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Mark "SlowBro" Hurd
Begins: Jun 28, 2019
Date: Fri, Jan 4th, 2019
Entry Visits: 93
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Surprising Pack Choice
If you've read any of my blog posts over the last few years you know that I am an ultralight backpacking enthusiast. For the uninitiated, ultralight means a pack weight of 10 lbs or less. This would include the weight of shelter and sleep systems, pack, and all other gear without counting consumables like food, fuel, and water. Now, I have rarely attained that 10 lb or less weight. Last year before starting the CDT, I did shave off enough from my kit to qualify as ultralight. But, I will say, at some personal cost. The pack I used only weighed 15 oz and was ment for ultralight loads. It had a minimal hip belt and was not very comfortable with some of the water heavy loads I had to carry in the desert. I soldiered on, because that is what you do, but my hips and shoulders were always talking to me. Shouting some days. And remember, on these long trails, walking with a pack on your back is pretty much all you do everyday for weeks at a time. It's your job.
Now there is a school of thought about backpacks that goes something like this: If the pack is built to carry heavy loads comfortably and you are going to be carrying heavy loads, then it may be worth considering even if the pack itself is heavier. That is: comfort may trump weight for long hauls. This makes some sense and this season I have thought about it a lot.
Even though I consider myself a light weight (under 15 lb base weight) to ultralight backpacker, and my base weight is consistent with that, the reality is that my load is usually in the 25-35 lb range. That is because of the consumables. Food for 5 days is usually about 11 lb. Add a pound for fuel, bug spray, toilet paper, etc. and water at roughly 8 lb per gallon and it starts adding up.
Low base weights for a backpacking kit still help, a lot. Fifteen years ago my base weight was about 25 lbs. before consumables. So my fully loaded pack would weigh in at 40-50 lbs. Knocking 15 lbs from my pack is a noticeable change, and in a good way. My 15 oz backpack of last year was not really up to the task I gave it. It was designed for much lighter loads, so it had pretty much self destructed by the time I pulled into Grand Lake and finished for the year. Which brings me to my new pack.
I've decided to give the ULA Circuit pack a try. Unlike last year, this pack weighs in at a whopping 41 oz. Stripping out a couple of unnecessary add-ons, I got it down to 37 oz, still more than double last years pack. It is rated at 35 lbs,, and that is a very comfortable load in this pack. Weight transfer and solid comfort are the hallmarks of this bag and during the couple trips I've used it on it has carried very well. I will continue to train with it and see how I like it over the longer term, but right now I'm liking it.
In the end, this will kick my base weight back up in the 11 lb range which is still lighter than all my trips except last years. But I'm pretty sure the extra weight will be offset by the increased comfort. And my hips and shoulders will finally stop talking to me!
Until next week -Happy Trails
SlowBro's Continental Divide Trail Journey
"I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days." -Daniel Boone
"The Journey IS The Reward" -SlowBro
"If you feel like quitting, just keep walking." -Gypsy Spirit
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