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  1. #1
    Registered User -Ghost-'s Avatar
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    Default How light can you get it?

    First off....new member....first post. Been dreaming of hiking the AT ever since i read A Walk In the Woods as im sure 100% of you have read. Im 18 now and going to college at West Virginia University. Planning on taking a semester off and a summer and Thru Hiking the AT with one of my friends. I have been browsing the forums for a few months now and am DEFINITELY not new to backpacking. Im an Eagle scout and have had a lot of exposure due to backpacking through the Scouts. Done plenty of week long trips etc. But nothing of this magnitude. Now to the actual quesiton....

    My friend and i want to hike the trail relatively fast compared to most people. Seeing as we are young and in pretty good shape can handle a good amount of miles per day. We're aiming at around 15 at least, to 20+ per day, and we want to get ours packs light. As i said, im not new to backpacking, but i am new to pretty ultralight packing. I just want to know about how light is it possible to get the pack while still being comfortable? Also, no tarp tents for me...i like my MSR Hubba. I always use a filter or some form of treatment, and no homemade alcohol stoves either. Also, i was looking at an Osprey 50 liter pack to use, good choice? Any info or input would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Wow, well that is a really open ended question. If you were to stick with your choices in pack, filter, and stove (you didn't really specify) I would have to say just off the cuff you could do a 15 pound base weight and maybe a 25-30 pound weight with food and water.

    What would probably help you more is post a packing list of what you have and somehow denote the things you do not want to change.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

  3. #3
    Registered User stoikurt's Avatar
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    By not looking different options for tentage, water purification and cooking you are taking yourself out of the Ultralight hiking group but you may still be able to find some ways to lighten the load. There are many great articles on this site to guide you into lightweight backpacking. By far the best idea I have picked up on is to make a spreadsheet of all your equipment. Then find access to some postage scales and weight everything. Then you can see where all the hefty items are begins looking for different options in each category.

    I used to tote around a 35-40 pound pack. Now my base weight (less food and water) is 17.5 pounds. I know there are still things I could do to lighten even more but I'm happy where I'm at right now.
    Stoikurt
    Don't Live to Work...Work to Live!

  4. #4
    Registered User -Ghost-'s Avatar
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    Sorry about the open ended question. I have so many questions that i seem a bit overwhelmed at the time. My dilemma is that my date to hike the trail is so far away that i have a feeling my pack list is going to change drastically by the time that it comes to leave. I was trying to ask a specific question while being extremely ambiguous haha. Maybe i should have asked if it was possible to get pack weight into the high 20s-low 30s while still being comfortable.....

  5. #5
    Thru' hiker one weekend at a time... vipahman's Avatar
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    Very light. The advantage of hiking with a friend are sharing the tent, stove, filter (and weight). It can bring the combined weight down even further. Since you are interested in UL hiking, I suggest investing in a little kitchen/postal scale and weighing all your gear and clothing. Input the stuff into a spreadsheet and watch the ounces drop.

    It worked for me. I went from somewhere north of 40 lbs to about 8 lbs. Of course there was a fair amount of $$$ involved to get there. But then again, I use a home-made alcohol stove.

    I strongly recommend a spreadsheet.
    -Avi
    AT completed: NJ6-1, NY13-2, CT5-2

  6. #6
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Check out the article on packing lists and dirbagging. There is a spreadsheet you can use and some ideas for light gear.

    Once you figure out what you have, look for the things you think you want and do not have yet and post that with weights. Then people can offer suggestions before you spend money.

    As to high 20s to low 30s, you can probably make that.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  7. #7

    Default Welcome to Whiteblaze!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tea
    I just want to know about how light is it possible to get the pack while still being comfortable?
    Tea! That's simply up to you, and what your level of "comfort" is. And always remember that a well constructed and properly fitted backpack will carry more weight and will feel lighter than a flimsy ill-fitted pack. It's not always the weight, it's how you carry it.
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

  8. #8
    Registered User -Ghost-'s Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies!

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    why no alcohol stove? I just started using one this summer and they work well and weight a bunch less then my old wisperlight. SGT Rock has built some that are super efficient also. I understand you may like your stove and that is cool I was just wondering. I like the look of the Hubba tent but I have just got a Hennessey Hammock and it is sweet Sgt Rock helped with that also i have never slept so well. I like the Henry Shire tents If I every buy another tent I think I might go that way. Your base weight will not be that heavy but to get a really low weight the big 3 have to be super light.

  10. #10
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Hi, Tea, and welcome. You are right that your packing list will likely change a few times before you hike.

    You said you wanted to take off a semester and a summer and hike. That implies that you want to leave in early spring and hike Northbound, and finish in time to start the fall semester. If you start March 1, you have about 5.5 months to finish before the typical fall semester begins. You could start earlier, of course, but then you'll get much more winter weather, and you'll likely need heavier clothing and gear....

    Let me suggest that you also consider starting in June from Maine, and hiking south to Georgia. This gives you over 7 months to complete your hike before the next spring semester begins. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to going in each direction.

    To answer your (open-ended) question on weight, the other members are right -- it depends on a lot of factors. "Comfort" is a very personal thing -- what makes me comfortable in camp might seem very Spartan to one hiker, and complete decadence to others. That said, I carry a 3-season base weight (everything except food and water) of about 15 pounds, which is hardly ultralight, but rather is "fairly" light. That puts my total pack weight coming out of a resupply at just under 30 pounds. Add about 5 pounds to both weights for cold-weather hiking, and 5 more pounds for deep winter. Again, these are my weights, and others will likely laugh at my list. ("You fool, you don't need the left-handed smoke shifter!!! Ha ha ha!!!" -- that's what they'll say.)

    Now try looking at pack weight from a different angle. Instead of packing up all your gear, then trying to decide what to leave behind, try starting from nothing, and decide what to take. Weigh all your gear, then start figuring out what you *need* to survive. Put that in the Yes pile. Then everything else is a luxury, and you have to decide whether having that luxury is worth carrying the weight. (Of course, the "need to survive" list changes not only with the weather, but with your experience and confidence level.) With more hikinhg experience, you can also decide which gear you'd like to keep, and which can be replaced with lighter options.

    Above all, have fun with all the planning.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  11. #11
    Registered User rockrat's Avatar
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    I have pretty much the same set up as you. I use a 2oz butane stove, and a filter always. I do use a tarp tent,but it on the heavier side as tarp tents go. With a ULA pack I have a base weight of 14.6 lbs. If I invested a little more in a lighter sleeping bag (mines 2lbs 6oz), and switched to a lighter filter I could probably knock it down a pound. I always carry 2 Nalgenes so that adds 4lbs and about 5lbs in food for 4 days. Total wieght for 4 days then is about 24lbs.
    Getting lost only makes things more interesting.

  12. #12
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    to WB, Tea!! Search this site, inside and out,,, lot's of great info!

  13. #13
    Registered User Long feet's Avatar
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    Default 2 pound nalgene bottles?

    Quote Originally Posted by rockrat
    I always carry 2 Nalgenes so that adds 4lbs and about 5lbs in food for 4 days. Total wieght for 4 days then is about 24lbs.
    Yes I remember the old lead nalgene bottles I don't know why they stopped making them. They were only 2 pounds each

  14. #14

    Default

    to Whiteblaze and the clan of the white liners.

    I think you could do very well if, as others have said, there are two of you to share the load. My suggestions would be to use down bags, synthetic filled insulative clothing and a cannister stove. The PocketRocket by MSR comes to mind, as does the Snow Peak gigapower stove. If you just rehydrate food and do little actual cooking, the Jetboil system is just about the most fuel efficient system out there. The downsides of pressurized cannister stoves are :
    1) Cost of fuel
    2) Availability of cannisters (not much of a problem on the AT). and
    3) Once in a very great while the cannisters don't seal properly when you remove the burner assembly, and you find out at your next meal that your fuel is gone.
    You can't beat the ease of use, however.
    When I hike solo (most of the time), I use Esbit tabs or wood fires, and, occasionally I will bring an alcohol stove, but none of the above (except wood fires) can match the BTU output of a pressurized cannister stove.

    As you said, your gear list will likely change as your hike approaches. I would hold off on getting your pack (if you have a usable one now) until you figure out what you need to bring and what you can do without. I've found that I "need" three or four packs for every type and length of hike I take. If I were to thruhike right now with what I own, I'd start off with my Hilleberg Akto tent, my Feathered Friends Great Auk sleeping bag, and my old Gregory Shasta pack. As soon as it got warm enough, I'd switch to my Hennessy Hammock, a frameless pack, and a lighter sleeping bag, saving at least six pounds, probably closer to eight.

    Do a few week long hikes to get a feel of what you'll need for a thruhike. I'm a section hiker, and have done several week long hikes. From what I've learned from thruhikers, once you've gotten your gear list figured out, the biggest problem you'll have is keeping your body fueled and injury free for weeks on end.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  15. #15
    Registered User Disney's Avatar
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    I finally switched from my whisperlite to one of SGT Rock's. It's less than a half an ounce and I've never looked back. I'd seriously consider it if I were you. I also started out with a filter and switched to bleach/aquamira. I promise you, it's not worth the extra weight. If you actually are concerned about comfort, spend those extra pounds on something more important, like a MP3 CD player, or a more comfortable sleeping pad. Don't waste those pounds on something you'll get used to in 3 days.

  16. #16
    Registered User Disney's Avatar
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    By the way, check out As Far as the Eye Can See by David Brill. My favorite book on thru hiking. If not that one, grab one of the many others by someone who completed a hike.

    Here's a good thread.

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/show...highlight=book

  17. #17

    Default

    Since you have time, may i suggest that you rethink EVERYTHING. ie.

    Keep your eyes open for a lighter spoon than you now use (i eventually found an aluminum one that is the lightest i've ever seen),
    Discover sil-nylon and make your own stuff sack out of it. (don't make them bigger than you need), carry the data book only, a thin sleeping pad cut in half may be all you need (you have the advantage of youth and like someone above said, in 3 or 4 days you'll get used to your system),
    Use an empty soda bottle instead of nalgene or those dromidary bags (they are heavy and leak when it gets really cold), go with down for a sleeping bag (get a good one),
    If you want to go fast, forget the hiking poles, they slow you down. (you will get lots of argument on this one but just go out and try it both ways, you'll see what i mean),
    Don't carry things you don't use on your practice hikes, you don't need much. (the AT is not very remote and first aid kits tend to be overkill for one thing),
    Be prepared to go it alone if you and your buddy don't get along after a while (have the extra equip ready to be sent out), etc. etc. etc.
    Best thing is spend a lot of time on this website and judge ALL of your gear.

    As far as food goes: since you haven't done a whole lot of hiking, you can probably still eat Ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, instant coffee, etc. (these are lighweight food alternatives but unfortunately most hikers get sick of them after 150 meals or so.) (also remember that Snickers bars have the most calories per weight, they may become your best friend)

    Most importantly: Keep an open mind on EVERYTHING. Nothing is written in stone and everyone must Hike His Own Hike!
    Last edited by fiddlehead; 09-19-2006 at 05:25.

  18. #18
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    Default It's only weight

    If you only carry what you use every single day and forget most of the rest your pack won't weight a whole lot...don't stress too much about it. I've seen people obsess about weight, spend heaps of extra money and only come in a pound or two lighter than others who could care less.

    I carry a 4lb pack, 2.5lb bag, 3lb shelter, etc...and my pack doesn't usually weigh more than about 25-28lbs (including food and water) when leaving a typical town. I could go a few pounds lighter but it's not much of a concern for me really. If you plan on knocking out 20 a day you will risk injury regardless of your pack weight, so keep that in mind. Obviously the heavier the pack the more the risk, although I have problems with my knee when the wind blows!!!

  19. #19
    Right at table height for bears in my hammock! speedy's Avatar
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    First off, congrats on getting an eagle badge. That's an accomplishment to be proud of. Glad to hear you're going to try this. 20+ mile consecutive days are going to require a few things:

    The first is training. Go to your school's gym and attempt to wear out their treadmill before you leave. Most hikers have the luxury of easing into higher and higher mileage for a few weeks. You're wanting to start with high mileage and keep it.

    Second, you'll need a set of trekking poles if you're going to consistently carry that much weight over that much distance. It just makes sense to spread the work of ascents over all four limbs, as well as the shock of descents. While they were my most expensive hiking purchase to date, I use gossamer gear's lightrek poles and absolutely love them.

    Third, you'll need shoes you love so much that you'll want to be burried in them. Try on as many different ones as you can. Talk to shoe salesmen at as many outfitters as you can. It doesn't take long to figure out who knows their stuff and who doesn't. Shoe size fitment is more than just the length of your foot. It's also the proportion of lengths between different parts of your foot. With you being a scout, I'm willing to bet you have a good pair of hiking boots. As hard as it is, you've got to let them go. Hiking boots are great for 10 mi a day in rough terrain while bushwhacking. 20+ mile days on the AT is closer to a marathon than bushwhacking. Look for some sort of trail runner and buy based on fitment and quality of construction (This is where that knowledgeable shoe guy comes in handy. He should be able to tell you faily closely how many miles the shoe will last as well as what part of the shoe will fail first.). My personal favorites are montrail's and inov-8's, but that is just because they fit.

    Lastly, you'll need to rethink a lot of your pack. For that matter, rethink how you're choosing your pack. For example, Osprey makes two 50 L packs. One's red and one's yellow. I think you should pick the yellow, it matches my hat! As dumb as that sounds, it'd be even dumber for me to suggest a pack to you. Like shoes, packs are just one of those thing you have to try on (and make sure you do it with weight in the pack). There's an REI in Pittsburgh if you don't have anything closer. If you were asking if Osprey is a good brand with quality construction, then yes. As are most of the companies you'll encounter. I'd steer clear of JanSport (should be sold at wal-mart not outfitters), Alpine Lowe (just not very forward thinking imo), and Kelty (unnecessarily heavy).

    Oh, and check out this website.

    Post an excel gear list as soon as you can (PM me if you need a place to host it) and you'll shave the most weight off. Even if it's not complete or your final list, you've got to start somewhere.

    I know this pretty much all flies in the face of your scout training (the guy I usually hike with was a scout. eagle too I think.), but there is one gigantic difference between what you are about to attempt and the scouts. When you were in the scouts, it was pretty much about camping, this is all about hiking. Small change in thought with huge ramifications. speedy
    "i came to hike, not bail" neo

  20. #20
    Registered User hammock engineer's Avatar
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    There is some really good advice here. One thing that really helped me is to think of my gear as an evolution. It also helps that I think there is always a better way of doing things (too much engineer brainwashing on this one).

    I'll second or third the scale. I got a cheap postal scale off of ebay. After putting it into an excel file, everything made sense and the weight dropped off.

    Someone else on WB says this, so I can not take credit. The more you carry the more you enjoy camping and the less you carry the more you enjoy hiking.

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