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Overnight Under Twelve Pounds

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I went for an overnight hike/climb/backpacking trip up Mount Aetna in Colorado to test the Ribz Frontpack in conjunction with my usual GoLite backpack. This is what I brought, along with the weight of each item in ounces. For an account of the trip see the page: Gear Testing and Getting Lost

Weight in Ounces - Item

12 - GoLite Breeze backpack
11 - Ribz Frontpack
17 - GoLight Nest screen tent
15 - No-brand ultralight tarp with strings
19 - Western Mountaineering down sleeping bag
5 - Cut-to-size foam sleeping pad
9 - Thermal shirt (long sleeves)
7 - Frogg Toggs rain jacket
1 - Extra nylon socks
1 - Home-made face mask/hat
1 - Ultralight polypropylene gloves
2 - Sunglasses
4 - Sun hat
2 - Elastic knee brace
1 - Mosquito head net
4 - 1st aid survival kit
1 - LED flashlight
1 - Toilet paper
2 - Compass
1 - Map
13 - Digital camera with tripod
4 - Cell Phone
1 - Knife
32 - Water (in two plastic pop bottles)
16 - Food (nuts, crackers, cheese - 2,240 calories total)

Total Weight: 11 Pounds, 5 Ounces

Though I was only going overnight and it was August I had to be prepared for everything from mosquitoes to hail and rain and a night in the forties Fahrenheit. In the past virtually every time I climbed a high mountain in this area in summer I was snowed on at some point.

I believe the GoLite Breeze is no longer available and they are not likely to make a backpack that light again. I'm not sure if everyone wants heavier packs with more "features" or if it is just that manufacturers are afraid that users will treat lighter packs too roughly and then complain and blame poor workmanship when they fail (Ray Jardine's theory). In any case as soon as GoLite started to have some success their packs started getting heavier, and I suspect that the lightest backpacking gear will always come from newer companies.

My 1st aid/survival kit had water purification tablets in it. It also had sun block cream (which I definitely needed on this trip). It had the usual items as well (bandages, aspirin, fire starters, string, duct tape, pencil, paper, etc.).

A camera is an optional item as far as I'm concerned, but for this overnight backpacking trip I needed photos of the Ribz Frontpack that I was testing. The cell phone is never used nor even turned on, but it's there for emergencies. This was also the first time that I took the screen tent (usually I have a two-ounce groundsheet to sleep on).

To go this light an still be comfortable, I use a few "tricks." I try to find a soft pace to set up camp, for example, or create one with a pile of leaves. That allows me to get by with the thin sleeping bag pad. I eat a heavy protein meal before hitting the trail and I make sure that I am fully hydrated. It is easier to carry an extra pint of water spread through the tissues of your body than in a water bottle.

For this trip I wore ten-dollar running shoes from Wal-Mart. If was more than an overnight trip I would have used my more expensive running shoes. The primary difference is not in comfort or weight, but in durability. I learned many years ago not to trust cheap shoes for long backpacking trips.

Had I gone without the screen tent I was testing (using my two-ounce groundsheet instead), and without the Ribz Frontpack and without the camera to take photos of the latter, my total pack weight would have been 8 pounds, 14 ounces. But the ability to spread and balance the weight seemed to make the frontpack worth the 11 ounces. For the complete review of that, see the page A Review of the Ribz Frontpack.



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