Warmth and comfort can become everything when you’re out on the trail and find yourself in rapid cold-weather climate changes. If you’ve ever felt like you were freezing outside, then you know how important having the proper cold weather gear can be.
Being prepared for harsh weather conditions is the starting advice that any survivalist would give you. When you have the right gear, all weather conditions can be made comfortable.
That’s why it’s important to understand what you’re looking for in your gear, and plan for the worst, while hoping for the best, and packing your kit for both (lightly, of course). As the saying goes, “it’s better safe than sorry.”
In this HykLyt post, I’ll describe what to look for, and what the difference is, between gloves and mittens. It turns out, they aren’t only for cosmetic purposes.
Gloves vs. Mittens
Offering versatility and dexterity, gloves are a common pick when people shop for hand protection from the cold.
Offering more warmth, with less dexterity, mittens provide a “buddy-system” (finger to finger) insulation component for your hands, essentially locking in more heat for the harshest conditions.
Down vs Synthetic
Down gloves and mittens will be more breathable yet still stay very warm, the same way a down jacket works. Just don’t get them wet. Most down protective gear will come with a waterproof shell or system to keep them dry. Otherwise, they won’t hold any heat and actually work against you!
Synthetic fill is cheaper than the down version for gloves and mittens. Though synthetic fills are usually not high quality manufacturing and don’t hold up in the long run. These are better at staying dry without a cover, but some people tend to believe they aren’t very warm in comparison to down.
Gore-Tex vs Polar-Tec
You’ll want to find gloves or mittens with Polar-Tec or Gore-Tex if you’re looking for gear that’s fully impenetrable to water. There are other materials that can accomplish this task as well, but those two are the most common on the market and both are true to their word.
GoreTex is waterproof but still breathable. This technology is found in many different types of outdoor gear, from shoes to coats and many more. GoreTex is pricey, but worth the extra cost. It will keep moisture out of the glove while still allowing sweat to escape. a con to GoreTex is that it’s hot when you don’t want it to be. Although breathable in a one way valve system, it doesn’t allow for much penetration. If you are in the mountains and being rained on while it’s sunny, you’ll find yourself collecting a lot of sweat while attempting to stay dry. This is counterproductive at time.
PolarTec is less pricey but more breathable so will eventually “rainout” under heavy rain conditions. The pro to this material is it doesn’t overheat you because of the extra breathability.
To oversimplify, GoreTex when it’s cold and rainy/sleeting, and PolarTec when it’s warmer but rainy.
Keep this gear clean, as both tend to buildup dirt deposits over time.
Liner vs. Base vs. Shell
Liner gloves are great for 25-50 degree Fahrenheit weather. These can be worn year-round. Often found in wool or shearling, these can be stretchy and form-fitting. These typically are not waterproof.
Base gloves are great for temperatures less than 25 degrees Fahrenheit down to -30. These are usually waterproofed and can be worn layered with a liner for additional warmth, or work alone.
She’ll gloves are an improvement to either liner gloves or base gloves. These will increase insulation for either. They can also be worn as the third layer in your full glove system, if you prefer.
Leather vs. Polyester
Leather has been the primary water-resistant material that adapts for the weather conditions. Leather materials need proper care but will last a lifetime with the right amount of TLC.
Polyester, grouped with all other synthetics, unlike leather, are easier to care for, but not as durable. They are, however, better at heat regulation, and cheaper than leather.
It’s a hikers paradise out there when it comes to gear selection. There are so many different brands and different materials to try out that there may never truly be a definitive answer to which are the ultimate “best”.
Let me know in the comments below if you have a favorite glove brand (mines Overland currently, but Hestra is wearing on me).
If you’re a part of the hiking community, then you have probably noticed that many hikers no longer go by their real-life name when they’re on the trail. Instead, they are referred to by a trail name.
A trail name is a nickname that a hiker uses to express a personality. Many people will dub themselves, but some may wait for a friend to point out a quality that makes for a good nickname.
That being said… trail names may be one of theonly times it’s okay to choose your own nickname.
If you read some of the PCT and Appalachian 2,600 Miler Club logs, you’ll come across various names. Some, better than others.
2,600 Miler Club
The 2,600 Miler Club is led by the organization that covers everything PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). It is here that you’ll find the log books (which are now online) of all of the hikers who have fully completed the trail.
The Pacific Crest Trail spans from the US/Mexico border to the US/Canada border and is a top to-do on my life bucket list. People spend years preparing for it as they have to be physically, financially and most of all, mentally prepared to complete this grueling adventure.
To achieve full credit for most 2,000+ mile thru-hikes you have to complete it within twelve months. It’s okay to do it section by section, as long as it’s completed within that timeframe.
Plenty Of Time To Think
You’re going to have a long while to think about it if you can’t come up with anything, just yet. Just look at the list of cities you’ll hike through if you follow the PCT:
This isn’t the longest of the hikes, either.
Campo (mile 1.4)
Lake Morena (mile 20)
Mount Laguna (mile 41.5)
Julian (mile 77.3)
Banner (mile 77.3)
Stagecoach Trail RV Park (mile 77.3)
Ranchita (mile 101.2)
Warner Springs (mile 109.5)
Holcomb Village (mile 111.3)
Anza (mile 151.9)
Paradise Valley Café (mile 151.9)
Hemet Lake Market (mile 168.6)
Idyllwild (mile 179.4) – depends on side trail
Cabazon (mile 209.5)
Banning (mile 209.5)
Big Bear Lake/Big Bear City (mile 266.1)
Fawnskin (mile 227.6)
Cajon Junction (mile 342)
Wrightwood (mile 369.4)
Crystal Lake Cafe and Store (mile 383.5)
Acton KOA (mile 444.3)
Acton (mile 444.3)
Agua Dulce (mile 454.5)
Green Valley (mile 478.2)
Lake Hughes (mile 485.7)
Hikertown/Neenach/Wee Vill (mile 517.6)
Mojave (mile 566.4)
Tehachapi (mile 566.4)
Lake Isabella (mile 652)
Inyokern (mile 652)
Ridgecrest (mile 652)
Kennedy Meadows South (mile 702.2)
Lone Pine (mile 744.5) – depends on side trail
Independence (mile 789.1)
Bishop (mile 789.1) – depends on side trail
Muir Trail Ranch (mile 857.7)
Vermilion Valley Resort (mile 874.5)
Red’s Meadow (mile 906.6)
Mammoth Lakes (mile 906.6) – depends on side trail
Tuolumne Meadows (mile 942.5)
Bridgeport (mile 1016.9)
Kennedy Meadows North (mile 1016.9)
Markleeville (mile 1048.4)
Kirkwood (mile 1076.5)
Meyers and South Lake Tahoe (mile 1090.8)
Echo Lake (mile 1092.3)
Olympic Village (mile 1135.5)
Donner Ski Ranch (mile 1153.4)
Soda Springs (mile 1153.4)
Truckee (mile 1153.4)
Sierra City (mile 1195.4)
Graeagle via Gold Lake (mile 1211.6)
La Porte (mile 1234.8)
Bucks Lake and Lake Shore Resort/Haskens Store (mile 1263.5)
Quincy (mile 1267.9)
Belden and Caribou Crossroads (mile 1286.8)
Chester (mile 1331.1)
Drakesbad Guest Ranch (mile 1350.1)
Old Station (mile 1373.5)
Burney (mile 1411.3)
Fall River Mills (mile 1411.3)
Burney Falls State Park (mile 1419)
Castella (mile 1501.1)
Dunsmuir (mile 1501.1)
Mt Shasta (mile 1501.1)
Callahan (mile 1560.2)
Etna (mile 1599.7)
Seiad Valley (mile 1655.9)
Callahan’s Lodge (mile 1718.7)
Ashland (mile 1718.7)
Hyatt Lake Resort (mile 1742.7)
Fish Lake Resort (mile 1773.4)
Mazama Village at Crater Lake (mile 1821.7)
Shelter Cove Resort (mile 1906.6)
Elk Lake Resort (mile 1952.6)
Sisters (mile 1983.8)
Bend (mile 1983.8)
Big Lake Youth Camp (mile 1995.1)
Olallie Lake Resort (mile 2045.6)
Government Camp (mile 2086.5)
Timberline Lodge (mile 2097)
Cascade Locks (mile 2146.7)
Stevenson (mile 2147.2)
Trout Lake (mile 2228.9)
White Pass (mile 2294.9)
Snoqualmie Pass (mile 2393.1)
Steven’s Pass Resort (mile 2464.1)
Skykomish (mile 2464.1)
Stehekin (mile 2571.9)
Mazama (mile 2591.1)
Manning Park Resort (mile 2650+)
The Hard Part
Even though you’ve got along time to hike…
Most trail names are chosen on the first day of your thru-hike. This way, you can introduce yourself to the other hikers you come across on your trek.
What Do You Want To Be Known For
So, start up the self-assessment and come up with that perfect name!
Terrain association is a comparison of what you can see in real life and matching that with your map. The best terrain association develops when you’re able to locate specific ridges and mountain tops on your map thanks to what are called topographic maps .
With a topographic map you’ll be able to triangulate your location rather easily; simply by finding the largest landmarks around you. A tall rock formation, a tree line, or a riverbed can help you determine which way you need to go.
Topographic maps add contour lines where a regular atlas does not. You’re able to quickly find hotspot locations thanks to how much easier it is to follow the pathing when curvature and depth have been added to a map, unlike the paper maps you’ll come across at every travel center.
There will be multiple colors for different contour lines. These colors will represent a different level of “steepness” and when you have more than one contour line following the same path you can expect a very steep ridge.
Check the map legend for elevation measurements on contour lines.
After having a topographic map, you’ll see that your compass apps are a bit lackluster in comparison. There are apps such as AllTrails Pro that have some topographic features built into it, but those cost a subscription to continue to utilize.
So, How Do You Perform Land Navigation?
In its truest form, land navigation is done with a protractor tool, a 1:25,000 full color topographic map, and a compass that doesn’t stick.
The protractor would be used to encapsulate a radius and that radius would be laid out multiple times, plotting the landmarks along the way, until you reach your destination.
However, for the hiker’s land nav, all you need to do is practice your pace, and familiarize yourself with the direction you’re wanting to travel.
Practicing Your Pace
You’ll want to have a full understanding of how far your pace gets you while hiking. For many, 100 steps is equal to one Klik, or kilometer. A kilometer is also equal to a little over half a mile (0.62 mile/3280 feet).
How do you tell when you’re planning a klik off of eyesight alone?
When you are in the wilderness, a klik is usually going to be what you can clearly see along your horizon. Not the furthest back on the horizon, but the closest horizon object you can make out without any problem. On a clear day, with nothing blocking your view, a person can clearly see roughly 3 miles. So, if you are on flat ground and can see all the way to the curvature of your horizon line, then divide that out by six and there’s your klik!
Remember that terrain will affect your pace. It takes, on average, 100 steps to reach a kilometer on flat land, but if you’re heading uphill you can count on 120 steps, and if you’re heading downhill, you can reduce it to 90 steps.
Plotting Your Kliks
After you have a good understanding of what your pace looks like you can use the legend on your map to estimate how far your destination is, and how many kliks you will be trekking. The map-key should have a mile or half mile stretch measured on the legend of the map.
Use those half mile stretches to get a base understanding of which landmarks you should be able to see at each klik plot point. Then plot the point at these landmarks.
If you travel your first kilometer and reach your landmark, then check the horizon for your next landmark, rinse and repeat, then you’ve now learned how to Land Nav!
The Best Land Nav Checkpoints
You’re going to do a lot better with your land navigation skills if you learn to seek out the best plot points on your map.
The best land nav checkpoints are going to be rivers & streams, ridges, valleys, roads, trail crossings and railroads.
The second best land nav checkpoints will be elevation changes such as hills, cliffs, and spurs.
Now That You Are Ready To Practice Your Land Nav Skills
Keep in mind that you should have tie-offs in your pack. For survival purposes, if you are using land nav to get to safety, or find a source of water, use tie-offs on tree branches every few hundred feet to help guide your way back, if needed.
If you’re just out exploring and going for a trek, remember that the best thing for the great outdoors, is to leave no trace!
This post is for those who are already familiar with ultralight hiking and want to make changes to their pack to trek even lighter. I’m excited to share this post because this is what HykLyt is all about. Innovative gear design is the backbone of the HykLyt brand. For those thru-hikers out there who constantly want to hike lighter, I plan to launch our own items that are made with minimalist designs in mind that are not only lighter than what the market currently offers, but also eco and budget friendly.
Good clothing for your thru-hike is step number one. Here’s the crazy part: pack ONE set of hiking clothes, one set of sleepwear and one set of cold-weather thermals… and that’s it. You’d be surprised how much weight you can remove from your pack by doing away with all of the extra clothing you’re trying to bring along.
Alternate the clothing as you would on a normal day at home, day clothes for the daytime, night clothes for bed time. Except this time, choose your alternation wisely. One thing about hiking light is that you have to hike smart. Let’s give an example of hiking smart when you only have two pairs of clothes to alternate if it’s not cold out (remember, thermals are your third set, but only to be worn underneath your ONE hike set or your ONE sleep set).
Example: If the evening is approaching and you only have another two hours of daylight, swap clothing. Wash the day set with unscented cleaner. Use little amounts of water to rinse the clothes. Then, hang the set on the back of your pack to dry while you slow your hike down on a cooldown as not to sweat in your sleepwear, keeping your night set dry and warm. In the morning, swap back to your day set. Also, you can save weight and skip the cleaner altogether. Water streams work wonders.
Quilts can save you more weight. Many people start out hiking with mummy-shaped bags with degree ratings lower than the weather that’s anticipated. That’s exactly what they should do.
Though mummy bags can be very comforting, they are by far the lightest option for overnight warmth. This tip is not to be taken lightly, I only recommended swapping to quilts if you know the weather you face, and are an experienced hiker with the knowledge to warm up via friction or fire making techniques if the weather drops quickly without warning, which can very well happen when you find yourself in the mountains.
Quilts are super comfortable and lightweight, but do not retain the heat a mummy bag can simply due to heat escaping from the top of your head. Take this into consideration if you choose to “quilt” instead of “bag”. A beanie is a good idea in case extra heat retainment ends up being needed.
Swapping your sleeping bag out to a lightweight quilt will save you a good amount of weight. In recent surveys of thru-hiker experiences, many are opting to bring a quilt instead of a sleeping bag.
Thru-Hike Sleeping Mats
Preferably, you’ll be carrying an ultralight foam cell sleeping mat on your bag. The air up mats may be a bit more comfortable than the foam cells that can sometimes feel rigid, but the foam cells are usually always lighter weight unless you’re venturing into the more costly ones like Klymits or Thermarest. as a budget friendly option, Nemo switchbacks are only around $50. If you do use an air up mat, leave the pump at home and breathe your way to inflation. Either of these options are both viable ways to cut down on your pack out weight.
Want an insider tip for foam cell mats to make it even lighter? Cut 1/3 of the foam cell mat off. You read that right. You most likely won’t notice much difference from your legs no longer being on the mat. Primarily, if you keep your upper torso on your sleep mat, then you’re getting it’s use as your hips, back and head are the heaviest pressure points.
Thru-Hike Water Storage
One of the most popular brands of lifestraw squeeze tops are the Sawyer Squeeze tops. If you’re into thru-hiking you may already know this one, but I’m going to jot it down here just to cover all of our bases.
The Sawyer Squeeze top filters fit perfectly on a one liter Smartwater bottle. Don’t be surprised if you come across die-hard thru-hike enthusiast who do not carry a 3L water bladder with them. Not only are those super heavy, but take up precious space. Get yourself two one liter Smartwater bottles and fill the empty one every time you pass water sources. While setting up your sleep area, take the time to make sure both water bottles are filled.
You should be sleeping near a water source to be able to fill both for the night and to start your morning. Remember, you need at least a liter of water for every two hours spent hiking, and that’s on a ration. Don’t catch yourself straying too far from a water source for too long. This tip is not for beginner hikers! Take your bladder if you’re new to hiking!
Thru-Hike Rain Gear
My wife and I found ourselves battling the option of heavy duty rain gear in comparison to lightweight rain gear.
One one hand you have heavy gear but it provides warmth. On the other hand you have very little weighted gear but it is nearly breathable and the wind cuts right through it.
I recommend investing in ultralight weight non-breathable rain gear. Something made with impregnated silnylon will do wonders for warmth and rain protection. Adding to this, grab a lightweight rain cover for your pack. You don’t want to risk getting all of your stuff wet if you’re pushing long distance.
Tents are one of those things that I consider to be of utmost importance. A good tent with good ventilation goes a long way, unless you like waking up in a puddle of water form moisture collecting on the inside walls of your tent. However, tents are often the heaviest portion of your kit. Even with an ultralight tent, you’re looking at around 2 to 3 pounds. Unless you’re able to purchase hyperlites which can run you upwards of 700 dollars!
To seriouslyreduce the weight in your pack, you can utilize a makeshift tent. To do so, find a cutout of impregnated silnylon (so it’s waterproof) that’s larger enough to circle you completely and still be raised in the center to cover you while sitting up. Then, use that cutout of fabric, a trekking pole, and six ultralight tent stakes. Voila! You now have an extremely light option for shelter.
Tents like this won’t provide a whole lot of cover, so it’s best to prepare for the elements if you choose this option as shelter. However, in favorable weather conditions, saving a couple of pounds out of your bag is huge in the ultralight world.
If your tent isn’t the heaviest thing in your bag, then it’s probably the bag itself that’s weighing you down. You can reduce your total weight by a great deal if you invest in a durable, but hyperlite bag.
A frameless bag is one of your best options when wanting to hike at the lightest weight possible. I recommend a Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack for this option, though, they are a bit costly.
This one will be short and sweet. Don’t go without a lightweight battery pack. You need the capability of charging Gaia GPS and your phone for downloaded map systems. These are getting lighter with new releases, so see what’s available on the market when you’re preparing. Do not risk your safety to shed a few ounces. This is one of the few times I’d tell you NOT to save weight.
Thru-Hike Final Thoughts
If you have taken these steps to lightening your pack, you’re probably amazed by how little your pack weighs in comparison to its prior state. Remember, sometimes lightening the load means sacrificing comforts and even safety measures. I strongly suggest slowly incorporating these tips into your thru-hiking routine. Just like HykLyt, take it One Step At A Time.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
A Beautiful Introduction
The sun is rising as you wake to the sound of elk calls just outside of your tent. Birds are singing in the trees as they watch for their early grub, and the soothing sounds of a fire crackle next to you while you warm up some morning coffee. You hear the ‘snap’ of a twig behind you as one of the most curious elk walks closer to your tent. The two of you exchange a moment of wonder. The aroma of coffee fills the air around you while the elk silently walks away to graze.
Instead of flying in for this trip, we decided to road-trip. When I travel by vehicle, I like to stay a night at a different location and rest up before arriving to my destination. That way, I feel refreshed and ready to explore as soon as I get there. I recommend staying somewhere within three hours of arrival. For our visit to the RMNP, my wife and I chose a small cabin with thousands of acres of solitude in Stratton, CO before finalizing our drive. This cabin was an old-fashioned farm house, very cozy, and surprisingly budget-friendly. It’s really only for a two-person stay (because it’s small), but if you’re looking for some time away from the rat-race, or the busy city life, this is your place. If you’d like to know more about how you can book this cabin, let me know in the comments.
In the morning, we completed the last 3 1/2 hours to Estes Park, CO (just outside of the national park). Mornings call for breakfast, so this is probably a good time to give you some insider tips on meal prep.
Meal-Prep of Champions
I don’t want to brag here, but I kind of have an amazing chef as my trail partner (my wife). She spent a lot of time planning an entire week of breakfast, lunch, dinner, after-hike snacks, and even electrolyte reserves. So, when it comes to fuel, I was never running on empty. The good news is that I get to share this meal prep plan with you, pro-hiker!
First, you’re going to need a cooler that seals well. We used an Igloo brand. So long as you’re replacing your ice each day, the cooler should keep these meals over the course of a week. Be sure to eat it in the order listed, though.
The best order to eat your foods will be color-coded. This should ensure you make it through your trip without having foods spoil.
Color for foods to eat first.
Color for foods to eat second.
Color for foods to eat third.
1) Over night oats with yogurt, almond butter, blueberries and granola
2) Eggs, bacon, orange juice, toast and jelly (cooked on a Coleman propane burner stove)
3) Bagels w/ cream cheese
Lunch or Brunch Menu
1) Egg salad sandwiches w/ chips
2) Tuna sandwiches and chips
1) Baby bell peppers with cream chz and everything bagel seasoning
4) Strawberries and chocolate
5) Graham crackers, marshmallows, hersheys
6) High Sugar Snacks (Luna, Cliff, Etc.)
1) Meatballs with rice
2) Broccoli sausage rice
3) Salmon w/ white rice and broccoli
4) Shepherds pie
5) Ramen & Neguri
6) Red beans and rice
Hydration and Electrolytes
2) Gatorade powder
For this, we grabbed a five gallon water and put it in the car to keep filling our Osprey bladders with. Then, anytime we needed mixing water for the powder we had it available.
Utensils You’ll Need
• Large Frying pan
• Plastic and metal forks
• Can opener
• Stove burner
• Small Propane x2
• Wet ones
• Trash bags
• Laundry detergent
• Dish soap
For the Table
• Table cloth
• Folding chairs
• Folding table
• Paper plates
• Paper Towels
For the Fire
• Fire starter sticks
• Lighter fluid
• Ice chest
• Frozen water bottles
• Tupperware and foil pack meals and ingredients
The Places To Stay
We ended up booking three different sites during the week, which gave us the chance to experience different areas of the park.
Glacier Basin Campground
If you enter the park, setup your tent, and decide you’re ready for a hike right away (like I did), then you’ll want to check out the Glacier Basin campground first. This is what we did and Glacier Basin has access to the main drive. From the drive, you can get to the entryways to all of the campsites. Take the drive slowly, there’s tons of great scenery along the way.
Bierstadt Lake Hike Path
From Glacier Basin, you can take the main corridor road down to the Glacier Basin Trailhead. It’s a nice trail, though heavily travelled. If you want to hike with less tourism vibe and more of the “get out there” feel, I recommend the trail pictures above instead. It’s the trailhead to Bierstadt Lake. It’s less travelled, gets you into that wilderness feel and if you go after 5pm on a weekday it’s unlikely you’ll run into more than two or three people. At the top, is one of the nicest mountain lakes in the park (in my opinion). It looks like a painting you’d want to hang on a wall. The clouds in the Rockies can really look airbrushed.
Aspenglen is such a great campground, but it’s even better if you get site 16 on B loop. 16B-loop is a “walk to” campsite. So, you park your car next to someone else’s car at 15B-loop, but then you walk a little into the brush to find your campsite (instead of it being near the road). This gave us a ton of privacy at our campsite, and the only thing to our north/west was the trees leading into the mountains. I highly recommend Aspenglen for a couple of reasons. The first being that the restroom is centrally located and not crowded. The next would be that everyone at this campsite has a little space in between their camp sites.
Timber Creek Campground
Where Aspenglen had space for campsites, Timber Creek made up the difference by packing as many people as possible into a small section. Where Aspenglen had a centrally located restroom that wasn’t crowded, Timber Creek had quite a walk to the bathroom and it was crowded; bc sometimes a line. I was sure I wasn’t going to recommend this site to anyone, but then, I woke up the following morning with wildlife surrounding us. Elk everywhere! They were peacefully grazing through the campsites. I don’t know if this is the norm for Timber Creek, but if it is, then yes, I would recommend the site to camp at.
If you’d rather stay outside of the park, such as in cabins or hotels, Estes Park has some wonderful view cabins.
Hygiene Items To Bring
To each their own, but here are some suggested items to bring:
• 8 Towels & 2 small towels
• 2 Small towels
• Body Soap & Loofah
• Shampoo & Conditioner
• Flossers & Mouthwash
• Toothbrush & Toothpaste
• Makeup if you need it
• Hair ties
• Hair brush
• Head band
• Ear plugs
• Shower caddies
• Period cup
• Standing pee device
Laundry & Showers
There’s a place called Village Laundry in Estes Park that offers $7 showers as well. Estes Park is super close to the national park entrance so we drove to Village Laundry when we needed to freshen up and/or run a wash on some clothes. Also, if they ask whether you want to use some of their towels or use your own, there’s no up-charge for you using theirs. This means you can dry off after your shower and still keep your personal towels clean for later use.
More Delicious Food in Estes Park
Estes Park offers a lot of tourist attractions, but this is the main one we went to and it was really fun to go down the slide. Behind the slide you’ll find a mini golf course and inflatable bumper water boats. If you have kids, this is a good place to visit. If you’re adults and still like to act like kids, this is a good place to visit.
Clothing You’ll Want To Bring
• Shower shoes
• 8 Outfits
• Hiking pants
• Warm clothes
• Camp shoes
• Day shoes
Comfort Items That Can Make Your Stay Even Better
• Chargers for phones & watches
• 2 Solar lamps
• Welcome mat (to wipe shoes on)
• Tent mat
• Solar string lights
• Picnic screen popup
• Ultralight rainfly for hammock
• Ultralight blanket
Medical Kit Items
• Medical Kit, Ultralight
• Hydrocortisone Cream
• Snake Bite Kit
• Bear Spray
Twin Sisters Peak
To send off our third day in the mountain we decided to do a “full send”. We decided to climb the Twin Sisters Peak. The first “difficult” rated hike of The Rocky Mountain National Park for us. Talk about a journey. To start, the elevation gain is 13,300 ft., and the air gets thin enough to starve out the trees. The tree line stops and the final climb is all rocks until you reach the very top, where there is a small patch of meadow grass. We lie there for a bit while warming up to the sunlight, but it was short lived as the 4th, and final, thunderstorm brewed overhead. We knew that was our queue to start heading down the mountain and so, we did.
That wraps up my blog post about what it’s like to hike in The Rocky Mountain National Park and How To Plan The Trip. I look forward to posting more quality content for you, pro-hiker! Please, remember to follow the blog and like the post if you enjoyed the read.
“When there’s snow on the ground, I like to pretend I’m walking on clouds.”
Backpacking, in many ways, is the ultimate adventure. It exposes you to everything Mother Nature has to offer. The elements don’t take your comfort into consideration, and storms can brew seemingly out of nowhere. Harsh conditions require the right amount of preparation, and at times, a lighter footstep.
After your first few day-hikes or overnights, you may realize that all of that gear, neatly packed away into your pack of choice, gets heavy. When everything in your pack weighs 1lb or more, you quickly find yourself with a 26+lb setup.
Some hikers, especially thru-hikers, find that saving ouncesenhances their experience on the trails. When your hike involves multiple overnights, and long distance traveling, it’s best to keep as much weight off of your feet as possible.
On any given day, a thru-hiker may complete 14 to 20 miles hiked!
For anyone interested in saving ounces, this post is for you. I will use base equipment (similar to many hikers’ starter gear), and compare its weight and cost to some of the top-of-the-line equipment that’s available. It’ll read a bit more like an analysis than my other articles, but I feel it will truly benefit new hikers who are interested in learning about how to upgrade their gear, while downgrading the weight they have to carry.
Cutting Your Ounces & Cost Comparison
It’s a loaded question, really. How much of your gear can you leave behind? Let’s be honest, we don’t want to leave any of our gear behind. Our gear keeps us safe, warm, and dry.
So why would you not take all of it?
Well, you can, in a lighter capacity. This is one of my favorite subjects when it comes to gearing. Upgrading!
I’ll break down the gear into a list format and then find ultralight-weight solutions to each piece individually:
One of the best ways to reduce weight from your pack is by reducing the pack weight itself. The bag I use on regular hikes is the Osprey Atmos AG 50, which weighs in at 4.5lbs.
4.5 pounds is not considered lightweight, but I love the bag and how well thought out it is for multi-day trips. The hyperlite bag pictured above would be my pick for serious elevation.
Backpack frames are one of the majority’s of your weight with new setups. Exchanging the Osprey Atmos 50 ($300.00) with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest ($355.00) would cost $55.00 extra and reduce weight by 2.5lbs.
Difference estimate = $55.00, saves 2.5lbs
I use a Hyke & Byke branded sleeping bag for usual outings. The brand makes a good quality bag, that’s durable, and very budget friendly. A Hyke & Byke “Quandary Down Sleeping Bag” weighs 2.24lbs whereas the Sea to Summit “Spark” weighs just 13.6 ounces. As for the pricing difference, the Hyke & Byke costs $155.00, whereas the Sea to Summit costs $359.00.
The cost starts adding up when seeking a fully ultralight setup, but if you do it, you’ll most likely never want to go back.
Difference estimate = $204.00, saves 0.5lbs
Rain jackets add close to a pound to your kit. The Patagonia “Torrentshell 3L”, for example, weighs in at 13.9 ounces; however, the Patagonia “Houdini” full-zip rain jacket sits at 3.7 ounces. This saves you about 3/4 a pound.
The great thing about ultralight rain jackets is in this department you can actually save money to go with ultralight options. That’s because many rain jackets are made with heavier materials and therefore require more output cost to create. The “Torrentshell 3L” costs $149.00 whilst the “Houdini” only runs $99.00. Remember though, with ultralight jackets there are more chances for it not to hold up in a heavy storm.
I suggest carrying both types of jackets. Though, that adds a pound.
Difference estimate = -$50.00, saves 0.75lb
Tents are usually your heaviest piece of equipment in your kit. In this example I’ll use a popular REI tent, the REI “Passage 2”. The weight for it is 5lb 10oz. This is a great tent if you don’t want to fork over the additional cost for an ultralight, but compared to the “Ultamid 2” (pictured above), it is quite heavy.
The cost difference is much higher in tent selections; with the REI “Passage 2” costing $169.00 compared to the HMG “Ultamid 2” costing $825.00.
This is a deal breaking budget for many, and if that’s the case, I say pick an in between.
The NEMO Aurora 3P is the best tent I’ve every had and the price is in between the other two tents I’ve discussed, coming in at $349.00.
Tents have a lot of different options. What materials were used? How many people does it sleep? Are they designed simply for survival or for comfort? All of these questions play into the weight of the tent. So be mindful when selecting.
For me, “the lighter the better”, but also that means a minimalistic campsite.
Difference estimate = $656.00, saves 4lbs
Odolands cookware set runs just $34.99 but weighs 1lb. This is actually lighter weight compared to other ultralight sets.
The MSR lightweight cook-set weighs 1lb 12oz. Also the MSR costs $85.00. So, I’ll just estimate on this one because there are plenty of cooking sets to choose from on the market. Let’s just go with a $0.00 change and reduces weight by 0.5lb.
Difference estimate = $0.00, saves 0.5lbs
Medical equipment is another piece of equipment that will vary. With a lot of different ones being lightweight and around the same pricing, you can’t really go wrong here. I prefer the one pictured above because it comes in a water-tight bag, keeping your emergency equipment dry.
For this, let’s zero out the difference altogether and come to a final tally for all gear changes.
Difference estimate = $0.00, 0.0lb
The final count for change of cost is $865.00 and it reduces your backpacking weight by 7.8lbs! Of course, these numbers vary greatly based on what gear you actually have; but, my hope is that this article provides a little insight into how to get your pack under 16lbs when fully packed out.
Ultralight = Ultra-minimalist.
If you’re like me and you want to reduce your weight even further, you can start browsing ultralight versions of all of your gear, including utensils, rainflys, hammocks, and more. Every little bit counts when you’re thru-hiking and have 1600 miles to complete (or more). Some, would rather save the money and learn to live with the extra weight in their bag, and there’s nothing wrong with that.