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#203783 - 11/30/19 04:24 PM my admission
JerrySC13 Offline
member

Registered: 11/19/19
Posts: 28
Loc: Chapin, SC
Okay. I have to admit something. I feel like I should...

I need to get one thing off of my chest.

When I'm looking for a new piece of gear, weight is not the first thing I check. But it's even worse...

I pack heavy.

Okay. There. I said it. Happy to have that off my chest. Whew! I feel soooo much better! It's like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Sorry. Bad joke there. What can I say? I'm a dad. Comes with the territory.

Yep. I'm not an ultra lightweight backpacker. I should probably start a support group. LOL.



Edited by JerrySC13 (11/30/19 04:25 PM)
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#203784 - 11/30/19 05:56 PM Re: my admission [Re: JerrySC13]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 3128
Loc: Portland, OR
We have very few members who would consider themselves as ultra-light backpackers. As a group, we tend toward the lightweight part of the spectrum rather than either extreme. Also, because the majority of us have been doing this for decades, what we started out carrying in our early years as backpackers would definitely be considered as "heavy" nowadays, due both to the kind of gear that was available back then and the amount of money we had to spend on our beloved hobby. We survived it.

When newbies ask me for advice, one of the primary pieces I give them is to avoid sinking a couple of thousand dollars into gear, but instead borrow whatever gear you can, see what you can dig out of thrift shops, try to keep your weight low by not taking things you don't need, then get out on the trail! That's the whole point of all this, not the gear.

Once you know you love to backpack and want to do it as much as you can in the future, then you can start getting serious about upgrading your gear piece by piece.

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#203785 - 11/30/19 06:37 PM Re: my admission [Re: JerrySC13]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1896
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Hi, I'm Glenn, and I'm a light to ultralight packer, and a gear-head. It's been two weeks since I bought my last piece of gear. I've tried the 12-step program, but I'm starting to suspect that choosing the owner of the local backpacking shop as my sponsor may have been a mistake. smile

I've always tended to pack lighter. Back when we all carried 40 pounds for a weekend, I was typically 2-5 pounds lighter than my hiking buddies. It wasn't for bragging rights, or because I was somehow more enlightened (so to speak) than they were - it's because Colin Fletcher was my vicarious mentor.

And I, too, never chose gear based entirely on weight. Like Colin said, if you need something, take it; then take the lightest version that actually does what you need it to do. I just never seemed to need as much as the next guy: I never needed the change of clothing for a weekend; I only needed a spoon (and didn't need both an eating and cooking spoon); and I used a three pound tarp-and-bivy sack setup when everyone else carried 6-pound two-person tents. We were all equally comfortable (comfort is another variable that differs greatly between any two people.)

Today, I still choose gear based first on functionality, then on weight. As a result, my headlamp is a full-power model instead of a keychain light; my knife has a lock-back feature (because my mini-tool closed on my fingers when I was making a fuzz-stick), and I carry separate scissors because my multi-tool scissors wouldn't cut moleskin. (My knife, scissors, and tweezers weigh half an ounce more than my mini-tool.)

I also have an ulterior motive: a year or so ago, I asked myself what I wanted to be doing ten years from now (when I'll be 80), and the answer was "still backpacking." I'll fully retire in a year, and I'm not deluding myself that I'll suddenly transform into a fully-fit chiseled version of myself. So, I decided to allow myself to take easier, shorter trips; lower mileage days; and no dead-of-winter trips. I also decided that to conserve my original-equipment knees and hips, I'd carry as light a load as possible. We'll see how that goes.

Budget plays a role, too. I'm at the point in life when the house is paid for, the kids' college bills are done, and I don't smoke, drink, chase women, or own a boat. So, the ultralight gear is more affordable, relatively speaking, than when I was outfitting me and my kids with whatever was left over after the bills were paid.

So, don't apologize for doing a smart thing: assessing your needs and selecting gear accordingly. Besides, you're allowed to change the composition of your load and weight of your gear as your needs change, too.

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#203786 - 11/30/19 06:43 PM Re: my admission [Re: aimless]
JerrySC13 Offline
member

Registered: 11/19/19
Posts: 28
Loc: Chapin, SC
Originally Posted By aimless

When newbies ask me for advice, one of the primary pieces I give them is to avoid sinking a couple of thousand dollars into gear, but instead borrow whatever gear you can, see what you can dig out of thrift shops, try to keep your weight low by not taking things you don't need, then get out on the trail! That's the whole point of all this, not the gear.

Once you know you love to backpack and want to do it as much as you can in the future, then you can start getting serious about upgrading your gear piece by piece.


That is the exact same kind of advice I give. The newbies I take are very financially limited. Even on my website I mention to borrow stuff until you know for sure this is for you. Back in 1989, on my first ever hike in the AT in Va, it was mostly with borrowed gear. smile
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#203787 - 11/30/19 06:48 PM Re: my admission [Re: Glenn Roberts]
JerrySC13 Offline
member

Registered: 11/19/19
Posts: 28
Loc: Chapin, SC
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
Hi, I'm Glenn, and I'm a light to ultralight packer, and a gear-head. It's been two weeks since I bought my last piece of gear. I've tried the 12-step program, but I'm starting to suspect that choosing the owner of the local backpacking shop as my sponsor may have been a mistake. smile
....

So, don't apologize for doing a smart thing: assessing your needs and selecting gear accordingly. Besides, you're allowed to change the composition of your load and weight of your gear as your needs change, too.


Great responses! I was trying to be kinda funny; I hope it read that way. smile

I've actually been thinking about the future in the same vain. I'm only 52 and I'm okay at 39 pounds, give or take. But when I'm 63, and hopefully have a little more disposable income? Yeah, I think I'll be going lighter. I still have visions of hiking the AT from GA to ME. I can't get that goal out of my head. Maybe I'll never do it, but I think it about it often.
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