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Thread: what is with ultra light backpacking

  1. #251
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    For the last 2 years or so, I've been trying to lighten my hiking and backpacking loads. This thread has helped me out a ton! Normally I would peek in on this thread from time to time because there is a lot of good information being exchanged, but I never sat down and read it from beginning to end till today.

    After getting half way through this thread, I grabbed my day pack [Medium Alice w/frame, after market Kidney pad, Camo Shoulder straps] and re-evaluated my gear and how it's packed. I had a Canteen cup and a mess kit. Stuff stored in Molle Pouches and canvas stuff sacks. Water was stored in a Canteen and two 1L Nalgene bottles.

    Since I carry a canteen in a Molle II pouch w/canteen cup, there was no need for my Optimus Weekend cook set. Though I did put the fuel and stove in an external packet. That saved me 8-9oz. Switched the two Nalgene bottles out for a 2L soda bottle. Another ~8oz savings. switched out the home made canvas stuff sacks for Nylon stuff sacks or ziplock bags. Found a 200+ spool of Twine that I didn't need in there and also a repair kit for a different pack. Because of this thread, I was able to shed about 1.5 pounds of weight from my day pack.

    Thanks to all those who are making this a great thread!

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  3. #252
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    There are several thoughts on lowering pack weight. I started with a not-too-heavy pack a little over 30 years ago in Boy Scouts. That old external frame pack was maybe 4 1/2 pounds empty. I used sterno to cook beneath an aluminum pot and carried canned chili mac and beanie weenies. A cheap walmart poncho fended off rain, and I stuffed the bulky green Coleman sleeping bag in a trash bag and strapped it to the bottom of the pack frame.

    20 years ago, I got a 4-pound internal frame pack from Kelty. I threw in a heavy Peak 1 stove and steel pots to cook with, along with a foam pad to sleep on in a military issue sleeping bag. I actually got a bit heavier in pack weight, but it seemed ultralight compared to the 90+ pounds I carried as a Marine (because every one on my team carried a radio).

    When I left the Marine Corps for and Appalachian Trail Thru-hike, my pack got heavier still. 8-pound Gregory pack. 4 pound tent. 3-pound sleeping bag. 2-pound pad. Whisperlite stove. Still seemed light compared to the Corps. I learned. I got lighter. Personal pack weight was rarely over 25 pounds. But when I taught for NOLS, it could be well over 60 with group gear and 10-12 days of food. I adapted.

    At this same time, about 10 years ago, I worked for an outdoor retailer and got obscene discounts on gear. So I really got to experiment with true ultralight equipment. 2-pound pack, 12 ounce tarp or 24 ounce tarptent, 8-ounce pad, esbit tab stove, titanium pot, never more than 2 pounds for sleeping bag or quilts. Base weight of less than 10 pounds then add food and water. But I slept pretty lousy.

    Then I discovered hammocks. I'm a big guy. My rig has to be heavier to support me. When you add underquilts, my old Tarptent was lighter, but nowhere near as comfortable or flexible. If I'm only going a short distance, I'll carry more stuff for a nice base camp. More miles, less stuff, and I'll make double or triple duty out of as many items as possible, a point many folks never seem to understand.

    I've been from the middle to very heavy to ultralight and then back a bit heavier again. I still have a light load, but it's my happy "comfort-weight" for both trail and camp.

  4. #253
    Canuck Woodsman Supporter Northman242's Avatar
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    I have no problem with light-weight kits and gear. It is a matter of preference for folks.

    I myself use alot of older traditional equipment. My gear is mainly a mix of wool, leather, wood, cast-iron, etc......which add up the pounds rapidly. I still prefer it over most new equipment sold at modern Outfitters and outdoor stores as the older stuff is usually more resilient and durable.

    I have tripped with many people who carry nothing but the newest, more expensive, ultra-lite gear and some of them still moan about weight. Not sure what to say about that as my pack can sometimes go over 50 lbs.

    I was out today and these two bags weight about 35lbs.
    Last edited by Northman242; 01-05-2013 at 06:08 PM.

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  6. #254
    Scout Supporter mjf's Avatar
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    Nice pic Northman, very cool. My LL Bean pack arrives Monday. Next weekend will be it's maiden voyage.

    This trip will only be five miles in and five out. All my ultra light gear is going except it will be in the LL Bean pack. I'll add my bushcraft tools, a rib eye and bacon so my load will be about 30 pounds. The ultra light stuff will still save at least ten pounds off my old knees.

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  8. #255
    Canuck Woodsman Supporter Northman242's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjf View Post
    Nice pic Northman, very cool. My LL Bean pack arrives Monday. Next weekend will be it's maiden voyage.

    This trip will only be five miles in and five out. All my ultra light gear is going except it will be in the LL Bean pack. I'll add my bushcraft tools, a rib eye and bacon so my load will be about 30 pounds. The ultra light stuff will still save at least ten pounds off my old knees.
    I think you will like it. It has some very handy side slots to secure your axe(s).

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  10. #256
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    Default I like light weight

    I don't know, the new light weight gear is really good. I don't sleep as well as I use to, but these new light air pads are heaven. Same with the better backpacks and bags. Funny thing is besides some shell fabrics, the best materials still are the old ones. Down,wool,silk,leather. But all of these come in very modern weaves and light weight. Look at quilts instead of sleeping bags, 2/3 rds the weight of a good bag but much more versatile. Tarp tents, basicly the same old designs with better fabrics that make a two man shelter at a pound. At this weight I carry my shelter on all hikes, even short day hikes, cause you never know.

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  12. #257
    Scout Supporter mjf's Avatar
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    Default Light weight load out

    My LL Bean pack came yesterday and I was quick to load it up and see what fits where. I am impressed with the pack and will do a overnight backpack trip this weekend. Here is my lightweight load out. Total weight with food and water is 20Lb 5oz. Not to bad. The same load out in my Kifaru is 29Lbs.


    Top row is tarp tent, sleeping pad, bag and pillow, clothes.
    Middle row is food bag with food, cozy with PCT bear hang gear.Water bottle.Toiletries, kitchen, headlamp, first aid kit. towel and bandana
    Bottom is bushcraft items. 2 liter water bottle, notebook and .22 which will provide lunch.



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  14. #258
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    Coming from a trail running background I prefer lightweight system when backpacking mainly because it's so nice nice to hike in trail running footwear, and my goal is to cover as many miles as quickly as possible, so heavy leather boots and big packs are not for me. But If your pace is a bit slower and the trips are shorter, no need to go super light, some people love gear and they like to test 3 or 4 different knives and the want a full length sleeping pad and a bigger tent, so go for it, pack it in, Heck I have seen people backpack with a guitar.

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  16. #259
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    As children many folks would crawl out of bed in the summer, jump on their crappy bike, and spend the day exploring the woods. They’d come home exhilarated, from having an all out day, awesome day in nature. That being said chances are they’d be hungry, maybe have a skinned elbow, and as the sun had started to set a bit chilly. Next time you go hiking, watch the kids and the dog. See how they behave on the trail. They don’t hike in a straight line like we often do. They are free in their experience of nature, zig zagging to and fro, while they run ahead. Sometimes they go backwards…because they can, because they saw a curious stick or rock. Its not an effort for them because they are young, full of energy, and they don’t have a heavy backpack.
    I went hiking last summer with a few friends. One of them had a beautiful yellow lab. He put saddle bags on the dog, and although it wasn’t a lot of weight the dog was weight down, and pretty much walked in our crappy backpack conga line. The dog was walking along and misjudged the distance between two rocks. Pooch failed to take into account the added width of the saddle bags, and got wedged between the rocks. It wasn’t the dogs fault. Dogs aren’t programmed to take into consideration saddle bags. On the other hand they are programmed to run free and happy.
    I think humans are programmed to run free and happy too. I just think that certain messages are programmed into our heads during our lives that eventually become second nature. One of these messages is “carry a lot of stuff in our backpacks”. Please don’t think that it’s always a smart idea to crawl out of bed and spend the day in woods without any preparation (sometimes it’s a great idea). As we get older we learn that maybe it’s a good idea to bring a snack, and a first aid kit to mend skinned elbows, or a bit of extra clothing in order to stay warm. It’s also important to remember why we are out there to begin with, and that’s one reason why I go light weight backpacking. Just because I’m a Canadian doesn’t mean that I can’t find my own “life, liberty and pursue happiness”.

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