Some of these changes were inspired by what I learned from backpacking magazines, in online forums, and from knowledgeable peers. But many of these changes resulted from continued trial-and-error, especially in the course of groundbreaking trips in new environments and new seasons, when there was not yet a tried-and-true model to follow.
How much money did I waste in the process of developing a system that worked? Click here for the PDF that details my experimentation. Learning through trial-and-error not only has a tangible financial cost, but there is also an intangible cost—my Appalachian Trail experience was much harder and less enjoyable than it should have been.
Osprey Backpacks and Bags - Official Site
A sampling of my suffering just from that trip:. I learned many lessons on other trips too. On the Sierra High Route with Buzz Burrell I learned the value of having a headnet when the mosquitoes are bad because neither of us had one. And on my Alaska-Yukon Expedition I learned the value of fleece, which retains its insulating abilities when wet much better than other insulations.
I was fortunate that I could afford to learn to backpack through trial-and-error.
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I had more time than money, easy access to gear, flexible jobs, and a willingness to suffer. However, most backpackers are not in this position: they have commitments to family and careers, limited free time for recreation, and a desire to make the most from each backpacking trip.
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What lessons related to backpacking gear, supplies or skills did you learn the hard way, that you could have learned from someone else? What resources have you found best to avoid making the same mistakes that others have made before? It's the vertical, stupid: How many days should I budget for a high route? How to poop in the outdoors Part 1: Site selection Novel idea: Ultimate Direction co-develops products with some of the world's best ultra-runners.
Quechua NH500 20L Backpack
I also learned that trip that a smaller ground cloth under a tarp is better to give more water infiltration area. You can also pull up the edges with a little dirt or rocks and let the water flow under the ground cloth. Because of bad knees and back I learned early on to use trekking poles. I use our monthly Boy Scout trips to test out new gear and experimental methods. A tarp works better for me than a one man tent. Your book was a big help in reoutfitting myself to get under 20 pounds with food. Six years of Infantry applied to backpacking.
From my experience in the Army I have learned more from misery than one could want. Throughout Infantry School your usual load is around 75 pounds, give or take 10 pounds weapon dictated. This would keep me from backpacking for about two years.
Later experiences to be noted. Cold nights of sleeping on the ground without any gear. Sleep system over 8 pounds. And most important clothing, although durable, not suited to a comfortable environment. Still in the Army I have applied comforts to my civilian backpacking versus military rucking. Military grade equipment is built to last, however, civilian equivalents are much lighter and just as durable. Any experience of pain and misery should not be forgotten but more or less used as a lesson to make future trips more enjoyable.
Good old 11B here, too. I was a kid. Anyway, I attempted my first few trips with my Military issued gear. Epic fail. Went to a used gear sale and found out how awesome, good, lightweight gear is. The Army just might as well have made me retarded, ya know? Another former 11B. As I have gotten over the trauma of long field exercises in freezing rain and other crappy conditions, I have begun traveling and doing more outdoors. I am still struggling with the most expensive items. I am a cheapskate and have trouble buying new, untested on me stuff that costs hundreds of dollars. I remember that solar battery charger.
My stupidest item was a 1-lb. Maybe so in financial terms, but I prefer to chalk it all up to good self-deprecating story material and type-II fun. I learned to dehydrate my own food as part of controlling calorie vs. While sodium is important, you can earn yourself quite the migraine eating those zip-bag meals they sell at most sporting goods stores. Not to mention all the waste material!
We have learned nearly everything the hard way. Mostly because, like you, we tend to do things beyond the scope of ordinary recreation. That said, our very first long trip was 2 months, miles, in the remote and chilly wilderness of the Alaska Peninsula. With a sleeping bag sewn from windproof fleece, an old green and silver rectangular tarp as a shelter, no sleeping pads, expensive mountaineering raingear that was terrible for rain, Sevylor trail boats and their toy plastic paddles for packrafting… I could go on and on.
We learned very quickly about the merits of fleece as a baselayer in wet conditions there, via ditching our useless long underwear halfway through. But it was a great trip, and clearly brought us back for more. That Gore-Tex in footwear does not work. Rather it works, either for a very short time or with so much protection the boots or shoes becomes primary a Gore-Tex container, foot support second.
Oh, the 75 litre backpack — not a daypack, not a litre monster — but just right! Took me two trips with such thing to realize the error of my ways. Bit slow that way — hit me one more time — did it hurt as much as the first time? Oddly enough, this has to be learned through trial and error. While canoeing on a duckhunt for three days I found out less is more and expensive is cheap!
Cheap hunting clothes wear out fast , less higher priced clothes work great and last longer also dry out fast,MC Callister wool sweat shirt with quarter zip is amazing! As well as keeping myself in shape, more venison less beef! A pair of boots, a cramped and heavy tent, and one overkill cook kit were my only really dumb purchases. The research I did however, picking the brains of everyone on BPL, has saved me thousands! The point is that we keep learning. Thanks for shearing. On a 2 night trip to climb Mt Blanca CO in late October I learned the importance of knowing, not hoping, that your partner is properly prepared.
Fortunately for me I barrowed much of the gear I used when I first started backpacking, and simply used my backcountry snowboarding pack 35liter so I quickly learned what can stay at home just so I could fit the essentials. Some of the resources have been trailforums. Backpacking with Kids 7 and 11 makes everything different.
If I go alone my gear selection is slightly different than with our kids. Tent selection would be key for us. We had a 6lb two man tent a Kelty Gunnison, use that with another older North Face I think tadpole or something. So the two tents combined weighed in above 11lbs.
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Since I have to carry a tent and my wife carrys a tent we got the tarptent Double rainbow two each , no total combined weight is 6lb, 3 for her and 3 for me. Other weight reductions include sleeping bags, pads, and accessories. With gear for a week I weigh in at about 35lbs with food and water, and my wife weighs in about 28lbs food and water.