[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"] GG Crown VC 60 and its HDPE frame sheet with extra stays[/caption]
I bought Granite Gear Crown V.C. 60. Granite Gear is known to make very lightweight gear with durability in mind. I also had Osprey Exos 58 (1140 g) but it didn't seem very solid or durable. Exos is a bit heavier too but carries much more load, and has much more features (easy access drinking bottle pockets, hip belt pockets, lots of other pockets, whistle etc.) The reason I like my GG Crown is not only its great looks but its weight (980 g), its great padding and durable fabrics. It has a roll-down closure which is easy to use though, and can carry more than the heavier Exos in volume, plus it has options to carry stuff below the pack. Hip Belt is missing from the picture though.
However Crown is spec'd for 35 lbs (15.8) which is less than Exos. So I took my broken drying rack, took a metal tube out of it, put some duct tape at the ends (unaesthetically as you can see), and put it through the HDPE frame sheet, and mirabile dictu it became very good at carrying higher loads. I don't know yet what its maximum comfortable range but its over what I need (35 lbs) for sure. I didn't use all holes for the tubes since it would have been too stiff. If you want to be UL hero, you could use titanium or aluminium tubes. Total weight is 1080 g which is still less than Exos, and all in all its a great pack. I highly recommend.
Another option would have been HMG Porter</a> suggested by the good folks of BPL, reviewed here. It has more price and worse looks but quite less weight (715 g). Also BPL reviewers claim decent durability which can be a problem with UL gear. I'm interested in padding and durability, not absolute weight savings, all of which Crown seem to be good at. No doubt Porter would still be a good pack given what I've read, but I'm more than happy with this.
Other packs of interest
- Granite Gear Blaze AC 60</a></li>
- ULA Catalyst</a> or other ULA packs</li>
- Gossamer Gear Gorilla</a> or Mariposa</a></li>
- Elemental Horizons Aquilo</a></li>
- Golite Packs</li>
- Other Osprey Packs like Atmos</li>
Check this huge list</a> from Backpacker.com. It has almost every pack on the market of 2012 with all the details.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"]</a> 1. Jetboil Legs (29 g) 2. Jetboil Stove (99 g) 3. Jetboil Cup (133 g) 4. Stuff Bag (21 g) 5. MSR Packtowl 6. Knife (91 g) 7. Jetboil Pot Support 8. Jetboil Lid (20 g) 9. Matches (10 g) + Sponge (4 g) 10. Repair kit (34 g) 11. Playing Cards (32g) 12. Cotton balls 13. Silicone Bowl 14. Jetboil Fuel (380g) 15. Canon S95 16. Money (14g) 17. iPhone 3GS 18. Flashlight (opt.) 19. Ti Spork (17 g) 20. Insect Repellent[/caption]
I looked at various options, including Snowpeak</a>, MSR</a>, Primus</a>, Monatauk</a> etc. I ended up with Jetboil Sol Advanced</a> for several reasons. BPL has a review</a> of that and the titanium version. Its part of all-around comparison of canister stoves.
Jetboil Sol is relatively light. Without modifying, 161 g for the cup + neoprene cover and 99 g for the stove equals 260 g which is a pretty good number. The advantages of Jetboil include better tested fuel efficiency (eg. ~35% compared to Litemax @ REI), better cold-weather performance and more features. This was a big upgrade from my Trangia which weighted about 1.5 kg, and fuel 1.1 kg.</p>
For example Gnat (reviewed</a> by Henrik Morkel) at 48 g, Titanium mug at 100 g and Windscreen at 60 g would be 208 g total, making only 52 g difference to my setup. With two people its 26 g. The Jetboil Titanium at minimum weight (213 g @ BPL) would practically at same weight.
I use Primus Powergas 230 g canister with 380 g of gross weight. That canister with Jetboil should boil around 25 litres of water, enough for 12 days. Cold, wind and lack of gas pressure due to emptier canister will decrease that number. Take it as a maximum and leave a safety margin.I also have Jetboil's Aluminium stand (7.) for custom pots but I don't use it. The silicon bowl which I use is a bit on heavy side but good enough for me.</p>
I have Canon EOS 500D but its a bit too heavy for my taste. Canon S95 is a great compact camera, probably best image quality for its size. You can find a review here</a>. I also considered getting Olympus XZ-1, reviewed here</a>, which is a bit heavier but has better lens. The issue with XZ-1 is lack of its pocketability so it would become more of a backpacking-only camera. Not good use of money. Another option is to get Sigma DP1, DP1S, DP1X or DP1M (upcoming), which is heavier but has DSLR quality lens and sensor. With DP-series it should be possible to take awesome pictures if you have photography skills. They don't cost much, you can probably get one for 100 euros if you are lucky. They are a bit bulky and meant for enthusiasts, not for average consumers.</p>
In my Repair Kit I have needle, some flavors of cords, superglue and rubber pads from SeamGrip</a>repair kit. I have Cotton Balls soaked in Ethanol stored in waterproof SeamGrip container for fire starting. Sponge, knife, money, play cards and insect repellent are pretty self-explanatory. Not much weight savings there to do either. You could get a lighter knife but I prefer something robust.The MSR Packtowl is very light towel. It does not make you warm but it does remove all the water. Great product.Apple iPhone 3GS with highly damage-resistant plastic screen cover + silicon shield is a great product aswell. By damage-resistant I mean my labrador could only barely get through it. It stopped my dog before it was too late! Get one from Brando</a>. iPhone 3GS packs lots of features in small and usable size; GPS, music, notes, phone etc. I have replaced the battery manually with higher-capacity battery. One idea is to get AA-charger</a> or Sun charger.
I have a bulky flashlight but Zipka 2 Plus</a> would be compact, light weight, powerful (50 lumens) and has a head strap. Using 2x Lithium 14g 3000 mAh batteries</a>, you would get more power, better cold-performance and less weight.
I carry all my stuff except food, clothing, sleeping stuff or that bowl in my little water-resistant pouch (4.). It all somehow fits in while it has no more than few liters of space.
I carry Septidin which is a useful spray to sterilize your hands, mug or anything. Sunscreen is pretty obvious although smaller bottle would be nice. Toothpaste could be smaller aswell. Lipstick is a must though, you'll regret of not having it (if you do forget, olive oil might work temporarily).
In my First Aid Kit, I have 2 sterile gauze dressing (10x10cm), adhesive dressings (6x7cm), sterile non-adherent dressing, medical tape, anti-burn ointments, painkillers, alcohol swab, antihistamine, bandage and some duct tape fro blisters. This is more of a comfort item than actually useful.
There's a very good sleeping bag summary article</a> on BPL. My Summer Bag is PHD</a> custom-made 300 g down bag with 0 C° rating. It has MX inner and outer layer with short zip. PHD is UK-based company which makes high-quality down stuff. Their PHD Minim 400 got very good review</a> and apparently the temperature ratings on their website are really conservative; you probably could decrease them 5 degrees Celsius to match other manufacturers. My bag is a bit cheaper (350e) and lighter (550g) than the 400. Down is a bit more expensive but quite weight-efficient choice. It also must stay dry (thus MX fabric).
Only other bag that comes close is WM Summerlite with 275g down, 525g of weight, 0c rating and about same price. That's ok, its hard to say how it would compare without buying it.
For sleeping pad I'm currently using lightweight foil/foam pad, but I've been looking at Thermarest XTherm</a> and Downmat UL 7</a>. I won't need it right now but if I plan to do some colder fall trip, I might buy either of those. Both have quite low weight (400-500g), high R-rating (>5) and hefty price tag. Efficient sleeping system is also about using your existing clothes for extra warmth. With base layer + down or fleece jacket you can probably push your bag 5 Celsius lower or more.
For clothes that I wear, I use Rab Meco 120 long-sleeved shirt as my top base layer and some usual sports shirts. For boots I use my old Gore-Tex hiking boots which are heavier than trail runners for sure, but I'm not interested investing in lighter footwear at the moment. For socks I use Wigwam Silk/Merino</a> Crew pair but I also have Bridgedale Endurance</a> socks.
For clothes that I carry, I have my soft shell jacket and pants. They are quite heavy compared to any UL gear but good enough for my needs. I have my synthetic skiing suit as my backup base layer which I can also use when I sleep. It is full-body version, relatively odor-free, relatively light and great at wicking moisture. I also have a fleece sweater for insulation since you don't really need that much insulation during summer. I could use my wool shirt as well but its a bit heavier. I also carry a beanie and gloves if it gets too chilly.
- ULA Catalyst</a> or other ULA packs</li>