Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Hiking the Desert => Topic started by: Lynn on May 25, 2007, 09:55:12 PM

Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: Lynn on May 25, 2007, 09:55:12 PM
Does anybody have any suggestions for a new pack--light but with structure enought to carry three gallons (how much is that in Platypi?) of water?  Gear talk, I know.  I currently carry a 5-pound pack and then we add the water.  Whoa.  Are there any ultralight desert hikers out there--three day max?  What is your pack?  I don't think it can be done, litely, that is.  I want to be wrong.
Title: Water is Life
Post by: Undertaker on May 26, 2007, 08:48:36 AM
You have no way to pack lite at 8+ pounds per gallon of water, except to reduce the weight of everything else in the pack or cache and carry. Preplace water at some point near trail you are taking. I am not a lite packer but with the experience on this board you will most likely get some very good answers to your question.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: trtlrock on May 26, 2007, 09:22:15 AM
We do the ultralight thing pretty religiously, but you're running up against some more practical obstacles than just which pack to buy.  Even if you found a light pack with some rigidity, you can't fit 3 gallons of water PLUS all the food, clothing, etc.  There's simply not enough cubic inches available.

Even if you could, the total weight you'd be attempting to carry would be annoying at best, impossible at worst...that's the kind of thing that can cause a medical breakdown out on the trail.  Who wants to strain a foot, knee, ligament, back, etc when you're out on the Dodson, for instance.

Best idea by far is to get a light pack, embrace the ultralight methods, but ALSO invest the time necessary to drop caches of water, clothing & food so you're total pack weight can hover somewhere between 20-40lbs.

If you have a specific route you're thinking of let us know.  There's a lot of knowledge on this board with regards to where to drop caches...
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: trtlrock on May 26, 2007, 09:25:31 AM
FYI we did a 14-day, 130-mile, cross-country hike around the Chisos in February.  We dropped 17 caches in advance, and our pack weights never exceeded about 30lbs on any given day...it can definitely be done!

Trip report coming sometime in the next few weeks...months...ye ars  :roll:
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on May 26, 2007, 09:40:46 AM
Are you sure you need to carry 3 Gallons of water?  Unless your going into the Deadhorse Mtns or something there are almost always water sources available that you can filter or treat (during normal or wet conditions).    If your thinking about the Outer Mtn Loop I would cache water and goodies at Blue Creek but other than that there are not too many areas of the Park where water sources are more than 5-10 miles apart.  During drought you have to be a lot more careful but things are green and lush this year and it's been a fairly good rainfall year so far.  Let us know if you want specific trail info but why use ultralight gear if your going to be carrying 3 gallons of water past existing water sources anyway? ... TWWG
Title: It all depends
Post by: mule ears on May 26, 2007, 03:06:27 PM
I hike ultralight (desert base weight ~12 lbs.) but with 3 days water and food you will be looking for a pack that can handle around 40-45 lbs.  On our Dead Horse mtn. traverse I used a Mountainsmith Auspex (just over 3 lbs.) that carried that kind of weight very well.  

I have been using a 28 oz. SixMoons Designs Starlight, with stays, the past few years and it has the volume and can carry that kind of weight but not as comfortably.  

Many Pacific Crest Trail thru hikers (that includes a lot of desert hiking at first) are also using one of the ULA equipment packs (Catalyst or Circuit) which weigh between 2 and 3 lbs.

The beauty of the weight being in water is that it goes down quickly so if the pack is a bit uncomfortable the first day it will soon get within it's comfortable carrying range.

As the others have said, it all depends on the part of the park as there are a lot of springs and places to cache more water.  I am sure that dryer, who is on this list, would have some good ultralight pack suggestions too.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: 01ACRViper on May 27, 2007, 01:14:56 AM
just pile on the pounds and slow down your schedule, always worked for me :lol:
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: Al on May 27, 2007, 01:28:03 AM
I blew off the 6-volt lantern and spare battery many years ago.  Be sure you have enough stuff.  Treats on the trail are especially enjoyable.

Al
Title: Thanks for responses
Post by: Lynn on May 27, 2007, 08:11:12 PM
Thanks to all; I have no specific trail, other than all desert trails, in mind, but I do want a new pack.  I may advocate cache and carry, but I feel sooooo much better with major carrying.   I have checked out the Mountainsmith and the ULA sites, and the ULA Catalyst looks good.  Buying a new, lighter pack is confusing, but now I consider that caching itself may be even more so: caching and the knowledge of water sources other than Boot Springs would make a great pamphlet.  (You potential authors know who you are.)  Thanks again.  Maybe I should just go hike the bubbling brooks of the Ozarks and trade pounds for poison ivy.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: Roy on May 27, 2007, 08:34:07 PM
I bought a Mountainsmith Ghost pack a while back;  it comes with 100 oz. bladder and enough room for water/food/gear for a couple of nights, if you pack creatively.  Don't know if they still make that particular model.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: Big Bender on May 29, 2007, 11:42:45 PM
If you're interested in trying to go real lite, you may want to pick up a copy of a book Beyond Backpacking, Ray Jardine's Guide to Lightweight Hiking by Adventurelore Press at www.adventurelore.c om.  

Jardine has hiked the entire PCT, CDT, and the AT on numerous occasions and has some really good suggestions on hiking light.  His pack, even in winter, rarely goes over 20 pounds without water.

Jardine is best known for inventing Friends, a rock caming device used in rock climbing.

Geary
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: dryer on May 30, 2007, 07:13:10 AM
Visit this website for tons of ultralight backpacking clues:
www.backpacking.net
Go to "community" and surf the forums.  You'll learn techniques on how to shed pack pounds and hike more efficiently.

Lightweight packs....I use a GPV 4 by Gossamer Gear.  It has no frame or pads in the shoulders or hip belt.  Weighs 13 oz.  Your foam pad becomes your frame and your spare socks/clothing becomes your strap pads.  For 1-3 nighters I use a GoLite Day pack.  Again, well under a pound and just big enough.  I'm wearing the GPV 4 in the avatar pic to the left......

As far as desert hiking goes, as others have mentioned, cache your water if possible.  After you gain some hiking experience in BiBe, the 'gallon a day' mantra can be reduced somewhat.  Hiking the Outer Mountain Loop, I've never carried more than 6 liters of water at one time, but cached and purified along the way.  My pack weight was never more than 25 lbs. at it's heaviest....base weight around 12-13 lbs.   Little tricks like what season you choose to hike, hiking with an umbrella (permanent shade!), what time of day you hike, what you wear, what's on your feet, and what you eat, can effect what you must haul.   Going "ultralight" is a process you must work into over time.

Try and find a copy of Ray Jardine's book "Beyond Backpacking".  I believe it's out of print but it's a great place to start.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: RichardM on May 30, 2007, 09:01:21 AM
Quote from: "dryer"
hiking with an umbrella (permanent shade!)

So what kind of umbrella setup do you use?  Big golf umbrella carried in one hand?  One that clips on your pack frame (oh wait, yours doesn't have a frame)? Inquiring minds want to know....

"Oh I'm a lucky fella, I'm a lucky boy,
I've got a new umbrella, and it's me pride and joy!"
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: dryer on May 30, 2007, 01:32:34 PM
Quote from: "RichardM"
Quote from: "dryer"
hiking with an umbrella (permanent shade!)

So what kind of umbrella setup do you use?  Big golf umbrella carried in one hand?  One that clips on your pack frame (oh wait, yours doesn't have a frame)? Inquiring minds want to know....

"Oh I'm a lucky fella, I'm a lucky boy,
I've got a new umbrella, and it's me pride and joy!"


Per Ray Jardines book (above post) I took a standard, and cheap, one piece umbrella, and lightened it.  Basically removed the un-needed springs and brackets and put it all back together.  I've made a few of these things over the years.  It weights about 5 oz. and stores in my pack's outside web pockets when not in use.  Doubles as rain and sun shelter, and sometimes a tarp/shelter support.   AMAZING the difference hiking across the desert floor while in perpetual shade!  

Surf the Golite site and you'll find some ready made hiking umbrellas.  The "Dome", I think they call it.
http://www.golite.com/product/productdetail.aspx?p=AC0112&s=1
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: Big Bender on May 30, 2007, 06:38:39 PM
Dryer,

I haven't tried an umbrella yet, I know that Jardine swears by them.  Then again, I avoid BiBe in the summer.  Maybe I shouldn't.  Yes, an umbrellas could open up a whole new realm of misery..

Interesting, if there is any place an umbrella could come in handy, BiBe would be it.  Thanks for the links, Iíll check out some of the other web references.

Geary
Title: definitely getting the umbrella
Post by: Lynn on May 30, 2007, 06:49:12 PM
I have had the Jardine book for years, one of those "I wish I lived in your world" tomes, and, dryer, it seems like you do.   Good words: it is a process.  Five-pound pack to, what? 28 ounces?   Socks and sun pants for straps?  Can't wait.  The light backpacking website you gave (I've cruised it) will be of great help.  

Still, encouraged as I am now, I feel there is indeed a lack nationwide of adequate ultralite desert camping information in general.  I've checked the other guys, the John Annerino guys, the ever-great Craig Childs.  Am I wrong?  (dryer, could this be your niche, your tome?) Who else is there? (I await the caching pamphlet for Big Bend. Including the Dead Horse Mountains.  eh, Wild West Guy? )

We once met a fellow at Laguna Springs who was carrying 80 pounds.  I cannot, literally, be that guy.

By the by, anybody regularly use the coke-can/ cat-food can alcohol stove?  Scares me, but I am willing to try.

[And, hey, Roy--thanks for your response.  Long time. . . .]
Title: Re: definitely getting the umbrella
Post by: RichardM on May 30, 2007, 09:14:43 PM
Quote from: "Lynn"
By the by, anybody regularly use the coke-can/ cat-food can alcohol stove?  Scares me, but I am willing to try.

Did you see this one (http://thehikersforum.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=1989&g2_navId=x6d316ffe) over in this trip report (http://www.bigbendchat.com/viewtopic.php?p=35996#35996)?  The pyro in me would really enjoy fiddling around with these, but my wife wouldn't let me get it anywhere near the house.  :oops:
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: Big Bender on May 31, 2007, 12:08:57 AM
No, I haven't build one but I have a brass one that I used to carry in my pack when I was caving.  IT worked well to brew up a hot cup of tea in a cold cave when you're a long way from home.

When I went on a couple of trips into Lechagilla Cave in Carlsbad Caverns NP, we used to carry packs in the 15 to 19 pound range for a 72 hour stay in the cave.  This would include batteries, vertical caving gear, sleeping pad, light weight blanket, food, ropes, helmet, boots, knee pads, lightweight cook stove, survey gear, food, etc.  You wanted something very small and lightweight as there was a lot of climbing, crawling, rappelling and ascending to do.  The cave is relativley warm so you sweet like a pig.  There were a few places in the cave where you can get water and you didn't have to carry a tent or rain gear as it's constant temp and you know it isn't going to rain.  Did I also say that anything that you took in, you took out with you.  That includes all body wastes.  Nothing better than a bottle of liquid with a nice foam head on it.  You were real careful about what you opened up and drank from.  Just because it looks like gatorate or beer doesn't mean it is.   Also, most people ended up carrying out a cave burrito or at least something that looked like a burrito but smelled much worse.

The cave is over 110 miles of mapped passage and is over 1,500 feet deep with only one entrance.  It is a 3D maze.

The cavers have carried the lighweight equipment to an extreme, however, there is very little written on it.

Geary
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: mule ears on May 31, 2007, 06:57:13 AM
Lynn there is more information out there than one might think.  backpacking.net is a good site as well as the yahoo lightweight backpacking forum.  My favorite is backpackinglight.co m  parts of it are a pay site, to view certain articles, but the forums are open to anyone and many of the contributors are from the desert southwest including the just departed editor.

Some folks consider Ray Jardine to be a bit off the beam but he has some solid principles.  A more pratical/science based book is Lightweight Backpacking and Camping by Ryan Jordan.  There is also some of the books by Chris Townsend including his book on hiking the Arizona trail.  Finally while not particularly about lightweight matters is The Ultimate Desert Handbook by Mark Johnson

There are places in Big Bend and others where you just can't do caches and have to carry up to three days worth of water like the Deadhorse Mountains or the Mesa de Anguila, if a dry year, but having as light a pack as possible will allow you to make it happen.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: mountaindocdanny on May 31, 2007, 11:50:12 AM
Part of going light weight is learning to do without. In winter I skip the tent in the Bend (unless rain/snow is forecasted). No bugs or nocturnal reptiles to worry about. I carry a small tarp I can throw over myself if it were to rain. I also skip the stove and carry foods that don't need to be cooked or can be reconstituted cold. Skipping the tent and cook kit tranlates into an extra gallon of water I can carry without changing my pack weight. That being said, my pack weight for a 4 day solo trip carrying my water translates to about 55 lbs.
Title: Re: definitely getting the umbrella
Post by: dryer on May 31, 2007, 10:59:22 PM
Quote from: "Lynn"

By the by, anybody regularly use the coke-can/ cat-food can alcohol stove?  Scares me, but I am willing to try.

[And, hey, Roy--thanks for your response.  Long time. . . .]


Lynn, go back to that website, www.backpacking.net, then go to the "make your own gear" department, scroll down to "stoves" then to "Altoids" stove.  That's my design.  I've tried most of the homemade  alcohol stoves and  that one works best for me.
http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html
I'm a moderator on that site by the way, so if you have any questions, fire away!

As of the last few years, I don't much carry stoves in the back country anymore.  Instead, I use 'cook fires' which are simply tiny little fires (the diameter of your pot base) that if done right , leave no trace.  In BiBe, you can't legally burn deadfall, so alcohol or Esbit tabs will do the cooking, if I cook at all....many trips won't involve fire.   Esbit, by far, is more effiecient.   Other places, cook fires rule and eliminate yet more ounces from the pack.   I've been hiking Big Bend twice a year since 1974, so desert hiking, at least there, has become quite comfy.
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: TheWildWestGuy on June 01, 2007, 07:15:20 AM
I just can't live without luxury items and old favorites in the backcountry so my pack is usually over 50#.  But I carry a sturdy frame-pack with a comfortable hip belt and (unloaded) weigh "well over" 200# myself so it's different than a 130# woman carrying a 50# pack.
Some of the heavy items I refuse to leave behind are:
- Books to read before darkness falls (in alpenglow) or if caught and pinned down for a few hours by bad weather.  
- "First Need" water filter - heavy but worth it.
- Ancient Optimus 1-2-3 white gas stove (all metal very heavy but very durable).   As far as I can tell this was Optimus' first-generation backpacking stove from the 1970's.   With fuel bottle of course.
- Eureka 2-person tent, groundcloth, sleeping bag, etc..   I get the creeps being "exposed" without a tent and feel like I am going to wake up with my neck crushed in a lion's jaws or with a bite on the face by something stingy or venomous.   Besides it might rain or be really windy.

You might not be able to carry a 50# pack because of your lighter body weight, knee problems, etc.. but that's what hiking companions are for!   A favorite trail game is to try to sneak some rock or small metal object into your companions pack so they carry it around all day and never know it.   TWWG
Title: the Altoids stove
Post by: Lynn on June 05, 2007, 09:47:10 PM
dryer, TWWG, Mule Ears, et. al.--

The Altoids tin stove is amazing (went to the site--); I also get the base heat idea.

Thanks for the book titles.   Always the books.

I now have my answer to the desert lite quandary.  I figure I want to carry 24 lbs. o' water and nine pounds of everything else.  Not crazy.  I see the answer is Way.
Title: Oy! just one last thing--
Post by: Lynn on June 05, 2007, 10:11:56 PM
dryer, one last thing--

Did you mean that the Altoids stove was literally your own design?
Title: Re: Oy! just one last thing--
Post by: dryer on June 05, 2007, 11:36:40 PM
Quote from: "Lynn"
dryer, one last thing--

Did you mean that the Altoids stove was literally your own design?


Yes.  I developed and posted the idea.  That's my stove/pot you see boiling water in the pictures.    "Dryer Altoids Stove" is the title of the article.
Title: Re: definitely getting the umbrella
Post by: lighter fluid on June 07, 2007, 06:51:01 AM
Quote from: "dryer"
Quote from: "Lynn"

By the by, anybody regularly use the coke-can/ cat-food can alcohol stove?  Scares me, but I am willing to try.

[And, hey, Roy--thanks for your response.  Long time. . . .]


Lynn, go back to that website, www.backpacking.net, then go to the "make your own gear" department, scroll down to "stoves" then to "Altoids" stove.  That's my design.  I've tried most of the homemade  alcohol stoves and  that one works best for me.
http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html
I'm a moderator on that site by the way, so if you have any questions, fire away!

As of the last few years, I don't much carry stoves in the back country anymore.  Instead, I use 'cook fires' which are simply tiny little fires (the diameter of your pot base) that if done right , leave no trace.  In BiBe, you can't legally burn deadfall, so alcohol or Esbit tabs will do the cooking, if I cook at all....many trips won't involve fire.   Esbit, by far, is more effiecient.   Other places, cook fires rule and eliminate yet more ounces from the pack.   I've been hiking Big Bend twice a year since 1974, so desert hiking, at least there, has become quite comfy.


Dryer,
Nice altoid tin stove design. Very different from mine that Richard provided the link to. I like that you have created the hybrid of the Esbit stand while using Alcohol fuel in the tin. I am intrigued by the use of perlite. Does the perlite expand considerably during the burn process?
Can I assume you are using the screen to not only contain the perlite but to help supply an even flame across the burner as to avoid any hotspots?
Great design! I am going to have to try it.  :D
Title: Ultralite pack in the desert: Way/No way?
Post by: lighter fluid on June 07, 2007, 07:11:14 AM
Quote from: dryer
Visit this website for tons of ultralight backpacking clues:
www.backpacking.net
Go to "community" and surf the forums.  You'll learn techniques on how to shed pack pounds and hike more efficiently.

Lightweight packs....I use a GPV 4 by Gossamer Gear.  It has no frame or pads in the shoulders or hip belt.  Weighs 13 oz.  Your foam pad becomes your frame and your spare socks/clothing becomes your strap pads.  For 1-3 nighters I use a GoLite Day pack.  Again, well under a pound and just big enough.  I'm wearing the GPV 4 in the avatar pic to the left......

I will second the Gossamer Gear packs. I use a Mariposa Plus regularly.
Weighs in at around 20oz. That includes the carbon fiber stays that help a lot with rigidity and load transfer. It is a durable pack and is made for a bit more bushwacking than other Gosamer packs as 70 denier silnylon is used for the most part as opposed to spinnaker fabric. The shoulder straps are the widest I have seen and I find this very beneficial in distributing the weight across a wider swath of my shoulders and thus leaving me with less strain and fatigue. It is a very durable pack that will carry 30lbs comfortably when packed and used properly.

I recently ran it through some tests at Caprock Canyon, loading it with far more gear than usual and was thoroughly impressed.

http://www.thehikersforum.com/trip/view_trip.php?tripid=244&mode=view

There are also pics of the Mariposa Plus in use and Davy Crockett NF in this album:

http://www.thehikersforum.com/trip/view_trip.php?tripid=243&mode=view

As for my altoid stove that you saw in this link http://www.thehikersforum.com/gallery/image_comment.php?galid=1100%20&%20mode=view

and this one as well : http://www.thehikersforum.com/gallery/image_comment.php?galid=1085%20&%20mode=view
 
I am one of the owners and the moderators of
www.thehikersforum. com
If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email or PM me.

I hope this helps. Good luck Lynn  :cool:
Title: Re: definitely getting the umbrella
Post by: dryer on June 07, 2007, 10:04:43 PM
Quote from: "lighter fluid"
Quote from: "dryer"
Quote from: "Lynn"

By the by, anybody regularly use the coke-can/ cat-food can alcohol stove?  Scares me, but I am willing to try.

[And, hey, Roy--thanks for your response.  Long time. . . .]


Lynn, go back to that website, www.backpacking.net, then go to the "make your own gear" department, scroll down to "stoves" then to "Altoids" stove.  That's my design.  I've tried most of the homemade  alcohol stoves and  that one works best for me.
http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html
I'm a moderator on that site by the way, so if you have any questions, fire away!

As of the last few years, I don't much carry stoves in the back country anymore.  Instead, I use 'cook fires' which are simply tiny little fires (the diameter of your pot base) that if done right , leave no trace.  In BiBe, you can't legally burn deadfall, so alcohol or Esbit tabs will do the cooking, if I cook at all....many trips won't involve fire.   Esbit, by far, is more effiecient.   Other places, cook fires rule and eliminate yet more ounces from the pack.   I've been hiking Big Bend twice a year since 1974, so desert hiking, at least there, has become quite comfy.


Dryer,
Nice altoid tin stove design. Very different from mine that Richard provided the link to. I like that you have created the hybrid of the Esbit stand while using Alcohol fuel in the tin. I am intrigued by the use of perlite. Does the perlite expand considerably during the burn process?
Can I assume you are using the screen to not only contain the perlite but to help supply an even flame across the burner as to avoid any hotspots?
Great design! I am going to have to try it.  :D


The perlite is basically foamed glass.  It does nothing more than 1) wick the alcohol to the top and 2) get hot and help vaporize the fuel.   It doesn't swell at all.  I've also used 'rock wool' with pretty good results but perlite won over all.  
The screen keeps the perlite in place and yes, evens out the flame a bit.
I sometimes use it in an esbit frame and sometimes use it with three rocks or tarp stakes as pot supports.  If you're CAREFUL...you can squirt alcohol into the stove while it's lit for as long a burn time as you have fuel.   Nose spray bottles with the internal tube removed make great squirters.