Getting back into backpacking -- going UL after years of carrying 50+ lb packs
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Sean Passanisi
(passanis) - MLife
Copper Spur UL2 –> Tarptent Stratospire on 05/23/2013 11:56:09 MDT Print View

I switched from a Copper Spur UL2 to an SS2 a few months ago. Much roomier and less weight (assuming you use trekking poles anyway). You may be able to get away with an SS1, which may still be roomier than the Copper Super UL2 and even lighter than the SS2.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Getting back into backpacking -- going UL after years of carrying 50+ lb packs on 05/23/2013 13:23:02 MDT Print View

Joseph K,

You might want to read these articles. Lightweight set-ups using the old traditional gear. Both include detailed gear lists.

Nostalgic Hike with Chuckawalla Bill

Nostalgic Hike to Carey's Castle

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Getting back into backpacking -- going UL after years of carrying 50+ lb packs on 05/23/2013 13:33:53 MDT Print View

Here are 2 others to add to Anna's list:

1a - What a Beginner Needs for Backpacking Part 1
1b - What a Beginner Needs for Backpacking Part 2


Yes, I wrote them. The nice thing is anyone can read them regardless if they are a member or not.

Edited by bestbuilder on 05/23/2013 13:37:30 MDT.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Re: Getting back into backpacking -- going UL after years of carrying 50+ lb packs on 05/23/2013 13:35:55 MDT Print View

I didn't miss them Tad I just decided not to include them because it seemed like it was aimed more at scouts,but they are wonderful and you did a great job so I am glad you added them :)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Getting back into backpacking -- going UL after years of carrying 50+ lb packs on 05/23/2013 13:37:53 MDT Print View

Love the bungee cord suspender!!

J R
(JRinGeorgia) - F
question for Loren on 05/23/2013 15:13:39 MDT Print View

Loren wrote:

>> I would suggest trying the Osprey Hornet 46 (1 lb 10oz - you can be get one for $85)

Where for $85? Thx.

Loren B
(ljamesb)

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
Re: question for Loren on 05/23/2013 19:13:22 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, since I wrote that the price has gone up :(. I should have said where in my original post!

Anyways, the lowest I see you can get it for now is from afterschool.com with the code 'AFTERPLA151'. Then get moosejaw to price match that and use a cashback site (discover or activejunky) for further 10% off+points. That would get it for $100.98.

Failing that, there is basgear.com. Use their mailing list code, 'member20'. Then use the same moosejaw trick.

Edited by ljamesb on 05/23/2013 19:14:18 MDT.

Brian Johns
(bcutlerj) - M

Locale: NorCal
Welcome on 05/23/2013 22:33:37 MDT Print View

Joseph, Welcome. Great site in terms of both company and information. From skimming through, I have a couple of suggestions. If you're not sure how much you can drop the weight just yet, look at packs by Gossamer Gear. Hard to beat Loren's Osprey price, but both the Gorilla and Mariposa offer all if the bells and whistles of a traditional pack for 20-27 oz. they have frame, lid, pockets on the waist belt and lid, oh, and a lid. Very comfortable too with a sit pad you'll wonder where it's been all your life. I suggest a frame of some sort as you get started. I think you mentioned ULA, they carry well with a frame to boot and weigh under 2 lbs as well.

You mentioned your kitchen being a whisperlight and I assume fuel bottle and stainless pots. A GREAT investment can be had from Forum members or the benchmark of ultralight kitchens, Trail Designs. I would look at lite trail's 3.3 oz. kitchen, but I prefer alcohol to esbit, so I would grab a $13 StarLyte stove from Dan aka Zelph on here. He probably has a very reasonable complete set up to get you water. litetrail.com's titanium pots are really nice too. Alcohol cooking is silent, set and forget, a joy.

Another member to consider is Enkightened equipment. You can get a very nice revelation x quilt (don't worry it covers much like a bag with a zipper and mummy shape of sorts). Borah Gear makes great packs tarps and bivies for a nice price too.

The biggest way to save weight, in your case a pound or more, is with your shelter. The Sixmoon Designs Skyscape tents feel just like a traditional two wall tent, and are in fact double walled everywhere but the ceiling. The scout is $125 and 2 lbs. try it and of you like it, upgrade to the 1.5 lb. (mine weighs a little less actually) trekker model, or the 15 oz. cuben fiber "X" model. If you have $275-300 to spend, Zpacks can put you in a 9-13 oz. "hexamid" tent. Zpacks is a pleasure to order from, as they will answer any questions and make any modifications you desire.

So long story longer, look in gear deals and gear swap for some excellent and reasonably priced US-made solutions to the weight associated with more traditional gear. I apologize if this has already been said above.

Good luck and happy trails. No matter the weight, I e never really had a bad day in the great outdoors. It's the mediocre indoors that's forever killing me, running water, answering machines and all.

J R
(JRinGeorgia) - F
thanks Loren on 05/24/2013 07:19:03 MDT Print View

Thanks Loren, wasn't familiar with ActiveJunky, thanks for the hook-up. Interesting idea -- I wonder if you buy from REI through them if that purchase is still eligible for the dividend. My guess is no since sale/discounted items are REI are not eligible for dividend (many folks don't know that), in which case the 6% you save with AJ is less than the 10% dividend you would get back. But if you can still get the dividend then it's all gravy.

I've been curious about the Hornet as a budget-priced UL pack with internal frame, but concerned about specific features I've read about. I ordered one from REI that arrived at the store yesterday, I'll try it on to see. I really have had my eye on the GG Gorilla but it's double the cost (though GG packs are 10% off this weekend).

Joseph K
(jkifer)
So many great suggestions. on 05/24/2013 13:28:55 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the ideas and links.

Brian - thanks for the suggestion of the gossamer packs. Definitely want a framed pack for now. I'm a little bit skeptical of the sleeping bag frame. How does it compare for a 30lb load to a ULA circuit for example? I'll also be sure to check out those alcohol stoves and tent suggestions. Also, on the tents you suggested, how do the pole supported shelters generally hold up in bad rain.wind?

Ken - i did mean the circuit. i really liked my shasta for those heavy loads, but time to move on! I move around a lot in my sleep and like to spread out, so I'm looking at the WM megalite and Montbell UL SS 3

Nathan - agree on the sleeping bag. Not sure if I'll wind up getting a new one quite yet. It's a bit tight for me, so I wouldn't mind getting something the ones i named above for comfort, though.

Edited by jkifer on 05/24/2013 14:53:51 MDT.

Joseph K
(jkifer)
Gear list on 05/24/2013 17:54:38 MDT Print View

Put together a list of my gear tonight, picking out the lightest items I already had and getting rid of essentials. Items highlighted in yellow are things I need to purchase.

I"m currently getting to around 16 lbs, but have some rough estimates for a lot of the smaller items.

Any comments on items that I might be missing, items that could be cut or cheaply swapped for substantial savings would be appreciated.

Found an old 3/4 thermarest which saved me 14 oz. One less item to buy for now.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah-Ap6Yh1jG7dEY3QXNqd0gxYnlXQm9MUmZEZ253bFE#gid=0

Thanks again!

Loren B
(ljamesb)

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
Re: thanks Loren on 05/24/2013 18:18:02 MDT Print View

Happy to have helped J R. Let us know how the pack turns out as I'd be interested to hear about it.

The main negative I've heard about the pack is that it does not handle loads over 25 lbs very well. If your baseweight is 10lbs+, then this may be a problem if you are taking a longer trip and need to carry more consumables with you. I think that the GoLite Jam might be able to handle more load and it weighs/costs about the same.

Joseph, a few comments about your list. Hopefully to save you both money and weight.

-tent. tarptents are awesome
-rainpants. I would go with lighter rainpants. Check this out. You can cut out 5 oz
-rain jacket+pants. If you are not expecting much rain just take a set of frogg toggs instead. Save 10 ounces for $20
-packcover. Go with a pack liner instead. MUCH less irritating to use and basically free. Just use a white trashbag (for nice visibility inside your pack). Any electronics etc can be put in zip lock bags inside for double protection.
-Jetboil. Not sure of your reasoning behind this choice, but how about just taking an alcohol stove instead? Alcohol stove+stanco grease pot=3.5oz (excluding fuel of course) and a whole lot cheaper. Save 6.5 oz and $$'s
-Filter. aquamira is good, or how about sawyer squeeze filter.
-Patagonia R1. Check out Melanzana gear. Their r1 equivalent is better in every way IMHO. Lighter, cheaper, looks nicer, better hood and it's made in USA :)
-mug. how about this? . Unless you are cooking in your mug you can just use a plastic one.
-pack towel. try a 'lightload' towel
-knife. you could try a lighter option like a dermasafe blade, or a light multitool like the leatherman style.
-poles. You could sell your leki's and try some costco carbon fiber poles like these . You can also buy them on amazon. I believe they weigh 7-8 oz each pole and are $30ish

Edited by ljamesb on 05/24/2013 19:03:14 MDT.

Joseph K
(jkifer)
Re: Re: thanks Loren on 05/24/2013 20:06:50 MDT Print View

Was checking out tarptents earlier. Loved how simple several of the designs were. Do any of the models tend to handle rain/storms better than others?

Trying to use as much as I've got, so probably sticking with the r1 for now. Could consider getting a down layer that I could use under my softshell for skiing too.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I've got some more reading to do on the alcohol stoves.

Drew Jay
(drewjh) - F

Locale: Central Coast
Tent and rain shells on 05/25/2013 02:42:32 MDT Print View

The really low hanging fruit I'm seeing are the tent and rain shells. The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo should be back in stock in a month, and it would save you 31 ounces. And a lightweight poncho plus a wind shirt would save you 20 ounces! I will be trying the Frogg Toggs emergency poncho and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer this season. Together those two changes would drop 3+ pounds.

Beyond that an iPhone or other Smartphone would replace your phone/camera/iPod combo and save 7 ounces plus be way less to fumble with on the trail. Also you have 7 ounces down for sunscreen, toothbrush/paste and first aid, you could cut 4 ounces off that easily.

There is easy weight to be lost on the pack but I would not mess with that until you have the rest finalized. If you can reduce volume and get your total weight down into the 20-25lb range it will completely change your pack requirements. Until then the ULA is fine.

There are a ton more items that can be replaced with lighter versions without any loss of function, but they would all be pricey on a cost per ounce basis. And what you have is not bad.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Gear list on 05/25/2013 03:34:19 MDT Print View

Joseph,

my 2 cents.

I recommend to everyone who is tranistioning to UL gear that they buy absolutely NOTHING until after they have spent at least several months, say 6 or more, researching gear and looking at what other people are doing. the reason is that if you jump in and buy something too quick, like a new tent that weighs over 2 pounds, initially, you'll be happy that it is half the weight of your traditional tent, but soon after you will likely find out as you research more that you would like a tarp set up that weighs less than 1 lb. Similarly, if you buy a sleeping bag too soon, you find with slightly more reaearch that you would be happier with a quilt that weighs much less. You get the picture.

Usually, people end up buying a few different packs, tents, sleeping bags/quilts as they learn more and discover how much easier it is to go lighter and lighter once they learn more. Duplicate or triplicate purchases end up costing more in the long run than just buying one cuben fiber tarp to begin with rather than getting a new tent first and then going for a tarp. Same thing with packs, or sleeing bags/quilts. This holds true for all gear, not just The Big Three.

Further, think systemically, like a shelter system or sleeping system. In this way you will look at how your gear works together and not at each piece in isolation. This also helps you to be more flexible, not only with multi-use items, but also seasonally and for differnt trip environments. For example, if you choose a tarp and bivy shelter system rather than a tent, it will be more flexible to use in a wider variation of climates and conditions than being stuck with one heavey, hot tent no matter where or when you're out. Likewise with sleep system, you won't need as heavey a bag/quilt if you plan to wear your base layer or rain gear on colder nights or if you have a bivy.

I went through this evolution, as many people do within 12-18 months and wish I had held off on a few "in between" purchases. And as always, if you want to try something, shop on the gear swap. There are a lot of good deals for slightly used equipment. If you try something and don't like it, you can re-sell it and not be out as much money as if you bought the item new.

Have fun!

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
One additional comment on leaving things home... on 05/25/2013 04:54:09 MDT Print View

The "leave it home if you don't use it" suggestion is good, but stops a bit short of what I think makes sense. Just because you use an item doesn't necessarily mean you "need to" use it. So consider leaving out items that you use as well if you won't miss them too badly.

Loren B
(ljamesb)

Locale: London UK, Greenville USA
Re: Re: Re: thanks Loren on 05/25/2013 06:15:47 MDT Print View

Looking only at the 2 person tents, I think the the scarp 2, double rainbow and stratospire 2 all handle rain equally well. I'm not sure about the squall 2 though. I would second what Drew said about six moon designs also. I noticed they have a memorial day sale at the moment on their lunar duo which is $142.

As for an alcohol stove I would suggest what someone suggested for a friend of mine on the forum recently which was to just make a cat can stove. You just need a tin can and a hole punch and it takes about 2 minutes to make. Works just about as well as my other alcohol stoves and was free.

As for the r1, yeah that does make sense to use as much as you already have. Don't get me wrong, the R1 is great. No need to replace anything that works perfectly well already. Then after going out on the trail with the new gear you can evaluate what works and doesn't work for you. It's for that reason that it might be best to spend less now, then spend the big bucks later on when you know what's best for your style of hiking etc.

Edited by ljamesb on 05/25/2013 06:17:05 MDT.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Gear list on 05/25/2013 06:38:27 MDT Print View

A lot of Rain Pants suggested in this 2 page thread.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re: Gear list on 05/25/2013 10:36:20 MDT Print View

> I recommend to everyone who is tranistioning to UL gear
> that they buy absolutely NOTHING until after they have
> spent at least several months, say 6 or more, researching
> gear and looking at what other people are doing. the
> reason is that if you jump in and buy something too
> quick, like a new tent that weighs over 2 pounds,
> initially, you'll be happy that it is half the weight
> of your traditional tent, but soon after you will likely
> find out as you research more that you would like a tarp
> set up that weighs less than 1 lb. Similarly, if you buy
> a sleeping bag too soon, you find with slightly more
> reaearch that you would be happier with a quilt that
> weighs much less. You get the picture.

> Usually, people end up buying a few different packs,
> tents, sleeping bags/quilts as they learn more and
> discover how much easier it is to go lighter and lighter
> once they learn more. Duplicate or triplicate purchases
> end up costing more in the long run than just buying one
> cuben fiber tarp to begin with rather than getting a new
> tent first and then going for a tarp. Same thing with>
> packs, or sleeing bags/quilts. This holds true for all
> gear, not just The Big Three.

1) I agree with the above. Don't buy anything until you've researched a TON. Chances are, you won't really know what the lightest products on the market are, for at least a few months of heavy duty researching. This forum is a great resource, but there's no neon sign pointing you to the lightest products and how to best use them.

2) Learn the principles of UL by stripping down EVERYTHING in your pack, as Nick suggested early on. Be a lightweight nazi.

3) When you're ready to buy stuff, go light as possible and take a few easy trips with good bail options. If it doesn't work for you, sell it. Chances are, you'll overestimate how much comfort you actually want. It's a LOT easier to sell the very lightest gear (like a cuben fiber tarp) than it is to sell midweight gear (like an UL tent). On some of the very lightest gear, like a tarp, you'll probably only lose $10-$20, if it doesn't work for you. If it DOES work for you, you've saved a TON of weight. If you start with a lightweight tent (like a Skyscrape), you'll never know if a tarp will work for you. If you want to try a tarp, you'll still have to go through the same process of buying a tarp and trying one (requiring more cash during the process). So... with that said... go absolutely as light as possible and use a couple of sample trips to weed out gear that won't work for you. Rather than slowly buy and sell stuff, getting lighter and lighter in the process. Hope this makes sense!

Joseph K
(jkifer)
Tents on 05/27/2013 20:33:52 MDT Print View

So I've been spending a lot of time researching this past week. I've decided that I'll definitely be retuning the copper spur and moving to tarptent or something similar. I'm only willing to buy one tent now, but have resigned to the fact that I'll ultimately want a seperate solo and two man.

Since I'd like the optionality until I buy another tent, I think it makes most sense for me to start with a 2 man. The stratospire 2 looks pretty great. Will save me almost a pound over the copper spur, roomy for. 2, and full double wall with nice vestibules. I've checked out the zpacks, lightheart, and six moon designs tents also - seem to keep coming back to the stratospire.

The notch and SS1 definitely looked nice as solo tents and I found the zpacks tarps pretty interesting with how light they are.

Anyway, any input on the stratospire, other similar tents to look at, or general strategy with starting with a 2-man would be great.

I'm still leaning toward the ula circuit, but considering the osprey exos 46 as it looks comparable and $100 less. Plus easily returnable if it doesn't work out for me. Any thoughts?

Ordered a montbell ul super spiral 3 after trying the summerlite. Felt pretty similar to my current bag and I wanted to give the SS a try since I move around a lot and sleep in strange positions. Also, wound up coming out substantially cheaper than the western mountaineering bags and managed to grab a monatauk gnat and sawyer squeeze with the points on moontrail.

Edited by jkifer on 05/27/2013 20:36:25 MDT.