Forum Index » GEAR » Where does durability win over light weight?


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William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: What would I do? on 01/12/2013 11:42:55 MST Print View

And how far is it back to the trailhead or to other sources of safety?

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
William, you lost me. on 01/12/2013 13:22:32 MST Print View

I'm sorry, I don't understand where you're going with this...

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: What would I do? on 01/12/2013 14:50:34 MST Print View

If you put on enough clothing that is not down or cotton, you can usually get yourself warm enough even when getting wet from rain. If you are warm enough hiking dry with a long sleeve base layer, putting on a light fleece or wool sweater over that might be required if you are getting wetted out.
But then what happens when you get to camp and you don't have any dry clothes? You have to instantly crawl into your sleeping bag to get warm or getting a warm fire going (not easy to do in a hurry when everything is wet).
What really sucks is when your sleeping bag isn't warm enough by itself and you are relying on wearing clothing. You encounter a situation where you are too cold when hiking and have to take out some of your sleeping clothing. Your sleeping clothing gets wet and you have to sit there trying to dry out your clothes by the fire just to get some sleep.
In my experience, a little redundancy in clothing is sometimes worth it.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: The Real Durability Question on 01/12/2013 14:54:55 MST Print View

People have completed thru's or multiple thru's with cuben shelters. on the LT I met an AT SOBO with a cuben lightheart Solo or Solong that was perfectly fine (so it had made it through 100mi wilderness and White mountains)

i use Silnylon as parts of my tent (LH solo) and pack (exos 58) and am aware it is less durable than my car camping tent and climbing pack. my summer and shoulder season quilts are M90 with synthetic and 1.1 nylon with down. trail runners feel better than boots for me. carbon poles over AL. inflatable pad over foam.

Backpacking light-er takes a mental shift that you may need more experience to make. It takes personal experience to know how far or long you can hike, how much food you need for a weekend, for a week, for multiple weeks with resupplies and how it changes. your previous perceived weaknesses in products might change.

You may want to question why you had gear failures? what popped your water bottle? what caused your jacket to peel and then tear? what could you have done to prevent it.


I think Williams last post means, if something goes wrong, how far is it back to the car if you need to bail. If you are a few mi from the road you can be more bold than if you are 50mi. To put it in your bike background (which i share) I carry 1 tube most of the time... for centuries i bring 2. for 30mi or less i bring 1 bottle.. 30+ i carry 2.

I think a lot of your questions will be answered on their own after you hike more. I'm guessing you don't think about much when you hop on a bike anymore? You probably don't treat your road bike like a mtn bike.. avoid potholes etc instead of slamming into them.. 23mm tires are less durable than 2" tires but are worth it. you probably don't wear a full face helmet on the road etc.

Edited by JakeDatc on 01/12/2013 15:06:09 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Why My Items Failed, and Philosophy on 01/12/2013 15:14:34 MST Print View

My water vessel weakened at a seam. I don't know how I could have prevented it, other than replacing it earlier. There wasn't a lot of wear.

In regards to the jacket, I think the answer to why it failed falls somewhere between poor quality and extreme use. Wearing the jacket all day as a wind layer, wearing it to bed as barrier against wet clothing that I was drying out, and then wearing it around camp means during this particular trip, it saw a lot of use. I also often used it as a raincoat when I wasn't camping, and I routinely biked in it all winter as a windbreak.

So, for me, adding 5 ounces for a durable raincoat is a no-brainer. I beat the daylights out of rain gear, so a membrane piece instead of a thin sheet of nylon coated in DWR is a good upgrade.


I kind of understand the point about how far it is to the trailhead, but in that case, I want to err on the side of caution. It is not acceptable to me for my raincoat to disintegrate because I very well could be two days from my car, or more. I need something stronger. I know I have my brain- and I'm completely sure I'd figure something out with a sleeping bag and several other layers that would get me back home alive, but if I can skip making that kind of decision by bringing durable rain gear, that's a good use of my brain as well.

Because my sleeping bag sees very little abuse, I'm happy to go ultralight there. Running shorts, sunglasses, a down jacket for camp- I can and will shed ounces by using extra-gossamer materials.


But honestly, maybe it's just me; I see no difference in 10lbs versus 15lbs, and that extra 5lbs can mean more durable materials for your tent, pack, rain gear, and shoes. I could go to 10lbs base weight, but 15lbs feels only slightly heavier and can mean a huge difference in what you're able to do. Even if I was two days from the trailhead, if my gear is ready for 100 miles of travel or more, I stand a higher chance of enjoying myself and my overall safety increases.

Just my 2 cents!

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Why My Items Failed, and Philosophy on 01/12/2013 15:41:58 MST Print View

5lb can also be 2 more days of food between resupplies. Which could be just handy or really necessary depending on the hike.

seems like you used a very light jacket for purposes it might not have been built for. much of my hiking stuff i only use for hiking. Biking with a flapping jacket probably put a lot of stress on it. taped seams can be sealed or retaped i think.

I don't use my hiking socks, tent, quilts, pack, probably other stuff for things other than backpacking. I have my old tent i use for car camping, old sleeping bag, climbing pack, biking jacket, socks. basically use heavier duty gear for when weight doesn't matter.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
2 Days of Food Not Relevant on 01/12/2013 15:49:49 MST Print View

It doesn't really flap- it's form-fitting. I don't think cycling wore it out, and I need my raincoat to do both.

A seam on the inside of the right front lost a section of seam tape about 12 inches long, and then the next day, an unrelated seam between the shoulderblades tore. It's just not a very durable jacket- I'm glad I replaced it. I think it's also worth saying that the Marmot raincoat was $180 on sale for $140, and I replaced it for free through Zappos with a $250 raincoat on sale for $150. Zappos ate the $10 difference. That's service!

And yeah, I have one pack for winter camping and trips with my college, since I volunteer to carry a lot of extra stuff for the relatively short hikes. It's a 90L Kelty, and it weighs 6lbs by itself.

I get out my sub-3lb 40L pack for serious hikes where weight matters.

I get that 5lbs means 2 more days of food, but I am prepared to carry 10 days worth of food in my pack at any given time. With the exception of the 100-mile wilderness in Maine, 10 days worth of food is a reasonable amount to carry between resupply points (as far as I know). If I come up on a situation where I have to carry 12 days worth of food (my pack does have room for a little extra) then I will just grin and bear it! 5lbs does not make or break trekking for me.

Edited by mdilthey on 01/12/2013 15:51:19 MST.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: William, you lost me. on 01/12/2013 17:46:07 MST Print View

I'm just encouraging an exploration of what the actual options and risks are (including whether, under these circumstances, hypothermia was a significant risk).

Your other solutions sound fine as plan b, and would enable you to continue your trip (a sewing kit or safety pins with some seamgrip, duct tape, or a reasonably tough plastic bag, might also allow you to continue). But it's always important to know whether you can rely on plan c (bailing).

If bailing is always an option, equipment failure's more about inconvenience than about danger. If it's not, then you better be able to rely upon your equipment or your ability to repair it, or else your life's at stake.

From my perspective, durability vs light weight only really takes on meaning within the context of the trip.

Bill S.

PS added as edit - From a risk standpoint, two days from the car is different from two days from a trailhead or other safe harbors. I haven't done enough New England backpacking to know the options, but are there places other than 100 mile wilderness where you can get two days from a road? If so, and you're willing to share, PM please!

Edited by sbill9000 on 01/12/2013 17:54:38 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Backpacking in New England on 01/12/2013 18:04:53 MST Print View

My backpacking isn't too extensive. Most areas let you go a few days in one direction, but you're usually in a corridor, so less than 1 day from a road. The Green Mountains have a few good spots, and Glastenbury Mountain is a favorite. The nearby White Mountains are plenty extensive, especially the White Mountain National Forest and Banff Nat'l Park. Of course, in the Whites, 1 day from a road could easily be five or six because it's so hard to navigate...

There's a third factor here that is pretty significant to me. The cost of backpacking for someone on a salary is nothing. For me, with college loans and graduate school looming, replacing a raincoat might mean saving for a month or more. So I need some stuff to last, or be covered by a warranty.

William Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Backpacking in New England on 01/12/2013 18:20:19 MST Print View

"There's a third factor here that is pretty significant to me. The cost of backpacking ..."

I certainly get that. That's why I started with the financial cost of failure in my initial reply!

Bill

PS - if wanting to save weight and $, under conditions where a ripped jacket won't be a safety issue, Driducks and similar is worth looking in to.

Edited by sbill9000 on 01/12/2013 19:59:33 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
:) on 01/12/2013 18:37:21 MST Print View

Thanks Bill- message well received!

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Backpacking in New England on 01/12/2013 21:01:26 MST Print View

what part of the Whites are difficult to navigate? I find them to be pretty well signed at most trail junctions. It is my "home field" so that helps a lot

this map is the best i've found so far.
http://www.amazon.com/White-Mountains-Waterproof-Trail-Map/dp/1890060232/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1

How far you are from a road in the 100mi wilderness depends on your mileage capabilities.. for me the whole thing could be done in 6 days unless it was really muddy. (the southern section is pretty flat) There is a way out at White house landing that is before the northern end too. also logging roads that could be taken out.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/13/2013 00:25:31 MST Print View

Durability trumps when your life depends on it. You must be able to stay warm, dry and safe. And often skill stumps gear. Make sure you have the skill to use lightweight gear or know how to improvise in an emergency.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Shoes! on 01/13/2013 00:45:57 MST Print View

I briefly considered Innov8 "boots" but read about durability and thin sole problems.

That was enough warning for me so I went with Merrill Moab Ventilator shoes and Moab Mid GTX low boots. Great choice on both counts.

NOTE: I did experience some mesh wear at the toes of the much-used Moab Ventilators so I masked off the areas on the shoes and boots with tape, colored the areas black W/ permenant marker and applied Shoe Goo, working it well into the mesh. It looks "factory" and protects the mesh. Toe durability problem solved - cheaply.

Michael K
(chinookhead) - F - M
extremes and the fun factor (torture vs. fun) on 01/13/2013 08:47:02 MST Print View

I would agree with what many have said regarding equipment failure, in regards to the failure more likely meaning that you have to bail rather than actually a life threatening issue. Usually, you can reach civilization within 1-2 days.

However, the above type of failures, like Max's rain jacket failure, are worth it for me bringing more durable/heavier equipment or possibly extras in specific situations. For example, with rain jackets, I like something a bit burlier because when I have time, my trips almost always involve bushwacking into less used areas for climbing and fishing. I don't think that it is "fun" hiking in a leaky jacket or with wet clothes. I love that my EVENT rain gear actually breathes really well. Also, it's not "fun" sleeping in not totally dry clothes, even if I won't die of hypothermia.

On the other hand, if I go the other extreme, and carry extras of everything and the toughest stuff out there, the actual hiking part of the trip is less fun because I'm carrying so much weight and I might need a "recovery day" once I reach my destination before going climbing. It's a balancing act.


The bottom line is that I backpack to have fun and not to "torture" myself. We all have our own scale of when things stop being fun and feeling more like torture or work.

Edited by chinookhead on 01/13/2013 08:48:11 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Old school gear and UL gear on 01/13/2013 19:19:42 MST Print View

Those of us old enough to remember the '70s and '80s backpacking gear know most of it was overkill in the durability department. Packs, tents, and stoves were "mountaineering grade" instead of UL or even lightweight.

Lordy, My REI "Sololite" weighed in at over 4 lbs. with the needed six stakes. GAK!
My Gregory Wind River internal frame pack weighed over 5 lbs.
And my MSR Dragonfly stove was (still is) MSR's heaviest.

So my point is that we willingly gave up some durability to gain lighter packs.

And technology like Steripens and Katadyn chlorine dioxide tablets got us away from heavy water filters. Silnylon is much lighter than urethane coated nylon, Cuben fabric, carbon fiber salking poles, minaturized cameras needing only one tiny SD card, not rolls of film.

And on it goes, lighter and sometimes even more durable.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Photo Guy on 01/13/2013 19:39:15 MST Print View

I was with you until the camera... I'm upgrading my hefty Nikon D5100 to an absolutely elephantine D300s this spring... I have a dedicated camera bag hanging off the front of my pack at all times.

Someone's gotta be group photographer!

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Where does durability win over light weight? on 01/13/2013 19:40:43 MST Print View

>> with college loans and graduate school looming, replacing a raincoat might mean saving for a month or more. So I need some stuff to last, or be covered by a warranty. <<

To me, this is probably a major consideration for most people to some degree and I think it makes sense to buy something pretty substantial, not UL gear. Since most of us aren't in the field for more than a few weeks at a time, it's always possible to replace equipment frequently if you can afford to do so and failure will not likely occur (unless you are bushwhacking extensively).

My rain gear is very important to me and I have probably $600-$800 worth of WPB rain jackets alone. I do not wear my backpacking rain gear for anything else but backpacking and when the DWR dies, I buy another one and move the jacket along to my fishing kit. I always have a separate set of rain gear for fishing because it often smells fishy and I like to avoid that on my backpacking trips. I also keep a couple of WPB rain jackets for cycling or walking around town. If I could only afford one jacket for all activities, I would buy a bomber garment not a light weight.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Locale: MaxTheCyclist.com
Sales on 01/13/2013 20:01:35 MST Print View

I also aggressively- and I mean aggressively- track sales and discounts.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sales on 01/13/2013 20:05:21 MST Print View

Matt,

Just get a nice silnylon poncho. The Golite poncho tarp is on sale for $60 and weighs 7 ounces. Multiple use also.