What’s in Michael’s backpack?
Michael Martin uses a frameless pack with no hip belt. For multiday trips, he takes:
•A tarp made of Cuben Fiber, which can sleep three to four people. The tarp is set up using hiking poles and can be configured depending on conditions — one side down to block wind or rain. Many D.C. Ultralighters (or ULers) prefer tents.
•Sleeping bag, inflatable pad, inflatable pillow. Patch kit for the pad and pillow.
•Maps and a compass. D.C. ULers must know how to read maps — no relying on a GPS. Michael teaches a popular six-hour D.C. UL course on way-finding.
•A wind shirt. At 1.7 ounces, it’s a light extra layer. In the mountains, weather conditions change
quickly, so wearing clothing that can be added or removed is essential. •Hat and gloves. Even in summer, nighttime temps can plunge at high altitudes.
•Two or three pairs of socks.
•A bright orange hunting vest.
•Hand sanitizer, bandages, blister protection, aspirin, Benadryl, Imodium, toothbrush and travelsize toothpaste, small amounts of soap, insect repellent, sunscreen and mouthwash.
•A sandwich baggie with toilet paper.
•Water in a thin plastic bottle. Bleach to disinfect water collected on the trail. (Read up on water disinfection techniques before heading out.)
•A cook system from Trail Designs, consisting of a half-dollar-size container for denatured alcohol (the fuel), a wind shield and a beer can to hold the water that will be boiled.
•A titanium spork.
•A small pocket knife. In terms of clothing, Michael and his partner, Jen, advise planning for all possible conditions. That means layers and something dry to change into after a day in the rain. Although Michael did not pack food on this trip, in general, he and Jen choose calorie-dense, portable foods — salami and cheese, for example. Michael favors packaged meals that can be cooked in their pouches by adding boiling water.
Jen Adach andMichaelMartin — “ultralight” backpackers who make an art form of shedding gear — navigate a rocky descent on Gap Creek Trail.