Sea to Summit X-Set 11 Ultralight Camp Pot and Cups

At REI’s Portland Store — in my never-ending search for the newest and lightest backpacking equipment — I discovered the Sea to Summit collapsible pot and  cups. The set is just 11 ounces. I didn’t weigh the pot alone, but I’ll guess 5 ounces (142g) — a weight easily qualifying it to fit in any ultralight backpacking pack.

Sea to Summit X-Set 11 Sea to Summit X-Set 11 OpenBesides the weight, I was very impressed with its packability. From the Sea to Summit website:

“The innovative X-Kettle collapses to 1 3/8” (35mm) and has a 1-liter safe boiling capacity. A wide base absorbs maximum heat from the stove while protecting the silicone walls. Two glass-reinforced Nylon 66 handles support the upper rim and improve control when pouring. The two X-Mugs nest perfectly inside the Kettle to create an exceptionally compact cook system.”

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




Bullet-Proof Alcohol Vargo Titanium Decagon Stove Just 1.2 Ounces

I was at REI today, looking at the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking equipment when I came across the Vargo Titanium Decagon Stove. I have tried just about every type of stove there is: Esbit, alcohol, propane and ethanol gel (but not biomass). I’ve made alcohol stoves out of soda cans and purchased the custom-made variety for a fortune.

Alcohol stoves are ultra light, but I found that by the time you carried the stove and a enough fuel to run it for several days, there is really no weight advantage over the fuel-canister-powered variety — assuming the stove itself is light. But that was 10 years ago and the “technology” seems to have advanced light years.

The Vargo Titanium weighs just 1.2 oz (34 grams) and takes 1.5 ounces of fuel. All one piece, the manufacturer boasts the ultralight backpacking Decagon Stove is so strong you can step on it with all your weight and it won’t break. In my hand, it did seem extremely strong and impossibly light.

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

Let There Be Light … On the Trail and in the Tent

I recently attended a presentation about Luci, a “solar justice” solution for those who live in “energy poverty” (they have little or no electricity for basic living).
Created by Mpowerd, Luci lights are inflatable, waterproof, solar-powered lanterns that recharge indoors or out and will reportedly last for 12 hours of continuous use. They stay charged for months when not in use. 



The best part: they weigh just 2.5 ounces (about 70 grams) and fold flat to about a half inch by about 5 inches.

As a ultralight backpacker, I couldn’t resist buying one. It solves the problem of carrying batteries, especially on extended backpacks.

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

Starting Fire with Steel Wool and a Battery

It always useful to have a back up (or two) and the know-how to start a fire when you forget your matches or they get wet in a rain storm. This battery method looks so simple. I knew that fine “0000” steel wool burns easily with a match even if is is wet. But this is one more ultralight tool for that all important fire for cooking for keeping warm. Be sure to keep a fresh battery in your pack.

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

Hand Warmers – A Summer Treat

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.

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

Ultralight Backpacking Headlamp Built into Cap

LED CapI love gadgets. The latest, from a newspaper clipping my wife dropped on my desk, is a cap with four LED lights built in (sample at left has only two, but the version below has four). One of the reasons I became a ultralight backpacker, besides the weight reduction, was the elimination of stuff from my backpack. It would take many paragraphs to describe all the items I carried when I first started backpacking in 1998. Let me assure you, you can put huge amounts in a 5,800 cubic inch, 7.5 pound Dana Design Terraplane: 60 pounds or more, in fact. As they say, less is more.  Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Make Your Backpack Light in 2007 – One of the “Ten Essentials”

The list of essentials seems to expand and contract, but conventional wisdom a long time ago figured out “must haves” for survival and / or comfort. One is a pocket knife.

If you’ve read any of my posts you know I big on looking for alternatives, especially lightweight or ultralight weight versions.

I have two beautiful Swiss Army Knives and love them. BUT they weigh four ounces each and I don’t need all the extras they offer. So I purchased for 99 cents a small knife with plastic handle I found in a clear plastic bin on the counter of my local hardware store. It was put there to be an impulse buy. But it’s been a trusty little friend, weighing a half ounce. Great for cutting cheese, salami, or cord.

Another gadget I’m adding to my “essentials” this year is a pair 3″ Deluxe Folding Scissors from Simplicity Pattern Company. Available in most drugstores, they weigh less than a half ounce and fold down tiny — about the size of two quarters.
A Ten Essentials
What are the other essentials?

Map, compass, flashlight / headlamp, extra food, extra clothes, sunglasses, first-aid kit, pocket knife, waterproof matches, firestarter.

Several sources say there are four more you should consider: water / filter / bottles, whistle, insect repellents or clothing, sunscreen.

Survival specialists say you’re most powerful survival weapon is common sense — it’s cheap (free) and weight-free.

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