"Light" gear list to shoot for?
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(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?