091: A Beginner Forever

Show Notes: Episode 091

Today on the First 40 Miles, if you’re new to backpacking, how long are you allowed to claim that beginner status?  And what does it mean to be a beginner?  Then on today’s Top 5 List, are you ready to go tentless?  We’ll share some benefits.  Next on today’s SUMMIT Gear Review, Hyperlite Mountain Gear has a pack that shaves ounces, while being tougher than your grandpa’s drill sergeant.  On the Backpack Hack of the Week, a simple and cheap way to get double the insulation.


  • At what point are we not beginners? How do you define beginner?  Does it have more to do with confidence or skills or comfort level?
  • Fit backpacking into a busy life
  • Beginner mindset: more to learn, open minded, new way of looking at things, not afraid to experiment, try what works, try what doesn’t work, “sponge mode”
  • Survey from Backpacker Magazine, 18% of men still consider themselves beginners after 1-3 years of backpacking experience
  • 30 percent of women still see themselves as beginners after 1-3 years of backpacking experience.
  • Being a beginner is a good thing
  • Stay a beginner for as long as you can

Top 5 Reasons to Go Tentless

Keeps you Cool

  • Tent provides 5-10 degrees of warmth. On hot summer nights, you can take advantage of the breeze
  • Sleeping out in the open means a breeze will blow across your skin, instead of just blowing across your nylon tent

No Wet Walls

  • If you’ve ever had a great night of sleep in a tent, then stretched only to have your hand hit the wet side of the tent…
  • Condensation vs. spit
  • If you sleep under a tarp shelter, or in a hammock with a tarp, you’ll have maximum ventilation with no condensation. If you sleep without a tarp, you’ll have dew, but that’s dew-able,


  • Hammock or tarp much lighter than a tent
  • You can leave home gear like sleeping pad, poles, tent, and in some cases, if you have a light underquilt for your hammock , you may be able to get by with a light blanket.
  • Variety of ways to set up a simple tarp shelter
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0c42cY-tx4

You get to be a Foreign exchange student vs.  a Tourist

  • When you remove the walls of you tent, it removes a layer that separates you from the natives, and you live like they live
  • You feel more like you’re a part of the forest instead of just a visitor

Mystery Solved

  • Decreased anxiety about “mystery sounds” because you can just open your eyes
  • On our hammock trip, we were surprised by how safe we felt
  • Unexpected benefit of going tentless
  • In the tent, you can only imagine what the sounds are outside of your tent.  But without a tent, all you need to do is open your eyes
  • Decreased anxiety

SUMMIT Gear Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest

Mike’s story:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BUKUtD9omM


  • The 2400 Southwest pack is made of a type of Cuben Fiber which is now known as Dyneema® Composite Fabric
  • This fabric is ultra-durable, ultralight, and water resistant (can’t claim 100% waterproof because the stitching creates micro punctures in the fabric, which are seam sealed, but still, the 100% waterproof has been slightly compromised)
  • 50-70% lighter than Kevlar, four times stronger than Kevlar, and allow flexibility without losing strength, weighs less than silnylon, floats on water, is 100% waterproof before stitched and has high chemical and UV resistance..
  • Why aren’t all packs made of this material??
  • Bottom is 150 D Dyneema Composite Fabric
  • External Pockets are Dyneema® Hardline
  • It has removable, contoured aluminum stays and 1/4” foam back panel pad, which can all be removed
  • Dyneema® Hardline shoulder straps with 3/8” closed cell foam and spacer mesh


  • Load capacity: 20 – 40 lbs
  • Perfect for weekenders trips or section hikes
  • Three external, solid Dyneema® Hardline pockets: a big and two Nalgene Sized.
  • 5 compression straps
  • Roll-top closure system with side compression straps for vertical compression
  • Dyneema® Hardline hip belt with 1/8” closed cell rigid foam and spacer mesh
  • Dyneema® Hardline zippered pockets on hip belt with
  • Adjustable sternum strap with self-tensioning elastic
  • Hydro port on the right hand side instead of the top and internal mesh hydro sleeve


  • 1.79 lbs | 28.6 oz | 811g
  • Volume (About 56 Liter total)
    • Interior: 2400 cu. in. (40L)
    • External: 600 cu. in. (9.8L)
    • Center pocket: 300 cu. in.
    • Side pockets: 150 cu. in.
  • Height (fully unrolled): 30” (76.2cm)


  • Don’t have to baby this bag—take it on your roughest trips, bushwhack to your hearts content, and use your gear the way mother nature never intended. She’s doing her best to keep you away from areas of beauty and solitude by creating things like craggy rocks, briar patches, and thick forests.


  • $290
  • Some customization options available


  • Very few gear straps on exterior for external storage…not an issue if you’re not one to use exterior storage
  • This pack does have four exterior buckles for optional pack accessory straps
  • Velcro closure at top tended to grab at clothing—either replace with snag free tape or remove altogether from pack
  • Love that front zippered pockets on hip belt are larger capacity compared to other packs, they have a watertight zipper, so you can stow your point and shoot camera or your phone in those hip belt pouches and not be too worried.
  • Hip belts are enough padding for a lighter load, but as the load increases, the padding and suspension will not be enough—true of any pack. Load and suspension must match
  • All in all the 2400 Southwest from Hyperlite Mountain Gear is a truly incredible piece of gear—and well worth the cost: it’s lightweight, incredibly rugged, and constructed with the needs of a backpacker in mind.

Backpack Hack of the Week™:  Layering Pads

Instead of buying a higher R value pad, simply stack two cheap pads.  The R value will add up.

Example: 1.3 R value pad + 3 R value pad = 4.3 R value pad

Bulky, but cheap!

Trail Wisdom

“We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us; and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre