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Ultralight Gear

Empty Your Pack: Uberlight Thru-Hiker

The lightest of the ultralight trim their packs lists to help them become stripped-down mile-making machines.

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There’s ultralight, then there’s uberlight. This pack list from James “Jupiter” Hoher is firmly in the latter category. With less than 5.25 pounds as his base weight, there’s not much lighter a pack can get while still being equipped for the long haul. And Jupiter knows all about the long haul. In 2016, he set off on the Eastern Continental Trail. He travelled 4,800 miles from Quebec to Key West, Florida. Along the way, he never hitchhiked, adding about 200 miles of road walking. And he even set a Fastest Known Time on the Florida Trail (2017) portion of his hike. His goal was to travel light and quickly and he finished the Florida Trail in 28 days, 9 hours, and 59 minutes. This is what he carried. 

Total Base Weight: 5 pounds, 2.5 ounces

Photo: James “Jupiter” Hoher

Uberlight Prinicpal 1: Make everything do double duty.

The Mountain Laurel Designs Pro Poncho Tarp in Dyneema acted as my sole rain coat, as well as my very tiny shelter coming in at just 5′ x 9′. It’s absolutely nothing I’d recommend to a new hiker because the room for error is so small, but for my purposes it was perfect. 

Uberlight Principal 2: Think in layers.

I carried the Mountain Laurel Designs FKT Quilt, which is effective down to about 40°F but I coupled it with a MLD Superlight Bivy which added a couple extra degrees of warmth, and it guarded me from some splash coming off the tarp in heavy storms. The quilt is synthetic, and given the temperature rating, I had to hike fast enough, and start at the right time, to essentially be walking with the warmest weather all the way south.

Uberlight Principal 3: Comfort is heavy.

I carried a ⅛-inch-thick Thinlight foam pad, cut down to torso length, that I got from Gossamer Gear. It weighed in at practically nothing, and provided practically nothing for comfort! 

Uberlight Principal 4: Keep moving.

I carried the Pa’lante Packs Simple Pack, a 28L pack made with the idea of hiking all day everyday. With easily accessible pockets everywhere it allowed me to get what I needed when I needed it without having to stop hiking.

Uberlight Principal 5: Eat cold.

I carried an empty peanut butter jar and a plastic spoon, which I used to eat foods that can be rehydrated cold: dehydrated beans mixed with tortilla chips, hot sauce, olive oil, and an avocado when I could get one. [Learn about cold-soak food strategy].

Uberlight Pack List

Weight (oz.) Gear
6.8 Tent: Mountain Laurel Designs Pro Poncho Tarp
17 Sleeping Bag: Mountain Laurel Designs FKT Quilt
6.8 Bivy: MLD Superlight Solo Bivy
1.1 Sleeping Pad: Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad
11 Backpack: 28L Pa’lante Packs Simple Pack
7.6 Raingear: Outdoor Research Helium 2 (6.4 oz.), Mountain Laurel Designs pack liner (1.2 oz.)
2.4 Food: No-cook system, OPSak, spoon
8 Power Bank: RAVpower Battery Bank
14.2 Insulation & layers: Montbell U.L. Thermawrap, Zpacks Synthetic Beanie, Montbell Dynamo Pants
6.8 Essentials: Fenix LD02 flashlight (.9 oz), 1 extra AAA battery (.4 oz.), ID and credit card (.3 oz.), Swiss Army Knife (.8 oz.), mini Bic lighter (.4 oz.), phone (4 oz.), paper maps
1.0 Toiletries: Toothpaste (.5 oz.), sawed-off toothbrush (.1 oz.), Advil (.2 oz.), Sewing kit (.1 oz.), duct tape (.1 oz.)

Total Base Weight: 82.7 ounces

Worn Weight

On my feet: Altra Lone Peak 2.5s, Injinji toe socks. On my body: short-sleeve button up shirt, 5-inch inseam shorts, and a ball cap

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