UL Backpacking: A Thread for the Gram Counters

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steve

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I figure we need a place to chat about UL backpacking. Got any good tips, questions, suggestions? Post 'em up here, I'd love to learn from the masters.
 
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andyjaggy

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I really want to go UL, but I just can't afford it. :(

Plus it seems to make little sense to obsess over the grams of all of my gear and then load up 10 pounds of camera stuff.

I made a deal with my wife that I could buy one major backpacking/hiking purchase each year, I figure I will go UL one thing at a time. In 10 years all my stuff will be UL, at which point it will all be old and no longer considered light and I start all over. Ahhhhh the futility of it all.
 

steve

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I find that UL is more of a mindset than a gear list. Aside from the big 3, UL doesn't have to be expensive.

This book and a good freind are what got me started on the UL bandwagon, and now I'm really happy.

To me, my pack weight isn't why I go backpacking, but a low pack weight allows me to go farther faster, which is always nice. I think the trick is to find the balance between UL and comfort. If I'm uncomfortable, I don't care how light my pack is.
 

andyjaggy

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I find that UL is more of a mindset than a gear list. Aside from the big 3, UL doesn't have to be expensive.

This book and a good freind are what got me started on the UL bandwagon, and now I'm really happy.

To me, my pack weight isn't why I go backpacking, but a low pack weight allows me to go farther faster, which is always nice. I think the trick is to find the balance between UL and comfort. If I'm uncomfortable, I don't care how light my pack is.
True. I definitely could leave behind a lot of stuff that I take that probably isn't really necessary. Like last time I took both a headlamp and had a lantern for my tent, that's a good example of how I could cut back on weight without sacrificing safety or cost.
 

steve

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Exactly.

For example, a 1L Nalgene style bottle weighs 6.2 oz. That's 1/3lb. May not sound like much, a 1L coke bottle weighs 1.2 oz (and is way cheaper). You could carry 5 empty 1L coke bottles and still weigh less than a Nalgene. Being able to shave 5 oz for $0.99 is pretty good. Do that 10 more times, and you've shaved 3 lbs off for $10. Not bad.

Once I realized that 16 oz = 1 lb, I started finding ways to cut the ounces and that led to significant weight savings. My first UL attempt took my pack from 42 lbs to 18 lbs for an overnighter. Now I'm down to 7.5 lbs for an overnighter. Definitely a game-changer for me.

I could go lighter, but I would sacrifice more comfort than I'm willing.
 

steve

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Another thing a good friend taught me was to empty my pack after each trip and divide everything into two piles: stuff I used, and stuff I didn't. Then I examine the piles. I started noticing a trend, and I eliminated the things I always brought but never used (like extra clothes, books, etc). By all means, use common sense and don't throw out your first aid kit or your poncho. I used to pack WAY too many clothes. Now I pack a pair or two of socks, a beanie, poncho, and lightweight fleece (add a puffy if it's super cold).
 

mak1277

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Most of my move towards UL (I'm not there just yet) has been done by cutting things out, not through purchases. Simply weighing my stuff was a huge eye opener, and helps me choose between options. And then I rarely take extras of things. No change of underwear, only one extra pair of socks, no camp shoes, etc.

I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on a quilt to replace my heavy-ish synthetic sleeping bag. Aside from that it's just a matter of not taking things I don't use/need.
 

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andyjaggy

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Exactly.

For example, a 1L Nalgene style bottle weighs 6.2 oz. That's 1/3lb. May not sound like much, a 1L coke bottle weighs 1.2 oz (and is way cheaper). You could carry 5 empty 1L coke bottles and still weigh less than a Nalgene. Being able to shave 5 oz for $0.99 is pretty good. Do that 10 more times, and you've shaved 3 lbs off for $10. Not bad.

Once I realized that 16 oz = 1 lb, I started finding ways to cut the ounces and that led to significant weight savings. My first UL attempt took my pack from 42 lbs to 18 lbs for an overnighter. Now I'm down to 7.5 lbs for an overnighter. Definitely a game-changer for me.

I could go lighter, but I would sacrifice more comfort than I'm willing.
I think just my pack and sleeping bag is already over 7.5 pounds. :(
 

andyjaggy

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I only just started getting into backpacking 2 years ago, after a long absence, so most of my stuff was stuff I used as a scout all those years ago. My pack last fall was over 60 pounds, luckily we only went about 5 miles that first day, otherwise I would have been feeling it pretty bad. I think I will take baby steps, and shoot for a pack that is ~30 pounds or so this year, I would be happy with that.
 

steve

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30 lbs should be doable for just about anyone. I recommend that book I linked to above, it will give you a ton of ideas of free ways to lighten your pack.
 

steve

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that's how I usually end up.
Every year I'm lighten up my gear a bit but I will never be able to hike UL as I like to have a tent and some other nice amenities
You do really well. I don't know what the threshhold is for "ultra-light", but you definitely have a lightweight pack.
 

Nick

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The lighter my pack gets, the more often I decide it's worth carrying little luxuries. And I'm okay with that. For example, I like to carry an extra few ounces for the comfort of a fully rectangular pad rather than a semi-rectangular. And perhaps even the occasional trail beverage...



I just had to use that photo again. :)
 

mak1277

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Nice one Nick. I carry a small plastic pint of bourbon to save weight over beer. Plus it still works if it's warm!
 

DAA

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I leave my heavy camera gear home so I can carry all my whiskey and cigars. Which on most trips, starting out, weigh more than my tent. They don't weigh near as much by the time I get off the trail though :).

- DAA
 

Mike K

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I've been trying to shave pounds over the years and it's been fun. I've got my friends a little addicted, too. It's made it a bit of a competition which is one of the things mentioned in that book. On our last trip we had 2 new tents, 1 new pack, 1 new sleeping bag, 1 new filter, 1 new pack cover, 3 new pots (only 2 of the 4 of us shared!), and a bunch of other small items. Everyone was EXTREMELY happy with their pack weight compared to previous trips.

I'll be backpacking with @sixstringsteve this weekend and maybe I'll learn a thing or two...(and maybe toss some rocks in his pack when he's not looking. You know, to even the playing field). :rolleyes:
 

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