The price of nothing

Price of nothing“You pay a lot for what you don’t get.” This has long been my advice to people confronting the higher cost of lighter weight sports equipment. At some point I wondered if there was a representative price for the privilege of shaving off pounds. I looked at a couple of cases comparing lower cost, heavier items with their high-tech cousins. $100 per pound saved looks typical. This order of magnitude number seemed to work whether the weight savings were a pound or a few ounces.

Of course it makes a difference whether you are choosing between two items to purchase, or buying something to be lighter than what you already own.

Replacing my pack

I owned a pretty good Gregory internal frame pack, weighing 3 lbs. 3 oz. I replaced it with a Ray-Way pack kit with a finished weight of 12 oz. The kit cost me about $80 with extra parts. That’s a savings of 2 lbs. 7 oz. If I don’t charge for my labor, that’s about $33 per pound saved. Looks like a good deal. If I couldn’t or didn’t want to make a kit, I would need to look elsewhere.

Moving to a quilt

A similar analysis works for my Ray-Way quilt vs. my existing Mountain Hardware bag. In this case the quilt vs. bag savings was 1 lb. 12 oz. The Ray-Way kit cost about $130. As a replacement, the quilt is $74 per pound saved, again with free labor. Not quite as good a deal, but still below my $100/lb. target.

Titanium tent pegs

I use a selection of MSR aluminum tent pegs. Two larger Y section pegs hold the end guys and 6 smaller solid pegs fasten the edge loops. I carry one extra large and small peg just in case. All told the pegs weigh 4.1 oz. I can get ordinary shepherd crook titanium pegs, weighing 0.2 oz. for about $2.50 each. Titanium V section pegs weigh 0.4 oz. and cost $3.00. For a full set of 3 V section and 7 plain pegs, my cost for 2.6 oz. of pegs is $29.50. That comes to $315/lb. saved. I don’t plan to do this.

But if I was just starting out, I could compare the titanium peg cost with the cost of 10 new aluminum stakes. Comparable stakes come in at about $18 for the aluminum set and weigh 3.5 oz. The math for the titanium weight savings is now down to $167/lb. saved. That is still a little much.

You do the math

If you are just starting out, compare choices in the store or online and look at the added cost to save a pound. Pick your dollar tolerance level and you can prioritize your purchases. If you are replacing gear, your math will be similar to mine above, but as the tent peg example shows making your gear may be the only way to lower the costs. But don’t forget to shop sales, remainder outlets and gear swaps.

2 thoughts on “The price of nothing

  1. I enjoyed meeting you tonight and seeing your gear set-up. I have a long way to go to replace gear to get to weights close to what you have achieved and have been hesitant to move forward as I haven’t seen too many lightweight set-ups in person. You are a great inspiration to start taking steps to shave the weight off. Thanks!

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