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Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:42 am
by rayfound
When it comes to ultralight, I think the main problem is that you compromise your ability to "be at home" in the high country.
I think that is the point where philosophies diverge. It semes there are some in the "ultralight" game for the pure mileage, speed, and gamification of cutting weight - pack weight becomes a goal unto itself, rather than a method for making trips more comfortable on balance.

For me, I have found that cutting for 40-44lbs to 20-26lbs (total weights, I don't pay any attention to that "base weight vs. consumables BS) has not resulted in any sacrifice of comfort, rather the opposite is true - I gain comfort by easier hiking, and sacrifice none to little in other areas.


Down sleeping bag is just as warm as synthetic, for much less weight, smaller packed, etc...

my new REI insulated Flash Ultralite sleeping pad is the same warmth, thicker, more comfortable, 1/4 the size packed, and 20oz lighter than the classic 1.5" thermarest it replaces. It takes a couple more breaths to inflate.

Smartwater bottles hold liquid just as well as Nalgenes, for way less weight.

Sawyer mini or squeeze will provide the same function as a katadyn or MSR pump for a fraction of the weight.

Beyond that, I just don't bring a lot of stuff I don't need.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:14 pm
by rlown
mostly agree. But I am loving the whole chair idea. They and the rafts we found cached at Lillian were the highlight of one old farts trip. Still, I do agree that gear has gotten better, lighter, but I still like my external frame Kelty for the back breath ability, and it's stellar hip belt.

As you hinted at, It's about your goals for the trip.

I need to get out again. Hasn't been a good few years to schedule that in.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:54 pm
by hjldennis
maverick wrote:Will we be getting a Wonderland Trail TR, with all those beautiful wildflowers at Paradise? :nod:
Coming right up!

We planned on visiting Paradise after the hike, but after experiencing wildflowers galore for 10 days, All You Can Eat BBQ took priority, and skipped crowded Paradise area:) Too bad my photo skills didn't capture most of the flowers....

Yes the scenery with wild flowers in full bloom was incredible, and the berries kept us happy hikers as well:)

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 1:39 pm
by longri
Hobbes wrote:I've found that the absolute key element in designing/creating a beltless pack for myself was placement, length, & angle of the upper shoulder straps. This of course makes perfect sense, because all of the weight is on your shoulders. If not done properly - and I've made a ton of mistakes on past packs - you'll get a major case of drag ass....
It occurs to me that I've never owned a pack that was so precisely tailored to my body.

My current lightweight pack sure isn't. I bought it off the shelf, virtually speaking, as I ordered it sight unseen over the internet. It more or less fits but certainly wasn't designed specifically for me.

On a recent trip my pack -- minus food and water -- weighed a little under 9lbs. By the way, that included a full sized bear canister. So on the last few days of the week long trip my actual carrying weight was in the hipbelt-less range. But although I've gone without the belt in the past this time I found it fatigued my shoulders too much to do so, except on the very last day.

One of my shoulders was bugging me a bit so maybe that was the issue. Or perhaps I wasn't packing my pack quite right. Sometimes, especially without the hip belt on, the bloody bear canister stabs me in the back (it can only sit vertically in my pack). Or maybe the shoulder straps are just "wrong" for me. It's probably a combination of factors.

In any case, I was so happy to be able to cinch up the 3oz hipbelt.

More to the point -- What exactly is the downside of using a hipbelt?

Is doing away with it merely a substitute for the discipline otherwise required to reduce pack weight? If that's it then removing it is pointless for me. I find pack weight is enough of a motivator by itself.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:19 pm
by Hobbes
longri wrote:What exactly is the downside of using a hipbelt?
To properly answer that question, it's necessary to first step-back and take a look from a macro perspective of where technology is going and why. To wit, the basic governing idea is to increase the respective strength/warmth/flexibility to weight ratio. This is true in all sports, commercial activities and manufacturing processes. Consider the impact of carbon fiber on bicycles, (race) cars, airplanes, etc.

The biggest advances in surfing have come from lighter, stronger surf boards along with lighter, more flexible, yet warmer wetsuits. (The rapid growth in surfing's popularity north of Santa Cruz - especially around SF @ Ocean beach - is due in no small part to these trends.) As for hiking, we can see the trend/impact in advanced lighter/stronger materials and increased loft of down bags/jackets.

Now, let us consider what some (including myself) would consider the most pleasant hiking experience: just walking along on a nice day hike with your dog, S/O, kids, friends, etc, with maybe a light windbreaker and a day-pack with some snacks, water, etc, and not too much exertion so you can engage in conversation, etc.

The question then becomes (using my definition of the ultimate hiking experience), how to scale it for longer, more remote, rigorous hikes? IMO, your pack should be the last consideration; rather, one must address two core issues: (a) keep warm; (b) keep dry. Practically speaking, given the advances in material science, it's fairly trivial to satisfy these two items with equipment/clothing that are both very lightweight and highly compressible.

If all we have to do then is add the commensurate amount of food for the expected duration of the trip, along with some other essential items, then many people might be surprised at just how little pack space and weight support is really required for a multi-day backpacking trip. At this point, pack considerations come into play. I actually played around a few times seeing how much stuff I could pack into my generic daypack. The end result was I realized I actually needed around 25-30L.

Material like Dyneema 140/210 were all developed for military specifications (as well as GoreTex, ad infinitum) In fact, backpacking, like many other things, owes a ton to military R&D. (Wetsuits were developed by the Navy - it took Jack O'Neil to realize the potential for surfing.) So, if all you need is a 25L+ day-pack with material strong enough to carry the (minimal) load, why does it need/require any extraneous attachments like a hip-belt and/or sternum strap?

Even better, if you know how to sew, you can handcraft a custom pack (along with other equipment) tailored to your exact specifications that can significantly increase comfort and durability. So, to inversely answer your question, it's really just about achievement - knowing you are doing "some thing" at its highest, most refined level of execution possible.

If that's not your bag (pun intended), then I would agree it would seem to be unimaginably boring when one can just throw on any old pack, stuff in a bunch of clothing/equipment and go.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:09 pm
by longri
Hobbes, thanks for taking the time to try and answer my question. But your response comes across as tautological.

I understand well the desire to go as light as possible. That ideal of "day hiking" when on a back packing trip is something I've had the pleasure of experiencing. But whether a hipbelt is necessary or not is in many ways a separate question.

Suppose I could carry everything in a big fanny pack? That's what I prefer when the load is light enough as shoulder straps are kind of drag after a while. Would you then say "ban the shoulder straps"?

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 1:13 pm
by rlown
There are a few talus slopes where I actually cinch down on the hip belt; gives better control over the load. Not seeing the need to abandon it.

oh, and c) bring some fun along and not just survive.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:31 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Modern materials do not per se, solve the problem of staying warm and dry. In the big picture of mountain ranges, the Sierra is pretty mild with a big difference- summer storms are short lived and even if you get cold and soaked, 99% of the time the next day is sunny, or at least has some sunny stretches, and you can dry out. Even with this advantage, I have been chilled to the bone in less than an hour, soaked and drenched in a long downpour that then turned to freezing night time conditions. As a very cold blooded backpacker, too old to hike 16 hours a day in order to stay warm, I have to disagree with the concept that gear to stay warm and dry is nowadays not an issue, just trivial.

And all you big shouldred strong guys forget that we women have abotu 40% less upper body strength and that pack and hip belt is just right for us. We actually have hips that we can set the hip belt on! Our packs usually weight a bit more percentage of our body weight - manufacturers are reluctant to make small or x-small tents. A bear can is a bear can whether it is 2 pounds out of 100 lb body weight or 2 pounds out of 200.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:53 pm
by longri
Daisy, that's a good point about female upper body strength.

I don't think Hobbes was saying that modern materials "solve the problem" of staying warm and dry, just that they allow one to do so with less weight. That's indisputable, regardless of whatever mountain range or wilderness challenge you're talking about. Now whether the weight is low enough for a particular person to carry on their shoulders alone is a different question, and kind of what I was getting at.

I carry day packs all the time. I've gone for a week of walking with just a 10-12lb day pack and didn't need the belt. But those weren't super long days. Sometimes I walk 12-14 hours and shoulder fatigue gets to me at some point, even with a relatively light pack. Maybe a different pack could solve that problem. I suppose I could sew packs and experiment. But I don't have to. I have a hipbelt.

I think Hobbes is using the hipbelt as a kind of symbol for the pursuit of going light. It's a Ray Jardine meme, for sure. I get it, and I'm on board. It is indeed my "bag" (I really don't get his pun). I've eyed those 3oz of hipbelt as a possible weight savings many times when preparing for a trip.

It's just that, well, I like my hipbelt sometimes. It's a tool I use.

Re: Ban the Hip Belt

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:43 pm
by Wandering Daisy
What any particular person needs to stay warm is very individual. Example, my last trip with my husband. He hardly ate anything and never was hungry; I ate 3/4 of the food and was always hungry. He was always toasty warm (he is my tent heater); I was often cold. And I lost more pounds than he did.

Do not get me wrong- I love all the new gear and high-tech materials; lighter stuff has really allowed me to keep backpacking. I wish I could afford to get the latest and greatest. For me, it is one aquisition at a time, as needed, when old stuff wears out.

I sew and have also had fun redesigning my Kelty pack. Not in the same catagory as Hobbes, but I did get a 7-pound pack down to 3.5 pounds in my prototype. Now just have to make it out of better material.

What do you do if you have to actually carry a day's worth of water? That gets heavy really quickly.