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11/24/2017 3:11 pm  #1


Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Ask ten campers what they consider to be essential camping gear and you'll get ten different answers. But at each portage we face the consequences of the gear we've put in our packs, so I'm curious to know where your priorities lie. Where do you splurge - what luxury items do you bring that you couldn't imagine camping without? And where do you skimp on items that many campers might consider core gear?

My own luxuries would be:

- Trip video gear. Two cameras, 30+ batteries, two suction-cup mini-tripods, and I just added a full-size tripod to the list. On the flip side, I finally gave up bringing my DSLR (although I often regret not having it, I just can't justify the weight). 
- A 2-man tent for one man. 
- I don't think I've ever gone camping without a flask or two. 
- You could easily argue that my kayak is a luxury, as there are certainly much lighter options out there.
- My bear resistant food barrel weighs 2 1/2 pounds, but I couldn't imagine not bringing it. I hate hanging a bear bag. 

On the 'purge' side of things:

- My cooking gear is almost nonexistent. A twig stove and a titanium kettle to boil water in is pretty much it.
- Because it seems to be a common piece of gear for many, I don't bring (and have never considered bringing) a chair.
-  I don't know what other gear I've dropped from my pack that others consider essential. Maybe nothing?

Because I just added a tripod to my gear list I've been giving a lot of thought to where I can claw back those ~2 pounds, and it's not easy! Everything I bring seems essential.What do you bring you'd call a luxury, and what do you leave behind that others might consider essential?

 

11/24/2017 4:23 pm  #2


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

So good question Bob.

My gear buying (and bringing) has gone through a real evolution..

I'm now really all about purging. Not necessarily bringing less but bringing lighter versions of the items I consider essential.

For example ..One of the big items on my Xmas list is a rain jacket that weighs 6 ozs so I can shave 7 ozs there.

I increasingly find myself shopping at ultralight backpacker stores for my canoeing equipment.

My big Black Friday purchases today were a waterproof bivy (14 ozs) and a solo tarp ( 8 ozs) .

I bought a bushbuddy last year but didn't use it very much this year. I think i will change that next year and leave most of the fuel canisters at home. When I'm solo at least.   

I must have looked at really nice photography equipment  a dozen times but I just don't think I could ever see myself carrying it. I absolutely see why others would  see it as essential but I don't think I ever will.

I carry Ursacks (different sizes) for bear food protection on all trips solo or not. Way easier to pack and hang. A lot lighter too.

I do bring an ultralight  chair or stool on every trip.  I could never see myself not bringing one of those.
.

Last edited by ShawnD (11/24/2017 4:35 pm)

 

11/24/2017 4:55 pm  #3


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

My luxury items would e my camera bag which is the size of a small backpack and weighs 15lbs fully loaded.
I also always bring a parachute nylon hammock which weighs a few LBs but is so worth it! When I'm not relaxing in it my dog is.
I also bring a mickey of whiskey, and in the summer I bring a mickey of vodka on top of that to mix in with Tang orange drink mix. (My mouth is watering now)

 

11/28/2017 1:00 pm  #4


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Heya!
I've definitely gone through an evolution and am even considering a slight de-evolution now as time has gone on.
Gone are the days of me saving a few sheckles on buying cheaper equipment that weighs a ton.  But, I've also been gradually replacing these items over time.
But down to the 'guilty pleasures' list I have of Luxury Items:
- Fishing Equipment.  While not necessary to enjoy the out of doors, I still manage to bring at least 3 lbs worth of tackle (depending on the trip I've dropped to almost nil).  Even though it adds weight and the rod can add an annoyance to either carry or run along the gunwale of the canoe.  It still comes with me.
- one litre of Scotch/burbon.  This still adds weight, but it's great to have a few drinks around the campfire. 
- DSLR.  Even packing this around and the effort of it swinging from it's carrying case on my neck is a pain in the butt, but when I get some great pictures or video. It can make it all worth while.  Mind you, I'm really considering just bringing a simple point and shoot as they've come a long way.

Purged:
- kitchen knick-knacks.  I'm talking about a separate and in my view unnecessary items in general e.g. kettle (yes I did this and attached it to a friends pack), spoons (if you have a fork or a mouth... use that), flipper/spatula - we have a fork for this or I use two sticks like chop-sticks.
- Plates.  I also go rid of these because they take up room and a bowl can serve you just as well.
- Extra clothes.  We've all done this and sometimes I'm sure we still do.  I've paired down my trip wear and just wash-up more than usual.
- Hatchet/saw - I have only ever really needed this once on the trail, and with that I ended up just moving the whole broken down tree to clear it away.  The simple stomp method can produce for you plenty of average sized pieces of wood for fire making as well.  Also, the deeper you go into the back country and a short walk in other cases, you can EASILY find enough wood for your day or two stay that's lying on the ground or standing dead.

I have been considering bringing a chair along, but for me the price for the ultralights and my need for them just isn't necessary.  BUT, to each their own right!
JB

 

11/28/2017 1:15 pm  #5


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Splurge:
-Chair, but its one of the ones that is just on the ground, no legs.
-Thermarest AND a Z-Lite, even in summer!
-30 inch bow saw. I take my fires seriously.

Purge:
-Clothes. Socks and drawers aside, the only extra clothes I really bring is something to sleep in and a spare fleece.
-Bowls and plates (when its just my wife and I there is no point, only bring it on group trips)
-Camera equipment. I realized I am a crappy photographer and images never do justice so I ditched the SLR during the switch to digital and just rely on my phone.

 

4/24/2018 6:46 am  #6


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Interesting thread Uppa :-)

On my luxury list would be:
-A power bank (but only for longer trips for taking photos on phone)
-Probably a little more clothing than I need (I really dislike being cold, so have extra layers)

Purge list:
-Food to some extent.  We certainly don't starve, but don't bring all fresh meal prep - If in a group, then about half dried food, half 'real' food.  Lean more towards powdered if soloing.
-Shoes.  They seem so bulky and I only ever used to wear at camp.  What I do now is wear a pair of keen sandals (H2) all the time, then at camp put on a nice pair of socks, followed by a pair of waterproof goretex socks before putting sandals back on.  I'm sure the wet sandals suck some heat out of my feet, but I've been okay thus far...  Keeps feet warm and dry, but also don't have the bulk of carrying shoes...
-Dish soap / cleaning utensils - Simply use sand/rocks

:-)

 

4/24/2018 7:28 pm  #7


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Good thread....

I've done more backpacking than canoeing, but I think the same rules still apply!

Splurge always:
Rye whiskey - no maybes about it.
Pillow - I now have an ultralight Sea to Summit inflatable one that works great

Splurge often:
Folding wood saw - nothing like some small maple logs to make a great fire
Lightweight tarp - if there's any chance of rain, it gets packed!
Fresh fruit - not too much of it, but a few choice pieces depending on the trip/trip length
Mutha Hubba tent - I never bring it solo, but with my wife it's often the tent of choice if there's bad weather in the forecast (otherwise it's the Big Agnes Scout UL2).
Flip flops - A wonderful relief from hiking boots at camp, provided the bugs aren't bad

Purge:
Unnecessary/frivolous cooking/eating stuff - when solo, I just use a spork right out of the lightweight pot -  and the cat food can stove with methyl hydrate works great. Otherwise, the MSR Whisperlite is our go-to stove
Clothing - socks and skivvies aside, wearing stuff multiple days is fine with me. Having said that, I typically bring along a lightweight change of pants and shirt in case I get wet at some point (or switching out to feel less grungy)
Food - I scrutinize calorie vs. weight, with the occasional fruit exception noted above
Water - I never carry more than a litre at any given time and simply filter some en route if necessary.


 

Last edited by hiker72 (4/24/2018 7:29 pm)

 

4/24/2018 10:40 pm  #8


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Splurge: bridge hammock instead of lighter bivy bag (--that's for backpacking)
              apples, gotta have an apple every day
              small down pillow  for hammock (can't stand folded clothes etc)
              pyjamas and sleeping socks (double as my if-i-get-soaked clothes)
              solo stove (bushbuddy clone)
              a physical book
              camp shoes

Purge:  no alcohol
             no water filter; just use aquatabs
             sometimes don't bring a backup paddle (I use a kayak paddle; if it breaks i have a single blade ;)
             flashlights/ headlamps....Ive got two tiny led lights that clip on my ball cap. good enough.
             real coffee and french press attachment for my pot; those Starbucks Via things will do

The continual evolution and consideration of the packing list is one of the essential joys of canoeing and hiking.
             

 

4/25/2018 8:13 pm  #9


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

I wonder for what purpose we go without so many comforts, e.g. chair, large tarp, coffee etc. In my opinion the only reason to do this is single-carry portages, otherwise everything could be accommodated in one canoe pack plus a food barrel. Even at single-carry trips I purge nothing, except for some delicacies and extra (i.e. 3rd) pair of comfortable sandals. Well, I expect it will change as I grow older.

 

4/26/2018 6:25 am  #10


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

When I return I go through my gear, sometimes formally, sometimes informally - what did I use, what turned out to be just ballast on the trip.  Clothes and food are my leaders in that department.  I'm expecting to knock out some extra redundant extras clothing this year.  I carry an extra days' food, which to me makes sense, but when I get in the car I always seem to have a good bit more than that remaining. 

Specific to the post - my purge last year was to leave my Nikon D90 at home, instead taking a much smaller Nikon Coolpix.  Less space, weighs nothing, but still takes a very good photo.  My splurge is a chair.  In part I take it for the soft landing, but in part because you never know what you will end up with at a campsite.  rotted logs, pointy rocks, soaking wet stuff...I like to know I have a dry comfy place upon which to deposit my backside.

 

4/26/2018 7:12 am  #11


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

EddyTurn wrote:

I wonder for what purpose we go without so many comforts, e.g. chair, large tarp, coffee etc. In my opinion the only reason to do this is single-carry portages, otherwise everything could be accommodated in one canoe pack plus a food barrel. Even at single-carry trips I purge nothing, except for some delicacies and extra (i.e. 3rd) pair of comfortable sandals. Well, I expect it will change as I grow older.

I single carry almost exclusively, and absolutely feel the difference a few pounds of gear makes. Yes, I'll get over the portages regardless, but I see no reason to punish myself more than I have to. I'd say anything someone drops into the 'purge' category isn't really that much of a sacrifice for them, or they wouldn't purge it to begin with. Take my own list, for example. I don't consider it a sacrifice to take only the most basic of cooking gear because I have neither the time, patience or interest in doing 'real' backcountry cooking. I'm perfectly happy boiling water and dumping it in a bag. And I still don't understand why people lug chairs into the interior - there are always comfortable places to sit. 

On the flip side, there's no chance I'm heading into the interior without my kayak, and yet if I were to trade that in for an ultralight packboat I'd take 25-30 pounds off my portage weight. So I don't imagine anyone is making real sacrifices in what they bring, just weeding out stuff they don't really care about anyway. 

     Thread Starter
 

4/26/2018 7:58 am  #12


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Uppa wrote:

On the flip side, there's no chance I'm heading into the interior without my kayak, and yet if I were to trade that in for an ultralight packboat I'd take 25-30 pounds off my portage weight.

So stubborn!!!! 

Then again there is no way you would ever see me in a Packboat. Guess I'm stubborn too.http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/shocked.png

 

 

4/26/2018 8:56 am  #13


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

MartinG wrote:

So stubborn!!!! 

 

kayakcamper.com is paid for until 2020. My YouTube channel is /kayakcamper. I've painted myself into a corner here.

Oh and also I love my kayak and would prefer paddling a hollowed out whale carcass over a canoe (although they're both equally bloated). But really it's all about the branding - you think I can just walk away from my 500 subscriber YouTube empire?  ;)
 

     Thread Starter
 

4/26/2018 10:01 am  #14


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

dontgroandaddy wrote:

When I return I go through my gear, sometimes formally, sometimes informally - what did I use, what turned out to be just ballast on the trip.  Clothes and food are my leaders in that department.  I'm expecting to knock out some extra redundant extras clothing this year. ...

Depending on the time of year you are tripping, cutting back clothing is one of the biggest risk factors. I've seen folks in some significant discomfort, if not quite real danger, from cutting back on clothing because there was unusually nice weather the year before, or even back home the week leading up to the trip. 

I've even had to fight to get family members to pack appropriately in the middle of a cool wet summer. That one went from "why the hell would we carry a tarp, we don't need the weight" to "thank god we brought the tarp". (Strangely, it was also considered reasonable at that time to make me carry a wooden wannigan across the portages. That doesn't happen anymore either.)


 

 

4/26/2018 10:41 am  #15


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Our Purges and Splurges are trip dependent. 

On our spring trip, we bring a big ole' dining tent. We're never travelling far on that trip and having some protection from the bugs and rain that are inevitable in May is worth the extra trek over the portage. I know we could get a lighter bug tent/tarp version but we borrow my sister's and since we only ever use it one trip/year it's not worth it.

On most other trips, I splurge on the following: camp chairs, reflector oven (I love campfire baking), tarp, camp slippers, hatchet and saw, hardcover library book (I like to live on the edge!).

Even with the splurges, we still manage to single carry portages. We've really focused all gear purchasing on light weight over the past decade. Everything fits in our backpacks easily and our food is in a dry bag inside a backpack, not a barrel. 

We have some backpacking trips planned this summer and we'll purge: camp chairs, reflector oven, heavy books, hatchet, tarp (depending on the forecast) and some other things. 

 

4/26/2018 11:55 am  #16


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Uppa wrote:

kayakcamper.com is paid for until 2020. My YouTube channel is /kayakcamper. I've painted myself into a corner here.

Oh and also I love my kayak and would prefer paddling a hollowed out whale carcass over a canoe (although they're both equally bloated). But really it's all about the branding - you think I can just walk away from my 500 subscriber YouTube empire?  ;)
 

LOL!!! 
Some people run, some cycle, some paddle a kayak, others ride a motorcycle. It's an aesthetic, none of it matters. You are exactly where you are supposed to be! No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. (with a nod to both dcmcelroy and the Desiderata).

 

4/26/2018 12:44 pm  #17


Re: Pack Weight: Splurge and Purge

Haha Martin!  Quite right.

The important thing is to get out there and do something, not waste energy arguing about what's the best way.  Thank goodness we are all different - what a boring world it would be if everyone were the same.

I don't have a purge/splurge list - of course a lot of things are seasonal or depend on the length of the trip.  And our choices of equipment and supplies have evolved as we have gotten older and not quite as durable as we used to be. I guess there are things I consider vital and never omit - e.g. a full set of dry clothes in a waterproof bag; hand sanitizer; watch cap; extra footwear for around camp (or in a pinch that can be used for travelling); sun screen; regular medications.  Bug season - big box bug net to hang under the tarp, plus my Suzie bug net (crucial for comfort while answering calls of nature), plus lots of DEET.   We never bring an axe or saw any more, don't often make a fire - just boil water on the Trangia, pour into the dried food, and wait.  I do plenty of cooking at home and have no interest in doing anything fancy out in the bush. 

I would have turned my nose up at Helinox chairs when I was younger, but now they make a big difference to our comfort level.  And that raises the question of how many trips across the portage.   Sometimes we do a full double carry, sometimes we leapfrog for a one and a half, and (very) rarely we manage a single.  I really don't care - I find the return trip to get the other load is a nice opportunity to look at the surroundings and take photos, and sometimes meet the critters that emerge from the bush out of curiosity after I've passed by the first time.  Yes, it means slower progress, but we're not in a hurry (old farts that we are) and we try to schedule our travels accordingly.

This post is all pretty much just a ramble off the top of my head - I'm sure I could make other comments about our equipment preferences (and Bob no doubt has his own opinions).   Anyway, interesting to see everyone's thoughts on what to take or not take - there's always something to learn.

Looking forward to ice-out.

Last edited by dcmcelroy (4/26/2018 12:51 pm)

 

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