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Hello! Newbie first post here!
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Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/06/2010 15:16:43 MDT Print View

Hi. I'm new to the backpacking scene (logged about 45 miles in two over night trips over two years). Just wanted to introduce my presence here and say hi! My last trip was a solo 28 mile adventure @ Good Water Loop Trail near Austin, TX.

I had purchased a new pack Deuter ACT lite 65+10. I got the load down to 45 lbs about the weight limit of the pack. I thought this was going to be much better than my last trip at Hill Country SNA where my 50 pound Mountainsmith pack was over-loaded by 15 pounds! The hills were brutal. Boy was I wrong, 45 pounds still sucked! I joyfully felt every gram of water weight disappear from my Deuter as I trudged onward and upward to make my camp by nightfall.

After I got home from the 3 hour drive back to Houston, I couldn't get my legs to work to even walk in the house! I'm on a hiatus now because we are expecting our 3rd child any day now. Since this trip (which I thoroughly enjoyed despite the pain) I have vowed I will not do it again unless my pack weight is 25 pounds or under! I think a light load will make my trip much more enjoyable. Funny how a light load can trump creature comforts! So I've been taking this time to get my pack down to the required weight. My summer pack is right at 25 pounds. Now I'm about to start my winter set up and I have a good feeling I'm going to have to get some new gear. My Coleman Taos 25 degree sleeping bag is almost 4 pounds and I got pretty cold when the temps dropped to the high twenties and that was with my silk liner and pocket hand warmers! I finally got warm after putting on my heavy cotton thermals. If I'm going to pack a 4 pound bag it might as well keep me warm I figure.

That's just one example of many. So I am obviously appreciative of this forum and thanks in advance for all your input and insight fellow adventurers!!!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/06/2010 16:19:54 MDT Print View

Welcome, Mike!

Rest up, then maybe do the following:

Don't pack anything away. Lay them all out.

1. What things were used? What things weren't used? If not related critically to safety, consider ditching the unused and maybe even the little-used stuff next time.

2. Of the items used (or deemed necessary) -- can any of them do "multiple duty" -- so you can eliminate a few more items?

3. Finally, of the items still remaining -- take your time and read up about more compact and/or lighter weight options here and elsewhere. Heavy tent, synthetic sleeping bag, cushy sleep pad and the backpack itself (the 'Big Four') are often good candidates for review. So are bulky / heavy clothing.

Every piece should be looked at individually; however. everything should also be looked at as a 'system' -- to make sure they all work well together.

If you don't already have one, definitely buy a digital scale that measures in either grams or 1/10th oz. increments -- up to 30lbs (anything heavier than that, presumably your digital bathroom scale can be used instead). Ebay has many good selections.

Once you've pared down and selected replacements... then it might be time to select a replacement backpack to haul your lighter and more compact gear load. And when everything has lightened, then maybe you can replace a heavy pair of boots with a pair of light weight trail runners. It's all related.

Edited by ben2world on 09/06/2010 16:22:06 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Hello! Newbie first post here!" on 09/06/2010 19:26:16 MDT Print View

This is a copy-paste of what I just posted on a local forum, in a thread where others are agonizing about heavy packs--it's just an extension of what Ben has told you:

The "Big Three" (sometimes the "Big 4" if the sleeping pad is included) are often the place where many of us can most easily cut weight. Sometimes the weight savings can be spectacular, sometimes more modest. Here's where I was 6 years ago and where I am now (the old weights are approximate, and tent weights include stakes):

Tent: Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, 5 lbs.
Pack: Kelty external frame, 5 lbs.
Bag: Generic synthetic bag, about 30*, 4 lbs.
Pad: Thermarest LE, 2 lbs.

Total 16 lbs.

Tent: Gossamer Gear/Tarptent Squall Classic, 27 oz.
Pack: Six Moon Designs Comet, 27 oz.
Bag: Western Mountaineering Ultralight (20*), 25 oz.
Pad: POE Ether Thermo insulated air pad, 17 oz.

Total: 6 lbs. 0 oz.

I'm not necessarily recommending the same items (you'll have to do a bunch of research and decide what suits you), but this will give you an idea.

I often recommend Mark Verber's excellent website,
for an overview of what is available, from the latest technology to low-budget alternatives, for each category of gear.

For starters, please, please ditch the cotton (like the thermals you mentioned). Cotton has its advantages in the desert in scorching weather (get it wet and have your own built-in evaporative cooler), but when the weather turns cold and wet, cotton absorbs lots of water, is heavy, is very slow to dry and has no insulating qualities when wet. The same qualities that make a wet cotton shirt feel wonderful on a 110*F day in the desert will send you into hypothermia at 55*F.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/06/2010 19:34:02 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Hello! Newbie first post here!" on 09/07/2010 07:35:41 MDT Print View

If Mary's quite ordinary big 4 list can drop 10 lbs, and your pack weight is 45 lbs, and assuming that you've also got only 10 extra lbs of big 4 items, it sounds like you might be bringing a lot of extra clothes or heavy jackets and extra items that aren't needed. You have the capacity to lose a lot of weight right away. So like the first poster said, laying it all out and getting rid of the stuff you didn't use and the stuff you don't really need will probably go a very long way for you. You might find you have to purchase new clothing and warm layers. I'll bet in addition to heavy cotton long underwear you probably also had a heavy rain jacket with a lot of pockets, fancy trim and pit zips, a heavy fleece and probably some kind of down jacket or equivalent that had heavy cotton or fleece trim.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Check those clothes on 09/07/2010 09:41:56 MDT Print View

I agree with Piper. When I started lightening up I learned that I always took more clothes than needed. Also, if you're hiking in the Hill Country, you can probably find a much lighter shelter than what you now carry.

Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/12/2010 20:45:01 MDT Print View

Well I'm back. Wednesday we had a 6lb 14oz 19.7" beautiful baby girl. We brought her home yesterday. Thanks for all the responses! I can't wait to put your suggestions to action and get back out there this winter with a much lighter pack!

Edited by backtrack on 09/12/2010 20:45:44 MDT.

Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Check those clothes on 09/12/2010 21:17:51 MDT Print View

I don't think I had an over abundance of clothes. I had the cotton thermals because thats all I had available to me. I had a poncho which doubles as my tent footprint. I used a light weight wool shirt as a jacket. Then a change of clothes. I am not a fan of cotton so all my clothes are synthetic materials. I will definitely need to purchase a set of wool or synthetic thermals.

I really can't remember what was so heavy in my pack, since it was last winter when I layed everything out and designated many things to car camping trips with the family. I do think I had too much food and water. I like to bring one or two extra meals in case I have to stay longer than I intend to. I always bring a 3L camelbak and a 24 oz. sport bottle with gatorade in it. I think I was also heavy on my survival gear. I plan on buying a new lightweight water purification system I found on another website. I recently bought a jetboil, thus eliminating a bulky cookset and stove. I also bought a Eureaka Solitare one person tent. I don't want to go to lean on my shelter. I need protection from bugs and other critters and I can't invest a fortune in my shelter, so I think this solitare will be perfect. I intend on having some light weight Easton poles made and a light silnylon foot print made. I think I shaved off about 6 pounds with the tent and stove/cookset alone. Like I said I also need a lighter sleeping bag. The one I have isn't that bad 3 lbs 14 oz. for the $25 I spent on it, but I know there's lighter and better R value bags out there for good prices as well. I don't want to freeze my tookus off either so I will gladly carry a couple extra pounds over being cold all night. I would like to experiment with a space blanket bag inside a light weight bag. Oh and my sleeping pad is a 16 oz. air mat. I know the foam ones are very lightweight but I don't like how bulky they are, all my belongings need to pretty much fit inside my pack.

I plan on eliminating more stuff. I think I'll go on a couple of short hikes. There's some hike in campsites of a couple miles to make sure I'm set before I wander off too far. As time goes on and I gain more experience and upgrade items little by little, and with the continued support of my fellow lightweight backpackers, I'll acheive a very light multiday pack full of what I need for comfort and survival.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/12/2010 21:19:46 MDT Print View


Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Re: Re: Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/12/2010 21:33:45 MDT Print View


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Hello! Newbie first post here!" on 09/12/2010 22:06:33 MDT Print View

Sneak up to Austin and visit Gossamer Gear some time.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Check those clothes on 09/13/2010 10:57:20 MDT Print View

>>I don't want to go to lean on my shelter.
>>I don't want to freeze my tookus off either so I will gladly carry a couple extra pounds over being cold

This is a common misconception that having a light shelter means missing out on good bug and weather protection. And that a light sleeping bag is colder than a heavy one. Neither of these are true.

Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Hello! Newbie first post here!" on 09/14/2010 14:15:12 MDT Print View

Thanks Joe! I have heard mention of the company never really checked out their gear before. I will now, and something tells me I'll be coming to visit them!

Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Re: Re: Check those clothes on 09/14/2010 14:17:54 MDT Print View

Please elaborate Piper. Your input is appreciated!

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Re: Re: Re: Check those clothes on 09/14/2010 14:30:33 MDT Print View


Not speaking for Piper, but here's a way to address her two points from my perspective:

1) Lightweight bug protection: My Serenity bug insert from Six Moon Designs, when coupled with my Gatewood Cape (also my raingear!) & groundsheet, provides a 19oz, full weather & bug protection haven. Numerous other brands and styles exist to do the same thing.

2) Lightweight bags and quilts from Western Mountaineering, Montbell, JacksRBetter, etc provide a ton of warmth for under 1.5lbs! Add an insulated "sitting around camp" jacket and you can push your bag's comfort limit lower.

Keep asking questions, there's a wealth of knowledge on this site to help. (I bought all the wrong gear to start, in an effort to "save $", and it actually cost me more by buying the wrong stuff, selling it for next to nothing, then buying the right gear)


John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/14/2010 20:11:17 MDT Print View

I also live in Houston -- I'd recommend Bastrop State Park or Pedernales Falls State Park as a good area for testing gear and practicing skills. Easy to get to for a weekend, and it's possible to get a good weather forecast. Use that forecast to fine-tune your gear (especially clothing).

I'd also add that a space blanket in a sleeping bag will act as a vapor barrier, and it really doesn't get cold enough for a VB in this area...

Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Check those clothes on 09/14/2010 21:41:35 MDT Print View

Wow! Thanks Todd! Sounds like a whole new world of manufacturers and designs for me to look into. Just when I though I had researched it all...The limited tarps I looked into seemed to a wash with a good lightweight tent once you added some bug netting. I think I take comfort in having a tent with a bathtub floor and continuous seams. I need to expand my shelter horizons.

I agree with you on the saving $ thing. I couldn't justify buying exspensive gear if I wasnt really going to get into it. Moving forward you're right; the plan is to upgrade piece by piece.

Mike Foster
(backtrack) - F

Locale: Houston Burbs
Re: Re: Hello! Newbie first post here! on 09/14/2010 21:49:40 MDT Print View

Thank You John. Nice to see a fellow Houstonian with the same interests. I will check those parks out for sure as testing grounds. lol

I know it doesn't get very cold in our neck of the woods, but I got pretty cold when my alleged 25 degree bag was put to the test. Granted I started the night by not wearing warm clothes in my bag. I definitely need to find a lighter sleeping bag.

Edited by backtrack on 09/15/2010 14:47:36 MDT.