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#99264 - 07/08/08 05:44 PM Lightening the Load
walkover Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/13/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I recently returned from my second backpacking excursion, which was a blast!! However, after talking to lots of people, and "lurking" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> through the posts on this web site, i think i'm carrying too much weight. Was wondering if someone could make some suggestions on how i can shed some pounds from my pack.

First, i hike along lake superior, in Canada, Sleeping Giant area. Only major climate issue is lots of thunder storms. My sleeping bag is rated to 1 degree, and i haven't been even slightly cold yet.

A couple items, such as the water filter, is brought more for the peace of mind of the people i hike with, and, as we are all beginners, and me being in a little better shape than the rest, i carry the bulk of the "leisure" items, if you will. The hatchet is to cut fire wood. Not sure if a saw wood do better??

Here's what I brought last time:

TNF Bullfrog Tent with Rainfly and Footprint
MSR Dragonfly Stove with 450 ml bottle of fuel
MSR water filter
Outbound Aluminum Cook set (2 pots, 2 plastic cups, 1 frying pan)
1 extra shirt, plus new socks/underwear per day
Marmot ZR?? sleeping bag (cheaper, not willing to spend too much more on a sleeping bag)
Fiskars small hatchet
Pair of gloves
Small flashlight
TP
Lighter + matches

and then food...

Most of my food is dehydrated, which i do myself.

The pack i'm using is an 80L ATI backpack. It's a pretty cheap pack which i bought off e-bay. Don't know if that's adding a lot of weight??

All said and done, my pack is totally full for my trip, with little to no room left. Is that a bit much for a 3 day hike?

Any insight would be SUPERB!

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#99265 - 07/08/08 06:14 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: walkover]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
You didn't indicate what the weight of any of the items is, or what your total weight was. Without that information, we can't really make any judgments.

However, for general purposes, I'd offer a couple of things before you get out the old credit card.

First, were you uncomfortable carrying your load? If the pack fits OK, and everything you want to take fits inside, then don't feel compelled to change anything just because other people carry less weight.

Second, if you liked the way everything worked, and it let the gear pretty much fade into the background (as in, you weren't constantly fiddling with gear), then - again - don't feel compelled to conform to what others do.

Third, your first attempt to lighten up (should you decide to do so) would be to go through your gear, find out what you didn't use (or can be just as comfortable without), and leave it behind. For example, you need the hatchet to cut wood - do you really need to cut wood? Did you have a fire just because you thought it was the "proper" thing to do, or because it really added to the experience? If it was just to conform, leave the hatchet behind; if not, take it. Likewise, you took 2 pots, plus cups - did you use all that? If so, fine - but consider that drinking water instead of coffee, tea, cocoa, etc., not only reduces the weight of your food bag, but means you can leave the cups behind - and maybe the second pot, if you were only using it to boil water for drinks.

In my own case, I starting figuring out what I did and didn't need, and reduced my load from 35 to 25 pounds. I discovered I enjoyed going without a fire (no smoke, no cleanup, no wood-gathering, and no being cut off from the night - read Colin Fletcher's Complete Walker), and I discovered that drinking only water let my kitchen shrink to under a pound (Pocket Rocket, Titan kettle, spoon), I then chased the ultralight dream for awhile, eventually getting my total weekend load down to about 12 pounds. However, I wasn't as comfortable as I wanted to be, and I was fiddling with gear too much (the tarp took longer to set up, the stove was too fussy, etc.) So, I went back up to an 18-20 pound weekend load (including food and a quart of water), and am delighted with the way my gear works; it's a pefect balance of convenience, comfort, and light weight for me - and in the end, that's what's important: your gear has to be the best balance for you, not for someone else. (If you'd like to see my gear list as an example, since we're in somewhat similar areas of the country, private-mail me with your email address and I'll send it to you. I hike in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, but have used the same gear very happily at Isle Royale, out in Lake Superior.)

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#99266 - 07/08/08 06:26 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: walkover]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
I recently returned from my second backpacking excursion, which was a blast!! However, after talking to lots of people, and "lurking" <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> through the posts on this web site, i think i'm carrying too much weight. Was wondering if someone could make some suggestions on how i can shed some pounds from my pack.

First, i hike along lake superior, in Canada, Sleeping Giant area. Only major climate issue is lots of thunder storms. My sleeping bag is rated to 1 degree, and i haven't been even slightly cold yet.

A couple items, such as the water filter, is brought more for the peace of mind of the people i hike with, and, as we are all beginners, and me being in a little better shape than the rest, i carry the bulk of the "leisure" items, if you will. The hatchet is to cut fire wood. Not sure if a saw wood do better??


First things first, look on the non-bbs part of this site for charle's "27 pound 7 day pack"
or the "18 pound three day pack" - they are excellent places to start. If you click
my name I have a gear list that I carry.


Quote:

Here's what I brought last time:

TNF Bullfrog Tent with Rainfly and Footprint

Are you by yourself? this is a generous 2 man bombproof tent - if you're
sharing it, at 5 pounds it's ok. if you're solo, looking at a smaller lighter solo
shelter or hammock rig might be appropriate for you. Going with a shires tarptent,
hennesey UL hammock, or SMD lunar solo shelter would cut about 3 pounds of weight
right there.

Quote:

MSR Dragonfly Stove with 450 ml bottle of fuel
Outbound Aluminum Cook set (2 pots, 2 plastic cups, 1 frying pan)

In winter if you're melting snow for water or if you are gourmet cooking for a group
(where the weight it shared) the Dragonfly is fine - if you're by yourself or in a small
group - using dehydrated food that just needs to boil water, an alcohol stove or esbit
tablets will suffice and weigh a lot less. if you have slightly more complicated food
a small canister stove such as an MSR pocket rocket or snow peak stove would
also reduce a lot of weight here. Similarly, if you eat rehydrated meals out of a
bag you can probably dispense with all but a small pot, cup, and spoon.

Quote:

MSR water filter


Many will disagree with me here, but take Chlorine Dioxide solution or tablets (you here it called aquamira here - in canada the brand you'll find is "Pristine" - you can get it at
MEC in small bottles or tablets) It doesn't have a taste like the old stuff (iodine) and
properly used kills everything. That'll shave off nearly 2 pounds that your water filter
weighs

Quote:

1 extra shirt, plus new socks/underwear per day
Marmot ZR?? sleeping bag (cheaper, not willing to spend too much more on a sleeping bag)


A good light sleeping bag helps. I carry 2 sets of socks, one to hike, and one
to sleep in. I wring out the hiking socks if they get wet. Good socks (polypro liners
and merino hikers or the like) help for this, since they're comfortable damp. Have
a peek at my list of clothing I carry. Something tells me if your bag is full
you're carrying a lot more clothing (rainwear, etc.) than one shirt and a few socks.
You can reduce a LOT of weight and volume by being CAREFUL with what clothing
you take. but you do have to be CAREFUL so as not to put yourself in a situation
where you risk hypothermia.

Quote:

Fiskars small hatchet


This is heavy. I've been around superior - you sure you can't just find enough
firewood by picking up deadfall/squaw wood? - although if you're burning that
much consider skipping the stove above and using the fire for all your cooking.
I don't usually have any trouble making fire without taking a hatchet.

Quote:

Pair of gloves
Small flashlight
TP
Lighter + matches

and then food...

Most of my food is dehydrated, which i do myself.

all fine. if small, and the right amounts.

Quote:

The pack i'm using is an 80L ATI backpack. It's a pretty cheap pack which i bought off e-bay. Don't know if that's adding a lot of weight??


Probably but change your pack *LAST* after you have more experience at lightening
up, unless you are truly uncomforatble with the pack now. (which you didn't say you were) You want to buy a pack that is the right size and weight for the load you will
carry. If you buy a completely frameless pack and stuff 40 pounds in it, you'll be
uncomfortable most likeley - if you buy a pack that is too small, you'll lose gear.
If you buy a 7 pound 80 litre monster and put an 18 pound load in it, well, you're
adding 7 needless pounds.

Quote:

All said and done, my pack is totally full for my trip, with little to no room left. Is that a bit much for a 3 day hike?

Any insight would be SUPERB!


Put a piece of tape on anything in your pack that isn't emergency gear that you take.
When you use it in the field, take the tape off. When you get home dump everything
out of your pack, pile up the stuff with tape still on it, and ask yourself if you really
needed to take that for a ride on your back in the bush. You'll drop it down soon
enough with some experience. Don't try to make it happen overnight or walk out
for 3 days with 10 pounds on your back next trip.

Most of all - reduce weight to have fun and stay safe. Don't reduce weight for that being your sole goal thereby making yourself miserable or dangerous in the bush. I *can* hike a lot lighter than I do - I just won't have as much fun doing it. As it is my typical three
day kit weighs about 20 lbs including a litre of water carried. Last year I carried that in
a 30 litre MEC alipinelite "daypack". While that may sound extreme, many here are much
lighter (mugs gives me total cuben fibre envy) but remember, reducing weight isn't the end goal, having fun safely is the end goal.
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#99267 - 07/08/08 06:29 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: walkover]
fos Offline
member

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 538
I backpacked many years ago along Gargantua (?) Bay, early enough in the year for the bay to freeze overnight, with just a daypack and an army blanket, no filter, a sterno stove, and lots of tea and scones. Ultralight before I even had heard of the word.

So, I would suggest: a smaller, lighter pack; a lot less stove (the Dragonfly is more a winter stove, you could use a 3-oz. canister stove like a Pocket Rocket), and don't bother bringing the footprint for the tent. Use wool socks and underwear, and don't bring so many extras - maybe one spare pair each, you'll be able to rinse the socks in the lake if you need to. Share the carrying of the tent with someone else if you're not already.

Keep the water filter and the sleeping bag, I froze in my blanket, and we boiled and/or iodined our water which was a huge pain. Don't add chemicals to Lake Superior water and ruin the taste!

Take one pot, one cup, and no frying pan.

A saw will be better and safer for wood, but can't you scrounge driftwood along the beach and sticks in the woods?

Just some ideas, I'm sure others here will have better suggestions. Have fun!

Top
#99268 - 07/08/08 06:49 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: phat]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Hi, Phat. Regarding the chemical water treatment, I'm going to display my ignorance about the Lake Superior area. I know that, at Isle Royale in the Lake, chemicals aren't recommended because of a specific local parasite (I forget the name.) However, I don't know how "local" they mean when they say local. If the parasite also exists where walkover hikes, I'd recommend staying with the filter; otherwise, it's just a matter of preference (weight versus wait, so to speak.)

On a side note, I'm back using a Virga pack again, with the MSR gear I love so much; gets my load down in the 16-18 pound range most of the time. The Vapor Trail just seemed to be overkill. I'm using a 3/4 Prolite 4 for a backpad, and carry a Lite Seat for trail and camp seating, and as a pad extender (laid between the pack's straps or inside the pack, to keep it in place.) Works pretty good. How'd that spare Virga I sent you work out?

Top
#99269 - 07/08/08 07:07 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: Glenn]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Quote:
Hi, Phat. Regarding the chemical water treatment, I'm going to display my ignorance about the Lake Superior area. I know that, at Isle Royale in the Lake, chemicals aren't recommended because of a specific local parasite (I forget the name.) However, I don't know how "local" they mean when they say local. If the parasite also exists where walkover hikes, I'd recommend staying with the filter; otherwise, it's just a matter of preference (weight versus wait, so to speak.)



Superior - being up at the top - was clean to the best of my knowledge - although the area
has plentiful streams and you can always take from running water instead of risking that
someone sank a boat in the area <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

Quote:

On a side note, I'm back using a Virga pack again, with the MSR gear I love so much; gets my load down in the 16-18 pound range most of the time. The Vapor Trail just seemed to be overkill. I'm using a 3/4 Prolite 4 for a backpad, and carry a Lite Seat for trail and camp seating, and as a pad extender (laid between the pack's straps or inside the pack, to keep it in place.) Works pretty good. How'd that spare Virga I sent you work out?


It works great - had it out for an inaugural day run on sulpher ridge in jasper, then took it
on West Coast Trail a few weeks ago. I had it loaded up as high as almost 30 lbs (8 days food!) at the start and it handled it very well, but I'm probably different than most in that
I'm carrying that in a 27" wide CCF pad rolled up inside the pack as a frame - I just stuff everyting inside the tube made from the pad. - The big wide pad probably helps a lot in the load department as compared to your smaller pad ( I take the huge wide one because I'm a hammocker) Even at 30 it was very comfortable, and after eating a few days food out of it, it was unnoticable on my back - except for the time in the middle of the trail I filled both my 2l and 3l platy full of water to take to a random campsite with no water - but still quite managable. (ugh 10 pounds of water !)

It's heading to Skyline on Friday afternoon with me and a far more typical (20 or so) pound load in it, along with another newb who has to be drug down the "best hike in the rockies"..But anyway - I do like it a lot. Thanks! I've tried to return some of the good karma you sent my way by sending some goodies to a few others here who needed things here! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#99270 - 07/08/08 09:17 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: phat]
walkover Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/13/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Thanks alot for the input! Sorry i didn't put weights alongside my list, as i haven't weighed everything yet.

For now, simply because i'm new to backpacking, i'd be reluctent to give up either hatchet or stove for the reasons that if i go stoveless, it's bound to downpour and i'll be crunching my way through dehydrated soup (yuck), and i love to have a fire after a nice hike. However, once i get a bit more experience, i'm sure i can drop both, as fire building becomes easier and more reliable.

I haven't done any solo backpacking yet, thus the two man tent. Me and my fiance bought the tent at cost ($170!!) from a local supplier, so i didn't want to pass the deal up, and it seemed like a pretty light weight tent to me. I will certainly reduce my cookset down to a single pot tho. I didn't even think of that before, as it all came in one bag (duh!). As for clothes, i looked at your list, phat, and i think i may be instore for a couple new wardrobe items.

Lastly, i have definately learned to ask HERE before buying, as the Dragonfly stove was recomended to me by a local supply shop as perfect for backpacking. Foolish, and green i was, and now regretting it.

Thanks again for all the input!! I'll let you know how the next few trips pan out!

P.S. Completely off topic, but the views around superior are breathtaking!!! Completely loveing this new found hobby!

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#99271 - 07/08/08 09:50 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: walkover]
phat Offline
Moderator

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

In that context I'll temper my answers to you somewhat - if you are hiking with a partner/fiancee that tent (at 5 lbs) if you split the weight between the two of you
(one carrying the tent, the other carrying something else) isn't so bad - yes you could
be a lot lighter with something like a 2 person tarptent, but I suspect you can find more
weight saving in your clothing and other areas, and likely without spending as much ching.
A hammock is likely not as attractive if you're couples hiking,

Don't go stoveless, just change what kind of stove you take, caveat the food you
are taking. At that point I'd say you might be able to ditch the hatchet as long as you
can do the stove thing if you don't have good firemaking foo <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

and don't feel bad about buying the dragonfly - its a very good winter or group stove. while I take an alky when I'm solo or in a pair, If I'm in a larger group (where we share a stove, and the weight of it) or in winter time I still take an MSR whisperlight or svea stove.
and to be fair, it'll cost you about 40 bucks to go buy a pocket rocket at MEC as a lighter
weight stove option. Dig here and google a bit if you wanna learn about homeade alcohol
stoves.

Try the tape trick - with your fiancee. (only on the gear in your backpacks, not each other)
_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures


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#99272 - 07/08/08 11:33 PM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: phat]
johndavid Offline
member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 260
Loc: jersey city NJ
I've never carried a hatchet nor a saw, but have considered this question lately, partly due to developing a taste for fresh meat.

(That is, meat purchased at retail, and cooked on wood fire, though I've also considered on-site grey squirrels, and have experimented with this in home kitchen. Results were somewhat encouraging.)

Most of my camping is in areas of hardwood forest. Not sure how this works in coniferous zones. Might be yucky flavor due to stinky sap. Also, the reds, I hear, are bad.

Also partly due to a lot of my camping getting done in middling winter weather, when temps are coldish..(say 20s-30s F.).. but not so cold that a smallish fire becomes useless as temporary warming device.

So I've lately considered the saw/hatchet question, and have concluded, very tentatively, that a very light saw is lighter and safer, and perhaps more effective, than hatchet.

Certainly if cutting weight rather than wood is a priority, I'd ditch the saw or hatchet. Totally. Nix!!

Also, I imagine it's fair to assume that your 1-degree bag is rated in centigrade, which would be an optimal item for the region you're referring to in summer conditions.

Phat's on top of all of these questions, though I think sleeping in a hammock sounds very weird, uncomfortable and extremely dangerous and possibly even a problem for society.

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#99273 - 07/09/08 03:44 AM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: phat]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Glad to hear you like the pack. It seems to be gathering fans slowly but surely. For longer trips than a weekend (which I rarely take anymore), I'll probably still rely on my Vapor Trail, since my load can quickly hit 25 pounds with extra food and water; unlike you, I don't find the Virga as comfortable at that weight.

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#99274 - 07/18/08 10:17 AM Re: Lightening the Load [Re: Glenn]
bulrush Offline
member

Registered: 04/19/07
Posts: 132
Loc: Michigan
My 2 cents. In recent years all my camping has been done in state parks in Michigan.

- There is plenty of dead dry wood on the ground or still on the trees in most areas in Michigan. A hatchet is not necessary. I can break larger branches in the "V" of a tree, or simply drag one end to my fire pit, or break it with my feet. If the branch bends too much without breaking, perhaps it is too green or too wet. As the branch burns I drag more of it into the pit. I let the fire do my work to burn through long logs. Then I am left with 2 shorter logs.

- Pines are very common in Michigan and should not be used for cooking meat directly over a fire as the smoke will give your food a bad taste. Instead, put foil over your wood stove grill, and cook over that IF you are using pine. Otherwise try to stick with non-pine (box elder, maple, oak, mulberry, etc) for directly cooking food when the flames/smoke will touch the food.

- I went to Isle Royal in 1986? I think they have giardia there. A ranger told us to filter or boil all our water. Possibly the giardia is transmitted by moose poo.

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