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M Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking – Part 4b: Gear Reviews (Continued)

by Will Rietveld

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Article Summary:

SuperUltraLight (SUL) backpacking, by definition, calls for a base pack weight that is less than 5 lbs (2.27 kg). It's fallen out of favor because of the perceived difficulty of achieving such a low pack weight. In 2005, Backpacking Light Editor Carol Crooker published a series of articles on going SUL in different locations and styles to show how it's done. But undeniable drawbacks about SUL then were undesirable compromises. Many of us concluded that SUL is most applicable for warmer and drier environmental conditions.

Fast forward to the present: going SUL is easier now, with no compromises, and less "going without." We now have over 40 small companies designing and selling ultralight backpacking gear, and bigger outdoor gear companies are in the game too. Now SUL is easier and better than it's ever been.

But there's another hurdle to deal with: going SUL in the mountains, where more shelter, insulation, and rain protection are needed. All of us want to backpack in the mountains in the summertime, so SUL needs to evolve beyond the security of warm and dry conditions to better meet our needs. It needs to be adapted for mountain conditions - Mountain SuperUltraLight backpacking (M-SUL). In this series I discuss the concepts, scope, expected conditions, and appropriate ultralight gear and techniques for Mountain SuperUltraLight backpacking in four parts as follows:

I have provided some commentary on gear selection in previous articles in this series, and here I provide my evaluations of specific items tested. Over the years I have tested a lot of ultralight backpacking gear, and I tested gear for this article over a 3-year period. In Part 4 I present short reviews of many of the gear options, in the same category order, as in the gear selections found in Part 2 and the gear lists found in Part 3. I was not able to test and review all possible options, of course! For garments, manufacturer weights listed in the tables are for a size Medium unless stated otherwise.