Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Asked about backpacking gear
Display Avatars Sort By:
eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Re: scale on 03/29/2012 16:21:35 MDT Print View

hhmmmm ... is that part of the AT or the entire thing?

i wasnt aware that everyone who does it uses a scale ... mea culpa ...

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
Not for everyone I guess on 03/29/2012 16:22:00 MDT Print View

My scale is important to me, i like to use it during my MYOG projects, I like weighing the pieces as it comes together. On the other hand, I once hiked up Mt. Shasta in January with a couple of buddies and at 9K feet at camp my buddy pulls out a Bocce ball set, no joke, must have weighed 7 lbs. Some people don't care about weight.

Edited by KalebC on 03/29/2012 16:23:24 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: Re: scale on 03/29/2012 16:24:59 MDT Print View

There has been some commentary about beginners not using a proper scale. In my opinion, it should be the first thing they buy. I wish I would have had one from the beginning in my journey to lightweight backpacking as it would have saved me some money and pain.

Ankar Sheng
(Whiskyjack) - MLife

Locale: The Canadian Shield
no scale on 03/29/2012 18:17:57 MDT Print View

You could give an aspiring hiker far better advice on gear than "get a scale". It makes ultralight backpacking seem unnecessarily esoteric and complicated. What is someone who's just getting started going to put on a scale anyway?

The only benefit I gain from a scale is when picking between two very similar items from my excessive pile of gear. Someone who's getting set up with new equipment doesn't need a scale. I don't buy new gear, weight it, then never use it because of what the scale says. Make meaningful purchases, get the right piece of gear from the start. If you need something, bringing it. If you don't need it, leave it at home, regardless of what the scale says.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: no scale on 03/29/2012 18:37:04 MDT Print View

I think a scale helps a lot. It really causes you to focus on weight.

Often a person will have one piece of gear, let's say a backpack. He doesn't really know what it weighs. He sees lots of backpacks offered for sale, and he sees a weight listed for each one, but he doesn't know whether he should replace his existing backpack for weight reasons.

Starting thirty years ago, I used three scales. They were all analog in those days. I used a postal scale for little items under one pound. Then I used a baby scale that went up to 20 pounds, and it was very effective for weighing a loaded backpack or else the heavy items. Lastly, an ordinary bathroom scale was effective at weighing me and then me with the backpack in order to check the result of the baby scale.


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: no scale on 03/29/2012 18:41:14 MDT Print View

"You could give an aspiring hiker far better advice on gear than "get a scale". It makes ultralight backpacking seem unnecessarily esoteric and complicated. What is someone who's just getting started going to put on a scale anyway? "

The only reason that you can provide any advice on UL backpacking is because you own a scale and have done the pre-work already.

It makes sense for a beginner to start right, right at the beginning.

Edited by FamilyGuy on 03/29/2012 18:48:44 MDT.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Asked about backpacking gear on 03/30/2012 00:45:54 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 09/08/2015 16:51:44 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Asked about backpacking gear on 03/30/2012 02:23:26 MDT Print View

Sending an absolute Newb off to buy tarps, quilts and frameless packs from a cottage industry website would be cruel in my opinion, they need experience, not a scale.

best words ever ... yet this happens all the time on BPL ;)

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Asked about backpacking gear on 03/30/2012 05:49:07 MDT Print View

What's important about the "it's just 2 oz" is not the weight itself but the mindset that takes you there. If you're strict about UL and do things well to build a light pack, adding those 2 oz for some luxury, extra function or whatever is not gonna hurt. The problem is when you apply the "it's just..." to the whole pack building process. Then you're bound to get a heavy pack that's way beyond 2 oz far from a lightweight one (and you don't know why...)

The case in question with the OP is tricky. The best answer to a question depends a lot on the person who listens to that answer, a good adviser always takes this into account. And I agree "get a scale" is probably not the best advise to a novice backpacker (as it seems to be the case) if you want to be heard and understood but neither is a good idea to start backpacking by attempting to thru-hike the AT. In such a case, shock treatment may not be such a bad idea.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
the point on 03/30/2012 05:56:58 MDT Print View

my point about getting a scale was that weight is a very important consideration and that should be part of the purchasing decision. it weighs X and provides Y utility, is that utility worth the weight?

if i buy a scale, i'm going to want to put things on it. when i buy a sleeping bag that weighs 4 pounds, at the store i don't really think about that, but when i get home, put it on the scale and write it down on the list, i can see that it's 35% of my pack weight. ouch.

sending the newb to get cottage industry items is not the point of having them buy a scale, it's to make weight a conscience part of the equation. i needed a fleece so i bought one that was on sale and was from a backpacking company. when i finally bought a scale and put that fleece on it i realized it was very heavy and not very warm for that amount of weight. i stopped carrying it because i could wear two items that weighed less but kept me warmer.

i have now replaced the heavy fleece with one that is far warmer and weighs 4.5 ounces less and only cost ten bucks. that is exactly what a scale does, makes you think about your gear decisions and what the weight of some trivial item really means.

the buddy is an outdoors type and does day hikes all the time. he wants to start backpacking by section hiking the AT a few times this year - 5 to 7 days at a time. he is the type of person to demand top of the line most expensive because it's the best. he needs to realize that simply dropping cash won't make a great experience. you should see his carbon fiber kayak, it's a work of art, it has been hanging from his garage ceiling for years ;)

Edited by asciibaron on 03/30/2012 06:02:14 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: no scale on 03/30/2012 07:58:44 MDT Print View

Itemizing and weighing your gear is a big part of getting to lighter pack weights. Remember, what seems so obvious here is a major paradigm shift for others. I think getting a newbie to use a scale and *think* about what is going into their kit is EXACTLY what is needed. If they can't get over that hump, then they are going to learn the hard way. Nothing like a good roller-coaster section of trail and a huge pack loaded with tons of gear to make a believer. Sore muscles, sweat and blisters are a great reality check.

The end result for a through hiker is throwing out a lot of expensive but unusable gear and replacing it at even greater expense without being able to shop and select the best alternatives. And it should all be tried and tested long before the trip starts. Finding out that you sleep cold the first few nights out is not recommended. If nothing else, they should have a few "breakdown" overnight trips beforehand.

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Funny on 03/30/2012 09:54:48 MDT Print View

The OP was the laugh I needed today! I told that joke to my husband and we had ourselves a grand chuckle. Jokes aside, I remember those days. It wasn't too long ago I thought some of you were anal and a bit crazy too. Now I spend my free time trying to figure out how to break below that elusive 5lb barrier with my budget!

I agree that a scale to someone who is starting is a great investment and is still the best way for me to reevaluate not just my big gear choices but the small stuff like gear repair, first aid and what not. I wish someone had told me about UL backpacking before I had bought a thing. The other thing I recommend someone wanting to start out do is two part.

1. Find the most strenuous day hike in your area and hike it.

2. Go to REI and have them fill a typical pack up with the average 50lbs a traditional backpacker would carry. Imagine carrying that pack on that trail all day long for multiple days.

The realization of that prospect sent me break neck sprinting to ultralight backpacking faster than anything anyone could say.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Funny on 03/30/2012 10:24:41 MDT Print View

@Steven: Hilarious stuff!

"The realization of that prospect sent me break neck sprinting to ultralight backpacking faster than anything anyone could say."
I'm assuming you removed the 50 lb pack first?! :D

Richard Juen
(skinkrj1) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: scale on 03/30/2012 11:20:58 MDT Print View

I would have never thought to buy a scale until I read many posts on BPL as a lurker. After suffering from ridiculously heavy pack loads while hiking with my daughter in Alpine Lakes Wilderness the last 5 years or so, I finally realized that I would have to drop a lot of weight off my back and shoulders. A few years ago, I ditched the wonderful heavy food that I used to pack and went to freeze dried and filtering water. That helped, but I still suffered at the end of each day from too much weight. The frustration of knowing that I could only go 8-10 miles a day finally led me to get serious about dropping weight (both pack and gut). My goal this summer is to section hike the Washington portion of the PCT in August and a digital scale was my first purchase. It is a tool I now use to help me decide what I have that will be set aside for family camping trips and what can be used for hiking. I guess you could say that it is now The Judge, and it will decide what goes, what stays, and what still needs to be purchased if I even have a chance to pull off a 500 mile hike.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
odd on 03/30/2012 12:11:42 MDT Print View

this is all quite odd as i dont use my scale that much these days

i do use a spreadsheet occasionally ... and plug in the manufacturers weights ... sometimes ill use a scale to confirm the weights ... but if its within 10% i dont really care as there are manufacturing variances ... some will be under, others over ... i dont worry about it

the simple fact is that you often cant measure the goods with a scale before you buy it ... so you base it on the manufacturers weights ... now you may get home and freak out if its a bit over (but never under which i dont understand for down items) ... but do you really return it if the variance isnt that great?

most cottage makers should have accurate weights posted regardless ...

there are the occasional 10$ fleeces and 19$ puffies which i do weight ... but i bought em to use em, the weight is more to post up on BPL about it so others know the weight

the mentality IMO shoudnt be to use a scale on everything ... but to NOT bring what you dont need and get the skills so that you need less

everything does weight something ... absolutely ... but id take a person who knows what to bring and what to do even should he use a not as light pack or gear anyday

what scales can absolutely lead to is a certain mentality "oh its 2 oz lighter, must spend $$$$ to save a tiny bit of weight even though my current item works just fine" ... witness all the gear threads and all the perfectly functional items on gear swap

Edited by bearbreeder on 03/30/2012 12:13:14 MDT.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
elephants in the pack on 03/30/2012 12:14:18 MDT Print View

here were my three heaviest items..

Sleeping Bag Marmot Sawtooth 57.50
Backpack McHale Chasm 64.00
Tent Big Agnes Sarvis eVent 1 52.00

10.8 pounds for three things - one of which carries everything.

i have stared at those numbers for a long time and if i would have purchased them if i knew their weight and what that meant. i am very happy with the McHale pack, it's bombproof and i do a good amount of bushwhacking so it makes sense to have a durable pack. the sleeping bag is warm but heavy - i don't need a 15F bag for my 3 season setup, so i added a bag that is less than 1/2 the weight. the tent - ugh. it was replaced under warranty and i saved nearly 10 ounces and got more room. nice. i did shave some weight off the McHale, not much, but it helps.

so now it looks like this

Sleeping Bag Mountain Hardwear Phantom 32 25.10
Backpack McHale Chasm 56.00
Tent Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 44.00

7.8 pounds, a 3 pounds savings. wow. thank you Mr. Scale.

Edited by asciibaron on 03/30/2012 12:15:37 MDT.

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
After the scale ... on 03/30/2012 12:14:56 MDT Print View

comes a sewing machine. It's just part of the progression.

It seems most UL hikers start out examining ways in which to alter their BP experience by radically shifting focus to weight & utility. What typically entails then is a generation of expensive, traditional gear gets placed in the rafters, or given away to friends/charity, as the intrepid BPLer starts swapping out gear.

The next stage is discovering that a lot of 'commercial' UL equipment, while lighter than REI, isn't really UL; it's more like 'lightweight'. So, another, maybe significant, investment is discarded as the now (hopefully) wiser UL person begins to examine some of the many cottage offerings.

This, as many who have reached this stage, is the moment of truth. That's because now you can get "true" UL equipment, the kind of stuff that will help you to get way under 10lb base, maybe even near 5lb. But there's a hitch - it might cost and arm & leg. As an extra bonus, this UL equipment has a limited half-life, so it's not only more money, but it's less sturdy.

Enter the final stage: MYOG. MYOG won't really save you money if you're counting the value of your time invested in the project. But, if you're designing/sewing during non-billable/productive (ie work) time instead of watching TV, it's probably a better use of your time anyway.

However, I would have to say the real benefit of MYOG is finally becoming fully intimate with all the ins & outs of the various fabrics, coatings, functions, etc. Much more than saving money on material, MYOG is a graduate degree course on what really works, why and how to use it.

It forces you to understand the principles of CLO values, why you need to insulation/loft when @ rest/sleep vs why you need wicking/wind break material when moving. It drives you to consider down vs syn fill; it makes you think about what a pack can be, and how they might designed for very different specific purposes.

I'm not suggesting your friend begin @ this point, rather it's just an observation that if you start on the UL journey (typically with the acquisition of a scale), it's difficult to not end up at this final point.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Goals on 03/30/2012 12:39:10 MDT Print View

If your goal is to get as UL as possible and shave off every gram or ounce, you probably need a scale.

If your goal is to just get reasonably light then you can get by without one.

Many of us here on this forum fall into the former category and have scales. Many others either fall into the latter category or don't really care about weight at all, they are just out to have a good time.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: elephants in the pack on 03/30/2012 16:17:31 MDT Print View

"7.8 pounds, a 3 pounds savings. wow. thank you Mr. Scale."

I don't think a scale is required to make a 30% pack weight adjustment on 11lbs. I would think just listed specs would be adequate at that resolution.

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Re: elephants in the pack on 03/30/2012 17:25:20 MDT Print View

"I don't think a scale is required to make a 30% pack weight adjustment on 11lbs. I would think just listed specs would be adequate at that resolution."

what are the specs for a McHale pack that is custom made? the Sarvis specs weren't exactly close - like 8 oz difference.