Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Lightweight backpacking should go metric!

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Cesar Valdez
(PrimeZombie) - F

Locale: Scandinavia
Lightweight backpacking should go metric! on 03/30/2011 15:51:34 MDT Print View

I bet I am not the only one that has thought of this, but I think we ought to abandon the use of the dated and inconsistent imperial weight system.

I suggest that:

SUL = below 2.5kg
UL = below 5kg
LW = below 10

I mean it's just the US and a few other nations that still use ounces, pounds, etc. Just as all of us here have opened our minds to going light, we ought to do the same with weight and embrace the metric system.

Also, I just uploaded my new gear list and I am at 4.8kg... I know, I know... I am being a bit biased so that I can be sneaky and call myself UL. I will admit this, but still, metric is better than imperial.

What do you guys think?

Christine Thuermer
(chgeth1) - F
Lightweight backpacking should go metric! on 03/30/2011 16:15:47 MDT Print View

I wholeheartedly agree!!!!
It drives me crazy that I always have to convert ounces and pounds into metric when comparing gear. Also calculating in ounces is just not convenient when you are trying to shave off grams.... How do you express 2 grams in ounces?
Go for metric!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Lightweight backpacking should go metric! on 03/30/2011 17:13:11 MDT Print View

1 kg equals 2.2 lbs.

1 lb equals 0.45 kg.

Edited by jshann on 03/31/2011 07:03:31 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Lightweight backpacking should go metric! on 03/30/2011 21:37:36 MDT Print View

"I mean it's just the US and a few other nations that still use ounces, pounds, etc...... metric is better than imperial."

Couple of things:

1. There are ONLY TWO nations on Earth where pounds and ounces are still the official measurements. Which is the other one, you ask? Myanmar. Yes, really. Nice to know the only other diehard (besides us) is a bunch of army thugs.

2. The US DOES NOT USE the imperial system. We use what is called "The English System". Why? Because we became independent in 1776. The British Empire switched to the "imperial system" only later -- sometime in the 1800's. The terms are the same (inches, feet, ounces, gallons) -- but in many but not all cases (ounce, pint, gallon, etc.) -- the actual measurements are completely different.

Since this is an American website, one would expect the common usage to remain English (American) -- not metric. However, perhaps folks here can opt to be more considerate and put the metric equivalent in parenthesis.

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: Tasmania (down under downunder)
2 cents on 03/30/2011 21:44:55 MDT Print View

I learn both imperial and metric measurement (as did many of my generation here). Ive always wondered why the US has stuck with such a cumbersome system. It is So much easier to work units in tens...

even within the system I see things listed in pounds and ounces as well as some using full as well as decimal points of pounds (which then have to be converted to ounces to make useful?)


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: 2 cents on 03/30/2011 21:55:18 MDT Print View


I spent the first 17 years of my life in Asia -- although I studied in the American school system throughout. So I encountered daily the English (not Imperial) system in school -- and metric outside of school. I am a total mutt:

Temperature: I much prefer Celsius over Fahrenheit. OK, I actually dislike Fahrenheit a lot.
Backpack Volume: I much prefer Liters over cubic inches. Just easier to picture 40L than 2,440 c.i.
Distance: I can work with meters and kilometers, but much prefer feet, yards and miles!
Area: Acres over hectares any day!
Weight: Ounces and pounds for sure. I intensely dislike grams and kilograms (don't know why).

Long-winded way of answering your question -- tradition, plus whichever way we are used to (i.e. attached to). There's probably a lot of emotions involved -- not just which is logically easier.

Edited by ben2world on 03/30/2011 22:00:15 MDT.

Wild Exped
(bankse) - MLife

Locale: Tasmania (down under downunder)
: on 03/30/2011 22:45:58 MDT Print View

I tried in vain to help my father understand the metric system. It seemed so simple swapping units that added and ended in arbitrary figures for those that rounded of nicely into tens. I was only very young but stubborn, we didnt have 16 toes after all lol..

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Lightweight backpacking should go metric! on 03/30/2011 22:50:01 MDT Print View

Gram Weenies have been united here for a long time!


Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Metric on 03/30/2011 22:52:09 MDT Print View


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Lightweight backpacking should go metric on 03/30/2011 23:17:21 MDT Print View

When I read a foreign blog or forum with metric units, I just do the conversion. As far as I can tell, it hasn't left any scars.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Lightweight backpacking should go metric on 03/30/2011 23:31:56 MDT Print View

"When I read a foreign blog or forum with metric units, I just do the conversion. As far as I can tell, it hasn't left any scars."

Conversion. That's been THE problem for our failure to adopt the metric system after 50 years (more or less) of trying!!

It's patently idiotic to post tags telling shoppers their gallon of milk is now 3.7854 liters or make people memorize that 1 foot equals 30.48 centimeters -- and then expect everyone to convert themselves "eventually".

The ONLY way to do a conversion is to give it a very definite time frame -- and get EVERYONE to convert not by memorizing two tables indefinitely -- but to get ALL containers, signs, etc. converted once and for all. In other words, you will not need to memorize gallon vs. liters. In a year's time, milk will simply come in 1 liter size cartons and 4-liter size jugs. Period. And after a conversion period of dual speed signs, all signs must show ONLY kilometers afterward. And so on and so forth.

If you never again see anything new measured in English measurements, then you will get over it a lot sooner -- and your grandkids won't even know there was ever a difference.

Edited by ben2world on 03/30/2011 23:41:50 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
metric on 03/30/2011 23:40:32 MDT Print View

I'll readily admit that it's really just stubborness and parochialism that keeps us using the English system. Back in the 70's the federal government tried to start a migration to the metric system, started making road signage in kilometers, etc., but people hated it.

I've lived about 5 years in Europe, and I'm in a science field, so I'm pretty saavy with the metric system. Also, the US military uses kilometers and meters. Thus, like Ben I'm kind of a mutt, but in a different way:

I never could get an intuitive grasp of Celsius temperatures, so I still think in Farenheit. I actually have to break out the formula and convert to make ANY sense of Celsius, beyond a few special situations: -40C, 0C, 37C, 100C.

I can do miles or kilometers with equal facility, as well as feet/yards and meters. Likewise, since I work in medicine I can do either pounds or kilograms. Or stone... :) Frankly, I PREFER the metric units, for all of the obvious reasons that have already been mentioned, but since US trail distances are always in miles I use that by default.

I saavy grams only by going through kilograms, though. I understand ounces much more intuitively. I know that this makes no sense, but there you are. I'm sure I'd easily catch the hang of grams if I had to, but in my field I'm much more likely to think 0.45kg than 450g, and for whatever reason one is more intuitive than the other. 450g sounds like almost nothing, but 0.45kg is almost a pound!

I'm also very "bilingual" in gallons/quarts/floz vs liters/mL. But like Ben I "think" about pack volume in liters- I have to convert from cubic inches if a manufacturer doesn't give volume in liters. Again I'm sure this is because of my field, and most Americans wouldn't know a milliliter from a tadpole.

For area? Acres are much more intuitive for me than hectares for large areas, but I can do either square feet or square meters- and a rough conversion between them is so unbelievably easy: a factor of ten! I grasp square inches better than square cm, though.

For energy/force I grok Joules/Newtons probably because of my science background. I probably couldn't even tell you what an erg is, though. For biological processes calories have pretty much taken over, so no conflict there. I never did grok Pascals, though. I do bar, millibar, atmospheres, psi.

So, maybe the US *is* converting slowly, if people like me are around. :)

Edited by acrosome on 03/31/2011 00:02:20 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
re on 03/30/2011 23:42:43 MDT Print View

I think we've converted over to liters for bottles of soda

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: re on 03/30/2011 23:50:18 MDT Print View

Yeah, I think Coke, etc. are mutts too. The bottles may come in 1 or 2 liter size -- but the cans are still mostly in 12 oz. size.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: metric on 03/31/2011 00:49:47 MDT Print View

Dean, with the current state of affairs, now we have become more familiar with millisieverts and becquerels per kilogram. It's too bad it has come to us this way.


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: metric on 03/31/2011 01:05:31 MDT Print View that the British thing?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Lightweight backpacking should go metric! on 03/31/2011 01:31:18 MDT Print View

I hate the metric system. In the 70's when I was a mechanic I had to purchase a 2nd set of tools.

Who wants to watch a 1500 meter race, a mile is much more classic. Plus on most tracks, the race starts and finishes at the same place when you run a mile; 1500 meters starts on the far side. Plus how can we compare the races of pre-1970's to today?

60'6" and 90' are baseball. Baskets are 10' off the ground. A football field is 100 yards long.

I can measure and think metric, but I like English standard better. Fahrenheit just sounds nicer than Celsius. 32F feels warmer than 0C.

Christine Thuermer
(chgeth1) - F
Americans and imperial sloppiness on 03/31/2011 02:24:45 MDT Print View

I find it very interesting that you consider BPL an American website and therefore on should not expect metric measurements.
I always thought that with the internet things have become globalized - especially in such a special interest field like UL hiking. I agree that this website is probably hosted in the US and the majority of the users are American. BUT: There is a big portion of non-American users and with Roger Caffin there is even a non-American moderator. It would be interesting to know what percentage of BPL users are actually American.

I am a German citizen and post a lot on German speaking forums, too. On these forums there are of course Austrians and Swiss people as well - and nobody really cares whether it is a German, Austrian or Swiss forum. All that matters is that you find a common language - and nationalities do not matter.

Another aspect: I find that the American measurements tend to be less "accurately" used. So for example manufacturers often give weight as 1 ounce, but if you look at the metric equivalent then all of a sudden it is 30 grams or 25 grams - just because it is too cumbersome to write 1.05821 oz or 0.881849 oz.

On a forum where every gram counts I find that very "sloppy" and I am surprised that this does not make more people convert to metric - which is not that easily abused in a sloppy way.

Mark Fowler
(KramRelwof) - MLife

Locale: Namadgi
Going metric on 03/31/2011 04:58:40 MDT Print View

This issue is really about the system we grew up with. The system we grew up with is the system we usually prefer.

Australia changed from a full Imperial system including pounds, shillings and pence to a fully decimal monetary system and later metric weights and measures system in the 1960's. The outcry was rather loud but the government of the day stood up and forced the changes through and I believe Australia is better for it. For several years it was illegal to sell tapes and rulers in feet and inches. After about 5 years we were able to buy combination metric/imperial tapes but this time lag allowed the system to become familiar and generally adopted although it was hard on older citizens.

Contrast this with the UK's effort which managed to decimalise the currency but failed miserably with weights and measures because it caved in to populist and jingoistic pressures. They now pay a considerable price as they are not fully compatible with their European neighbours.

Now in my 60's and having gone through school with the Imperial system, I can work in either but with age I am tending to revert a little to feet and inches.

Edited by KramRelwof on 03/31/2011 04:59:28 MDT.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"Lightweight backpacking should go metric!" on 03/31/2011 05:14:53 MDT Print View

Does it matter?? Anyone can easily convert in their head if a rough mental estimate is not close enough. A unit of mass is only usefull for conversions and in mathematical calculations. As a scientist, I learned both. And then learned that there were more. Looking at history, even more. I often mix units, though I know it is "improper." When talking about fuel usage, it is easier to say 1/2oz or .5oz. an easy conversion. 3/8 or .375...does it matter? 1 mile or a couple kliks. So? How is 1/2oz per liter? Ouch.... Did you understand it?

Measuments are only for self reference, calculations and comparison. It does not matter.

Easier to switch? Yes. But, it requires a bit more mental agility to use whatever.