Although I often just use my finger and a little water to clean my bowl and mug after breakfast or dinner on the trail, having a “wash pot” is nice. But too much weight and bulk, right? I recently discovered the Ultra-Sil Kitchen Sink (1.5 inches thick and 4.5 inches wide) as a great alternative. Packs down really small in its own case and is feather light. Best of all you can fill it with water, move away from the lake or stream to avoid contamination and use a small amount of biodegradable soap. Check it out.
In the meantime, be light. Be Safe. Be one with the pack.
A few years ago, I posted a review of my Esbit Pocket Stove, a small metal box that weighs 3 oz and burns a single Esbit hexamine tablet.
In culling 14 years of backpacking equipment, I came across my Esbit Titanium Folding Stove ($12.28 at Amazon), which weighs a mere 0.40 ounces (on a very accurate electronic scale); less than 1/2 ounce (11.3 grams). The esbit fuel tablet that powers it weighs 0.45. Together, they add up to a mere 0.85 of 1oz (24 grams)! Does it actually work? I thought I would do a 2013 re-test for you super ultra lighters who like their trail food hot.
I fired up the tiny Esbit, added one cup of water (enough for a single serving of oatmeal or a cup tea or coffee) and got a rolling boil in about 3 1/2 minutes. A neat feature: you can blow out the flame and save what’s left of the fuel tablet for another meal. This test left more than a half tablet.
For two cups of water (enough for your oatmeal AND tea or coffee), it took about 8 minutes and used about 3/4ths of one fuel tab. Note: these tests were done at sea level.
If you are rehydrating food with water for dinner, you can figure 3 tablets per day (2 for dinner and one for breakfast). That adds up to 9 tablets for a three-night trip. Tablet weight: 4.5 ounces (9 @ 0.45); stove weight: 0.4. Total for three days: 4.9 ounces. Add a couple of more tabs for backup (less than 1 oz). You can buy a box of 12 Esbit 1400 Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Cubes for just $4.99.
When I began my ultralight backpacking quest in 1998, manufacturers were producing big, heavy everything — tents, packs, pads and accessories. Backpackers had to be part pack mule to haul all the stuff around. Fast forward to 2013 and the focus on ultralight with lighter materials and lots of innovative minds churning out ever lighter gadgets. Like many others, my initial guide was “Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine’s Guide to Light Hiking.”
I’ve long since slimmed down my pack (and occasionally fattened it back up with comfort items). Now, I just look for interesting stuff to write about.
I bought a titanium sierra cup in the ultralight tradition. Pros: it’s light and when the contents get cold, you can just put it on the campstove and heat it up. Cons: everything gets cold fast.
Frankly, I don’t like my coffee going lukewarm and then cold just a few minutes after pouring it. So, I’ve been looking around and stumbled onto a cup selling at REI. It’s plastic with non-slip handle and non-skip bottom to prevent it from sliding off an uneven surface. A tight-fitting cover keeps liquid in and helps maintain warmth.
The bottom line: it’s $7.50. And, it weighs only 4.0 ounces — about the same as my titanium version which cost at least $30 when I purchased it. Check it out.
I’ve completed many point-to-point backpacks but have come to prefer trips where we set up a basecamp, then day hike each day in different directions. But where do you find an ultralight day pack when every ounce counts. Check out the Kiva Tote. Be light. Be safe. Be one with the Pack.
Your favorite music to help you sleep or to give you inspiration during an uphill slog can be a welcome backpacking companion.Â As long as it doesn’t add a lot of weight.The new iPod Shuffle 3rd Generation weighs all of .38 ounces — that’s right, just a tad over one-third of 1 ounce. Holds 1,000 songs with a 10-hour battery. Only 1.8 inches tall and .7 inches thick. And, only 79 bucks. I can’t think of a better trail companion.Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.
On my last two backpacks, I carried my new Flip Ultra Video Camera from Pure Digital. Runs on two A A batteries, weighs just 5.5 ounces and is compact at 2 x 4.25 x 1.
Takes 60 minutes of video, which you download using the built-in USB plug. Included software lets you grab photos from the video. Files are easy to post to YouTube soÂ you can share with friends. A neat little alternative to a bulky camera.
In earlier posts, I mentioned that I have three ground pads:Â a 3/4 Thermarest, a full-size Thermarest and a down-filled Exped Downmat 7. The D7 is heaviest, but is thick and ground-insulating with an ultralight sleeping bag. In a Yahoo discussion group a guy was inquiring about the Gossamer Gear 1/4 inch pad. A reader responded saying: Continue reading →
I discovered a “green” spork (combination fork and knife) made of corn, totally biodegradable and about a half ounce. In our recent trip into the Granite Chief Wilderness, ultralight backpacking companion Wild Bill and I ate two breakfasts and two dinners with the corn sporks. They were sturdy and held up to heat and washing. Our only complaint was that while digging into pasta, our hands got covered by smoked salmon and olive oil. Continue reading →
I head off soon for a backpack in the Granite Chief Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. With some snow still on the trail and nights at 8,500 feet expected to dip into the 30′s, a hand warmer isn’t such an odd suggestion as an added comfort for very little weight. As a kid, I had a , small polished metal heater that comes with a felt bag and lasts all day on a single fill of lighter fluid. There’s no flame, but lots of heat. What got me thinking about this was when I donated blood yesterday and the nurse gave me a disposalable hand warmer — a tiny pillow filled with some unknown material — to keep my hands warm so she didn’t have to squeeze a cold finger really hard to get that drop of blood needed to test my iron. A smart idea and made me think that it would be ideal for the “essentials bag.” If nothing else, you’ve got them for an emergency.