Do you love a good DIY project? This one will blow you mind if you really want to lighten your load.
Northwest Backpacker puts together a great DIY Lightweight Shelter idea. This is a really easy ultralight project that will reduce your base weight significantly. At 13 oz this ultralight shelter can’t be matched on weight or cost. The materials below come to about $20.
A tarp is a versatile shelter which can either be left off (when sleeping under a clear sky), or pitched low and tight when in windy and wet conditions.
You should absolutely practice multiple pitch types before taking this out for your shelter. Understanding site selection is also key to getting the most out of it.
After watching video, you can go to Ben’s site for full details on the project.
If you love to cook in the backcountry like I do, then you need some cookware that won’t weigh your pack down. We think we found just the cookware pan.
The MSR Flex Skillet has been a staple in you backpacking gear. I really miss it when I don’t bring it. I love just the pot but when you really want to make some fun food in the backcountry nothing does the trick better than this baby.
Nonstick, hard-anodized aluminum skillet.
A durable, nonstick surface makes this hard-anodized aluminum skillet perfect for everything from stir-fries to the perfect pancake. Conveniently nests inside a Flex 4 System and outside a Flex 3 System.
Easy Clean-Up: Scratch-resistant, hard-anodized nonstick aluminum.
Versatile: Nests with MSR® Flex 3 and 4 Cook Systems and Pot Sets.
Includes: (1) Talon™ pot handle.
Weight 7 oz / 199 g
Height 2.5 in / 6.35 cm
Diameter 9 in / 22.86 cm
If you are looking for a lightweight piece of cooking gear for your next backpacking trip, this is a must.
“A year ago, my friend Sarah and I decided to take a 2-month backpacking trip around Alaska. It was amazing to take that much time off and I am so glad I did it when I did.
I still have a ton of stuff coming out from the trip. Tons more video aside from this and some blog posts sharing more info. In short, Alaska is beyond incredible and definitely exceeded my expectations. It was a place and a trip that has been on my mind ever since I left. Not only were the landscapes stunning, but my favorite part of the trip were the amazing people, strangers that took us in all over the place. We were so lucky to have made new friends all along the way. We hitch-hiked over 20 different times, tent camped over 30, couch surfed, and a few nights at hostels.
Since then, I have been way to caught up in life, work and the usual semi fresh out of college adult stuff. So much so I completely forgot about this timelapse film I put together. So I figure what better day to release then on my birthday today! A year ago today, we were deep in the Denali National Park and Preserve backpacking units, celebrating my 25th and popping Champagne which we packed in (and out).”
If you are planning a Thru-Hike, then you are obviously are looking for a lightweight shelter. Or at least we hope you are. The MSR Thru Hiker Mesh Houe caught our eye.
One has to be prepared for anything on the Pacific Crest Trail: marshy meadows and mosquitos in the Sierra Nevadas, bear encounters in Yosemite, thunderstorms in the Cascade Range, and, apparently, marriage proposals near Mount Adams. At least that’s what Erin Parsons and Mike Porzio experienced during their PCT adventure in 2014. For Erin and Mike, it was a life-changing trip across approximately 1,000 miles in 100 days. For the MSR Shelter team, which was at the time
The MSR Thru-Hiker shelter system offers users the excellent ventilation and bug-free protection they want, but in an ultralight shelter with enough livable space for two or three people (depending on the model) to be comfortable for months on the trail. What’s truly unique about the design is its highly adaptable pairing system, allowing one to choose a preferred weight and protection level for a particular trip or specific thru-hike segment.
Being a huge fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, I often ask myself. “If things go bad, what outdoor gear in my closet do I have to survive the Zombie Apocalypse”? First let me say, I have a ton of gear! I can barely fit anymore into my closets. But is it “survivable” gear? I say YES! Backpackers would definitely be survivors, and we would survive well. Here are my top ten reasons backpackers would survive:
10: We are already packed and ready to go. Most of us have it all packed, compressed, and sorted out. We have closets dedicated to all the crap we’ve bought over the years. If it all went bad in a hurry? Most people would be running around the house deciding what they would take. They would probably panic. We would throw on our packs, like we do every weekend, and BOOM, hit the door. Only difference, we would be packing more food. But, we have a box of that stuff to.
9. The first night out, we have shelter, food, water, fire, maps and compass. Why? We are Bakpackers damn it! That’s just how we roll. Our first night we could assess where were and where we needed to go. To survive, we go live where we play. The Wilderness!
8. Clothing & Boots. Yep, that’s right! We have our synthetic, polyester, and down clothing to keep us warm and moderate our body heat. (we could be running…..a lot) AND, we can keep warm WITHOUT a fire. Fire could attract Zombies. Hypothermia alone could be fatal. We have our boots to cover long distance miles, and ford streams. Hopefully you’ve invested into GoreTex.
7. Weapons! What? Backpackers don’t carry weapons… Yes we do. The Swiss Army knife or hunting knife could be a key weapon. We may not have bullets. So in case one get’s close, we use the Rick Grimes Doctrine. “Save Your Bullets”. Not to mention the fact, we may have to cut bandages, make kindling for fire, or the most important one: You may come across a bottle of good Micro Brew, gotta have a bottle opener.
6. Backcountry Roads: We have traveled every backcountry gravel road there is trying to find a trailhead. How many times have “maps” been a little off? A lot! So we know how to get there. While most people will be jammed up on expressways, we will be on a National Forest Road where clearly the road has changed names a dozen times. We know, how to drive the winding sometimes treacherous roads. At least when the Apoloypse is over, we know where are car will be.
5. Being Stinky: We where the same clothes all weekend, sometimes longer if we are doing a thru hike. We don’t care about being stinky and smelly. We are used to it. It may even help us camouflage in. I mean, dying human flesh is pretty stinky, but ever smell a thru hiker? I rest my case.
4. Duct Tape: Six ways to use Duct Tape in a Zombie Apocalypse is a great article. But, Backpackers ALREADY know this. We’ve used Duct Tape for everything on the trail. We’ve used it to patch, hold, blisters, make hats’. We are the Duct Tape Guru’s of survival..
3. Water Filtration. Who know’s what could happen to the water supply during a Zombie outbreak. But who care’s, we get our water from Mountain Springs. And we have a water filtration to at least get clean drinking water from streams. That would suck after getting away from the Walking Dead, you have a cup of water and you die from Giardiasis.
2. Cooking Food. If there were ever a group of people that knew how to use cook Ramen Noodles, Rice, or Couscous, on the trail, it’s us. We are miracle backcountry gourmet chefs when it comes to cooking in the Backcountry. Give me a Tortilla Shell, and I’m good. Not to mention. We have eaten Freeze Dried Food for so long, we don’t give it another thought. All of us probably has a box of Freeze Dried Food, noodles, rice, and other stuff ready to go at a moment notice. I mean, normal people don’t have that right?
1. Adapt. Backpackers can adapt better than anyone. Terrain, weather, hitching a ride. We use the outdoors as part of our gear. It’s a natural recourse that we have become to partner with instead of fight. That is our biggest advantage of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. For many, they would run and hide, fight, and be eaten. For us, it would just be another backpacking trip. Well, minus the Walking Dead.
If you are new to the outdoor backpacking scene you will quickly learn that gear can be expensive. Especially lightweight gear. One of the statements I get from new people I take out in the backcountry is “What if I need it”? So they tend to carry the kitchen sink until there first 15 mile hike and 2,000 feet elevation gain. The second statement I get when they decide to start really thinking about weight is: “That’s really expensive”.
It’s easy to get sucked into the hype of lightweight gear. Technology and good marketing can lead a new person to drop some serious cash building a lightweight system.
First, let’s define “lightweight”. Depending on weather and the time you expect to backpack in the wilderness, this can vary. I like to say it’s between 15 and 25 lbs. On a typical 2 day trip 23 lbs is usually my total pack weight. I like to cook gourmet :-). Having defined the weight, now how to we lighten the load on the cheap?
First, it’s the Big 4. Pack, Shelter, Pad, and Bag. This is where you can drop some big $$$. So here are my tips, or examples of how I did it on the cheap and still had quality gear.
I use the GoLite Jam 35L Pack. (GoLite is out of business however) I’ve had this pack for 5 years and it’s well tested. At $119.00 you can’t beat the price nor the weight.
It weighs in at 1 lb 11 oz. | 770 g
I use the Globe Skimmer Ultralite (10×12) Tarp by Equinox. It weighs in at 18 ounces and it has always kept me dry. The cost is $129.00 compared to one person tents that run well above $200 bucks. I would also recommend trying the 8×10 tarp for only $92.00 to save some money and weight.
I totally recommend Marmot Aspen 40° F Minimalist Sleeping Bag for a Spring, Summer, and early Fall bag. At a total price of $70.00 and a weight of only 1 lbs 6oz you can’t go wrong. I did a review of this bag a few years ago with amazing feedback. They also make a 15 degree bag that is just as cheap and good. You can only find this bag at Dicks Sporting Goods.
Two choices here: I use either the Thermarest Pro Lite Plus (small) for $89.00. Weighs in at 150z.
Or go to Walmart and buy the J Fit Extra Thick Pilates Pad and pay only $19.00 bucks. Cut in half and you have a pad that weighs 140z. I use this pad in Warmer Spring, Summer, and Early Fall.
This makes you total pack weight for the Big 4 (assuming you go the Walmart Pad way) a little over 4 lbs. That also makes your total cost (assuming you go the Walmart Pad way) $337.00 bucks for the Big 4.
I dare you to beat THAT!!!
This last weekend I went up to Northern Georgia to scout out some campsites in the Chattahoochee National Forest. There were a couple of Forest Roads that intersected with each other and looked as if they went along a few small rivers. One of which was the river that dumps at Amicalola State Park. Amicalola Falls. At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast. Lot’s of hiking in and around the park. One of the most famous of course is the Approach Trail to the Appalachian Trail. There are several parts of this Blue Blazed trail that leads up to Springer Mountain (The Southern Terminus of the AT). Most backpackers/Hikers that start on the Approach Trail start at the Visitors Center and trek up the 8 miles to the summit. The Approach Trail is a difficult trail and NOT to be taken lightly by novice backpackers. However, there are other trail heads up towards the Falls that you can catch without starting at the bottom.
One of the other trails is a Lime Green Blazed Trail that leads to the Len Foote Hike Inn. This trail has it’s own trailhead and is clearly marked. The trail is about 5 miles to the Hike Inn and is a moderate trail. Parking is at the trailhead above the Falls
So that’s the back story on the two trails. Ironically, both Blue Blazed and the Green Blazed Trails have a very close proximity on the upper part of the Falls where parking is available for the Len Foote Hike Inn guests.
As I was driving on a gravel Forest Road (High Shoals Rd), I saw two female (older women) backpackers walking along the road. They looked very much lost and in distress. They asked me where the Len Foote Hike Inn trail was? These two women weren’t even close. They had followed the Blue Blazed Trail (the AT Approach Trail) up to a Forest Road and were looking for a supply access road to the Hike Inn. One of the woman was having a diabetic issue and was clearly in distress. Her pack was extremely heavy and packed very wrong. She was way over her head with the trail she was attempting. Furthermore, they listened to another hiker who clearly didn’t know what they were talking about. They were lost. It was just by luck I was driving on a THAT Forest Road that I ran into them.
I picked them up obviously and drove them to the Visitors Center where the one lady could get some medical attention.
I had just read an article posted by Backpacker Magazine a day before about this very subject. Crazy!
To my point I guess. Please, please be prepared and know where you are going, what trail you are on, and always follow the blazes marked for you in most State Parks. If you have never backpacked before. DON”T do the hardest trail there is. Start with flat trails with low mileage to practice. KNOW THY GEAR! Have someone who is a seasoned backpacker look at your pack to make sure it’s fitted right. DON”T listen to other strangers tell you a “shortcut”. Stay on the TRAIL, and pre plan. These two ladies were part of a Georgia Meetup.com group. The group just said “meet us there”. No one from the group made sure these ladies even knew how to backpack. Trip leaders should always make sure people are accounted for, and have a Wilderness First Aid Certificate. I’m glad it ended up well, but I hate seeing this.
I have to say right off the bat: I really like Marmot bags. Having had the Marmot 15 degree Aspen Adventurer, and the Marmot ultra light 40 degree bag. I have never been disappointed. One of the good Winter bags I highly recomend is the Marmot Sawtooth 15 bag. Great bag, and you can always find it on sale somewhere.
The Marmot Sawtooth 15 Degree Down Sleeping Bag weighs under three pounds—that’s less than 16oz for each of the three seasons you’ll be camping in. Compact, lightweight, and insulated by lofty 650-fill down insulation (treated with Down Defender to keep it warm if it gets damp), the Sawtooth helps you slumber soundly spring through fall, and even on mild winter hut trips. A host of features like a down-filled collar, five-baffle hood, roomy, trapezoidal footbox, and draft-stopping zipper tube add to the light-and-warm comfort.
The Sawtooth features a mummy shape that offers plenty of room at the shoulders before tapering down at the feet to keep insulation closer to your toes, which are going to be extra-warm thanks to the heat-trapping trapezoidal footbox. It’s been designed with stretchy baffles to accommodate your inevitable nighttime thrashing, and a face muff to seal the warm air in around your mug. There’s even a stash pocket to keep nighttime items close by, and hang loops for easy drying and re-lofting.
Video Production by: Backcountry Edge
If you have used this bag, give it a star rating so others can see. [ratings]
I often get asked what do I use to for plates, cups, bowls, etc. Well, there are a ton of options out there and plenty of product. I guess it depends on whether I’m going to eat right out of a Mountain House bag or not. More often that not, I don’t eat out of a bag.
One of the plates or “dishware” I like is the Sea to Summit Delta Plate. It’s light, and packs well. Easy to clean also, which is a big plus.
The ultimate in expedition and outdoor dinnerware, the Delta Plate from Sea to Summit is lightweight and practical—the Protex hex pattern base reduces weight and lessens surface temperature so it can be held comfortably with hot foods.
Eat well my friends.
Video Production done by: easternMNTNsports (Video no longer available)
I can’t tell you how many sleeping pads I have in my closet. But lately I’ve really been picky as to pads are going to be durable enough to last more than a year. Especially the way I sleep. I saw this pad recently and liked it.
This is a perfect three-season backpacking companion, the EMS Siesta sleeping pad is lightweight, durable, and built to provide years of cozy, comfortable nights in the wilderness.
|Sleeping Pad Type||Self Inflating|
|Weight||1 lb. 5.5 oz.|
Video Production by: easternMNTNsports
Any video on Lightweight Backpacking is almost guaranteed to make thebackpacker.tv This video by CleverHiker.com is one of those videos. These guys make it sound so good, can’t believe everyone isn’t running out to buy lightweight packs.
At CleverHiker.com, we believe that backpacking adventures provide some of life’s most rewarding experiences. Our goal is to help make your adventures as rewarding and enjoyable as possible, and to inspire you to plan your next excursion.
They go on to say:
Even strenuous backpacking adventures should be safe, fun, and sustainable. Just because you’re headed to the summit doesn’t mean your feet, knees, hips, or shoulders need to hurt. That’s why we’ve created the world’s first professional instructional video series on ultralight backpacking, to help hikers of every skill level feel prepared to meet any obstacle.
They are currently offering a whole video series on their site. “Our Lightweight & Ultralight Foundations video series is perfect for backpackers of all levels – from experienced hikers planning thru-hikes to first-timers looking to avoid blisters and backaches. We provide step-by-step instructions on how to pack light. Once you transition to lightweight backpacking, you’ll never look back.”
I look forward to seeing more of thier video series. Great video production value also.
Video Production by: Matt Mastrantuono
New for 2014! The self-inflating Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 sleeping pad delivers 4-season performance for two sleepers. Measuring 77.5″ x 52″ x 3″, the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 is ready for use at the campground or anywhere you need a portable bed. And the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 is versatile; Velcro strips on the sides allow it to be folded into a 4″ thick single mattress, which allows extremely comfortable 4-season use for one sleeper.
Air-cored foam insulation provides a luxurious sleeping base whether being used in the 3″ or 4″ thick configuration. Soft tricot fabric on the surface of the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 provides slip resistance and next-to-skin comfort. High frequency welded seams and strong lamination provide reliable durability.
The Exped SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 has an R-value of 6.4 when laid out in the doublewide configuration and can be inflated by mouth or with Exped pump accessories such as the Exped Pillow Pump or Exped Schnozzel (each sold separately).
|Recommended Use:||Year Round Backpacking and Camping|
|Item Weight:||7 lbs 6.9 oz|
|Dimensions:||77.5″ x 52″ x 3″|
|Type:||Self Inflating Sleeping Pad|
|Other:||Stuff Sack Included|
Video Production by: CampSaver
If you have used the Exped Duo before, rate it, or tell us what you think? [ratings]
Video production done by: BlackOwlOutdoors
If you have used this product, give it a rating to help others review it. [ratings]
After years of backpacking, plus more than a year of dedicated life on the road, I have compiled a list of some of the items I consider essential. Of course these items may vary from person to person depending on what type of travel, accommodations, etc the traveler is engaging in. Nevertheless, having traveled under a wide range of places under a variety of circumstances, I have found that these are the items that I keep in my pack no matter what.
1. Backpack — I recommend traveling with a rather small pack and personally use the Deuter ACT Trail 28L SL
2. Daypack — Choose something that folds up nice and small. I like this simple LL Bean daypack with a main compartment, small front compartment, and two side pockets.
3. Packing Cubes — There are a variety of sizes, which will help you keep the items in your pack organized. I use a medium sized one for my main clothing and a small one for my underclothing.
4. Reusable Stuff-Sack Bags — These are “Chico” brand.
5. Quick Dry Towel
6. Combination Lock
8. Eye Mask
9. Ear Plugs
10. Rubberband Clothesline — You can purchase this at REI or make your own as I have by following a simple Youtube tutorial.
11. Knife with Sheath and Spork — I use the Light My Fire spork, which can be found at REI. These knives can be found at Target/Walmart.
12. Small notebook and no smudge pen
13. Toiletry Kit — I use the Sea to Summit Hanging Toiletry Bag and love it. I have the smallest one, which has plenty of room for me.
14. E-Reader — I use a Sony eReader Pocket
15. Smart Phone –Ideally one that has a camera and stores music, such as an Iphone.
16. Lightweight Laptop — Something small and light, such as a Macbook Air. I have a Lenovo Ideapad.
Krik of Black Owl Outdoors shows you how to build a highly efficient wood-burning backpacking stove in the likes of John’s from Intense Angler.
Check out http://www.youtube.com/intenseangler for awesome outdoor videos.
The stove is highly efficient, cheap to build, simple to construct and weighs very little. Throw is in your billy can the next time you’re out bushcrafting, or use it as a cheap alternative to traditional store-bought gas stoves.
Remember to check all rules and regulations in your area pertaining to fire when dealing with open fires.
Outer Can: 22 oz. w/ 3/8 inch holes.
Inner Can: 11-12 oz. w/ 1/4 inch holes.
Pot Stand: Standard Tuna Can
If you have never been to the Mount Rogers Recreational Area, and you love the outdoors, this is a must see!. This is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the South with breathtaking views of rolling hills and green grass you will ever see.
Located in southwest Virginia, the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (NRA) manages approximately 200,000 acres of National Forest land near Mount Rogers. the Virginia Creeper Trail; the Mount Rogers Scenic Byway which traverses over 50 miles offering views of the National Recreation Area and open rural countryside; the 5000 acre Crest Zone featuring elevations over 4,000 feet, large rock formations, and a mixture of mountain balds and spruce-fir forests; a herd of wild, free-ranging ponies; and the highest elevated road in the state of Virginia leading to the summit of Whitetop Mountain.
There are over 400 miles of designated trails on the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. Trails range from primitive single-track to old logging roads and railroad grades. Some are for foot only, others allow horse and/or bicycle use. Plan your trip carefully if you are looking for solitude. Trails in the high country as well as the Virginia Creeper and Appalachian Trail are popular destinations, particularly on weekends.
kookiemoose once again captures the beauty of the Appalachian Trail and the magnificence of Mount Rogers Recreational Area.[geo_mashup_map]
The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile trail that leads from Ke’e Beach to Kalalau Beach on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.
The Na Pali Coast is a very special place. The pali, or cliffs, provide a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths. Extensive stone walled terraces can still be found on the valley bottoms where Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro.
The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access to this part of the rugged coast. The trail traverses 5 valleys before ending at Kalalau Beach where it is blocked by sheer, fluted pali. The 11-mile trail is graded but almost never level as it crosses above towering sea cliffs and through lush valleys. The trail drops to sea level at the beaches of Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau.
Originally built in the late 1800s, portions of the trail were rebuilt in the 1930s. A similar foot trail linked earlier Hawaiian settlements along the coastline.
For most backpackers in good condition hiking the 11 miles will take a full day. Get an early start to avoid overexertion in the midday heat.
Video shot by Scott Rasak[geo maps]
Each year thousands of would be hikers/backpackers explore the beauty of the backcountry. We go to great lengths to filter our water, carry first aid kits, and take great pics. However, one can’t say enough about the Lyme Disease caring Deer Tick.
This video by National Geographic is an excellent example of how pesky these guys can be. Our point being. Check and double check your entire body after a hike in the woods, especially where dear roam, (which is just about everywhere).
From the CDC website.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.