Mar 21, 2006 at 10:36 am #1218097
This probably comes up more with upgrades to gear: how much are you willing to spend to chop ounces off your load?
Case in point: I have a couple Outdoor Research waterproof stuff sacks that weigh 4.1oz. each. They are in perfectly good condition and suited to keeping my clothing and bedding dry. I can buy Sea to Summit 13 liter bags that weigh 1.40z/40g. Times two, I can save 5.3oz. at a cost of $37.90 ($7.15oz.). The best and most ecological solution I can see is to wear the exisitng bags out (most fun too), Ebay them, or trade them to defer the cost per ounce.
What I’m cranking up to is a way to analyze the most bang for the buck in dropping weight. What items at what cost will have the most impact? That is after doing a thorough house cleaning on uneeded gear, maximizing multiple use items, decanting consumables to smaller containers, etc.
Where do you draw the line?Mar 21, 2006 at 11:12 am #1353025
@bjamesdLocale: South Coast of BC
That is indeed a scary metric… fibraplex poles and titanium pots seem like they would be wonderful but man do they cost for what you save in weight.
My preferred strategy is to reduce ounces through behavior and philosophy modification: if I drink at the car and at every stream, can I carry less water? What else can I safely/comfortably leave at home? What can be substituted with household items that will be equally durable/useful if I use them differently? (i.e. plastic kitchen bags for stuff sacks, tin foil lids, etc.) What trips can I still take without needing to buy X Y or Z rugged/bomber gear? Can I use a trekking pole tent instead? Can I share the load with more hiking partners?
I’m happier to spend the $130 USD (for 10oz savings with fibraplex poles on the Hubba Hubba I want…) on gas getting to the trailhead! Or maybe some day on a sewing machine that would allow me to make all manner of ultra-cheap, custom-fit ultralight gear.
But maybe I just don’t “get it” yet. I’m definitely interested in reading the thoughts of the guys with a well-developed UL philosophy (and a lot of bag-nights!)
BrianMar 21, 2006 at 11:16 am #1353026
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Unfortunately, it’s not just logic you are dealing with — but also any combination of emotional factors: penchant to spend, a lust after the next newer/lighter/better toy, bragging factor, and so on and so forth…Mar 21, 2006 at 12:05 pm #1353031
>> Case in point: I have a couple Outdoor Research waterproof stuff sacks that weigh 4.1oz. each. They are in perfectly good condition and suited to keeping my clothing and bedding dry. I can buy Sea to Summit 13 liter bags that weigh 1.40z/40g. Times two, I can save 5.3oz. at a cost of $37.90 ($7.15oz.). The best and most ecological solution I can see is to wear the exisitng bags out (most fun too), Ebay them, or trade them to defer the cost per ounce. < < Or you could buy a couple of .5 ounce silnlyon bags for $8 each ($16) or make them yourself for a couple of bucks. Add a 1 ounce trash compactor bag and you’ve got the same level of protection for < $20 and 6 ounces less weight. Going lighter doesn’t always mean spending more! RonMar 21, 2006 at 12:11 pm #1353032
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
I don’t think there is one way to formulate a decision basis for everyone. Some people will never have the money to get a down bag…which is obviously the only way to effectively lighten that part of the load (and significantly decrease space needed) while maintaining the same effectiveness of the equipment.
For me personally, I am only willing to spend exceptional amounts of money if the item in question both performs multiple tasks and significantly loses weight and cannot be bested by other alternatives.
In the case of Sea to Summit bags…personally I cannot see the need for waterproof stuff sacks. I like stuff sacks to keep things organized and easily accessed. If I am going to be in an extremely wet environment, I would opt for a bag liner of some sort so that all contents are kept dry.
But that said, I just went out and purchased a Petzl Zipka for $26 (some kind of sale) which only saved me 1.2 ounces over my Black Diamond lamp…but the amount of space it saves me was too much to pass up.Mar 21, 2006 at 12:16 pm #1353033
@markrLocale: Santa Cruz
That’s not bad. In road bicyling it is more like grams per dollar or even dollars per gram. And not just because we use the metric system a lot.Mar 21, 2006 at 12:58 pm #1353034
The heart wants what the heart wants. I sold auto parts and accessories for 20 years and I can say there was very little rational thought when buying accessories and speed/racing parts. Let us say that many purchases were motivated by glands other than the brain. I’ve said that fishing tackle is designed to catch fishermen more than fish. And so on.
Certainly there are other factors than cost per ounce, but it may clarify a purchase or get past what I call the “sweaty palms” stage of making a decision. There’s not a lot to consider in buying an 89 cent spork, but I’ll bet there are people out there who feel they can’t afford to lighten up and/or are paralized by the process. In some cases, they feel they are betting their safety in the purchase too.
We read of sub 5 pound kits and drool over light gear that may have more worth in its light weight than being appropriate to our personal use. We have a lot of hiking disciplines in the UL niche, with adventure racing, thru-hikers and weekend warriors all dipping from the same suppliers.
My example of the stuff sacks was just the one at hand. If you look at sleeping bags, I have a typical 48oz synthetic bag that is good to, let’s say, 25 degrees. Now, I would want to get lighter and improve on the performance if I can. A Western Mountaineering 20F down bag is 26oz @ $315.00 or $14.31 per ounce — on the weight savings. There’s some decision making in going with down over the polyester fill too. If we were to compare two similar bags then we could do a simple apples-and-apples comparison, say a 28oz bag at $300 vs. a 26oz bag @ $350– do you want to gain 2 ounces for $50?
If you go through your gear this way, you will find a few things that will pop out. A pair of REI midweight long johns are 9oz and I didn’t need the extra insulation and could go for a pair of Patagonia Capilene silk weights at 6oz for $24. I saved 3oz and got gear closer to my needs for $8 per ounce. It’s a little easier to deal with $24 changes in my gear than $315 changes. You can see that I made headway for $8/oz vs. $14.31/oz with the sleeping bag change. Money aside, we would LIKE to do both!
These comparisons could be mitigated by selling or trading the old gear, which I do a lot of. I could trade in the sleeping bag with one supplier I deal with, or sell it on Ebay or via Craig’s List, or trade with a friend– or here at BPL too.
You could look at volume the same way. When I switched from a plastic trowel to a tent stake for digging cat holes, I saved an ounce @ $3.95 and made little more room in my bag. 10 points for the Rambo factor too– Yo! I dig holes with a tent stake and eat bark for breakfast :)Mar 21, 2006 at 1:34 pm #1353038
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
Too funny! If you eat bark for breakfast…you may not need to dig a hole…even more weight savings…unless you count what is stuck in your colon!!!Mar 21, 2006 at 1:55 pm #1353039
> I’ll bet there are people out there who feel they can’t afford to lighten up and/or are paralized by the process
We probably can’t do much for people paralyzed by the thought of buying a small roll of poly at the hardware store for a tarp and then actually testing it in the back yard. The feeling of safety should come from experience, not from spending $$$. There was a thread that had some good suggestions on cheap and lightweight gear. And I mean _cheap_!
Your example WM +20F bag: instead, how about making a synthetic quilt? About the same weight, about the same temp range (especially if you add the clothing you’re already carrying :), and less than $60. It might not look as pretty as commercial gear, but it’s not that hard.
The real challenge for me is _not_ bringing gear. Save both ounces and $$; don’t buy it! On my last trip I laid out everything I intended to bring, then went through and removed gear. I saved four pounds, none of it safety-critical. There was one item (Snowclaw) that I did miss, but I was able to make do without it. The main reason I was able to remove these items was that they hadn’t been necessary during my pre-trip tests.Mar 21, 2006 at 1:57 pm #1353040
@happycamperLocale: South Bayish
In my quest to lighten my load and not my wallet I have taken a multi-faceted approach. First consider which items will reduce weight the most, these are usually big ticket items. Get an idea of the general purchase plan; backpack first, shelter second, etc. Then buy the stuff(this may include coordination of seasonal sales) and sell the old stuff. It is easy to sell old gear, everyone wants a deal! Next consider and buy the stuff that won’t radically reduce your packweight but is cheap; plastic grountarps, foam sleeping pads, ziplock bags, reused plastic waterbottles, etc. The rest of the junk can be purchased over time whenever resources are available(this isn’t a now or never endeavor.) Last but not least make good use of birthday and holiday wish lists!Mar 21, 2006 at 3:33 pm #1353048
Happycamper said (brilliantly): “In my quest to lighten my load and not my wallet I have taken a multi-faceted approach…”
Well said, but in going from heavyish to light, you might want to get the pack after you have a lighter load. It’s all a system and you need to get the tent, sleeping bag, clothes and cook kit down to an acceptable level before a really UL pack can be used. In other words, I would much rather carry light pounds of gear in a heavier pack than the other way around.
The rest of your plan is exactly what I have been doing. The fun part is that you will run into all kids of deals once you start to look. I’ve bought stuff I found in thrift stores and yard sales that was high end but wouldn’t fit me, to be used to barter for stuff I could use. You get that technique down and you can hike for 30 cents on the dollar– really!
My birthday is coming up and I just asked for REI gift cards– they ALWAYS fit, no matter what the “size.”Mar 21, 2006 at 5:16 pm #1353060
@happycamperLocale: South Bayish
Correct-a-mundo on the pack later concept. As I recall a lighter sleeping bag was my first step or was it the shelter….hmmmmMar 21, 2006 at 6:03 pm #1353064
I actually take a slightly different approach. I set aside a certain amount of money for a specific trip I have coming up. Then I make a list of all the gear I would like to use for that trip. I put the new gear I’d like to bring in a spreadsheet and do a dollar per ounce analysis (the ounce value is relative to the gear it replaces). Then I sort from lowest to highest. I sum up each line until I hit my dollar value and thats what I buy.Mar 21, 2006 at 8:13 pm #1353082
> you might want to get the pack after you have a lighter load.
That’s why I’m carrying 12 pounds of base gear in a 7.5 pound pack. I’m hoping to trim several more pounds before I get a new pack.Mar 22, 2006 at 6:49 am #1353103
Keep an eye out for one of the Jansport external frame packs– the ones without all the weird hardware on the belt. I picked one up for $10 and it is just 4 pounds, which I think is remarkable when you consider what you can load it with. I think they are great for those areas where bear cans are required and those who like to haul large format cameras, scientific gear and the like.Mar 22, 2006 at 3:24 pm #1353169
Another way to analyze the value would be to use the percentage of base weight change per dollar. Looking at the percentage of base weight represented by an item or category could also help point out ways to reduce the load.
My 3 pound sleeping bag is 20% of my cold weather base weight. Changing out to a 2 pound bag @ $300 would give me a 6.6% change or $45 for each percent lost. All these numbers get more valuable when looking at a number of items — just getting the most bang for your dollar.Mar 22, 2006 at 10:31 pm #1353209
Happycamper writes “In my quest to lighten my load and not my wallet I have taken a multi-faceted approach.” Dale Wambaugh writes “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Scott Peterson writes “I don’t think there is one way to formulate a decision basis for everyone.” I believe all of these factors into how one can calculate and/or justify what they spend on lightening the load and agree most with Scott’s thoughts.
I agree with the consensus the “Big 3” (pack, bag, and shelter) are the places to start. I have read somewhere that if you start with a lighter / smaller pack, this then forces you to make choices in decreasing what you bring with you. Hopefully they are good choices. Those smaller packs most likely will not allow much else if you pack a zero-degree synthetic bag. I have also read one should work on cutting down all of the gear you bring, getting use to it before buying a smaller and lighter pack. Myself, I went from a 7 pound pack to a 3 pound pack. I also changed from a 6 pound “backpacking tent” to an 18 ounce 10×10 Flat Tarp. Just those two items was almost a 9 pound savings at a cost of $1.75 per ounce. Bags on the other hand can be another story; different bags for different seasons.
Look at places like Campmor Hot Deals, REI Outlet, eBay, etc. for deals on previous year closeout models. Sometimes it’s difficult to buy things like shoes/boots without fitting first, so go to your local outdoor store and try on a few to find out your size for that manufacturer, and if they fit comfortably.
Then again, cutting weight does not always mean increasing cost. Look at changing from a $40 to $80 canister stove or a $60 to $125 liquid fuel stove. You can replace these with a “Pepsi Can” alcohol stove for a couple dollars of material or $8 if you buy one. This could be up to a $50 per ounce SAVINGS! (You know 64.7% of most statistics are just grabbed out of thin air… lol)
The point is that there are almost as many ways to lighten your load as there are people trying to lighten their load. The expression “Hike your own hike” must apply to all decisions you make for yourself. What is right for me most likely is not right for you and vice versa. You have to be happy with your decisions and hopefully that does not put you into financial hardship.Mar 25, 2006 at 11:26 am #1353416
My idea certainly isn’t the end all and be all, just a couple techniques for looking at things a little more analytically. We all have to work at being objective and separating good old gear lust from effective weight managment. Knowing that you can save 4 ounces by switching from a hard Nalgene bottle to a Platypus is far more cost effective than buying a whole new sleeping bag to save the same weight. If you spreadsheet all your gear and list lighter alternatives and costs, it will become very evident where you can drop the most weight for the dollar. Once you get your pack weight to a certain threshold, it may be better to work on a handful of smaller items than once of the big ones. This can also allow you to work in an item that you can’t find lighter alternative for, like a camera or other technical gear.
Taking something you don’t need out of your pack and leaving it at home is by far the most cost effective way to lighten your pack weight, in fact the only way to beat it would be to get someone else to haul it for you— like sneaking the beer into a buddy’s pack :)Mar 29, 2006 at 5:49 pm #1353786
Dale has a great idea with the old Jansport frame packs. I am in the process of converting the frame to a “kinda” light pack by taking off the bag part and strapping gear directly to the frame. The beer in the pack is my favorite trick for weight savings
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