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Re: Balancing Price, Durability and Weight with Backpacking Supplies

So I've been struggling with how to balance the backpacking budget, durability and weight.  I had a Gregory Forester pack (6+ lbs), an old REI Half Dome (6+ lbs), etc.  I carried a lot of weight. Now that I'm older that weight just isn't doable for multi-day backpacks.  I now have a Gregory Paragon (4 lbs) and a Big Agnes FlyCreek UL (2.2 lbs), along with a Patagonia Micropuff hoodie and other lightweight gear.  I love the new stuff!  However, a pole on the tent broke on my first backpack.  The zipper broke on the Micropuff and it has two small tears.  The pack is less robust than the old one.  This lightweight gear just isn't as durable.  Understandable, but both really expensive and not durable are an issue for me.

I know that many thru-hikers can get down to a ridiculous base weight.  But that's not me.  I want hot tea in the morning.  I want to sleep without mosquitos buzzing me.

So I'm just wondering how others choose value vs. durability vs. weight.  What are your views on the balance?  


13 Replies

Re: Balancing Price, Durability and Weight with Backpacking Supplies

As an older hiker, I’ve been juggling my equipment, gradually going down in weight while balancing comfort. Sleeping comfort is a high priority for me, followed closely by pack weight. Backpacking isn’t a cheap sport: Go with quality products (ratings/comments), factor in the weight and what you are willing to carry. I love REI’s return policy: if the gear doesn’t work out, it can be returned within a year of purchase. Caveret: REI’s used gear (30 days), but still a great place to find quality gear for less. When my teenagers got into backpacking with me this summer, I made heavy use of the Used Gear on REI’s website. I knew what I was looking for, so could sift through, forgo, and buy as equipment came available.

Re: Balancing Price, Durability and Weight with Backpacking Supplies

@Joy - Age is certainly a factor with me, also (I'm 63).  I forgot to mention that in the OP.   And comfort is an issue for the hike and for sleeping.  These older joints just don't want to do the weight anymore. I bailed on a 5 day Weminuche CDT hike this summer because I just didn't think I could do the mileage we'd planned with the pack weight.  My hiking partner did it solo and bailed a day early, and he's younger than me.

As I was writing this, an option came to me.  I can change my expectations and do fewer miles in a day.  I'm not a guy who denies my age, but it is challenging to adapt to it sometimes.  


Re: Balancing Price, Durability and Weight with Backpacking Supplies

@johnt  ain't it the truth! 68 and counting.  My backpacking trips these days are more like 'camping trips' that I have to hike to, lol.

The weminuche wilderness can be tough for everyone, what with most of the trails above 10K and tons above 12k'!

So I try limit my daily mileage (in planning to 5-8 mi per day) and try to limit climbs and passes.

I also try to do exclusively wilderness areas so I can either camp when I need to or even extend the day (not by much) if I feel like it. I also try to plan routes with MANY lakes and/or rivers, mostly for views and campsites.

This past summer's routes where mostly between 7000-9000' with short days planned, but I pleasantly surprised to do @8 miles and still feel pretty good.

Another thing I do, is try to arrive everyday at camp nlt 3pm, so I have time to set up, take a nap, take some photos/videos and just chill.

That means, for me, about 5-6hrs of actual walking, and at my extremely slow planned rate of 1.5 mph, about 7-9 miles.

The challenge of only doing 7 or so miles is carrying more days worth of food.

Interestingly, I threw out the 'plan for 2500-3000 calories per day' to just carrying my bagged oatmeal concoction, super light lunch (1 tortilla, some PB or cheese spread), and 1 MH freezed dried meal, and couple of cheese sticks, and large zip lock of cashews/mixed nuts), and so dropped about 4lbs of food carry for a 10 day trip, and lo and behold, was NOT starving and it worked well!


REI Member Since 1979

Re: Balancing Price, Durability and Weight with Backpacking Supplies

I am an absolute newbie who is voraciously reading and watching everything 'thru hiking'. Trying and testing gear on short day hikes in the Southeast...all with intent of thru hiking the AT. Also, I'm a 53 year old woman on a budget.

I am finding there is only one good policy change due to Covid19--the REI garage sale section of my local store. After doing my extensive research and deciding on the gear I want, I make a quick weekly trip to my store. So far, I've found my UL Big Agnes tent, Osprey backpack, some rain gear and Nemo sleeping quilt system (the exact 'type' of items I wanted) in perfect condition for HALF-price.

I know not everyone has the time or desire to be patient (or a store super close), but this is really working, for me, to get the weight/quality/price ratio in sync.