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Thread: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

  1. #1
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    If my personal experience is common around here, there must be a sizeable group of day-hikers (and overnight hikers) whose LF gear + hiking gear fall into the "ultraheavy" category, not the ultralight one.

    Yes, just my my Ries J-600 tripod and J-250 head qualify me as a proud ultraheavy hiker.

    I've never felt unduly constrained by this so-called "disadvantage," but maybe I would if I were much older, or much less healthy ... or much more wealthy.

    To better travel over hill and dale, through branch and bramble, across creek and stream, my principal strategy is to leave unnecessary things behind. Simple. Effective. Affordable.

    For example, no battery driven communication or navigation devices for me. (Traditional map and compass are fine.)

    I could start a long list of items abandoned to the closet, quickly adding up to lost weight, but I'd enjoy hearing about your personal experience and long-held secrets.

    We've all heard about the "10 essentials" list but what might you add to the "no need to take" list? I mean both LF and hiking gear.

    And when does it depend on the nature of your hike, the weather conditions, your image making goals, or an honest evaluation of your personal abilities?

  2. #2

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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    A small bottle of wine and not the big 1500ml heavy ones, and preferably with a screw top so no need to take a cork screw.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  3. #3
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    I deliberately keep my weekend pack heavy: big Ries tripod, hardshell case for the 8x10, maybe heavy lenses. Trying to keep my training weight up there. When I was a young feller in my 50's, I'd still sometimes strap a 5-gal jerrycan of water on too, and sometimes even an iron vise. But then the packs started wearing out prematurely. The nice thing about the water jug is that I could dump it over myself at the top of a hill. It built my knees going uphill, and minus the water was much lighter downhill to relieve stress. But that got me in good shape for lugging 85 and 90 lbs packs in the high country. Now my target is more like 65 to 70 lbs for a two-week backpack with my little Ebony folder and CF tripod. I have a progressive old age strategy with lighter gear, like a big CF tripod for the 8x10 when that day arrives the Ries is too heavy (which I recently used recovering from the shingles), roll film backs for the 4x5's, and some younger friends who can help with packing an extra weeks worth of food. But for now I lug it all myself. Do have to start disciplining myself more seriously about diet,
    since gout has kicked in. I've been an off-trail hiker ever since childhood, and really look forward to that kind of thing every trip, at least a token amount. No
    compass, no damned GPS. Always always always a dependable jacket and rain parka.

  4. #4
    funkadelic
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    Leave the GPS/phone/electronics behind. A compass is still nice to carry, even if you know the area. It helps to orient yourself at a moment's notice and won't fail if you forget to charge it. Topographical map is a bonus.
    No big bulky tent. I use a lightweight (silnylon or cuben fiber) tarp.
    Squeeze out little blobs in a row of toothpaste on wax paper and cover with another piece of wax paper. After it dries, cut in a row to size and roll up for storage in a pill bottle. Much lighter than a full size tube. Some cut off the handle of their toothbrush. I'm not that hardcore.
    Try to find multiple uses for a single item. Why carry two things when you can carry one?
    No tripod head or QR plates.... camera mounts straight on the tripod. Use the tripod legs to orient the exposure.
    No more than a half gallon of water. I'm usually close to water so I can filter and treat to refill as needed or planned.
    I try to plan ahead and only pack lightweight dry food or "'just add water" and cook in baggies. Water weight adds up fast. Skip the prepared food. Do it yourself, eat fewer preservatives eat healthier. Peanut butter, sunflower seeds, almonds, granola and beef jerky are a staple, with dehydrated fruits and veggies. Ramen noodles are a good source of carbs. Discard the seasoning pack and bring your own... olive oil and parmesan cheese; chili powder and rehydrated pickles (sounds gross, tastes great!). Ramen or other rice noodles are cheap and doesn't require the water to even be hot to rehydrate and can be the staple of any meal that is only limited by what you have in your pack.
    Small LED lights replace big bulky lanterns that suck up heavier liquid fuel that I don't want to carry.
    Comfortable trail running shoes. No, I'm not running, but they're lighter than big boots and I don't need them for mountain climbing _where I go_.
    Baselayer insulation. Skip all the heavy crap for 3 season hiking. Apply/remove lighter layers of clothing for better temp control. This is an important tool to comfort and safety that is widely overlooked or just ignorantly ignored. Carry a balaclava and gloves for anything under 40F. "If your feet get cold, put a hat on!"
    Try to find a central base camp and do shorter day trips with less gear from that base location. Carrying less gear means less stress on your body, less chance of injury and less muscle/joint pain at the end of the day. Less pain usually makes for a better start the next day, feeling charged and ready to go.
    No camera gear, my pack is 13-15 pounds for a 3-4 day trip. With my 5x7 kit, my pack is still under 30 pounds.
    I'm sure I'd think of some other points to note if I opened my backpack to look. These are just some off the top of my head.

    Chris

  5. #5
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    A small bottle of wine and not the big 1500ml heavy ones, and preferably with a screw top so no need to take a cork screw.
    Good point. In our draught-stricken West, wine may be necessary, but not cork screws. My "not necessary" list is now one item longer! ;^)

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    When I was a young feller in my 50's, I'd still sometimes strap a 5-gal jerrycan of water on too.
    I've often left water behind on my way into the water-rich Cascade mountains. A water filter will do. But not this year. Water hasn't wholly disappeared, but the melt streams aren't flowing in my favorite higher areas. Hence the wine!

    Quote Originally Posted by cdholden View Post
    Some cut off the handle of their toothbrush.
    I've done this more than once. I've also trimmed the margins from paper maps. Mostly it reduces psychological weight, if not too much physical weight. But in my experience, both types of weight are significant issues.

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    I've been thru every phase. As a kid I'd often travel with a big fellow who said he only liked fresh food. I remember one time when he had a couple cantaloupe,
    a small watermelon, some zucchini, a side of bacon, a ham, and a dozen eggs in his pack, plus a cast iron skillet, axe, and fishing gear. We still did about 6 mph
    uphill. Gosh we were in shape. Not like Norman Clyde, who still packed like that in his 80's, plus three different roll-film folders, but obviously at a slow pace by then. Then I went thru my ultralight phase - no tent, no sleeping bag, just a big poncho that served as both raingear and shelter, an early little Pentax camera,
    no canteen, and almost zero food - fished or foraged. Then my lengthy Sinar years with 85 lb packs. Now I'm a self-enclosed motorhome replete with real food, but have spent some money to get modern lightwt gear. Don't know about true old age yet. Have to wait and see. Just ran into an old pal who had just returned
    from a month of bakpacking with his brother in New Zealand. He's 75 and his brother is 80. Next month they're going to do a two-weeker in Kings Canyon. 35lb
    packs and no serious camera gear - but hey, anybody still at it that age gives me hope!

  7. #7
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    If wine's on your must-have list, you can decant it into a nalgene bottle. Lighter, less breakable, easy to open. We do this all the time to bring wine to concerts in city parks (security shakes you down for glass bottles). I've never brought wine backpacking, but you've given me something to aspire to.

    In general, I think the trick is to evaluate your needs based on each individual trip, the likely range of conditions, and your abilities. In a lot of cases, you might even leave a map and compass behind (I haven't carried a compass in 20 years, but that would change if I went into the Alaska range, for example). If there's water everywhere, you can get away with a lightweight filter and a small hydration bladder. If you're traversing the Grand Canyon in August, you'll need to carry a gallon or maybe more. That will undo a lot of your carbon fiber purchases . For shoes, always the lightest you can get away with. I did ten days with full climbing gear in low top approach shoes once, because I knew from experience I could get away with it. My partner was a better climber than me but had old ankle injuries, so he suffered boots.

    You also have to figure out where you want to be on the continuum between light/fast and heavy/slow/comfortable. If you're slogging into a beautiful place and making a camp for several days of hikes and photographing, the latter approach might appeal. If you're moving every day with all your stuff, maybe lean the other way.

    Personally, I'd be all about keeping it simple with the cameras. One lens, maybe two. But that's obviously not everyone's style.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    Lesson no. 1, if you simply have to bring beer, bring cans, not bottles. Better yet, acquire a taste for natural mtn water. It's generally way cleaner than city tap water anyway. When in doubt, always filter it. And I agree with the less-is-more approach to camera gear. I remember stumbling onto someone in Titcomb Basin in Wyo once with a Tachi and seven lenses, and about twenty gel filters. I was packing a Sinar and exactly one lens. I got a nice shot, was all packed back up and headed out while that guy was still fussing around with too many choices. I think it got dark before he made up his mind. I'm not quite that Spartan anymore, but will probably carry just two lenses on the next backpack trip, with two glass filters. The most important piece of equipment is your eyes anyway, and if you're too busy worrying about gear issues, you simply won't have time to use them. I want 80% of my energy into just the experience itself, whether I bag a shot or not. Lots of time I have simply sat there watching the light and not even tripped the shutter because I didn't want the experience interrupted by
    anything ulterior. There will always be another shot.

  9. #9
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    "Not necessary" for me to be the Chuck Norris of camera+hiking.

    I'll leave the warm beer for the British auto enthusiasts to joke about.

    Along with my tripod/speed graphic/film/2 lenses/incident meter, I take a snack or meal, plastic 1L bottle of seltzer, and my phone for daytime hikes.

    Taking my smartphone lets me leave behind a bigger digital camera, writing utensils, etc.. I don't need a compass and don't depend on the phone for navigation.

  10. #10
    I live in Connecticut now.
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    Re: LF means heavy hiking. What's on your "not necessary" list?

    Well I spent the big bucks over the past few years to have the lightest version of all the gear I could find for my chosen format.

    After hiking the Grand Canyon once for eight days back in 2010 with my 35mm gear which was all heavy glass even if a tiny format, I decided to go later the next time again 8 days in 2013 with my 120 gear and take my Mamiya 7 which was much lighter.

    Finally this time I plan to go with my 8x10 Chamonix, and all Fujinon C (C is for Compact) lens lineup that is the lightest (yet sharp) in modern lenses, and should be under 20lbs which is acceptable to me.

    The 2010 35mm gear came in at 85lbs

    The 2013 120 gear came in at 75lbs

    I'm hoping that I can get my next trip with the 8x10 gear to come in at 65lbs.

    I know that might sound crazy for an 8 day trip but I've gotten good at reducing the needed amenities and because of the bull size of the 8x10 gear itself, I'll literally be forced to reduce what I bring because I just won't have the space!

    I'll let you guys know.

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