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Does Clothing Count?
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Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 05:18:53 MDT Print View

I'll be gone for the weekend (camping!), but I have to ask.

Does clothing count as carried weight? Why or why not? This came up in a pants thread, where some zip-off users said there was no noticeable difference from clothing, and ounces saved there didn't matter. I found this surprising coming from people who I pictured cutting margins off maps and handles off toothbrushes.

So, when you count your pack weight, do you go skin-out? Or can you neglect ounces in favor of luxuries like convertible pants and extra pockets since there's no difference?

Interested to hear both sides,


Richard Reno
(scubahhh) - M

Locale: White Mountains, mostly.
Skin out. on 04/12/2013 05:23:27 MDT Print View

you're still carrying it, eh?

Unless it's a kilt. in that case maybe you get a little free lift from the breezes bellowing up inside there?

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Sailing on 04/12/2013 05:42:12 MDT Print View

Sarongs are coming back. Mark my words.

Andre Buhot
(Shadow-MKII) - M
Not Really on 04/12/2013 06:04:37 MDT Print View

If I'm wearing it, then in my mind I don't count it.

But I still wear boots so what do I know? (But I wear them everyday so I notice no difference when I'm walking)

Pockets aren't luxuries either

Edited by Shadow-MKII on 04/12/2013 06:05:33 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 06:33:16 MDT Print View

Full Skin Out is reality. You are actually carrying everything no matter how you want to try and fool yourself.

Base weight is for those people who are trying to hit an arbitrary number sometimes. "I can have a 5 pound base weight if I carry my camera, multi tool, knife, firesteel,zip off legs in my pockets." Also known as cheaters.

I hike slower in boots, 'cause they are heavier. If you were wearing 20 pounds of clothes and gear. Would you not feel heavier and slower than if you were wearing 5 pounds?

my 2 cents.

I only answered because you asked. I never have this dicussion with the people I hike with. We take the gear needed to be safe and have a good time. I don't weigh my pack before a trip much these days. All of my gear is lightweight. So a combination of my gear should always be lightweight as long as I don't get carried away with extras. Food and drink weigh as much as the gear.

Too many here are overweight. I've got a 15-20 pound base weight to cut from myself. That change will result in all physical exertion being easier. plus smaller clothes weigh less.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Everything counts. on 04/12/2013 06:51:06 MDT Print View

The reality is that you need to have some things for what you are doing, so you have to carry them. If we didn't need anything, we woudldn't have to carry anything.

So, if you need heavier clothes to stay warm, or to resist brush tearing, or to keep the sun, wind, or rain off of you, or if you need pockets which add an ounce or three, then you have to carry them. Just like if you need a heavier sleeping bag, or a heavier winter coat, or whatever.

The manufacturers' tags and handles on toothbrushes, as examples, are things which are NOT needed for function, and that is why they get cut off.

There is a difference between useful weight, and just plain dead weight. If we didn't need anything, we could hike naked.

Edited by towaly on 04/12/2013 06:52:23 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 07:17:08 MDT Print View

I think your asking the wrong question. Counts implies there is some kind of contest and that seemed like where the other thread was headed. What really matters is how does the weight affect your ability to hike.

I would argue worn clothes affect your ability to hike less that the same clothes in the pack.

To me the baseweight definition is used to make comarison of packs easier because it takes out a lot of variables. Some people take it to far and assume there is some king of magical set of rules that cant be broken.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 07:46:06 MDT Print View

I don't count base clothing. you don't notice the clothes you wear around every day do you? do you go oh man this tshirt is heavy..

i DO notice shoe weight and use trail runners for lightness and for knee comfort. but those are extra pounds difference. I don't nitpick my shoe weight though, my Solomons fit me and that is important. hell i wanted non water proof but the same model does not fit me as well. not sure why but i deal with it

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Lose weight on 04/12/2013 07:55:35 MDT Print View

I agree that it depends.

When I was on a cycling team waaaay back in college we used to spend a lot money buying lighter components so we didn't have to "carry" all that extra weight up a hill. Our coach reminded us it would make a much bigger difference to lose 20 pounds off our butts than to chop 8 ounces off the seat post.


I agree that things like heavy boots will matter more because you are constantly lifting your foot and putting it down over the course of the hike, but other than that, as far as how heavy your pants are if they have a zipper or much are you sweating? Did you poop? Did you hydrate very well? How much sweat is in your clothes? Did you eat a lot of salt in that last meal and are retaining water? All those things will add a lot of ounces to your skin out/skin in weight, so I'm not sure how THAT would really matter in the grander scheme of hiking.

Drop 15 pounds from your stomach and butt. That will make a WAY bigger difference than whether or not you have zippers and pockets on your pants.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 08:04:58 MDT Print View

If it always stays on my body, then I don't count it. Anything that I wear that is also in my pack part of the time gets counted in base weight. Anything that I carry on my body besides the aforementioned clothing is also counted.

I also never got into trimming labels or map margins. The weight savings, for me at least, was so negligible that I don't bother.

Heresy, I know.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Hell yes, it counts. It just doesn't matter. on 04/12/2013 08:23:19 MDT Print View

Everything gets weighed, full skin-out. Otherwise you're just fooling yourself.

However, when having a gear discussion, different methods may be more useful. If you're talking about how a particular pack compares to another, the weight of your shoes and underwear is a moot point.

I think the key to answering your question lies in the context of what is being discussed. In the other thread it was about zip-off pants. I tackle that question the way I do with any other multi-use item: Does the multi-use item weigh more or less than the items it replaces. Also, will it make my life easier or more difficult.

I agree that factoring in time lost to adjusting clothing layers is nearly pointless. That seemed like a red-herring argument if I ever heard one.

Gotta go to work now!

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Sure on 04/12/2013 09:02:19 MDT Print View

What are you trying to get out of your UL experience? I'm trying to maximize how my kit functions without carrying unnecessary garbage. I'm also willing to make concessions on certain pieces of gear because I like the way they function (eg I don't want to collect wood for a stove so I'll carry Esbit or a canister for example.) To me, if I'm using my convertible pants to their full utility and they don't weigh more than what I wear every day then I don't see the big deal. If I wasn't using the pockets then swapping these pants for wind pants or running shorts would be a no brainer. To be honest, I'll probably try it out for comparison.

I've read the books which explain the biomechanics of hiking boots vs trail runners so it's reasonable to assume that a heavier garment will play into this as well but this is a HYOH thing in my book.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/12/2013 09:06:45 MDT.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 09:14:35 MDT Print View

International lightweight gear competitions use skin-out weight as the standard.

If they didn't you might have a guy with a 1 pound pack wearing 8 layers of "clothing".

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Heavier on the trail on 04/12/2013 09:32:01 MDT Print View

To clarify: I DO look at a garment's weight and function before buying it, especially specialized pieces such as rain gear. That's a given.

Considering that I've worn pants every day for the past 30 years, I can be sure that my hiking pants aren't going to be noticeably heavier in the least. I'm simply not going to be suddenly bogged down by "heavy" pants as soon as I step onto the trail.

Just my opinion.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Does Clothing Count? on 04/12/2013 09:40:31 MDT Print View

Haha, if you're wearing a giant, heavy woolen pea coat and double thick Carharrt cotton jeans, yeah you might want to count on skin weight, but generally speaking for me the only on skin weight i even bother considering is footwear!

Besides, light and UL backpacking to me, is more about comfort, principles of simplicity and efficiency, and reducing chance of injury, rather than racing as fast as one can to some kind of perceived (and quite illusionary) finish line in a certain grand time. The ego needs the latter, and those overly enmeshed in the ego do as well, but the more mature of us just like being out in nature. Granted there are times where it might be important and prudent to speed up, even for the more mature, and i'm sure lightweight on skin clothes can help a bit in that.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Everything counts. on 04/12/2013 09:44:46 MDT Print View

"If we didn't need anything, we woudldn't have to carry anything."

Well, that's my eventual plan and goal to work towards, ala Jesus style. Sometimes you gotta believe, before you can achieve. ; )

And then we can truly call it backpacking Light....

Edited by ArcturusBear on 04/12/2013 09:46:25 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Everything counts. on 04/12/2013 09:51:36 MDT Print View

I don't count my tent or sleeping bag. I only use them at night so why count them during the day?

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Everything counts. on 04/12/2013 09:55:23 MDT Print View

"I don't count my tent or sleeping bag. I only use them at night so why count them during the day?"

Genius! Why didn't i think of that...after all, one could just simply wear their tent and sleeping bag whilst hiking, no...???

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Everything counts. on 04/12/2013 10:05:54 MDT Print View

Out of sight, out of mind. I don't see my pack while wearing it. I'm going to stop counting it then. With all the contents of course.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Everything counts. on 04/12/2013 10:14:18 MDT Print View

I've decided to only hike at high altitude. The air is simply too heavy near sea level.