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Posts Tagged ‘lightweight backpacking’

I’ve been distracted by the fish in Montana for the last couple of months.  I’m an avid catch-and-release flyfisher and the East Slope Cutthroats have been keeping me busy.  In addition, roads like these have kept me on my bike.

So those are my excuses for not blogging or backpacking much lately.

Big Duck Lake – Russian Wilderness

However, I did make a couple of quick trips into the Northern California wilderness earlier this month.  Here’s the photos to prove it.  No new gear testing though.

Clark Jungle Hammock Ultralight with JRB No Sniveler

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I haven’t posted for awhile so dredging through the archives I found this photo.

This was spring 2002.  I didn’t weigh the pack.  That was my first mistake.  It was probably was 55-60 lbs.  That was for 2 nights.  I am a compulsive weigher now.  What else is wrong with this picture?  Loose items hanging off the pack and heavy weight cotton canvas pants that would take forever to dry.  Note: neither human nor dog is smiling.

Here’s Jayna at camp resting in an early version of the Clark North American Hammock.

I now use a Warbonnet Blackbird.  It’s less than half the weight.  In the interim I used the Clark Ultra Light with my own tarp.  Step by step I lightened my load.

But, we got out there and enjoyed the wilderness.

After you’ve carried 50+ lbs. up a couple of hills, you start re-thinking what you really need to bring.  And you start looking for lighter options.

For me it became a passion.  Sitting around camp, I’d make lists of changes adding up the ounces lost.  Now my pack weight for a week in the woods is more like 35 lbs including a liter of water and all my food.  But, I bring fly fishing gear and a camera and binoculars too.

I encourage everyone to get started.  Take a trip into the wilds.  After carrying your old gear start thinking about where you can save on weight.  The big three are: your tent, your pack and your sleeping bag.  Buy a new sleeping bag first and just keep chipping away at it.  The new high-tech gear is great!

These photos are all from Grey Rock Lakes in the Castle Crags Wilderness of Northern California.  In the picture below you can see Mount Eddy in the distance.

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I just received my GooseFeet.  I’ve been looking for a product like this for years.  The perfect sleeping socks for the cold footed camper.  That would be me.  Nothing more – nothing less, just a super warm and super light sock. 

These are so light, at only 2.2 oz including a stuff sack,  you won’t mind bringing them along.  That’s about the same as a pair of regular hiking socks and about 1/3 the weight of my old down booties.  You can’t walk around camp in them, but they’re socks not shoes.

For camp shoes I’ll stick with my knock-off Crocs I got at Payless Shoes.  They look something like these Trailbreak Crocs ($49.99), but cost only about $10.

They weight about 10 oz for the pair and work well for the occasional stream crossing too.  Not to mention they’re great for fishing.

Otherwise, I wear my Merrell Pulse II Waterproof Mids for the trail.  They are so comfortable I wear them around camp often as well.  Of course, they have discontinued this particular incarnation.

You can still find them here and there as online closeouts.  Merrell has many similar styles.  I guess when these wear out I’ll have to experiment with something new.

But back to the GooseFeet.  At $55 they may seem expensive.  Good down is expensive.  Similar products cost even more.  Like Nunatak’s Teanaway Down Slippers pictured below.  Nunatak is known as one of the best down outfitters around.  These babies weigh more at 3 oz and cost more at $116.

There is a less expensive alternative in Sierra Design’s Packable Down Booties (not shown).  They cost only $35, but weigh 7 oz.  My guess is they are made using less down and down of a lower grade.  The GooseFeet are made with premium 800+ fill goose down, the best available.

I know I’m pretty enthusiastic about this product, but it fills a niche that needed filling.  I usually make my own gear when I can’t find what I want.  But, down is a bear to handle so IMHO it’s worth it to pay for the finished product.  And these are very professionally finished products.  They should keep my feet warm for years to come.

If your feet don’t get cold, order a pair of the GooseFeet for a cold footed lightweight backpacking friend.  They’ll never forget you!

Also available Waterproof Shells for GooseFeet $28

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I’ve been eating raw food lately.  It has more nutritional value than cooked food and, as a result, I’ve been enjoying increased health & energy.  But, carrots and apples don’t go well with the lightweight backpacking philosophy.  So, I’ve been dehydrating.  If you keep the temps down below 110 F food is still considered raw,  retaining all it’s life force.   Here’s an all-raw cookie recipe that I discovered as a result of making my own Almond Milk.

Almond Milk is just raw almonds and water (a little salt or vanilla if you want).  After blending and straining of the milk there is a residue of almond pulp.  I wondered what I could do with this stuff besides toss it.  So it has become the basis of my cookies.  They are great! (if I do say so myself).  And super easy.  But, you will need a dehydrator and a blender for this recipe. If you’re into raw food, you’ll need these two tools anyway.

2 cups Raw Almond Pulp (what’s left after making Almond Milk)

1 cup Raw Almond or Macadamia Nuts ground in a coffee grinder

1/2 cup Agave Syrup

1/4 cup Coconut Oil

2 t Sea Salt

2 T Maca Powder optional (a Peruvian Root, found at most health food stores)

3/4 cup whole Raw Sunflower Seeds

1/3 cup Raw Sesame Seeds ground in a coffee grinder

2 t Vanilla

Mix ingredients together in mixing bowl.  Place on 2 Tel-flex sheets from dehydrator.  Cover with wax paper and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Remove wax paper.  Score with knife or other tool to make 1.5″ square cookies.  Dry on 145 F for one hour.  (the evaporation for the first hour keeps the cookies temp below 110 F)   After an hour turn them down to 105 F overnight.  Flip cookies onto mesh panel dryer tray without Tel-flex sheet by placing one dryer panel on top of the other and turning them over.  Then remove top panel and carefully peal off Tel-flex sheet from back of cookies.  Continue drying until ready to eat (about 15 more hours).  Timing isn’t critical on these, except only an hour at 145 F.

I took them on a day hike yesterday.  I think they’ll be a great Clif Bar substitute.  I’m working on other ideas for trail food from the dehydrator.

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I had knee surgery a couple weeks ago to fix an old injury.  Consequently I’m going stir crazy.  So I decided to sort through my gear room.  I found a few things I don’t really need.  Well, more than a few.  Anyway, here’s some items I’m ready to part with listed on WhiteBlaze.netIMG_0094

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I’ll be giving a free presentation on lightweight backpacking for OLLI in the Campbell Center on the SOU Campus, 655 Frances Lane, Ashland, Oregon on Wednesday Sept 30 from 1-3 PM.

IMG_5557

Although boomer backpackers are my people, the concepts of lightweight backpacking can be applied to many things from motorcycle touring to dayhiking.  All ages and experience levels are welcome from day hikers to hardcore backpackers, bicyclists, RVers, etc.  I’ll do a short PowerPoint slide show and bring some gear for you to check out.  Hope to see you there.

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Not ultra light by any means, but the MSR Hubba is not too bad at right around 3 lbs.  This is a bigger, better bivy for a solo sleeper.  It’s not new either, but a tried and true fixture in the camping world.  IMG_6290

Here’s a NeoAir small inside the tent alone.  One of the nice things about the Hubba is how it holds your pad in place within its 26″ width.  The small footprint will squeeze into tight spaces where bigger tents would be impossible.

I like the narrowness of the tent and the height is generous.  Plenty of room inside for me (5’8″) to sit on my NeoAir/Big Agnes camp chair.  And it’s not just a small center pyramid peak like many tents; the entire center third, back to front and side to side has nice height.  The all mesh is good too, if like me, you like looking at the scenery.msr_hubba_vertmsr_hubba_floor

The fly is the heaviest part, but it goes up quickly and withstands winds well.  Our test conditions were 40 mph winds and driving rain!  No problems.

IMG_6270

I’m not a tent person, but if I were to ever give up my hammock, this tent would be a strong contender.  I would probably forgo the heavy fly in favor of a light weight tarp, but then the ease of setup would be lost…

I have a Tarptent too and I like the hybrid design.  What the single-walled tarptent lacks is the open all-mesh option for rain free evenings.

The MSR Hubba is a classic design in the double walled tent category.  If you’re a grounder, take a look.

msr_hubba_vest

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