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Using the System

Fortuitously I discovered that all of the big four gear types had an almost equal weight distribution and that if I put all of the little four gear types together into one group their combined weight was about equal to that of one of the big four gear types. So when considering pack weight I could target each of these five groups of gear (the big four individually, and the little four together as a fifth group) with the same amount of weight.

This made thinking about my gear and what areas I needed to work on most to lighten up much easier.

Here is an example. Lets assume that we are planning a backpacking trip where we want to cover absolutely the most mileage we possibly can every day. So we know that we want to pack ultra-light, and we target 5 lbs. as our base pack weight. To achieve a total base pack weight of only 5 lbs. would mean that each of our big four gear types would have to have a total weight of only 1 lb. each, and the combined weight of the little four gear categories would also have to weigh only 1 lb.

Here is the idea in table form:

Gear Load* U U/L L L/T T T/H H
Pack 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Shelter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Sleeping 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Clothes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Little Four 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Base Pack Weight 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
*U=Ultra-light, L=light, T=Typical, H=Heavy

Compare the figures from this table with the figures from actual gear lists to get an even better idea of how the system works. As you can see from doing this each gear group does not in fact have exactly the same weight, but their weights are close enough to being equal to serve as a guide or aid when thinking about the weight of pack loads. If you organize your gear list using this system and any category is way out of line with the others weight wise, then it is probably the place where you should start reevaluating your choices if you want to lighten up.

This system of categorization can also be used to easily determine what gear to take and what gear to leave at home for day hiking trips vs. overnight backpack hiking trips. On day trips you could leave at home everything in the Shelter, Sleeping, and Repair categories. You could also leave at home everything in the Kitchen category that was specifically for cooking unless of course you wanted a hot meal on your day hike.

If you try using this system, I would like to hear what you think about it. Please post a message in the Hiking Gear Talk Forum.

Related information:

Hiking Gear Types Categorization System

Backpacking Pack Weight

Hiking Gear Load Terms

Hiking Gear Lists


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