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Is going ultralight worth it? -
posted 8 months ago
Very well said. You just have to get out there and figure out where your comfort zone is. And, honestly, the more time you spend in the backcountry the more you realize the things you can do without. Go on some backpacking trips in the off-season and keep track of which pieces of gear you use on the trip and those you never touched (obviously don't leave your FAK at home just cause you didn't use it).
Hands down the pieces you should invest the most in are: tent/shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and warm layers like baselayers and insulating jackets. They are the most important if you get into a hairy situation and you're not going to want to stay out there if you're cold/wet.
I think that yes there are times when going UL means sacrificing durability and coughing up more cash, but it's definitely not always the case. Hint: expand your search beyond REI/Cabelas/Sportsmans. There are a ton of cottage gear companies making great gear, they just don't sell to the big-box stores. Take tents for example. You won't find TarpTent, Gossamer Gear, or Six Moon Designs at REI. But they all make quality UL shelters that are both lighter and cheaper than Big Agnes (which is what you'll find at REI). In terms of durability, backpackers use tents from these UL brands to hike the PCT/AT/CDT/CT/JMT every year. They spend months living in these tents for thousands of miles without issue. So you shouldn't have a problem using them for a week of hunting season. Be mindful of your gear and don't handle it like an ogre. There are also many cheap and UL alternatives for certain gear. For example, tent footprints. You can buy one from Big Agnes for $60 @ 4oz, or you can use Polycro (found at your local hardware store) which comes in at ~$10 @ 1.2oz. And of course, like you said, the cheapest and lightest solution is realizing you can do without something. Which just comes from experience.
Kristen A. Schmitt