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Light weight v. simplicity/convenience?
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Jonathan Gunder
(gatorgrizz27) - F
Light weight v. simplicity/convenience? on 02/27/2012 17:52:50 MST Print View

I was in the outdoor gear store today and bought a few new things, which got me thinking about my philosophy on gear. While I have converted to a lightweight camper, I am not an exteme-ultralighter and probably won't ever be. This is partly because I am cheap and won't pay $100 for an uber-thin titanium pot, but mostly because I like to enjoy my time outdoors rather than suffer through it :). Most of my trips are 2-5 nights, so I am not doing month or longer thru hikes and therefore I don't need the most extreme gear. What things do you guys carry that could become lighter, but would carry some compromise (other than price) that you aren't willing to make, so the item is "worth it" to you? An example of mine is my Katadyn Mybottle purifier. Pretty heavy at around 10oz, but it is hard to beat the convenience of scooping up a bottle of questionable water and screwing the top on and drinking it. I picked up a platypus bottle that I can fill with dirty water when available, and just pour it into my Katadyn as needed. I use a hammock as my shelter, with Nano 23 biners at the ends of my tree straps. I could get by with tying a knot, but its so nice to snap them around the tree and slide the adjuster on my sling and be done with it. Another big one is my food, I could carry dried/dehydrated everything, but having a pound of summer sausage to boost your energy/morale when needed is hard to beat!

Edited by gatorgrizz27 on 02/27/2012 17:55:42 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Light weight v. simplicity/convenience? on 02/27/2012 18:29:05 MST Print View

Lightweight, simplicity, convenience... they don't have to be mutually exclusive -- although like everything else in life, we often have to compromise...

I myself am a firm believer of "comfort weight" - that weight at which we can carry our pack for a whole day, day after day, and not really noticing. Much below that, the benefits become mostly (if not entirely) psychic.

But we humans aren't 100% rational. What would be the fun of that? Some people enjoy going "as light as they possibly can". Others (like me) crave comfort weight and simplicity (e.g. alcohol stove). Still others like to tinker (e.g. Jetboil, pump filters). But if tinkering (or whatever) is part of the enjoyment, then why not? YMMV, as they say.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Light weight v. simplicity/convenience? on 02/27/2012 19:37:12 MST Print View

I don't want to deal with BS while in the backcountry. So, each of my items is as simple as I can get while still being lightweight.

For example, I could take off all my linelocs on my shelters to shave grams, but linelocs make adjusting guy lines uber simple! Yes, tying knots can be easy, but not as simple as tugging on a lineloc. YMMV. Plenty of people love their knots.

The biggest exception to this is my shelter. Tarps are often more fuss than a free-standing tent, but the weight savings with a tarp is large enough to justify it.

At this point with my gear, any new item will have to be either as simple and lighter than anything I currently have, or the same weight but simpler. Getting both is tough and you see quickly diminishing returns after a certain point.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
Simplisity+1 on 02/29/2012 10:39:33 MST Print View

I am a big proponent of a simple setup when backpacking. I was on the road to UL, but after a few trips, I decided that the simplicity of my setup was more important than weight – to a point.

For me, I would rather throw up my mid shelter or double walled tent in 5 minutes and go exploring/fishing in the area vs finding a site for my tarp and setting it up for 30 minutes. As long as I am in the 25 pound range, I find that the weight of the pack is not really an issue, and I can have a few creature comforts to make the trip more pleasant and relaxing.

I do however totally understand people that take great pride in doing it with the lightest weight kit possible and spending time/effort with their shelter setups. But personally, I would like to spend my time doing other things

Edited by bwortman on 02/29/2012 10:40:09 MST.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Simplicity and UL on 02/29/2012 21:20:26 MST Print View

I think you can have both.

You can have a 10 lb base weight with all of the comfort of a heavier weight. Somewhere around that point i think you hit diminishing returns.

That includes double wall tents, canister stoves, framed backpack, and a thick full length pad. All at similar costs to REI standard backpacking gear. So I dont think there is a trade off to hit UL.

SUL definately has sacrfices but UL is basically a free lunch.

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Comfort on 02/29/2012 21:40:07 MST Print View

Comfort over weight. If less weight is more comfortable well then that is the problem. Its all about enjoyment.

I have carried those cloth/aluminum tube framed chairs before. Its what I had and was planning on just bumming for several days in the area. I also took a small grill and charcoal with steak on the same trip along with a whole passel of books.

Taking hotdogs, skewers, marshmellows, pie crusts for huckleberry pie... YUM.

Whatever does it for your.

Anyone in photography will know what I mean. 5x7 cameras with change bag, bellows, light meter, tripod, ug, but I have done it. I went "down" to a 4x5 camera instead.


No, those trips were certainly NOT UL. They were fun and memorable though.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
simple is best... on 03/06/2012 05:54:11 MST Print View

my base weight in shoulder season is around 16 pounds and drops to 12-13 pounds when the overnight temps are above 50F and in the winter it gets up to 20+ pounds. i consider myself a lightweight backpacker and have no pretense in becoming ultralight. i am tough on gear and want it to last more than a season or two.

i have a very heavy pack by any standard, a McHale Chasm that tops the scale at 64 ounces. i know it is heavy, but i like it. it has the features i really like and suits my style of backpacking well. it's bombproof and will last me decades. i like that the pack will be an old friend who has been on many trips with me.

my goal has always been to reduce my weight where i could and i have dropped ten pounds without spending a ton of cash needlessly. as items wear out i choose lighter replacements. i would love to move to a lighter cold weather sleeping bag, but i can't justify the cost when my current bag is in excellent repair and performs well.

here are my heavy items that i'm totally cool with:

64 ounce backpack
57 ounce 15F down bag
26 ounce air mattress
44 ounce UL tent

that's nearly 12 pounds right there and why my winter base weight is pushing 21 pounds. i could save a bunch of weight on those four items, but i don't care, they work for me, i like them, and they perform well, and most importantly, i have already paid for them.

it comes down to hiking your own hike. do what you want how you want to do it. there is no right or wrong way to backpack, there are many many other ways to do it, and for some of us, exploring the methods others use or developing our own is part of the enjoyment. the most important part is that you are aware of what you are carrying and don't pack needless items. i used to do that and man was that crap heavy!

Edited by asciibaron on 03/06/2012 06:04:00 MST.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
For sure on 03/07/2012 09:54:53 MST Print View

Yeah, I'm in the balancing act/failure to commit mode, too. I am gram-shaving and cutting weight wherever I can, and have always believed in using the lightest gear...that works well. However, I've always tempered that with a willingness to use gear that weighs more if it works better or I simply have some emotional attachment to how it works.

So, I've cut my stove, sleeping bag, cooking kit, water containers, boots, upper body insulation and sleeping pad weight by several pounds, but not with truly UL stuff because I want more size, more capacity and more comfort. The inflatable pad comes to mind... I still carry a 4lb backpack, a giant pile of redundant firestarters, spare parts and tools, folding stool and an old Bibler tent because I like them and am willing to carry the weight in order to enjoy myself and "be prepared".

So, it's a tradeoff: shave weight, trim gear, but with an eye for comfort and saving of cash to fill the tank.

Edited by EBasil on 03/08/2012 09:10:01 MST.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
bear minimum on 03/07/2012 12:42:08 MST Print View

i am going out next weekend to retrace my steps from 2 weekends ago but this time with absolutely the bear minimum of gear i think i need. i won't have the final gearlist until the night before so i can properly gauge the weather and bring the right mix of clothing and shelter.

part of me thinks i'm going to be miserable because i have fallen into a level of comfort at camp. i do enjoy being in camp since it allows me time to relax in a way being on the trail doesn't - trail time is very much auto-pilot and camp is calm reflection.

try doing that on a few trips and fine tune your load to the trip.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Lightweight and Simple/Convenient on 03/07/2012 12:58:56 MST Print View

For most people I think you can get into the Lightweight category with the three main areas:

1] Shelter
2] Sleep System
3] Pack

For most traditional backpackers you can probably trim 10lbs total in those three areas without any loss of convenience/simplicity


1] Shelter - Any of the Pyramid style shelters with optional net tent will provide lightweight shelter with the same ease of setup as a traditional double wall tents for at least half the weight
2] Sleep System - No reason a down bag and Neoair (comfortable) pad should be more than 2lbs total for summer/early fall/late spring seasons.
3] Pack - Something like the GG Mariposa or MLD Exodus are more than capable of carrying sub 30lb weight comfortably. If you make good choices in the first two categories you should have no problem being under 30lbs and probably under 20lbs total.

To go Ultralight is where things get more difficult for some in the convenience category and involve cuts in the Cooking/Clothing areas.