Week 18

Weather: Temps 35-45, wind 10 mph, rain during day but not at night

Gear: ENO Singlenest hammock, DIY Suspension, snugpak travelpak extreme

Comments: It rained all day yesterday, but, lucky for me, it stopped around 6:00. I didn't really need to set up my tarp because there was no overnight forecast of rain, so I decided to just sleep under the stars for a change
I got a chance to listen to one a presentation on "gear and skills" by none other than the world renown backpacker Andrew Skurka (so this post is more geared towards that because not much happened last night). Though his presentation was geared toward his shelter of choice- the tarp tent, I learned some valuable things as a hammocker. Most relevant to what I'm doing now, he talked about how to take your sleeping bag colder than it is rated. Basically, instead of adding weight and bulk to your pack with a low rated sleeping bag, you just sleep in the clothes that you wore hiking (all layers from the wick to the shells) and that way you save valuable space and weight in your pack. Last night I went out with a pair of wool socks, two pairs of pants, a shirt, and a softshell jacket. I decided against using the underquilt, just to  see what I could do. I found that even with temps dropping to the mid 30s, I was warm in a 50* (I rate it at fifty because i generally sleep better if the bag is rated +10 of the manufacturer's rating) sleeping bag. Had I actually been backpacking, I probably would have changed my shirt but otherwise packed up and hike out the way I was dressed. This whole technique will save me time, space, and pack weight.
One last thing worth sharing but not really relevant to what I'm doing: For every pound of footwear you are wearing, it is the equivalent of 6 pounds in your back. This is because of the motion of your foot, swinging back and forth. So basically, a two pound set of hiking boots is the equivalent of the base weight of a lightweight backpacker. So maybe instead of investing hundreds of dollars in new gear to shave ounces of your previous gear, just spend 2-300 and get yourself a good pair of lightweight hiking boots that will equate to more of a weight savings then that $2,000 worth of gear you could have bought.


  1. Dan, good information on the extra clothes.

    It's hard to disagree with Andrew Skurka.

    The myth about the pound of footwear equaling 6 pounds on the back is a bad one. It was done in England with 5 or 6 volunteers on a treadmill. The thing is, on a treadmill, there is no lifting of the pack. The myth is repeated so often, people assume it is true. It also logically makes sense.

    There is a class of boots that has been heavily designed and tested for backpacking in very severe conditions. That's the modern military combat boot. I have a pair of Danner's and they are the most comfortable footwear I've ever worn. The value of the RIGHT boot may be preventing injuries over the long term. Boots can also give a mechanical advantage that outweighs the weight factor.

    Here is an article that as more information than you'll ever want to know on combat boots. Of the boots tested, only the Danner and Bates are still sold.


    Notice, they don't compare weight as a factor.

    Hidden in this article, or maybe it's another one I have, is there is a great mechanical advantage in putting weight as high as possible in your pack.

    Here is another article on walking theory. You might find something interesting in it. In this article, it states somewhere between 10 and 34% (depending on the study) of the energy used is while the feet are off the ground. What I found real useful is the concept of the body as a pendulum. It takes practice, but if I take shorter steps and get my center of gravity very slightly forward, then it's as if I'm falling uphill with the rear leg straightening without effort. The feeling is very much like a treadmill on an incline where the treamill moves the rear foot.


    Here is a review I wrote on 3 pairs of boots I own:


  2. Great tips! I did not know that about the weight of ones footwear. I will definitely be studying that issue more. Thanks. jc