Go Girl Go

a blog for people who like to go out & do things by a crazy girl who'll try anything

3 Sock System

Let me teach you about the three sock system. When camping and backpacking for long extended periods of time a 3 sock system can be put into use. Almost all of us used the 3 sock system when we were on the NOLS Lightweight Rocky Mountain Backpacking trip.
When trying to keep pack weight at a minimum and comfort and safety at a maximum 3 pairs of socks seem to be the magic number.
The basic premise for three pairs of socks are:
1. Most of the time your hiking shoes will be wet (from stream crossings and not having the proper conditions to dry them out).
2. It makes no sense to put on dry socks when they will get wet inside your damp shoes.
3. It’s important to keep your feet dry for at least 8 hours a day to prevent trench foot.
4. It’s important for safety and comfort to have dry, warm feet when sleeping.
5. Wet socks will draw heat away from the body especially when moving less (i.e. while in camp).
3 socks system
1. the treasured sleeping socks (must be kept dry at all times)
2. camp socks (the socks that you change into when you get into camp
3. hiking socks (the socks that inevitably stay wet as you hike and cross streams)
When waking up change out of your sleeping socks and store them in the inside bottom of your sleeping bag. This is where they live. Change into your damp hiking socks before slipping on your damp hiking shoes. After a long day of hiking, change out of damp socks and put on dry camp socks. Dry camp socks should be used in conjunction with a method to maintain their dryness. Some campers have dedicated camp shoes or if you were trying to go lightweight like we were simple plastic bags can be slipped on the feet after dry socks to maintain a barrier between sock and wet shoe. Don fluffy sleep socks to warm up toes at night. Repeat daily.

Top Ten Things We Want to Remember (or Forget)

Ok, there’s more than 10. Too many memorable things happened on our short little trip (NOLS Lightweight Rocky Mountain Backpacking)
1. amoeba water/shrimp water
2. lake forging
3. animal sightings: grouse, chipmunks,nutcrackers, deer, pika, and marmot, osprey, red tail hawks, a seagull?!, meese (two moose)
4. rock fall and pock marks in the glacier
5. rock climbers climbing, yelling, carrying huge packs
6. search and rescue
7. battered and blistered feet
8. lightening storm overhead
9. always being on the move (never have I been in motion for that many hours over that many days)
10. student evac
11. running into other NOLS instructors on the trail
12. chatting with seasoned thru hikers
13. passing through sheep pastures and being herded by dogs
14. hummingbird escorts

NOLS Lightweight Backpacking By the Numbers

Team members:12
People per tent group: 2
Total pack weight including 5 days food and 2L water: 25 pounds
Total vertical feet gained: 9000 feet
Total miles hiked: 100
Camps made: 13

Average Morning on a NOLS Course

Average Morning on a NOLS Course
0600 Wake up to stinky moist socks and wet droopy tent
0601 Find yourself half off sleeping pad cause you’re on a rocky slope
0615 Try to stuff giant sleeping bag into compression sack which is like trying to get a cat into bathwater with sunburnt sun bumpy hands and ouchy cuticle cracked fingers
0617 Pull off comfy “sleep socks” and put on aforementioned wet stinky socks
0620 Put on wet shoes
0625 Throw pack explosion that multipled itself while you were sleeping out the tent door
0626 Crawl out of tent as gracefully as you can
0627 Remember to look for and put on gaiters
0628 Repeat shoe process
0629 Pack up pack explosion while trying to locate chapstick and sunblock
0630 Remember to bandage multiple blisters and tape up toe nails hanging on for dear life
0631 Repeat shoe process
0634 Take down tent
0634 Lose tent stake in grass
0637 Stuff yucky wet tent into pack
0639 Stumble uphill to kitchen far far away (why do kitchens always end up uphill??)
0640 Crash bear bag onto ground after undoing impossible knot that braided itself during the night
0641 Note to self: must repair huge gash in bear hang bag
0645 Decide between granola and huevos rancheros
0646 Try to locate lighter
0647 Stare at dirty bowl and spoon
0648 Contemplate skipping breakfast
0658 Shovel food down as quick as you can
0715 Collect amoeba water (or some other type of water with mysterious but visible live swimmers in it)
0720 Remember you forgot to start aquamira
0746 Emergency! Need to “find tent stake, bear spray and soap asap”
0756 Stroll back into camp knowing that it’ll be 24 hours before you’ll have to “dig another hole”.
0757 Smear on sunblock that won’t rub in
0758 You’ve made it! You’re on time. We’ll be ready to roll at 8am sharp!
0800 Somebody has to go potty

NOLS: Not Just a Walk in the Woods

I’ve made it! I survived NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) Lightweight Rocky Mountain Backpacking! What a great and memorable time I had in Wyoming. Two weeks of carrying my food, water and shelter around. Two weeks of digging cat holes and no showers. Two weeks of beautiful scenery and gorgeous night skies. Two weeks of back to basics.
I learned some concrete skills:
1. pooping in the woods, digging cat holes
2. existing in bear country, bear hangs
3. stream crossings
4. cooking on cat can stoves with denatured alcohol
I learned to really appreciate the conveniences of modern life when I got back:
1. having clear running water at my disposal
2. clean, dry feet
3. tissues! for that perpetually runny nose out in the field
4. food that is not nuts
5. going to the bathroom whenever without having to plan and/or dig a hole
6. being able to see at night without strapping a light to my head
7. the ability to talk to people via cell phone
8. lunch
9. living life without having to contemplate turning the corner and running into a bear
10. a warm cozy bed

Ultralight Backpacking Websites


Only a few weeks more to go before my NOLS Rocky Mountain Lightweight Backpacking course. I’m currently in the process of finalizing gear, ordering stuff off the web, weighing, re-weighing, general gear gathering and spreadsheet charting. To do prepare for this course I’ve done most of my research online.

How I’m preparing using the internet:

  1. Reading other people blogs, gear lists and trip debriefings
  2. browsing ultralight forums
  3. shopping all the different outdoor online shops
  4. reading gear reviews
  5. checking posted gear weights to compare

These are the ultralight websites I’m using:

  1. www.golite.com
  2. www.montbell.us
  3. www.backpackinglight.com
  4. www.rei.com
  5. www.featheredfriends.com


Make Your Own Gaiters


Fellow Adventure Girl Lisa explains how to make your own gaiters. I think I will give this a try.



Backpacking Packing List


Here is a general list of about 30 items that I will bring on my rocky mountain lightweight backpacking trip. My goal is to research each item on the list and find the best gear I can afford and try and stay under a 25 pound limit. The 25 lbs will include food and water. Ultimately, I will create a chart listing each piece of gear, how much it weighs, where I bought it, how much it costs and any thoughts or comments regarding each item. Some things not on the list are group gear (i.e. cook pot, fuel, cook stove, first aid and tent).

  1. long underwear
  2. shorts
  3. short sleeve top
  4. rain jacket
  5. wind jacket
  6. fleece hat
  7. gloves
  8. down jacket
  9. puffy pants
  10. hiking pants
  11. socks
  12. underwear
  13. sports bra
  14. mug/bowl
  15. spoon
  16. water bottle
  17. lip balm
  18. suncreen
  19. bandana
  20. hat
  21. sunglasses
  22. headlamp
  23. lighter
  24. trash bag
  25. watch
  26. trekking poles
  27. gaiters
  28. stuff sacks
  29. hiking shoes
  30. sleeping bag
  31. sleeping pad
  32. backpack
  33. toiletries

It’s Good To Be a Girl


Obviously there are many good things about being a girl but when it comes to ultralight backpacking girls rule! Here are the advantages I have found:

  1. smaller clothes (means lighter stuff)
  2. smaller shoes (significant weight savings)
  3. smaller calorie requirments (less food)
  4. smaller sleeping bags (they make bags specifically for shorter hikers)

In general sleeping bags come in a few sizes: regular, long, and then there are ones geared towards shorter hikers like me. Most of the “short” sleeping bags fit people 5’6″ and below. But I have found that Feathered Friends makes a bag that fits 5’3″ frame that weighs in at 1lb 11 oz. Its the Egret UL20. I’m definitely going to use my 5’3″ height to my advantage by ordering a bag that fits me and will save on extra weight. The sleeping bag will probably also keep me warmer in the aspect that I will lose less heat to the smaller volume within my bag.

The Egret UL20 is rated to a temperature of 20 degrees.  My trip to Wyoming will be in the summer but since we will be at altitude we have to plan for chilly nights. I always sleep colder so I know personally I have to get a 20 degree bag or colder. Although the 1lb 11oz weight will easily glide under my two pound limit for sleeping bags the hefty price may deter most hikers. As of Feb 2013, the price is $429 (not including shipping and taxes).

Egret UL Azure

Ultralight Toiletries


My ultralight adventure has brought me to research many interesting topics such as “What are the lightest toiletries?”

I have heard of ultralight fanatics sawing off toothbrush handles and I wanted to read more about other tips that people might have so I went online to see what other people are saying.

Personally, I’m trying to find products that have multiple uses. For example, Dr. Bronner’s soap can be used for body wash, shampoo, and laundry detergent. That’s pretty cool. There’s also shampoo bars. I could probably use a shampoo bar for body wash and laundry too. Or I might consider bringing the tiny little vaselines now. It could be a skin lotion and chapstick.

I found a really cool posting by a former Peace Corps volunteer. The page is titled Hard Corps Travel: Ultralite Shower Kit.  Here’s their list (the theory behind each choice is explained on the actual page):

Here was my old one month toiletry kit:
  • Toothbrush: 0.8 oz
  • Travel-sized Toothpaste: 3 oz
  • Travel-sized Deodorant stick: 1 oz
  • Travel-sized Shampoo: 3.4 oz
  • Travel-sized Conditioner: 3.4 oz
  • Travel-sized Hair Gel: 1.7 oz
  • Travel-sized Contact Solution: 4 oz
  • Contact Lens Case: 0.6 oz
  • Extra Contacts: 0.8 oz
  • Glasses: 3.2 oz
  • Travel Brush: 1.2 oz
  • Travel-sized Soap: 1 oz
  • Travel-sized Shaving Cream: 2.5 oz
  • Razor: 3 oz
  • TOTAL WEIGHT: 26.2 oz/1.6 lbs
But after some research and a bit of work, this is what I ended up with:The New and Improved One Month Toiletry Kit



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