I am just getting into backpacking and the concept of "Ultralight'

 I've done a lot of camping in the past, so I have all the heavy stuff. I've a limited budget, so most of my stuff is DIY or cheap bargain gear.

I am currently getting a hammock setup. I've some photos of my mis-adventures in my back yard.

In album Hammock Camping Tweaks

I like this setup. Easy up, easy down. pretty functional in the weather too.

I’ve even tested space blankets.

The little ones LOVE the hammock. It’s a lot of fun to hang out in.

I’ve done extensive research on sleeping gear.

I’ve spent the night in the woods with nothing more than a space blanket & really big mosquitoes. It sucked.

This is my older tent. It’s Huge. And Heavy – 47lbs. I could park a car inside if I could figure out how to get it through the door.

I own a couple of large tents. The kids love this one, it has a doggy door and play tunnel on the back side.

I’ve made my own under-quilts for hammocks. This one is a mylar space blanket and green bubble wrap. I’ve used it on single degree nights with a wool blanket on top of me in the hammock. I was cold, but I made it the night.

I’ve made and weighed my home made gear. This is a large tarp made out of window insulation film and duct tape. This tarp is my main shelter now when I go out.

I made a bathtub floor for sleeping on the ground if I was so inclined.

Space Blanket tarp made from 2 cheap blankets taped together and duct tape tie-outs. When used right, it can make the difference between a cold night and a really cold night.

Half a dozen tent stakes.

I’ve even weighed the bag. It was free, I will use it until I find something lighter for cheaper.

Under 4 lbs. for this shelter. Not great, but much better than the 47 lbs tent I hiked a mile into the woods once…

Taken during a ‘Blue Moon’. A clear roof means you can star gaze and stay dry. I turned on the flash so you can see the tarp.

Join the Conversation


  1. +Nick Peters Yeah, that's "Just Jeff's" website.  My first hammock was made with his plans.  I found the 9 1/2 ' length to be a bit short and strangely constricting width wise.  I then made a 10 1/2' long hammock adn found it to be much more comfortable and not as restricting even though the width on both hammocks are 60".

    Lot's of good info on that site though.

  2. see what i mean +Mike Creuzer … DEFINITELY watch  +Greg Brouelette's  video, there are TONS of tips like the one mentioned above.

    i'm a "bigger" person also, if i had followed the standard methods i would now be experiencing the issues greg mentions.

    in the meantime, +Nick Peters' point is SPOT ON … DIY stuff DOES work better; it just comes at the "price" of having to learn what is "better" for each person!

    getting to 25 pounds is personal, no two people have the same equipment list … fyi, my "personal" equipment list is in this discussion group near the beginning of posts, enjoy and awesome seeing you include your son in the fun 😉

  3. +Jeff Bond said "getting to 25 pounds is personal". 

    You mean total weight not base weight right?  Right now, with bear canister and bear spray, my base weight is about 15 pounds.  Without it would be about 12.  A 2 night trip  with food, fuel (damn canister stove because of the fire restrictions) and water I'm at about 23 pounds when I carry 2 liters of water.  If I can go with my alcohol stove in the Spring then I can knock another half pound off of that.

  4. i did mean base weight +Greg Brouelette … i carry repair items, and miscellaneous gear others might consider optional.

    i've assisted "ultralight" hikers unprepared for conditions they didn't expect, and weren't prepared for … when i leave, i am 100% confident i can handle ANY conditions including snow, for a period of up to a week … since i pack in VERY remote areas, getting caught off-guard is something i simply cannot afford.

    but it definitely is a "personal" decision, i have always erred on the side of safety when it comes to backpacking, regards, jeff

  5. I think I tend more towards Jeff's frame of mind, with a lot of repair items. I liked that photo Jeff posted a while back of his boot.

    But, it's in my nature to fix and tweak and such. So having bits of wire and duct tape and hot glue are comfort items for me.

    I am shooting for the sub 15lb for the 'core' base weight and maybe 20 with my extra bits.

    I see lots of great ideas here… it's just a matter of time and money.

  6. +Jeff Bond said "when i leave, i am 100% confident i can handle ANY conditions including snow, for a period of up to a week ."

    When I go I'm also 100% confident that I can handle whatever condition is likely to occur.  But if I'm going to the Sierras in August I won't prep for snow any more than I'd bring snowshoes to the Mojave. (I'm sure you wouldn't either).  And if I'd going for a weekend trip I won't prep for a possible week.   It's surprising how little gear you need to be prepared for anything, including a sudden snow storm.  If I was preparing for a week long snowshoe trip in the snow I "might" have a base weight around 20 pounds, maybe.  But it would be silly to pack like that for a weekend trip in the Sierras.  And believe me, I've been caught in thunderstorms in the Sierras in August and snow storms in Yellowstone in June so I've experienced what could happen.

    My friend Erin is about 1 week from finishing up the Continental Divide Trail.  She's had to deal with the heat of New Mexico, the snow of Colorado, the heat and scarce water of the Continental plateau, the forest and Grizzly bears of Yellowstone, and now the mountains of the Bob Marshall wilderness and Glacier Nat. Park.   She's been in barren desert and 13,000 foot peaks and has handled all of it with the same gear.  Her final base weight for the entire 4 and a half month trip is under 13 pounds. 

    Now that I'm in the 11 to 13 pound base weight range I honestly don't know what else I would need that would essentially double my pack weight PROVIDED I'm using my new, lighter, better quality gear.   My old gear setup had a 4.5# Kelty pack, a 5.5# sleeping bag, a 5# tent, a 2.5# Thermarest pad, and a 2# stove and cook kit.  With that gear then yes, I could end up with a 25# base weight.  But with the new gear available today you don't lose any comfort or safety while carrying roughly half the weight.  My old 5.5# 15 degree synthetic fill sleeping was great.  But now my entire shelter and sleeping system weighs just under 6# and is also rated at 15 degrees.

    I'm just saying that it can be done and you don't have to lose any comfort, safety, or preparedness.  And boy, the difference in your energy level, comfort, and overall happiness on the trail between a 12 pound base weight and a 15 pound base weight is huge.

  7. 1. north face superlight down sleeping bag 0 deg. (3 lb 5 oz)
    2. exped synmat ul7 inflatible sleep pad, r-3 rating (1lb 8 oz)
    3. golite convertible rain poncho/tarp shelter (7 oz)
    4. msr minimalist bivy sack (15 oz)
    = 6 lbs. 3 oz. (super good to -10F)

    i'm not too bad with my shelter +Greg Brouelette … its just all the extra garbage i carry 😉

    and i REALLY like your hammock … a whole lot!

    keep the super-light comments coming, they're a great part of the discussion … and please let me know if you would like to moderate the new SuperLight Sub-Catagory, regards, jeff

  8. +Jeff Bond Oh My Gosh, I'm nowhere superlight.  Even "Ultra-light" is defined as 10 pounds or under and I'm not even there.  SUL or Super Ultra Light is under 7 pounds.

    I would say that your down sleeping bag may be a bit heavy and a bit of overkill for 3 season. There are 20 degree bags in the 2 pound range.  The sleeping pad can be swapped out for a Thermarest Neoair XLite where even the large/long version is only 1 pound.  The smaller versions are less than that.

    However, the Klymit’s X Frame is only 9 ounces and can fit inside your sleeping bag.  I has gaps in the pad which allow the insulation underneath you in your sleeping bag to fluff up and give you some warmth. Usually the insulation you're compressing under you is just extra weight which doesn't keep you warm.  That's why people are moving towards down quilts.

    I got really lucky with my quilt.  It's about a 15 degree quilt and it only weighs 1# 10 ounces.  I'm going to stop by REI tonight and get the NeoAir pad while it's on sale.  Then I'll add a Contrail tarp tent and I'll have a shelter/sleeping system that weighs about 4 pounds.

    The hammock is great, but it takes some getting use to.  And it's not functional in the desert or above tree line.

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