Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Ultralight Economies of Scale: Budgeting for Your Pack & Wallet
Display Avatars Sort By:
Jeff K
(jeff.k) - F

Locale: New York
Re: Crowns and grams on 08/29/2009 06:58:26 MDT Print View

For those that can't read Sweedish, a decently translated version from google is available at the link below.

English Translation

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
which scale do you use? on 08/29/2009 13:21:10 MDT Print View

Nice piece Brad. Started a similar journey years ago, worked out nice light systems in which items have multiple functions if possible, sold off almost all of our old heavier less functional gear, etc. and still completing that journey (quilt or sleeping bag and NeoAir are last items to switch out). Just curious, which scale did you buy, how much was it and where did you get it? I've been using post office scales forever, spoiled by nearby post offices, but can justify a scale for home office use as well.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Ultralight Economies of Scale: Budgeting for Your Pack & Wallet on 08/30/2009 06:14:15 MDT Print View

I echo what others have stated. I may not be UL but getting close. I was raised that you get what you pay for, and if you can't pay for it, make it. Quality goods last a lifetime. It seems like in the UL community, there is plenty of quality goods with all of the small cottage businesses that we support. I pretty much have the gear that works for me and still paring down the weight with the smaller items. I will finally have my sleeping system complete and that will be the end of my Big Three. This has also fallen into my non-hiking life as well. I dusted off the sewing machine and am back to making my own work clothes. Or shop at the thrift stores.

Great article, Brad!

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Budgeting comments on 09/07/2009 13:10:57 MDT Print View

I'm back from a great trip. Thanks for all the great comments! I was surprised to see how much crossover there was between my daily and backpacking life. It takes a lot of self control to not "just" buy that mid-day drink... and it can also be hard to not "just" add that one extra something to the pack.

EJ, the scale is a random thing I found on Ebay or Amazon or something. Digiweigh, 1000g capacity, 0.1g accuracy... and cheap.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Budgeting comments on 09/07/2009 13:53:12 MDT Print View

Nice article Brad. I have a Pitney Bowes 2kg electronic scale for pre-trip planning and gear selection. But when travelling abroad I find packroom for a cheap 2kg spring balance which I use to carefully plan our return flight weight allowance with. We tend to go handbaggage only.

As with all good pieces of UL kit, it's multi-purpose. I also have it dangling from my pack strap when I buy food on foreign markets. It's a sort of talismanic threat which seems to be effective with street traders, I've had a few laughs and comments about it in unknown languages.

On the rare occasion I manage to hook a fish I weigh it to calculate cooking time too.

Well worth it's ounce it is.

Edited by tallbloke on 09/07/2009 13:56:44 MDT.

Megan Parker
(mkparker919) - F
Great advice on 09/11/2009 15:17:20 MDT Print View

Thanks again for your generosity in sharing a rainy-day shelter on IRNP, Brad, and for inspiring me to begin my ultralight journey. Glad you had a good trip!


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Great advice on 09/12/2009 17:25:39 MDT Print View

Hey, Megan! Sounds like you, Heidi and Jan got back in one piece... Have fun with the journey!


John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
2 years and 2 hikes and I was converted to Lightweight Hiking on 12/02/2009 22:07:21 MST Print View

Hike number one was a section of the AT begining at Hot Springs, NC with a total "wet" pack weight of approximately 34 pounds. My empty pack weighed in at 4 lbs 13 ozs! So much for the goal of sub 5 pound base weight. I bought it on sale solely for its large capacity. So I believed I was spending my hard earned money wisely. This pack now gathers dust. No money or weight was saved by this purchase. My tent weighed just under 4 pounds. I had it for years and saw no reason to buy a new one. My sleeping bag weighed in at a tad over 3 pounds and my 3/8" closed cell sleeping pad added 10 ozs. Totaled up the "big three" bordered on 12 and 1/2 pounds!

I was carrying things like an 8 x 10 urethane nylon tarp for a rainfly to be used with my tent. I had no idea of dual use and that my tarp could be my tent. My tarp was a 1 pound 11 ounce never used weight. Also in my pack was a 1 pound first aid kit that an EMT would be proud to carry in his ambulance. Good money was spent on both of these items and neither was ever used. I was prepared with my bear bag kit and "just in case" I had an extra 50 feet of double braided 1/8" nylon rope. Let's just say that I was well prepared for camping but not for hiking. Worst of all I wasn't having any fun.

Hike number two was in Cheaha State Park in Alabama. My new pack weighed 2 lbs 7 ozs empty. My sleeping bag was 1 lb 2 ozs, my closed cell 24" wide pad cut to torso size wieghed @ 8 ozs due to its 3/4" thickness and my shelter had become a 2 lb 12 oz hammock and rainfly. My big three total was now weighing in at 7 lbs 13 ozs. I was learning to go lighter. Funny thing about this process my wallet also got lighter. My hard plastic water bottles had been traded in for recycled "sports drink" bottles. These bottles were the turning point and the begining of my fiscal responsibility in going lightweight. The 1 pound first aid kit was replaced by a 3.5 oz quite adequate solo kit in a ziploc bag. It was put together by dividing a newly purchased 7 oz kit into a pair of 3.5 oz kits. That makes one for the day pack and one for the trail. The 1 pounder rides in the emergency bag in the rear of the family car. I had dropped 4 lbs 11 ozs and a ton of cash but my total "wet" weight was still 27 pounds. I was lighter but not lightweight. I enjoyed the hike but in my estimation I was a 50/50 hiker/camper.

Today I am preparing for hike number three. I hope to be doing a section of the AT ending in Damascus, VA. Thanks to the MYOG articles my pack is a personalized version of Jay Ham's SUL pack. Ironically I used my old urethane nylon tarp for the material to sew this new pack. No new money was spent in the construction of this pack except for two spools of thread. I have made the turn towards going lightweight on my back and my wallet. I haven't weighed this pack as yet but the tarp weighed 1 lb 11 ozs before I started cutting into it. Since only a little over 1/3 of the tarp was used in the construction of my new pack I estimate it to weigh @ 12 ozs. I have kept my 1 lb 2 oz sleeping bag and 2 lb 12 oz hammock and rainfly. I replaced my 8 oz pad with a 3/8" torso sized pad that simply has to weigh less since it is 20" wide and half the thickness. Since I do not own a digital scale I will guesstimate its weight at 4.5 ozs.

All totaled up my big three weigh in at 4lbs 12.5 ozs. I loaded up my gear from hike number two's pack into my newly sewn pack and used the venerable pack on, pack off, bathroom scale method to ascertain my new total wet weight of 14.5 lbs.

This new pack is not the final version. Already I feel my wallet getting lighter because I see where I can correct some errors and make improvements. The prototype used only already owned items of gear and two new rolls of thread. To construct the new and improved model I ordered some supplies. My investment will still be under $30.00. I still have plenty of the tarp left over.

Gear lists come and go but these are some examples of items in mine. I wear one set of clothes while carrying another in my pack. I wear one pair of socks and liners while carrying two other pairs of each to rotate. I use a pack liner so gone are the half dozen 2 gallon close and seal bags and the pack cover. Pack organization is achieved through the use of two urethane nylon stuff sacks made only to the size necessary to contain their contents. I hike between early June and late October. I check the almanac and the weather often before I set out. Therefore I carry no raingear as it is usually warm and I am already wet from persperation during the hike.

During hike number two it rained on my hiking partner and I for nearly 5 hours. I used my poncho to cover my pack but I let the rain keep me cool.

I progressed from 8 plastic tent stakes to 8 aluminum stakes to the 4 titanium stakes that I carry now.

Gone are the heavyweight mid ankle height waterproof boots. I now wear low quarter trail runner style hiking shoes.

I am considering replacing the rainfly on my hammock with a 6 oz lighter and larger version from the same manufacturer. I just felt a sharp pain in the area of my left hip pocket!

My toothbrush is cut down and my trowel is shortened and full of lightening holes.

cut down and lightened plastic trowel

I must admit that I am tempted to go back to the ground. I have been oohing and aahing over a l lb 9 oz tarp style shelter complete with bathtub floor and bug mesh. It could bring my big three down to 3 lbs 9.5 ozs. Ouch! There's that sharp pain again.

My conversion is ongoing but not complete. To paraphrase a saying that I have heard I look forward to the day when, "We who have hiked so far with so little are now qualified to hike anywhere with nothing".

Party On 2010,


Edited by Newton on 12/04/2009 23:45:53 MST.