GoLite Race Pack

GoLite Race Pack

My first rule of shopping for a lightweight backpack is to eliminate all of those 3 pounds or heavier. However, if you’re really serious about being lightweight, you should probably set you upper limit at 2 pounds. There are many, many choices out there in this range, including the GoLite Race Pack.

Don't be put off by pack names such as "adventure pack" or "race pack" because it is mainly marketing jibberish.

I like several things about this pack: it weighs 1 pound, 8 ounces, costs less than $100 and has plenty of pockets, including a big pocket for rain stuff, a wet tent or whatever. Continue reading

Gossamer Gear ThinLight Sleeping Pad

Gossamer Gear ThinLight sleeping padBackpacker Magazine in its August 2006 ultralight gear guide calls the Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad, “fanatically light”, a 1/8-inch thick pad of closed cell foam that tips the scale at a mere 2 ounces.

About the only thing you could find thinner would be a pad made of dragon fly wings.

Ultimate Pack

Think about the ultimate lightweight gear set: 4 ounce pack, 1 pound sleeping bag, 2 ounce pad, and 10 ounce tarp …. Just 2 pounds for all your basics. This is not a dream. These products really exist. Continue reading

Gossamer G5 Hyperlight Pack

Gossamer G5 Hyperlight packThere are some people who deserve to succeed. Because they are friendly, nice, honest, ethical. And Glen Van Peski is one of those people.

His love of the outdoors led him to establish GVP Gear, a home grown business, which Glen and his family ran, sewing ultralight packs while he worked as an engineer to make ends meet. Years later he co-founded Gossamer Gear.

Look for a Fit

I purchased a GVP pack from him a few years ago in my quest for the most lightweight gear. In a few days, I got this beautiful hand-crafted pack. I tried it on and it didn’t fit. Not because of GVP but because it just didn’t fit my frame. I called Glen and he sent me another size pack to try.That one just didn’t feel right when loaded with all my gear (I suspect I was trying to carry too much at the time). Finally, Glen sent me a third pack to try. Nothing worked, so I gave up.

Glen was just absolutely great in trying to help me get the right pack. And didn't hassle me when I couldn't find what I wanted.

Then I kind of lost track of GVP. Checking out the August issue of Backpacker Magazine, I kept seeing ads for Gossamer Gear. I checked a little further and sure enough, it is Glen Van Peski’s company with co-founder Grant Sible. I think we are lucky he stuck with the business and now offers incredibly lightweight gear. Among them is the G5 Hyperlight Pack , a sleek 7.5 ounce model that weighs in at 7.8 – 9.4 ounces (depending on size) and costs just $105.

Continue reading

Lightweight Light: Princeton Tec Impulse Review

Princeton Tec - Impulse 4, Blue LED, Translucent Blue Body

You can never be too lightweight. As a result, my quest for newer, lighter solutions to lighting my way at night, cooking after dark or reading in my tent never seems to end. My latest find is the Princeton Tec Impulse, at just .49 ounces (14 g) it is about at light as you’re going to get, rivaling one of my other personal favorites, the Photon Micro-Light, which weighs approximately the same, but doesn’t have as many features.

At this weight you can (dare I suggest this against the basic tenets of lightweight backpacking) buy two or three; put one on your back, another around your neck. The weight is negligible. Continue reading

Titanium Esbit Wing Stove: Light As a Feather

Esbit Wing StoveHopefully my headline using "wing" and "feather" won't make you groan too much. I couldn't resist.

Over at BackpackingLight.com, I logged into The G Spot forum discussion on the lightest stoves and came across the recommendation for the Titanium Esbit Wing Stove, a mere .046 ounces.

Like its giant cousin (the 3 ounce Esbit Pocket stove), it works with a single Esbit hexamine tablet and is made specially for lightweight cooking cups. According to BackingpackingLight's notes, the microscopic wing stove does not "sacrifice the strength and stability required for cooking with 1 liter and larger pots."

I also discovered that you can make your own wing stove or buy one. Thru-hiker.com reports that the make-your-own version is only .3 ounces. You can see why it is so difficult to define "light" in lightweight. Continue reading

Lightweight Light: Photon Micro-Light II Review

Photon Micro-Light II, Key Ring w/Switch, Turquoise (N.V. Green)

In modern physics, the photon is the elementary particle responsible for electromagnetic interactions and light (this according to Wikipedia). It also says that photons are massless, so I guess that means they weigh nothing.

The Photon Micro-Light II is about an 1 and 5/8 inches long (about 4 cm) and weighs about .25 of one ounce or less than 8 grams. That is just about nothing if you ask me. Continue reading

Tips from Backpacker Magazine: Let’s Rethink It

Backpacker Magazine in its latest "Daily Tip" gives five ways to lighten your new pack.

Basically, they all make sense. But let's be a bit more critical in our thinking about lightening up. Backpacker's suggestions are listed first, my comments follow.

Backpacker: Remove your pack's aluminum stays. Better: don't buy a pack with aluminum stays.

Backpacker: Replace your rain cover with a Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Pack Liner at $45. Better: use a plastic trash bag in your pack to keep your gear dry.

Backpacker: Swap out thick bear-bagging rope for 50 feet of a thinner cord such as Kelty’s Triptease Lightline ($15; 1 oz.). Better: don't carry a rope, especially if you are carrying a required bear canister. Or, if you must some rope, cut it in half.

Backpacker: Remove the pack lid. Better: resist the urge to fill every space with gear. Take nothing that doesn't do double or triple duty, such as a bandana you can use for a napkin, wash cloth and filter to keep the big particles out of your water bottle.

Backpacker: Ditch your water bottles. A 3-liter bladder holds more water than two bottles, shrinks when empty, and makes staying hydrated much easier. Better: bladders are nice, but may not fit in your pack, and they often leak. Use a smaller bottle, especially when hiking in areas with lots of streams and lakes and fill up more often.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

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Wilderness Water: To Treat or Not to Treat

I recently responded to a forum thread at BackpackingLight.com regarding the best lightweight options for purifying water . I suggested trying the SteriPEN  and the Sweetwater Anywhere in-line filter (4.5 ounces), both of which I own and use.

In another response to the question posed, Carl Kinney recalled a Backpacker Magazine article that suggested three main factors for people getting sick (noting that statistically your chances of getting sick from unfiltered water are small):

  • Bad water: drinking from live stock ponds and sources around campgrounds and heavily used trails.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • The ability of your immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses.

I need to know more before I will recommend not filtering. For a long hike such as a AT or PCT , perhaps eliminating a filter to reduce weight is an option for some. But for shorter trips, having some kind of water purification system makes sense to me.

Be safe. Be light. Be one with the pack.

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Western Mountaineering SummerLite Sleeping Bag

I own the Western Mountaineering HighLite sleeping bag, a 16-ounce goose down bag rated for 38 degrees. One way Western got the Highlite so light is that it has a half zipper. I love this bag dearly, but sometimes find that the half zipper pulls apart in the middle of the night when I get up for a bathroom break. How can you not wake up while trying to get it back together? I hate that.

Western has announced the SummerLite sleeping bag (pictured below), which for 3 ounces more gives you a full-zipper and is rated for 32 degrees. I believe the longer zipper and extra warmth justifies 3 extra ounces.

SummerLite sleeping bag

Another feature: fully baffled with insulated draft protection.

Says Western Mountaineering: "We designed this bag for the lightweight fanatics who provide us with feedback, criticism, and motivation to continue producing the lightest down products available. This bag will debut this spring in limited supply to selected retail partners. It will become available to all WM dealers by Fall (2006)."

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack. 

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If Top Soil is Best for Growing, Is Top Water Best for Drinking?

In the UseNet Backcountry group, I just came across a Los Angeles Times article supplied by happywhenhiking in spokane.

The idea that going deeper in lake water will yield less bacteria is called into question. There is an on-going debate on many outdoor forums about whether you need to filter water in many places. And the debate is usually tied into how to get as lightweight as possible on the trail.

After being hammered the past decade with wilderness water safety, I'm a little gun-shy of not filtering. However, to help you make your own choice, here is part of the article on treating or not treating water:

Bob Derlet drinks his water straight — without fancy filters or chemical treatments. He leans face down into Delaney Creek, which flows directly down into Tuolumne Meadows from the Sierra Crest, taking healthy gulps from the rushing stream, and then fills his water bottle. It's nearly noon on an early summer day, and temperatures are hovering in the mid-80s. After a rigorous two-mile ascent in altitudes around 9,500 feet, the pristine mountain water is indescribably refreshing: no chemical aftertaste of tap water and chilled to perfection by the Sierra's melting snowpack.

"No one camps above here. There's no livestock or park animals so there's little chance of contamination," says Derlet, gesturing toward Mt. Dana in the distance and the lush, grassy alpine meadow surrounding the creek.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

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