OK, I’m going to get all geeky on y’all this morning. I taught myself some rudimentary spreadsheeting and drew up a list of what I might take on an ultralight campout. None of this has actually been tried because I’m a complete rookie at this stuff, but the gear is there and should work provided the temperature remains above, say, 35 degrees. For now I want to go with what I already own without having to buy more gear (which goes against all that I hold holy, of course).
Here’s a list covering shelter, sleep system and cooking suppllies.
|Black Diamond Winter Bivy||9|
|REI Quarter Dome footprint (ground cloth)||9|
|Integral Designs 5×8 silnylon tarp||7|
|12 titanium stakes, 50 ft. of guy line||4|
|Marmot Pounder Plus sleeping bag||36|
|Thermarest Prolite 3 sleeping pad||20|
|Gregory G Pack||48|
|MSR Pocket Rocket stove||3|
|8 ounce fuel canister||13|
|MSR Titan Kettle||4.2|
|Petzl Zipka light||2.3|
|First aid kit||3.5|
|Canon A510 camera||9|
|Katadyn water filter||12|
|REI 1 liter bottle||4.5|
|Total: 11.58 pounds||185.1|
I feel like I’ve got the basic-survival test — avoiding hypothermia — covered so long as the temperature stays above freezing. My Marmot sleeping bag is rated at 25 degrees and has synthetic fill that’ll insulate if it’s wet. It also has a water-resistant outer fabric. The Black Diamond bivy is certainly not 100 percent storm-proof but it’s pretty close. The tarp is something to stow gear under and keep the rain out of my face — coupled with a bivy it’ll be fine but I’m dubious of using it alone if there’s any chance of rain in the forecast.
I met a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker last summer who told me he was carrying 15 pounds of gear, not counting food and water, which sounds like a nice goal for a rookie to shoot for. So I’ve got another 3 pounds for clothing, rain gear, camp tools, toiletries, maps and other assorted doo-dads.
I know all the “extras” could go over 3 pounds with no more effort than falling off a log, so where could I shave weight without giving my Mastercard a workout?
- Substitute a couple Hefty garbage bags for the tent footprint.
- Make a soda-can stove and carry only enough fuel for the length of my trip (an eight-ounce canister has about an hour’s worth of fuel, enough for a five-day solo trip).
- Sleep on the cheap, lightweight closed-cell pad I took snow-camping.
- Use a chemical water treatment instead of a filter.
There are really only two points I’d prefer not to compromise on: the water filter and the sleeping pad. I like the taste of filtered water, and I sleep rough enough on my Thermarest. The other options are worth looking into, though I’d probably take my tent footprint along out of a stubborn sense of wanting to get some use of the money I invested it.
Now all I need is some weather worth camping in. As that song in “The Crow” went, it can’t rain all the time.
(More weight cutting tips at simplehiker.com)
There is, of course, no right answer to this stuff. There is, however, an equation to keep in mind.
At some point, shaving ounces (and fractions of ounces!) off of the equipment list has a diminishing positive effect on lowering the pack weight – and can instead start to become an obsessive (though, in some ways, fun) exercise. For example, lowering a base weight from, say, 12 pounds to 11 pounds and 14 ounces will not likely produce a noticable change in weight.
On the other hand, cutting increasingly closer to the line of comfort and safety (to save mere ounces, in the end) can have a very real effect out in the wild. For example, having experienced multi-day rain in the backcountry, I wonder about a bivy that is “not 100 percent storm-proof.”
Right now it’s all just-for-fun until I actually try a campout with this setup. Given my cautious nature, it’ll most likely be a local overnighter on a weekend with no rain in the forecast.
Tom, you’re scaring me. You’re becoming an addict. But I guess you have to hit rock bottom before you realize it. So let me help. Get rid of the water filter. Your chances of getting giardia are nil. If you don’t want to risk it, take a few iodine tablets or a squeeze bottle filter. Get rid of the bivy and tent and just bring the tarp, especially for summer in Cali. Forget the camera, you’re out there to go lite, not snap pretty pics. You’ll be moving to fast to enjoy anything anyway. First aid kit is questionable. Sounds like all you have are a few bandaids and antiseptic cream. Not worth it. You could probably take a tuna can in place of your stove. Also, a zrest instead of your thermarest will cut another 10 oz. They only cost $20…I think that gets you down to 7 lbs. no prob.
Hmm, the squeeze-bottle filter is a good idea.
The camera stays, though. Nobody’d ever visit my homepage without the pretty pictures.
Try Tyvek for the ground cloth – I know many people who are happy with that approach (including myself). Send it through the wash a few times before taking it out, though. It can be really noisy when ‘unsoftened’.
Try Aqua Mira instead of either a water filter or a squeezable bottle. I switched 1 1/2 years ago and will never go back. My water treatment now weighs around 1 oz and is hardly noticable in terms of taste in the water.
I find it all a tad obsessive-compulsive, this over-concern about shaving ounces. Oh, drat, the dental floss weighs over an ounce, can’t pack it. (I watched a friend actually put dental floss aside during an exercise once.) Hey, what’s wrong with just being strong and carrying the shit! I hike to my camping destinations (admittedly not marathons and not extended stays)with any and everything I think I need or want. And, yes, it can be brutalizing, such as a 9 miler in North Fork American River country toting in nearly 70 pounds. . .but I made it, and am stronger for it. Yeah, sure, if I were through-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, or even going to the Yosemite or Coe backcountry for more than 3 or 4 days, I’d do everything to reasonably lighten my load, but in general, if I really want to deprive myself, I’ll do a spirit vision quest.
The past few trips I have used my light plastic poncho for a ground cloth. It didn’t rain any of the times I did that, so I don’t have experience setting up a tent on a poncho, in the rain. I figure it would work out well if there are showers during the day requiring use of the poncho, and a few minutes of no rain in the evening when you could set up your tent.
I’d leave the water filter at home – chlorine treatments are fine and nowhere near as problematic as iodine,
I’d also look at the sleeping bag. A good down bag will shave off quite a bit of weight and with a bivy and tarp you shouldn’t have any problems with it.
You could also look at the Bozeman Torsolite mat which is opnly 200 grams or so. These are much smaller than Thermorests but are just as thick. I’ll be testing mine out in the field next week and will report back.
That’s about it really.
Take the camera! And a book! Those that say ‘do you really need that book’ are just ultralight facists in my view 🙂