The 60-Second Backpacker, Episode No. 1: Weigh Your Stuff

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable The 60-Second Backpacker, Episode No. 1: Weigh Your Stuff

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    Stephanie Jordan


    Locale: Rocky Mountains
    John Klinepeter
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern Rockies, USA

    When I first started this crazy weighing adventure I was a little skeptical. One of the first items I weighed was a 1970's era stuff sack. Why even bother to find out the burden imposed by a mere stuff sack? The weight was about 6 ounces IIRC. Equivalent volume stuff sacks are now available at sub one ounce weights. I quickly became hooked on weighing everything.

    Ross Bleakney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cascades

    Yeah, I agree John. It really is surprising how much some stuff weighs. I would say the next steps (after these) are:

    * Ask people for advice. They will suggest all sorts of things (lighter gear, leaving it at home or different types of gear).

    * Find your own compromise. So what if someone else uses a tarp? Bring a tent if you want a tent. But maybe you can find a lighter tent. Don't assume that there is only one way to "be ultralight". There are plenty of ways of reducing the weight, but it is hard to find those ideas if you don't ask.

    Robert Fomenko
    BPL Member


    Locale: Corpus Christi Texas

    I have both a digital scale, and just purchased a hanging scale for larger things. I could not figure out how to weigh larger items like a gore tex jacket so I purchased the hanging scale. Now I can weight larger awkward items as well as smaller stuff, and it will work for my total pack weight as well.
    I have always been a traditional backpacker, carrying large weights. From the first trip at 16 by myself on the AT in Pennsylvania, to the US army infantry carrying large loads. Either I was carrying the family stuff, or just wanted to bring along extra items to make the back country experience "better." In the end it just killed my back and my longing to go. Then I started to read about this lighter is better thing… and am slowly going over to the ligher side.
    This year I purchased a HMG 4400 cubin pack, a warbonnet down comforter, a marmount rain jacket, a titanium cooking kit, several types of stoves, a sawyer mini filter, Solomon trail runners… wow. The list is long, and I haven't weighed the entire kit yet, but I know I have dropped a lot of weight off my back and feet. Next month my family will go back to Jasper lake in Colorado to revisit a trip that several years saw me carrying 55-=60 lbs and now will be around 35. The difference should be amazing for these old bones. I still have a 5.5 lb tent, a go-lite shangri la 5 to change out in the future, but on the road to getting lighter. Not ultra light by any means, but light for me. It helps that my son can now carry his own gear in a ULA circuit. And he will help with the tent.
    I couldn't have done some of this without backpacking light. This site motivated me to start looking at my equipement seriously in terms of weight. Wish I had done it sooner.

    Bob Moulder
    BPL Member


    Locale: Westchester County, NY

    For weighing clothing, just roll it up and put a rubber band around it or put it in a stuff sack. If you're really anal about it, you can use TARE to zero out the rubber band weight, or the weight of the stuff sack if it's not actually used. I've done this so many times I can tell you the typical rubber band I use weighs 0.4g

    Not for nuthin', "analyze" does begin with "anal" :^)

    K. Urs Grütter, LL.M.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Switzerland

    Just use the bowl of your digital kitchen scale (tare it out). Works with most items. Hanging scale (park tool) for heavier items are ok, but usually only +/- 10grs accurate…8
    There is a useful tool:
    (I am NOT related to the guys at in any way, just started to use their tool a couple of months ago and found it more comfortable than my spreadsheets…)

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