Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lightening the Load

I started out on the PCT with a baseweight (all nonconsumables in pack) of about 12 pounds. After two packages sent home from Warner Springs and Big Bear City, I'm down to around 8. There is a big difference between 8 and 12 lbs. 8 means that most of the time I'm carrying a pack that's under 20 lbs with food and water; 12 means that most of the time it weighs over 20. Less than 20 lbs feels like a light load on the back. With my packweight down to the minimum, there's also a lot more room for food in my 40 liter pack. Here's a list of what I've sent home and the rationale for it:

  • Hammock and bug-net. Alas, I decided to abandon this because of warmth and weight issues. With so much wind on the PCT, it is sometimes hard to keep warm in the hammock at even 45 degrees. To be warm and truly comfortable I feel like I'd need an underquilt, which would add quite a bit of weight to my system. The allure of dropping my baseweight and freeing up space in my pack was also a major factor.
  • Warm merino wool socks from Darn Tough. Unnecessary. Target/Walmart nylon dress socks rule.
  • Thin Gossamer Gear torso pad. Unnecessary once the hammock is gone.
  • Ball-point pen. Already got one on my Victorinox Classic knife.
  • Whistle with compass and thermometer. Got most of that on my watch.
  • Montbell UL down vest. Weighs just 6 oz, but I can easily get by without this. Heat is the problem out here, not cold.
  • Caldera Cone alcohol stove with plastic container. I like the stove, but I don't need hot food so often to justify the additional half pound to a pound (when the weight of fuel is included).
  • MSR Titan pot with pot cozy. With the stove gone, now I can switch to the lighter and slightly larger (and more convenient) K-Mart grease pot. If I must boil water, I can build a small fire.
  • Possum Down gloves. Cold is not a problem. Might get these back in the Sierra.
  • Mountain Laurel Designs rain mitts. Might get these back in the Sierra.
  • Cuben fiber poncho-tarp with tie-outs and stakes. There will be no sustained precipitation between here and the Sierra. If there happens to be a brief shower, I can get through it with my umbrella, etc. Will get this back in Kennedy Meadows.
  • ADZPCTKO bandana. Not absorbant enough to be used as a towel. Not as good as a sponge for washing. Only good for hitchhiking (says "Hiker to Town" and "Hiker to Trail" on it).
  • DEET. Will get back in the Sierra Nevada. Bugs not a significant problem now.
  • Some first-aid supplies. You know those things you've carried with you on your last 100 backpacking trips and never used? I kept the ones that have >50% chance of actually being used.

And I had two items mailed to me: my lighter pot and a bivy sack from Titanium Goat that weighs about 7 oz. That's my wind and bug protection.

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