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Whats the weight/cost of convienince?
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Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
Whats the weight/cost of convienince? on 12/21/2008 15:33:41 MST Print View

In the working world cost is determined by an agreed upon value we place on commodities traded based on the effort required to make them. When we take things to the outdoors however there is a paradigm shift and our currency becomes weight or, rather, lack of weight. The less weight we carry the more value we can withdraw from the bank of nature over time, or so those of us that join these forums believe. Some things such as a sleep system or shelter are so intrinsically connected to being able to enjoy the outdoors over time we can tare their weights to an agreed upon maximum (I see 2lb max for each of the big three often mentioned). However at a certain point (different for each individual and situation), the stuff we carry rapidly increases in value(water treatment/first aid) But just as rapidly as the weight cost increases the value quickly plateaus and then begins to drop (not just for the items added after the plateau but it retroactively affects the value of previously added items. (Carrying two tents into sierras will negate the value of your 1 oz stove)

In a more extreme example if you are going sul and have everything under 5lbs and choose to add 60 lbs of rocks to your backpack not only does your outdoor experience lose value but it actually becomes an unpleasant experience and the items that previously allowed you to enjoy the outdoors now only prolong your misery.

Where a basic value is first included (sleep/shelter/food/water) then grows (light/map/fire) peaks and then rapidly drops (heavy boots/hatchets/)
And increases.
Things like outdoor skills and techniques carry a 0 weight cost and so are the best value in terms of this idea and highly recommended for increasing the value of your outdoor life.
With the combined efforts of those here I want to think we could find the coefficient of weight/value and make our gear choices less frustrating and justify those we have made, which was the birth of this concept for me (do I get the Lunar Duo or add 12 oz and get a big sky as a double wall and avoid the sil misting etc.)

So what is the cost of convenience?
I can see those theraband tensioners being pretty nice if they will keep a silnylon tarp/tent taught throughout the night and reduce wind shock. I myself always find a way to bring a heavier kitchen then most I see here so that I can fry eggs in the morning.

Just throwing it out there but say you rate every trip from 1-100 and each ounce helped contribute to or diminish the score I think averages would present themselves to help us make a comprehensive and fair maximum weight requirement for all things that go backpacking. And make it easier to decide if certain items should make it into our packs.
From things like:
20 degree bag....32 oz (0 points)
20 degree bag....22 oz (10 points)
20 degree bag....42 oz (-10 points)
To:
Camera 5 oz....(-5 points)
Photos (1-10 points (depending on the pictures))
Sunglasses 1 oz (1-10 points depending on conditions)
ya see? Everything with + points should come along and everything with minus points should be removed. The cost of all nonessential items is negative until the essential items are accounted for. Once every essential item required item is included and 100 points is reached every additional point should be treated negatively) I think with enough data a complete and comprehensive directory could be made that would set in place appropriate weights and what items to bring if you plug in the variable such as duration of trip, experience, forecast, and altitudes encountered. Which would reduce the cost both financially/emotionally/ and mentally of this wicked gear game. Who’s coming with me?

ps. should i get the lunar duo or the evolution 2p ;)

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
On the Weight Cost of Convenience on 12/21/2008 15:48:41 MST Print View

Sean:

Let me just make this easy for you (and the rest of the gang).

If your pack weight is much heavier than mine, then you are simply too tied to materialism and you need to get a life! If your pack weight is much less than mine, then you are a gram weenie and you need to get a life! My system rocks! :)

Edited by ben2world on 12/21/2008 15:56:50 MST.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Re: Whats the weight/cost of convienince? on 12/21/2008 15:53:17 MST Print View

Possibly, the Law of Diminishing Returns is related to this concept.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Law of Diminishing Returns on 12/21/2008 15:53:31 MST Print View

This law cannot be emphasized enough -- esp. on this forum! :)

Edited by ben2world on 12/21/2008 15:55:25 MST.

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
diminishing returns on 12/21/2008 15:56:14 MST Print View

but it is different because it drops below the maximum rather than just plateauing.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Re: Whats the weight/cost of convienince? on 12/21/2008 15:57:05 MST Print View

With backpacking gear, I usually don't factor in cost unless it's something ridiculously expensive. I use all my gear enough to make it worth while.

While I try to keep my carry weights low, it's not the end all goal of my hikes. I feel more comfortable carrying 25 pounds, but if I had to carry 50 on every hike, it wouldn't take away from my enjoyment at all. I frequently carry more on winter desert trips, work trips, or winter trips on the AT.

I've seen backpackers scrap trips when they realized they would have to add 15 pounds of water to their 15 pound total pack weight. So sad. Man up and carry the weight if you have to. You'll have fun as long as you don't spend the whole time thinking about an arbitraty number that you can brag about on on a message board.

If 60 pounds of rocks scares you from a cool trip, well, then you should man up or stop paying attention to all the marketing about how you HAVE to carry less to enjoy it.

Edited by TwoFortyJeff on 12/21/2008 15:58:59 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: Whats the weight/cost of convienince? on 12/21/2008 16:05:06 MST Print View

"If 60 pounds of rocks scares you from a cool trip, well, then you should man up or stop paying attention to all the marketing about how you HAVE to carry less to enjoy it."

Actually, most marketing would tell you to carry "more" to enjoy your trips and be safe.

Sean Walashek
(caraz) - F

Locale: bay area
re on 12/21/2008 16:09:58 MST Print View

I have been out enough to know that sometimes a trip can be less than enjoyable. That doesn't mean that carrying a heavier weight makes the trip bad but carrying 60lbs for no reason was an extreme example and would be stupid. I didn't explain it well enough for you to understand. The cost isn't the financial cost but intangible cost of weight not carried.

Edited by caraz on 12/21/2008 16:10:39 MST.

Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Whats the weight/cost of convienince? on 12/21/2008 16:13:02 MST Print View

Okay, that is very true. I would say that is the majority of the marketing. However, there is plenty of marketing for the UL cause as well.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
weight/cost on 12/21/2008 17:38:30 MST Print View

Lightweight camping is LESS expensive than traditional camping! This is a truism!

A 15 pound base weight is REALLY EASY, and is less expensive than a traditional base weight.

A 10 pound base weight is sorta easy, it requires some dedication, and is also not too expensive. Very little ultra-specialized gear required.

As you work to get lower, simply leaving a un-needed gear behind is an EASY way to save weight. But, it requires some skill and confidence.

Things get more expensive as you begin to try to get under, say, around a 8 pound base weight.

I'll add that I've scrutinized Andy Skurka's pack contents, and there is nothing fancy, he simply takes exactly what he NEEDS.

A titanium mug is really the only true example of a piece of UL gear that is MORE expensive than "trad" gear.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Good down is more expensive on 12/21/2008 17:46:08 MST Print View

A good down sleeping system also boosts costs above trad gear. Otherwise, you're spot on Mike. Below about 8 lbs, I believe it starts to get tough.

My 3+ season solo base weight is about 6.25 lbs with a poncho tarp. Full rain gear pushes that up 1.5 lbs. Right now the heavy things in my pack that could cut weight are my bag (~24 ounces, could go to about 16), pad (~8, could go to 4). If I want to cut my shelter, I need to go with cuben fiber.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: weight/cost on 12/21/2008 17:54:14 MST Print View

Mike:

To me, UL gear is more expensive than traditional gear in three areas:

1. Shelters -- both tarptents and UL tarps are more expensive than traditional equivalents.

2. Bags -- As stated above, UL bags (esp. high FP down but also quality synthetics) are much more expensive than a traditional, heavier Slumberjack or equivalent.

3. Clothing -- UL wp/b shell and insulation layers are generally more expensive.

But one can often save money going UL in packs and shoes.

Edited by ben2world on 12/21/2008 17:55:17 MST.

Bob Ellenberg
(BobTheBuilder) - F
There is no "right" answer to your question on 12/21/2008 17:54:25 MST Print View

Sean's assertion that we can agree on a value in points for every item and Benjamin's statement that there is a problem with one that weights more or less than his, makes my point--the answer is different for everyone. There are a few who would be unhappy campers with less than every piece of gear imaginable and a few who would fret with more than a 5# pack. However, most of us are somewhere in between and this forum is an excellent exchange of ideas. I constantly read them and with so much commentary feel I can usually make informed choices about what I will and won't like without much trial and error.

I will be interested to see the values others would assign to different items. It is simply more input to consider.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Bob is Your Man on 12/21/2008 17:58:34 MST Print View

Bob:

I completely agree. There can't be a right answer given so many variables -- both objective and subjective. IMHO, creating a spreadsheet with weights and points for everything can be a lot of fun -- but not widely applicable.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: SUL In A Box on 12/21/2008 18:26:23 MST Print View

I will sell you pack and all the gear you need with a total base weight of < 5 lb. The cost is < $2500.

The package includes how-to books, and a year's subscription to BPL.

All yours, right now.

The first 10 buyers will receive a free 'I AM SUL' tee shirt.

Call now. Operators are standing by.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Whats the weight/cost of convienince on 12/21/2008 18:29:27 MST Print View

I never see the point in having charts of that type. My objective is to take the lightest gear that I think will keep me happy and "safe" on a particular walk , so I am not going to switch to a lighter or heavier shelter because I need to take a heavier rain jacket or not. My backpack choice is based on weight and volume so again I will not switch to a lighter pack because I need to use a heavier sleeping bag nor will I use a heavier pack because I saved a pound somewhere else.
Maybe I am missing the point.
As far as buying lighter and (usually) more expensive gear, for me it is just based on what I can afford. If I can save a few ounces and retain my comfort level , I will; not because a chart tells me so, just because I can.
Franco

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
weight/cost on 12/21/2008 18:34:16 MST Print View

1. Shelters -- both tarptents and UL tarps are more expensive than traditional equivalents.

2. Bags -- As stated above, UL bags (esp. high FP down but also quality synthetics) are much more expensive than a traditional, heavier Slumberjack or equivalent.

3. Clothing -- UL wp/b shell and insulation layers are generally more expensive.

= = = = =

My comments.

Yes - true enough on all the points above. But, those items are in the realm of the 8 pound base-weight, where things begin to get expensive.

- - and - -

I would love to stop a "traditional" hiker on the trail, empty out the contents of his pack, and total it up (every single item) at full retail.

And then do the same calculations (with the dumping out part too) with a savvy ULTRA-light camper.

My gut sez the UL camper would come out MUCH lower in money spent, due to the minimized number of things (just a hunch, no data to back that up).

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Whats the weight/cost of convienince on 12/21/2008 18:48:25 MST Print View

As far as being more expensive, that's only if you go the "high end" UL route.

Look at my "basics":
Pack: GoLite Jam2- I got it here (used, but perfect) for $80, 21 oz.
Sleeping Bag: EMS Mountainlight, 800 fill down with a pertex microlight shell, $179, 31 oz.
Shelter: Oware Cattarp 1.1, got it used here, $40, 8 oz.
Bivy: Titanium Goat Ptarmigan, $99, 7 oz.
Stove: Supercat, 12 grams?, $0.79
Raingear: Driducks, $19, 12 oz.

the list goes on....

Now compare this with a TNF or Mountain Hardwear tent, bag, Gregory internal frame pack, water filter, etc...I built nearly my whole UL kit for the price of a MSR Hubba Hubba + big Gregory pack.

Where this UL/SUL thing gets expensive is constantly updating gear (which I don't do) and trying to shed more weight after you've already hit a minimum.
At this point I'd have to spend good money to get lighter (new pack, tarp, bag, bivy, etc.).

But the point is, if you're starting out fresh, it can be done pretty cheap in comparison.

Craig Burton
(MissingUtah)

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Re: Whats the weight/cost of convienince on 12/21/2008 19:25:17 MST Print View

Well, I've built both kits; and looking back I would venture to guess that the MSRP cost was about the same for each kit. The actual dollars transferred over leans to the UL kit being more expensive -- it's no secret that bargains can easily be found on "traditional" gear.

With that said, it should be noted that my "traditional" kit was much simpler than my UL kit. Between my bulky synthetic sleeping bag, softshell jacket, 5 lb tent, and pump water filter I didn't even have much room left in my 75L pack (yes, 75L!) to carry some of the stuff I carry today (like a sleeping pad, for instance).

My experience with the UL gear transition was frustrating, because I found it to be a case of trial and error -- not necessarily gram shaving. The good news is that my gear purchases have dropped off substantially in 2008. Nothing seems to wet my appetite anymore -- especially as they used to immediately following a "traditional" gear trip where body pains were a real issue.

As we age, as we get more ambitious, as we gain experience, I think it is a natural progression for a backpacker to carry lighter gear; so in the long-run, I think UL is much cheaper -- even with the trial and error process. I could be totally wrong on this though, because I've met plenty of aging, ambitious, experienced backpackers that continue to essentially set up homesteads every night in the backcountry. I wish I could do that, but my body strength simply does not allow me to; and it certainly won't allow me to 30 years from now.

Although I have a very analytical mindset, I don't think a value system would serve me much good (especially at this point); but it could have saved me plenty of frustration during the trial and error process. If value points were assigned, my #1 value would be just being out there, out in the backcountry. That value alone would far outweigh the cumulative of everything else. I just want to be out there, man!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: weight/cost on 12/21/2008 20:21:42 MST Print View

> 1. Shelters -- both tarptents and UL tarps are more expensive than traditional equivalents.
> 2. Bags -- As stated above, UL bags (esp. high FP down but also quality synthetics) are much
> more expensive than a traditional, heavier Slumberjack or equivalent.
> 3. Clothing -- UL wp/b shell and insulation layers are generally more expensive.

It is interesting to note that all that 'heavy' gear which is cheaper probably comes from China. They are big into the 'cheap mass market'.

Cheers