Even though the idea of backpacking was planted in my mind almost 2 years ago, I didn’t get to go on my first real trip until September of last year (had to buy some gear first). On that trip my wife and I hiked the 40 miles from Amicalola Falls State Park up the AT approach trail and came to an end 4 days later at Neels Gap. When I began that trip I was carrying a little over 56 pounds (at least according to the scale at the AFSP Visitor Center). Funny thing is that a few miles down the trail I picked up other items…
Anyway, I quickly found out that 56 pounds is pretty heavy, at least while lugging it up mountains for about 10 hours a day. Don’t get me wrong, that didn’t take away the pleasures of the trip, but it also reminded me that it was there every step of the way!
So, like any hiker that wants to keep going, I started looking for that sweet spot between comfort and safety. By this I mean lowering my pack weight while leaving nothing behind I needed to remain safe while on the trail as well as still provide me with my own desired amount of comfort to still enjoy my time out. In doing so, I have researched so many pieces of gear that it can be tough to keep them separated in my mind. Of course some stick out more than others, and those are the pieces I usually end up with.
Of course, lots of these things cost money, so this has been one reason I have had plenty of time to really analyze different pieces of gear. I have compared quite a few of the same items until my head hurt, ultimately finding a couple that would probably work, I just needed the money to put the thought into action. And I must say that I have been lucky enough to make a few of those purchases this year.
Of course the biggest weight reductions have been in my Big 4. Here is the breakdown:
- I have dropped approximately 50 oz by going from my Kelty Red Cloud 5600 Backpack to my new ULA Circuit (I am really hoping it will be here tomorrow!)
- I dropped another 41 oz by going from a Kelty Grand Mesa 2 tent set up to a OES 8×10 Silnylon Flat Tarp (including stuff sacks, guy lines and stakes).
- As far as my sleeping bag, I started with a TNF Aleutian which weighed 3 pounds 4 oz. Now for “summer” I have a GoLite 40* Quilt that saves me 26 oz. For “winter” I have a 15* Marmot Helium that saves me 18 oz.
- When I changed from the self-inflating pads to my NeoAir I saved 13 oz.
This is a total savings of 122 oz, or 7.6 pounds in the “winter” and just over 8 in the “summer.” This is awesome. Of course though, there are other things I saved weights on simply by learning things such as I did not need to carry a small hammer to drive my stakes in the ground or I do not have to fill every water bottle I have when I start out.
So, anyway, I am excited about going down on my weight. Ideally, I wouldn’t mind having a summer pack around 25 pounds when I am fresh (full water, food & fuel) and no more than 30 for winter. Of course I understand there may be times that I will go over those weights, depending on the hike. This is where understanding the hike, and being safe comes into place. Going lighter is not a smart thing if it puts your life in danger!
So, I have been making gear lists, just trying to get one down that works for me. I have one on Google Docs, but I cannot post it here. So, I have just made another list here on this page. This list that follows is my Winter Gear List, which will be appropriate for me on the trails I will generally be hiking on during this time of year.
“Winter” Gear List”
40.00 ULA Circuit (w/ Stay & All Accessories)
1.20 ZPacks Cuben Fiber Pack Cover (Large)
3.20 MountainSmith Camera Bag
20.00 OES 8 x 10 Silnylon Flat Tarp w/ Guylines & Stuff Sack
6.00 2 Mil Plastic Ground Sheet
0.50 MSR Groundhog Stakes (x 12)
54.70 Sleeping Gear
13.80 Therm-A-Rest NeoAir (Regular)
0.50 Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Stuff Sack
1.70 Gossamer Gear 1/8” ThinLight Pad
34.50 Marmot Helium Down Sleeping Bag
0.50 Garbage Bag To Pack Sleeping Bag & Clothes In
3.70 Cocoon UltraLight Air-Core Pillow
54.80 Packed Clothing
18.50 Sierra Designs Cyclone Eco Jacket (XL) (Outside pack)
1.80 Zpacks Cuben Fiber CloudKilt (Long) (Outside pack)
1.60 MLD eVENT Mitts (Outside pack)
2.00 Outdoor Research PL150 Gloves (Outside Pack)
16.60 TNF Inner Synthetic Liner (XL) (In Stuff Sack)
2.90 SmartWool Medium-Weight Hiking Socks (In Stuff Sack) (x 2)
8.00 Terramar Geo Fleece Extreme-Weight Long Pants (In Stuff Sack)
0.50 Homemade Silnylon Stuff Sack
22.50 Cooking & Water Storage
2.10 White Box Stove w/ Windscreen & Heat Reflector
5.90 GSI Halulite Tea Kettle w/ Lid & Stuff Sack
0.50 REI Long Handle Ti-Ware Spoon
3.00 Kupilka 21 Cup
7.50 Camelbak 100 oz Bladder w/ Bite Block & Shut Off Valve
3.50 Nalgene Soft Sided Bottle
20.20 Essentials & Other Stuff
1.30 Silva Explorer Compass
1.00 TP in snack size Ziploc
2.60 Outdoor Research Graphics Dry Sac for Bear Bag
1.30 MSR Medium Nano Pack Towel
0.20 Ink Pen
2.50 Notebook (3″ x 5″ inches)
3.10 Aqua Mira Drops
3.60 Trail Map in Large Ziploc
3.60 Mora Clipper w/ Sheath
1.00 ID, Insurance Card, Debit Card inside Ziploc
15.80 Sundries Kit
1.00 Light My Fire Scout Model Fire Steel
0.70 REI Storm Proof Matches
0.30 Various Pills in small Ziploc
0.40 Mini Bic
0.10 Package of Wet Fire (x 2)
0.10 MLD Light Line (10 feet)
0.70 Benadryl Roll On Stick
0.20 Benadryl Pills (7)
0.20 Needle & Thread
2.20 4” ACE Wrap
1.00 Moleskin, Various Size Band-Aids, Neosporin
0.60 Therm-A-Rest Fast & Light Repair Kit (For Neo)
0.40 Fibrillar (Quick Clot)
1.10 Bandage Scissors
0.50 Small Stuff Sack
2.30 Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp (w/ Batteries)
0.70 Travel Size Toothbrush
0.70 Travel Size Toothpaste
5.00 Panasonic Lumix FH20 Camera
0.70 Battery for Camera (x 2)
5.50 HTC Hero Phone with Otter Box
110.60 Equipment & Clothing Worn or Carried
51.20 Lowa Renegade II GTX Mid Hiking Boots (Men’s Size 12)
2.90 SmartWool Medium-Weight Hiking Socks
2.80 Under Armor Boxer Briefs
12.60 Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants w/ Belt
5.80 Patagonia Capilene 2 Long Sleeve Crew
12.80 Patagonia R1 Flash Pullover
1.00 Buff Original Buff
2.10 Mountain Hardwear Boggin
9.70 Trekking Poles w/ Duct Tape Wrapped Around Pole (x 2)
Total base weight: 16.01 lbs / 256.30 oz
Total dry weight: 22.91 lbs / 366.90 oz
This is the gear list I will be using next month in the Smokies. I am planning on a 2.5 day hike in which I will be cooking 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners. So, at this rate I am planning on taking 10 oz of HEET as fuel for my White Box Stove. This will actually be overkill since I typically use 1.5 oz per meal, however, this will give me more than enough, just in case. I will be using the stove at higher elevations than I am currently at, and all of the water will be very cold, so it will give me some leeway, just in case.
I am planning on carrying approximately 2L of water with me which is roughly about 4.4 pounds (70 oz). Like I said, I have learned to take with me what I will use and resupply as needed. Of course knowing where my water sources are at and how long it will take me to get to them plays the entire role in planning this.
For food, I am planning on taking roughly 2 pounds per day. Possibly a little less considering the first day will not start till around lunch, and then the third day will be over at lunch. So, at most I am figuring 6 pounds of food, or 96 oz.
So, according to my list, plus the projected fuel, water and fuel weights I am looking at a grand total of 437.5 oz, or 27.3 pounds! I can live with this, quite happily. And actually, I am very much looking forward to it…
Although, I am not completely done… There are a few other items I plan on replacing next year which will drop my weight about another 3 pounds. Some items are a new rain jacket, a new down puffy jacket, a new shelter, and a new summer quilt, to name a few. So, until then, I will enjoy my new lighter weight set-ups and be sure to post along the way how they are doing and my thoughts on them. Also, within the next few days I will post a video of my initial review of the ULA Circuit here on my blog!
Until then…thanks for reading…
Also, if you are curious you can check out my Summer Gear List here: