I recently went on the third backpacking trip of my life. The first was when I was about 12 and my grandmother took us up into the Sierras to Chocolate Lake; she did all the organizing but I did carry my own gear. I didn't really pack or plan, though, and don't remember anything about gear other than that the pack itself was an old school backpack w/ external aluminum frame. Weight didn't seem bad, but it was a long time ago.
The last two trips were both in Yosemite, both using my Kifaru Zulu as my pack. The first time we hiked up from the valley via the Mist Trail, camped at Little Yosemite, and the next morning, climbed the cables up Half Dome, back down, broke camp, and descended into the valley also via the Mist Trail. The more recent time we were going to do that but slacked on getting our permit so we couldn't get one for leaving the valley, had to get one to leave from Glacier Point. This actually proved a blessing because we got to do a new trail, and a more fun one at least for me. We left Glacier Point, hiked down to Illouette (sp?) Falls, then along the Panorama Trail to Nevada Falls and then up into Little Yosemite Valley. Camped there, then down the Mist Trail the next day.
Both of these recent hikes were awesome, but in both cases I arrived badly fatigued, and my pack weight was the reason why. The first time was worse, I lightened my load significantly by the second time, but it was still too heavy. One mistake was overconfidence, wanting to be "manly", and so volunteering to carry the whole tent for Steph and I, rather than splitting the load. Pride is a motherfucker. The other reason is bringing too much shit. The first time I brought way too much "just in case" gear, extra nylon pockets, etc. The more recent time I got rid of this stuff, lightening my load significantly. I weighed my pack after we got back, and had a base weight (no food, water, or consumables) of 24lbs. Not too bad! But, once you add 6lbs of water, plus some food, and me being out of shape and not used to altitude, it still sucked a bit. YES, I should train more, backpack more, get in better shape, and by doing so would be able to pack more weight. But also, I need to lighten up. Here are my thoughts.
First, do some research. After we got back, my friend and I went to the Pizza Deck at Curry Village, gorged ourselves on some well-earned pizza (I give myself total "fuck it" permission re: diet for the first meal after returning from a backpacking trip), and drank a couple of expensive, delicious, big-ass beers. Having quite the buzz on, we wandered into the gear store, and I picked up a book on ultralight backpacking. Since we'd just been talking about pack weights, it seemed relevant; I handed it to my friend and he (or rather, beer) bought it. We spent the next few days reading it to each other around camp.
The book was: http://www.amazon.com/Ultralight-Backpa ... 0762763841
In this book, the author also recommends:http://www.amazon.com/Allen-Mikes-Reall ... pd_sim_b_5http://www.amazon.com/Lighten-Up-Comple ... pd_sim_b_4
I would buy these books before buying any new gear. I plan on doing so as soon as I get back from this trip. I've read the first one and it's given me enough to get a good start, but I'd like to own all three as I get more into backpacking.
Some general principles, not necessarily from these books:
Ultralight backpacking is not bugging out. UL backpacking, and backpacking in general, is based on certain principles that won't be true in a bugout, such as being able to hit resupply points every 5-10 days, having a warm bed waiting for you when you get home, and having an entire government infrastructure to come find you if you get lost. Also, nobody's shooting at you, there aren't zombies, and you get to choose the time and place of your trip. Recognizing these distinctions, though, you can still apply a lot of the lessons from UL backpacking to setting up your BOB. Example, some extreme UL backpackers get a base weight as low as 5-10lbs. If you're playing Red Dawn, you can throw this 5-10lb sustainment load in a buttpack on your fighting rig, rather than humping a full ruck. This is just one example.
Start with the big stuff. There is no point in sawing the handle off your toothbrush, squeezing toothpaste into little dried out dots, etc., and then shoving it all in a 1000D Cordura Kifaru pack that weighs 8-12lbs empty. Look at your load in terms of systems that allow you do achieve a necessary goal, look at the weight of each system, and then figure out how to lighten each system while still meeting your same goals. The big ones tend to be the Pack System, Shelter System, Sleep System, and the Food and Water System. The heaviest items tend to be the pack itself, the tent/hammock/tarp setup, and the sleeping bag or quilt. There is some debate over whether you should buy the pack first, or last: do you buy a small UL pack, then force yourself to get rid of stuff til everything fits? Or do you buy all your other UL gear first, until you know exactly how small of a pack you can get away with, and then buy one? In my opinion this depends on the next point:
Use what you have. Get out there with what you've got, even if your setup isn't perfect. Remember, the point is to have a good time backpacking, or to set up an emergency kit you've practiced with, NOT obsessing over gear for its own sake. Also, using gear is the best way to figure out what you need to change, and what works. Don't be this guy:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZGKpNbV ... _embedded#