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Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
#43635 07/22/15 08:51 PM
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What do you think? How am I doing for a solo weekend backpacker up Whitney? What would you do differently to save weight??

TOTAL WEIGHT - 31.2 lbs
>> 26.4 lbs gear weight + 1.5L of fluids (4.8 lbs)

Main backpack - Osprey Atmos 65 - 21.2 lbs
- Bear Vault 450 with food for 2 days + 1 titanium cup
- -20 down sleeping bag
- Mattress pad
- Tent REI passage 2 with Footprint
- Icebreaker 400 top+bottom
- Esbit alcohol stove with 6 tablets + 3 disposable lighters

Day pack - REI Flash 22 - 5.2 lbs
- small camera, extra batteries, some cables etc.
- 1 camelbak 750ml empty container
- gore-tex jacket

I consider this extremely minimalist, I hear people taking 1 week trips with under 20 lbs, that's crazy to me. What exactly do they NOT take LOL!!

So, how much did your pack weigh at the start of Whitney and how much water did you take with you?

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43637 07/23/15 06:50 AM
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You can do yourself a favor on the math alone. That 1.5 liter of fluid should be just over 3 pounds, not 4.8

And you can do even better than that. There is frequent water all the way up to Trail Camp. I only carry water above there. So there is 4.8 lbs you can take right off the top.

Also, is that a MINUS 20 bag? Way too much. You can lighten up there.

On the other hand, 750 ml of water for the day pack is way to little. 3 liters from TC to summit and back is considered prudent.

You can knock off significant total weight, but plan on a little heavier load for the summit.


Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!
Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
saltydog #43638 07/23/15 08:54 AM
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I bet you packed way too much food.

Ignore all the advice to carry 4000 Cal a day. I only take 1500 Cal per day and never get faint or crash. You can burn some fat. You can make up for whatever you burn before and after the hike.

Skip the stove. It does not weigh much. Just need some human fuel, not a hot gourmet meal.

I've done 5 Whitney summits carrying only 2 liters water from last water at roughly 12,000 ft. Reload on the way back down.

Just my two cents.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
Harvey Lankford #43639 07/23/15 11:06 AM
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If you do take the stove, the Esbit tablets (they aren't alcohol), burn about 20 minutes. You only need one, maybe two.

You only need one lighter, and matches as a backup.

Leave the 9 oz. footprint for the tent at home. Take a heavy duty garbage sack, cut down the sides making a full-length ground cover. I use one for my ground cover on backpack trips.

FYI, here are two threads to give you more ideas:
    Ultralight Manifesto
    Lightest weight hiking gear

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
Steve C #43642 07/23/15 02:19 PM
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At the trailhead, you'll find a hanging scale. Do take the photo (before and after) and post it here.


Verum audaces non gerunt indusia alba. - Ipsi dixit MCMLXXII
Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43644 07/23/15 07:39 PM
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Here's my list for Mt Whitney (9 days and counting). I welcome any comments, but the full pack with almost the same items was about 32 pounds during my last Yosemite trip and don't think I need to skimp any more.


First, stuff I'll leave at Trail Camp:

1 person tent and footprint (doesn't add much to weight.. 4 oz)
Lightweight sleeping bag (although depending on the weather, I'm tempted to bring this to the summit and spend the next night at the summit... a decision I'll make based on how I feel and the weather on the morning of my Summit attempt)
Day one hiking socks
Air mattress
Steripen
Non-summit food & trash in Bear-proof food canister
Cooking Stove & canister
Cooking cup
large battery to recharge iPhone and camera batteries
Any USED waste bags (no reason to bring my dodo up to the summit, so I'll have at least one extra waste bag in addition to the one they give you)

Then what I'll be wearing/carry to the summit:
wear: hiking underwear
wear: Hiking long/short shirts
wear: hiking boots with gaiters
wear: Hiking Socks
wear: Fleece pants
wear: Down jacket
Backpack (Osprey Exos 58 which isn't that much heavier than my normal day pack (2.75 vs 1.5), so don't see a reason to carry a second pack up from the Portal)
Wipes and UNUSED waste bag
First Aid/Survival kit
Pulse/oximeter (since I already have it, figured I see how low my O2 level gets)
Electrolyte Pills
3 liters of water
2 Gatorade bottles (full at Portal, but from mix + trail water from Trial Camp)
Rain jacket
Rain pants
Long convertible pants & Hiking warm shirt (may leave these behind if I think the fleece+rain pants will be enough)
hand/foot warmers
headlamp, Second flashlight, and spare batteries
Hiking Food
Small towel
iPhone (for gps)
camera (of course)
camera batteries
Gloves
warm hat

Question for the people who've done Whitney before:
I noticed on my last Yosemite trip that my nicely broken in hiking boots that I use for big trips (waterproof, very sturdy) were showing a little more wear on the soles that I'd normally prefer.
They did fine up and down Clouds Rest and Half Dome, so would they be good for Whitney?
My option is a new pair that I've only been able to do one Mt Diablo hike to break them in (13 miles, 3200 feet climbed/descended).


Last edited by WanderingJim; 07/23/15 09:17 PM.
Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
WanderingJim #43645 07/23/15 10:16 PM
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Leave the "large battery" for recharging home. Turn your phone off except at the top. It won't work anywhere else. Camera battery should hold enough charge to take all the pics you want. Don't waste battery by viewing lots of pictures "just for fun".

Your iPhone works as a backup light. You don't need two backups. Headlamps don't need replacement batteries these days.

Wear the old boots. Nicely broken in works better.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
Steve C #43646 07/24/15 06:43 AM
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Obviously the largest variable is the amount of water you carry. As mentioned in another thread, some people don't feel comfortable pumping water every few miles. There's a trade off between carry a few extra pounds and having a lot of 'work breaks'. I lean towards the extra pounds (besides, the original bottled water you bring tastes better). But as I get older, I'll have to lighten up as much as possible in order to make it up at all.

Last edited by bruce; 07/24/15 06:45 AM.
Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
Harvey Lankford #43655 07/25/15 03:29 PM
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Water is the big variable on the ~10 miles without water sources. I am moderate sweater and I have done the summit seven times. I have ran out of water when carrying two liters and 4 liters. The former on just before Trail Crest on the return, the latter just before the summit on the way on a a day that did not see 40 F...thank God for snow and sunlight.

I take 4 L just in case something happens up high. I am usually into the forth by the time I return to Trailside Meadow...my usually fill it up spot.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43677 07/27/15 06:05 AM
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Congrats! I see you made it and had a great time, from a more recent post. I don't see any big gear items you listed that you need to ditch. Going without gear is mostly wishful thinking and depending on others. Ultralight gear is all about the latest materials and technology (read "expensive"). It's an entire system of gear, not a collection of light things that happen to fit in a pack. So that's how people do it - they have gear made from cuben fiber, carbon fiber, silicon-impregnated nylon, titanium, etc and they try to use things for more than one purpose.

If you're serious about ultralight backpacking, you should break down the weight of every item you have, research the latest gear and develop a plan from the start. You'll have to spend a lot of money upgrading, and learn some new skills because the gear is a little different and not as durable as regular REI stuff. Its a lot cheaper (and easier on a marriage) if you're just getting into backpacking because you don't have to upgrade everything.

Make sure you're weighing accurately and compare "base weight" without consumable items like water, food, and fuel. That's your gear weight. Consumables vary depending on the trip, and everybody has to eat. Water is usually the heaviest item as nothing else typically weigh more than 2 pounds including a 2-person shelter that sets up with hiking poles.

Congrats again, and good luck lightening your load for future trips.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
SierraNevada #43687 07/27/15 08:26 AM
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I go light wherever I can, but some luxuries I won't do without. One is a hiking stool (REI, 1 lb). I've been using one for 20 years and I hate looking for places to sit down every hour. Much easier to just find a flat spot with some shade and sit on the stool.

Another is the geek equipment. Hiking can be tedious at times and monitoring my progress offers a distraction and passes the time faster.

As for water, I like to have a comfort zone. Much prefer to carry an extra bottle or two, 9 times out of 10 that I will never drink, rather than go thirsty 1 time out of 10. One less thing to worry about on the trail as well.

Also there is a matter of pride, so I generally try strike a happy balance between the two extrems.

Last edited by bruce; 07/27/15 08:27 AM.
Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43716 07/28/15 10:46 AM
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Don't carry more than 1 liter until you get past the 24th switchback, at which point 3 liters is about right for me.
I agree with the above comments about food. between 1500-2000 calories a day is all I want when hiking. Your appetite will wane the higher you get. Don't bring food with any moisture in it.
Instead of two packs, consider getting an ul pack that is less than 1.5 lbs. It will then double as your daypack.
you didn't mention what kind of mattress pad, but you can save a lot of weight there. Look for something that weighs less than a pound.
Your tent is heavy. Consider going without or with a ul tarp.
You aren't likely to need bottom thermals if you are bringing a 20 degree bag.
leave the extra batteries and cables at home for the camera. Like Steve said, take, but don't review on the trail.
gore-tex is way too heavy (and expensive). YOu can pick up Frog Togs for about $25. The jacket weighs about 7 ozs. They tend to last me for a good two dozen hikes and do an excellent job of keeping out the elements.
You didn't mention clothes, but I typically wear the same outer layer for 3-4 days. You can wash them in the river during the summer and quick dry clothes will dry out in no time in that arid air.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
Brent N #43729 07/29/15 07:19 AM
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You could save a few lbs:

I use the same pack, Atmos 65. Love it.Cut the bottom internal flaps out, you don't need them (minimal weight savings anyway, just helps packing).

You could get by with a thinner sleeping bag. I've been fine with my WM 32*F bag down into temps in the hi teens.

Leave the footprint back. Not sure what the tent weighs, but if its over 3 lbs there are lighter options. Leave the daypack home, just empty the Atmos 65 and use that.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
nyker #43731 07/29/15 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted By: nyker
You could save a few lbs:

I use the same pack, Atmos 65. Love it.


The 2 things I dislike about the pack is the curved back which makes it difficult to add anything long and rigid towards the back and wastes space, and the bottle holders suck big time! why no mesh pockets??

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43737 07/29/15 07:12 PM
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Rei passage 2 weighs 5lbs 5oz, not sure if that includes foot print but I don't think so. That was my first backpacking tent for 2, now it's my go to car camping tent, a great tent tho.

http://www.rei.com/product/810115/rei-passage-2-tent

Get a lighter tent or tarp. I currently have big Agnes ul1, I just take the fly an footprint and that's super light.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
Beantown #43742 07/30/15 08:29 AM
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I think the Passage 2 does not work so well for solo, I like the Big Agnes UL for 1 person, 2lbs packaged weight is nothing, wow!

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43743 07/30/15 08:49 AM
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I have the Big Agnes UL2. Perfect size for me for going alone or with my significant other.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
trident777 #43744 07/30/15 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted By: trident777
I think the Passage 2 does not work so well for solo, I like the Big Agnes UL for 1 person, 2lbs packaged weight is nothing, wow!



yeah, i have the Big Agnes UL1 too. Very nice and light. I was debating a low weight bivy sack, but then found the UL1 and it's pretty much the same weight as the bivy sacks I was looking at.

Re: Ultralight backpacking - how do you do it?
WanderingJim #43757 08/01/15 10:47 AM
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Plenty of 2-person fully-netted single wall shelters in the 2-lb range, or lighter for solo. The key is the materials - silnylon or cuben fiber and use of hiking poles (and/or small tent poles).

TarpTent by Henry Shires

ZPacks Cuben Fiber Shelters

These are a little heavier, but still ultra light:

Six Moon Designs Tents

This system is very modular, slightly heavier than others, but more durable:

Hyperlight Mountain Gear

Then there's the tarp-only solutions, which are the very lightest, best ventilation, but no bug protection, no privacy, and subject to wind issues. Often that's just fine for summer in the Sierra Nevada if you're willing to ride out the tough times.

As stated in a previous post, these high tech materials are expensive. The companies are small to mid-sized with excellent service, but some products are so popular they have wait times of weeks or months to get.


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