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#148056 - 03/20/11 11:55 AM Better trip planning can lighten the load
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
Getting to a lighter load is more than just the equipment. Good trip planning helps. Here are a few of my "light" planning tips. What are yours?

1) Food - a "7-day trip" is not seven days of food! Just think about it- day 1 you eat breakfast at the car and the last day you hope to get out before dinner. Often the last day is just fine with a hearty breakfast. So for a 7-day trip I bring 6 breakfasts, 6 dinners and 7 lunches (snacks). If I have a short last day I only bring 6 lunches. There goes 1.5 pounds of weight! You can also cut down fuel. For me this means that a medium gas cannister is all that I need.

2) Appropriate gear- no need for a "mountain kit" if I am backpacking on the coast. I have a 45-degree synthetic sleeping bag for coast hikes- better in the damp wet conditions and weighs less than my 10-degree down mountain bag. I do not take a rain jacket in the desert. Delete the wading-camp shoes in late season when creeks are low and dry.

3) Small stuff - trade the book for a 3-oz mp3 player with a loaded audio-book.

4) Share- two can go lighter than one because you can share group gear- one stove, one tent, one set of pots. And costs- one permit, split gas costs. Yes, it takes a bit more planning to coordinate two people's schedules. And some peole take all their own gear even on a group trip -try sharing- it is not so bad.

5) Water is one of the heaviest items you carry. Know all the trail water sources. No need to haul liters of water if you cross creeks every few hours.

6)Do the route calculations- only by having a good idea of exactly how many miles and elevation gain you will be doing will you know how long it will take. If you plan too conservatively, you will likely beat the schedule and come out a few days early - thus carry way too much food.

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#148060 - 03/20/11 01:41 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: wandering_daisy]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Getting to a lighter load is more than just the equipment. Good trip planning helps. Here are a few of my "light" planning tips. What are yours?


In addition to yours (Which are my usual first things to examine for this) I do a couple of other things.

0) Multi-use - and trip planning helps this a lot. I carry a poncho tarp - if I know I am likely to have a *lot* of wet weather and high wind I will carry a light goretex jacket - if I know it's probably just going to be occasional, forget it, I leave the jacket at home and just use the poncho if it gets bad.


1) fires - sometimes where I hike it is appropriate to have a small wood fire. (a lot of times it is not) when I know I will be staying somewhere where some or part of the trip means that will be happening I reduce my fuel load accordingly, and take less juice - This actually means on such trips I am more likely to take my alcohol stove because I can judge the fuel load better.

2) Gathered food - now this is tricky, but if you're going to be fishing, or gathering gooseneck barnacles off the rocks, if you *know the area* and know that you're not going to get completely skunked and have a backup plan, you can lighten up accordingly - planning for at least a meal or two of trout in an area where you're going to certainly find some will lighten you up.

3) Type of hike. I'll call this "enjoying camp" or "enjoying the walk" - I certainly do both. but I carry more stuff when "enjoying camp" - a tarp to sit under, and more clothing to sit around in. if I am just enjoying the walk, and likely to eat and bed down pretty much right away at the end of the day, I am more inclined to take less stuff, knowing I can just crawl into my sleeping bag when I stop walking or if the weather is crappy. I often to a bit more of the former when I am with others, and a bit more of the latter when I am solo.

4) Pig-out days.- Food Stops on the way. Some hikes have food stops, either a town where you can pig out, or someone selling stuff on the trail - If I am having a food drop brought in or I've cached one, I leave a pig out meal in the cache (heavy, lots of calories etc, in the cache. If I know I'm probably going to have this, I usually make sure I have an extra breakfast (oatmeal, it's light) in case it's unavailable, and reduce food accordingly. - fewer snacks on a pig-out day, you just don't need them.

5) Bartering - ok, this isn't really load lightening, but I do it.. My trail food, esp. breakfasts, are pretty light, and pretty good. If I'm hiking with a mob, who I know will do the usual oatmeal for breakfast every day and bad instant coffee, I take my mountain house egg and idahoan breakfasts, and via, and I don't take oatmeal - I have no variety, but I just then trade for variety. You'd be surprised what you can get for a mountain house egg and taters with two packets of via dark roast from a German who is on his eighth day of oatmeal and tea...


And finally, my personal favorite, which you should all do because it is good for the sport:

6) The "Meet the Newbie Mule" combo hike. No, I'm not making them carry my stuff, let me explain. A lot of Hikes I do I can touch on an area partway through where a new hiker can meet me. I can have a nice, my own pace, solo hike through crazy stuff for a few days. Drop down to somewhere with road access, or close to it where the pre-prepared by me newbie will meet me with a food cache. I then do the remainder of the hike (or what I just did, slower, in reverse) with the newbie, and have a grand old time. Having a newbie meet you with a food drop and extending a hike with them is a great way to bring them into the sport, get them involved - you prepare them appropriately (because you want them to be there) and they get to see what you are taking for the same trip.





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#148062 - 03/20/11 02:00 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada


Just a general comment on this - I do find that trip planning did the most for lightening my load in general - I used to be much more inclined to take lots of "just in case" stuff. or "a little extra wouldn't be bad to have".

I found as I was lightening up from my heavy hiking days, while the gear mattered, I really did lose a lot of weight in the kitchen and food area - just by considering how much I really needed, what I enjoyed, and how much fuel and equipment it needed to cook.. This really became apparent when I started making alcohol stoves, and adapting to simple boil water only meals. while yes, and alky stove was a lot lighter than my whisperloud - it wasn't the difference in weight of stove that made the most difference for me. it was the fact that using the alcohol stove required more careful menu planning, and changing my food around some to accomodate FBC style cooking. The planning actually meant I did my research to find stuff I liked, and ended up taking not worse food than I *cooked* before on the whisperlight, but lighter food that I enjoyed more, a lot less kitchen stuff, etc.

So in a sense, it's the planning itself that lets you take the lighter load. I wouldn't be taking the tiny little kitchen rig and still enjoying myself if I hadn't done the research (and the try it at home) to find stuff I really enjoyed and could make with it. all that is planning.



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#148065 - 03/20/11 02:19 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
W_D. Great post idea; and great lists from you and Phat.

This is a bit of a russian roulette game of an idea, but I've done it a few times. A place with restocking stations, like the JMT, often has extra food later in the season. People come in and basically bail out or make a decision that they are not going to carry ALL that food that they planned to take originally. They have already pre paid for that food to be there but are not going to be using it. So these places will often let other people pick through and take what they want. When I have done it, there has always been oatmeal and granola. But sometimes there are some real good meals or snacks. So basically I am cutting my calories as close as I dare when packing and using these locations bump up my food supplies if needed.


Edited by skcreidc (03/20/11 02:20 PM)

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#148066 - 03/20/11 03:12 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: wandering_daisy]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Great post - I keep trying to think of additional things, but they all end up being about gear, so I think you've pretty well nailed it.

(OK, one example: if I'm only going to be out for a few days, then I might consider leaving all the beverages behind. My son pointed this out to me once before we left for a week-long trip. By drinking only water, I not only saved nearly a pound of tea bags, instant coffee, and cocoa mix, but I didn't need as much fuel, nor did I need the second pot or the mug - which, back in the days of stainless steel cookware, saved almost another pound.)

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#148075 - 03/20/11 07:51 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: Glenn]
Whiskeyguy Offline
member

Registered: 06/11/09
Posts: 103
Loc: Northern California, USA
The best thing I did was weigh all my gear and enter the weight into an Excel spreadsheet. I can then toggle a check box next to the gear I'm taking and get a total weight for the trip. Great motivation to cut out things I don't really need.

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#148078 - 03/20/11 08:08 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6401
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
wandering_daisy said:
Quote:
If you plan too conservatively, you will likely beat the schedule and come out a few days early - thus carry way too much food.


I don't worry about that--it's an extra day for exploring, fishing, sitting around admiring the scenery or being socked in by bad weather. I try to plan at least one layover/contingency day for every trip, sometimes two.

I have come out early on only two trips--one because of my dog getting sick (if I'd had a contingency day planned, I wouldn't have needed to abort the trip), and the second because I had left an apple in my car that started calling me just as I was looking for a place to camp my last night! The apple was rather warm, but IMHO it was worth it!
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#148079 - 03/20/11 08:35 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: OregonMouse]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1731
Loc: Napa, CA
Good post, Daisy. We follow most of these patterns...with two minor exceptions.

We often take a little extra food, because we sometimes decide to stay for an extra day. And we like that luxury.

And when it comes to water in the Sierra, sometimes we play it cautiously. WHile you never get extra points for arriving in camp with water in your bottles, you DO get punished for running out of water on the trail, if a creek is dry!
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#148092 - 03/20/11 11:21 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: wandering_daisy]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
Decide if you're more a hiker, or more of a camper. If you're inclined more towards hiking, then trip planning starts with thinking about what you really need in "camp" if you do little there other than eat and sleep. It's potentially a "virtuous circle" (opposite of a vicious circle): less stuff for camping means a lighter pack, which in turn makes the longer amount of time spent hiking more enjoyable, less painful, so you're not as inclined to hang out for long periods in camp or taking breaks.

Other "style" shifts that can impact pack weight are deciding which and how many meals to cook (if any), how often you really need to change clothing (if at all) on the trail, and potentially doing more things half inside a sleeping bag in camp to reduce the amount of warm clothing needed.

Another "virtuous circle" aspect is when pack weight gets low enough, then it takes less time to do an equivalent length trip, which in turn means less food carried and thus an even lighter pack. Water is similar, in that with a lighter pack you can potentially make it to a next water source in the same day and thus carry less water on average (all within reasonable safety constraints).

Trip planning definitely can reduce pack weight by just mechanically analyzing gear and clothing carried, but to get real wins I think a person should also factor in on-trail (and in-camp) "style" issues.
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#148096 - 03/21/11 12:06 AM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: wandering_daisy]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I'm still struggling to lighten my load to match the trip. I've found that it's mostly food and clothes that I need to work on right now. I've switched to dehydrated dinners, a "Cat Stove", and right now I'm sifting through what I really need to bring for clothes.

I'm shooting for under 30lbs for my next 2-3 night trip, and I think I might actually make it this time. It was mostly clothes that put me over the mark on my last trip. Well, that and the liter of beer I carried didn't help either frown

I do appreciate the tips here, they couldn't have come at a better time for me smile
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#148222 - 03/24/11 12:02 AM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: billstephenson]
Keith Offline
member

Registered: 01/04/02
Posts: 1664
Loc: Michigan's Upper Peninsula
[quote=billstephenson I've found that it's mostly food and clothes that I need to work on right now. I've switched to dehydrated dinners, a "Cat Stove", and right now I'm sifting through what I really need to bring for clothes. [/quote]

An alternative approach to the excellent posts by WD and phat...

I save weight by bringing extra clothes and some other gear. Let me explain this counter-intuitive statement: I bring extra stuff in the car to the trailhead. That way, I don't have to stress about not having something I need. Then, when I see conditions (& weather) at the trailhead (how much snow is really on the ground, for example) I can just leave stuff in the car if I'm reasonably sure I won't need it. But it's there if it looks like conditions are worse than I had expected (or hoped).

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#148224 - 03/24/11 12:15 AM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: billstephenson]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By billstephenson

I'm shooting for under 30lbs for my next 2-3 night trip, and I think I might actually make it this time. It was mostly clothes that put me over the mark on my last trip. Well, that and the liter of beer I carried didn't help either frown


Uncivilized American.. We subjects of the Queen know about *dehydrated beer* - it goes by another name.. single malt scotch wink Your litre (and please spell it properly wink ) of beer is the same as 125 ml (that's 4 oz for all you flems per cubic furlongh types) of "dehydrated beer" grin

(apologies to all, my commonwealth is showing tonight)
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#148257 - 03/24/11 02:16 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
thecook Offline


Registered: 10/03/08
Posts: 541
Loc: Minnesota
Scotch and Beer are two totally different beverages and should be enjoyed in different ways. Now if you were saying that brandy is "dehydrated" wine, I might go along with that... grin
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#148266 - 03/24/11 03:11 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
You're right phat, I know a few hillbillies that are, and even some Yankees, but I'm just not that sophisticated yet frown

Now if Scotch had some hops in it...
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#148267 - 03/24/11 03:16 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By phat
Your litre (and please spell it properly...


I'll switch from our American "Liter" to your Canadian "Litre" if it holds 3 bottles of beer. Our is just a bit shy of that, but it make perfect sense you guys would base it on that from the start laugh
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#148288 - 03/24/11 09:23 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: billstephenson]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
Phat,ROTFL. You kill me here! Some things are priceless!
I saved the most weight by switching from a metal, to Poly Wheel Barrow! This allows me to carry another case of Hydrated Beer! Happy Trails
Seriously folks excellent advice from the ealiest post! I learned something new again!


Edited by Kent W (03/24/11 09:27 PM)

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#148290 - 03/24/11 09:34 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: billstephenson]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By billstephenson
Originally Posted By phat
Your litre (and please spell it properly...


I'll switch from our American "Liter" to your Canadian "Litre" if it holds 3 bottles of beer. Our is just a bit shy of that, but it make perfect sense you guys would base it on that from the start laugh


Three? hah.. A litre holds a little bit less than two proper beers - a proper beer being 570 mls.

Don't forget - Mad King george's *loyal* subjects got the reward of bigger pints..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pint_glass
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#148291 - 03/24/11 09:36 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
But slightly more back on topic - I also save weight by dual using my fuel - alcohol stove and everclear.. The everclear works
pretty good in peppermint tea..

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#148330 - 03/25/11 11:56 AM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
intrek38 Offline
member

Registered: 11/29/03
Posts: 430
Loc: Hesperia, Calif
Well that leave me out, at least until I decide to move to the Great White North....

Due to its high alcohol content, Everclear is illegal, unavailable, or difficult to find in many areas. In Canada, Everclear is sold in the province of Alberta, but not in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and most other provinces.[citation needed] In British Columbia, it is available for purchase with a permit for medical use, research use, or industrial use only.

Thanks for the Excellent topic by the way WD & Phat. I've notice that a lot of planning can be easily derailed by just a few last minute choices..

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#148340 - 03/25/11 01:41 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
billstephenson Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3889
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
The company that sells Everclear is based here in Missouri, so it's pretty much available wherever strong spirits are sold. But... they do tax the fun out of it, or at least put a deep dent in it. Last time I bought it I paid about $20 for a quart (fifth?). I just bought some denatured alcohol for $6 a quart. frown

You guys even have bigger beers up there too? Wow, moving north sounds more appealing everyday smile
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#148430 - 03/26/11 07:34 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: wandering_daisy]
Alex Frost Offline
member

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 15
Oh what newbs. Dehydrated beer? Pah! True ultralight hikers only bring freeze dried beer.

http://www.brewdog.com/tactical_nuclear_penguin

Mmmm... hops.

*All in good fun y'all.


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#149037 - 04/08/11 04:51 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: phat]
hikemikehike Offline
newbie

Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 4
very valid points. i will definitely keep this in mind before heading out next time

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#149051 - 04/08/11 08:30 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: billstephenson]
Steadman Offline
member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 510
Loc: Virginia
Bill

We often take a (repackaged) bottle of wine for the first night.

I heard about wine juice boxes in France that might have some applicability here...

All... great stuff... you're making me think.

Steadman

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#149053 - 04/08/11 08:48 PM Re: Better trip planning can lighten the load [Re: Alex Frost]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Sorry Alex, but the idea of doing anything like that to good beer just sounds so wrong. laugh

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