Friday, January 31, 2014

Death Valley: Panamint City...planning phase

Next week, I will be joining a group for a 2-night trip to Panamint City in Death Valley National Park.  The plan is to hike starting from Surprise Canyon and then cover the 6 miles to Panamint City.  This hike, from my understanding, is a bit strenuous and has an approximate 4000 foot elevation gain.  This means, my pack has to be light, compact, and agile.  The hike may require stream crossings and a possibility for some scrambling.  Having a light pack will be crucial for my comfort as well as safety.

Here's the catch though, not only does it have to be light, I also have to be prepared for the possibility of cold and snowy weather.  I know my typical 3 season gear can take me down well in the 20's but below that? Never tried.  I wanted to outline what I plan to bring as far as gear.  For food, I still have to plan my menu for the 3 days/2 nights we're going to be there - I expect my food weight to be an average 1.5lbs. per day which close to 5 lbs.

Luckily, gear and food are all ready and I no longer need to hit the local outfitting shop for any items.  So let's break this down shall we?

Big 3 Items +1:
Item Name Category QTY Weight Unit
MYOG Backpack Big 3 (+1) 1 11 ounce
32 Degree 800FP Down Mummy Big 3 (+1) 1 25 ounce
Thermarest Prolite Small Big 3 (+1) 1 11 ounce
SMD Wild Oasis Big 3 (+1) 1 14 ounce
Mountain Hardwear X Stakes Big 3 (+1) 6 0.6 ounce

Total Weight: 3.85 Lbs.

NOTE: I might need to replace my current tent stakes with a set of DIY stakes made with old Bike Spokes. I am also debating if I should take my GoLite Jam 50...which may add a pound to my Big 3.

SMD Wild Oasis courtesy my buddy Don A. with all my gear inside.
Cooking Essentials:
Item Name Category QTY Weight Unit
IMUSA 10cm w/ DIY Esbit Stove Cooking 1 8 ounce
Cotton Bandana Cooking 1 1 ounce
Mini Bic Lighter Cooking 1 0.34 ounce
Dr. Bronners (Mini Bottle) Cooking 1 0.6 ounce

Total Weight: 0.6 Lbs.

Imusa 10cm w/ Ti Esbit Stove
Clothing (Packed)
Item Name Category QTY Weight Unit
Uniqlo Down Hoody Clothing (Packed) 1 10.12 ounce
Old Navy Synthetic Long Johns Clothing (Packed) 1 6 ounce
SynWool Socks (Long) Clothing (Packed) 1 2.25 ounce
Fleece Gloves Clothing (Packed) 1 2 ounce
Fleece Beanie Clothing (Packed) 1 1.2 ounce
Blue Buff Clothing (Packed) 1 1.3 ounce

Total Weight: 1.42 Lbs.

What I typically wear on backpacking trips
NOTE: Due to the cold weather, I might bring my TNF Half Zip Fleece, Insulated Pants for added warmth, and Water Shoes for stream crossings - potentially adding an extra pound or so.

First Aid Kit, Hygiene, H2O Treatment, Rain Gear, etc.:
Item Name Category QTY Weight Unit
Assorted First Aide Kit First Aide/911 1 3 ounce
DIY Sewing kit First Aide/911 1 0.5 ounce
Suunto M-2D Locator Compass First Aide/911 1 1.2 ounce
Repackaged Wipes/TP Hygiene 1 2 ounce
Wisp Disposable Toothbrush Hygiene 1 0.45 ounce
Aquamira Frontier Pro Water Treatment 1 2 ounce
2L Platypus Water Treatment 1 1.2 ounce
20 oz. Playtpus Water Treatment 1 0.5 ounce
LED Headlamp Misc. Items 1 3 ounce
Leatherman Squirt PS4 Misc. Items 1 2 ounce
Bug Headnet Misc. Items 1 0.5 ounce
Flex Air Pillow Misc. Items 1 0.85 ounce
Montane Minimus Smock Rain Gear 1 5 ounce
GoLite Chrome Dome Rain Gear 1 9 ounce

Total Weight: 2.23 Lbs.

So where are we with the math?  If my brain is calculating this correctly, we're around 8.04 pounds (not counting the extra pound or so for additional clothes for warmth) without food and water...just a base weight.  Not bad but there's still room for improvement here.

I'm really looking forward to this trip and I can only imagine the photos I'm coming back with.  If you have any tips on how I can lighten up my gear or if you see something missing, feel free to comment below.  I am, by no means, an expert...I am still learning :)

Thanks for reading and see you on the trails...


  1. Looks like a fun trip. How did it end up going and what were the road conditions? I'm thinking about doing this route as well but was concerned if the road was passable with a Honda Civic. Also, how was the water flow in the canyon? Thanks!

    1. So...I can now answer your question :)

      It ended up going really well. Road conditions were good. However, the road to the trail head can be slow going for a Civic. I would personally recommend a high clearance vehicle (small SUV). Water flow in the canyon was really no need to pack as much.

      Hope this helps you - full report here:

  2. We haven't gone yet actually. We're leaving this coming Friday...I will post a report as soon as I return and provide details on the road conditions leading up to the trail head. I can tell you now that the stretch of road to get to Surprise Canyon can be full of ruts and traction may be an issue. I cannot say for sure if a Civic can make it up there since it is suggested that a high-clearance vehicle be used.

    In any case, I will let you know.

    Thanks for reading!