I thought I'd share one of the entries from my recent (now closed) Kupilka giveaway that wasn't published during the giveaway period. Many thanks to Peter for his excellent post and to all the other readers of my blog who submitted complete entries. I'll continue to share them from time to time.
Peter Gulbranson - St. Paul, Minnesota
- How long have you been backpacking and what got you started?
I started backpacking in the late 90’s while I was in high school. A group of fathers and sons from my church planned a 3 night 4 day trip to Northern Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail. That trip was disastrous and ended badly, mostly due to inexperience and over-packing. The 90° F temps didn’t help either. Most of the group swore off backpacking for life. I was inspired to do better next time and took that experience and began revising my gear and my approach to backpacking altogether. Which ultimately led me to several lightweight backpacking communities online.
- Describe where you currently are in the "going lighter" process. Are you just getting started or at the point where you're down to shaving of individual grams here and there? What are some of the restrictions you've encountered to going even lighter?
Like most people, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my current gear list and lighten up where I can. Finances are my main inhibitor. With a family to provide for, I am on a strict budget when it comes to new gear purchases. This leads me to a lot of DIY and MYOG blogs and forums online to see what’s new and interesting. So far I have been able to completely revamp my cooking system, and my sleeping system weight has been cut in half from where I started. The two big items are still my pack and my tent. My torso is long (23”) which makes finding a mainstream market pack to handle 30lbs difficult. Most of the smaller packs around 3000 ci are built for shorter torsos, 19-20”. My North Face Granite pack might weigh more than I’d like, but it’s comfortable and serves me well. I choose to stay with a tent for now because I can’t convince my wife that a tarp/bivy combo is worth the investment for the amount of time that we actually use it.
- What type of shelter do you currently use? Please include the make and model and a little bit about how you settled on the choice you have made. For example, what other shelters have you tried?
Currently I use a Gander Mountain’s Guide Series Dragonfly backpacking tent. Weighing in at just under 6lbs, it is on the heavy side for a backpacking two person tent, but when split between the two of us, it makes for a decent carry weight. The deciding factor to go with this tent was primarily based on the price. I got it on clearance for $30 several years ago. It’s served us well and is decent for our summer back-country needs.
- Where are you located geographically and what type of terrain and weather do you normally encounter on your backpacking trips?
I am located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Most of our backpacking takes place up on Lake Superior’s north shore, the Superior Hiking Trail in the summer months, temps range from 50-80° F.
- How long in duration is a typical backpacking trip for you? One night, two nights, or more?
Typically our trips last no more than 2 or 3 nights.
- What best describes your method of cooking? Do you mostly re-hydrate freeze-dried foods (i.e. just boil water), reheat actual food, or do "real" cooking/simmering?
Primarily my cooking is restricted to re-hydration. Freezer-bag cooking or one-pot dishes are the staple for our dinners on the trail.
- What make and model of stove do you currently use and why? What stoves have you tried in the past and what made you stop using them?
Right now I use an MSR Pocket Rocket canister stove. I like its simple design and fool-proof summer use. I do enjoy tinkering around with alcohol stoves at home, but I have yet to take one out on the trail with me as my only stove.
- What type of fuel do you use and why? Alcohol, Esbit tabs, liquid fuel, gas canisters, wood?
I use regular canister butane/propane for the Pocket Rocket and I use denatured alcohol for my tinkering stoves.
- Have you tried wood burning stoves? If so, what are you thoughts on the soot that they create? Do you care about the soot, or is that an acceptable trade off for a readily available fuel source?
No, I have not used a wood burning stove. I plan to make one this summer but I am concerned about the soot. And I am not sure I want to sacrifice a cook pot just to play around with it. The soot alone is enough for me to rule it out as a viable trail option for me, regardless of the weight savings in fuel. I suppose I could start carrying my pot on the outside of my pack. Even then, I don’t see it being more than just a fun hobby to try at home. But that’s just me.
- What type of cookware (pot or cup) do you use? Do you carry more than one cooking container?
I use a Brunton IB Cookset. Weighing 8.5 oz and made of anodized aluminum, the pot set comes with two nesting pots and one universal lid. The larger pot (1000ml) is usually enough for my needs so I leave the smaller (800ml) at home to save 3.5 ounces. I also carry a 16oz. Nalgene to use as a "thermal mug" for coffee or tea.