Chasing Ten With Dylan Suhr
How long have you been going light?
What’s the base weight of your pack before adding consumables like food and fuel?
Beyond the “The Ten” items, what other kinds of gear do you make room for, and why?
I stick to “The Ten,” but I do know the areas within “The Ten” where I could shed weight but choose not to for comfort or personal preference.
Most UL backpackers at my height (5’9”) sleep on a Regular NeoAir XLite. The Regular is 20” wide. I really enjoy the extra 5” width you get from the Large. My arms tend to go numb while sleeping with the Regular, and the extra width makes the Large a lot more comfortable for me. The Large is 16 oz, adding 4 oz to your pack. The issue with the Large is the extra length for someone who is 5’9” - 77” vs 72” with the Regular. Therm-a-rest did release a Regular Wide, but I was a bit disappointed that it only saves you an ounce at 15 oz.
I also choose to carry a Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow at 2.8 oz. While I could roll up my Appalachian Gear Company All-Pacca Fleece Hoodie, stuff it in a stuff sack and utilize it as a pillow, I find the Aeros Premium a lot more comfortable and totally worth the weight. It is not fun hiking the next day with a stiff neck.
Depending on the food I pack, I like to carry a GSI Outdoor Compact Scraper and a Nano PackTowl. If I am merely boiling water and utilizing my RePack with a Quart Ziploc, I do not need these items. If I am cooking within my pot, I can be a bit anal on keeping this clean. A scraper, towel, and Dr. Bronner’s soap come in handy here.
The White Mountains are unpredictable. Always in my car at the trailhead is my Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody and Appalachian Gear Company All-Pacca Fleece Beanie. I carry these additional articles of clothing if the weather is at all tilting towards bitter cold. Assessing the same conditions, I will also carry a Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus. This adds an additional 20 degrees to my 40-degree quilt. In the dead of Summer, I’ll leave it behind but more often than not, this is in my pack. This has kept my 40-degree quilt in pristine condition. The liner is a barrier between your dirty self and your expensive quilt. It is easy to clean, very cozy, and a perfect layer when it is warm, and your quilt isn’t even needed. At 9.3 oz this is my biggest sometimes unnecessary weight gain, but I love it.
Are you currently forgoing any of the ten pieces? Why?
Unless you are carrying your gear in both arms (pack), like greasy salami rubbing on your down quilt (stuff sacks), sleep on the forest floor with mud for insulation (sleeps system), forge for berries (cookware), cup water in your mouth with your hands (hydration), wear your thermal layers hiking in the dead of summer (non-worn apparel), have night vision (headlamp), can cut cheese with lasers coming from your eyes (knife), and don’t get the occasional headache from dehydration (Advil), I think you should always pack out the 10. The analysis of the gear and the gear you choose within these 10 items is what is important.
What has achieving this low base weight done for your trips outdoors? How has it impacted the way you travel?
For me, an ultralight mentality was a very simple and quick learning curve. After an initial jaunt with Chacos strapped to my pack and a full roll of duct tape, I have been analyzing my gear with an ultralight mentality ever since. Ultralight isn’t a sacrifice. Ultralight means analyzing every piece of equipment and utilizing it to its fullest potential so that you can push yourself outdoors. You can take the mental and physical strain of weight away from your backpacking trip and actually enjoy your time in nature. After all, this is supposed to be fun.