Monday, January 15, 2007

Gearing up for lightweight backpacking

I've been researching backpacking, specifically lightweight backpacking, because I want to try to make it a better couples activity. Also, after almost dropping dead chasing the Trout Unlimited guys (15 years older than me) last summer with my giant boots and cargo pack, I need a better option.

I've been reading up on it in a new book, Lightweight Backpacking and Camping from Beartooth Mountain Press. What have I learned so far?

  • Taking a pound off of your boots is equivalent to taking five off your pack.
  • Specialized hiking insoles make a difference.
  • Wet feet aren't necessarily unhappy feet (as long as it's not winter).
  • Trail shoes beat high-top, heavy leather stompers.

    I've got more to learn -- I'm only halfway through the book -- but so far the pearls of wisdom are worth the $25 cover price.

    At the end of the day today I headed out to Spencer's Butte. The park was actually locked down. There were cars lined up all down the road. If I had to guess, they closed the park because it was so icy. It wasn't immediately apparent, but once you got past the point of no return, the trail was so slick, you had to drag yourself up the rest of the way.

    From MattStansberry

    Once you got to the top though, the view was awesome. The Cascades were lit up bright white in the setting sun. The valleys to the West were covered in fog and shadows. It was amazing. Don't take my word for it. Check the pics.

    From MattStansberry

    One nasty byproduct of the ice was that people were taking off-trail paths to avoid super slick, packed trail snow and ice. And that resulted in torn up off-trail areas.

    Here is a list of the layers I was wearing (since I'm getting more technical about gear):
    Fleece lined cap
    Lightweight fleece LL Bean vest
    Ultra lightweight fleece top White Sierra
    Mountain hardware poly T-shirt
    Exofficio Nylon shorts
    Patagonia Expedition weight Capilene
    Wigwam merino wool, lite hiker (seconds $6.50)
    Sock liners
    Merrell Mesa Ventilator II
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