Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ultralight Backpacking Gear: Digital Scale

Our newest piece of backpacking gear is a digital scale. Harbor Freight has their digital scales on sale, so we bought a battery powered digital scale that weighs items up to 11 pounds in grams, ounces, and pounds for $19.99. This is less than most digital kitchen scales we have priced and can also be used in the kitched due to its tare (zeroing out) function.

Our scale was easy to use. After turning it on, we used its tare function to zero out the scale. Then, we methodically went through our backpack weighing most items. We had a few surprises, some good and some bad. Here's some of what we learned:

Bad - things heavier than we realized

Compass. Our basic orienteering compass is twice as heavy as our little $1.99 thermometer/compass zipper pull. As we don't need an orienteering compass' capabilities on the Appalachian Trail, we'll drop it for the lighter zipper pull.

Cook set. We thought our old-fashioned 1987 aluminum pot with folding handles cook kit would weigh about two pounds. It weighs about one. We plan to buy an Esbit cook set for its smaller cup and lid. We should be able to drop some weight and also free some pack space. UPDATE: The new Esbit cook set cup along with a Supercat alcohol stove and aluminum windscreen weigh just 6 ounces and take up far less space.

Good - things lighter than we realized

Poly Tarp. We knew our 8 X 10 foot hardware store poly tarp was heavy. We figured around 2-3 pounds heavy. Turns out its only about 1.6 pounds. We still plan to drop about half of that weight by switching to a 10 ounce Hennessy nylon rainfly.

Nylon fishing pants and shirts. We switched to nylon fishing pants and long-sleeved shirts to save weight over thicker fabrics.

Supercat alcohol stove. One ounce!

Yes, we are slowly turning into a gram weenie. Our pack was at 23 pounds when we last weighed it at Boiling Springs, PA. We'd like to be at 20 pounds or less with food and one liter of water when we start at Delaware Water Gap later this year.