Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Monday, December 14, 2015

GEAR REVIEW and My Favorite Gear #2 Will Rietveld's Mountain SuperUltraLight Gear List

I launch my new Favorite Gear series by providing my summertime Mountain SuperUltraLight (MSUL) gear list. It’s focused on summertime backpacking in the mountains, as explained in my 7-part Backpacking Light article on Mountain SuperUltraLight Backpacking. Normally SuperUltraLight (SUL) backpacking has a base pack weight under 5 pounds, but MSUL adds an extra pound to provide the extra shelter, insulation, and rain protection needed to be comfortable and secure while backpacking SUL in the mountains. The target base pack weight of MSUL is under 6 pounds.

Gear Selection
Weight (oz)

Gossamer Gear Murmur pack
2014 model, 2200 cubic inches
Lite Trail NyloBarrier Packliner
Plus oven roasting bag for front pocket
Montbell Down Hugger 900 #2 sl. bag
23F, 900 fill-power down
Kooka Bay Inflatable Torso Pad
3/4 length
Six Moon Designs Deschutes Tarp 
Enclosed shelter w 6 Ti stakes, guylines, groundsheet
Trail Designs Caldera Keg-F 
Alcohol system. Includes plastic drink cup
Sea To Summit Short Handled Spoon
Anodized aluminum
Steripen Freedom UL
Filters to 0.1 micron
1-gal Smelly Proof plastic sealable bag
For treating water with Steripen
Sawyer flask, 1 Liter
For camp water or extra water on the trail
Ditty Bag
Photon II, toothbrush, pills, 1st aid, sunscreen, bug repellent, TP system, ear plugs, writing paper, pencil stub, backup water treatment
Misc. small items in a Cuben Fiber sack
Rain/Wind Gear
Montbell Versalite Pant
Rain pant
Berghaus Vapourlight Hypersmock 2.0
Rain jacket
ZPacks Cuben Fiber Rain Mitts
Rain mitts
Clothing Carried
Montbell Plasma 1000 Down Jacket
1000 fill-power down
REI Silk long john bottom
Lightest long johns available
Rab MeCo 165 Glove Liner
Wool and Cocona
WindTech Windstopper Hat
Ear flaps, Velcro chin tab
Possum Down Socks
Midweight, sleeping socks
Berghaus Vapourlight Jacket
Reversible insulated jacket
Base Pack Weight
5.75 pounds

As you can see my base pack weight is well under 6 pounds, so I can opt for a more comfortable sleeping pad if I want and still keep under the weight limit.

Following articles will focus on my selection for each piece of gear, and it will include good alternatives when they exist. I won’t restrict my gear picks to MSUL limits, so I will also highlight alternatives that will fit within the UL base weight limit of 10 pounds. With the gear choices we have nowadays, it is very easy to design a gear kit that is well within the UL weight limit.

GEAR REVIEW and My Favorite Gear #1 New Series Coming: My Favorite Gear

It’s been quiet here for about a year, but that’s about to change. After writing for Backpacking Light Magazine for 12 years, I have decided to move on and concentrate my efforts here. Backpackinglight.com has updated their website, and recruited a new cadre of writers, so we can look forward to some interesting content there.

At Backpacking Light I wrote hundreds of gear reviews and gear articles over 12 years. The articles are still there, but it requires a subscription to see them; use the website's search function to find them. I enjoyed my tenure with BPL, but now its time to move on. I still  get out backpacking as much as I can, and I still enjoy writing about it -- here. (Illustration credit: Mike Clelland!)
For me, I now prefer the independence of focusing on my own website, sharing what I know with those interested in reading up on lightweight and ultralight backpacking. Visiting here is free, of course, and you are encouraged to comment and add your thoughts.

I am launching a new series called My Favorite Gear, which will be a series of articles on my gear choices for my ultralight gear kit. Actually I will eventually post two gear lists: one for summer backpacking (warmer temps), and the other for the shoulder seasons (cooler temps). I will eventually get to my gear choices for lightweight backpacking and day tripping.

I realize, based on forum discussions, that hikers have very diverse needs and preferences for the gear they choose, so it’s always a lively discussion. However, most everyone is looking to lighten up more, and make improvements in their gear kit, and are looking for recommendations from experienced ultralighters. And that’s where this blog, and those of my fellow outdoor writers come in – we’re passionate believers in ultralight backpacking, and want to help others come over to the light side.

Articles coming in this series will focus on my selection for each piece of gear, and I will include good alternatives when they exist. I won’t restrict my gear picks to SuperUltraLight (SUL) limits; I will also highlight alternatives that fit within the Ultralight (UL) base weight limit of 10 pounds. With the gear choices we have nowadays, it is very easy to design a gear kit that is well within the UL weight limit.