Sunday, September 16, 2012

glacier national park | prep + packing

the stats:
aug 17-aug 26, 2012
5 friends. 
5 days. 4 nights. (original plan was 6 days, 5 night, but we hiked out 19.5m the final day)
backpacking at glacier national park. 55.5 mile, many glacier loop.
oh, and 22+ hours (of drive time, not including rest) and 1,298 miles in a "trusty" vw pop top van as bookends of the trip.

the results:
5 earthy-smelling friends with a whole lot more stories, connections to random strangers on the trail, a few significant lessons learned, experiences we just can't make up, and sights you can only experience in the backcountry.

i love montana, and this year i got to experience my beloved state at glacier, hiking through it's glorious peaks and lakes. it was perfect in so many ways. except, well...i took way too much food and managed to have to lug a heavy pack (again). mr. ultralight-backpacker phil brown (who i met last year on the trail) would be disappointed.

anyway, this is most of what i packed for the trip. not including things like my actual pack, trekking poles, camelbak, the food, hiking shoes + crocs, and two unnecessary stuff sacks i took to keep my stuff organized.
addt'l notes: i took 100% deet but didn't use it once. the mosquitos were almost non-existent due to such a dry year. didn't feel like flossing this year b/c i took a normal sized toothbrush head. interesting.

addt'l notes: i ended up only using one sports bra. fine idea, but the sports bra i decided on was no bueno! it did not dry fast enough, which lead to wearing it slightly damp every day (b/c i washed it every night). this eventually lead to it smelling bad because of some mildew. (i know, gross!) i'm looking into sports bras that wick sweat and dry fast. also, i loved my night time change of clothes. black tights + cotton tank + med thickness wool socks, puffy + hat. i felt so cozy and (not so) sexy and i found it to be very easy way to feel clean and warm each night.

addt'l notes: all my clothes fit into the yellow stuff sack above, including what i'd be wearing every day (pants, t-shirt, socks, underwear, sports bra). this year, i tried to take a very minimalist approach to clothes, taking only what was essential.

addt'l notes: i went generous with the toilet paper. what?

addt'l notes: shared the tent with robel (aka roBEAR), so we shared the 4lb 9oz between the two of us. 

addt'l notes: i took a 4oz fuel canister (instead of the 8oz pictured here) just in case we (b&d+me) used the entire 8oz can (which by the way, they carried). we had plenty of fuel left. good to know for next time that an 8oz fuel can last 3 people at 2 hot meals/day (water boiling only) for 5 days! 

also, i met ryan on the trail and he had this fantastic cook system that i couldn't help but admire. so i bought one immediately when i got home. after i clicked purchase, i realized i had just spent $35 on a cup. eep.

the eve of our road trip, we weighed our packs and mine came out to a whopping ~48lbs. this also includes my camera and a few camera accessories that added at least 5lbs to my total pack weight. i was easily carrying more than 35% of my body weight, which is a hell of a lot to carry. later, i found out it was all of my food. um...  :\

update: i got my chops busted...again. received a long email detailing where i went wrong and where i can go right by the trusty mr. phil. yikes. 

what do you think of my system? how would you make it more efficient and cut weight?


  1. great post- someday i'll go on a backpacking trip and refer to this packing guide...

    btw - i really like the patagonia capilene mesh sports bra. One of my friends gave me one as a birthday gift saying 'hope it's not too personal, but I know you're active like me, and this is the best bra ever' she was right, i tend to buy a new one when the 20% off coupon is available.

  2. Backpacking and guided hikes in Montana is a recreation that a lot of people would enjoy to experience. Montana is home to a number of wildlife species and beautiful spots that can marvelously bust stress in every cell of the body. Backpackers in the area will surely love to incorporate your tips in their own Montana adventure. I also love that you actually include photos of the stuffs that you brought to the area.

  3. I would like to know how you got this to 48#! My last outing, my full pack including 3.5# water (and food for 4 days 3 nights) was 31#. I had a similar system as yours but I'm a 6 foot tall male human, so my clothes are bigger and heavier. I knew it wasn't going to rain so I didn't bring rain gear. And it was warm nights, so I didn't bring hat or gloves (but in GP it can rain or snow any night of the year, so...)

    My pack weighs 48 oz. (3#), my solo tent w/poles and fly is 44oz, my sleeping bag weighs 3# (but my new one is 1.5#) my old-school shorty pad is 25 oz. and my old-school Svea stove w/4 oz. fuel is 18.5 oz. Otherwise, my system is similar to yours (but you don't need two of every clothing item.) And the first aid kit probably has a few unnecessary items.
    After 4 days my pack weighed approx 25# (I don't count what I'm wearing or poles.)

    I would like to hear what Mr. Phil had to say--how you could go lighter. I mean you cut your toothbrush down, that must have shaved at least half a gram! I know I don't need to carry water since I'm walking next to water most of the time, but I find it tedious to treat water and I don't like to run out. My last 6 miles-no water crossings on a hot day (had to carry H2O for my pooch.)
    billionstrang at G- Bob Marshall Wilderness

    1. howdy...
      i know, it's kinda unbelievable that all my stuff weighed 48#. first, my pack was over 5#. (BAD!) i've replaced it with a lighter one already. i also took some unnecessary things...even though i had convinced myself that i was down to my essentials. for my next trip (the bob), i've gotten my total pack weight down to 15#, excluding water and food. AND, i think i can get it down a bit lower too. i'll have more info to tell in future posts about how to cut down.

      you go by "billionstrang at G"?


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