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  #1  
Old 10-22-2015, 3:55 PM
Cyberion Cyberion is offline
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Default Second Backpacking Trip--more lessons learned, and some not

Well it took far too much time to get from the first trip to the second but better late than never.

My son and I picked up where we left off last year in the desert and this time determined to hike where there was water. Mount San Jacinto was selected for proximity, elevation, and for “dreamed of” mountain streams of flowing water--plus the guys at REI suggested it. So off we went for 2 days and 1 night on the mountain.

Our hike was roughly 5 miles one-way, starting at about 5,500 feet elevation and climbing to almost 8,000 ft. It would take us 5 ½ tough hours to get up there. We wanted to take last year’s lessons and make some improvements.

I’ll start from the bottom. After hiking last year in the desert, I had blisters all over my feet. Sweat and grains of sand against skin didn’t work well. We invested this time in Merino wool hiking socks and wow, it felt like I had slippers on all day. I used the medium cushion socks and the difference was incredible. My boots are old and quite cheap. They were the same ones I used last year so it was certainly the socks that made the difference this time. My son also commented multiple times the socks were fantastic and one of the best investments we made. Bought two pairs for each of us—one for the hike up and one for the hike down. Zero blisters after about 11 hours of hiking and very comfortable feet! My feet got a little irritated on the way down but it was my fault for not lacing up my boots tighter to stop my feet from sliding inside the boot while going downhill.

Last year our backpacks were way too heavy. We were exhausted carrying them. This year we rented a lighter two person tent from REI to test it out and to ensure our packs were lighter. I think we failed again on this despite good intentions. Heavy packs was the worst part. While the tent was certainly lighter, I don’t think the reduction of tent weight was enough to help us much. This is a tough thing to balance and we have failed twice now on this part. We wanted to ensure we had what we needed for all-weather conditions but also not break our back carrying too much. I think my pack was close to 35 pounds with water. (4 liters—more on that later)

My anchor

Perhaps a new sleeping bag might help. I think the one I have weighs about 4 or 5 pounds and is big and bulky. Takes too much room in the backpack. But we were trying to use what we had and not buy everything new. We have work to do here yet and I’ll say it’s not fun when you realize 15 minutes into your trip that you’re overloaded but you don’t know what you won’t need. So we pressed onward and upward.

This was our first backpack trip up a mountain. We were expecting heavy rain, hail, snow, and anything else a mountain can throw at you so we did pack some layers of clothing. It was 73 degrees and sunny when we started and after an hour or so I was drenched in sweat. I was wearing a cotton t-shirt and had a spare one in my bag for night time and the hike down. My shirt was totally soaked through and I was going through a lot of water hiking up. Inclines, elevation, and lower oxygen takes its toll after many hours.


A view of the typical incline above 6000 feet

We stopped for lunch half way and I hung my shirt on a tree to dry out, not wanting to use the dry one too early. I think I need to invest in a new base layer shirt—and material other than cotton. It didn’t dry quickly enough and was heavy with sweat.


Cool air felt good at the time but the temps dropped quickly above the cloud line

Jumping ahead, it was 45 degrees when we finally got to our camp 5 ½ hrs later and I turned from hot and sweaty to freezing very quickly. I changed into dry clothing after we put the tent up and put on extra layers but it did take additional time to get warm again. I’ve got some learning to do yet on layering clothing and best materials to use for those layers. The mountain with its wild temperature swings make this need more apparent than any other environment.

Water, water, water. Well we expected to refill our water supply in some river or creek while on the mountain but we were disappointed. The ranger station on the way in had no reports of water sources to share with us. We were advised to fill up before we left and carry what we needed for the hike up and down. Like last time, we were again using our Mountain House food that also requires water to rehydrate and cook. So we each had about 4 liters to carry as we headed up the mountain. (That’s another almost 9 pounds of weight) I drank a lot of water on the way up because the work was so hard. And we stopped for lunch and used another cup or two for food. I think I went through about 3 liters on the hike up and had one liter remaining at our camp. My son probably went through 2 liters. Between the two of us, we had 3 left. Throughout the night, I was still drinking to rehydrate and when morning came, I was mainly out of water. Now we were down to 2 liters between the two of us but I was not too concerned because it was cold out (about 42 degrees in the morning) and hiking down would be easier than hiking up. What I really wanted was some morning coffee to warm up and wake up.

This is what I called the $84 cup of coffee and worth every penny.


The guys at REI suggested I have a water pump with filter to extract water from the river. We had water purification tablets and LifeStraws but I thought the recommendation made sense and picked up this Katadyn Pro Water Pump for about $84.


Along with the socks, this was the best thing we purchased. No rivers were found but this puddle, preserved in the rock, was extracted, filtered, heated, and turned into a cup of coffee in a few minutes. I began hunting on other rock formations and by extracting a few other puddles, we filled this container and used it for breakfast and even more morning coffee.

Water level before

Water Source 2

Water level after

On the way down, we found other puddles in the rocks and completely refilled my 3 liter camelback and also used some for lunch. We arrived back at our car with the same amount of water we left with. It’s quite liberating to know we can safely drink water from the sources we had available to us. This was the highlight of the trip for us and a very pleasant surprise.
Finally, the cooking tools we used also need an upgrade. The Sterno fuel we used in the desert heated very quickly and brought the water to a boil in under 5 minutes (at sea level.) Not true on the mountain.


I forgot my physics while up there but I knew at altitude boiling water would be “different.” It would take longer or something like that. Turns out water boils at a lower temperature at high altitudes and we never could get the water hot enough to our liking—for food or coffee. Plus it took us more than 15 minutes to get any bubbles to form on the bottom-more than 3 times longer than at sea level. I’ve been looking at the JetBoil system online and it looks like a good way to go for next time. One cooking system for two or more people has to be able to boil water faster than what we experienced above 5000 feet and has to have the ability to heat the water to a hotter temperature at higher altitudes. Two cups of coffee and two cups of water for food took over 30 minutes to heat. Way too long.


Here’s a great view in the morning while out hunting for water


Had a great time and will do another hopefully soon. Any advice, coaching, tips or suggestions on tactics or gear are always appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 10-22-2015, 7:59 PM
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Great post
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Old 10-22-2015, 8:40 PM
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Thanks for posting. I miss backpacking and look forward to getting out this summer. I have an old MSR whisper lite but think I may try this.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00CHH...cm_cr_asin_lnk
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Old 10-22-2015, 9:08 PM
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sounds like your getting closer........boots are the first thing good boots or don't go. Yes high end may hurt your wallet but if you can't walk your done. REI has some good ones but they are not in stock in the store. Online is the only way to get a boot that fits no slip and will last longer than your legs.

Second if your pack hurts at 35lbs that's not the pack for you. I use Mystry Ranch.....expensive but I can haul 100lbs and go 7 miles packing out mammals I've killed hunting.

Tents that's a gamble 2 man is a 1 man with a little room for gear. I go bivy under 2.5lbs w/rainfly. It's better to go bivy that way if you get seperated both have shelter.

5lbs bag way too heavy half that weight is a must packs small and should hold 20 deg 0 with clothes on.

Water boil Pocket Rocket the only way to go and if you get the titanium pot lid & cup fuel and stove all fit in the sack they give you.

Water filter good choice and good on you finding water the way you did most have no clue. Now the bottle get rid of it and go water bladder with a playterpus(sp) plastic bag bottle as a backup.

Hiking stick or the poles is a must for going up or down much more stable and can use for a shelter pole or chase the Mt lion away or just lean on to rest.

Send me a pm and your number and we can talk......glad your teaching the kid that's huge now a days!

REI info is good but they are for the most part weekend or easy trail guys/gals

I'm a hunter that goes for 2-10 days 3-15 miles in the back country to bow hunt big bucks & elk. I've learned the lessons and willing to share to help you have lees pain & more fun and of course being safe.

I'm going only on a short hunt this weekend in SD 3 miles in no water to filter and damn well better have a buck on my back with my camp before I head out......I'm hoping less than 10 miles total trip but with hunting you never know....

Mark
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Old 10-22-2015, 9:23 PM
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Look up ultralight backpacking for some ideas to cut weight.

Definitely get lighter sleeping bags when you can.

35 pounds does mean the pack is not right as stated above.
I am usually at 40 - 45.

The pack needs good hip belts that support most of the weight.
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:06 PM
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If you are only spending one night you should be able to get your pack down to twenty to twenty five pounds. How much food did you haul back out? Several friends and I hiked Mt. Whitney last year. Eleven miles to the summit and three miles back down to the upper camp ground. We slept there and hiked the remaining eight miles out the next day. We did the summit of San Jacinto a few months ago and summited San Bernadino peak a couple of weeks ago Seventeen miles in one day. Not many people know about San Bernadino. It is one of the nicest hikes I've ever been on, nice trail, beautiful woods a nice campground if you want it, and not very many people. And a permit is easy to get by mail. Every new guy takes too much stuff, and every hike you find you don't need half of it. There are several websites you can go to that show trails, and campsites and plenty of pics. Only one So Cal mountain left for me " San Gorgonio" and I've been turned down for permits four times in the last few months. Looks like it will have to wait till spring. The more you go the more streamlined your outfit becomes. Keep in mind REI makes a living selling you stuff. Sterno works and the 99 cent store has lots of things you can use. Big five has boots that work, they don't last as long as the expensive ones but there good for several hundred miles. I like to get them a little big and wear two pair of socks with them. A thin pair of hiking socks with a pair of wool ones on the outside. Hope it helps

If I can do it anyone can. I'm 67 years old.
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Old 10-23-2015, 7:59 AM
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Nice post, thanks for sharing.

Ketadyn filter and a Jet Boil stove were the two best investments I made when I got into this activity a few years ago.
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Old 10-23-2015, 8:12 AM
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Some great suggestions here, that's really awesome you're in shape enough to take your son out like that (I wish my dad did this with me).

If your pack is bothering you and you're considering getting a new one, check out REI on a weeknight when it's slow and see if you can get some suggestions from the backpack sales rep, most of them know their stuff and can at least show you some things about packs you can look into.

Plus one on the pocket rocket mentioned above, it's basically a no frills attachment to the fuel canister that screws in and kicks *** at heating water up. The newer isobutane fuel that's out there comes in a nice compact fuel container, relatively cheap, will heat water within minutes no matter than elevation, and can be used a dozen times easily. These are pretty good in windy conditions too but I use a large piece of paper in mine to shield the wind.

Clothing can save you a few ounces (and ounces lead to pounds)...it's worth it to invest in one of those wool base layer shirts (can be pricey) OR the less expensive route is to grab a workout shirt from a local discount retailer, throw a wool sweater over it if you get cold, and then a light weight wind breaker...also a down coat is well worth it, costco sells them for a decent price and REI will have them on sale occasionally - they're usually super light weight and thin enough to throw a rain jacket on top of in case of adverse weather.
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Old 10-23-2015, 8:14 AM
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Never use cotton. Get synthetic everything.
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Old 10-23-2015, 9:20 AM
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Thanks all for the tips and suggestions. Sleeping bag maybe an issue but sounds from ya'll I should look into the backpack. I'll have to test it out around here more because it could be a combination. Maybe I need to replace both. I have stuff hanging on the back of it because there's too little room inside because the sleeping bag. Perhaps weight needs to distributed closer to the body.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post
Second if your pack hurts at 35lbs that's not the pack for you.

Water boil Pocket Rocket the only way to go...

Send me a pm and your number and we can talk......glad your teaching the kid that's huge now a days!

Mark
Thanks for the offer. I'll PM you next week. Good luck with the hunt this weekend. Care to elaborate on why Pocket Rocket over the Jet Boil? I've heard of both but haven't looked at Pocket Rocket yet.

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Originally Posted by homelessdude View Post
How much food did you haul back out?
If I can do it anyone can. I'm 67 years old.
I had 3 or 4 Mountain Houses left. Enough for another day. And at 67 good for you! We had a few 70 something year olds blow by us on day hikes. If they weren't going so fast I would asked for a ride. Keep it up!

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Originally Posted by Tadich View Post
Jet Boil stove were the two best investments I made when I got into this activity a few years ago.
Jet Boil vs. Pocket Rocket?

Quote:
Originally Posted by renardsubtil View Post
Plus one on the pocket rocket mentioned above, it's basically a no frills attachment to the fuel canister that screws in and kicks *** at heating water up.
Another PR vote.
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Never use cotton. Get synthetic everything.
I bookmarked this article related to your response the other day-after our hike. Very interesting test. Synthetic good, cotton bad. And I would sure rather read about it than do it. Thank you SEALS.
https://www.sitkagear.com/insight/a-...ewarming-drill
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Old 10-23-2015, 9:22 AM
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Great write-up, I really enjoy reading these!

A few thoughts, so probably already mentioned by others already:

-John J is absolutely right. Cotton is your worst enemy when backpacking. There is no reason to have cotton anything.

-I have a Jetboil Zip, and couldn't possibly recommend it enough. It is the single most valuable upgrade I've made to my backpacking gear in the last 10 years. I like it so much that I bought a spare one just in case.

-Invest in good boots. This is a "buy once cry once" type of thing. If you keep buying $75 boots, you will keep replacing them every season. Look at some $200+ boots like Danners and you will be much happier.

-Ditch the Nalgenes. Each one weighs half a pound EMPTY. Just use 1-liter water bottles, like dasani or whatever.

-Do you like coffee? Grab some Starbucks Via packets from the grocery store. They weigh nothing, just boil up some water in your new Jetboil, dump in a packet, and BAM! now you've got some pretty decent coffee.

-Your <1 mph pace, while on the positive side probably allowed you to enjoy the scenery, is a little on the slow side. My pace was the same for a while. I would suggest doing a bit of running in the off-season. I try to run 1.5 miles at least once a week, and after a few months of that I've found that backpacking is far easier, and thus more enjoyable. You can still hike slow if you want to enjoy the scenery, but you will be happier if you aren't gasping for air and buckling at the knees.


Edit: Also, I own a pocket rocket. It was neat, til I got a jetboil system. Want my old pocket rocket? haha
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Old 10-23-2015, 9:51 AM
Cyberion Cyberion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cockedandglocked View Post
-I have a Jetboil Zip, and couldn't possibly recommend it enough.

-Invest in good boots. This is a "buy once cry once" type of thing. If you keep buying $75 boots, you will keep replacing them every season. Look at some $200+ boots like Danners and you will be much happier.

-Ditch the Nalgenes. Each one weighs half a pound EMPTY. Just use 1-liter water bottles, like dasani or whatever.

-Do you like coffee? Grab some Starbucks Via packets from the grocery store. They weigh nothing, just boil up some water in your new Jetboil, dump in a packet, and BAM! now you've got some pretty decent coffee.

-Your <1 mph pace, while on the positive side probably allowed you to enjoy the scenery, is a little on the slow side. My pace was the same for a while. I would suggest doing a bit of running in the off-season. I try to run 1.5 miles at least once a week, and after a few months of that I've found that backpacking is far easier, and thus more enjoyable. You can still hike slow if you want to enjoy the scenery, but you will be happier if you aren't gasping for air and buckling at the knees.

Edit: Also, I own a pocket rocket. It was neat, til I got a jetboil system. Want my old pocket rocket? haha
Thanks. On boots--I think I paid about $25 from Big 5 a few years ago. Waterproof and they work for walking around...not necessarily hiking.

I've got those Starbucks Via packs. Yes, they work great.

The Nalgenes water bottle is my son's. I wasn't carrying it and not sure why he has it. We do have water bladders. We'll ditch it next time.

<1 mile pace...I started the timer at the bottom and 5 1/2 hrs includes stops and lunch. We were probably going about 2.5 mph but it was hard. I run a few miles a week but at sea level. In any event better conditioning is always good. My son was also huffing and puffing so I was glad it wasn't "just me."

I looked up some references when I got back related to "how long should it take." I'm not sure of the web site but I copied this down. Seems to sort of fit our trip in terms of time expended but I guess experience will tell if it holds for other trips.

Naismith's rule(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naismith's_rule) is a good starting point, but it doesn't really cover unusual trail conditions. My rule of thumb is to convert distance, elevation, and trail condition to "equivalent miles":

Each mile is a mile.
Each 500 feet of elevation gain is a mile.
Distance traveled on snow or loose rock counts double.
Distance traveled above 7000 feet elevation counts double.
Distance spent breaking trail counts double.

I figure I can cover three equivalent miles per hour carrying a day pack, or two per hour carrying an overnight pack. The resulting time estimates are usually good to within an hour or so.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:07 AM
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In that case your physical conditioning is probably pretty good, so my next suggestion in that case is to acclimate a little when you do a higher elevation hike. If you can, arrive at the elevation the night before the hike so your blood oxygen levels can come to an equilibrium before you start. Pack weight is also a huge factor as you already know, and for a 1 night trip you were probably carrying way more gear than you used. There are some things you'll (hopefully) almost never use but still want to bring, like first aid kit, maybe a firearm, etc. But there are probably many things you didn't use at all that are only in there for convenience, not emergencies. For example, did you bring a change of clothes? Because I'm sure your son could tolerate your stinkiness for 1 day.

Think of as many ways as possibly to use one piece of gear for multiple tasks. For example, a trash bag can serve as a trash bag obviously, but also a poncho, a backpack cover, a rain collector, a bear bag, and so on. Do you have both a GPS and a fancy navigation compass? You should never rely on GPS alone, but a simple little button compass would probably suffice as a backup. I could go on and on forever. Maybe lay out all the gear you took on your trip on your living room floor, and post a photo. I bet the collective of all of our experiences could help you ditch 10lbs of gear without really losing anything you want or costing you a fortune.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:10 AM
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One other thing, that sleeping pad is HUGE,... you'd be surprised how comfortable the ground can be if you dig out little grooves in the dirt underneath you for your hip and your shoulder. Done correctly, it feels not unlike a memory foam mattress! Of course, that only works if you know the ground will allow for that at your campsite, but in your case it looks like it would have.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:34 AM
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Don't get me wrong, I carry some HEAVY stuff that is totally not necessary. I could use my cell phone camera, but I bring a DSLR with 2 lenses because photography is a really important part of backpacking for me. I could probably leave the scotch and cigars at home too. And I've never had to fire 21 rounds of 10mm at anything, but I sleep better knowing that I could.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cockedandglocked View Post
One other thing, that sleeping pad is HUGE,...
REI purchase. It is big but it is very light. And without it I would have been freezing on the ground. It's a good insulator.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:47 AM
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I am not a huge backpacker but I have done a little here and there.
As others have said, your feet are the most important.

You don't need to spend the big bucks on boots, but don't do the bargain bin either. Get some reasonably priced boots that fit you and are WATERPROOF. Walking with water in your boots is no fun.
One of the best things you can do for your boots is to upgrade the insoles.
A lot of the real pricey footwear just has a nice insole and then they mark it up real high.
You can buy moderately priced footwear and then get some quality insoles - this will nearly eliminate the need to break in your boots as well.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberion View Post
REI purchase. It is big but it is very light. And without it I would have been freezing on the ground. It's a good insulator.
Agree.
If I can't bring a good pad for my elderly back, I won't go anymore.

Those packs looked like they had decently padded hip belts so could you have been carrying the weight too low so too much weight was on your shoulders?


Trans-Sierra planned for next year.
(East to West, the easier way. )

Good luck.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:51 AM
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Ditch the boots and wear running shoes. I am on the fringe here and have been trail running and backpacking in Luna Sandals for years now. So I am looking at about only 15 ozs on my feet. Compare that to heavy boots and then some "camp shoes".

Ditch the stove and cook pots. Just eat some dry and prepared foods that require almost no prep and no clean up. Those dehy meals are too much trouble to prepare and clean up afterward, and who wants to carry the dirty garbage.

Ditch that big water pump and get a Sawyer. Ditch the nagalene for an Aquafina or Gaterade bottle.

Ditch practically everything and start over and get your pack weight down. Google ultralight backpacking and see what principles are working for others almost universally. Start with the big three, pack, sleeping bag, shelter. Then minimize and reduce duplication in all your other gear.

You'd be surprised with how little you need for a short backpack trip. Not counting food and water, my pack weight including what I am wearing is under 20lbs, and that is with a gun and fishing gear. And I go three seasons and multiple days in the high Sierras and Coast Ranges all the time. There is a learning curve, but first you need the right mindset.

I havn't backpacked with a tent since I was a kid. My tarps weigh anywhere from 8 to 20 ozs. And I have weathered some crazy storms. Ditched my sleeping bag for purpose built down quilts. They are around a pound and super warm. And my clothes is part of my sleep system. No redundancy.

Start counting in ounces and you will be amazed how much weight you can drop. If you'd post more details about your gear, I would gratefully give you more concrete examples.

The beauty of going ultralight, is you just carry what you really need, and with such a light pack, you find yourself wanting to just walk all day every day, and take it all in. That heavy pack is not dragging you down anymore, and now instead of hauling, you are just walking, and can go all day long like it is a breeze. It's just walking after all. Fifteen to twenty miles days are easy with a light pack and light shoes and good simple gear and the knowledge to use it.

Last edited by Tanner68; 10-23-2015 at 11:08 AM..
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Old 10-23-2015, 11:15 AM
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(clipped)
Did you write this book? Because your style of backpacking sounds nearly identical to the author! He even suggests ditching a knife and just carrying a razor blade. Some good tips in this book (and in your suggestions above), but personally I prefer to keep the tent and the boots. Anyways OP, whether or not Tanner 68 wrote this book haha, You might want to pick it (or one like it) up and give it a read. It'll change the way you think about your gear.

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Old 10-23-2015, 11:21 AM
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This is the backpack I use. Not sure where and when I bought it but I know it's quite comfortable at home with nothing in it.
http://www.tetonsports.com/Backpacks.../Scout3400.htm
Spec says 4.5 pounds.

Coleman Sleeping bag. Not sure if this is the right one but it's something like this.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=1&*entries*=0
Spec says 6 pounds.

Most of what I own was purchased for "car camping." 20 yard hike from the back of the car to the campsite. And I'm not sure if Ultralight is the way I want to go. Ditch the knife? I'd prefer to carry 10x the weaponry I had.
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Old 10-23-2015, 11:31 AM
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This is the backpack I use. Not sure where and when I bought it but I know it's quite comfortable at home with nothing in it.
http://www.tetonsports.com/Backpacks.../Scout3400.htm
Spec says 4.5 pounds.

Coleman Sleeping bag. Not sure if this is the right one but it's something like this.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=1&*entries*=0
Spec says 6 pounds.

Most of what I own was purchased for "car camping." 20 yard hike from the back of the car to the campsite. And I'm not sure if Ultralight is the way I want to go. Ditch the knife? I'd prefer to carry 10x the weaponry I had.
Ooooph, that's 10.5 pounds just for your sleeping bag and the thing to carry it in.

For 2 nights or less, my backpack is a day pack (http://www.amazon.com/High-Sierra-In...ords=cirque+30) and my sleeping bag is this compact thing I got a few years ago (http://www.amazon.com/Suisse-Sport-A...s=suisse+sport). Combined weight of those items is about the same as your backpack by itself.
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Old 10-23-2015, 11:48 AM
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The right backpacking gear is a small one time investment. The gear lasts forever and you don't need to upgrade it but once every decade or two. Thats a lot of ROI if you use it a couple times a year.

OP, that is a heavy backpack and sleeping bag. I could carry a Garand Rifle and my backpack and sleeping bag, and barely be over your weight.

Let's look at something small, like flashlights and knives. I carry a Mora knife. And either a small headlamp in the 2.5oz range, or often a lighter and smaller flashlight. If I have a friend I don't need backups. And these aren't things that break. If they break or I lose them, I'll just do without.

What did you guys carry in the knife and flashlight realm?

And I see that black wood burning stove in the pic. While simple, I think that is a heavy piece of kit. Just ditch it. Many simple backwoods methods to put a pot on a fire that don't require you to carry any gear.

Is all your clothes part of one continuous system, that can take you from the hottest weather you anticipate the to coldest and foulest, without any redundancy. And some of your warm pieces can be slept in and allow you to carry a lighter bag. If you are carrying long johns, long pants, a fleece top, and a beanie hat, just in case it gets cold, why not make it part of your sleeping gear and carry something much lighter.

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Old 10-23-2015, 11:50 AM
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If you hike San Jac and San G a lot let me know I am always out there camping and hiking (I work for the forest service) but I go a lot by my self and am always looking for people to hike with. Great write up and maybe sometime I will see you on the trail!
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Old 10-23-2015, 11:55 AM
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I use a penny stove similar to the one in the video. I made mine with Arizona Ice Tea cans for a larger base. Boiled water in 5 minutes at 7400' last time I was out. Really light and the fuel does not smell if you spill it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bnIt3WT_p0
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Old 10-23-2015, 12:17 PM
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You'll find that gear junkies all have different opinions and different styles. Just go with what works for you is the best advice I have. Maybe look into hammocks and ditch the tent. I use a Sawyer mini for a filter, they're cheap, lightweight, and easy. A down bag will certainly pack smaller and lighter. I like to eat so I use a pocketrocket stove and a GSI Dualist cook kit, it all packs up compact and nice for two people.
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Old 10-23-2015, 12:31 PM
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You'll find that gear junkies all have different opinions and different styles. Just go with what works for you is the best advice I have.
Definitely true. I think everyone can agree on one thing though, you'll have more fun if you have a lighter pack, no matter how you choose to reduce the weight. Remember: food, water, shelter... the rest is fluff.

One last tip I just thought of - go through your first aid kit. Is it an off-the-shelf kit, or did you assemble it yourself? Premade kits always have too much of this and too little of that. Like, it will have a box of 50 band-aids, but no advil. Or 75 alcohol wipes, but no gauze. My current first aid kit, which I'm confident will suffice for pretty much anything short of internal organ injuries, only weighs like 4 ounces.
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Old 10-23-2015, 1:08 PM
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Thanks for all the tips. I'm going to review everything. I was actually too warm in the sleeping bag and would have been happier in a lighter one. Investing in synthetic layers is a good start. (I like Tanner68's "clothes part of one continuous system" phrase) That should allow a smaller and lighter sleeping bag. And if the sleeping bag is smaller, I can possibly switch to a smaller day pack with a water bladder built in (which I already own). Then buy or rent to try a very small tent/hammock and give that a whirl for next time.

I carried a homemade 1st aid kit and it's pretty light. And my knife was carried with the intent to fight bears, not save weight. I'm OK with that.
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Old 10-23-2015, 3:14 PM
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Having a Nalgene bottle isn't all bad, on extra cold nights you can heat up water, put it in the bottle, and hug it in your sleeping bag....

Mountain house meals are nice, you can shave a few more ounces off by reusing the bags too...this means unpacking the contents before you trip but I found the bags reusable at least two more times.
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Old 10-23-2015, 4:37 PM
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Thanks for sharing.

We've all been there.

I have been slowly decreasing the weight of my pack. Here is some of what I've done:

Instead of a tent, fly, footprint and steel stakes @ 8lbs. 12oz. I now go solo backpacking with a ENO Double Nest Hammock, Bug Net and Pro Rain Fly, I'm getting a House Rain Fly for 4 season backpacking. It all weighs in at 6lbs.

My kitchen can weigh as much as 6lbs. and as little as 2lb.4oz. with (pot, bowl, 3 stoves, 1 micro lantern, 1 8oz fuel canister 2, 4 oz. utensils, Titanium 1 Liter pot, 7" Titanium non-stick pan, Titanium 600ml single wall cup and 2 sets of stacking Titanium double wall mugs 400ml, 300ml, & 200ml, & micro fiber towels).

I use a Kelty Redwing 50 for up to 3-5 days and a ILBE pack for 5+ days. I would like to add a Osprey Aether 85 and reduce the weigh from 8.6lbs. to 4.5lbs.

My sleeping bag is a Kelty Cosmic Down 21 that I've been warm in into the teens that weighs in at 2lb. 10oz. with a Therma Rest 2.5" air mattress @ 2lbs.

For Water I have a 3 liter Osprey Hydration bladder, 2 liter platypus hydration bladder, 4 liter Platypus water filter and a couple of sawyer mini's. for solo there's nothing better than a Sawyer mini.

Cotton is the worst material. I like breathable light weight material and I like convertible pants and shirts. just unzip sleeves and legs for comfort, zip back on when you need. I also have a Froggs Toggs light weigh rain suit, North face Down Jacket and Danner boots for both hunting and backpacking. The hunting boots are 8", 800g insulated/waterproof and the hiking boots are non insulated waterproof.
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Old 10-23-2015, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by glockman19 View Post
Thanks for sharing.

We've all been there.

I have been slowly decreasing the weight of my pack. Here is some of what I've done:

Instead of a tent, fly, footprint and steel stakes @ 8lbs. 12oz. I now go solo backpacking with a ENO Double Nest Hammock, Bug Net and Pro Rain Fly, I'm getting a House Rain Fly for 4 season backpacking. It all weighs in at 6lbs.

My kitchen can weigh as much as 6lbs. and as little as 2lb.4oz. with (pot, bowl, 3 stoves, 1 micro lantern, 1 8oz fuel canister 2, 4 oz. utensils, Titanium 1 Liter pot, 7" Titanium non-stick pan, Titanium 600ml single wall cup and 2 sets of stacking Titanium double wall mugs 400ml, 300ml, & 200ml, & micro fiber towels).

I use a Kelty Redwing 50 for up to 3-5 days and a ILBE pack for 5+ days. I would like to add a Osprey Aether 85 and reduce the weigh from 8.6lbs. to 4.5lbs.

My sleeping bag is a Kelty Cosmic Down 21 that I've been warm in into the teens that weighs in at 2lb. 10oz. with a Therma Rest 2.5" air mattress @ 2lbs.

For Water I have a 3 liter Osprey Hydration bladder, 2 liter platypus hydration bladder, 4 liter Platypus water filter and a couple of sawyer mini's. for solo there's nothing better than a Sawyer mini.

Cotton is the worst material. I like breathable light weight material and I like convertible pants and shirts. just unzip sleeves and legs for comfort, zip back on when you need. I also have a Froggs Toggs light weigh rain suit, North face Down Jacket and Danner boots for both hunting and backpacking. The hunting boots are 8", 800g insulated/waterproof and the hiking boots are non insulated waterproof.
Sounds like your trial and error over the years has netted you a pretty similar pack list to mine. Do your feet get a bit warm in the 800g danners though? I have 500g danners and my feet are soaked in sweat in any weather that's above freezing point. Also, my hammock is a Hennessy, which I love, but if I'm backpacking somewhere that I may not be able to suspend it, I use a Eureka Solo Backcountry tent instead. Both weigh about the same, roughly 4 pounds. But the hammock obviously eliminated the need for any sort of sleeping pad, which is nice. I'm guessing you don't use the Thermarest air mattress in combination with your hammock..
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Old 10-23-2015, 11:00 PM
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Sounds like there are lots of ways you could cut down on pack weight as mentioned already. A good down sleeping bag can be expensive but it's a one time investment that should last forever. I use a marmot helium and it weighs about 1.5lbs and packs really small. I had a thermarrest pad that was only 1.5" thick and took up a lot of room and wasn't all that light. I have switched to a Big Agnes air mattress it's smaller, lighter and 3" thick. The only drawback is it's not self inflating and has to be blown up. But for the added comfort and smaller size and weight it's a good trade off. Clothing is key. I'm willing to bet you packed way too much clothing. I go minimal on clothing. 1 pair of zip,off pants. 2 pairs synthetic undies, synthetic t shirt, synthetic long sleeve shirt, 2 pairs wool socks. Fleece pants for night and a down jacket incase it gets cold and it doubles as a pillow when it's in a stuff sack. Rotate socks and undies and rinse in the creeks. I'm also a believer in trail running shoes, much more comfortable than boots. Clip a pair of flip flops outside your pack to wear around camp. You can get creative and light with your food. Instant oatmeal for breakfast. Peanut butter and jelly on tortillas for lunch. Instant mashed potatoes, spam, ramen, dry rice and beans, dry soups, couscous, etc all make good dinner foods. My 2 person kelty tent is under 5 lbs, it really fits 2 people and has a nice fly with a big vestibule on each side. Someone mentioned a hammock. I suggest trying to sleep in one at home before committing to one on the trail. They are light and small but some people just can't sleep well in them. I could never get comfortable in mine so, I returned it. Have not tried just a tarp yet but it's on my list to try. Every trip you go on make a list and revise it at the end of the trip. You will be surprised at how much stuff you can eliminate that you packed and didn't have a need for.

Happy trails!
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Old 10-23-2015, 11:08 PM
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And... I'm not a fan of stoves that you have to pack fuel canisters. They are bulky, take up space and you have to lug around the empty canisters. I love my Brunton Optimus stove. It's small and boils water very fast. I have never needed more fuel than the one full bottle and I'm usually cooking for 4 people for 3 or 4 nights. I find the dehydrated meals high in sodium so i end up thirsty all night. Plus they are big and create too much garbage to carry around.
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Old 10-24-2015, 6:05 AM
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Awesome thread.

While I do car camping, I'd love to do some real camping with the family...
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Old 10-24-2015, 12:02 PM
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Great post!
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Old 10-24-2015, 10:11 PM
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Great post!
This thread makes me want to go on a backpacking trip asap just so I can post a writeup, I never get tired of reading these. Hopefully this becomes commonplace in this forum!
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Old 10-25-2015, 7:44 AM
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Good read!

Next time invite please?
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Old 10-25-2015, 9:02 PM
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Get rid of the aluminum frame bars in the bacpack. Totally unnecessary for the weight you are carrying. Also, make sure you have adjusted the backpack fit correctly. The first year I had my back, I thought I had it set up correctly, but it was killing my shoulders. I finally took the time to watch the setup video, adjusted the back length 2 inches, and it was like I took 10 pounds out of the pack!

Sawyer mini filter with a 1 liter Smart Water bottle I use to refill my Camelbak weighs 1/2 as much as the pump filter I used to use.

Watch the REI outlet website for clearance deals for a lighter weight sleeping bag.

Mountain House usually come packed for two servings, divide before the trip to save room, weight, and give you the option for more meal flavors. I re use one pouch usually for the trip. One long handled spoon and a cup is all I use with a Jetboil.

Waterproof boots that fit (love my Asolos!) Lightweight water shoes for creek crossings and around camp.

Most of my backpacking is above treeline and around lakes for trout fishing so a freestanding tent gives me options and keeps the mosquitoes off me!

Synthetic clothing throughout. One t-shirt, one long sleeve, one pair zip off pants, one pair xtra socks, xtra underwear or a pair of cycling shorts for a lightweight swimsuit option if other backpackers are around. Lightweight down jacket, light down vest, wool cap and lightweight gloves give layering options for most situations that don't involve snow. Ultralight Frog Togs for the wet stuff.
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Old 10-26-2015, 2:34 PM
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Thanks for the latest suggestions. I'm working through everything again, including adjusting the pack I have. There are a number of variables all needing some tweaking. Will update again hopefully soon.
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Old 10-26-2015, 3:03 PM
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Great write-up.

In Colorado, you cannot walk or hike more than a 1/4 mile in any direction without finding flowing water. We had the wettest spring on record. There is practically no need to carry any water at all.

I found the elevation mentions in you post somewhat humorous. I live at 7,500 feet... so when I go hiking I usually start at 8,000 to 9,000+ feet. That is where the hike starts, lol.

Day hikes for me top at about 11,000 to 12,000 feet and there is still a lot higher to go. The weather isn't like California though - no high pressure system keeping it clear all the time. Even during the summers it is always raining, or blowing, or hailing, or thundering, or cloudy, or cold. The whole summer went by, and I was never actually warm. "The year without a summer," I kept calling it.


July 11th, 2015 @ 10,600 feet in the southern San Juan's... it hailed & rained all day (freezing cold rain that is):





May 19th, 2015 in the "Southernmost Part of Alaska." One more month to go! This year, the deciduous trees in the high country had their fully grown green leaves for less than 50 days:
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