Grams Add Up

2:21 p.m. on February 17, 2014 (EST)
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So I spent all morning REALLY feeling like a "Gram Weenie." I mean, it's ridiculous to replace the draw string on your food sack with Zing-It, right?


But on I went...switching out the stuff sack that came with my tarp with a lighter bag....Putting sunscreen, mosquito repellant, Germ-X, & etc. into dropper bottles...Cutting off labels...Comparing each and every little item in my gear closet with something else.

If it saved a gram AND it work just as well (or sufficiently well), I swapped it out.

Stupid & crazy, right?

I just took 2.5lbs off my pack weight! Still carrying EVERYTHING I usually carry, just repackaged or reduced to smaller quantities. 

I'm now carrying a 12lb 15oz base weight (3-season). Can't see myself going lighter without sacrificing my hammock--and that ain't happening!

2:44 p.m. on February 17, 2014 (EST)
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You should do a quick video comparing items you swapped:-)

3:41 p.m. on February 17, 2014 (EST)
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My total backpacking gear has been around 12 lbs for 3 seasons since the 80's.

Currently use;

pack: 1.7 lb , Golite Jam 50

tent: 6 lb , Golite Shangri-la 5

sleeping bag:3 lb , TNF Zero down 

cook stove w/pot and utensil 1 lb , MSR Pocket Rocket, w MSR 1 Qt pot, nylon spork

sleeping pad .5 lb , Ensolite foam now a Big Agnes Air Core

Back in the early 80's I used to wear big 5 lb hiking boots, then I started using low top hiking shoes.

I carry sandals, wear nylon shorts and nylon shirts, use recycled water bottles from the grocery store instead of the Nalgene ones I used to carry, 

My other heavier items are my binoculars and DSLR with extra lense's. 

I eat mostly pasta and Ramen noodles, dry oatmeal and Gatorade/Tang. I repackage everything into Ziploc bags and reuse them till they are no longer usable, using the same bags for the same items instead of cleaning them out between uses.

I like to live outdoors 75% of the year and only work the other 25%, works out to 3 months work, 9 months backpacking almost every year since 1977. 

3:42 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I'm in the middle of several changes too.  Currently the base weight on my spreadsheet says 10.5 lbs.  That sounds wrong.  Anyway, when I'm done with all the changes I'll have to post up the details of the finished product and see if you folks can help me get it any lower or come up with any new ideas.

As much as I feel like an addict doing all the gear adjustments, I keep doing it. I must enjoy it.  :-)

8:04 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I can't even imagine reducing a baseweight of 10lbs. Let us know how that goes!

As for me, the only way to go lighter is to spend big bucks $$$. My current tarp weighs 22oz. A Cuben Fiber tarp of the same dimensions weighs 5oz, but costs $250.

Won't be going that route for some time!

8:18 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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Is this in the Beginners forum as a cautionary tale about what happens when you start counting grams instead of ounces?  8p

I just checked my spreadsheet from  last Fall, since I don't worry about weight in my Winter pack it hasn't been updated in a while, and it looks like I'm not nearly in the advanced stages of the disease as some of you.  The fact that I have a spreadsheet is a sign that it is probably already too late for me, but at least I haven't started peeling the wrappers off my hard candies yet.

11:10 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE said:

So I spent all morning REALLY feeling like a "Gram Weenie." I mean, it's ridiculous to replace the draw string on your food sack with Zing-It, right?


But on I went...switching out the stuff sack that came with my tarp with a lighter bag....Putting sunscreen, mosquito repellant, Germ-X, & etc. into dropper bottles...Cutting off labels...Comparing each and every little item in my gear closet with something else.

If it saved a gram AND it work just as well (or sufficiently well), I swapped it out.

Stupid & crazy, right?

I just took 2.5lbs off my pack weight! Still carrying EVERYTHING I usually carry, just repackaged or reduced to smaller quantities. 

I'm now carrying a 12lb 15oz base weight (3-season). Can't see myself going lighter without sacrificing my hammock--and that ain't happening!

 A lot of what you said makes sense, especially the part of saving a gram for equal utility.  Much of what you describe is simply busy work, that is taking the time to cut off labels and repackage everything.   For those of us who pack at the last minute this is more difficult to do.

What is Zing-It?

I took 20 pounds out of my base weight by joining weight watchers, 15 more to go.

11:14 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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like Lonestranger, i have a spreadsheet to make sure i don't forget anything i need.  it doesn't say what everything weighs.  honestly, i don't really keep track of that and am not terribly interested in that.  once the backpack is loaded, i weigh it so i know what i'm carrying. 

11:40 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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Alan...Zing-It is a rather small diameter line made of Dyneema. Lightweight and very strong...with essentially no stretch...I have heard of people using it for the rigging on their hammocks...but it is more conventionally used for tie-outs and as a structural-ridge-line on hammocks.

11:55 a.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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alan said:

I took 20 pounds out of my base weight by joining weight watchers, 15 more to go.

 Bingo!  A lot cheaper to drop weight this way than by trying to buy lighter gear or cutting "speed holes" in your socks.  It really pays off on climbs whether on foot or on the bike.

12:50 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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jrenow said:

You should do a quick video comparing items you swapped:-)

 I would have to agree with you...I would like to see exactly what he changed out for the better...

1:23 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I learned long ago that those "crazy ultralighters" are on to something. I did much the same thing a year or so ago and saved around the same amount of weight, about 2.5lbs.

Trimming straps, cutting off tags and labels, repackaging items into smaller containers, replacing drawstrings etc.

Cutting off tags labels saves the least amount of weight, but triming straps and cordage to reasonable lengths and reducing the amount of liquids carried into smaller containers by far saves the most. Most packs have straps that are way longer than will ever be needed. I completely stuffed my pack and cinched it down and then trimmed my straps to 2in longer than that so that I had a little play as well as suitable length to grab onto. Off my pack alone I trimmed about a pound in excess strap length.

2:33 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I wish that there wasn't such a general negative perception of those folks on the extreme end of weight reduction...I think of them as little experimenters...constantly working at the edges of the greater outdoor community. Sure they can be a little quirky...but the folks on the extreme end of weight reduction demonstrate how to purge and reduce gear more than most of us judge we can...while not entirely useful to most of us...their general philosophy and knowledge base often offer practical...efficient...cheap...alternatives from which to choose...a kind of holy three for me:-) For example...I am not gonna make dry toothpaste drops...but I intentionally put their smaller packaging idea to use when I buy the smallest tube of toothpaste I can find specifically to use outdoors. At some level all of us should try to reduce gear...if for no other reason than to reduce storage needs...I like to think of these folks as experts in the fractional reduction of gear:-)

3:18 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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Where the ultralighters have it right is to do what Goose described.  Where the ultralighters have it wrong is to leave behind too much gear/clothing such that safety is compromised as in not enough clothing to stay warm and dry.  I can take this to a certain point, but I doubt I'll ever count squares of toilet paper.

I have a good generic gear list.  I need to make it more specific to what I own and then add weights to each item.  

Some things webbing straps can be a problem if cut too short.  I am just back from a trip in Wisconsin and my pulk straps are too short.  I can get the straps buckled, but do not have enough tail to really cinch the load down tightly.  I think I want to make longer straps with loops at each end so I can really grab them with gloves on and tug hard.

3:51 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I am used to stupid heavy loads from hunting trips so when I do a normal backpacking trip I feel like an UL guy.  :-)

3:59 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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If you want to bring organization and logic to your pack planning you have my support.  If you want to start a religion or encourage people who don't know better to endanger themselves then not so much.  

There is no right way to go backpacking but that doesn't mean there are no wrong ways to do it.  Safety and respect of the land should be the priorities and what dictates the gear in my pack, not a scale.  If my pack is too heavy there is always Rule V

4:34 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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jrenow said:

I wish that there wasn't such a general negative perception of those folks on the extreme end of weight reduction...I think of them as little experimenters...constantly working at the edges of the greater outdoor community. Sure they can be a little quirky...but the folks on the extreme end of weight reduction demonstrate how to purge and reduce gear more than most of us judge we can...while not entirely useful to most of us...their general philosophy and knowledge base often offer practical...efficient...cheap...alternatives from which to choose...a kind of holy three for me:-) For example...I am not gonna make dry toothpaste drops...but I intentionally put their smaller packaging idea to use when I buy the smallest tube of toothpaste I can find specifically to use outdoors. At some level all of us should try to reduce gear...if for no other reason than to reduce storage needs...I like to think of these folks as experts in the fractional reduction of gear:-)

 Pretty funny..I've run into UL and SUL hikers alot of them are lacking alot of gear and barrowing things when camped by them....

5:03 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I did a similar thing on my last Long Trail end-to-end. I spend the better part of a morning trimming off extraneous tags, ties, loops, etc..

My goal at the time was to reduce my pack weight without sacrificing functionality or learning new skills.

I clearly remember feeling like a dork during the process, but feeling astounded at the massive pile of trimmings, doohickeys, and other assorted garbage I realized I no longer had to carry!

5:34 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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On the cutting-edge the general rule is that plans dissolve just about as fast as they appear...the idea is just to stay at least one plan ahead:-) I'm not surprised that these folks sometimes find themselves in very uncomfortable situations...but I am glad they try:-)

9:56 p.m. on February 18, 2014 (EST)
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I have respect for the folks that can get their pack weights way down. Makes me Laugh a little though, coming from the military where during training marches if your pack didn't scale in at at least 40lbs instructors would add lengths of chain to your anything under 20lbs seems ultralight to me. Plus working with SAR i carry a lot more first aid than your average person and even on a day hike I have enough gear to keep at least 2 people safe overnight.

9:09 a.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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Keep in mind all this started for me when I was diagnosed with arthritis in both knees. I either go light or stay home.

I'm NOT advocating the "stupid light" concept that puts yourself at risk. I read one UL book that said if you had any food in your pack after breakfast on your last day, you overpacked, & that hiking hungry on your last day is acceptable. What a dangerous mindset! I always have an extra day's worth of food, because I don't know what might happen.

On the other hand, a year ago I bought an REI Flash 65 "Ultralight" Pack, weighing in at 3lbs. 2oz. I went at it with a pair of scissors...removed the hydration bladder, float top, extra straps, & the zipper to the internal frame. I removed the internal frame and use a foam sit pad in it's place. I left a few things that I MIGHT use later (like the straps to the float top, if I want to reattach it). When I was done with it, it weighed 1lb. 13oz.

9:21 a.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I have been hiking for so long my spreadsheet is engrained in my head. I always take everything I need. 

10:07 a.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I was first diagnosed with arthritis 30 years ago while being checked out after a motorcycle accident that left me with two discs that have never been right again.  Every day of my life since has had some pain in those discs and only in the last five years have I begun to be able to turn my head to the right again.  I hear you when you say you are motivated to make things easier on yourself.  Pain is a great motivator. Stupid heavy is just as bad as stupid light even if you don't have pain issues to deal with.

My point wasn't that people shouldn't cut weight if it makes them happy.  I am debating giving up a water filter I really like because the newer ones are so much lighter.  I just thought it was an odd topic for the Beginners forum.  It seems a person would want to gain basic skills before testing them by reducing available tools and options.  I am also opposed to the religion some folks seem to make of it both in terms of personal obsession and need to convert others.  Of course I feel that way about all the other things people seem to think everyone should do their way.

Do what makes you happy is my motto, but seriously, that cellophane is on the hard candy for a reason so unless you are headed to the desert leave it on 8p

11:51 a.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I just posted it in this forum, because I didn't know where else to put it. I figured folks reading it would know whether or not it applied to them.

Not trying to convert anyone to UL. My evangelism applies only to hammocks. :P

12:31 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I think Goose's comment highlights my issue with the ultra-light thing. Goose said it was a dangerous mind-set to go out with the intention of running out of food on the last day. I do not believe it is...if done consciously. Uncomfortable and unpleasant...YES!...but not necessarily  dangerous. I have run out of food before (on purpose)...because due to limited space + the desire to keep things light + experimentation...I knowingly did not pack enough food. If you decide to hike without food on the last day there are two significant negatives that you must consider...you are going to be hungry (obviously)...and your energy levels are going to be really low. This is highly unpleasant to be sure...and I certainly would not entice others to join me by suggesting we go hungry on the last day....but hiking hungry on the last day has never been what I would call dangerous. I personally deal with it rather easily by concentrating on not exerting myself (mostly by just going up-hill slowly)...as exertion tends to create some very negative physical symptoms when hungry. I also keep myself well hydrated...which gets rid of the hunger sensation a bit. Again...it is uncomfortable and unpleasant to go hungry...and not something I would regularly plan to do (as I mostly like to be comfortable when out)...but in those rare times where I am on the extreme end of things for myself (for whatever reason)...food is a resource that offers a lot of weight and space savings if reduced...though at a very high cost in terms of performance and comfort. On the other-side of the coin you have the ultra-lighters who say you over-packed if you have food on the last day. This is just ridiculous...if I do not go a day without food before I go grocery shopping...I did not buy groceries early...as I generally consider eating something everyday a pleasant and healthy practice. Thus...I desire to continue the practice of eating everyday into my outdoor activities as much as possible. For those who enjoy weight savings more than eating...or who photosynthesize...have at it...but I do not backpack to "push" myself ALL the time...most of the time I backpack to enjoy walking trails...and I cannot do that as well hungry. The ultra-lighters...with their "over-packed" rule are guilty of the same thing that the more conservative (literally not politically) backpackers are who say that you should always have at least an extra day of food (for a "what if" scenario). Both groups are drawing boundaries around what one should and should not do while backpacking...which is not entirely a bad thing...but I tend to have a very democratic and liberal (literally not politically) orientation...I feel like all this "dangerous" and "over-packed" talk creates false-limitations (similar to how the notion of a flat-world might to sailors)...and that these false-limitations likely hinder the creation of new gear + practices + experiences.

3:13 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I don't think I can go there on the running out of food bit as I do like being hungry, especially for the sake of proving a point.  If I am too hungry I get lethargic and am more likely to misstep and injure myself.  For me the likelihood of a twisted ankle in this situation is worth the weight of a meal or two.

3:52 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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My point on running out of food is you are asserting that you WILL make it back to your car when you plan to. It doesn't take into account the possibility of be set back a day or two by inclement weather, injury, or other situation.

I read a recent article in Backpacker where a guy's brother fell to his death, and he spent several days on a ledge with a broken leg waiting for help with no food and little water.


Yes, I can go a day hungry, but two days? three?

4:05 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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alan...I don't disagree with you...but I do not necessarily think others shouldn't...or that it is necessarily unsafe to...some of those guys on the ultra-light side do it all the time...and they don't look no worse for it. Hmm...they even have time to write tiny books (maybe I'm doing something wrong?). In doing it their way for so many years they have come up with a few great ideas that most folks in backpacking find useful. I think of them as very similar to (and at the very same time very different from) the folks who practice bush-craft skills on the extreme. Do I need to know how to sustain myself in one spot indefinitely...probably not:-) I am also unlikely to trade in my fluffy sleeping insulation for a wool blanket anytime soon. In fact...I am probably the last person you will see in the woods wearing wool and building a shelter with an axe...but cooking by fire after sitting around camp all day...just seems completely appropriate...and is elevated exponentially by some of the fire-skills bush-craft folks use. My point in all this being to comment on how unfortunate it is that those folks on the ultra-light end of things are thought of generally in such low regard...when they are actually kind of working for all of us:-) Some of it is no doubt due to their evangelizing...but every group does that...so I cannot help but wonder if it is due to the fact that they're generally socially awkward as people and that most of us our predisposed to not like them at an unconscious level:-)

4:43 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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HHHMMM(shrugs head) Not trying to convet me to UL or a Hammock Hanger.

I had a conversation not to long ago with Rick Horwat on UL his perspective was this " I am also no longer wearing conventional footwear on trail. I am instead Goin to opt for chest waders.
This way when it rains I will be able to gather the raindrops while in transit so I no longer have the need for a filter(saving weight.)

Hey a lil Swamp soup never hurt anyone(at least that I have heard of.) Iam also going to Tarp. With a flexible concrete shelter in a daypack. "  HHHMMM what do you think the other members who are more traidional think? Also isn't backpacking a Hobby and not a science...

5:01 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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I bring enough food for at least one extra day and figure even if I don't get stuck out there I may run into someone who didn't bring enough food with them.

Again, normal and rational weight savings are one thing.  When UL goes past that to the point of becoming a pathology rather than a philosophy is where the story turns sad.  Every junkie's like a setting sun as the song goes.

6:00 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

I bring enough food for at least one extra day and figure even if I don't get stuck out there I may run into someone who didn't bring enough food with them.

 Seven years ago I was outbound to Isle Royale. That season, the boat normally went out on Monday, came back on Tuesday (after circling the island). Then repeated that trip on Friday/Saturday.

The day we went out was the day before a Gale Force Wind advisory. The crew on the boat was dropping us off and heading back the same day.

So...if you were on the island, with no contact with the outside world...and you were expecting to be picked up on Tuesday, you suddenly had a 3-day lay over. Kind of sucks if your food ran out on Tuesday morning.

Same week a woman broke her leg. It took days for her partner to get to the closet ranger station and get a rescue group back to her.

6:16 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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A couple years ago I was camping at Havasupai in the Grand Canyon for a couple nights.  I always carry extra food as I did this time.  2 guys I was hiking with packed their food in their tents while we went out for a day hike.  I told them that wasn't a good idea because the critters may chew through their tents to get the food.  I hung my food in a dry bag with fishing line in a tree about 7' off the ground.  We went out hiking for the day and came back to camp to find their food was fine inside their tent but my food had been completely consumed.  Some of the tribes horses got into camp and stood on their hind legs and got my food down and ate it all.  They even ate all the jerky (a horse eating a cow is a bit weird, lol), anyway, luckily the guys I was camped with had brought extra food and they were happy to share.  I agree with LoneStranger's philosophy of packing extra food.  I have always done the same thing and will continue to pack more than I need.  I think it is just good common sense.  

9:31 a.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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Depending upon when and where you travel might influence how much extra food you bring, if any.  On a well established trail during a busy season you will find someone to help you if you are in a jam.  That said, I am not one to intentionally go hungry.

11:17 a.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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alan said:

Depending upon when and where you travel might influence how much extra food you bring, if any.  On a well established trail during a busy season you will find someone to help you if you are in a jam.  That said, I am not one to intentionally go hungry.

 Where you are going absolutely makes a difference.  The odds of running into someone, the inability to control your departure like G00SE referenced above in his island example or the one I run into at times, a loop with no emergency exit all factor into how much extra to carry. 

Sometimes the only way out is to go back the way you came and if that is on day 4 of a 5 day loop you only brought 3 days of food for because you wanted to test yourself...well that is one long walk I don't want to take.  Whether riding a century on the bike or walking twenty miles with a full pack my body needs fuel in the tank so I don't take chances on running out.

12:20 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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LOL! This thread went a direction I wasn't planning on. :)

12:28 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE:  the evil genius.

12:31 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE said:

LOL! This thread went a direction I wasn't planning on. :)

 Well then back on subject...one of the reasons I try to lighten my pack is so I can carry more food ;) Now that you've dropped this weight what delicious treats will you be able to carry?

2:30 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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Isle Royale is a good example.  I've been there twice and both times the ferry service was sketchy due to boat problems, not weather. 

4:32 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

G00SE said:

LOL! This thread went a direction I wasn't planning on. :)

 Well then back on subject...one of the reasons I try to lighten my pack is so I can carry more food ;) Now that you've dropped this weight what delicious treats will you be able to carry?

 That's another weight saving thing I've been doing. I bought a food dehydrator in November, and I've been experimenting with my own add boiling water meals.

Last night I dehydrated spanish rice, mexican corn, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, & refried beans. A full meal weighs a couple of ounces and rehydrates nicely. I just spoon it onto tortillas and chow down.

4:46 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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Making your own also saves weight on packaging which means less in your pack to start and then less in your trash bag for the rest of the trip.  My wife and I are long term planning for a little walk in Vermont (LT) and have been noticing that the modern light weight plastic jars would make great bulk containers for provisioning.

Which dehydrator did you go with?  Start a new thread in the Camp Kitchen if you want to talk about what you've been doing and don't want to sidetrack this one, if that's even possible at this point heh

5:50 p.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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Here's my dehydrator review:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/other/eastman-outdoors-food-dehydrator/#review30351

Dehydrating also saves money. I made up 4 full spanish rice dinners for $4--that's a buck a meal. Compare that to a single Mountain House meal.

8:50 p.m. on February 21, 2014 (EST)
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i used to mtn. bike and people would tell me to but titanium bolts and other light weight items . i just told them if i wanted to lose weight on my bike i would diet.

11:11 a.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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herdingcats said:

I'm in the middle of several changes too.  Currently the base weight on my spreadsheet says 10.5 lbs.  That sounds wrong.  Anyway, when I'm done with all the changes I'll have to post up the details of the finished product and see if you folks can help me get it any lower or come up with any new ideas.

As much as I feel like an addict doing all the gear adjustments, I keep doing it. I must enjoy it.  :-)

I knew 10.5 lbs was off.  I went through the spreadsheet and I'm between 11 and 12.4 lbs depending on if I'm loading for a longer trip or a fast-n-light day trip.  Strangely enough, the day trip pack is the heavier one.  Funny.

11:13 a.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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I have yearned to UL my whole adult life.......alas, not even Jenny Craig has helped.

11:34 a.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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herdingcats said:

I knew 10.5 lbs was off.  I went through the spreadsheet and I'm between 11 and 12.4 lbs depending on if I'm loading for a longer trip or a fast-n-light day trip.  Strangely enough, the day trip pack is the heavier one.  Funny.

That actually makes sense in a way.  If you want to go longer you need to be able to carry more supplies and that means your base needs to be more efficient.

I'd be curious to see your base gear list if you were to share.  I'm working on a long haul pack right now. Not much I can cut without spending a fortune but I'm toying with the idea of a no resupply LT (don't tell my wife) and still cutting ounces when I can so I can carry more cookies.

3:26 p.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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LoneStranger said:

I'd be curious to see your base gear list if you were to share.  I'm working on a long haul pack right now. Not much I can cut without spending a fortune but I'm toying with the idea of a no resupply LT (don't tell my wife) and still cutting ounces when I can so I can carry more cookies.

Can do.  Send me a PM with your email address and I'll forward you the spreadsheet.

10:11 p.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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alan said:

Where the ultralighters have it wrong is to leave behind too much gear/clothing such that safety is compromised as in not enough clothing to stay warm and dry.  

 What a horrid generalization.

I could just as well say that all heavy weight backpackers bring items that are never used on a trip, often carrying too many niceties from home.

But I won't.

I consider myself a lightweight backpacker and have never felt compromised ever in the Canadian Rockies, where it can snow in July.  My 3 season base weight is just under 11 lbs and I am warm, dry, free from bugs, well nourished, and I can even play cards waiting out a storm (yup, I bring those) in conditions that will take me to -10C without issue.

10:13 p.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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G00SE said:

Here's my dehydrator review:

http://www.trailspace.com/gear/other/eastman-outdoors-food-dehydrator/#review30351

Dehydrating also saves money. I made up 4 full spanish rice dinners for $4--that's a buck a meal. Compare that to a single Mountain House meal.

 Bought one last week; just arrived yesterday and I am looking at playing around with it.

10:24 p.m. on February 22, 2014 (EST)
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Family Guy said:

alan said:

Where the ultralighters have it wrong is to leave behind too much gear/clothing such that safety is compromised as in not enough clothing to stay warm and dry.  

 What a horrid generalization.

I could just as well say that all heavy weight backpackers bring items that are never used on a trip, often carrying too many niceties from home.

But I won't.

I consider myself a lightweight backpacker and have never felt compromised ever in the Canadian Rockies, where it can snow in July.  My 3 season base weight is just under 11 lbs and I am warm, dry, free from bugs, well nourished, and I can even play cards waiting out a storm (yup, I bring those) in conditions that will take me to -10C without issue.

Well said on all counts.

8:09 a.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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Family Guy said:

alan said:

Where the ultralighters have it wrong is to leave behind too much gear/clothing such that safety is compromised as in not enough clothing to stay warm and dry.  

 What a horrid generalization.

 I might say it's an "over" generalization. I have seen guys who pack as though the sun is always going to shine, and they'll never run into problems.

Read something recently about a UL's 1 oz first aid kit containing 2 alcohol wipes, 2 strip bandages, 1 gauze pad, 4 strips of tape, & a few Ibuprofen. So as long has he doesn't have more than 3 cuts, as long as his tape doesn't get fouled, as long as his bandages don't get wet, he should be fine. And, of course, no one EVER deals with sprains & broken bones in the outdoors.

1:17 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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I have also read about a heavy weight backpacker carrying a 3 lb first aid kit for a 15km overnight trip.  In fact, there were 3 of them on the trek each with a similar first aid load out.  I find this to border on paranoia.

Like I said - generalizations are dangerous.

(sprains can happen but are more likely to happen to those carrying heavy packs than those who are not)

6:09 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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Yep!

I feel my 8oz first aid kit deals sufficiently with any immediate problems one is mostly to encounter. And a group can certainly share on items like first aid kit and water filter to save weight.

6:47 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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Prepackaged first aid kits are probably some of the most unnecessarily bloated items stores sell. The FAK was the first place I cut weight once knowing what was actually needed, and what was either redundancy or overkill.

Now, dude with the 1 oz FAK also assumes he won't have to redress a wound. If for nothing other than sterility, I try and change my bandages out daily or whenever they're wet - whichever comes first. Really, now, how long he expect the adhesive on tape or a bandage to last?

Goose - would you mind sharing your FAK list? Also, where did you get your dropper bottles? That's something I could afford to do myself, but I haven't yet found a place I can get them a la carte or without purchasing them full of things I don't need. 

7:22 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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7:50 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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That first-aid kit sounded fine to me (on the right trip). I wouldn't want to EVER be more than a day away from help with that kit...but I think (while spartan)...it would take care of most of my needs until I walked out of the woods. If I get immobilized from a broken bone or something...I am not getting home with any first-aid kit...it is gonna take a friend or fellow trail-user to get me out of the situation....my part is NOT getting into that situation (this is why I pay A LOT of attention to foot-care).

Eric...you can get those dropper-bottles from places like Gossamer Gear or MLD...but honestly I really like the 3ml bottles best and just buy those...for more capacity (which is rare) I sometimes up-size with an old Visine bottle. Last time I bought some I got them here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/10-Plastic-3ml-3cc-Mini-Dropper-Bottles-eCig-Juice-/140831972242...but you can get three of the bottles for a 1.00 with breath-mint in them at Dollar-Tree.

8:43 a.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

Prepackaged first aid kits are probably some of the most unnecessarily bloated items stores sell. The FAK was the first place I cut weight once knowing what was actually needed, and what was either redundancy or overkill.

Totally true.  The last one I bought was an AMK Ultralight .7.  I emptied it the second I got home and repackaged with my variations.  Really, I just wanted the outer waterproof bag with distinctive colors (easy to know what I'm grabbing).  I didn't need most anything from the inside of the packaging.

12:08 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Good thinking with the Dollar Tree find, Joseph - just wash the living heck out of those mint bottles, then, once ya get 'em home? I avoid buying "kits" whenever possible, because 99% of the time, I don't have a need or use for every item included - although I will gladly admit those MLD kits contain a more usable variety than most of the ones I've come across. 

4:21 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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I was generalizing simply to make a point, apparently that wasn't obvious.

4:39 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Family Guy said:

I have also read about a heavy weight backpacker carrying a 3 lb first aid kit for a 15km overnight trip.  In fact, there were 3 of them on the trek each with a similar first aid load out.  I find this to border on paranoia.

Like I said - generalizations are dangerous.

(sprains can happen but are more likely to happen to those carrying heavy packs than those who are not)

 I carry a couple pound first aid/survival kit whether I hike 1 km/miles or 100 km/miles.  It isn't paranoia either.  Just being prepared.  Must be the boy scout in me.  

Isn't your last sentence a generalization........ 

5:10 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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I don't think so.  I qualified it with a 'likely.'  All things being equal, a lighter load puts less strain on the muscles, joints, and bones.  It will cause less fatigue, thereby promoting better mental judgement as well.

From my perspective, a 2 lb individual first aid kit is excessive.  I can only see using that if you were thruhking without resupply over long distances as a solo trekker.

5:12 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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alan said:

I was generalizing simply to make a point, apparently that wasn't obvious.

 No, it wasn't.  What was the point you were trying to make?

Just like in every day life, you will find stupid people on the trail - both ultralighter's and heavy weight backpackers.  Your comment implied it was general to all lightweight backpackers.

5:29 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Eric...honestly just a good rinsing is probably enough for the Dollar-Tree bottles...the only thing I can think of that I use the bottles for that might be taste sensitive is Aquamira and condiments...but primarily I use them for lotions and other liquids in my hygiene-kit.

5:33 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Family Guy said:

I don't think so.  I qualified it with a 'likely.'  All things being equal, a lighter load puts less strain on the muscles, joints, and bones.  It will cause less fatigue, thereby promoting better mental judgement as well.

From my perspective, a 2 lb individual first aid kit is excessive.  I can only see using that if you were thruhking without resupply over long distances as a solo trekker.

All good FG.  That is the beauty of individuality.  We all have our own perspectives for different reasons and there really is no right or wrong.  I respect your UL enthusiasm and understand the logic but its simply not my style.  I don't think UL should be something in any beginner backpackers vocabulary.  It is an advanced, well polished skill set IMO.

From my perspective that first aid kit has come in handy more times than I can count.  Many times for others than aren't prepared.  

With respect to ankle injuries, UL hikers are also more likely to wear footwear that doesn't have ankle support which increases the probability of having an ankle injury so it goes both ways.  

7:45 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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alan said:

I was generalizing simply to make a point, apparently that wasn't obvious.

 It's all good! This is simply a conversation. The danger of discussion forums is we read it through our own filters.

I knew a couple going to separate colleges that nearly broke up until they stopped "chatting" and started using Skype.

9:15 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Awesome, Alan! Way to go! Keep losing those lbs.

11:50 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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The backpack I use most often is an Arcteryx Naos 70, which I believe is no longer available. This guy weighs a massive 118.40oz. I use it because of the "load transfer disc" technology, which I find to be fantastic. Regardless of the weight I've packed into this pack, which has been greater than 55 lbs., when I take this pack off after a full day of backpacking I feel great! I can literally go for a run after a long day of backpacking. 

My other pack is a GoLite Jam 50, which is by far, the worst pack I've ever owned, and weighs just 30oz., a mere fraction of the Naos 70. 

I would love to find a pack that suits my needs in terms of weight and comfort but I'm finding it difficult. To be able to trim several lbs. from a pack would be incredible. 

The GoLite is really not an option unless I find a suitable frame sheet for it. The frame sheet is utterly useless and I've actually purchased a sheet of lexan, as a joke, to cut and fit inside the pack to see if that will make it more stable. 

I've been able to reduce weight in much of the gear I have and I'm still going. Like some of you here, I'm interested in trying cuben fiber gear but the cost is prohibitive and, I hear it damages easily.

In any case, my point is that if I go with the GoLite, despite the fact that I hate it, I'll be saving approximately 88oz., and I'll still hate it. So, I remain loyal to the heavy Naos 70 knowing that it's going to continue to work for me. Since purchasing the GoLite I've come to the realization that lighter is not necessarily better, but it sure is fun making every attempt to get there.

12:07 a.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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Lonely story… In regard to the discussion of first aid… no joke… The most I ever carry is a band-aid. I've tried, over time, to figure out the best combinations of items to carry and why, and it has always come down to… one band-aid. Aspirin may cause stomach and intestinal issues and platelet inhibition so what's the sense? Knock on wood, I've never been injured and I live by one rule… when I'm in the wilderness there are no mistakes! Granted, anything could happen but I don't dwell on that. I tried at one time carrying a solarcaine spray but the can was too bulky to continue that practice. Thus, after all these years, again, knock on wood, I'm scratched to pieces out there in the desert but my body recovers each time and, I've never been injured. One band-aid will do me, and it's been in my ditty bag for years, the poor guy.

7:30 a.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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David Drake 2 said:

I would love to find a pack that suits my needs in terms of weight and comfort but I'm finding it difficult. To be able to trim several lbs. from a pack would be incredible. 

 David,

Vargo is set to release a new titanium, external frame pack that is suppose to weigh in at 32oz.  I'm partial to external frame packs. I think they are more comfortable. They've just never had one in the UL category.

I'm really looking forward to trying this one out!

10:31 a.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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I've been looking at this pack, G00SE, but with a maximum load capacity of 30 lbs., it won't work. I either have a 10L or 6L hydration bladder with me at all times… http://www.cascadedesigns.com/msr/water-treatment-and-hydration/expedition-water-treatment-and-hydration/dromedary-bags/product Carrying water is absolutely essential in southern, AZ! I've paired my bladders, the 10L bladder, for example, is 23 lbs. full, with my 20oz. Katadyn Pocket water filter…http://www.katadyn.com/en/katadyn-products/products/katadynshopconnect/katadyn-wasserfilter-endurance-series-produkte/katadyn-pocket/ and I'm carrying 24 lbs. of weight dedicated to water alone. Depending on whether I'm on a solo trip or not, my base gear may average 12+ lbs. and, I still need to add food along with my bear bag, clothes and whatever extra. I don't always pay particular attention to warranty information but if Vargo is stating that the pack is limited to 30 lbs., I need to pay close attention. I currently own several products offered by Vargo including their Ti water bottle with Ti lid, their 450 Ti travel mug and Ti emergency whistle. The water bottle now has a ding and a dent, and one of the whistles I purchased, that was replaced, had a hairline crack the entire length of the whistle. Honestly, the last thing I want to happen is to end up with a broken or malfunctioning Ti frame, based on experience. If Vargo is stating a maximum load capacity of 30 lbs. it would behoove us to pay close attention. And, the pack is simply too large for a day trip.

For comparison, I have a double wall Evernew 450 Ti mug that I set on my vehicle after a hike and forgot about it. After I drove off I heard an odd noise and immediately remembered the mug. I ran over it and it looks like it's been through a war, but it's still in very useable condition with only a slightly significant degree of damage greater than simply dropping the full Vargo water bottle from a couple of feet. Curiously, I anticipate Vargo's Ti frame to be less than adequate, but we'll see. When it becomes available, I assure you, I will not be on that bandwagon until I see some substantial reviews. However, I continue to fully support Vargo, and I will continue to be a customer because of their innovation and agree that an external pack frame may be quite comfortable. I have not used one since I was a Boy Scout.

If Vargo makes this one work, I would love to try and make it work for myself. As a Ti gear junkie, I will find a way to distribute gear between all hiking partners and limit the load to 30 lbs. Unfortunately, it will never work for me on solo trips in such a dry environment.

Let's keep an eye on this one, G00SE, and see how it stacks up.

11:24 a.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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jrenow said:

If I get immobilized from a broken bone or something...I am not getting home with any first-aid kit...it is gonna take a friend or fellow trail-user to get me out of the situation....my part is NOT getting into that situation (this is why I pay A LOT of attention to foot-care).

 This is a great point, Joseph!

My thoughts are... if you maintain an initial load as lightweight as possible, know your limitations, pay close attention to your foot wear and care (our hiking shoes really need to work well for us), making sure every step counts, functioning with awareness and perseverance, and knowing there really is no option for mistakes, then we've greatly reduced our chance of injury. 

Lightweight, functional gear is important! Knowing how to fully use and care for your gear, and taking every available precaution, to remain safe, is imperative. This comes from experience, knowledge of your gear, knowledge of the terrain, discussions, weather report, making sure friends and family know where you are, etc., and knowing when to and when not to push ahead.

Thus, the lightest weight gear may or may not be the answer for you. Borrow gear if you have to. Try it on at your retailer and ask questions. Get to know a gear junkie. Discuss and read reviews. Ask yourselves, "if this happens, then what do I do, and how do I ___?". Entertain scenarios in your head. Plan, plan and plan further. What works for one may not necessarily work for you. Go the extra mile for yourself, because, ultimately, you are the one and only one out there you'll immediately care for you.

3:59 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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David Drake,

I must say only carrying one band-aid is pretty bold. There can be accidents even when you don’t make mistakes and do everything right.

A few years ago I was coming off snow and ice covered Mt LeConte (wearing my spikes) and a whole piece of ice slipped out from under me. I fell and cut my forearm on an exposed piece of sharp slate. It started bleeding so profusely and quickly that I was light headed in moments from the blood loss (and probably in mild shock). I carried a decent first aid kit but of course it was buried in my pack (since then that kit is always a “top lid” item). I eventually dug it out while trying to contain the bleeding and was able to use the gauze and tape to wrap the thing up in. I eventually got off the mountain (was a long way from my car on a shuttled section hike), and drove myself to the ER where I received a whole bunch of stiches.

I suppose I might have dug out a bandanna or some other garment and wrapped my arm in that or taken off my base layer shirt for the same purpose. But honestly I wasn’t thinking very clearly at the moment and in retrospect was really glad to have that first aid kit.

My 2 cents….

4:35 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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Hi Patman,

Well taken, and whether it's bold or courageous or simply, not very bright, I honestly don't know what more I could do. I've been injured many times in life and needed specialized care for all of it. If I thought I was heading into a situation I knew had an element of danger greater than my propensity I would heed the warning and take appropriate measures.. but that's never happened. Throughout the years, I've learned to take it easy and arrive in one piece. Accidents will certainly happen, for example, years ago, I was hiking the Volcano National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii and, as the sun dropped below the horizon, I found myself out there with little battery life left on my headlamp. I eventually found my way off the lava field but fell through numerous times slicing my legs more than you want to hear. Eventually, this all healed, which didn't look so great due to the scarring, then found myself on the wrong end of a motorcycle accident a few months later. The damage the motorcycle accident caused actually cleared the scarring the lava fields caused. 

What I attempting to say here is that, you're right, it's bold, but will anything more than a band-aid really suffice? I've contemplated this question quite a bit and my intuition certainly questions my decisions. Now that I am at the age that I am, I have regulated myself to a "mistakes are not an option" attitude and this has worked out fine, thus far. I figure, I travel into the wilderness to enjoy myself. There's no race, no curfew, no impending situation, just excitement around the next bend and I'm usually too busy enjoying the excitement of the current view to rush into the next one. I'm having fun!!

I certainly hope, Patman, your arm fully recovered and sorry to hear your trip was cut short (no pun intended). I'll ponder the ramifications of not carrying a first-aid kit some more, I promise! Your 2 cents are important!!

5:16 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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It's a tough balance between "just enough" for minor wound care, and carrying a full-on mobile ER unit. I'm sure there's some hikers out there with QuikClot in their packs. Then again, better to have it when you need it than not.

"Staying found" and an exit strategy are two of my best items right now. Being relatively new to backpacking, and doing the majority of it solo, you won't find me doing much bushwhacking, night hiking, or going any further than I feel comfortable about.

Anyone out there care to post what they carry in their FAK? Think it'd be interesting to see some lists and compare.

5:48 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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I carry QuikClot Eric.  I also carry a small suture kit.  Hope I never have to use it.

6:02 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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They say, Eric, whomever they are, that hiking solo is the most dangerous way to go. I find hiking solo particularly refreshing and go off-trail greater than 90% of the time, to avoid the masses. In fact, I'll sit somewhere, high on a ledge, and watch all the trail hikers go by while I'm enjoying my lunch. As a result, I bushwhack quite a bit, but I live in the desert, which means all flora is spaced perfectly three feet away from each other, night hike when I'm enjoying myself too much to make it back by nightfall and try to get myself lost, but that's really difficult to do considering the lack of trees here.

I could tell you that, in the past, my first-aid kit has contained alcohol pads, aspirin, band-aids, etc. Over time, without use, the alcohol pads dry up, the aspirin expires and the band-aids relieve themselves of their containment. I've also had eye-wash, antiseptic ointment, larger dressings, first-aid tape and you name it. All of which, simply went unused.

I know many that covet a good first-aid kit and that's very respectable. I may covet one for other reasons. If I were to list appropriate ingredients I believe an eye care item would top the list, signal mirror, lighter/magnesium flint/waterproof matches, pain killer such as aspirin, electrolyte, extra batteries, warm clothing then on to the usual… band-aids, gauze, ointment, etc.

It's difficult to speculate about what may be needed and I certainly see the value in being prepared. Think of your particular hike, the environment, weather, conditions, etc., and plan accordingly. For example, here in southern, AZ, we have many Black Diamond Rattlesnakes… my plan (more of a rule or decree)... once I've stepped over the third it's time to head back home :)

6:07 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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Jason Ruff said:

I carry QuikClot Eric.  I also carry a small suture kit.  Hope I never have to use it.

 That's a serious kit, Jason! I hope, too, that you never have to use it and it's a fine suggestion!!

11:39 p.m. on February 25, 2014 (EST)
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Wasn't a dig, Jason - hope ya didn't take it as such.

[Literally] stepped over two Copperhead snakes during a hike last fall through Shawnee National Forest. Luckily, if not ironically, it was on the single last mile before reaching the shuttle car. You've a brave man to wait until the third to turn back, David. 

A.) The usefulness of a well-stocked FAK far outweighs its actual weight. And there are other, if not easier places, to cut weight.

B.) There're those of y'all out there, too, who leave items at home because your experience informs you that you haven't ever used it and likely won't.

Both arguments make sense, and demonstrably, work. 

Personally, I've gone out with bandages, blister pads, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, and that's it. However, I'm only out two or three nights in areas that aren't terribly far from civilization. Densest backcountry here in IL is Shawnee, and even there you're never a few miles from a nearby road. 

2:56 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

Wasn't a dig, Jason - hope ya didn't take it as such.

[Literally] stepped over two Copperhead snakes during a hike last fall through Shawnee National Forest. Luckily, if not ironically, it was on the single last mile before reaching the shuttle car. You've a brave man to wait until the third to turn back, David. 

A.) The usefulness of a well-stocked FAK far outweighs its actual weight. And there are other, if not easier places, to cut weight.

B.) There're those of y'all out there, too, who leave items at home because your experience informs you that you haven't ever used it and likely won't.

Both arguments make sense, and demonstrably, work. 

Personally, I've gone out with bandages, blister pads, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, and that's it. However, I'm only out two or three nights in areas that aren't terribly far from civilization. Densest backcountry here in IL is Shawnee, and even there you're never a few miles from a nearby road. 

 Prepackaged first aid kits are probably some of the most unnecessarily bloated items stores sell. The FAK was the first place I cut weight once knowing what was actually needed, and what was either redundancy or overkill

I found your first post and what you had to say..I would say it was made by someone with limited experiance and knowledge..

I see you changed your point of view when other experianced backpackers put in their 2 cents...With time you can make that claim and I am not trying to diss you..Just showing the one area you really can't speak from..

Also Quickcots are carried by many that have WFR and hike..

Sutures are a no no unless your a doctor and then again you need a steril enviroment for that..Yes a Combat Medic and Navy Corpman know how to do sutures and have but in civilian life only a Doctor does it..there's a thing called Malpractice and most people would do more harm then good...

 

8:49 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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FAK and Precautionary measures...

My girlfriend informed me she always carries an antihistamine as part of her FAK because she's allergic to bees and whatever else she may be allergic to. As a result, I may need to do this as well. Africanized bees, here in the South West, are particularly dangerous. They've flown over head in the thousands and I've escaped without injury many times before but others have not been so lucky. There only needs to be one single bee to begin the onslaught. Precautionary measures such as cleansing with natural products that do not contain perfumes begins the process of escaping this menace. Other precautionary measures may include having a rain coat handy to slip on quickly if one should be attacked.

While thinking of the bees I've been thinking of additional dangers that exist in the desert...

Once, and only once, I've run into a Bear, within maybe 30', and the Bear ran the other way. I have never seen an animal move so quickly. Within seconds she was literally a quarter mile away. As a result I sometimes, not always, carry Bear spray. 

My Bear encounter...
SANY1647.jpg

I have also, many, many times, hiked into large herds of peccaries and they have always run the opposite direction. However, I spoke to someone several years ago whom, fortunately escaped without harm, but she was surrounded and fought, with her hiking poles, keeping them at bay for over a half hour. Must have been infants about. In any case, now, when I run into them I always hop up onto the nearest, tallest rock I could find until they've dispersed. 

Peccary...
SANY0269.jpg

These young Bucks followed me, quite close, along a stream bed in the Rincon mountain range after leaving camp, walking along with me, for at least a half mile...

Yes, they were that close for over a half mile...
SANY0986.jpg

SANY1466.jpg

SANY1469.jpg

Catalina (yes, I've named her), my most prized wildlife encounter...

That's the shadow of my head in the foreground...
Catalina.jpg

This prepubescent Horny Toad presented the most danger...

"That's it, as soon as you put me down I'm going to…"
SANY1433.jpg

Thus, there are many potential dangers (I like to think of them as friendly, fortuitous encounters) in the wilds and we need to take heed and call to their attention. Wildlife is no exception. Precautionary measures may include Antihistamines and Bear spray among others, backing up slowly from a Mountain Lion is a good idea, that may be an asset as part of your first aid/precautionary kit.

10:15 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

Wasn't a dig, Jason - hope ya didn't take it as such.

 Not at all Eric.  Just having conversation.  :-)

10:28 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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I just came across this series of articles which may be of interest.  

http://www.backpackingnorth.com/ultralight-makeover-overview/

Good advice and lots of interesting gear ideas and recommendations.

10:37 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Denis Daly 2 said:

Sutures are a no no unless your a doctor and then again you need a steril enviroment for that..Yes a Combat Medic and Navy Corpman know how to do sutures and have but in civilian life only a Doctor does it..there's a thing called Malpractice and most people would do more harm then good...

 

 My suture kit is only for a dire EMERGENCY Denis.  I do a lot of hiking/hunting/fishing/camping/photography in the backcountry by myself and am prepared to take care of myself in the event of an EMERGENCY.  You don't necessarily need a sterile environment to apply stitches.  My suture kit is hospital grade that I got from a doctor friend and is contained in a sterile package.  I have alcohol wipes and sterile rubber gloves to clean a wound before applying the sutures if ever needed.  If I ever have to sew myself up I will be sure to file a medical malpractice claim against myself when I get back to civilization.  

The contents of a suture kit can also be used to repair gear if needed.  

10:37 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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alan said:

I just came across this series of articles which may be of interest.  

http://www.backpackingnorth.com/ultralight-makeover-overview/

Good advice and lots of interesting gear ideas and recommendations.

 Nice job, Alan! This is indeed a well-thought through site. Good find!! Thanks!

10:51 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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It's a toss-up, Denis.

Alcohol swabs? Alcohol wipes? Disinfectant wipes?

There is redundancy, still, sure. I carry Wet Wipes as a means of personal hygiene, dishwashing, and disinfecting. 

I'd rather pack QuikClot (which is made to accomplish a very specific task) than three different ways of doing the same thing. 

Like I said, I can see both sides of the conversation, and everyone's entitled to their opinion. 

10:57 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Jason Ruff said:

The contents of a suture kit can also be used to repair gear if needed.  

 That alone makes it worth carrying.  I have needle and thread if it came down to needing to close an open wound but I'm pretty sure I'd try duct tape first ;)

You sound like you take preparation very serious which is great. I'm curious if you've done some practice stitches on fruit or something to get a feel for it or if you have prior medical training?

11:40 a.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Hi LoneStranger.  I have no prior medical training.  A doctor friend of mine verbally gave me the basics years ago plus I have literally had around 100 stitches myself so I have seen it done many times on myself over the years.  I used one of the suture kits I had to practice on an orange peel some time ago.  He said they used pigs feet when he was in med school but an orange peel would work to practice the basic technique.  He told me to mark where you intend to to your penetrations on each side of the wound if possible.  He said that helps keep the sutures uniform.  He also told me that if it is a jagged/rough or tear type of cut then you need to take a razor and cut straight edges on each side of the wound.  I don't think I could ever do that though.  A two hand square knot is the most common suture knot.  Most outdoorsman have used that knot a million times.  

Like I said, I sure hope I never have to use the suture kit but I am pretty confident that if I did need to use it, I could get it done.  

Sorry Goose.  This thread has went all kinds of directions.  :-/

12:00 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Goose, I will admit this thread has me taking a little different view on my gear.  Last weekend I did a 2 night kayak trip and I found myself thinking about this thread and my gear choices often.  

12:14 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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12:17 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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The process as a whole is one of continual refinement.  I find it helpful to edit my gear list to pieces I specifically own rather than generic descriptions. Keep taking notes after each trip on what I used, didn't use, used but didn't work well...  I am getting better at that part.  Next I need to weigh individual pieces and then look for lighter options.  At the forefront of my brain is a lighter overbag for winter use.  I've managed to sketch out a quilt overbag as a DIY idea.  Then I realized if I find a cheap synthetic bag I may be able to retrofit the cheap bag into an overbag.  So far the thrift stores have not turned anything up.

2:00 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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David Drake said:

I would love to find a pack that suits my needs in terms of weight and comfort but I'm finding it difficult. To be able to trim several lbs. from a pack would be incredible.

Man, I hear ya.

I have tried a number of UL packs that weigh less than 2.5 lbs.  Your inability to find a great light-weight pack is a well founded issue in my opinion.  Most of them seem to be rated to 30 lbs because the pack has to give up something to get the weight down.  Obvious, I know.  One thing I realized is that I could not get a UL pack until everything else in my pack was already UL (my spreadsheet has helped tremendously in this respect).  In other words, I had to get to my destination with everything else before making that last move since the pack can't handle more than 30 lbs.  In the meantime I read way too many overzealous UL reviews so I could make the best decision.  I tried wearing a bunch (loaded to 30 lbs) to see how they felt.  I borrowed and tested when I could.  Where I landed was an external frame pack that weighs 18 ounces.  Crazy.  It's the zPacks Arc Blast, and they care so much about this pack it is now on it's third re-design.  The new Arc Blast seems quite unique.  Mine is on order, so I'll do a full review after I've put it through some trail miles.  It too is rated to 30 lbs.  But it does not seem to be the same as other UL packs.  Rather than try to explain why it may deserve your attention, here's a few links that may be worth a read from one of the best UL resources I've found.  He'll sell you on UL if he can, but he's pretty darn practical in his approach so he's a difficult one to argue. At the least, his article might be worth your consideration.  Here you go:

http://hikelighter.com/2013/09/11/zpacks-arc-blast-backpack/

This is a follow-on post by the same fella that also helps in the conversation:

http://hikelighter.com/2013/10/22/does-the-zpacks-arc-blast-have-a-place-in-a-sub-5-pound-2-2-kilo-setup/

On the other hand, if a guy is carrying 24 lbs of water before any other weight is calculated in, then perhaps there's just no way to go fully UL.  I've never hiked for days in the desert, so I really can't speak to that unique environment.

I only carry 3 Liters of water, though everyone around me usually looks at me funny as they seem to think I carry too much.  No one can tell me that 3L is too much... experience tells me quite the opposite.  So I wouldn't think to consider that anyone's 24 lbs is too much, especially since I don't have experience in the desert environment.

Hope this is helpful.  Happy adventuring!

2:04 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

It's a toss-up, Denis.

Alcohol swabs? Alcohol wipes? Disinfectant wipes?

There is redundancy, still, sure. I carry Wet Wipes as a means of personal hygiene, dishwashing, and disinfecting. 

I'd rather pack QuikClot (which is made to accomplish a very specific task) than three different ways of doing the same thing. 

Like I said, I can see both sides of the conversation, and everyone's entitled to their opinion. 

Let me first say thank you for helping me see that I personally have redundancy in my own FAK and pack.  I carry alc wipes, disinfectant wipes and wet wipes.  That's going to change in the next 10 minutes.

Second, as a guy that pays attention to having multiple uses for single items I am dumbfounded that I just found another efficiency after doing this kind of review regularly for two years.

You're never too old to learn.  Thanks for your input Eric.

3:43 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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herdingcats said:

David Drake said:

I would love to find a pack that suits my needs in terms of weight and comfort but I'm finding it difficult. To be able to trim several lbs. from a pack would be incredible.

Man, I hear ya.

I have tried a number of UL packs that weigh less than 2.5 lbs.  Your inability to find a great light-weight pack is a well founded issue in my opinion.  Most of them seem to be rated to 30 lbs because the pack has to give up something to get the weight down.  Obvious, I know.  One thing I realized is that I could not get a UL pack until everything else in my pack was already UL (my spreadsheet has helped tremendously in this respect).  In other words, I had to get to my destination with everything else before making that last move since the pack can't handle more than 30 lbs.  In the meantime I read way too many overzealous UL reviews so I could make the best decision.  I tried wearing a bunch (loaded to 30 lbs) to see how they felt.  I borrowed and tested when I could.  Where I landed was an external frame pack that weighs 18 ounces.  Crazy.  It's the zPacks Arc Blast, and they care so much about this pack it is now on it's third re-design.  The new Arc Blast seems quite unique.  Mine is on order, so I'll do a full review after I've put it through some trail miles.  It too is rated to 30 lbs.  But it does not seem to be the same as other UL packs.  Rather than try to explain why it may deserve your attention, here's a few links that may be worth a read from one of the best UL resources I've found.  He'll sell you on UL if he can, but he's pretty darn practical in his approach so he's a difficult one to argue. At the least, his article might be worth your consideration.  Here you go:

http://hikelighter.com/2013/09/11/zpacks-arc-blast-backpack/

This is a follow-on post by the same fella that also helps in the conversation:

http://hikelighter.com/2013/10/22/does-the-zpacks-arc-blast-have-a-place-in-a-sub-5-pound-2-2-kilo-setup/

On the other hand, if a guy is carrying 24 lbs of water before any other weight is calculated in, then perhaps there's just no way to go fully UL.  I've never hiked for days in the desert, so I really can't speak to that unique environment.

I only carry 3 Liters of water, though everyone around me usually looks at me funny as they seem to think I carry too much.  No one can tell me that 3L is too much... experience tells me quite the opposite.  So I wouldn't think to consider that anyone's 24 lbs is too much, especially since I don't have experience in the desert environment.

Hope this is helpful.  Happy adventuring!

 Thanks for the suggestion, herdingcats!

This pack seems promising with gear totaling less than 35 lbs. I see the reviews were mixed in regard to the waterproofness, carrying capacity and hip belt comfortability. I'm sure most ultralight packs will have similar issues. 

Let me know how this pack works out for you. There will certainly be times when I could use an UL pack, for trips such as in the Grand Canyon.

You guys have me seriously looking in to these UL external frame packs!

Keep us informed!!

8:33 p.m. on February 26, 2014 (EST)
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Jason Ruff said:

Goose, I will admit this thread has me taking a little different view on my gear.  Last weekend I did a 2 night kayak trip and I found myself thinking about this thread and my gear choices often.  

 Mission accomplished! :D

BTW, some of you asked for videos of some of what I did. I started a second thread with those videos since this one has some many different talking points now.

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/beginners/topics/156189.html

8:22 p.m. on March 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Oh dear.  Here I am a newbie and I just clicked on this discussion to see what others had to say about weight.  Boy, did I ever get an earful.  

There is all this talk about looking at gear, repackaging and buying new lighter stuff.  Well, I would like to get the light gear now.  I realize technology will never stop getting better, but I don't want to make stupid buys that I'll have to live with for years because I can't afford it.  

My question to all of you experienced packers is this:

      As a 50yr old beginner who plans to do this for the next 25yr, how can I  buy SMART now on a budget? By SMART I mean that I want to be light but      comfortable.  Since I am already suffering from achy joints etc., I need to        plan out my gear as I buy it.  

I already have a sleeping bag and mat - FF Murre 0F and Exped7 downmat.  I need the warmth and comfort on both, but after that, it's all about price and weight.  So where do I start?

 

If anyone can help, I'd greatly appreciate it!

8:35 p.m. on March 22, 2014 (EDT)
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Where are you planning your next trip? How far will you be hiking? Typical weather for the area? Elevation gain/loss? Planning additional trip and where? Will you be a seasonal hiker or year-round? I'm assuming year-round considering the sleeping bag.

The answers to these questions may help us help you!

7:02 a.m. on March 23, 2014 (EDT)
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@SweetPea36 I'd suggest working your way through reviews here on products in the categories you are looking to buy.  When you see something that fits your style and budget dig deeper into the manufacturers specs and as many reviews as you can find anywhere.  Keep lists of items you are targeting and wait for them to go on sale. Unless you have untold wealth don't get caught up in being the lightest, go for being light enough.

If you are in a hurry and can't wait for sales you'll have to spend more, but I think you have the right idea of buying good stuff to start rather than crap you'll just have to upgrade next year anyway.

8:32 a.m. on March 23, 2014 (EDT)
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+1 on LoneStranger's advice. Also, keep in mind being lighter means buying less gear, not more.

You're big three heavy items are pack, shelter, and sleep system. Concentrate reducing weight in these areas.

Then consider things like:

- empty Gatorade bottles are lighter than a Nalgene bottle and is free.

- an alcohol stove setup can weigh ad little as an ounce, with windscreen. You can do this for under $1.

- dehydrating your own food is cheap and light.

- how much water you carry depends on your location. In the desert you need 3-4 liters. But where I'm at, I usually only carry 1 liter, as I'm never more than a hour from the next water source.

11:34 p.m. on March 24, 2014 (EDT)
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My,  that was quick!  Ok, I'm going to start with the beginning and then fill in as I go.

 

1.  History:  I grew up camping - think canvas tents - hiking, climbing etc.  As for gear, my parents supplied the tents etc and for the rest, my brothers and I just went.  I did some camping with my kids when they were small, but their father was not really into it.  

2.  Backpacking:  My first time packing was with my oldest's Girl Scout Troop about 6yr ago.  All gear except sleeping bag and mat were supplied.  I loved doing it, but still was not in a position to go out.  My youngest is now 12 so I don't feel uncomfortable leaving the kids with my ex and with me leaving town.

3.  Now:  I joined a new Meetup last fall and went packing at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb with them.  I rented a pack from my youngest's Boy Scout troop for $3 and shared a tent.  My big splurge with Christmas money was the bag and mat.  I had camped with my youngest's Boy Scout Troop in Oct and was cold at night.  I knew that I needed something much better so after much research I bit the bullet and I'm glad I did.

4.  Future:  Now, I will be hiking this coming weekend.  I now have a very old Kelty backpack from one of my brothers, my bag and mat.  I will be going with another novice of the same age group and sex and then there is the young macho guy who has all the gear and experience.  We will be hiking in Mohican State Park/Forest in OH.

As for how long each day will be determined by weather and how we feel.  I know my fellow packers can do miles.  I, on the other hand, have asthma.  I have only had it for the last 4yr and so am still adjusting to it.  On the winter hike, my butt was kicked.  For this one, it will be warmer. I also figured out that keeping my chest warm with hand/toe warmers keep my airways open.

I am ready for the weather. Most of my clothes are old, but they work. As they wear out, I'll update them, but for now I'm OK.  Thrift stores are my dear to my heart too so I'm picking up lighter stuff for the summer.

5.  Equipment:  As I said earlier, the bag and mat are my needed comforts since I sleep cold and don't want to be achy.

As for packs, I tried Osprey, Gregory, Rei so far, and was disappointed.  The Deuter packs fit :)  but I still have a couple more stores and their packs to check out.  I know that there are smaller co. with highly recommended packs, like ULA, but I'd like to try them out first.

I haven't even started looking at tents yet, though I found the discussion on tarps interesting.  

I'm finding the number of little things needed to be a bit overwhelming. There is so much stuff to bring!  I'm feeling more confident as I collect stuff but as you said Goose, less is better.  I just want to be sure my less is enough.

@Goose:  I like Powerade bottles better 'cause they have a smaller circumference.  I'm making my stove out of Al bottles, and using my oven to dehydrate my food.

6. As long as my body holds up, I plan on packing until I die.  The crown lands in Ontario hold a special place in my heart.  I would love to spend a summer hiking through them.  I need to find a backpacking partner though for anything out in the middle of nowhere.  I've time and need much more practice before I venture out for that long.  

Right now, I plan on weekend hikes, either with a group or by myself if I'm not too far away from help. This is where tarps look interesting.  It's cheap.

 

I want to thank all three of you for responding so quickly with good questions and advice.   I'll put up a trip report with pics of me and the Kelty.

 

SweetPea

12:45 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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SweetPea36 said:

My,  that was quick!  Ok, I'm going to start with the beginning and then fill in as I go.

 

1.  History:  I grew up camping - think canvas tents - hiking, climbing etc.  As for gear, my parents supplied the tents etc and for the rest, my brothers and I just went.  I did some camping with my kids when they were small, but their father was not really into it.  

2.  Backpacking:  My first time packing was with my oldest's Girl Scout Troop about 6yr ago.  All gear except sleeping bag and mat were supplied.  I loved doing it, but still was not in a position to go out.  My youngest is now 12 so I don't feel uncomfortable leaving the kids with my ex and with me leaving town.

3.  Now:  I joined a new Meetup last fall and went packing at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb with them.  I rented a pack from my youngest's Boy Scout troop for $3 and shared a tent.  My big splurge with Christmas money was the bag and mat.  I had camped with my youngest's Boy Scout Troop in Oct and was cold at night.  I knew that I needed something much better so after much research I bit the bullet and I'm glad I did.

4.  Future:  Now, I will be hiking this coming weekend.  I now have a very old Kelty backpack from one of my brothers, my bag and mat.  I will be going with another novice of the same age group and sex and then there is the young macho guy who has all the gear and experience.  We will be hiking in Mohican State Park/Forest in OH.

As for how long each day will be determined by weather and how we feel.  I know my fellow packers can do miles.  I, on the other hand, have asthma.  I have only had it for the last 4yr and so am still adjusting to it.  On the winter hike, my butt was kicked.  For this one, it will be warmer. I also figured out that keeping my chest warm with hand/toe warmers keep my airways open.

I am ready for the weather. Most of my clothes are old, but they work. As they wear out, I'll update them, but for now I'm OK.  Thrift stores are my dear to my heart too so I'm picking up lighter stuff for the summer.

5.  Equipment:  As I said earlier, the bag and mat are my needed comforts since I sleep cold and don't want to be achy.

As for packs, I tried Osprey, Gregory, Rei so far, and was disappointed.  The Deuter packs fit :)  but I still have a couple more stores and their packs to check out.  I know that there are smaller co. with highly recommended packs, like ULA, but I'd like to try them out first.

I haven't even started looking at tents yet, though I found the discussion on tarps interesting.  

I'm finding the number of little things needed to be a bit overwhelming. There is so much stuff to bring!  I'm feeling more confident as I collect stuff but as you said Goose, less is better.  I just want to be sure my less is enough.

@Goose:  I like Powerade bottles better 'cause they have a smaller circumference.  I'm making my stove out of Al bottles, and using my oven to dehydrate my food.

6. As long as my body holds up, I plan on packing until I die.  The crown lands in Ontario hold a special place in my heart.  I would love to spend a summer hiking through them.  I need to find a backpacking partner though for anything out in the middle of nowhere.  I've time and need much more practice before I venture out for that long.  

Right now, I plan on weekend hikes, either with a group or by myself if I'm not too far away from help. This is where tarps look interesting.  It's cheap.

 

I want to thank all three of you for responding so quickly with good questions and advice.   I'll put up a trip report with pics of me and the Kelty.

 

SweetPea

 I own a ULA pack..Before I bought it.I had the oppertunity to try a friends and we had about the same torso lenght and I used it on a 15 mile hike..It worked for me..I also know their are people who havn't liked the ir ULA. ULA isn't the only maker of light weight packs..Their are many cottage makers to check out .If you research and I mean check every angle of gear you purchase and do it one time..Not turning gear around like one member does..Your ahead of the game..Look at onces then grams and you'll drop weight,But do it safely...

3:02 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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Depends on your aim, intention, and means.

In less than a year, I've educated myself on internal frame packs, frameless packs, tents, hammocks, tarps, bivies, canister stoves, alcohol stoves, ESBIT, integrated stove systems, wood stoves, etc etc.

If you know how and are able to flip gear, there's nothing but an education to be had from the experience.

Mind you, do use common sense, and while eBay and forum classifieds are an easy means of unloading gear, don't make a habit of becoming a regular in the REI returns department. 

One piece of gear helps teach me something about another, and it helps you determine what you want, what you need, what you like, and what you don't like.

It's a buckshot approach, but the same means to an end.

If you don't like the work and hassle, there's also nothing wrong with doing extensive research and review-reading to choose exactly what fits your needs and wants.

3:31 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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SweetPea, Consider what is most important to you... type of fabric, features, price, weight, function, etc. And, continue to consider your answers as you research and educate yourself. Write all of this down, including your thoughts and especially while you're on the trail. One item may be lighter and cost more but function tremendously worse than your expectation.

For example, I do not like shorts with an inseam longer than 8". I have several and prefer a shorter short. Unfortunately, shorter shorts aren't readily produced these days due to culture and possibly other reasons. I would make a pair of shorts before purchasing something I know I wouldn't be happy with. 

Everyone here has made some very good points, particularly Eric and G00SE.

LoneStranger, too. Review all reviews and pay close attention to how people are responding to their gear. Someone stating they like their gear will not help you. Someone stating how and why, including specifics, they like their gear is a good review and may be a notable review. 

Gear purchased on sale may not be the gear that performs best for you, unless you have filtered all likely candidates, specs, functions, etc.

denis, too. Ounces and grams are important to a degree but if the gear doesn't work for YOU, you'll end up frustrated, stuck with it or returning it.

If you have any particular questions to specific gear, ask them here! We'll all help you with your decisions the best we can. And, we're all happy to help!

7:30 p.m. on March 26, 2014 (EDT)
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What an interesting thread; I've reviewed the initial post, the twists it then took to where it has now gone full circle.  My two cents:

- Weight is often relative.  I carry a heavier pack, not because I carry a bunch of junk, but because it is the most comfortable pack I have found.  I envy the folks who can use ultralight packs; I am just not one of them and that is fine.  I pay more attention to what my load is in relation to my body's weight than anything else.  S.L.A. Marshall, in the "The Mobility of a Nation" talked about this very issue, and I know from my experience as an Infantry officer in special ops and in Light, Airborne, Air Assault that this is the case.  I have found that if I keep my pack weight at between 10-20% of my body weight that I am fine and I can hike fast and long.  Above that and my happy meter starts to decline.

- Additionally, everything is a trade-off. If I carry this I can't carry that unless I want to carry what I consider an excessive amount of weight. Multi-functional gear addresses this but rarely is a complete solution.  Me, I won't give up my hammock, so I don't always bring other stuff, but I am fine with that.

- The human body is incredibly adaptable and resilient. I walk long distances in sandals (cross-country, etc.).  I wear minimalist shoes, and I love them...but I understand people who need more support.  My hike is not your hike and vice versa.  I tore a tendon in my lower leg last year crossing a stream I have crossed dozens of times.  I just planted my foot wrong.  I was actually wearing supportive boots, but sometimes bad things happen regardless of the equipment one carries.  I rarely carry a jacket and I often wear cotton, and in fact did so recently in 10 degree weather and in a heavy snow.  It is not the equipment; it is the individual that matters and what they can cope with.  Because of my training I know I can be cold and wet and still survive.  If you do not have the training then act accordingly.

- I often carry less food because I plan on hiking faster and further. If I don't I simply become hungry.  Most of us can go several days without food.  I don't recommend this but if you elect to do so then great.

- I carry a simple first aid kit with bizarre stuff. I carry sanitary napkins to treat wounds with; my daughter was kicked by a horse and her leg was opened to the bone.  I put a sanitary napkin on it and bound the wound; it lasted until we got to the ER.  ER nurse thought it was very inventive. I think what you carry really depends on your resourcefulness. I broke my arm in a wilderness area; I was hiking solo and I had a rock roll under me.  I tucked my arm in my shirt and continued on. Once I got to high ground I called my wife and asked her to meet me in a day's time as that's how far the nearest road was. I now carry a SPOT at my wife's insistence, but I would have only used it to inform of the same.  I would not have requested evacuation.

- I said this earlier, but sometimes bad stuff just happens. Nearly 4 years ago I was hiking solo; I got very sick to the point I could not walk.  I finally mustered enough strength to get to where I had a cell signal.  I then walked to the nearest road to meet my wife.  I was later diagnosed with an advanced form of leukemia. My point is this: my equipment did not matter (a PRB would have made things easier); my body had simply elected to fail me at that moment, but my training paid off and I was able to push through and do what I had to do.

- Accordingly, hike your hike but recognize and address your weakness. And have fun.

Hope I have not made anyone too mad.

Bill

12:47 p.m. on March 27, 2014 (EDT)
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SweatPea,

As a lady who is about your age, I want to weigh in.

It's a mine field getting started with this activity.  Your questions have as many answers as hikers and pieces of equipment.

I think you have the right idea about buying the best you can with the budget you have.

My experience is don't scrimp on the big three -- tent, pack, sleeping bag. Do the best with the funds you have.

BTW, I still use a Kelty external frame.  I am not sure I will give it up! Although, I am redesigning a silnylon pack to go onto the frame. That (as G00se said in being a gram weenie) will save me 2 pound on my pack. 

Look at ebay, CraigsList, your local thrift stores.  Do your research, then find bargains. You will see lots of us sprinkling that advice throughout these discussions.

I picked up a MSR mulitfuel stove $30 at REI garage sale. I need to take it to MSR for repair, which should be free. (my friend got the canister version of the stove several years ago for $5!) I picked up my first synthetic Kelty sleeping bag, which I used for 5 years, for $30 on a clearance sale.

I get most of my clothing at 2nd hand stores -- and I scour ebay for tech pants. Got both REI Sahara zip-offs for $20 that way.

I live 2 hours from Portland, and picked up $250 Danner light hiker II's for $30. I use them now mostly for snowshoeing. I will be going back to look at their mesh boots.

On a different note, Klymit is coming out with an ultralight pack (I am testing the 35L pack right now. I AM IN LOVE)  At 60 L, the pack will weigh around 2 pounds or so. It will retail +/- $180 If it is as comfy as the 35, you will be AMAZED.

Bearpawwd is a quiet cottage company I am going to be talking about on TS soon. For a skosh over $200, you can have a 2 man, non-free-standing single walled tent that is sweet . My hubby got one for himself for some solo stuff. It's awesome. Wish I knew about them before I bought my free standing tent. :(  The website: http://bearpawwd.com/index.html

Also, making your own dehy food is AWESOME.  You can make your own dehydrator out of cardboard box, foil, and a lightbulb. Or, if your oven dials down(mine will go 120), you can a do LOT of types of food in there.

You don't have to spend a fortune to get started going out!  I got serious about 18 years ago, at 65 pounds heavier than I am now. 

But GO. JUST GO.  Take your kids. They will have a BLAST...  "The mountains are calling and I must go..."

11:39 a.m. on March 28, 2014 (EDT)
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second gear, you really are a great resource for this site.  I couldn't agree with your post more.  Keep the good stuff coming.

5:22 p.m. on April 4, 2014 (EDT)
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Hello everyone!  I had some obstacles to overcome before finally leaving for a very uneventful backpacking trip.  

Both of my fellow packers couldn't make it, so I had to borrow a tent.  That left me only one day to make it on my own.  After finally starting out in rainy/sleety weather, I ended my trip 15min away from the state park in a cornfield :(  
IMG-20140329-00109.jpg

I skidded off the road.  After 4hr of downtime and 2in of snow, AAA got there for a quick 15min rescue.  What a let down.  If I just stayed on the road, I could've had the site all set up for an evening hike in the snow or just waiting out the storm all warm and cosy in the tent.  

Well, I will be trying this again next Friday.  I will post my trials and tribulations in the trip reports section.

Second Gear, I like your name!  I am so into the whole used/second-hand scene.  I have had to jerry-rig my brother's pack to fit me so I'm not sure if I'll keep it.  It depends how well it feels on a hike.  It is big enough though for any kind of trip.  

I do have one question for all of you.  How does one put up a double walled non-free-standing tent in the RAIN?!  I know HOW to put it up, I just don't know how to keep the important stuff dry when it's really coming down.  The tent is a Eureka Spitfire 1 with dedicated footprint.  Please give me some hints because it's suppose to rain next weekend.

Thanks for all the help!

10:50 a.m. on April 5, 2014 (EDT)
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@SweetPea36 - We've all been there.  We've all geared up and then something odd happens to just wreck the plans.  Sorry it happened, but at least thank goodness for AAA.

Here's a fun one from not too long ago in my annals: I got rolling for a 24 mile two day hike with two planned peak bags.  I was pretty jazzed for the trip since it was a new trail for me with lots of adventure built in.  5 miles into the trail I came across a trail split that I could not find on my maps.  I was deep under the canopy cover so I couldn't get a GPS fix to help.  I had to guess which way to go, and I guessed wrong.  This little adventure took me off-trail up a beautiful waterfall where I finally sat down hours later for lunch wondering where in the hell the trail was.  Long story short, I backtracked and got to my planned base camp, but it was already too late in the day to go after the peak I was wanting to take on and I was exhausted.  I spent the evening next to the lake and made the best of it.  It was gorgeous, but I went home the next morning without a single peak bid.  Oh well.

As for your tent question, your question is instructive as to why a tent-buyer looks for a tent that can be set up cleanly in the rain.  I think this is a feature you don't know that you want until after you've had to do a set up in the rain.  I have a two-man TarpTent and a one-man Six Moons Designs tent that I use from time to time and part of the design is that you can put the tent up in the rain without getting the interior wet.  Our family tents (for group car camping) are all Jansport, Swissgear and the such.  Every one of them is set up in stages, thus the interior will get wet during set up and take down if there is rain.  I don't see a way out of it with that type of tent.  But there you go: the Tarptent was $260 whereas the other car-camping gear is sub-$90.  I'm personally convinced that, in general, you'll get better design features by spending a little more money.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a sub-$100 tent that goes up without exposing the interior to the rain?

11:23 a.m. on April 5, 2014 (EDT)
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Car camping tents can get away with being hard to set up in the rain because you can carry a big tarp with long lines to rig over your camp site before you get the tent out of the car.

For backpacking tents I want something I can put together upside down so the under side is taking the exposure.  Then I'll flip it over and pull the fly over it real quick so the rain only has a second or two to get in.  This works up to a moderate shower unless it is wind driven. 

In a downpour or sideways rain I will try to wait it out or if I need to make camp to get warm and dry I will pull out my emergency tarp.  Just a cheap clunky plastic hardware store tarp I bring in case I'm stuck in bad weather and need to hide.  For lunch or a quick hide out I'll pop a diamond pitch off a tree with my pack on the back corner.  For tent set up I tend to just throw the tarp over my head like a kid with a blanket then do my work under it.

It really helps to know your tent well and to pack it so that you only expose parts to weather when you are ready for them.  Rain seems to be part of pretty much every trip I take so I get lots of chances to work on these skills, lucky me :)

2:39 p.m. on April 5, 2014 (EDT)
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There's no denying rain sucks.

Trouble is, you're bound to run into it (especially when you start taking multi-day trips), so better to come prepared for it, than avoid it until it becomes a problem. 

If you can afford a tent that pitches the fly first and canopy second, great, and you've fought most the battle. Problem solved.

If you can't afford that tent, if you can't pack a tarp, if you can't wait it out, and HAVE to set up in the rain, here're some tips:

Rainproof yourself before anything else - make sure your rain gear is someplace easy to get to (at the top of your pack or in a side pocket) and you've the contents of your pack sealed inside a dry sack/trash compactor bag. 

It's one thing to worry about getting the tent went, but if you get yourself and your gear soaked before you put up your shelter, you're starting at a severe disadvantage.  

From here on down, these're tips from my personal experience pitching double-walled tents in the rain. While everyone may not do the same, they did help me, and help keep me dry. 

Some folks will tell you it's dead weight - and they wouldn't be wrong - but pack your tent without the stuff sacks. You want to know where the pieces are and be able to access them quickly.

Pack it in the reverse order you'll want to take the pieces out.

Keep the poles separate - easier to access them strapped to the outside of your pack, or at the very least, someplace other than inside the manufacturer's stuff sack.

Practice pitching the tent until you can do it completely by memory, following a process you've made for yourself, where each successive step becomes second nature. Trust me. When you can assemble it at your own leisure, with no obstacles like rain or wind to work against, you don't consider how easily frustration can tie-up your thoughts. 

Far as assembly goes:

You want to loosely assemble the tent as quickly as possible, then come back and fine-tune the pitch later.

1.) Lay the inner canopy on the ground

2.) If windy, quickly and loosely stake-down the side facing into the wind

3.) Lay the rain fly atop the canopy

4.) If windy, quickly and loosely stake-down a guy line on the side facing into the wind

5.) Insert poles from underneath fly, address clips, etc.

6.) Fully pound-in stakes, adjust guy line tension, etc. 

This means assembling the tent like you're a mechanic working on the underside of a car. It's awkward. It's not ideal. But, it keeps things dry inside. 

It doesn't hurt, either, to practice this alternative pitch at home. 

And if you've ever wondered why "fast pitch" or "fly only" tents cost as much as they do?

It spares you the above hassle.

Hope this helps some, or gets some gears turning!

11:23 a.m. on April 6, 2014 (EDT)
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Eric Labanauskas said:

"..From here on down, these're tips from my personal experience pitching double-walled tents in the rain..."

A different approach:

I try to locate camp near a stand of trees with a canopy sufficiently dense to reduce understory rain to a trickle.  I use this protection to assemble my freestanding, double walled, tent, and otherwise pack and unpack my pack.  The tent can then be positioned afterword anywhere as desired.

If rain is a likelihood I pack a dinning fly.  the above mentioned tent ceremony can be conducted under the fly as well.  Being cooped up in a tent is inhumane.  At least you can stand up or safely cook under a fly.   It is worth the weight if you expect more than a sprinkle or brief shower.

Rain considerations extend to tent design considerations.  Try to get a tent that has a "dry" entry.  A dry entry is a design where opening both the tent door and rain fly door does not result in a vertical rain from wetting the tent interior.  The MSR Hubba tent series are examples of dry entry tents. 

Regardless of the tent and personal rain ware you utilize, I found a small lightweight umbrella to be a greatly appreciated addition to my kit.  If you get one of those aluminized canopy models, such as a Go-lite umbrella, it doubles as a sun shade.  I did a portion of the JMT last summer and almost every thru hiker I encountered wished they had that parasol.

Ed

 

 

 

8:10 p.m. on April 6, 2014 (EDT)
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G00SE said:

Stupid & crazy, right?

I just took 2.5lbs off my pack weight! Still carrying EVERYTHING I usually carry, just repackaged or reduced to smaller quantities. 

I started looking at price per ounce of swapping out old gear for new, lighter gear. I found a lot of normal stuff (ie not cuben fiber) ran an average of right around $24/oz  Ie replacing my sleeping bag with quilt saved me 7.75 ozs, and cost me $199 for $25.68/oz of savings. I found that was true for my backpack and my sleeping pad ...  

Replacing my tent for a cuben version would have been $59/oz ...

Pulling stuff out of one's pack is free. Hell, you saved $60! Now you can afford that fancy titanium pot you've been eyeballin'!

I think I got that math right ...

11:17 p.m. on April 6, 2014 (EDT)
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Ldog said:

I started looking at price per ounce of swapping out old gear for new, lighter gear.

 Yeah, I do a lot of price comparison to determine what's worth it.

Joseph Renow's discovery of the $80 down sleeping bag at Walmart was a great deal (and some have found it for $30!). I bought it, converted it to a TopQuilt, and ended up with a 17oz, 32F Quilt!


I'm currently testing a UL external frame pack for the Review Corps, but my normal pack is a 65L REI Flash Pack. I bought it on clearance, weighing 3lbs. 2oz. When I got done stripping it down, I was left with a 1lb. 12oz. pack.

11:13 a.m. on April 7, 2014 (EDT)
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@Ldog - When I first started gram counting it seemed a little dorky to look at gear considerations from a cost to weight savings point of view.  Man have I changed my tune - now I think there's quite a lot of logic in using this approach (at least sometimes).  I have to say, this has helped me considerably to understand where to make my next purchase and why.  Probably the most effective cost to weight savings purchase I made was my ZPacks Arc Blast purchase.  I've cleared out the data since I made the purchase, but I think it was about $4.52 per ounce saved.  I got down to a 19 ounce pack and saved almost 70 ounces - all this while maintaining plenty of pack space for longer treks and larger equipment (such as bear canisters).  I compare this to getting a new puffy jacket (for example) and that is a $72.51 per ounce saved decision.  There's a no brainer.

11:50 a.m. on April 7, 2014 (EDT)
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@SweetPea36

If your tent is inside your pack and you're worried about other items getting wet, may I suggest packing gear, such as clothes, in a separate waterproof sealed bag. For example, my clothes are always in a separate bag, my cook gear is always packed together, my toiletries are in a single bag, sleeping bag stuffed by itself, etc. Each of these bags are waterproof. This way, if it rains, my essential gear is protected and I can simply wipe dry the inside of my pack or the outside of these bags.

Also, when it's raining, once I remove the tent from my pack I close my pack, lay out my tent, then throw my pack inside the tent and zip the door. Once I've finished setting up my tent, I dive in and wipe or soak up as much water as possible with a small microfiber towel, wringing it out, reaching outside.

If I'm wearing a rain coat or poncho, I dry it the best I can once it's inside the tent.

Bottom line is, if it's raining, you're going to get wet. Simply minimize the damage by using dry bags for the equipment that cannot be wet.

There are a number of dry bags on the market, from technical fabrics to ziploc. I prefer the technical stuff and have been using them successfully for years. If you're going cheap, go with disposable/reusable ziploc bags. Be careful not to damage the plastic and be sure you close those ziploc zippers entirely, a mistake I've made in the past.

12:38 p.m. on April 7, 2014 (EDT)
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@herdingcats, Determining most cost effective weight savings is eggsactly why I started looking at ozs/$.  That I inject a bit of snark is just who I am ...  And it helps to highlight just how cost effective reducing stuff by an oz here, and an oz there really is.  

Unfortunately, I fear the goal is a bit like squeezing horsepower out of a Harley, The first 50 or so are pretty cheap, then the price to horsepower curve swings sharply up.

Now excuse me while I compute the cost/oz of replacing my ditty bags with cuben fiber versions ...

4:48 p.m. on April 7, 2014 (EDT)
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Ldog said:

Now excuse me while I compute the cost/oz of replacing my ditty bags with cuben fiber versions ...

That's great.  Funny stuff man.

I'm at an odd spot for gram counting now.  My pack is pretty light.  Using the cost / ounce method, I think I have figured out how to cut another 2.2 lbs from my already very light main pack.  Unfortunately there are no $5 per ounce purchases left to get there.  I suspect I'll justify the new and lighter purchases by giving current gear to my boys... well, that's the plan at any rate.

:)

5:36 p.m. on April 17, 2014 (EDT)
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quick clot and cold compress hope you never need what I carry as redundants.... or insurance investments.... next on the short list is the "INREACH" now that they revised their billing structure!

"their injury would ruin my trip!"

8:21 p.m. on April 17, 2014 (EDT)
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LoneStranger said:

...  I just thought it was an odd topic for the Beginners forum.  It seems a person would want to gain basic skills before testing them by reducing available tools and options.  I am also opposed to the religion some folks seem to make of it both in terms of personal obsession and need to convert others.  ...

 The Beginners Forum is not reserved exclusively for complete newbies who have never been away from a paved sidewalk in their lives. If you read the description of the forum, it is for anyone who is trying some aspect of the outdoors for the first few times. In other words, relevant to the present thread, if someone is tired of carrying humongous loads (perhaps because of injuries or developing arthritis) and wants to cut weight so they can stay active, this is the place to ask for guidance and advice on lightening the load, even if they have been hiking for more than a half century on all 7 continents. 

There are skills and judgment calls that are basic to UL, most of which are basic to any hiking or backpacking (safety first, for one).

By the same token, if Joe or Josephine have backpacked for years during the summer in Tennessee and want to try winter backpacking in the Colorado Rockies in mid-winter, s/he is a beginner at winter camping, and this is the place to come for "how do I have to change the gear I am using to do winter backpacking?" If Samantha or Samuel have been canoeing in Boundary Waters for the last 30 years in all seasons, but want to do a backpack in the Big Bend in Texas, this Beginner Forum is the place to start asking questions.


There are more than a few activities for each one of us in which we are raw beginners, no matter how many thruhikes on multiple continents we have been on for which we are raw beginners and would make dumb mistakes in our ignorance if we just plunged into "the deep end of the pool" blindly. My own recent example was when Barb and I went dogsledding in the bush of Alaska. We both have extensive backpacking experience, winter camping, ski and snowshoe touring, and we both had dogs when we were growing up. But we knew we weren't prepared for dogsledding in winter in Alaska. In our case, we contacted an outfitter who runs the "real deal" (not like the resorts where you stay in a fancy hotel and get rides in a dog sled for a mile or 2). We had to go through rigorous training and learn about taking care of our personal dog teams. Yeah, a lot of our previous experience came into play. But we learned a lot that is basic to handling a bunch of dogs at -20°F and colder for several days on the trail, 40 or 50 miles from the nearest other person. Oh, and dogsledding has its version of ultralight, too, even if it is a few pounds heavier than the UL on the ATC.


Oh, mr gadget - Delorme just announced a new version of the inReach, called the Galaxy that sounds like it will obsolete handheld GPSreceivers.

5:20 p.m. on April 20, 2014 (EDT)
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I find I save the most weight in my pack when I have a good idea of what the weather is going to do and what the walk will offer.

Meaning, if these things are known, I can be more certain, for example, that my 40F quilt will be enough, leaving the 15-degree bag at home. The same goes for clothing and shelter. I can't how many times I took a simpler, lighter tent on a trip that only warranted a tarp...

The difference adds up quickly, as you note, GOOSE. If I know it won't get below 0F, I save about 7 lbs off my pack weight.

Re: What is a beginner?...A beginner is someone who thinks of oneself as a beginner. After countless nights under the stars, I still experience situations in which I am a beginner; it's one of the reasons I still head out.

7:02 p.m. on April 22, 2014 (EDT)
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I think its quite easy to carried away with reducing weight. At the end of the day its not a terrible thing. Obsessing about gear is often just a way to still feel involved with outdoor activity while stuck inside at your job. Its just important that it doesnt go too far!


My approach tends to be that I go for the lightest/highest quality item I can afford. I try to avoid stuff that is extremely lightweight to the point that durability is noticeably compromised. That will always be a balance so its up to you to decide what conditions you will be using your gear under, and that will dictate the level of durability you need.


I have cut a good amount of weight by getting ultralight poles (158g), and have also cut both volume and weight by going from a heavy SLR setup to a much smaller Fuji X20. I also tend to run very hot, so I tend to not need as much insulation as others, so that helps me keep weight down as well. I should mention that I am not so much into backpacking/camping as I am into mountaineering and peak bagging (I know that can be controversial with some folks!), so my goal is to remain fast and light so I can reach my targets, but also have things durable enough so that I dont tear them up easily against the rocks when scrambling.

December 19, 2014
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