I might have just been bitten by the ultralight bug. Last week I tried out a new pack on the
I started cutting gear immediately: yaktraks, extra socks, binoculars, camera case, tripod, leatherman, a length of hemp twine, a hand towel, allergy tablets, the stale for-emergencies-only
In the morning, I started packing the Flash and quickly ran into a problem – my gear, plus rain pants and jacket, three liters of water, and a 22oz Spring Reign from Ninkasi Brewing left just enough room for lunch. I’d also be carrying my wallet, keys, and CD face because I didn’t want to leave it in the truck. The Flash was getting heavy enough that I was concerned the stitching on the straps might not hold. Maybe I should take a 12oz beer instead of the 22oz… nah, some luxuries are worth it. I took a hard look at my gear and ditched the gloves and map. I removed extra batteries and packets of power gel and considered leaving the compass at home (like the map, I wouldn’t need it for this hike). I almost went through my first-aid kit and removed extra band-aids. Finally satisfied, I threw it all together and hit the road.
When I slung the pack on at the trailhead, it felt great. In fact, at first it felt like it wasn’t there.
I spent the evening drinking beers with friends. The next morning, I was really surprised to discover I wasn’t sore at all. Dog was my most arduous hike this year, and it usually tires me out. It usually takes me a few days to work out the stiffness in my legs and shoulders, especially if I drink after the hike. But I wasn’t sore and I wasn’t stiff, and while I might be in better shape this year than I was the last time I climbed Dog, reducing the weight I carry helped out a lot.
I do have a few complaints, but they’re minor and I’ll learn to live with them. The pack only loads from the top, so getting at gear near the bottom is a bit of a hassle. The chest strap kept loosening on the uphill, requiring frequent adjustment. The hip-belt is useless for my torso. And when I wore my layers and jacket, the extra room in the pack caused my hydration tube to slip out a considerable length and swing around. It’s just not a big enough pack to carry additional winter hiking gear, and since there’s no top, it won’t do too well in rain.
These are all things I can live with. The Flash is great for what I bought it for (a lightweight daypack on backpacking trips) but it’s also a great pack for summer day-hikes. Forcing me to reconsider the gear I take, though, is probably the best thing about it. I won’t miss any of that gear, and when winter comes, I still have my trusty Mistral.
Pack: REI Flash 18
Marmot Precip rain shell
REI snowpants (for rain)
MSR Dromedary (4-liter, not fully filled)
Canon PowerShot A480 camera (with 2 extra AA batteries)
First Aid kit (well-stocked)
CRKT Mt. Rainier pocketknife
Aqua Mira water treatment
Petzl Tikkina headlamp (with 3 extra AAA batteries)
Eye-glasses (extra pair)
Eye-glasses repair kit
Bic lighter (small)
Waterproof matches (with extra strikes)
Skunk hemp rolling papers
Purell (1 fl oz)
Sunblock (1 fl oz)
EmergenC (1 packet)
Gu Energy Gel (1.1 oz)
Small garbage bags and ziplock bags
Leki Makalu trekking poles
Distance: 7.4 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2,800ft
Notes: Dogs allowed on leash. Facilities at trailhead.