Ultralight packing

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

This summer I did the High Sierra Camps hike. 5 nights. My “trimmed down pack was 30 pounds. That included NO tent, NO stove, NO food. And I thought I was light. One of my mates was at 40 pounds. I guess us flatlanders tend to bring it all. That’s one of the reasons for doing Half Dome in one day and not hauling my stuff up to Little Yosemite Valley. So I read about a guy who has his backpacking gear down to 9 pounds. No typo – NINE pounds. His story could be all hype and I’m sure it was not verified by the United Nations, but he says he hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail to test his attempts at extreme minimalism. His name is Rod Johnson, 60, and he is the owner of Midwest Mountaineering of Minneapolis. I’ll give his list of the stuff he brought, but one clever idea is his self-invented VestPack — an eight-pocket shirt used to carry gear and food. He was a backpacker without a pack. I like the idea. 

 Next was a Bubble Wrap Sleeping Pad. I guess if you are careful you won’t pop the bubbles. Some things are obviously missing – like a bear proof canister. He didn’t succeed with his 9 pound goal but for a few  days and then got heavy at 15 pounds. Interesting. To read the whole story and comments on “Gear Junkie” click <HERE>.

His initial list:
VestPack = 12 oz
Western Mountaineering Highlite Sleeping Bag = 16 oz.
Bubble Wrap = 1 oz.
MontBell Sleeping Bag Cover Bivy Sack = 6.5 oz.
Two half-liter Disposable Bottles of water = 36.8 oz.
(Note: another half-liter of water was carried in pocket)
Patagonia Houdini Jacket = 3.5 oz.
MontBell Down Jacket = 5.4 oz.
Princeton Tec Scout Headlamp = 1.6 oz.
Personal Items = 1 oz.
Esbit fuel cubes = 1 oz.
Small Pop Can Stove = .1 oz.
Lighter = .5 oz.
Multiple freeze-dried dinner packs = 14 oz.
Ten Clif Bars = 22.5 oz.
Eric the Black’s PCT Atlas = 4 oz.
Merino wool socks = 1.5 oz.
Total = 7.97 pounds

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Off we go into the wild blue yonder, climbing high into the sun; Here they come zooming to meet our thunder, At ’em boys, Give ‘er the gun! Down we dive, spouting our flame from under. Off with one helluva roar! We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey! nothing’ll stop the U.S. Air Force!” – US Air Force theme song

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com





5 Responses to “Ultralight packing”

  1. Justin L Says:

    I got my pack down to 30 pounds for a 4 day backpack trip. 9 pounds sounds like a miserable time. I need things like a tent, i prefer the i can’t see the scary things at night, they can’t see me approach.

  2. mrhalfdome Says:

    I’m with you. Something about sleeping under the stars that freaks me also. Lions and tigers and bears – OH MY!

  3. Randy Says:

    His inovation and spirit impresses me, but it seems to me that that vest-pack could get very hot inside. It almost looks like one of those down vests. My day pack keeps off my back, but I still sweat in it. I’ve never been a minimalist myself. I would rather have things I “might need”, and I wouldn’t want to be hiking in glorified sneakers, but then again, I am not planning the full PCT anytime soon either.

  4. mrhalfdome Says:

    Good point. I also sweat like a swine. I pefer a fanny pack whenever I can. And I MUST carry my boombox on trips !! :>)

  5. Kathy Says:

    I am the “mate” with the 40 lb pack. I am not a backpacker, but a day hiker, so this was my first. My big learning is that everything backpackers say about ounces mattering is true. I would do some backpacking again with some adjustments, but my big learning is not only to think about what do I need, what should I have but hope I never need (10 essential stuff and first aid), and what can I let go of, but to even look at the weight of what I do take – ask Rick about my killer flashlight – next time either ultra light flashlight or headlight only!

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