Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring 2013 Gear List

I weighed everything again and finished my gear list today.  The list is included below.  It all fits into my Gossamer Gear Kumo backpack with a little room to spare.   Depending on the weather the week I actually plan to go camping, some clothing like long underwear, and a hat may be needed.  This is Florida, but the nights may still be cold.  We are too far out from the trip date to determine that at this point, so we'll go with the average highs and lows for the area near near where we'll be camping.
I am planing to join with a Sierra Club group from Tampa, who will be camping in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve West Tract in the Richloam Tract.  The camping site is just northeast of the Withlacoochee River, but we will not be camping on the river.  The idea is to hike into the back country and camp overnight at a primitive campsite.  We'll hike out the next day and head home.  An easy, simple, one-overnight weekend trip with a short hike on either end.  It is about a 2 hour highway drive from Orlando.
My friend, Robert, says these good people we are going with are mostly traditional backpackers, so we will be the ultralight travelers in the group.  Robert backpacks with this group often.
Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve West Tract.
For camping in the Green Swamp area, northeast of Dade City, FL we are looking at an average high temperature this month of 81 degrees, a low of 56 degrees and a possibility of rain.  Looking at the week-long-range weather forecast for that time, the area is expected to have a high temperature of 77 degrees with a low of 48 and partly cloudy, with 81 degrees and sunny skies the next day.  We will be camping northeast of town in sand hill and pines.  In Florida, this month has always come in like a lion and gone out like a lamb, so I expect the weather report may change.
My low weight "goal", while keeping me warm and safe, was to reach 10 pounds, and I'm close enough to that.  I have read that the ultralight base weight both starts at 10 pounds, and at 12 pounds.  With just a two pound difference, why really care?  Over time, the loaded backpack weight will fluctuate some, and that is OK.  I'm not "gram crazy", at least not yet!
My packing list adds up to a base weight of 11.36 pounds.  Rounding, that's 11 pounds before water, food and fuel are added in.  We will not have to carry water for the overnight, as there is a pond nearby. With about 2 pounds of food (1.5 pounds per day plus snacks), 4.8 pounds of water (2 liters) and a couple ounces of Esbit fuel tabs added, that would put me near 18 pounds for the fully loaded backpack.  Nice!
By category, I am at just over 1 pound for my backpack system, 2.5 lbs for the sleeping system (less clothing), 4.27 lbs for the tent system (double what it should be).  The cooking system is at 1 pound, the repair & backup kit is at 1/3 of a pound, the health kit is under 1/2 pound, and my clothing is at 1 and 1/2 pound, most of which I will be wearing for sleeping.
Now that 11.4 pounds above includes my 4.27 pound Alps Mountaineering Mystique 1.5 tent.  It seems the tent weight had suddenly increased from when I weighed it before, until I found that I didn't previously weigh all the tent stakes or add in the footprint (oops).  This is a nice tent and it is well made and built heavy-duty to survive Boy Scout-aged users.  It is very waterproof and lightweight in the older sense, but it is now considered a heavy tent in the ultralight backpacking world.  My long term goal is to reduce my tent weight by at least 50% by purchasing a new tent, and I will do that at the first opportunity.  Then I would be closer to 9 pounds base weight, which will be really cool!
Another way I can reduce weight is to repackage some of my health items into smaller containers, like the Hydropel and the Wilderness soap.  We're only talking about reducing a couple of ounces here.  I don't feel that I will need the full package of either one for a single overnight trip, and will make that change soon.
For heavy weather, I may also have to add in rain pants and some of the warm clothing listed above.  My Kumo is good to carry a total of 25 pounds, so at a few pounds under that weight I should be just fine.  Much, much better than the 60 pounds that I used to carry in the "old" days.  For much longer duration trips I will need a larger backpack to carry my gear, like the REI Flash 45 I am looking into now.
My gear is packed with the sleeping pad folded into quarters in the back outside pocket of the Kumo backpack, next to my back.  The tent stores vertically, in the outside front pocket.  The sleeping quilt is inside the pack at the right bottom with the clothing and repair kit beside and on top of the sleeping bag.  Then the cooking gear, health kit and food are in a Granite Gear air zip bag, laying sideways on top.  Outside and on top of the trash compactor liner is the rain jacket.  Two soft 1 liter water bottles are in each side pocket with the tent poles on the left side.  Tent stakes and footprint are in the front pocket along with the water filter and tent.  Snacks, camera and my "pocket items" are on me.
So here's my packing list for you backpackers, with the food and water weight included.  The Gossamer Gear Kumo pack weight includes the hip belt, but no belt pockets.  My apologies, the columns may not line up on your screens.

Lite Packer Ultralight Gear Backpacking Packing List, Spring 2013

System          Name                                             Ounces     Grams Roll-Up Pounds
Backpack Backpack  Gossamer Gear Kumo  L 15.1       428
        Liner    Trash Compactor Bag                               2.3        40
Sub Total                                                                                            17.4 1.08
Sleep Quilt     Thermarest Alpine Quilt 35 Degree          24.1    686
         Pad      Thermarest Ridgerest                                8.5     242
 Sleep Socks Smartwool                                               3.0       86
 Headlamp   Petzl LED Headlamp                                 2.8       78
         Storage Bag 1 For Sleeping Quilt                          0.7       20
Sub Total                                                                                             40.3 2.51
Shelter Tent     Alps Mountaineering Mystique 1.5          47.3    1340
        Poles     For Mystique                                           10.4 296
        Stakes     6 Blue, 4 Regular Aluminum, Bag              5.3 150
        Footprint     3.5 Mil Plastic w/ Bag                           5.4 152
Sub Total                                                                                              68.4 4.27
Cooking Pot        Snow Peak 70                                        3.2 90
        Lid             Snow Peak Lid                                       1.1 32
        Stove      Esbit with MYOG Wind Screen                 3.0 86
        Spoon     Titanium, Long Handle                               0.6 16
        Knife      GSI                                                            0.4 12
        Cup        GSI w/ Lid                                                2.8 80
        Pot Holder    Cloth                                                    0.1 4
        Lighter      Mini Bic                                                    0.2      6
        Cozy      Cozy w/ Clip                                               1.4 40
        Mesh Storage Bag Mesh Bag                                     0.3 8
        Food Bags    Ops Sak   (1.5 oz 42g each)                  1.5 42
        Storage Bag Granite Gear Air Zip Sack  Medium       1.6 44
Sub Total                                                                                            16.2 1.01
Repair & Backup Kit
          2 Velcro double sided 4-inch strips                            0.1 4
        Mini flashlight                                                              0.5 12
        P-38 military-style folding can opener                          0.1 4
        10 Micropur water purification tablets                         0.3 8
         Waterproof matches in case                                       0.5 14
         45 feet of 2 mm reflective EZC2 line                           1.3 38
         Paper Matches                                                          0.1 2
         3 Clothes Pins                                                            0.4 12
         2 foot Duct Tape Roll                                                0.1 4
         Rest of Repair kit items in bag                                     0.3 8
         Sewing kit, Dryer Lint, 2 Lens Cloths,   0 0
          Eagle Creek Small Zipper Bag                                   1.0 26
Sub Total                                                                                              4.7 0.29
Health  Health Kit     Toothbrush - Full Length                        0.5 14
                     Toothpaste Tube Mini                                     0.9 26
                     Floss                                                                 0 0
                     Comb                                                             0.1 6
                     Body Glide                                                      1.1 32
                     Ear Plugs                                                            0 0
                     Kit Bag                                                           0.5 14
                     Ultra-Towel - Small                                        1.4 40
                     Wilderness Wash Soap                                   1.7 48
                     Wet Ones in Zip-Lock Bag (3)                        0.4 12
Sub Total                                                                                              6.6 0.41
Day Clothing          Shirt                                                        4.7 134
                             Underwear                                              2.2 62
                             Socks                                                      1.9 54
Raincoat                Marmot Rain Jacket                                12.6 358
                             Storage Bag                                             0.9 26
Sub Total                                                                                              22.3         1.39

Hydration       Platypus 1 Litre, Foldable, Empty                       1.3 36
                    Platypus 1 Litre, Foldable, Empty                       1.3 36
      Water Purifier  Sawyer Squeeze                                        2.4 68
                     Sawyer Squeeze 2 Litre Bag, Empty                  0.9 26
Sub Total                                                                                                 5.9         0.36
Water 2 - 1 Litre Bottles  Water Weight Plus Bottle                   36.2 1026
                                      Water Weight Plus Bottle  36.2 1026
       1 - 2 Litre Bottle  Water Weight Plus Bottle (when used)
Sub Total                                                                                                   144.8     4.4
Fuel 3.5 Esbit Tabs      Tab Weight Only (0.4 oz 12g each) 1.9 54
Sub Total                                                                                                        1.9 0.12
Food  (1.5 pounds per day)                              32       2
Base Weight                                                                            181.8 5136            11.36 lbs.
Pack Weight                                                                            322.6 9388            17.88 lbs.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Tent Footprint Surprise

I don't quite remember how I got a footprint for my Alps Mountaineering Mystique 1.5 tent, but I have one and have used it in the past.  With the plan to further reduce weight, I decided to make my own footprint out of some 3.5 mil plastic that I have on hand for painting and home projects.  I expected to save a few ounces using the plastic.  The Mystique nylon footprint weighs 6.7 ounces including the stuff sack.
Mystique nylon footprint with ties with the used plastic sheet below.
I laid out the Mystique footprint on top of the plastic sheet, held it in place with scraps of used blue painter tape, and cut the matching plastic footprint out with scissors.  A razor blade would have been the better tool to cut with, but I wanted to not cut the carpet (very bad) or the footprint (just plain bad).  My five minutes of work, plus cleanup was over and done fairly quickly.  I folded both footprints up and weighed them.
Mystique footprint plus bag = 6.7 ounces.
Remember, the nylon Mystique footprint weighed 6.7 ounces or 190 grams with the stuff sack.  Well, I was surprised that the 3.5 mil cut-to-fit plastic footprint sheet in a gallon zip-lock bag weighed 5.4 ounces or 152 grams.  By making a new footprint from plastic, I had saved a whopping total of 1.3 ounces.  Or 38 grams.
3.5 mil plastic sheet, cut to fit plus zip-lock bag = 5.4 ounces.
Well, the plastic sheet was paid for over seven years ago and I only used a small part of it.  The sheet was already used 3 or 4 times, so it is really "recycling" the plastic.  And the 1.3 ounces saved is still 1.3 ounces.  I had expected to save over 3 ounces (about half of the weight), which is why I felt stupid, as in stupid light.  I still have the nylon footprint, and will sell that along with the Mystique tent in the future.  In using the plastic footprint on a campout, it worked just fine.
I guess using this plastic footprint instead of the nylon one will make up for the weight of some of the health kit items that I have not yet repackaged.  And I still have the 4.27 pound Mystique tent, hoping to change that to a 1.5 or 2 pound tent at the next retail opportunity.  Otherwise, my packed Kumo backpack is ultra-lightweight.
I'll work on the packing list for an upcoming weekend camping trip so we can see just how "ultra-lightweight" I have become.
I think you'll see that I have been reducing the backpacking system parts weight by half or more while not getting "gram crazy".

Thursday, March 7, 2013

REI Jacksonville Opens

REI Jacksonville
Last weekend, I traveled the two hours north on the Interstate to the new Jacksonville REI store opening with my friend Walt.  We passed the time catching each other up on what is happening in our personal lives, talking about hikes and bicycle rides and about the REI store's grand opening and the items we would be looking for.  REI was offering a free water bottle plus a gift card they were to be handing out to the first 200 people through the door daily.
We arrived about 15 minutes before the store opening, and were aghast (and pleased) at the long line outside the store, winding clear across to the West Marine store at the far other end of the strip center.  As we entered the store, we were surrounded by REI employees ringing bells (bear bells?) in their hands, welcoming us inside.  The store was packed!  It was so tight we had difficulty maneuvering through people in some of the isles to look at merchandise.  As full as it was, the store employees were always smiling and were being helpful.  After about 30 minutes of tight passageways, most of that crowd had now moved into the long checkout line, which wrapped around the store from the hiking boots section to the registers.
The REI store is laid out in a large square with high ceilings and was constructed in a similar ecological way to the western REI stores I was familiar with in Denver.  The layout starts with bicycles in front of you and to the right, with camping gear in the middle of the store. Backpacks adorn the back wall behind the camping gear section with kayaks, car racks and bicycle repair to the right rear.  Footwear covers the left rear store section, wrapping through hats to clothing which filled more than the left third of the floor space.  The travel section is in the front of the store on that left side with the registers in the middle, near the front door.  The clothing section was loaded with all the basic outdoor brands and, of course, REI's own brand.  This was easily the largest section of the store with a good variety of styles and colors.  The restrooms are to the right rear beside the community service information area.  To see store photos without the crowds, check out Sandra Friends Florida Hikes! blog here.
I was slightly disappointed the store did not have a climbing wall, since REI began business years ago by a group of American mountain climbing friends creating a co-op in order to buy climbing gear.  I was used to the Denver stores having climbing walls and there may be space to add one down the road.
REI Flash 45 Backpack
I did find all the equipment I was looking for and have made some decisions since I have now "touched" the items.  The REI Flash 45 backpack will work just fine for future week-long and through-trips backpacking.  It has two zippered pockets in the lid and the support stays seemed to transfer weight directly to the hip belt.  The "regular" size was way too small for my long body, and I would require the large size so the waist belt would actually land at my waist.  The front outside pocket is one big pocket, attached to the far sides of the pack.  It will have to be loaded a little differently than it would if it had separate side pockets.  This was something the online pictures do not show well.  The waist belt pockets were a little smaller than I thought, but they will still hold enough gear to be useful.  The next time I go to the store, I will load it up with 25 to 35 pounds weight to see how it carries on my back while loaded.  
I also liked the REI Safari Adventure Touring bicycle with it's butterfly handlebars for nearly-infinite hand positions.  This will work for loaded bicycle tours and the paved multi-use trails and local streets I ride weekly.  While the REI Randonee has been my touring choice for many years, the Safari has improved greatly in the past few years to become a really well-made touring bicycle.  It appears both bicycles use the same 520 chromoly tubing frame, though I do not know that for certain.   I also checked into new bicycle shorts and shirts that don't make me look like I just rode in from the the Tour De France.
REI Safari Adventure Touring Bicycle
From all my years of accumulating stuff, there isn't much equipment that I need anymore in the camping gear section.  I did check out the Princeton LED light and some small containers for use in the health kit.  I was disappointed they didn't have a large selection of Florida national and state park maps, but maybe they didn't come in yet.  They did have many of the 2013 maps for the Appalachian Trail plus the current AT guide, and had planning books and maps of several popular national parks around the country.  
Overall, I am very pleased REI has entered the Florida outdoor retail market.  It is much better than driving 8 hours to Atlanta, Ga to "touch" an item.  For now I will drive the 2 hours to Jacksonville to do so.  While in the checkout line, we overheard an REI employee saying that the corporate group was closely watching this store's opening, to see if there is enough demand to open more stores in Florida.  I think they will find that there is more than enough demand to open 3 or 4 more stores throughout the state.  Hopefully one of those is in central Florida real soon!