- Dec 25, 2015 at 10:54 am #3372374
This is a question implied by this thread that I didn’t want to hijack…
Have you ever seen a piece of gear designed to perform 2 or more dissimilar functions that performed any one of them (let alone all of them) as well as the dedicated gear?Dec 25, 2015 at 11:12 am #3372375
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
My air mat that I sleep on, I also roll up burrito style, inside my pack, on the outside and put everything else inside that. The mat provides some stiffness.
My tent pole also fits in a sleeve on my pack to provide stiffness. Many people use trekking pole for tent pole.
Sometimes, a multi purpose item does neither function very well, like maybe a poncho tarp, although that probably works well for some people.Dec 25, 2015 at 12:39 pm #3372385
Gary DunckelBPL Member
“Sometimes, a multi purpose item does neither function very well, like maybe a poncho tarp,” or a spork.Dec 25, 2015 at 1:14 pm #3372388
Tipi WalterBPL Member
I would say my crocs do two different jobs—One as camp shoes and the other as creek crossing shoes, vital in the winter or when it’s a must to keep my boots dry. Oh, and a third: As a sit pad on long reststops, esp in the snow.
** Floss: For teeth and repairing gear.
** Of course people will say hiking poles—for hiking and for shelter pole.
** The top lid of my backpack turns into a nifty and usable daypack for long water runs—
A tent pole can also be used as a handy Meditation Device thereby bringing Concentration and possibly popping open the Third Eye.Dec 25, 2015 at 1:16 pm #3372389
Jerry and Tipi point out examples of repurposing an item intelligently. To me, this is a foundational element of UL technique, and these items do multiple duty due to human ingenuity, not because their designs were informed by second or third use cases.
A poncho tarp and a spork are examples of things that are specifically intended to replace two things but IMO don’t work as well as either one. To me, these are examples of attempting to solve a problem that does not exist…reference the bivy/backpack.
I started this thread specifically because the collective experience of this group must surely, if it exists, have found one of these elusive “designed for dual use” items that really works.Dec 25, 2015 at 2:01 pm #3372393
I’m racking my brain and can’t think of a single thing that is DESIGNED as multiple use and isnt a fail. Packrifle rishing pole FAIL, sandals with bottle opener FAIL, anything with a bottle opener FAIL, pack/shelter FAIL, Poncho tarp can be good for the weight but kinda sucks.
Best i can come up with is a headlamp with a lantern globe attachment (but only for weight savings and coolness). Or that MSR spork with a stove tool, but that should have been a spoon.
That being said, im looking through my notebook of backpacking inventions and thinking i should get some funding! haha.Dec 25, 2015 at 2:24 pm #3372394
Jim ColtenBPL Member
I’m not sure if this adequately meets John’s definition of dissimilar functions but …
For two July weeks in the Sierra Nevada a size large GossamerGear sit pad was used:
Dec 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm #3372403
- as it was manufactured for (sitting) on occassion
- padding/insulation under my lower legs every night
- padding between my back and the bear can every day (I use a barebones GraniteGear Virga pack, no inherent padding nor structure)
>>Or that MSR spork with a stove tool, but that should have been a spoon.
Exactly! And was that stove tool as good/effective as the dedicated stove tool? :)
To my mind, the multiple uses of the sit pad fall into the “ingenuity” category as it’s design is not tailored or altered for those uses.Dec 25, 2015 at 4:55 pm #3372409
John, it seems a key point of your question isn’t striking home, although you’ve specified clearly — designed for multi-use, not just something designed for one use that I might find a way to use for another purpose.
My Gatewood Cape is not as good as a purpose-designed tarp or as purpose-designed rain gear would be, but for me it comes fairly close. Trekking poles used to support a shelter don’t really qualify — the poles aren’t designed for multi-purpose though there are shelters designed around trekking pole support that render the poles “designed” for dual use, so if that allows them to qualify then they do just as well as trekking poles and as shelter support.
Maybe the only thing I have that would meet the standard of being designed for multi-purpose and fulfilling those functions as well as single-purpose gear would be the caddy that’s part of my Caldera Cone Foster’s pot cook kit. It protects the pot from being crushed as well as need be, and it serves as two food bowls or a food bowl + cup without compromise.Dec 25, 2015 at 6:21 pm #3372418
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Clearly designed to be multi-purpose, I wouldn’t take the five bottom objects (plus tweezers) on a camping / tourist trip given the option of a basic Swiss Army knife. On a UL BPing trip, I take a SAK Classic (and a P-38 GI can opener, if needed).
The reduced utility in each of its roles is more than made up by its reduced weight, bulk, sharing a handle and being a “one stop shop” for so may tasks.Dec 25, 2015 at 6:45 pm #3372426
JR – perhaps I’m just being too narrow minded…and simultaneously railing against all these stupid combination gizmos people keep trying to sell as UL. If your Gatewood ticks all the boxes for you then I think that is great, and it clearly satisfies my (perhaps too narrow) definition.
David – THATS IT! Each of those tools, in the same size as the SAC, would be less convenient and no more functional. A perfect example of what I could not identify.Dec 25, 2015 at 7:05 pm #3372432
James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
A designed sleeping pad of five layers to provide a frame to my Gossamer Gear packs. it works as a 50″ pad with my legs covered by my pack. Like several sit pads combined into one pad, yet does double duty as a frame for the pack, too. And it provides cushion against my back. Not sure if this is what you had in mind, though.Dec 25, 2015 at 7:25 pm #3372436
I had thought about a SAK, but I don’t really consider that multi-gear. To me it’s a collection of individual tools bolted together, which isn’t really multi use for the same one tool (it’s not as though the tweezers can be used as a a knife, etc). And even David admits to the SAK’s “reduced utility”. In that sharpie-things category perhaps something like the Kershaw Toucan, which uses the same blade as a knife and as part of a pair of scissors, could fit the criteria.
John, I do think the question is a fair one and not too narrow. If you were asking about general dual-use there’s a whole sub-forum for that, after all. I believe underlying your question is a belief and experience that says that nothing designed to do more than one thing can do both those jobs as well as two separate items each optimized to do a single job. Generally I think that’s true, what it really comes down to is the kind of trade-offs you incur for the benefit of reduced weight and bulk, and often the dual-use gear scores a win with the UL crowd, but can it equal or beat the single-purpose gear just on functionality? Rare.
In my professional life I get involved with a lot of companies’ new product concepts, and I usually roll my eyes when they have a description of their new product that includes the phrase “the best of both worlds.” Often the customers will say no, it’s in fact the worst of both worlds.Dec 25, 2015 at 7:47 pm #3372438
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
“Reduced utility” in so much as if I was in my kitchen, opening cans all day long, I’d want the bigger can opener. For going on a picnic and more so for a backpacking trip, I wouldn’t want to bring all those “better” tools for a once-a-day use. The multi-user handle (one handle, used by all tools), is more than “bolting the tools together” – some tools come out one end, some out the other, and the corkscrew comes out in the middle, right where you want it.
Similarly, on a UL trip, I find the 21-gram Classic to be right-sized. The knife is perfect for opening packaging and cutting UL cordage. For a few things that might arise for minutes each week, a larger blade might be nicer, but then I’d have to carry that larger blade and handle for hours and hours over miles and miles. Having now skinned a bear with such a blade (I need to post about that), I struggle to imagine a use in the woods, on a fast & light trip, where I’d want more knife than that.
Little known fact: That little hook next to the corkscrew and phillips screwdriver on some, larger SAKs? It is really handy for carrying a pail, 5-gallon bucket or heavy plastic grocery bag is you want that weight spread over more of your palm.Dec 25, 2015 at 8:00 pm #3372441
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
Leatherman Micra is a good multi tool
I usually don’t use it but occasionally it comes in handy, and doesn’t weigh much
Not multi purpose though : )Dec 25, 2015 at 8:32 pm #3372444
Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Best multi purpose item. The brain.Dec 25, 2015 at 8:35 pm #3372445
Its a good question, and its gotten me thinking. Multiple Use and good at both is a good design goal to shoot for but its a little unrealistic. For both tools to work as well or better, they would need to benefit from one another. Like a tarp somehow being made better by a built in hood, and the cape being made better by the tie-outs. I’m sure its possible and we will think of an example. I think designed multiple use gear generally involves a bit of compromise. The tools arent likely to be AS good when combined, but they often get the job done, and for little or no added weight. Like a camera mount on a trekking pole, yes there are better camera mounts, but they probably weigh more than 2 grams added to your LT4.
Oh and we collectively made fun of the spork but Lite My Fire sporks, for me, are better at both in some cases because the opposing end makes a large area to thumb grip. The titanium one especially, but the plastic ones are pretty sweet for 3 dollars. FireMaple ripped off the titanium version and (i dont have one) might have made it better by squaring the tip of the spoon so its better at scraping the bottom of the pot…..assuming the spoon still has decent volume and the fork is somewhat stabby.
Anyways, thats the best i have come up with so far.
Cool post, thanks. I accidentally came up with an idea for a beer coozie of sorts while thinking about it.Dec 25, 2015 at 9:08 pm #3372450
Oh and i guess the MSR tool IS made as a spoon now, if not always. So that might qualify, cuz the tool makes the stem nice and wide. Idk about the tool, i always use an alchy stove, but the long handle probably gives leverage.Dec 25, 2015 at 9:32 pm #3372454
jimmy bBPL Member
In short, no. Of course I could stretch things a bit to make it so by saying a certain well designed multi purpose item works better than 2 poorly designed dedicated items but I don’t think that’s apple for apples or in the spirit of the OP’s question. If you are dedicating the designs to one purpose and are not restraining the designs by any certain parameters I cant see any way in making it a fair fight. Of course in UL BPing many parameters enter into the overall package and with the weight issue being the 800 lb gorilla many things work well enough in a practical manner to make good sense to live with the compromises.
Now if you want a great discussion on compromising designs just log on to a sailing forum someday and ask what the perfect boat is in any given class ;) Some are faster to wind, some faster off the wind, some more stable, some more agile, others are better in light winds than those in heavy. ALL, thought, will agree NONE are best at everything.Dec 26, 2015 at 5:11 am #3372469
David, I’m agreeing with you — reduced utility yes, but still plenty enough utility to justify the trade-off. And I concede that the handle of a multi-tool is in fact truly multi-use =)Dec 26, 2015 at 6:27 am #3372477
Awesome discussion. May I offer a couple of “definitions” that may help focus this moving forward…
“Multi-use” – an item for which one can identify a use that is different than that for which it was designed. This generally is a function of human ingenuity and creativity and IMO one of the key elements of UL and why we do this. Examples: Sleep pad as pack stiffener, Trekking Poles as shelter support. There is a forum specifically for this topic and it is amazing to see the ingenuity of some people.
“Multi-purpose” – an item whose design is informed by the requirement that it perform 2 or more tasks (perhaps tasks considered to be generally unrelated). These tend to show up in Gear Deals :)
It is this Multi-purpose category that poses the “problem” of functionality tradeoff. As several have pointed out, it is possible that the tradeoffs are acceptable from a weight and/or simplification standpoint, noting that such acceptance is a very personal decision. The fact is, I see so very few of these carefully considered and well tested Multi-purpose items, most being of the “Hey Ya’ll, I just invented a combo headlamp-can opener-foot massager and it ROCKS…visit my KickStarter page”.Dec 26, 2015 at 10:58 pm #3372617
jimmy bBPL Member
Well after reading through my spread sheet more than a couple times and giving this some considerable thought I did come up with one item that can truly dual purpose without sacrificing anything to either use.
My wife’s right side hiking shoe. It does just fine protecting and supporting her foot while hiking mile after mile and also does equally if not better kicking my ass if I get out of line!Dec 26, 2015 at 11:12 pm #3372618
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
I just want to say that this is one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking threads that I’ve seen here in awhile, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it not only for its philosophical value, but for the inspiration to take a practical second look at my own ultralight framework.
Excellent discussion!Dec 27, 2015 at 10:08 am #3372651
Daryl and DarylBPL Member
@lyrad1Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
How about a Pulaski?
I know this isn’t for lightweight backpacking…….just testing to see if I’m understanding your newly formed “multi-purpose” definition correctly.
I nominate it as “multi-purpose” for the same reasons that David nominated the Swiss Army Knife.
As David pointed out the shared handle is a biggee for multi-purpose potential.Dec 27, 2015 at 10:13 am #3372653
rick .BPL Member
@overheadviewLocale: Charlotte, NC
I’m voting 2nd for the Gatewood as the only thing that I have that answers your question.
Its a perfectly good tarp, as good as if it wasn’t multi-purpose, with the bonus of being usable (but not perfect) as a poncho/pack cover. I’m pretty sure that’s the right way round.
I daydream about how to add a seam to remove the excess, so that the ponch mode is better. But I’m happy enough to not bother. Ideas for the coveted cuben version, hint hint.
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