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The Nth Degree of SUL Gear - is it for you?

Let me start with listing my current 3 season "Big Three" UL gear:

1. PACK-> Osprey EXOS 58, Large

2. TENT-> Tarptent Moment DW solo tent

3. SLEEP SYSTEM-> bag- Western Mountaineering overstuffed Megalite (20 F.)

mattress- REI FLASH Insulated regular mummy shape & Sea to Summit inflation dry bag.

So... not bad for UL weight and very well used except the newer REI FLASH mattress. But I COULD get a lighter internal frame pack by maybe 8 to 10 oz. and I COULD get the new Tarptent AEON Li Dyneema solo tent (1 lb.) and lighten up another 1 lb.

My sleep system is about as light as I can get with the comfort I demand. I eschew quilts.

COOK KIT-> Brunton CRUX foldable canister-top burner, 3 cup aluminum pot & "single use pie pan" DIY lid (I won't use a mug for cooking. Too fuel inefficient & won't fit my alternate stove a Sidewinder Ti cone stove for using ESBIT fuel.)

CLOTHING-> pants and shirts are light polyester or nylon, shoes Merrill Moab low cut, RAIN GEAR-> is REI Kimtah eVent parka and pants (1 lb. each)

* I may get the AEON Li solo tent if it ever comes out in a colored fly. Can't abide translucent Dyneema flys.

* So yeah, I could get lighter (& less durable ) WPB rain gear but that's about all I can do for now to lighten up.

Have or would you go for the expense of a Dyneema pack and solo tent?

Any other suggestions to lighten my load? (And wallet!)

Eric B.


I would not get a dyneema pack, the fabric does not wear well when subjected to abrasion, and is easily punctured by passing tree branch snags and such.  

The dyneema tent question usually boils down to being mostly a financial issue.  The weight reduction is almost half of your existing tent's weight, but as with most UL anything, the cost per ounce shed gets steep as we venture to the bleeding edge.  I will say, however for less than 2 more ounces there are several 2P dyneema trad pyramid configurations that offer vastly more interior space, albeit lack a floor and netting.  There are lighter netting alternatives, and if using a ground cloth, a floor is optional when going extreme UL, right?  As for translucence: that is a function of fabric weight used in the design.  Some tents use a heavier fabric (heavier is a relative term here) that allow seeing vague silhouettes, but not the details of what resides on the other side of the tent wall. 

I think there are several other opportunities for substantial component weight reduction:

  • Replace water treatment/filtration with chemical treatment.  The expense is about equal over time, so this costs little for the weight reduction.
  • Paring down cook gear.  If you camp where wood can be burned, leave the stove behind.  You can also leave the pots home, too, by throwing together cold meals that need no prep.  (But for me this is way too hard core for sundry backpacking.)
  • If you use a bear canister,  The Wild Ideas Bearikade is roughly 30% lighter than other bear canisters of similar volume.
  • Replace nylon lines with lines made of dyneema, spectra, or other high tech materials.  They weigh a fraction of their nylon counterparts and take up a fraction of volume.  If you use a line to suspend weights (e.g. bear hang) you should be aware the thin diameter of tech lines are hard on the hands when applying a pulling force, and resist being drawn through a carabiner or over a tree limb. I addressed this by replacing only half of the haul line, the end where the food bag is attached.  I still saved about 5 ounces with this switch.  In many cases you can replace a line with spectra fishing line, which is the most extreme UL line you can obtain.  Add a spool for easy storage and use, and it is still by far the lightest line option out there.
  • If you use a kitchen rain fly,  upgrading to a dyneema tarp offers the same weight and volume reduction opportunity as a tent upgrade.

When trying to lighten the load, one should always consider shedding body weight.  Most older adults are carrying around at least ten pounds they should lose anyway, and that is a lot more weight than what we are addressing, herein.


"When trying to lighten the load, one should always consider shedding body weight.  Most older adults are carrying around at least ten pounds they should lose anyway, and that is a lot more weight than what we are commenting over, herein."

Just joined Weight Watchers for exactly that reason.

the gear seems pretty lightweight.  i'm not sure the dyneema or dyneema hybrid backpacks weigh any less - look at hyperlite or mytrail. (i guess if you could fit everything into a 50 liter pack, mytrail's 50 liter UL pack isn't much more than a pound...but those suspensions aren't great when they carry meaningful weight, in my experience). 

you're presumably equally careful about food you bring, a lot of stuff dried/freeze dried. 

my ultimate suggestion for lightening your load - bring a porter to carry your stuff.  

I wouldn't get the Dyneema pack unless you only hike in open country. Even then it would depend on how much care you take. I like a pack I can toss around and scramble through thickets with so prefer the Robic like my Ula Ohm. Not saving much weight from an Exos though...if the Exos is a good fit for you not sure it's worth sacrificing. 

The AEON li tent looks nice but a $500 price tag? I'm way too cheap to think that's worth the pound savings.

Getting a little into semantics here but the Dyneema world is very cloudy and so when people make overarching statements like "dyneema isn't durable", well that's just false. Dyneema on its own is about the strongest fibre made possible for backpacks. Where the confusion lies is that most companies are using, what is now called, dyneema composite fabrics, which is essentially a very small amount of the actual dyneema strands sandwiched by a polyester film (same thing that was referred to previously as cuben fiber). Something like the Hyperlite Summit or Cilogear, with the Woven dyneema face fabric is about the most durable pack that you can purchase (and the exorbitantly large price tag to go with it!). Long story short this comes down to the debate that all backpacking gear comes down to- Lightweight- Cheap- Durable- Choose two!

A lot depends on the environment in which you hike.  If you need to carry a significant amount of water, forget UL.

it is nice that we have lightweight items available, and striving for lighter, functional gear is always worthwhile, but like anything else, the enterprise will reach the point of diminishing returns.


1. I've long ago ditched water filters for 1. Katadyn chlorine dioxide tabs and 2. Steripen Adventurer. I carry a few #1 coffee filters if I have water with floating stuff on/in it.

2. My cook gear is about as light as possible, even to leaving the aluminum lid at home for the lighter DIY "pie pan" lid. Have a plastic measuring/drinking cp that nests inside a cut down Zip Loc 'fridge bowl that all nests inside the 3 cup pot. A long handled Lexan spoon (now extinct on store shelves) rounds out my cook kit(unless i'm winter camping when I take a small aluminum frying pan W/ceramic lining & cut off handle for pancakes and sausage).

3.My Garcia bear canister/stool is heavy but very seldom used and very bear proof - at least until the smarty pants Yosemite bears learn to carry screwdrivers. I have a mesh stainless steel food bag for certain ring-tailed cat areas like S. Utah.

4. Yep, I use Triptease Specra tent cord for my food bag and all other cordage uses like guy lines.

5. No rain fly except for car and canoe camping. I cook inside my Moment DW's vestibule in rain or heavy snow.

Alan, You are ABSOLUTELY keerect on losing body weight. I refuse to consider a Dyneema tent until I'm down 15 pounds to 180.

Andrew, don't think I haven't considered a llama "porter".

Jake, #1 on understanding the various kinds of "Dyneema" fabrics. Some are barely Dyneema in terms of thread content. Ya gotta research the reputation of the company.Ex. Tarptent uses an industry standard of Dyneema tenting fabric weight.

I backpack in desert and mountain forest. both of which are hostile to fabrics.

** Thanks gents for your advice and opinions. On losing weight - today I'll do 1 1/2 hours on a treadmill (watching Star Trek) with a 30 lb. training pack. Then over to my Bow Flex and free weights. At 76 I "gotta maintain" and at that age you can understand my sudden interest in SUL gear like my carbon fiber hiking poles.

Eric B.

Good point about lumping all the dyneema together under one category...not the same.

Eric...I'm a bit shy of 25 years behind you and hope to be doing half as well as you on the exercise front. If my knees hurt already and I can't do without trekking poles now I hope there are new and even lighter options when I reach your status...Ill need SSUL stuff to keep going! 

(watching Star Trek) 

Which show or movie? There's a lotta Trek out there these days...

As for Dyneema packs, I have a 52L cuben composite pack that weighs a hair over one pound with a frame (older version of Zpacks Arc Blast) and has held up very well. I know it's been through some abuse because the mesh pocket on front has gotten torn up a bit but the cuben with poly laminate is in great shape.

JR, "Next Generation" Star Trek B/C I like watching Jerri Redding as "7 of 9". ;o)

I was very tempted to get a new Arc Blast but the Osprey EXOS 58 was sooo comfortable and on sale so I got it. 

Eric B.

Jeri Ryan, yeah.

To continue this old thread I know I can get nearly 50% lighter WPB rain gear and may at least get a a lighter rain parka.

Boots or shoes lighter than Merrill Moab all seem to have far less foot protection when walking on fist size rocks that are prevalent herein the mountain west so for now I'll stick to them in size wide.

Eric B.

The lightly-used original Hexamid is still one of the best Ebay finds. Even in .51 cuben it is an easily-servicable shelter for hundreds upon hundreds of nights on the trail. A six-inch strip of cuben tape weighs next to nothing, and is all you'll likely need to reinforce the top cap when, 300 nights down the road, the pinholes start to develop.

With all due respect to GG's The One and MLD's Solomid, Joe's Hexamid ticks a few more boxes for me. The netting floor is just brilliant, and get's only moreso when accounting for the polycro/tyvek groundsheet/bivy we often end up carrying anyway. 

I gotta say that the TT AEON Li (Dyneema) 3 season tent is just so attractive. For a 'mid design it solves most of the problems associated with that design in terms of interior space and entrance shelter from rain. 

BUT... if you see the Ryan Jordan video at Backpacking Light (ya gotta be a member to see it) you'll understand that the AEON Li is absolutely the wrong tent in wind-driven snow. It just fills with snow in those conditions.

For winter I have my TT Moment DW solo tent with ripstop inner. It's been proven many times to handle blowing snow and heavy snow load. 

Eric B.

@eric: well if we're talking about wind-blown snow than that changes things a bit. You have a ripstop inner for your Moment?

pillowthread said:

@eric: well if we're talking about wind-blown snow than that changes things a bit. You have a ripstop inner for your Moment?

 He says he has.

Yep, my Moment DW has the ripstop inner with netting at the top for more venting  breathability. But it absolutely keeps out spindrift when the fly triangular end flaps are secured and the inner windward end flap is secured. 

I have had to close one fly top vent only once in a driving snowstorm. 

Eric B.

I switched from the Moment DW to the Aeon Li, and I'm damn happy about it. There's more headroom in the Aeon, it feels more stable in wind, and it incorporates a hiking pole for setup, so I get a little more dual-use from the weight (I only use the pole occasionally, but hey why not if I have it for the tent anyway).

The Aeon is a lot fussier to pitch, but that hasn't been an issue for me after the first few setups.

I haven't tried it in blowing snow, but I'm skeptical that it can't be pitched securely against such conditions. I've used it in driving, blowing rain, and stayed perfectly dry.

After 50+ years of backpacking I do not worry so much about a super light load, and mine is only about 12 lbs altogether. 

Tent Kelty Salida 2, 4.5 lb

Sleeping bag Marmot,40 degree, 1.5 lbs ( I am primarily a summer hiker and in winter I live in Tucson AZ where its never colder or warmer  than up north in summer, so my summer bag is fine)

Pack CampPack X4, 3 lb

Stove and cook pot MSR Pocket Rocket 2, MSR Stowaway pot and cannister 1.5 lb, spork

Ensolite pad, 1 lb (41 years old)

1 liter Nalgene bottle(s,) 3 each.

CamelBak 3 liter bladder

Ultralight came about because people hike the through-trails, thousand of miles and months at a time. If you're somewhere between a weekend warrior and fortnight fighter, and don't have load-related health issues, then "mere" lightweight is fine.

Your pack is 1.2 kilos and your tent is a kilo.

If you really want to get stupid consider looking at the Granite Gear Virga backpacks, the 26 litre is just under half a kilo, the 56 litre is just over half a kilo. And they're not crazy expensive either. You can use a sleep mat to create a frame.

For a tent, the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV1 Carbon Dyneema is under half a kilo and free-standing - but expensive.

Here's a tip: as well as worrying about the Big Three have a close look at the Tiny Thirty. All the little things that you could leave at home, find lighter, or combine.

Pixie, I loked at that GG Virga. It is frameless.  I have frameless daypacks that never carry more than 15 pounds but to carry 25 to 30 pounds in a frameless backpack is just too uncomfortable. All the weight is on your shoulders, compressing your spine. 

My UL Osprey EXOS 58 is just over 2 pounds with a perimeter frame and mesh trampoline back. Its comfort is something I would never trade for saving 8 ounces and having the discomfort of a frameless pack.

OK, OK, I realize some SUL (Super Ultra Light) backpackers carry skimpy Dyneema tarps. skinny down bags, use a ti mug for cooking, eating and drinking, sleep in a torso length foam pad,  etc., etc. and use a frameless pack at say, 18 pounds. That is their path to comfort. Mine is different and I dare say, MORE comfortable for me. Tried the other SUL route and moved on.

I'm not that guy. Even with my light EXOS 58 pack, WM down bag, 15 oz. mummy shaped REI FLASH air mattress, light Tarptent Moment DW solo tent and Sidewinder ti cone stove for ESBIT, "etc., etc." I still walk in comfort and at camp I sleep in total comfort, refreshed for the next day. 

I think I have found the balance between light weight and comfort. That goal is what most backpackers look for - within their budget. HYOH applies here.

Eric B.

Yes, it's a frameless bag. But what are you talking about "25 to 30 pounds"? I thought the point was to go ultralight, super-ultralight, crazylight, etc.? Heck the bag is only rated to 20 pounds, max.

You could look at other weight cuts, you don't put the weights in of the rest of your gear except this one:

RAIN GEAR-> is REI Kimtah eVent parka and pants (1 lb. each)

So over 900 grams?

Zpacks and Frogg Toggs have suits in the sub 300 gram category.

Anyway, I think we need a full gear shakedown.

Once I got most of my kit, I practiced incremental purchases, replacing or upgrading a couple of items annually; otherwise I'd need a second mortgage to cover a full gear shakedown!)

What is considered "light" is relative to one's objectives and priorities.  I like getting there in comfort, but insist on comfort, once I am there.  I can go a fair bit lighter, but most weight cuts at this point also impact comfort, IMO.  I tend to pack in the context of light weight vs comfort, as Eric explains. 



You have me very interested in that 20 lb. max weight of your kit (including food and water).

So... what is your kit? Please list at least the Big Three of shelter, sleep system and pack. Cook gear would also be interesting to me as that can vary widely in weight.

WMW,  I agree, at the kit point where you and I are "... most weight cuts at this point tend to imppact comfort..."

Eric B.

I think what we are talking about here is "comfort light", a line my wife and I have been trying to walk these last few years. You can have my Helinox Ground Chair by prying it out form under my cold, dead butt.

So much of this and other discussions here on TS seemed to be for/about soloists, which I guess is how many of us end up traveling, by preference or default. You can shave a lot of weight by sharing tent, stove, and maybe sleeping bag. I did enough solo hiking in my 20s to hold me. My wife can do 10-15 mile days, sometimes more, which encourages me to slow day and enjoy the scenery, and I do solo side trips to satisfy my summit urges. Works for us!

But, yeah, a Stratospire li with solid walls is pretty high on my drool-list. And I suppose I should be looking at a lighter pack, but I haven't worn out the old one yet.


1. TENT-> for only 3 oz. more the Tarptent Notch Li is a double wall tent. I like it better than the AEON Li.

2. Outdoor Research has a very nice 6.3 oz.  size Large WPB parka for "only" $159. I say "only" B/C other light WPB parkas are $100. more! Tis is 10 oz. less than my current REI eVent parka and Cabela's GTX PacLite parka.

3. My current cook kit is as small as I want to make it with an anodized 3 cup pot, plastic measuring/drinking cup and long spoon with fork on the other end. The pot is wider than it is high which is THE most efficient shape for saving fuel.

I "eschew" ti cups, pots and skillets for their poor heat transfer and greater weight than aluminum.

Big Red -> "And I suppose I should be looking for a lighter pack, but I haven't worn out the old one yet."  What are you, a New England Yankee who's motto is, "Use it up. wear it out, make it do, do without."?? That's Un-American. You were born to consume Boy! ;o)

Eric B.

Is aluminum really that much lighter that titanium? I change cooking pots about every quarter century so can't say I'm up on this but recall that titanium pots are often lighter because the metal is stronger and therefore it can be made thinner...leading to weight reduction.

Don't disagree about cooking efficiency...aluminum transfers heat better but it also cools off faster. I switched from an aluminum pot to a Ti pot a while back after the old one had so many dents it was questionable if I could clean it. The Ti one hasn't shown a single dent yet, but I do have to set it at the right height for simmering on my Sidewinder stove to prevent scorching when I am cooking a real meal. 

Indeed, by volume aluminium is lighter than titanium but good luck finding a lighter aluminium pot of the same-size as an Evernew.

As for heat transfer, again, for a pan of the same thickness aluminium might conduct heat better (raw-material specs are 7% but of course the actual material will be some form of alloy) but again I doubt you'll find an actual aluminium pan that boils water detectably faster than an Evernew titanium.

IMO titanium is ideal for a rugged packable water boiler but it's not for cooking cooking.

But that's the point, I am cooking and perhaps I should have mentioned that up front. Things like spaghetti and sauce, pancakes and omelette, Pad Thai, etc. 

I do some Freezer Bag Cooking and some (gak!) freeze-dried food but i much prefer to take the time to actually cook for the better taste.

Eric B.

Fair play and in that case aluminium is definitely the right choice for you.

"The Russians eat to live and the French live to eat."

I live to eat.

300winmag said:

But that's the point, I am cooking and perhaps I should have mentioned that up front. Things like spaghetti and sauce, pancakes and omelette, Pad Thai, etc. 

I do some Freezer Bag Cooking and some (gak!) freeze-dried food but i much prefer to take the time to actually cook for the better taste.

Eric B.

The great joys of camping comes from the simple things: fresh air, sounds of the wilds, a good vista, friends and FOOD.

I am with Eric, I enjoy cooking on the trail.  My friends say I am the best BC cook they know (they don't realize they didn't have to flatter me, I'd cook anyway).  Some say my fresh meals as well as freeze-dried meals I "work with" are better than their home cooking (OK, I'm worried).

Add to Eric's kitchen: A real cooking stove.  The stove burner must large to minimize the "hot spot", and the output fully adjustable.   Many brands offer such stove designs, and all fuel options are supported.  I like a detached canister stove, the MSR Wind Pro.  Slightly more heavy than its over-canister counter part, but I like the better pot stand, stability, and a desire to keep the fuel canister as far from flames as possible!



i agree about a wide flame for even heat. I bought my stove-top Brunton Crux precisely because at the time it had the widest burner plus wide pot supports. I've made a good wind shield that also shields the canister.

For a remote canister/bottle stove I have the MSR Whisperlite Universal with canister, white gas and kerosene options. Great for camping year around but I don't want the weight for 3 season backpacking. It's my canoe, car & winter camping stove.

BTW, I also have a Wind Pro from years ago. It's for a 2nd burner when car camping.

Eric B.

300winmag said:

".. Brunton Crux..  ..I've made a good wind shield that also shields the canister..."

About wind screens for over-canister stoves.

The reason OEMs don't include wind screens with over canister stoves is they can result in fire accidents from overheating the canister.  Avoid this by making a disk shaped reflector the diameter of the gas canister, that can be placed between the canister and burner to reflect the heat whenever you are using the wind screen.


No.  It has no interest for me. 

if you're really into consuming, reach out to mchale packs and get one your size, full dyneema/spectra (as opposed to sandwich or grid fabric). guessing you could engineer it to your specs and weight preferences, and the fabric is practically indestructible.  

Ed, I hear you re. shielding the canister from stove/pot heat.

My DIY canister windscreen involves an aluminum disc that is actually clamped between the canister and stove by screwing the stove THRU a hole in the plate. Works fine every time.

Eric B.

300winmag said:

Ed, I hear you re. shielding the canister from stove/pot heat.

My DIY canister windscreen involves an aluminum disc that is actually clamped between the canister and stove by screwing the stove THRU a hole in the plate. Works fine every time.

Eric B.



October 27, 2021
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