Aug 27, 2007 at 1:24 pm #1224793Heather Pisani-KristlMember
@p-kLocale: San Diego
I found a pack at REI Outlet that's 1# less than my current one, for apparently no loss of comfort. At the sale price, this would work out to $6.00 per ounce saved. Cheaper than the 3.5 ounces I saved when I bought my Houdini, but when I think of it in terms of the cost of other consumer goods, it still seems steep.
Does anyone have a financial benchmark for upgrading gear/losing gear weight? When is it worth it to you?Aug 27, 2007 at 2:40 pm #1400132EndoftheTrailBPL Member
As every gram weenie knows only too well — whether it is worth it depends on your priorities, your wallet size, your vanity… and basically how pathologically far gone you are! :)Aug 27, 2007 at 5:57 pm #1400160jim baileyBPL Member
@florigenLocale: South East
Ben is so right on this one.
Think it's pretty common for people here to start out with a heavy pack and then find that there is better/lighter options after making initial gear purchase, this would be the down side of UL/SUL, you have to get most of your equipment all over again, and then lighter gear pops up and thats when Ben's comment about some us being pathologically far gone comes into play.
In the past it was a costly process trying to go as light as possible, but over the last few years with the help of sites like this it has seemed to lesson the burden. Gear manufacturers seemed to have picked up on UL which is much easier then when I started back around 2001 and was going nuts with scissors on useless straps. Now it seems with all the info found here along with the choices available online the burden is much less of a financial hit.
Would say a good amount of time invested in researching equipment will be most helpful for your overall gear investmentAug 27, 2007 at 7:46 pm #1400172Brett .Member
A few tips from someone else who is pathelogically gone..
When I started out going light my rule of thumb was to buy a new item if it was about half as heavy as my old item, without regard to cost. I quickly halved my total base weight.
Then, reduced it by another 25%(about) and found that I had gone TOO light on some items, thus durability and comfort started to suffer. Examples are a very painful backpack, rainwear which tore up the first day I wore it, unstable stoves, etc.
Now that I am old and wise (uh, about 2 years later..)I realize I want to maximize (low Weight + Comfort + Durability) at the lowest possible cost.
For many items like a stove where Comfort is not applicable, it can be replaced with Convenience. The convenience of a Caldera Cone, or even a heavy Jetboil make them popular choices.
As for cost/ounce saved, the more you research, the less iterations you will go through and thus the less your total cost.
I iterated through 5 rain jackets to get from 2lbs to 10 ounces, paying a few hundred $ along the way. All I had to do was just 'buy a DIAD', but I did not know it existed!
About your upcoming possible purchase at REI; they have a lifetime money back warrantee. I consider anything bought there essentially free. When something I'm researching becomes available at REI that essentially removes the Cost term from the equation, and I buy. If I returned it they will turn around and sell it again at their 'yard sales' and someone else will make use of it.
Ask for specific recommendations for something you are considering, ask about it here on BPL; sometimes you will get suggestions you did not know about.Aug 27, 2007 at 8:24 pm #1400179Pamela WyantMember
"As every gram weenie knows only too well — whether it is worth it depends on your priorities, your wallet size, your vanity… and basically how pathologically far gone you are! :)"
Ben has that sooooo… right!
By the way, $6 per ounce saved sounds very reasonable. I've spent much more to save an ounce on some items. Of course, the best weight savings are those that are free. Just don't buy an item you don't really need to carry, and your cost is $0 per ounce saved!
PamAug 27, 2007 at 8:58 pm #1400185Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I bought Western Mountaineering's Megalight ( mega bucks) down bag B/C good sleep is crucial and a bag is one of the weightiest items if you go synthetic.
My REI UL 60 backpack (4,500 cu.in. W/ REI side pockets) was relatively inexpensive at $120.
My Tarptent Contrail is in the same $$ category as the backpack.
My Cabela's Rainy River PacLite GTX rainsuit was light, durable AND inexpensive at $80. per piece. (This IS inexpensive compared to other companies' PacLite gear.)
And a Vargo Jet-Ti canister stove burner was around $60.+
So ther you have my light but not ULTRA light essential gear list.
I have a Vargo Triad alky/Esbit stove too. For weekends.
…and then there is my old, heavy, bullet proof gear, now used only for winter.
EricAug 27, 2007 at 8:58 pm #1400186Chris WBPL Member
I just spent about $800 on gear and I still have another 3-500 to spend on shelter and the rest of my sleep system. And that doesn't include replacing the smaller stuff since it's reasonably light from my previous weight cutting shopping spree. I'll have easily spent a grand or more to cut 10-12 lbs. Say 1000 for 10 lbs so that's 6.25 an ounce or so.Aug 27, 2007 at 11:08 pm #1400197Jason BrinkmanBPL Member
Analyzing cost per ounce saved would suck all the fun right out of UL backpacking for me!
My gear decisions are generally rationalized around the following guiding principles (in no particular order):
1. what I can afford (not the same thing)
2. net weight savings
3. ability to increase efficiency
4. ability to increase fun
5. reduction in total carried items
6. the gee-whiz-ain't-that-cool factor
I will admit that I am a little price conscious (some things are just plain too much money for what you gain), but this isn't my primary decision basis. For example, I don't own any spectra fabric shelters. But I do own a $300+ sleeping bag, a $200+ bivy, and a few $100+ clothing items.
Bottom line is that backpacking should be fun. For me, cost per ounce is not fun. For you it very well could be. I can see where cost per ounce would be a rewarding metric for some, but I find my rewards in other ways.Aug 28, 2007 at 6:41 am #1400214Heather Pisani-KristlMember
@p-kLocale: San Diego
Your comments have all been very helpful/enjoyable. I'm an obsessive researcher (former reference librarian) but find it difficult to make a decision because I'm also a tightwad!
Brett, your point about REI's return policy is a good one that I always forget (I'm not a member, yet).Aug 28, 2007 at 8:37 am #1400229EndoftheTrailBPL Member
REI's return policy is indeed second to none in the industry. However, very likely because of this, you will find that REI does NOT sell many of the gear treasured by ultralight hikers (aka gram weenies). Some examples of the "Big Four" that you won't find at REI: UL silnylon packs, UL tarps or tarptents, UL Western Mountaineering bags or Nunatak quilts, UL pads like Torsolite or the various Gossamer Gear pads, etc.
Unfortunately, many of the truly light weight gear pieces just don't lend themselves well to 'lifetime guarantees'. Some people adapt and use their gear with greater care so they can carry less. Others opt to live with the weight. So, pick your poison.Aug 29, 2007 at 11:15 am #1400365Thomas KnightonMember
@tomcat1066Locale: Southwest GA
With careful research, I was able to put together a complete kit for under $1000 (guesstimate, could be significantly less) with a baseweight of just a hair over 8 lbs. This involved me purchasing EVERYTHING outright, with none of my previous gear lending itself well to lightweight backpacking at all, and almost nothing was made by me, including my alcohol stove! About the only thing I made was my windscreen and the lid for a 1 quart aluminum pot I got at Walmart for family camping.
I guess my point is, since you're a research nut (I am too), you'll find some sweet deals and be able to convert to UL gear easily enough if you're careful. Good luck :)
TomAug 29, 2007 at 12:09 pm #1400382Mitchell KeilMember
@mitchellkeilLocale: Deep in the OC
I am not pathological about gear! Just because I drool uncontrollably when I read about the latest lightweight pack or am found lovingly fondling my Shires Rainbow each morning on the trail does not mean that I am not in my right mind.
Seriously, calculating the cost per ounce is a sure way to ruin the process of gearing up for lightweight backpacking. Face it. Lightweight gear is more expensive usually when compared to the stuff you find at REI or A16. But using this site and the many reviews and forum threads that track our collective experience with all manner of gear gives you and anyone the ability to gain virtual experience with a piece of gear before plunking your hard earned cash down for it. You get to interact with those of us who have used some piece of gear and ask the questions that are most of concern to you. Sometimes you will get to buy a piece of gear that you want that someone is selling online here for a lot less than for the same thing "new".
Case in point. My Ghost pack wore out and it is not being manufactured any more. As a result of sharing my distress on a thread, I found a member willing to sell me his barely used Ghost for less than 50% of its original retail price.
Your research skills will pay off with fewer "mistakes." But you will make mistakes and end up with gear you don't any longer want or is not quite right for you. Just offer it for sale or trade here or give it to a local scout troop as a donation. And chalk it up as the price of learning as you become more experienced and more picky.
Brett is right. You will develop your own Weight Comfort Durabilty Price formula and it will change over time.Aug 29, 2007 at 12:40 pm #1400390Ryan GardnerBPL Member
I can justify any gear purchase if I eBay something else. For example:
I have a recording studio. If I sell a piece of recording gear, and buy a piece of backpacking gear, I'm really just swapping hobbies around. So… I have a mandolin selling on eBay for around $400… – bivy, tarp and trekking poles – here we come!Aug 29, 2007 at 2:45 pm #1400406David WillsMember
For me, it matters when my current gear isn't working as well as it should. I never had 'heavy' gear because going UL encouraged me to get into backpacking after my first trip when a buddy just got done reading beyond backpacking and wouldn't shut up about it. Never being heavy keeps the gear bug from completley overtaking my life. I did start out with improvised gear though, which does require upgrade after a while. School backpack, Poly tarp, fleece bag, grease pot, crappy alky stove, gatorade bottles, and pvc poncho have given way to 3 backpacks (1 framed, 2 non),2 sil tarps (5×9 and 7×10), 2 quilts (20* and 40*), BL 500ml Ti Pot or Scout 12oz alum pot, better alky stove, 1/2 gallon milk jug, and Dropstoppers. Other things like replacing fleece with synthetic or down clothes because of bulk and temp limitations happen when funds (or christmas) allow.
According to my gear spreadsheet, my basepack thats good to 20* in comfort (minus digcam, which scews all numbers :) weighs 6lbs 4oz and costs $189. My summer list which i should use till it gets below 40* (sometimes i do a poor job guessing and freeze on siler bald when its 30*)is 3lb 10oz and costs about $150 total. All that being said, i still have $1300 of gear which is entirely too much.
I guess my rule would be not to replace something that isn't broken unless it is way above my weight desires. My 1/2 gallon milk jug works fine and only weighs tenths of an ounce more than a platy, which is $10 and not too durable. I'm also not going to replace anything silnylon with anything cuban or spinnaker because the weight difference would be very minimal for a very high price and some durability differences.
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