Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 2:00 pm

Walk_fat boy_walk wrote:
Zapruda wrote:
Petew wrote:Are Australians slow/resistant to change?

We have this mentality that our bush is so rough and hard on gear, more so than the rest of the world.

^^^ This... (As a generalisation) Australians and Kiwis seem to think UL is fine for US track-based thru-hiking but not up the the ruggedness of our weather and environment,eg. being an ex-Tasmanian I was always led to believe SW Tas was "different" to everywhere else in terms of scrub and weather. Obviously it's a matter of horses for courses - I wouldn't take a DCF pack scrub-bashing in prickly hakea etc, but I would (and have) take my robic pack for example, which is still much lighter than, say, canvas. Our environment can be harsh but we're not unique in the world by any stretch.


It's not so much a matter of a particular region being harsher, but which tracks or routes you want to walk on (in any region) and whether they have any particular gear requirements. For example, if pack-hauling is required, then a tougher (and heavier) pack fabric will be necessary IF you don't want your pack getting holes in it more quickly. Having said that, I've only ever pack-hauled twice in my life, that I can think of. So I'm not sure if it's worth buying a heavier pack just for those rare occasions.

Similarly (sort of), if you need a 90 litre pack once or twice a year, then you are going to have to buy a pack that is heavier than a 40 litre pack. Do you then buy two packs? Two packs is very expensive, so up until recently, I only had the large 90 litre pack. I've finally got a second, smaller, lighter pack after decades of only a large heavier pack, but it takes a long time to be able to afford a second pack, when one will do the job.

(Some people may not think a 90 litre pack is ever necessary, but just remember that not everybody has the same needs out walking. Occasionally I need to be able to carry two week's worth of food, or to be able to carry half of my kids' gear, or a bit of both. Or to carry shared food and gear when leading a group of ~20 total newbie teenagers. Thankfully my kids are just about old enough to carry all their own gear now, so my 90 litre pack gets very little use these days.)
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby wayno » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 2:42 pm

depends where you're going, if you're scrub bashing, lightweight gear doesnt last as long as heavier gear
the lightweight gear originates from places where they dont have to scrub bash,
it hasnt taken off in nz for that reason and because the weather can be so bad any time of the year and its more of a struggle to stay warm in lightweight gear... its not cheap, so if you can only afford one set of gear you go for something that will cover you adequately in all the conditions you're likely to face...
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Aardvark » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 3:37 pm

I was resisting the urge to comment on this. I've failed to hold out.
It is indicative of the trend to nationalise everything. Just because we are australian doesn't mean we are all the same.
Purchasing anything is a balance between longevity, weight, cost, usefulness etc.
Over the last couple of decades the obsession for going lighter has only ever grown. Sometimes i think that is all that matters to some people.
It would also be influenced by disposable income.
Ever on the search for a one ended stick.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby CBee » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 3:59 pm

For the bushwalker?

For the environment (the bush). Traveling light means less time spent in the outdoor for a given trip, with the obvious less impact on the natural environment and streams.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby weeds » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 5:53 pm

For us, we didn’t have the knowledge and didn’t research enough

We are from light weight but not as heavy as others.

We also had a budget, especially when starting out.

Would love to replace my gear as I’m now a little more knowledgeable but it’ll just have to wait till my current gear wears out.....after all who buys non ultra light second hand gear for top dollar. Unfortunately I don’t think my fear is going to wear out so I guess I’m stuck with the big three.

Plus I don’t reckon I’ve really looked at what others were kitted out in.

Heavy or light, at least we’re out there


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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby farefam » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 6:03 pm

My personal experience has been that it is good to replace the heavier gear I used when I was younger, with lighter weight gear as I have grown older. It makes a big difference to my comfort on shorter walks, but more importantly the weight saved on gear allows me to carry more food and hence significantly extend the duration of my long trips.

Recently taking up packrafting has also forced me to use lighter camping gear (pack, stove, tent, sleeping mat) as otherwise I wouldn't be able to carry all of the rafting gear without breaking my back!

Similarly, I've found that switching to lighter hiking shoes rather than the traditional heavy leather boots has made a significant difference. Yes, they are not as waterproof or as long lasting, but the Keen hiking shoes I've been using are definitely more comfortable on my feet and easier on the legs and don't seem to lack any ankle support. By way of other example's; my heavy Macpac Olympus tent only gets used on short walks now and I use the Tarptent on anything longer than a single night trip, the inflatable air mattress gets much more use than the thermorest style mat and the propane burner has taken over from the trangia metho stove. I now use the lightweight porterpack for most trips other than if I need to do a lot of scrub-bashing, in which case I use the much heavier Macpac pack since it is tougher. So far as weight carrying ability goes, I've been quite surprised at how well the porterpack is handling long duration packrafting trips carrying in excess of 30kgs of equipment and food. It seems a pretty tough bit of kit.

One bit of extra weight I do recommend is to replace your boot liners with gel insoles. It makes a really big difference to my feet.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Nuts » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 6:39 pm

True (CBee)
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Petew » Fri 23 Aug, 2019 7:34 pm

Farefam, sounds like we have had a similar 'journey' gear wise. I still have a canvas pack and heavier gear from when I was younger but I definitely use the lighter weight stuff now.

My old stuff still works but I no longer use it. The only time it gets used is on full family trips and only then because we don't have enough lightweight stuff to go round.

Luckily for me my kids from the age of six have insisted in carrying all their own gear. There was even one memorable occasion where I got told off by my six year old daughter for sneaking some stuff out of her pack into mine:)
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby onward » Sat 24 Aug, 2019 1:17 pm

Interesting the number of people only willing to replace gear when it 'worn out'; most of us don't apply that rule to our cars, kitchens, bathrooms, televisions, computers, phones or clothes (otherwise I still have my 1980s suit!). Maybe it's a 'function' issue?
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Petew » Sat 24 Aug, 2019 1:24 pm

Definitely applies to my car. Always bought second hand and drive them till they die. Actually all that boring city stuff only gets replaced when it's absolutely dead.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby rcaffin » Sat 24 Aug, 2019 5:52 pm

We (my wife & I) went UL around age 55. We are now aged 73-74.
Most of our UL gear is still going strong. Some has been replaced with MYOG upgrades, but I still have the previous generation.

I really doubt I want to go back to 25 kg packs - after so many years with <12 kg packs. And that is for week-long trips in the Alps here. Mind you, as a Uni student I hauled 35 kg around SW Tassie one trip. But that included full rock climbing gear etc.

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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby johnrs » Sat 24 Aug, 2019 6:57 pm

That's inspirational Roger!
I am about a decade behind you
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby CBee » Sat 24 Aug, 2019 8:28 pm

But that included full rock climbing gear etc.

Even rock climbing gear have greatly improved weight-wise. Now I travel with twin ropes that are super light and not to mention carabiners and trad gear...
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Petew » Sat 24 Aug, 2019 8:55 pm

My first trip to Europe when I was 20, well loaded up.

11mm rope and full rack, Macpac Olympus, traditional thermarest Salewa sleeping bag with 900g down, MSR XGK stove with steel pots etc in a Macpac Torre 90l pack...

Oh, and the awesome for the time, petzl zoom with 4.5v 17hr battery life. And an anvil.

Only did about five days of roped climbing too.....lots of bouldering in Fountainbleau and in the north of England though so the friction boots and chalkbag were handy.

Glad I didn't have to lug it round SW Tassie.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Zapruda » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 1:29 pm

wayno wrote:depends where you're going, if you're scrub bashing, lightweight gear doesnt last as long as heavier gear
the lightweight gear originates from places where they dont have to scrub bash,
it hasnt taken off in nz for that reason and because the weather can be so bad any time of the year and its more of a struggle to stay warm in lightweight gear... its not cheap, so if you can only afford one set of gear you go for something that will cover you adequately in all the conditions you're likely to face...


I scrub bash and my DCF packs have held up extremely well and to a lot of abuse at that. I have a over 100 days on a HMG pack and it’s still going strong.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby wayno » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 2:55 pm

might depend what you bash through, lots of needle sharp matagouri here, often makes quick work of light gear...
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Zapruda » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 3:04 pm

Hakea, dead snowgum, bossiaea. As well as sliding and squeezing through granite and limestone.

I’m not saying they work for everyone but I think it’s time to recognise that some of these fabrics do work in harsh environments. They might not last as long as a canvas pack but they do have legs in the longevity department and I can attest to it.

Here is a DCF (HMG specifically) pack review by Cam Honan. He took this thing through his whole southwest TAS traverse.

https://www.thehikinglife.com/2016/11/r ... -backpack/
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Petew » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 4:57 pm

Good review. Modern lightweight gear is pretty tough.

These materials do last as long as they are not in the stupid light category.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby crollsurf » Sun 25 Aug, 2019 7:12 pm

I've found UL backpacks like the WT Sondor works just fine in the scrub. They're small so have no over-hang on the sides and they don't sit high above your shoulders so less likely to get hitched when crawling under fallen trees etc.

Are they as more durable, no. But due to there size they don't get beaten up as much. Will you end up with a catastrophic fail... I doubt it.

I agree about the ethical concerns. Being a family man, wifey who isn't into bushwalking has never had an issue with me handing down gear to the kids and upgrading to UL. It's been a rewarding if not a sneaky pathway for me :)

I like my UL but do your research and buy once.



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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Neo » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 8:08 pm

Juicy topic!
I have been on the road for just over two years, save for some part weeks at friends and family. Estimate 80% living outdoors, the last six months from a tiny car!
Actual overnight walk nights, increasing to 50% of that.

Anyway im in the lightweight category with a base if 10kg. Includes a chair and 2p tent, and bits...
Mid weight, mid priced too as I got the bushwalk bug then found out about the ultralight side at the same time, just a few years ago.

Best feeling walks weight-of-pack considered were some where it was a day walk but with overnight contingency carried. Might try using those ultralight bits as the norm.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby ricrunner » Mon 26 Aug, 2019 9:26 pm

MarkF, I am not your age but, I can still at 60 carry the same weight that I carried when in the army, and also when I ride my bicycle touring, I cannot really go lightweight, with much of my gear, due to cost, but I won't go out of my way to save a few grams. I mainly carry 25kg hiking, and a lot of that weight is water weight, but the overall weight, of the bike, myself, panniers, gear, food water dog and trailer, is around 130kg, so I think as I do a lot of heavy bike touring, it helps me when hiking by keeping me fitter. Maybe even if I could afford lightweight gear I still would not buy it, as my current gear is still in good nick. To each their own in this matter.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 29 Aug, 2019 11:30 am

I think there is a lot to be said for going with what you know. I've worked with a lot of industry folks who stuck to mont, one planet, WE, because they knew what they were getting, and the risks of ordering online means that you are less likely to be exposed to other stuff. Now that Osprey has been making more of a push into the Aus market, I'm seeing them around a lot more, and it keeps growing. A lot of brands have suffered from having low turn-over and so the "aussie tax" has kept them down, where as the Canadian market isn't remarkably different than Aus, but the gear only competes on the exchange rate, not the additional stocking costs. The people I meet that have come to the industry from recreation often have mid-low tier brands, the black-wolf level stuff, and they often jump to Osprey if they didn't get suckered by katmandu or MD first. Those that come from a military background often have either surplus or have upgraded to the kifaru level and style of gear. Those that have been brought up in the industry (scouts, and the like) often have old heavy canvas gear that has been patched and mended a thousand times, and are more resistant to change.

There is always going to be a set of trade-offs that will have to be made, the care and feeding of some of the gear means that some of the more modern stuff isn't as suited to some of the conditions that Aussies face, or at least it is perceived to be. Of course there is a big difference between tropical Queenland and centeral Tas, so that I think may play as much of a role in it. The US has more through-track and by the numbers, more people to walk it. Aus walkers are more sub-divided due to a wider range of walking conditions. Not that North America doesn't have those conditions, but the prevailing conditions mean that they are used differently. Not nearly as much "off road" touring in North America as here, so the 4x4 stuff is different, for example.

There are a few other factors, import systems and the relationship between brand management companies and retailers, shipping times for custom orders, and even US export restrictions. All these mean that you don't get the shear variety of kit that you do in other parts of the world, and so adoption is somewhat slower. That said, its been 7 or so years of external frame packs being just about to make a come-back, and they are still few and far between, so maybe its not just australia that is slow to adapt. I think that very often walkers in general stick mostly with the same gear and only replace as needed. As a self professed gear-fiend, I cycle more gear than some, but by far not as much as many. That colors the frame of reference, but it does mean that I've been informally tracking the trends of main-stream gear and as with anything, you can see marketing trends come and go, some good, some bad, but ultimately it seems they are the greater driving force than actual reality. Both of my new packs have ice-ax loops, probably added 20$ to the cost, but I'll never carry anything in them. But someone decided that they wouldn't sell without them. Makes me wonder sometimes.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 29 Aug, 2019 11:50 am

One of the biggest myths that is often used as a reason for not switching to lighter gear is the cost.

There is plenty of great lightweight and durable gear that is reasonably priced. See my post for some ideas. viewtopic.php?f=5&t=30219

You dont need to spend $$ on DCF or buy $$ packs from cottage manufacturers in America.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Gadgetgeek » Thu 29 Aug, 2019 5:10 pm

wildwanderer wrote:One of the biggest myths that is often used as a reason for not switching to lighter gear is the cost.

There is plenty of great lightweight and durable gear that is reasonably priced. See my post for some ideas. http://www.bushwalk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=30219

You dont need to spend $$ on DCF or buy $$ packs from cottage manufacturers in America.

I agree, the price difference in many cases is minimal once you hit a certain level of quality. After a certain point you are paying more for less weight, or more for design and durability than the mean, but at the moment, the average kit is really quite good, especially for the big three, and stuff like pots and stoves can be had for far cheaper and better than they used to.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Mark F » Thu 29 Aug, 2019 6:42 pm

I agree gadgetgeek. With care, research and being willing to wait a while for a deal to come up, ul gear is really no more expensive than ordinary gear of similar quality. The cost of my mat and insulation ranges from $400 (3 seasons, 840g) to $700 (snow, 1350g). My tents seem to be in the $300 to $500 range and weigh inversely 800g to 450g but I could use a myog dcf fly for far less weight and cost. This gives a big 4 from under 2kg to under 3kg. Clothing is an area where you can spend big bucks but careful choices and special deals can now deliver very cheap lightweight technical clothing. For clothing it is worth checking out Decathlon, Uniqlo (Airism, HeatTech and down ranges) etc. My most recent purchase has been a wind shell with hood from Decathlon ($29, 119g) and a $12 lightweight fleece but I have picked up specialist pieces from Mont Bell and others. Examples Mont Bell Plasma 1000 down jacket ($199, 137g) and my most expensive item a lengthened to the knees ZPacks eVent rain jacket ($330, 169g).

Care, thought, a bit of myog and ul is readily achievable at very reasonable cost. This does of course assume that you are willing to put a bit of time and effort into the project so it does assume that you don't only do a walk a couple of times a year.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby Son of a Beach » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 9:42 am

For people who already have all the gear they need, the argument is not that there is any significant difference in cost between lightweight gear and their older/heavier gear. The problem is that it costs a lot to replace any gear (whether it is with lightweight gear or not), and therefore switching from existing gear to lightweight gear actually is very expensive. At least compared to the cost of sticking with all the perfectly functional gear that you may already have, which costs $0.

I don't think there are many people who would not prefer to carry a lighter load. But it is genuinely expensive to replace old gear with new gear (lighter or otherwise).

I wish I could have replaced all my gear with lighter versions decades ago, but it's been completely unaffordable for me to do so when I have gear that is still in good working order. In most cases, I only replace the gear when it wears out. Eventually I have reached a stage in my life and my career when I actually can afford to buy some extra equipment before the older items are worn out, but it's taken an awful long time to reach this point. This is one reason why I have been "slow on the uptake of lightweight gear".
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby wayno » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 10:09 am

if you've already invested a lot in your existing gear, theres no reason to change it.. unless perhaps you're walking very long hours . the difference isnt that great... some ultralighters are putting in long days and thats where the weight saving is noticed... it doesnt bother everyone carrying extra weight. its a personal thing, todays heavy gear is still a lot lighter than the gear of several decades ago... i'm not ultralight, but my gear weight has dropped by a third since replacing old gear since i started walking... at the end of the day YOU have to trust the gear YOU use, regardless of what anyone else sayd, if you dont have peace of mind using ultralight gear, then you're creating a negative situation for yourself when you go walking... i dont care what you say, i know i dont like frameless packs end of story, i'm not going to use them. i'm perfectly happy with my frame pack.
ultralight rainshells i find delaminate faster than 3 layer rainshells, so their lifespan is less. i destroy a lot of the shoes too fast to want to fork out for replacing them, so i use heavier weight footwear..
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 10:37 am

wayno wrote:at the end of the day YOU have to trust the gear YOU use, regardless of what anyone else sayd, if you dont have peace of mind using ultralight gear, then you're creating a negative situation for yourself when you go walking... i dont care what you say, i know i dont like frameless packs end of story, i'm not going to use them. i'm perfectly happy with my frame pack. ~SNIP~


Agree with this. If you don’t trust your gear or are concerned it could fail at a critical time then your not going to enjoy yourself. I’m also not a fan of frameless packs for multiday use. Mainly because I like the sweat reduction of suspended frame packs. Instead I use a osprey exos which is still light. 1.1kg for 48L internal space and about 60L when you include the mesh pockets. (I do use a stiff frameless for some UL overnighters in benign conditions). But frame or frameless is a matter of personal preference and how much weight your carrying.

My packs 100D nylon has worked fine offtrack and I now trust it not to fail on Day 3 of a 6 day trip.. But I’ve learned i cant throw it down on rocks or into the car at the end of a day or drag it across rocks. (like I see some of my walking companions do with their canvas packs) Ive learnt how to manage it in heavy scrub and (mostly) preserve the mesh. (and my skin has thanked me for it as I now go gently rather than charging into spikey sticks)
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby slparker » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 11:25 am

The best bang for your buck in weight saving is footwear.

there is at least a 4:1 ratio of physiological energy expenditure for weight on your feet vs weight carried at the torso: i.e. an extra 500 grams of footwear weight equates to 2 kg carriage on the back in terms of physiological cost.

A DCF tent can cost $1000 to save 500g on the back - which is equivalent to choosing a pair of shoes that weighs 125g less.
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Re: Australians slow on the uptake of lightweight gear?

Postby rcaffin » Fri 30 Aug, 2019 8:00 pm

The best bang for your buck in weight saving is footwear.
there is at least a 4:1 ratio of physiological energy expenditure for weight on your feet vs weight carried at the torso

Actually, the ratio in the old military research paper (I have a copy somewhere) was close to 7:1 - which is even worse!

I think the whole issue of gear weight depends on how YOU feel. If you want to go slow over short distances: no problem with a heavy pack. If you want to go fast, with big climbs, and you are 'aging', light-weight becomes just a shade more attractive. As for the cost: well, what's your back worth?

Clothing: once you had to buy big-$ stuff from the gear shops. Today, K-Mart and Target can offer perfectly good stuff within 90-95% of the upmarket stuff for a fraction of the cost. Why? Volume, and lower mark-ups. The gear shops are typically >100% mark-up.

Other gear: you would be surprised just what you can buy from China via eBay. Sure, some of it is 'not so good', but a lot of it comes out the side door from the same factory which is making for the big USA brand names. Just watch out for the sizing! Chinese XXL is Western M. The good vendors will often have a look-up table showing this. You get to recognise stuff.

And that lovely Titanium stuff: it is ALL (I repeat ALL) made in China. They rebrand it for the big-name Western customers. There are NO American manufacturers.

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