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Gear we took to New Zealand, part 2 — Backpack and sleep system

I love me some comfortable and extended sleep, even when in the outdoors. While being a bit cold is not that much of an issue for me, since I am a side/belly-sleeper I am not comfortable sleeping just on the floor. Here's what I took to my 2 month New Zealand hiking trip and how I carried it.

I bought a new backpack last year, since my old one was too large and to heavy. It was a 70+10L bag from Decathlon, weighing in at almost 3kg — that's more than our tent! So this thing had to go and I chose a much lighter one from Exped.

The Backpack — Exped Lightning 60

This backpack is pretty lightweight, sturdy and carries quite well. I modified the backpack and cut off everything I didn't need, and changed the compression straps for some slightly heavier, but way more versatile shock-cord, to make attaching stuff on the outside easier. All in all, the weight of the backpack with my modifications is 1150g — almost three times less than my huge pack before.

There are only two small nuisances with this pack. First: the position of the side pockets is not optimal — reaching for my water bottle in the side pocket while hiking is possible, but I really have to bend my arm backwards to do so. And second: the bottom attachment of the shoulder straps is rubbing on the hip-belt pockets, so those pockets already have some small holes in them. If this thing fails on me sometime in the future, I think I will go even lighter with something like the ZPacks Arc Blast. Let's see — so far it's holding up.

60 liters capacity was enough for all gear carried plus food for about 6 days and a maximum average of 2 liters of water, without having to attach stuff to the outside of the pack. The pack was full to the brim and with approximately ~16-18kg quite heavy when we did a 6-day hike, but it was not bursting and still comfortable.

Sleeping 'Bag' — Cumulus Comforter L500

I brought an outdoor-quilt instead of a sleeping bag, and it was absolutely the right decision. I really liked how this thing performed. The Cumulus Comforter is basically is just a lightweight down-blanket, not really a sleeping bag. While it is a bit fiddly if you want a non-drafty fit, I never was cold or felt as restricted as in a mummy bag tangled up around me.

I modified the quilt and sewed on some buttons and shock-cord so I could create a footbox and wrap it around my sleeping pad (and myself), and it worked very well. This thing is filled with down, and I was concerned it would get damp and lose it's insulation qualities, so I kept in in a waterproof stuffsack (see below) and had no issues with it whatsoever.

For the weather we had in New Zealand this quilt was a tad too warm, except for maybe 2-3 nights in the mountains. I did not really know what to expect weatherwise, and so I opted for the safer version. But the versatility and comfort of this down-quilt was well worth the weight, in my opinion. Total weight, modified, 778g

Sleeping clothes

Since I did not bring too much clothes, I chose to bring something that I would only sleep in:

  • Sleeping Shirt, Icebreaker 150 Weight Long Sleeve, 193g
  • Long Johns, Montane Primino 140, 169g
  • Sleeping Socks, Thick Wool, 115g

As I said before, it was too warm, so sleeping clothes were not really necessary. But having a set of fresh non-sweaty long clothes in the evening to slip into (and to protect the quilt from my leaking body) was a nice thing to have. The nights it got really cold, I just threw a buff on my head and dug deep into my quilt. Recommended!

Sleeping Mat — Exped Synmat UL7

Not ultralight, but fucking worth the comfort. I slept really well on this pad and never had an issue with punctures or air-leakages whatsoever. It is a bit narrow but all in all a very nice sleeping pad and warm enough for even the colder nights (at around 4 degrees Celsius). The stuffsack of this sleeping mat is a nice yellow color, and combined with a headlamp hanging from the tent ceiling, this makes a very nice, romantic lantern. Weight: 471g

Exped Snozzle Bag

Unnecessary weight just to save some breaths pumping up the sleeping mat? Au contraire, my friend. This ~30L pump bag clocks in at 61g and served many purposes: pumping up both our sleeping mats in less than 5 minutes (my wife carried the same mat) without losing breath, a huge dry bag for the quilt and sleeping clothes and a large bag for laundry when in town.

To sum things up:

  • Backpack: 1150g
  • Sleep system: 1787g

Next: clothes and other miscellaneous stuff.