Meet the newest member of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear team. Christi (trail name “Deva”) is about half way through the Appalachian Trail (her first thru hike), and she’s experiencing the benefits of a lighter load. We met Deva at Trail Days, in Damascus, Virginia, and realized she’d be a perfect candidate to demonstrate the difference a lighter base weight can make. Before setting out on her hike, she visited the LL Bean flagship store in her home state, Maine, and loaded up on all the gear she thought she’d need (and then some). A backpack weighing 5 ½ pounds (plus rain cover), a 3+ pound tent, heavy stuff sacks, a heavy water filter, and other non-essentials combined to give her a base weight of 22 pounds. And that’s without food, water, and fuel!
Fit and fast, Deva was making great progress along the trail, even with her heavy load. But we knew she could move even faster. We compiled a list of everything in Deva’s kit, then systematically replaced whatever we could with lighter options, and removed anything unnecessary. With a new Windrider pack (1.6 pounds), an Echo I shelter (1.48 pounds, with guy lines), lighter stuff sacks, an alcohol stove, and other equipment, we helped her reduce her base weight to 12 pounds. That’s almost a 50% weight reduction!!!
A before and after breakdown of her gear and base weight is below.
Deva was already covering some impressive daily distances. But now she’s cruising through as many as 30 miles a day. Her two hiking companions, Porter and Pace, both experienced thru-hikers, say she’s one of the strongest hikers they’ve ever shared the trail with. They were having a difficult time keeping up, so now they’re both carrying Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs and have lightened their base weights in an effort to stay on track with Deva.
As she continues north, Deva will be updating us on her experience. She’ll tell us about how a light load doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort. We’ll see how her gear performs. And we’ll just follow along as she makes her way up the trail, back to her home in Maine. Stay tuned…