Friday, April 4, 2014

CampSaver One Stop Shop Ultralight Gear List

Over the past few weeks, Hendrik Morkel from Hiking in Finland has been posting a great series which him and his friend developed a series titled One Stop Shop. The theory behind the series was to challenge some well known suppliers of outdoor gear to provide a complete ultralight gear list for three season backpacking from items they have in stock. You can see the challenge in Hendrik’s introduction to the series here.

To summarize, the requirements for this theoretical three season trip are:

  • Day temperature of 50F (10C) to 59F (15C)
  • Night temperature of 32F (0C) to 41F (5C)
  • Rain is possible every day
  • Mosquitoes aren’t there yet
  • Tours are 10 - 14 days long

The gear offered must include Backpack, Sleeping bag or quilt, Mattress, Shelter, Pot, Stove, Cutlery, Knife, Lamp, Trekking poles, Shoes, Fleece jacket, Insulation jacket, Rain pants, Rain jacket, Base layer (Boxers and T-Shirt), and Long sleeve shirt.

Most of the distributors participating so far have been European ones. One of them however, CampSaver is a US distributor, and I thought it would be useful to look at their recommendations for those who may not be following bloggers from across the pond. You can see the original post from Henrdik here.

Backpack: Exped Lightning 60


In all honesty, the pack is probably too large for this particular gear list. The Exped Lightning 45 would have probably done just as well, but it is not stocked by the store. Still, coming in at 2 lb 6.8 oz for a 60L pack is not bad at all. Interestingly this pack has gone out of stock since the post, but when they re-stock, it will be priced at $248.95.

Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear Mtn Speed 32


The Mountain Harwear Mtn Speed 32 is an excellent minimalist sleeping bag. It is rated to 32F (0C), has 850 fill down, and weighs 15.5 oz for the regular size. It will set you back $479.95.

Mattress/Sleeping Pad: Therm-A-Rest NeoAir X-Lite


The pad weighs 12 oz for the regular size and will cost you $159.95. I’m a fan of the NeoAir pads. I carry around a 15 oz XTherm because it is warmer and I use it year round, but this is a good choice.

Shelter: Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum


This semi free standing tent is a popular choice that weighs 1 lb 15 oz and costs $549.95. To be honest for a three season ultralight set up I would go with a tarp instead. It will not only be lighter, but much cheaper. Sometimes to cut weight you have to spend the money. However, this is not one of those times in my opinion.

Pot: Evernew Titanium UltraLight Deep Pot 


This pot comes in several sizes. The one recommended by CampSaver is the 0.9L version, which weighs 4.4 oz and costs $63.95. It is not a bad way to go, although I prefer shorter and wider pots. I just find them easier to use.

Stove: Esbit Titanium Solid Fuel Stove


The stove is certainly ultralight at 0.38 oz. It only costs $11.96. I’m not a fan of solid fuel stoves. I always have a hard time getting two cups of water to boil with it. It works, but it always feels like a hassle.

Cutlery: Alite Cloverware 2.0 Utensilss This eating utensil set costs $9.95 and weighs 0.1 oz. I can’t say I am crazy about it. I would much prefer a simple spoon.

Knife: Gerber Ultralight LST


It looks like a nice little knife. It somewhat resembles the Fallkniven F1 in shape, although the blade is barely 2 inches long. The knife weighs 0.6 oz, and costs $20.60. As you know I like a more robust knife, and if I was going to go with a small blade, I would probably chose the Leatherman Micra, which is heavier, but gives you a set of pliers.

Lamp: Petzl e+LITE Headlamp


This tiny headlamp weighs 0.95 oz, and costs $29.95. I would personally prefer a headlamp that runs on more readily available batteries. This one use CR2032 batteries, which I imagine would be challenging to find and expensive.

Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles These trekking poles feature a three section carbon fiber collapsible design. They weigh 9.2 oz and cost $104.97. They are light weight, but I prefer trekking poles with adjustable section. I find it easier to use them to pitch a shelter. Otherwise, I generally like Black Diamond equipment.

Shoes: Salewa Firetail EVO Hiking Shoes The shoes weight 26.4 oz for the pair, and will set you back $118.95. I haven’t used them, so I can’t say much more than that.

Fleece: Patagonia R1 Hoody This is a great choice for a fleece layer. I have the R1 pullover, and it works well. The hoody weighs 12.6 oz and costs $159.00.

Insulation: Mont Bell Plasma 1000 Down Jacket I think this jacket is an example of overdoing it. It is a wonderful product, featuring 1000 fill down insualtion, and weighs just 4.8 oz. The downside for such extremely high fill is that it costs $269.00. I would personally go with a heavier but much cheaper jacket like the Patagonia Nano Puff.

Rain Pants: Patagonia Torrentshell Stretch Pant The pants weigh 10.8 oz and cost $169.00. They have full length side zippers which I find important, and seem to be a well priced for what they offer.

Rain Jacket: Marmot Super Mica Jacket The jacket weighs 8.7 oz and costs $224.95. I haven’t used this material (NanoPro MemBrain), so I can’t say much about the durability or performance.

Boxers: Patagonia Lightweight Briefs I’m a boxer-brief man myself, but I suppose these will do. They weigh 1.9 oz and cost 24.00.

T-Shirt: Rab Aeon Tee The t-shirt weighs 3 oz and costs 34.95.

Long Sleeve Shirt: Arc’teryx Phase SL Crew Longsleeve The shirt weighs 3.8 oz and costs $68.95. I’m not a fan of long sleeve shirts, but it was part of the criteria, so here you have it.

All of that gear adds up to 11 lb 11.5 oz, and will set you back about $2748.00. The weight of the gear is not bad at all, but the price surely hits hard. I think there are a lot of examples of gear that is more expensive than it needs to be for the weight savings. For example, replacing the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum with a tarp will save not only a bit of weight, but also more than $400 is cash. Same thing goes for the Mountain Hardwear Mtn Speed 32 sleeping bag. Granted, it is hard to find a lighter bag with that rating, but by sacrificing literally only a few ounces of weight, you can save hundreds of dollars. Even going for another high end down bag like the Western Mountaineering Highlite will save you $150. If you are willing to sacrifice some comfort, you can save even more weight and over $100 by switching to a closed cell foam pad. An REI Flash 45 backpack will save you another $150 without adding any weight. 

All that being said however, I think it is an interesting exercise, and a lot of the recommendations are top of the line products. Considering that the list covers both gear and clothing, the price tag is not all that extreme. If you are looking for a high end set up, this is not a bad place to start. The one piece of gear that wasn’t part of the requirements, but I consider important is a water filter like the Sawyer Mini Filter, and a water bottle. 

Anyway, if you are interested in the lists, check out the One Stop Shop at Hiking in Finland.

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