Methods, Lessons, Trades

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Methods, Lessons, Trades
Lightweight Backpacking
Methods, Lessons, Trades
Wind River Range, WY
Richard Harris
Boy Scout Troop 6 - Cincinnati
Are you tired of carrying a 40
pound backpack?
There is a solution.
Introduction
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Session Goals
“Adventure Alan”
1. Share my ideas on how I reduced my “carry weight”
2. List some of the pro’s and con’s of lightweight backpacking
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My history
Ryan Jordan
– 50+ years backpacking experience throughout US,
mostly in Boy Scouts as a Scout & as an adult leader 8 pounds IPW, 4 days!
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Maximum trip length: 14 days
Used to carry 45+#, now carry ~20#
As I get older, I can’t carry as much as I used to
Nothing without a Cost
• Reduced weight & volume may result in:
BIG Tent
– Less “camp comfort”
• Everyone has their minimum comfort level for it to remain a “fun”
adventure
• Smaller tents, snug bags, less mattress, simpler food, etc.
– Higher dollar cost
• What is it worth to you to reduce a pound or two in an area?
– E.g., ultra-light feather bags are not cheap
– There are exceptions: e.g., alcohol stove, mattress, pack
– Less margin for error (sudden winter storm, getting lost)
– Easier hiking
Extra “Stuff”
• Carrying 10-20 pounds is exceptionally easier than 40-50
pounds, especially in mountains, at altitude, and when you are over
60 years old. It’s healthier and faster!
– Easier means more fun
References
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Books
– Ryan Jordan, “Lightweight Backpacking & Camping,”
– “Lighten UP” DVD, $5, www.gossamergear.com
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Ray Jardine
Some Luminaries & Web Sites
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Backpacking Light: www.backpackinglight.com (The BEST)
Gossamer Gear: www.gossamergear.com/
Ray Jardine:
www.rayjardine.com
Tarptent:
www.tarptent.com/
Mountain Laurel Designs: www.mountainlaureldesigns.com
Anti-gravity Gear: www.antigravitygear.com
Trail Designs:
www.traildesigns.com
GoLite:
www.golite.com
REI:
www.rei.com
Hennessey Hammocks hennessyhammock.com
Ryan Jordan
Weight Nomenclature
& Examples
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Base Pack
Consumables1
Initial Pack
Worn or Carried
Full Skin-Out
Formula
a
b
a+b=c
d
c+d=e
6-Day2
11.8
7.9
19.7
4.7
24.4 #
Notes:
1
2
3
Food, fuel, & water: For me, includes 1 liter of water
6 days & nights, 32-40o nights
w/ camera (5 oz), GPS (7 oz)
3 days & 2 nights, 50o nights
3-Day3
10.0
4.2
14.2
4.7
18.9#
Where to start
• Weigh everything on a digital scale
• Prioritize & consider HEAVY items first: save pounds,
then ounces later (tent, stove, sleeping bag, water filter)
– Ounces add to pounds, and pounds add to discomfort!
• Focus on weight, but also consider volume closely – size
matters! Consider 3000 cu in pack
• Do you really need that luxury item?
– Book, cell phone, GPS, camp chair, etc.
• Limit contingencies
– Good trip planning & experience are the keys
• Don’t just take “stuff,” build a “system”
Identify HEAVIEST & LARGEST
Example Item
• Shelter:
• Pack:
• Summer Bag:
• Stove:
• Water Treatment:
• Food:
“Trip Wire”
> 2 pounds
> 1 pound
> 1 pound
> 3oz
> 3oz
> 1 pound/day
Shelters
• My History: North Face Tadpole 5#
 GoLite tarp 1#, mosquito netting extra 1#
 Big Agnes 3-wire bivy 1#12oz
 Hennessey Hammock 1#15oz
• Considerations
– Single wall construction
• Condensation inside
– Single person size
• Less room: sides and height
– Non-free-standing
• Harder to pitch
• Other Issues:
– Tarps are great, but In buggy season, I take my mosquito netting
inner tent as well
– Hammocks are VERY COMFORTABLE
Shelter Examples
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Tarptent “Contrail”: 34.5 oz (everything), $200
www.tarptent.com/
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Gossamer Gear “The One”: 20-32 oz., $275
www.gossamergear.com
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Six Moons Design “Luna Solo”: 23-29oz, $230
www.sixmoondesigns.com
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Backpacking Light “Spin Tarp”: 5-17 oz., $100
www.backpackinglight.com
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Hennessey Hammock Hyperlyte Asym – 25 oz, $249.95
www.Hennesseyhammocks.com
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3.
Watch weight advertisements: Needs to include with all stakes, poles, ground cloth, ropes,
seam sealing, & stuff sack!
Do you always carry hiking poles? Decide before buying a tent. Min. +12oz
What’s your tolerance for bugs and water?
Packs
• My history:
Gregory DenaliPro 7#12oz
 GoLite Speed 2#10oz, 3000 cu in
 GoLite Jam 1#12oz, 2867 cu in
• Considerations
– “Frameless” pack design is feasible
• Must have very light loads (<20#)
• Use mattress as stiffener
– Lighter material used in construction
• Take care to not tear
– Smaller capacity is mandatory
• Reduce your weight & VOLUME (3000 cu in or so)
– Make sure you can carry items inside the pack!
Light Pack Examples
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Gossamer Gear “G5”: 3800 in3, 10.7oz., $115
www.gossamergear.com
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Mountain Laurel Designs: 3200 in3, 13 oz, $160
www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/
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GoLite Jam 50L 1#14oz, 3050 cu in
GoLite Jam 70L 1#15oz, 4270 cu in
www.golite.com
1. Watch capacities: what’s inside and what’s out?
2. Watch weights: includes belt, padding, etc.?
3. Some people cut off unneeded accessories
Sleeping Bags
• My History:
North Face “Cat’s Meow” 2#10oz
 Western Mountaineering “Ultralite” 20° 1#13oz
• Considerations:
– Snug fit for reduced weight
• Must tolerate tighter-fitting bags
– Consider only down fills (≥850)
• Synthetics can’t match weights ratios
Typical Mummy Bag
– Use your clothing too
• Wear clothing at night to supplement/regulate bag
warmth
Light Bag Examples
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Western Mountaineering “Highlite” 15.7oz, 35o,
3 ½”, $260
www.westernmountaineering.com
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Feathered Friends “Merlin” 23oz, 30o,
4”, $314
www.featheredfriends.com
1. Watch loft height: it’s everything!
2. Watch stuff sack weight and size
Other Items in your Base Pack
• Big 3 (tent, pack, bag): Covered to this
point – But, what else is in your pack?
Extra “Stuff”
• Ask Three Key Questions
1. Do I really need it?
2. Is it worth the extra weight?
3. Can I lighten it up?
Mattress
• My history:
– Therm-a-Rest Ultralite ¾ (14oz) 
– Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest ¾ length (8 oz)
• Comfort versus Weight & Volume
– “Big air” versus closed foam
• Air more comfortable and smaller size
• Air mattress used alone: can puncture!
• Closed foam can be used as form for pack
– Full length versus partial
– Mummy versus rectangular
– “R-value” is important
Foam + Air
Cook Stove
• My History: WhisperLite gas (15oz)  alcohol
(1oz) (3.4oz w/ pot, screen, bag)
• Considerations:
– Fuels: Gas, alcohol, canister, tablets, none
• Coke-can/alcohol is lightest stove option
– Fuel container size & weight
– Simmer versus full-blast (boil only)
• Objective: “cook” meals or boil water
• Examples
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Vargo Triad 1.06oz + foil, $30
Brasslite TurboF, .85oz + foil
Ion Kit, .46oz + foil, $22
Make your own
Cooking Utensils
• My history: 2-Pot Aluminum Kit (24oz) Titanium
pot (2.7oz)
• Considerations:
– Simple versus complex meals
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Freeze-dried dinner in cooking bag
Small pot/cup to boil water (1-2 cups)
Single spoon is ample for simple meals
Cold meals for breakfast and/or lunch
• Some examples
– Titanium Pot, 4oz (w/o top) $40 www.rei.com
– Titanium Spoon 0.4oz, $12 www.backpackinglight.com
Water Containers
• History: Nalgene, 3.5oz, $6 > Gatorade,
1.5oz, free
• Nalgene: is out, “drink” bottles are in
– Essentially free
– Dispose, don’t sanitize
• My Strategy
– 1 Qt Gatorade (1.5oz) or aluminum spun bottle
– 2 Qt Platypus rollup (1.5)
Water purification
• History:
MSR pump (15oz)  AquaMira (chlorine
dioxide) (3oz) (15-30gal)  SteriPEN
• Lightweight Options:
– AquaMira Chlorine Dioxide Liquid
• 3oz, $13, 60-120 qts, 15 min
– Katadyn Chlorine Dioxide Tablets
• .5oz, $10, 20 tablets & qts, 30min
– Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets
• 3oz, $8, 30 qt, 15min
– SteriPEN UV Rays
• 3.6oz w/batteries, $100, 90sec
Food Protection
Options:
1. Do Nothing: attract critters and bears – poor
alternative
2. Bear Canister: Excellent, except for weight (2.5#)
and volume (700in3)
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BearVault BV500, $80
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www.rei.com
3. Hanging Bag: Best alternative, except when hiking
above tree-line
UrsaLite Bear Bag System, 2oz, 4in3 (plus food
volume)
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www.backpackinglight.com
PS: Some places require a canister be used
First Aid Kit
• History: Every contingency (1.5#) 
minimum contingency (3.7oz)
• My minimums
– Pills (Benadryl, Advil, Imodium, GasX), Band-Aids, antibiotic,
antiseptic, tick remover, mole skin, pads, duct tape
– Put contents in zip-loc bag
• Considerations:
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Alone or with others?
Within a day of civilization?
Cell phone coverage available?
Your level of training?
Heavy Alternative
Extra Shoes (Camp, Water)
• History: Extra Running Shoes (2#) 
None
• Considerations:
– Camp shoes are nice
• Dry, comfortable, backup
– Water shoes are nice
• Crocs are excellent (13oz)
– Sandals for everything
• Teva or Keen Sandals example (29oz)
– Replace your boots with this lightweight alternative
– Camp shoes + Water shoes = 0 oz
Lights
• History: large headlamp, 6oz  Princeton
Tec 0.28oz
• Considerations
– May consider taking no light in the summer
– Many lightweight lights out there
Food
• Set a goal for weight/day and focus on it
< 1 pound/day?
• Simple-to-fix or complex-to-fix meals?
– My typical simple-to-fix breakfast:
• Cold cereal, powdered milk, sugar – all in zip-loc bag
• Just add cold water to zip-loc bag! No cook, no clean-up!
• Alternatives:
– Granola, oatmeal or grits – just heat up a little water
– My typical simple-to-fix lunch:
• No actual “lunch period”, just occasional eat trail snacks
– power bar, granola bar, Toasty crackers, peanut butter
• Peanuts, snacks, candy, power bars -- all are great
– My typical simple-to-fix dinner:
• Dehydrated meals prepared at home
• Vacuum sealed
• Pour in hot water, mix, eat from bag, no clean-up
– My typical allowance: 1#/day
Water
• 2.1 pounds/quart! WATCH THIS AREA!
• Don’t carry more than you need to get to
the next water source, with an
“insurance policy” in some situations
– If you get to the next source with water in your
pack, you probably carried too much!
• Drink your fill at each water source, and
then carry less to the next source
Alcohol Fuel
• Carry only what needed for trip length
– Plus, one extra day for “insurance”
• My typical trip: 1 oz (weight) /day is more than sufficient
to boil 2 cups of water at one time
– One hot meal/day (at dinner)
• My plastic fuel bottle: 8 oz-liquid bottle = 1.1oz wt.
– That equals 8-day supply of fuel at 1oz/day
• What works best
– Heet 99+% Methyl Alcohol (yellow bottle!), 12oz, $1.50
• Other
– OK: Ethyl rubbing alcohol (70%), 16oz, $2
– Bad: Isopropyl antiseptic alcohol (70-91%), 16oz, $2
“Worn or Carried” Weight
• Why important?
– You legs can’t tell the difference!
– It’s all carried up, and down, that hill!
• Pay attention to what’s not in you pack
– Boots
– Poles
– Clothing
– Camera, Bear spray, etc.
Boots/Shoes
• Light packs enable lighter foot ware!
– Less support needed
• Running shoes, trail runners, sandals, Crocs, etc.
• Old saying: 1# on foot = 5# on back
• Choices
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Leather boots: 64oz
Mid Boots: 46oz
Trailrunners: 41.6oz
Running shoes: 26.6oz
Keen Water Sandals: 29oz
Crocs: 13.4oz
Trekking Poles
• Poles add weight
– But is this offset by advantages?
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Pushing up hills
Braking down hills
Stabilizing creek crossings and difficult terrain
Use as tent poles
– Some people don’t use poles
• Examples
– Lightweight: REI Peak Shock Carbon 13.5oz/pair
Leki Aergon Carbonite Anti-shock - 14oz/pair
– Average poles: Black Diamond Shock 20oz/pair
Clothing
• Lightweight Philosophy
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Layers, layers, layers
No duplicates, except socks and underwear
“Snug fits” are lighter & warmer
Buy lightest fabrics, and use down in jackets
Fleece does not pack as well
Weigh everything!
• Watch Your Raingear!
– How much is really needed?
• Jacket probably, pants may not be needed in summer
• Shop for the lightest possible items – rain gear tends to be made of
heavy materials!
– Examples
• GoLite Squall breathable jacket, 9oz
• GoLite Reed breathable pants: 4.6oz
Camera
• What are your trip objectives?
– If photography is an objective, then take
that big 2-4# rig
– Otherwise, a small digital at 5oz will do
– Look for a waterproof shockproof camera
such as Olympus Stylus 770SW
– Maybe “no camera” is acceptable
Personal Protection
• Pepper Spray needed? (I have never taken
it on any trip, seen lots of bears)
– Are problem-bears in the area?
• E.g., hiking alone in National parks
– Are people a potential threat?
• E.g., camping close to population centers &
trailheads?
– Are you hiking alone?
• E.g., are you a woman hiking alone?
– What’s your “fear factor” level
• Counter Assault canister with belt holder:
13.5oz (heavy….)
Summary!
Ryan Jordan
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Formula
Base Pack Weight
a
Consumables Weight1 b
Initial Pack Weight
a+b=c
Worn or Carried Weight d
Full Skin-Out Weight
c+d=e
6-Day
11.8
7.9
19.7
4.7
24.4 #
3-Day
10.0
4.2
14.2
4.7
18.9#
Base Pack Weights of 8-12# are very reasonable for anyone
– My old Gregory pack weighted over 7# by itself!
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Light weight: 12-20# Base Pack Weight (BPW)
Ultra-light weight: 6-11# Base Pack Weight
Ridiculously-light weight: <=5# Base Pack Weight
Go light and enjoy your next backpacking adventure even more!
Thanks for your time!
Contact Information
Rick Harris
[email protected]