Very Light Hiking Gear

To equip everyone for our upcoming Yosemite hike I had to either get stuff for the kids, or get new stuff for Jen and me and give what we have to the kids. I like the second option!

I did quite a bit of research so I thought I’d share it here. There are a lot of cool and funky options for getting super ultralight – using trekking poles as stakes, forgoing the tent walls and/or bottom, forgoing a freestanding tent and using guy-wires and poles (requiring soft open surface), getting a pack that is sized exactly for the trip length, or a sleeping back without an upper part that requires you to wear your down jacket. I decided against all of these optimizations – hence the term “very light” instead of “ultralight”. I want a normal tent that I can set up on solid rock, one pack that can accommodate different kinds of trips, and a nice comfy sleeping bag.

Here’s the list:

Tent: I got this some time ago with my REI 20% off coupon. I think it was around $300 originally. They don’t make it anymore but there are lots of options in this price and weight range. It’s just under 2.5 lbs. REI Dash-2

Sleeping Bag: Clearly the easiest and cheapest option is get a higher temperature rating with less fill. I wanted something comfortable down to a frosty morning. If it’s colder I can always put on my jacket and long underwear. Feathered Friends Swallow is real nice, has 950 down and is nicely made, but at $499 is expensive and not lighter, though it is warmer. In the end we loved the the feel of the Marmot. And it’s super light – 1.5 lbs! You have to make sacrifices to get any lighter than that. We got it for 20% off of the $319 with our REI coupon. Marmot Hydrogen Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Pad: These have climbed a lot in price (some over $200), sophistication, and comfort. I didn’t spend too much time here. If we want to upgrade we can give these to the kids. The REI Flash was on sale for $79 (normally $99) with an R-value of 3.2 which should be fine for normal temps. It gets nice and small and comes in at just over a pount. REI Flash Sleeping Pad

Backpack: I wanted something that could be small for overnights, but expand for longer trips, emergencies, or things like bear canisters of food that are big, if light. The Hyperlight looks unusual and potentially awkward yet it seems to live up to it’s promise to be very well made and comfortable. It has an internal frame so you don’t have to mess with packing it perfectly. And the Cuben fiber is also waterproof so you don’t have to carry a cover, or worry about a fall in a river. The design is clever, with no zippers, just a roll-down top that easily goes from enormous 70L capacity to a day-pack. And I really like the mesh pocket all around – much easier to just throw stuff in and find it easily than to have a bunch of little pockets. And at 2.19 lbs there’s nothing lighter. Or more expensive – $365 is a lot but Backcountry.com had a 20% coupon to match REI’s offer so I used that to help a bit. Hyperlite 4400 Windrider

Stove: No competition here. The JetBoil is nice but the engineering on this is exceptional. 1 lb. MSR WindBurner

Puffy: My old Feathered Friends jacket is almost ten years old and quite warm so I’ve been shopping for a lightweight one for a while. The ubiquitous Patagonia is nice but doesn’t fit me well. I found this one on Backcountry.com marked down from $325 to $146. At 9 oz it’s ridiculously light (Patagonia is 13) and feels great! Marmot Quasar

I also found these and love ’em. They are almost weightless at 1.2 oz, and collapse flat. A Nalgene is 6 oz. If we each carry 2 that’s a savings of 20 oz, or about $300-400 to do the same in a tent or sleeping bag so this is quite a deal! I now keep one in my laptop bag for getting water in the airport or for an unexpected hike or long run. The other nice thing is being able to bring some extra bottles for the case when extra water is needed. On this trip we may camp on Clouds Rest a few miles past the last water so with some of these we can fill up with extra water for the night without taking up space on the rest of the trip.  Platypus SoftBottle

Basic kit for just me: Tent 2.5, Bag: 1.5, Pad: 1.1, Backpack 2.2, Pad 1.1, Stove 1.0: Total: 9 lbs

With Jen’s bag and pad we’re at 11.6 lbs.

Not bad! Plenty of room for some good wine!