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1 Heavy essential item you can' leave at home?
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Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
My mp3 player on 08/16/2006 01:51:45 MDT Print View

It's wicked heavy at 1.2 ounces (with batt and headphones) but I truly need my Creative Zen Nano on SUL hikes. Makes it tough to get sub-4 but at then end of an epic day, there's nothing like TNT by AC/DC to keep the legs moving.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: My mp3 player on 08/16/2006 07:28:05 MDT Print View

No way....Unchained by Van Halen is the best to keep the legs moving...kidding

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Leatherman Wave on 08/16/2006 10:28:46 MDT Print View

The heaviest item I carry, that could be lighter is my Leatherman Wave at just over ½ pound (8.4 oz.). This is just a reliable versatile tool that has never been a regret carrying.

Yes I could carry a lighter multi-purpose knife, but I really like the Waves’ rounded handle feel when using the pliers. They just don’t dig into your hand like other tools do. The pliers / wire cutter is stronger than the smaller multi-tools. The straight and serrated blade can be opened with one hand. It has locking blades for the straight, serrated, wood saw and file/hacksaw blades, which is a nice safety feature. With the wood saw, you don’t need a hatchet or larger fixed blade knife. Besides, who really needs to cut wood more than 2 inches in diameter for fire or shelter?

Edited by mikes on 08/16/2006 10:30:33 MDT.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: 1 Heavy essential item you can' leave at home? on 08/16/2006 12:18:52 MDT Print View

Well for my aching 57 year old bones and a good night's sleep, I pack my 78" BG insulated Aircore pad. 2.5" of pure bliss! (And in the winter I pack the equally heavy 3" thick Downmat shorty by Exped.)

And for my total and complete comfort when sitting, I often carry my SlingLite chair, a unique contraption invented by a local guy in Costa Mesa CA. Weighs in at 20oz and probably the most comfortable chair I have ever found or used. Check it out at

These are my picks for decadent weight hogs.

Sandra Smith
( - F
PDA and Sat Phone on 08/19/2006 01:34:02 MDT Print View

After losing my trusty Visor Deluxe Palm device (with GPS) to a purse-snatcher, I've been using a Palm Treo 650, with a very small Bluetooth GlobalSat GPS transmitter. Into the Treo go books (I read through 2 on an 8-day backpack in the Olympics), topo maps for the GPS, and the work I need to do for my job. It is also a good cell phone if one is in range. I carry 2 spare batteries, and those lasted fine throughout the 8 days, even with the GPS on for several hrs. When outside of cell range, I carry at GlobalStar 1600 satellite phone, so I can check to make sure my elderly mother is OK (we live in an isolated area). These gadgets DO add up, but still, the overall weight of my entire "emergency and gadget" fanny pack with the 10 essentials (except food & water), a camera, and these gadgets amounts to 4.5 pounds....and I could handle a night out without my pack with its contents.

Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: PDA and Sat Phone on 08/19/2006 08:47:30 MDT Print View


Sounds like you already have the spare batteries, so this might be a bit late, but you can save a few $$ and never not worry so much but about battery life with these options:

Sidewinder manual charger:

9V Battery key chain charger - ~$8

There are solar options as well.

I'm trading in my phone and Tungsten T3 for a Treo currently. What GPS system are you using?

By the way, are you the same Sandra from Applied Math??


Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re^2: PDA and Sat Phone - Solar panel on 08/19/2006 12:14:47 MDT Print View

I used a 10 V 200 mA solar panel ( on a recent 10 day 75 mile trek for recharging camera and cell phone batteries. Total weight with charging cords was 3.5 oz. and it's about 10" x 6". One major advantage of the Iowa PowerFilm panels is they are incredible thin, lightwieght and flexible, and can be velcro'ed on the top or your pack or just set out in the sun for recharging.

While nominal 7.2V, it typically puts out between 10 and 11 Volts, which I found adequate to run the little chargers that are looking for 12V input (If the batteries you're charging are 6V or less, you shouldn't have a problem.) They make other sizes.

Robin McKay
(rlmckay) - M

Locale: Auckland NZ
I heavy Item on 08/21/2006 04:00:36 MDT Print View

You guys are going to kill me on this one. My one and only heavy item is a book. I just love setting up camp, washing off the days sweat, putting on dry cloths and slothing out in the pit with a good read. I usually consume the contents half way through a trip and leave the book in a hut for the next person. The only trouble is somebody usually does the same so I pick up that book to continue the trip. I hasten to add I take a paper back and not "war and Piece"!
I am trying to wean myself of this addiction. My big 14 day Christmas 06 trip could be when I go "cold turkey"!

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: I heavy Item on 08/21/2006 09:38:59 MDT Print View

Dollars to donuts a book is the most common heavy luxury item. At least among us more smarter wilderlings.
Years ago the Early Winters company tried to promote books on microfische with a lightweight reader. It didn't catch on. Unfortunately. Wouldn't it be great if PDAs or Ebooks were light enough?

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Re: I heavy Item on 08/21/2006 10:08:03 MDT Print View

PDAs with eBooks are lighter than most books and can hold millions of pages of text. Just get a monochrome screen and you'll be able to read War and Peace twice on a set of batteries!

I used my old PALM IIIX for hours a day and I remember replacing the batteries monthly -- if that. It's the wireless features and color screens that give modern PDAs their comparatively short battery life. Aah, the good old days...

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: I heavy Item on 08/21/2006 15:04:02 MDT Print View

You may also want to consider buying a small mp3 player that also plays audio books from You can get some for less than an ounce now, I belive. If you go to their website, they list compatible devices. You can also search their library, which I have found to be quite extensive. You can download individual books, or for $20/month you can downlaod 2 books a month. That is a great deal considering many of the larger books on tape normally sell for between $30-$80.

I know it's not quite as tactile and 'romantic' as a good paperback, but I have come to prefer audiobooks when hiking. Besides being able to listen to the book on the trail, I can listen while lying down or staring at nature--no more kinks in my neck from staring down at the pages, and I spend more time staring at and enjoying the beauty around me.

I personally use an Audiovox SMT-5600 Smartphone, available through Amazon for $100. It's about half the size of a Palm Treo 650, it's only 3.5oz with battery, and it plays books. Sometimes I take headphones, but often I just use the speakerphone. I average 17 hours of use on a single charge with the phone portion turned off (much better than any color Palm or Pocket PC phone I've ever tested).

I also use it with a bluetooth reciever (Globalsat SiRFIII, also with about 17 hour battery life), and download 7.5' USGS quads using OutdoorNavigator.

Of course, you can also read eBooks too, but you use more battery with the backlight on than you do with audiobooks.

I also download podcasts, such as from, and sometimes mp3s (though I much prefer listening to audiobooks than music). Heck, I sometimes even transfer a movie onto my phone, though that's usually for the kids on a long car trip.

You can also purchase a bluetooth keyboard for this, but I have not tested this, and I imagine it has the same problems as listed above with not being very steady on one's lap, but I like knowing I could do office work if I really had to.

I know this is beginning to sound like an ad for this phone, but I have gone though quite a few phones and GPS's, and this is by far the most elegant solution I've found; small, lightweight, great battery usage, rugged, a very stable OS, and as full-featured as a PocketPC phone (minus a touch-screen and qwert keyboard, but that makes it more rugged IMO).

Edited by jcarter1 on 08/21/2006 15:11:54 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: I heavy Item on 08/22/2006 07:48:14 MDT Print View

Outdoor Navigator is no more.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Palm in the Woods on 08/22/2006 11:47:46 MDT Print View

" used my old PALM IIIX for hours a day and I remember replacing the batteries monthly -- if that. It's the wireless features and color screens that give modern PDAs their comparatively short battery life."

There are still lot of Palm IIIxe's and such out there, as well as Handprings. I'd love to see ebooks available on a chip like an SD card and a small monochrome battery operated PDA/reader. I've been converting Gutenberg texts to Palm Reader which is great for classics.
All the attemps at creating ebook systems required downloading texts on the Internet, which broke all the rules of book reading. A chip-based book could be packaged and sold right next to the paper version, and lent, traded, or sold just like a paper book. There is no need to have a reader much heavier than a Palm unit and the technology is all over the place. An encrypted chip would take care of the intellectual property rights and leave the device memory free for PDA functions. With SD-sized chips, you could carry a whole library inside the cover for the reader.

I want to do more writing than reading. I've used the Stowaway keyboards, but they require some sort of hard surface for support. I have a GoType! keyboard on the way from an Ebay auction. It is heavier, but I can sit it on my legs and type. It does have agood cover and is robust enough to survive life in a backpack. The Palm III/GoType! combo is the lightest viable electronic writing platform I have been able to put together and it runs on AAA batteries. Handwriting on the Palm is fine for notes, but you can't wail out ideas like you can with a keyboard. I'm drooling over the Alphasmart Dana, but it is spendy and larger and weighs 2 pounds.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Palm in the Woods on 08/22/2006 15:35:43 MDT Print View

I'm with you Dale:
Gimme chips
And while they are at it, the Palm III, which I use, takes AAA batteries making it practical in the field. But & its a BIG BUT, It is still too heavy and not nearly weatherproof enough. Mine stops working after a few days high humidity. It's OK after it dries out. Impossible to keep dry enough in the long haul.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Sony PRS-500 on 08/22/2006 19:03:15 MDT Print View

It's HUGE... and weighs 250 grams / 8.5 oz... but the new Sony Reader PRS-500 is pretty cool. It's the first electronic book reader to use e-Ink technology. e-ink... or e-Paper... for those who may not know... is a new display technology that is reflective rather than light emitting. That is... it doesn't give off any light... you see what's on the display by light reflecting off of it... so it looks just like real paper. The "paper" actually has millions of microscopic white and black "blobs" that, when charged, either float to the surface or sink to the bottom of the paper. There are color version too that work a little differently. It's even flexible... like paper (although the Sony reader is not flexible). In the future... imagine a newspaper that is actually like a newspaper... actual sheets of "paper"... but you download a new issue each day. Don't know if they'd actually make something like that... since it makes more sense in the digital realm to have just one sheet of "paper" and use a touch-activated page turning gesture to turn the page... but it could be done :)

The benefits of electronic paper are much higher resolution... they claim the display is almost as sharp as a laser print... it should also look the same from just about any viewing angle... and it also uses a lot less power. The Sony reader claims 7,500 page turns per charge. That's a lot of books :)

Here's a link

Oh... and this is just a reader BTW... no input. It's meant purely as a book replacement... although it does play MP3's.

Edited by davidlewis on 08/22/2006 19:19:24 MDT.

Mary Simpson
(maryphyl) - F
Book on 08/23/2006 07:47:55 MDT Print View

I take a book--preferably something outdoorsey. I rip off the covers and extra pages to salve my conscience. Half a pound. Mary

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Lighting a fire on 08/24/2006 04:22:38 MDT Print View


I'm with you. Plus, I'm guessing you and I will find it much easier to get a fire started with our luxury item, than what all those gadget whoosies wll! ;>)


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lighting a fire on 08/24/2006 10:20:50 MDT Print View

Did you mean wussies? :)

The only reason for the electronica is the multiple use factor: input as well as output. It is still hard to "curl up" with a PDA for a good read.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Pencil? on 08/24/2006 17:10:00 MDT Print View

Dale, I was thinking more like Whoosy-whatsits. Not sure of the spelling on that one tho.

Now input-- Umm, a pencil? The batteries on those things seem to last forever!! :>)

And since I have to admit to being in awe of your gleaning ability (I saw your $1.99 windshirt) (Ever thought about gleaning to order? I reckon I'm not the only one who would be keen to retain your services) I pick up my bushwalking/rogaining/S&R pencils at the big Swedish indoor playground. They're in the tray next to the free tape measures.

Cheers, Rod

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pencil? on 08/24/2006 17:29:48 MDT Print View

Hmmm, don't know if you mean a whatsit, a whatchamacallit or a thingamajig. I get the idea anyway :)

Yes, I will glean to order. That makes the challenge even more fun. I have a co-worker who I have been converting to UL hiking and she said she needed a deal on a microfleece shirt. Of course I found A Black Diamond one her size, color liking, and in like new condition for $2.99 :)

I got a used Bogen 3011 tripod with a 3126 fluid head at a garage sale this weekend for $1. I was flabbergasted (another good word)-- that tripod goes for $179.00 new. It had some scratches, but was in perfect working condition. A Craigs List ad and 24 hours later, I had a $50 bill in my pocket.

Seriously, that wind shirt was on the same rack with a nice Columbia Omnitech parka, a Patagonia lined windshirt (like a Marmot DriClime windshirt), a pair of brand new Timberland hiking shorts and I did a quick scan of the women's section and got my wife a pair of North Face pants-- all were $2.99 each. I spent $15 and went home with a pile of clothing that would easily cost $350 new. It is rare to find that many quality items in good shape in the same place at the same time, but every now and then it is mind-blowing. I was on my way to picking my son up and made a 15 minute stop. My motto is, "you never know."