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Thread: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

  1. #1
    Enlightened
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    Default Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    I'm planning a week-long solo backpacking trip into the Trinity Alps in a few months. Last time I went hiking up there I heard many sounds that went "bump in the night" and I found myself ill-prepared to see well in all that beautiful darkness. [img]graemlins/bluesigh.gif[/img]

    I need a tool (or tools) that would allow me to know what's "out there" for fun -- and to know what I'm up against (bears, critters, other hikers, etc.).

    Weight is a concern, but I'm willing to push it a little bit in this area - even an extra pound or so of gear would be acceptable, if necessary. Budget is a moderate concern. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    What would be smart? [img]graemlins/icon14.gif[/img]

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Moved to Cafe...

    --dan

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Dan

    Thanks.... (sorry about that - rookie mistake) [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* V8TOYTRUCK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Well, if weight is a concern, I think the best power to weight/size is the M6, throws a powerful beam far enough to spot/scare off some critters.

    Price is around 250 and runs on 6 123 lithiums.

    Too expensive? The Ultrastinger works pretty good, and cost around $90, not nearly as bright, but cheaper and rechargeable.

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* B@rt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    How about the ASP TacLite or Triad? 2 cell lighs with a very good throw... [img]images/icons/rolleyes.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* Wolfen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Light cost money, bright lights cost more money, how bright do you want to spend? [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Hmmm.

    I'm not a backpacker...but, seems like you want light weight and dependability.

    The lightest battery energy you can carry seems to be lithium (123a). So, some bright, compact light based on Li-123a batteries; Scorpian, Surefire E2, Brinkmann LX, etc. (kinda depends on your budget I guess). Scorpian carries a spare bulb? (I don't have one)...that seems important.

    Rock bottom cost and still really bright? ...get the Brinkmann LX ($20 @ Walmart). You really don't need anything brighter. Although, you can only order the lamps from Brinkmann on-line, so...get one ahead of time to carry as a spare. Carry a spare bulb in a used, plastic film canister packed with cotton.

    Are you ever hiking in the dark? If so, seems like you might want to add a lightweight headlamp like a PT Aurora (3 AAAs) or Petzl Zipka. This can also be an all 'round task light in camp (whereas something like the Scorpian will just blind you up close). Plus a LED based headlamp will be really dependable and won't burn out at the wrong time. Carry spare AAAs in a used plastic film canister.

    One last thing, get a Photon II (or III) to hang off of a zipper, key chain, belt or pack loop. It's only as big as a stack of quarters and you will have light if you need it while you are changing bulbs, dropping batteries or whatever. You gan get different colors...get white (plenty good) or Cyan (blue-green). Cyan will seem the absolutely brightest without consuming additional battery power.

    BTW...why was this moved to the cafe?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    A decent Luxeon Star light is a good choice. Reactor or Reactor III, Arc LSH if you can get one. Inretech white adapter w/minimag. Surefire E2E Executive Elite w/KL1.

    For regular white LED, a CMG Infinity Ultra is a good choice.

    Don't know if you have a headlamp, but AA based lights run longer than AAA ones. Brightguy sells a 4AA Princeton Tec headlamp and they have a single LED bulb for it (not made by PT).

    I have a Petzl Mega Belt on order. Those are getting hard to find. Battery pack can be mounted either on belt or on the back of the head strap. It uses 3AA or 3C. I have a LEDcorp single white LED bulb that I am going to put in it.

    I have a Legend LX and it is a very good 2x123 light, though 1 hour runtime (normal for this type).

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* pedalinbob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    everyone has made excellent points.

    in summary, you might consider 2 lights.

    1 will be a lower output, long running and reliable LED.

    the other would be a more powerful light. perhaps an incan or LS based LED.

    a headlight is a good option too. i have a PT aurora (~32-42 lux) and a solo. both are nice. i give the nod to the aurora because of it's ability to dim, lightness and very long runtime. the only concern is accidentally switching it on while in the pack. this is doubtful, because the switch requires a good bit of pressure.

    of course, the solo can be run on 2 lithiums (i think) and/or modded with the LED module.

    for an incan, i am very pleased with my tec-40 (~750 to 3100! lux, depending on bulb). you can make it lighter (and presumably run longer) on lithiums. plus, it takes standard bulbs, and is very inexpensive. it puts out a LOT of light.

    another very useful possiblity (though not nearly as bright as the incan) would be the PT attitude (~37-51 lux). it is light, rugged, inexpensive, small and has a very long runtime.

    all of the above lights are relatively inexpensive, light, waterproof, small and simple.

    darn. just thought of another possibility: the eternalight marine or x-ray with lithiums (~78lux). you can research that one.

    it adjusts from very bright to very dim, is light, compact and waterproof. i think that with lithium batteries, it even floats.
    it also has signaling modes. the x-ray has a dim LED which can be set to constant on so you can locate it in the dark. this might be a very useful light.

    for a tiny, light and long running task light, consider the arcAAA or infinity ultra (~21 lux).

    good luck,
    Bob

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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    I messed up, and didn't get the light part of the post, so I moved it to Cafe...Feel free to repost the topic over in General, probably get more responses.

    Sorry 'bout that...

    --dan

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    I second the suggestion for the Princeton Tech Aurora headlamp. It is light, reliable, waterproof, and can run for up to 150 hours at its dimmest setting. This light will provide you with plenty of illumination for walking around and performing night-time tasks.

    Secondly, I would recomend a lithium 123 based incandecant. These will prove to be the lightest, brightest flashlights that you can find, and perform better than alkalines in cold conditions. Since you are going to be backpacking and weight will likely be at a premium, a Surefire G2 may suit your needs well. It is the lightest of the 2X 123 lights that I am aware of. I must warn you, however, that the G2--as well as all of the other 2X 123 lights suggested--will run for only about an hour on a set of batteries. If you plan to go this route, it would probably be wise to invest also in one of SureFire's SC1 spares carriers and a spare lamp. This will carry securely six replacement batteries and the spare lamp module were yours to break, in a waterproof, crush-resistant package.

    Respectfully,
    Dale

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Great responses! Thank you all!

    Dan- To clarify, by "tools" I was generally thinking "flashlights" but I didn't want to be too narrow. I'll try to be clearer next time. I don't care where you post this or move it.

    My budget is in the up-to $500 range for this area. I currently own a few LEDs (PT Attitude, white LED infinity, red photon I) and a few others. But they just don't address the "throw" issue and I am rather clueless about what's available. I also didn't realize how much I like flashlights (it's kind of strange to notice this for the first time.) I do intend to bring my PT Attitude for this trip - different tasks require different tools in my mind.

    I prefer not to hike at night, but the LEDs are fine for that.

    BTW, I've read that the SF's are good for self defense - I wonder if this would apply to bears? Maybe for a few minutes? Or would it makes things worse?

    Is there a lightweight solar recharging solution for the Ultrastinger or Tiger?

    Again - thanks for the great responses so far - I'm following up on all of your leads. You guys are great. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    I suggest the SureFire M3T...should be plenty bright enough, but uses half the batteries of the M6, keeping both cost and weight down. Don't forget spare lamps for any light you purchase (UNLESS LED!!)...nothin worse than having the worlds most powerful spotlight in you hands on day one of a trip & then POP! [img]images/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Something to keep in mind if you go with a 123 powered light. Be sure to carry your spare 123's in something waterproof. I've heard they're dangerous when wet.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Originally posted by WaltH:
    ...123 powered light. ...something waterproof.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">Hmmmm. I hadn't thought about that aspect. Is a Brinkmann LX sufficiently waterproof or should it be something like a UK 2L ?

  16. #16

    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Originally posted by Moth:
    I do intend to bring my PT Attitude for this trip

    Is there a lightweight solar recharging solution for the Ultrastinger or Tiger?
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">Yeah...I really love my PT Attitude!

    As far as the solar charger, you'll need some decent surface area to get any decent charge. I wouldn't consider anything smaller than this folding 10 watt solar panel $130 . For backpacking (not car camping), I think I'd stick with light weight 123a based lights and just carry spares. Let your Attitude be your main light and you'll hardly need to carry more than 2 extra 123a batteries.

    My daughter took a small solar charger with her to the back country in the Philipines. Since she was on the move every day, she never got a chance to leave it in one spot long enough to actually charge anything. It was just dead weight.

    Over in the batteries forum you'll find posts on solar chargers if you get serious about that.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* txwest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Moth,
    I think the Aurora is the best camp light you'll find. Very bright, light weight, adjustable output, & good run time. Right now you get them from BG along with a free PT Pulsar, which is a great micro light. For your "bright light", considering size, waterproofness, runtime, weight & output, the UK 2L can't be beat. Remember, you're going to be in a very dark place & your eyes should be well "dark adjusted". A little light goes a long way. If you get the 2L, also get the NiteIze headband. It can be real handy if you need a very bright headlamp. TX
    PS
    The only way a SF would be a match for a bear would be if were attached to a 12 gage.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    I'm a long time fellow backpacker and I just returned from 3 nights of snow camping near Big Pine Lakes. My requirements for backpacking lights are as follows in no particular order.

    Lightweight.

    Water resistant enough to survive an accidental dunk in a stream (unlike my HP digital camera but that's another story) or a rainstorm. Not necessarily waterproof. I'm not a diver.

    Dependable.

    Field serviceable i.e. can be disassembled without tools for replacing bulbs).

    Long run time.

    Bright, but not necessarily too bright. A super bright light will not penetrate through a forest of trees much better than a small lightweight one.

    Batteries compatible with my other devices (GPS, FRS radio)and with others in my party.

    I frequently travel in bear country and I too am concerned about things that go bump in the night, probably looking for my food.

    I usually carry two lights. One a broad beam short throw light for routine camp chores or reading, and one long throw light for occasional use when I need to see far down the trail, check out sounds in the woods, or for long distance signaling.

    Assuming that you are carrying all of your food and fuel to cook it for a week (making every ounce count) and that you will do little or no night hiking, and that you are leaving in a few months (possibly after DST starts) when the days will be longer, these are the two lights that I would carry:

    (1)A PT Aurora or Petzl Tikka. Both are rugged. They have three LED's and are water resistant. They weigh only a few ounces with batteries and they won't break your wallet. Both will easily burn an hour or two per day for a week on a set of 3 AAA's. Bring extra batteries if you want but I bet you won't need them. Forget the solar charger. How are those panels going to be in direct sun all day while you are backpacking? Heavy woods, deep canyons and north facing slopes see little direct sun. Keep the material things simple and enjoy the scenery.

    (2) A Surefire G2 or Streamlight Scorpion. Either of these will light up the woods for you when things go bump. Their runtime on a set of cells is
    an hour or so which should be more than enough for a week's occasional use. The G2 weighs only about 5 ounces, the Scorpion about the same and it comes with a spare bulb. I bought both for about $25.00 each.

    Believe me, when you are laboring up a long hill with a fully loaded pack you'll be glad you left those all metal full size flashlights at home.

    Someone once told me that every nonessential piece of equipment on a backpacking trip becomes one more barrier between you and what you have come to see. I believe that. Have a good trip.

  19. #19
    *Flashaholic* Rothrandir's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    a 1w 3d *ag mod would certainly be a must have if i were going.

    while doing a batt test on one of my mods, the first entire week was at almost full brightness! it was on for over two months before i gave up on the test.

    if you are interested, there are several people on this forum who make them...myself included. however, i don't have any new ones made. i could sell a used one for around $45 if you or anyone else is interested...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Moth,
    I have been backpacking for many years and was always lacking in the light department. It gets dark out there in the woods at night and there are many things making noises and going bump in the night. I was glad to discover this forum and start learning about all that was really out there.

    There has been some really good feedback for you so far and I will try to add what I can. I started backpacking about 15 years ago when there was very little available in the way of ultralite gear or methods being promoted. I suffered for years using only a AA mini*ag light with spare batts. I eventually added a headlamp and it was a huge help. I started with a mini Petzel and went to a Petzel Zipka.

    That is the first light I would recommend, light, small, with long run time. The next step of my current lighting scheme is a small hand held style. I have moved to a Eternalight Elite X-ray. I uses lith batts, floats, light weight, long long run time, and dimmable with SOS mode. For the things that go bump in the night, a light that has throw is the key. I would normally carry my ASP TAC light, great throw for a 2x123 light. If I was in an area that had bear, wolves, etc. I would upgrade the ASP for my SF M3. Always carry spare batts and as you no doubt know, keep them dry at all costs. I would probably also have a few Photon II lights on me too. A white PII attached to my coat or wind shirt and an amber PII attached to the shoulder straps of my pack.

    As for the SF M3 choice... It is the light I have. I also think there is great merit in the M2 and I know that there are many forum members that can tell you lots about the M2 series lights. If I didn't already have the ASP TAC light, I would probably have an M2.

    An alternative light to use for back country travel that I have but not tested in those conditions yet is the Z3. I added a KL3 bezel and made it 2 lights. I think it would be good to carry in the Z3/KL3 configuration and if there was too many disturbances around camp in the night, I would switch to the straight Z3 set up. The Z3 running the KL3 head gives 7+ hours of full power light and plenty of moon mode hours. A spare batt carrier from SF carries 6 and a spare bulb at once, a good investment.

    One last thought for you is a candle lantern. I keep one with a new candle in my pack always. The half candle from the last trip is packed as a spare too. I like the candle lantern under my tarp to warm it up and keep the humidity down. It made a huge difference during a winter backpacking trip in sub freezing temps a few years ago. We didn't use a tent but rather slept under the tarp with 2 candle lanterns.

    Let us know what you decide to carry and how it works out. All stories are appreciated.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Originally posted by Darkaway:

    (1)A PT Aurora or Petzl Tikka.
    (2) A Surefire G2 or Streamlight Scorpion.
    <font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">I second Darkaway's suggestions. Cost would be secondary to the weight that you would be carrying for a week.

    A third suggestion might be:
    A Modified light, the Mr. Bulk LGI. I have used this light in total darkness, and the amount of light that this puppy puts out is amazing! In total darkness, this thing is like a light cannon!

    Check with Mr. Bulk to see if you can use lithiums AAA's for extended run times.

    If you can't get this one (I think he still has some for sale), I would recommend the Streamlight 4AA, 7 LED light. I think they have added an extra resistor, so using Lithium's should not be a problem, but check with Streamlight - they have great customer service. I would prefer a Streamlight 3c, 10 LED light, but the weight of a 3C vs a lithium 4aa, I would probably go for the lighter one.

    Also, I would recommend a CMG Infinity, or an ARC AAA, or a Inova Microlight attached to the outside of your pack, by a string or whatever, for when you need a quick light.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Everyone above gave great advice on a flashlight, (or two, or more).

    In bear country, I carry five minute road flares. They pack safely and are fairly light weight.

    Bears are afraid of fire, and the road flare is one of the fastest way to be holding fire in your hand. They strike like a match,and burn red with sulfur smelling smoke.

    I have had ocassion to use the road flare to scare off a bear.

    The bear was after our food supply. I lit the flare and tossed it toward where he stood. One "woof", and he was off running.

    Just remember when you are forced to use the flare for protection, you are careful not to start a fire.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Planning a week-long solo backpacking trip

    Wow $500 for a camping flashlight budget! I say get an action light if it is available. That was highly recommended to the gentleman who posted about his hike up Everest. Then with money left over, get a nice kick butt incandescent like one of the many suggestions here. (I wish Surefire would produce a 3 celled G3). You could throw in a lower powered headlamp like an Aurora as well.

    Another possible suggestion if you are not leaving for a couple of months, you could be one of our beta testers for the hopefully soon to be released Surefire A2. Fully regulated incandescent for primary light and three LEDs for secondary light, all in one package with a projected online price of about $150.

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