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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!

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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.


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Snags with Tags
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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.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:18:07 MST Print View

Sytrofoam "packing peanuts" work very well.

Then dump them into a box to get volume from HxWxD.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:21:00 MST Print View

Greg, doesn't styrofoam squish and deform from weight?

I guess it doesn't matter that much for a backpack.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:43:09 MST Print View

Nope, not much at least. I fill a pack, shape it to approximate what it would look like with my gear in it, mush it around a bit, drop it once or twice, then pour and measure. Then I drop the box a couple of times to settle things in.

I get Very close numbers across three samples.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:59:28 MST Print View

I don't find that many companies ship stuff packed in styrofoam peanuts anymore. Maybe I just buy the wrong stuff.


Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Label snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 15:11:14 MST Print View

Hi Greg, thanks for the nice words.

The titanium rod is 6AL-4V .125" stuff. I had a couple of 5 foot pieces sitting in the corner of the basement war room, and I used one of those. A couple of years ago, Brendan Swihart over in Fruita was selling some tubular aluminum pack stays. I copied his bends with my titanium rod. I just bent it with a table top jig (it looks like a cribbage board, but with a steel base and carbide pegs), and I fine-tuned it by forcefully bending it over my knee. No heat treatment is necessary, but .125" ti rod is a bit of a bitch to bend by hand. Probably heating it would help, but I don't have a decent setup to do that. Oh, my source for the rod was probably through Titanium Joe. I bought a bunch of it when I first made the Stix, but then I outsourced the bending and I had some of the rod left over.

Actually, the titanium frame doesn't help a whole lot with this particular pack, since the carry load is just 11-13#. But it does prevent the empty pack from collapsing to the ground when I'm loading it up. But when I used one of Brendan's aluminum stays with my modified Jam pack, it made all the difference in the world. Before the mod, any weight over 20# was definitely uncomfortable to me. But with the mods, I can easily carry 25-27# without issue. I'll try to get the link to that mod thread, but I'll do it in another post (I don't trust this system to not delete everything I just typed).

Edit-- I forgot to tell you that I sewed a little pocket into the waist belt where it connects to the pack. I also sewed a few thin black & white loops to the pack to further support the frame rod. These serve mainly to pull the body of the pack closer to the frame, and therefore to my body. On the Jam, I made a pocket out of 1/2" tubular webbing, which I sewed to the seam where the hip belt connects to the pack. All of my seams are placed into the existing seams of the pack, for greater strength. Now, I'm off to find that Jam link.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 11/28/2013 15:27:37 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Label snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 15:17:51 MST Print View

Thanks Gary.

I'll set up a bending jig, get a couple of rods and give it a try.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Jam mod link (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 15:24:42 MST Print View

Here's the link to the BPL post about the Jam mods. Read through it, Greg, as there are lots of good ideas and replies. Might give you some ideas...

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 11/28/2013 15:30:58 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Jam mod link (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 15:47:59 MST Print View

molte grazie.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Re: (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 19:02:34 MST Print View

Migliori auguri, Greg.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 19:47:23 MST Print View

Mamma mia! Voi Due!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Re: (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 20:37:37 MST Print View

You too, Ide-monster. Happy Thankgiving, buddy!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
DayLite volume on 11/28/2013 21:13:38 MST Print View

Bob, sorry to have neglected your question about the DayLite's final volume. The GoLite specs say it is 1525 cu. in". The GL Ion specs are 1600 cu. in. for size large. Both of these modified packs will hold the same gear, packed to the max. But this also includes the rather spacious mesh pockets that I've added to each of them. So I'm assuming that the DayLite is also about 1600 cu. in., but without using Greg's styrofoam peanut collection, I can't really say for sure. If I had a gun pointed at my head, demanding a decent guess, I'd say that the DayLite carries about 1600-1650 cu. in. now, the same as my de-ionized Ion.

Why did I recycle all those packing peanuts that Harmony House sent me with my dehydrated fruit?

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 11/29/2013 05:42:24 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: DayLite volume on 11/28/2013 21:28:07 MST Print View

Yes, I will need to start collecting styrofoam peanuts myself.

It seems as though some manufacturers quote the pack volume as being the total volume of the main bag plus the sum of all mesh pockets. That's kind of rough to me, because most mesh pockets have so much stretch that their volume can vary a lot. I wish there were a more clean-cut standard. I had thought of replacing a backpack with a new one of equal volume and three ounces lighter at the scale, but I don't know exactly how each was measured.

Maybe I could mail order buy a package of new styrofoam peanuts and hope that they pack it in styrofoam peanuts.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: DayLite volume on 11/28/2013 22:10:03 MST Print View

I went to a local "packing and mailing" store and asked them who donated/recycled peanuts. Turns out it was a local bike shop. Gave them two large trash bags and a couple of weeks later I had my supply.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Talk about thread drift... on 11/29/2013 05:55:58 MST Print View

Man, I went to bed early last night, and when I woke up early this morning, I saw where you two have totally rearranged the theme of this thread (as if I hadn't done enough of that myself). But hey, Bob, if you cut all the tags off that box of peanuts that you're going to buy, maybe we'll be OK. You've got no way out, Greg, since you scored your peanuts by dumpster-diving.

I'm off to find yet another tag to trim off something, to try to appease the thread angels.


Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 11/29/2013 05:59:18 MST.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Calorie cost of tags on 11/29/2013 08:35:17 MST Print View

Calorie cost for 0.5 oz seemed high. When I plug the same numbers into Hiking Science calculator, I get ~12 calories (dietary) per thousand miles. Did I make error, or is something else amiss?


Bill S.

Edited by sbill9000 on 11/29/2013 20:32:20 MST.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Re: DayLite volume, final post (maybe) on 11/29/2013 09:44:33 MST Print View

OK, I'll blame B.G. and Greg for this post. I found that I actually did have some styrofoam peanuts tucked away. There weren't enough of them to fill up the DayLite, but I found a couple of those 6-7" mini basketballs that they sell during the Final Four tournament. I lined the pack with a Force Flex trash bag to contain the curiously magnetic peanuts, added the balls and peanuts, shook things up like Greg does, and I was thrilled to find that the volume of peanuts/balls exactly filled up the pack. Then I checked out my cardboard box collection and found one that looked about right. And it was a bulls-eye! The peanuts and balls exactly filled up the 10" x 10" x 15.5" box. So the pack volume looks to be about 1550 cu. in. The large mesh front pocket probably adds another 200 of capacity, so the finished product looks to be over 1700 cu. in. + the volume of the side mesh bottle pockets.

There you have it, BG. Or, for you Brits, "Bob's your uncle."

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
you win :( on 11/29/2013 19:30:25 MST Print View


I got that same pack from GoLite, and i also cut a bunch of stuff off, but not as much as you did...

I am shamed!

Edited by mikeclelland on 11/29/2013 19:31:04 MST.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
No, YOU win, Mike! on 11/30/2013 09:13:04 MST Print View

No shame at all, Mike. After all, you are the one that made me get serious on all this hack stuff. Your book is my bible:

Tip #5--It's OK to be nerdy (that would be me)
Tip #9--Cut stuff off your gear (what this thread is all about)

And then there's Tip #72--Napping is a skill (this validated my occasional mid-day habit of self-indulgence)

My favorite is Tip #114--Coiling the bear hang cord (it solved my tangled cord problem)

So you are the true winner here, Mike. I'm just a wannabe...

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
tag on 12/01/2013 00:53:51 MST Print View

Tags have no purpose for me, they add weight, get in the way, and therefore bug me. I know how to wash clothes, it's not like I'm cutting the tags of a mink fur coat!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Snags with Tags on 12/03/2013 21:21:18 MST Print View

This is one of the best articles/posts ever on BPL. I enjoyed it immensely.

Ranks right up there with Which Pencil for the JMT?