View Full Version : Pack Slashing: An Ultra-lighter is born
Top suggested this be continued on another thread, so being the career private I am, I listen.:)
Moonbow Gearskin 28oz
Hennessey Hammock 34.5oz 4 stakes <to double as cat-hole diggers>
Ultralight Alcohol Stove Package 2oz<Dancing Light Gear:this is the same design I was making myself on the trail, but much better quality>
Titanium pot and lid 4oz
small bic lighter 1oz
20z bottle denatured alcohol 23oz total
lexan spoon .3oz
1 2 liter water bottle and 1oz camp carrier
2 polypro shirts/pants 24oz total... one set wicking layer while hiking/ one set camp clothes
fleece shirt/pants 26.2oz total... insulating layer while hiking
Gore-tex parka and rain pants 29oz total
2 pair synthetic blend Hiking socks 6oz total... one for hiking one for camp
sock liners 1.5oz
poly/fleece 'ear' cap 3oz
fleece neck gaiter
.5oz neosporin 5 or 6 'band-aids' and 3oz duct tape for first aid and blister treatment
collapsable tooth brush, paste, floss 3oz
3oz TPaper in ziploc
walking stick 24oz
3/4 cut ridgerest sleep pad: cut to just below my knees for a bit of pampering
Polar Pur instead of filtering
20 degree bag and liner
tiny swiss army knife
small spiral for walking journal and ink pen
whistle/compass <I think I recall seeing a combo somewhere>
I'm going to stick with the rain pants until i'm certain about how cold it will be when I begin the trail in early March. While my 'bad' knee doesn't hurt me alot when hiking, it is VERY cold sensitive. I hope to be proven wrong and will happily mail them home first oppourtunity. The fuel bottle seems to be a bit excess weight, I'm just reluctant to waste 2/3 of a can of alcohol to cut weight only to have to resupply a week later. My mission now is to find the shoes to suit me, get this wish list complete and broken in before March.
I'm far from done plying you good folks with questions. I greatly appreciate the time and advice you're lending me. Hope this isn't getting redundant for yall.
Everyone is a little different, so go ahead and take the clothing you plan until you have some trail time and know what your comfortable in and/or you get acclimated.
Some things I dont see that maybe you havent thought about yet.
If your going with running shoes, what will you do in cold wet weather? GoreTex socks?
No gloves or mittens? I suggest Wool trigger mittens. But they aren't the lightest. Another good combo is wool or fleece with the OR GoreTex shell mittens - 1.5 ounces for GoreTex mittens.
What are you keeping the clothing in? How about a sil-nylon sack from Moonbow or Equinox. Same for the sleeping bag. How about a pack cover or liner - trash compactor bags are good.
Moving on to kitchen, weigh the zip locks, they do have weight.
How about a few trick birthday candels as a back up fire starter?
Fuel. You can get 12 ounce bottles of HEET or a similar product. It's 99.something percent pure alcohol. That way you don't waste any.
Map, a compass isn't realy usefull unless you know which way to go.
Guidebook, but just the pages you need.
Soap? That is optional. Towel? a small camp towel is about 1.5 ounces.
There was a brief note in the other thread about the dangers of not carrying a shelter. If you are starting in March, I would carry a shelter, although I'm not sold on the Hammock idea. There are lots of people out and about and the chances of not getting space in a shelter are not ones I'd like to take. I'd guess that once you pass Neels Gap, things would thin out a bit. Unless you are prepared to move quickly and put in long days in potentially bad weather, I would carry a tent at least to the Smokys or NOC and then send it back.
When I mentionned not carrying a tent/tarp/whatever in another thread, I should have added the proviso that it should only be done by late April-May starters.
Ok, perhaps i'll only be a light-weight instead of an ultra-light. :D
Thanks for the reminder about the containers, I probably will go with a garbage disposal bag and ziplocs were an unspoken understood. I have continued to use a ziploc wallet in 'the real world' since 2000, when I carry one at all.
I'm seriously comsidering delaying my start 2 weeks to a month to avoid as much of the cold weather as possible, as well as being more on course to make Trail Days. If I do delay my start I'm going to pass on the Hennessey and shelter hop and carry a tarp, which will also allow me to trim a bit of the cold weather clothing. Goodness knows I don't want to wait 10 more minutes from right now to start, muchless 7 months. I'll have to see how things pan out along the way.
Don't everyone beat me up on this, but as to shelter and hammocks. Different people have different tollerences to cold and know what works for them. I'll never forget the knucklehead from Alaska that I was statione with in Germany, he wore shorts and t-shirts in the winter all the time.
My point is this. If your not going until next spring, then get you hammock and what you plan to use out in the woods on some shake downs. Figure out what you can and connot deal with and what works for you.
Personally I plan to take my hammock on a March 10 start date (2004 or 2007, whatever the Army lets me do) and I have figured out what works for me to make it possible.
1. A 20 degree bag and WIDE closed cell foam pad. If I were to buy a new bag, I would seriously look at the FF Rock Wren II. For pads, I've just got an Ozark Trails 24"x72"x1/2" that shows some promise.
2. When it gets into the single digits I add some clothing.
3. If it gets real bad I set up the hammock as a bivy.
4. If you really need to just tarp, the tarp on the A-Sym is big enough for some cool tarp pitches. Check out my poncho/tarp which is about the same size: http://www.hikinghq.net/gear/poncho_tarp.html
Anyway, my main point is to do some shakedown hikes first. Shelter hopping is a method based on hope, and hope is not a method of success. But I also don't think you need a tent, I've slept on the ground in a German snowstorm with only a tarp over my body. Aclimation and familiarization!
Not to get hung up too much on terms, but you can be "ultralight" AND be prepared fully; these are not inconsistent terms. For instance, even Ray Jardin - the God of Ultralight - refers to it as "lightweight backpacking". And most of us agree that the weight class BELOW "ultralight" is called "stupid", and the one below that "dead".
There are a lot of descriptions. But my personal working definition of "ultralight" goes something like this:
"An ultralight backpacker carries with him or her every item that is reasonably necessary for safe, comfortable and efficient backpacking, taking special care that each item is either purchased or constructed from the lightest materials that are commercially available, and avoiding items that would not receive at least daily use over a long-term trip, even if the trip is of short duration. A rough rule of thumb is that every item carried should have at least 2, and preferably 3, uses."
Now that means having items that cover the classic categories (see Colin Fletcher's "Complete Walker IV") are covered: House (shelter), bedroom (bedroll), kitchen, closet (clothing), bathroom (hygiene), living room (comfort). Just like you wouldn't live on a lot without a house, you need to insure you have "housing" every night - such as a tent, bivy, tarp or hammock.
The difference between "normal" backpackers - striving to be "light" but not as obsessive as we are - and "ultralighters" is that we'll look at a tent and say, "Yeah, it's comfy. But it's 4# for one person. Too much. I want my hammock, at 40 ounces." But we'll also say, "Yeah, Sarge. You and me for a week? Tent at 4# shared between us! Bring the tent." Regulars bring a toothbrush; lightweighters cut half the handle off; anal-retentive obsessive "ultralighters" either drill holes in the rest of the handle OR leave it at home and make a brush each night from a twig.
It's an attitude, and almost a Zen one: Less really does become more, and the "more" you get "less", the "more" your enjoyment. But not to the point where the "less" becomes "reckLESS".
About shelter hopping. I would disagree that shelter hopping is a matter of hope. I do think that if you begin with all them other masses in the foul Georgia March and early April, shelters will be full and you will be hiking long and far in bad weather. On the other hand, if you wait until late April to leave, shelters will be more or less empty and the weather pleasant. If I was going to start a thruhike in mid March, I'd actually carry a tent and deal with the weight until somewhere in the vicinity of the Smokys.
Then, I would probably shelter hop the rest of the way.
SGT. Rock gave one of the best pieces of advice:
Shake down your gear. You'll find out in a hurry what doesn't work, particularly if you go out in less than pleasant conditions.
Thanks Chris, I treat every hike as a shake down for the next.
What I mean by hope is not a method of success: If you hope that shelters will not be full, or weather will not catch you, or that you can make shelters with lots of time, then given the laws of averages you will probably fail. Carrying 11 ounces for a small tarp is like cheap insurance. It may not be the best, but at least it is something in case of the worst.
About shaking down:
I personally ascribe to the mind and body as your first pieces of gear. I think too many people focus on the gear when trying to go light and not on the skills, knowledge, and attitude that is required. If a person decides to go with a tarp and one set of clothing without first training themselves to do that, they could be in for a miserable experience.
Before embarking on a long hike with gear, test the limits in hash conditions. Train yourself to use that gear in harsh conditions. We have a saying in the Army "If it ain't raining, you ain't training". I actually hope for rain on my hikes. Cold weather? I picked an ice storm in 2000 to hike the Pinhoti trail to see what really bad, cold weather percautions I should make were.
Besides shaking down your gear, you're shaking down your skills, shaking down what your expectations should be, shaking down your techniques, and shaking down your attitude of actually living in the field.
Anyway, that is my rant for today...
You are right again, SGT. Rock. Each hike is a shakedown, not just of gear, but of skills and mental attitude. The harsher the environment, the better the test. Mind and skills are vastly more important than gear. That is why experience is important.
I disagree, however, on viewing using shelters as a method based on hope. It depends on when you are hiking. Of my 25 nights out of doors on the AT, all were in shelters, 5 times I was the only one there, twice the shelters were almost filled to capacity, and the rest of the time they were half full, more or less. This was during the month of May in the southern Appalachians.
Of course, there is a measure of hope involved. I am hoping that the shelter has space, but if it doesn't, I can always hike on to the next one (or the one after that). Or I can sleep underneath the shelter or under the eaves/porch (for the fancy ones). But, I think that one can make a fairly strong argument that outside of March and weekends in popular areas in mid-late summer, you will be able to find shelter space.
OK, I think I posted the statistic elsewhere, but I planned my hike to stay predominately at shelters. I carried a tent "just in case."
I actually used the tent about 30% of the time. I really appreciated the flexibility that it gave me. To me, it was worth the weight. And conventional wisdom says carry the tent/tarp/ or some shelter with you.
I have to say I did about 50/50. I started staying in shelters more this year because I was hiking alone for days, as I was ahead of the big crowd and found I liked talking once in a while. On the flip side in 01 I swore off shelters as I just plain got a more comfortable nights sleep in my hammock and the trail was so crowded I just wanted off on my own. Two different years, two different senerios.
Also having an emergency shelter lets you take off and sleep in some really cool side trails, waterfalls, etc. Not that you can't sleep under the stars. I did that many beautiful nights up on summits as well.
HAMMOCK HANGER :D
Gear is obviously important. And going lightweight can make the difference between enjoying the hike and suffering terribly. But I think a lot of people focus too much on the gear and not enough on their physical conditioning and their mental preparation. If you're not in shape at the very beginning, it's not going to be much fun (for a long time, I might add). In my opinion, most of the dropouts that occur in the first 100 miles happen because people don't bother to prepare themselves enough physically.
At my pace, about 12 mi/day, hiking the trail is like running a half marathon over hilly terrain for 178 straight days. That is an ultra marathon by any definition. Yes, a lot of people work themselves into shape over the first two months, but they're the exception, not the rule. One woman I met started off counting off 50 steps, pausing and taking ten deep breaths, then tackling the next 50 steps. I never thought she'd make it, but an iron will carried her through. Most people simply don't have that kind of willpower. Almost everybody underestimates how tough the Trail is going to be.
Mental preparation is critical. Before you leave on a thru hike, repeat this over and over to yourself and accept the reality of it: "I'm going to be wet and probably cold for stretches that may last two weeks or more. I'm going to be miserable at times." If that is not something you can swallow, you probably shouldn't attempt a thru hike.
Repeat this also: I am going to have to put up with a series of nagging aches and pains that seem to spring out of nowhere but will eventually disappear (or be superceded by another pain).
I for one am hooked on custom made to fit silnylon poncho/tarp set ups. Double duty and you always have shelter!
Someone stated earlier that with the exception of the south in March or popular areas on weekends you can bank on getting shelter space...I would agree as long as you are getting to the shelter by noon or 1pm...I would never assume you will get space in a shelter on the AT. Just my opinion.
one scout troop and if you have no backup shelter you are tattoed! too many super lightweight options to not have a backup....SGT Rock's poncho/hammock fly combo is brilliant....and the almost infinite variability of the hammock is something to study with the utmost sincerity....me, even for day hikes I take a tube-tent, it is out of sil-nyl and has bug netting, but for 12oz it is hard to beat.
I would also add ibuprofin, and a sterile gauze bandage. Only bring 2 bandaids to compensate for these weights (if your that picky down to the 1/8oz). I would also add an emergency whistle (not one withe a ball), anbesol (1/2oz tube that numbs all mucus membranes ie. mouth problems), and a compass. I've found that a map is almost useless, unless you can find a clear cut area, or have an altimeter. I always study a map of where I'm venturing into, and know what lies in every direction of the area I'm hiking in. In emergencies I would just use a compass to follow a single direction (also roughing the given magnetic pole adjustment). I've used this tactic on trails in my area and it works pretty good. Just make sure you study the map well, and pick a good escape route direction. No steep grades/cliffs. I'm hoping to bring a 2oz digital altimeter/thermometer/compass on my 2004 AT attempt, which ties to your pack. Using an accurate altimeter, finding your location even on a crappy guidebook map is easy so long as summit/valley elevations are listed. I think I may get the Brunton Sherpa.
Rock knows alot about map/compass though. My methods work, but are kinda crude.
I was wondering if the ultra-light hikers shave their body clean of hair...I mean hair does weigh something right? I can see it now, in 5 years people will be walking down the AT nude and shaved completely to save weight.
Well you only need one arm too. I suppose an arm amputation could save you 20 pounds :D
In my attempts to lessen the amount of weight that I have to haul up hill and over dale, I've concentrated on leaving more of myself behind. That is, the big buddha has now been reduced to lil' buddha. Getting fit has made all the difference in the world with my hiking, perhaps much more so than exchanging a 9oz cook pot for a 5 oz one.
About shelters: 28 days in May in the South,
25 nights in shelters, 2 full. The two full ones were Standing Indian and Brown Fork. I arrived early at Standing Indian and it later filled up. Two thruhikers (the Trees) slept on the porch. I arrived late (8ish) at Brown Fork and Paul Revere and I got the last two spots. Lots of people camped out in tents. Most of the other shelters were well under half capacity. I had 5 nights, including 2 in the Smokys, in which I was the only human in the shelter. I think shelter hopping is a perfectly safe and pleasant way do a thruhike, at least if you do not start with the crowds.
Having a plan is necessary, though. Shelter hopping without thinking about the consequences of arriving at a full shelter is not good. My plan? Keep hiking, sleep on the porch, sleep outside, sleep underneath, whatever seemed prudent at the time. Most shelters are not far apart and I know that I can easily reach the next one without too much effort. If that one is full? Keep hiking, repeat until done.
A small bit of fine tuning:
(1) Don't take a pen. Pens get disappointing performance. Take a golf pencil. Lighter than the pen, and always works! Saves about 5 grams.
(2) I would replace the rain pants with fleece (long) underwear. Several reasons: You know the rain pants debate, and they ARE sweaty. Fleece pants are warming even when wet under your regular pants during the day, dry fast, and (dry or wet) warming inside a sleeping bag. Weight differential should be nil.
(3) Replace the neck gaiter with a bandana. More uses.
(4) Compass and map are essential. Don't EVER try to just "head west" off the trail. Lightweight plastic SMALL compass ball (gives major directions) is 1 oz.