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Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking

Ray Jardine

0-9632359-3-1 2000



    * Slashes packweight down from 50-60 pounds to 8.5lbs (doesn't include food or water. "base packweight")
    * Main weight savings are
          o Tarp instead of tent
          o quilt for 2 people instead of individual sleeping bags
          o lightweight pack without frame or hipbelt instead of internal/external framepack
          o cookfire instead of stove
    * Can get Jardine designed gear from Golite.com
    * Phases of Packweight reduction
          o Phase 1: Concentrate on heavy items first
                + switching backpacks saves ~6 pounds
                + switching to tarptent saves ~4 pounds
          o Phase 2: Leave superfluous gear behind
                + extra gear is nice, but detracts from the wilderness experience
                + "Virtually every type of nutritious food an be cooked in a single, lidded pot, (or broiled or baked over an open cook-fire) and eaten with a spoon.
                + you don't need wardrobe variety in the wilderness. Bring what you need and wash it.
                + Leave gadgets (cd players, cell phones, machetes, etc) at home
          o Phase 3: Select the lightest and most functional
                + of the things you must bring, bring the lightest ones.
                + bring a small knife intsead of a Leatherman
                + because there are so many little things the small savings add up fractions of an oz at a time
          o Phase 4: Cut and whack
                + cut off any parts of products you don't need
                + trim maps to only the portion you need
                + cut the handles off toothbrushes
                + remove excess straps
                + cut off a portion of a bar of soap
          o Phase 5: Tabulate
                + create a spreadsheet and keep track of the weight of each item and the total pack weight
                + helps you see where you need to cut more weight
          o Phase 6: Reason and reject
                + Do I absolutely need it?
                + If you think you might need it someday on the hike, leave it at home (unless it is an emergency item)
          o Foodweight, Waterweight, and emergency item weight does not count. You must carry what you need.

Section 1: Equipment

The Backpack

    * Pack Size
          o total capacity should be at least 2600 cubic inches (3700 with an extension collar)
          o Measure pack volume by filling each compartment with packing peanuts. Don't jam them in. Then pour the peanuts into a cardboard box. Calculate the volume of the box that fits the peanuts. (length of box x width of box x height of peanuts in box)
    * You don't need frames or hipbelts if your gear is really light. This saves more weight on the pack.
    * Thumb loops. Loops on the shoulder straps to hook your thumbs in. This helps keep blood from pooling in the hands. can also use wrist loops
    * Don't use a sternum strap. It restricts breathing. A properly fitting pack won't need one.
    * Feel free to "prune" items from the pack itself. You can always sew straps, etc back on if you need them
    * Loading Sequence
          o Bulk of food into the bottom
          o Next is quilt/sleeping bag
          o Tarp/Tent
          o cookpoot and stove
          o spare clothing
          o on top are things you need on todays hike (warm clothes, food, waterfilter, map, compass, etc)
          o Fuel and waterbottles in outside pockets

The Tarp and Tent

    * Tents are generally too water tight for their own good. The body gives of several pounds of moisture during sleep and most of it gets trapped in the tent and condenses on the tent walls, and soaks clothing and sleeping gear.
    * Building an awning for your tent that allows the door to remain open can keep rain out and let moisture out as well. Sew it from lightweight silicon impregnated nylon.
    * The Jardine Tarp
          o made of silicon impregnated nylon. Measures 8ft 7in wide and nearly 9 feet long. Has beaks at either end to keep out rain and offers 69.75 square feet of living space. Weighs 16oz not counting stakes. Sleeps 2 easily, could accomodate 4 if it had to.
          o The beaks change shape depending on how you pitch the tarp. Pitch it low to keep out rain and wind, pitch it high for more room and lots of ventilation.
          o No floor. Use a ground clothe made from "space blanket" material and cut down to the right size
          o Warmer than tent because the air retains less water and therefore pulls away less heat
          o Can cook under the tarp in the rain
          o not meant for camping on snow. find snow free area under trees or at lower elevation
          o does not offer bug protection. Wear long clothes and use a bit of netting to cover head
          o has clothesline down center for dying clothes
          o see tarptent and Ray's book on how to make one at rayjardine.com

The Groundsheet and Pad

    * Groundsheet
          o Make a groundsheet from space blanket. They won't last forever but are very lightweight and inexpensive.
          o heavier, more durable option is the "All Weather Blanket" from Metallized products. Made of a four-layer laminate: one side is reflective silver, the other is ripstop nylon.
          o Cut the groundsheet so that it is 12" larger around than you and your partner are when you lay down. eg. 48" wide at the head, 34" at the foot, 7' long.
    * Pad
          o 3/8" thick foam pads
          o not good for snow camping
          o inflatable pads are comfier but far too heavy
          o pick sites that are not hardpan. The materials (grasses, leaves, etc) will soften the floor
          o cut the pad to fit just your torso eg. 36" long, 20" wide at the top, tapering to 17"
          o use a pillow made from clothes

The Quilt and Sleeping Bag

    * The Quilt
          o designed for two people. Lays over you just like a blanket on the bed.
          o basically an insulated blanket, just like one you would have at home
          o The foot pocket
                + at the bottom of the blanket. Zips up about a foot from the bottom of the blanket.
                + keeps the blanket from coming off the feet
    * Drying a quilt or sleeping bag
          o a damp bag will not be as warm
          o unzip the foot pocket for better drying
          o carry it wrapped around you while you hike
    * Preserving loft: putting a bag in a compression sack you lose ~10% of loft the first time and ~2% each time after that
    * effective temperature rating formula
          o ETR=100-(40*T), T= thickness in inches
          o eg, a 2 inch thick bag has an ETR of 20 degrees F

Remaining Equipment

    * Stove
          o open fire is obviously the lowest weight
          o Alcohol stove
                + burns at a lower temp than wood
                + burn quietly
                + lighter weight than other stoves
          o butane-propane stove
                + canisters are too heavy
          o gasoline, white gas, coleman fuel
                + noisy
                + must clean jets, bring a jet cleaning kit
                + one 11oz container should be enough for two people
    * Cookpot
          o a 1.5qt is fine for 1 person, 2qt for 2 people
          o use a lid, or aluminum foil, the efficiency (using less fuel) will make up for the added weight
          o use a wire bail, it is light weight
    * Cup, Bowl, Spoon
          o eat out of the cookpot
          o drink from cookpot
          o caarry one plastic spoon each. Permaware is a good brand
    * Waterbottle: pop bottles are cheap, light, and you can get new ones instead of cleaning them to avoid mold
    * Knife: Victorinox classic. has scissors and 1.25" blade. Weighs 0.8oz
    * The Tub
          o cut the top off a 2.5 gallon collapsible water jug.
          o collect & carry water
          o laundering clothes
          o bathing
          o weighs 2.8oz
    * Compass: basic map compass
    * Flashlight: one small flashlight, LED type
    * Journal: tear out pages, about 3 per day or as many as you use per day for each day of hiking between "refill stations"


    * Layering, layering, layering
    * Shell jacket and pants
          o single layer, light weight
          o made of nylon or polyester
          o wear for mosquito protection even while sleeping
    * Shirt, polyester (or nylon if polyester isn't available)
          o short sleeve
          o collar for sun neck protection
    * Shorts
          o shorts with some pockets
          o and shorts made from spandex to avoid chaffing
    * Socks
          o thin nylon, last a long time, easily laundered
          o socks, medium weight, wool-synthetic blend, wear over other socks and double up in cold
    * Shirt, thermal
          o long sleeve pullover
          o made from wicking fabric, polypropylene or Thermax
    * Pants, thermal
          o same as thermal shirt
    * Jacket, insulated or fleece
          o fleece is comfy, but heavy and doesn't pack down
    * Rain Parka, full length zipper
    * Umbrella
          o make mylar cover for top to block out sun
    * Mittens, fleece
    * Insulating hat
          o made of fleece or other synthetic
          o "bomber" hat
    * Skullcap
          o thermal fabric, used when bomber hat would be too warm
    * Wide brimmed sun hat
          o his is nylon taffeta
          o inserts wire ring around brim to keep it out of his face in the wind
    * Head net
          o made of no-see-um netting
    * Shell mittens & booties
          o made of shell material and worn in buggy conditions
          o wear booties at camp
    * Shower booties
          o made of coated nylon
          o protect from nasty stuff in showers at town
          o elastic around the top


    * with a lighter pack you can wear running shoes which are lighter and more comfortable
    * for kicking steps in snow you still need boots, shoes don't cut it
    * "I estimate that each 1 3/4 ounces removed from a shoe or boot (3 1/2 ounces for the pair) can add about a mile to a hiker's daily progress."
    * stiff soles place great demands on the calf muscles and tendons
    * with running shoes you have to be careful where you step
    * Shoe requirements
          o shoes should be 10.5 ounces each or less
          o ample tread
          o heel support
          o excellent cushioning
          o highly breathabl
    * Avoid these things in shoes
          o gas or liquid filled devices
          o stiff soles
          o foam linings
          o built-in elastic sock
    * cover all exposed stitching with quick setting epoxy to protect against abrasion on the outside of shoe
    * running shoes should last about 300-1000 miles
    * carry a spare pair of running shoes or lightweight sandal, place extra shoes in resupply boxes

Section 2: Hiking Considerations


    * drink more than you think you need
    * about 1 qt per hour is sufficient unless it is very hot

Stealth Camping

    * Drawbacks of traditional camp spots
          o compact ground
          o dished ground
          o dust, soot, dessicated stock manure
          o polluted surroundings
          o animals used to human food
    * Drawbacks of camping near water
          o insects
          o katabatic (cold) air
                + moving 20 to 30 feet up in elevation from a body of water can raise the temp 15-20 degrees F
    * Sleep on a gentle slope
          o keeps water from pooling
          o put your head down hill to keep blood from pooling in the feet
          o try laying down and see how it feels
          o if there is no slope, try to sleep on a rise
    * grass and leaf covered ground is softer, but more danger of catching fire

Physical Conditioning

    * If you plan to hike 2000 miles start training 5 months in advance
    * train on all terrains
    * train in all weather
    * keep training hikes fun
    * start out slow, add miles, then add weight

First Aid Supplies

    * Suggested kit
          o gelled ethyl ascohol (eg purrell)
          o avoid scented ones
    * antibacterial soap, small bar
    * betadine, for more serious cuts
    * antiseptic salve, eg campho phenique
    * antifungal solution
    * white adhesive tape
    * band-aids, steril gauze pads
    * spenco 2nd skin, one or two sheets, for blisters
    * tweezers
    * aspirin
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Page last modified on March 30, 2005, at 04:28 AM