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Where do you compromise?
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Christopher Taggart

Locale: Western PA
Where do you compromise? on 10/22/2012 22:59:07 MDT Print View

We all like to keep our packs light for obvious reasons. I, personally, have conceded a little weight savings to carry a Jetboil Sol. I like three hots a day and the Jetboil saves me time and fuss.

What compromises have you made for comfort and or convenience?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 00:21:56 MDT Print View

Compromise or just divergence from UL Canon Law?


A slightly heavier pack (Exos 46)for better weight distribution.

Safety and survival items: a 3.5" folding knife, a full-size compass, redundant lighting and fire starting items.

Synthetic insulation.

Mid layers.

A canister stove.

Does Scotch count?

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 01:40:30 MDT Print View

funny that...
my most obvious "compromise" is the pack itself.
My ULAS Circuit is nice and comfy but I still prefer the 1 lb heavier Aarn ...
But I am into Comfortably Light not just light...

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 05:06:32 MDT Print View

1) McHale LBP 36 Pack - 63 0z
2) I always bring rain gear (event packa and chaps) 17 oz

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
ha on 10/23/2012 05:34:23 MDT Print View

Lol.. Dale, yes, scotch counts.

Makes me think about getting Honey Jack for the winter trips.

David Noll
(dpnoll) - MLife

Locale: Maroon Bells
Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 06:06:52 MDT Print View

My wife says Scotch does not count.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 06:51:09 MDT Print View

Comfort is never compromised just because I go out with light weight.

I substitute single use gear for dual use gear. Example: Using a hat as a cozy. Using a jacket for around camp and sleeping in. Using a folded sleeping pad as part of pack frame.

Somethings cannot be substituted: AM drops have one purpose. My E+Light has one purpose. Stoves have only one purpose.

Pack weight for any trip is always around 10-13 pounds. Base weight is often closer to 7-9pounds in summer. My pack weight never exceeds ~25pounds, even with 2 weeks of food. (Though, I am quick to fill it with "goodies" for one week trips.) Besides, the pack (GG Murmur) will not support it. It is over loaded >20 pounds.

I have been called a "comfort camper." I usually carry a neoair, a tarp and often(less tha 50% of the time) a bug tent. Ha, ha... Yup, that fits me.

Camping is just as relaxing as hiking or paddling (I do both about equally.) Not counting the scotch (which lets me enjoy anything, it seems,) I enjoy just sitting on a rock watching the loons fish, preen and play. I never sacrifice comfort, just to say I carry a light pack. I carry a light pack to BE comfortable.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Comfortable Compromise on 10/23/2012 06:55:10 MDT Print View

I was one of those who took the "get lighter no matter what" route. After a couple trips below 8 pounds base weight I tried sleeping in a hammock. At first my pack weight shot back up fairly significantly (to around 14 pounds base) and now it's back down to a manageable 11-12 pounds.

The key word for me is "comfortable" - I only get 2-3 weekend trips a year and I want to remember them fondly rather than as exercises in survival. I've found that I'm much more comfortable in a hammock than I was sleeping on a torso-sized pad on the ground and I've never gone back.

This may be dull, but here's my transition:

  • 2005 - Started backpacking again after a 30-year break. My oldest daughter (then 14) and I were going to do the 30-mile West Rim Trail in PA. My total pack weight for a 3-night trip was certainly in excess of 60 pounds! I was simply stupid...I had an 8-pound Arc'Teryx pack, carried 4 liters of water with me at all times, used a white-gas stove and had almost 2 liters of fuel, a complete change of clothing for each day, 2 days extra food, a 2-pound hammock for each of us, a 7 pound tent, Thermarest get the picture! We bailed after two nights and around 14 miles because we simply weren't having fun.
  • 2006 - Carly and I tackled the West Rim Trail again but a little more intelligently. My pack weight was probably still around 45 pounds, but we carried less water (you cross water about every 2-3 miles on this trail), lighter sleeping bags, only 1 hammock, limited extra clothing. We finished the trail and felt pretty good about it.
  • 2007 - Completed the Old Loggers Path in PA with one of my buddies. My pack weight was 42 pounds (I had finally purchased a scale to weigh our packs). This is when I discovered BPL.
  • 2008 - Early April trip - Purchased a new tent (SMD Lunar Duo) to drop 4 pounds. Got a new pack (SMD Starlite) to drop another 6 pounds. Temperatures were to be in the low 30's at night so I had to bring my old-school Sierra Designs 15-degree bag. I almost cried when it completely filled my Starlite and I had to carry my old Arc'Teryx pack again. Because of fleece and other cold-weather gear, my pack weight remained at 42 pounds. This is where I started to get more serious...
  • 2008 - May trip - tried tarping for the first time, sleeping on a Z-Rest with a BPL UL60 quilt. Starting total pack weight was 24 pounds.
  • 2008 - September trip - New GG Murmur, torso-sized pad, Gatewood Cape, Caldera Cone. Base weight dropped to 7 pounds and total pack weight (with food & water) was right at 17 pounds.
  • 2009 - Continued with the Gatewood Cape and kept my base weight around 7 pounds
  • 2010 - Tried hammocking. Slept in a Speer hammock with long straps and a full bugnet (26 ounces). Used my Z-Rest as insulation under me. With a 1-pound tarp my base pack weight crept back up to around 14 pounds.
  • 2011 - Refined my hammock setup. Got a 3/4-length underquilt to replace the Z-Rest, a Grand Trunk Nano-7 hammock with whoopie slings (less than 11 ounces) and a Cuben Hex Tarp (10 ounces with guylines and stakes). Base pack weight is now 11 pounds.
  • 2012 - Still playing with hammocks. Tried the 11-foot BIAS Micro-Weight Weenie hammock (about 13 ounces with suspension and straps) and realized that the extra 2-3 ounces brought around a significant increase in comfort. My base weight, depending on the stove I take, hovers around 12 pounds.

I've zoned in on what is comfortable for me, but it's taken a couple of years and a fairly sizable outlay of funds for gear. I've kept all my replaced gear and have a decent-sized gear closet so I can loan stuff to friends who want to try backpacking. I've found the key to be to continue trying at least one new thing each trip and to take as many trips as you possibly can.

Re: Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 17:43:43 MDT Print View

After numerous trips gazing enviously at JetBoil users sitting back enjoying their meals while I was still fiddling with an Alcohol stove (or, more accurately, setting myself alight) I broke down and "compromised" by buying one.

I've also gone back to my heavy Prolite Plus after experimenting with Exped Synmats and Closed cell foam pads as saving 400 odd grams just wasn't worth the trade off in comfort.

That's the great thing about learning ultralight - the savings in weight give you scope to actually increase all round comfort levels.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 18:13:12 MDT Print View

Making sure I'm warm enough--I get cold easily, especially at night. I tried a 32* (0*C) sleeping bag with all my extra clothing; I was shivering by the time the thermometer reached 32*! I also don't do well with quilts (cold drafts down my neck when I toss and turn). I'm much better off with my Western Mountaineering Ultralite.

A really plush thick, well-insulated sleeping pad--with my old bones and slightly arthritic joints, my choice is between a really thick insulated air pad or spending the night literally screaming in pain! My 3.5" thick insulated pad from the late lamented KookaBay is 13 oz., so it's really not all that heavy. I tried the NeoAir and couldn't get comfortable on it.

A canister stove (Primus Micron Ti), for its convenience. For long trips (over 7 days), the weight difference between alcohol and canister is minimal. For 2-3 day trips, I really should take my alcohol stove, but I always end up grabbing the canister stove instead. At least that lets me use up my collection of partially full canisters.

A personal locator beacon--I call this psychological weight saving, because it keeps my family and friends off my back!

As a result, my base weight for 3 seasons (Cascades and Rockies) is either 10.8 or 12.2 pounds (4.9 or 5.5 kg). The higher weight includes camera (for some reason, missing from nearly all the gear lists I've seen) and fishing gear. (The fishing gear includes a frying pan just in case I catch something, ha ha.)

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/23/2012 18:18:36 MDT.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Where do you compromise? on 10/23/2012 18:17:42 MDT Print View

I don't see carrying sufficent kit for the expected conditions to be a compromise, I carry what I think I need.

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
All about "the compromise" on 10/24/2012 07:27:27 MDT Print View

Even as I aspire my gear and I to be lighter, I compromise aplenty:

--canister stove rig v. my esbit kit
--redundant fire starting capacity v. not
--BA air mattress v. foam sheet
--camp stool v. not
--camp shoes v. not
--Kelty Tioga v. lighter pack(s)
--fishing rig and kite, v. not

Most of my compromises are measured: I want the convenience, enjoyment and/or safety and I've made the "compromise" as light as I can. The stove, shoes, stool and fire starting fit this. The air mattress has been the difference between terrible sleep and comfort. Hell, I'm looking at the Q-pad thing, even! Otherwise, I have the Kelty because I've settled into it after 32 years and like it... and with all the weight I saved from the cast-iron skillet ( no ), I can justify the fishing rig and kite because they're fun.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Where do you compromise? on 10/24/2012 10:30:42 MDT Print View

The weight of my empty pack has risen and fallen recently. My packs are MYOG projects of mine. I started out with a "manufactured" 4 pound 13 ounce anchor. I dropped some weight by making a 10.5 oz pack out of PU coated ripstop nylon and some breathable polyester. Next I went deeply into SUL and built a < 5 oz pack from polyester spinnaker and coated silnylon. From that point I decided that my pack needed more "structure" when empty so I got into using Xpac fabric for my packs. The first Xpac was pack made out of VX07 and VX21. It weighed in at 16.85 ounces. My latest and current pack is made of VX21, lycra and 4mm foam mesh. It tips the scales at 12.85 ounces.

Long story short I compromised on the increased weight of my pack for the ease and convenience of being able to pack it while it holds itself upright and open.

One other area where I compromised on weight was purchasing and using a ProLite Plus inflatable sleeping pad. I doubled the weight of my former pad but the level of comfort also increased.

A good night's rest is invaluable on the trail!

Party On,


Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Where do you compromise? on 10/24/2012 15:16:04 MDT Print View

"The higher weight includes camera (for some reason, missing from nearly all the gear lists I've seen)"

That is because many are kidding themselves...
Wear cargo pants with pockets full of stuff and your pack will be lighter.
It is also the reason why I don't post a full list of what I use, all it matters to me is the difference between my body weight (naked) and my full weight (clothing and pack with food and some water) because everything over my body weight is what I have to carry.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re Where do you compromise? on 10/24/2012 16:25:02 MDT Print View

I compromise lower weight when an item that improves my safety or comfort or enjoyment becomes worth it to me. Items I typically take that aren't necessary but make me feel better either physically or psychologically are: a personal locator beacon, a GPS, my cell phone (mostly for the camera), my trekking poles, my canister stove (instead of a soda can stove), and I use a UL air mattress WITH a 3/4 length CCF mattress for more comfort. Those are my primary compromise items. I could go lighter- or without- all those items but I choose not to. I'm strongly considering getting an Alite Monarch Butterfly chair. Do I need it? No. But Alaska ground is rocky and often there aren't convenient places to sit and sometimes it's really nice to be able to lean back on something and not have your butt on the ground. I'm still mulling that one over, as it's about 1-1/2 lbs.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Where do you compromise? on 10/24/2012 18:26:30 MDT Print View

Alite Monarch Butterfly chair
How about a cut down Ridgerest or similar ?
Double use...

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Alite Monarch vs. cut down ccf pad on 10/24/2012 20:44:23 MDT Print View

Franco- on my last trip I did use a cut down CCF pad (a z-rest, not a ridge rest but same idea) but sitting on the ground with my legs stretched out in front of my wasn't comfortable. My knees really wanted to bend and I wanted to lean back onto something that would support me. Where I was at we had lots of small rocks to gouge the backside but no large rocks or logs to lean against.

But as I said, I'm weighing the idea in my head before I have to carry the weight in real life. Maybe a few more trips without.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
my compromises on 11/01/2012 09:14:59 MDT Print View

I always bring whisky.
Sometimes fresh eggs for breakfast.

I really like to "spend" my saved gear weights on better food.

Great topic


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
I change my mind a lot on 11/08/2012 10:48:45 MST Print View

I sometimes carry a spice kit and try to eat two hot meals a day. So I carry a fairly complete UL kitchen.
Then I sometimes think that hot food is taking away from my enjoyment by adding weight and cooking time.

My opinion changes from time to time, but I find I do eat less hot meals lately.
So the kitchen may stay at home more often. Or I may plan on less than one hot meal a day.

Booze is the only necessary luxury for me. I can go without books, camera, games, ...

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Multiple-use gear list on 11/08/2012 13:03:20 MST Print View

If my gear list doesn't include everything between my skin and the trail, something will get left behind. My gear list is a dual-use item--besides tracking the weight, I print it out as a check list for each trip.

robert mckay
(rahstin) - F

Locale: The Great Land
Guitar on 11/27/2012 12:19:45 MST Print View

If we plan on less than 10 miles a day, i bring my guitar.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Where do you compromise? on 12/04/2012 13:19:35 MST Print View

There's lots of lighter gear available now but rather than buy it I compromise and just keep using the stuff I have. Things I won't compromise on include:

- protection from bugs while I sleep
- decent food
- sleeping warmth when it's cold