I have been surprised at the difference between pack weights of 35 to 40 pounds and 25 pounds and under. It is a journey well worth taking. After my first long trip in decades, I felt the need to rework my gear to get to a much lighter base weight. I gathered a small library of books, notably Trail Life, Ray Jardine, 2009; Lighten Up!, Don Ladigin, 2005; and Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips, Mike Clelland, 2011. I continued to prowl the Internet for ultralight sites and forums. Gradually I added lighter versions of a lot of my equipment and found I could leave some items at home. Other posts cover the details of various systems, but this one summarizes the results.
My week-long trip in Hornstrandir, Iceland in 2010 was done with a base weight of about 26 lbs., plus some extra equipment to deal with the sub-arctic environment I was traveling in. Now my comparable base weight is about 16 lbs. I accomplished this as follows:
Shelter – 1 lbs. 4 oz. savings (3 lbs. 3 oz. to 1 lbs. 15 oz.)
Sleeping – 2 lbs. 3 oz. savings (5 lbs. 7 oz. to 3 lbs. 4 oz.)
Pack – 2 lbs. 7 oz. savings (3 lbs. 4 oz. to 12 oz.)
Stove/Kitchen – 1 lb. 10 oz. savings (3 lbs. 7 oz. to 1 lb. 13 oz.)
Rain Gear – 1 lb. 12 oz. savings (2 lbs. 9 oz. to 13 oz.)
Total weight savings – 9 lbs. 4 oz.
The remaining fraction of a pound came from refinements in miscellaneous items including first aid and repair equipment. Most of the lighter replacement items were made from kits or plans, although comparable items are available from small, ultralight cottage manufacturers on the web. Consequently the cost of this upgrade was relatively modest in return to some time on a sewing machine.
The ultralight guides suggest that looking at “the big three”, shelter, sleeping and pack weight is the place to start. I already was using a lightweight tent which makes my big three reduction smaller. However kitchen and rain gear savings for me were also substantial. The lesson being that every oz. counts and savings are where you find them. Nothing should be left unexamined.
Henry, I would love to have you share your insights and experience regarding lightweight water purification. What do you use?
That is a good topic for a future post. I am using MSR Aquatab chlorine dioxide tablets currently.
Thanks Henry! BTW, have you had any experience with Aqua Mira? One of the instructors of the mountaineer’s wilderness skills class uses it, but it looks a bit more complicated. any thoughts about it? Does it have any advantages?
I used Aqua Mira for a season. It worked, but now I am using MSR Aquatabs. Stay tuned for details in a upcoming post on water purification.