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Packing Light

7:33 p.m. on August 19, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Carl Grasso

Hi all.
Can anyone give some tips on packing light? Pretty broad...
What do most of you bring on a trip? Say a 2 or 3 day trip. What about a longer trip? Last time my buddies and I went our packs ranged from 55-65 pounds each, we did all have tents. Is this an average weight or can we get a lighter load? I know ditching the tent would be the first thing, but with the weather up here (Southern Adirondacks, NY) lately I wouldn't want to go without.
Thanks.

1:56 p.m. on August 20, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

Check this link

65 lbs for a 3 day trip? Terrible. This website may help:

http://www.backpacking.net/bbs.html

3:17 p.m. on August 20, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

a.k.a. Kate, Kate F

I "made the switch" from heavy weight gear and taking lots of it to a lighter load, and backpacking is much better! I am not one to forgo some comforts, though.

Can you share tents with your buddies? A tent apiece is overkill. Or if your own tent is a must, you can get some pretty reasonable and durable 3 season tents for under 6 lbs.

Here's what I pack for a 3 day, 2 night trip, in the summer, in the Cdn. Rockies:
My "half" of the tent - 3 lbs
sleeping bag - 3 lbs
sleeping pad 11 oz (ridge rest)
backpack - 4 lbs
2 prs socks, lightweight nylon poncho, one extra shirt, one extra pants, fleece jacket, long underwear
food, stove, pots, bear bag, water filter, headlamp, compass, 1st aid kit, etc.

My total pack comes to ~30 lbs, which is by no means ultralight. It is however, manageable. I think the trick
is to get your essentials (bag, pad, tent and pack) as light as possible. And you really don't need to change your socks every day! I find the best way to trim some pounds is to not pack water - find a creek, and take a filter, and to not overpack food.

Hope this helps.

3:03 p.m. on August 21, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

12:58 a.m. on August 25, 2003 (EDT)
3 reviewer rep
60 forum posts
Ahhh.. you need some serious help, my friend!

First off, check on the links posted in the other responses, especially the backpacking.net one. Do a google search for "backpacking light or lightweight". Read the post by our very own Jim S and his philosophy on how to go lightweight.
To this I would add a few reminders. Don't go lightweight all at once. Why? b/c it requires you to know *exactly* what you can and can't do without, and that is not something you want to learn the hard way. After each trip, evaluate how your equipment performed, and what can be left home next time, or what is needed but can be replaced with a lighter version. Be ruthless when it comes to weight- get a gram scale so you know exactly how much *everything* weighs. Start with the big weight items- pack should not be more than 5 lbs, sleeping system (bag and pad, pillow, etc..) under 5 lbs, tent under 5 lbs (the rule of 5, I call it) This is by no means "ultralight", but gets you started thinking about weight. If you have the $$, go for a rule of 2, which *is* ultralight. You don't need as many clothes as you think you do- take a little soap and wash when you need to. Cotton clothes are heavy, take up lots of room, and have no insulative value when wet- you can drop 2-4 lbs just by going to 100% synthetic clothes. Why take a 3 season tent when a tarp will do? I use a silnylon tarp that sleeps 4-5, and weighs *26 oz* (poles, stakes, rope incl.) That's only *6.5 oz per person* for a shelter! Get a silnylon poncho (12 oz) instead of that gore-tex suit (3-4 lbs)- you won't sweat yourself to death, either. LED flashlights are wonderfull weight savers. Iodine doesn't tase bad in kool-aid, and is a lot lighter than a filter. Water is the heaviest item you will carry- so don't. Dehydrate/freeze dry all your food, and get water where you camp or rest. Unless there is no water for a few hours, I only carry a quart to drink and refill often. Another point- repackage items so you only take what you need, like sun screen, insect repelent, soap, iodine tablets, etc.. small bottles of these save space and weight. Never take cans of anything. Don't forget that w/ a lighter pack, you can now use lightweight boots.

Here is the equipment list I give to scouts I am taking on a 6-day 50 mile trip I do every year in the Uintas (or Pecos when in New Mexico). This is for nightime temps ~ 35-40 deg. F, above 10,000 ft. w/ frequent rain. The base pack weight is 20-30 lbs (depending on the weight of each item) for the boys, but mine is 17 using ultralight gear.

Pack w/ padded hip belt and sternum strap (3,500-4,000 cubic inches)
Pack cover (or 2 *very strong* plastic bags)
Boots- well broken in and waterproof (avoid lots of seams and fabric)
Socks- Two outer (thick wool/wool blend (at least 50%) and 3 liner (polypropylene)
Underwear- two or three
Shirts- 3 (one long sleeve, NO 100% cotton!)
Pants OR shorts, whichever you plan to wear most of the time (NO 100% cotton!)
Extra light nylon/fleece/polypro. pants/longjohns
Light windbreaker/jacket (water resistant but breathable)
Thin liner gloves (for chilly mornings)
Hat w/ brim (better than sunscreen)
Poncho- good quality coated nylon/silnylon (no thin plastic/PVC)
Ground cloth (plastic/Tyvek/small tarp, 5'x7')
Sleeping Bag (20o-15o (lower temp. is too heavy. Include waterproof stuff sack)
*Waterproof* sleeping pad (closed cell foam, thermarest)
Bowl/deep plate (light aluminum or plastic)
Spoon
First aid kit (Ace bandage, immodium, motrin, moleskin, band-aids, etc.)
Pocketknife or multi-tool (small! No sheath knives)
Matches or lighter
Two canteens (at least quart-sized)
Water treatment (iodine tablets/filter)
Flashlight (LED)
Whistle
Liquid soap (biodegradeable, small bottle)
Small hand towel
Small repair/sewing kit (include Duct tape, wrap around a pen)
Small diameter rope (25'-50')
Sunscreen (small bottle)
Chapstick (lip sunscreen)
Insect repellent (no cans! Small bottles! >90% DEET)
Compass
Toilet paper
Extra zip-lock bags (1-2) and a large plastic trash bag

Sorry I got so verbose- it's something I've been doing for 21 years (teaching backpacking) and have a problem knowing when to stop... ;-).... it just pains me to see someone lugging a 50-60 lb back when they could easily be under 30 lbs.

11:35 p.m. on August 26, 2003 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
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5,189 forum posts
55 to 65 pounds????

Quote:

Hi all.
Can anyone give some tips on packing light? .. a 2 or 3 day trip. ... our packs ranged from 55-65 pounds each,

That sounds like my pack for a week of climbing in the backcountry, including rope and hardware!

If you search way back in this forum, you will find a TR of a trip that Jim S and I did that started as a very light trip, but we added luxuries and ended at about 24 pounds for the 3 days, including cameras, tents for each, luxo food, etc. Years ago (late 1950s), Dick Kelty handed out a little sheet with each of his then-new revolutionary packs that listed gear for a weekend in the summer Sierra at 15 pounds plus food and water. Since then, Ray Jardine went all out and got down to 8-10 pounds, including food and water. Well, the Ray-way is perhaps extreme, but there are obvious lessons to be learned.

The biggest weight adders are (1) the backpack itself, (2) the tent, and (3) the sleeping bag.

Backpack - My expedition pack, needed to carry ropes, hardware, ice tools, etc, weighs 8 pounds empty. If I can cut my load to something reasonable, I can easily get by with a 2 or 3 pound pack (the basic Kelty of old was 2 pounds, although the current versions are more like 4 or 5 pounds, thanks to the addition of all sorts of extraneous straps, zippers, etc - but then, Dick Kelty long since sold the company and hasn't had anything to do with it in a couple decades or more). If you have a 5000 cu in pack, you will be tempted to fill it with stuff you don't need. A 3000 cu in pack is plenty for a 3-day trip.

Tent - You each need a tent? As Gillespie says, why not share? Ok, ok, your buddies all snore like a sawmill (or maybe you do and they have banished you). Then get a single tent, or a tight 2-person tent. Tents that are more than adequate for the Dacks 3-season for 1 or 2 persons are available at 4 pounds, and not too expensive. If you share a 3-season 2-person tent, you can get down to 2 1/2 to 3 pounds each with plenty of room.

Sleeping bag - Mummy bags are much lighter for the warmth. A good synthetic (Primaloft, Liteloft, or the newest versions of Polargard or Hollofill) is inexpensive, but quite warm at a light weight. The Dacks in Fall, as I recall, do get below freezing, but a 20 deg bag can be gotten for under $100 from a good name manufacturer and would be adequate at a pack weight of 3 1/2 pounds.

You can also save a lot in things like the pad (well under a pound for closed cell foam, vs 1 1/2 to 2 for an inflatable), choice of raingear, fleece jacket (cheap these days from the WalMarts of the world), etc.

Also, make a list of every single item you took on your last few trips, then go through it and check off whether you actually used the item or not. If you didn't use it, consider strongly leaving it at home next trip. Do you really need that 5-cell Maglite police special spotlight, or would a 2-AA cell MiniMag do just as well (the large Maglites serve as batons as well as for light, which could be useful in the Bronx at night, but not in the woods in all likelihoop).

How about those pots you took to cook in? A couple of aluminum 1 and 2 liter pots will work very well for several people - no need for the 8-quart pots or the cast-iron skillet. And was the 3-burner propane-powered stove really needed, or would a light butane model that screws onto the cartridge do as well? I love to cook in a dutch oven, but they are way too heavy for backpacking (even the aluminum models). Yeah, ok, I exagerate on the cooking a bit, but I have actually seen people packing in a big cast-iron skillet. The point is, what do you actually need, vs what are you carrying in your pack?

And there was the canteen I saw on Elbert last Thursday, a huge metal thing that must have weighed 3 or 4 pounds empty. A 1-liter plastic bottle weighs only a few ounces and holds the same amount of water. We used to buy 1-quart bleach bottles, dump the bleach, and used the bottle as a canteen for less than the cost of buying a purpose-made canteen - about 3 or 4 ounces for the plastic bottle. Or use a 1-liter soft-drink bottle.

If you cut down on the big 3, then ask yourself what you really used on the last few trips, you will easily be able to cut that 55-60 pound pack in half, and maybe to 1/3. 30 pounds is easily achievable, and 20 is reasonable for a 3-day trip.

Longer trips? - The only thing you need to add is more food and fuel (you do cook on a stove, don't you, rather than burning the trees). You get the water by purifying it from the streams and lakes. Look through this forum for the discussions of purifying water. Basically, the choices are boiling (uses fuel), filtering (several good filters on the market), or chemical treatment (iodine and chlorine treatments are light, cheap, and easily available in camping stores - they just taste bad).

-- The Old GreyBearded One

10:44 a.m. on September 1, 2003 (EDT)
37 reviewer rep
747 forum posts
Light weight idea

Quote:

Hi all.
Can anyone give some tips on packing light? Pretty broad...

I have learned that the weight of a backpack depends upon the weather, your mission goals, the length of the trip, the availability of water, the quality of your gear, and the ruthlessness with which you pare down your gear.
Bill S and I have the finest high tech gear made and tend to camp under ideal circumstances for 2-3 days at a time, so we can boast 18 pound packs including water. Where Ed camps in Florida you have to pack in all of the water and that

11:21 a.m. on December 31, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

I need some scouting advice

I am a Scoutmaster in Provo, Utah. We are planning a 6 day trip into the Uintas this next August. My eyes are opening to lightweight backpacking. What type of stoves do you use with your scouts? We are getting some new equipment and I am not sure what is best for cooking with 8-20 people. I personally use the MSR Dragonfly but have never used an alcohol stove. Also, what type of shelter are you using? Our troop has five old 3 man 3 season tents that weigh 6.21 lbs. I originally thought this was light at 2 pounds per boy. But maybe I should be rethinking this. We try to backpack atleast half of our outings year round. I get a lot of complaining; although they still come back every month. I'm just hoping to lighten their loads. Matt


Quote:

First off, check on the links posted in the other responses, especially the backpacking.net one. Do a google search for "backpacking light or lightweight". Read the post by our very own Jim S and his philosophy on how to go lightweight.
To this I would add a few reminders. Don't go lightweight all at once. Why? b/c it requires you to know *exactly* what you can and can't do without, and that is not something you want to learn the hard way. After each trip, evaluate how your equipment performed, and what can be left home next time, or what is needed but can be replaced with a lighter version. Be ruthless when it comes to weight- get a gram scale so you know exactly how much *everything* weighs. Start with the big weight items- pack should not be more than 5 lbs, sleeping system (bag and pad, pillow, etc..) under 5 lbs, tent under 5 lbs (the rule of 5, I call it) This is by no means "ultralight", but gets you started thinking about weight. If you have the $$, go for a rule of 2, which *is* ultralight. You don't need as many clothes as you think you do- take a little soap and wash when you need to. Cotton clothes are heavy, take up lots of room, and have no insulative value when wet- you can drop 2-4 lbs just by going to 100% synthetic clothes. Why take a 3 season tent when a tarp will do? I use a silnylon tarp that sleeps 4-5, and weighs *26 oz* (poles, stakes, rope incl.) That's only *6.5 oz per person* for a shelter! Get a silnylon poncho (12 oz) instead of that gore-tex suit (3-4 lbs)- you won't sweat yourself to death, either. LED flashlights are wonderfull weight savers. Iodine doesn't tase bad in kool-aid, and is a lot lighter than a filter. Water is the heaviest item you will carry- so don't. Dehydrate/freeze dry all your food, and get water where you camp or rest. Unless there is no water for a few hours, I only carry a quart to drink and refill often. Another point- repackage items so you only take what you need, like sun screen, insect repelent, soap, iodine tablets, etc.. small bottles of these save space and weight. Never take cans of anything. Don't forget that w/ a lighter pack, you can now use lightweight boots.

Here is the equipment list I give to scouts I am taking on a 6-day 50 mile trip I do every year in the Uintas (or Pecos when in New Mexico). This is for nightime temps ~ 35-40 deg. F, above 10,000 ft. w/ frequent rain. The base pack weight is 20-30 lbs (depending on the weight of each item) for the boys, but mine is 17 using ultralight gear.

Pack w/ padded hip belt and sternum strap (3,500-4,000 cubic inches)
Pack cover (or 2 *very strong* plastic bags)
Boots- well broken in and waterproof (avoid lots of seams and fabric)
Socks- Two outer (thick wool/wool blend (at least 50%) and 3 liner (polypropylene)
Underwear- two or three
Shirts- 3 (one long sleeve, NO 100% cotton!)
Pants OR shorts, whichever you plan to wear most of the time (NO 100% cotton!)
Extra light nylon/fleece/polypro. pants/longjohns
Light windbreaker/jacket (water resistant but breathable)
Thin liner gloves (for chilly mornings)
Hat w/ brim (better than sunscreen)
Poncho- good quality coated nylon/silnylon (no thin plastic/PVC)
Ground cloth (plastic/Tyvek/small tarp, 5'x7')
Sleeping Bag (20o-15o (lower temp. is too heavy. Include waterproof stuff sack)
*Waterproof* sleeping pad (closed cell foam, thermarest)
Bowl/deep plate (light aluminum or plastic)
Spoon
First aid kit (Ace bandage, immodium, motrin, moleskin, band-aids, etc.)
Pocketknife or multi-tool (small! No sheath knives)
Matches or lighter
Two canteens (at least quart-sized)
Water treatment (iodine tablets/filter)
Flashlight (LED)
Whistle
Liquid soap (biodegradeable, small bottle)
Small hand towel
Small repair/sewing kit (include Duct tape, wrap around a pen)
Small diameter rope (25'-50')
Sunscreen (small bottle)
Chapstick (lip sunscreen)
Insect repellent (no cans! Small bottles! >90% DEET)
Compass
Toilet paper
Extra zip-lock bags (1-2) and a large plastic trash bag

Sorry I got so verbose- it's something I've been doing for 21 years (teaching backpacking) and have a problem knowing when to stop... ;-).... it just pains me to see someone lugging a 50-60 lb back when they could easily be under 30 lbs.

April 25, 2014
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