A Gear Confession

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable A Gear Confession

Viewing 24 posts - 26 through 49 (of 49 total)
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    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Yes, it’s hard to ”thumb” a digital device. Interesting that this parallels the map vs gps discussion.

    Kindles aren’t worth much for tinder or TP :)

    Bill F
    BPL Member


    Love this!  Thanks for the article and the conversation.  I learned that once I also got “sufficiently” light in all the big four/five components, it totally opened up this whole conversation of what were those luxury items I wanted to take for a given trip.  A favorite example was a short group trip where all four guys each brought their favorite rye whiskey to share.  Totally unplanned and uncoordinated with the others thinking we’d surprise our friends.   Turned into an amazing taste off each evening after dinner.   Great memory and now a tradition when we backpack together.

    Eric Kammerer
    BPL Member


    I’ve always been amused at those who condemn the weight of a pillow — but not the weight of a clothing/sleeping system that has sufficient excess capacity to make a pillow that works…

    I use a wide/long pad and a pillow because I sleep better. When I sleep better, I enjoy the trip more, and am less likely to make stupid decisions due to exhaustion. To me, quality of sleep is as much of a safety issue as carrying the ten essentials.


    Lance R
    BPL Member


    Yours is a great article. Do what’s right for you; there’s nothing to confess. Getting a good night’s sleep is critical when backpacking. Staying dry in a rip-roaring storm is also critical to your survival.

    Ed Weiser
    BPL Member


    Thanks for sharing, Maggie!  I’m with you.  Not the exact same items, but the same types of gear.  16.4 lbs base weight including the pack itself, not including food, fuel, and water.

    I do recommend a solo tent when you’re by yourself.  Not only lighter, but warmer too.

    Eric Blumensaadt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mojave Desert

    Yeah, I’ve posted several times here on BPL that, for my comfort, I carry some items a teensy bit heavier than lighter options.

    Ex.-> my Osprey EXOS, because it is SO comfortable.

    Ex.-> REI FLASH insulated R 3.7 air mattress at 15 oz.

    Ex.->  Merrill Moab low hiking shoes Not “trail runners” but a nicely protective outsole.

    And I could add a few more items but you get my point.

    And then there are a few items that are extremely light like my Tarptent Notch Li solo tent. So with me it’s a mix of UL and SUL but all are for my comfort on the trail and in camp.

    And Maggie, I hear you loud and clear. To those us who have backpacked for decades your choices reflect a lot of time on the trail.

    Michael Ray
    BPL Member


    Locale: Midwest

    I assume OP was exaggerating about # of breaths to inflate her pad, but if it’s really an issue then just get one of those lightweight inflator bags. I use my pack liner (i.e., trash compactor bag) to inflate a large pad (XLite or Klymit) since I really don’t want excess moisture inside it anyway and I don’t want to pass out at elevation. :) I also use it for my pillow, which used to be just a 2L water bladder but is now a Klymit pillow.

    Scott S
    BPL Member


    I changed my thinking about this. Instead of trying to go as light as I can, I have a weight budget. If I’m going for a few nights I try to get to 25 lbs. If I max out at 25 lbs. 0 ozs., I’m good—no need to go lower. I will definitely not trade 2 things: Sleep; and excessive time spent in camp. For sleep I have the tapered MW Exped insulated pad over the Gossamer Gear Thinlight 1/8” pad. With the Schnozzel Pumpsack (which doubles as my pack liner), the whole setup is about 18 oz. I’m not that big but with a 20” pad I have to rotate my body in place when I want to switch sides. With the MW Exped I can just roll over and back.The Thinlight pad not only stops the pad from sliding, but dramatically cuts down on noisy squeaks of the pad against the tent floor. More than worth its 1.6 oz. weight.

    When I get to camp I want to take it easy. The PCT Hang technique yields a 4 oz. food storage solution compared to the 13 oz. of an Almighty Ursack. One takes 15-30 minutes to set up at night (far longer if it’s dark), assuming I can even find appropriate trees in the fir-laden PNW with their short down-sloping branches (plus another 5-10 minutes retrieving everything in the morning). The other takes less than 5 minutes. Those extra 9 ozs. are more than worth the hours and headache I save over a multi-day trip.

    Edward John M
    BPL Member


    Under the BPL label almost everything I wear or carry is excess weight and borderline too much gear. But my secret vice is my old issued army kidney cup. I just don’t feel right drinking my morning coffee from anything else, even at -30C. I might change my cup for a trip to Denali or the Himalaya / New Zealand Alps but otherwise I’m a dinosaur.

    Jan Paul M
    BPL Member


    Nothing wrong with your setup. After shaving as much weight of my kit as possible, I started adding things again for some extra comfort, and I think Jordan would approve as well. I added a pillow and now I sleep better and I wake up in better shape. Camp clothing is not just a luxury, but can also double as an extra layer when the weather get’s really bad or you’r high up. And in Europe, sometimes it’s nice to check in to one of the mountain shelters when it’s time to get a shower. But you’re not allowed to wear your boots or trail runners inside. That’s when my Sockwa’s come in handy (with an extra insole to make walking more comfy..). I’m still contemplating a chair..

    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    I assume OP was exaggerating about # of breaths to inflate her pad

    Since Maggie’s not around for the discussion I can offer a theory. She just doesn’t have the lung capacity. Maybe she doesn’t talk much? Where’s Garmire when you need him? ;)

    Eugene Hollingsworth
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Minnesota

    Thanks Maggie – that was kinda fun to read. As a personal check up I decided to compare your luxuries, with my attempts of comfort/weight/cost comprises.

    Turns out I didn’t do to bad – so thanks again! This helps me understand where I can or should upgrade. The 1 item I need to upgrade is my mummy bag.  My pack is a whopping 14 oz heavier, but am very satisfied with the robust, made-in-Minnesota-build, capacity, and especially the fit and fitting I received at Midwest here in Mpls. (and lucky purchase 1/2 cost)

    Josh B
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western New York

    I recently took my first trip as an Ultralight backpacker. I spent a lot of early 2020 converting from my traditional backpacking setup. My pack was still no the weight I had been fantasizing about, mostly due to some of my confessional items.

    As far as confessions, I took a set of 250 merino long johns and top for sleeping, as well as a pair of compression leggings for recovery at camp. I also brought a book and a journal. I only sleep on my Nemo tensor (regular length, wide width) and an Outdoor Vitals air pillow. I’ll never sleep on a closed cell pad. The flask of Buffalo Trace wasn’t very light either.

    John “Jay” Menna
    BPL Member


    Locale: 30.3668397,-97.7399123

    Pillows.  I have tried a million things.  Now I use a $2 beach ball (24 inch)partially inflated to fill out a stuff sack.

    I just don’t have enough laundry to fill it and keep it from compressing to a pancake.

    Its big, fluffy and concave.  My head fits in the “hole” and it doesn’t try to slip away.

    Dondo .
    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado Rockies

    Yeah, pillows!  For me. inflatables weren’t cutting it anymore, so I went looking elsewhere.  Found this foam at Depot for $6.  Cut out two strips and put them inside an Ultrasil stuff sack that I already carry for clothing.   For packing, I roll both foam strips together and put them into a tiny stuff sack.  Total weight is 4.1 oz,  just 2 more than my Exped inflatable pillow and far more comfortable.

    Thomas G
    BPL Member


    I used to pack a Kindle too, but then it occurred to me to install the Kindle App on my I phone, which I carry anyway for photos and GPS

    Thomas G
    BPL Member


    Depending on where I am going, I may take my 31 ounce packraft, and then there is all the fishing gear to go with it…..

    Kelly C
    BPL Member


    Another great article Maggie!

    My gear “philosophy” is this:

    1. Simplicity

    2. Functionality

    3. Weight

    4. Cost

    Sounds like your’s is similar.

    Max L.
    BPL Member


    For me, sleeping is the most important. I got back into backpacking a few years ago and tried sleeping on a foam pad that would’ve been fine in my early 20s, but I think I woke up every 15 minutes. I moved to a heavier Therm-a-rest. It did a better job, but I still felt like I was waking up too much.

    So I splurged on a Helinox Lite cot, which is about twice the cost and weight of my previous pad. I sleep much better, especially in hot weather, which I hadn’t thought about before buying it. I use a gossamer Gear Thinlight pad when it’s cooler. My winter camping has all been car-based, so I haven’t had to figure out which warmer pad to get if I try winter backpacking.

    Hanz B
    BPL Member


    Prepackaged single serving  ghirardelli hot chocolate. One per day. Sorry not sorry.

    David P
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Tried the tracking pole tent setup before and the all out Dyneema (cuben fiber) approach. It’s just not durable for me and plus I’m not on unlimited budget to be spending on these toys. I find keeping my base weight around 12-15lbs is just fine for me. I’ve been working to save more weight on food more than anything else lately. I would always end up coming back with enough food to last me another day in the wilderness (like 1.5 to 2lbs worth).

    Elliott Wolin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia

    My weakness is I’m cheap.

    We don’t get out much (nothing this year, all the local places were closed) so my old gear has plenty of life left.  And since years ago I outfitted for five of us (kids gone now) I have plenty of extra stuff.

    So I expect I’ll be using a lot of gear that was once considered pretty light, but no longer is, for quite a while (e.g. Golite Speed, Pinnacle, and Trek, a lot of MYOG).  In fact, I outfitted through at least one gear revolution, so I have double (triple?  quadruple?) as much gear as I need, but the really old stuff is really heavy (Gregory Snow Creek over 5 lbs, Lowe Latok near 4 lbs, REI Crestline tent probably 7 lbs, and a lot of old white-gas stoves).

    On the other hand, I could outfit scout troop if it came down to it.

    Michael B
    BPL Member


    I like the idea of a weight budget – obviously less stuff feels better on the back, but sometimes less stuff makes the trip less enjoyable. Knowing how much weight I’m willing to carry helps me maximize my trip enjoyment, which is a multi variable analysis.

    Kathleen S


    Heh!  Being 60 years old, and still using VERY old equipment that’s been reconstructed and sewn back together with dental floss, I can relate to the “looks” you get in camp!  I still carry real books – no, really! – in ziplocs to pass any time stuck in my Yellowstone 2 tent ‘cuz of the rain.  Fun times!!

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