From 30lb to 13lb, or how I cut my pack weight

Go to box

Welcome to my first post. I originally planned to write on all things ‘outdoors’, including my cycling – sport, leisure and adventure – fell walks, backpacking and wild camping trips, in the form of a diary. But I realised that, from your point of view, it will be a lot more useful – and probably less dull – if I share some of the knowledge I’ve gained about gear selection for backpacking and wild camping, to save you making the same mistakes that I have.

We’re brainwashed by advertising into thinking we need all sorts of fancy, expensive kit. In some cases this is true – in fact, you couldn’t survive without it – but there are other times when something simple and homemade, recycled, adapted and very often staring you in the face will do just as well, if not better.

Yes, there are thousands of blogs out there that touch on these topics, many written by people far more expert than me. But I aim to make this one slightly different. Some of what you read will be obvious to experienced backpackers and ultralighters, but I hope it will still provoke comment and discussion – and be helpful to anyone who chooses to drop by.

I want to start with some examples of gear I’ve built up over time, spread over several blogs – bite-sized chunks if you will.

In a recent Facebook post, Philip Werner of Sectionhiker.com put the ‘transitional threshold’ to become an ‘ultralight’ backpacker at a total pack weight of 10lb (4.5k). I’m still very much in the ‘lightweight’ category, as my base weight ranges from 13 to 16lb.

My reduction process from 20-30 plus has been a two-year journey so far, with what I expect to be many more miles to follow. Currently, I have no need to be ultralight, as I can comfortably carry 13 to 16lb all day. The TGO Challenge (the annual self-supported coast-to-coast walk across Scotland) is still on my bucket list, though, so who knows. Watch this space, as they say.

I’ve trialled, tested, built, re-built, sewed, trimmed, bought and sold and swapped many items of kit. I’ve listened to my peers, learned from my own uncomfortable and sometimes painful experiences, both physical and financial, but, above all, I’ve found the courage to accept when I got it wrong – and this is what I plan to share with you.

My biggest lesson learned is that there will always be better, lighter or smaller just round the corner – if you want it. Want and need are, of course, entirely different animals. More on that later!

Next post: Review: Trekkertent’s 2015 Stealth 1

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10 thoughts on “From 30lb to 13lb, or how I cut my pack weight

  1. Trevor, I see the box with the kit. I read the intro page. Am I able to read what is in the box and their weights, or that for another day? Also, I’ve signed on like other members of the club and look forward to reading regular blogs.

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  2. Thanks for signing up, Bobby. It’s just a general picture, but the Red box will become relevant in future posts and I will be talking about the contents and their weights.

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  3. Looking forward to reading more. As you know I’m in a similar place to you gear-wise although my base weight is nearly always around 16lb. Still have several big weight saving changes to make as soon as I have the cash!

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    • Thanks for the comment. The big three, shelter, sack and sleeping bag are the weight savers. Food and water are always going to be the killers regardless of your base weight. Looking at your blog, your Gossamer is a very light pack indeed – lighter than mine. Think about a sleep-system using additional clothing and reflective bivvy bag and featherweight summer sleeping bag. Make a list and revisit that list every time you return from a trip. Have the courage to leave behind what you didn’t use.
      Best wishes.

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      • I have several lists Trevor 😉 The big savings I have in mind are on my sleeping system firstly i.e. a saving of 400g on the bag and 250g on my mat – using a hoodless ZPacks bag and a 3/4 length rather than standard mat. Love my Gorilla pack but if I really needed to I could drop a further 380g or so by getting an Arc Blast but like you I feel I am at the sweet spot of comfort and weight and dont really feel the need to go UL. My shelter is the only other area of uncertainty for me with my current setup – the Stratospire is an excellent shelter but is as yet untested. If/when I can afford to I’d love a Solomid or XL but like the.look of your Stealth too…

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