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The Big Three or Nine or ?
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John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
The Big Three or Nine or ? on 08/29/2010 21:47:51 MDT Print View

Quite often we speak of reducing the weight of the big three that we carry.

Is it really three?

I just read over my gear list and "my" big three add up to 3 pounds 15.95 ounces. This is a respectable light weight. Included in this weight are:

4.9 oz pack

2.1 oz pack liner

13.05 oz tarp

8.45 oz bivy

2.0 oz inflatable pillow

20.45 oz top quilt

9.0 oz sleeping pad

3.55 oz titanium stakes (12)

.45 oz stuff sack

totaling up to 63.95 ounces.

The number of items is actually 21. My dozen Ti stakes are held in a mesh bag. the stuff sack holds my tarp, bivy and inflatable pillow with case. Oh! Oh!, my item count just jumped up to 22.

My point is that the purpose of the big three is to provide a container to comfortably "pack" and carry your "shelter" and your "sleeping" equipment.

The pack contains the gear and the liner keeps it dry. The tarp won't work without stakes. The bivy serves as my ground sheet and bug protection. I sleep on the pad under my quilt with my head on my inflatable pillow with case. :-)

We speak about everything in our packs working as an ultralight system. None of my big three will work on their own. the pack needs the liner to function correctly. My tarp needs the stakes. My top quilt needs the sleeping pad and ground sheet (bivy).

Yikes! I just remembered that I use my trekking poles to support the rigeline of my tarp. That's another 1.46 pounds and 2 more items.

That adds up to 24 items and 5.45 pounds. It seems that I have yet to achieve SUL status. :-)

My point? My "big three" only weigh 2.12 pounds but they won't work without the other 3.34 pounds of gear that I carry.

For me the big three should be the pack, shelter and sleep "system".

Party On,


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Big 4 on 08/29/2010 22:11:07 MDT Print View

I think the Big 3 concept centered on cost and weight. I've said that it should be the Big 4, with clothing being the other item on the list, and one of the most confounding of the bunch.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: The Big Three or Nine or ? on 08/30/2010 09:42:52 MDT Print View

The big 3 is nothing more than the 3 items that typically weigh the most, shelter/sleeping bag/backpack. It is typically used for those looking to go lighter, probably not those who have already achieved enLIGHTenment ; ).

Edited by jshann on 08/30/2010 09:44:15 MDT.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
The Big 3 on 08/30/2010 09:57:23 MDT Print View

John Donewar:
You've actually got the Big Four listed:

I always go with what I call the Seven Holy Nylons:

Everybody carries these seven. Ya gotta have a pack/buttpack/daypack/hobo sac on a stick, paper bag, etc. You gotta have a shelter/shower curtain/bivy/tent/hammock with tarp. The pad is the only one of the 7 that some few dispense with entirely but not many do in the winter. And everybody wears clothing(I think), and carries food and water. The total weight package always has to include these seven, in addition to boots, ditty bag, books, camera, etc.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: The Big 3 on 08/30/2010 10:02:37 MDT Print View

Nylon water?:)

Maybe they'll come out with silnylon water so there can be water-resistant water.

Dehydrated water would be the pinnacle, though. Think of the weight savings. Breathe on a cup of water and your breath would start a chain reaction rehydrating the water.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: The Big 3 on 08/30/2010 11:22:57 MDT Print View

Water's not a requirement to carry. It's a consumable. On some trips I do not carry any water, but I do carry a small bottle and drink as I go.

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Big 3 on 08/30/2010 12:10:38 MDT Print View

Water container . . . . . I should have said.

Alpo Kuusisto
(akuusist) - F
big three on 06/02/2011 01:22:26 MDT Print View

Just popped in my mind and I had to spit it out:

Big three make sense to me, to first reduce weight of the heaviest items, but then,
Aren't the 3 heaviest:

hiker (easily 150 pounds)
food (already for 3 days around 5 pounds = probably heaviest item in your pack)
shoes (I've heard you could multiply their weight with 6 when comparing with pack weight)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: big three on 06/02/2011 01:40:25 MDT Print View

I think many of us will reduce our body weight by several pounds during a trip, if not before the trip. I generally drop about 1% per day for several days.


Andrew Bishop
(copperhead) - MLife

Locale: Down Under
(fat-a-)Gram weenie on 06/04/2011 15:47:57 MDT Print View

I often read about the concept of 'skin out' weight, including everything carried and worn.

But if we want to remove every bit of unnecessary weight we should surely be factoring in extra body weight.

Could use some benchmark like this one - counting every extra oz/gm twds your 'bones out' weight. (I have to add in 6 kgs - blast!)