30-degree bag.

- Elizabeth

david smith

Locale: Southeast
Wow...I must be a wimp! on 07/27/2013 07:21:21 MDT Print View

I'm new so take this for what its worth...I agree with the sleeping bag (I have the zpacks 20 degree) and pads, but I just cant seem to fathom the backpacks? Maybe it's because I'm older and need more support. I did a test yesterday with a golite jam pack vs my Deuter 45+10 AC. The jam feels like I was carrying a bag of groceries on a string! Granted I had 34 lbs just to test, I would normally carry 23 max with food and water. Am I missing something? Specifically my shoulders tend to get sore

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Wow...I must be a wimp! on 07/27/2013 08:27:46 MDT Print View

23 pound is a lot. This is for two nights? That is a lot. I carry 23 pouds for about 12 days out.

Anyway a lot of sleeping at lower temps is getting a skill set down. I use long johns (medium weight for temps below 32F,) long wool socks and a down jacket. It also means getting your body adjusted to colder temps. Going directly from 60-70F to 35F is not hard if you know and prepare for it.

Hiking with packs will often make your shoulders/upper neck region sore after a full day. Try a couple weeks of carrying a 35 pound pack every day for a mile or two. It goes away.

david smith

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Wow...I must be a wimp! on 07/30/2013 05:12:12 MDT Print View

Sorry, 23 lbs is for 6 days 5 nights. I am doing the almost daily 30lb pack carry around my neighborhood and you are correct. How do you pack that much food for 12 days and only 23 lbs?