This is part three in a series of posts about my $100 Super-Ultralight Gear List (Click here for part one.) Part three, is all about my shelter and sleeping gear.
Grand Trunk UL | Cost: $13.99 | Weight: 11.464 oz
I have backpacked hundreds of miles with a Grand Trunk UL hammock, so I can attest that durability is not an issue. Hammocking isn't for everyone, but it offers a lot of benefits. You don't need a clearing to setup camp; you stay above sharp rocks, sticks, thorns, mud, bugs, and critters; they are easy to setup; they are lightweight; you don't need a ground cloth or sleeping pad; and best of all, they give you a very comfortable place to sit at the end of the day.
I slightly modified this hammock by replacing the ropes and metal hooks that are used for attaching it to a tree. I instead used lightweight weaved nylon ropes. This saved nearly 2 ounces.
DIY, Window Shrink Wrap Plastic | Cost: $2.00 | Weight: 4.40 oz
Braided Mason's Cord and Elastic Cord | Cost: $5.48 | Weight: 0.847 oz
Other than its lightness and cheapness, my favorite thing about making a rain tarp out of window shrink wrap, aka polycryo, is that it won't block your view of the swaying trees, starlight, and wildlife above you.
Considering how lightweight this plastic is, I've been surprised by the durability. That being said, reinforcing the edges is a must. Use the double-sided tape that comes with the window shrink wrap kit to fold over the edges on all four sides.
For securing the guylines, I've tried many things, but my current favorite method is using duct tape and soda can pull tabs. The pull tab sandwiched inside the duct tape keeps it from tearing (see photo).
I'm yet to get a tear in the plastic, except the cut I intentionally made to test what would happen, but as with any lightweight material with enough use, a tear is inevitable. The edges reinforced with the double-sided tape keep most of the tension from a small tear turning into a large one. Duct tape adheres to it really well, so if you do have a small tear, repairs are easy. Heavy duty window shrink film is also available, but that will add a couple ounces. So far, I haven't felt a need to use the thicker plastic.
If your hiking destination lacks trees, this can be setup on the ground using hiking poles or sticks. For a ground cloth, I use a rectangle cut from a piece of Tyvek. Tyvek is primarily used in construction as a home wrap. It can be purchased online, but home builders will usually have no problem giving you the scrap from the end of a roll if you ask. As it is lightweight, waterproof, breathable, tear-proof, and sew-able, Tyvek is the most useful material you will ever find in a dumpster.
A slightly heavier option, is to use Tyvek for your rain tarp. It's about 3 ounces heavier than the polycryo, but it offers some advantages.
First, it's more durable. Second, as much as I like the clear view under polycryo, on a hot day the Tyvek will reflect heat and provide extra shade. Third, there is very little work involved in making it.
My preferred method for hanging this tarp doesn't require grommets or tools. I ran a ridge line of braided mason's cord between the trees and draped the tarp over it. To keep the tarp from sliding up and down my ridge line, I tied a loop in each side of the line, poked a hole in the Tyvek with some duct tape for reinforcement, and pulled the loop through. I slid a stick through the loop so it's easy to take down (see photo).
To tie down the corners without grommets, I wrap a small item in the corner of the Tyvek. Anything that doesn't have a sharp edge will do. I've used acorns, pebbles, or balled up pieces of paper. I slide a slipknot over it with braided mason's cord, thin elastic cord, or fishing line (see photo). I tie the other end to another tree, a boulder, or a stick stuck into the ground. You could also use tent stakes, but that just adds weight, so I prefer utilizing objects in the environment.
Bear Butt 41-Degree Bag | Cost: $32.97 | Weight: 29.98 oz
I'm an avid backpacker, so I'm not afraid to invest in good gear. Proven by the fact that I sold my beloved junker car for less than I paid for my Z Packs sleeping bag. If going on a summer trip in warm weather, however, there are a lot of cheap lightweight options.
This particular bag has two zippers, which works great with a hammock. Unzip the bottom, slide it over the hammock, and you're insulated above and below.
When you lay in a sleeping bag, you compress the insulation underneath you. This causes it to lose nearly all of its insulating properties, because it's the loft of the insulation that keeps you warm. Sliding the sleeping bag over the hammock will prevent this compression and make it much warmer. It also keeps it from falling onto the ground while you sleep. Ideally, you'll want to purchase a longer sleeping bag than you'd normally need.
See my previous post about packing to see my super-ultralight sleeping bag stuff sack made out of the same polycryo plastic as my rain tarp.
Next Monday: I'll show you how I make dinner with my super-ultralight, super-ultracheap, cooking gear.
Please email any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an alternative idea for a super-ultralight, super-ultracheap gear list, let me know. I would love to share them in future posts.