State of the Pack, 2012

After the weekend’s Mt. Shasta adventure (summary: made it to Shastina, but not to the main summit), I am once again dreaming of clever ways to lighten my backpack.

Currently, the base weight of my pack is around 8.8kg (just under 20 lbs), which doesn’t sound like much, except that when food, water, camera paraphernalia and necessary snow gear are added, it becomes a much larger number very quickly.

My goal would be to get everything down to 5kg, but that may not be feasible.

In any case, here’s the current packing list:

Backpack: REI Flash 65 – 1300g.  A good internal-frame pack that’s served well for trips as long as 4 days.  Lots of pockets.  The fit isn’t quite right though (especially when the weight exceeds 20kg) and the weight could be less.

Tent: Sierra Designs Sirius 2 – 2100g (packed).  Unbeatable design (two pole, dome).  Freestanding three-season design.  Lots of space for two people.  East to setup.  But after ten years, it’s in need of replacement.  Unfortunately while many lighter tents exist now, few are also freestanding and offer sufficient space.  A shame Sierra Designs didn’t simply update the design to use newer (lighter) materials.

Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering Highlight – 425g.  There’s no lighter option.  Even my down jacket weighs more.  While it’s only rated for 40 degrees, that’s enough most of the time.

Sleeping Pad: Thermarest Prolite – 580g.  A good inflatable pad.  Not exceptionally light, but it provides fairly good padding to about 3/4 height.  Also, it packs down small.  I’m pondering switching to the less sturdy but lighter Neoair XL (225g less).

Food Storage: BearVault BV450 – 935g.  Smallest of bear canister available.  One is required in most of the Sierra.  With careful packing, it can feed two people for  three days.  I’ve yet to find other options that are widely approved (hanging sacks is generally not sufficient).

Water Bottles: 4X 20 oz. bottles and a 96 oz. Nalgene Wide-Mouth Cantene – 170g.

Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket Titan kit + 4 oz. IsoPro fuel – 320g.  Whole kit fits in the pot.  The pot is a bit dinky, but the size and weight is perfect.

Water filter: Katadyn Hiker Pro – 350g.  Effective, and not too large.  I’m not a fan of the taste of purification tablets, so even though it’s considerably larger and heavier, I’ve stuck with using a water filter.  Of course, the main danger of giardia comes from unsanitary campmates, not direct contamination from the water.

Down jacket: REI Revelcloud Jacket – 360g.  Warm and comfortable.  Synthetic material makes it more useful when damp.  Downside is there’s no hood.

Fleece jacket: REI Classic Fleece jacket – 480g.  Decent, but could use a lighter and/or warmer replacement.

Raincoat: Outdoor Research Rampart Rain Jacket – 380g.  Sufficient to keep me mostly dry walking across England last summer.

Other Clothes: extra socks, extra underwear, hat – 400g.  As little as I can get by with for multi day trips.  Most things can be washed if need be.  I am looking for a lighter down jacket, but otherwise, I doubt there’s much I can save weight on here.

Misc: First aid kit, towel, sunscreen, toothbrush, toothpaste, utensils, headlamp, garbage bags – ~1000g.  Not a whole lot of weight to save here, as I’ve cut down the number of items over the years to pretty much the bear minimum.

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