Wise Women Go Light, Part 1

The first in a series of three articles chronicling the experiences of hiking buddies Jean and Sue as they begin on the journey to lightweight backpacking.

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by Jean Rogers and Sue Wright | 2006-07-19 03:00:00-06

Introduction

It was the summer of 2004 in the Sky Lakes Wilderness Area of southern Oregon, and with the continuous rain we’d had for several days, I was sure a few extra pounds were hitchhiking a ride on my pack. Still, I questioned it: physically hard working, 63 year old me having to ask my hiking buddy Jean’s assistance in heaving my 40-some pound pack onto my back. Bent over securing and adjusting the multitude of straps, I hoped I’d get it right the first time. Standing upright with a feeling of triumph, I shrugged my shoulders for a final adjustment and was ready for the day’s adventure. Then I heard a plea for help come from Jean, and with both of us lifting her pack, it too, was soon perched upon her back, waiting for adjustment.

“Watch your step!” I cautioned myself as I wobbled precariously next to a steep vertical drop. The view from 7,000 feet was spectacular, and I would have liked to have been gawking at the beauty surrounding me as I walked the zigzag section of trail. Instead, I was concerned with what was an uncomfortable load. A glimmer of thought flickered and I asked myself, “Just how much of this stuff do I really need?”

At our next rest break, the first words out of my mouth were “Jean, we need to lighten our load.” Carrying ten pounds more than I, she was very receptive to the idea.

That’s how I remember hiking buddy Jean Rogers and myself deciding it was time for us to go lightweight. How do we navigate the trail to lightweight backpacking? Where will it lead us? Well, we’re sharing our journey with Backpacking Light in a series of three articles, beginning here with our introductions to backpacking, our early backpacking experiences, and our current heavy gear lists. In the near future we’ll bring you our second article, with our many considerations in going lightweight, perhaps even ultra lightweight, and you’ll hear what we’ve learned, what skills we’ve gained, and what worked or didn’t on our gear testing trips. In our third article, we’ll share with you how our final gear choices perform for us on our 7 day, 90 mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail from Crater Lake to Williametter Pass in September of this year. We’ll be backpacking at elevations of 5,000 to 8,000 feet, with warm to hot days, cold to freezing nights, and rain and thunderstorms very likely. It will be a great test of the gear and our skills. We hope you’ll join us as we go light!

The Wise Women

Jean’s Story

Until my 50s, I was a horseback rider, not a hiker or backpacker. By then, an active lifestyle was catching up with me and horseback riding became out of the question due to chronic inflammation of my sacroiliac joint. Straddling a horse only aggravates it, but I can walk. And, walking down a dirt road in Maine in the year 2000, I took a footpath off into the woods. I realized that even though one-third of my life had been spent in New England, there was an entirely different unexplored world here only a short distance from the road. I decided then and there that I would backpack the Appalachian Trail in New England.

After two years of planning and acquiring equipment, my cousin, niece, and I set out to backpack the AT in Vermont. We were all neophytes, and the trip was a comedy of errors. Pack weights were 60 pounds and up, all of us having been raised on sayings like “be prepared” and “better to have too much than too little”. I had one of those HUGE packs that are described as being able to carry everything including the kitchen sink. Although I didn’t have a kitchen sink, I did carry a collapsible 5 gallon jug with spigot. That trip did in my knees. My left knee has never forgiven me and reminds me what I put it through on every hike. Even so, I was hooked and returned the following year to backpack more of the AT, this time with a pack weight in the 40 pound range.

In early 2004 I attended a map and compass class where I met Sue, now my friend and hiking buddy. She had been hiking the Cascades with her friend, Mary, for two years. Since meeting, Sue and I have hiked and backpacked a good portion of the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon and explored numerous areas of the mountains and the coast.

Each year, our backpacking trips have increased in length while our pack weights have decreased. Now 58, I am getting serious about losing more pack weight. When I look back on my first backpacking adventure, I can’t believe I was able to carry 60 pounds.

Wise Women Go Light - 1
Jean at Sky Lakes Wilderness Area in 2004

Sue’s Story

I’d found long awaited freedom to adventure in 2002 when my husband and I sold the meat packing business we’d owned for 25 years. I mentioned my desire to hike to my friend, Mary, and she was immediately ready to explore some trails with me. Soon Mary and I found ourselves on our first day hike together - the 4.5 mile round trip to Three Fingered Jack in the Oregon Cascades. Living near the Coast Range of Oregon as a child, my early memories are of looking off towards the distant country, pondering where the Cascades even were. Many years later, I was enthused to find myself there in all my day-pack glory, shoulders bearing the weight of what I thought then were essentials to survive the wilderness. Food was packed, but if I were stranded I was not prepared at all. No rain gear, no emergency supplies like first aid, and early on, no map. I was ready to hike anywhere, and I’d figured adrenaline would get me there and back.

Wise Women Go Light - 2
Sue with her heavy pack at the trailhead in Sky Lakes Wilderness Area.

Many day hike adventures followed in 2003, and in 2004 Mary and I met Jean at a map and compass class. Four months later we three ladies did our first overnight, with me confidently sporting my second hand store treasure - a wondrous six pound backpack. I was a real greenhorn then! Because I had not been able to decide on a tent, I used the bivy bag from my three spiritual vision quests of 12 years earlier.

The vision quests didn’t directly prepare me for backpacking since there was no hiking, no trails, no maps, no compass, and no backpacking gear, but they helped me become more at ease in the “uncivilized” world. The vision quest of 1992 helped me to overcome many fears that had been with me for half a century. I made it through my three solo days and nights, and shortly after I had the courage to bungee jump, and even wrapped a 15 foot python snake around my shoulders at the Oregon State Fair after years of extreme fear of snakes. Ensuing vision quests helped me overcome more fears, and by the last vision quest I was confident enough in the wilderness to choose to stay in my vision spot for five days.

My first long adventure was our Sky Lakes Wilderness Area of the PCT with Jean in the summer of 2004. Jean had a friend that wanted to try hiking with a mule and she’d invited me because she was afraid the friend and the mule would not complete the 5 day, 60-some mile hike. At the time, I was thinking I was past the greenhorn stage. The weather along that section of the trail for August is usually hot, so I had thought I might leave the rain gear at home. Jean quickly vetoed this idea, and to make a long story short, it rained for three days. Guardian angels do exist! That was the same trip that we decided to learn to go lightweight on. We learned a lot that trip. Some other lessons include: do not hike with a mule; always bring your rain gear; packs get really heavy when wet; and yes, you can pee in a zip-lock bag at night when the wind and rain are at their peak, trying to unnerve old ladies in tents.

Going Light

Jean

On every backpacking trip since my first, I have tried to lighten my pack weight, but this has been harder than I had expected. I have a BIG comfort zone that I need to break out of. When Sue and I went on our first backpacking trip together, my pack weight was down to about 45 to 50 pounds. I still had a tough time on the steeper ascents.

Each trip has instilled more confidence in my abilities and I am slowly going without items that I have considered essential in the past. Other items I have tried to find lighter alternatives for. My first sleeping bag weighed over 3 pounds and was rated to 15 degrees. My new 15 degree bag weighs 1 pound 15 ounces. Instead of carrying three nesting pots (one for every occasion, naturally), I now carry only a titanium teapot that holds enough water for dinner and my tea. Instead of a fork and a spoon, I use a Lexan spork.

I found a website with directions to make a Pepsi can alcohol stove. I discovered that I could whip out one of those in no time, and made stoves for all my friends. Sue made the windscreen/pot stands found on the same website.

That humongous pack I started with is now gone and I have a smaller, lighter pack. I did try one of the ‘frameless’ packs, but I still carry too much weight for it and so it pulls uncomfortably on my shoulders.

I still use several light weight wicking shirts from my first adventure into the wilds, but I am eyeing some made from the newer, lighter fabrics that weigh even less. I wore ‘sturdy’ leather boots on the AT. Now I use a boot with leather and mesh and knocked off about a pound or more in weight. I use Crocs as my camp-creek wading shoes. I discarded my self-inflating mattress for a solid foam pad and saved another half pound.

I sold my two person, 4+ pound tent and now use a one person 1.5 pound tent. It isn’t as roomy for sure, but I have less stuff to clutter it with.

Slowly but surely, I am emerging out of my old comfort zone and into a lighter, less encumbered zone. However, after putting only the essentials into my pack, I find that I keep adding this and that for “just in case.” Old habits are hard to break, but I am making progress. I feel good and am looking forward to hitting the trail soon with a much lighter pack!

Wise Women Go Light - 3
Jean with her heavy pack at a creek.

Sue

There were several short overnight hikes in 2005 where my 6 pound second hand store backpack stayed home and in its place was an Osprey Aether 45 weighing in at 1 pound 12 ounces. Now my “big three” items (pack, tent, and sleeping bag) weigh a total of about 6 pounds! Still, I want to replace the Osprey with another light pack.

I would like to come in at a pack weight below 20 pounds for a week long hike, and feel the Osprey Aether’s 20 to 25 pound load limit will restrain me. We did a three-day hike in 2005 where my total pack weight including food was between 22 to 25 pounds, but the Osprey Aether was not comfortable at that weight.

Other lighter gear I’ve acquired include my Vasque Gore-tex boots and an REI Sub Kilo sleeping bag. I don’t know yet if I’m comfortable with my REI Sub Kilo sleeping bag, but my new Vasque Gore-tex boots so far have not leaked.

Those Nalgene water bottles are heavy, so they became Platypus bladders. This change took some time to accept as I was concerned about the bladder being a breeding ground for germs, even with the good washing it got between each hike.

I had been so proud of my stainless steel cooking pot and then I knew it had to go. I replaced it with a titanium pot with lid at 5.7 ounces, with self-made windscreen. The windscreen also serves as the pot holder and I have a 1.5 ounce pop can stove made by Jean.

I was using REI’s Quarter Dome UL tent at 4 pounds 3.6 ounces, but intense investigation lead to the Six Moons Lunar Solo E. Complete with my piece of builder’s tyvek for a ground sheet it comes in at 2 pounds, 6 ounces. However, I’ve had difficulty putting this tent up and getting it taut - the back corners want to sag. Purchases I made for day hiking that have passed the lightweight test for backpacking turn out to be my Gore-Tex pants and my Columbia ‘titanium-alloy’ raincoat with zip pits.

I turn 65 this fall and with each passing year my slender build will demand that I pay even more attention to my load capacity. Every ligament in my being is shouting “ultralight.” I tell my three daughters that I’m going to live to be 120 so I have a way to go and many trails calling me. A lifelong tomboy for sure, but the earthly requirements of an aging body will take its toll and to spend my remaining years enjoying the outdoors will take intelligence and fortitude.

Wise Women Go Light - 4
Sue filtering water at a creek Sky Lakes Wilderness Area.

Backpacking Light

In the spring of this year, Jean mused that we should be gear testers for aging women. I did not give it much thought at the time, but several weeks later, sitting at the computer, I thought “Why not?” and wrote Carol at Backpacking Light with the idea. She thought even more valuable than gear testing would be sharing our journey from heavy to lightweight backpacking with you. Including the trials, the fears, the successes, the reluctance to change. In other words, the adventure. She mused that the journey is not gender or age specific. Most everyone goes through a gradual process as they lighten their packs, expand their comfort zones, and face some fears. What keeps the process going is the realization that it’s just so much more fun to carry a lighter pack! Wise women, and men, go light! We hope you’ll join us on the next leg of our journey, where we’ll share with you as we let go of “needed” gear, experiment with lighter equipment that we fear will be uncomfortable, and try gear that just isn’t heavy enough to possibly work. Join us as we go light!

Gear Lists

We have already lightened our pack weights considerably since our introduction to backpacking just a few years ago. What follows is our gear lists as they are now, as we begin our association with Backpacking Light and start a serious push to lighten our loads. You’ll note that Jean’s base pack weight (everything but consumables - food, water, and fuel) is now 20 pounds and Sue’s base weight is 14 pounds. Since Sue wants her total pack weight to be around 20 pounds for a week long trip, she is striving for a 10 pound or less base weight, while Jean will be happy to lose 6 or so pounds to get below Sue’s current base weight of 14 pounds.

Sue’s 7-Day Gear List: Heavy
Clothing Worn While Hiking WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
hat cap with neck flap Gore-Tex 3.2 91
neck and head cover synthetic, lightweight Buff 1.2 34
hiking shirt long sleeved, zip-off sleeves Cabela's 8.4 238
pants convertible REI Convertible 3.9 111
underwear nylon Hanes 1.0 28
bra nylon Playtex 1.7 48
socks cool mesh, anti-blister Wright Sock 1.4 40
hiking shoes Gore-Tex Vasque 41.3 1171
gaiters lightweight Outdoor Research 3.1 88
Other Items Worn or Carried WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
walking stick wood self made 6.2 176
vest cotton and mesh fishing vest 9.0 255
Other Clothing WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
jacket fleece Great Northwest 9.8 278
pants convertible REI Convertible 11.7 332
extra socks (2 pair) cool mesh, anti-blister Wright Sock 2.8 79
underwear nylon Hanes 1.0 28
long underwear sleep in, warmth REI silk 6.3 179
gloves Gore-Tex Cabela's 3.7 105
raincoat hood, zip-pits Columbia Titanium Alloy/pit zips 15.7 445
rain pants zip bottom legs Gore-Tex Pac Tech [rain pants listed twice. Brand name?] 12.3 349
fleece shirt warmth/wind protection Starter 11.4 323
Shelter and Sleep System WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
shelter tent, poles, cords, stuff sack Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo E 35.2 998
ground sheet under tent + wrap Platypus in while hiking Tyvek 3.0 85
sleeping bag 15 degree rating REI Sub Kilo, women's 31.0 879
sleeping Pad cut to shoulder - hip length, also back support in pack closed cell 4.5 128
Packing WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
backpack small 2600 ci volume Osprey Aether 45 28.0 794
pack Liner garbage bag heavy duty 1.5 43
Cooking/Water WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
fuel container hold 7 days of alcohol fuel Coghlans, plastic flask 1.5 43
stove alcohol burner bottom pop can 0.4 11
windscreen/pot support lightweight metal self-made 1.1 31
pot and lid sized for solo cooking Titanium Evernew 5.7 162
utensil spoon Permaware 0.4 11
bag for pot protect pot ziplock bag 0.2 6
food storage lightweight ziplock bag 0.2 6
fire matches REI Stormproof 0.8 23
hydration bladder with hose [correct?] Platypus 2 L Hoser 3.4 96
extra bladder water storage Platypus 1 L 1.4 40
water treatment chemical potable aqua 2.1 60
Other Essentials WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
light headlamp Black Diamond 1.2 34
sunglasses prescription with water proof case 3.6 102
map trail map small section 1.5 43
sunscreen stick Banana Boat SPF 30 1.2 34
first aid mixed supply different needs 1.6 45
hygiene lotion,toothpaste handy wipes, toilet needs 3.5 99
towels shop towels blue, washable 2.3 65
compass clear base Silva 1.0 28
altimeter barometer Sun [could this be suunto brand?] 2.7 77
watch illuminated dial, alarm Timex 1.2 34
whistle small plastic 0.2 6
knife two blade Swiss Army Classic 0.7 20
camera digital Kodak 7.1 201
signaling emergency signal whistle worn on spare shoe lace 0.3 9
Consumables (7-Day Trip) WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
food 7 days 24 oz/day 168.0 4763
water average carried 32 oz 32.0 907
fuel denatured alcohol 1 oz/dinner 9.0 255
Weight Summary
Weight Summary Pounds Kilograms
(1) Total Worn or Carried While Hiking 5.0 2.3
(2) Total Base Weight in Pack 13.9 6.3
(3) Total Weight of Consumables 13.1 5.9
(4) Full Skin-Out Base Weight (1) + (2) 19.0 8.6
(5) Total Initial Pack Weight (2) + (3) 27.0 12.3
(6) Full Skin-Out Weight (1) + (2) + (3) 32.0 14.6
Jean’s 7-Day Gear List: Heavy
Clothing Worn While Hiking WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
hat full brim Columbia Hat 2.6 74
hiking shirt short sleeved Duofold 5.5 156
sports bra breathable Bestform 1.9 54
underwear synthetic briefs Duofold 1.5 43
pants hike/swim/protection Columbia GRT zip off 10.1 286
socks foot comfort Wigwam Outlast 2.5 71
hiking shoes ankle support Asolo Stynger GTX 45.5 1290
Other Items Worn or Carried WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
trekking poles assist knees Leki Makalu Poles 15.7 445
mesh fishing vest pockets for oft needed items Clearwater Utility Vest 9.0 255
Other Clothing WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
camp shoes rest feet/wading streams Crocs 8.8 249
bear spray deterrent/safety Bear Assault 12.0 340
bandana cool off/protect neck Cotton bandana 1.2 34
short sleeved shirt dry Duofold 4.0 113
long sleeved shirt dry/protect arms/sleep in Duofold 5.6 159
pants dry REI Zip Offs 12.9 366
warm hat use when cold buff 1.0 28
jacket warmth/rain protection Columbia Titanium/zip pits 15.7 445
fleece shirt warmth/wind protection Starter 11.4 323
rain pants warmth/rain protection Gore-Tex Packlite 10.2 289
long johns warmth/sleep in Silkskins 3.2 91
socks dry Wright Sock 3.2 91
sock liners emergency socks/warmth Coolmax 1.6 45
gloves warmth Leather/Gore-Tex 3.8 108
glove liners use when gloves are too hot Gordini 1.0 28
gaiters protect legs/pants REI Mid Gaiters 6.0 170
Shelter and Sleep System WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
shelter single wall tent Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo e w/stakes and cords 35.2 998
ground sheet fit under part of tent Tyvek 3.0 85
sleeping bag 15 degree rating REI Sub Kilo, women's 31.0 879
sleeping Pad full length closed cell foam 10.0 284
packing WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
backpack internal frame Camp Trails 50.5 1432
waterproof pack liner keep pack contents dry in rain plastic garbage bag 0.7 20
stuff sack keep sleeping bag dry/separate from other items plastic garbage bag 0.7 20
Cooking/Water WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
stove light weight Pepsi can stove 0.6 17
fuel container easy to acquire, suitable for denatured alcohol Brasslight 8 ounce 2.0 57
cook pot titanium teapot Titanium Evernew 4.7 133
wind screen wind protection/support Homemade 0.9 26
drinking cup with lid keep liquid hot Plastic travel mug 4.8 136
utensil eating/light weight Lexan spork 0.4 11
plate eat off of/funnel/bowl Orikaso dish 1.5 43
bag for coot pot/stove/ matches carry cook items together small mesh bag 0.7 20
matches light fuel, wind and water proof REI matches 0.7 20
hydration 70 ounces Camelbak Bladder 8.7 247
hydration protection and carrying system protect bag in pack and out Camelbak Cover 3.2 91
water treatment kill all unfriendlies/filter out sediment Sweetwater 14.4 408
food bag carry/hang food/bear protection Ursack 8.3 235
Other Essentials WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
mosquito head net bug protection unknown brand 0.4 11
personal hygiene toilet kit Tooth paste, tooth brush, sanitizer 2.5 71
light headlamp Petzl Tikka 2.5 71
knife cutting cord Benchmade 2.1 60
altimeter watch altitude/barometer Casio Forester 1.3 37
soap wash self and clothing Camp Suds 0.8 23
medication asthma Albuterol Inhaler 1.0 28
lip gloss protect lips from sun Ice Drops 0.2 6
sunscreen protect skin from sun cactus juice in small container 2.0 57
navigation direction/map aid pin-on compass 0.8 23
first aid minor cuts/sprains Band-Aids, moleskin, scissors, blister pads, alcohol wipes in small bag 1.5 43
first aid - major bad sprains/breaks Sam Splint & vet wrap 6.1 173
survival kit emergencies firestarter kit, handwarmers, space blanket, safety pin, razor blade, trail marker, tape, paper, pencil, duct tape in small bag 6.6 187
signaling emergency signal whistle worn on spare shoe lace 0.3 9
Consumables (7-Day Trip) WEIGHT
FUNCTION STYLE/Rationale EXAMPLE Ounces Grams
fuel denatured alcohol 2 oz/evening 12.0 340
food 6.5 days 24 oz/day 84.0 2381
water average carried 70 oz 70.0 1984
toilet paper camp TP 1.2 oz/7 days 7.2 204
Weight Summary
Weight Summary Pounds Kilograms
(1) Total Worn or Carried While Hiking 5.9 2.7
(2) Total Base Weight in Pack 19.5 8.9
(3) Total Weight of Consumables 10.8 4.9
(4) Full Skin-Out Base Weight (1) + (2) 25.4 11.5
(5) Total Initial Pack Weight (2) + (3) 30.3 13.8
(6) Full Skin-Out Weight (1) + (2) + (3) 36.2 16.5


Citation

"Wise Women Go Light, Part 1," by Jean Rogers and Sue Wright. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/wise_women_go_light_pt1.html, 2006-07-19 03:00:00-06.

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Wise Women Go Light Pt. I
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Cat Jasins
(CatJasins) - MLife
Wise Women Go Light on 07/19/2006 01:52:13 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Wise Women Go Light Part 1
Wise Women Go Light Part 2
Wise Women Go Light, Conclusion

Edited by cmcrooker on 12/26/2006 18:06:59 MST.

Carol Corbridge
(ccorbridge) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Wise Women on 07/19/2006 09:08:53 MDT Print View

Hi Jean and Sue,
Thanks for writing this article. I'm a older women living and backpacking in Southern Oregon too. My story is quite similar to yours. I'm a little younger (55) and my base weight is a little heavier (22), but our paths are much alike. I've gone the hammock route and have not yet given up my jetboil or my water purifier.
If you would ever like to get together for a gear pow wow let me know. I run a landscaping business, Carol's Colors, so you can reach me there or my email is ccorbridge4 at msn dot com

Lynda Swink
(llswink) - F
Wise Womean Pt. 1 on 08/08/2006 10:38:19 MDT Print View

Dear Jean and Sue,
Thank you for your timely article. I am 53, new to hiking and back packing, and looking forward to a partial hike through on the AT next summer. One of my major concerns was what to take, and how to make sure my back pack was not too heavy! I look forward with interest to parts 2 and 3. Thanks again, Lynda Swink

Clinton Ohlers
(rcohlers) - F - M

Locale: Eastern PA
Women's Lightweight/UL Packs on 11/22/2006 12:23:29 MST Print View

Hi, Jean and Sue,

Thanks for the articles. I'd be interested in what you (or other women readers) have found regarding lightweight packs for women.

For example, as a guy, I would think that women might prefer going slightly heavier on the pack (rather than frameless) in order to have better load distribution to the hips. What do you think?

I've considered recommending the Granite Gear Vapor Ki, with its internal plastic frame (34 oz.), to a female friend. Of course, the forthcoming Jam2 looks to have better shoulder comfort and weight distribution to the hips with the new shoulder straps and belt.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

CO

Jane McMichen
(jmcmichen) - F

Locale: Maine, DownEast Coast
Wise Women's views on clothing, etc. on 11/22/2006 21:00:30 MST Print View

Hi Ladies!

Thank you for sharing your adventures! I was curious about the 6 oz pants referred to in your second article. What brand and style did you choose, and why? Also, do you use layering in pants for leg warmth during hiking or sleeping? I tend to have cold legs and would value any insights you have.

Could you post the lesson you had regarding pitching the Six Moons tent to prevent lag, etc?

Thanks again for everything!
Jane

Mary Simpson
(maryphyl) - F
Going Lighter on 11/24/2006 20:13:49 MST Print View

I just turned 60 last summer--I started on the road to a lighter pack about 10 years ago. I own nice lightweight equipment but many of the things that lightened my pack were learning how to do the multiple use thing and not trying to cover every possible situation that might occur. I forget who said it first but I work with the idea that in a worst case scenario I will only suffer minor misery. Good luck to you--Mary

Jean Rogers
(Boonga) - M

Locale: Northwest
Packs on 11/26/2006 11:52:17 MST Print View

Clinton:

I agree that women need more support in their packs than men. Weight on my shoulders drives me crazy. I used a ULA Circuit Pack (32 oz) on my planned 8 day backpack. It uses a 1.2oz. carbon fiber and delrim suspension hoop. It transfered the load weight nicely to my hips-where we women are made to carry wt. The fabric is sturdy and can take being bang around.

If you have a REI or EMS near you, take your friend there. Have different packs fitted to her and weight added to the pack. Then have her walk around the store/up and down stairs, etc. for a good 20 min. I found almost all packs felt good during the first 10 min., but by 20 min. you will start to notice anyplace that doesn't feel right. REI had a great return policy: if you take the pack on a trip and it doesn't work out, you can return it.

The frustrating part is that each year they come out with new and improved packs-sort of like purchasing a car...

Jean Rogers
(Boonga) - M

Locale: Northwest
Pants on 11/26/2006 12:00:10 MST Print View

Jane:

I took along Golite's Woemn's Reed pants. A medium weighs 5oz. They come with taped seams and an elasticized waist with draw cord. No pockets or ankle zips. I take them everywhere with me: daypacks, purse, etc. They work great, but are a no frills item.

I often layer under my rainpants, depending on temperature: trailpants, longjohns or both.

Once I was caught out in 34 degree weather with only a summer weight sleeping bag-I slept with my longjohns and trailpants under my rainpants and that kept my legs warm. As they say "It's all about layering."

Jean Rogers
(Boonga) - M

Locale: Northwest
Tent Pitching on 11/26/2006 12:14:59 MST Print View

Jane: With the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo e tent, it comes down to finesse. You start by staking out the two front corners (I don't put the stakes in all the way at first). Then stake the center rear corner. Put up the front pole and stake out the guyline. Now stake out the two remaining corners. I loosley stake out the guy lines.

Now you look inside the tent and see what part is sagging (for me it is usually the two rear corners). The finesse part is moving the stakes at the corners (usually the last two stakes) to get rid of the sagging netting. Ron can do this in a snap. It was surprising to learn that all it takes sometimes is to move the stake towards the tent an inch or so. The tendency is to have too much tension on the elastic that is attached to the floating bathtub floor, by removing some of the tension, the sagging netting isn't sagging anymore. Also, snugging down or lettin up on the tensioners helps too.

The more you set up the tent, the easier it is set it up without any (or very little sagging). I have set the tent up several times in the rain. No time for finesse, just stake and dive inside. The sagging netting doesn't interfere with the functionality of the tent. You will still stay dry.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Wise Women Go Light Pt. I on 11/28/2006 21:06:22 MST Print View

This makes a great article for anyone who is trying to get into the lightweight swing of things. You avoided a lot of the more technical jargon that we discuss elsewhere on BPL and focused on simple reasons why things do or don't work for you.

I find that when first getting into a new thing sometimes I just want to be told what to do. I can then immediately begin to form my own opinions once I have a jumping off point to start from.

Jane McMichen
(jmcmichen) - F

Locale: Maine, DownEast Coast
Re: Pants on 11/29/2006 15:03:43 MST Print View

Jean, thanks for your reply. Clothing is an area I know little about as I make the move to lightweight backpacking. I live far away from retail stores, so it's difficult to get my hands on a variety of clothing to determine its trail value.

I see that the Reed pants are rain pants. You also mentioned trail pants - can you elaborate? I'm looking for something light (of course) that doesn't limit my range of motion, and is tough enough to stand up to booty-scooting down numerous granite boulders here in Maine. I am planning to start an Appalachian Trail hike next summer. Any suggestions? Thanks again for your time and help!

Jean Rogers
(Boonga) - M

Locale: Northwest
Clothing on 12/05/2006 08:24:25 MST Print View

It is hard when you don't have an outdoor retailer near you. I have found some great clothes in the Men's side of Wal Mart, etc. They have lots of wicking T-shirts, wind pants, etc.

The top notch gear can be found on the internet: each company has their own size measurements. What is a medium at one company will be a large at another. Try Golite or Outdoor Research. Buy just one item, try it on and return it for a size up/down if it doesn't fit. Once you find your size, it will be easier to order the right size each time. Returns are easy.

Better yet...take a road trip to The BIG City and shop to your heart's content.

Frank Deland
(rambler) - M

Locale: On the AT in VA
Thanks for your thoughtful article on 01/02/2007 16:23:14 MST Print View

Nice job with your article. Writing of your "low morale" times, health and other struggles, reminds us that hiking is not all about the gear, the good views, and bonding with the natural world. Your frank realism makes your report that much more meaningful and helpful to others.
Of course, two hours taken out of your hike to round up cows, now that is impessive! PS a cuple of gear points: You mention struggling with the poly gound cover in the wind...that makes me wnat to leave it at home and stick with the heavier ripstop coated nylon piece just a bit wider than the sleeping bag. At this site, the review on the Golite Reed pants suggests adding a 14" or so opening slit at the bottom for easier on and off over footwear. I wonder if the between-the-toes blisters meand that your footwear is too narrow in the toe-box? Sometimes, too, a different lacing pattern can help aleviate pressure points.

b d
(bdavis) - F

Locale: Mt. Lassen - Shasta, N. Cal.
Re: Wise Women Go Light on 01/02/2007 16:40:53 MST Print View

Thank you so much for that report on a trekker's vision quest. I also have had asthma chronically in the past so know what that means. But, the honest blow by blow descriptions of real people getting out 'there' are wonderful, invaluable for lots of reasons to me. It is not always easy or fun, and gear isn't the only issue, but it sure helps reduce the negative dark side to have good gear when the dark side rears its ugly head. Thank you so much, I have forwarded your venture story to my partner, and still have lots of questions to ask. bd

PS: You are invited, both of you, to visit down here and use our place as a base to trek on the PCT in the Lassen-Shasta area anytime, or head off into the local wilderness areas which are safe and generally bee and wasp free. Georgi H. is a PCT angel who is quite well known, as it turns out, a woman who spent many years teaching camping, hiking, and winter camping to the Girl Scouts in her youth -- I think she is in her 7th decade -- we just met over the holidays and she lives a mile or two from us. She knows about gear, from the 100's of people who stay with her and would be a goldmine of info for you. She also sews and modifies gear for people who need it. Keep on trekkin, and thanks for the article, again. Another person in their 6th decade mode. (Wouldn't it be wonderful to have this gear and be in the 2nd or 3rd decade mode?) bd

Edited by bdavis on 01/02/2007 17:06:48 MST.

Matt DeWitt
(tritan) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Wise Women Go Light Pt. I on 08/03/2008 10:04:34 MDT Print View

I completely agree with you. I read this article with my mouse coping and pasting every piece of gear into Google to find them and see how much they are and where to purchase. I am new to backpacking looking to start out with just 1-2 night trips. I have no gear except my boots. I have been reading(Lighten up) and researching like crazy and this article was great.
I day hike, run, walk ,commute by bike to work and still lack the self confidence to get out there and enjoy an overnighter. I can't get past the fact of " what if" heavy storm, bears,shock, reactions to bees, lost, etc. i thinking finding the right gear might go along ways. I have seen the six moons shelters but thought that "can't hold up in a down pour". Articles like this help others with the gear decision before buying heavy packs and then having to lighten up. I currently am trying to find the best 1-2 night pack for the money and the ULA packs look like a good choice. The Go-lites look like another option.

sage Clegg-Haman
(sageclegg) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Wise Women Go Light on 12/01/2009 01:43:31 MST Print View

This is great! I hope your words and courage to dump excess pack weight will inspire many other women to get out on the trail- there just aren't very many chics who go lite! Sage