Going lighter: this is the year!

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neil d
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Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by neil d » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:12 pm

I've decided that my days of 50-lb packs are over. This is the year that I'm going to significantly lighten up my load, and am looking for some advice.

Most of my trips are 2-3 nights, so should be easy, right? My first opportunity at a shakedown with new gear will be the southern section of the Lost Coast in April.

I know I need to start with my pack and sleep system...

- My current pack is an Osprey Atmos 65, about 9 years old...seems heavy, probably weights 7 lbs. I'm looking for something at least half that weight, either conventional or cottage suppliers. Any suggestions?

- I love my BA Q Core pad, but it weights 26 oz. Looks like the major players (Sea to Summit, NeoAir) have insulated pads in the realm of 16 oz. What do folks recommend for a side sleeper?

- My 20 degree Sub Kilo is still going strong, and weighs 30 oz...not sure I am ready to splurge to save weight here.

My other ideas...

- Minimize first aid...basically just basic meds and band-aids. I've been carrying lots of extra stuff for years, never needed it.

- Chemical water treatment vs filter. I fell in love with my Platy 2L gravity system, but it is bulky and heavy. Anybody switched to chemical treatment, like Aqua Mira or plain bleach?

- Solid fuel instead of liquid fuel stove. I typically do one or two dehydrated meals, but am not infatuated with them. Instant soup in the evening is nice, and gotta have instant coffee in the morning. That is the extent of my hot water and cooking needs. I want to experiment with Esbit and natural fuels (where permitted). Anybody made that switch?

- Lose the bear can in favor of Ursack and odor-resistant plastic bags. Most of my summer trips are in Deso, where cans are not yet required.

- Camp chair stays home.

- Generic Krocs for camp shoes.

I also need to work on my clothing and food choices, but those are about 80% optimized at this point.

What other obvious solutions will help me lighten up?








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c9h13no3
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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by c9h13no3 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:19 pm

20 degree bag is overkill for most summer trips, can go significantly lighter by getting a 32 degree bag without spending much.

I lighten up the most by not cooking, or going to places that allow fires (sausages on sticks are pretty light). No stove or fuel required. Stick stoves are also super light if they're allowed.

I skip the camp shoes, and just go barefoot. But I have pretty tough feet. Skurka recommends something like spa slippers.

Water filters can be pretty heavy, Aquamira weighs almost nada.

Easiest weight to lose is around your belly button ;)
Last edited by c9h13no3 on Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by bobby49 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:27 pm

First of all, you probably need to set a target weight to carry this year. Personally, I go out in the Sierra Nevada for 4-8 days, and my total load is 30 pounds. That has drifted upward by a pound or two for the longer trips, and it has drifted downward by a pound or two for the shorter trips. Each year that I get older, I'm trying to reduce that total load by one pound per year. I have my equipment list on a spreadsheet, so that serves as a packing list as well.

I keep a sleeping bag under one pound, a backpack under one pound, and a shelter under one pound. I cook over butane, and my butane burner is 0.9 ounce. Before you try to do too much with water treatment, you first need to decide what the big risks are that you are avoiding. For example, when I am in a third-world country, I need water treatment that will handle any virus. In the Sierra Nevada, I focus on avoiding giardia, and I never seem to catch anything. My foam sleeping pad is about five ounces, and it serves to cushion my Scout bear canister when inside the pack. Besides my normal trail clothing, I carry one warm synthetic layer plus one down layer, plus rain gear. If it is a longer trip, then I often carry just a shirt-pocket size camera. For a shorter trip, I carry something bigger.

I have done cooking over Esbit, but it tends to be very slow, and then it gets incredibly slow if there is much wind. My cooking is very simple. I get about two cups of boiling water for the breakfast, and that is in the form of Carnation Breakfast Essentials and coffee. I get about three cups of boiling water for dinner, and that is in the form of instant rice with dehydrated split pea soup mix over it with some hot tea. The rest of the food is made up of carbohydrate bars and protein bars. My favorite is a Quinoa bar, since that has carbohydrate, fat, and protein. I've lost about one pound of body weight per day when out in the Sierra Nevada.

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:27 pm

Everyone has different preferences, but the main idea is to set a weight limit and then select items to stay under that limit. It will take a while to figure this out. Start by simply NOT taking items that are not needed. Do not dump all at once, but rather, a few at a time and see how much you missed them.

For what it is worth, here is my list for my last 9-day trip in the Wind Rivers. Total weight 36.6 pounds; 31.6 pounds starting pack weight; 5.0 pounds trekking poles and clothing worn.

2# 10 oz. Tent, Big Agnes Copper Spur 1 + tyvak ground cloth and extra ties and seven stakes
2# 1 oz. Pack, Granite Gear Crown Vic 60
3# Sleeping bag stuffed, 10-degree WM Super Antelope
10 oz. Sleeping pad; xsm prolite and 2 ft square blue foam pad (I use my pack under my head)
2# Bearikade weekender bear can
1# 1 oz Stove, wind screen and cook gear (titanium, small pot&lid, cup, spoon) snow-peak titanium stove
1# 8 oz Gas (large butane cannister)
5# Clothing worn and trekking poles and camera, knee high gaiters (MSR), garden gloves, long pants (REI), fishing shirt (Orvis), undershirt, baseball hat, Merrell low cut leather hiking shoes
1# 6 oz Outerwear (Montbell jacket, REI kids rain pants)
2# 2 oz Insulating clothes, light Smartwool long johns, fleece zip T-neck, down sweater, fleece gloves and hat, 2 pr extra socks
11 oz fishing gear
11 oz Crocks
1 # 12 oz First Aid and personal (sunscreen, sunglasses, repair kit, cord, knife, tape and bandages, pills, dry wipes, tooth brush & paste, light etc
10# 3 oz Food (2200 calories per day) - supplemented with fish
other misc stuff.

I bought a postal scale and made a spreadsheet of all my stuff. This has helped a lot. I also have kept track over time of items I carried but never used and simply left them out. For example, I only take maps, no GPS, and no compass. This works for me, but I do not necessarily recommend it to others. My FA kit is very sparse. I treat water with Chlorine tablets. I use a "pee rag" and take very little TP. Not everyone wants to do this.

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by wsp_scott » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:05 pm

A new pack definitely seems in order. I have an older model of a Gossamer Gear Mariposa that weighs about 2# and comfortably carries up to 25-30# A friend has the same Granite Gear pack as Wandering Daisy and likes it. You should easily be able to find a pack in the 2-3# range. But, before you do that, you probably need to shrink your load. It would suck to buy a new pack and then realize you could not carry all your gear.

Depending on where you camp and temps, you should look into a quilt. There are lots of cottage manufacturers to choose from, I have a 20 degree from Underground Quilts (https://ugqoutdoor.com/) and I have heard good things about Enlightened Equipment as well.

The other place to drop weight is your tent, lots of choices there. I have a Quarterdome 3 from REI that I'm happy with for when I take my kids, it weighs about 4#, no idea what a 1 or 2 man version would weigh.

Random stuff, krocs are kind of heavy, find a light weight pair of flip flops or skip camp shoes all together. If you are not a dr/nurse a fully stocked first aid kit is probably pointless. How do you carry your water? Nalgenes are heavy at about 5oz each. Water treatment consider a Sawyer squeeze.

I found one of the easiest places to drop weight was being careful with food, weigh out everything, pay attention to calories per ounce and don't take too much "just in case". I aim for about 1.5# per day, ideally a little less than that so I can bring a bit of bourbon for dessert :)
My trip reports: backpackandbeer.blogspot.com

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Jan 14, 2019 8:39 pm

A note on Crocks. I do not consider them camp shoes, but more stream crossing shoes. In the Sierra, I only taken them about half the time and only if I plan on wading, such as in early season. In late season I do not even take any camp shoes. If perchance, I have to wade, I just get my shoes wet; they dry quite quickly.

So right on with regard to food. On longer trips I always have bits and pieces not use from other meals, so there is absolutely NO need to take "emergency" food. The last meal may be odd, but so what. My goal is to walk out totally empty! When you get home, pay attention to what you did not eat. No point in bringing stuff you do not like, no matter how light weight or "good" for you it is supposed to be. Take quality food that you know you will like. After repeatedly coming back with protein powder, trip after trip, I finally decided never to take any more even though I really could use some more protein! Lately, I've decided 11 oz of fishing gear is worth more than 11 oz of protein powder. LOL.

My end of day treat is 80% dark chocolate. Maybe I can find some infused with bourbon!

Before the days of light weight tents, I would do trips from 8-12 days only with a basic bivy sack (1lb 4oz). My one attempt at "UL", worked OK but I decided it was just too sparse for me. I did an 8-day trip from South Lake to Taboose TH with only my 35L climbing day-pack. Clothing was minimal so I had to either walk or be inside my sleeping bag inside the bivy. One night it rained, then froze hard, and the bivy was coated in ice. I felt I was half-way between survival and comfort. Nice to know I could do it but not for me as my regular backpack method. But I did not have official UL gear, just shaved off weight by going without a lot.

Nowadays, I think if you want to go UL and have the money to buy the special gear, you can be quite comfortable. A fair resource for seeing how to do UL are the PCT journals. Each journalist usually posts a gear list and then an evaluation at the end of the trip regarding how the gear worked. Just "google" PCT journals and you will find a lot of information.

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by CAMERONM » Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:30 pm

Alan is probably the best place to start:
http://www.adventurealan.com/
Plan on spending between $1,000-2,500. You will own most things the rest of your life.
For specific questions, just do targeted searches on backpackinglight.com. It's all there, it's all been said, over and over.
My kit varies between 9-10.5 lbs, and I have never looked back-

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by balzaccom » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:19 am

I don't think you need to spend that much money, and I don't think you need to change sleeping bags. Depending on where you go, you may be quite happy to have a 20 degree bag, some nights.

My question, which Daisy has already alluded to, is what ELSE are you taking? You didn't mention your tent, which can be a difference maker. But the rest of your equipment is roughly what we take for many trips in the Sierra, and my wife and I carry about 55 pounds between the TWO of us for a 3-4 night trip. So I can only conclude that you take some things that we don't take.

What are they?
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by The Other Tom » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:27 am

A lot of PCTers use Zpacks products (tent, backpack, etc). I don't own any and they are pricey, but lightweight and they get good reviews.

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Wandering Daisy
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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:47 am

Not many backpackers can afford to go lighter cold turkey. I have adjusted my pack weight downward over a 15 year period, in the order listed below. I alternate years in the Sierra and the Rockies, so have some gear that is a bit over-done for the Sierra. I have often choked on the price paid for high quality light weight gear, but never regretted it once the initial shock wore off! I am still not exactly where I want to be on total weight; it is an on-going project.

1. Eliminated unneeded stuff. Cost=0
2. Replaced less expensive stuff with lighter versions, such as water bottles, stuff sacks, etc.
3. Replaced heavier versions of clothes with lighter as the old stuff wore out.
4. Tackled the more expensive "big" items; tent, sleep system (bag/quilt + pad), pack
5. Built a gear closet that has options for many types and lengths of trips
6. I really keep a lookout for sales. Unless there is a truly revolutionary change in something, last years model is often just fine.

Be careful about other's opinions of what you need for sleeping bag, shoes and packs. These are very individual choices. Cold sleepers really need that extra warmth; focus on needed warmth, not weight. Fit, fit, fit is the most important thing with packs and shoes.

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