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Ultra lighters bear canisters?

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Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Bluewater » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:30 am

When going UL I carry a Bear Boxer Contender for trips up to 4 days. At 25 ozs it is the lightest approved canister I could find. $40 online. For multi-week UL trips I use a Bearikade Weekender. It's about 31 ozs and has room for up to 8 days. $225 is pricey but they are available for rent based on trail days only. After a resupply at MTR on the JMT last summer I had enough food to make Whitney Portal for a cheeseburger.

I still enjoy going heavy (wetsuits, camp chairs, camp guitar, adult beverages, fishing gear) when hiking a few miles to a base camp then taking day trips. But I go UL (base weight under 10 lbs) because it is safer and more comfortable on long trips in the backcountry. Tripping over a rock is a minor deal with a lightweight pack, but that same incident could be life threatening while carrying 50+ lbs, potentially worse than any first aid kit could help.

As an example a buddy recently dislodged a loose boulder while we were hiking up Thunderbolt Pass. He wasn't being careless, it was the same boulder I had just used. Unfortunately he fell down a 6' drop but was able to stop himself from sliding any further. After cleaning up his scrapes we continued on without incident.

He was carrying a fully loaded UL pack (with a full sized neo-air and a double wall shelter). He would not have reasonably been able to stop his fall if carrying 50+ lbs.

I enjoy both UL and traditional backpacking and I respect that everyone enjoys the wilderness in their own way.



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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby mediauras » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:15 pm

Interesting story bluewater. I have never thought about pack weight and safety in that way -- certainly (dehydrated) food for thought.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby oleander » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:15 am

Another lightweight hiker here. I too carried a canister on my last trip, in my 30-liter pack, and a couple of people did ask me if I could actually fit a canister in there. It's fun to do show-and-tell.

I hate it when people defy the bear-canister rules. Based on what I've seen, I'm not sure that "lightweight" hikers are more likely to do that than "heavyweight" hikers. It's true that a substantial portion of PCT'ers seem to not carry canisters, and that rankles me...It's an attitude of exceptionalism, as if they can out-think the bears and the rest of us can't.

My base weight (without food/water) is around 11-14 pounds without a canister, and 13-16 pounds with a canister. If you want to go lightweight, there are so many things you can leave behind without breaking the bear-canister rule or compromising on safety. I have an excellent shelter and medical kit. The weight savings come from things like: Carrying a 10-oz. pad rather than a 3-pound Thermarest; Esbit rather than canister stove; Aqua Mira (repackaged into tiny dropper bottles) rather than a filter; absolutely no redundant clothes (you sleep in the same clothes you just hiked in, after hanging them to let the sweat dry). A 15-degree bag used to weigh 4-5 pounds, but now you can get one that weighs 2. Lots of packs now in the 1-2 pound range; I got one weighing 2.5 pounds and cut a half-pound of unnecessary stuff off. My one-ounce flashlight is lots brighter than the 4-ounce headlamp I used to carry; 3 ounces savings may not sound like much, but if you look at every single piece of equipment with a questioning eye, those ounces add up to pounds quickly. Most people are carrying a pound or two just in stuff sacks; why do that when you can just stuff things loose in your pack? Replaced a 1.5-lb. groundcloth with a 10-oz. sheet of Tyvec, and then replaced that with a 2.5-oz. sheet of polycryo. Pack food that has higher calories per weight, and you can cut about half a pound of food weight per day. Etc. etc. Lots of good weight-saving ideas on backpackinglight.com.

As to Bluewater's safety point, I concur. Just returned from a hike with 8 women; the ones of us who went light just hopped over all the stream crossings without a problem, and the ones with the heavier packs swayed back and forth and had some near misses.

I never invite my "heavyweighter" packing friends on any of my x-country trips. If we're on a high Class 2/low Class 3 pass, you need a low center of gravity and all the agility, balance, and stopping ability you can get. Anything above ~30 pounds is truly a liability.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby quentinc » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:10 pm

oleander wrote:Replaced a 1.5-lb. groundcloth with a 10-oz. sheet of Tyvec, and then replaced that with a 2.5-oz. sheet of polycryo.

Elizabeth, what is polycryo and where does one get it?

I've been over many a high class 2/class 3 pass with 40+ pounds, but I'm always happy to learn about weight cutting ideas. There are always some great ideas in these forums!
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby mediauras » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:31 pm

quentinc wrote: Elizabeth, what is polycryo and where does one get it?


Polycro is available at Gossamear Gear.

http://gossamergear.com/shelters/shelte ... edium.html

Or can also use window shrink film. Something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000TPRDQ/
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby mediauras » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:53 pm

oleander wrote:My base weight (without food/water) is around 11-14 pounds without a canister, and 13-16 pounds with a canister.

- Elizabeth


Hey Elizabeth, just curious, what kind of shelter are you using?

Sorry for thread drift, but I knew right away this one could go all over the place!
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Cloudy » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:55 pm

On my first two-week backpack, I was carrying about 70 lbs. (when I was young and strong) and tripped while sliding down some scree while descending to Tamarack Lake. Because the weight was distributed high in the pack (extending above my head), I did a forward somersault and ended on my back, sliding towards a cliff and a quicker descent to the lake than I had planned... Fortunately I still had my hiking staff and was able to stop myself before going over the edge to my death. This was a lesson learned about weight distribution, weight in general and what was truly necessary for a trip. With much experience, I can do much the same trip with a 35-40 lb. pack and to keep things on topic, I use a Bearikade Weekender stored inside my pack. I am cursed (depending on how you look at it) to be a person who loses their appetite in the mountains so I can actually fit quite a lot of food in a Weekender.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby quentinc » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:34 pm

Mediaurus, thanks!
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:11 am

Mike M. wrote:My feeling is that true "ultralighters" rarely stay out in the wilderness for more than a few nights at a time. They keep their kit to a minimum so they can achieve high daily mileages, then bolt to civilization to load up on calories. The few serious ultralighters I've run into on the trail seemed to be attracted to the bare minimum in footwear (tennis shoes, sandals, etc.) and they were all fixated on high mileages. Some used a small bear canister, most did not, preferring instead to plan their itinerary so they would camp in an area equipped with a bear locker. They were all prepared to bail if extreme weather threatened.


As one of the HST resident (S)ULers, I would say that's a pretty fair assessment. I think most ULers would readily admit they fall into the hiking enthusiast category, as opposed to camping, fishing, peak bagging, etc.

It really depends on what you're interested in. I, for one, am immediately bored if I pull up someplace before it's dark. My brother, on the other hand, is a traditionalist out of the 70s mode: hike for part of the day, set up camp, explore a little bit (scramble, peak bag) & chill.

Over the years, I've lost interest in just hanging around. (Decades ago I spent an entire summer camping @ Tahoe before starting a career job in SF.) Now, as my time is more limited, I want to experience as much as I can in the short amount of time I have available. I can usually swing 4 day/3 night trips, so I've designed & purpose built a lot of equipment based on this calculus.

In fact, my #1 starting point was designing a pack around a BV450. I placed it flat in the middle of my folded & cut-down Ridgerest (which serves as my semi-rigid frame), put my tarp/quilt on the bottom & clothes on top. That's how my pack is packed.

None would be caught dead with a pack in excess of 30 lbs.


My total pack weight, including food & water, for 4 days/3 nights is around 15 pounds. This includes a 25F down quilt, oversized tarp, down garments and plenty of (high calorie) food. With this set up, it's a breeze to hike 15-20+ miles per day. It's so liberating & free, that on a whim I can pull a permit to go in @ Horseshoe and come out @ Shepherd a few days later. No stress, no reservations, no logistics, no planning - just go.

If you're of a certain age, perhaps you might remember the old Fram commercial: "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later". If you're a backpacker, eventually you WILL go ultralight - whether than means having a son carry your pack, hiring a packer, or limiting yourself to short walks around the old folk's neighborhood reminiscing about the good 'ole days.

I figure it's better to get ahead of the curve and figure out what's needed to keep having fun.
Last edited by Hobbes on Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:31 am

Filed under the 'a picture is worth a thousand words', I grabbed my stuff and shot off a few photos to demo my set-up.

Image

Image

Image

Image

And yes, the stuff sack has a single belt to also serve as a day/summit pack.
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby kpeter » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:41 am

I've gotten lots of good ideas from the ultralight crowd but probably won't entirely join them, but I have lowered my pack weights from 65 to 40 pounds over the years. Their philosophy is not new--Colin Fletcher used to preach taking labels off gear to save weight in the 1960s, it is just that technology is now enabling the realization of his dream.

One correction--I've seen several people note that they have ditched their Thermarests to save weight, citing weights of 2 or 3 pounds. I ditched my original Thermarest pad, but now carry a comfy 3/4 length Thermarest that weighs 11 ounces.

http://www.rei.com/product/829820/therm ... eeping-pad

All that said, I leave tomorrow with my 14 year old and am carrying all kinds of things I would normally leave behind--two full sized bear canisters (to hold bulky food that I don't want to crush), a solar shower, etc. I had to break out my old external frame Kelty to carry it all. Back up to 60 pounds but only for 5 miles. I hope that in ten years or so she will carry some of my weight for me rather than this way around. :)
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Re: Ultra lighters bear canisters?

Postby Hobbes » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:37 am

kpeter wrote:I've gotten lots of good ideas from the ultralight crowd but probably won't entirely join them.


The key thing to consider about UL is advances in materials science. This is really the breakthrough element, not necessarily philosophy. (That is, Muir famously took only a bread & bed roll.)

Recall the line from 'The Graduate': "plastics". This is what drives UL - it's all about synthetic fabric (along with Ti & high-loft down). Modern nylon fabric is now woven at 7-10-15 denier - literally silk weight. (Denier is a measure of fabric mass/density: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Units_of_t ... easurement) With the addition of silicon/Teflon coatings, it makes an extremely durable, strong & water repellent material.

Here's a picture of my quilt built out of M50 & 900FP down:

Image

This sucker is 7' long x 5' wide, has 12oz of down & nearly 4" of loft ... and weighs 18oz. Compare it to some WM bags to find their temp ratings with that much fill/loft - it's between 25-30F. You can pour a cup of water on the M50 and come back an hour later and it won't have sunk through. That's why you don't need a bivy. Add an over-sized tarp (actually, almost a two-man), some high-tech poly clothing + down garments, and voila.

If you were ever to put on a fully decked out (S)UL kit, and realized where & what you could do, I think it would be hard to imagine anyone voluntarily going back.
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