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Chasing Ten with Rebecca Sperry

Words & Photos by Rebecca Sperry

How long have you been going light?

I have spent my entire life being a minimalist. The less I have, the happier I am, and when I discovered ultralight backpacking, all my wildest dreams came true. I started hiking in 2015 and went on my first backpacking trip in 2019. Right off the bat, I started focusing on weight, researching the lightest gear that would still keep me comfortable and ready for anything in the wilderness. Because I exclusively hike solo, I know the importance of having the right gear to keep me safe, and I have spent the last four years building my ideal ultralight setup. 

My first overnight hike was a three-day, two-night, fifty-five-mile excursion in Southwestern New Hampshire. I hobbled out of the woods after wearing trail runners that were a half-size too small–subsequently lost five of my toenails–and was ready to take on my next big adventure. Since then, I’ve gone on a handful of shorter backpacking trips, and my base weight fluctuates depending on conditions. I prefer day hikes to overnights and backpacking trips, but every now and then, I feel the urge to strap on a heavier pack and set out into the wilderness for a night or two alone in the woods to reset.  

What’s the base weight of your pack before adding consumables like food and fuel?

10.22 pounds on summer hikes. On spring/fall hikes, it’s 11.4 pounds. 

Beyond the “The Ten” items, what other kinds of gear do you make room for and why? 

Beyond the ten items, I carry an Anker 10,000mAh charger and will be carrying camp shoes on my next overnight. I like to think of spending time in the woods as a chance to see how little I need to be happy. I forego luxury items because I am out there to push my own limits physically and mentally. If I were to go on a long thru hike, though, I might carry more “luxury” items, although I’m not sure what those would be.  

Are you currently forgoing any of the ten pieces? Why?  

No, I am stubbornly old-school and just recently attempted to use an app for navigation on a section hike of the Long Trail. I failed miserably and went right back to my paper map and watch. 

What has achieving this low base weight done for your trips outdoors? How has it impacted the way you travel?

Having a lower base weight makes backpacking more enjoyable for me because I’m not carrying extra things that I don’t need. Because of my minimalist tendencies off-trail, it came quite naturally to me to carry as little as possible when heading out on backpacking trips.

Gear List:/Weights:                                                                                   

  • Pack - HMG Southwest 2400/30oz 
  • Shelter - Agnes Fly Creek UL2/37.5oz 
  • Sleep System -
    Enlightened Equipment Rev20 Custom/22.54oz
    Thermarest Z Lite/12oz    
  • Stove and Cookware -
    MSR Pocket Rocket/2.6oz
    MSR Titan Cup/4oz
    Snowpeak Spork/.5oz 
  • Hydration Vessels and Water Treatment -
    Smart Waterbottles (2)/2oz
    Katadyn 1L filter/2.1oz
  • Non-Worn Apparel -
    Sleep Shorts/3.7oz
    Smartwool Socks/1.35oz
    Arcteryx Puffy/9.6oz
    Arcteryx Zeta/9.5oz
    EMS Techwick T-Shirt /2.7oz 
  • Headlamp - Black Diamond/3.10oz
  • Multitool or knife, etc.- Swiss Army Knife/2.4oz
  • Hygiene and first aid –
    Toothbrush & paste/1.6oz
    First Aid Kit/1.3oz
  • Any Extras -
    Bandana x 2/ 2.3oz
    Map/1.3oz
    Garmin Mini/4oz
    Anker 10,000mAh/6.8oz
    Charger cords/ 0.7oz    

Total weight: 10.22 pounds

 

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