A Virtual Pack (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)

The Backpacking Light Outdoor Retailer Team outfits an entire lightweight pack for a long winter weekend using only gear found at the show. Join us throughout the trip for updates as we add gear to our hyper-linked Outdoor Retailer Virtual Pack.

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by Mike Martin, Ryan Jordan, Don Wilson, Craig Mortensen, Alan Dixon, Ken Knight, Steve Nelson, Addie Morstad, Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl | 2008-02-02 23:59:00-07

A Virtual Pack (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)

The Show

This year over 900 exhibitors are displaying their new products at Outdoor Retailer - from ACR Electronics to Zumfoot. The breadth of offerings here is staggering. Almost every kind of outdoor gear imaginable can be seen in clothing, electronics, skis and snowboards, camping equipment, etc.

The Backpacking Light Outdoor Retailer Team (BLORT!) is taking on the task of building a complete lightweight hiking kit, solely with gear found at the show. The challenge is to sort through the myriad of six-pound packs, eight-pound tents, forty-ounce jackets, and eight-pound ski boots to find gear that satisfies our passion for both light weight and functionality. We’re looking for the newest, lightest products, of course. But, we’re sure to include some long-time staff favorites, as well as some heavy pieces where we just couldn’t find better alternatives. After all, Outdoor Retailer favors larger manufacturers producing more mainstream products, so many of our preferred cottage industry lightweight gear makers are unfortunately not exhibiting here. Nevertheless, we are on a mission to build the ultimate lightweight Outdoor Retailer pack.

The Hike

Meet Bob P. Lightfoot, our virtual hiker. Bob is an experienced lightweight hiker who recently lost all his gear in an unfortunate encounter with an ill-tempered marmot. Coincidently, he is currently serving the remainder of a thirty-day sentence at the Gallatin County Jail on a "disturbing the wildlife" charge. As he is thus unable to gear shop personally, he desperately asked for our help to put a new kit together for his upcoming hike. As Bob is a long-time, though often misunderstood, friend of Backpacking Light, we could not refuse to re-equip him. He is planning a three-day/two-night winter mountain hike in the Beartooths over snow in temperatures ranging from 0°F to 25°F (-18°C to -4°C). He'll be hiking with two other people, and though he may share a shelter with his group, wants his kit to be as self-sufficient as possible. He is 5 ft 9 in tall, weighs 150 pounds, has a size 9 shoe, and wears size medium in most clothing.

The Plan

When we’re done loading the pack, Bob should be completely equipped for a long weekend of winter trekking in fine lightweight style - even down to a planned lightweight menu. Please join us throughout the show as we add new items to our hyper-linked Virtual Pack. The BLORT will also be checking the attached forum thread daily to try to incorporate your suggestions.

Jan 22 update by Mike Martin:

We spent today at Backcountry Base Camp demoing gear and ski touring. Stay tuned: we'll begin our search tomorrow for products to add to the pack at Outdoor Retailer.

Jan 23 update by Mike Martin:

We added a pack, sleeping pad, first aid kit, whistle, and hat to the virtual pack today. The hat is a brand new item from Outdoor Research, while the rest are favorites that have been available for a while. We've also taken some of Bob's idiosyncrasies into account when making our choices. In addition, we corrected a crucial omission from the gearlist categories - we never included any way to start fire! Bob would undoubtedly have been unhappy without it.

Jan 24 update by Mike Martin:

We found some good stuff for Bob today. We added some insulated shoes, warm pants for in-camp use, and a balaclava to complete his on-the-go headwear. Thank you to everyone who added their comments to the forum! It's been a long day at OR - I'm writing this update at 1:30am. So, good night. I'll check back in tomorrow.

Jan 25 update by Mike Martin:

Today we equipped Bob with with a new stove from Snowpeak, a torso base layer, a water purification system, some cool shades, a warm sleeping bag, an...umm...innovative personal hygiene device, and a complete menu. I'm hoping Bob's trust fund wasn't depleted defending his recent court case as the cost of his gear is becoming impressive.

Jan 26 update by Mike Martin:

While today was the last day of Outdoor Retailer, we'll continue to add to the pack as we catch up from our other show duties over the next few days. Today, we added both warm and shell parkas, trekking pants, eating utensils, stuff sacks, and avalanche equipment. We also added a new category: "shell mitts" on Will Reitveld's handware advice. Bob's full skin-out weight is up to almost 16 pounds, while his wallet is over $2600 lighter. Such is the nature of our task of limiting our choices to gear found at the show. Given latitude to choose items outside of Outdoor Retailer, we could certainly lighten Bob's pack further. But without discount shopping and some make-your-own-gear projects it's still expensive to build a complete lightweight kit from scratch. Purchasing (even virtually) all the gear at one time just highlights the sticker shock.

Jan 27 update by Mike Martin:

Today we gave Bob an extremely robust and powerful headlamp as he's a bit paranoid in the dark. We also added some tights for warmth under his shell pants and a long-time favorite winter water bladder. Finally, we found several other creative uses for natural materials as a windscreen and tent stakes.

Jan 28 update by Mike Martin:

We're almost, but not quite done with the Virtual Pack gear list. We completed the kitchen with a pot and fuel, finished off Bob's handwear system, added his first pair of socks, and gave him trekking poles and snowshoes. Stay tuned - we'll add the last few remaining items soon.

Final update by Mike Martin:

The Virtual Pack is complete! We were able to find items at Outdoor Retailer to fit every category on our gear list. Sometimes, we stretched a bit, such as our choices for hygiene and bear protection, but we did it. While some of our entries are on the whimsical side, we generally took this project seriously and selected the best equipment we could find at the show. We looked for synergy where possible (like using the sleeping pad for a pack frame), and tried to find multiple uses for items wherever we could. Nevertheless, there are some lessons to be learned from this project:

  • The final cost of the pack is staggering at over $4400. This is due to the fact that Bob started with absolutely nothing - not even the clothes on his back. Also, we used retail pricing for every item and tried to equip Bob with the best gear we could find, regardless of price. In the real world, costs could be reduced by buying items at "street price", purchasing used gear, using existing gear in your closet, making some make-your-own-gear projects, etc.
  • The final full-skin-out weight of the Virtual Pack is just over 32 pounds. This includes all Bob's clothes and carried items, all the gear in his pack, and even his food and water. This is a very respectable weight for a winter hike, especially if you consider that the base pack weight is only 16 pounds. Yes, we could have gone lighter by using gear that was not available at the show, but that would have defeated the purpose of this project. Also consider that Bob is the mule for his group as we've added the full weight (and cost) of shared group gear like kitchen and shelter to his pack. His base and full-skin-out weights would each be over two pounds lighter if we distributed this gear equally among his group.
  • Our personal packs evolve and are fine tuned over many hikes. None of the gear in Bob's pack has been tested. So there are sure to be items that don't work together as well as some small things that we didn't get into the pack. I'd advise Bob to take this kit on a test hike in safe conditions to sort out the gear before heading out to a remote area.
  • We didn't consider availability when choosing gear. Some of the items shown by vendors won't be available until next fall. So, Bob may have to wait until next winter for his hike.

The Gear

Here is the gearlist we've prepared for Bob. Be sure to click through the links in the "selection" column to view information on each item.

Gear List
Clothing Worn While HikingWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
shoes or bootsKeen Growler39.21,111$125
socks, 1st pairLorpen Primaloft Light Hiker Sock257$20
socks, 2nd pairLorpen Primaloft Light Hiker Sock257$20
hiking torso base layerTerramar Terramawool Crew Shirt4.5128$65
hiking torso insulation layerPatagonia R1 Hoody10.9309$130
hiking leg base layerGolite Speed Demon 3/4 Tights6170$70
trekking pantsRab Bergen Pants12340$175
shell jacketWescomb Specter LT Hooded Jacket11.2318$299
gaitersOutdoor Research Cascadia Gaiter6.9196$50
warm hatOutdoor Research Highpoint Cap2.365$35
warm gloves/mittensManzella Tahoe Glove257$15
Other Items Worn or CarriedWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
bear sprayLight My Fire SL3
trekking polesKomperdell Nature Sticks10.6301$160
snowshoesCrescent Moon Magnesium 9561,588$260
avalanche beaconPieps DSP Avalanche Beacon7198$450
Other ClothingWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
camp torso insulation layerGolite Inferno Jacket25709$275
camp leg insulation layerMontbell UL Down Inner Pants6.7190$130
shell mittsOutdoor Research Endeavor Mitt3.9111$69
liner gloveIbex Wool Liner Glove1.440$25
thin balaclavaOutdoor Research Ninjaclava1.851$24
Shelter and Sleep SystemWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
sleeping bag or quiltMontbell Ultralight Superstretch Down Hugger #1361,021$370
sleeping padTherm-a-Rest Ridge Rest Deluxe19539$30
tent/tarp/bivyNemo Nano561,588$299
stakesImprovised Tent Stakes00$0
PackingWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
backpackGolite Pinnacle25709$130
dry bag for insulated gear65L Sea to Summit eVac™ Drysack5.2147$40
stuff sacksOutdoor Research Helium Quick Sack #2128$11
Cooking and WaterWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
stoveSnowpeak Gigapower LI Backpacking10.4295$160
potPrimus EtaExpress Pot 1L10.5298$45
fuel containerPrimus PowerGas 450g Canister7.7218$8
windscreenSnowballs00$0
water bottleNalgene 1.5 Liter Flexible Canteen2.365$9
water treatmentSteripen Journey5142$129
eating utensilGSI Outdoors Rehydrate Spoon0.411$2
food storage10L Sea to Summit Trash Dry Sack3.599$30
Other EssentialsWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
mapGarmin Mapsource Topo 200800$117
compass/GPSGarmin eTrex Vista HCx6170$321
LED flashlightPetzl MYO XP Headlamp5.9167$70
shovelCAMP AT Fix Shovel15.9451$28
avalanche probeCAMP CarbonLight Avalanche Probe4.4125$70
whistleAdventure Medical Kits Rescue Howler0.514$10
first aid kitAdventure Medical Kits Ultralight .33.599$11
sunglassesNuma Sport Optics Lo-Pro0.823$80
firestarterLight My Fire SL32.777$38
personal hygiene itemsSnowballs00$0
knifeLight My Fire SL3
ConsumablesWEIGHTMSRP
TypeSelectionOuncesGramsUSD
fuelEstimated Fuel Consumed, Including Snow Melting15.9450$0
waterAverage Weight In Water Bottle26750$0
day 1 menu (lunch, dinner)Day 1 Menu11.1315$14
day 2 menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner)Day 2 Menu22.2629$25
day 3 menu (breakfast, lunch)Day 3 Menu8.6244$3
Cost and Weight Summary
Cost and Weight Summary PoundsKilogramsDollars
(1) Total Worn or Carried While Hiking10.794.90$1,874
(2) Total Base Weight/Cost in Pack16.287.40$2,530
(3) Total Weight/Cost of Consumables5.272.39$42
(4) Full Skin-Out Base Weight/Cost (1) + (2)27.0712.30$4,404
(5) Total Initial Pack Weight/Cost (2) + (3)21.559.79$2,573
(6) Full Skin-Out Weight/Cost (1) + (2) + (3)32.3314.70$4,446


Citation

"A Virtual Pack (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)," by Mike Martin, Ryan Jordan, Don Wilson, Craig Mortensen, Alan Dixon, Ken Knight, Steve Nelson, Addie Morstad, Will Rietveld and Janet Reichl. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/virtual_pack_orwm08.html, 2008-02-02 23:59:00-07.

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Forum Index » Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008 » A Virtual Pack (Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2008)


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Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan) - M

Locale: NTX
OR Highpoint Cap on 01/24/2008 10:04:19 MST Print View

Is the cap only one size fit all? Does the gentleman in the pic have a Texas sized noggin like me or just not want to mess up his hairdo?

Steve Balster
(SteveBalster) - F

Locale: Central Montana
Bear Spray on 01/24/2008 10:48:36 MST Print View

Ryan:
Thanks for answering my question. Looks like it would be a good idea to carry spray.

Dan Whalley
(thedanwhalley) - F

Locale: peakdistrict natonial park, UK
the wizzer on 01/24/2008 10:58:39 MST Print View

the wizzer idea has been around for a while in the uk, call a she wee!!

www.shewee.com

My Girlfriend needed some practice tho!

she weeeeeeeee

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: The Whiz on 01/24/2008 11:20:13 MST Print View

While I like the idea of soft plastic, it doesn't look like it folds, so it wouldn't be as compact as some of the others out there. I've been happy with what I call Elmer: (FUD) female urinary device. Trade name freshette I think.

Sam Belding
(sambelding) - F
Womens Wizzer on 01/24/2008 11:55:33 MST Print View

Sell those at military bases and the orders will flow. Imagine female G.I.s trying to take a wizz in full gear with a rifle in a portolet. It's painful just watching them enter and leave the green room. It should be standard military issue.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: For Bobina on 01/24/2008 12:16:28 MST Print View

Ahhh, now I know what those hipbelt pockets are for...

However, in the spirit of UL, methinks I don't need the extra weight of one of these gadgets. If it were essential, I would have died long ago!

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Womens Wizzer on 01/24/2008 12:20:23 MST Print View

Not essential, Allison, but darned nice to have! It amazes me that more women aren't aware of their existence. I was using one on a kayaking expedition and all the women were fascinated and anxious to buy their own. If you like, I can weigh mine and let you know.
And yes, I can write my name in the snow. ;-)

Edited by toesnorth on 01/24/2008 12:22:21 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: For Bobina on 01/24/2008 12:48:47 MST Print View

in the spirit of UL, methinks I don't need the extra weight of one of these gadgets

Methinks we should grant Bobina a waiver to count this as zero grams in their gear lists. I'd support that long before supporting the sometimes heard proposal of granting GVP (or myself) a base weight handicap just because we aren't as compact as RJ :-)

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Womens Wizzer on 01/24/2008 13:36:36 MST Print View

Thanks for the waiver Jim and toesnorth.

I used to have a similar device (with telescoping extension), and although it was nice to be able to pee against a tree, I found it just wasn't enough added convenience to make me want to carry it. Then again, that was before I had hipbelt pockets. I used to have to carry it in my pack, which meant taking my pack off to use it, which virtually defeated the purpose IMHO. Might be worth another try???

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: "Worth another try?" on 01/24/2008 13:59:54 MST Print View

I think so, Allison. Especially when mosquitos are a consideration!

Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Whiz Freedom on BPL on 01/24/2008 21:09:18 MST Print View

We hope to carry these in the gear store soon. After using mine last night, I was even more excited: comfy, clean, easy...I will definitely be keeping one in my car for the long MT drives with few rest stops. The only problem I see is folks getting confused and thinking I am, uh, reassigned.

Anyway, it was nice to see a product with a very clear female focus!
Thanks,
Addie

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: Whiz Freedom on BPL on 01/24/2008 21:13:52 MST Print View

You should have seen the looks I got when I exited a ladies room stall after using "Elmer." I was wearing hiking boots and I think they expected to beat a guy senseless with their purses when I emerged.
They stared, but they didn't ask. ;-)

Will Rietveld
(WilliWabbit) - MLife

Locale: Southwest Colorado
Re: About the hat... on 01/25/2008 06:54:39 MST Print View

The hat will be available in fall 2008 and comes in sizes M to XL. It will also come in two other colors, just in case you don't want burnt orange!

Addie Bedford
(Addie) - F
Whiz Freedom on 01/26/2008 10:32:26 MST Print View

It's now for sale in the Gear Store. We're trying to find female-specific products (just because it's pink doesn't necessarily mean it's special, or that we'll buy it) that fit the lightweight ethos without pandering.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/whiz_freedom.html

Let us know what you think!
Best (sleepily),
Addie

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: A Virtual Pack on 01/27/2008 14:33:05 MST Print View

I just can't resist the urge to poke fun .... Physician, heal thyself!

Interesting that the pack was the first item chosen .... what happened to our std advice to get everything else first and then size the pack?

he-he

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: A Virtual Pack on 01/27/2008 14:40:12 MST Print View

Hi Jim-

We picked the Pinnacle because it was a favorite among several of the trekkers in the last WTC III course. (I also used my trusty Golite Gust on that trip, the precursor to the Pinnacle.) We felt comfortable choosing it before the rest of the gear because we new it had sufficient volume and would integrate well with the sleep pad we choose at the same time. It's also a good deal lighter than other packs in the same volume range with sufficient durability for Bob's hiking "style". ;)

You've got a good eye, though. I'm sure that some incompatibilities will pop as the final items get added to the list. After all, though we looked for synergy where possible, this is an untested combination of gear. Most of our personal kits have been refined and honed over many trips.

Cheers,

-Mike

Edited by MikeMartin on 01/27/2008 18:43:40 MST.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Terramawool shirt: Is silk appropriate for winter? on 01/28/2008 12:19:34 MST Print View

I have the Terramar longjohns and don them only before climbing into my sleeping bag; their primary purpose is to keep the bag clean. Somewhere along the way I acquired the notion that silk is not a preferred insulator as it absorbs and holds water, the thread loses its springiness and the fabric sags. Wool also has some of these characteristics. So given this, I'm wondering just how effective a winter garmet this shirt will prove to be, aside from the comfort factor?

Jeffrey Dunning
(boredomhero) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Cost on 01/28/2008 13:15:23 MST Print View

The cost is getting very high. I read in the recent Backpacker mag that backpacking gear cost $750 compared to $1100 for downhill skiing. Since that is likely "normal weight" backpacking, what is Bob's defense for the large cash outlay?

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Virtual pack cost on 01/28/2008 13:26:25 MST Print View

LW gear is frequently even less expensive than heavier gear. Certainly this can be true for packs, shoes, stoves, shelters. One product that can be more expensive is sleeping bags, especially for high-end down bags.

Remember this pack includes buying everything from the ground up. I don't think you could do it more cheaply buying standard gear typically supported in Backpacker.

Certainly the price could be drastically reduced by re-using acceptable gear and clothes that people already own.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Cost on 01/28/2008 13:27:04 MST Print View

Hi Jeff-

Several factors are contributing to Bob's skyrocketing pack cost:

1) We are starting completely from scratch, even buying the clothes on his back. I'm guessing the $750 figure you mentioned is really just for the core pieces in a pack.

2) We are using suggested retail pricing for everything. In the real world, many of the same items in his pack could be purchased for a much lower "street price". There are also used gear, online auctions, make-your-own-gear, etc. options that would result in a much less expensive kit.

3) While we are trying to save costs in a few minor areas like hygiene and tent stakes, we are, in general, trying to get Bob the best and lightest stuff available. This means high-tech fabrics and materials, high fill-power down, etc. This stuff aint cheap. :(

4) This is a full-on Winter kit and so includes some pricey items that you wouldn't need for summer -- avalanche gear, snowshoes, warmer bag and clothing, etc.

Cheers,

-Mike

EDIT: Thanks Don! It appears you type just a bit faster than I do... ;-)

Edited by MikeMartin on 01/28/2008 13:37:27 MST.