When lacking experience or familiarity should you carry more or less?

1:18 a.m. on July 16, 2016 (EDT)
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This is not a Traditional v UL debate!

You've just been invited to hike in a completely new environment.

just a few examples to get started.

1  New trail- not sure about water do you carry xtra or stick with what you would normally carry

2 Fire- carry starter or just stick with trustworthy old bic

3 Clothes- its summer but your going above 6000ft do you take heavy clothing

4 Safety-is a two way street carrying xtra will slow you down and take a physical toll thus increasing the possibility of injury but if the weather turns on you that heavier sleeping bag and or tent can make the difference.

5 You just plain don't know what your doing.

This is open ended so feel free to use any of these or your own. 

4:54 p.m. on July 16, 2016 (EDT)
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First thing I do is ask for advice from people who know the area and conditions.  Local knowledge is the lightest weight you can carry.

Second thing is to check the weather forecast.  See the first thing.

Third thing is to take what I need to feel comfortable and safe.

Fourth thing is to weigh the pack

6:29 p.m. on July 16, 2016 (EDT)
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Good thoughts balzaccom I especially like/agree with #3 when youv done all the checks and asked it will still come down to what we know and are familiar with.

i guess my question probably could have been worded better. We all know when going to the extremes i.e. Something like the mojovi desert or the Antarctic to carry xtra of certain items its the trips in between that are moderately close to the edge, that have been on my mind. What made me think of this was 2 things 1 was what TJ said before about you can dive a nail with a sledgehammer or a 20 oz one. And going to the lake with the relatives watching them carry a camper tents tarps fan and one even hooked up an Ac unit for their tent. 

I guess what I'm asking is where is the delineation point when you don't know or aren't sure of an area. Just looking to see how others deal with this issue. Or like you showed what is your process for determining what you add or leave behind is it just our skill level or fears of what might be.

11:23 p.m. on July 16, 2016 (EDT)
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Knowledge is power.  Learn about where you are headed and organize your outfit accordingly.  I have worked in every western state, and have gone thru this process a lot.

2:07 a.m. on July 17, 2016 (EDT)
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Some good information sites no matter where you go:

Moon phase, rise & setting times - for those interested

Weather forecast - for everyone venturing away from easy access.  The very best sites are locals who may reference such forecasting sites, but they also have boots-on-the-ground knowledge how weather systems drive local weather. 

NOAA satellite weather images (etc) - Great information if you understand what you are staring at.  Interesting nevertheless.

Ed

2:26 a.m. on July 17, 2016 (EDT)
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But back the OP's question: 

Assuming I did my homework I would equip at the level of risk commensurate with how I usually camp. 

At some level we have a gut feeling for our comfort zone, regarding how much risk we wish to undertake.   I have confidence my choices are good for all except extraordinary circumstances.

Is that over or under?  For me it is just right.  My friends chuckle that I bring a parka pants rain suit into the summer Sierra.  But then I am the only one out enjoying the afternoon shower, whilst they hunker down in tiny tents.

Ed

 

10:23 a.m. on July 17, 2016 (EDT)
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there are a few extreme environments like Alaska that require some extra equipment and clothing.

2:27 p.m. on July 17, 2016 (EDT)
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As a blanket answer I would say yes. With no specifics in mind I'd say carry a little more of what you'll need and a little less of what you don't. Give up luxuries so you are carrying less weight, but carry extra water, clothes, food, etc. as would help you deal with the potential difficulties the area might pose. Next time you can bring the watermelon or leave the good shelter at home, but exploratory expeditions should err on the side of coming home to post a trip report.

Now for your scenarios:

1 Extra water is standard for me unless I am sure of water sources.

2 Short trips I have at least two Bics in different, waterproof spots. Longer trips I usually have three :)

3 No, but I take warm clothing. Windbreak layer plus some fleece for insulation. They weight next to nothing but make a huge difference.

4 I don't cut corners and always bring something to sleep safely and warm. Quilt and tent are light but functional.

5 I research until I can kid myself into thinking I know enough, then go out and learn the hard way :)

12:10 a.m. on July 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Great feed back all.

Ed-like you I also believe in my choices and you are right we all are the ones out in it.

LS- liked what you had to say but # 5 had me cracking up that was just to dang funny and spot on at the same time I'm still grinning 

12:10 a.m. on July 18, 2016 (EDT)
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Well to start I research like Balzaccom described and then some..

1. I carry more water  than most..I drink more..I have been places you have to cache water so

2. I carry two bics one in my waterproof first aid kit..

3. If takling elevation where temps can dip I always have a layer I can add.

4. My bag or new quilt are 2 PDS to 1.5 Pds no brainer and I am not gaining much...I talking 3 season because you said summer..

11:45 a.m. on July 18, 2016 (EDT)
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I don't think there is a definitive one answer to all those questions. No matter how many time I've been out there every single time I've learned something new. For me it's a continuous "learn and adjust".

Of course, do your home work first and research the area as much as you can. These days YouTube is a great resource too because there are many people who go out there, record and then publish, and I search for it.

Second, trust your knowledge where you have some but may be double check or a bit over insure where you don't feel confident. You'll end up carrying a bit more but next time you adjust based on your previous experience.

Redundancy is good but it must be optimized to become great. Your experience gives you an ability to adjust your level of redundancy to exact level you need. So learn from each and every outing and than apply common sense.

Next, study yourself. Know your range of tolerance and make sure you stay in that range. That'll give you confidence and comfort and that's exactly what you carry your weight for.

And finally, when out there make a weighted decision. As they say there are always more ways to do things so one can always decide how close they want to bring themselves to the point where risk becomes too much.

11:56 a.m. on July 18, 2016 (EDT)
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If you had asked this of me 5 years ago..My answers would have been over packed and over Redundancy...I was still using my knowledge from scouts and the military where 2 is one...

1:04 p.m. on July 19, 2016 (EDT)
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For water a little too much is always better than too little. Don't go crazy, but a litre above what homework tells you is good would be a safe bet. Even where water is supposed to be plentiful -- just finished a trip that followed a river 30 miles, on the map water was always right there but in reality plenty of stretches where the river dove into a canyon for several miles while the trail took a flyover and water was not accessible.

Clothing wouldn't bring heavy items just add an extra lightweight layer or two (windshirt, add'l s/s baselayer, etc)

12:30 p.m. on July 20, 2016 (EDT)
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1) For new trails Google maps is helpful for locating water sources along your path. I live where water is abundant...often too abundant...but as JRin Georgia wrote...there are times where water can be all around you and not accessible (Knobstone/Tecumseh Trail here in Indiana is 140 miles of thirsty). I personally carry between 2-3 liters at a time...and plan at least one stop along the trail each day to refill and camel-up (sometimes this requires caching water near a road that crosses my expected route or going off trail to a nearby water-source). If you're fortunate someone will have taken the time to make a trail-guide...or you will locate some useful Forest or Park Service maps.

2) I consider fire a very low priority in terms of safety. I know my opinion is heresy in many circles...but where I live and play fire is more of a "last-resort" that I throw in my "emergency kit" because a tiny Bic takes up almost no room and weighs very little. That said...I do bring two lighters for cooking purposes...and if I plan to use an open-fire for cooking I often bring a small piece of Fatwood.

3) In general I bring just enough clothing to keep me warm while at rest for the expected lows...and use sleeping insulation to get me 20-30 degrees below that (but I like to keep the amount of horizontal insulation low since it only helps me stay warm when not moving). As I rule I prefer many lighter layers over a few heavier layers as doing so provides 1) flexibility 2) clean sleeping clothes 3) redundancy...but does sometimes weigh a little more and as you pile the layers on binding can become more pronounced (though when you have all your layers on you're not moving much).

4) I carry a small (pocket-size) vacuum sealed bag with a few emergency items...I've never used it...but I have total confidence that in anything above freezing it would get me to home/help as long as I was mobile...and I see no justification for carrying more.

5) This is probably not something I would do...I always have a good deal of knowledge about what I will need to do...but in those cases where I don't (say sailing)...I would bring along someone who does.

10:01 a.m. on July 25, 2016 (EDT)
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In a 4 year drought a map will not locate water sources very well.  Fire is your friend. In the West, temperatures can be below freezing at any time, including July and August.  Bring enough clothes for the conditions and avoid redundancy. In the dry parts of the West, lack of water severely limits how far people can go. They may need to carry several gallons or more.  These would be examples of "unfamiliarity."

6:52 p.m. on July 26, 2016 (EDT)
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jrenow said:

3) In general I bring just enough clothing to keep me warm while at rest for the expected lows...and use sleeping insulation to get me 20-30 degrees below that (but I like to keep the amount of horizontal insulation low since it only helps me stay warm when not moving). 

 Joe dang smart thought process. You are darn right I've been using the redundant method i.e. If I get wet I would immediately have something dry to change into when the xtra layers and bag would suffice till I got the wet ones dry your way makes a whole lot of sense.

JR and the others brought out some great points about the water situation that had never even crossed my mind. Here in the south east water is usually never very far away but in a different environment that would be a serious consideration.

great points guys

10:48 a.m. on July 28, 2016 (EDT)
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Some of my worst times out were when I was less experienced, carrying way too much, and just being overwhelmingly exhausted from the extra weight, and also less careful managing all of my gear at camp because there was just so much of it.

With experience comes a better understanding of the gear you own, what gear you need, and just what your personal tolerances are in case things get tough. That makes it very individual as it becomes more about what level of personal risk you are willing to accept.

1:08 p.m. on July 28, 2016 (EDT)
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TJ1984 said:

Some of my worst times out were when I was less experienced, carrying way too much, and just being overwhelmingly exhausted from the extra weight, and also less careful managing all of my gear at camp because there was just so much of it.

With experience comes a better understanding of the gear you own, what gear you need, and just what your personal tolerances are in case things get tough. That makes it very individual as it becomes more about what level of personal risk you are willing to accept.

 Good to hear from you. Especially since what you said about using a sled hammer or a 20oz was 1 of the 2 things on my mind when I asked the original question I think I worded it a little better in my response to Balzaccom 

11:44 a.m. on July 29, 2016 (EDT)
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Interesting topics for sure....I would be more interesting if someone with less knowledge than our members posted what they would do...

10:35 p.m. on July 29, 2016 (EDT)
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denis daly said:

Interesting topics for sure....I would be more interesting if someone with less knowledge than our members posted what they would do...

 heck I thought that was me the older I get the more I realize how little I do know.

they would probably do like my relatives with the air conditioner and cardboard ducting to their tent just a wee bit over kill wouldn't you say.but hey their the ones who had to Load all that crap up more power to them I'm looking for a little less complication.

or maybe like the ones who have watched to many bear grills shows I don't know about you guys but mountain house and camel back work for me beats the hell out of slugs and elephant urine sqeazed out of dung but to be honest I dont know haven't been that hungry or thirsty yet.

10:49 a.m. on July 30, 2016 (EDT)
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John that was awesome reply...LOL I haven't had a good one all week,,,Thank you made my day lol

4:59 a.m. on August 5, 2016 (EDT)
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I thing you shoud have a plan. Thinking about:

- Research infomation about the local.

- Check weather forecast.

- Some Survival Essentials you shoud have.

- Carry more is best, but within your's limits.

5:00 a.m. on August 5, 2016 (EDT)
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I thing you shoud have a plan. Thinking about:

- Research infomation about the local.

- Check weather forecast.

- Some Survival Essentials you shoud have.

- Carry more is best, but within your's limits.

12:35 p.m. on August 5, 2016 (EDT)
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Carry more is worst in my opinion.

8:56 p.m. on August 7, 2016 (EDT)
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John Starnes said:

This is not a Traditional v UL debate!

You've just been invited to hike in a completely new environment.

just a few examples to get started.

1  New trail- not sure about water do you carry xtra or stick with what you would normally carry

2 Fire- carry starter or just stick with trustworthy old bic

3 Clothes- its summer but your going above 6000ft do you take heavy clothing

4 Safety-is a two way street carrying xtra will slow you down and take a physical toll thus increasing the possibility of injury but if the weather turns on you that heavier sleeping bag and or tent can make the difference.

5 You just plain don't know what your doing.

This is open ended so feel free to use any of these or your own. 

 If I am going to a new unfamiliar area, or coaching a new backpacker I always err on the side of caution.

I will always no matter where I go have the capability of carrying 5L of water. Those soft collapsible 1L bottles are awesome and only weigh like 1oz. I usually use 2-3 of them often. However, on the topic of water I will change my water filter choice based on what I can learn of the area and its water sources.

Fire I have found a bic suffices for most situations, but I do carry a small fire kit with some emergency fire starters. If I am going in the winter or to a really wet area I will increase them proportionately to the length of the trip.

Clothing I never really carry in excess. I always have clothing appropriate for the season plus at least 1 insulating layer. I almost always have a nano puff with me in the summer/warm months. If its getting closer to the shoulder season or I am going up high in elevation I plan appropriately and bring an appropriate shell and a better insulating layer based on the worst conditions that could develop.

I don't really view safety as a separate category. All of my equipment allows for me to be safe in one form or another. The other part is knowing how to use your equipment appropriately in various conditions. a lot of people will say no way should you use a tarp for severe winter weather. Well a tarp and my hammock work just dandy for me year round, including brutal winter weather with high winds and heavy snow loads.

My pack is about 30lbs in the summer, and about 50-60 in the winter depending. Its all about making smart gear choices based on your experience level and the expected conditions. I always have a backup of the critical items in one form or another...

For example I usually carry a steripen and a sawyer squeeze. I have multiple water bottles. I have multiple fire starters. I have a sock for my hammock in case I have some form of tarp failure. Iphone , paper maps and a headlamp. iphone backs up headlamp and paper map. Those things are about all the redundancy I need most of the time.

9:48 p.m. on August 8, 2016 (EDT)
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Rambler man that's strong 5L=10lb alone id better start working out if I'm gonna keep up with you. ?? What is the advantage of carring the steripen when the swayer will also work like a straw(I use it and boil for a back up) 

around 37lb is best I've gotten my gear down to using my hammock and smaller pack and winter probably 10 to 15lbs more I could go lower but I'm very happy with my Clark jungle hammock and the 2nd xtra tarp. Clothing is where I could make the most difference and plan to work on that as pointed out earlier

David welcome to TS 

10:18 p.m. on August 8, 2016 (EDT)
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With experience redundancy becomes less important.

With experience tools become less important.

With experience food and a sleeping system become more important.

12:01 a.m. on August 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Experience is also 1st cousin to arrogance and where most people lose that healthy fear that would keep a sane person from challenging or attempting somethings that they probably should have thought twice about. 

Now to give you an example: in my line of work we climb telephone poles every day and then one day the company decided to send us to gaffing school. Well you guessed it the only ones who failed or got hurt was mr experience who was showing everyone else just how much further ahead he was or so he thought. And the other was a guy trying to pad his resume with it. The 1st one drove the gaff thru his heal and was very humble how be it a little agitated afterwards and the 2nd well let's just say if the trainer hadn't have put a safety belt and catch rope on him he'd have broke his d_ _m neck we really got tired of watching him fall off that pole and getting all that special training in that 100deg heat that the rest of us needed and eventually so did the trainer and sent him packing 

the rest of us we all made it and we did so because we appreciated that the Good Lord gave us a trainer that we knew had been in the field like us established veterans had and was helping us in areas that are critical to our health and safety and not just looking to hang around the coffee crowd and tell stories 

And I could go on and on with stories like this from the last 36 years since I started apprenticing at age 14

experinece is a helper only not an entitlement for foolishness 

9:10 a.m. on August 9, 2016 (EDT)
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We are talking about what goes in a pack, not climbing poles.

I resent your reference to arrogance.

2:39 p.m. on August 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Very rarely do I have all 5 bottles full. Very rarely. But I like have the capacity if it is needed, which it has been on more than one occasion. I am carrying water for my and my dog, if it was just me I might only have 3 or 4L. Very dry times of year in dry areas water can be tough. I have had more than one trip where it was a full day between water sources.

I tend to use the steripen 90% of the time simply because its fast and easy. If I am on an extended trip I usually bring it and the sawyer. Water is one of the most important things. Neither weigh much and give me options. Together they weigh like 6oz. leaving 3oz at home isn't going to break me. I have trimmed all of the other useless weight out of my pack. Sometimes there is just too much crud in the water and a bandanna just wont cut it. Those times I use the squeeze. I have also gotten some water out of some pretty sketchy sources, its nice knowing that the steripen kills everything.

7:54 p.m. on August 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Your first priority is to keep yourself safe and comfortable and not burden your companions. If you are solo, you won't want to endanger yourself or potential rescuers. Never make assumptions(like its summer and it will be hot). Assume nothing. Do your research, and this includes any guides, as well as talking to people that have been there. Even in familiar territory, always think about redundancy. The arctic explorer, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, said that adventures happen to the unprepared. There is no such thing, IMHO, of too much preparation because the unexpected will always happen. A classic arctic tale of the danger of assumption and arrogance is the case of John Hornby. Hornby had experience in the Arctic. He took two companions and intended to winter on the Thelon River. They planned to meet the caribou migration that fall and have enough food to last the winter. but they got to the Thelon after the caribou. All three starved to death.

8:12 p.m. on August 9, 2016 (EDT)
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Rambler thanks ill remember that 

Erich good points

8:24 a.m. on August 14, 2016 (EDT)
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An example of this is two years ago in august I went on a trip with my brother down to West Virginia to the cranberry wilderness. Forecasts and general historical information all showed that time of year to be very dry, little rain, and hot.

What we encountered up at elevation was anything but. It was highs in 50s lows in the 40s, extremely foggy and misty. And frequent rain. This is why we always carry those shell layers, and always have an insulating layer with us. Because sometimes even in the middle of the summer things can change for the worse. Now you might not die from not having an insulating layer, but it can surely make the difference between having a good time and being miserable.

9:44 p.m. on August 14, 2016 (EDT)
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Know what you mean several year back at ivester gap NC temps were supposed to be in the mid 50s we woke up to ice on the ground the xtra jackets came in handy for my buddy and his son. I humped it out in a lite jacket and junior was glad to get mine  we got soaked but those jackets Made the difference for him and his son. and last year up there the xtra tarp sure made the difference when the rain fly started leaking on a 3 day trip

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