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Thread: Ultralight gear for the backcountry

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Smile Ultralight gear for the backcountry

    I have been recently trying to get my pack weight down for overnighters. I know many of you on this forum have experience with lightweight backpacking, and would love to learn whatever I can.

    I have a daypack (Deuter Futura 40) that is a hair over 3 pounds, and should be able to keep enough stuff for a night or 2. With the nice support, don't think it's really worth it at this time to get a 2 pounder, and is still much better than my other 2 packs that weigh 5 & 7 pounds.

    My new tent (not a hammock guy) is super light Big Agnes FlyCreek UL2 and weighs just 3 pounds with all stuff and footprint, so I'm pretty much set here.

    For a sleeping system, I am looking for a really lightweight bag to replace my current bag which weighs 2.75 pounds with stuff sack. Does anyone have experience with the Terra Nova Laser (12 oz) sleeping bag, or western mountaineering Summerlite, or another super lightweight bag? I'm set for a pad using my Thermarest z lite at 10oz if I want to suffer, or 19oz for pure comfort in the NeoAir (down from old Thermarest at 44 oz)

    I'm also set on cooking, and am looking forward to the transition to an alcohol stove. Got my cooking gear from 3.5 pounds to just under a pound.

    Who has a good replacement for my old gore-tex jacket? At 18.6 oz it probably needs to go, just not sure if I weant to get something too thin as the Smokies can be quite wet. I remember Mac & maybe Grannyknot were talking about a lightweight rain jacket when Mac had posted his gear list (no longer there). Also my rain pant t 10.1 will most likely just be left at home more.

    Also Spotlight had a recipe for an ultralight tube holder that I can no longer find. That TFO case while very sturdy, is a bit overkill and just too heavy.

    Any other tips to saving weight would be appreciated including what you carry fishing (usually take whole vest & all contents, but will change that).

    Thanks to all in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Maryville, TN


    Hey man I use driducks rainsuit pants and jacket for $15 (total for both). Pants weigh about 3.5 oz and jacket about 4.5oz. insanely light. Lots of reviews of it on Some folks say don't bushwhack in them but I would beg to differ they are much tougher than they are giving credit for. They don't look pretty though in fact they are ugly and you will look funny wearing them lol. Got mine at Gander mtn.

    I made a real light rod holder by getting a flourescent light bulb "tube" holder from lowes and sawing it down to size then used gorilla tape on one end and put some foam in the bottom. on the other end that had a cap I can remove to get the rod in and out. It is probably 5oz much lighter than the tfo tube. I have used it for 2 years now and no problems.

    I also use a zlite it works good but not the most comfortable. I don't know about those sleeping bags.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    Those dri ducks are great and super light weight. They are also very affordable.

    What do you do for water treatment? Instead of carrying a filter that weights a 1lb (or close to it), you could just carry tablets. Those things weigh next to nothing.

    I haven't been back country fishing all that long so I'm still learning how to pack. I fish in the clothes that I hike in. One extra shirt at camp and maybe an extra pair of shorts. My camp shoes are also my fishing shoes (Keen's) which are heavy but worth it. I bought a sling pack which doesn't weigh much and holds more than enough fishing gear.

    Never heard of the bag. Just out of curiosity, what is the temp rating on it? I am assuming its down.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011


    Western mountaineering bags are the jam.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Mooresville, NC


    For a sleeping bag, I use a bag liner. It weighs about 7 oz and it stuffs down to something like 5"X8".

    The downside is, anything below 55 or so degrees, and you will get cold.

    So, I am hoping to learn something in this thread as well, regarding a lightweight and small sleeping bag, something rated for 35-40 degrees.
    Wild troutin, blue linin, fly flingin, camo wearin, redneckin elitist.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011


    My Western Mountaineering is a 20 degree down bag and weighs 1lb 13oz. It will keep you warm down to 15 degrees but breathes so well that I use it in the summer and don't break a sweat.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Knoxville, TN


    DP...I love a good gear thread.
    As for packs, I learned my lesson early on that suspension is pretty important when it comes to packs. I'd say that Deuter pack is a good way to go. I use a GG Vapor Trail when I'm packing light, and use the ArcTeryx Bora packs (65, 80) when I have larger loads or cold weather gear.

    That new tent you've got is very nice....I love the BA tents, and have 2 of them.

    The Western Mountaineering bags are top notch along with the Feathered Friends bags. I've never been able to afford either brand, and so I went with the Mountain hardwear Phantom series. I've recently been looking into purchasing a Jacks r better down quilt. I won't say too much on sleeping pads, because they are all personal preference. Some people can sleep on the Wal-Mart "blue" pads, whereas some people need a thermarest base camp pad to get good sleep. I use an old Thermarest prolite 4, but would love to get my hands on one of those Exped downmats.

    Good luck with your alcohol stove. Some love them, some not so much. Spotlight and I went on a trip earlier this year, and he had one that worked pretty darn well. I don't like that you can't shut it off or make it simmer though. I still use a snowpeak canister stove.

    Jackets...Not a fan of dri-ducks. I bought a set a few years ago after hearing all the rave reviews. First trip out with them, had to wear them in a downpour on the hike out. I was sweating like crazy...clammiest things I had ever been in. Another thing I noticed is the durability of the fabric. The fabric doesn't do too well in heavy rodo or breyers, imo. Also, my backpack shoulder straps wore the fabric down around my shoulders and was no longer water tight. Glad they didn't cost much. I would get a decent Gore-Tex paclite or eVent jacket. I use the Integral Designs eVent jacket. I think its around 9oz.

    I believe Kevin (spotlight) ordered one of those ultra light tubes from backpacking light, but I'm not sure if he ever got it. I don't really use a rod tube, because I usually take an 8 piece rod that breaks down to about 10", unless I'm hiking in to a larger stream, then I take an 8' 4wt in a tube.

    I never take much fishing gear on multi-night trips any more. I usually take 2 rolls of tippet, an extra leader or 2, couple of tools, floatant, and a small box of flies. I carry all of this in my pockets while I'm fishing. I never take waders and only take my boots and neoprene socks on special occasions. I just take some sandals that I've attached a home made felt sole to.

    Has anyone seen or heard from spotlight lately? I think he is MIA.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010


    Preparing for an upcoming trip where I want to go as light as possible I have my baseweight down to 12 lbs without food, water and fishing gear. Keep in mind, I am eternally on a budget, so I try to go ultralight, but at a reasonable cost. I hope to buy better day!

    I have a light toploading daypack, I found at a yardsale, weighs less than 2 lbs (I think it is a womens pack, but it works well enough). Sometimes I use an external frame that is just super light weight as well. I've stitched it up many times to keep it going, but it just has the most lightweight aluminum frame, and its easily organized, easy to attached stuff to the outside of. (I really kind of despise toploaders, and only use them when I need to.) Also found at a yardsale for $5.

    I have a kelty cosmic 35 degree synthetic sleeping bag 2 lbs 10 oz. It works well to the rated temp. Dirt cheap as well for a bag that compresses well, and is lightweight. In the winter when it gets cooler you arent going ultralight anyway, I use a sleeping bag liner to add a few more degrees to it.

    taking chemical water treatment instead of the almost 2lbs of weight of my water filter.

    sleeping in hammock Eno singlenest, with hardware removed.14oz with tree huggers (huggers are harbor freight straps)
    Replaced heavy carabiners on ENO with webbing loops, which marlin spike hitch to tree huggers
    Tarp - chinook 9x9, 2mm sterling accessory cord for tarp ridgeline. 2 Aluminum stakes. total 1.5 lbs (I only take 1 tarp per 2 people. Hang bunkbed style if it looks like bad weather.)

    I use about a third of the blue ccf pad from walmart. Doesnt weigh much at all. havent weighed it though, couple of ounces. Keeps me warm in the hammock. If my legs get cold, throw the empty pack under your legs.

    cook system- set of aluminum billycans I bought 12 years ago and still love, weigh almost nothing. Pocket rocket + cansiter fuel to cook on. I also a nylon bag for hanging food in, and carry 40ft of rope for hanging said bag when im not somewhere with cables.

    Rain gear - plastic poncho 1 oz. yeah it sucks, I could improve this part, but to do it with something lightweight costs money, which I dont have right now.

    cold weather gear - synthetic fleece pullover from goodwill, synthetic long underwear which I always take with me. winter, spring, summer and fall, weigh next to nothing.

    water bottle - gatorade bottle. Nalgene bottles are for winter when I heat them up and toss in the sleeping bag.

    for easy trips I use the fluorescent light bulb tube like Adam said for a rod tube, however after slipping on a wet trail and landing on my back once and nearly destroying my rod on the first day of a 4 day fishing trip, I use a homemade PVC tube for longer/more difficult trips. still lighter than the rod case you get from the manufacturer.

    No fly vest, carry everything in my pockets, two boxes of flies (one wet, one dry) floatant, nippers, extra leaders, tippet.

    Used to carry flip flops to wear in camp, but now I just go barefoot at camp. Love my fivefingers for wading and hiking in, but once Im at camp I have to shed them.

    Cant think of the rest of it right now, but thats the gist of it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Knoxville, Tn


    Quote Originally Posted by Grannyknot View Post
    I just take some sandals that I've attached a home made felt sole to.
    I started a project like this last year, bought some clearance columbia hiking sandals at Gander and replacement felt soles that I cut to size. How did you attach them to the sandals? I used the adhesive that came with the felt, but it didn't hold very well.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Smile Awesome replies

    Thanks - this is exactly the feedback I was looking for

    Crockett - What do you think about what Jay said about the ultralight case being prone to breakage if you fall. Would yours be good enough to hold up to an off-trail rant? I just weighed the TFO case without rod or sleeve and it's 18.8 oz so I will replace it for sure.

    Ben - I believe you may have been the one who led me to purchase a Steripen. I bought the heavier version. Much lighter than the old MSR at well over a pound.

    Joe - I have yet to hear anything bad about Western Mountaineering, other than the price. If River Sports would have had a Summerlite in stock that I could have used my 20% off coupon I would have bought one. They had the smaller lighter one, but it was a bit tight through the torso, and since I toss and turn I passed. At $320 for the Summerlite, I will wait till I can get one on sale. I would still love to hear some feedback on that Terra Nova Laser at 12 ounces and a 35-40 confort rating. It seems too good to be true, or cut too tight for me. I already have a down winter bag, and am not looking for a particular temp rating, but something that will work for the other 9 months a year when the winter bag is just too much.

    I fish - I looked into liners, but found that they take up just as much space as a leightweight bag, and don't offer nearly the protection I am looking for. I always like to know that I can just crawl in my bag if all else goes wrong.

    Granny - Thanks for the Jack recommendation. I had looked at them, but was a little inhibited by the non tradition approach, and wasn't really considering them. The Shenadoah at 2/3 the price of the SummerLite does seem appealing and worth some serious consideration.Also thanks for the raingear recommendation. While I don't have the funds at this time, will start looking for deals. I hope Spotlight does come back. There's a guy in his club that really needs to get out from reading the latest posts.

    Jay - I also have a 20 degree synthtic bag that is 2.8 pounds with stuff sack. The super light weight ones seem to all be around a pound and fold up like a grapefruit. Do you know how much the PVC weighed compared to the bulb protector?

    N Duncan - Some aquaseal or Show goo should work well to get the felt on. Remember to clean it with some alcohol first to get good adhesion.

    I guess I'll try leaving my vest at home, or at least get rid of most everything in it

    Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming

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