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Where does durability win over light weight?
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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/10/2013 09:09:59 MST Print View

I popped one flexible water bottle in the field, and that was all it took to make me carry a classic 48oz plastic Nalgene as a primary bottle. Where have you sacrificed a few ounces for comfort or durability?

How do you protect the most fragile materials in the field? Any generally good practices?

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Head lamp with lantern attachment on 01/10/2013 09:18:57 MST Print View

I've gone from head lamp to the just the photon back to head lamp with a lantern attachment. It wasn't a durability issue as much as the safety of having the brighter light and the convenience of the warm glow of a 'lantern' when just chilling at night. It was worth a few ounces to me.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/10/2013 09:21:05 MST Print View

I have done that with my pack(s) because I often bushwack.

Interesting that a headlamp was mentioned. I have a Petzl e-lite that has been more than sufficient except on my last two trips where I had to hike in the dark for a bit. Back to my Princeton Tec EOS I go.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Headlamps on 01/10/2013 09:31:03 MST Print View

I actually did the same re: Headlamp. I had a lightweight, cheap little Princeton Tec, and when that failed, I went straight to the highly applauded Petzl Tikka Plus 2.

I've hiked in the dark before. I don't know why headlamps always feel like a necessity to me. Perhaps it's because I use them at night while biking, or perhaps it's because of the chance of needing to do field surgery... but headlamps are a security blanket for me.

Dave Ure, what kind of backpack do you use?

Edited by mdilthey on 01/10/2013 09:31:40 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/10/2013 09:35:29 MST Print View

Water bottles are thinner and I worry they might break

Soda or juice bottles are a little thicker. I have never had a failure. After a year or so, it seems like they get a little brittle so I replace them. I am fairly careful with my gear. Set it on the ground rather than dropping : )

I have used Platypus bags for years and never had a failure. Again, after a while they start getting brittle and yellow so I replace. Also, they start delaminating at the edges. But plenty of notice so I have time to replace before failure.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Tent stakes on 01/10/2013 09:38:58 MST Print View

I always, no matter the condition (deep snow exempted) carry MSR Groundhogs. They can be pounded into frozen ground, gravel-packed dirt, and wedged into cracks in rocks without worry. They are heavier than thin wire stakes, but hold very well and can be abused*. I don't want to wake up at 3 am because a stake came loose.

*The one time I broke a Groundhog stake was when it was about 15*F and I was trying to remove it from frozen ground. I hit the head of the stake with a rock at a sharp angle. I've learned not to do that and haven't broken one since.

Jared Baker
(simply_light) - MLife

Locale: Midwest, US
Knife on 01/10/2013 09:47:53 MST Print View

I'll always carry a heavier knife. I tried some of the smaller (under 1 oz) ones, but found them feeling too small and fragile. So, I keep coming back to my Bark River one at 6 ounces.

You know the old saying "rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it".

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Headlamps on 01/10/2013 09:47:59 MST Print View

Max - regarding lights. I have done some night hikes recently and used the Klarus XT11 flashlight clipped to my belt. Sweet lord, it was like hiking with the sun next to me (600 lumens and a nice medium wide throw).

Edited by FamilyGuy on 06/16/2013 09:29:56 MDT.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Nice packs! on 01/10/2013 09:50:02 MST Print View

Thanks Dave. I like that Hyperlight. It has proven durable? Not sure what to think about Cuben Fiber, as I've never tried it.

But that might be a good thing to research anyways...

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Re: Knife on 01/10/2013 10:00:40 MST Print View

You know the old saying "rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it".

I don't think that's in the ultralight handbook...

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Ultralight Sacrifices on 01/10/2013 10:02:17 MST Print View

I always laugh at myself when I end up in those scenarios... This past summer I biked 1500 miles across the northeastern US, and the #1 joke between my travel mates and I was how my ultralight setup prevented me from carrying a can of beans or a loaf of bread. It had to be a Clif Bar to fit...

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/10/2013 10:55:38 MST Print View

Desert hiking?

Water vessels. Drop a platy out here, you're screwed. I strap a durable bottle to my pack now and leave one platy style vessel in my pack for camp or filled up for dry stretches.

Sleeping pads.

Foam or 10D minimum for inflatable pads. Usually both.


I'm not keen on carving twigs to function as tarp stakes. MSR groundhogs are a staple. Our soil is either sand or cement.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Well Said on 01/10/2013 11:00:59 MST Print View

Eugene, you spoke my mind. Although, I will argue that the sleeping pad, for me, depends on the shelter. I'm about to switch from a Thermarest NeoAir to a Thermarest X-lite because my hammock protects them so well, durability isn't an issue.

I should also say that i am dying to hike around Arizona/New Mexico. Someday!

Edited by mdilthey on 01/10/2013 11:04:16 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

LW vs. Durability on 01/10/2013 11:44:00 MST Print View

It's perhaps human nature to over react and ping pong back and forth between gossamer and bombproof, when neither is usually ideal. The goal should normally be "sufficient durability" for the task at hand, which will rarely fall at either extreme. Understand the conditions, risks, tolerance to gear damage, goals and intended hiking style, and then choose the piece of gear that strikes the best balance.

So when the risks are higher, the conditions are more challenging or ones attitude changes (ie. less of a desire to baby gear) then more durable gear may be the right choice. I've bounced around on the durability continuum with many different pieces of gear and a few areas I've would up preferring more durability than I initially expected (hiking pants), while in others I've realized very little is required (ie. sleeping bag shell fabrics).

Jumping around on this continuum is part of process of refining a gear set. Larger jumps are less likely to land you in the sweet spot, but big shifts do teach a great deal. So a few big jumps are okay at first (ie. 1000D climbing backpack to a 0.75oz cuben backpack or vice versa) but eventually you'll likely settle down in the sweet zone and begin making smaller refinements as you approach your ideal.

Edited by dandydan on 01/10/2013 11:45:31 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
money on 01/10/2013 12:00:01 MST Print View

how much moolah do ya have and how much/hard do you use your gear ....

thats a question only you can answer ...

i tried an UL dead bird pack once ... blew it out in a month or two ...

i use softshells rather than windshirts on climbs ... weights twice as much but they can take abuse instead of getting little pinholes everytime i go up a route

i use nalgenes in the winter so i can heat em up and they are more resistant to freezing

as someone said .... find the equipment that does what you need .... dont go stupid light ;)

James DeGraaf
(jdegraaf) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
Shoes on 01/10/2013 12:28:17 MST Print View

I haven tried some very minimalist shoes for backpacking in. After a few days my feet would get sore, maybe I have whimpy feet? But I've switched to some shoes with more cushion (read =more weight) and my feet have thanked me ever since. (I went from a pair of New Balance MT101 shoes about 18oz for the pair to some La Sportiva Raptor shoes that about 34oz for the pair)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Knife et al on 01/10/2013 12:32:37 MST Print View

I've gone back and forth on the knife thing. I found myself in truly miserable conditions once- near freezing, wet snow, sleet, hail- and would have really appreciated a fire, but the tiny knife on my Leatherman Squirt simply wasn't up to the task of procuring dry wood (I would have had to shave the wet wood off of sizeable branches just to get to the dry core). So I started carrying a small fixed-blade knife, but then never had another situation where it would have mattered. Hmm.

Also, FWIW the only redundant piece of gear I carry is an emergency fire-starter. Worst comes to worst, if I have a knife and a fire I'm probably ok, so they are the only things I carry on my person rather than in the pack. Since it is for emergencies I try to keep the firestarter as bombproof as possible- a firesteel or even better one of those magnesium blocks.

I don't know if this counts, but I've never used a silnylon pack because they simply sound like they wouldn't stand up to the abuse that I typically inflict on my packs. I've used some pretty light gridstop, though. MLD packs are my standard, but I've looked long and hard at the GG packs.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Re: Shoes on 01/10/2013 12:41:13 MST Print View

James, I am very similar. I use hiking boots because the durability to protect my feet is important to me. I've got a bad right foot, and keeping those puppies behind Vibram soles, rock plates, and abrasion-resistant uppers is my perogative. I definitely pay for it in weight.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/10/2013 13:01:46 MST Print View

Durability of a piece of gear ALWAYS wins over light weight. If something does not meet your expectations for a piece of gear, then it needs to be changed. Especially if it is not durable enough to be reliable in the field. If it breaks in the field, then you are carrying dead weight, at a minimum. You could be inconvienced or it might put you at risk.

Many years ago, about 10-15, I kept believing that light weight was the clear winner. On one trip I destroyed my alcohol stove with an arm load of wood that bounced on top of it. Even cutting away the bent portions did not work that well. I ran out of fuel with two days of pasta, rice, oatmeal and bisquik in my pack in the High Peaks (no fires.) Supper was no fun and breakfast was not much better.

Water jugs are about the same. I had a older platypus leak. I carry one for those times I need water for a long stretch, but otherwise, I do not use them. A soda bottle works as well.

Anyway, these are a couple examples of durability problems. I rarely use my little stoves anymore, too fragile. I bring the old SVEA. No pump and only one seal. A very durable and reliable little puppy. Fuel is often one or two 8oz orange juice bottles. Yeah, I pay in the extra ounce for the security of having some fuel. Two 500ml bottles are safer than a single one 1L bottle. I fell on my ti pot and cracked it...went back to aluminum. Aluminum dents easier, but a similar fall would have just crushed it, not cracked it (I stuff it with my firmly rolled rain jacket rather than trust it, though.) Ever get lost going to the bathroom at night? I use a hair tie looped to my wrist, under my sleeve, at night. I bring two lights, a little waterproof Impulse and an e-Light. One or the other will always work. A small threaded needle with about 3-4 yards of thread will patch most clothing, tarp, bag and pack. 3-5yd of duct tape will handle other general field repairs. Other tricks I have picked up over 35-40 years or so. Mostly clothing lasts pretty well. It is fairly durable. I have worn out a couple sets of rain wear. But I don't worry to much if "I" get wet. I need a dry place to bed down, though. My fishing rod is usually rubber banded together, keeps the tip from breaking.

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
response to the original question on 01/10/2013 13:10:39 MST Print View

when you are days from help/safety.

Going on a weekend trip into the hills I am willing to play the durability game 'with most items' but if it affects my safety I back down. Water carrying capabilities is no joke especially going into the hills where pools of water are less likely.