Friday, August 14, 2009

the Wake Up Call (part 4) now I'm an ultralight hiker, I have this new ultralight backpack that only weighs 14 ounces, I've got it made! Right? Well, umm....not exactly. The pack fit great, since my wife pinned the straps in place before sewing. It is a custom fit for me. Loaded with 25 to 30 pounds of gear, it feels comfortable on my back, although after several miles my shoulders would start ache-ing. Therein lies the main consideration, something that I had to learn by hard experience. When you switch to an ultralight pack, most of the other gear items also have to switch to ultralight as well. I was using my ultralight backpack to carry most of my old items, most of which were heavy and bulky. The ultralight pack should be loaded with no more than 15 to 20 pounds to carry comfortably on your back. I was still loading up with 30 to 35 pounds, sometimes even 40 pounds. With only two straps and no hipbelt, this placed a very heavy load on the shoulders. Not only that, but I also experienced two failures of a strap, on separate hikes, and a complete rip of the backpanel from the main body of the pack on another hike. It really sucks to carry all your gear 7 miles back to the trailhead, loaded in a garbage bag that you carry out in front with your arms! It was a painful learning process, and subjected that backpack to an enormous amount of abuse that it was not designed for. Each time I have torn it up, my loving wife has patiently sewn it back together. But the failures taught me the hard lesson, that all my other gear has to change with the pack in order for the ultralight system to work as it should. Now the stage is set to talk about the next items in the Big Three triad of backpack, sleeping bag, and tent. In the next installment, I will discuss the creation of an ultralight sleeping *quilt* with specialty synthetic insulation, that weighs about 1 pound.

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