1.66 gram esbit tray

Photo Oct 29, 4 10 36 PM
A 1.66 gram esbit tray made by Brian Green from http://www.briangreen.net

Greetings Hikers,

Every so often a group of hikers get together, and through the course of experimentation and sharing of information, find a way to make something that is already really great at what it does, and they turn it into something even better!

For a fairly long time the Gram Cracker by Trail Designs has been the de facto go-to try for ultralight esbit users. It has held a special place in the lives of a whole lot of hikers for a rather long time now. I have used one since I became an esbit user a number of years ago. I still use the original one I bought and it has thousands of miles of use and has had probably 2000+ esbit cubes burned on it and made countless meals and cups of tea and coffee for me.

Back in mid to late 2011 a few esbit users started playing around with some MYOG ideas regarding an esbit try. Honestly I have no idea if they had never used the Gram Cracker and had no idea if it even existed, or if they set out to make a better one, or if they were just playing around and come up with an idea that worked for them. What is worthy of taking note of is that over the course of the end of 2011, it went from one or two people playing around with an idea to a few more people playing around with the idea. In the end, I think it was Brian Green who brought it all together. Continue reading “1.66 gram esbit tray”

Applicational Hiking, Sleeping Bags or More Clothing?

hikeGreetings Hikers,

This is my fourth blog in a series on applicational hiking, where I purpose a small number of different situations and ask my readers to consider what works best for them, to get them to ponder on different approaching and techniques to hiking, and to offer my readers the ability to provide their own thoughts on feedback on how they approach the situation.

I would like to start off this article by saying that this will mostly apply to those who are XUL hikers. Please review this article for how I define the different weight categories if you are unfamiliar with how I define XUL.

A couple of summers ago I was preparing for a summer three day hiking trip, the day time temperatures where expected to be in the high 60’s(f) and the night temperatures where expected to be in the mid 50’s(f).

At these temperatures I gave a great deal of consideration to leaving behind my lightweight quilt (279 grams / 9.841 ounces) and instead taking slightly heaver base layer tops and bottoms.

It was an idea that is far from new and rarely done for a whole lot of reasons. On this specific trip I knew I would be within five miles of a road at any given time so if there was a drastic weather change I knew I could quickly bail out and get back to my truck and get home.

After a whole lot of pondering on the wisdom of it all I decided to give it a go and see how it worked out.

I would say that the strangest aspect of doing this was that most of us are so use to having a blanket/bag/quilt over us at night, that not having that blanket/quilt to reach for on a psychological level was a bit odd to experience.

Thankfully I never found myself shivering, I never found myself wanting to start a fire to get warm, and throughout the night my core temperature was able to stay consistent thanks to thermoregulation and the slightly heavier clothing.

The weight of the heavier base layer clothing was 181 grams (6.4 ounces) so I was able to save myself 98 grams (3.45 ounces) by not taking my 279 gram quilt, which is a significant percentage of total base pack weight when my total base pack weight was 872.64 grams / 30.78 ounces / 1.923 pounds.

I have given a great deal of thought on this matter over the last few months and I think that it was a great option, knowing that the weather would be close to what it typically is inside of my house, and with the knowledge that I could easily and quickly get back to a safe location and warm myself up should my core temperature fall below a safe level – keeping it mind it would have needed to drop 15+ degrees below the expected night time temperature before my base layer clothing was no longer able to help keep my body thermoregulation under control.

This is something I would only do in the summer time, with a firm understanding of the stability of the weather that we have where I live, and the ability to be back at my truck (and thus a heat source) within thirty or so minutes.

There are, of course, a lot of risks in doing this. If I were to injury myself, and if the weather where to all of a sudden fall below that 15 degree threshold I set with my clothing, than I would have found myself in a situation that I would now be looking back on and saying “that was really stupid John”.

Thankfully most XUL hikers have hundreds of nights spent on the trail and are at a point where they understand how to read the weather, have a very firm understanding of the limits of their gear, and hike in known areas. I am not sure I would attempt to go without a sleeping bag in any situation other then when those aspects are fully known and under as much control as is possible.

So that is my thoughts and experience on going out on a three day hike without a sleeping bag/quilt. If you have done it, I would love to hear about it, and what you have learned from doing it. Please be sure to list what the temperatures where at night, if the temperatures got colder then what  you expected, and if you found you needed to do something to stay warm please share what you did to do so.


RedwoodOutdoors.Com Migrates To HikeLighter.Com

Greetings hikers!
Trinity Alps, Northern California USA
On a recent hiking trip I realized that my other website (RedwoodOutdoors.Com) was starting to have content that was outside the scope of what it was originally suppose to be, so I decided the best course of action would be to start up another website, twitter account, and youtube account that was totally about getting out and hiking lighter – thus “HikeLighter” was born!

The focus of this blog (and associated twitter and youtube accounts) is going to be totally 100% about SUL and XUL hiking – that is Super Ultra Light (SUL) and eXtreme Ultra Light (XUL) hiking. Well, I am going to try really hard to keep it focused on just SUL/XUL though I suppose at some point we will end up talking about Heavy Haulers (HH) and Ultra Light (UL) hiking – but I am going to try my best to keep HH/UL to a minimum.

I will explain now what I believe each of those four level of hiking classifications are. I will fully admit that my own classifications are not “standard classifications” – and that is because it seems nobody out there has been able to really standardize hiking classifications. There are those who claim they have, and you have sites like wikipedia that people keep changing back and forth, but the fact is pretty simple: thus far there has been no true world-wide standardization of hiking weight classifications – so here is how I define them. I really do not care to argue about these numbers, they are what they are, ‘how I define them’. I define them the way I do based upon how much skill a person should have, and how much a person has probably learned in order to reach each of the four levels. Yes, a person can go out and buy their way into a SUL or XUL setup, but time will quickly show to other hikers that they ‘bought their way into said weight level’ and have not done it the right way – by learning and gaining experience as you go lighter and lighter.

How I Define Base Pack Weights:

All weights are “base pack weights” (BPW) – that is: what your backpack weights before perishables and consumables.

HH – Heavy Haulers = Anybody with a BPW of over 18 pounds (8.2 kg).

LW – Light Weight = Anybody with a BPW of between 13 pounds (5.9 kg) and 18 pounds (8.2 kg).

UL – Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of 12 pounds (5.4 kg) and under.

SUL – Super Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of under 5 pounds (2.3 kg).

XUL – eXtreme Ultra Light = Anybody with a BPW of under 3 pounds (1.4 kg).


It Is About Experience, Not Weight:

To me, classifications are more about experience and wisdom gained from being on the trail and spending a lot of nights outside; not about how big your pocket book might be and what you can buy your way into.

For the record, as of the time I am writing this, I have three different setups. A winter setup that is in the very low 6 pound range, a shoulder season setup that is in the 4 pound range, and a summer time setup that is sub two pounds.

Over the last year I have averaged a little over 80% of the year outside hiking and backpacking and learning. I spent three years going from a HH to a SUL hiker, than took the plunge and become a XUL hiker over the last year. It has been an expensive venture that has taught me a lot about what gear a person really absolutely needs to have with them. Beyond that, there is nothing special about having an XUL setup. Believe me when I say that my SUL setup is way more comfortable – both while hiking and while sleeping.

So, if you are somebody who is in the UL world looking to make it into the SUL world – I invite you to subscribe to my blog and my youtube and twitter accounts! Hopefully through the discussion of SUL and XUL gear you will be able to pick up some pointers to help you learn the necessary steps to make your hike just a bit lighter!

If you are somebody who is already in the SUL/XUL world I would be totally honored to have you follow me and look forward to sharing tips with you in the months and hopefully years ahead! This blog is all about us – so I look forward to teaching and learning!