Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Tall people be warned. You may finally have an answer to your needs for a lightweight backpacking tent. Lightheart Gear (http://www.lightheartgear.com/) will soon be introducing the SoLong 6, a tent similar to their well-received Lightheart Tent. The prototype needs a little tweaking, but initally weighs in at 26 ounces. It will be 100" long and 55" wide (tapering to 30" at the foot and head) with 45" of headroom and 8" boxed carbon fiber stays at the corners. For those of you who will be at Trail Days this year in Damascus Virginia, keep an eye out. You can expect the initial run to be in silnylon which I'm guessing (without any basis whatsoever) a price point of about $250. If a cuben version is offered, Judy Gross (the owner) will be more than happy to accept all (or most) of your savings account. She might also offer different silnylon color options which is always a nice touch.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ultralight....Hiking Stick....er, Stool?

Much like I never thought I'd be writing about an ultralight cot, I never figured I'd be writing about an ultralight stool or hiking stick either either. A stool to weight-conscious backpackers is otherwise a log, rock, or dare I say, good ole Mother Earth...not something you carry.

Well, the folks at StikStool (http://www.stikstool.com/) came up with a fairly ingenious idea which utilizes something that at least a portion of the hiking population already carries - a walking stick.

Personally, I carry trekking poles because I get fatigued fairly easily and they have made a huge difference for me to be able to walk longer and further. They also frequently do double-duty as my tent or tarp supports. However, if you're inclined to merely carry a big stick, well, consider the StikStool.

The stick stool weighs 26 ounces and is 62" in length. The stick portion is made of rigid PVC pipe, perhaps not as sexy as titanium or carbon, but capable of holding up to 350 pounds. When not using it in stick mode, you simply attach the seat, collar, and 4 end caps which create a triangular base configuration. The entire product is $30 and no individual part is more than $4.10 for which replacements are available. I'm not saying I'll be toting one around during my backpacking adventures, just pointing out that it does exist for those of you who enjoy being one of the few bringing a chair.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ultralight External Frame Backpack

I mentioned LuxuryLite two week's ago as the manufacturer of an ultralight cot. I'd be remissed if I also didn't also mention another way you can drain your wallet.

Luxurylite manufactures a 1.75lb backpack they call the LuxuryLite RadLite Extreme (www.luxurylite.com/radlitepackindex.html). At $600, and a mere fraction of the cost of a new car, you too can be the proud owner of this external frame backpack which boasts stacking chambers of cuben fiber pouches which slide on their highly adjustable aluminum and carbon fiber frame. With a contoured waist belt adjustable from 24-44", the total capacity is 3434 cu/in...or less. Heck, they'll even let you try it for 30-days for free. A $215 non-cuben version is also offered which doesn't include the $75-$85/each storage cylinders.

So once again, if you have money to burn, pick one up! If you have lots of money to burn, feel free to send me one too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mountain Laurel Designs UL Tent - Cricket

If you happen to have $295+ to spend, perhaps you might be interested in Mountain Laurel Designs new tent - the Cricket (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=47&products_id=174). MLD introduced the Cricket at the same time they introduced a new solo Trailstar tarp ($155/10.8oz in silnylon, 7.5 oz or 5.8 oz in two grades of cuben fiber).

The Cricket represents MLD's first move towards a lightweight tent and accomplishes it nicely with a silnylon option coming in at 19.5 oz and a cuben option at 13.5 oz. Both are essentially an outer fly with inner net tent which clips to the fly. This modular design means you can use separately the fly, the inner net tent, or both together. This seems to be the most common way I've seen lightweight tents manufactured lately Add another $150 for cuben. The specs on MLD's site aren't too telling right now as all details haven't been posted, so I can't provide headroom, length, etc. Regardless, owning several MLD products myself, I have no doubt it will be well engineered, well made, and more importantly...a real possiblity for many lightweight backpackers looking for greater protection from the elements.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I think we'd all agree that sleeping on the ground isn't always fun (no need to chime in hammock campers). Air mattresses help, but are a bit clumsy, heavy, expensive, and prone to popping and maintenance. Ever thought about lugging around a cot? Probably not, well, unless you're car camping. Well, how about an "ultralight cot"?

LuxuryLite (www.luxurylite.com/cotindex.html) has been tweaking their cot design and got it down to a merely 2lbs 12 oz. That's actually less than some air mattresses. For a mere $220 of your hard earned dollars, they will be happy to send you their fairly inventive cot which packs up to be 16"x5". Made in Texas in the good ole USA, it is a full 24" wide (wider than most air mattresses) and 74" long (longer than most air mattresses) with no crossbars to get in the way. It's a simple engineering feat of stretching fabric over patented bows which creates the cot and gets you off the ground.

So if money is really burning a hole in your pocket and you don't mind the extra weight, get one! If you have a lot of extra money, feel free to get me one too.