Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight


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Thomas Vree
(Exploriment) - F

Locale: Niagara Escarpment
Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 13:50:29 MDT Print View

The older I get, the more I want to reduce the amount of weight I carry on my adventures. I can and have carried some monstrous loads, but really don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. Some of it just consists of doing away with unnecessary items, and a big part of it is just using lighter items. It’s been a gradual, ongoing process. Some of the stuff is purchased, and can be a bit spendy, and some of it is self made. To get the money to buy or find the time to make, the whole process to shave off the weight on my back will happen over a period of time. And I’m certainly not obsessive about it. When I read about people drilling holes in a titanium spoon or rejecting a cord lock because it weighs 2 milligrams, I think that’s taking it to an extreme.

I frequent various lightweight backpacking / hiking forums, and I love the concepts I glean, the innovative ideas others showcase, the DIY ethic, the information about new and improved gear. But reading through them, I sometimes get the sense that some people set a very arbitrary weight limit to strive for. “I must get my base weight down to X amount of grams!” Some of the weights being advocated as desirable by ultra-lighters, are not very realistic for everyone. Given times of year, given locales, and given body size, they strike this wandering wookie as flights of fancy at best. Making that gear is fun, and buying that gear is fun, and trying out that gear is fun, but I have to wonder if a bit of zealotry isn’t creeping into the mindset of some folks.

I was thinking about it a while back and it struck me that the ability to go down to a 5 pound base pack weight is partially contingent on where one lives. A lot of people advocating those weights live in Florida or Texas or California. But if I go for a hike here in Ontario in October, the temps can go from 20°C in the day time to -5°C at night. Not sure that I want to be traipsing around with gossamer light gear that has no margin for error under those parameters. “I must get my base weight down to X amount of grams!” That’s swell when you live in San Diego and you’re going for a an overnighter in summer. But when you’re in more northern climes, with far greater variances of temps and conditions, the less realistic that goal becomes.

But something else affects my ability to trim weight off my loadout. My height.

I’m 6'7" or a touch over 2 meters, and a solidly built 235 pounds or a bit over 100 kilos.

I’m a big guy.

My hammock is bigger. My tarp is bigger. My quilt is bigger. My underquilt is bigger. My clothes are bigger. The stuff sacks they go into are slightly bigger. If I was to use a tent, there are many that I can’t fit into, necessitating a larger model. My pack consequently needs to be a bit bigger. I tend to eat slightly bigger portions than a smaller person.“I must get my base weight down to X amount of grams!” That’s swell when you’re a 5'4" woman who weighs 130 lbs. But when you’re a burly giant, the less realistic that goal becomes.

I can try and shave weight off where I can, but at some point I hit a limit that someone a foot and a half shorter than me can squeeze past. Obviously some things are size independent - stove, pot, tools, etc. - but there are certain things that a smaller person has a distinct advantage with.

Sure I'd love to have a feather weight pack as I traipse around. But an extra foot of insulation over me and an extra foot of insulation under me, and an extra foot of nylon to suspend me in the air, and an extra foot of nylon to keep the rain off of me, and the extra length of wool to clothe me make that a more difficult goal to attain.

Height has its advantages, but it also has its disadvantages.

I guess all I can do is enjoy the good aspects of the hand that fate dealt me, and cheerfully deal with the not so good aspects. And to keep on hiking and to keep on striving to shave off weight where I can.

Andrew Clark
(datsclark)

Locale: San Francisco
Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 14:03:46 MDT Print View

I hear ya! I'm almost 6'7" too. Everything bigger just weighs more. For the most part its not a big deal. For me though, most things are similar weights for everyone else. Sleeping bag / clothes / etc.. incremental weight for the Long version doesn't add up to more than a pound or two. Though I too am not overly bothered by trying to shave those last few ounces off the pack.

The big one for me is finding things that work for me. Like a tent that I fit in that isn't a heavy 2 person tent. Seems no one makes a freestanding tent that's "tall people certified." Or a lot of clothes that doesn't come in tall sizes. Being only 200 lbs i'm a medium tall which is never easy to find.

But like you say, there's advantages to being tall; can't complain.

Todd Taylor
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 16:13:26 MDT Print View

I'm "only" 6'5", but have the same problem. Yes, the bigger gear weighs a little more, but as datsclark alludes, the more significant reason our packs are heavier is probably the limited gear choices.

Stephan Doyle
(StephanCal)
Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 17:40:29 MDT Print View

I'm 5'5" and half your weight. And I ask, What is your criteria?

By body weight percentage, your pack has the potential to be much "lighter" than mine. John Abela, BPL poster and blogger, has reviewed extensive SUL pieces for tall folks (I recall John as 6'4").

For the scale weenies, I'll beat you.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 18:12:54 MDT Print View

Just for fun:

1) the average male is 5'10" or 70" tall.
2) a target weight for a UL kit (carried - not skin out) is 5 lbs or 80 oz.
3) the UL kit weight equals 1.142 oz per inch of height.
4) a 6'5" hiker would have a UL kit of 88 oz +/- (77" x 1.142 oz)
5) a 5'5" hiker would have a UL kit of 74 oz +/- (65" x 1.142 oz)

This for sure is very unscientific and overly simplified. :)

Edited by thomdarrah on 05/08/2012 18:15:32 MDT.

Brian Raap
(braap) - F

Locale: Bay Area
Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 18:47:40 MDT Print View

This was a fun thread that I bookmarked a while back, especially Dean's Pack Weight Index:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=23394&disable_pagination=1

I am 6'8", so I can definitely relate to the problem that is finding lightweight gear that fits. There are just fewer options out there for tall guys. It is hard to find trail runners for size 16. Long enough pants or shirts that aren't as baggy as wearing a sheet. I have basically resigned myself to wearing bad-fitting clothes and dealing with them. Tents, sleeping bags (try finding a lightweight sleeping bag for anyone over 6'6), etc. It all adds up.

However, I guess we do have more mass and theoretically can carry more before we start feeling the effects. So I guess there is that.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 18:58:45 MDT Print View

"However, I guess we do have more mass and theoretically can carry more before we start feeling the effects."

In the Army, they would have said that you look like a good candidate to carry the mortar tube and baseplate.

--B.G.--

Thomas Vree
(Exploriment) - F

Locale: Niagara Escarpment
Re: Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 19:54:46 MDT Print View

Great thread. Thanks for sharing that.

Yeah, just finding anything to fit is a challenge, let alone then throwing in the added aspect of it being light. A large part of why I sew is because of my inability to find things to my liking.

And I know in theory we can carry more, (lord knows I've carried some mind boggling loads), but I will avoid it if I can.

Thomas Vree
(Exploriment) - F

Locale: Niagara Escarpment
Re: Re: Re: Some Observations about Height and (light)Weight on 05/08/2012 19:56:35 MDT Print View

“In the Army, they would have said that you look like a good candidate to carry the mortar tube and baseplate.”

That made me laugh out loud. And 500 round box of 7.62 ammo for good measure.

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
weight and locale on 05/08/2012 22:35:38 MDT Print View

I think you're right that minimum weight is somewhat dependent on your location and climate. No doubt that's why ultralightness seems to be centered in the Southwest, especially the Sierras.

The zealotry comes from having more access to forums than to the trails :)