Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

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Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by sparklehorse » August 30th, 2008, 4:58 pm

In response to Granny's suggestion, here's the gear list from my recent Indian Heaven trip. Take what you will from it, but it's still too heavy in my opinion so any ideas for improvement are certainly welcome. Or just post your own gear list here for folks to peruse, you never know what might be helpful to someone.

Gossamer Gear Murmur pack w/ torso pad inserted + water bottle holster - 12 ozs

Tarptent Squall 2 (w/ floor, bug netting, 4 ti stakes & 1 “extra” pole) - 36 ozs

Marmot Hydrogen down sleeping bag (in stuff sack + sealed in garbage bag) - 24 ozs
BA Clearview 2.5” inflatable sleeping pad , 20”x72” in silnylon sack - 17 ozs

Pack / Shelter / Sleeping Total: 89 ozs

Clothing / Rain Gear:
Silnylon pack cover - 3.0 oz
Mont-bell UL Trekking Umbrella - 5.5 oz
Mont-bell Windshirt - 3.25 oz
REI goretex rain hat - 1.75 oz
Aqua Shoes for stream crossings - 1.5 oz
Mont-bell UL down inner jacket - 8.0 oz
SmartWool merino wool cap - 2 oz
Waterproof / breathable gloves - 1.5 ozs
Capilene thermal top - 6 ozs
Thermasilk bottoms - 4 ozs
Extra pair Smartwool socks - 2 ozs
Extra pair Capilene underwear briefs - 3 ozs
Bugnet - 1.25 ozs

Clothing / Raingear Total: 42.75 ozs

Cooking / Kitchen:
BPL 900 ti pot w/lid - 2.75 ozs
Plastic cup from REI - .75 ozs
Trail Designs 12/10 alcohol stove - .5 ozs
Trail Designs Caldera Cone (windscreen/pot stand) for BPL900 pot - 1.5 ozs
Empty 6-oz alcohol fuel bottle + meas cup - .75 oz
Firesteel magnesium striker - .5 oz
Empty PET bottle to hold cone, alcohol, cup, firesteel - 1.0 oz
Kitchen kit (Ti spoon, salt-pepper, paper twls, sm bottle of soap) in stuff sack - 2.5 oz
Bear bag kit - 3 oz

Cooking / Kitchen Total: 13.25 ozs

1 – 25 oz plastic PET type water (softdrink) bottle (28mm thread): - 1 oz
1 – 1 liter Platypus bottle: - 1 oz

Hydration Total: 2.0 ozs

Water Treatment:
Aqua Mira Frontier Pro bite valve (straw) type water filter for PET type bottles - 3 oz
2- .25 oz capacity BPL dropper bottles of KlearWater chlorine dioxide - 1 oz

Water Treatment Total: 4.0 ozs

Latrine / Hygiene:
Roll of TP + trowel + hand sanitizer in stuff sack - 8 oz
Toothbrush + toothpaste + washcloth in stuff sack - 2.5 ozs

Latrine / Hygiene Total: 10.5 ozs

Sunscreen / Bug Spray:

Spray bottle of sunscreen - 1.5 ozs
2 oz spray bottle of Sawyer’s 20% Picaridin repellant - 2.5 ozs

Sunscreen / Bug Spray Total: 4.0 ozs

Flashlight / First Aid / Field Repair / Survival:

Black Diamond Ion headlamp, extra battery, matches, compass, signal mirror, whistle, 30’ spectra line, needle, thread, band-aids, pain killers, blister dressing, anti-chafing stick, chlorine dioxide tablets, small multi-tool w/pliers, razor blade, floss, earplugs, pepto bismal tablets, tums, zip ties, rubber bands, large safety pin, Benadryl cream, Photon Freedom Micro Light, sleeping pad patch kit.

Flashlight / First Aid / Field Repair / Survival Total: 9.75 ozs

Luxury Items:
Sangean DT-300-VW am/fm/weather radio w/headphones - 4 ozs
iPod Shuffle - .5 ozs
Coghlan Digital Thermometer (records max/min temps) - 1 oz

Luxury Items Total: 5.5 ozs

Total Base Pack Weight (not including food, water, fuel, camera or items worn): 180.75 ounces (11.29 lbs)

Here's the loaded GG Murmur pack and a 25oz. PET type water bottle w/Frontier Pro filter attached ...
You have to milk the cow a lot to make a bit of cheese.
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by Charley » August 31st, 2008, 8:00 pm

Grannyhiker suggested sharing tips for lightweight hiking in the Gear column (I've cut and paste the following from a trip report).

I think I'm probably not a good spokesman for gear- I just do what they say to do at

I use a 10 oz poncho tarp (Golite- $50) for shelter. I guess tarping isn't for everyone, but I love the views, and I love the weight. I've been in the tarp during plenty of rain, and it's a beautiful way to experience the weather. I don't camp above treeline, I guess, but I'm not particularly attracted to that anyway. The single, and I mean the only, problem, is that there's no bug protection. But I've got DEET, and I can stand some bugs (didn't go to Indian Heaven this year!). My preference is to sleep out in the open- so I only set up the tarp when I'm worried about weather.

I use a Lafuma "Warm n Light" down 30 degree mummy bag (I've had it down to about 30, and it's sufficient) which weighs 29 oz. Now that I have an income (I was between jobs when I bought that bag, and it was on sale) I'd probably get a Western Mountaineering bag, for quality, but this works fine.

I use Gossamer Gear foam sleeping pads- a 1/2 inch egg crate pattern torso pad, and a full length 1/8th inch pad when it's colder, or my hips hurt from the previous night on the torse pad alone! I roll around a lot, so I put the bag and pads inside a Equinox Bivy- it weighs 6.5oz, and it keeps me on top of the pads and adds wind and splash protection.

My backpack is the Whisper from Gossamer Gear (discontinued and replaced by a marginally heavier pack with more useful features) which weighs about 4 oz. It's a nylon spinnaker sack, with shoulder straps (no hipbelt). I did a 76 mile, 4 night trip earlier this year, and I took a Gossamer Gear Mariposa, which was better for the 18 lb load (including 4.5 days' food- 8 lbs). The Mariposa has a hipbelt, but I prefer the Whisper- it sits real close on my back, and I barely feel it!

I think the most important overlooked way to lose pack weight is to pare the clothing down to the essentials- I wear trail running shorts year round (I add merino wool longjohns in cold weather), merino wool top, trail running shoes, a Columbia fleece (since I take a down insulation sleeping bag, I take synthetic for all other insulation), a fleece cap, and a "Buff" which I use as a face warmer on cold nights. I have the poncho tarp for rain, a windshirt for it's-raining-while-setting-up-the-poncho-tarp, and depending on the weather, rainpants (Driducks- they weigh nothing and are super breathable). I depend on the fast drying properties of my clothing because I have nothing to change into, and that's worked really well so far. But when I started backpacking, I carried a change of clothing. The one change I definitely carry is a dry pair of socks for sleeping only- my feet often get wet while fording streams or walking in brush, and I can count on happy toes when I sleep. (And unhappy toes the next morning, when I put on wet, freezing socks to start walking!)

I use an alcohol stove (not homemade) which weighs about 2 oz.

Food is also a big deal- I aim for an average of 125/oz. So I'm eating a calorie dense diet including foods at about 150cal/oz like Fred Meyer Wheat Crisps, trail mix with Cashew and Peanuts, balanced with foods like Clif Bars (104cal/oz) and couscous dinners fortified with Baco Bits and dehydrated milk. This keeps the food weight down to about 2 lbs per day. I boil my meals in their bags to save on cleaning time.

I use a chlorine solution to purify water (Aqua Mira-haven't got sick yet, and there's no taste like with iodine), not a heavy filter. I carry a tiny Swiss Army knife (not a multi-tool), a Pezl eLite (small headlamp- not great for navigating at night, but I just use when I make dinner), a minimal First Aid kit, focusing on the ailments I know how to deal with (stomach troubles, small cuts, pain, blisters (though I don't get any)), eye dropper bottles of chemicals I need (Purell alcohol solution, DT), my camera is a 4 oz Pentax (Optio WP- it's waterproof!), and I don't carry extra trail junk (booze. . . extra food packaging, spare parts), I leave my phone in the car (it'll just get wet and be destroyed, and probably won't work out there anyway), and I carry a state ID, health insurance card, credit card and $20 bill in a birth-control-pill-container-wallet.

My best recommendation for going light is to start by getting a wardrobe of high quality wool undergarments, synthetic insulation, and a good rain suit. That's because the biggest killer out there is hypothermia, and hypothermia's friend is wet clothing. Beyond that, get a really good sleeping bag, then a tarp or poncho tarp (or a lightweight tent or tarp-tent), and only then, get a lightweight backpack. That's because a light or ultralite backpack will fall apart (and kill your shoulders) under any heavy weight. The sleeping pad issue is one of the most crucial choices- mine works for me, but I wouldn't characterize it as "comfy." Older I get, I'll be likely to get an inflatable pad (Backpackinglight sells one that is light and sturdy). Then, after lightening the load up top, get yourself some trail running shoes, and give your feet a break!

They say that if you can get the weight of the big three (sleeping bag, backpack, shelter) down to under 2lbs a piece, you'll be well on the way to lightweight walking. I guess my three weigh a combined 44 oz (2.75 lbs), so right there I'm not carrying too much.

One final recommendation- don't shop at REI for this gear (Sorry, REI, you know I love you, but your backpacking gear is heavy!). Especially backpacks- their selection of packs are the poster children of 7 lb backbusters. Don't buy. They don't carry the lightest backpacking stoves, shelters (try looking for a tarp), rain gear, or sleeping pads. (They do, on the other hand, have neat little containers and plastic bags that work well for organizing the contents of your bag). I shop there all the time for other things, but I can't find many true lightweight products. Next Adventure does carry some lightweight gear, as does the Mountain Shop. But ordering from the Internets is the best way to go. Much of the best gear is made at Mom and Pop shops here in the good old USA, and they have personable service, so it's a pleasure.

Ultralite is the only way I'll backpack. I've tried it the other way, and I've decided I'm not a mule. That said, it's definitely a world of trade offs. Sometimes a heavy tent would be warmer, and a bigger pad would be more plush. But then I'd miss the cold sunrises from the front porch of my tarp, and I don't want to spend all the waking hours of my day carrying equipment that only makes me more comfortable in camp. Since I walk all day long, anyway (I arrive, cook, eat, hang bear bag, sleep, untie bear bag, pack up, and eat granola bar breakfast as I walk out of the camp), my on-trail comfort is more important. If I wanted to be warm and comfy, I'd stay home on my nice couch!
Hope you enjoyed reading. Check out for better informed perspectives.

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by Charley » August 31st, 2008, 8:15 pm

In a friendly spirit, and only since you've requested it, here's my two cents:
The big two recommendations:
try a tarp during the summer, or look into "The One" by Gossamer Gear, for a truly lightweight tent;
try a full length GG pad, with a BPL inflatable pad for sleeping;
Small bore ideas:
try plastic bags inside the backpack to replace the rain cover for the backpack;
go smelly! and leave the extra underwear in the car (hah);
use a stick instead of a trowel-it seems heavy, and I've had luck with sticks!;
replace the multi tool with something lighter (Swiss Army pocket knife, or even an old fashioned razor);
since you have spare socks, maybe you can leave the stream crossing footwear at home , wearing your shoes for crossings and changing into dry socks in camp;
what about adding the salt and pepper to your meals at home, saving on the weight and complexity of bringing both. . .

If these ideas are useful, glad to help. If they make you want to hit the computer. . . Sorry!

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by BCJ » August 31st, 2008, 9:49 pm

I always count water containers, camera gear and fuel in my base weight as that is stuff that is pretty much the same on most trips.

As was mentioned before, I would get rid of that trowel...use a trekking pole or a stick or my favorite of lifting out a rock and replacing it.

I used to be an two to four-day pack weighed in the neighborhood of 9lbs (including fuel, camera gear, etc.) and I found that adding about 3-4 pounds made a huge difference in my comfort (Big Agnes pad at 21oz., better food, etc.) and really didn't change my energy level so now I'm a lightweighter and not an ultralighter. I sleep much better and generally have a more enjoyable wilderness experience. That said, I have done a summer weekend trip with a baseweight of about four pounds just to try it out...wasn't bad.

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by Grannyhiker » September 1st, 2008, 12:48 am

I'm in the process of re-evaluating my gear list (which is why I requested this thread) so will post mine when I've redone it (hopefully by Tuesday night, since I want to go out again Wednesday). My experiences in the Winds and in Colorado (in CO it rained every day, with really heavy rain late in the day that kept Hysson and me in the tent all evening) have made quite an impression. So did carrying a 36-pound pack to start in Colorado (of which nearly 7 lbs. were my father's ashes, which was the main purpose of that portion of the trip).

I have a few comments. These are NOT criticisms but simply observations on how I differ as an individual from those who have posted so far. Each of us is a unique person (thank the Lord for that!) so what suits one won't necessarily suit the other. The ruling principle is YMMV--Your Mileage May [and probably will] Vary.

Pack: If you can comfortably carry your load in a pack with no frame for support, that's great. I am a small person with a history of back problems and need more structure for anything over 10-12 lbs. (even my daypack has a frame of sorts). I absolutely have to have nearly all the weight transferred to the hipbelt. I have a Six Moon Designs Comet pack with the optional stays, weighing 27.0 ounces. It is extremely comfortable, although the 36 lbs. definitely maxed it out. That weight was harder on my bum knee and my feet than it was on my back, though. Adding a pack cover (Integral Designs), a shoulder pocket for my camera and sunglasses (from Zpacks) and a hip belt pocket (from Mountain Laurel Designs), and the total pack is 30.6 ounces, still under 2 lbs. I believe the newer models from Six Moon Designs include hip belt pockets, as do the ULA-Equipment hip belts.

Tent: I have decided to sell my Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo because it is just too cramped for this stout granny plus my 80-lb. dog for a multi-day trip when we're confined to the tent by rain. It's great for a short trip in good weather. Therefore my tent is the same as Sparklehorse's, a Tarptent Squall 2. It was my first silnylon tent and I used too much seam sealer on it, so it weighs the same as Sparklehorse's tent without a front pole (I hike with trekking poles so use one of them for the front pole). I'm saving my pennies for a Gossamer Gear Squall Classic when they come back on the market in a few months (GG just received Spinntex fabric after a 6-month drought, but Henry Shires of Tarptent is tweaking the Squall Classic so it will be 2-3 months before GG starts selling them again). I really like having the 360* view when lying down that a Tarptent provides, but I will miss the zipper in the center of the vestibule on the SMD Lunar Solo--Tarptents use velcro, which I hate. I will also miss the 10 oz. weight savings that the Lunar Solo provides. The GG Squall Classic weighs about the same as the Lunar Solo--I should have bought the Squall Classic instead of the LS in the first place. Sparklehorse, I don't know how big your dog is, but you might also consider the Gossamer Gear Squall Classic or even "The One" if you think you and your dog will fit. The Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo works if you have a smaller dog than Hysson's 80 lbs. and if you're not too tall. You do need to watch when you sit up, especially if you use a thick pad and thick pillow like mine, which makes your head (or feet) likely to brush against the tent wall instead of the 10" high netting in the LS. I've found the Lunar Solo more susceptible to condensation than Tarptents.

Charley, I have no objection to tarps except that I dislike bugs. I have camped in a number of places where ants are rampant and bite whatever is in their way. I also need a bug-free place for my dog as well as for me. By the time you add together a tarp, ground sheet or bivy sack and a bug net, you have the same weight as most tarptents. YMMV. I am considering using a tarp for fall camping trips after the bugs have been frozen out (I have a 10-oz. 8' x 10' Equinox tarp that so far I have used to cover the cooking/dining area on family trips). But most of the prime high-altitude backpacking season is definitely not bug-free.

Sleeping system: I started with a Marmot Hydrogen and loved that bag--it is the only bag I've ever had that really met the definition of "cuddly"--the Pertex fabric is awesome. But it just wasn't warm enough! Even with all my outer clothing on, I got really cold when the temps got below 35*. It didn't help that the Hydrogen doesn't come in women's sizes, so the "Regular" was a foot too long (too much extra air space to warm up). Even my current bag, a Western Mountaineering 20* bag, was borderline on a couple of frosty nights in the Wind Rivers. Obviously, I am a cold sleeper! Fortunately, my WM Ultralight Super (in "short"--5'6") weighs about the same as the Hydrogen. My main concern is that the WM shell fabric isn't as downproof as the Hydrogen's Pertex so loses more feathers--a problem for the future (at my age, though, there may not be enough future to worry about). As for pad, I tried the Big Agnes Clearview (with a piece of 1/8" Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad for insulation) and was not happy with it. Although per the specs it's the same thickness as my POE Insulmat Max Thermo (now the Ether Thermo), the Clearview's tubes are actually thinner. Either I have to blow it up so it is too hard or my hip hits the ground. If I blow my POE air mattress up about halfway, it is just right--soft enough, but my hip is about 1/2" off the ground. This again is an individual matter--I have really broad hips. The POE air mattress weighs 16.9 oz. It's only 48" long but since I'm short and sleep curled up, that's plenty long enough for me. The Clearview will be a Christmas present for my youngest son, "SurferDad." YMMV again.

It's the same problem with clothing. I HATE being cold and I get cold easily. I also want to stay dry in horizontal rain, of which I've seen plenty. I use trekking poles, which makes an umbrella impossible. Umbrellas, like ponchos, can be a problem in high winds. That means I want rain jacket and pants. I take a Capilene 4 base layer, which of course weighs more, and I wear it to sleep in to keep my sleeping bag relatively clean as well as for warmth. I keep it on on cold mornings until I'm ready to start hiking. On the other hand, my middle insulation layer is a Montbell UL Thermawrap jacket (bought when had a 20% off coupon) and a Manzella polypro balaclava and gloves. These are quite light and very warm. My rain gear is a Brawny Gear silnylon rain jacket and pants, formerly available from and now available from They are not breathable, but are very, very light. With the seams sealed (especially around the hood) I have stayed dry during Colorado cloudbursts as well as during 45-minute tests in the shower. If it's raining and warm, I get less wet from the rain than I would from perspiration even in breathable rain gear, so I just let my shirt and pants (nylon) get wet and change to the Capilene 4 base layer at bedtime. (It is a bit of a shock to put the damp stuff on in the morning, but they dry very fast.) I want extra socks so I can rinse at least my liner socks out daily and have a clean pair for each day. My feet are, after all, my transportation and deserve extra care. In fact, I often take 2 pair of extra liner socks. The only other spare (in case of dirt, as opposed to extra) clothing I take is a pair of underpants (at my age, accidents have been known to occur). I don't care about getting dirty otherwise. If it's going to be below freezing, I wear the Brawny Gear rain jacket and pants to bed as a vapor barrier--that prevents the moisture from my body from freezing when it hits the outer shell of the sleeping bag (with subsequent wetting of the down when it melts). I strongly recommend some kind of vapor barrier inside a down sleeping bag on below-freezing nights. My big luxury is a pair of fleece socks to wear to bed (1.8 oz). My feet sigh in gratitude when I put them on! I also gave up the ultralight Sprint Aquatics shoes in favor of Crocs, which provide far more support for fording streams and are much more comfortable as camp shoes. Yes, they're 8 oz. more than the ultralight ones, but, IMHO, well worth it. With all this, my total extra clothing and rain gear are only 4 oz. more than Sparklehorse's. This includes a Montbell wind shell. I didn't take this last to the Wind Rivers, and I wish I had--for protection against the horse flies! What I really needed for the horse flies was this:
I don't think I could carry it, though.

Kitchen--I prefer to use a canister stove but I really should investigate alcohol. An article on convinced me that over a week's trip the weight difference (including fuel) is minimal, but looking at Sparklehorse and Charley's weights, I'm not so sure. Since I use the stove only once a day (I hate hot cereal so eat a cold breakfast), an 8-oz. canister of fuel will last me 9 days, so it's probably close. I have a somewhat larger Ti cook kit (also from BPL) because I want it big enough to use when out with the grandchildren. Ti cookware is too expensive for me to buy two. The weight difference is less than an ounce. My original pan was a KMart grease pot, $5 and the same weight as Sparklehorse's. It needs replacing every couple of years, but even so costs far less than a Ti pot for those on a low budget.

Hydration: I've camped enough times where I'm 1/4 to 1/2 mile from water that I take a 1 liter Platypus and two 2.5 liter Platypus containers. I also hate chemicals (having had horrible experiences with iodine) so I use a ULA Amigo Pro gravity water filter, which, including stuff sack and a Platypus connector, weighs 9.6 oz. I used to put my back out bending over the water source using a pump filter, so I love the Amigo Pro. One night in the Wind Rivers, though, I was camped so far from water that I had to filter enough to fill all my containers at streamside with nothing to hang the filter from, and holding the Amigo up was a bit hard on my arms. The spectacular camp site (see my trip report; it was the one I showed the picture of) was well worth it, though. It helps that Hysson's doggie pack (an older model Palisades II) has water bladders on each side that hold more than 1 gallon each. I put three quarts in each side for him to carry up to the camp site (which I could filter in camp) and ended up with more than enough water for both of us to keep us going through the next day. Both the water container capacity and the amount of water carried (the latter not included in "base" weight) very much depend on where you are. For desert conditions or an all-day ridge walk, you are obviously going to have to carry lots more water than where you encounter a creek every hour or two. That goes for the dog, too! Dogs are far less adaptable to heat and dryness than humans, so be sure you have more than enough water for them.

If I must use chemicals, I'd rather use Katadyn tablets than Aqua Mira. Katadyn tabs are EPA-approved and Aqua Mira is not. Katadyn tabs are also lighter. Katadyn tablets contain a higher dosage of chlorine dioxide, more comparable to what is used in municipal water systems. This is particularly important as the incidence of cryptosporidium contamination (as more people visit Asia and bring it home) is greatly increasing. Iodine, by the way, in addition to causing severe allergic reactions (like mine) and other problems, is ineffective against cryotosporidium cysts. I take along about 20 Katadyn tablets in my First Aid-Essentials bag in case my filter gives up the ghost. 20 quarts is far more than enough to get me out of the back country should my filter fail. In fact, it should allow me to finish my original trip.

The main items I've added that shot my base weight over 15 pounds are (1) a Personal Locater Beacon, which I added at the insistence of my family and friends since I prefer to hike solo. 10.7 oz. I HATE carrying this hopefully useless brick, but if it keeps my children (who, as I get older, consider me as the child and themselves as the parents) off my back, it's probably worth it. My youngest son and his wife really like my having it when I take out their children. (2) Crocs instead of Sprint Aquatic Shoes for fording streams and for camp shoes--an extra 8 oz. To me, the Crocs are worth it for the extra security (in fording) and comfort (in camp). I also wear them a lot around the house, so they're earning their price when I'm not backpacking. Some people hike in them, but I don't find them that supportive. (3) The Tarptent Squall 2 instead of the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo--another 10 oz. This will go away when I come up with the $275 for the Gossamer Gear Squall Classic when it becomes available. Hopefully I can sell the SMD Lunar Solo for at least $125 of the difference. (Anyone want to buy it? It's great if you're hiking solo, without large dog, and aren't too tall.)

I'm looking at a couple of other places where I can save a few ounces here and there. By putting my camera (Canon A710IS) in power saving mode, using the view finder instead of the LED screen, one set of batteries lasted the whole 7 days in the Wind Rivers with plenty to spare. (Never get a digital camera without a viewfinder!) Using the LED screen, one set of batteries lasted no more than 1-2 days when taking a comparable number of pictures. The LED screen is worthless in bright sunlight anyway, although I still haven't quite adjusted to the parallax when using the viewfinder. I also carry some cut-up Bible sections for reading at night, but I really don't need 1.5 ounces worth--0.5 ounces is plenty. (Note that the Bible is lots slower reading--i.e. more reading time per ounce--than most books.) I'm really questioning a lot of other little items, too. In first aid, though, I found that I get a lot of little nicks and cuts on my hands that get infected. I ran out of Bandaids on the Wind Rivers trip as a result. Putting a layer of duct tape over the Bandaids does help, but I definitely need more bandaids and less of the "major injury" stuff. At my age, I have to wear incontinence pads (pardon me for being frank), and they (or sanitary pads) make by far the best bandages for severe bleeding, according to my mountaineering first aid instructor, because of their extreme absorbency. For you guys, toss in a couple of your SO's (assuming female) sanitary pads in your first aid kit, and you can forget about carrying gauze pads, which aren't nearly as absorbent. Most women already know this. I have lots of blister stuff, but thanks to Keen socks (no toe seams) and Body Glide, I had no problems. I will therefore cut back in this category. I have plenty of duct tape on my trekking poles, after all.

Sparklehorse, if you're carrying a Photon light as emergency backup, you don't need spare batteries for your headlamp despite all the "Ten Essentials" lists. I did some testing with my headlamp (Princeton Tec Aurora) and found that with a fresh set of lithium batteries before the trip, it will last at least 10-12 days (including at least a half-hour's reading in the evenings and assuming several hours of night hiking). During the Wind Rivers trip there was a full moon, so I hardly used the headlamp at all! I'll probably be using those batteries until the snow flies!

I agree with Charley that if you want to go light, you need to go on the internet to the "cottage manufacturers." Some of these folks (like Brian Frankle of ULA) object to this term, but I think it's valid. Certainly a lot of firms which are now big-time (Apple, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft) started out in garages or basements, the modern equivalent of the 18th century "cottage manufacturer," and the light-weight gear firms are doing likewise. That's certainly where the innovations in lightweight gear are occurring, not in the "standard" firms carried by REI (Granite Gear being one of the few obvious exceptions--REI carries them, but you'll probably have to special order). Here are some firms to look at (I'll let you google to get the URLs): Tarptent, Six Moon Designs (in Beaverton!), ULA-Equipment, Gossamer Gear, Mountain Laurel Designs, AntiGravity Gear, BackpackingLight,, Cilo Gear, Western Mountaineering, Feathered Friends, Titanium Goat, Oware. This list is not complete and I apologize if I left out other important firms.

For gear dealers, some a lot cheaper than REI, that carry lightweight gear that REI won't touch: (in Eugene), (no relation, and has an outlet), (standard gear, but lots cheaper than REI even with shipping), Moab Sports, Altrec, Of course, REI is probably where you want to go if you think you may have to return an item, or when they have the 20% off coupons or when they have a good deal in REI outlet. With REI, you can have the item shipped to the store for free, try it on there and return it if you don't like it. Most of the above firms, though, have free shipping for orders $50 and over. You pay through the nose for REI's generous return policy. In most cases, this policy is not worth the price increase. Too many people abuse the policy by returning stuff suffering from normal wear and tear. That's why they don't carry lightweight stuff.

You do have to be more careful with lightweight gear. If you like to trip over your tent and fall on it, drag your backpack over rocks and dirt, not remove rocks, sticks and pine cones from your tent site, hammer your tent stakes into rocks or roots and generally mistreat your belongings, lightweight gear is not for you. And some lightweight gear has its limitations. Tarptents, for example, are definitely not for winter use. although some of the pyramidal ones work fine. And while wet synthetic insulation (from my own experience) is no warmer than wet down insulation, you do have to be lots more careful to keep your down stuff dry because it's harder to dry out than synthetic. If down gets sopping wet, you're going to need a dryer, which is not available in the back country.

I hope we get some more gear lists in this thread to give those folks staggering under 30-60 lb. packs some idea of how they can lighten up. I want to stress that I do not include those parents acting as Sherpas for their children in this category--I heartily applaud them for making this sacrifice to get their kids interested in backpacking! Let's face it, though--as we get older, it gets difficult or impossible to carry those weights! With lightweight gear, I hope to keep going until my 80's or even 90's, Lord willing--as long as I can put one foot in front of another.

As for sources of lightweight gear info, there are several good ones. My favorite gear forum is "The Lightweight Backpacker" which has a bunch of excellent articles on its home page, all free. Mark Verber's site is somewhat biased but is updated frequently for the latest in gear innovations and also includes low-budget alternatives. "Practical Backpacking" (a Portland-based web site) has some good stuff but due to the owner's biases (if you include a URL to another site, he'll delete your post) has its limitations. They do have some outstanding podcasts. I have an issue with Backpacking Light because of their paid subscription policy. To some degree, you can get around this. Their forum and reader reviews are free. The "Campfire/Editors Roundtable" section of their Forum lets you see responses to their "Members Only" articles which gives you a pretty good idea of what the articles say. But I resent the concept of paying for information that is available free elsewhere. is a good source for generally unbiased gear reviews. There are good, if somewhat outdated, articles on All of these sources together give you a good cross-section of the lightweight backpacking world.

I've noticed that most of the "ultralight" folks like the BPL crowd--under 10 lbs. base weight--rely on hiking long hours--they often stop to cook dinner and then hike a couple of hours more before camping--and depend on their sleeping gear for warmth. That way they can get by with lots less clothing layers. That's great for those who can do it, but I don't want to go there. I like to stop about 4:00-5:00 pm and spend my evenings relaxing and enjoying my surroundings. YMMV once again.

I suggest getting a postage scale that will weight at least 5 lbs. to the nearest 0.1 ounce to weigh individual items and setting up an Excel (or similar software) spreadsheet. I got my at Office Depot for about $30. I take it with me any time I go to REI or Joe's (the staff hate that!). The scale has a "tare" function which is helpful when you need something else to hold a piece of gear (like a recalcitrant sleeping pad) together so it will stay on the scale. You can use the "27-pound, 7-day Gear List" on as a model and go from there. This gives you a tool to see just where you can save weight without sacrificing comfort or safety. It also gives you a checklist for each trip, so you don't forget anything. I print mine out for each trip. It's amazing what I can forget if I don't use it! For the Colorado/Winds trip, it was my knee brace. (I bought another one, but the velcro fasteners (no padding underneath) took off most the the skin behind my knee.) You might even want to list your NW Forest Pass on this list, even though you don't carry it, so you don't risk getting a ticket.

A few observations from (often bitter) experience: Test and retest everything in your back yard--borrow somebody else's yard if you are an apartment dweller. Sleep out there on a few cold, rainy, windy nights (we get lots of those around here in the winter). Use a hose to thoroughly test your seam-sealing of your shelter. Use your shower (for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer) to test your rain gear. If you're a beginner, do some overnights next to or close to your car so you can bail out if everything goes haywire. Practice in really nasty weather. Use your backyard barbecue on a windy, rainy evening to practice building fires with wet wood in the rain.

If I had all the answers, I wouldn't be asking questions! My justifications for somewhat heavier gear above are definitely open to questioning. Please feel free! Even though it may sound like it (I unfortunately tend to get into the lecture mode), I definitely do NOT have all the answers, and I'd love to hear from the rest of you! Thank you!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by retired jerry » September 1st, 2008, 5:55 am

1 ounce of butane heats as much water as about 4 ounces of alcohol, so if you're out for several days the weight advantage of alcohol over canister stove disapears.

Wool and fleece are heavy compared to down or polyester batting. A polyester vest weighs the same as a fleece vest, but is much warmer. Nylon pants, nylon long sleeved shirt, polyester vest, and light rain jacket keep my warm down to below freezing.

I tried a foam sleeping pad (Therma-rest Ridgerest) but I just can't sleep comfortably. This is the best if you can stand it because it weighs less and is fail-safe. I use a Therma-rest Guidelite which weighs 20 oz, but I sleep good.

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by drm » September 1st, 2008, 12:20 pm

As somebody who still uses "traditional" gear, I read all this with a mix of emotions. I have hiked with some ultralighters who seem to think it is impossible to have "fun" with traditional gear. Maybe they can't, but at this point it isn't an issue for me. Last spring I dayhiked up Starvation Ridge, and then backpacked it 3 weeks later. The full pack, probably 35 pounds, added only 15 minutes to the time for that route. And I'm not going to do a bigger and steeper hill this year. The affect on me, so far, is just not that big.

And I differ with the comment about not carrying stuff that you only need in camp, since you spend more waking time walking. The camping part is the highlight for me - the reason I prefer backpacking to dayhiking. So taking what I need to maximize (as opposed to survive) that part of the trip is worth it for me. Our mileages do vary.

But I take to heart what grannyhiker says, that I will soon start slowing down with age. I want to keep doing this in some form for many years. And going lighter now will lessen the wear on the body as well.

With that in mind, I was all set to switch tents a few weeks ago and cut my tent weight at least in half. Then I got a bill for some health care tests, and the tent purchase is on the backburner. But a lot of this stuff will be on sale for cheap in the winter. So I still plan to replace the tent before next season. My tent is showing its age since I sleep in it 50-60 nights per year anyway. So I will be slowly converting over the coming years.

One thing, though. I once read an article about ultralighting in Backpacker magazine. The gear list included a first aid kit that included tylenol and duct tape. Only. I will never go there. But maybe some day somebody who does will need more than duct tape - and hopefully they will be near me.

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by skimanjohn » September 1st, 2008, 4:02 pm

I have just started to go to the lighter side of packing after being primarily a climber for the past 30 years and must say i enjoy going light very much.I do have a few luxury items such as the MSR Hubba HP tent,3lbs, and a pocket rocket stove but my base gear with pack,tent,kitchen,sleeping bag,ground pad,rain gear,basic clothing,first aid kit etc is at 15lbs.I add food and water as ness.Sometimes if in a group of 2 or 3 we throw in a small water filter,still better for ones health than any of the tablets,and a few other luxurys.This does not include camera gear,changes with trips,or special medical supplies,iam an insulin dependent diabetic,but my gear for the average 3 day weekend is still under 22lbs.Compared to climbing packs,45 to 65lbs,this is heaven.Iam now 57 years old and no longer enjoy carrying a lot of weight,knees dont like it.I hope to continue refining my pack weight down.I also agree that REI is not the place to shop for this kind of gear,or any other for that fact.Their prices are to high as is the weight of their gear.Also hate to say it but their gear is not of the same quality as the brands such as MSR,NF,Marmot,Feathered Friends,Western Mountaineering etc.Shop online or check out OMC.OMC will meet or beat any internet price,ask REI to do that!

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by Grannyhiker » September 2nd, 2008, 1:43 pm

Of course you can have fun with traditional, bomb-proof gear, but by comparison it is a lot harder to carry. At age 50 I was carrying a 50-lb. pack all over the North Cascades (I still don't know how!). The best idea would be to lighten up before you start developing various over-use injuries. Unfortunately, many of us have been forced to lighten up post-injury if we want to keep going. Ideally, we should start teaching our kids from the start to go lightweight. I suspect that a lot fewer kids will get discouraged and drop out of backpacking if they aren't overloaded. Part of this process is to teach them not to drag their packs around, to be at least somewhat careful around the tent (although I've been amazed at the abuse my Tarptents have taken with no damage) and generally learn to take care of their gear. On the other hand, some compromises are necessary--for instance, down bags are definitely not for 5-year-olds who still have accidents at night. I'm working on my grandkids--the two older ones are getting new, 1-lb. backpacks for Christmas (Gossamer Gear Mariposa in "small" size). They'll be able to carry their clothing, snacks, water, sleeping bags and pads with total pack weight of about 8 lbs. each. That means that the only things Granny--or their dad--has to "sherpa" are the bigger tent and the food.

It's interesting to read about through-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Many of them start out with 40 or so pounds, but by the end of the first month nearly all who started heavy have either done a complete gear re-vamp or have dropped out.

Of course there are some who take lightening up to extremes, IMHO endangering themselves and "mooching" off other hikers. Somewhere is a happy medium that is comfortable--and safe--for the individual hiker without imposing on others. That happy medium will encompass a broad spectrum when a lot of individual hikers are lumped together.

I appreciate all the input here and hope we'll hear more! I'm almost done revamping my gear list and will post it for folks to tear apart, hopefully tonight.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.--E.Abbey

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Re: Gear List - 4 day trip - sub 12lb baseweight

Post by jimsiff » September 2nd, 2008, 4:08 pm


I understand you backpack with your grandchildren. I take my 9 and 10 year old boys backpacking as much as possible, but they're being penalized by heavy traditional packs. I use an older Gregory Palisade monster when I play sherpa, but a Granite Gear Virga when I go solo. Guess which load I prefer? :lol: I'd like to give my kids a break in the pack weight department, knowing how much I prefer the lightweight load.

They've each used Kelty Squall 2800 packs for the past three seasons. It's a sturdy, traditional design with all of the obvious flaws... heavy and overbuilt with 210D ripstop all around and weighing 3lb 14 oz empty!!! They carry a decent North Face Orion synthetic bag, Thermarest RidgeRest Short pad, and light stuff sack with extra clothes... so they're already primed for a frameless pack upgrade.

How comfortable are you with your grandkids and the 30D Gossamer Gear Mariposa? I like the Virga, with slightly heavier 70D and 210D reinforcements, but Gossamer currently has the Mariposa Small on sale for $75. What other relatively light, wallet friendly frameless packs are there?

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