May 4, 2010 at 1:12 pm #1258549
Companion forum thread to:May 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm #1605951
Kathy A HandysideParticipant
@earlymusicusLocale: Southeastern Michigan
What a great article, Charles! I felt I was reading my backpacking life story. I'm a 58-year-old woman who bought all her backpacking gear in the 1970s, after a month-long Outward Bound trip. That was back when a 6 pound tent was considered amazingly light! I, too, have been doing what you've been doing: going through my gear, gradually replacing my old heavyweights with lighter weight gear. I laughed when I read about your buying a digital scale that weighed grams, because that's exactly what I did! I've become (gulp! gasp!) a gram-weenie! But my 58-year-old back and knees heartily approve all these changes! Thanks for sharing your story.May 4, 2010 at 2:53 pm #1605970
@demoLocale: Arkansan in Seattle
Nice article and an enjoyable read — first one in a while that I haven't skipped through. :)
I think you'll hear a lot of comments like this, but it does echo a lot of the same experiences that we who transitioned to lightweight backpacking (as opposed to those that just start backpacking light) go through.
Congratulations and good luck find a replacement for your trusty stove!May 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm #1606004
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Similar to my own experiences, except I read Ray Jardine's previous book, "Beyond Backpacking". I suppose I'll have to read his new book.
But, you're still using your Svea 123???
I remember using mine on Mount Rainier in the snow at Camp Muir at 10,000 feet and I couldn't get it to work.
I use a 3 ounce canister stove now, much better. You also have to carry a 13 ounce canister, but it lasts me 8 days.May 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm #1606021
@markhurdLocale: South Texas
Ditto on what Kathy said above. Same story different face. And Poles!!!! I can't believe I didn't use poles before. Would have saved me so many knee and ankle problems over the years. But none of my friends believed me after I "converted" until they used them for a hike. Now they've all switched.
Anyway, nice article. Thanks Charles.
– MarkMay 4, 2010 at 9:57 pm #1606194
@colnagospudLocale: Northern California
…this also sounds like my story which started in the late 60's when I was in scouts. Now that I am retired I have also been lightening my load the Ray way and with help from BPL. Isn't it wonderful how things and times have changed,
gerryMay 5, 2010 at 10:02 am #1606410
@cuzzettjLocale: NorCal - South Bay
Very good article!May 5, 2010 at 10:09 am #1606412
@meldLocale: The here and now.
and $1500 later i am almost thereMay 5, 2010 at 10:52 am #1606433
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Great story…it could have been my own, with a few differences.
A number of years ago, when I was in my early 50's, the book that changed my life was "Beyond Backpacking" (I found "Trail Life" to be even better).
In my case I had pretty much given up on backpacking due to knee and ankle problems. But after reading Jardine's book I thought there was a good chance my wife and I could start again.
I bit the bullet and gave up on my trusty Svea with much regret, but it currently inhabits a prominent spot on my old stove display shelf (I fire it up once in a while for old time's sake, and take it on car-camping trips). I now use small canister stoves or Caldera Cone Tri-Ti alcohol stoves.
I sewed, scoured eBay, purchased a few full-price items, and without breaking the bank was able to come up with a sub-15 lb base weight (currently down to around 13 lbs for me, 11 for my wife). I continue sewing, and as items wear out I hope to drop to near 10 lbs.
I too found hiking poles absolutely essential. I can't imagine hiking without them, for all the same reasons you mention.
Thanks again.May 5, 2010 at 11:34 am #1606461
Yup, my story too. I love the title.
I found that lightening up is a very synergistic process. I couldn't go with a lighter pack without reducing the gear too. Light shoes wouldn't provide enough support unless I carried a lighter load. When I first found BPL I was planning my first trip in 8 years. I went from a 35 pound or so base weight to 16. The next year I dropped about 3 more. For this year I'm probably going to add an item or two for a bit more luxury.
It was very illuminating to do a 2 night snow trip up Whitney last month. I considered my pack heavy but on exit including ice axe, crampons, helmet, climbing harness it was 23 pounds without food or water. That was pretty good compared to most of the others whose packs were over 40.
PS- Don't dis the SVEA 123! It's pretty. It has a comforting sound. It's durable- mine is older than I am (45) and still going strong. Ok it's a bit heavy… but it used to be considered ultralight!May 5, 2010 at 11:48 am #1606473
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
Great article. I've got a Svea 123 too and a Sigg Tourist cook set that goes with it. Haven't taken it out on an overnighter lately, but I have an enduring affection for it.
I don't suppose you have any gear lists posted somewhere you could post a link to? I'm somewhere in the middle of converting from "tradtional" style BP'ing to a lighter style, and I'd appreciate being able to see where you've gone to with your gear if it's not overly inconvenient.
HJMay 5, 2010 at 3:05 pm #1606576
Thanks to all for the accolades!
I've dropped another 24 oz's with the purchase of an obscenely expensive NeoAir to replace my old Therm-a-rest pad. Fortunately I got a good deal on it with my REI dividend and a 20% off coupon.
HJ, I don't have a gear list posted yet but I've seen a few good ones on this site http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gearchecklists.html
CharlesMay 5, 2010 at 3:26 pm #1606598
@retropumpLocale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Well, if the move to lightweight backpacking has done nothing else, at least it has moved a lot of Americans to using the much more sensible metric of grams for weighing gear ;) Nice story.May 5, 2010 at 9:22 pm #1606760
Really nice, honest read. I'm sixty and I found it amusing that I also started with the same Jansport pack and replaced it with an Arc'Teryx Bora 95. My wife and I started switching to lighter weight backpacking gear about ten years ago. Every year we replace a few things. Yet an equally critical change was when I began backpacking LIGHTER. Not only dropping 20 lbs. of gear weight, but also dropping sixty pounds of BODY weight.
It all began when I met an eighty-one year old backpacker on a trail at 11,500'a few years ago. He passed me. I was struggling…and he wasn't. He told me that any body weight I carried above my belt may as well be in my pack. Since that chance meeting on the trail I've lost 60 pounds. I walk over an hour a day and now watch more closely what I eat. What a difference!
Last year my wife and I did a loop in Mineral King (Sequoia N.P.). Twenty years ago the same trip took us 14 days (I weighed 225 lbs.). This past summer we did the same trip in just 8 days! My pack weight was 20 lbs. lighter…and my body weight was over 50 lbs. lighter! We crossed the Great Western Divide (over 12,000') twice…I did it this time twenty years older with a lot more enjoyment! I'm literally backpacking lighter and hoping to enjoy doing so for another 20 years. Your article was an enjoyable read. I've passed it on to many friends. Trek on!May 6, 2010 at 9:32 pm #1607280
@rrouyerLocale: deep south
Your story sounds so familiar. I too dropped weight with lighter gear. First tent was an 8 lb eureka xl2, replace by a 3 lb eureka spitfire, replace by a 1 1/2 lb. tarptent contrail.Sleeping bag went from synthetic 3lb to down 1 lb.8 oz. Could get a lb lighter if I leave my sil tarp at home but I won't do that. I like the idea of shelter from the rain that is not my tent for eating and cooking. Finally got down to weighing all the little things but it would have cost 100.00 of new lighter versions to get just one pound. Didn't make sense.May 7, 2010 at 12:12 am #1607312
@einsteinxLocale: The Netherlands
As Ryan C said, this is the first article in a long time that I haven't skipped through. Not that other articles here on BPL are bad, simply don't have a lot of time.
What a great read this article was indeed. I'm really happy for you that by reducing you pack's & content's weight and by realizing it's better to weigh your gear in grams than pounds, you've found back the reason why you started to hit the trails that many decades ago: to enjoy nature, to enjoy the mountain and to enjoy being outside. I hope that your transition to a more sensible gear kit will see you on the trail for decades to come.
EinsMay 7, 2010 at 4:03 pm #1607543
Charles – great article, and well done on your coming out re the Svea 123!
As it happens I completely agree, there's something about that put-put-put as it gets going that warms the heart, even if it is a bit heavier than newer stoves, and even if it isn't QUITE as easy to get going sometimes.
12,500' on Gran Paradiso, very early in the year and well below freezing we had stoves that were playing up, including the latest shiniest multi-fuel one from a company that shall not be named. The 123 ran like a charm as did the Trangia carted up by another group member; guess which of us ended up cooking that night!
Modern kit is fantastic but some of the older stuff still has its place.
IoanMay 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm #1607688
@xpatrickxadLocale: Upper East TN
I thru hiked last year and met a buddy that used a SVEA 123R and I fell in love. I've been wanting one ever since. They're just so loud, heavy and beautiful to not love.May 7, 2010 at 11:04 pm #1607694
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
I co-led a group trip one time. I brought a big MSR stove and my co-leader brought a Svea 123. In fact, he had the new mini-pump that fit on an angle from the fuel filler cap. We got the group to the camp, and it was cold, so we fired up both stoves to begin snow melting. At first, he primed the Svea with about a few drops of fuel and gave it one stroke on the mini-pump. It flickered and went out. Then he primed it with about a spoonful of fuel and gave it two or three strokes on the mini-pump. It flickered and went out. Then he primed it with about 4 oz. of fuel and gave it about 20 strokes on the mini-pump. (What a buffoon!) It lit and increased hotly, and we thought it was about ready to take off. Then the pressure relief valve inside the fuel filler cap melted and ejected the mini-pump, replacing it with a 2-foot angled flame. Yikes!
My co-leader was going to run down to the lake to get some water to throw on it. Instead, I kicked it over sideways into the sand, then threw a pot of snow on it. Needless to say, that stove never burned again.
–B.G.–May 8, 2010 at 1:12 am #1607706
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
Over priming/over pressurizing a stove, any stove, is simply a bad idea. He's lucky he didn't get burned.
I over pressurized an XGK with an old gray pump (I'm used to the newer, "stepped down" MSR pumps). The fuel burst out around the "o" ring between the top of the fuel bottle and the "collar" of the pump. Fortunately, I was using the windscreen, so the fuel didn't ignite. There's something to be said for "remote" fuel set ups. ALWAYS USE A WINDSCREEN with a remote fuel white gas stove. Yes, it makes the burn more efficient, but even more importantly it makes the stove safer.
HJMay 8, 2010 at 5:33 am #1607718
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
An XGK with gray pump, huh?
I even have the older Model G and GK stoves with yellow pump.
Larry Penberthy was kind of a weird guy.
–B.G.–May 8, 2010 at 7:22 am #1607730
Lighting a Svea, no doubt, takes some practice but when done correctly it works every time. There are very few things that can go wrong since the stove is as simple as a stone hammer. But if the valve hasn't been cleaned or it's not been primed properly you'll have problems. I use the angled mini-pump too, it takes about 8 pumps, open the valve, allow enough fuel to seep out to fill the bowl at the base of the burner shaft, close valve, light fuel, wait till the fuel is almost burned off, open the burner valve, perfect flame every time. If one part of that procedure is done incorrectly it won't light or it'll belch huge flames in your face. I see the stoves others carry and marvel at their convenience, instant igniters and super quick boil times but why be in such a hurry? You're at camp, you're not going anywhere, what's the rush?May 8, 2010 at 7:32 am #1607731
@jdw01776Locale: Southeast Texas
I remember the first time I used my MSR Model G — I kept thinking "This thing can't be safe", but it was a great stove. As was my SVEA 123…May 8, 2010 at 11:34 am #1607785
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Never had any problems with my 1973 era Svea, never used the pump. Kept it clean, replaced the wick every 10 years or so, along with the nipple. Poured a small amount of fuel into the little depression at the base of the burner, lit it, waited a bit, then when the fuel was almost gone I turned the stove on. Worked every time.
Also used an XGK purchased around 1980. Didn't know it but got a small nick in the o-ring that sealed the fuel tube (from the fuel tank) to the burner body. Pumped it up, looked for leaks, none. Turned it on and lit it. Noticed fuel leaking out rather quickly from where you insert the fuel tube. Luckily there was slight slope and the fuel ran downhill, away from the burner. Otherwise it would have been quite spectacular, and perhaps even deadly if the full fuel canister exploded.
After that I was meticulous about checking that o-ring and replacing it regularly! Haven't used the stove in ages, though…May 8, 2010 at 4:43 pm #1607849
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
And people wonder why I am scared of white gas stoves …
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