Lighten me load?

9:25 p.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
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Hi,
I am rather recent to backpacking, only the past two years. Ive been using a lot of cheap gear. I was wondering if I could get some tips for lightening my base pack weight. Currently, it hovers between 18 to 21 pounds (depending on if I want luxuries or not), and I was looking to shed a little weight. Does anyone have any tips I can use to lower my base pack weight?
Thanks!

9:56 p.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
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Well,

If you can afford the money start with a new backpack, sleeping bag and tent combo. My old Kelty external frame (6lbs), sleeping bag (4lbs) and tent (4lbs) got retired last spring. My Kelty internal frame (3lbs), new bag (1.5lbs) and tent (1.5lbs) shaved a total of 8 pounds off of my base load. The new pack also helps because it is smaller and I am unable to cram as much stuff into it as the old pack. I also replaced my Gore Tex jacket and pants with a new set that saved several pounds. Walking with a pack on my back is now enjoyable and I spent a lot more time looking around and enjoying the scenery, instead of grappling with my pack, being sore, wondering just how much further I was going to have to walk, etc.

11:08 p.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
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I use gear by a company called Golite. My 3000 cubic inch pack weighs one pound, my sleeping bag weighs 9 oz and is rated at 20 degrees, my tent weighs about 4 lbs and is very roomy and sleeps 2-3. I use a therm-a-rest pad (about 1 lb) and carry two water bottles and a camelbak water bag. Water weighs about 2 lbs to the quart/liter so thats 4 lbs. I use the camelbac for extra water in camp and dayhikes. So my total pack weight is about 11 lbs without food. I usually only go out for two to three days at a time, weekend hikes/camps.

11:29 p.m. on April 21, 2009 (EDT)
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I can feel this is destined to become a popular thread ;)

Hi chowderhead and welcome to the fabulous world of the once-counters!

I agree with dm1333, in my mind there are 4 places you can save a lot of weight to begin with:

1-tent. Try replacing it with a tarp or a bivy, or both! Tarping requires some practice and a few basic knots, but you can end up with tons of liveable space for 1lb. For mosquitoes, you can use a bug bivy...or just suffer.

2-Pack. Most packs weigh 4-5 lbs, with some big ones at 7lbs. Mine is a very simple frameless 50L sack that weights 1lb. Worth shopping for a light one.

3-sleeping bag: the more you pay, the lighter they get...how much you got?

4-All the other stuff: Choose your campsite carefuly and you can get away with using just a thin foam pad, 7oz.

Find a good set of clothing you like and use only this one. If it gets wet it'll dry faster on you anyway. Bring only the BARE essentials: fire, navigation, tiny knife, duct tape...

Wonder where i got all the weights? Buy yourself a scale and have fun!

BTW, all this is explained in much details in Ray Jardine's book Beyond Backpacking.

You should be able to get to 15lbs easy, try 12lbs for a challenge!

9:34 a.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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I'll be the first word of caution on pack weight. For me, a lifeless sack with 10lbs in it feels worse than my 5lb Kelty trekker with 35lbs.

Don't buy a lightweight pack unless you've tried it on with weight in it. They just don't work for some people (me included).

3:20 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc and east stingray both brought up some good points. When I get back to California I am going to try a tarp for summer hikes. There are way too many mosquitos and black flies on Michigans upper peninsula so I bought a light weight tent.

east stingray is entirely correct to caution you about testing the pack with weight in it. Luckily I had an old Kelty Redwing, about 3000 cubic inches, that I had bought years ago. The pack fits me and is comfortable so I went with it instead of buying a new pack. Golite makes some very nice packs.

My sleeping bag is a Montbell Super Stretch, I think it is the number 3, rated down to 30 degrees. It weighs 23 ounces. My jacket and pants, Montbell Versalights, weigh 10.7 and 7 ounces respectively.

Franc's rule about the sleeping bag, the more you pay the lighter they get, applies to just about everything in the backpacking world.

4:02 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Franc's rule about the sleeping bag, the more you pay the lighter they get, applies to just about everything in the backpacking world.

The exceptions are nice to know though, but most of it is homemade gear

Pepsi can stove: free and light

2L aluminum pot: lighter than titanium and 12$

Blue foam pad :10$ and super light

Tupperware type bol with lid: free and light

lexan spoon: 35cents

and on and on.....

5:08 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Actually my Golite sleeping bag that weighs 9 oz did not cost as much as a expensive lightweight bag. I don't remember the price but its called the Featherlight. I like it cause it packs into a compression sack and is about as big as a soccer ball when compressed. It fluffs up very nicely when i take it out.

And my Golite pack is called the Gust, don't think they make it anymore. But with my thermarest pad self-inflated insidearound the inner pack I find it does me well. I rarely go on more tha a couple to three days hikes tho and usually my total packed weight is around 15 lbs with food. I use the Whisperlite Pocket Rocket stove and a 4 oz fuel canister which lasts me about two weeks. I only parboil food after presoaking homemade instant rice and/or beans in coold water. Or presoaking Pasta in cold water also then bringing it to about halfboiled just to get the seasoning or cheese packet to rehydrate better. I eat mostly pasta,ramen or instant rice with bullion added. I eat crakers and cheese and put gatorade in my water.

5:17 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Looks like the lightest sleeping bag Golite has now is called the Ultra 20 its about 1.3 lbs. And they don't have the Gust pack anymore. But I really like my Featherlight 9 oz bag and my 1 lb Gust pack. It has compression straps to make it small like a daypack or as big as its 3000 cu. in size.

6:27 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for your input! I was wondering, do any of you all know any modestly priced bags? Like, $100 to 200? I want to switch out of my 3.5 lb sleeping bag (bought for $30).

7:38 p.m. on April 22, 2009 (EDT)
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Humm...that'll be tough! Your best bet might be getting one used or at a bargain. (well, that's what i do anyway i guess..)

I would try Sierra trading post, or maybe REI? The classifieds here might be good too!

12:49 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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I bought my Mountain Hardware Ulralamina 32 for $115, and my Ultralamina 15 for $165....both new from an online retailer.

12:54 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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You can try craigslist, too. But read everything online, too...like here...you can get good, effective, inexepensive ideas that work just fine!

12:54 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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You might check out bpite dot com and backpackinglight dot com too, some of those guys are just plain nuts when it comes to lightening loads. There's a lot of threads having to do with sub-10lb packs.

8:30 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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You might try a down quilt instead of a sleeping bag. Somebody here can probably provide the name of a maker or a link, for the life of me I can remember where I was reading about quilts used for light weight back packing.

If you want a sleeping bag maybe just hold off on purchasing and save up a bit more money. My bag is listed for $279, if you can get one on sale it probably wouldn't be that much over your $200 upper limit. A cheaper alternative to expensive outerwear might be to pick up a set of Frogg Toggs.

9:26 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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I always use my bag like a quilt, although it wasn't designed to be used that way. I find i can move around a whole lot more and i don't get the mummy clostrophobia.

I think nunatak makes some down quilt (amazing but out of your budget), along with golite.

9:54 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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This site has good information on going light http://www.hikelight.com/

11:26 a.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Here is one link to a quilt maker.

http://www.fanaticfringe.com/page6.html

Some other companies that might be good sources for lighter gear include Gossamer Gear, ULA Gear, Pro Lite Gear, Anti Gravity Gear, Six Moon Designs and Henry Shires Tarptents.

3:24 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Do any of you folks have one of the Shires Tarptents? They look pretty cool and they are incredibly light, but I don't know anyone who has one.

This site is also good for light weight gear http://www.prolitegear.com/index.html

7:52 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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I own a Hentry Shires Contrail. It is very light and seems well made. It was a little hard to set up at first but fiddling with it for a while and emailing Henry Shires to make sure I was setting it up correctly soon fixed the problem.

http://www.tarptent.com/contrail.html

Testing gear is also very important. I was all fired up about alcohol stove last spring but found out that I couldn't boil a cup of water before the stove ran out of fuel. I still own the stove and will try it again this summer but in colder weather my little coleman stove is still the king.

11:11 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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dm1333 said:

You might try a down quilt instead of a sleeping bag. Somebody here can probably provide the name of a maker or a link, for the life of me I can remember where I was reading about quilts used for light weight back packing.

 

If you want a sleeping bag maybe just hold off on purchasing and save up a bit more money. My bag is listed for $279, if you can get one on sale it probably wouldn't be that much over your $200 upper limit. A cheaper alternative to expensive outerwear might be to pick up a set of Frogg Toggs.

Jacks R Better makes quilts that can be used as part of their hammock systems or as a garment to keep you warm on the trail.

Frog Toggs are waterproof, but not long lasting as they are not very abrasion resistant. On open trails they will last longer, on bushwhacks not so much. But they are a light weight alternative.

11:25 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Golite just had a warehouse/closeout sale and I imagine a bunch of stuff will be showing up on ebay.

Just noticed a Golite ultra 20 quilt/bag on ebay for $185.00 "buy it now"

 

Western Mountaineering also makes a quilt called the cloud 9 comforter

2:27 p.m. on April 25, 2009 (EDT)
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In my opinion it depends on what your doing and where you live. But in order to go light weight you gotta spend the money.

 

Pack: Osprey Exos 3500cu inches @ 2lbs 8oz

Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 @ 3lbs 13oz

Sleeping Bag: Marmot Hydrogen @ 1 lb 9oz

Pad: Therm-a-rest NeoAir @ 14oz

Totals @ 8lbs 12oz

10:16 p.m. on April 25, 2009 (EDT)
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I think kelty makes good solid, reasonable products, for example, the kelty light year 20 down is about 170 and is fairly light, and you can get a discontinued light pack such as the soar for 170 or nimble for 80 depending on how long your trips are. Kelty may not be the lightest but they are usually on the cheaper side and are reasonable

11:30 p.m. on April 25, 2009 (EDT)
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Thanks for your input! I was wondering, do any of you all know any modestly priced bags? Like, $100 to 200? I want to switch out of my 3.5 lb sleeping bag (bought for $30).

On line i purchased an 800 fill sierra 35degree bag that weighs in at 1lb6oz for $159.00 and love it.Iam rather small so it fits me well,5ft10in 155lb.The internet is your friend.Also it was free shipping.I too beleive that some of the ultra light stuff,mostly packs,are not very comfortable.I use a BD pack that is a little over 2lbs and handles climbing gear as well and does not allow it to poke me in the back.ymmv.Remember that it will take a bit to find what works best for you.I also prefer a pocket rocket over the alcohol stoves due to the fact that i spend most of my cmaping time in the alpine zone so often iam melting snow for water.I think all the posted idea here and else were are good you just need to weed thru and find the ones you like.

9:32 a.m. on April 26, 2009 (EDT)
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A lot of people (me included) carry around a sleeping bag that is temperature rated for conditions they will most likely never see when hiking. If you are never going to camp in temperatures lower than 40, for example, why carry around a bag that is rated for 35 degrees or lower?

You can also pick up a silk bag liner that will help keep you a bit warmer if temperatures are bumping up against your sleeping bags rated limits.

Kelty has some bags that look pretty good for the price.

http://www.kelty.com/kelty/products.php?type=1&cat=55&id=567

http://www.kelty.com/kelty/products.php?type=1&cat=55&id=432

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