A main goal for me has been to lighten my load. My equipment purchases factor weight in first before any other consideration. Second is cost.. Then reliability.. Finally, comfort. There isn’t much room for luxury, but I do make a few exceptions. Here are my main compromises:
1. Tent. This is a big one. Literally. I am 6’4″ tall, and treasure my space. I also hate bugs, and like my privacy. No sleeping over/under tarps for me. So I’m spending weight on a larger tent than most: A Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3. Luxurious living, under 4 pounds. It’s the heaviest thing on my back.
2. Chair. This wasn’t going with me, but I made several other weight-saving strides, I feel like I’ve earned it. It’s just over a pound. An Alite Monarch chair. It will make lunches and muddy campsites much more comfortable. Another reason I have it: Reward. Most lightweight chairs specify a maximum of 250 pounds. When I started this adventure, clothing would put me over. Now I weigh considerably less. 15 pounds off my bones = 1 more pound on my back. Yay me.
3. Sleeping Bag. I could be lighter here. 2.75 pounds is a bit heavy. I got the North Face Dolomite 2S 40 degree bag. It’s long, super wide for fat people like me, it’s not mummy shaped, and can unzip to make a large blanket. It’s not down fill, so I don’t have to live in mortal fear of moisture. That, and it’s super cheap comparatively.
4. Pillows. Yes, plural. I have 2 smaller pillows, one down, and one foam. I pack them together into a stuff sack, and my head is well off the ground. It helps me get to sleep faster. 1 pound for both together.
5. Pack. My pack is a Deuter Act-Lite 65+10. It’s just under 4 pounds, and it has a nice internal frame, and is sturdy enough to carry heavy loads, yet it’s light and simple. It’s a balance. Any lighter, and it’s less support and durability. Any heavier, and it’s… heavy. Decent price, it fits me well. I like it.
What did I give up for these luxuries?
1. Camera. An extra 4 pounds for my 5D2 and 50mm 1.2 lens is just too expensive. My iPhone camera will have to do.
2. Water Filtration. I am leaving the pump at home. Chlorine Dioxide drops for me, muck strained through a rag.
3. Hydration System. I’m saving a pound by leaving the 3L platypus bladder/hose and my 2 Nalgene bottles at home. Feather-weight 32 oz. Gatorade bottles will do nicely. I also don’t have to worry about my bladder springing a leak in my pack.
4. Sleeping Pad. I originally chose a “self-inflating” foam+air pad to sleep on, but instead cut the weight down significantly by switching to a Thermarest zlite foam core pad. Less comfort, but less weight. Less cost, too.
5. Hot Food. No stove. No fuel. Lot’s of weight savings, but no hot meals.
6. Rain and Cold Protection. I have 2 sets of clothes, both the same. Nylon shorts, and a synthetic mesh shirt. While I’m walking, I’m counting on the pack weight to keep me warm. When I stop, it will be my sleeping bag and an emergency blanket/tarp. This is early October. It might be chilly. As we get closer, I may add a fleece jacket depending on the predictions. No rain gear. (for me.. The pack has a cover.) Get wet. Move, or find shelter to keep warm.
7. Hiking Poles. I’ve been training without them. The trail is almost perfectly flat with no obstacles. I’ll save the expense, weight, and my hands are free to eat GORP. I can’t poke snakes, but that’s probably a good thing.
8. Skimping on the extras. Tent repair kit: Duct Tape. Foot Care: Duct Tape. First Aid: Duct Tape. (Of course I have pills and antibiotics.. But bandages? Nah. I have moleskin for blisters, but that’s about it.) Map? Compass? 6 kinds of fire starting equipment? I’m trying to be frugal with the extras.
So what do I have? Including a full compliment of water and food, I am carrying 35 pounds total. I’m happy with that. For 10 days of equipment, I think that’s not too bad for a big guy like me.