Help picking shelter and pack

A place to chat about gear and the philosphy of ultralight. Ultralight bushwalking or backpacking focuses on carrying the lightest and simplest kit. There is still a good focus on safety and skill.
Forum rules
Ultralight Bushwalking/backpacking is about more than just gear lists. Ultralight walkers carefully consider gear based on the environment they are entering, the weather forecast, their own skill, other people in the group. Gear and systems are tested and tweaked.
If you are new to this area then welcome - Please remember that although the same ultralight philosophy can be used in all environments that the specific gear and skill required will vary greatly. It is very dangerous to assume that you can just copy someone else's gear list, but you are encouraged to ask questions, learn and start reducing the pack weight and enjoying the freedom that comes.

Common words
Base pack backpacking the mass of the backpack and the gear inside - not including consumables such as food, water and fuel
light backpacking base weight less than 9.1kg
ultralight backpacking base weight less than 4.5kg
super-ultralight backpacking base weight less than 2.3kg
extreme-ultralight backpacking base weight less than 1.4kg

Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Se88o » Thu 22 Oct, 2020 2:26 pm

Hi - long time lurker, first time poster. I'm hoping to dip into the infinite wisdom this forum has to offer :).

Background: My hiking experience is limited. I've done a decent amount of day hiking, a 100k trailwalker, and a few overnighters, but that's about the extent of it.

Use case: I'm now looking to get into more overnight and 2-3 night hikes. I would be mostly hiking around the snowy's outside of alpine season, and the blue mountains in the cooler months. Possibly a Tassie or NZ trip once a year. I'd be hiking with mates who have a bit more experience (they aren't ultralight minded so aren't the best ones to get advice from regarding gear). I'll sometimes be hiking with my partner and I like extra room myself when solo so I'm looking at 2p options only for the shelter.

Philosophy: In order of importance I consider function >> weight >> pack size >> price. That is to say I don't mind paying for things that excel in the other 3 areas (as long as I'm not paying double for a trivial improvement, etc). I'm not super obsessive about counting grams, but it is a priority.

I have more or less everything outside of a shelter and a pack for my new kit. Without those 2 items my current base weight is between 3.6 and 4.2 kg depending on what extra clothing I need to pack for the conditions. There's some optimising I can do here but it's my kit for the next few adventures at least.

I'm trying to decide between:

A) Drop Xmid 2p + Drop DD40L
B) DCF tarptent (maybe the stratospire li) + TW Sonder 36L

The advantages of A are a significant cost saving (~$700), and it's hard to look past all the amazing reviews. I also like the idea of transitioning to a pack with some sort of frame (coming from a heavy osprey pack). I'm also impressed with Dan's attention to detail and how much effort he goes to with the online community.
The advantages of B are a significant weight saving (~600g collectively). I also like the idea of being able to support an Aussie company with the pack.

Can you help me split the difference here? The answer is likely just am I willing to pay an extra ~$700 for a ~600g weight saving, but I'm wondering if one of these options stand out more for my use case, or if there's something else or other alternatives I'm overlooking. Many thanks :).
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Lamont » Thu 22 Oct, 2020 3:34 pm

G'day, just on the choice of rucksack-
reading your post it seems you are saying that with say option B, your baseweight will then be about/or above the 5.2 kg mark?
Are you using this definition of baseweight from above:
"Base pack backpacking the mass of the backpack and the gear inside - not including consumables such as food, water and fuel"?
If so I think you may struggle with the Sonder's size for more than about three days or so perhaps?
The good news if that's the case, you could go the Luxmore! Both are top ruckies. Factor in the Sonder is 30L internal while the Luxmore is 40L internal. The rest is external pocket space. You may find a choice of a DCF tent also may require a slightly bigger rucksack. They can be a tad more chunky than non DCF. Good hunting.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Se88o » Thu 22 Oct, 2020 3:58 pm

Thanks for the reply - that's been helpful.

Yes - that's the definition I'm using, so with option A i'd be high 5's, option B low 5's without consumables.

For most of my trips 3 days will be my ceiling, but I suppose I wouldn't want to hamstring myself if the Luxmore can cover all bases. I also didn't know that about DCF pack size - thanks!
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Lamont » Thu 22 Oct, 2020 4:22 pm

Low 5s and you'd need food. Perhaps the Luxmore is more what you are after? The owner Dan, of WT will answer questions -if you haven't already why not put your ideas to him as well?
I found him communicative and in very much in tune with bushwalker's needs.
Hopefully someone has the tent you are after and could tell you about it's size. Might not be an issue.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Se88o » Thu 22 Oct, 2020 4:50 pm

Awesome, i'll definitely reach out to him - thanks. Still undecided on the shelter but I'm leaning toward TW for the pack.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby north-north-west » Thu 22 Oct, 2020 7:25 pm

I have a 2pp XMid. How good a tent it is for you depends very much on where you're walking and where you're going to be pitching. The footprint is ginormous, and the internal height is great. It's not something I'd be happy pitching in very exposed places however, unless there were plenty of rocks around to add a bit of ballast to the peg-outs, because the height means the wind really hits it hard. It does cope with the wind provided it's solidly pegged and guyed, but that can be hard to do (impossible with the supplied pegs).
That's the only real drawback I've found so far, but it's only had two short trips. That also means I still have to learn how best to set it up, so it might not be that much of a problem, but I don't think it's going to be massively practical for off-track walking down here, because it's too hard to find spots big enough to pitch it, much less orientate it to minimise the wind issue.

Short version: maybe, maybe not.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Se88o » Fri 23 Oct, 2020 9:07 am

Thanks NNW - it's hard to find critical reviews of the Xmid so it's good to hear so experiences with it for our conditions - Cheers.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 09 Nov, 2020 9:35 pm

Hi Se88o,

I think the options you've put forward are good ones.

In terms of packs, I agree with the view of @Lamont that a 40 Litre rather than 30 Litre. Or even a 50 litre if you want the ability to be able to do longer hikes of say 5 days. (eg Overland Track etc).

I have a Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor that goes from 40 Litre to 60 Litre designed with input from Andrew Skurka, with an expandable capacity using straps so that I can reduce or expand it, depending on the pack load, and is also very strong with an aluminium Y brace within the frame which can support heavy weights if I need it, but also weighs around 1.1 kg for the pack so is relatively light also. I really love the pack. I like the scapular foam pads which keep it secure to back but allow good air-flow.

Other good strong relatively lightweight packs which have good reputations are are able to do bigger loads or smaller loads are ULA Circuit and ULA Catalyst, and Granite Gear Crown X60, and if you're looking at mainstream pack makers then Osprey Exos is an easy brand to get in Australian shops.

With regards the UL packs, whether you're looking at Zpacks, or Gossamer Gear, or a cottage industry company, the issue is that the FRAMELESS PACKS can only do relatively low weights comfortably. And, they are close to your back and your back will get sweaty. Which may not be an issue, but I just mention it as it is something that people find and find surprising or hadn't realized.

At the weight you're at, I think you can do a frameless pack if you wish, but if you were doing multi-day with food - say 5-6 days, I suspect the weight will make it uncomfortable in a frameless pack if you're at 4.2 kg plus tent plus consumables and you'll be say 850 grams of food a day depending on how much you pack, plus fuel cannisters plus other consumables (sunscreen, repellant), plus whatever weight of water you might need to carry depending on water sources. The UL packs are not super-comfortable in my opinion when they're at say 11 kg 12 kg 13 kg type weights. Now you won't be at that weight for a 3 day, but for a 5-6 days of consumables with water - you may be.

So if you're likely to do 5-6 day hikes, as well, I would go with a pack that has a frame but is still light and has roll-down top which can expand for added capacity - like the ULA Circuit or ULA Catalyst, or Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor, or Granite Gear Crown, etc.

However if you're only doing 2-3 day hikes, and you're going UL - then sure go for a 40L pack.

I have a Berghaus Fast Hike 32 for 2 day hikes. If I'm doing any longer or taking my daughter (and carrying some of her items as she's only 4), I take the Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor 40-60 L.

Tentwise - I love Tarptent tents and have the Double Rainbow Li. And the StratoSpire Li would be a great option for 2 as it has separate mesh inner from outer. They do also have ULA packs so you could combine shipping.

I believe the Dan Durston XMid on Drop is out of stock presently, but I could be wrong.

Another option you could look into is the Lightheart Gear Duo tent, which is a generous 2 person trekking pole tent which is single/double hybrid wall (with mesh on side walls but the panel overhead is single layer only) and it's about 1.1 kg off the top of my head and made with 20 Denier Sil Polyester which I'm a fan of and prefer to Sil Nylon, and Judy does a good job and makes very good quality tents. It has a fibreglass pole that the trekking poles go into which makes the whole thing very sturdy, but you will need to know what trekking poles you're using as that affects the thickness of the fibreglass pole hollow - if you follow me. That specific tent has really good internal space for 2 people, but light enough to go out solo in it and it just be a palace inside. Link here to the Sil Poly Duo: https://www.lightheartgear.com/collecti ... oly-fabric (They do a Sil Nylon version too, but Sil Poly is better as it doesn't stretch so much in rain as sil nylon.) They have sales on Black Friday with seconds and blemishes etc as an FYI.

Best wishes with whatever you go with. All the options you're looking at are good, so you won't go "wrong" whichever option you go for.
Last edited by emma_melbourne on Mon 09 Nov, 2020 10:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby emma_melbourne » Mon 09 Nov, 2020 9:35 pm

Apologies it posted it twice.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby wayno » Wed 11 Nov, 2020 3:08 pm

depends exactly where you want to go.. in NZ you preferably want a tent that stands up to strong wind, esp if you're going to camp above the bushline.. weight is less important than durability... kiwis go for hoop tents for this reason... wind over 100k isnt uncommon at all, gale force is pretty common year round. otherwise you'll have to be careful about where you pitch it..
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Se88o » Sun 29 Nov, 2020 4:06 am

Thanks for the detailed reply Emma! The frame vs frameless advice was really sound given the awkward weight I'm hovering at for longer trips.

Cheers Wayno - I think because the NZ trips will be few and far between I could probably borrow a hoop tent from a mate that uses them.

I decided in the end I was trying to cover too many bases (i.e., a comfort setup for 2 while being ultralight - probably wasn't realistic). So I rounded my kit out with some mainstream but lightweight gear for that purpose - 48l exos and a big Agnes copper spur 2p. Bit heavier than I was originally thinking but suits my use case more. Next round of purchases I'll probably grab the sonder 36l and a single pole mid for UL solo adventures.

Thanks again everyone - learnt a lot.
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Re: Help picking shelter and pack

Postby Franco » Mon 30 Nov, 2020 7:02 am

" I love Tarptent tents and have the Double Rainbow Li. And the StratoSpire Li would be a great option for 2 as it has separate mesh inner from outer. They do also have ULA packs so you could combine shipping."
Tarptent has a link to ULA packs because Henry Shires at TT used to hike with the founder of ULA and has remained a loyal customer of ULA even after the change of ownership.
There is no other connection apart from that.
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