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The SUL Wanderer (Video Series) - Episode 1: Gear

The first episode of Backpacking Light's new video series, "The SUL Wanderer" tells stories and teaches techniques about "SuperUltralight Backpacking" - the style of backpacking that focuses on the extremes of light weight, compactness, and simplicity for wilderness travel.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2013-05-21 00:00:00-06

The SUL Wanderer (Video Series) - Episode 1: Gear


I’m really excited to be able to introduce a new video series at Backpacking Light - “The SUL Wanderer”.

The purpose of this series is to explore (at least on the surface) - the art of “SuperUltralight” (SUL) backpacking - considered by most to be the practice of backpacking with a base weight of less than five pounds.

However, I won’t necessarily hold to that performance standard (weight) or extreme (five pounds) in this series. Instead, I’m hoping to promote a more reasonable definition of “SUL” that simply embodies what we do at the very extremes of ultralight backpacking in terms of weight, simplicity, and compactness of our gear.

Episode 1: Gear

In this episode, I simply wish to introduce you to some gear that I commonly use in Montana for three-season SUL backpacking. The idea is to focus on a kit that I use for three-day (long weekend) backpacking between about St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, on routes that are snow-free.

This introductory episode simply gives you an idea of what I might take on such a trip. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive thesis on SUL gear. Gear will be featured in future episodes as well, and my gear kit will certainly change as we go, and in response to unique conditions I expect on any particular trip.

Watch Episode 1 below. If you don't see the Vimeo video player window, please click here to refresh this page.

Episode #2 will focus on some basic techniques I use in my style of SUL:

  • Bivy sack camping in inclement weather without a tarp;
  • Cooking over fire;
  • SUL bear bagging;
  • SUL water treatment strategies;
  • SUL essentials...and nonessentials;
  • and more...

Look for future episodes on SUL tarp camping, SUL gourmet cooking, SUL packrafting, SUL mountaineering, SUL fishing, SUL photography, and more (heck, maybe we'll even do a bit on SUL RV camping). Many of these ideas are being generated on Twitter: send your feedback to me @bigskyry if there’s something you’d like to see, and note it with the hashtag #SUL.

In the meantime, enjoy the Episode #1 video, and have a peek at my one of my “base” SUL gear lists, which outlines the items that end up as part of my SUL pack for nearly every trip in the mountains of Montana (note that it's a little bit different that the SUL gear kit featured in the video).

SUL Gear List

The following gear list is a little different from the one shown in the video. The video features a gear kit that includes some minor "nonessentials" that I don't necessarily bring on every trip. The gear list below illustrates primarily those items that go with me all the time, and at minimum. Often, I'll add somewhere between four and twelve ounces of additional gear (see the video) as needed.

Item No.ItemDescriptionWeight (oz)Weight (g)
1backpackHyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack10.4295
2stow sackHyperlite Mountain Gear CF8 Size XL0.514
3sleeping bagKatabatic Gear Chisos Quilt14.6414
4sleeping padKlymit Inertia X-Lite6.1173
5parkaGoosefeet Down Parka8.1230
6shelterMountain Laurel Designs eVENT Soul Bivy14.5411
7food bag liner12.5” x 20.0” O.P. Sak1.440
8bear bag cord2.2mm x 40 ft braided Spectra1.132
9cook potFireLite 900 ml x 2.5mm titanium pot with lid3.291
10utensilLight My Fire titanium spork0.617
11cook pot stow bagdisposable grocery store bag0.13
12ditty bagHyperlite Mountain Gear CF8 Size S0.26
13firestarterLight My Fire Firesteel1.645
14firestarting tinderTinder Quik tabs in small plastic bag0.13
15water treatmentSteriPen Adventurer3.394
16rain jacketPatagonia M108.1230
17base layer*Beartooth Merino Hoody7.5213
18underwear*Patagonia Silkweight Capilene boxers2.262
19pants*Thorofare Pants4.5128
20socks*Smartwool Trekking Crew2.879
21shoes*Altra Lone Peaks22.0624
22hat*Lights of the Sky nylon crushable hat with brim (ca. 1995)2.057
Total Weight (FSO)7.1 lb3.2 kg
Base Weight (FSO minus “*” Items)4.6 lb2.1 kg


"The SUL Wanderer (Video Series) - Episode 1: Gear," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2013-05-21 00:00:00-06.


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The SUL Wanderer (Video Series) - Episode 1: Gear
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Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Flashlight on 07/14/2013 19:57:18 MDT Print View

Looks like a single CR123-based LED light like the Fenix E15 or Olight S10. It looks too fat for a single AA model.

Charles Tufankjian

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: Re: Flashlight on 07/16/2013 10:44:53 MDT Print View

I think you're right regarding the battery size. It's definitely not one of the models you mentioned though. However, I just ordered a Fenix E15. Its my first CR123 light. I think I'll be happy with it.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
A Very Happy Video on 10/26/2014 17:22:06 MDT Print View

Just rewatched this video - It Made Me Smile. Love the throw the pack up and out of the frame shot at the end!

John DeMorris

Locale: West TX
Neat! on 10/27/2014 20:33:59 MDT Print View

What a cool video! In time I hope my skills and comfort level will allow me to go that SUL. Also I don't feel so weird for wanting to take a hatchet with me when/where "No Burn" isn't in effect.

Edited by Bulwyf on 10/27/2014 20:51:16 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: The SUL Wanderer (Video Series) - Episode 1: Gear on 03/20/2015 08:22:07 MDT Print View