When Should I Stop Trying to Reduce Base Weight?

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

Post by SSSdave » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:20 am

The goal whether ultralight or average pack weights or heavy carrying weights, ought not be based on minimum weight reduction as an end goal despite that often being the focus of gear conversations. Rather it should be a goal to minimize weight while satisfying the purpose of what one desires to safely accomplish.

Because there are many different goals, situations, and reasons for backpackers to go into wilderness, there are also many solutions even for specific individuals depending on specific trips. Accordingly a wise first question to ask is what are one's goals with adequately considered detail and not just some terse idea like, "I want to hike a long ways".

For some like this person, enjoyment while avoiding excessive unpleasantness is a key element in my goals while a peakbagger may only have interest in reaching the top of a peak safely regardless of how unpleasantly strenuous the effort is. Another person may be bringing along family members and need to carry parts of their gear with a key interest in having the family enjoy the experience even if that requires more unpleasantness on their part. Another person may have an activity they pursue in the wilderness like fishing but that alone is not enough detail Some may only pursue a narrow way they do so like fly fishing with artificials they tie themselves while another fishing person may just be all about worms, salmon eggs, and Powerbait. Some may have significant physical limitations like a bum knee they must pay attention to so as not to injure themselves. Other's may be all about comfortable camp spots where they make elaborate meals. Weather is also an factor, especially in late season, and dependent on where. Much more of course.

So again, it is key to understand one's specific goals on specific trips, and work back from there as to tailor what gear satisfies accomplishing whatever purpose.








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

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 17, 2020 2:02 pm

Given you said you are a bit OCD, I would just let things be as is for a season or two, and see how it all works out. I think you need to evaluate your gear over the long term of various trip lengths and weather conditions.

Think about reducing weight of your "consumables" in addition to base-weight. Do you always carry too much water? Do you always come back to your car with extra food? An ounce here and there also adds up. At some point, the weight of a water filter (such as the Sawyer mini) is less than carrying water while on the trail.

Also consider functionality. I find tiny diameter cord a pain to use. I hate thin shoe laces. I have a tent that sets up on trekking poles, and I DO appreciate the weight reduction, but it is fussy to set up, particularly in a wind. I may go back to a self-standing tent next time I need a new tent. I like to be able to dry-camp so carry two 2-L Platypus water containers.

I have different base-weights for long trips vs short trips. When taking 11 days food, a pound in base-weight is pretty minor, compared to the weight of my consumables and if out that long I want to be a bit more comfortable. On a 2-3 day trip, I can tolerate more discomfort- so what if I have one night sleeping a bit cold? But I do not want to do that for 10 nights! I have a variety of gear, and pack differently each trip. Sometimes it is simply psychological - I may be in a mood for more luxury, or the mood to travel faster.

Gear is just the tool to do what we love to do. Better to get out imperfectly, rather than obsess about being perfect.

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

Post by bobby49 » Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:56 pm

I use two 2-L Platypus containers for gravity filtering water in camp, but when I break camp, I generally carry two 1-L Gatorade bottles. One has water. One has Gatorade or Cytomax. That much water lasts me through the day until the next camp. I don't like to filter water during the day, partly because it takes time. Once I am on the trail, I generally keep moving.

I keep my master gear list on an Excel spreadsheet. Then for each trip, I copy the master and edit it slightly to be trip-specific. For example, if I am going someplace at higher elevation, I am likely to carry a few more ounces of warm clothing. If I know that I have to make some wet stream crossings, then I will have water socks. If I plan on hiking much at night, then I'll have a spare battery for my headlamp. If it is bug season, then I make sure I have my headnet and a couple of ounces of bug juice. So, counting bear canister, camera gear, and all non-consumables, I generally get about 14 pounds.

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

Post by Wandering Daisy » Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:36 pm

2 liters of water carried, is a starting weight 4.5 pounds (average over the trail day 2.25 pounds), above your "base-weight"! And would not that added weight also slow you down a bit? Sorry, I'd rather gather water along the trail. I do not carry water for convenience; only as needed.

My Sawyer mini weighs 2.8 oz. I just dip the collapsible bag in the stream, screw on the filter, and suck on it for my trail water. It takes about 2-3 minutes more than if I were to drink from carried water. As for adding an energy drink, yes I would have to carry my cup outside my pack, and mix the drink. A bit tedious. Just pointing out that carrying less water IS one way to reduce pack weight.

Bobby- LOL, you and my husband are from the same school of thought on this. He hauls two liter bottles at the start of the day; I may haul half a liter if that. He has his way; I have mine.

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

Post by thegib » Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:58 pm

I look at my body fat and think "that's the way to save ounces".

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

Post by bobby49 » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:08 pm

The other reason that I carry water is for safety, like for first aid. Once decades ago I fell on a trail, and the trail was filthy from mule debris. I needed the drinking water to cleanse the wound.

I've hiked through some stretches of the Sierra where there was no running water for a long way.

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

Post by jbinsb » Thu Jun 25, 2020 10:22 am

This is a fun -- and funny -- topic. I've been on this journey. I have a spread sheet of gear and associated weights. I usually take off for four or five days with just under 30 pounds, with a liter or so of water. I wanted that to be under 25. So I looked at my big 3 (big 4, including inflatable sleep pad) and did research to find what I'd like to replace anything with, the weight savings I'd realize with it, and the price. Just pulled the trigger on a Gossamer Gear Mariposa, so that was 2.5 pounds right there. Looking at a quilt, for another 1.5, but I want it to be warm and not drafty for three seasons. That's next. I have a Big Agnes tent that is not ultralight, but is very light (under 2.5 lb) and has no condensation issues and sets up in a moment. I love it so don't need to change that. I could get a lighter pad, for another half-pound. I'm about to do a six-day trip and am at 27 pounds with water to start. I could save with a lighter bear canister, but am just not willing to pay for the carbon one. Once I'm sub-25 to start a six-day, I will stop the madness!!!!

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

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:56 pm

I too have a detailed spreadsheet for gear and food and everything weighed on a postal scale. So I cannot laugh at other gram-counters!

I am going to the Wind Rivers in Wyoming this summer. Weather is colder than the Sierra (a 3 pound/10-degree bag and not-so-light rain gear), and there are tons of wading crossings (crocks). Bear cans not required but there are bears so I will take my Bearikade Weekender. Fishing gear and camera, because that is why I go! The .65 lb first aid/repair kit is annoying because I rarely use it. I am now using a Tarptent Notch that sets up on trekking poles. On two August routes I will need to carry 11-oz bear spray (griz) and on one route I will have to add micro-spikes (non-crevassed glacier). End of August, a brief snow storm is inevitable so will throw in balaclava, mittens, a bit extra food. I will build the occasional fire, since I will be a bit short on gas if I catch many fish. I suppose there are "consumables" that I have not considered, such as toothpaste, mosquito repellant, but I suspect that all that is about balanced by the plastic bags I accumulate when using up the food, and TP has to be carried out too so is not really a consumable. I may be able to burn garbage, though.

I will confess to adding a few more things when I leave the car! And of course, early season I also am "carrying" a few pounds of winter fat.

8-day Trip:
34.5 pounds total (without water - may carry half a quart)
9.2 pounds (2475 calories 1.27 pounds per day) food, 0.8 pounds gas (medium gas can)
5 pounds not inside the pack: clothing, shoes, and stuff carried (trekking poles, camera on a sling)
29.5 pounds starting pack weight
19.5 pounds "base weight" if that means the weight of my pack, less food, gas and water.

Bottom line is that even as I buy new gear, wear out old, bring more of X less of Y, I still come out about the same total weight, when all is said and done. I have not reduced weight significantly in the last 5 years or so.

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

Post by KathyW » Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:55 pm

Everyone is different - you'll have to figure out what works for you.

I went out for 3-days with 26 pounds including about 1.5 liters of water this week. I can't go much lighter than that and still have everything that I need to be comfortable and I can't go over 35 pounds without it being uncomfortable. I never calculate my base weight. If I weigh the pack, I just weigh myself without the pack on and the weight myself with the pack on before I head out. I have been working on losing some of my body weight and the ten pounds I've lost since the beginning of the years seems to be helping more than reducing a pound or two of weight from my pack.

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

Post by CAMERONM » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:45 pm

I start an 11 day trip with a bear canister and 1 liter of water at around 32 lbs, as that is the outer limit of comfort for my older Z-packs pack. I am a lot happier on day 4 and cruising on day 6. I don't lack for any comfort or any safety. It is worth the effort to me to keep looking for ways to reduce more. Now my biggest challenge is to dial in my food allowance as I am returning with too much. I started out with 1.25 lbs/day, have gone up to as much as 1.8, and now am settling back into something closer to 1.4 lbs. My wife gets upset when I return looking like a skeleton...

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