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:
- Reading other people blogs, gear lists and trip debriefings
- browsing ultralight forums
- shopping all the different outdoor online shops
- reading gear reviews
- checking posted gear weights to compare
These are the ultralight websites I’m using:
Fellow Adventure Girl Lisa explains how to make your own gaiters. I think I will give this a try.
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).
- long underwear
- short sleeve top
- rain jacket
- wind jacket
- fleece hat
- down jacket
- puffy pants
- hiking pants
- sports bra
- water bottle
- lip balm
- trash bag
- trekking poles
- stuff sacks
- hiking shoes
- sleeping bag
- sleeping pad
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:
- smaller clothes (means lighter stuff)
- smaller shoes (significant weight savings)
- smaller calorie requirments (less food)
- 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).
This excerpt is from Adventure Alan’s Ultralight Backpacking:
Or, the better question to ask – why suffer if you don’t have to? Why would anyone want to carry a 40 to 50 pound pack? Yet, for the average hiker, this is about what they carry for a one week trip.
A pack this heavy causes plenty of problems:
- Slow, tedious hiking
- Exhaustion, irritability, and low morale on the trail
- Increased chance of injury – sore back, sprained ankles, blown knees, sore muscles, bruised and blistered feet
- Tired, cross people make bad decisions, sometimes with serious consequences.
- Slow hiking leaves less time for fun stuff – relaxing in camp, fishing, staring at clouds, skinny dipping, side trips
All this detracts from enjoying the outdoors – the reason you went in the first place.
Well, it’s begun…my ultralight backingpacking trip has been planned and a goal has been set. 25lbs or less. That’s including everything:pack, gear, food and water. These days I have been scouring the internet for merchandise and information. I have been mostly using ebay, REI, Feathered Friends, Montbell, GoLite and other misc websites to look for gear. I’ve also been looking at UL blogs to see what other people have to say. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions. Here’s what I gathered:
It can be done. 25 lbs is actually kind of high for most diehard UL backpackers. I’d say most are closer to the 10-15lbs range. I have been looking forward to this whole adventure because I have been mostly used to super heavy packs on my mountaineering trips. When you’re hauling around tons of ropes and carabiners and metal stakes I guess there’s just not much use in cutting back on a few ounces. So 25lbs sounds heavenly…until I started thinking about it in a different light. Picture carrying around a 10 lbs bowling ball all the time. That doesn’t sound like much fun. That’s all the motivation I need to try and beat this 25lbs goal!
There’s also something called THE BIG THREE: tent, sleeping system and the pack itself. It’s pretty much common sense to take your three heaviest items and make sure they are light to begin with. Then there’s your consumables: water and food. The goal on my trip is to keep it under 25lbs and that’ll include two weeks of food. No resupply for me.
This whole exercise is very interesting and enlightening (no pun intended) to me. It’s neat to see what we can do without. Its nice to remind ourselves how little we need.
Every ounce counts. And therefore, I’m researching everything, weighing everything and reconsidering everything. Do I really need it? Can something substitute for it? Can this thing be used for multiple purposes? Does it’s usefulness justify it’s weight and place in my pack? What’s the lightest version they currently make? Are there alterations I can make to it to be lighter? There’s also the consideration of cost. It’d probably be easier if I had unlimited funds and just bought top of the line UL everything but for most people this is not a realistic endeavor. But does this mean my goals are unattainable? Absoultely not. But it does mean I will work smarter and be informed about what’s out there and what my best choices are. I think ultimately ultralight will be a lifelong endeavor and not something bought and carried out in a weekend.
I found this article in USA Today (7/1/2011).
10 Great Places to Have a National Park Adventure
- Yosemite National Park, California-Hike Half Dome, 17-mile round-trip trail passes two waterfalls and includes a 60-degree ascent
- Acadia National Park, Maine-tour this popular oceanfront park by sea kayak
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii-Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona-the best way to see it is not just from the edge but backpacking rim to rim
- Canyonlands National Park, Utah-raft Cataract Canyon
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and Montana-during early spring the park is closed to cars so it’s great for cyclists
- Joshua Tree National Park, California-one of the best places to rock climb
- Everglades National Park, Florida-canoe through the famous “River of Grass”
- Glacier National Park, Montana-700 miles of trail and 3 dozen glaciers
- Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, U.S. Virgin Island-225 yard snorkeling trail through a coral reef in Trunk Bay