Common Small Hiker Cups / Pots

Greetings Adventurers!

Way back in 2013 I posted the article Small Cups/Pots for the SUL/XUL Hiker and it has been one of my more popular articles so I thought it was time to give it some TLC.

Over the last few days I have updated the spreadsheet to remove discontinued cups/pots, update pricing, update weights, add a few extra currencies, add some notes, and just do a generalized clean-up on it.

I decided to stay with the previous four guidelines:

  1. It must be at or under 450 ml in volume.
  2. It must be at or under 100 grams in weight.
  3. It cannot be a beer can style cup/pot.
  4. It must be one of the common cups/pots used by sub 2268 hikers.

It is by no means a list of every cup/pot out there that meets those requirements, but it is a list of the ones that best meet those requirements, especially #4.

Continue reading “Common Small Hiker Cups / Pots”

Wind Jackets: Montbell Tachyon, Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Wind Shell

Hike and author, John Abela, wearing the Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants and Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket.
Hiker and author, John Abela, wearing the Montbell Tachyon Wind Jacket, Montbell Dynamo Wind Pants, and ZPacks Arc Blast backpack.

Greetings All,

So there has been a LOT of discussion the last few months on the differences between the the “Montbell Tachyon“, the “Patagonia Houdini“, and the “ZPacks Wind Shell“.

I have gotten dozens of people asking me about which one they should buy, if there are any real-world differences between the fabrics – both for breathability and water resistance – and all those type of questions.

From a usage perspective the only one of these wind jackets that I have personally used is the Montbell Tachyon – something I have extensively used, put to the test, and reviewed.

For help with this article I have contacted a fellow by the name of Richard Nisley who is widely known and very well respected within the BPL community. He has the tools and resources to test fabrics at a level few of us have. I have often cited his research in my whitepapers and publications.

I asked him the following questions:

Continue reading “Wind Jackets: Montbell Tachyon, Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Wind Shell”

Lightest (Fully Enclosed) Solo Shelters

Natural shelters – the best kind!
Sitting under a fallen Redwood tree, in Northern California, making some lunch and taking a break. This Redwood grove, the Cheatham Grove, is where parts of Endor, from the Return of the Jedi, was filmed. It is a beautiful gove that I use for fastpack training.

Greetings hikers, bikers, fastpackers, and adventurers of all types!

Back in December of 2011, after an insane amount of work, I published my “SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Shelters” article, and associated spreadsheet, and it sort of became the de facto list of the worlds lightest fully enclosed shelters on the internet.

Each winter season, usually between December and February, I sit down and invest about 10-15 hours updating the spreadsheet, and I have now finished up getting it updated for the 2015 hiking season.

This year I wanted to take a moment to push out an article on the update, mostly to note some of the major changes I have made to the spreadsheet.

The time had come to really clean things up, to have it be a bit more fair across the greater scope of things, and to get some shelters from additional manufacturers listed.

If you need clarifications on the history of this list, and why things are laid out they way they are, and all that stuff, it can all be found on my original article, along with a bunch of other good content worth reading.

Continue reading “Lightest (Fully Enclosed) Solo Shelters”

Jetboil Sol Titanium vs Jetboil Sol Aluminium

The Jetboil Sol Titanium and the Jetboil Sol Aluminium.
The Jetboil Sol Titanium and the Jetboil Sol Aluminium.


Over the last few years there has been a lot of discussion regarding the differences between the Jetboil Sol Titanium and the Jetboil Sol Aluminium, mainly centered around the fact that most feel the titanium version is overpriced and not worth the extra money for the weight. That discussion is all good-and-well, but within this article I want to focus more on the performance aspects of each of this awesome cook systems.

With a large percentage of the Western states of the USA facing laws being put into place that prohibit the use of alcohol and esbit stoves during the 2014 hiking season, I felt it would be important to come out of not writing much anymore and share my research and thoughts on the performance differences between these two Jetboil setups – as I have a feeling a massive amount of hikers on the PCT, JMT, and other trails on the West coast are going to be faced with the decision over the next few months of which canister stove they should buy.

This article will not go into detail or analysis of the Jetboil versus other canister cook systems, rather it will focus purely on personal, non-laboratory, performance testing that I have done myself, both at home and out on the trail. I began testing for this article over a year ago and recently finished up all that I wanted to test, and feel I have enough data to hopefully make a worthy article.

Continue reading “Jetboil Sol Titanium vs Jetboil Sol Aluminium”

Does the ZPacks Arc Blast Have A Place In A Sub 5 Pound (2.2 kilo) Setup?

A ZPacks Arc Blast fully loaded for the winter hiking season.
A ZPacks Arc Blast fully loaded for the winter hiking season.

Greetings Hikers,

I got asked a question earlier today on my hikelighter facebook page asking what I thought about using the ZPacks Arc Blast (see my review here) in a sub-5 pound BPW setup.

It was a really good question and one I have thought about often myself so I welcomed answering the question to get my own thoughts typed out.

Here is what I responded with, posted here in an article format, for all of my readers to be able to read and share thoughts on.

My Response:

Well, as you know, weight does not always define bulk space (cubic inches/liter volume) so to answer the question on a purely numerical perspective, I would say the answer to your question could be “Yes”.

Continue reading “Does the ZPacks Arc Blast Have A Place In A Sub 5 Pound (2.2 kilo) Setup?”

Small Cups/Pots for the SUL/XUL Hiker

The Evernew 400ml Cup & Trail Designs Sidewinder. Quite Possible The Best SUL/XUL Setup!
The Evernew 400ml Cup & Trail Designs Sidewinder. Quite Possible The Best SUL/XUL Setup!

Greetings Hikers,

Over the last couple of years I have done a number of comparison spreadsheets which have become fairly popular on solo shelters and two person shelters.

I just got back from a trip hiking a couple sections of the PCT in Southern California, a section of the PCT in the Sierras, and doing further research on the Lowest to Highest trail – and somewhere amongst all those miles I thought to myself it was about time that I put together a spreadsheet on small cups/pots that we in the SUL/XUL world of hiking use.

Somewhere along the way I become frustrated with the large 550ml pot that I was carrying around, simply because it was more capacity than what I needed for the entire time I was on the trail. I did not take my MSR Titan Cup which my sister gave me for Christmas a few years ago, and that I really love, so I was stuck with a pot that had a capacity of almost twice what I needed. I told myself when I got back home I was going to put together a spreadsheet so I could see if my beloved titan cup was still a viable cup or if it was time to switch things up.

Continue reading “Small Cups/Pots for the SUL/XUL Hiker”

Two-person Sub 900 gram Fully Enclosed Shelters

Greetings Hiker,

A number of months back I wrote an article and corresponding spreadsheet which went into detail many of the lightest fully enclosed solo shelters on the market. It quickly and to my surprise, became a sort of de facto reference guy for hikers around the world. Since it was published I have received countless requests to put together a similar article that focused on two person shelters. So a number of months ago I started working on compiling the mass amount of data that is required to put together an article and spreadsheet of this kind. It has taken me much longer than I expected it would, but I am now ready to release this.

I think it is important to note a few things from the very start.

First is the fact that I had initially set some minimum and maximum weight limits for the chart and have had to change it along the way. I asked the public for feedback and asked many cottage owners for feedback regarding this as well. It was wonderful. I have, however, made slight modifications to the maximum weight limit that will be focused on within the chart. Details of why are explained below. What I would like to mention is that I have received an amazing amount of feedback from almost all of the cottage owners. It has been an honor and pleasure.

Next aspect to note is the fact that this is not an all-encompassing list of the lightest two person shelters in the world.

There are a number of reasons for this, but the two primary reasons are:

(1) I initially set some criteria for what the spreadsheet would be based on in regards to Total Shelter Weight. Along the way the maximum weight changed a few times, all as a result of the list of shelters becoming much too long to detail them all; it would have taken countless hours of work. As it is this article has consumed a little over 65 hours of work and over two hundred emails.  There simply had to come a point where I was forced to reduce the maximum weight limit in order to reduce the amount of work, the complicated, and length of the spreadsheet. When I started this article there were a number of shelters that I wanted to include but they ended up being well over 1300 grams Total Shelter Weight – and if I were to include them than people would make the case that I should have included others in the same weight category, and a list which is already long enough would have become three to four times longer. I very much respect these cottage companies out there producing amazing two person shelters that are in the 1000-1200 gram range, make no mistake about it.

(2) There are a number of companies out there that fail(ed) to provide the true weights of their shelters. Most of them simply do not list accurate Total Shelter Weights on their website. There were around a half-dozen companies that I emailed asking for accurate numbers on their shelters and they never responded. I would be doing a dis service to my readers to pull numbers out of nowhere and use them just for the sake of including a specific shelter. Companies that do not publish exact weights of their shelters are doing nothing but losing business. I can say that for a fact, as last year I was looking at one specific shelter that I really wanted, but the company fails to list accurate weights of their shelters. Rather than dealing with the back-and-forth emails to try to get it out of them, I simply moved on and purchased a shelter from another cottage manufacture.  So again, there are a few shelters on the market that I highly suspect might be less than 900 grams, and even more under 1300 grams, but because they fail to provide technical details about their shelters on their websites, and in many cases never responded to my emails, their shelters are not within the chart. I make no excuse for this. I simply will not make up numbers on my own because a company is unwilling to provide information that their customers should have.

Continue reading “Two-person Sub 900 gram Fully Enclosed Shelters”

Solo SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Shelter Comparisons

February 2015: I have put together a new version of this article and spreadsheet. You can view it here.


Hello Hikers,

For the better part of the 2010 and 2011 hiking seasons I invested a great deal of time and money buying and trying different shelters that are presently on the market that meet the sub-20 ounce mark.

To me a sub-20 ounce shelter setup is something that should be considered a SUL/XUL shelter so if it is over 20 ounces I have kept it out of this review. I fully realize there are a lot of hikers out there who feel that there are some truly amazing tents that are in the 20-25 ounce range – and I agree, there are. As a SUL/XUL hiker I have come to realize that ounces count – and grams compile really fast – and that in order to achieve and maintain a truly exceptional SUL/XUL base back weight I decided early on that the 20-ounce range was going to be the limit for this review. This really did narrow down the available options, and the list I came up with is by far not a complete list of sub 20 ounce shelters that are on the market or that can be concocted together, but if it is missing anything, you can always let me know.

Again I just really want to lay forth the fact that I fully understand that there are some exceptional shelters out there in the 20+ ounce range that in their own right deserve some huge praise, but the goal of this Shelter Comparison is to compare those shelters that are in the sub 20-ounce range.

It is also important to recognize that this list is specifically targeting the “enclosed shelter” setups and does not include tarp-only settings. This is key because as I have presented a 2 ounce tarp is really all a person needs if they just care about basic protection from the rain.

Continue reading “Solo SUL/XUL Fully Enclosed Shelter Comparisons”