What I’ve Learned About Ultralight: SOBO Days 42 – 47

As I sarcastically alluded to in my first post, I am not a gear person. Gear is a common topic of conversation among thru-hikers and I really don’t have much to contribute. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve learned a heck of a lot from those around me in these first few weeks of hiking.

But after a costume change in Lincoln, NH from my WalMart joggers and tank to shorts and a Patagonia sun hoodie, I’m feeling it. I’m feeling the gear conversation, just this once.

The End of the Whites

The descent from Mount Moosilauke marks the end of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire. From there, it’s an easy breezy hike into Hanover, New Hampshire, a quaint college town.

But the hike through the rest of the Whites was anything but easy breezy, albeit beautiful. It was throughout this section that I made a mental list of items to ditch when I arrived at a post office in Hanover, New Hampshire. I’m learning that any weight off your back when you spend all day every day hiking is a huge advantage.

What’s Been Left Behind?

A self-imposed shakedown in Stratton, Maine with a fellow thru-hiker and further mental shakedowns have led to the following items being shipped home or disposed of or added to the pile of items in a hostel’s hiker box.

  • Band-aids and other assorted first aid supplies
  • The bottles for all medications, which are now stored in a communal ziplock baggie
  • Fleece sweater (don’t worry, I kept the puffy)
  • Extra pair of underwear (new shorts have a liner)
  • Brain of my backpack (don’t need the extra storage anymore)
  • Rain pants (although the bright yellow rubber pants gave me my trail name, “Ducky”)
  • Stuff sack for tent (including the heavy buckles for the bike pack)
  • Mittens (but I’m asking Mom to send these back for the Fall…brrr)
  • Mosquito net (once I was through Maine and the buggy season, I think I can handle the rest! If you want to read more about the mosquitoes in Maine, I’ll refer you to Hommage to the Mosquito).

What’s Been Replaced?

Hey, I’m here to learn. After lots of conversations with fellow hikers, I made the below gear swaps to “dial-in” my pack. I think that means to make it weight less and only carry the bare necessities. The simple bear necessities.

  • Downsized from a 2L pot to a 750mL pot, which is just perfect for single portions of dinner and a mug of tea!
  • Switched from a sleeping bag to a quilt, same temperature rating, but less than half as heavy!
  • Changed my hiking attire from pants and a tank to shorts and a sun hoody. Let’s just saw I’ve gotten one too many sunburns…
  • Swapped my water bladder for Smart Water bottles, they’re lighter and easier to access for refills

Was it All in Vain?

These swaps and omissions have certainly made my pack lighter, now weighing in under 20lbs, instead of 23lbs. What’s 3lbs? A lot. It feels great. That said, I’ve also been known to carry out a pound and a half of peanut butter on three-day sections of trail, so how effective have these changes really been? Couldn’t tell you.

Still a Long Way to Go

Leaving the hostel in Hanover, an older gentleman looked at me carrying my fully loaded Osprey Eja 48. He said “That looks like a heavy pack”. I looked at him back and said “Yup, but I can carry it”. You can check my gear list here on The Trek, what would you get rid of next? Maybe by the mountains of Virginia, I’ll be more dialed in, but for now, I’m still working on it.

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Comments 5

  • Tom Schellenger : Aug 27th

    I enjoy learning of a hikers experience in order to minimize my errors

    • Jana : Oct 26th

      Definitely helpful! I’m still learning lots as I go!

  • thetentman : Aug 27th

    I leave my worries behind, They weigh too much.

    Good luck.

    • Jana : Oct 26th

      Great perspective!


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