Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
15-20 Hours a Day 3-5 Days, Low Fiddle Factor
Display Avatars Sort By:
(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
15-20 Hours a Day 3-5 Days, Low Fiddle Factor on 08/18/2007 11:15:27 MDT Print View

Since my last few trips I've been refining my gear such that I can hike 15-20 hours per day for 3-5 days with little or no gear fussing/frustration, especially when extremely tired at the end of the day.

Here are some of the gear choices and philosophies that contributed to my goal of hiking 15-20 hrs. per day for 3-5 days without the gear fiddling or headaches that plagued me on previous trips.

NB: This is highly personal and highly subjective. Most of the stress in long days is mental FOR ME. Whatever I can do to mitigate the mental stress pays out more than achieving the lightest pack or choosing conventional SUL gear. This list is designed to fit my personal hiking style and taste. Which is...

On the trips this list is designed for it goes as follows:

1. I enjoy hiking until my body begs for sleep. This makes a good trip for me. I see the wildlife and scenery and experience nature WHILE hiking. I don't care about pictures or journals. I do enjoy an occasional chat with fellow hikers, but don't need to know the details of their mortgage. Generally I keep moving, this is important as certain gear is not needed if you keep moving until night-night or through the night as the case may be.

2. I appreciate the simplicity of food viewed as fuel and not entertainment or comfort. So I fuel my body with the simplest raw materials like endurance fuels. At the end of the day I will have some solid food in the form of jerky, pringles, dried fruit etc. The mental gain from cooked food is less than the mental stress toll cooking entails, again, this is just FOR ME. Also, during the hike, the endurance fuels can be taken on the go. Generally, I mix a half days worth to a gooey consistency and chase it with pure water from my platy. I don't like to mix it in my platy and drink the mix over time. I pound an hour two's ration chase with water and I'm good. Oh yeah, no utensil either, I eat right out of the ziplock for things like cold instant mashed potatoes or pringles!

3. When it is time to stop moving, for me it works best if I can just plop down in a skillfully chosen spot and bed down. This translates into a waterproof bivy rather than a tarp FOR ME. Stakes, guylines and wonderful poncho tarps annoy the heck out of me after 15-20 hours on the trail. At that point I am extremely short on mental energy. Again, it's my personal leaning. I have used tarps, poncho tarps, capes and tents for years, and I still use them on other kinds of trips, like with my wife.

4. Less is less fiddle. Trailside gear yard sales are frustrating especially when windy. Less gear means less fiddle factor FOR ME. As such, I'm willing to use my dri-ducks rainsuit for other things, like wind gear, sun block in VERY HOT weather and insect protection in hot or cold weather. I think these things breath BETTER than my windshirts and are more comfortable in a wider range of conditions.

5. Small simple, watch with 24 hr timer. Some watches only have 1 hr timers. I like to start the timer at the beginning of hiking and keep track the duration on the timer, rather than remembering what time I started and stop. With 15-20 hour days, a 1 hour timer is useless.

6. Comfort. This may change, maybe I can condition myself by sleeping on the floor for a while, but for now...a little more comfort at the end of 15-20 hours of hiking pays off in better recovery for the next day. With possibly only 4 hours of sleep between me and the next 15-20 hour day, it is critical to sleep well. As such I may switch out the foam torso pad for an inflatable torso pad (+7 ounces to list). Some nights I don't sleep well on the foam pad. One advantage the inflatable has is that it packs smaller, which enables me to put it inside my small pack rather than between my back and pack GG style with the foam pad.

7. Packing. With so few items one can use a smaller pack than normal. On my last trip I placed my food bag vertically down the center of my G6 Whisper and loved it for running and fast walking. This led to my new packing method of putting my quilt and insulation in one vertical tube next to the food and my rain gear and other gear on the opposite side of the food. There is no tube for the food bag as it is its own container, so it just lashes to the pack. I'll post pictures of it when I get back from my trip (India and Romania for seven weeks). I really like this packing method.

8. Decent light. With long days, some of it will be in the dark. I love the Fenix cree. I have a photon and would use it in place of the fenix if it had a regulated circuit, but as it is now, the usable light is gone after 30 minutes and that sucks. The Fenix lasts plenty long in low mode and is even a little too bright at that.

Well there are other things I could talk about in regards to this list, but it will have to wait until I return. For now I really just wanted to post it. I'll be checking in at Internet cafes along the way, so post your comments! Here's the list:


Edited by jhaura on 08/18/2007 11:22:18 MDT.

Steve .
(pappekak) - F

Locale: Tralfamadore
Re: Low Fiddle Factor on 08/18/2007 12:33:30 MDT Print View

Jhaura, thanks for sharing your methodology. I always learn something from your posts/gear list.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Low Fiddle Factor on 08/18/2007 14:44:22 MDT Print View

I also started to use my dropstoppers as wind and rain gear.
I like the idea of a waterproof bivy, but how does it work in hot humid conditions? Or do you just not use it in those conditions?

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 08/18/2007 14:49:24 MDT.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Re: Low Fiddle Factor on 08/19/2007 10:26:37 MDT Print View

how do you like your eVENT alpine bivy?
I have been thinking about having MLD make one for me, for trips similar to yours

ultimate simplicity, and maximum physical output

I share many of your ideas, sometimes I go with far less, even than whats on your gearlist. but usually, I stick with my 6lb base weight.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
No trekking poles? on 08/19/2007 11:27:13 MDT Print View

Here's what Michael Popov said about trekking poles on his JMT record-breaking trip: "Wherever I couldn’t run – I aggressively walked, getting a full use out of my trekking poles…. and hit the switchbacks aggressively in the moon light. The trekking poles played a great role in this, since you can “feel” the trail with them and measure the height of each step… Finally I get there at around 9:15 and crossed the creek on the logs with the help of my poles…"
Have you had bad experiences with poles?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: 15-20 Hours a Day 3-5 Days, Low Fiddle Factor on 08/19/2007 12:15:24 MDT Print View

Very cool Jhaura. I've done many trips like the ones you propose. My gear list and yours have many similarities.

It looks like this is summer-only, what with no insulation clothing and such a light quilt. Great sub-4 weight though!

I've often found a WPB bivy to be uncomfortable in summer situations, especially in Washington where the bugs are so bad in those months and you have to seal things up. That's why I favor the UL bivy with increased breathability. But then again, I've never had an eVENT bivy and based on my jackets, I bet that bivy of yours is MUCH cooler than any of my old Gore Tex WPB bivies!

And I hear you on the set up and cooking. I've abandoned the stove for my stupid-long hikes- I only want easy calories in those situations. And the poncho-tarp is a hassle when you've pushed it all day and are exhausted. The simpler the better. I still favor that set-up, though- but yours is another solid solution. When using a quilt, I'd go bivy-only before I'd go tarp-only.

For food on these crazy trips, I now use a base of Hammer Perpetuem which is designed for ultrarunners. It's great and so simple. Then I add the real food. It's a great product worth trying- and you really feel full, unlike gu.

For nights when the foam pad doesn't cut it, I use Advil PM to give me a great night's sleep (a Glen Van Peski idea). I often find that sleep is hard coming after 40 or 50 miles on the trail (or huge elevation changes) due to cramping, hallucinating, etc. :-)

For the toothbrush head, try Oral B Brush Ups. Really light and they do as well as the buthchered toothbrushes.

I like your style Jhaura- I think we'd hike together well!


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: No trekking poles? on 08/19/2007 12:19:58 MDT Print View

Agreed Robert. I could never do a mega-mileage day without my poles. But look at Francis Tapon who's doing the CDT Yo-yo: This guy doesn't use poles and look at his mileage! To each his own, but yes, I love my poles- especially when I hit those exhaustion points.

(RobertM2S) - M

Locale: Lake Tahoe
Hallucinations? on 08/19/2007 12:45:13 MDT Print View

Doug: Exactly how do you induce those hallucinations? Do any of your trips take you near those pot farms I hear are common in Northern California? LSD farms?

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Hallucinations? on 08/19/2007 13:18:00 MDT Print View

Ha! Good LSD is hard to come by these days. Instead, I promote the application of extreme exhaustion induced by mega mileage and huge elevation changes. :-)

Seriously, on one day with about 9000ft of elevation change and 48 miles on the PCT, I saw white frogs jumping on the trail, heard laughing voices in the distance, saw my wife looking down on me from a side hill and then vanish...

the best part was seeing a huge bear and being so mad that I just walked right into it...lucky for me it was a friggin bush!

That was a memorable day.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: 15-20 Hours a Day 3-5 Days, Low Fiddle Factor on 08/19/2007 13:21:47 MDT Print View

Hey guys thanks for all the great feedback! I'll reply to all the posts so far here to save extra posting:

Brian: I currently have a Montbell waterproof bivy and the MLD is on order. When it is hot out I sleep on top of the bivy in my dri-ducks for bug protection if needed. If it is hot and raining I suck it up and go in the bivy and lay on top of my quilt or stay out in the dri-ducks and get a nice cool bath on a hot night. If I need to sleep well, then sucking it up and going inside is the best bet for me. The event should breathe better than the montbell or goretex bivies.

Ryan: See above regarding the bivy. I'd be interested to see what your list looks like with "far less" for temps to 28* and possible rain over 3-5 days. I've poured over this list and in the field with each item and I can't find anything else to eliminate and keep a solid list. Yeah anyone can go commando and charge for one night, but I feel the lists here have to maintain a certain level of gear.

Robert: FOR ME!!! trekking poles suck up more mental energy than I gain from them when NOT using them as dual duty for shelter supports. I just did 100 miles on the JMT with them on a recent trip where I used a tarp. My knees kill me if I don't use them, so I am looking into a knee brace that runners use. All in all, I'd rather wear braces than use the poles. Just don't like 'em.

Doug: This is a 3 season list for temps down to 28* with rain. I have two quilts that weigh about the same, one down with 3" of loft and then this one mentioned in the list is two layers of xp. With the bivy, down quilt and all my clothes on I've been down to 26* and been chilly, so 28* is doable and I am a cold sleeper.

As far as the bivy in hot weather, I mentioned some of my work arounds in my reply to Brian above. I am hoping the eVent will be even more comfy.

Ahh, yes the sleeping aid controversy! I agree there is no better SUL technique for solid sleep on a skimpy pad than a wonder pill. For me personally, I'm looking for long term consistent solutions to my gear and hiking experience. An inflatable pad is more what I'm looking for over the long term. If I go every week and used to pill, that would be alot of drugs in my body. Not that this is a bad idea! Ha ha, but I grew up without the use of anti-bs or drugs and I am kinda used to not using them. It probably is a moot point though :O

This comes back to a major theme in my gear choices which is to have one kit that spans the widest possible use over many conditions. Related to this is that I prefer not to have a "gear closet." I really just have my one kit and that's it. It's just my style. After being homeless and not owning anything I could not carry in my army duffle bag, I got used to keeping it light at home too.

I definetely am not a mountaineer. I keep it simple and limited to 3 season class 3 and below right now. There is enough terrain out there to last me a lifetime in that category. So I don't need anything more than a solid 3 season kit.

Anyway, yeah, Perpetuem is great. I love the hammer products. Right now I'm using sustained energy, recoverite and endurolytes.

Re: Brush Ups. How many uses can you get from one of those? If there only one use, I'd prefer my toothbrush head. I know they are disposable, but sometimes things like that last for a while. Some of my backpacking gear makes my environmental conscience cringe!

Great input Doug, I always appreciate solid tips from people with lots of experience like you.

I'm off to Romania and India tomorrow for seven weeks, but if I find myself in the PNW next year I'll plan I hike in your area and maybe you can show me around.

Thanks again! Jhaura

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: 15-20 Hours a Day 3-5 Days, Low Fiddle Factor on 08/19/2007 19:45:26 MDT Print View

I really like your style !
I too am trying not only to go as light as possible but to keep it as minimalistic as possible. Thats one of the reasons I dont use trekking poles either. Right now Im using a MLD spinnaker Monk tarp (8x5) and a TiGoat bivy or just some mosquito netting when its real hot.
You're making me take a second look at a w/p bivy.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
wp/b bivy on 08/19/2007 20:04:49 MDT Print View

It works great, just know it's limitations. I use it as my sole shelter for 99% of my solo trips.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: WP/B Bivy Limitations on 08/19/2007 20:11:37 MDT Print View

Chris, hey man good to hear from you! What in your experience would you list as its limitations?

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
WP/B bivy limitations on 08/19/2007 21:38:11 MDT Print View

Anything you describe as "sucking it up" :) Not that even a double wall tent is that comfortable in a hot summer rainstorm...

Seriously though I don't really like getting all setup for bed in the rain if it can be avoided so I generally keep moving though any rain storms. It's perfect for your 15-20 hr days though which mirror my own type of travel usually. Sleep is just a minor necessity for going day after day. Just roll out the bivy, climb in, catch some z's and keep moving. Plus when it's nice in the summer you don't need to do much beyond use your pack as a pillow to catch a mid day nap if you're sleepy.

I will forever be a bivy/minimal gear man. I love rolling it out and climbing into bed. Tarps will only be a necessary addition when facing lots of long rainstorms. Out here in the rocky mountains and the desert where I spend most of my time that's almost never the case.

Edited by Pivvay on 08/19/2007 21:39:44 MDT.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: WP/B bivy limitations on 08/19/2007 23:22:09 MDT Print View

Something I forgot to add in my original post about using a wpb bivy in hot weather is that with a 15-20 hr day you are almost always hiking into the evening or night. As such the temperature has usually cooled down a few degrees, turning the warm evening into the cooler night. And as Chris pointed out with such a simple camp pitch a mid day nap is a snap, enabling one to hike into the night a bed down for more serious sleep when it has cooled off.

That's one of the reasons the items on this list work so well when used in this hiking scenario.

Yeah, rolling into camp at 5 pm and bedding down by 7:30-8pm would not work as great with a wpb bivy as opposed to a more breatheable option since the temps have not had a chance to drop a little. I know too that sometimes they barely drop at all but that's another story.

So to make these kinds of gear choices work I think one has to mate them to the correct hiking style. I generalize here because there are always exceptions, but I think this thread has made me more aware of how changing one's hiking style impacts gear choices.

Food for thought if nothing more...

Edited by jhaura on 08/19/2007 23:24:40 MDT.

Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Amazing list on 09/23/2007 23:03:45 MDT Print View

To use down to 28 F, your list seems amazing - no leg insulation aside from shorts and Dri-Ducks, only a lightweight quilt (sounds like under 2" loft?), which doubles as torso insulation under the Dri-Ducks jacket, and a bivy along with torso length pad for warmth. Brr... I would be shivering all night. I wouldn't consider you a cold sleeper at all - I would think you would have to be a very warm sleeper to get by with your system.


Pamela Wyant
(RiverRunner) - F - M
Fuel and water treatment on 09/23/2007 23:27:28 MDT Print View

I notice a fuel flask, but you said aren't eating cooked food. Is that just emergency backup?

Also, you list Micropur tablets as back-up water purification (enough for 5 L of water), but no primary method that I saw. Are you not treating most of your water?

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Amazing list on 09/29/2007 09:37:32 MDT Print View


Hey thanks for the comments. I'll respond to both your posts here.

As for insulation, the quilt is climashield xp which has a higher clo than other synthetics therefore loft is not the primary indication of warmth. It has two layers of 3/4" xp, for 1.5" total.

At the same weight I also have a down quilt with around 3" of top layer loft with 2" baffles, so it is overfilled.

I can use either one for same weight and warmth. I choose based on the weather.

Also, listed is the Patagonia wool 2 crew long sleeved shirt which adds warmth too.

As for the fuel flask, I use it for a cup, it is just the bottom half of a small platypus water container. It's actually a typo and should read "H2O Storage" like the heading above it.

This list was used in the sierras where treatment is not necessary as springs are conveniently located. The tabs are only for when filling up at drainages like lakes. Though I'm considering adding a small ceramic filter at 3 oz additional weight for chemical free treatment.

Hope that helps! I'm in Nepal hiking around in the rain, so sorry it took so long to reply.