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!

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

Introduction

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.

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.

There are better ways to save half an ounce.

Summary

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.

Citation

"Snags with Tags," by Sydney Aveson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/snags-with-tags-aveson.html, 2013-11-26 00:00:00-07.

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Snags with Tags
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 Greg Mihalik (greg23) - M Locale: Colorado Re: Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:18:07 MST 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 Greg, doesn't styrofoam squish and deform from weight?I guess it doesn't matter that much for a backpack.--B.G.--
 Greg Mihalik (greg23) - M Locale: Colorado Re: Re: Re: Re: Lable snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 14:43:09 MST Bob,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 I don't find that many companies ship stuff packed in styrofoam peanuts anymore. Maybe I just buy the wrong stuff.--B.G.--
 Gary Dunckel (Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife Locale: Boulder Label snipping and pack hacking on 11/28/2013 15:11:14 MST 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 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 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...http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=64923 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 molte grazie.
 Gary Dunckel (Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife Locale: Boulder Re: (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 19:02:34 MST Migliori auguri, Greg.
 Doug I. (idester) - MLife Locale: PNW Re: Re: (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 19:47:23 MST Mamma mia! Voi Due!
 Gary Dunckel (Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife Locale: Boulder Re: (more thread drift) on 11/28/2013 20:37:37 MST 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 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 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.--B.G.--
 Greg Mihalik (greg23) - M Locale: Colorado Re: Re: DayLite volume on 11/28/2013 22:10:03 MST 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 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.Edit-spelling 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 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?BestBill 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 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 cu.in. 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 Gary, 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 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 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!