February 25, 2016
Chasing Ten with Tyson Perkins
How long have you been going light?
I started really getting into backpacking with a few roommates at the time around 2012. With my limited funds, I had to stick to cheap, flimsy packs purchased at army surplus stores or hand-me-downs. One of my first packs was an external frame pack from the 80’s called the ‘Everest’. I’m hard-pressed to believe this made it past basecamp, but the ‘80s were a wild time. The packs I used were all excessively heavy, between the 4-6-pound range, and were of terrible quality for such a burden of weight. It was when I got introduced to Hyperlite Mountain Gear in 2013 that I began to look closer at my gear and how quickly the weight can add up. I got my first ultralight pack–a 2400 Ice Pack–and it brought me hundreds of miles through Maine and the White Mountains until I decided I wanted something a bit different and changed to my 3400 Southwest. I absolutely fell in love with this pack and was lucky enough to get a fresh one for my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016.
What’s the base weight of your pack before adding consumables like food and fuel?
My base weight gets calculated a bit differently since I’m always hiking with my wife. We split up a few of the essentials to save weight in each other’s packs to make sure one person isn’t carrying too much more than the other. On days where one of us is exceptionally weak or tired, we can swap around gear to accommodate. With that said, the base weight in my pack hovers around 11 lbs.
Beyond the “The Ten” items, what other kinds of gear do you make room for, and why?
I can get bored pretty easily once I’ve gotten to camp, made shelter, and eaten dinner, and I can’t seem to rest my mind. I enjoy keeping a few items with me to keep me entertained in these situations. This could be a book, a small toy, or even some whiskey. It’s important for me to keep my spirits up and make it fun, no matter how rough the day was. I also like to keep my weight down to be ready for various adventures with the same gear. It’s awesome being able to take the same kit from the White Mountains and use it the next weekend on a three-day sea kayaking tour, or a few days floating down a river.
Are you currently forgoing any of the ten pieces? Why?
Since my last long hike in 2016, I’ve since shifted my eating habits to a more vegetarian lifestyle. With this change, I could be convinced into skipping out on the cook kit if I had some other recipes. Even though a lot of what I cooked was NOT actually meat-based, nevertheless, ramen tastes a hell of a lot better with a half dozen Slim-Jims cut up and thrown in.
What has achieving this low base weight done for your trips outdoors? How has it impacted the way you travel?
When I compare my experiences when I first started hiking compared to now, I can see a huge boost in not only miles made, but the smiles I had along the way. When you are stuck stressing about your crummy pack or slogging through with way too much in it, it can be difficult to really take it all in and let yourself love the craft. Once you clear the haze and lighten your load, suddenly, things become a bit brighter around the edges. I’ve brought this philosophy into many aspects of my life since learning it. Now when I pack for just about any situation, I try to be thoughtful about my items and, whenever possible, take ones that can serve a dual purpose.