Backpacking Mount Lowe: First Backpacking Trip

Mount Lowe was a¬†first backpacking trip for all three of us. Here’s a quick summary of the gear we brought for Robin, and a few things that worked and didn’t work on this trip.

Robin pitched in to carry some of the weight in his Ruffwear pack (review here). At 16 pounds, he is supposed to be able to carry up to four pounds, 1/4 of his body weight. However, because he has a very lean body type, we kept it close to 2.5 pounts to be safe.

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Here’s Robin’s backpacking list, with stars beside the items he didn’t carry:

Leash: Lightweight paracord leash with carabiner (0.71 oz)

Bowls: Small stainless bowl (~1.5 ozРlost it on the trip), larger silicone collapsible bowl (2.2 oz)

Jackets: Ripstop rain jacket (1.77 oz), Climate Changer fleece jacket for nighttime (3.5 oz)

Lights: LED collar (1.16 oz), LED clip light (0.6 oz)

Bandana: Survival bandana (0.69 oz)

*Food: Double servings of kibble for 2 days (4 cups, about 16 oz), Blue Buffalo Trail Toppers (2 * 3 oz each = 6 oz), Chicken jerky treats (2.0 oz)

*Bed: Homemade sleeping pad with fleece cover (11.0 oz)

Pack: XXS Ruffwear Approach (11.2 oz)

With a 2L pack, the biggest limiting factor is bulk, not weight. The kibble alone was around a liter- one whole side of the pack by itself. The total weight of the above list is 3.3 pounds, but for bulk, weight, and safety¬†reasons we decided to pack all of his food into our food sack, since we didn’t want to make him even¬†more of a target for wild animals. Subtracting the smellables¬†and the sleeping pad, he was at 12.1 oz plus pack (1.5 pounds total).

I had planned to strap his sleeping pad to the top of his pack, but it made his pack¬†hilariously top heavy. We ended up strapping it to Addison’s pack, and gave Robin his soft frisbee and the houndstooth fleece cover for his pad (about 8 oz altogether). All told, he carried about 2 pounds on the way in and danced circles around us. On the way out, I loaded him up closer to 3 pounds¬†with some of our items (headlamps, my hat and a flashlight) so that they’d be at hand if we needed them, and I was very surprised by how quickly the bounce left¬†his step.¬†That was an important lesson for me because while he may “safely” be able to carry up to three pounds (I think four is way too much), that extra pound isn’t worth losing¬†his spark. It’s important that hiking and backpacking be fun for him.

What worked:

  • The collapsible silicone bowl ended up being a favorite since it clips to the outside of his pack and shakes dry. It was perfect for offering¬†water on the trail since we didn’t have to stow a wet bowl inside his pack.
  • The Climate Changer (review) kept him warm outside my sleeping bag for most of the night, and kept him visible in the dark with its reflective trim.DSC_0107_new.jpeg
  • Our¬†paracord leash, made from a 6′ length¬†of paracord and a lightweight carabiner, was fantastic. Unlike his nylon leash, it isn’t slippery, so I could easily fasten it around my waist with a larkshead knot whenever it wasn’t attached to Robin and it was essentially weightless. It also folded up small enough to fit into my hipbelt pockets.
  • Hammock camping went surprisingly well considering that none of us had ever slept in a hammock and we weren’t even sure that there would be suitable trees.¬†Robin spent the night on top of my sleeping bag on my stomach in his fleece, and never came close to falling out (though I did a couple times). I think we both slept OK¬†except for a tense half hour after¬†Robin woke me up by growling at unseen wildlife.¬†DSC_0229

Changes for next trip:

  • Robin’s¬†LED collar wasn’t¬†as bright in the deep dark of the back woods as it is¬†at the dog park, and our¬†LED clip light was useless for its weight. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for a brighter¬†blinker.
  • His kibble didn’t seem to give him the nutrients he needed on the trek. We brought¬†Zignature Duck formula,¬†and he bounces off the walls at home¬†after a kibble meal, while camping he was lethargic after eating I suspect that¬†the bulk to nutrition ratio was¬†off for high intensity activity, so even after eating his fill (Robin’s not a big eater) he didn’t have enough calories to feel rejuvenated. I¬†hope to have a better solution for the next trip.

Updates: 

January 2016: Updated format and edited for clarity.

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