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  1. #1
    Senior Member Kankujoe's Avatar
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    Gear Selection: Old School vs. New School...

    I have been bicycling camping, tent camping. hiking, kayak/canoe camping (and yes, trailer/teardrop camping) for almost 50 years since I was a kid. Even with all this other experience I am new to hammock camping & lite weight backpacking. Most of my experience has been Old School when weight was rarely a major factor, you bought quality, rugged equipment that would take abuse and last, and you were not as concerned with going lite weight verses camping/exploring in comfort. Definately not going to the point of counting grams/ounces...

    My heros have always been "Lewis & Clark" and their "Corps of Discovery." What a camping/backpacking/canoe trip! This expedition carried/moved tons of supplies & equipment on their 2-3 year camping trip.

    Today it seems that most of the New School wisdom is to carry as little weight and stuff as possible. I can see some benefit to this mindset for long-distance - long-term adventures but what about comfort/utility during these adventures? Most of my adventures are by necessity "mini-adventures" since I have to maintain my employment & family life. If I lug something heavy it is usually only for a weekend and not six months or so.

    So where is the trade-off? At what point is the New School really wisdom and the Old School not wisdom?

    As an example, one of my favorite pursuits is cycling... it can get really ridiculous & expensive in a hurry... I've seen men like me (who carry 15-25 pounds in extra weight around our bellies) debate spending hundreds of dollars more on bicycles & equipment to shave off a few ounces or a pound. Seems rather foolish when you could/should drop a few pounds off your body instead of worrying about a few ounces on a bicycle... Of course this translates to almost all outdoor pursuits today...

    So back to hammock camping... where's the trade off? Comfort vs. weight? I like my gadgets & gizmos... I like fiddling with things on the trail & in camp... I like a clean pair of socks & underwear... I'd prefer to have an axe or stout knife with me verses cutting firewood with toenail clippers...

    I'd also like to hear the opinions & experience of those on this forum about this Old School vs. New School debate...
    Last edited by Kankujoe; 09-21-2009 at 01:09. Reason: spelling error
    KJ

  2. #2
    New Member
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    re

    Lewis & Clark would have loved the light weight gear we have now.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Red Hat's Avatar
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    I, too, grew up camping. On my first backpacking trip I carried over 40 lbs (and I was barely 100 lbs myself). Now I try to stay around 25lbs. That is enough to allow a few extras, but not so much that my back and shoulders scream. My hammock weighs a little more than my tarptent, but is much more comfortable. I don't have many gadgets or gizmos, and I don't take an "ax or stout knife", just a tiny little one. It's a careful balance.

  4. #4
    alot of folks feel the same way, carry what you want or what you're comfortable carrying (comfort weight). with advances in technology, you can save weight without giving up the comforts. shelters are now lighter, not much tradeoff there. the same could be said about lots of camping items. you don't have to leave certain things behind, but if you want to buy new ones you have the option of getting much lighter versions that often have just as much utility if not more.

    common backpacker packweights of today are easily 20 lbs. lighter than they were 15 years ago while carrying roughly the same type items, that's a big difference even if you are just hiking on the weekend. if you're canoe camping without portages, or car camping, weight may not even be an issue, but today's gear is often better in other ways as well, like better comfort, new features, etc...

  5. #5
    tight-wad's Avatar
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    I gave up on the ultralight philosophy when I decided that warm, dry camp clothes at the end of the day are a priority for me. Since then, I've tried to shave the weights of the things I take, but some things, like a couple of different maps and copies of guidebook pages for reading, will always be with me.

    Amen brother about the extra weight around the belly button. When I realized that, according to the gov't definition, I was border line obese, I started to focus more on ME instead of what was on my back. I did manage to shed a "whole pack" of weight, and that makes so much more difference than shaving off the grams from your toothbrush and spoon....

  6. #6
    Senior Member Optimus's Avatar
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    I too have been relegated to taking "mini" trips most of the time and this makes the weight of what I carry even that much more important IMO.

    One of the biggest reasons I hike is because I want to see things I can't see from the road (car camp site). The less (weight) I carry the more distance I can cover in a given amount of time, and when I only have one day out and one day back this makes a huge difference.

    Food for thought: I've read somewhere (I would post a link if I remembered where) that a scout group once covered a certain distance in a certain time. They then cut they're pack weight in half and hiked for the same amout of time. Now I would have expected that the distance they covered would have doubled, but they reported covering THREE TIMES the amount of ground!

    Needless to say this not only got me excited, but also got me looking to drop any unnecessary/redundant weight.

    Slopes

  7. #7
    Senior Member Roadtorque's Avatar
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    I am one who definitely thinks a overweight gram weenie is ironic, and stupid. I always take comfort and luxury over weight. I figure if the pack is heavy I will just be in better shape when I get home. I tend to think being a gram weenie is more a hobby than a need. I think a lot of them find it a challenge to get their pack weights down. I'm probably wrong with that process but that's how I translate their actions. To me, being in the woods is all about having a good time and I'm going to pack what I want to have a good time. The other part for me is money, I just cant see spending a lot more money on a piece of gear that will fall apart faster just to save a pound. I like robust, long lasting gear

  8. #8
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    I grew up canoe camping with canvas tents and a 20 X 30 canvas tarp fly. Trust me when I say that from those olden days... I am a gram weenie. By modern standards I still buy quality gear that I don't have to baby. I fall enough that I don't want to have to worry about my pack ripping. But within those boundaries I like the modern stuff. And I love my hammock.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  9. #9
    Senior Member TeeDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    I grew up canoe camping with canvas tents and a 20 X 30 canvas tarp fly. Trust me when I say that from those olden days... I am a gram weenie. By modern standards I still buy quality gear that I don't have to baby. I fall enough that I don't want to have to worry about my pack ripping. But within those boundaries I like the modern stuff. And I love my hammock.
    I'm with the Rev on this, but don't have the same need.

    I refuse to pay mucho $$$ for gear that will probably not last until I get home and pay high prices simply to save a few oz.

    By the same token I will pay mucho $$$ for high quality gear that will last long enough for me to bequeath to whomever wants it after I can no longer walk. If I can save a few oz in the bargain, then I'm willing to go even a few more $$$.

    I'm finding more and more that I have to go the DIY route to get both the quality and durability I demand. My tool and sewing skills are not the equal of the professionals like The Jack's have sewing their tarps, but what my DIY gear lacks in finish and polish, it has in durability.

    The UL and SUL trend is great and I'll certainly benefit where I can, but I feel it has also degraded the durability aspect.
    Those who sacrifice freedom for safety, have neither.

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  10. #10
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    I love the old school, but if the new school does the same thing at a third of the weight I see no reason to not update. It does depend a lot on the trip for some items, like a hatchet or stout knife. I'm just not going to carry them several hundred miles along established trails; plenty of breakable wood on the ground. If I was going to a very remote area, then sure that's another story. Deep winter camping, I carry much more weight because I often include something I can chop wood with if the need arises.

    I could lose my pack weight twice around the belly and probably should while I still can. However, I don't see a reason to not save weight directly out of my pack if I can do so without making any unreasonable sacrifice. I don't tolerate not being comfortable.

    BTW, that cutting firewood with toenail clippers line is still making me giggle. I gotta remember that one.
    Trust nobody!

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