That’s my pack weight for this weekend’s overnighter on the Ohlone Trail. I’m going along on one of Steve Sergeant’s Sierra Club “fast and light” outings. We’re starting out at the Livermore end of the trail, hiking about 11 miles tomorrow and 17 on Sunday to finish the whole trail in two days.
Major fly in the ointment is that it’s supposed to rain off and on all day tomorrow. I realize most folks in areas with normal weather just hike through the rain and get over it, but I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’ve never had to backpack in the rain on all the weekenders i’ve done since taking up hiking in 2004.
I have, nevertheless, been preparing for the inevitable wet outing. I have my rain gear and a pack cover, and I’ve studiously wrapped all the stuff in my pack inside a plastic garbage bag for an extra layer of protection.
Here’s a thread at Hiking HQ with Sgt. Rock’s tips for keeping your stuff dry. He puts all his gear inside silnylon stuff sacks, lines his pack with a heavy duty plastic bag built for trash compactors, uses a cover to keep the exterior of his pack dry — wet cloth being major weight — and covers himself with a pack poncho to make sure no water gets down between his back and the pack. This is way more than I’ll need with only one day of rain in the forecast, but I can see how it’d be helpful on extended trips in rainy areas.
I’ve wanted to hike the whole Ohlone Wilderness Trail in one shot ever since I read this guy’s writeup a few summers back. At the time it seemed like a foreign country out there, but in the interim I’ve hiked all but about four miles of the trail at one time or another, including 20-mile two out-and-backs to Rose Peak — one of which I camped and the other as a day hike.
Steve, being a truly devoted lightweight hiker, has a whisper-light pack, sleeps under a tarp that doubles as his rain poncho, drinks chemically purified water vs. filtered, uses a closed-cell foam mattress instead of an inflatable. I’m guessing that saves him about four pounds.
I’d rather have something approximating a real tent, drink filtered water and sleep on a ThermaRest. I don’t do caffeine in the morning and I’m happy with just about any food that’s edible so I can do without a stove, cookpot and fuel. I am bringing along some fresh fruit & veggies, which do add water weight but also add to the livability of an all-day hike.
My other luxury will feel like a necessity only around bedtime Saturday night and getting up Sunday morning: a down jacket that’s built for much colder weather than we’re apt to experience. Only weighs a pound and guarantees warmth for that time between camp being set up and me being ready to pack it in for the night, and that early morning chill when taking everything back down. Plus it’ll double as my pillow. I have a shell in case I have to wear it in the rain.
I own an excellent two-person REI backpacking tent that’d be a super shelter on a really rainy camp-out — it has a nice bathtub floor to keep running water out (though it occurs to me that any water coming into the bathtub via shoes, pack, cover, etc., will stay there awhile). But it also weighs four pounds, while my GoLite Hut2, propped up by my hiking poles, comes in at less than 2 pounds including the stakes and ground sheet. For an overnighter, the Hut2 should be fine.
Steve notes that I could easily knock a pound off my load by buying a lighter pack, but these days I’m trying to resist the temptation to acquire more gear, seeing as how I really don’t have anyplace to put it.