After carrying a 65-pound pack all the way from the Snow Lakes Trailhead to the top of Asgard Pass and back (30 miles round trip, 7000 feet of elevation change from trailhead to summit), I started looking at ways to lighten my backpack.
The first thing to go was the Nikon D300. With it and a fairly basic 3-lens kit (28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 105mm f/2.8 VR macro) and a teleconverter, it ended up weighing almost as much as my 4×5 with its 3-lens setup (80mm f/4.5, 135mm f/5.6, and 300mm f/8) and 4 cut-sheet film holders.
Next I started working on the shelter… I carried a 3-pound, 2-person tent, a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2, which doesn’t much of a vestibule. Now I’m using the setup shown here; a Grace Duo from Mountain Laurel Designs, and a Serenity net tent from the same.
The combined weight of the entire setup is around 18 ounces, and it’s surprisingly comfortable. Having the sides up so high isn’t required, but when you’re in a warm desert clime, the breeze feels rather nice.
The tarp is shaped, with Catenary curves along its ridgeline and edges. It’s designed to pitch in an A-frame shape like the one shown here, and it only took around 10 minutes to get a decent pitch, which isn’t bad given that it’s my second attempt at pitching it. The odd fabric is in large part the secret to its light weight. It’s made of a fabric called Cuben, which is very popular with sailmakers because of its high strength and low weight, plus its complete lack of elasticity. As far as shelters go, it also has the advantage of being entirely water and windproof if you pitch it properly, and since this model has a taped ridgeline rather than stitched, it doesn’t even require seam-sealing.