Hey hey hey!
Things changed while I’ve been inactive. First I relearned how great naps can be for you, but that’s not why I’m writing this. Second, my attitude about gear has changed dramatically.
When I started planning for my PCT trek, my baseweight was at around 23lbs (probably more honestly). I’m proud to announce I’m at a cool 11lbs. Aw yeeeeah.
I want to mention the thing I learned from this: Don’t buy your big 3 from REI. The Osprey Atmos is a fantastic pack, but overkill for the PCT. My REI sleeping bag was great, but a quilt is lighter and is also great (I completely unzip sleeping bags and use them as quilts anyways, so I don’t know why I didn’t just buy a quilt… buh). I actually didn’t get my first shelter (Tarptent) from REI, but replaced it with a BA Copper Spur from REI so there’s a bit of an inter-dimensional fold in the rules there. In any case:
UL is scary territory for someone just getting into backpacking, or someone who has backpacked with every leisure item known to man (I recall one trip having actual breakfast sausages). But it’s easier to get into than you think. Just do research and test your gear. I’m switching to a Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack and an Enlightened Equipment Enigma quilt as my last replacements.
Switching gear isn’t what it’s all about though, dropping gear entirely is also important. Being redundant is something I had issues with. I had a phone, paper maps, and GPS for starters. Smart phones are actually kind of incredible I’ve learned, and work very as a GPS with the right app. So I tossed my heavy GPS from my gear. I also have paper maps and a compass. Back-ups for important items are good, being crazy about it is bad. I resolved to pack less clothes as well, because I’m going to be dirty anyways. I’m bringing one pair of pants in the desert along with my running shorts, then swap the pants when I need to. Bam, extra savings.
Downgrading is also a good compromise, instead of a pack towel I’m carrying a bandanna. Instead of a knee brace (one knee in particular likes compression every so often), I’m cutting the elastic top off of a sock and I use that instead. Less stuff sacks is another thing I’ve learned to adopt. I like to have a super organized system with multiple bags for multiple things, but I’m just down to two at this point: Food and general gear. I’ve ditched my dry bag and got a compactor bag. I’ve also stopped using water bladders and transitioned to water bottles (SmartWater/Gatorade, not nalgene.. never going back to nalgene bottles).
I hit a point looking at all my gear where I realized that I wanted to hike the PCT to live simply for a while. Taking as many commodities as I was taking seemed dishonest to my intention, so the decision came pretty easily. Here is what I originally started with:
I know it may not look like much, but it was. It was a whole lot of much. Note that you can’t even see everything I had in this image, some things are buried such as my solar charger (which I ditched). I was also going to take an e-reader… hah.. hahah. Stay tuned for an ‘after’ photo and a video of my current setup. Just have to wait for my last items to get here. In the meantime, you can gander at my gear list here:
I will be updating my gear page as well once I have everything in order (here, not on lighterpack).
Bottom line: Try dropping things and getting some UL gear, you’ll love it, and your back and legs will repay you the favor by being more eager to hike. So far I have not had to sacrifice comfort for weight (the exception being the Tarptent Protrail for reasons that are more on personal preference). In fact, all of my UL gear is more comfortable than my heavier stuff. How about that.