"Light" gear list to shoot for?
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Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
"Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 14:47:50 MST Print View

Hello all, I'm using the winter months to get my gear in order for summer Sierra backpacking. Let me start by saying I have nothing but respect for people in the 5-10 lb base weight bracket of UltraLight backpacking. I envy the weight they carry and their confidence to go into the wilderness with so little gear.

I'm coming from the 40-50lb pack weight (for a 3 day trip), and am trying to get down considerably lower, but I have to be honest with myself that I'm never going to get into the "ultralight" category. For starters, where I hike a bear canister is required. I use a BV450 (I've at least toned myself down from a BV500 haha). I also take dog food (2 cups/ day), because my dog is getting older and I don't want her carrying it. and finally, I take photography gear since I get so much enjoyment out of it. I've come down a lot in weight on photo gear, and now am at about 1.9 lb tripod, .7 lb ball head, and camera .75 lb. So because of these "essentials" of bear vault, camera gear, and dog food, I'm already at the point where I am wanting a framed pack, since my base gear and food will be added on top.

What I'd like to hear from you folks, is what is a good weight I should be aiming for to get me into the "light" (as opposed to UL) category for say a 3 or 4 day trip in the high Sierras?

I'll start it off with some of my known items:
Pack- Kifaru "Late Season"; 3,400ci pack at 4 lb 10 oz weight. Kifaru loves their webbing, and I will be removing some excess, so a hair will be shaved off the total weight. Pack comfort is very important to me, and I know from past experience that their packs are exceptionally comfy for my body shape. This is one of my few "won't change" items.

Quilt- Kifaru "Doobie"; 2 lb 2 oz. This is my other must have. For safety reasons/ peace of mind, I simply won't use down for insulation. I'm not stubborn about many things, but this one of them

Bear- BV450; 2 lb (ouch)

Pad- Thermarest Ridgerest SOlite 48"; 9 oz

Stove- ezbit Ti folding stove; .4oz (not including fuel tabs)

Tripod- Giottos carbon fiber MG8240B; 1.9 lb

Camera- Sigma DP2Merrill; 13 oz

Ball Head (for tripod) Gitzo GH1780; 12.3 oz

Tent- Hilleberg "Unna"; 4.5 lb. I am open to other considerations, and I know this is not very light for a shelter system. But here is my reason for it so far...the tough construction and materials means longevity with my dog's claws (she sleeps inside), and with the rough granite of the Sierras. I also don't use a groundsheet/ footprint due to the tough floor. I hate bugs, so tarps are out. Finally, the price, since I already own one (hehe).

This is obviously not a complete pack list, and I'll fine tune this and the other stuff some more. I just wanted to include some of my items to give people an idea of the kind of thought process I have, and gear I like. I want to point out once more, I love this site because it helps me get more towards the right mindset, but I am shooting for light, not ultra light.

At this point, I'm thinking under 30 lbs total weight should be doable, but I'd really like to shoot for under 25. I know that seems like tons to many of you here, but it would be a huge improvement from what I'm used to.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/07/2013 14:59:30 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 15:16:55 MST Print View

It's hard to tell what your intentions are, trailwise. However, just looking at your two heaviest items, I would say that there are some pounds to be lost. Your backpack and your tent are each much heavier than what is probably necessary. I'm not saying that they are bad products, but they are just much more heavy-duty that what you need, assuming that you are getting your base weight down around ten pounds for your main gear.

Wildlife photography is a major intention for me, so my load splits up something like this. Ten pounds of base weight, ten pounds of food and consumables, and ten pounds of camera gear (long lens, mid lens, tripod, etc.). Within my ten pounds of base weight, I also have a bear canister (typically a BV450).

For most trips, if I think I might stay out a couple of extra days, I end up taking a few extra pounds of food. Then I end up returning with the extra food and also more on board.

Now, if you intend to cover more trail miles, then maybe you won't have the time to use very much good camera gear. So, leave the excess at home and take only the camera essentials.

You might want to consult with the dog and find out what its preferences are for shelters.

--B.G.---

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 15:23:59 MST Print View

Doug,

You can go quite a bit lighter without making any fundamental changes to how you backpack by replacing some of your existing items with lighter versions. Ultimately however if you still want to get lighter you'll have to revise your assumptions about what exactly you are not willing to change. For instance, how about a floorless shelter with perimeter bug netting? No worries about your dog puncturing the floor, and it will still keep the bugs out. A MLD DuoMid with perimeter netting would save you 3 lbs off the bat. I highly recommend that you read Mike Clelland's book "Ultralight Backpackin' Tips" which will show you how you can make some of these changes without giving up any comfort or safety margin. I can tell you that even with a bear can and a cushy internal frame pack you can get your base weight (total pack weight minus consumables) to 10 - 11 lbs without making big sacrifices. That frees up a lot of room for camera equipment and dog food.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
light gear on 12/07/2013 15:46:45 MST Print View

Thanks Bob and Andrew, I appreciate your thoughts so far. One thing I've already considered is exchanging the Unna for an Akto, if I really decide I need a Hilleberg for summering in the Sierras. That is slightly over a pound off, right there.

Andrew, I've thought a lot about floorless shelters. For winter, I could actually really see getting one...especially with a stove :-D
The thing is, I'm an arachnaphobe, and flying bugs aren't the only ones that concern me...the crawly ones equally so. Sorry if I sound really wussy for the outdoors, but bugs are kind of my nemesis. I've been about 25 feet from a mountain lion at night in the woods and we looked at each other for a while. That didn't scare me, but the idea of spiders or crawling insects in my sleeping bag sure does. Still, your point about no floor damage from dog claws and weight saved are valuable. I'll keep giving them some thought. Another benefit of keeping with a floored shelter is keeping the pooch in. She critters like there is no tomorrow, and keeping a 60 lb Malinois inside a shelter when she wants to chase something outside, might be problematic with a floorless shelter.

As for intentions, I try to plan for roughly 10 miles/ 3,000' elevation gain or so per day. I'm not a hard charger, and that leaves plenty of time for photos, rest breaks, etc.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/07/2013 15:49:31 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: light gear on 12/07/2013 16:42:17 MST Print View

"That didn't scare me, but the idea of spiders or crawling insects in my sleeping bag sure does."

I will not recommend that this is the way that it _should_ be done, but it is simply the way that it was done many years ago when I was a young man in Army training. Due to the heat and humidity in Louisiana, we did not use much for sleeping. We would simply spread our poncho down on the ground and then plop down on it. The thought of crawling insects did occur to me, and I had some spray insect repellent. So, I simply sprayed a perimeter on the ground just outside my poncho. That's all I had, so that was all that I could do. Nothing ever got me, so I guess it worked.

As for the dog... I thought that most dogs just want some warm food and a dry pad to sleep on. Once trained, they will head to the pad every time. If it gets cold, then a piece of an old synthetic blanket would be handy, over the top.

--B.G.--

Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
tarptents and dogs on 12/07/2013 19:09:52 MST Print View

A while back I posted similarly looking for a fully enclosed, sub-3lb shelter to share with my dog. I was sent this thread on Tarptents:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=29271

Though with a Maligator, maybe you do need something tougher!

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 19:59:22 MST Print View

I think you should focus on three ways to lighten up your gear:

(1) Replace heavier gear with lighter gear. This can (and should) happen over time as you decide what kind of gear you need. The Kifaru gear is nice but you can find lighter options. The Hilleberg just seems too heavy for a solo + dog shelter. I realize you favor synthetic insulation, but California seems like a ideal place to use down, where it is relatively easy to keep items dry and you'll have (relatively) reliable sunshine. Seems like you could save 1-3 lbs here. Also, if you must carry a bear canister on every trip, a Bearikade might be worth the added expense. I use a Bearvault but don't have to carry one that much in the PNW.

(2) Weigh everything you already own, compare and choose deliberately. This is a very important to lightening up. If you replaced 16 items (clothing, cooking gear, water containers, hiking poles, dog gear, whatever!) with items weighing just 2 oz less each, you'd save 2 lbs without buying anything. Once the "Big Three" items are replaced above, this is the area where the most weight can be dropped. Don't forget to consider calories/weight of the dog food, too. I realize it isn't easy to switch out food for animals but it could be worth it to look at.

(3) Experimentation. Try to borrow a large tarp with a solo net inner for an overnight trip. Leave something behind that you usually bring and see how it goes. The knowledge gained can really help you decide what to bring and what not to bring. You may find that lines you didn't want to cross before (synthetic vs. down, tarp vs. tent, etc) will change.

Good luck!

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
"Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 21:30:52 MST Print View

Doug, you are going to have to give some ground if you want to lighten up. Also consider having the dog bring some gear, even though it is getting older. My dog bped up to the time he passed away,(cancer) and carried his own food and my trash. Depending on where you are going, a bear can may not be needed. My dog always warned me of a bears presence. You're not giving folks anything to work with.
Duane

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 21:50:29 MST Print View

The whole concept of lightening up your load is not a one-step process. It is more of a descending spiral. You start with a high load weight. Then you knock out a bunch by just attacking the two heavy items. Then you knock out a bunch more with some medium items. You keep up the process as you descend in overall load, and finally you will find yourself drilling holes in your toothbrush handle. The point of this is that as you descend the spiral, you find other economies along the way. Once your total load gets below twenty pounds, you don't need a heavy duty pack anymore, and a skimpy little thing might suffice. Once you cut down the cooking and stove stuff, you sure don't need the heavy duty pack. In fact, along the spiral you will find that using _compact_ gear will help you out almost as much as using lightweight gear, because compact gear often doesn't require the high volume pack.

--B.G.--

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 21:56:37 MST Print View

Make a list of every item in your pack. If you haven't used it in the past 10 trips get rid of it. The exception is bandaids. If an item needs a battery, consider that you probably don't need it. A small light might be an exception.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 22:04:21 MST Print View

Doug,

If you are brave enough, put up your entire, detailed list and let these guys work it over. :)

Billy

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
lighter gear on 12/07/2013 22:36:07 MST Print View

Wow, thanks very much for the helpful and insightful replies. It gives me a lot to think about. I used to be much more concerned with redundancy, so that is one area I've already saved a lot of weight (at least it seems so). I used to carry three flashlights, now I'm down to just one small headlamp and I used my Nook glowlight as an even more efficient flashlight for hours on end. I used to carry a leatherman and two knives, now I only carry one knife, and so on.

Billy, I'm more than happy to post my entire gear list and have it mulled over, but two things are preventing that from happening right now. One is that I'm still waiting on a couple things (such as the pack), and the other is that I need to get a digital scale. I was researching those today on other threads here, and I think I'm going to go buy a food scale this week. By next weekend I should be able to put up a fairly accurate list of my current gear. Although I imagine I ought to start a new thread so that it can go in the "gear list" subforum.

Nick, excellent suggestion to make a list of the stuff I haven't used. I plan on doing that.

Duane, my apologies for coming across obstinate and asking for advice at the same time. I do appreciate the suggestions, and possibly my frame of mind is in need of a change. I know that the synthetic vs down argument will go on forever, and this is probably not the appropriate forum for it. That said, Steven makes a good point that the Sierras might be a decent place to get by with down. Deep down I think I was hoping that the "big 3" would not be the areas I'd have to focus on for weight savings. Maybe I could allow myself the luxury of the Kifaru pack as a reward for lightening up my sleep system and shelter a bit. hahaha

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: lighter gear on 12/07/2013 22:51:43 MST Print View

You should hold off on that pack. What others beside that Mchale you got rid of have you tried? Post what you have, regardless if you have a weight on it or not. People here know what most things weigh anyway.

Edited by kthompson on 12/07/2013 23:16:39 MST.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/07/2013 23:08:10 MST Print View

summer Sierra backpacking


If you are doing summer Sierra backpacking, there is not a single Hilliberg shelter in their catalog that warrants the weight of one of their shelters in the Sierra during the summer season. You can save yourself between 2.5 and 5+ pounds just by ditching the whole idea/concept you need a Hilleberg. Plenty of other shelters out there that will give you the same "bug/crawlers free" protect you indicate you want... and probably be less expensive.

Camera gear is what it is... heavy. Just have to accept that fact and move on.

Nothing wrong with wanting to use synthetic over down for a sleeping bag... just try not to pick one of the heaviest ones on the market.

Nothing you can do about a bear canister except accept the fact they are all heavy, even the lightest one out there.

You have not yet listed your clothing... going to guess you have 4+ pounds of clothing (??). If so, need to totally rethink that as well. 2 pounds MAX for Sierra in the summer.

Keep at it and keep reading and asking questions. Try to ask more questions than you do buying gear. A sub 20 can be totally doable, even with the "must have" items that you indicate you are unwilling to switch up. Too many folks getting into the L/UL world from the HH world buy too much gear too quickly without really asking around and seeing what works with what. So, keep asking and learning!

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/08/2013 08:11:48 MST Print View

Hey Doug,

I also do a great deal of backpacking with my 80# pooch, and after hundreds and hundreds of miles in various tents (he also needs to be enclosed with me), I've never had him puncture a tent floor, even cuben fiber.

My current favorite with him is the tarptent stratospire 1. The duomid with a solo inner works great for me, but I do have to be careful about how I pitch it in order to keep CharlieDog inside with me (the door could be wide open, but that darned dog STILL wants to run under the tarp). So until I figure that out, I mostly take the stratospire with us. There are MANY tarp tent combos out there that will work with your dog...

As far as the pack goes, honestly there are some seriously comfortable packs out there that are. Much, much lighter, I'm talking POUNDS lighter.

I think the big key for you right now is keeping an open mind. I think many of us started off saying we would NEVER do something, only to find we actually like it better. I was hugely resistant to most things UL until I actually tried them. Now I'll never go back........

Good luck!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
"Light" on 12/08/2013 08:25:16 MST Print View

I think it's quite possible to drop major weight without changing your style, or at least not changing your style too abruptly.

Cutting off some stuff with save weight on the Late Season. Getting some composite stays will save more without degrading function. There are lighter packs which should provide similar load carry (I'm finishing an article on the Paradox Packs Evolution right now), but they'll cost a lot. Something like a ULA Catalyst might be worth considering if you do make substantial reductions in weight.

I'm not sure how the Doobie gets so heavy with relatively little insulation. For comparison, the Enlightened Equipment 40F Prodigy also uses 4oz/yard Apex and weighs around 20-22 oz depending on size.

You could cut your shelter weight in half with something from Tarptent or Big Agnes, but to be blunt you'll be taking a pretty heavy hit in material and construction quality. I'd encourage you to try tarping with an inexpensive silnylon flat tarp and some manner of net inner with a floor. Weight savings is only one reason I like using a tarp as often as possible, and you might learn something.

Clothing is a big one you haven't addressed. I'm assuming you probably have a lot of heavy extras. Cut the fat there, and give yourself a safety margin with skill and judgment rather than a bunch of stuff.

Edited by DaveC on 12/08/2013 08:28:09 MST.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/08/2013 09:40:14 MST Print View

the tent sort of depends on the size of the dog.
unna vs akto (i've owned both, and either is overkill for california), you'll simply Go Faster with an akto. the setup/takedown time is so much less.
if the dog is one of those more reasonably portable midsize units (like a scottie), the akto would be fine.
more : it all works together. once you run hillbeerg, you will be able to run down insulation and not have dampness issues. so you pick up some ounce credits there. real wt of an akto is 52oz. check our Shire's Moment DW. it's more than a full pound off that. being quite a s sissy in such matters, i prefer a real tent as well.

more : i did not see anything about sewing your own stuff sacks and such. that is a critical skill in following bob's "It is more of a descending spiral." mindset. you'll need to ramp up the sewing abilities to be in control of your gear. it's a handy thing to have in life. there's no reason not to become proficient. it's cheap as heck to get started. it frees you from dependency on others, and allows you to give more back to your friends.
at any rate, with either hilleberg, you'll still be wanting a better window (much, and Very tricky, sewing)

once you are bang'n out custom sized sacks (the material is very inexpensive), you'll be on that spiraling path towards goodness. then you'l start looking at trinkets, even cord locks, with a more practiced eye. and that's "the trick". there's weight to be saved, but one needs to be able to see it.

best thing is that since you can already tote 60#'s, heck, it can't really get a lot** worse ! so everything you do, even just thinking about less weight, will move you in the proper direction.

cheers,
v.

** - well yes, certainly it can. but that's another form of madness.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
more light on 12/08/2013 13:05:49 MST Print View

Thanks again for all the great advice, folks. I'll try to address each in turn.

Jennifer, your advice to keep an open mind (others have alluded to it as well), is something I'm trying very hard to work on, and perhaps making gradual progress. ;-) I read through that link that Sharon put up about traptents and dogs, and I am more open to that idea now. That said, a thought that did occur to me about 4 season tents like the Unna and Akto, is that I know first hand how very warm they are. I have winter camped in a Hilleberg and the inner tent felt an easy 15-20* warmer than even the vestibule. I could probably drop the weight of my sleep system by a good pound using a Hilleberg, which would help offset the pound or so heavier that they are than other shelter options, while still retaining their bomb-proof benefits. As Peter even mentioned, down might be more likely for me to try out with a bombproof shelter. Still, I'm going to follow your advice and not rule anything out.

John, I noticed that even the lightest bear canister out there (the Bearikade Scout, I believe), is barely lighter than my BV450, and incredibly expensive. That may be one area that I am better off eating the bullet on the extra 4 oz or so and saving a couple hundred dollars, since I already have the BV450.

Several people have mentioned clothing already, so I'll address it. I'm sure I'm a bit heavier than most, but not outrageous, like I used to be in the clothing regard. What I took on my last summer backpacking 3 dayer in the Sierras was a frog toggs UL rain jacket (no rain pants, I figured if it was unbearable I'd set up my tent anyways), balaclava, Arcteryx Bravo softshell jacket, felt Akubra hat, smartwool lightweight wool longjohns (top and bottom), and 1 extra pair of socks and skivvies. Obviously that doesn't include the stuff worn constantly, like my 511 pants, long sleeve REI nylon shirt, etc. That amount of gear worked fine for me, both while hiking, sleeping at night, and even during several thundershowers. As I said, I can probably save some weight in this area as well, but at least nothing was outrageous or excess (in my opinion anyways). I used to pack two pairs of gloves, Gore-Tex ECWCS parka and pants, etc. I've downsized a ton in the clothing area already.

Peter, could you clarify one point you made about the Unna vs Akto? You mentioned "go faster" with the Akto. Are you simply referring to the weight being a pound lighter, or set-up, takedown, etc? I was surprised by this comment, because that is why I chose the Unna over the Akto. The Unna, with just two poles (stakes almost optional), it is probably the fastest/ simplest tent I've ever set up. The Akto (never seen one in person) only has one pole, but WAY more staking/ guying out hassle it looks like. You've owned both, so I'm happy to take your word for it, but could you explain it a little more to me?

Thanks again everyone. I'm sorry, I know I'm missing some of the good comments to reply to, but there is a lot of good info I'm absorbing.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/08/2013 13:22:13 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
gear on 12/08/2013 14:21:59 MST Print View

You cannot get significantly lighter without changing your heaviest items.

It IS possible to have a 10-12lb base wt, + 3 lbs camera gear even with the bear can. But you have to WANT to change and get lighter.

You dont. You make excuses why you want to keep heavy stuff.

Money is a good excuse.
Fears are not.

When I hike the JMT next summer, Using a "heavy" pack (circuit), my base will be about 11 lbs with the bear can. Thats plenty of gear to be dry , warm, and safe.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/08/2013 14:48:49 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
ultralight on 12/08/2013 14:51:05 MST Print View

Thanks MB. I'm afraid you might have missed the spirit of this thread, though. I consider a 10-12 lb base weight to be ultralight for a 3-4 day trip at high elevations. I'm looking for suggestions to get me into the 20-25lb range. In fact, if I could get down to a 20 lb base weight I'd be thrilled...mission accomplished as it were. You are quite correct that 10 pounds is not an idea I am open to. I simply have no need of going that light. I'm not trying to be rude, but I made a point of explaining at the beginning of this thread that I am not shooting for an ultralight gear list. Just as I have a hard time wrapping my head around a 10 pound base weight, I know there are many here who can't reason with a 20 lb weight. I won't try to talk you into being a 40 lb packer. ;-)

The replies so far have been very helpful, and in the spirit of what I was aiming for. Nobody so far is suggesting that I wear a T-shirt and shorts and carry a 1 liter bottle and a tarp. But at the same time, they are offering tips to get my weight under control, and how to think lighter and be open minded. That is exactly what I was hoping for. I really would have titled the thread differently if I simply wanted folks to hand me a 10 pound gear list without taking any of my personal opinions into account.

I'm not a young man any more, and I've seen the pendulum effect enough throughout my life to know I want to avoid it. I'm looking to swing from the heavy end to the middle, not all the way to the other side, only to have to come back again. That is the best way I can describe it. I've got to add that it is a little unfair to say I am not willing to change the heaviest items. Just in the last couple posts I've said I am considering changing both my sleep system and shelter. I consider that gaining ground.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/08/2013 15:00:44 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
weight on 12/08/2013 15:23:33 MST Print View

I didnt say you should try to get to 10 lbs
I said its possible

To get somewhere significantly lower, you have to make a few significant changes

The categories are:

Pack
Shelter / groundsheet /stakes
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Clothing
Insulation clothing
Cooking
Bearcan
Water
Miscl., FAK, etc

Camera

Set yourself a target total
Split up the rest
You will have to decide where YOU want to reduce and what YOU are willing to concede to reach YOUR target. You dont yhave to reduce everything, but you do have to reduce SOMETHING. If you reduced everything, you could be at 10lbs.

When you eliminate all the categories, it gets kind of hard. Unless you carry a bunch of heavy miscl stuff you havent shared, you dont have anything open to cut.

Now if you ask" what shelters can I get that will be good and under 2.5 lbs?" You will get good answers you can use.

Or "what pack with a frame can I get that is less than 3 lbs and carries 30 well", you will also get good answers you can use.

Or "what is the lightest clothing I can get to meet x needs"



A big agnes flycreek UL2 would save 2 lbs
A ULA catalyst pack would save 2 lbs

4 lbs right off the bat. Those are your biggest savings you can get.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/08/2013 15:46:14 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
categories on 12/08/2013 15:51:12 MST Print View

I think I better understand what you're getting at. So far the pack, bear can, and camera are the only items I have not conceded on, and even some of those I am confident I will be able to lighten a bit.

The pack is 4.5 lbs, and I will be hacking away at webbing the moment it arrives. I hope to get it to right at the 4lb range.

The bear can I can either keep, or spend $200 and buy one that is about 4 oz lighter. I might make that change, however, the other stuff will probably be changed out first.

The camera is about 1/5 the weight of what I have been using up until now, and as small/ light as I am able to go and still get anywhere near the image quality I am hoping for. The tripod on the other hand, I am still looking at lighter alternatives.

Every other category on the list:
Shelter / groundsheet /stakes
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Clothing
Insulation clothing
Cooking
Water
Miscl., FAK, etc

...I am remaining open minded about. Of course I have logical reasons as well as emotional ones to want one thing over another, but I am not completely counting out anything yet. When I said that my clothing wasn't outrageous, I never meant that I wasn't willing to look into lighter alternatives. The sleeping pad and stove are about as light as anyone goes, including ultralighters, as far as I'm aware.

Again, I'll put up a thorough gear list for review, hopefully by this next weekend. It will include all the misc items as well. The elephant in the room as far as shelters are concerned is self-supporting vs trekking poles. I would like to try trekking poles again, but I am not optimistic. I used them a couple times before and found that they were cumbersome to use with a dog on lead, and I didn't notice any of the benefits for weight transfer that I hear people talking about. Maybe I was doing it wrong (always a big possibility:-), which is why I'd like to have another go at it.

Long story short, if I wasn't open to ideas, I wouldn't have posted here. So far it has been very constructive for me, and I appreciate it.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: categories on 12/08/2013 15:59:57 MST Print View

Although serious photographers often want to have their nicest tripod in use, you can save a lot of weight with a compromise here. I found a skimpy tripod with a pan/tilt head and QR at a Target store, and I have been carrying it for a couple of years now. It weighs 17 ounces. Since I mostly go after wildlife, this thing doesn't get used all that much, but if you are going after scenery, then that might do the trick. At least it is good for a "selfie."

The other good news is that since it is not an expensive tripod, you don't feel compelled to wrap it up in six ounces of packaging to protect it. I generally throw mine in a side pocket on my pack.

--B.G.--

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: categories on 12/08/2013 16:10:52 MST Print View

"The bear can I can either keep, or spend $200 and buy one that is about 4 oz lighter. I might make that change, however, the other stuff will probably be changed out first."

Have you considered the Bare Boxer Contender? It is not as efficient as any of the Bearikades (i.e. it is more oz/cu in than they are). However, consider:
* It is several ounces lighter than the Bearikade Scout
* It costs far less than a Bearikade
* It is less bulky that a Bearikade -- important for smaller packs

It might just about fit your targeted trip lengths -- it can hold about 3 days' food, and the food you will consume before the first night does not have to be in the bear can.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: categories on 12/08/2013 16:18:04 MST Print View

"The pack is 4.5 lbs, and I will be hacking away at webbing the moment it arrives. I hope to get it to right at the 4lb range."

4 lb is very heavy for a pack these days. Cutting off some webbing is minor. I have trouble believing you cannot find an adequately comfortable pack for substantially less weight than 4 lbs.

You should postpone deciding on your pack; the best pack will depend on how much you can reduce the weight and bulk of the rest of your kit, so get that sorted first.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: categories on 12/08/2013 16:22:35 MST Print View

"The tripod on the other hand, I am still looking at lighter alternatives."

I have read that a surprisingly light tripod can be made a lot more stable by hanging some weight e.g. a filled water bag) from it as needed.

I defer to BG for all things camera. I'm sure he will know whether or not that is practical, but perhaps it can save weight on the tripod.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: categories on 12/08/2013 16:26:29 MST Print View

Not me.

In general, you don't need a mega-tripod unless you are shooting with a very heavy lens or camera. The exception might be for astrophotography.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
bear boxer on 12/08/2013 16:31:01 MST Print View

Thanks Robert, I had seen the Bear Boxers in photos before, but never knew they were lighter than a Bearikade. The price is not horrible on them either. I also like that they taper towards the ends. it would make them slightly easier to put in the pack than my BV, which is like packing a round peg in a square hole.

As for the weight on the bottom of the tripod, you're correct that it can help stabilize, if done properly. It can also cause a pendulum, so there is an art to it, but it is one way of making a lighter tripod more sturdy.

Bob, I was in San Jose Camera a week or so ago and saw some tripods (can't recall the brand), that also looked much lighter than my Giottos. At 1.9 lbs (not including the ball head), it's not outrageous for a tripod, but I'd sure like to improve on it. I don't even really have the requirement that it has to be as tall as me, like many people do. Especially for a landscape backpacking tripod, I don't mind squatting or kneeling to use it.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: "Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/08/2013 16:32:58 MST Print View

3400 cubic inches is very big. Maybe you can get a smaller kirafu pack. You know when you get your weight down, pack fit and comfort is less important.

There really has to be a better solution for your bug issue than a 4.5 pound tent. Look at a mountain laurel designs, six moons designs, zpacks, tarp tent, (there is a lot more) you should be able to find something lighter to suit your needs, there are a huge amount of ultralight shelters out there.

The poncho liner is essentially a big blanket and even if it's made of high quality materials, it's not very warm for the weight or easy to keep drafts out. It probably wont keep you warm enough for the high sierras.
Your concerns about down are irrational for the sierras. The sierras are generally very dry. Get some kind of waterproof sack to store the bag. If you are really going to be using a 4.5 lb tent then how is your bag going to get wet? If you are really paranoid then get a 10 degree down bag/quilt for extra insurance if it gets a little damp.
Either way a synthetic quilt would be better than the woobie.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: a tripod on 12/08/2013 16:43:49 MST Print View

So, a tripod is 1.9 pounds plus a head?

The tripod from Target that I mentioned is 17.4 ounces including a head. However, it only rises to about 50 inches from ground level. I suppose that you could make this serve as a shelter support pole, but I won't go there.

--B.G.--

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
pack weight example on 12/08/2013 16:47:20 MST Print View

Just as one example:

If you can get your gear down to under 30# total weight, which most people on this forum would consider a very reasonable goal, then you could consider the ZPacks Arc Blast pack. I do not own one, but it all of the on-line comments I have seen are very favorable. It is quite roomy, carries 30# comfortably, more if you must (e.g. until you have eaten some food), and weighs only 17 oz.

That would be one way to save over 3# easily.

Edited by blean on 12/08/2013 16:48:07 MST.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
woobie on 12/08/2013 16:54:44 MST Print View

Thanks for the insight Justin. I do have a Kifaru Marauder and Express (both 1st Gen). At 2,500ci, thanks to all the MOLLE webbing and 1,000d cordura, the Marauder is no lighter than the Late Season. The Express, at 2,300 ci is just too small. I've tried fitting all my gear in there and it just doesn't cut it. By Kifaru standards, the Late Season gives really good bang for the buck as far as weight/ space ratio is concerned, while still being bombproof construction. We're talking a pack that could easily last me decades of almost daily hiking (if I were so lucky) ;-D

The Doobie (double version of the Woobie), did keep me toasty warm in the Sierras last summer, including above tree line, and in a non-4 season tent. But I agree that there are lighter and better alternatives out there for summer use. I am quite convinced now that sleep system is one of the items I'll be changing out. I think I can cut my sleep system weight close to half of what it is now with a bit of careful planning.

Bob, yeah my tripod is 1.9 lbs not including the ball head. My current ball head is the Manfrotto 494, which weighs .7 lb. I REALLY like the looks of the Gitzo GH 1780, since I really want a leveling head for panoramic shots. The weight is almost identical to my current head and it will have dual use supporting my DSLR and big lenses when not backpacking. The Manfrotto head only supports 6 or so pounds, and my 5DII and 70-200l would creep sometimes with it. The Gitzo, for the same weight, supports 22 lbs (which is a non-issue with my backpacking camera, which is 13 oz).

I am intrigued by your thought of using a tripod as a shelter support. One of the hassles of trekking poles (2), was that the one in my left hand kept getting tangled with my dog's leash. If I used a tripod for one side of the shelter and only carried a single trekking pole...hmmm (the wheels are turning)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: bear boxer on 12/08/2013 16:54:54 MST Print View

The small Bear Boxer is fine if you are doing only two or three nights out, but its volume isn't big enough for more. Mine weighs about 26 ounces, and it fits into almost any small backpack. It makes sense for me only if it is a short trip and my total load is only 15 pounds or something. Then I can take my smallest backpack that is sub-9 ounces empty.

However, I think we are talking about longer trips, more food, etc., so really quickly you get out of the Bear Boxer range and into a Bear Vault range. Then immediately you are into a larger pack, etc. It's all a vicious cycle.

--B.G.--

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: bear boxer on 12/08/2013 17:00:17 MST Print View

Bob,

Agreed.

The OP said 3-4 day trips, which I take to mean up to 3 nights ("What I'd like to hear from you folks, is what is a good weight I should be aiming for to get me into the "light" (as opposed to UL) category for say a 3 or 4 day trip in the high Sierras?").

Since he does not need to put the first day's food in the canister that means all he needs to put in there is day 2, day 3, and day 4 (breakfast and lunch).

Shouldn't that fit in a Contender?

Edited by blean on 12/08/2013 17:01:56 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: bear boxer on 12/08/2013 17:06:48 MST Print View

The Bear Boxer Contender, I think, is the little one of 275 cubic inches.

The volume of backpacker food is all over the place, but I generally start thinking with 100 cubic inches per day. Plus, the OP is carrying dog food, so that adds more volume required. Now, if he could train the dog to forage for ground squirrels and such, he could cut back some of that requirement. In general, domestic dogs are not as good at that as a wild predator would be.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
bear container on 12/08/2013 17:07:37 MST Print View

Robert and Bob, let me add more clarification on the food issue. 4 days is the longest trip I am packing for, so that makes three nights. I am not a lunch eater...in fact, I rarely eat breakfast. Due to odd work schedules for the past 20 years, I am accustomed to only eating one "meal" per day (I know, super unhealthy). I snack at other times. What offsets the size of my meals, are the two cups per day (obviously half that on the first and last days) of dog food. Now I am considering freeze dried kibble if I get her used to it before hand, so that will save on weight, but not much on bulk I'm afraid. Based on that, what do you guys think about the Bear Boxer vs the BV450?

Hahaha, I laughed at the last comment on foraging for squirrels. You're thinking too small...my second to last trip she nearly got us venison for dinner. If it was up to her she would eat all her meals out...but I think that gets frowned on in National Forests.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/08/2013 17:12:00 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Re: Re: bear boxer on 12/08/2013 17:10:23 MST Print View

Sounds like we agree that the human food would fit, at least if he is careful.

I did forget about the dog food, though. Given that, a Bearikade Scout probably is the lightest choice for the specified trip length.

Doug,

Your best bet is to get a container at home -- plastic container, cardboard box, whatever. Cut it down or mark where the bear can volume comes and try packing your food (including dog food) to see what is realistic for you.

Edited by blean on 12/08/2013 17:13:55 MST.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Dog food bulk on 12/08/2013 17:24:20 MST Print View

I don't suppose you could get your dog to go for dog food soup?

Seriously, part of getting light is taking care of the weight. Bulk is important, too -- it can have a surprising effect on weight, such as requiring a larger pack or a larger bear can. If you could powder the dried dog food it would pack a lot smaller (and might enable a smaller bear can). See whether powdered dog food would enable the Contender for you.

Who knows? Your dog may just lap up dog food soup.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: woobie on 12/08/2013 17:33:14 MST Print View

Once you get a lighter tent I bet you could fit everything in the express, in that case you would have good short trip and long trip packs.

For something in between I would recommend a ULA pack, maybe the circuit. They are ultralight packs that aren't made with ultralight materials, not as durable as a kirafu but much more durable than many other packs.

I would recommend looking at the enlightened equipment synthetic quilts. You should be able to find something that you like in your price range.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: pack weight example on 12/08/2013 18:24:31 MST Print View

Re: Arc Blast...
we'll everyone is different, but the Arc Blast seems uncomfortable to me at about 25 lb.
My view is 25lb max form a comfort point of view...
but it's really better at about 22 or 23 lb...


Billy

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
wt on 12/08/2013 19:36:26 MST Print View

@ Billy Ray:

"Re: Arc Blast...
we'll everyone is different, but the Arc Blast seems uncomfortable to me at about 25 lb.
My view is 25lb max form a comfort point of view...
but it's really better at about 22 or 23 lb..."


I prefer to stay under 23 lbs with any pack, even my Circuit.
They are all more comfortable that way.

With lightwt packs, it becomes an issue of tradeoffs. My opinion is to buy for the wt range where you spend most of your time, and not really worry about that first day, or the odd day where you need 4L water, etc.

But others do prefer to buy for the max load they might ever carry. To each their own.

Edited by livingontheroad on 12/08/2013 19:40:34 MST.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Trekking poles and dogs on 12/08/2013 19:40:57 MST Print View

If you keep your dog leashed, do you keep the leash in your hand or around your waist? I use a carabiner and clip his leash to my waist belt. Works great...and it allows me to use both of my trekking poles (now that I am a trekking pole addict. Thanks A LOT BPL....)

I even leave the carabiner on even at home, because if we stop off somewhere during a walk I can just make a nice loop around a pole or tree or something and he's nice n secure.

Doug, nice job asking questions and keeping an open mind. I think what a lot of people are trying to do here is to keep you from spending gobs of money (like most of us did) buying mid-weight items because we SWORE we needed them, only to end up buying something much lighter later. I personally felt quite a lot like you - I was slow to convert to down (I did most of my hiking in the Midwest and northeast), swore I could never go with one of those "frameless" or minimally-framed packs, said I needed a full tent (none of this tarp mumbo-jumbo!) etc etc. Well, many dollar signs later (I refuse to add it up) I now use a down quilt, I love my floorless duomid and am waiting on a trailstar from MLD, I hike in flimsy little gym shoes, my favorite packs have teeny little aluminum stays that I can remove for weekend trips.......

But as other posters have mentioned, this is a process. You mentioned the pendulum...perfect analogy: you'll eventually find the sweet spot for you, with the luxuries that are important to you. The problem comes after you start losing some pounds off your back...you see what a difference in comfort it actually makes (I literally can't believe how much more I like hiking now! I used to be more of a camper...now I just want to hike!! I love it!!), and how easy it actually is. It's a very slippery slope, and as the pounds come off you begin to see where else you can shave weight.

Honestly, and no offense intended AT ALL...once your pack weight comes down you'll see why people are saying the Kifaru is too much pack.

Good luck!!

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Trekking poles and dogs on 12/08/2013 20:07:20 MST Print View

"I use a carabiner and clip his leash to my waist belt."

I saw a good one today. A guy was walking with two dogs, and he had both leashes fastened to one carabiner, and that was clipped to the back of his belt. One dog walked to one side, and one dog to the other side. His hands held two trekking poles, and they were more or less in front, so the leashes never got in the way of the poles.

--B.G.--

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
dog carabiner on 12/08/2013 20:29:42 MST Print View

Thanks all, for the continued suggestions.

Jennifer, I appreciate your remarks, and will consider it carefully. I've already spent a lot of cash on this hobby, and if I can learn from other people's mistakes before spending on my own, all the better. Here is a photo of my Kifaru Express (2,300ci pack), loaded down with 50 lbs of gear for a hike a few years back:
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

...And then my McHale from a trip last year, with about 40 lbs:
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

So I am making headway at least (while spending cash). Hahaha

Your comment about the dog leash on a carabiner is interesting. I've seen that done for skijoring, but I've never tried it with trekking poles. Out of curiosity, did it take you a while to get used to trekking poles? As I said before, I really would like to give them another go, especially since my left knee has been injured repeatedly over the years at work, and long downhill sections of trail can get pretty painful. I've read that trekking poles are supposed to help with that sort of thing.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: wt on 12/08/2013 20:44:45 MST Print View

M.B.... yes, I know all that you say...

but I was responding to the OP who said in his first posting that have a comfortable pack was extremely important...

Billy

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Strong enough is enough on 12/08/2013 22:07:33 MST Print View

Doug, I second what others say about the mildness of the Sierra Nevada.

You won't experience enough of a storm to wet your sleeping bag while in your tent, and it would be sufficient to use a pack liner or pack cover to guarantee a down sleeping bag's dryness while hiking on the trail.

As for a tent, I've used chiefly TarpTents in the Sierra and never have had a tear in their floors. You won't be setting up your tent on a slab of spiky granite. It will be on forest duff, dirt, or decomposed granite, none of which will puncture the bottom. If you're concerned about your dog's claws, take along a piece of Tyvek or thin plastic sheeting shaped to fit the part of the tent that he'll be in.

For the Sierra, a tent doesn't need to be bombproof. Tents such as the TarpTents will keep out all the bugs and will be strong enough to withstand years of normal use. And what if, on one trip, you do discover a tear in the fabric? Patch it (you've got duct tape), or buy a new tent--they're not that expensive!

I realize you'd be satisfied with any total weight below 30 pounds, given what you've been used to, but there really isn't a good reason to carry a 4.5 pack or a 4.5 tent for 4 or fewer days in the country's mildest mountain range.

Doug Smith
(Jedi5150) - F - M

Locale: Central CA
down on 12/08/2013 22:56:45 MST Print View

Thanks Karl, and everyone else who has mentioned down vs synthetic. I've spent most of this evening reading up on this site and others about down vs synthetic, especially in regards to the Sierras. You have me convinced that this is an area I can save lots of weight and pack size, and still be safe.

The quilt that is most appealing to me (of course I'm doomed to pick the expensive things in life) is the Katabatic Palisade 30, 6'Wide. At 20 oz, it is just a hair over half the weight of my 2 lb 2 oz Doobie synthetic quilt. I was hoping to find a down sleeping bag/ quilt for under a pound, but I am a side-sleeper/ toss'n'turner, who sleeps cold. This quilt seems like one of the few designs that is tailored to side sleepers. I'm still very much open to suggestions on it, as I'm sure I haven't seen all options yet. As I said, I was fine a year ago in my Doobie, which is rated to an optimistic 40*, so perhaps a 30* down bag is overkill, and the 40* might be better (and would get me in at around a pound).

I'm going to have to put some thought to the shelter system. The Fly Creek UL1 and the TT Moment are tents that I've looked at for years. I'm still mentally fighting with myself on the shelter logic. Having slept in both Hillebergs, an REI half dome, and a BA Copper Spur, there is no arguing that a 4-season tent is warmer. The question then becomes will I save at least as much weight by reducing clothes/ sleeping gear as the penalty hit I take with a heavier tent. I agree that the Unna is heavy, at 4.5 lbs. The Akto, while not light, can be brought to barely over 3 pounds with mods (as a member on this forum did if memory serves me correctly). I can see effective arguments being made either way.

Edited by Jedi5150 on 12/08/2013 22:59:34 MST.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: down on 12/08/2013 23:22:15 MST Print View

Doug,

With down it is all about taking the proper precautions and having a strategy for keeping it dry under all conditions. The combination of Sierras and a full tent do really make your fear of it demonstrably something that is not reality-based. I think most of the staunchest supporters of synthetics in their proper context would agree with me on that one. If you still feel you need the safety blanket (no pun intended) for that one in a million case then bring along a 1 oz or so space blanket for the worst case scenario.

Glad you've begun to crack on that issue. The space alone you could save might allow you to drop down to the next smallest class of packs, for instance. There are not many replacement you could do that would have that kind of effect with zero reduction in comfort.

Here is a great 1 lb bag:

http://www.westernmountaineering.com/index.cfm?section=products&page=sleeping-bags&cat=extremelite-series

Most people find that the 35 deg rating is even somewhat conservative. I am a side sleeper and never had any issue with this one. Unfortunately it is pricey, but it will last as long as you will with proper care. Packs down to almost nothing. Think about getting the wider version if space to tumble is more your thing.

There are other examples too.

"The question then becomes will I save at least as much weight by reducing clothes/ sleeping gear as the penalty hit I take with a heavier tent."

This is an issue that has been dealt with here and elsewhere at some length. It is almost always by far the most weight efficient to go with a heavier down sleeping bag. That in and of itself is a no-brainer. The question is not total weight, but how far you are willing at the stage you are at to push this equation until other thing start to get compromised - like your arachnophobia. So you should be thinking about it in those terms. Get the lighter tent, and just bring a 20 degree bag (zpacks makes one that is less than 20 oz).



As to warmth of a tent, as a physicist I would hazard a guess that the warmth has very little to to with the 4-season vs. 1 season per se. A full enclosed shelter will minimize the convective heat loss. On the other hand this same air flow is what you want to keep the condensation down. Again context is everything. I find a tent like the black diamond firstlight does exactly the same thing with warmth for a pound less, and if you can afford it you can buy some ready made carbon fiber replacement poles and get it down close to 2 lbs. This is a bit heavy for UL, but seems perfect for you. However, again, context is everything. This is not a tent for conditions where there is a chance for a continuous 2-day downpour.

I'm wondering if the better solution to the dog issue isn't just to take with you a perfectly sized sheet of some tough (and cheap and replaceable) material such as tyvek to put *inside* the tent. That way you could decide on your tent based on its other features and not have the floor material be a make-or-break factor - kind of a dog-proof footprint for the inside of the tent.

Anyway, just more ideas to throw into the pot. The big three and clothes are %95 of it at the stage where you are at, and you should think in systems, as you have no doubt read here numerous times.

Edited by millonas on 12/09/2013 00:28:41 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: down on 12/08/2013 23:50:22 MST Print View

An option might be to carry a synthetic jacket with a down bag that way if you get whet at least you have something that will keep you alive.

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: bear container on 12/09/2013 01:52:15 MST Print View

"What offsets the size of my meals, are the two cups per day (obviously half that on the first and last days) of dog food. Now I am considering freeze dried kibble if I get her used to it before hand, so that will save on weight, but not much on bulk I'm afraid. Based on that, what do you guys think about the Bear Boxer vs the BV450?"

I agree with Bob G -- 100 cubic inches per day is a good starting point for estimating space needed for your own food. Some need more space -- I found where Andrew Skurka says he needs about 140 cubic inches per day. Some need less space -- I have seen posts on BPL claiming they need as low as 70 cubic inches per day. Furthermore, everyone agrees that there is some seasonal variation. Obviously YMMV -- let testing at home and/or trail experience determine your own actual requirements. 2 cups/day of dog food is about 29 additional cubic inches.

The following comments all assume 100 cubic inches per day for your human food. Adjust them as appropriate for your own value once you know it better. Assuming 100 cubic inches per day, the estimated requirement for your specified trip length (3 nights) is 390 cubic inches (plus room for all other smellables).

Here they all are, from lightest to heaviest:

  • Bare Boxer Contender (275 cubic inches, 26 ounces, 7.4" diameter, $67 w/shipping) -- lightest, smallest, less expensive, room enough for you (if you try hard), but not room enough for the dog food also. Given your conditions, this one sounds like a non-starter.
  • Bearikade Scout (500 cubic inches, 28 ounces, 9" diameter, $219) -- lightest one that meets your stated requirements, more space than required, more expensive than BV450
  • Bearikade Weekender (650 cubic inches, 31 ounces, 9" diameter, $249) -- still lighter than the BV450, room for 6-7 nights (you) or 5 nights (you + dog), 2.5" longer than Scout, but not a lot more expensive than the Scout. This is the only one of these that would hold enough for you, one other person, and your dog on a 3 night trip.
  • BV450 (440 cubic inches, 33 ounces, 8.7" diameter, $67) -- heavier, big enough, least expensive one that meets your stated requirements. (FWIW: may not be acceptable in the Adirondacks, at least in the Marcy Dam area (Yellow-Yellow cubs), but acceptable elsewhere.)

There is no "right" one. You must make a choice:
  • Scout -- the lightest one that meets your needs
  • Weekender -- the next lightest, roomy enough to allow for one other person (3 nights) or else a longer trip, about the same diameter as the BV450 (which matters in pack size)
  • BV450 -- the heaviest, and the least expensive

For the Contender to work, your own food would have to be only about 60 cubic inches per day (more is OK if you can compress the dog food) -- probably not realistic, but check it out. If you can make that work it would be the lightest solution. One other thought is that the Contender would work for you as is for 2 nights (i.e. 3 days). If that covers most of your trips you might get the Contender for them and keep what you have for longer trips.

Note: the Bearikades are not approved by the IGBC, and one allegedly failed in IGBC testing (see photo there). Last I knew, Wild Ideas had no plans to modify their Bearikades and re-test. I called the Tetons a few years ago and was told Bearikade was OK, but I think that was before the test failure, so I do not know what the current state is. This does not matter if you do not go to grizzly country -- Sierras are fine -- but check first if you care about anywhere that requires IGBC approval (e.g.Tetons / Yellowstone / etc).

Note: there was one bear in the Marcy Dam area of the Adirondacks (Yellow-Yellow) who figured out how to open Bear Vaults. She has since been killed by a hunter. There are conflicting stories as to whether she has passed that skill on to her cubs. There have also been some cases of a Sierra bear breaking into a Bear Vault. The point is that Bear Vaults generally work fine, but are not impregnable if some local bear has figured them out. Bears are very clever creatures.

Edited by blean on 12/09/2013 05:30:48 MST.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re:"Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/09/2013 07:47:16 MST Print View

Doug, I'm glad you're getting some good feedback. I have a Katabatic quilt and I think it would be a great choice for you. With a dry bag or waterproof pack liner there's almost zero risk of getting it wet in the Sierra.

I wouldn't worry about swapping out your bear can - even a Bearikade wouldn't be that much lighter. There is a lot more low hanging fruit for you right now.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Light" gear list to shoot for? on 12/09/2013 12:23:32 MST Print View

I, too, backpack with my dog. I'm not a UL'er- I spend time here mostly so I can go lighter but since I live in Alaska much of my gear that I use in the summer is what other people consider "shoulder season" or even "winter gear" since our summer night time temps can drop into the freezing zone so I have a few more layers and a warmer sleeping bag. I still manage, with a bear can (same as you, BV450), to be right at 29-30 lbs with all my consumables and about a liter and a half of water. My old pack weight, prior to learning about UL, was more in the 50 lb range, so I feel I've made progress. Some of my gear has gotten lighter (particularly my big 4 and my stove) but mostly it's been the items I don't take any more that have made the difference.

My big 4:
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 Tent 2lb 15oz
Granite Gear Vapor Trail Pack 2lbs 5oz
Western Mountaineering Versalite w/ overstuff Sleeping bag 2lbs 3oz
Bag Agnes Q Core SL Long/Wide (my dog occupies the foot) 1lb 7oz

Kitchen:
MSR Pocket Rocket
750 mL Ti Pot w/ lid
Ti Spork

I tend to not take a change of daytime clothes. I do carry sleep clothes (thermals) which I could also use to beef up my daytime gear if needed, and sleep socks. I always have some sort of insulated coat with me, as well as a wind/rain shell. I have a balaclava and down booties I wear when I sleep.

My first aid kit, gear repair kit and other possibles are in 3 1-Qt zip lock freezer bags.

I bring one light weight bowl for my dog, which is for both food and water. I also pack a military poncho liner for her blanket. Her mattress is the foot of my mattress, which has room at the end because I got a long and I'm only 5'5".

My food is nearly all freeze dried. I might bring some heavier items for the first night.

My two luxury items have been my Big Agnes Q-Core SL because it's bigger and heavier than my old air mattress but oh-so-much-more-confortable and my REI Flex Lite Chair. I also occasionally bring an e-reader for my night time reading.

Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
shop at GGGVI on 12/09/2013 16:41:19 MST Print View

Since you're in Central CA, I imagine Henry Coe wouldn't be too far of a drive:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=81345

Although technically full, you could probably get away with hiking in Saturday to look at all the shelters, packs, and bags not sold at REI.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: down on 12/09/2013 17:03:30 MST Print View

"Here is a great 1 lb bag:"

Since you're coming from a comparatively heavy base weight, I'd recommend you consider the WM Summerlite instead of the Highlite. For an additional 3 oz, you get a superb Sierra bag that has full baffles, as opposed to the sewn thru baffles of the Highlite, and will take you reliably down to its 32 degree rating. I have used one for many years now, after using a Highlite for several seasons, and could not recommend it more highly. To turn it into a 3 season bag, order it with 2 oz of over fill. It will still weigh only 21 oz, and give you a bag good down into the mid to high 20's, even lower if you complement it with your insulative clothing.

http://www.westernmountaineering.com/index.cfm?section=products&page=Sleeping%20Bags&cat=ExtremeLite%20Series&ContentId=69

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: down on 12/09/2013 18:31:03 MST Print View

Hey tom, do you shift the down around to the top with your summerlite when it gets down to freezing?