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Every Ounce Counts
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Every Ounce Counts on 04/20/2010 14:55:49 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Every Ounce Counts

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Every Ounce Counts on 04/20/2010 17:50:37 MDT Print View

Good story Luke

Agree that is it fun to go as minimum as you can and then, when you want, to add back a "luxury" or two. The experience of actually going as light as you can (whatever that weight is to each individual) is life changing IMO.

Lanny Myslicki
(Pyre80) - MLife

Locale: The Rockies
re on 04/20/2010 21:48:35 MDT Print View

Great story, Luke. My pack weight is dropping from 35ish pounds of 2 years ago to under 15 right now, and I'm planning on a Skyline trail hike this summer. I will show your story to my buddies that think that more is better, and give me a hard time for my 1 oz stove and 2 pound tent. If people realized that less weight means faster and/or farther and/or easier, instead of just doing without, maybe they would appreciate lightweight a little bit more.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
traditional on 04/20/2010 22:32:12 MDT Print View

Once a customer at my store told me about their up coming skyline trip taking 4 days for 44km. I asked why so long and they said they were doing it fast. I then told them I was doing the North boundary in jasper (179KM) in 7 days, and they thought I was nuts and thought that it wasn't possible. then I gave them this website.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
@ Luke i think we have the same style on 04/21/2010 05:23:12 MDT Print View

my approach is get everything as light as i can but not sacrifice comfort. That means repackaging everything, dehydrating, cutting straps, etc. Summer Full SO is about 20-23lbs (which is light in my book and including hammock setup, gps, extra socks), winter full so 27lbs. Again no problem to carry, lots of luxury. I could immediately cut a lb with a switch to a different pack from my aarn FF(aoubt 2.3lbs), but why? The Aarn ff is the most comfortable pack i've ever used, no need to. I still make huge miles with my current weight. There are some changes i would like to make though, replace spinn hammock tarp with cuben one, make a cuben hammock w/ bugnet instead of a sil hammock. This would probably cut me another lb, and would be amazing. Anyway enough rambling.

So Luke what do your weights look like now? I mean your full so weight, when your at the trailhead taking your first step, whats your pack weight? I don't care about what clothes your wearing, just your pack.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/21/2010 05:59:19 MDT.

Jonathan Ryan
(Jkrew81) - F - M

Locale: White Mtns
Re: Every Ounce Counts on 04/21/2010 05:51:09 MDT Print View

Great article. I have been doing the same thing. Did a few crazy light trips but now slowly the comfort items are creeping back in.

Lanny Myslicki
(Pyre80) - MLife

Locale: The Rockies
Re: traditional on 04/21/2010 06:54:06 MDT Print View

10km a day is fast? We've done 25km days and that's still not as quick as I'd like. My first trip with 35lbs to Mystery Lake by Jasper was 12km each way and I'm told I flew for my 4 hours in, 3.5 out. I said I was slowed by retying my shoes every other step. I will have to return with my new pack, see if I can be in and out between breakfast and lunch.

Luke Ludwig
(ludwigl) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: @ Luke i think we have the same style on 04/21/2010 07:54:31 MDT Print View

Isaac - I just got back from a 3 day trip in Itasca State Park and my pack weighed 14 pounds 3 oz, with a base weight of 9 pounds 5 ounces. If you count my camera (37 oz) which I carry slung over my shoulder, not in my pack, then my weight was closer to 16 pounds 8 oz.

Lucas Boyer
(jhawkwx) - MLife

Locale: 38.97˚N, 95.26˚W
re: on 04/21/2010 08:04:04 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing your experience Luke. It's a bit embarrassing to admit how much stuff we carried in our packs before lightening up. You bring up an important topic in your choice to bring back some luxury to your hike. It's easy to get in the tunnel of mileage and weight, one must go up and the other down. Rather than treat base weight/mileage as a cause/effect relationship, we need to remember that lightening up also instills confidence, provides less distraction when we stop for the night and have to sort through a locker full of gadgets, and simplifies the overall experience. Some will declare heresy as I say this, but looking at the gross number of things vs. the weight of things is the best means of lightening up for myself. For example: I'm sure I could put together a multi-piece foam pad for less weight than a full length ridge rest, but I prefer the one stop shop that allows me to roll it up and strap it and go, opposed to fiddling w/ 2 pieces of foam and finding a place for each. Less gear means more than less weight. It means more focus on the hike; more focus on the surroundings. A seamless interaction with one's natural surroundings.

Charles Hill
(chuckster) - F

Locale: Georgia
nice job! on 04/21/2010 08:15:36 MDT Print View

Excellent testimony Luke! From one extreme to another and back a little. I'm still working on reducing my pack weight but like you I need the comfort of shelter with the ability to keep out mosquitoes. As most of my hiking is in the south and bugs can be a real problem at night, my Tarptent Rainbow at 34 oz. is tough to beat.

Edited by chuckster on 04/21/2010 08:18:24 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Every Ounce Counts on 04/21/2010 09:58:03 MDT Print View

Nice Luke---Deja Vu and comfort counts.

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Every Ounce Counts on 04/21/2010 11:15:30 MDT Print View

Glad to hear of others who don't sacrifice everything to minimize weight.

I never "overshot" on the weight thing because I'm so cheap, and I seem to have settled into the 10-14 lb baseweight range, depending on conditions, at least for a while. As equipment wears out I will replace it with lighter equivalents (as long as it doesn't bust the bank), and I'm currently sewing synthetic insulated jackets to replace my heavier fleece stuff.

I would also add that I don't overdo it on the mileage, either. At my age (mid-50's) my feet and bones just can't take too many hours on the trail.

Thanks for your insights.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: RE: Every Ounce Counts on 04/21/2010 11:29:54 MDT Print View

>> Elliott said: At my age (mid-50's) my feet and bones just can't take too many hours on the trail.

Amen, my Brother! : )

Andrew Mazibrada
(cohenfain) - F

Locale: UK and Western Europe
Equilibrium on 04/22/2010 06:54:55 MDT Print View

The parallels with my own experience are notable but, I suspect, not extraordinary. I'm English & often, from my perusal of BPL, different situations apply. For me, height as well as distance are fundamental, climbing hills & wild camping high for an amazing morning view. When I, 12 years ago, first started a multiple-day trek in the Lake District, 10-12 miles a day with a heavy pack, 5 cotton t-shirts, jeans and other insane packing decisions, I was astonished that others would do a similar hike in a 35 litre pack rather than 60! Bless the Aussies!! Now, some years on, I'm hillwalking with a base weight of 4.5kg but I could possibly get that down to 4kg - any lower & it would not be fun for me. Summer tarp camping seems like a feasible option in valleys but camping above 800m in the UK under a tarp, even in Summer, carries the risk of such inclement weather as to make the whole proposition potentially very unpleasant. I think that may be why some US manufacturers are not as popular in the UK & vice versa. I've read numerous critical reviews of one of the most popular 1 man tents in the UK, the Terra Nova Laser Comp being too warm in the US. Conversely, in anything other than 2 season use, I find the Big Agnes Seedhouse SL1 rather draughty above 800m. There is a balance to be struck between terrain, season, personal comfort & what you seek to achieve but there are constants in your seasonal kit lists, no matter where you are & what you want to do. Sites like this & stories like Lukes keep us informed to make decisions about what we want carry.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Every Ounce Counts on 04/22/2010 09:44:45 MDT Print View

Just enjoyed looking through the photos on your Web site, Luke. They bring back some memories as you and I have visited quite a few of the same places.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
RE: RE: RE: RE: "Every Ounce Counts" on 04/22/2010 10:15:21 MDT Print View

Great article! I really enjoyed it. :)

craig crowther
(crowie) - F
lightweight benefits on 04/25/2010 14:35:39 MDT Print View

Good article.....when walking in aussie often come across other walkers struggling with heavy packs...of 25kg plus
lightweight is the only way to go.....the article refreshed memories of adventure walks when a teenager with friends
we carried everything in heavy canvas packs, leadweight sleeping bags, 2 burner gas stoves and yes the....cast iron camp pot....
thesedays my pack with all food and water weighs less than 10 kgs...for a 4-5 day walk

Edited by crowie on 04/25/2010 14:36:20 MDT.

rhonda rouyer
(rrouyer) - F

Locale: deep south
what about lighter food? on 04/26/2010 13:09:37 MDT Print View

I too have come a long way in lightening my load, from an 8lb eureka to a 3 1/2 lb spitfire to a 1 1/2 lb Tarptent Contrail! Lighter bag and pad etc. Don't want to be uncomfortable though. One hike I took a 3/4 length z rest and used it for seating and sleeping. Found I really missed my crazy creek chair and not enough padding at night. But what about food? I can get my pack weight with out food and water to about 18 lbs and then when i add about 4 days of food and a liter of water I'm up to 29lb. Which is still much light than I was at 42lbs!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: what about lighter food? on 04/26/2010 13:29:22 MDT Print View

Rhonda, if I did my math correctly, that is 11 pounds of food for 4 days. Doesn't that seem a little heavy? With careful planning and repackaging, you ought to be able to get that under 2 pounds per day. However, getting it much under 1.5 pounds per day will have compromises. My low limit is 1.3 or 1.4 pounds per day.

You can get away with some nutrition compromises for just a few days like that. Hey, you may drop a couple of pounds of body weight. No big deal. In the long term, you may want to pay closer attention to balanced nutrition.

I've found that I can go a long way on a little food weight as long as I have a few snacks and plenty of water during the day. For hot meals, I have lots of rehydrated soups. After a week, though, I will crave solid food.


Rakesh Malik

Locale: Cascadia
Great article! on 04/26/2010 15:42:12 MDT Print View

I'm still working on lowering my pack weight, so I don't qualify as a lightweight, let alone ultralight, backpacker yet. Your experience sounds quite a bit like mine. I went from a 65 pound starting weight to around a 40 pound starting weight so far (I'm targeting a starting trip weight of around 40 pounds), and even that much has made things much easier.

The biggest change I've made was to leave my digital SLR at home (that dropped close to 10 pounds from my pack), travelling only with a point and shoot (Canon s90) and my Arca-Swiss monorail. Other things are less redundancy and a lighter stove (saved a pound on the stove alone). Up next are a lighter shelter... after that, a quilt, which will lower my pack weight by another 2.5 pounds or so in total.

Even though I'm not there yet, and my total pack weight will always be non-trivially higher than that of a true ultralighter, I'm a convert. And most of the reason for the higher pack weight is the 4x5 camera, film, changing bag, lenses, filters, and tripod. And the extension rail.

I'm really looking forward to doing a lot more backpacking this summer... more backpacking means... well, more backpacking, which is enough of a victory by itself, but it also means more photography, which will in turn lead to yet more backpacking.