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  1. #1
    eternalvoyage
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    Non-expensive Ultralight and Super Ultralight Gear

    An entire self-contained touring kit in a hip pack. Under five pounds base weight. Not expensive.

    The hip pack can be attached to a bike in simple ways, with or without a rack.

    There are different variations, and these videos provide a good starting point.

    In the first videos he shows exactly what's in the pack,



    Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjHBSiievS0

    Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bscZt8M_kAo

    Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3K52nCUWwU

    This is the trip he mentioned in the above videos. Up to about 05:27, he discusses why he enjoys this approach, and going super ultralight,




    He has a lot of additional videos and information.

    And a website where he has some very reasonably priced gear.

    http://www.intenseoutdoorgear.com/

    He's a good guy to deal with. Very responsive, positive, and reliable. I've ordered from him, and am very pleased with the service. It also feels good to support the non-corporate, more individual world.

    [John, if you happen to end up reading this: Thanks for all the great information and gear. And for the good vibes and supportiveness. It's great to have you aboard this ship of life. Wish I had something to give back here. The best thing I can think of is Janae's incredible smile (beginning at about 01:21) -- it's enough to lift a thousand moods: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isK4X-dWoGk ]
    Last edited by Niles H.; 03-05-13 at 04:30 PM.

  2. #2
    eternalvoyage
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    In case anyone might be interested, here are some of John's instructional videos, on making one's own ultralight and super ultralight gear -- an ultralight bivy tent, super ultralight pack (made for about five dollars), and lightweight down bag (also about five dollars). Some of these projects mix and match the approaches of making things from scratch, and modifying or improving or utilizing components from existing gear.


    A very nice 2000 cubic inch super ultralight pack, 5.2 ounces (these sorts of lightweight packs can easily be carried on a rack, or elsewhere on a bike, and can allow ultralight hiking side trips, or be used for day packs, grocery shopping, pannier supplements, or in place of panniers for those who are packing light):



    Bivy tent:



    Down sleeping bag:



    Additional notes, details, and comments can be found underneath those videos (at www.youtube.com).

    Other videos can be found on his channel,

    http://www.youtube.com/user/intensean...

    More details here, http://intenseangleroutdoors.blogspot.com/

    I like the way he encourages people to use whatever they find useful for their own projects.

    I'm finding it good to be more independently empowered in relation to gear.

    There is also an interesting Tyvek bivy project here:


    Last edited by Niles H.; 03-09-13 at 06:28 PM.

  3. #3
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    My only ultralight gear is a backpack/duffel/stuffsac that came with a jacket. It has no padding and a duffel style closure but the strips of cloth attach to opposite sides like a backpack. It is really useful for extending luggage capacity, carrying et waterproofs, shopping trips, hiking and as a pillow.

  4. #4
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    I've been doing a lot of experimenting with budget ultralight stuff. Some things I've come up with:
    My mess kit is a stainless steel water bottle, a light my fire spork, a bic lighter, and a soup can. The bottle nests in the can, the spork and lighter goes wherever. I also have some $1 sterno cans and a wire hoop that lets me cook over them. Total cost of a complete set is less than $10. I use a multitool as a pot holder, use grass to scrub the pots.
    My sleeping pad is a roll of black drawer liner, bought at Target, for $9. It's thin, about 3/16", but warm and adds some cushion.
    My sleep system is a synthetic fleece blanket, folded in half longways, and sewn sleeping bag style. I put that inside an SOL bivy, wearing my clothes as needed. Cost: $2 for blanket, $25 for the bivy.
    Shelter is an Alpha tent: Knock off Army poncho, some skinny tent poles, and you have a little tent to hide under. I use a bit of painters plastic for a groundcloth: $25 for the poncho, $10 for the poles, $4 for a giant roll of painter's plastic. The poles are kind of bulky, so eventually I'll make something a little more slick.
    I'll sometimes use a hammock setup, which includes a tarp and bug net, that ran about $70 altogether.
    Food is just homemade trail mix, pasta, and oatmeal, and I'll usually stop and grab some beef jerky and granola bars on my way out of town. I put the dry goods in plastic baggies, then put that in a nylon pouch to protect it.
    Hygiene:
    Camp soap, wet wipes, toilet paper, and an REI mini multi-towel. $5 for the soap, $1 for wet wipes, toilet paper is free, and $7 for the towel. It is tiny, but soaks up a lot of water, and wrings dry easily. I usually have to wring it 3 or 4 times to get fully dry, but it works.
    All of this fits into an REI Flash 22 pack, which cost me $40 on sale. This just straps on the top of my rack.
    Obviously this is mainly nice weather gear. For colder weather I have to fit in more clothes and a sleeping bag, plus a ridgerest sleeping mat, so I have to put panniers on to hold more gear.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Step one; get a sewing machine.

  6. #6
    Senior Member shipwreck's Avatar
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    Making your own down anything can be a horrible mess. Down gets everywhere, floats in the air, and is hard to clean up, particularly when unstuffing something.

    One solution to this is to take an old tent, something big with lots of mesh, and do all the down work inside of it. So it has to be a big enough tent to set up a sewing table and chair. Mesh helps enough light to see what your doing.
    When done stuffing and sewing, take the tent outside, turn it inside out and shake/clean the down off.

  7. #7
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamoni View Post
    I've been doing a lot of experimenting with budget ultralight stuff. Some things I've come up with: My mess kit is a stainless steel water bottle, a light my fire spork, a bic lighter, and a soup can. The bottle nests in the can, the spork and lighter goes wherever. I also have some $1 sterno cans and a wire hoop that lets me cook over them. Total cost of a complete set is less than $10. I use a multitool as a pot holder, use grass to scrub the pots. My sleeping pad is a roll of black drawer liner, bought at Target, for $9. It's thin, about 3/16", but warm and adds some cushion. My sleep system is a synthetic fleece blanket, folded in half longways, and sewn sleeping bag style. I put that inside an SOL bivy, wearing my clothes as needed. Cost: $2 for blanket, $25 for the bivy. Shelter is an Alpha tent: Knock off Army poncho, some skinny tent poles, and you have a little tent to hide under. I use a bit of painters plastic for a groundcloth: $25 for the poncho, $10 for the poles, $4 for a giant roll of painter's plastic. The poles are kind of bulky, so eventually I'll make something a little more slick. I'll sometimes use a hammock setup, which includes a tarp and bug net, that ran about $70 altogether. Food is just homemade trail mix, pasta, and oatmeal, and I'll usually stop and grab some beef jerky and granola bars on my way out of town. I put the dry goods in plastic baggies, then put that in a nylon pouch to protect it. Hygiene: Camp soap, wet wipes, toilet paper, and an REI mini multi-towel. $5 for the soap, $1 for wet wipes, toilet paper is free, and $7 for the towel. It is tiny, but soaks up a lot of water, and wrings dry easily. I usually have to wring it 3 or 4 times to get fully dry, but it works. All of this fits into an REI Flash 22 pack, which cost me $40 on sale. This just straps on the top of my rack. Obviously this is mainly nice weather gear. For colder weather I have to fit in more clothes and a sleeping bag, plus a ridgerest sleeping mat, so I have to put panniers on to hold more gear.
    Great stuff. Thanks for sharing those ideas.

    Don't know if someone out there can use this idea or not, but thought I would share it here -- I was just looking at the trekking poles at REI. They can be used as tent poles or tarp poles, and many ultralighters use them that way. Black Diamond had some ultralight poles there (for about 159.00). I was considering getting those at an upcoming sale at REI.

    Then I thought I would check out what Andrew Skurka has learned and has to say about trekking poles. He has tried a variety of them, including different companies' ultralight carbon poles. His preferred poles, it turns out, are non-telescoping, non-collapsible, one-piece poles made from carbon fiber golf club shafts. These can often be found in thrift stores in certain areas. Then he mentioned buying Black Diamond grips (bar tape would also work, among other choices) and putting those on, along with carbide trekking pole tips (Black Diamond and others sell them).

    He also mentioned using Gorilla Glue for the project. I've seen other glues that might be a slightly better choice, both in price and in performance. Amazon has some of them.

    McNett polyurethanes would have multiple uses for making, modifying, repairing, etc. a wide variety of gear, including shoes and shoe soles. Someone at McNett even told me that some of their adhesives work just fine for repairing leaks or flats in bike tires. (No added patches necessary -- just polyurethane.) I like this -- it's a simplification and an economy as well -- and you have a more useful, multipurpose adhesive in the tube of polyurethane.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 03-16-13 at 06:22 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    I too have been experimenting with some ultralight stuff, but some things just doesn't work for me if it's too light. But I saved a lot weight when I ditched my normal down filled bag and got the Sol Thermal Bivvy that cost just $30 and weighs only 9 ounces.

    But the mat I use I couldn't go real light because of my back so I use a Exped Symat but got the thickest one so it's a bit heavier at 47 ounces then the others they have, but it seems to be good enough for the back. Problem is I only go on weekend trips, I need to use it in the house someday for a couple of weeks to see how it will work on a longer trip.

    The tent I got was the The Terra Nova Wild Country Sololite tent. I fought over this decision because this is a 4 pound tent kind of heavier then I was hoping to get, but it is 4 season which according to a friend who had a 3 season get torn up by high winds once he talked me into this one which is designed for rough weather. A tent vs a tarp is a personal decision, I liked the tent idea better, not saying it is better but rather I liked it better.

    Then of course I have the assorted camping supplies which would. But on weekend tours all my gear and food combined only weighs 30 to 35 pound range which is pretty good, I could go lighter but I would give some convenience and durability that I like to keep.

  9. #9
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    I use a mix of expensive specialty gear and extremely cheap gear.

    For example, one of the oddest things I carry is an accordian folding Autoshade car window shade. It's essentially foam with foilization on both sides. $5-8 at various autoparts stores. It's a no brainer in winter for instant seating, laying insulation. First thing out of my pack whether a 5 min break for sitting on or for laying out by the fire or placing under my sleep system for an added bit of protection.

    Other things....

    A tarp. Buying up a used rainfly or ground cloath with 4-6 ties/eyelets is always going to be the cheapest, most versatile and lightest shelter system. I still use mine created from a $18 rain fly. Add in a $14-30 bug net and my favorite ground cloth a disposable plastic picnic table cover. Those things are tough and extremely light.

    Quilts are always a good alternative to a sleeping bag. Climashield and Primaloft. My goto summer bag is a Lefuma extreme 600(800?). I paid $45 for it. It only weighs 1lb 4oz and it packs down to nothing.

    Alcohol stoves, i.e. super cat stove or penny stove are awesme, but I go one further. A piece of ultrathin stainless steel (or titnium) flashing rolled up to an 8" high by 5" wide hobo style stove. About 2oz. Heck you can back it up with alcohol if you like and use it as a wind screen, but I always no I can improvise an alcohol stove on the drop of a hat and get alcohol in the form of HEET / gas line anti-freeze at any gas station in north america, so I don't bother.

    Cook kit... I've even used bean cans, even though I have evernew 700ml and many other high dollar options I always come back to the best tools for the job and sometimes it's a 40oz bean can with a bike spoke as a removeable handle.

  10. #10
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    I am a weight weenie and a scrounger, my trail name is Lawn Sale.

    I have literally converted a whole room in my farmhouse to a gear room, and it's like walking into my own REI. As I find more worthy gear (I always buy gear that's an upgrade so long as it's cheap), I pick it up and add it to the room. Almost all of my gear has come from lawn sales, Goodwill, and the local dump. Much of it has needed repair but all of it is in useable condition. Back in the early days I didn't have a lot of ultralight stuff, but now my gear room (these are old pictures) is filled with all sorts of it and some of the older and heavier stuff has moved on to other people just starting out.

    Ingenuity is the mother of invention, and just because it's not the latest and greatest does not mean it's not more than useful. The best thing I can suggest anyone do is to test out what you need locally before having to rely on it. As an example: a cut down spork is Ok to shave weight, but it's a pain to use, so I don't bother. A cannister stove is useless in the winter since the fuel won't flow, but the top of Mt Washington in winter is not the place to discover this. Certain sleeping pads are great for the first hour, but at 2AM you may be wishing you'd brought something else along.

    (click on pictures to enlarge)




    Merlin Titanium #170 (built 03/'88, 29th road frame), '88 Cannondale Black Lightning, 2 Fixed gear (46/17 road and 46/19 woods), Salsa El Kaboing fully, modified Surly Pugsley.

  11. #11
    Senior Member juggleaddict's Avatar
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    Are these ultralight solutions intended for long distance, or short trips?

    Personally I couldn't imagine doing the transAmerica trail with an ultralight kit... but if I was on the uni, and had to pack it all in a hiking bag... well that's another story.

    I'd like to do the sierra cascades unsupported on the uni, but I imagine it won't be a budgetted trip : P

  12. #12
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    Some gear I would choose for an extended trip, but much of it I would keep the same. I see people on the AT all the time with ultralight gear that is still working fine after 2,000 miles, some of which I own and would be hesitant to take on such a journey.
    Merlin Titanium #170 (built 03/'88, 29th road frame), '88 Cannondale Black Lightning, 2 Fixed gear (46/17 road and 46/19 woods), Salsa El Kaboing fully, modified Surly Pugsley.

  13. #13
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    Hikerinmaine, thanks for those pics. I just used them to prove to my wife that my gear shelf isn't really that excessive.

  14. #14
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    tyvek is cheap ground cloth.
    painters plastic too.

    tarp and bugnet are cheap. thrift store clothes can provide great stuff to wear.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  15. #15
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    Are these ultralight solutions intended for long distance, or short trips?

    Personally I couldn't imagine doing the transAmerica trail with an ultralight kit...
    As someone who has done long tours with both packing styles and several in between... I'll say that you might be surprised if you try it on a long tour. I know that I didn't find it any less applicable to longer tours. If anything the benefits of a lighter load and a simpler lifestyle were even more beneficial on longer tours.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    Are these ultralight solutions intended for long distance, or short trips?

    Personally I couldn't imagine doing the transAmerica trail with an ultralight kit... but if I was on the uni, and had to pack it all in a hiking bag... well that's another story.

    I'd like to do the sierra cascades unsupported on the uni, but I imagine it won't be a budgetted trip : P

    There was woman here in America that did the TransAmerica trail with nothing but about 20 pounds of ultralight gear.

    Read this for more info on how: http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.com/ That is not my cup of tea, I need a bit more creature comfort, but the point is that a person could tour across the USA with a ultralight set up.

  17. #17
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Twenty pounds isn't even all that light and should be pretty easy to manage. I started my ride from San Diego to Pensacola with 14 pounds of bags and gear (I finished with a bit less) including cooking and camping stuff and did a tour in the Colorado Rockies with 11 pounds of bags and gear. I did not feel like I gave up much if anything in comfort. The gear choices worked out quite well.

    Also I'll add that on those trips I didn't need to resort to using a lot of high dollar stuff and I do not even own any cuben fiber gear. I don't think the gear list for those trips was even all that close to the minimum possible and I have shaved a the list a bit farther since then.

    I don't have any desire to go to the absolute minimum, but if someone really wanted to they could resort to the tactics used by SUL backpackers and get gear weight to 5 pounds or so. That doesn't really interest me, but I think it is doable while still being able to cook and camp.

  18. #18
    Senior Member juggleaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Twenty pounds isn't even all that light and should be pretty easy to manage. I started my ride from San Diego to Pensacola with 14 pounds of bags and gear (I finished with a bit less) including cooking and camping stuff and did a tour in the Colorado Rockies with 11 pounds of bags and gear. I did not feel like I gave up much if anything in comfort. The gear choices worked out quite well.

    Also I'll add that on those trips I didn't need to resort to using a lot of high dollar stuff and I do not even own any cuben fiber gear. I don't think the gear list for those trips was even all that close to the minimum possible and I have shaved a the list a bit farther since then.

    I don't have any desire to go to the absolute minimum, but if someone really wanted to they could resort to the tactics used by SUL backpackers and get gear weight to 5 pounds or so. That doesn't really interest me, but I think it is doable while still being able to cook and camp.
    do you happen to have photos, or a gear list? One thing I have been concerned with in regards to touring on the unicycle in the future is the space required to fit the gear, and what is manageable to fit on the frame as opposed to a hiking bag. In the case of a unicycle this really amounts to what you can fit in a large seat bag.

    The big things I can think of are: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad. Which I imagine comes out to at least 6 lbs...mine is a bit more. (tarptent= 2.5, sleeping bag = 2, pad = 1.5, thin blanket/liner = 1 lb) Which in itself isn't bad, but packing them into the size of a shoe simply isn't possible. That gear in my kit takes up a full orlieb. That's not counting food, water, stove (think I'll ditch this entirely for uni touring and just do dry food), containers/packs, and clothing!

    I suppose I could substitute clothing in for the liner or even the sleeping bag if I wanted to put on all of my layers every night : P

  19. #19
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juggleaddict View Post
    do you happen to have photos, or a gear list? One thing I have been concerned with in regards to touring on the unicycle in the future is the space required to fit the gear, and what is manageable to fit on the frame as opposed to a hiking bag. In the case of a unicycle this really amounts to what you can fit in a large seat bag.

    The big things I can think of are: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad. Which I imagine comes out to at least 6 lbs...mine is a bit more. (tarptent= 2.5, sleeping bag = 2, pad = 1.5, thin blanket/liner = 1 lb) Which in itself isn't bad, but packing them into the size of a shoe simply isn't possible. That gear in my kit takes up a full orlieb. That's not counting food, water, stove (think I'll ditch this entirely for uni touring and just do dry food), containers/packs, and clothing!

    I suppose I could substitute clothing in for the liner or even the sleeping bag if I wanted to put on all of my layers every night : P
    I think you could get to a pretty small bundle with something like the following:
    • Borah Side Zip bivy or similar item from MLD or TiGoat
    • Integral Designs Siltarp 1
    • Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45

    I own those particular items and have found that they can be packed down to less than the size of a loaf of bread. I think it comes out to just under two pounds for the three items. They could be very easily carried in a small backpack or a fanny pack without being very loaded down.

    I have a variety of lists from different trips as well as an article that documents various steps along the way in my efforts at packing lighter. Follow the link in my signature for more on that.

  20. #20
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    Anybody here actually made a down bag? I have....and it's something you'll only do once in your lifetime.

    There's still down in my garage.....3 years later.....and I made it inside a small dome tent.

    Buy the time you get out of the tent,your all sweaty and look like somebody tarred and feathered you.....you HAVE to wear a mask or you blow down snot balls for days.....GREAT FUN????

    To reuse down from something,use a canister vacuum with a pillow case where the filter would go.Cut open the bag/coat and suck the down into the bag.....easy.Getting it out and back into something else? Not so easy.

    Making your own gear is fun....most of the time.
    Last edited by Booger1; 03-26-13 at 01:23 PM.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

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