Ultra-light Gear Paranoia

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So, I’ve purchased and am purchasing gear and supplies for thru-hiking.  I buy what I feel is a good value:  weight, usability, cost, expected longevity, cost, packability, cost.  You get the picture.  Cost is a pretty big factor.  I’m budget conscious mainly because I really dislike spending buckets and buckets of money on things that are only marginally more effective and/or lighter by only a few ounces.  Plus, I only have cups of money to spend and not buckets, so I have to be frugal.

I kind of settle into my gear selections and am ok until I stumble on some video or blog: “My sub 5 pound base weight!!”  WTF?!?  I exaggerate, but you get the picture.  I’m at about 13 pounds (6000 grams) currently (not including my camera gear) and I still haven’t added the last few hundred grams or so.  Maybe I should have  pony up the extra $180 and get that $400 sleeping bag to save 400 grams?  Maybe I’m doing something wrong?  And then reality sets in and I tell myself that $180 could purchase a number of other items or possibly several weeks worth of food.  The $220 sleeping bag is still fairly luxurious.  I could get the $100 sleeping bag.  Or even the $60 sleeping bag.

And then I see the guy that’s doing things like me:  “I got this for free.”; “I had this laying around the house.”; “I got this at the thrift store.”; “My base weight is 20 pounds.”

I have an Academy $10 sleeping bag.  I could use it in a pinch.  But, sheesh . . . it’s huge and the filling alone is 1360 grams.  I tried stuffing it as-is (in the clear stuff sack) into my ULA Circuit backpack.  It takes up a huge volume.  I suppose I could get a compression sack for it to reduce the volume a bit.  Yes, I understand that over time compression kills the loft of synthetic fills.

I tried it out with my Therm-A-Rest Z Lite sleeping pad and slept on the saloon floor of the boat one night.  Sandy, our Maltipoo, loved it.  She actually crawled INSIDE the sleeping bag with me and slept there.  Bella, our Yorkie, took her customary spot right in my crotch on top of the sleeping bag.  The zipper on the bag is incredibly slick.  I woke up in the middle of the night to a zipper that was half-way down the bag.  Lucky for Sandy she was on the non-zipper side.  Clever girl.  I stayed warm despite that and it only got to around 62 degrees inside the boat.  This bag is slick.  I mean greased owl crap slick.  I suppose all sleeping bags are.  Despite that fact, I never rolled or slid off the sleeping pad.  I’m a back sleeper that sometimes rolls onto a side to give a pressure point a rest, so I move around a little.  The pad wasn’t luxurious by any stretch, but it did it’s job.  It provided a level of cushioning that was superior to sleeping on the wood.  It was actually better than sleeping on the cockpit cushions.  An inflatable sleep pad is an option, but I really don’t desire to fuss with an inflatable.  Especially since they can be punctured and then what do I do?

I think I’ve settled on getting the Outdoor Vitals Summit 20°F StormLOFT™ Down Sleeping Bag in long.  It gets pretty good reviews and I like the price point at around $210, though it’s “heavy” for “lightweight” at 1275 grams (2 lbs 13 oz).

But then again, the Kelty Cosmic 20 Degree DriDown Sleeping Bag is about the same weight and and $50 less.  I’ll sleep on it and then flip a coin here in a week or so.

I should really pick a bag so that I can test everything out on my overnighters that I’m going to start doing.

In the end I’ll hike my own hike and not worry (too much) about the competitively ultra-light crowd.

On that note, I’ve been looking for a very packable, durable cup.  I looked to avoid titanium or aluminum or anything metal.  I wasn’t really a fan of those collapsible cups and I wasn’t interested in carrying a hard plastic one either.  I was kind of at a loss about what to do.  Then I remembered at the first Austin Marathon (Livestrong associated) that I ran they gave away these Silipint silicone pint glasses.  They were pretty awesome.  Extremely durable, flexible, essentially unbreakable short of cutting with a razor blade and 16 oz (500 ml).  A bit large for hiking for me.  Plus I’ve no idea what we did with it.  It’s gone.  I think we gave it away when we moved on the boat.

I went to the Silipint website to see if they had something smaller.   They did:  12 oz Straight Up Base.  And they were on sale for $5.97 each. (Price went up the last 4 days, but they now have others on sale.)  I got a Teal (they call it Turquoise, but it’s really not) one for me and the Pink one for Jodi.  Cuz it will match her Outdoor Research hat.

Received them today and I have to say, I like it much better than the pint glass.  The base is RIDICULOUSLY thick which actually gives the glass a nicer “handle” and makes it “sit” much better.  The pint glass had the habit of kind of collapsing on me when I grabbed it.  I could completely compress the pint glass, with some force.  There is no way to compress the base of this 350 ml glass.  OK, yes, a Mack truck would do it.  You got me there.

It weighs 180 grams.  That’s about 100 grams heavier than a 350 ml titanium cup, but it costs 70% less.  And I can throw it in my bag and not worry about it getting bent and I don’t have to worry about that weird metallic feel when I’m drinking something.  Plus, being silicone, I can put boiling hot water in it and not worry about burning my hands.  Of course, on a super cold day, I may rue the wonderful insulating properties of silicone.  But, then again, my hot coffee will probably stay hot longer.

It’s all about trade-offs.

That brings me to the subject of camera gear . . . man that’s going to be a hefty sum at around 2750 grams (6+ pounds).  And I still need to find a solar charger for charging up the batteries.  But, I really like using my DSLR and I know that it will bring me joy.  In the end, that’s what it’s all about.  If I’m happy lugging around 60 pounds or only hauling 20, it’s my joy that truly matters.

I’ve even been experimenting with panoramic pics using Hugin software.  I tried it a few years ago and I never could get the software to stitch all the photos together properly and abandoned it.  I decided to try it again and see what would happen.  I set up my tripod and took 11 shots here at the marina.  I made sure that each shot was about 50% of the previous shot (meaning the subsequent shot contained 50% of the shot before it) so that there would be plenty of points to match.  I loaded all 11 shots and it stitched them pretty good, but the cropping was off.  There was some blank space right at the top due to the curvature of the stitching.  So, I loaded them again and then attempted to re-crop the panorama.  At that point Hugin choked.  Not sure why and I could never get it to work with those 11 shots again.  I spent about an hour and then gave up on using all 11 shots.  Just as well I suppose.  I was able to get a decent panorama from 6 shots and I was pretty pleased with the results.

I’m pretty excited about potentially getting some awesome panoramas even if it means a 2750 gram weight penalty.  I don’t have the money for one of those fancy ultralight mirrorless digital cameras.  And, honestly, I’m not sure I would like them anyway.

 

Salt on Long Hikes
Are you going to drink that??

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