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#163469 - 03/08/12 12:30 AM New way to weigh your backpack
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Hello everyone,

For many years, now, I've been keeping an Excel spreadsheet, which contains a list of all of my outdoor gear and its weight data. Needless to say, it's an outdated method for calculating my loaded backpack weight. So, from time to time, I had searched the web, looking to see if someone had developed an easier online method, using a vast, up-to-date database of popular outdoor products. Unfortunately, the only results I ever found were, basically, similar spreadsheet templates, in which I still needed to enter my own gear data. I got tired of looking, so I decided to develop such an online pack-weight calculator of my own.

It's far from complete, but it's fairly presentable, so I'd really appreciate anyone who'd be willing to test it and offer me some feedback. This site and its service is completely free to everyone, and I hope it serves as a valuable tool in the backpacking community. Here you go: http://www.weighmygear.com/

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#163473 - 03/08/12 09:24 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
palameto Offline
member

Registered: 01/24/12
Posts: 37
Loc: East Texas
Looks pretty snazzy. Are the gear weights in the database based on manufacturer claims, or have these actually been physically weighed by you or others?

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#163474 - 03/08/12 09:37 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: palameto]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Thanks. About 90% of the weight data has come directly from the manufacturers' sites or other well-trusted online gear retail sites. The remaining 10% has been manually weighed by us.

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#163475 - 03/08/12 09:38 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: palameto]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
Looks pretty neat. Non of my main gear was listed. Also My hammock is lighter than stock with woopieslings. Its a nice idea, but so many of us alter original equipment, to lighten it up. Sometimes just to better suit our needs. If weights are from manufacture, they often vary from manufacturing process. I am sure it will get some people close though. It would also be usefull for looking up suggested manufacture weight of different gear before purchasing.

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#163477 - 03/08/12 09:52 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: Kent W]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Many thanks for the feedback! Shame to hear none of your main gear was listed, but I completely understand that many people customize their gear. That's why we configured the system to allow users to enter their own custom weight adjustments to gear already in the database, or to enter your own gear altogether.

To make an adjustment to an item already in the database, first, select it from the list and place it in your pack. Then, once it's in your pack, you can go back to the left-side checklist, enter your adjusted weight value, and then click the black arrow button next to the weight. As you'll see, it adjusts the weight of your pack on the right side.

To enter your own gear that's not in the database at all, just type in its name and weight in the appropriate fields, and click that same black arrow button next to the weight. Not only will that add the item to your own pack, but if you're a registered member, upon verification by our staff, your item will be added to the public database for others to use in the future.

Also, keep in mind, the database is still in it's infancy. We're still adding up to 100 items per day, ourselves, plus we hope to have a lot of user contributions, as well.

Lastly, yes, using this site as a decision-making tool when purchasing new gear was one of our primary intentions. I hope the community finds value in this.

Again, thanks for your feedback! We'll use it to improve.


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#163479 - 03/08/12 11:08 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
It's a fantastic idea, I wish you the best. My own reaction was similar, however --- Lightheart designs tent, not there, nor tarptent models. ULA packs -- not there. WM sleeping bags were there but not the model I most typically carry and my bags are now overstuffed anyway.

I hope that you do get the database up to a sort of tipping point, a critical mass level where more and more folks will find it compelling.

I have to wonder why you want people to "join" --- do you have hopes to monetize this in some way down the road, and in general what are you doing with the information? There's certainly no need to do this if it's strictly a .org type of effort (rather than a .com) ?
To be clear, I'm not suggesting that a profit motive is bad (!), I'd just prefer to see that made clear up-front if so.

_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#163480 - 03/08/12 11:15 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2865
Loc: California
I have my own spreadsheet so probably would not use another. Regardless of who's spreadsheet you use, when all is put together in the pack, it is a good idea to step on the scales and verify the weight. And then resist the temptation to throw in more items from your trunk just before walking down the trail! PS- I do this all the time. Realistically, I should just add a pound for "last minute items".

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#163481 - 03/08/12 11:28 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: BrianLe]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Brian, thanks a ton for the feedback. Yep, I had no illusion about 6000 items being enough to cover everyone's gear list, but I figured it was a pretty good start. Actually, we already have an additional 15000 items in the database, but those items are still waiting for their weight data to be entered. As you can imagine, it's an enormous effort for a small all-volunteer staff. That's why, to some degree, we're counting on our users to start submitting some of their own gear weight data to contribute to the cause.

To answer your question about joining, yes, we do plan on monetizing the site down the road, although the methods are still being discussed. For example, though, in order to sell advertising space, it would be to our benefit to maintain membership data to provide to the advertisers. Sometimes simple site traffic data isn't enough. While it's a bit unorthodox for a website to explain its monetization strategies up-front, we'll consider placing this info on the Join page.

Thanks, again, for your great questions and feedback!

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#163482 - 03/08/12 11:30 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: wandering_daisy]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Thanks for your comments, daisy! Just to clarify, though, this is not just another spreadsheet application -- it's much more.

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#163483 - 03/08/12 11:50 AM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2236
Loc: Napa, CA
Well, I had the same experience: my REI sub-kilo bag isn't on there, nor is my home-made tent. And I suspect that most of the other stuff I have needs to be adapted and adjusted.

Which means that this is a really massive site, but it doesn't actually serve my needs, because it doesn't address my equipment. And if that is the case for most of the people on these boards, I wonder who your target audience is?

It may be so much more than a spreadsheet, but it doesn't do the work my spreadsheet does for my equipment.
_________________________
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963

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#163485 - 03/08/12 12:04 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: wandering_daisy]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1814
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
Quote:
Realistically, I should just add a pound for "last minute items".

You too, eh! Sometimes I think it is genetic.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#163488 - 03/08/12 12:24 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: BrianLe]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Update for you, Brian. Ask and you shall receive... all current Light Heart Gear tents and accessories, as well as all current ULA packs, pack covers and stuff sacks are now in our database. We'll work on the Tarptent products through the day. Hope this helps!

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#163490 - 03/08/12 12:46 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: balzaccom]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Hi, balzaccom. Thanks for your comments. I apologize if I've mislead you about the goals, and the limitations, of our new site. As I mentioned in a previous post, we just released this test version of the site yesterday, and our 6000-item database is just a starting point. This site will always be a work-in-progress. Each year, we intend to add thousands of new products. So, in time, I'm confident that this tool will help more and more people.

Regarding your question about our target audience, if you take a close look at the variety of checklists on the site, backpackers are just one part of our audience. We are also catering to climbers, mountaineers and backcountry skiers, who, from my experience, tend to use factory-made gear entirely, rather than make their own.

Naturally, your homemade tent wasn't listed. It would be impossible for us to account for everyone's homemade gear, but this site, at least, still provides a method for users to enter and store their homemade gear, just as a spreadsheet would. If a user registers and saves his/her gear list, that list can be accessed from any web-connected computer around the world, so a user doesn't need to worry about taking his/her laptop with the Excel file when traveling.

We do recognize that we're lacking all REI gear, and that's definitely an issue we plan on tackling soon. Unfortunately, it's far from a small task to add all of REI's gear.

If you have other smaller specialty manufacturers you'd like to see added, we'd be happy to accommodate your requests as best as we can. In fact, another BP member recently posted that our database does not include any Light Heart tents or ULA packs. Based upon that simple comment, we added all of those items right away.

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#163491 - 03/08/12 01:28 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: BrianLe]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Update #2 for Brian... we've added all current Tarptent tents, and we've filled in all of Western Mountaineering's 25-40F bags, as well as most of their others. There are still a couple gaps in WM's list, but we're getting there.

Getting back to the Light Heart and ULA gear we added this morning, as you may know, many of those products are customizable to some degree. So, the weights we entered were the base-weights listed on the manufacturers' sites. As I've mentioned earlier, you can make your own custom weight adjustments from there.

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#163492 - 03/08/12 01:35 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1193
Loc: Madison, AL
I like it! I have many ideas on how you can improve it, but I think you have the right foundation to be a great product.

First: This should be available as a mobile app (Android and iwhatever). You could get some inspiration from the calorie counting app my wife has been using to loose weight.

Second: I think you should make it more seamless for users to enter data into the database. You shouldn't burden yourself with entering the data. If Wikipedia taught us anything its that community information is often more powerful than even expert information.

Third: You should think about how to handle having multiple weights in your database for the same piece of equipment. For instance one weight could be tagged as manufacturer specified. Another for a weight weighed by a user. Perhaps another for the weight for a user modified piece of equipment (perhaps even a quick note to how it was modified). Another tag for different sizes. Manufacturers usually only specify the weight for one size of a piece of clothing. Actual weight varies based on the size you bought.

Fourth: It seems like the user should be able to modify the field headers and even the order in which the fields are entered.

Those are my thoughts for now. Good luck!


Edited by BZH (03/08/12 01:36 PM)

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#163495 - 03/08/12 02:05 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: BZH]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
BZH, now that's some great feedback! Thank you! Actually, we're already on the same page on most accounts...

1. A mobile app has already been discussed, but we're waiting to see what the general response is for the main site, first, before we put development time into the mobile app.

2 and 3. I'm not sure what you mean by "seamless" exactly, but the system does already allow any user to enter their own gear. Community contribution is one of our primary goals. If the user is not registered, then their item will only be temporarily added to their own personal pack. However, if the user is registered, then the item s/he enters will be automatically added to a separate, but connected, database. This allows our staff to moderate/verify user-entries before going public with them. And, as you suggested, this also allows the system to tag the item as 'user-entered', so it can be distinguished from the factory-weight items our staff has entered. So, in short, the system does already allow for multiple weights of the same items. Also, for many, but not all, items, the system already lists separate weights for different sizes. I believe this is best demonstrated among the main packs, skis and climbing protection.

The only reason we entered a few dozen items today, upon the comment of another BP member, was entirely voluntary on our part. We could've asked the poster to enter his own gear, but we also wanted to demonstrate that we're responsive to feedback and dedicated to making this a very valuable tool for the community.

4. Modifying the field headers and their orders... hmmmm. Let us think about that one. I agree it could be a benefit, but I have a feeling it might need to be a Version 2.0 feature.

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#163496 - 03/08/12 02:17 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
That's a great app! Very nicely done!!

As for feedback, I'll offer some suggestions:

* I'd like to see an "Other" added to each of your categories.

* It'd be nice if we could select the weight standard we wanted to input, like ounces or grams.

* For water and liquid fuels I think it'd be good if we could just enter the number of oz or ml and the weight of our containers for them.

* It'd be nice if you could create a "Print" CSS file so only the gear list and weights are printed (your logo would be okay there too wink ) and it would generally fit on one page.

* And, of course, it would be nice to be able to email or "Share" a list with friends.

* I suppose it might be fun to have a "Demo" list pre-filled with items so people could review and play with them. Perhaps you could do several, like an Ultra-light, Light, Standard, etc.

Anyway, I think it's pretty darn cool. Thank you for sharing the hard work and effort you've put into this, and please keep us posted on your progress and any new features you add.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#163497 - 03/08/12 02:17 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1193
Loc: Madison, AL
I agree that you need to enter as much data as possible yourself to get your tool up and running and useable for people. What I meant by seamless is that entries are automatically added to the public database. You could perhaps filter it: look for spam, exclude 100 lb sleeping bags, or pieces of equipment with four letter words in it. You could also let people flag inappropriate entries which would then get reviewed. But what I was suggesting is your database be automatically expanded and your staff (perhaps even volunteers) just review stuff that is grey area.... I am trying to make less work for you!

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#163498 - 03/08/12 02:33 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3917
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
4. Modifying the field headers and their orders... hmmmm. Let us think about that one. I agree it could be a benefit, but I have a feeling it might need to be a Version 2.0 feature.


As far as the order goes, I did something similar to that with a "To Do" list using the prototype libraries. You can see it at www.ezInvoice.com.

If you want to try it out:

* Login with the user/pass "demo"

* Click on the "Note/New" tab

* Click the "Add a Reminder" link.

* Fill out the form, check the "Place Note as Reminder on Home Screen." checkbox, and click the "Save Note" button.

Do that several times so you have several notes displaying, then drag and drop the notes in the order you want them. The app saves the order of the notes.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#163499 - 03/08/12 02:33 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: BZH]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1193
Loc: Madison, AL
A couple more thoughts: You should list on the registration page that a reason to register is so you can access you gear list from anywhere. Also, it would be nice to be able to enter all of your gear into an equipment list and then select a group of that gear for a particular trip list.

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#163501 - 03/08/12 02:41 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: billstephenson]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Bill, thanks for your compliments and your suggestions -- all great ones!

1. Yes, adding an "Other" field to each category is a good idea. What we've already done is add a "Misc" category at the very bottom of each checklist, with several fields in it. Hopefully, that will cover most "other" needs for now.

2. We had talked about offering the option to enter weights in either oz or g, but all of our own data is already in g, so we wanted to keep everything completely uniform. To help users who only know their gear weights in oz, we've already added an easy weight converter right at the top of each checklist. On a related note, as I hope you noticed, when compiling your pack, the weight is output in both lb/oz and g.

3. Yes, although we already have water listed in 3 volumes (pint, quart and gallon), we'll go ahead and break it down into oz, as well. Same with the liquid fuel. Great idea!

4. The system already utilizes a "print" CSS file, which allows a clean print of just your compiled gear. However, this is a member-only feature, so you will need to register before being able to print directly via the site functions.

5. Yes, an email/share feature is already on our to-do list. We had hoped to have it done for this Alpha release, but we didn't quite get it done yet. We figured adding more items was a higher priority at the moment. Be assured though, it will be added fairly soon.

6. Yep, we'd had also considered a "Demo List" feature, but it didn't make our priority cut. We weren't entire sure of its value. If we get more requests for it, we'll make it happen.

Again, thanks for your compliments, your suggestions and your time!

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#163502 - 03/08/12 02:49 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: BZH]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
BZH, another great suggestion about the membership benefits -- I've already added it. Thanks!

Let me think about your gear list suggestion. To some extent, I believe the existing ability to save multiple gear lists handles this.

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#163503 - 03/08/12 02:50 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1110
Loc: Colorado
I really like the program. You have done a very nice job with it.

To test it, I randomly went through and selected things. The pack ended up lighter than mine, but I'll be wearing woman's underwear.

Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to change an item once it was selected and I went past it.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#163508 - 03/08/12 03:23 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: Gershon]
dcd170 Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/12
Posts: 23
Gershon,

Really glad you like the app! In order to modify an item you've already selected, simply type over its data within the right-side checklist, and then click the black arrow button (next to the weight field) to submit the edits. By doing this, you should be able to edit the gear name, size and weight. Hope that helps, but feel free to ask further questions if necessary.

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#163511 - 03/08/12 03:37 PM Re: New way to weigh your backpack [Re: dcd170]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3983
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Hi there
I have a critique based on experience with electronics circuit board design using library database on components. Often its wrong and the components cannot be solderd onto their pads because of inaccurate dimensional data. (when I designed circuit cards I made the CAD/components guys check every outline) Most library driven systems depend upon rebuilding components, in the database, which is a waste of time for an individual. Multiple entries for each item are not allowed, yet my tent may weigh 5 ounces more than someone elses because - its seam sealed, or dirty, or has an extra flap sewed to it. Its the ponderous side of computer usage.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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