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To Leave Or Not To Leave?

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Offline dprather

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To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« on: March 09, 2017, 08:59:12 PM »
In a campfire (actually, ESBIT stove) conversation, my backpacking amigos and I discussed this question: Do experienced backpackers know what to take, or do they know what to leave?

We concluded that experience on the trail has the effect of lightening the load by reducing the amount of stuff that is taken.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 11:28:58 AM by dprather »
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 09:57:28 PM »
Definitely. I'm sure if you graphed a backpacker's baseweight against the number of trail miles walked, the slope would be downward. Maybe slowly at first, but pretty steeply in the middle, and then level off. Except for those few that wind up backpacking barefoot and eating wild berries and grasshoppers, in which case it would continue to infinity. And so would they.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Jimbow

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 05:12:26 AM »
Additionally you acquire gear that is more versatile or better at multitasking. I'm ordering a new trowel after a trip report here.



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Everything is in walking distance if you have enough time.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 07:26:49 AM »
I think the leave part more than the take.  There is a saying that you "pack your fears", so yes with experience you become more comfortable in the backcountry so start to bring less "extras" and "just in case items" because you realize you don't really need, or never use, them or you bring the lighter tent or sleeping bag because you didn't get as cold as you thought you would.  Jimbow is correct too that you begin to see how one piece of equipment can do many things.  My struggle is always with clothing, should I bring that extra layer just in case it turns colder?  It goes back to that fear thing.

Like HMoD said, it charts down and then finally levels off.  I see a lot of folks who say "I've got my kit dialed in now".  Many times they drop to a lower weight and then come back up a bit after a few uncomfortable nights or days.  I was that way, got down to as low as 9# and then decided I needed a pack that would carry more weight comfortably (water mostly) and a bit more pad comfort and so now I am usually at 11 or 12#.
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
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Offline ds9writer

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2017, 09:19:58 AM »
My first backpack trip (with SABill), my pack weighed in at 45-50 pounds!   After trudging 50 something miles across Colorado, I learned VERY QUICKLY what was needed and what could be left behind.   So I'd say experience shows you what to leave   :icon_lol:
You don't travel to see different things,
You travel to see things differently.

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Offline Robert

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2017, 09:33:37 AM »
I start with my checklist of all potential backpacking gear that could be applicable for a trip. Then I'm removing items as I review the needs and conditions of the trip. Even then, there are some items I'm not quite settled on so bring them and make a decision once I'm in the park. These days my pack is ready (except for food/water) when I leave the house and I may add, remove or swap one or two items at the trailhead.

So not purely a "leave" vs. "take" decision as there might be duplicate items for different conditions (cold vs. warm weather sleeping bags for example) and I make the decision on which to bring. The biggest learning curve was to realize that 1) we were not really giving up comfort for lighter and that it was OK to add weight back if it matters to you and 2) overcoming the boy scout motto of "being prepared" which does not necessarily mean taking something to account for every possibility. Thinking through the worst case scenarios is a valid exercise so you know how you are going to handle it if it occurs.

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Offline Hang10er

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 10:23:45 AM »
I think you can broaden the term from "backpacking" to just "camping" and it holds true.  You learn what to "leave".  Being a list maker myself, I tend to do what Robert said and try to pack to cover all possibilities.  As I gain experience I tend to look at the list and cross things off (leave). 

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Offline dprather

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2017, 11:31:29 AM »
We have also recognized the difference between "team equipment" and "individual equipment."  For example, the team needs a multitool, but not every individual in the team needs to haul a multitool.

Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline andrwtzel

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2017, 11:34:41 AM »
Learn what to leave.

For example, I used to buy into the mentality of "two is one and one is none". But then I realized, that this mentality assumes the worst will happen. And moreover, that my partner is carrying the same critical items (ex. water filter) as I - which mean I do actually have 2.

I wonder how many people have had a miserable OML experience - and one of the reasons why was a heavy pack with unnecessary weight?

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Offline Flash

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2017, 11:38:11 AM »
I tend to take too much food, but I am getting better about it...

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Offline andrwtzel

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2017, 11:46:50 AM »
I tend to take too much food, but I am getting better about it...

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This is me. I tend to grossly overestimate my breakfast and snacks...My last trip I did a single Cliff bar for breakfast, seemed to work well.

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Offline dprather

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2017, 12:07:13 PM »
Learn what to leave.

For example, I used to buy into the mentality of "two is one and one is none". But then I realized, that this mentality assumes the worst will happen. And moreover, that my partner is carrying the same critical items (ex. water filter) as I - which mean I do actually have 2.

I wonder how many people have had a miserable OML experience - and one of the reasons why was a heavy pack with unnecessary weight?

My first (partial) OML was a miserable failure due to too much weight. 
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline GaryF

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2017, 01:16:38 PM »
Agree that it's more a case of knowing what to leave, but it goes both ways.  I start well ahead of the trip with a list, actually a spreadsheet with weights listed, usually a list recycled from a previous trip. I'll adjust it a bit for the expected conditions. Then  I'll review it over time with a view toward lowering the weight.  Do I really need rain pants (7oz), or would rain chaps (3oz) be adequate... or do I even need anything?  The answer to that is probably different in Big Bend vs rainy Colorado. 

It may seem tedious to some, but I kind of enjoy this part of the trip planning, it takes my mind into the backcountry even when I'm not physically there.  I've already got a list going for a trip I want to do in December. I glance at it occasionally, and sometimes a fresh perspective causes me to make a minor adjustment.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2017, 01:24:43 PM »
It may seem tedious to some, but I kind of enjoy this part of the trip planning, it takes my mind into the backcountry even when I'm not physically there.

Totally agree, Gary. Every trip is unique and has its own requirements. 20% of the fun is planning. 20% of the fun is processing the trip afterward (pics, trip report, etc.). The rest is actually doing it.  A wilderness trip is the gift that keeps on giving. I can still vividly remember trips I took 20 years ago and enjoy (or suffer) them almost as much as being there.

+1 - thus this thread...
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 01:57:49 PM by dprather »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline mule ears

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Re: To Leave Or Not To Leave?
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2017, 02:43:17 PM »
It may seem tedious to some, but I kind of enjoy this part of the trip planning, it takes my mind into the backcountry even when I'm not physically there.

Totally agree, Gary. Every trip is unique and has its own requirements. 20% of the fun is planning. 20% of the fun is processing the trip afterward (pics, trip report, etc.). The rest is actually doing it.  A wilderness trip is the gift that keeps on giving. I can still vividly remember trips I took 20 years ago and enjoy (or suffer) them almost as much as being there.

+1 - thus this thread...

+2, my wife always makes fun of my planning but I tell her it is all part of the experience, or hobby, or pastime (obsession anyone?) what ever you want to call it.  That is why my office is upstairs along with all my backpacking stuff so she doesn't have to see it all spread around.   :icon_biggrin:
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

 


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