Lightweight Solo Tripping

Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
16
A few years ago, I was working at a large outdoor store where I met some backpackers who had hiked many of the long, 500 mi.+, trails that abound in the U.S. They were looking for the lightest gear possible to make up their "kit" for their next adventure. They told me about "Cottage" gear makers; small companies making one-at-time products for the enthuiast. Some, not finding products to fit their requirements, would resort to making their own gear (MYOG).
A light bulb went off in my head and I asked them if they would share their knowledge with me. Not only in backpacking, but in my solo canoeing in the BW/Q as well. We formed a small group that quickly grew, catering to a larger audience, all wanting to lighten their load.
I'm now 70, and last year hiked part of the Colorado Trail with a pack that weighed less than 25 lbs. And that's with 1 1/2 L of water! My solo canoeing has likewise benefited from this lightweight trend.
The group is still active; meeting to share ideas monthly. So, if you have any questions about lightening your portage load, ask away. If I don't have an answer, I'll pass it on to the group; I know we can help.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
I have been going lighter in all I carry ..except me. My canoe is down to 30 lbs and paddles (two) another three lbs. Solo yoke is heavy at two lbs, but I dislike the belt on straps that run about two oz. Over the last twenty years solo canoeing I think that I have lost 10 lbs gear load.

My packs and tucker for two weeks goes at 50 lbs. So with canoe and all its less than 90. I am not into giving up my chair though nor 10x14 tarp and am not interested in drilling holes in the toothbrush.

I learned to really pare down clothing and have a bed outfit and an on water outfit. Plus layers as the temps go from 32 to 90.

I rely on Cliff bars for lunch but they as a group for two weeks are unbearably heavy. I do like dates and cheese and jerky for some protein. I never take fresh food but I always seem to pack too many emergency meals and soup. Just in case. I don't know how to get around that.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
I used to enjoy backpacking, but as my back got older, it didn't... I started to lighten things until I rediscovered canoeing. I thought I had solved the problem until the first time I had to carry it all from the car to the put in, and then over that first (short) portage... I reverted to "lightweight" and have been happy ever since. Good to know there are others out there. Thanks!
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
I love homemade GORP.. but I carry it in solid Nalgene bottles and it is really heavy.. maybe I need a liteweight gorp recipe.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
483
Location
Ontario
Hi Pilgrim. I'd be curious to know some of your cost-effective, lightweight solutions for homemade gear. Most of the stuff I've seen from backpacking buddies is just the latest mass produced gear that folks are willing to drop a load of money on...cuben fiber tarps & packs, titanium cookware, etc. Not really DIY at all. Maybe you could post a typical gear list with your weight savings?

I've been on MYOG gear kick for a while now and am trying to make or refurbish as much of my own equipment as possible. For me that means wood, canvas, leather, & steel - mediums that I'm comfortable working with. Ends up being heavier of course but would like to learn as much from your side of things.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
182
Location
Lower Saranac Lake, Adirondacks
I've been a minimalist for decades; perhaps a function of sloth, but it bothers me to be carrying more weight than needed, and I'm way too lazy to do a double carry, which is a 3X walk across the portage trail.

We find a few rugged solo canoes around 25lbs with carbon, arimid or HDPP and infusion manufacturing. Without the need for winter storm proof gear we can get clothing, camp and culinary gear well under 25lbs. So add a carbon paddle and we're at ~50lbs. Food is 2.2lbs/day unless we use dehydrated, so if we know what we can tote we can plan trips pretty easily.

Building one's own is compelling for some, but home builders probably don't have canoe molds or vacuum pumps, or access to wholesale priced fabrics. [Carbon from Johns. Dist. is twice what builders pay.] Most, similarly, do not own commercial sewing machines or have access to wholesale wovens or foams. Consequently, DIY gear is almost always inferior to current state of the art market gear. The shrinking outdoor gear marketplace is a VERY competitive in design, manufacturing technique and quality.

So assuming we're, individually, not going to lose weight, the canoe may be the best chance to drop a significant percentage of portage load, maybe up to 50 lbs for someone soloing a Wood Canvas tandem. After that the percentage weight loss is, maybe 50% on tent and camp gear, but most items can yield a little weight savings. I'm hoping for dehydrated Zinfandel!
 
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Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
16
I agree with almost all that was said. Let's face it, few of us can own a quiver of canoes, i.e. one for each purpose. So cutting weight on the canoe, and the body we were dealt is probably not the place to start!
How about looking at EVERYTHING you take with a critical eye as to use, weight, etc. Did you use that gadget on your last trip? Is there something that you take that could have dual, or even triple purpose? Next time you're up for a new tarp, tent, cook set, stove, etc. make a list of exactly what you need, performance-wise, and look at the less weight option. Cost? Spread that out over the years of use you'll get out of it, and look again!
How about this for starters (I've already mentioned this in another post): Substitute shower curtatn rings for carabiners to attach light items (bailers, sponges, map cases, etc.) to your canoe. Substitute aluminum tent stakes for the steel ones that come with some tents. Light (and smaller diameter) Spectra cord for all your tarp lines, etc.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
16
Sorry, I got cut off right in the middle of a thought!
In other words, look at lightening the gear that you now use by simple upgrades and eliminate duplicates or un-needed gear. As you replace items, consider lighter alternatives.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
1,819
Location
Schenectady, NY
I've been a minimalist for decades; perhaps a function of sloth, but it bothers me to be carrying more weight than needed, and I'm way too lazy to do a double carry, which is a 3X walk across the portage trail.

We find a few rugged solo canoes around 25lbs with carbon, arimid or HDPP and infusion manufacturing. Without the need for winter storm proof gear we can get clothing, camp and culinary gear well under 25lbs. So add a carbon paddle and we're at ~50lbs. Food is 2.2lbs/day unless we use dehydrated, so if we know what we can tote we can plan trips pretty easily.

Building one's own is compelling for some, but home builders probably don't have canoe molds or vacuum pumps, or access to wholesale priced fabrics. [Carbon from Johns. Dist. is twice what builders pay.] Most, similarly, do not own commercial sewing machines or have access to wholesale wovens or foams. Consequently, DIY gear is almost always inferior to current state of the art market gear. The shrinking outdoor gear marketplace is a VERY competitive in design, manufacturing technique and quality.

So assuming we're, individually, not going to lose weight, the canoe may be the best chance to drop a significant percentage of portage load, maybe up to 50 lbs for someone soloing a Wood Canvas tandem. After that the percentage weight loss is, maybe 50% on tent and camp gear, but most items can yield a little weight savings. I'm hoping for dehydrated Zinfandel!

Speak for yourself, Charlie...I still can make the welterweight limit, but gravity has taken its toll. My biceps have somehow slid down to my waist!!

I like Mr Pilgrims ideas of dual use gear, switching out to lighter weight stuff when possible/practical.
I stopped carrying a gas stove due to the weight of the stove and extra fuel, as well as the limitations imposed by needing to carry fuel. I switched years ago to a Kelly Kettle, and all dried foods.
Also, I don't bother with any cook gear, I use only the pouches that the dried food is in. I do carry a single nalgene bottle, it serves to hold my coffee (from a bag) and tea, and later in the day, filtered water.
I replaced my old synthetic sleeping bags with down filled, replaced my heavy Thermarest self inflating mattress with an incredibly lightweight, and more comfortable, NeoAir mattress, switched to a lightweight solo tent too.
My backpack has to go, it's an ancient (but reliable) Tough Traveler, soon to be replaced with a lightweight, modern Osprey.
And as Mr Pilgrim intimates, I only carry that which I use...no need for gadgets or toys. But I won't give up my old Coleman camp chair...13 oz of complete comfort. I'm well beyond the age of eating breakfast squatting in the mud!!

And I keep building lighter and lighter boast to combat that sliding bicep thing.
 
Joined
Feb 22, 2012
Messages
287
Location
Rochester, NY
My packed gear is basically the same for both backpacking and canoetripping. The exact gear is trip dependent for both. Like others, I try to keep it to a minimum by bringing only what I need, use gear which is multipurpose, etc... I single carry even when solo. I don't have a super expensive solo canoe, just an old beat up fiberglass Bell Bucktail.
 
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My dedication to lightweight began with economics, and that is still the driving force. I don't have the money to buy new gear most of the time, and I rarely can afford the carbon fiber whatever. So my canoes are second hand and the 17 footer is fiberglass and weighs something close to 4 tons. The solo is Royalex and is in the 40# range. That can work for me because of my weight. When spending $1000 (Canadian or US) to reduce one's canoe weight by 2 pounds is not an option, one can save money by losing weight. I used an app on my phone and lost 30#s in 8 months. Still planning on losing another 20. At the end of this I will have cut my total weight by 50lbs without buying, making or leaving anything behind. If the idea of lightweight is to reduce the pounds and ounces of what you need and to leave what you don't need behind, then thinking about how to cut some inches off the middle is the best place to start. The best incentive I've found isn't even feeling better. After even a half day of canoeing or hiking I've burned enough calories I can head off to the nearest BBQ joint and eat without worry.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
Got a call from the truck driver and along with a few kayaks for the store my 32 lb solo canoe (Wenonah Wilderness) is being delivered today in the worst snow we have gotten all year. That is 10 lbs lighter than my other solo canoe. As an employee for a dealer we get a pretty good pro-deal price on their products . BumbleCraft , you have a good point-- shedding personal lbs can make a huge difference. I'm working on that, too. Good luck with the next 20 lbs!!
 
Joined
Nov 21, 2013
Messages
4
I would love to see a lightweight PFD made for tripping but I bet the market isn't there.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
182
Location
Lower Saranac Lake, Adirondacks
Several issues with inflatables beyond lack of pockets. Once inflated they are obtrusive and limit paddling technique like the horse collar items they are. Once inflated they are done until recharged with another cartridge or mouth inflated. Mouth inflation requires inflating before the rapids, which brings us back to paddling in a Mae West. Fine for motorboating, particularly for enforcement types that want you to notice tazer, pistol, mace and hand cuffs. Not yet functional for the paddlesport market, excepting extremely hot, humid, conditions on flat water.
 
Joined
Dec 28, 2013
Messages
23
Location
Newfoundland
My pack is around 30-35 lbs starting out. This weight doesn't last too long of course. I wear old t-shirts, socks etc. (stuff not fit to wear in civilized society :)) when hiking or paddling, and burn them as I go. I do with towels and wash clothes also. The pack is extremely light by the end of the trip.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
16
I've settled in on an MSR Reactor Solo for my solo and +1 canoeing/backpacking needs. I tried Jet Boil but found it too flimsy. Also, did not use the insulated cup as they intended. I'm a tea drinker. the need to soak a bag for three - four minutes just seemed to beg for a 2nd cup so I chose a Snow Peak Double Wall model (450 ml) which will take a lid. Additionally, I found a Guyot Designs Squishy bowl fills most of my dining needs.
How about you?
Ron
 
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If you just want to boil water, and you don't mind the smell of burning hydrazine, try an Esbit stove. Scroll about halfway down this page to see what it looks like: http://codabone.net/canoeing/bwca/BW0909_5.htm
The stove and a dozen fuel tablets (enough for a week) probably weigh all of a pound.
 
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