Lightweight Backpacking Tips & Tricks

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Nick

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This thread is a split from the ultralight thread, UL Backpacking: A Thread for the Gram Counters. There's probably a lot of crossover, but the discussion here is more for people who want to lighten their packs but aren't as focused on shedding every possible gram. Consider this the judgment-free-zone for those who like a few luxuries, and feel free to make fun of the gram counters all you want here. ;)

From Wikipedia:
Light and ultralight are generally defined as base pack weights below 20 pounds (9.1 kg) and 10 pounds (4.5 kg) respectively.

I consider 'base pack weight' to be everything including your pack but excluding fuel, food, water and any other consumables. Not just the big three or four, or five and a half or whatever everyone considers it. :)
 

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Nick

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Definitely. I am just super stocked I got my pack+tent+bag+pad weight down to 12.5 pounds. That's over 5 pounds less than what I was carrying last summer. Plus I spent less than what most people probably spend on just their sleeping bag.
You know you've got to elaborate on this!
 

Nick

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I pretty well already covered it in that other thread, but my base weight is usually around 16-17 pounds and my pack+tent+bag+pad is at 9.5 lbs. I leave the tent behind a lot of the time which saves me a couple pounds. I'm about as light as I want with the exception of the tent, but I'm working on that... :)
 

Nodust

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I pretty well already covered it in that other thread, but my base weight is usually around 16-17 pounds and my pack+tent+bag+pad is at 9.5 lbs. I leave the tent behind a lot of the time which saves me a couple pounds. I'm about as light as I want with the exception of the tent, but I'm working on that... :)
What temperatures is that good for?

Any base weight discussion should include what climate and season you are backpacking in. I can carry 12# and be good for 20°F or more. But summertime in Louisiana I can drop 4# or more from that. Without temperature ratings base weight is useless.
 

Nick

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What temperatures is that good for?

Any base weight discussion should include what climate and season you are backpacking in. I can carry 12# and be good for 20°F or more. But summertime in Louisiana I can drop 4# or more from that. Without temperature ratings base weight is useless.
Agreed. That's my 'full meal deal' pack weight that I would bring into a cold, wet place like the Wind Rivers.
 

Nick

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But to be honest, my desert pack isn't that much lighter. I guess a couple pounds from not needing the tent and then a bit of weight on some warmth items, but I still bring most of those in the shoulder seasons down there. So I guess maybe 3-4 pounds lighter on a warm trip.

I hope no one thinks of this as a competition. I was kind of hoping it would be a more leisurely discussion than it got with the UL subject. So yeah, there's some variance based on every trip and it's not just cold and hot. Fish or not. Big camera or not. No big deal. Discuss. Or not.
 

Nodust

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Best tip I have is weigh everything. If two things are equal in every other category, take the lightest one.

Also clothes were the heaviest thing in my pack. Took me a while to quit bringing extra change of clothes. I realized I rarely changed into them so quit bringing. I now bring enough layers to keep warm and dry top and bottoms for sleeping. Some tee shirts can weigh 8 oz, even synthetic ones. Weigh your clothes and you will be surprised how much they can be.

I went on a two night trip with the scouts last month. My pack was just under 30# most other adults had 40# all the way up to 72#. We weighed every pack on the first snack break on the trail. The easiest thing for most of them to lighten up on was clothing and water storage. Nalgene bottles are expensive and heavy. They weigh 6oz compared to a Smart Water bottle(I like the shape for my pack side pockets) that weighs .5oz and comes with free water. If you carry 3 one liter nalgenes compared to 3 one liter Smartwater bottles you save a pound. I won't always carry 3 liters but I like to have the capacity if needed.

Edited- I hit the submit button to quick.
 
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Nodust

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Don't carry too many stuff sacks. My down quilts just get shoved into a trash compactor bag into the bottom of my pack. Gives me a good waterproof liner. I have been caught in a heavy thunderstorm with this setup and everything was dry inside. Anything I want dry and won't need until camp that night get shoved in the compactor bag.

But the disadvantage is compression sacks can help sleeping bags stay waterproof. If my trash compactor bag develops a hole my stuff will get wet. If they were compressed like a bowling ball they would be less likely to absorb water. You just have to decide what risk to take.

Dual use items. My Gossamer Gear Gorilla has a pad for the back support. This doubles as my sit pad and goes under my feet in my hammock. I also carry a small square of reflectix if the ground is wet for a sit pad. Although I do carry a Alite chair for many trips if I will be doing socializing by the campfire.
 

DrNed

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I'm by no means an ultra light guy. My tent is a 3 man 3 season tent with stakes, poles and ground cloth comes in over 6 lbs. My heaviest item by far. It was the first real piece of BP gear I purchased and it feels like home to me so I carry it. I also use an external frame pack that's a good 6 lbs as well. Last summer I took my longest trip to date which inspired me to ask, "do I really need this?" to a lot of things. If I remember right I was able to get down under 35 lbs. Luxury items that are worth more to me than their weight: 1 pound of licorice and Gatorade powder. I've gone back and forth on carrying camp shoes.
 

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Nick

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Best tip I have is weigh everything.
That's a great one. I had a phase earlier in my backpacking years where I got a little obsessed with it, but then I just stopped and didn't worry about it for a long time. Gear got better and lighter so I wasn't worried. But after recently re-weighing and reconsidering, I was able to shave a pound or two off so that my damn knee should hopefully cooperate better.
 

Nodust

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That's a great one. I had a phase earlier in my backpacking years where I got a little obsessed with it, but then I just stopped and didn't worry about it for a long time. Gear got better and lighter so I wasn't worried. But after recently re-weighing and reconsidering, I was able to shave a pound or two off so that my damn knee should hopefully cooperate better.
Even if you aren't that concerned about pack weight it is a good exercise to go through. One trip at bare minimum can teach you all sorts of things. Also will give you confidence in your gear. I don't worry about base weight as much now, just bring what I need.

Water and food management can be the biggest help of all. Knowing how much water to bring until you get to the next hole can really lighten you up.

I always have extra food. That is one thing I need to work on. Extra is good, but I err on the extreme side.
 

andyjaggy

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You know you've got to elaborate on this!
Osprey Aether 60 Large - 4 lb 14 oz
Marmot limelight 2 person - 4 lb 10 oz
Marmot Cloudbreak 30° - 1 lb 15.8 oz
Big Agnes Insulated Air core - 2 lb

Actually closer to 13.5 pounds now that I do the math. I know I could cut some serious weight with a smaller pack and lighter tent, but I really need the bigger pack for camera gear, and I enjoy the comforts of a full 2 person double walled tent too much. Got a pretty good deal on all the gear by watching for sales.
 

andyjaggy

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Really wanted to go with the Copper Spur UL2, but it was just out of my budget, I got the Limelight for less than 150.00.
 

slc_dan

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Welcome to OPA (overweight packers anonymous) My name is Andy, and I pack a pillow when I go backpacking.......

It's only 3 oz, I swear.

http://www.backcountrygear.com/exped-air-pillow.html?gclid=CLio3P-DgMQCFZCIaQodQAEAhQ#.VO9J0fnF98E
That's the one I have! Mine's green, and branded REI, but I'm pretty sure it's the same. Way worth it to me. Last trip a friend had the Klymit X pillow claims it's only 2 ounces too. It was much more comfortable on my ear while sleeping on my side.
 

andyjaggy

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I've really enjoyed mine. I have a hard time sleeping when I am camping so anything that helps me get more comfortable is worth the weight for me.
 

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