Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
trying to understand backpacking light
Display Avatars Sort By:
not myrealname
(icthy) - F

Locale: CO Front Range
trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 10:06:38 MST Print View

Hi, I'm a newcomer to these forums, and have been reading the gear lists with both interest and some confusion. I haven't been backpacking much in the last 10 years, but want to get back into it. I like the idea of less weight, but before I delve into gear, can I ask a few questions?

I take it one can backpack light now because of advances in gear technology that enable improved insulation for less weight. Is this the thinking?

Are there any compromises in "backpacking light"? Is the gear, for instance, more likely to wear out? Are you guys pushing the envelope somewhat, in terms of safety and staying warm?

(I say this in the context that I've never gone backpacking in the summer where we didn't get a significant snowfall and have a few rainy days).

Finally, here's what I think I would bring in terms of clothing for an expected minimum of 30degF. Would I want to go out and buy newer versions of all this?

waterproof shell
long underwear bottom
long underwear top
300 wt. fleece
nylon windpants that convert to shorts
down vest
wool socks
extra pair wool socks

Thanks, I appreciate your thoughts (and patience with a newcomer)!

Roger Homrich
(rogerhomrich) - M

Locale: California/Michigan
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 10:49:09 MST Print View


“I take it one can backpack light now because of advances in gear technology that enable improved insulation for less weight. Is this the thinking?”

Actually, folks have been backpacking light for decades and traveling light for centuries. This philosophy has much more to do with knowing more, packing less and maximizing efficiencies. That stated, modern lightweight materials have greatly helped this movement, but, at the core, it is really more about knowledge and less about ‘stuff’.

Here is a personal example of a transition to the light side:

When I started backpacking ‘heavy’… I was, equipment-wise, always ‘prepared’ for the worst case scenario, but knew little of my gear’s limits. Now, I intimately understand the limits of everything I carry and utilize it appropriately… allowing me to carry only what I need… not what I would need if I were somewhere else in some different season at the worst possible moment (like you see in the traditional gear advertising).

Again, it’s about the educated and appropriate use of a system of minimalist equipment.

“Are there any compromises in "backpacking light"? Is the gear, for instance, more likely to wear out? Are you guys pushing the envelope somewhat, in terms of safety and staying warm?”

Yes, there are a few compromises, but they are most definitely worth it. First off, there’s more responsibility put on the individual, there is a learning curve… and the testing.. and the odd cold night when you pushed your system too far… but that could happen with the heaviest of gear.

Fortunately, there is a place like this site that allows you to learn in a manner that is wonderfully effective. And yes, lightweight gear may often not be as durable as some traditional gear, but I find that it doesn’t need to be.

And yes, it’s both very safe and comfortable. I would argue that I’m much safer now because I know more and rely on gear less.

Maybe if we knew where you were going to be backpacking and when… we could better help you with your gear list.


John Brochu
(JohnnyBgood4) - F

Locale: New Hampshire
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 10:52:08 MST Print View

I'm certainly not an expert but I'll take a crack at answering your questions.

>>>I take it one can backpack light now because of advances in gear technology that enable improved insulation for less weight. Is this the thinking?<<<

Insulation is probably one of the few materials that haven't seen much improvement. We do have better quality down available now but it's not like a quantum leap forward. Much of the weight loss in insulation pieces has come from improved designs and in lighter weight shell materials.

An example of a design change to lesson weight would be a quilt versus a traditional sleeping bag. A design change for an insulating garment might be fewer or no pockets, a half zipper, etc. At the same time, lighter shell materials have become available.

>>>Are there any compromises in "backpacking light"? Is the gear, for instance, more likely to wear out? Are you guys pushing the envelope somewhat, in terms of safety and staying warm?<<<

For the most part, yes there are compromises. UL gear will in fact often wear out faster than traditional "bombproof" gear. In some cases though, the UL gear is cheap and easily replaced anyway... (i.e. - beer can pot or pepsi stove.)

As far as safety, I think that depends on the individual. Many people believe (and I'm one of them) that skills and decision making are far more important factors to safety than gear. Some people do choose to cut as close as possible, understanding that their margin for error is smaller and accepting that risk and responsibility. However, you can fairly easily achieve base weights of under 10 pounds these days with minimal to no increase in risk over traditional backpacking provided you are confident in your skills.

A lot of the weight savings (outside of technological advances in gear) come from three main factors:

1) multi-use gear

2) minimalistic philosophy

3) snowball (or anti-snowball) effect

* Examples of Multi Use Gear:

The big example often cited is using a poncho tarp which provides both shelter and rain protection and saves a ton of weight in the process. Another example is utilizing your sleeping pad as your backpack frame.

* Examples of minimalistic philosophy:

Traditional backpackers often carry "extra's" for comfort. Huge air mattresses, pillows, sometimes even things like camp chairs and lanterns. The dedicated UL backpacker strives to eliminate all gear that is not absolutely necessary to maintain their desired personal margin of safety and comfort. I used to think of it as trading comfort in camp for comfort on the trail, but improvements in both gear and my own skills has now made any trade off minimal.

* Anti-Snowball Effect:

At some point after applying multi-use concepts, modern designs and materials, personal skills, and the minimalistic approach - you will have reduced your gear weight to such an extent that you can now use a 10 ounce backpack instead of a 4 pound backpack, because you no longer need that heavy frame to support your light load. You can ditch the heavy boots and instead wear trail runners. You can carry 3 days food for a 60 mile stretch instead of 5 days food because you cover many more miles.

I think you should list your entire standard 3-season gear list and weigh every piece of gear. Then we could offer suggestions for things you can start doing to lighten your load. Most people do this as a gradual process over several years as they learn new skills and get comfortable with UL options such as tarps vs. tents, etc.

Good luck!

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 11:27:17 MST Print View

"Is the gear, for instance, more likely to wear out? Are you guys pushing the envelope somewhat, in terms of safety and staying warm?"

An anecdote on warmth and safety:

My wife and I are both in our upper mid-50's, and although we are in reasonable shape we are by no means athletes. A few weeks ago we spent three nights in the Grand Canyon, two at the bottom (Bright Angel Campground) and one at Indian Gardens. Our base weights were 11-13 lbs, 22-26 including food and a lot of water (too much it turns out, but we didn't know at the time).

We saw many other hikers, most with monster packs, almost all younger than us by decades, and most working hard, particularly on the way up. Yet we found the hikes down and up pleasant and not tiring (ok, we had some soreness in our down-muscles the next day, but no big deal). And despite lower than usual temperatures we were perfectly comfortable, and would be even if temperatures had dropped another 10 or more degrees.

Particularly on the way up we came across struggling, clearly unhappy people, unable to muster enough energy to respond to our saying hello to them on the trail. On the way up we never found ourselves breathing hard or unable to engage in conversation.

All because of our much lighter loads, and despite our relative lack of strength and endurance.

Who was safer, the young and fit with the heavy loads, slowly working their way toward exhaustion? Or us old farts, leisurely strolling up the trail, not breaking a sweat, enjoying every minute, with plenty of mental and physical energy in reserve?

(later...concerning "old farts" my wife says "speak for yourself!")

Edited by ewolin on 12/13/2009 19:35:45 MST.

not myrealname
(icthy) - F

Locale: CO Front Range
thanks on 12/11/2009 11:28:27 MST Print View

Thanks guys. It sounds like I need to get out and try different things. I live near the northern Colorado Front Range, and I've been inspired by the "24" videos, so I'm going to try and get out for some quick overnighters. I have 2 little kids, so I'll probably do some heavy backpacking and take them out on a couple short trips too.

I'll post a gear list (probably in a couple of weeks when i'm home from some travel) and get your sage suggestions on what to do. First I have to find the gear again.

Roger, to answer your question, I am hoping to get an all-around feel for how to improve my weight (somehow with age carrying 55lbs on my back no longer seems fun), and also get ready for a August 5-6 day trip either somewhere here in Colorado or in the North Cascades.

not myrealname
(icthy) - F

Locale: CO Front Range
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 11:30:34 MST Print View

Eliott, I can completely see your point. Most of my bad decisions have been made when I'm just exhausted. Then when I rest I get cold since my body is wiped out.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: thanks on 12/11/2009 12:22:05 MST Print View

"I have 2 little kids, so I'll probably do some heavy backpacking and take them out on a couple short trips too."

Talk to Doug Johnson about this. He backpacks with two little kids (one REAL little!) and I don't know that he does 'heavy' backpacking to accomplish it. Might be worth a PM or looking around this site a bit more.

not myrealname
(icthy) - F

Locale: CO Front Range
Re: Thanks on 12/11/2009 14:03:29 MST Print View

Cool, I took my son backpacking overnight (1 mile) and had our two sleeping bags strapped on, plus my ~10lb family tent, plus 5 nalgene water bottles (no water where we went). It was fun, but heavy!

Roger Homrich
(rogerhomrich) - M

Locale: California/Michigan
Re: Thanks on 12/11/2009 14:38:44 MST Print View

“Cool, I took my son backpacking overnight (1 mile) and had our two sleeping bags strapped on, plus my ~10lb family tent, plus 5 nalgene water bottles (no water where we went). It was fun, but heavy!”

Careful… some folks here may have heart failure hearing about ~10lb tents and 1 mile days! :) Seriously, lightening your load will allow you to travel much better with the kids… as you’ll probably carry some of their stuff as well.

Regarding such…

Everyone’s ideas will vary a bit, but the first questions I would have are, “Do you own much gear at the moment and do you plan on using it?” Most likely, you own heavy/traditional gear… what you may want to decide is whether or not, financially, you can at least replace the heaviest portion of it (pack, shelter, sleep system).

Don’t worry if you can’t change it all at once, as any step in the light direction will be worth it. If you can take care of the ‘big three’ mentioned above… simple, lightweight philosophies like multi-use gear can take care of much of the rest.

Secondly, don’t buy anything at least for a few months… except a postage scale. Educate yourself as much as you can during that time. You will learn and re-learn much over the next few months… we all are constantly learning! That’s part of the enjoyment!! …and why we are here on this site.

Also, don’t feel pressured by sub-10lb base weights, 40-mile days and cross-continental adventures. The most important things you can do to enjoy this process is keep an open mind, educate yourself, test everything and hike your own hike.

Finally, try to look over some 3-season gear lists for CO Rockies... I'm sure there are some in the forum archives. This will help you visualize some systems that work for others in your region. It doesn’t mean that it will work for you, but it’s helpful to get the big picture… even if it’s small and light.

Good luck!


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 15:16:13 MST Print View

Perhaps a read of Ryan Jordan's "Lightweight Backpacking and Camping" or Ray Jardine's "Trail Life" (among others) would be a good read for the original poster.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 16:03:21 MST Print View

If you do try and lighten your load, I agree that a postal scale and a making a gear spreadsheet (there are a few on here you can download) will help give you guidance. You can also check out the community gear lists on the right hand side of the webpage and see what other people use. I have gotten quite a few ideas from other peoples lists.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 17:09:20 MST Print View

The scale is indeed one of the best ways to start to understand where you want to make changes in your gear to lighten your load. Once you know what you current stuff weighs, it's much easier to see where you can get a real savings and where it's only a little bit - that way you can go after the big savings sooner and the little bits later.
It's very easy, when reading posts on a site like this, to get carried away by the discussions of the extreme edge of things. Having THE lightest pack out there is not the goal for most people, it's having the lightest pack that contains the things they really need to enjoy the trip they want to take, in the style they want to take it.
So the way I look at it is this; first you get rid of the stuff you just don't need, like anything duplicate, or items whose purpose can be filled by another item you are already carrying. When you've done that, then you can start looking for lighter versions of the things you do need. And as you gain more experience, you gain a better understding of what you really need.
I think the ideal is to come back from the trip having used every item in the pack except the first aid kit - you didn't need anything you didn't have, and you didn't have anything you didn't need.
Also, just because someone else feels they don't need a particular item doesn't mean you have to go without that item if it makes your trip more fun. Always remember that the most important measuring device for the backpacker is not the scale - it's the fun-o-meter. All other things being equal, a lighter pack is more fun - but all other things are not always equal.

Hal Potts
(halpotts) - F

Locale: Middle Tennessee
"trying to understand backpacking light" on 12/11/2009 17:15:58 MST Print View

Eloquently stated (paul). It's about the Fun.

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
getting light on 12/11/2009 17:49:32 MST Print View

In responce to you last question do you need to go out and buy new clothes.

waterproof shell
long underwear bottom
long underwear top
300 wt. fleece
nylon windpants that convert to shorts
down vest
wool socks
extra pair wool socks

No your list looks pretty good to get started again. There isn't a bunch of redundant stuff which is the key to being light.
I'll bet that your shell is really heavy, thats on place that new gear has gotten lighter. A puffy coat instead of the fleece and vest, but don't worry about it, go tramping.

For most people the clothes are not the heavy part of the pack, its the tent sleeping bag and the back pack itself.

I would like to know what other gear you have currently?
Also how experinced were you back in the day when you backpacked?

The first place i would start is with shelter and sleeping bag. Shelter weights have gotten so much lighter in even the last few years. Silicon impregnated nylon is your friend.

Do you have a good down sleeping bag? If not thats what i would buy, suck it up save the cash and buy a nice light warm down bag once instead of buying a cheap bag then regretting it then buying a nice one.

If you want you can get some pretty tough ul gear. I beat the tar out of my backpack bushwacking and climbing. Spent 4 months in asia throwing it on roofs of buses and giving to airport porters. It is over 5 years old and still going strong.

The thing that weights most people down are the little do-dads and random nice to haves. Don't buy the cute little things from REI, you don't need them, and you just waste money and pounds your back.

My last piece of advice is buy a new pack last after you know how small you can go.

Go light it is way more fun.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/11/2009 18:05:05 MST Print View

> I take it one can backpack light now because of advances in gear technology

The new materials make it easier for people to go light weight... but 10lb base weights have been possible for years. Today the skill level for light weight is a lower and comfort is higher for a given weight. The only commonly used material that hasn't significantly improved is down... though there are materials like aerogel which demonstrate that there are materials which provide significantly more insulation / weight than down.

> Are there any compromises in "backpacking light"?

Of is filled with compromises. In moderate conditions I think the compromises are pretty minimal.

> Clothing example...

Could you use your existing list? Sure. Can it be lightened? Yup. Should you? Depends. If your shell is a bombproof 28oz parka like mine was... switch. If it's light weight you might spend your time/money improving other things. I like the dri ducks which are 6oz and less than $20 and I have found to be more breathable that my old gore-tex jacket.

If the low is 30F... especially if that is the nighttime low when you are inside your sleeping bag then I would question if a 300wt fleece and a down vest and needed. I have found that a shirt, 4oz down vest, shell, and warm hat have been plenty. Maybe you could just leave the fleece behind and be warm enough.


Doing trips with kids don't require going heavy-weight. First, it's always good to have the kids' pitch in even if they aren't old enough to carry all their stuff. From an early age my daughter carried her clothing is entertainment. As shoe got bigger (and had a backpack with sufficent volume) she carried her sleeping bag and sleeping pad. I still carry most of the shared items... but that's isn't too bad. For example, I have carried a 24oz pyramid tarp which provided plenty of shelter for myself and two kids.

There are lots of good resources around. Enjoy.


Edited by verber on 12/11/2009 18:07:30 MST.

not myrealname
(icthy) - F

Locale: CO Front Range
thanksg on 12/11/2009 19:31:29 MST Print View

Thanks everyone. I guess I need to look through my gear and come up with a list.

Regarding my experience, I've done 4 or 5 summer week-long backpacking trips in cooler mtn climes (brooks' range, Canadian Rockies, Wind Rivers, Glacier,...). I've done a little snow camping, and a fair amount of day hiking in the Cascades. I've bushwacked a bit, could use a compass pretty well (although it's been awhile), but haven't really been out too much in the last 6 years (kids plus job).

It'll take a couple of weeks, but I'll try and get a list posted. One thing I know I need is a new sleeping bag, since my 15 year-old synthetic bag is feeling rather chilly these days.

Steve S
(idahosteve) - F

Locale: Idaho
learning light on 12/15/2009 07:56:47 MST Print View

I know that as a well traveled and experienced climber and backpacker, I was just blown away when I bought a postage scale and started weighing all my cool and "light" climbing gear! It was the biggest eye opener to me! My gear was heavy! Even the "name" brand stuff was way overkill for what I needed. Its a good way to start learning and piecing the needs vs. the wants or haves.
FYI, you can get a superb scale on ebay for less than 20$ including shipping. I started weighing all my stuff, and made a basic spreadsheet, and then the playing with numbers began. You can create a complete virtual gear list, with weights, prices for items to buy etc. Pretty fun way to pass the winter days waiting for the sun to come back out. Have fun! Learn a ton, and then get out there! My kids are loving the lighter packs and less gear. They are motivated to go packing now.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/15/2009 09:43:11 MST Print View

It cannot be emphasized how important the snowball (or anti-snowball) effect is in UL backpacking.

The best place to start is with Ray Jardine's Beyond Backpacking. It takes a low-tech approach to UL backpacking, and it is not overwhelming.

It goes like this: first, cut the pounds off of our list; then cut the ounces.

This is done by looking at your heaviest items, your big three (or four): shelter; sleeping system; backpack; cooking system.

Like many here, I started with a double-wall tent that clicked in at 6 lbs, a heavy genric synth bag with full-length Thermrest, a 4.25 pound internal frame pack. My saving grace was my canister stove.

When I started getting into UL, I went to a homemade tarp (<10 oz), a homemade frameless pack (17 oz), a blue foamer pad (8 oz, down from 24) and ponied up the cash to buy a decent down bag.

Instantly, I no longer needed the heavy pack, because I did not need its internal support or space. I no longer needed the tent because I realized I could stay warm, dry and safe with a smaller shelter. I also realized I could stay warm and comfortable with a closed-cell foam pad, and the pad could be used for my pack frame. And the compressibility of a high-quality down bag cannot be beat. Eventually, you start seeing your gear as a kit or a system. Everything compliments everything else.

With this simplification, you can make lists to take with you before the trip. Stick to the list, and weigh every item on it before you leave. When you get back, scrutinize the list, and eliminate things you did not need (this does not necessarily mean did not use). Then get out and do it again.

And yes, I have been cold on a night more than once when I pushed my system. (Many times have I been ribbed by friends for this.) But that comes with practice and determination. I believe it is almost inevitable if you push it too hard.

On gear: it is really, really easy to go overboard and spent oodles of cash getting the latest and greatest. Don't. Purchase smart after thorough research. Lots of UL items will last you years upon years if you take care of them properly. High-quality down bags come immediately to mind.

Welcome to the forums, and you will learn much.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
trying to understand backpacking light on 12/15/2009 11:32:28 MST Print View

Just for comparison, here's the clothing I take for trips in places like Wyoming's Wind Rivers where it can snow any time and most nights are frosty--I plan for 20*F. I use the same clothing for shoulder season in the Cascades. For Cascades summers, I omit the vest and headband. I try to follow the UL creed of no duplicates (except socks)--I want just enough clothing to stay warm when I am wearing all my clothing at the same time.

Rain shell jacket
Rain shell pants
Baselayer top (lightweight)
Baselayer bottom (lightweight)
Lightweight nylon shirt and pants (supplex or similar) (shirt only in bug season; otherwise I use my baselayer top as hiking shirt)
Puffy insulated jacket (Montbell Thermawrap, 8 oz.)
100 weight fleece vest (5 oz--I trimmed off the hand warming pockets since I have those in the puffy jacket)
2 pr. wool socks
Fleece sleeping socks (my luxury item)
Wind shirt (3 oz.)
Polypro fleece balaclava
Thin polypro liner gloves
Rain mitts
Sun hat
1 set undies (bra and panties)

The big weight saver over what you have is my puffy jacket (8 oz.) vs. your 300 weight fleece (which I'll bet is 2 1/2 to 3 times that weight, and a lot bulkier). When I used fleece for a jacket, I used 200-weight, which added to your vest, baselayer and waterproof shell should be plenty warm enough with a warm hat and gloves. I don't wear shorts (with sun sensitivity, bugs and cosmetic reasons, I prefer to keep my legs covered) so don't need zip-off pants. Out here in the Cascades, there's a lot of hiking in soggy hip-high vegetation, which is why I like the separate waterproof pants. (If it's warm I just get wet, since the supplex nylon dries really fast.) Stinging nettles, often found in such areas, don't mix well with shorts!

I use the headband, the lightweight fleece vest and wind shirt primarily for body thermoregulation while hiking, mainly if the wind chill factor gets down to about 40*F or below. I don't want to get chilled, but I don't want to sweat, either. IMHO, your down vest might be a bit too warm for that use (you definitely don't want to sweat into down insulation). The puffy jacket and balaclava go on over them for rest stops and for sitting around in camp, if needed. I have a down sleeping bag so use synthetic for clothing insulation--I am reluctant to put all my insulation eggs, as it were, in one basket. Your Mileage May Vary! If you're really careful to keep it dry, there's no reason you couldn't save even more weight with a down puffy jacket.

Lots of UL folks use their sleeping bag as part of their total insulation package so take either less insulating clothing or a less-warm sleeping bag. I prefer to have a little more warm clothing because I like to sit around in the evenings, often away from my campsite, enjoying the view or the sunset or whatever. That's one reason I'm in the "lightweight" rather than the "UL" category. There have been a few times when it has gotten into the low teens (F) or lower and I've gratefully worn all my outer clothing inside my 20*F sleeping bag!

There are techniques which help, too. One (which I forgot to use on my last cold-weather trip) is 10 minutes or so of vigorous exercise at bedtime, which gets your metabolism cranking out lots more BTUs (or the metric equivalent) to warm up that sleeping bag! Another is keeping your critical insulation (insulating clothing and sleeping bag) dry at all times--including being prepared for immersion (slipping and falling while fording a stream--it does happen!). A third, already mentioned, is regulating your clothing layers in cold weather so you don't get your insulation wet from sweat.

Edited by hikinggranny on 12/15/2009 11:52:50 MST.

Troy Ammons
(tammons) - F - MLife
Re: trying to understand backpacking light on 12/15/2009 15:08:53 MST Print View

1. Insulation is about the same with the exception of a few new synthetics.

Primaloft and climasheild, pretty much blows away the old stuff. Polarguard in its days was a s good as it gets, but very heavy. My 35dF snowlion polarguard bag weighed as much as my snowlion -40dF down bag.

There were 900 loft bags back in the 70's although very expensive. I have a 10" loft -40 snowlion bag from the 70s that weighs 4#. That would be considered UL even today for a true -40 bag. I used CCF pads back then too, also UL for the day.

What has changed IMO is more of a total minimalist approach, double duty gear use, IE gatewood cape and the like, quilts, lighter pads, much lighter tents, frameless packs made of lighter less durable materials less and less equipment, also insulating layers doubling as bag extenders etc etc. I did not know many people that backpacked that used a minimal shelter back then. A 5# tent was about as minimal as most wanted to get, and most people had a 5# bag and a 5#+ pack.

Now that is more like 5# total.

Quilts, bivys, UL tarps and frameless packs probably made the biggest impact.

Nylon cloth has changed a lot since my main backpacking days back in the late 70's and early 80s. The lightest weight nylons are about half the weight of the old stuff, lightest then I knew about was 1.9oz ripstop. Lightest coated was more like 2.4 oz.

DWR came along which is a godsend, Cuben, epic, momentum etc. Silnylon as opposed to coated etc.

That said everything everybody is doing now could have been done back then too with a slight gain in weight, like maybe 1-2 pounds more, with some ingenuity.

I think the ultimate UL hiking kit from the stone age was the one they found on the Iceman. Very interesting. The knowledge you could gain from traveling on foot with a human like that 5000 years ago would be awsome.

2. IMO there are some compromises in durability in the long term. 1oz ripstop has to be taken care of. Cuben even more. UL Packs too and you just cant throughthem around like a cordura pack.

Most people doing a through or a long hike now would probably buy a new pack for the trip. My old Kelty Cordura Alpine pack is 35 years old and still in good shape and I was rough on it over the years. I did rebuild it not too long ago. There is a price to pay for lightness in materials.

Compromises in safety I think varies more with skill level. A novice can get soaked in a $400 tent, while an Ex marine, might be bone dry with a bivy and a poncho. One thing I will say is that I think a strong dome freestanding tent is still more secure than a tarp in high winds. Again how a tarp is set up makes a big difference.

I think the hammock trend was an awsome idea. Funny back in the day you could not have given me a hammock. I was a 100% tent guy.

Off the ground with more comfort just makes too much sense. DIY is very cheap.

I used to hike with a 25-30# base weight, even way back when. That was on the light side. Some of my friends were 10-20# heavier, ouch. I allowed myself some luxuries I dont take now. As I look back that was heavy, but at the time, everything quality was just heavier.

2# cook kit with stove vs my 4 oz set now.
5# tent vs 2# tent now.
3.5# pack vs 1.5# pack now

That said after a while I ditched the stove and fuel just started cooking on a fire so that saved some weight back then.

These days IMO a 6# big 4 is a good goal for 3 season. 6# big 4, 6# for everthing else, 4# for 2L of h20, 10# of food for 5 days, puts you at 26#. Add 2-3# for winter depending on where you are.

Total weight of about what my base weight was back then.
Of course if you shop wrong, you can end up at 25# base weight now too, and pretty easily especially if you pack a lot of non essentials.

SUL gear can be expensive.

Your clothing selection looks good but fleece is heavy. You can change that out later.

Edited by tammons on 12/15/2009 15:12:59 MST.