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  • #1215751
    Mark Jennings
    Member

    @bigjenz

    I am just getting started in lightweight backpacking. what would be the best thing to replace first? Keep in mind the only thing I have lightweight is a sleeping bag (1.5lbs.)Thanks.

    #1335152
    Mark Verber
    BPL Member

    @verber

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    I would suggest the first thing to go light-weight is not changing an item, but doing a good inventory and seeing if you are bringing things that you don’t need. I know I used to bring extra clothing that I never needed to use, more fuel and food than I ever eat, etc. While doing this ask yourself if there are items you currently own than are lighter than what you are taking. For example I switched for a heavy “camping” knife to the tiny swiss army knife I carry day-to-day and saved almost 1/2 a pound.

    Once you have done this I would start looking at what equipment to change. Since you have a light weight bag (which would have been my first choice) I would look at lightening your shelter. If you are mostly backpacking in warm weather below treeline I would give a Hennessy Hammock a try. For three-season conditions would suggest one of Henry’s Tarptents is a great way to get started. There are lighter shelters, but the tarptents are really easy to use. If you are likey to face harsh conditions I would suggest the Integral Designs MK1lite eVENT if you have the money, or a Hilleberg Akto (solo) Nallo-2 (two people).

    #1335153
    Ken Helwig
    BPL Member

    @kennyhel77

    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA

    I agree with Mark. Go through your gear first and see what you actually use and not use. I too brought way too much stuff into the backcountry. You know the, in case of emergency, etc. This would bring me to a weight of 60lbs for a weeklong hike, and to be honest I was not enjoying myself. After you have gone through your gear, weigh everything. Get a digital scale and find out how much everything weighs. Start replacing items with lighter more compact models. General rule of thumb is to work on the big three (sleeping bag, tent, and pack) since it sounds like you have a light sleeping bag, look at shelters. Do you want a tarp and bivy combo? That can weigh as little as 15-18 oz. If that’s not for you, then Henry Shires Tarptent. I own the Virga and love it. Waited out a Sierra snow storm (not thunder storm, but snow storm)and survived. This weighs in at 25oz. Backpacks can range in weight from 16oz. (frameless) to 2-3lbs. There really is no need to be carrying a 7lbs pack when you will be having a baseload of 10-15lbs (this is without food and water, beacause these are not constant weights and will flucuate during the course of a trip). I own a ULA P2 and it is one of the best packs I have ever own. Granite Gear makes great packs that have frames that will handle a little more. Check out Gossamer Gear and Go Lite, two other manufacturers that have lightweight gear. Good quality stuff. But remember it is not the gear that makes you a safe and efficient trekker, it is your knowledge. Good luck and enjoy the mountains.

    #1335154
    Ken Helwig
    BPL Member

    @kennyhel77

    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA

    try this site, http://www.chrisibbeson.com he has a gear weight calculator that you can download. It’s great for displaying all your gear and the weights. this way you can compare your stuff as well as customize your list for trips.

    #1335164
    Mark Jennings
    Member

    @bigjenz

    Thanks for your help. I will take a good look at my gear and get a weight on everything and post it on the gear list in a few days and go from there. Thanks again.
    Mark

    #1335168
    Ken Helwig
    BPL Member

    @kennyhel77

    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA

    When you have your list let me know if you need any advice about gear and what to choose.

    #3749413
    Mark N
    BPL Member

    @marknassutti

    Locale: Vashon Island

    Given that these posts are from 2005, 17 years ago, does anyone have any updates? I’d guess there are more product options out there today, maybe the core advice (start with what you have and don’t really need) still applies. This newbie would greatly appreciate the input!

    #3749414
    Johan
    BPL Member

    @johan-river

    Locale: Cascadia

    If you want to go lightweight without spending too much, it takes time to make sure you make the right choices in increments. You make purchases with gaining experience and thus make fewer purchase mistakes.

    If you want to go lightweight quickly, it’s going to cost more as you try things and sell them for different things as you learn what you want and need. That is expensive when lacking experience.

    After getting past the point of dropping all the stuff you don’t need, it takes a lot of time and research to dial in exactly what lightweight items you want. Luckily there are vastly more options today than in 2005!!!!! (holy thread bump! haha)

    #3749424
    matthew k
    Moderator

    @matthewkphx

    Epic bump!

    If you want to go lightweight quickly, it’s going to cost more as you try things and sell them for different things as you learn what you want and need. That is expensive when lacking experience.

    I have gone through quite a bit of gear churn and I have been surprised by how little it has cost. Many of my purchases have been new or almost new gear from GearSwap and I have turned around and sold many of those items after a trip or two for the same amount (or nearly the same amount) I paid for them. I’m often out just the cost of postage. I have also made some purchases during sales from various cottage manufacturers which made it much easier to move the almost near gear for what I paid for it. Most of this gear was made by smaller manufacturers (cottage or otherwise) and often has a long production queue.

    My point here is this gear churn might have cost me a lot more had I purchased the gear through normal retail channels like REI…

    #3749505
    Dan
    BPL Member

    @dan-s

    Locale: Colorado

    Hi Mark. There are a lot of gear lists on the internet these days, so you can get a sense of things by looking around. One thing to remember is that as you swap out various items for smaller and lighter replacements, you will probably be able to use a lower volume and less structured pack than you are accustomed to. So maybe stick with your current pack as you experiment with lighter sleep systems, shelters, etc. And once you have the rest of it dialed in, you will have a better sense of what pack to buy.

    #3749545
    Todd T
    BPL Member

    @texasbb

    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    …once you have the rest of it dialed in, you will have a better sense of what pack to buy.

    I agree with this.  However, if you’re still hefting an old-school seven- or eight-pound pack, that’s four to six pounds of savings you’re putting off to the very end.  So hurry up dialing in all that other stuff! :-)

    #3749547
    Ian
    BPL Member

    @10-7

    I have what I call my “90%” theory, where I can usually achieve 90% of what would be optimal (in my mind) with a little effort, but the energy/time/money to achieve the extra 10% falls squarely in the realm of diminishing returns.  In other words, “perfection is the enemy of good enough.”

    An example, I’m looking at a shelter that’s available in silnylon that weighs in at 24 oz and costs $239.  The same shelter in DCF weighs in at 17.7oz and costs $529.  DCF has advantages over silnylon that have nothing to do with weight, but for me, none of them justify the $290 premium (or $46 per oz weight savings).  Your bank account balanced may have more commas in it than therefore YMMV.

    Also, the difference (for me) between a 50lb base weight and a 15lb base weight was trail-life changing.  I pushed it to my personal limit and eventually made my way down to an 8lb base weight and decided that the value of an item is not always measured in ounces (I prefer a good night’s sleep on a thick pad over a thin uncomfortable one, as one example).

    A couple of extra thoughts:

    Once you return from a trip, take a look at what you carried and see if it was used and/or could be left home on the next trip.  Some items like a first aid kit will always go.  For me, I found I was bringing too much insulation and was able to dial in what I actually need for expected conditions minus 15 degrees

    Search $300 UL kits.  You’ll find some here on BPL and from old blog posts.  This can give you someplace wallet-friendly to start from and keep you from over-investing in what you may later find to be the wrong gear for your preferences.

    Best of luck.  The important thing is to have fun.  Spreadsheets are only cool on the internet.

    #3749548
    Mark N
    BPL Member

    @marknassutti

    Locale: Vashon Island

    Many thanks to all for weighing in so quickly (pardon the pun). I’ve used a spreadsheet (very old habit) to inventory all my gear, weighed it, and started shopping the BL gear swap and, of course, REI. I’m aiming for 2-3 night trips and totally get the weight savings per dollar cost tradeoff as well as the comfort factor. Question re: Gear Swap, I’ve sent a couple of direct messages to sellers but heard nothing back. How do I find on the site the messages I’ve sent so I can follow-up? And some of these items have been “for sale” for years, are they really still for sale?

    #3749550
    Ian
    BPL Member

    @10-7

    If you click on their name, it’ll take you to their BPL account page where you will see an option to message them through this website.  It may be that they’ve moved on from BPL and it’s a derelict account.

    #3749570
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    “How do I find on the site the messages I’ve sent so I can follow-up?”

    Click on Account (upper right of the page), and in the ensuing dropdown menu click on My Profile. There you’ll find, among other things, a link to your messages. If you don’t have notifications set up it’s possible people did respond and you don’t realize it.

    “And some of these items have been “for sale” for years, are they really still for sale?”

    Probably not. While folks were encouraged to post a ‘sold’ post in their thread if the item did sell, some didn’t bother. And some things might never have sold, but the person might have left the site (as Ian said).

    #3749609
    AK Granola
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    It’s probably worth posting a “want to buy” WTB message; some folks aren’t actively selling, but if they see you need something, they might realize they’re ready to part with something they haven’t used in quite a while.

    #3749703
    Mark N
    BPL Member

    @marknassutti

    Locale: Vashon Island

    Wow, you guys are awesome. So helpful! Thank you!

    #3750246
    Steve Thompson
    BPL Member

    @stevet

    Locale: Northeast

    Let’s go all the way back to Mark Verber’s 2005 reply.  It mirrors my experience.  My last truly heavy hike was in 1998, 10 days along the CDT. All in, food/everything I stared that trip at 75lbs and had more than 50lb base weight.

    Though I successfully completed the hike, after the first two body crushing days I declared the load “bullshit” and started a daily inventory of each piece of gear (down to the 1st aid kit element and sheets of toilet paper level I used).  When I got home I easily culled 15 lbs just by dropping stuff I carried but didn’t use.  But it didn’t stop there. I culled additional weight by dropping things I used because I had it vs really needing it. (Like a “backpacking” lantern).  For free I had cut my base weight in half and this is before I repackaged to cut things like sunblock from an entire tube to the amounts or really needed.  Only after this did I start replacing gear, and eventually swap the trusty SD tent for a tarp.

    Point is, really scrub your gear list and carry only what you need.  And then piece by piece the folk on this forum will offer ideas and personal experience on how to how lighten each piece you do intend to carry.

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