November 9, 2011
Part 3 of our week long series “From A Guide’s Perspective”, IMG Guide Austin Shannon talks about a few simple ways to lighten up your overflowing backpack.
By Austin Shannon
Ok, ok, I know how much we all like to research and buy our climbing gear, but for some, the simple act of acquiring all of the necessary gear can be one of the more stressful parts of your trip. Hopefully I can help you figure out a strategy on how to tackle this objective and, at the same time, lighten up that pack!
It seems obvious but the best advice is: buy it once, buy it right and buy it light! With this in mind I’ll narrow what I’m shopping for down to a few similar items then I’ll check out the weight of each item. From there, I’ll do the math and see if those extra ounces are worth weight and/or money. Keep in mind that some of the bells and whistles on a lot of the gear are exactly that, bells and whistles to help get it off the shelves and in your closet! One adage we all live by in the mountains is: Ounces make pounds and pounds make pain!
Some helpful hints:
- Make a list. Before you start this process remember, “just in case” weighs a lot and adds up quick! We are in the mountains to enjoy the adventure, not to be loaded down with crazy nicknacks that we don’t actually need. Stick to the list and make adjustments based on seasonal demands and weather forecasts, not “just in case”.
- Do more with less. Don’t forget, your trip has an end. Try to go with as little gear as possible. Your body can survive on much less than you think. You don’t need five different head layers. Find gear and various layers that serve more than one purpose. If something only has one job then don’t buy it. For example, puffy jackets double as a pillows so that 4oz. inflatable pillow is 1/4lb you don’t need. A long sleeve shirt can be turned into a short sleeve by simply pulling up your sleeves. You get the idea.
- Keep it simple. When shopping for gear, it’s easy to get lost in the new latest &greatest features. Just remember, the more features it has means there are more things that can break and the more it likely weighs. A simple example of this is in backpacks – we don’t need a extra sleeping bag compartment. The external and internal zipper and the added fabric add unnecessary weight to the pack and add 2 more zippers that can fail.
Some of these suggestions may seem obvious but we are often our own worst enemies with what ends up in our packs. My last bit of advice would be to make notes after each one of your climbs: what did i use a lot? what did i not use at all? Over time you will develop a tried and true system that works for you!
[For some Rainier Specific suggestions see How Can I Lighten May Pack]
Up next for Austin: Ski patrolling this winter at Crystal Mountain and heading to Aconcagua in February.