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#173550 - 01/05/13 08:29 PM How light should I go?
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
I am planning a 2013 NOBO PCT thru-hike.
Currently I have 2 large decisions to make that could mean the difference between a 14.5 # base weight, and a 11.7 # base weight. (There are a few other minor adjustments being made as well)

The two major decisions are pack, and shelter.

The pack decision is between the ULA circuit and the Zpacks Arc Blast.
The shelter decision is between the TT Notch and the Zpacks hexamid solo Plus.

These two decisions will set me back a few hundred more bucks if I choose to go light. Is it worth it? How much is that ~3 pounds difference going to effect my life on the trail?

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#173592 - 01/07/13 02:17 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Are you going at a pretty typical time of year? I.e., late April start perhaps or thereabouts?

Is it important to you that the gear last longer than a single thru-hike? I have no experience with zpacks packs or tents; I have perhaps 3500 miles on my ULA Circuit, however, and have carried a different Tarptent for quite a number of miles too. ULA packs are pretty durable for the weight.

Are you confident that you can pack a bear canister and all your other gear through the Sierras in either pack? Assuming your overall gear bulks out proportional to other choices, the Circuit would handle it fine (and did so for my JMT hike this past September); maybe the zpacks model will too (again, I don't know).

Just in general, 3 pounds makes a difference that you can feel, particularly if your overall base weight is in the range you're talking about. You can also feel that difference by carefully planning your resupply stops to not carry more food than you have to.

If you think that the lighter zpacks options will survive and thrive to be used for a lot more miles than the PCT itself, then I'd go for them.

Which variants on the zpacks tent (tarp) were you thinking of? It varies quite a bit, and when I hiked the PCT I think that I more often wanted it as a bug shelter than protection against the elements (the PCT is for the most part a pretty dry trail). I note that the hexamid with full bug enclosure is suddenly a lot heavier than the base model. It you're truly happy with just a bug head net all the time, then you might consider a shaped poncho tarp instead. I personally really really like having a bug proof enclosed area at the end of the day.

Another way of looking at this is --- assuming that this is your first long distance trip --- you can't really know how well you'll like it or if something unexpected will push you off the trail. I paid up for a cuben fiber tent (Lightheart Solo) to do the CDT in 2011, but by then I'd already done two other long trips and was pretty confident that I'd get my money's worth out of it. In that context, the ULA Circuit and the TT Notch are really outstanding products in and of themselves. If you find that you like distance hiking, you can always sell your used gear and hopefully recoup some money that way and buy lighter stuff later.
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#173600 - 01/07/13 02:14 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: BrianLe]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2805
Loc: NorCal
Yeah, three pounds carried up and down a gazillion miles' gross elevation can and will make a difference. It will affect your daily range and perhaps the overall health of your legs.

I also think you can consider not relying on a single shelter for the duration--once you're in mid-season you might be able to downsize to a simple tarp then, depending on when you hit Washington, moving back to the more rugged shelter.

I've never completed a multi-month trip but I think of them as a collection of shorter trips and with the PCT, across a hundred different settings. Your "drift box" should be stocked to allow changes on the go as conditions and your conditioning change. Not to mention, you can celebrate the end of canister territory by sending the thing home.

Happy planning!
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--Rick

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#173654 - 01/08/13 10:55 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
Samoset Offline
member

Registered: 07/04/08
Posts: 429
Loc: Newnan ,GA
Originally Posted By oldranger

If the only downside is cost, swallow hard,live on beans for awhile, and come up with the dough. Every time I did that I was glad.



Edited by Samoset (01/08/13 10:55 PM)
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#173657 - 01/09/13 12:02 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: Samoset]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
Originally Posted By Samoset
Originally Posted By oldranger

If the only downside is cost, swallow hard,live on beans for awhile, and come up with the dough. Every time I did that I was glad.



Haha! I like that quote. I got a call from a friend from college today and we were reminiscing about how 2/3 of our budget went to alcohol and 1/3 went to beans and frozen pizza.

Anyways, that isn't the only factor, as the TT Notch is such a quick pitch shelter it's hard to not give that some weight in the decision. It also has a solid floor where as the zpacks hexamid+ (with net) has been said to get pretty muddy/wet as the netting soaks up a lot of that ground juice. It also has 10 stake out points, and the Notch only has 4. Talk about simplicity.

As for backpacks, I am pretty sure the circuit will carry the weights I will put in it comfortably. AS for the Arc Blast, I am just not convinced, but I have been looking at other lighter packs like the Starlite, and the Exodus FS that comes with an inflatable air back pad.. neat!

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#173658 - 01/09/13 12:18 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: BrianLe]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
Originally Posted By BrianLe
Are you going at a pretty typical time of year? I.e., late April start perhaps or thereabouts?


Yep

Originally Posted By BrianLe
Is it important to you that the gear last longer than a single thru-hike?


Hadn't thought about this too much. I guess I figure that in the places that I'm playing it safe/heavy/comfortable I will finish the trail with a better idea of what I can live without and would replace many of those items to further lighten my load. I wonder if I should try to transition to tarps before the trail to see if I can get the hang of it...

Originally Posted By BrianLe
Which variants on the zpacks tent (tarp) were you thinking of?


Specifically the Hexamid Solo Plus with Netting, not sure about the beak.

All shelters that I am considering have completely enclosed bug spaces. That is something that I cannot live without at this point in my backpacking career as I have personally experienced mosquito hell on a section of the PCT/TRT and understand how much sanity comes from an enclosed bug shelter.

Originally Posted By BrianLe
Another way of looking at this is --- assuming that this is your first long distance trip --- you can't really know how well you'll like it or if something unexpected will push you off the trail.


I read this last night, and it really steered me toward some sanity. I have been so caught up in counting ounces and lightening my load that I forget that this IS my first backpacking trip over 160 miles, and that I don't know for sure that something won't come up (family/injury/mental health/whatever).

While I know that getting under a 12# baseweight wouldn't be super difficult, I do know that it may be costly. I am also young and pretty strong so maybe I shouldn't be so concerned about the baseweight, and should instead be more rational.

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#173659 - 01/09/13 12:22 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: Rick_D]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
Originally Posted By Rick_D

I've never completed a multi-month trip but I think of them as a collection of shorter trips and with the PCT, across a hundred different settings. Your "drift box" should be stocked to allow changes on the go as conditions and your conditioning change. Not to mention, you can celebrate the end of canister territory by sending the thing home.

Happy planning!


Rick,

I am trying to organize the trip so that I don't use a bounce box. It seems like it will be a major hassle to me. A lot of my choices have been made to reduce hassle, and that is one reason why I am so hesitant in switching from the Notch to the Hexamid.

Anyone with advice either way on the bounce box? What's the best way to resupply alcohol for my stove? should I just buy full bottles of Heet? shocked


Edited by GinAndClonic (01/09/13 12:25 AM)

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#173660 - 01/09/13 12:46 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
Quote:
"Anyone with advice either way on the bounce box? What's the best way to resupply alcohol for my stove? should I just buy full bottles of Heet?"


Bounce box: if you have an at-home logistics person, then I wouldn't. If you don't, you could consider it.

Alcohol resupply: if you haven't bought Yogi's Guide, then get it --- it tells you current info on a host of things, including that. Bottom line: a full bottle of HEET isn't bad, it just depends on the stretch. I don't like those little yellow bottles anyway and decant to a pop bottle; if you're around other thru-hikers, just buy the right amount to split amongst you. Sometimes you can buy fuel by the ounce, other times you can leave excess in a hiker box.

But get Yogi's Guide.
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#173661 - 01/09/13 12:52 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
To your logic I would add that the heavier of your two considered base weights is going to be lighter than average among thru-hikers. And FWIW, the ULA Circuit is my favorite pack now. Heavier than some, but relatively light, has sort of "just the features I want" and you don't pay a weight hit for those that you (or at least I) don't want. For example, when I was using a Gossamer Gear pack, I would add to the weight with add-on waist belt pouches, that were occasionally a hassle in that they wanted to slide off the waist belt. Given the added durability (miles you can hike in it) and I prefer the ULAs now.

After the equivalent of about one thru-hike each, two different GG Mariposa Plus packs were not useable for much more than day hikes, but I think you can easily get two full thru-hikes worth of use out of a Circuit, and likely more. My hiking partner on the AT replaced his ULA as I recall after putting about 5000 miles on it.

I don't mean to say that makes ULA "best" for everyone. My experience on the PCT however suggests that it's probably the most common pack brand among PCT distance hikers, or at least it was.
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Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#173666 - 01/09/13 03:17 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: BrianLe]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 1000
Loc: Australia
Since the Notch has been mentioned, the 2013 Notch is official now.
same size/weight/cost as before but with the apex guyouts as standard and the extra loops on the non door sides so that you can open up the 4 panels completely.
looks like this :

OK, it must be 10-20g more...

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#173667 - 01/09/13 03:46 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: BrianLe]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
Originally Posted By BrianLe
To your logic I would add that the heavier of your two considered base weights is going to be lighter than average among thru-hikers.


Cool man! Yeah, I actually ordered a circuit today, so I am going to check it out and see how it feels with my expected loads etc.

I have Yogi's guide, but my cousin is borrowing it at the moment as he is also attempting a thru-hike. Good to know alcohol won't be a hassle. In that case I am pretty content not having a bounce box, as I do have a contact person at home to ship packages. What do you think of having camera batteries shipped in resupplies fully charged rather than carrying a battery charger? Cost is not a concern as extra (generic) batteries can be found cheap. Maybe not worth the weight savings...

I am still considering changing my shelter. The Notch is almost perfect, but maybe just a little too tight for me. I am trying to find alternatives that are easy to pitch, but lighter weight, possibly a cuben material rather than silny.

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#173668 - 01/09/13 03:48 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: Franco]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
Originally Posted By Franco
Since the Notch has been mentioned, the 2013 Notch is official now.


Damn it Franco!! I just got my 2012 Notch... ughhh


Edited by GinAndClonic (01/09/13 03:48 AM)

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#173672 - 01/09/13 12:51 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2805
Loc: NorCal
My knowledge of the "typical" PCT thru is a little dated and I don't know the latest regs on shipping fuel, since the TSA got involved. I think it can still go via ground and I'd try as much as possible to handle fuel resupply in the same box containing your food, batteries, etc. The PCT has far less in-town resupply than the AT.

Without a drift box I don't know how else you'll adjust your wardrobe and other gear as you progress, nor charge your camera/phone batteries, handle in-town repairs, etc. Yes, shipping it forward is an extra step but I'd weigh that against the possibility of being stuck in town awaiting repair/replacement of a key piece of gear or, heaven help you, not having your bug stuff when your run into the spring hatch. It could be that I've been visited by Mr. Murphy once too often for my own good and I'm overly fixated on the what-ifs.

FWIW probably would reship it a couple stops ahead, not to each one.

If skipping the drift box I'd probably include new footware in key resupply boxes, with the presumption that they're going to wear out with some regularity. Socks, too.

Cheers,

p.s. There was a giant fire at Belden, south of Lassen Park last summer. I'll guess it's affected the route through the area for this year and perhaps beyond.
Quote:

Rick,

I am trying to organize the trip so that I don't use a bounce box. It seems like it will be a major hassle to me. A lot of my choices have been made to reduce hassle, and that is one reason why I am so hesitant in switching from the Notch to the Hexamid.

Anyone with advice either way on the bounce box? What's the best way to resupply alcohol for my stove? should I just buy full bottles of Heet? shocked
_________________________
--Rick

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#173677 - 01/09/13 01:49 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
One side comment if you're not already aware --- to get a wider range of feedback from folks that know the PCT well, consider interacting on the PCT-L, http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/pct-l
The interface is sort of last-millenium, and on occasion I find the signal-to-noise ratio lower than I would like, but you can set it to receive no email, post the occasional question and then peruse the archives for responses.

Quote:
"What do you think of having camera batteries shipped in resupplies fully charged rather than carrying a battery charger? Cost is not a concern as extra (generic) batteries can be found cheap. Maybe not worth the weight savings..."


My personal solution was to use my smartphone as my camera, and in that context to carry the charger and an extra battery or two for that. Well, on the PCT I did use a solar charger; don't think I would do so again (didn't bother on the CDT).
For your plan I guess it depends on how fast your charged batteries lose charge, but it sounds like a fine plan overall EXCEPT that then you're carrying around uncharged batteries until you can mail them home. Kind of a PITA to have to go to a post office to just mail home dead batteries.

Quote:
I am still considering changing my shelter. The Notch is almost perfect, but maybe just a little too tight for me. I am trying to find alternatives that are easy to pitch, but lighter weight, possibly a cuben material rather than silny."

By "too tight" to you mean lateral space, or length? If the latter, the Lightheart "Solong" model might be a good choice.
I wouldn't worry too much about how easy something is to pitch. You'll get pretty good, and fast at it in doing so daily. Well, except that you might find yourself cowboy camping a lot until bugs are a factor.

I really can't help you on the cuben thing. My personal feeling is that for most people, cuben is too expensive to consider, but for a thru-hike it sort of amortises out a lot better. I.e., if you think of it in terms of dollars spent per night of use, it's not very cost effective for a person who does maybe 2 weeks of backpacking per year. For you, however, whether you pitch the tent every night or not, you'll be carrying it constantly.

Actually, even that is questionable. I hiked the first 700 miles (to Kennedy Meadows) with just a poncho as both rain gear and shelter, and I'd do it that way again --- it really is very common to spend most nights just under the stars until the Sierras (and sometimes there too). I swapped for a light rain jacket and a tarptent at the start of the Sierras, and the tent was more about bug protection until I got into WA state.

So there's no clear right-or-wrong answer here. Best of luck with whatever you decide to go with!
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#173680 - 01/09/13 04:03 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
Franco Offline
member

Registered: 04/05/04
Posts: 1000
Loc: Australia
"my 2012 Notch..."
Not to worry, you can do what I have done for mine...
I have the guylines coming out via the vents . They are attached to the grosgrain ribbon that holds the grommet.
I then glued ,using silicone, the two extra fly ties so that I can open up the sides , the same way the existing one are in place.
To glue ribbons/fabric to silnylon you first smear undiluted silicone to both surfaces.
Let it cure for about 15-20 minutes then press the two together and leave them under pressure (put some weight on it) for a few hours.
It will take a couple of days to fully cure.
This is not for guyouts or parts that have a lot of tension on them.

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#173744 - 01/11/13 01:17 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: BrianLe]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
Originally Posted By BrianLe

By "too tight" to you mean lateral space, or length? If the latter, the Lightheart "Solong" model might be a good choice....
I really can't help you on the cuben thing. ...
Actually, even that is questionable. I hiked the first 700 miles (to Kennedy Meadows) with just a poncho as both rain gear and shelter...


The lateral space was the issue. Just wanted a bit more breathing space. I definitely looked long and hard at the solong, but am having trouble justifying the weight.

I'm actually on the verge of deciding to just become proficient at pitching a tarp now. I figure that's the most bad ass type of shelter anyway right? and I do have months to learn how to pitch it.

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#173748 - 01/11/13 10:16 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Well, if you want the brownie points for how hard core you can be, a tarp will get you a lot. smile Happy tarping.
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#173754 - 01/11/13 12:38 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: finallyME]
GinAndClonic Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 18
I figure most of those hardcore brownie points just come from people being afraid of really giving the tarp setup a shot.

Plus a cuben fiber bear paw wilderness designs 8'X10' tarp hits the scales at only 8.5 oz. Add stakes, lines, and whatever bug protection you want and I can still be under a #.

Not really sold on the bivy thing though, even though I am using a quilt and I know it will stop drafts. I just want some extra room!

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#173755 - 01/11/13 01:03 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1603
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Tarps are great (you can use a net screen hung from the ridgeline for bugs pretty easily); I camped happily under them for a number of years. Back then, an 8x10 tarp and groundcloth setup weighed about 2 pounds, including stakes, cord and some bug netting. A tarp and bivy combo went for two or two and a half pounds. (I went to the bivy after rain and snow blew in a couple of times.)

So why did I quit using a tarp? Because they came out with 2-pound tents. Easier to pitch (mostly), bug protection, and full-coverage fly, with no penalty in weight, made them too good to pass up.

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#173758 - 01/11/13 01:37 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA


My dad's two sheet tarp system for 4 people from the early 70's. Made out of swimming pool cover plastic it is very flexible as to how you can set it up...need to bring rope for the flexible part.

In the 60's and 70's (I did not keep track after that blush) , the tarp set up was the light weight set up. The other light options then were, a bivy sack, your poncho, and ala John Muir i.e. the clothes on your back and whatever you could find as a warm spot (I preferred a thick bed of pine needles myself). John Muir was gnarly and is the still the standard if you ask me. I have done all four "light" methods and ... well, let's just say I have definitely gotten soft and generally prefer the tent now (but still use the poncho method once in a while).

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#173759 - 01/11/13 02:05 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: skcreidc]
aimless Offline
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Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2980
Loc: Portland, OR
My dad's two sheet tarp system for 4 people from the early 70's.

Looking carefully at that photo convinces me that no rain was expected that day and the upper tarp was only used to provide some shade. smile

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#173761 - 01/11/13 03:08 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: skcreidc]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Great picture. Glad you remember the 60's. I am too young, but apparently, if you do, then you didn't have as much fun. Or was that the 70's?
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#173763 - 01/11/13 04:10 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: aimless]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA

Quote:
Looking carefully at that photo convinces me that no rain was expected that day and the upper tarp was only used to provide some shade. smile


You are dead on aimless blush . One of the reasons I have been hesitant to post the pic is that it is such a lousy set up. He had much better setups for rain and even though I was sleeping on one of the sides, I stayed dry and toasty. This is the only pic I have though; usually the larger sheet was on top and the smaller on the bottom. Pic is from 1971.


Edited by skcreidc (01/11/13 04:11 PM)

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#173764 - 01/11/13 04:17 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: skcreidc]
rockchucker22 Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/12
Posts: 749
Loc: Eastern Sierras
I like the photo! thanks
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#173767 - 01/11/13 04:21 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: finallyME]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
FinallyMe, I had a great time in the 60's (except for tube tents) and early 70's. It's after '74 that things get a little fuzzy.... confused We had a kick-ass Boy Scout Troupe (in terms of outdoor activities). My first epic trip was in 1967...and I think we all know what epic means laugh . I loved every backpacking trip I did with that troupe though. Half the troupe was Japanese American; it was a pretty hard core collection of fathers and sons.

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#173780 - 01/12/13 02:10 PM Re: How light should I go? [Re: skcreidc]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6597
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I did some calculations and found that a tarp, ground sheet and bug net big enough for me and my dog weighed the same as my 2-person tent (more like a 1.5 person tent, but comfy for Hysson and me.

Of course for the PCT you probably aren't taking a dog, but you still won't save weight using a tarp instead of a tent. There are a number of one-person tents weighing 1.5 lbs., including the Tarptent Contrail, Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo or Skyscape Trekker or (for quite a bit more $$$) no more than 1 lb., such as the ZPacks Hexamid or SMD Skyscape X.

You will definitely need that bug net for a fair-sized part of the trip, especially in Oregon. If it's a late snow year, probably parts of Washington, too! Think of many plateau-like areas on the crest full of small lakes and bogs--mosquito heaven!
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#174645 - 02/04/13 06:46 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
JMB Offline
newbie

Registered: 02/04/13
Posts: 13
Originally Posted By GinAndClonic
Is it worth it? How much is that ~3 pounds difference going to effect my life on the trail?


Your body will thank you at the end of each day, that is for sure.

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#174696 - 02/05/13 08:20 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: OregonMouse]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
OR is correct. I still use a poncho tarp, bivy and bug net from MLD, but I do so from choice. There are several solo tents in the same weight range as my gear. Best, jcp

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#174698 - 02/05/13 11:10 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1603
Loc: Southwest Ohio
That was when I switched from a tarp to a tent, too, OM. The first solo tent I had, the Hubba, weighed about the same as the 8x10 silnylon tarp, stakes, and Integral Designs Salathe bivy sack I had been using.

The tent was just simpler to use. The connected and tensioned frame also handled wind better than a hiking pole at each end. It also required fewer stakes, and the mesh netting gave me the option of looking at the stars on a clear night. And, when it rained, I didn't have mist blowing in the ends or under the sides. (That was why I used a fairly stormproof bivy.)

I'm sure there are lighter bivies now - but there are also lighter solo tents, so even today I can find a tent that would weigh the same as the tarp-and-bivy rig.

Tarps, with a bivy or groundsheet and bug net, remain viable options, and I still have a bit of nostalgia for mine - but not enough to go back to it. A tent with lots of mesh just works better, for me, where I hike and camp.

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#178926 - 08/05/13 11:42 AM Re: How light should I go? [Re: GinAndClonic]
WDW4 Offline
member

Registered: 08/01/13
Posts: 18
Loc: Lexington, KY
Originally Posted By GinAndClonic

These two decisions will set me back a few hundred more bucks if I choose to go light. Is it worth it? How much is that ~3 pounds difference going to effect my life on the trail?


Depends on you, GandC. I prefer to go lite on the basics so I can enjoy a few heavy things -mostly food. I have enjoyed multi-week treks with a 30lb pack, but also 9 days with a 70lb pack. Ultimately, I'd say your fitness and attitude will have a much bigger impact on your enjoyment than the weight of your pack - as I'd guess you already understand.

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