Paul weighs his pack. It's 19.5 pounds and includes 3 days of food and 3 quarts of water (6 pounds alone!).
Paul Cronshaw

What – Complete Guide to UL Packing
Where -Montecito Library
Who – Paul Cronshaw and Rik Christensen, long time ultralight backpackers
When – 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 29

Going lightweight on the trail ought to be a “no brainer.” Let’s see. Would I rather take a seven-pound pack and haul it up the trail crammed with gear sure to weigh in well over the 30-pound limit or start with a pack that weighs just over a pound and add an assortment of super-light stuff that’ll keep the load well under 15 pounds? A no brainer, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Ultralight companies like Gossamer Gear or Six Moon Designs aren’t mainstream, mass production companies. Nor will you most likely know who makes the lightest tent or sleeping bag or what to buy when you’re looking for gram-friendly stoves, cook kits, clothing, or other basic needs.

Paul and Rik at South Fork Station on a recent trip to work on repairs to the historic cabin.
Paul Cronshaw

This Wednesday night you’ll have the opportunity to get the true skinny on going lite from two of the best – local teacher Paul Cronshaw and his sidekick Rik Christensen who designs much of the gear he uses. Last summer Cronshaw hiked the full 211 miles of the John Muir Trail using a pack that weighed in at just over 12 ounces. With that pack, an 18-ounce Gossamer Gear tent called “The One” (designed for Gossamer by friend Rik), and keeping everything to the minimum, Cronshaw was able to keep his pack weight close to 20 pounds, even with Bear Cannister and a week’s worth of food for the longest section.

Paul ready to head off from Glacier Point on his trip to Whitney Portal via the John Muir Trail. Yes he made it all the way carrying about this much gear!
Paul Cronshaw

“It is so cool to go light,” Cronshaw will tell anyone who shows just the slightest nit of interest in knowing more about UL-style packing. “When’s the last time you spent a week in the Sierras and didn’t feel like you had an iron weight on your back?” He spouts off what it’s meant to him to go light: He can wear lighter shoes and his feet love it; he’s not worn down at the end of the day and the high passes are way easier to climb. “Hiking with a light pack is way safer too,” he explains. “Especially the stream crossings. They can be really treacherous when the snow starts melting.”

Currently Cronshaw is working his way north in his quest to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, a goal he says will take him a few years. Knowing Paul, he’ll complete it sooner. No doubt he’s fine-tuned his gear even further than last year, has squeezed out a few more ounces, and will get a few more miles in each trip.

Join Paul and Rik at the Montecito Library this Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. for a talk you won’t want to miss if lightening your pack sounds good. There will be plenty of gear on display and answers to most anything you’d want to know about UL backpacking

Atop Mount Whitney and almost at the end of his 14 day journey. That's 15.07 miles per day!
Paul Cronshaw


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