Lighter Backpacking Gear: From Beginner to MYOG

I uploaded a video to my YouTube channel that covers my transition from a beginner backpacker with cheaper/heavier gear to making my own lighter gear that lightened my load.  The video focuses on my big 3 items.  That video is here:


What follows is a summary of that video.

When I was planning my first multi day backpacking trip I tried to balance the amount of money invested accumulating gear and the weight of those items.  Of course when you do that you end up with heavier gear.  I left for that first trip with a 25 pound base weight.   That included a Koppen Hamr tent.

Ozark Trail 40 degree sleeping bag.

High Sierra 55L backpack

By the end of the trip my legs, especially my shins were in severe pain.  It was actually painful to take each step on the last day of the trip.  I was determined after that trip to reduce the weight of my gear.  Back at home I started researching how to reduce the weight of my gear.  I found that I could spend a lot of money buying new gear or spend a lot of time making new gear.  Making my own gear sounded better to me.  I came across a copy of Beyond Backpacking by Ray Jardine at the library.

Ray has a ton of experience on long trails and some interesting ideas about reducing your pack weight.  Reading his book got me interested in the MYOG movement.  I started by sewing a Jardinesque tarp/bugnet combo.  It holds 2 people, their gear and keeps everything out of the elements.  Total weight = 2.5 pounds.

A better sleep system was next in line.  This was the easiest and quickest project of the big 3.  I sewed together a synthetic quilt rated to 32 degrees.  Total weight = 1.5 pounds.

Last on the list of upgrades was my backpack.  With all the pieces involved I opted for a Ray Jardine kit/pattern to make things go smoother and lessen my frustration levels.  It holds roughly 42 liters inside with three huge external pockets.  Total weight = 9 ounces.

While making all this gear I also went through the list of items I put in my pack.  Besides reducing the weight of the gear I also reduced the number of items I carry.  That has allowed me to reduce my base weight to 12 pounds from the original 25.  That makes my legs and back super happy!  These two methods are the most effective ways I have found to achieve those results.

When thinking through which items to take and which to leave at home, I watched tons of thru hiker videos.  When you hike day in and day out, you know what you need.  Using their experience helped me to weed through the gear that could sit on the shelf.  If you need some channels to view check out one of my other posts from my Thru Hiker Updates.

Hopefully this helps!

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