When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

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kdemtchouk
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When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by kdemtchouk » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:18 am

I've been working on reducing my pack weight and dialing-in my gear over the last couple years.

I am now at the point where I have a ~13.5lb base weight with lots of comfortable gear (freestanding tent, full length sleeping pad, 20 degree wide-cut mummy bag, camp flip flops) and some key pieces of ultralight gear that work well for me (alcohol stove, frameless pack, Bearikade, stuff sack pillow). I usually take 2-3 day trips and my pack weight theoretically tops out at ~25lbs with snow/shoulder season gear and consumables.

I am a fit guy and frequently trail run/hike with a weighted pack as training for my backpacking trips. My "fully-loaded" 25lb pack weight is roughly 1/8th of my body weight.

My questions is this: at what point does it make sense to stop trying to cut weight because there is no practical difference to your backpacking experience?

I tend to be a slightly OCD person and find myself ruminating about ways to eke-out an extra 1lb of weight savings, but if I really think about it...that 1lb wouldn't really make or break my trip. Plus, dropping every incremental ounce of gear usually means spending more and more $$$.








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notis
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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by notis » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:40 am

This is definitely a personal--sometimes theoretical--question! The goal of a low BW is, to me, to increase enjoyment, simplify the experience, and consume less. Others may have other, specific reasons (e.g., relieve post surgery joint stress). I got to a point of diminishing returns where I felt gram-counting and spending extra money on upgrades was not worth it in the spirit of all the things mentioned above. My journey has been: traditional BW, reduction over 5+ years to a minimalist "ultralight" BW, then a slight rebound to add things in or change my set up to where I now feel most comfortable. It's all about finding the balance for yourself, for sure :)

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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by kdemtchouk » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:46 am

Haha, absolutely!

I think I went through a similar journey, one day finding myself sleeping on a half-length pad, in a constricting sleeping bag that was too cold, and with a tent that dumped condensation on me. That's when I decided some things were worth carrying.

I'd also like to avoid the "gear churn" that comes with buying new stuff and then trying to sell it/hand it down to someone when I realize I may not like it.

An interesting thought I've been toying with is quantifying the "oz saved per $" for any new piece of gear and trying to use that as a benchmark for whether it's worth trying.

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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by mkbgdns » Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:07 pm

more like $ spent per ounce.

you can stop now.

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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by c9h13no3 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 12:43 pm

Depends on pretty much a million things. If you have infinite money and you get gear orgasms, then buy it and use it once. If you spend 200+ days a year backpacking, sure, spend money you barely have on that ultralight gear.

To me personally, the tent & sleeping bag are just means to an end: they allow me to break down long hikes to stuff I want to see into multiple days. But I can hike pretty far comfortably in a day and I only get weekends, so I only use the heavy bag once or twice a year. I have a tent, and a bag. I don't know how much they weigh, but I can hike them 8 miles in, camp & acclimatize, and then do a big hike the next day. So they work.
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maverick
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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by maverick » Tue Jun 16, 2020 1:51 pm

Once my safety is compromised because of any weight reduction is where I draw the line. During the summer months one can get away with some extra weight reduction, but in the shoulder seasons I will not risk it for a couple of ounces.
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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by astrogerly » Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:32 pm

I think we stopped trying after a couple seasons of dialing things in, once we got key pieces. Our experience was unfortunately due to breaking my back - which made both of us more pack weight conscious. I learned really quick what I needed to carry and what I really didn't need. My husband also had the same lesson since the makeup of what he carried changed a bit (instead of one of us taking the tent and the other the bear can, he does both now). The key things for us were a lighter tent (zpack duplex), much lighter sleep system (but still using full length pad), and much lighter packs (and smaller for me). Other than those, maybe some minor things here and but I wouldn't call it trying to reduce the base weight anymore. For reference, my pack is always around 12-15 pounds (which sadly never changes lol). Dave's is anywhere from 25-30 depending on the length of the trip and objectives (total pack weight).

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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by caddis » Wed Jun 17, 2020 7:49 am

https://andrewskurka.com/stupid-light-n ... or-better/
“Stupid light”: Why light is not necessarily right, and why lighter is not necessarily better
Image

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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by rayfound » Wed Jun 17, 2020 9:29 am

You're about where I got to, depending on how specifis one gets with definition of "BASE WEIGHT"... I am at ~14.5lbs including clothing change, bear can, etc... I don't include fishing gear in base weight when comparing to other backpackers.

This however is a bit nebulous, as it assumes a fully self sufficient trip. I almost always hike with a partner, and in that scenario, some of the "base weight" items are actually shared resources that can be divided in half (Tent, stove, fuel, bearcan)... and this gets me to something like 11.3lbs base weight... so I think sharing resources is arguably the most effective way of cutting weight once a certain threshold is reached.

gear wise, I am definitely at diminishing returns.

Likewise, my typical 22-27lbs (including food/water/fishing) is perfectly comfortable for me to hike without causing strain or distress.

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Re: When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

Post by kdemtchouk » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:16 am

Awesome, great points all around. Happy to hear some reinforcement that I can stop thinking about this and just go enjoy the damn wilderness!

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