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Getting from 13 to down to 10?
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Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Getting from 13 to down to 10? on 09/19/2009 17:28:51 MDT Print View

I recently got back from this 4-day trip. As you can see on my gear list, my base weight is hovering around 13 lbs. I'd like to get it down to 10 pounds without dropping anything from the luxuries list, switching to a tarp or spending more than $200. Is this possible? What am I missing?

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Getting from 13 to down to 10?" on 09/19/2009 17:49:22 MDT Print View

Try pouring out half of your water, its not in your base weight but its still on your back. Ali

Steven Thompson
(stevet) - M

Locale: Northeast
getting down to 10 on 09/19/2009 18:07:05 MDT Print View

I don't see a path to 10lbs, but here are a few considerations that can get you close to 11:
* if your tent has a floor then no ground cloth
* thin light pad - bring this only if expecting temps below freezing
* not sure what EVOO is, but have you ever used an entire ounce? if not, reduce the volume
* no fork, make do with the spoon
* no mug, drink from the pot
* no filter. if the water runs clear rely on the tabs.
* no baselayer bottoms, only if temp warrant
* 1st aid. I am minimalist extreme (2-3" leukotape, 2 2nd skin, 2 2nd skin blister pads, 5 bandaid w/ 3biotic, safety pin) and you may not want to go this far, but think if you examine closely you can manage the 1/2 the weight in your kit
* spare battery. just change it prior to the trip
* leatherman and the big knife. 11oz here. Swiss Army Knife classic less than an ounce. I know this breaks your guideline, but 9oz is a big penalty.
* pencil instead of pen

Mostly involves scrubbing the list and leaving more stuff at home and bringing them only when the weather or itinerary requires them.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: getting down to 10 on 09/19/2009 18:17:31 MDT Print View

Adding to Steven's ideas --
Use your bandanna as a washcloth
Eliminate as many stuff sacks as possible, rely on the pack liner to keep your bag dry
Leave the extra briefs home
Ruthlessly cull your utility and repair items

If you want iPod + radio, the new iPod nanno has an FM radio. If you really want to get to 10 lbs (or below), some (or all) of the luxury items will need to go...

Edited by jdw01776 on 09/19/2009 19:29:28 MDT.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: Getting from 13 to down to 10? on 09/19/2009 19:21:08 MDT Print View

Gordon, Your pics are awesome...nice report. I believe you can get below 10 lbs without spending any money. What I do after most trips is highlight every single item that did not get used. Then I make a hard effort to eliminate it. I also take a look at every other item and ask myself "how would I have handled not having this item?" and then make every effort to get rid of it. Next I look at each item left and ask what is a lighter option and what would that cost. Be hard on yourself.

Things that you can eliminate...every single luxery item can go. Next your steak dinner looks great but it is costing you a lot of weight. Drop the dinner and every item you that you used to eat the dinner. the plate, the fork, that huge knife, the skewers to cook it. You will also drop a lot of the weight in the food too.

Drop half the stuff from your first aid. If you could only take half what would it be. I take duct tape, 2 gauze pads, antiboitic ointment and some pills (ibuprofin, psuedofed, imodium, and bendryl). When I get cut I stop the bleeding with my bandana and apply duct tape. This kit weighs under an ounce. Along with that drop half the items in your repair kit.

Drop some major clothes. Drop the smartwool shirt, smartwool leggings, and extra underwear. If you are in 20 degree plus weather you do not need these items. What I don't see is any raingear...did I miss this?

It looks like you have 4 items to cut with (razor blade, leatherman, 2x SOG's). Drop three of them, keep the razor blade only.

For the kitchen I would spend a few coins. Ditch the bushbuddy (I'm sure I'll get enemies for this). If you want to cook over fire just build a fire. Or buy a 550 tri ti from Ti goat. You can now cook as a fire, esbit, alcy and your pot will weigh less and you pot will be sized to use as a mug so now you can drop the mug. Convert all meals to freezer bag cooking or Freeze Dried.

If you want to drop bigger weight buy a ID poncho tarp for like $85 and buy a Ti goat bivy for another $100'ish and drop the tent. Now you will have rain gear too. Just try this once and see what you think.

For more weight consider dropping the neo air and replacing with a 3/8" thinlight.

You should be able to drop items to get weight below 10 lbs and buy a few items to get weight below 8 lbs.


Edited by jshortt on 09/19/2009 19:26:48 MDT.

Jack G
(NomadJack) - F

Locale: Midwest
Getting from 13 to down to 10? on 09/19/2009 20:58:01 MDT Print View

Most already said.

TP and Purell at 4.5 oz is really heavy. I would get this down to 1-1.5 oz. 1/2 oz for purell and 1 oz at most for the TP. You have purell listed twice under both hygiene and utility/survival.

I would drop the paper towels and face size wash cloth and carry one larger shammy type cloth. The one I use is 15"x15" and is about .5 oz. A small piece of kitchen sponge for washing dishes. Should save about 1 oz.

as mentioned you have a lot of stuff that can be cut. Some of it (like toothpicks and lens cleaner tissue for ex.) don't really weigh anything but it is also less stuff to deal with.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Getting from 13 to down to 10? on 09/19/2009 21:45:58 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing those photos. I especailly liked two of your photos...Mount Adams and the one with Goat Lake and Mt. Ranier. That is what it's all about. I like how the rows of trees in the second photo define the underlying geography.

I agree with Jamie on most points. However, just in case we ever hike together, I think you should continue to take steak. It doesn't count in your base weight anyway!!

How many radios are on you list? Forget extra batteries and a 1/2 lb knife for a September hike. Who are you talking to on your 2-way?

I used to take a monocular, but decided that it wasn't worth the weight. How often did you use it and how much benefit/enjoyment did you get from it?

Notebook? Did you fill it up? Take a sheet or two of paper. Transcribe it later. After seeing your photos, I have to believe that an hour out on the trail is much more valuable that an hour at home.

Your first aid kit sounds big for 4 days. Ask yourself...If you didn't have that stuff, what's the worst that could happen. Diarrhea pills & duct tape are most important.

Washcloth & bandana?

You don't need no stinkin' extra underwear. OK, maybe I didn't phrase that the right way, but you get the idea.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Getting from 13 to down to 10 on 09/19/2009 22:42:20 MDT Print View


Carefully consider your definition of "base weight". Among long distance hikers, this is usually defined as the sum total of items carried (on your back) whose quantity and weight will never change (you won't use it up and need to replace it) during your hike.

Hence itms you will use like TP, Purell, soap, water treatment chemicals, tooth paste, vitamins and Rx, etc. are not part of the base weight; they are considered to be "Consumables", just like fuel, food and water. Their weights decrease daily as you use them, and increase at resupply points as you replentish your inventory.

First aid and repair kits do count in base weight because although they MAY get used and refilled, you did not plan to use them; they are there for unplanned events only.

Note that all of this is an exercise in semantics whose primary purpose is to obtain bragging rights to a base weight of X pounds. No matter how you categorize and quantify the items, your total skin-out weight (the sum of ALL items worn and carried)remains the same at the trailhead.

A 4 pound base weight plus 24 pounds of consumables plus 8 pounds on your body still weighs 36 pounds when you start up the trail.

Edited by wandering_bob on 09/19/2009 22:51:03 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Getting from 13 to down to 10 on 09/19/2009 22:48:13 MDT Print View

Carefully consider your definition of "base weight".

Lol. Bob, are you an accountant? ;-)

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Getting from 13 to down to 10 on 09/19/2009 22:59:08 MDT Print View

Nope! A retired Quality Engineer/Statistician.

I just get a big kick out of the constant and often unrealistic efforts exerted to see who can come up with the smallest base weight, especially when there is no definition of such important variables as (1)the season of the year (2)weather conditions (3) type of area in which this gear will be used, and/or (4)length of time you'll be out.

We used to stand around the locker room in Junior High School and try to determine who had the biggest.... well, you get the idea. Same foolishness.

Edited by wandering_bob on 09/19/2009 23:01:44 MDT.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Getting from 13 to down to 10 on 09/19/2009 23:15:56 MDT Print View

We used to stand around the locker room in Junior High School and try to determine who had the biggest....

... adjustable trekking pole?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Gear List on 09/20/2009 01:03:09 MDT Print View

Wow...your pack, shelter and sleeping gear are really light. These sections combine for just 5.3lbs. For comparison, my pack/shelter/sleeping gear weighs 6.6lbs, yet my total pack weight is 10.5lbs. So I've got 3.9lbs of other stuff and you've got 7.6....nearly double.

1) Are you sure your MontBell Down Inner Jkt weighs 8.5oz? Is it a XL or XXL? Montbell specs these at 7.3oz and that's for the new version that was released about 2 weeks ago. The older ones which presumably you have should weigh about 6.5oz for a medium.

2)IMO, yours (and a lot of peoples) bear bag kits are overdone. I use thin 2.5mm cord (1g/ft) and carry about 40 ft of that for a total weight of 1.5oz. You're carrying 4oz of bear bag stuff... this seems unnecessary. Just get used to tossing a stick or rock and leave the sack at home OR use another one of your stuff sacks (peg sack?). No need for the biner....just tie a knot.

3) What kind of wool gloves do you have? 2.0oz is good.

4) That baselayer top (7.4oz) is heavy. My short sleeved Patagonia Capliene Tee is 4oz. I'm a fan of very light baselayers because you shouldn't be relying on these for insulation. IMO, baselayers are about dealing with sweat/moisture. There are far more weight efficient ways to insulate that using heavier baselayers. I have fleece pants that weigh less than your baselayer bottoms and even these pale in comparison to something like Montbells down pants.

5)Holy first aid kit.....but then again you are carrying a lot of potentially really helpful stuff. It's your call whether you need all this stuff. You might be able to cut this down to 3-4oz. Mine weighs 1.2oz but I know I'm not carrying enough.

6) Is the Leatherman necessary if you are already carrying sissors? I have a 0.5oz Buck Hartsook knife which might be a better choice if you want a blade.

7) Wow that SOG Seal has got to go. I'd ditch the radio too and just bring the iPod Shuffle.

These suggestions will save you about 23oz....half way to your goal of 10lbs. Total cost is maybe $50. I think you really gotta look at your clothing to save more weight. This can get expensive, but you'd be better off carrying Montbell's U.L. parka instead of your jkt and the 2oz beanie. Your hiking pants are heavy (but so are mine). Consider the BPL Thorofare pants at 4oz. They weigh the same as just your zipped off legs so you'd be strolling down the trail with 9oz less. 3oz boxers? Get some 2oz ones.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
the big four look good to me on 09/20/2009 12:40:43 MDT Print View

looks like a dandy trip!

unlike a lot of folks posting you have a very nice "big 4" weight- I would think w/ this as your foundation you should be able to get to 10 lbs (or darn close) relatively easily

I need to preface all my comments w/ you are lighter than me :)

I agree w/ several of the other posters on the knives/tools- I've carried a whole plethora of different knives and tools and have finally settled on the swiss army classic at a svelte 0.9 oz- I can gut fish w/ it, cut salami cheese, etc- the scissors are used daily cutting foil on water tabs and are quite sharp and precise.

I think w/ a little work you can whittle the repair kit down to a oz or so (do you need a whole roll of tenacious tape?, the entire neo air kit?, extra line- could be "borrowed" from you bear kit in a pinch, etc)

same drill on the first aid kit, little whittling here and there should be able to get it into the 2-2.5 oz range

also I have to agree that 4.5 oz for soap and tp sounds very high for a four day trip

the radio is a 1/4 of lb that maybe could be left behind

Ti skewers would lower the weight (I bout some Ti bicycle spokes as BPL doesn't sell their Ti rods any longer)

I repackage my DEET into a micro dropper bottle- it only weighs 0.3 oz and there is more than enough for 4+ days

the filter is pretty light, but might consider going to tabs alone- it's worked well for others (me included)

fork and a spoon- maybe a ti spork?

the list looks pretty darn good overall, but I am like you - would someday love to get mine in the 10 lbs range

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Getting from 13 to down to 10? on 09/21/2009 10:14:16 MDT Print View

As others have pointed out, getting rid of "luxuries" costs nothing. You can easily keep your self occupied without these. I did not do the math, but I could get this nearly in half. Also, I think some of the items you 'wear' are really base items. Yeah... people stuff things in their pockets and on lanyards to play around with the base weight.

My input:

Drip the sit pad. Use you Thinlight pad instead.
Drop the pack liner in favor of the stuff sacks, or even better, drop the sacks in favor or the liner.
Do you really need a thermometer.
Drop the water holster. The Murmur side pockets are perfect for water containers.

A Wild Oasis weighs almost half of the Contrail. Poncho/tarp even lighter.

I would replace the NeoAir and Thinlight with a torso size GG 3/8" pad.
Bag sack is reduntant with a liner.
There are much lighter bags/quilts, but would exceed your $200 limit.

Cuben fiber sack much lighter.
Wet ones not needed.
A spork can replace the spoon and fork.
There are lighter options for Camp Suds that are multi-purpose.
Do you really need salt & pepper?

A Caldera system will save weight.

Do you need that much capacity?
Drop the filter. Micropur tablets are enough.

Pet finger brush. Reduce the amount of paste for short trips.
I use Dr Broners for all cleaning. How much TP are you bringing? Just need a few sheets.

Clothing Packed
Do you need a stuff sack? If so, get a cuben fiber.
Stuff sack for Down jacket not needed.
Wear your SmartWool top for hiking.
Is the SmartWool bottom really needed>
Wear the pant legs or leave them at home.
Smart Wool beanier is redundant - you have a skull cap in your kitchen.

First Aid
6.25 oz. Par it down to 3 oz easily.

Gear Repair
Floss? Needle/Thread? Your tape can probably handle the need instead.
12 Feet Spectra Line. Use the guylines from the tent in an emergency. What else would break that tape could not fix?
If you drop the NeoAir for a foam pad, repair kit not needed.
Zip Ties. Not needed.

Do you need a headlamp? A photon works great for my lighting needs. Really don't need it that often and do not carry a spare battery.
A Swiss Army Classic knife weighs less than 1 oz.
Drop the Leatherman.
Purell - you already have soap in Kitchen & TP bag.
Mini Carabiner - not needed.
Ear plugs?
Lens cleaner tissues?
Classic knife has a tooth pick.

iPod - not needed. Listen to the trees, wind, birds, etc.
Radio - not needed. See above.
Moncoular - not needed. Use your camera.
GPS - not needed. You have a map & compass.
Steak Knife - no comment!
Metal skewers - cooking over fire when you already have a stove.

Worn or carried
Wool Shirt - wear your base layer instead.
Pocket knife - replace with a Swiss Army Classic and get rid of redundant items in you pack.
Nikon - wow! 52 oz. I really consider this part of the base. Is it necessary or can you use something smaller and lighter?
Bandanna can replace your washclother, Wet Ones & paper towels.
Notebook & pencil - means you do not need the pen in your pack. I consider this base weight.
Another compass?

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
My thoughts on 09/21/2009 12:26:45 MDT Print View

The first thing that pops out to me about your gear list are all of the cutting devices.

Razor Blade .125 oz
Swiss Army Scissors .25oz
Leatherman Squirt P4 2oz
SOG Seal Pup Elite 9oz
SOG Flash 1 1.3oz

That is 10.675 ounces of cutting devices. Do you really need all that? It seems overly redundant. I carry a 0.6 ounce Spyderco Ladybug and it is more than enough knife for anything I have ever needed it for. If you really wanted to cut the weight, you could just carry the Razor Blade and Swiss Army Scissors.

I would ditch the ground sheet. The Contrails sil floor should hold up fine as long as you are careful where you pitch it. Painters’ plastic doesn’t provide much protection anyways.

The mug you have is quite light, and I see you like coffee and tea, but I would suggest just drinking out of your cookpot. You should at least try it on a trip or two; I bet you don’t miss the mug.

Speaking of the cookpot, is there any reason why you need a pot that large. If it is just for solo use, I use a 600ml Evernew pot that only weighs 3.4oz. Six ounces is a lot for a solo cookpot.

If the Smartwool baselayers are for sleeping and camp, I suggest using polyester or silk. I love to hike in wool in cooler weather, but even in the winter use Capaline for my sleeping clothes because it is so much lighter. Wool is just too heavy to carry.

You could lighten your beanie a bit if you really wanted. My Mountain Hardwear Micro Dome (100wt fleece) is just over a ounce.

Your First Aid kit seems rather heavy, but I have to say is one of the most complete kits I have ever seen without having a bunch of useless items. My only suggestion might be to lower the quantities of some of the items.

There are a few things you could get rid of in your gear repair kit. First off do you need the floss if you already have a needle and thread? What about the Velcro? Could you not tape anything instead of using Velcro? You could probably even patch your NeoAir with the Tenacious Tape if need. I would also ditch the Specra line and “borrow” some of my bear bag line if I was in a emergency and needed it.

In the utility and survival section I would get rid of the spare battery of the Ion. I would also get rid of the Carabineer (you already have one with your bear bag kit), the compass (you already have another compass and a GPS), and pen (you already have a pencil.

As for your luxury items, I know you don’t want to give any of them up but, do you need the iPod and the Radio? Also what is the Monocular for? And, I know some people like them, and depending on the type of hiking you do, it may be a great asset, but I would consider dumping the GPS and just use a map and compass.

That steak dinner sure does sound good, but it is terribly heavy. I am not saying you should give it up, but that is a lot of weight for one meal. Your camera also weighs a ton, but I realize that there are limitations to what my little 5.5oz camera can do, particularly in the hands of someone that knows what they are doing (in photography, that counts me out.). I have just always thought that hiking with a large DSLR and associated lenses would be awkward.

Gordon Smith
(swearingen) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Lots of great ideas, thanks! on 09/22/2009 02:55:36 MDT Print View

Wow, lots of great ideas here, thanks folks! I wish I had explained the big knife up front though as everyone seems to want to comment on it. That knife is not something I normally carry, it was simply part of my "steak experiment", as was the steak itself, the skewers, the fork and the paper plate. I'd never taken a steak before and wanted to try it. I'm not sure if I'll take one again or not. It was quite tasty but also heavy and time consuming to cook. The Bushbuddy stove was an experiment as well, also with mixed results. As for the knife, besides being a good steak knife the Sog Seal Pup was intended as a backup tool for campfire cooking and for the Bushbuddy, allowing me to access dry firewood if needed by batoning into large chunks of deadwood. This area had gotten a lot of rain and snow the week prior to my trip and dry wood was a concern. Perhaps I should have left the knife off my gear list, but it's an item I did actually take and there's a photo of it in my report.

As for the other suggestions, some will work for me and others won't. For instance, my clothes seem to be mentioned quite often, but this is an area I've tweeked a lot over the years. I have lighter base layers, lighter shirts, lighter pants, all that. But this set of clothes is the minimum I'm comfortable taking on a trip like this. Being September in the NW at 6000+ feet, clear nights can easily dip into the 20s. There was snow here just the week before. Add a 10 or 15 mph breeze and the Contrail becomes a mighty chilly place to sleep, even with the sides nailed to the ground. At least with my bag/pad combo it does. Add to this the fact that if it does get that cold & breezy I'll have to give up my down jacket and put it over my dog. Yes she has a jacket of her own and yes she sleeps on a 1/2" foam pad and she sleeps inside the tent. So in this scenario I would need every single stitch of that clothing and the silk bag liner and I would still sleep cold. But I would sleep. Would a 25 degree bag and fewer clothes be lighter? Perhaps, but that's $$ I don't want to spend right now.

You guys have definitely gotten me to rethink some of my other gear choices though and I thank you for the input. It really helps to have someone look at your gear from a different perspective. I don't know if I'll get to 10lbs from here, but 11 should be pretty easy.

Thanks again,

Edited by swearingen on 09/22/2009 04:35:47 MDT.