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60% front and 40% back recommended weight distribution, what is your opinion?

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60% front and 40% back recommended weight distribution, what is your opinion?

Old 10-19-15, 06:53 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
Can also depend on the bike. Some bikes can handle a rear load better than others.
Agree.

I was waiting for someone to say that, I expected one of the first responses to say that and it surprised me that so many responses did not say that early on.
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Old 10-19-15, 07:53 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
There's a fair amount of misinformation there. Front bags have been found to be more aerodynamic than rear bags. This should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a moment. When a fluid drops, it always forms up wider in the front with a long, narrow tail. That's what a bike with front bags looks like. No raindrop falls the other way, like a bike with rear bags. That shape is driven by the air as the fluid drop falls through it and is the shape of minimal drag. One caveat: If your bike has a lot of trail, then a cross wind or cross-headwind can create the illusion of higher drag by impacting the steering as the wind pushes on the side of the bags.

As far as stability, loads that center on the axles are stable to the wheels. It's not possible to do that with the rear load unless you build a very long chain stay bike. It wasn't until Blackburn did some testing (late '70s?) that this became known. Again, if your bike has a lot of trail, which tends to make the steering more like being on rails, then it will be even more rail-like with the added mass on the front. However, that's a lot better than the high, destabilizing load on the rear. The reason touring bikes tend to have long chain stays is to allow that rear load to at least be brought inside the rear axle, even if it can't be even with it.

Unfortunately, back when touring got re-ignited it the US, we didn't know any better and most of us set about with rear bags and a handlebar bag. Somehow, that became the standard even when it was shown to be the worst possible way to carry gear on a bike.
I have the magazine (somewhere) where they did the actual testing using various loads in different configurations. I will have to dig for it. I want to say 1974 or so. Don't even remember which specific magazine. Bicycling, Bike World...?? When it comes to loading a bike it is basic physics, the load, the placement and the bike geometry all come into play.



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Old 10-19-15, 08:41 AM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
Wait a second, I think you have that backwards, is suppose to be 60 to 70 rear and 30 to 40 front if you're using four panniers. The ratios I gave are the zones you need to play with to see how your bike will handle. Commonly the 60 front and 40 rear is used mostly. Too much weight on the front end will negatively affect how your bike handles and will cause it to oversteer, this is why touring people will usually use a lowrider rack in the front which will reduce the center of gravity and stabilize the steering, and then they'll use a high rack on the rear because of the larger bags.

If you'll be doing off road touring then due to ground clearance and perhaps shocks, perhaps disk brakes, you'll need a higher mounted rack for the front, but in these instances you're travelling slower than a road bike plus have fatter tires and thus the steering isn't as affected.

On that subject, some people like only rear panniers because they found that front panniers cause a lot of drag aerodynamically even at lower speeds and gets worse if there is a head wind, and their notion is that the increase drags slows them down more than weight does. However the con to not having front panniers is that since the weight emphasis is on the rear climbing steep hills will give you the sensation that the front wheel wants to lift off the ground which can be quite an unsettling feeling, so having a little weight up front balances the bike better.

If you shop carefully for your touring gear you can get some really light weight stuff these days, and it's possible that a person even on a long cross country tour may not even need front panniers if the weight of your gear doesn't exceed 45 pounds.

You also have to make sure of two other things concerning weight. One is that your heaviest items need to be at the bottom of the bags; and the two is you need to make sure that your weight is balanced from side to side as well, you don't want 25 pounds on one side and 15 on the other side for example.

Also with handlebar bags you don't want to exceed 11 pounds on the bars depending on the bike, and the weight must be as close as possible to the headset and bar. Again you have to play with the weight in a handlebar bag to see how you bike manages it, some may only like 5 pounds, but none will like anything over 11 pounds.
Nope. The split is 60% of the weight in front low rider panniers and 40% on the rear. That recommendation goes back to an article on lowriders and tests done by Jim Blackburn and Frank Berto in Bicycling magazine in the 1980s. They found that the best stability was found with those ratios. They also tested rear load only and lowriders front and rear. The lowriders front and rear was found to be the least stable but only marginally less stable than a heavy rear only load.

If I have a light load like when I'm doing a trip that doesn't include camping, I carry it in front panniers on low riders. The bike handle much better with this kind of load.
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Old 10-19-15, 08:50 AM
  #29  
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It's been my goal to get more weight up front. My last few trips with Long Haul Trucker were with two backroller classics on the front rack, with miscellaneous odds and ends strapped to the back. I found that especially going up hill, the front end was a little squirrelly with all the weight in the rear. It was too easy for the front tire to hop off the ground. With the weight on the front, it just feels planted. It handles differently weighted down in front, but not bad. After riding for a few days fully loaded, then taking the panniers off and going for a ride, I felt like the front end was hopping all over the place. Took a couple of miles to get used to riding with no weight up front.

That said. When I'm not carrying a camping load, I almost always put all my weight on the rear. It's just easier and more versatile. I can hang one, heavy pannier off the rear rack and notice the uneven weight less than if I hang the same pannier on the front.

And with my Troll, I'm trying to do things differently. I feel like I can get most, if not all, of my tent and sleeping gear in a bag I can strap to the handlebars. It's a higher load than is ideal, but it has the benefit of not needing a front rack. The remainder of my gear I hope to get into some combination of a frame bag, a trunk bag, and/or two front roller panniers on the rear rack. I don't know if that will preserve the previous front-to-rear weight set up, but I think it might provide a good balance, especially if I can put some heavier stuff within the frame triangle.
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Old 10-19-15, 09:00 AM
  #30  
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60% front and 40% back recommended weight distribution, what is your opinion?

I have all my stuff on the rear. It's worked fine for me for the past thirty odd years. No steering, handling or stability problems. Go figure...
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Old 10-19-15, 09:29 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Without resorting to a lot of really high dollar UL backpacking stuff, I went coast to coast camping and cooking with 14 pounds of gear and was pretty comfortable, so I really don't see how anyone needs 70-100 pounds of gear for touring in developed countries.
Marmot Cloudbreak 20--$199 good to 20 degrees F 2lbs 14oz (1304g)
Eureka! Solitaire - Tent $75 at Amazon 2 pounds, 9 ounces
MSR PocketRocket Backpacking Stove $40 11 oz with 8 oz fuel plus another 8 oz = 19 oz (Not stuff I have, just the first stuff I found online that I Would use. reasonably lightweight camping gear at affordable prices 9except the sleeping bag--mine was cheaper.)

No groundsheet, no raingear, no spare tire, no tubes, no pump, no spare cables, no multi-tool, no headlight (for head,) no bike lights, no spare batteries for all that ... Just a sleeping bag, tent, and stove and the weight is already over six pounds--no food and no water.

No raingear, no first aid kit, no shoes for off the bike, no warm jacket, no sunscreen or soap or towel or toothbrush ... no second pair of shorts, no tights, no second jersey.

If you say you did it, you did it, but 14 pounds? Did you have a support vehicle?

When I crossed the Mojave desert I used a 100-oz Camelback Mule and don’t think that was excessive. Some of the campsites were pure primitive, as in Bring your own everything except firewood, which includes bring your own water, which means I had to have all the water I needed for two days—the day to get there and the next day until I reached a water source. That alone weighed 14 pounds.
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Old 10-19-15, 11:05 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
Can also depend on the bike. Some bikes can handle a rear load better than others.
indeed.

Both the bikes I use are pretty good with a rear load only, but my old mtn bike with big fat aluminum frame tubes, big beefy chainstays etc , is a real sturdy son of a gun. I can ride it commuting with just one full size Ortlieb pannier, and end up with a good amount of crap in that one bag--ie the bike is very much overloaded on one side only, and even with Montreal's rough roads, the bike is stable and there is no "loosey-gooseyness" going on with the frame when I go over a pothole or rough pavement.
I have toured with this bike with a good 25lbs on the rear, maybe 30 , and a handlebar bag and the bike is stable at pretty much any speed. Yes you can feel some front end lightness when doing flip flop tight turns but not much--but the main issue here is how the frame is just so solid even with 30lbs on the rear rack.

as I often mention here, I'm a light guy so this certainly helps the situation.
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Old 10-19-15, 11:18 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post

If you say you did it, you did it, but 14 pounds? Did you have a support vehicle?
If he said he did it, he certainly did it and without a support vehicle. Pete is a minimalist and scours ways to cut a few ounces here or there. Check out the thread from a while back on Ultralight touring for more ways to cut corners. I for one like a few more creature comforts and have a hard time breaking the 20 lb line (which includes the weight my rear 2 panniers), but with that smaller weight, I can toss everything on the rear, although that's still not totally desirable because when I climb out of the saddle with this set up, though my front wheel won't come off the ground, I can still get a little wag from the rear triangle.
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Old 10-19-15, 11:22 AM
  #34  
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I put most stuff in front.....Tent,sleeping bag,kitchen,air mattress,clothes.....Stuff I don't use that much in back....Rain gear if needed,first aid,emergency food,extra food and clothing,dirty clothing,pizza and beer....Most of the weight is in front.

I think of bicycles more like an arrow....They fly better with the weight in the front....At least for me.

I carry more than 14# of water to cross the Mohave Desert.....But I guess if you can cross in 5-6 hours you don't need that much.

I haven't actually weighed my bike for a desert crossing but I'm carrying about 50-60 pounds counting all of the water and food.....But I'm not in a big hurry to get anywhere.

Last edited by Booger1; 10-19-15 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 10-19-15, 11:23 AM
  #35  
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NASA is good.
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Old 10-19-15, 11:24 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
If he said he did it, he certainly did it and without a support vehicle. Pete is a minimalist and scours ways to cut a few ounces here or there. I for one like a few more creature comforts and have a hard time breaking the 20 lb line (which includes the weight my rear 2 panniers).
I will definitely check out that thread, and wow ... you guys are in a different world than I. i might have to visit--if i can cut my load enough.

Obviously you can't be including the weight of carried water, right? Either way, you guys have got me thinking. I will track down that thread and Thanks.
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Old 10-19-15, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Jackontheroad View Post
NASA is good.
Go experiment and do Tests .. That is what they Did ..
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Old 10-19-15, 11:56 AM
  #38  
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My 4 panniers are packed more for function than front/rear weight (except for a seemingly insane amount of water during a late summer Mojave crossing..I stashed water containers wherever I could fit them). Over the years I've learned that I feel more difference is my bags aren't pretty closely balanced left/right, especially the fronts. I don't actually weigh them, just pick up one in each hand and adjust depending on what I feel.

With that said, I think that the nature of 'functional packing' has put most (not all) of the small/dense stuff in the front (food, kitchen, water) and the bulky/less dense stuff in the rear (sleeping bag, clothes).

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Old 10-19-15, 12:41 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I will definitely check out that thread, and wow ... you guys are in a different world than I. i might have to visit--if i can cut my load enough.

Obviously you can't be including the weight of carried water, right? Either way, you guys have got me thinking. I will track down that thread and Thanks.
Correct that water is not included. There is no good way to include consumables that not only vary through the day and day to day, but with locale as well.

Most of the time I can get by with two water bottles, but in some locales need to carry more, and occasionally a lot more.

Food, I usually buy as needed at the last minute. There are times when I need to carry 24 hours worth and sometimes a bit more, but usually not.

On the Southern Tier ride that I mentioned, my total bike and gear weight was 38 pounds plus consumables (bike including empty bottles, a seat wedge with tools and spares 24 pounds; and gear and clothing including bags 14 pounds).

So what wasn't counted? The water itself (typically 4 pounds or less at a time, but variable), food (most often less than 2 pounds for most of the day, but again variable), fuel (variable between 2 and 12 ounces), and one set of the clothing items that I always wore when riding (all other clothing was counted).

I go pretty bare bones on some items and less so on others. That trip was with a bivy and a tarp, but it was a heavy duty bivy (over a pound vs 7 oz. for my new bivy or 5.5 oz for my bug bivy). Also, I have cut weight on a few other items since then, so I could either go a few pounds lighter or go with a similar weight and take a tent. Unless it is a locale where I expect a lot of rain days I actually prefer the bivy. I tend to sleep on top of it if the bugs and threat of rain aren't bad. I climb in if the weather gets worse and pull the tarp over me if it rains unexpectedly. If I expect rain, I pitch the tarp.
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Old 10-19-15, 01:23 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I will definitely check out that thread
Some time ago I wrote an article that might be helpful if you are interested in going lighter. Check it out at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight
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Old 10-19-15, 02:45 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Some time ago I wrote an article that might be helpful if you are interested in going lighter. Check it out at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight
Have only read a few pages so far ... Great Stuff. Bookmarking your site.
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Old 10-19-15, 03:48 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Have only read a few pages so far ... Great Stuff. Bookmarking your site.
Thanks. I worked really hard at the process of going lighter and lighter and figure others might find some of what I learned useful. Probably not many will want to take it as far as I did, but I tried hard to write it up in a way that would be useful to anyone wanting to go lighter regardless of where they are on the weight continuum.
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Old 10-19-15, 03:52 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
i've been living in china enough to say "screw traditional!"
tradition is usually just an excuse for not thinking for yourself.

lookit. this is bicycle touring, not rockette science. there ain't
no rules. pack your bike however you like.

try weight up front, weight behind, evenly distributed, 60/40...
whatever. discover for yourself what's stable and comfortable
for you on your bike with your gear on your tour.....


The reality is after a couple minutes of riding your body adjusts and you forget about it.
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Old 10-19-15, 04:10 PM
  #44  
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I remember bike touring in the 80s, science back then was not that sophisticated. A lot of the big names in gear were working out of a garage. The thing about 40-60 bias to front is these guys were selling low riders. Most people had successfully carried either their groceries or their touring load in the back. Call it 40 pounds, so lets say you knew that worked, what are we taking here adding 60 pounds to the front? Or are we supposed to believe that we could split the load 16 to the rear and 24 to the front, when everyone already knew you could carry the 40 on the rear.

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, the pannier and rack manufacturers are not really supporting the conclusion of more weight forward, with larger front bags, or more strongly constructed front bags, or racks that carry more than the rear racks.

The 40-60 split to the front may be still correct, but it isn't vital. I tend to bias my gear in that direction, tools, canned goods, and helmet ride up front.
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Old 10-19-15, 09:44 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
There's a fair amount of misinformation there. Front bags have been found to be more aerodynamic than rear bags. This should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a moment. When a fluid drops, it always forms up wider in the front with a long, narrow tail. That's what a bike with front bags looks like. No raindrop falls the other way, like a bike with rear bags. That shape is driven by the air as the fluid drop falls through it and is the shape of minimal drag. One caveat: If your bike has a lot of trail, then a cross wind or cross-headwind can create the illusion of higher drag by impacting the steering as the wind pushes on the side of the bags.

As far as stability, loads that center on the axles are stable to the wheels. It's not possible to do that with the rear load unless you build a very long chain stay bike. It wasn't until Blackburn did some testing (late '70s?) that this became known. Again, if your bike has a lot of trail, which tends to make the steering more like being on rails, then it will be even more rail-like with the added mass on the front. However, that's a lot better than the high, destabilizing load on the rear. The reason touring bikes tend to have long chain stays is to allow that rear load to at least be brought inside the rear axle, even if it can't be even with it.

Unfortunately, back when touring got re-ignited it the US, we didn't know any better and most of us set about with rear bags and a handlebar bag. Somehow, that became the standard even when it was shown to be the worst possible way to carry gear on a bike.
Sorry but you're giving a lot of misinformation. This info about weight distribution is all over the internet, your the only one that says differently so I guess all the experienced touring people including Adventure Cycling is all wrong?

The art of an ideal bicycle touring pannier set-up | Cycle Traveller
Tips For Packing Bicycle Panniers | TravellingTwo: Bicycle Touring Around The World
Here is interesting subject on trail and down a ways how it affects touring: Zen and the Art of Bicycle Building: yet more on trail

This sort of thing goes on and on, so let's see proof of your studies that prove the current thought of 40/60 is the worst way to tour.

Also you have the long stays backwards, if you have short stays the rear panniers are brought more forward, see this: Lovely Bicycle!: Panniers on Bikes with Short Chainstays And here is a picture of a long stay touring bike set up, note the position of the rear bags: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...size=large&v=6

And your Blackburn information is completely wrong; read this on that: A Rack Primer | How To Department | Adventure Cycling Association

I'll leave it that, each of you can do your own internet research on this stuff. There is always going to be some experimenting on your own bike to find what weight distribution your particular bike will like, but most touring bikes seem to prefer 40/60 and some 30/70, but those aren't set in stone which is why you need to experiment but those are proven starting points.
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Old 10-20-15, 08:35 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
...

if you have short stays the rear panniers are brought more forward, see this: Lovely Bicycle!: Panniers on Bikes with Short Chainstays

....
Those panniers are really high up, the bottom of my panniers is at (Ortlieb) or below (Carradry) my rear axle. If I tried to mount my panniers that high, my bike would feel REALLY top heavy.

And if you read the text, the author had heel strike issues on some of the examples.
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Old 10-20-15, 08:53 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post

And your Blackburn information is completely wrong; read this on that: A Rack Primer | How To Department | Adventure Cycling Association
I'm not sure what your issue with B. Carfree was but this article fits to what he was saying about the load distribution and handling. This quote

It is somewhat counterintuitive that putting weight on the bike’s steering would improve the bike’s handling, but it most certainly does. For proving this, we owe thanks to Jim Blackburn, the since-retired founder of Blackburn Designs.
sums it up nicely. The 60/40 front:rear split came out of that article by Blackburn.

Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Those panniers are really high up, the bottom of my panniers is at (Ortlieb) or below (Carradry) my rear axle. If I tried to mount my panniers that high, my bike would feel REALLY top heavy.

And if you read the text, the author had heel strike issues on some of the examples.
Not to mention that the saddle Point up that high it's fulfilling another purpose.
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Old 10-20-15, 09:59 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I'm not sure what your issue with B. Carfree was but this article fits to what he was saying about the load distribution and handling. This quote



sums it up nicely. The 60/40 front:rear split came out of that article by Blackburn.



.
I had no issue with him until he attacked my post that said the exact same thing about the 40/60 distribution, so it's actually he that has some sort of issue with me evidently.
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Old 10-20-15, 10:09 AM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
First I'll say that 70-100 pounds of gear is a very heavy load. Without resorting to a lot of really high dollar UL backpacking stuff, I went coast to coast camping and cooking with 14 pounds of gear and was pretty comfortable, so I really don't see how anyone needs 70-100 pounds of gear for touring in developed countries. While I don't recommend taking that much stuff, if you do then I'd definitely try to put the heavy compact items in the front and low as possible and big light stuff in the back. I wouldn't get hung up on the percentages though.

For reasonable loads (25-40#) it is way less of a big deal and for light loads (<25#) probably pretty much a non issue. For ultralight camping it is definitely a non issue.

Over the course of my touring evolving from heavy to ultralight I have used 4 panniers, two rear panniers, two front panniers with the tent on the back rack, no panniers with stuffsack(s) on back rack and bar roll.
I have trouble understanding how you manage with so little.
I went hiking last weekend and I had 39lbs of gear and I used almost every single item I had (luckily didn't need the emergency medical supplies but those weigh maybe 100 grams tops)
So not counting the medical stuff, I used and needed every item.

My sleeping system alone is 8lbs and that's a lightweight system that's supposed to last well below freezing and handle rain perfectly.

My cooking system isn't maybe the lightest but it's the most versatile thing you can get and that's another 2lbs

Then there's the food, spare fuel, clothes, extra shoes (believe it or not, those are absolutely essential especially hiking), rain gear
Axe, knife etc. and of course the backpack.

Can't really take a single item out that I couldn't cope without. Or maybe a lighter and just use a flint/steel combo but lighters are grams, max.
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Old 10-20-15, 12:30 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by elcruxio View Post
I have trouble understanding how you manage with so little.
Check out the Ultralight touring website--it's an eye-opener.

I am more like you--I bring a lot, and in the course of a couple weeks use (or use up) almost all of it. But that doesn't mean I can't change what I do and how I do it. I am not in the shape I used to be--lugging all that up hills used to be okay, while now it is hard just to lug my fat self up hills.

One thing is, they don't include "perishables" or "consumables" which means fuel and food and water, which is quite heavy and quite a chunk of the load--but they sure do get by with minimal gear. The website has a very comprehensive gear list with weights and all .... http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight
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