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Light Weight Backpacking Class

  • Apr 12, 2014 · 9:00 AM
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Lecture & Field Day April 12 (9AM - 5 PM) at Island Lake State Rec Area
Practical Weekend Apr 25-Apr 27 at Pinckney State Rec Area


Do you ever experience sore feet, blisters, an aching back, or throbbing shoulders when you hike?  Are you unable to hike more than a short or moderate distance each day?  Do you feel exhausted at the end of a day's hiking?  

These may all be signs that your pack is too heavy!

The Lightweight Backpacking class will discuss and practice ways to lighten your pack.  These will range from picking lighter weight alternatives to traditional, heavy gear, to identifying items that are luxury "wants" better left behind.

A lighter pack will mean you can hike more comfortably and better enjoy your backpacking trips.  You may also be able to tackle more challenging trips or routes with longer miles each day. 


Students will receive a copy of the book, "Ultralight Backpackin' Tips" by Mike Clelland, as well as handouts compiled by the class instructors to supplement what's presented during the class.

During the class, each student will have an opportunity to create a simple, ultralight alcohol stove as well as a reflectix cozy for "freezer bag" style cooking.

During the practical, students will spend two nights backpacking in the Pinckney State Recreation Area, where they will have an opportunity to practice their lightweight skills.  Students will rely on ultralight stoves for their cooking needs and have an opportunity to sleep in a lightweight shelter.

Students must have previously taken a beginner backpacking class.  If you have not taken a fundamentals class but feel you have equivalent experience, you may contact the lead instructor for evaluation.



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  • BruceC

    Good information, well presented. Having the various lightweight alcohol stoves and cooksets for us to try was most valuable. A ten mile hike with a less than 16 lb pack left me in much better shape at the end of the day vs. my usual 25 lb load! I will use what I learned on every trip.

    April 27, 2014

  • Jim K.

    Bruce, I don't remember, did you write " I'll eat whatever I kill " or " I'll eat whoever I kill " ?

    It will make a difference in what I pack.

    1 · April 19, 2014

    • BruceC

      I am not following the Donner Party Meal Plan (TM) for this trip.

      April 20, 2014

    • BRENDA P.

      Lol. Thankfully.

      April 20, 2014

  • BruceC

    My entire UL cookset (stove, pot, spork, lighter, fuel) weighs 11.5 oz. My usual white gas stove/pot/fuel etc. setup weighs 2 lbs 15 oz. A few oz. less for the butane stove & canister.

    I'm beginning to see the advantage. :)

    1 · April 18, 2014

    • BruceC

      No, silly! I'd starve!

      April 18, 2014

    • BruceC

      Not totally veg. Bought a small summer sausage.

      April 20, 2014

  • Jeff M.

    The special thingy has not arrived yet. :-( must be really behind with his orders.

    April 19, 2014

  • BRENDA P.

    Karen. Did you take a tarp? :-) Jeff: Did the special new thingy come in yet? Lol.

    April 18, 2014

    • Karen

      Brenda: I'm sendin you an email.

      April 19, 2014

  • BruceC

    I got 3 mil plastic for my groundsheet instead of the recommended 2 mil.

    I admit it. I am a slave to luxury.

    April 19, 2014

  • BruceC

    Try your stoves and cooksets at home! I found that the lid on the KMart grease can pot sticks, especially when the pot heats up, making it difficult (hence dangerous) to remove from the fire. I knocked the still-lit catcan stove over on the first attempt. Singed a damp towel while putting out the blaze - thank goodness I had cleared the area of anything flammable. Also a bit of a trick to use the silicone "finger" pot gripper without getting burnt. I now leave the lid slightly ajar to one side. Deciding whether to bring my trusty Sigg aluminum pot gripper and bear the extra few tenths of an ounce.

    I also do not like the tiny aluminum stove base. I made a larger base of a double layer of heavy duty foil. It's a bit smaller than the inside dimension of the pot. It does not register on my scale so probably weighs 0.1 oz at most. Sits flat, offers more surface area to catch spilled fuel in case of a mishap.

    Find problems at home, not in camp!

    1 · April 17, 2014

    • Karen

      Thanks, Bruce. I'll try the stove this weekend.

      April 17, 2014

    • Jeff M.

      Good tips. I "bench tested" the Grease Pot several times and didn't experience the lid sticking problem you had. I'm guessing there is some variability in the manufacturer of these inexpensive pots.

      April 17, 2014

  • BRENDA P.

    The class was great! Looking forward to the weekend practical. Been shopping at Tarptent.com. Husband keeps taking the tablet away. :( Lol. Thanks Jeff, Gary, Erin , & Dick.

    1 · April 13, 2014

  • BruceC

    What Karen H. said. I have already started trying to see what I can stuff in my little 30 liter pack for the practical.

    1 · April 13, 2014

  • Karen

    This class was well organized, well run, had lots of great information. It was excellent.

    3 · April 12, 2014

  • Jeff M.

    It will not be necessary to take all of Friday off the weekend of the practical. The plan is to stage some cars at Crooked Lake for when we hike out on Sunday, then carpool to a small lot on Goodband Road. There is a small lot where the Waterloo-Pinckney trail crosses the road. From there, it is a short hike into Blind Lake campground, about a mile. I want the entire group to hike in no later than 7pm if possible. Sunset that day will be 7:29pm. Students will need headlamps and may be setting up shelters in the dark with headlamps. Students will want to practice setting up their assigned shelters in the daylight before Friday. The specifics will be discussed on Saturday April 12th.

    February 6, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Will it be necessary to have the whole day Friday off? I have to work till 5.

    February 6, 2014

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