[Video+Gearlist] Sept 2016 – Sub 4 BPW [e2b.88.4]

I have posted a sub 4 pound gear list + video from a hike I just finished over on my patreon website.

It includes a lighterpack gearlist showing a breakdown of every piece of gear. I think this might be my first sub-2268 gearlist that I have released in at least two years(??)

The video is ~11 minutes in length.

Available for all patrons (only costs a buck a month)


Thanks everybody!
+John Abela

Signing off

Thank you to all of those who have sponsored me, supported me, and followed me, over the last few years!
Thank you to all of those who have sponsored me, supported me, and followed me, over the last few years!
For those who do not know, as it seems some folks do not understand this article, this article is not about me never writing again, rather it is about me taking a significant step away from writing highly detailed article over the 2014 hiking season. I have, and will continue to, write article.

The time has come for me to hang up my keyboard and step away.

The last few years that I have been blogging, writing white papers for the industry insiders, writing articles for the masses, and posting videos, has been a mixture of pure fun and intense focus on details.

Pre 2010 was learning all there was about UL hiking.
2010 & 2011 was spent learning all I could about SUL/XUL hiking.
2012 was me pushing the boundaries of XUL in every possible way.
2013 was about doing big mile days for 200+ days.
2014 is about expeditions!

What I have planned for the 2014 hiking season is just going to require so much of my focus and effort out on the trail, and here at home in front of a computer, maps, and reams of paper, that I just need to sign off for the foreseeable future. I might be back and start writing articles again, but at this point I am thinking the time has come for me to pass along the movement to other folks.

When I first started posting and writing about SUL/XUL almost nobody in the hiking community was talking about SUL hiking, and I only knew of 4 guys on the internet writing about XUL hiking – and none of them were still actively writing. Times have certainly changed over the last few years and that is just so great to see!

To the thousands of hikers, runners, adventure racers, rock climbers, summit baggers, and those doing huge expeditions… everybody that I have had the amazing pleasure of being able to help in some small way… keep going at it! Keep getting out. Keep learning. Keep learning both the hard way and the right way. Those who are able to, keep pushing the boundaries of both adventure and technology!

I have updated my hiking gear list to include the setup I will be using as the core setup for all of my 2014 expeditions. Each expedition will of course vary a small bit but it will be the core set of gear that I plan to use for most, but not all, of the trips. They are by no means going to be SUL/XUL adventures, but what I have planned is taking me into locations that are at the highest risk of the hiking world – and doing it all solo adds even greater risk to the already risky.

I am ready for the challenge. I believe the last few years have taught me what I needed to learn, have put me into situations that I needed to experience, and have allowed me to push myself and my gear to the point of failure and beyond – all things I am going to need for this next phase of my hiking life.

None of my trips will be the “OMG” type of hikes that guys like Nimblewill Nomad (my true hero in the world of hiking)  and Andrew Skurka (the modern day master of non-polar expedition) have done over their time out on the trail, but rather the type of shorter hikes that put you into very high risk places – and that really is all I am going to say for the safety of myself and those involved, beyond: One expedition involves attempting to hike a trail in one of the most deadly places in the United States, for a hiker, that has not been transversed in over 200 years, is all but lost and forgotten, and that I have spent the last 2+ years trying to piece back together. Another involves over 21,000 feet (6.4 km) of elevation change in just under 150 miles (241 km) and is something that has never been done before. And three other trips I am just not willing to share anything about until, and unless, I accomplish them and feel safe sharing about them – because all too often hikers without enough experience want to do what other hikers with far greater experience have barely been able to do – I have learned this the hard way the last two or three years while building a 500 mile trail in Northern California.

It was sometime in mid-2013 that I decided to put aside the big miles and massive amount of days out on the trail (223 days in 2013) and instead put my focus towards something new… higher risk trails that have never been done and/or are ones that all but forgotten about. If even one of the five I have planned succeeds I am going to hopefully be filled with joy by this time next year!

To all of those companies that have helped me out over the last few years, I owe you a lot of my success. Thank you for what it is that you do and thank you for helping me.

If you are on facebook I invite you to follow my HikeLighter page, as I will still be keeping it going and trying to post throughout the year.

If you are not on facebook and want to drop me a message, you can do so here.

Thank you so very much for all of the amazingly wonderful comments!

Signing off,
+John Abela

Looking back on the 2013 hiking season

Hello All,

Well the month of October marks the end of my summer hiking season here in the Redwoods of Northern California. The 2013 hiking season has been a wonderful year for me. It started off not so good with an injury from the previous hiking season, but once the powers-that-be allowed me to get back out onto the trail it has been non-stop. I have had the privilege of hiking sections of the southern half of the PCT, hiking in Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, Eastern side of Mt Whitney, Mendocino National Forest, Yolla Bolly Wilderness, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Trinity Alps Wilderness, Klamath National Forest, Russian Wilderness, Six Rivers National Forest, Henry W. Coe State Park, Smith River National Recreation Area, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Redwood National Park, Humboldt Redwood National State Park, a lot of time spent at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – probably my favorite place in Northern California – and lots of little areas that I am sure to have forgotten. Suffice to say, it has been a wonderful year!

On the non-hiking aspect of my life, yet still hiking related, I have had the wonderful honor of working with four different companies this year to help them bring new or updated hiking gear to the market. There are three more hiking gear products I am working on that look like they will migrate into the 2014 season before they are released. I had hoped I would get two of them to market this year but just been too busy out on the trail to give them the attention that they need – but, that is why I take the winter season off.

Speaking of the winter hiking season, I had really hoped to get a ‘hot tent’ shelter setup ready for this winter but the funds and time at home to make it all happen just did not work out. I think it would be wonderful to be able to get a hot tent setup that would allow for a sub 8 pound BPW 4-season setup. Looking at two different shelters and two different titanium wood stoves to help make this happen. Have been emailing a few guys I know that have hot tent shelters to get some insights into all of this. I have found it hard to continue the educational process of hiking when I am out doing the same thing so much and not really pushing myself into new types of hiking situations. I have learned a fair amount about fabrics, metals, plastics, and manufacturing this year, but there have not be very many hiking specific tips I have learned this year, so I thought I would start doing some cold weather hiking to try to learn some new things.

A know a lot of people seem to love “photo blogs” and videos and such, but more and more I am just not into shooting video and I really hate taking photographs so the idea of just posting a bunch of photographs of hikes is probably never going to be something I do. I expect that in 2014 my writing of articles will decrease and I am not sure if I will be doing many videos, if any at all. They just consume way too much time – especially videos. To properly do a video review of a single piece of gear can often times consume over 10 hours of my time at home (importing, editing, exporting, uploading) and a few hours out on the trail or where ever the shoot is taking place. It is, to me, an insane amount of man hours for a short video that very few people are going to spend the time watching. I know I am not the only person feeling this way – a lot of guys that use to be very active gear reviewers on youtube/vimeo have stopped investing the time as well.

On the gear side of things, my purchasing of new gear this year has greatly decreased from the last few years. When I made the decision to go from UL to SUL I had to buy a bunch of new gear. When I went from SUL to XUL I did not have to buy a bunch of new gear, but I did so in an effort to try to find specific pieces of gear that would meet my personal style of hiking. Now that I have a few years in the SUL/XUL world, I have reached the point of being rather happy with my setup and thus the need to buy new gear is greatly decreased. I still buy something here or there, typically while I am out on the trail and think of something that would compliment or hopefully solve an issue. I would say the biggest change in my gear this year has been in the footwear world. I decided to make the change from ultralight trailrunners to sandals. It has not been easy on the feet but I am finding it rather enjoyable. I have tried four different brands of sandals so far and will probably try one more that would not be as durable but it would be lighter weight and uses a different strapping system. Out hiking for long miles with Teva or Chaco sandals is one thing, making the switch to using huarache sandals turned out to be a much greater change and challenge then what I expected, time will tell if it proves viable for me.

The 2013 year has been a fun year for me in regards to new sponsors. A huge thank you to Montbell America and Ultimate Directions for bringing me on board. Last week I was out on the trail and made the decision to drop out of the Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador program – they are a great group of guys and a great gear company of the HH/LW/UL hikers of the world and they deserve huge credit for keeping their doors open and continuing to meet the needs of those hikers looking for great ultralight weight gear. My decision to drop out of their program was due to the simple fact that I just no longer used any of their gear and it felt wrong of me to be in a position of other hikers thinking I was out there with their gear when I am not. This year I had hoped to score a sponsorship with PROBAR and Garmin but neither of them ever worked out, bummer. I think one of the biggest factors of sponsorship this year has been my ability to push forward within the hiking community that sponsorship between hikers and companies should have nothing at all to do with free gear (I outright discourage it when a company wants to sponsor me) and instead focus on what should be a symbiotic relationship between the hiker and the company. The experience, knowledge, and miles hiked by hikers should be capitalized by the companies making the gear, to make better gear from those on the trail and not just from somebody sitting around inside of a shop or cubical somewhere. Sponsorship, I believe, should be all about the hiker helping the company make better gear to make the hikers of the world be able to have better gear. It should have nothing at all to do with getting gear for personal use, to help promote gear for the company, or anything else that does not equate to hikers of the world having better gear in the next revision of the product. Those companies who understand and are willing to be involved in sponsorship’s at this level are those companies I have been seeking out and will continue to seek out to work with.

As some of my readers know I have spent the last few years working on being a trail builder. It is a rather intense thing to do – building a new trail. The logistical aspects of building a new trail are so far beyond what I thought they would be. The amount of time it takes, the amount of miles you have to hike the same regions to try to find the best route, dealing with obstacles such as fires that destroy existing trails, all the different people, private companies, private landowners, and agencies that have to be brought into the decision making processes. Last month I decided to take a break from most of it during the 2014 hiking season. Going to remain involved in one specific trail that I am working on to connect together two different State Parks, but that will probably be my extent of trail building next year. If by some chance I get back down to Death Valley I will probably spend some time doing more research on the Highest to Lowest trail, but am not specifically planning a trip there.

There is one trip that I really wanted to be able to do this year that I was not able to. Logistically it will likely not happen over the next two months. Maybe in March of 2014 I can pull together the insane amount of people-power and resources it will take to make it happen. For the last two years I have been researching a trail that has not be successfully transversed in over 200 years. I would love to be able to make it happen again after all this time, but it will truly push my skills to the limit. I would love to be able to make it happen as a self-supported hike but the trail has aspects that would likely make that unrealistic, and place it into an ultra-high-risk factor, for the first time hiking it. So hopefully sometime next year I can make all of this happen. Taking time away from building the trails I have been working on the last few years will allow me to focus more on this.

Over the next few months, in addition to working on those products, I will also be spending some time writing up articles on gear that I have used this year. Most of you know that I typically refuse to review gear that I have not used for hundreds of miles, and this often times means I am reviewing gear months and months after they hit the market, but such as it is. If a piece of hiking gear is worthy enough to remain on the market long enough for long-term reviews to take place, having reviews delayed by a few months will not hurt nor affect the companies profitability nor dissuade hikers from buying the gear. I simply do not understand how some of these “gear reviewers” can review a piece of gear they have used for a single weekend out on the trail, if even that. Impulse purchases do not belong out on multi-day or long distance hikes. Untested gear is what sub-24-hour and weekend hikes are for. Those of us in the SUL/XUL world understand that the very few pieces of gear that we carry have to be the best piece of gear that we can have for our style of hiking. My quest with HikeLighter.Com is to present those pieces of gear that I have been able to trail-prove for not just a couple of days, but hundreds to thousands of miles on the trail. It is what I do and it is what I am going to continue to do. If it means I am not posting a gear review once a month, or once a week, or even once a day (like some of these “hikers/gear reviewers” seem to be doing lately) than so be it. Even with all the time I spend out on the trail, I utterly fail to comprehend how I could test enough gear to post a gear review once a day or every other day… seriously, what is up with that. How do hikers trust these people posting gear reviews so much. But anyway, yep, I have an inbox full of people asking about specific pieces of gear and my thoughts on them and over the winter season I will hopefully get all of the gear that I have used in the 2013 hiking season, and feel is worthy of writing a review, typed up and pushed out for everybody to read. As always, I love hearing from folks and if there is a specific piece of gear that I own/use/hike with that you want to know about, let me know so I can know what order kind of priority I should have to write up my thoughts on the gear I use.

Anyway, I just thought I would share how things have gone for me over the 2013 hiking season. As mentioned it has been pretty amazing for me. I am really looking forward to getting these two products I have been developing brought to market, they are nothing new or wow-level type of products, but they cater to the style of hiking that I enjoy doing and that some of you who read my articles enjoy doing. I want to say a huge thank you to all those folks who have helped support me over the 2013 hiking season – other individual hikers, big name companies, cottage company owners, my sponsors, other hikers out there putting in the miles to help companies make better gear, and those two or three guys out there that have spent an insane amount of hours conversing with me via email and facebook to help me keep going when the going has gotten hard.

Thank you,
+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46 and Ultimate Direction.

(ps: I hope you enjoy the short video I made of my favorite cook setup that I have pieced together this hiking season… I was outside enjoying some time in the backyard and felt like making some coffee and grabbed the cook setup and my iphone… it has been a long time since I shot a video… far from anything special, but it was enjoyable to do it)

15 days of beach hiking

Finding a nice drift log on the beach always makes for a nice spot to stop for lunch!
Finding a nice drift log on the beach always makes for a nice spot to stop for lunch!

Well, tonight is my last night out on the beach for the year, hopefully. For the last 15 days, with a 2 day break in the middle, I have been hiking on the beach to start off my trail work on the California Coastal Trail. Each night I have been keeping regular trail notes in my journal, but I have also been jotting down notes about things I really enjoy about hiking on the beach and things I really do not enjoy about it.

I have one page of “enjoy” and three pages of “hate”… just to give you an idea of what I think about hiking on the beach.

Continue reading “15 days of beach hiking”

A walk through the wet wet woods!

This is getting a bit thick, even for the Redwood forest of Northern California!
This is getting a bit thick, even for the Redwood forest of Northern California!

If you ever have a day like the photograph to the right, than you know what my day has been like!

Here in the Redwoods it is either nice and sunny, wet, or it is really really wet.

Today, it was really really really wet – and I had already decided I was going to go for a hike, so no amount of rain was going to stop me!

This was the first hike of any distance since I injured my knee on June 26, 2012 that brought my 2012 hiking season to a complete stop, and threatened to bring my 2013 hiking season to an end as well. I finally got cleared to go back hiking, but was told to take it easy, so I decided to go right back to the trail that caused my knee injury eight months ago.

It was not an easy decision to head back to this same trail. As most of my readers probably know, so much of hiking is a mental challenge. When we first get into backpacking we go out and buy the most bombproof shelter we can find, usually weighing in at 4 or 5 pounds, and we carry at least two or three more sets of clothing than we would ever need on-trail. Eventually, if you stick with it long enough, you get over those mental issues that tell you that you can never ever ever have even a single drop of water get into your shelter, and that you really do not need four changes of clothing. After all, if triple-crowner Speedstick can hike almost half of the CDT in a single pair of socks, I think the average hiker can get away with the same. But, in the end the vast majority of thru-hiking, once you hit the trail, is all in your mind.

It was that same mind-set that I went out today and hiked some serious miles for the first time since my injury. I can be honest with myself and my readers and say that I stopped hiking more than once and almost turned around. But there was that something inside, that drive to keep going that long distance hikers know and understand, that just says “no!!!!”. Continue reading “A walk through the wet wet woods!”

June 2012 Hike. 5 Days, 115 Miles

Hello Hikers,

Well I just got back from a 5 day (115 mile) hike and figured I would share a few thoughts and photos and a rather short and low quality video, as so many of you who follow me keep ragging on me for not taking pictures and videos of my hikes in the beautiful Redwood forest. So, this time I carried the additional 137 grams (4.8 oz) and carried along my iPhone. Sadly for reasons I do not yet understand no videos from day 4 or 5 got saved to the device, even though I know the record button was pressed. Sigh/Oh’well.

Gear Thoughts:

You can view my gear list for this hike if you are interested in such things.

My base pack weight was 3.22 pounds, which included the weight of the iPhone which I begrungingly took, otherwise I would have been at 2.91 pounds.

My consumables were 3866 grams (136.3 ounces / 8.52 pounds) of which 7.6 pounds where food, following my standard 1.5 pounds per day rule.

Food for this trip was primarily OvaEasy Powdered Whole Egg and Nido mixed together for breakfast, along with one packet of Nestle Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials. Lunch and dinner was Santa Fe Bean Co, Instant Southwestern Style Refried Beans (cold lunch, hot for dinner) mixed with Roadkill Summer Sausage and dried cheese. Snacks was fresh fruit (first 2 days) and a combination of more summer sausage and a mixture of Macadamia and Cashew nuts.

Daily mileage was 27, 22, 25, 16, 24, for a total of 114 miles, plus probably another mile for side trips. Total elevation change was around 4200 feet, with one day a bit over 3,000 in elevation change. Decent mileage days consider it is the first 5 day hike for me for the 2012 season. I have done a few two and three day trips so far, but to go out and do a 5 day trip with a three pound setup is always a trial and a fun time to push yourself. With the exception of not having a wind jacket I think that the gear that I took with me was perfect for the trip. Average day time temps were 56-58 (f) and night time temps were 45-48(f) so I was able to get away with not taking a lot of heavy cold weather gear. Continue reading “June 2012 Hike. 5 Days, 115 Miles”