Friday, April 25, 2014

Summer Ultralight Day Hiking

2014 REI Flash 18
Here are some quick ideas to lighten your load for summer day hikes.
Day pack.  You can find an Ultralight and load-worthy day pack that carrys about 20 liters and weighs only 10-12 ounces.  I use an REI Flash 18, but I also like the Flash 22 since I can carry water bottles in the side pockets and the first aid kit in the top pocket.  Both packs swallow everything I can think of to carry, including my 10 essentials, lunch and a stove & cup for on-trail java.  There are many other Ultralight backpacks out there, just remember the size of about 20 liters and 10-12 ounces in weight.  Don't forget to weigh everything!
For water bottles, I alternate between a 2 liter Platypus water bladder, and 2 lightweight Gatorade 32 ounce/1 liter bottles.  While I prefer the straight-sided 32 ounce Nalgene bottles because they fit better going in and out of backpack pockets, they weigh too much for me at 6.2 ounces each for the Lexan bottles and 3.5 ounces each for the poloyethylene Nalgene bottles.  32 ounce Gatorade costs about a buck a bottle new, and when emptied the bottles weigh 1.8 ounces/52 grams each.  Be sure to tell your significant other not to toss them with the trash!
I also wear trail running shoes, the Montrail Mountain Masochist, which are very lightweight at one pound each, and are very comfortable.  They also grip anything you walk on.
My clothes are always nylon and polyester, usually long pants and a long sleeve shirt over a T-shirt, and a hat which protect me from the sun and wind.  They even help keep the mosquitoes at bay.
The 10 essentials in my pack include:
1. First aid kit.
2. Headlamp.
3. 2 liters water, Sawyer water filter.
4. Shelter including thick & thin rescue blankets & Marmot Precip rain jacket.
5. Fire starter (lighter, matches, lint).
6. Compass & trail map.
7. Spares, pocket knife (includes emergency reflector disk).
8. Sun screen & sunglasses, bug spray.
9. Food, Esbit stove/pot/mug/spoon.
10. Warm shirt/sweater/hat/gloves/pack towel.
You can check out REI's updated 10 Essentials list here.
All of this weighs just under 10 pounds, with 4 pounds of that being water (@ 2 pounds/liter).  It is so light, I don't even notice I am carrying a pack while hiking.  It feels natural and normal, and I always have everything I could possibly need for safety.
Occasionally I will carry an additional liter of water if I am hiking in dry country and I always carry a little extra food, just in case.  Spares include another way to start a fire, extra batteries, spare mini flashlight, water purification, and sewing and maintenance kits (listed HERE).
If I had to spend a night out, I could, though it would be uncomfortable.  I would be warm enough and protected from the wind and rain.  I could fashion a tarp for shelter, cook something to eat & drink, build a fire if needed, wrap up for warmth or signal for help.
This is partly why hiking or walking in the woods is so comfortable for me.  I have learned what I need to know to be safe, and I carry myself lightly on the earth.
The other part is that I just love being outdoors.  I really love it!

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