Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My First Backpacking Trip...ever

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A little over a year ago, I started gaining interest in backpacking. I began talking to friends to see if anyone of them have backpacked before and discussed local trails, etc. A few weeks later, I was planning my first trip with my friend Paul whom I have met through a buddy of mine. He suggested that we do the Bear Creek Trail.  From the map below, do you see the blue path? Yep, that's the trail...a whopping 11 to 13 miles of multiple water crossings, rock hopping, pain, and self sanity assessments.

Photo Credit: 

I know you're thinking, "psshhh...13 miles? That's nothin'".  Well, this was my first EVER backpacking trip and I'm not as fit anymore.  Not to mention, I had a 50 lb pack to begin with because I didn't know any better and decided to bring everything without thinking each item through.  This is me just a few miles in from the start of the trail, notice the nice cotton outfit...and the shoes!?!?

First lesson I learned quick was to PACK LIGHTER!  Thus beginning my research to me more lightweight, maybe even ultralight.  First items on the list I know I had to lighten we're my BIG 3 items:

  • Backpack
  • Tent/Shelter
  • Sleeping bag

When I first started, I was lucky to find a great deal on CL for a fairly light modern pack.  It was a 2008 Marmot Flex 50 liter pack that weighed 3 lb. 8 oz., not bad really if you think about.  The pack itself was very comfortable despite the heavy weight. It had really good padding throughout and offered very good suspension support in my opinion.  Can I go lighter? Definitely, there are many options to go lighter.  Frameless packs made from lightweight and durable fabrics can be purchased or even made if handy with a sewing machine.

My current tent was a Target purchased 3 person tent that weighed in at around 5 or 6 lbs...heavy!  The tent is actually great (when car camping) and I have had it for a while but I will be switching to a single wall silnylon tent and cut the weight down to 2 to 3 lbs.  I can also go lighter with just a bivy and tarp setup but I haven't grasped that idea just yet.

Sleeping Bag:
When I started, I had a car camping 5 lb synthetic mummy that didn't compress small and was just a pain to carry. Plan is to get either a down bag or a lighter synthetic fill bag that's more compressible.

Based on just my BIG 3 items, I was already at 15 lbs. This did not even include the extra clothes, first aid, cook kit, and other essentials like food and water. Adding all of the items I was already carrying close to 50 lbs...easily. Too heavy even for just a simple overnight backpacking trip, changes definitely needed to be done.

More to come....updates, new gear, and other items!


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