Any ounce weenies here?

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SowthEfrikan

Tenderfoot
Jul 9, 2006
66
0
59
Texas, USA
Does anyone else here hike ultralight? I've not only got my gear and shaved pounds from the big stuff like tarptent/sleepingbag/pack, but am now getting down to getting rid of the ounces. One of the reasons for this is I hike in places where I have to carry my water.

How light is your baseweight?
 

Voivode

Forager
Oct 24, 2006
204
5
44
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
20-23 kg, up to 25 kg if we're on an extended trip. I've reached a cost/weight/comfort balance I can accept and I don't mind ruckking with a load; two of my hiking partners are army and one ex-army, who carry far more far further. The motivation to not be a suck about how heavy your pack might be is strong in our band. :D

I philosophically have a problem with ultralighting, as it seems to be more often than not about seeing how low you can go and get away with it and not about trimming the fat. Fat trimming is great, but compromising safety to shave grams isn't cool in my books.
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,534
404
Mercia
Tried ultralight when younger and truly despised it. It seemed to me to be about trying to cover as much terrain as fast as possible and not enjoying my surroundings or being comfortable in them. The whole "flimsy aluminium or titanium cooking pot that you can't cook proper food in cos it burns" combined with freeze dried food just leaves me cold.

I'd rather cover a shorter distance with a heavier pack. I'll do it less time, dump my pack, set up a warm and comfortable "base camp" and go for a bimble around enjoying my surroundings. I can really cover gorund if I need to, but for me its need not pleasure and to be honest for me, bushcraft is a leisure activity so I like to take it leisurely.

Now, all of that said, I kind of admire ultralighters in the way I kind of admire marathon runners - from the sidelines knowing it isn't what "floats my boat". I admire the dedication and the technical gear and ingenuity that goes into it all. But I'll admire them with my ventile, wool and leather (and yes my axe and saw) as they go sailing past me covering far more distance. Good luck to you say I (as I'm packing my cast iron dutch oven)

Red
 

philaw

Settler
Nov 27, 2004
539
1
39
Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.
I've gotten into trimming weight off my stuff because of sore bits (back and knees) when I load up too much, and get what you're saying about taking water. In the summer I did I a bit of a hike in temps of around 32c and carrying an extra 4kg in water killed me. What it must be like in Texas I can only guess at.

That said, I try to trim the weight by leaving behind non-essential stuff, not by buying expensive lightweight stuff, like those cool-looking titanium things, because I think it would be a slippery slope. For me, there's no end-point for buying kit unless I make one, and it could easily be a big distraction from the real point of it all.
 

wingstoo

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
May 12, 2005
2,271
38
South Marches
I'm with Red on this one, I have cut my kit down in the past, but doing without the spare wheel on the bonnet got me wondering what I would do if I got a flat...


Down to about 4000Kg at the moment, if I leave the trailer behind!

I do like my comforts...:lmao:

LS
 

Simon E

New Member
Aug 18, 2006
275
14
49
3rd Planet from the sun
Alas, I am in the 'Better to have it and not need it than...' crowd.

Nothing worse than something that wont do the job as well as you would like.

I usually hike with about 20K, this is up very steep mountains though, if I was on a flatter place maybe 25K, its nice to have 'goodies' to eat and drink in camp at the end of the day (Rum and chocolate :) )
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,697
1,780
S. Lanarkshire
I go as light as I can.
I *hate* carrying a heavy pack and I don't like rushing along either. I
reckon I win, I carry just enough and I take enough time to find stuff along the way :D Keeps things fresh but hopeful; sort of the journey is really a good part of getting there, instead of a horrendous beasting of a hike :cool:
Besides, it makes one more reliant on ability instead of equipment :)

Moots and meets are a whole different ball game I hasten to add, it seems like everyone trails not only the kitchen sink but the entire workshop too.........and I'm guilty of it too :rolleyes: :eek:

Cheers,
Toddy

p.s. My day pack, with things for "incase" for overnight, weighs in at under 5kg, in winter my sleeping bag adds a fair bit to that though.

M
 

retrohiker

Member
Jul 2, 2005
48
0
Ohio, USA
Depends on what I'm trying to get out of that specific trip. I can do the ultralight path with a summer base pack weight of less than 10 pounds (food and water will jump that by about 5-6 pounds or so) if I'm trying to cover a trail in a limited time, say a free weekend.

If I'm just trying to get out and away from things for awhile the trip tends to be more "bushy" and I'll take different kit that adds up to about 25-28 pounds for a summer load and near 40 for a fall/winter trip.

I try to keep in mind that Kephart could do the backwoods as well as any of us could ever hope to and his summer kit listed out at about 25 pounds including food for a weekend. His autumn kit totaled up to around 45 pounds or so. I try to keep in mind that I've got nearly 100 years of technology helping me out and would be embarrassed if I needed much more than that to stay away from home for a weekend.

What it all boils down to is hike the hike you want and since we all have to carry our own pack don't let anyone tell you you're doing it wrong. For many, it's about the hiking; for others it's about what happens between the long miles. Enjoying the woods is what it's about. I say take whatever you need to make it the experience you want it to be. That said....always be open to someone else's methods and techniques. I know there's a lot of people out there who are smarter than I am (or have experienced more failures and learned from them). That's why we're on this forum..... to learn from each other and share our experiences (good and bad). Good luck to you and may the miles bring you peace :)
 

mark a.

Settler
Jul 25, 2005
540
4
Surrey
I find the whole ultralight idea fascinating, and appealing on an intellectual level. A look round the Ray Jardine sites is very revealing. The fact is that the whole idea is to be light and comfortable, which is different to most people's stereotype of the pain and cold of too little kit.

I can't see myself going down that route very soon, though, mainly because I don't have the experience of long-distance trekking that makes it worthwhile. I don't have the obsessive mentality to shave off the last ounces by chopping down toothbrushes or shaving with just the blade etc. I also think that ultralight isn't naturally compatible with bushcraft, as the usual plethora of axes and knives and whatnots don't really fit in. But if you're walking the Appalachian Trail or something, then I can see how ultralight could work.

I'd like to use some of the ideas and philosophies, though. It's sometimes silly how much excess weight I end up carrying just for a wander round the woods. But then those decent leather walking boots just seem so much funkier than the simple trainers, or perhaps I should bring that extra litre of water just in case...
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,697
1,780
S. Lanarkshire
I think of lightweight as just looking at things a little differently.
At it's very simplest, take a travel sized toothbrush but no paste; just use a little salt and and some rubbed up herbs found nearby. Rinse with water, use a steritab if necessary, so no need to carry lots of water. There goes 3kgs already. ( I live in west central Scotland.........about the wettest bit on the planet :rolleyes: , water isn't an issue, clean water can be ) Lightweight tarp, no tent, lightweight groundsheet, there's another 2kgs saved. Knife and folding saw are enough, I don't need an axe too, and I save another couple of kgs.......and already my pack is 7kgs / a stone lighter, and I haven't lost anything comfort wise.
I know that not all environments are suitable for this, and not everyone is prepared to go without all the bells and whistles and camping stuffs, but it's sometimes a good thing to really think about just how little you can capably and comfortably cope with.

Cheers,
Toddy
 

mark a.

Settler
Jul 25, 2005
540
4
Surrey
Toddy said:
I think of lightweight as just looking at things a little differently.
I agree - and a lot of it is common sense too. At its heart it's not necessarily about shaving the last ounce off your load, but making decisions that get rid of the biggest weights. There's not much point shaving 0.5 grams by cutting down your toothbrush if you're carrying a 5 kg brick around.

I like Ray Jardine's approach to rucksacks. His contention is that all the modern technologies such as waist straps, chest straps, load stabilisation straps, anatomic padding etc etc are mostly just there as (a) marketing hype and (b) to counteract the weight of the rucksack. So they add new features that make it heavier, then need more features to make the new heavy rucksack bearable to carry again. His rucksacks are essentially a simple ripstop nylon sack with a couple of thin straps on it.
 

philaw

Settler
Nov 27, 2004
539
1
39
Hull, East Yorkshire, UK.
People are all talking sense here. Sensible travel ultimately means not carrying stuff you don't need if it'll make your bag heavier and journey less enjoyable.

On one inter-railing trip to spain I carried a tent around for a month, and only used it on 3 nights, and carried a heavy coat I didn't wear once, but it didn't bother me because I was 19, and the train did most of the carrying.
 

Voivode

Forager
Oct 24, 2006
204
5
44
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
mark a. said:
I agree - and a lot of it is common sense too. At its heart it's not necessarily about shaving the last ounce off your load, but making decisions that get rid of the biggest weights. There's not much point shaving 0.5 grams by cutting down your toothbrush if you're carrying a 5 kg brick around.

I like Ray Jardine's approach to rucksacks. His contention is that all the modern technologies such as waist straps, chest straps, load stabilisation straps, anatomic padding etc etc are mostly just there as (a) marketing hype and (b) to counteract the weight of the rucksack. So they add new features that make it heavier, then need more features to make the new heavy rucksack bearable to carry again. His rucksacks are essentially a simple ripstop nylon sack with a couple of thin straps on it.
My problem is that what motivates some ultralighters isn't common sense, it's a sense of pushing their limits, and pushing your limits in the wilderness is begging for trouble. Just like every other activity people engage in, I suppose.

As for packs themselves, I agree with (b) above. These features all help redistribute the load from the shoulders to the hips. I don't buy (a) so much; Nearly every bag has these features now and these features don't really add that much weight, IMHO. What gets hyped is the brand and the niche they try to fill. Arc'teryx is a high end manufacturer that produces bags that cost 2-3 times as much as my MEC pack and hold less. They are, however, lighter by a not insignificant amount. Not enough to make me shell out, but it's there.

Sometimes the job calls for a big, heavy bag. An ultralighter can't do a two week trip (and sometimes, can't go for a week) without resupply points on a regular interval. There are trails out here that one cannot do that unless you cache your supplies in advance. Or, just take it with you and be glad that the bag gets lighter the further you go. :D