Exped DownMat 7UL – High Comfort, Warmth and Lightness at a Reasonable Price

On my first backpack 15 years ago my pack basics (pack, tent, pad, bag) weighed a whopping 21 pounds. Today – what a relief – the total is 8 pounds, 1 ounce.

I do it this way:
Osprey Aether Pack – 2800 cu (good for 7 days) – 1.5 pounds
Tent – Sierra Design Light Year (aluminum poles) – 3.0 pounds
Sleeping bag – Western Mountaineering – 1.0 pounds
Sleeping Pad – Exped DownMat 7 – 2.6 pounds
Total – 8 pounds, 1 ounce

Ditch the tent and employ the fly-floor configuration (1 pound)
Use my short Thermarest (14 ounces) instead of the DownMat
Total with these substitutions – 4 pounds, 7 ounces.

However, carrying the added 3 pounds, 4 ounces – for the DownMat 7 and full tent – I earn a huge payoff in warmth, comfort and mosquito-free sleep. The 5.9 R Value for the regular 2.5 cm mat allows me to carry a one-pound sleeping bag for three seasons.

Here’s good news for you: Exped has just released the DownMat 7 UL (ultralight) and the medium size is only 20.5 ounces, compared with 34 ounces for my three-year-old DownMat 7! And, I the D7 UL is rated for -11 F.

Be light. Be Safe. Be one with the pack.

Sometimes Beauty is Just Down the Street … Literally

I was standing by this waterfall awhile back talking to a backpacking companion, gazing at the waterfall and asking him what we were going to do on our next backpack. He said, “Bruce, look around, is there anything more beautiful than this?” The waterfall at Russian Gulch State Park in Northern California is a 10-minute drive and a 20-minute walk from my home.

Best Apple iPhone Apps for GPS-Led Adventures

I’ve experimented the past few years with all kinds of electronic gadgets I thought I might make good trail companions.

The iPod nano was a favorite: a little more than an ounce with a video camera and music. My iPhone 3 offered books to read after dark. Then my iPhone 4 provided the total package of still camera, video camera, books and Apps to guide you in the wilderness. Battery life is an issue, but now they’ve got solar chargers.

With all the interest in smart phones, it’s no wonder Backpacker Magazine’s Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2011 features “the three best hiking Apps” for iPhone (all three are made for the iPhone, one for the iPad and one for Android). I own an iPad2, but can’t see myself carrying it into the wilderness — too much weight and too expensive to replace if is gets dropped.

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

Backpacker Bruce Alive and Well

Blog are supposed to be a place to pour out your heart about things you love. I launched Lightbackpacking.com June 17, 2006 (hard to believe) with that in mind and have posted lots of information about gear, trips and tips for going light and ultralight on the trail.  This year, mainly because of my work schedule, I’ve gotten out only twice, thus a dearth of posts about anything worthwhile to add to the conversation. However, I am constantly looking for new “stuff” and idea to help you go lightly and not be burdened by the pack. Luckily manufacturers have embraced the ultralight philosophy (not so in 2006), which makes going light or ultralight much easier.

If you want to share your tips or ideas for best of class equipment and technique for ultralight backpacking, I’ll be happy to forward them to my readers.

Humboldt Creek and the Dolason Prairie Trail

One of my favorite backpacks  is Redwood National Park in Northern California — particularly Redwood Creek where you are surrounded by towering old growth redwoods.

Access goes something like this: you get you permit at park headquarters. They give you the combination to a locked gate. Past the gate, you drive 6-7 miles to a parking area. From there,  you hike a mere 1.5 miles down to the creek and your backpacking camp.

With your camp set up along the creek, you take a great 7.5 mile round trip along the Dolason Prairie Trail up through redwood groves and pristine forest to open prairie views and an overview of the entire area.

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

Nemo Moto Ultralight Tent Among Backpacker Magazine Gear Guide Favorites

Nemo Moto 1P (1 person)

Backpacker Magazine’s 2011′s Gear Guide is out and is filled with every piece of gear on the market worth considering. I took a quick look at ultralight stuff and found an interesting tent, the NEMO Moto 1P tent. It’s just two pounds and since the tester was 6-feet-7 inches tall and found some comfort in it, I think it it worth checking out. It is pricey at $330, but less ounces often equal more $$ in the world of ultralight backpacking.

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

Osprey Hornet 46 Ultralight and Compact

I own an Osprey Aether (no longer made) at 1 pound, nine ounces and an Osprey Atmos 35 (discontinued) at 2 pounds, 4 ounces and love both. The Atmos 35 is really solid with a frame, mesh net at your back and really stretchy pockets all around. You can go for a week or more in this 35-liter pack. Just when I thought Osprey had completely abandoned the ultralight market with many packs at 4-5 pounds (not ultralight), I was pleased to discover the Hornet series at sub-two pounds. They have lots of choices for men and women. Worth a look at the company website.

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

The Full-size NeoAir Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad Weighs Just 14 Ounces

I own three Therma-a-Rest pads (2.5 pounds, my original; 1 pound, four ounces (full size) and a 3/4 body version at 15 ounces) and a Downmat 7 (filled with down and really warm) that comes in at a little over two pounds. Of course, the 3/4 pad would be the first choice for the ultralight backpacker. But the lightness comes with a trade-off:  you  sacrifice comfort and warmth by having your lower legs and feet hanging off the mat. If the weather is warm, it’s not a problem. But now you don’t have to settle for less comfort to get the advantages of fewer ounces.

I was at REI last week just checking out gear when I came across the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir.

The new NeoAir pad is full size, a couple of inches thick and packs down really small — about the size of a one-liter bottle. It’s worth a look.

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

Duct Tape – The ‘Miracle Cure’ for Injured Backpackers

I’ve heard it said that if you were stranded on an island, aspirin would be the one essential drug in your first aid kid. You might say that duct tape plays a similar role for those of us who venture into the wilderness. You can use it to repair broken poles and patch tents, sleeping bags and pants. Or create a sling for a injured arm. Backpacker Magazine this month sent me a link to “101 First Aid” tips and they demonstrate how to stabilize a sprained ankle with the versatile tape.It’s worth a look.

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