November 20, 2015 8:16 PM MST - Subscription purchasing, account maintenance, forum profile maintenance, new account registration, and forum posting have been disabled
as we prepare our databases for the final migration to our new server next week. Stay tuned here for more details.
Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter

Snags with Tags

Curious on whether or not tags add significant weight to your gear? Well they don't! And there are far better ways to cut down on your gear weight!

Print Jump to Reader Comments

by Sydney Aveson | 2013-11-26 00:00:00-07


After a long arduous day on the trail, my partner Jon and I were in our tent contemplating ways to make our packs lighter. I joked to Jon that we should cut all the tags off our gear to save weight. Jon didn’t catch my sarcasm and approved the idea because he read about this technique from a couple of backpacking blogs. However, he never found an exact weight savings, but hypothesized he could shave an ounce off his pack weight. I bet $20 against him. Once back in town, since ski season was right around the corner we used Jon’s ski touring gear as the basis of the experiment.

 - 1
Jon hurriedly cutting off the tags from his ski touring gear.

The Test

Ski touring in the winter time means lots of layers and heavy packs. With each additional layer come more and more tags. We gathered Jon’s gear and started cutting off every flappy tag in sight, attempting not to accidentally cut or destroy any of the gear. Because of this, we decided not to cut all the tags that were sown flat onto the garments. After cutting the first tag, Jon hurried to weigh it, but was disheartened when the scale couldn’t make a reading because it was too light. Still determined to win the bet, he continued cutting tags for approximately ten minutes. When the scissors stopped clipping, he had collected 50 tags from 19 separate pieces of gear totaling 0.5 oz (14.1 g). For comparison a sandwich bag weighs 0.09 oz (2.4 g), a snack sized Snicker bar is 0.62 (17.5 g), and a single AA battery is 0.85 oz (24 g). By cutting 0.5 oz from the pack, a hiker that weighs 155 lb carrying a pack weighing 35 lb over a distance of 1,000 miles with no elevation gain/loss, will save approximately 367 kilocalories (Ze), or about four and a half snack sized Snickers.

Jon was disappointed he didn’t save an ounce like he had hoped, but he took comfort in having no more scratchy tags against his skin. He also didn’t have to worry about the large and obnoxious tag on his sleeping bag anymore. Jon’s joy was short-lived when he realized he didn’t know how to wash and care for his gear without the instructions provided on the tags. The disappointment continued when he was trying to dry out his gear after washing it, as he realized many of the tags doubled as hanging points. These were only minor setbacks compared to not being able to differentiate his gear because he labeled his initials and numbered different pairs of identical underwear on the tags.

 - 2
There are better ways to save half an ounce.


Given the minimal weight and caloric savings, we feel there are more effective ways to save half an ounce, unless you are attempting to go super ultra-light (less than a 5 lb pack weight). Jon admitted reluctantly, “I would rather have one less snack sized Snickers, than have trouble rotating my underwear in the field because I cut off my numbering system.” With that being said, Jon wishes he would have never cut off any tags. Since the tags are already gone, Jon can eat away his sorrows with one extra snack sized Snickers while I enjoy my new running gloves.

Works Cited

Ze [n.d.]. “Re: Calculate Calories Burned.” Hiking Science. Blogspot. 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.


"Snags with Tags," by Sydney Aveson. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2013-11-26 00:00:00-07.


Reader Comments

You must login to post comments.

New Visitors: Create a new account
Remember my login info.

Snags with Tags
Display Avatars
Sort By:
Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Snags with Tags on 11/26/2013 20:40:05 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Snags with Tags

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Westcomb on 11/26/2013 21:30:59 MST Print View

Just as a warning some companies like westcomb snip part of the factory tag to show that the item was purchased at a factory sale and thus has no warranty

So if uou snip yr tags you may be snipping away yr warranty


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Snags with Tags on 11/26/2013 22:08:33 MST Print View

Have found that even with several tags per garment, the total removed doesn't register to 1 gram (0.1 oz.) on my postal scale. Plus I've lost all useful info such as brand name, size, fabric content and laundering instructions, which would be useful if I want to sell the item, or even for my own information. To say nothing of making the item impossible to return to the vendor.

Not worth the trouble, IMHO!

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/26/2013 22:09:19 MST.

Peter S
(prse) - MLife

Locale: Denmark
Hehe on 11/27/2013 01:36:23 MST Print View

I really enjoyed this :-)

icefest From Australia
ha on 11/27/2013 01:41:11 MST Print View

I heartily approve of the humor used to write this.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I was rolling of the floor but I might have sniggered a couple of times.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: ha on 11/27/2013 06:44:06 MST Print View

You mean Jon actually carries more than one set of underwear????? Ditch one and save weight!!!

Tony Ronco
(tr-browsing) - MLife
Tag Justification on 11/27/2013 10:27:56 MST Print View

RE: "he realized he didn’t know how to wash and care for his gear without the instructions provided on the tags. The disappointment continued when he was trying to dry out his gear after washing it, as he realized many of the tags doubled as hanging points."

yeah rrriight.

No need to create lame justifications for not removing tags.

Washing instructions - that's what google is for. (Assuming you simply can't remember cold water with woollite, hang dry ... i.e. no bleach, fabric softeners, or hot dryer)

Drying without a hang tag point - (ah, well I guess the hang dry part is more easily remembered) ... how about hanging from the waist or collar? or use clothes pins, or just drape the piece over the hanger or a clothes line? There are many options where the lack of a hang tag doesn't stop you.

If one wants to remove tags and enjoy the comfort of not having a scratchy tag, or the mental comfort of trimming a few grams off ... fine. Take comfort in that or NOT.


Edited by tr-browsing on 11/27/2013 15:54:25 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Snags with Tags on 11/27/2013 15:17:33 MST Print View

I have always thought that trimming tags was like the iconic toothbrush handle and more important to the mindset of the hiker than real change in base weight. Kind of the Gram Weenie membership badge.

It gets me when people buy a product and then chop it up. It rewards the manufacturer for making the wrong product. Better to vote with your wallet and encourage the development of products that truly serve your needs.

Gregory Edwards
(Groundskeeper) - MLife
Tags on 11/27/2013 15:23:19 MST Print View

I save all tags cut off and attach to gear instructions, sales slips, etc. and use sharpie to mark size on all garments.

Edward Z
(Fuzz) - MLife

Locale: Sunny San Diego
Is it weird? on 11/27/2013 16:32:50 MST Print View

Sometimes I cut the tags off other people's gear. But I never touch the funderoos.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Is it weird? on 11/27/2013 16:43:57 MST Print View

Yeah, that's weird. Keep yer paws off mah tags, Varmit :)

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Pack hacking on 11/27/2013 17:45:08 MST Print View

"It gets me when people buy a product and then chop it up."

Now them's fightin' words, Dale.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Pack hacking on 11/27/2013 19:18:01 MST Print View

Why pay more for a product you have to adapt to meet your needs? Doesn't it make more sense to buy from a manufacturer who gets it and will continue development along the same line? The dollars spent will not only get the initial product, but also support future products that you will want. If you buy a GoLite pack (for example) and adapt it, you do nothing to support the real innovators in the UL market (pick your favorite cottage maker).

I'm talking about cutting out whole back pads vs a simple strap trim. I've seen posts where people replaced whole panels in a pack to suit their needs. I would rather make my own from scratch than pay for a pack and then pour labor and parts into it.

Bas Hommes

Locale: Europe
reasons unknown on 11/28/2013 00:41:44 MST Print View

Whenever I camp in rural areas I want to be stealth a bit. That's why I take off the (mostly white) tags. Also I've been shortening a toothbrush so it would fit better into a certain small sack. There are unknown reasons for people to do things.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
I cut off the labels on 11/28/2013 09:56:23 MST Print View

I cut off as many tags as i can.

One reason I do this is because the reason I go into the wilderness is to get away from the oppressive mania of our modern culture. I hate having some little instructional or promotional text written by layers or the marketing department with me in the mountains. This is what I am trying to escape.

Also - I am skilled with a pair of scissors. It takes me just a few seconds to trim a tag and throw it away.

I will add that I know how to wash my clothes, and I wouldn't use that tag to tell me anyway.

If I am dedicated to the these tiny items, I will be more assuredly dedicated to the overall lightweight experience.

The author is correct, the paltry weight of these little tags is obviously insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But to me it’s more of a mind-set. If you dedicate yourself to these (seemingly) inconsequential items, you are setting yourself up with a heightened level of overall standards. This mind-set will trickle up and influence the big stuff too.

I use a pair of scissors and trim off anything I can, and then reweigh things. The act of shaving off small extraneous stuff will really reinforce my goal. My backpack, no matter the make or model, can always use a little trimming. I use a razor blade and scissors, and go to town on all my gear!

Mike C!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: I cut off the labels on 11/28/2013 11:00:23 MST Print View


Good to know you're still kicking....and cutting.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: I cut off the labels on 11/28/2013 11:27:30 MST Print View

I clipped my tags today
To see if I still feel
Them tickle-ing my neck
The only thing that's real
The scissors tore a hole
The old familiar fleece
Instructions now are gone
But I remember everything

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep my tags
I would find a way

Sorry Trent :)

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 13:17:40 MST Print View

Interesting poetry, Dale.

Today I was sewing a failed seam on a TNF glove, and I noticed there were still a couple of labels inside it. They were carefully cut off to honor Mike's! presence. Then I got to thinking...

Dale, of course you are right about the overall idea of buying the right item to begin with, to encourage vendors to meet the actual needs of the consumer. But then there's another thing to consider--I enjoy hacking things to improve them to my taste. It's a hobby. I've actually done my surgery on 3 different GoLite packs, and I've then showed them to Coup and other GL employees to try to get them to see the light (I usually get blank stares from Coup and the design people, but kudos from the rank and file employees). I've hoped that I could encourage them to come up with packs that would serve us better.

So here's what I did during Boulder's recent deluge/flood. I picked up a silly student's "computer/book bag" day pack that GL had put ON SALE. It had scads of silly features, like a padded computer sleeve, a hydration bladder sleeve (I think), useless too-small water bottle pockets, and an inadequate pair of side compression straps. But since it only weighed 18 oz. for a 1525 cu. in. capacity, I decided it might be worth hacking. Here's the stock photo of the GoLite Daylite pack:Stock Daylite

Note the water bottle pockets and the compression straps. The zippered front pocket is intended for storing pens and other small items.

So I removed 7.5 oz. of useless nylon, zippers, interior pockets, and shortened most straps. Then I added back some mesh pockets that actually do something, like carry a liter water bottle on each side, as well as a huge front pocket. Then I added a 1.5 oz. external titanium rod frame, put evo pads on the weenie waist belt, and modified the compression straps. I also employed scads of mini biners and silicone hair ties (the best rubber bands ever). The total weight of add-back things was 4.0 oz. Here's a front view of the final hack job:Daylite front view

Here's a side view. Note the locations of the 3 black mini biners on each side. These can be clipped to the titanium frame to effectively compress the pack completely. Then the huge mesh front pocket and side water bottle pockets can hold everything needed for a day hike away from camp. Also, note the modified side compression strap to which the silicone "rubber band" attaches to securely retain the 1 L. Platy. On each side of the pack, after the straps were sewn with a loop to hold the titanium frame piece, the straps were trimmed to 1". I heated a piece of ti rod until red-hot and pierced the strap to make a hole (thanks for this tip Mike C!). The heat melts the inside edges of the hole to strengthen it against tearing under stress. Then I just attached a silicone band to the hole, with the other end being secured by a mini biner. The biner and silicone hair tie are both of course removable, so they can be used for other things. I carry a few extra silicone hair ties (of various sizes--I seem to have a fetish for silicone).DayLite side view

So modifying a rather silly 18 oz. pack to make it 14.5 oz. (or 15.5 oz. if I want to keep the waist belt), with a far more functional set of features, seemed worth it to me. It will carry my 10# summer base weight kit just as well as my de-ionized Ion does, and the carry comfort is about the same for both. Fully set up with waist belt, they both weigh 15.5 oz. Now the goal is to catch Coup sometime and make him look at this modified pack. Maybe if I pester these guys enough they'll finally make a BPL Special Pack for us.

Important to note: No labels or logos were harmed during this pack-hack--they all were attached to the nylon pieces that I carefully removed.

Edit--to expand on the compression strap mod thing, and also to correct a couple of spelling errors...

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 11/29/2013 20:41:10 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 13:55:32 MST Print View

"Then I added a 1.5 oz. external titanium rod frame..."

Do you have a thread or link to the Ti frame?

Where did you get the Ti rod?

What diameter rod?

Did you heat it and then bend-to-fit? Over a form? Against a drawn template?

Did you build a pocket or simply reinforce an existing spot?

BTW, VERY nice mod!


Edited by greg23 on 11/28/2013 13:57:23 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:15:08 MST Print View

Gary, is your modified pack still 1600 cubic inches?

Too many packs have their volume estimated by multiplying the rectangular dimensions. However, once filled with gear, they assume a more cylindrical shape. I guess we have to fill up a pack with ping pong balls or sand or something to be able to measure the true volume. Using water is kind of a problem for estimating volume, since lots of packs will leak. Using ice blocks might work better.