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498 Trail Sense -
All the Lightest Gear

Crossing a Creek with Pack

Yesterday, I was readying an old climbing pack for an upcoming trip. I used to carry the pack all the time; but I now use a smaller, lighter pack. It amazing to me how big the pack was. It was huge, carrying 52 liters; but it also has the capability to extend and carry even more. The pack made carrying non-essential things easy because it had too much room. It was not a good pack to use for practicing trail sense! Bigger is hardly ever better, when you are trying to carry a manageable load.

So what exactly do we carry or recommend for the pack-tent-sleeping gear to keep the total weight under nine pounds?

Packs for weekend trips - a versatile pack that can carry everything to a camp and then serve as a day pack for adventures in the area. (fifty liters or less in size, weighs less than three pounds)

What we use

Talon 44 - Ospreys great pack. We have used the pack for years and have found nothing better. It is light and small. The pack has a lot of extra straps; but they add to the versatility of the pack. (two pounds, six ounces)

What we like

Other good packs to consider are Granite Gear's Blaze packs, GoLite's Pinnacle, REI's Flash. There are many packs out there, but most weigh more than three pounds.

Packs for multi-day trips -a larger pack to carry the added food and fuel. All the other gear should remain close to the same. (sixty-five liters or less in size, weighs less than three and a half pounds)

What we use

Talon 44 - yes, it is the same as for weekend trips; we just try to pack better. We really like the pack!

What we like

Other good packs to consider are Osprey's Expo Series, Granite Gear's Blaze (again), GoLite's Odyssey or Quest. Most packs weigh much more than these.

Tents or Shelter - the lightest weight shelter is a silnet tarp, most weigh about a pound and easily sleep two. The lightest tents are once again made from silnet and are single wall designs. They are basically a tarp with an attached screen and floor. The tent needs to weigh less than four pound (assuming you are sharing the tent)

What we use

TarpTents' Double Rainbow - a fairly large tent for a small weight. It does have condensation issues when it is not vented. (two pounds, nine ounces )


Black Diamond's Megamid - the classic tarp circus tent. Can sleep four, three easily. It too has condensation issues - which seems to be the disadvantage of all lightweight tents. (two pounds, five ounces with the pole)

What we like

Other light tents to consider are MSR E-Wing (tarp), Big Agnes Seedhouse, North Face Sputnik 2, and Nemo Meta. With two people sharing the tent, the weight of the tent per person is great. All the tents considered weigh less than three pounds. Note: we also like the REI Quarter Dome; but it is not listed on their site, maybe an upgrade is in the works?

Sleeping Bag - a down bag is lighter than a synthetic bag; but it is also more expensive and needs to be handled carefully (to keep it dry at all time). There are good synthetic bags that weigh less than three pounds.

What we use

Western Mountaineering's Alder - a microfiber shell and and pound of down, makes for a warm semi-rectangular bag that we use as a quilt. (two pounds one ounce).

What we like

Other bags to consider - The North Face's Cat's Meow (the all time best selling sleeping bag and it keeps getting better), GoLite's RS bags (synthetic), all the Feathered Friends, Western Mountaineering, and Marmot bags. If I did not want to spend the money on a great down bag, I would buy a great synthetic instead.

Sleeping Pads - The sleeping bag provides cushion and insulation. Some can be weighty. Should weigh under 1 pound.

What we use

Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir - a lightweight pad that packs small, and gives good insulation and almost unbelievable comfort. (eleven ounces - average of the long and short sizes)

What we like

Other pads are Therm-a-Rest's Z-Lite (foam), Therm-a-Rest's ProLite, Therm-Rest's RidgeRest (foam)

Total Weight

Our total pack with the big three is actually - five pounds six ounces each.

Note: Lightweight gear is expensive. Choose the gear carefully and borrow or rent similar gear before buying. What is right for one reviewer or friendly advice giver might not be good for everyone.

Our Affiliates carry most of the gear mentioned above. Please click on their links from our sites. Thank you so much.

Happy all the lightest gear trails

Trail Sense


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