Sunday, 7 March 2010


It must be the thought of winter passing but there seems to be a bit of a buzz at present regarding base weight, Hendrik put an interesting piece together discussing the various classifications and others myself included have been replacing or upgrading a few items with a view to reducing our base weight. There certainly seems to be a greater awareness of 'Lightweight Backpacking' in general with almost everyone regardless of what gear they use looking at lighter alternatives and some of the more traditional/conservative manufacturers are now getting involved. It could be argued that some are merely jumping on the bandwagon so to speak but it was inevitable and can surely only be a good thing.

Of course there's a certain amount of fanatical evangelizing and in some, thankfully rare cases a certain tone of derision where mainstream or heavier gear is concerned. It's important to offer advice to anyone wanting to reduce their base weight but gear choice is a very personal matter and personal comfort has to be considered so if someone for example simply can't use a lightweight sleeping bag as they tend to sleep cold, simply can't get a decent nights sleep on a CCF mat, prefer boots over shoes or prefer to use a rucksack with a more substantial back system than a piece of CCF then they thats what they should use, after all backpacking or camping is supposed to be enjoyable.

I was looking at the PHD site earlier and found an interesting article which is really what prompted this post, I think it's well worth reading.

PHD Ultralight Gear Briefing


  1. Good points. I can't get too hung up about LW vs. UL. Weight is always going to be a trade off between comfort, function and affordability. It also depends on how much comfort/discomfort you are prepared to tolerate, where you are going and for how long. The UL in the UK is different from the US if only because of the changeable weather.

  2. It's a good article. I guess it's all about drawing people's attention to what's possible. There will always be those out there trying new ideas and techniques, some will filter down to the rest of us and others will remain the preserve of the dedicated few.

    For me, it's great to read up on what others are doing and use that to make informed choices that are right for me...

  3. There's a lot of sense in what you say, and in that article. Enjoyment is paramount, and being cold or inadequately equipped isn't much fun.
    It's a personal thing, though, and (for example) whilst those of us who camp our way across Scotland in May will be chuckling at the way some tarpists head for the nearest B&B at the first sign of bad weather, I'm sure the tarpists may chuckle at those of us who remain outdoors in our cosy tents. Furthermore, some of us are lucky enough not to be as sensitive to 'weight' as our scales are, so why lose a couple of hundred grammes (and lots of ££s) if you can't detect the difference when you lift the sac?

  4. It's all a game. As long as you are enjoying yourself, you are doing it right.
    My summer backpacking base-weight of around 3 to 4kg is often less than my overnight base-weight. I like to carry some 'liquid refreshment' on overnighters. :)
    I can't really feel the difference between a 2kg load and a 4kg load, but it doesn't stop me playing 'the game'. :)
    Mike fae Dundee

  5. Pretty much how I see it, part of the fun is the research into lighter gear or seeing how far you can push your own boundries but when you wake up in the hills with the sun warming the tent or sit with a warm cuppa watching the ice form on the inside of the fly a few hundered grams either way means nothing.

  6. "So you can look at Ultralight in two ways. Either 'the latest and lightest' (the manufacturers' definition) or the intentional trimming of your margins of comfort/survival in order to minimise your load (the users' meaning)."

    Could I please dispute this from the PHD article. I started out with a square sleeping bag with a huge zip and a fill of something harsh. Moving in gradual stages over 40 years to a PHD bag without a zip (Piqolo) has only ever increased my comfort. The latest, lightest fabrics and fills seem to conform more closely to my body than whatever I preceded them with. The Piqolo is luxurious.

    I can't really feel the difference between a 2kg load and a 4kg load, but it doesn't stop me playing 'the game'. :)

    I doubt if I've ever reached 2 kg for a night out but I'll agree with the sentiment. Although I cannot tell how much I have on my back, the impact of a lighter bag becomes clear at the end of the day. I'm less tired despite being on my feet for longer than had been planned.