At this end of this week, I’m heading out for a few days of backpacking and product testing. Among the items I’m trying out is a two-person Mountain Hardwear tent that weighs about a pound and tent stakes from Cascade Designs that have carbon cores and tip the scale at .2 ounces each. Both of these come at a cost: The tent is small and the stakes will set you back $7 a piece.
My sleeping bag, on on the hand, will be filled with about three pounds of down. I sleep cold and don’t want to compromise the comfort of my slumber — I’ll be warmer, but at the penalty of extra ounces I’ll carry.
We all wrestle with these (usually) opposing factor of our gear, whether we’re shopping for tents at REI or deciding what goes in the pack for an overnight. Do you buy the spacious five-pound tent or the three-pound cocoon? Do you use a half-size sleeping pad and wiggle uncomfortably all night or suffer carrying the full-length air mattress? Freeze-dried backpacking food or yummy fresh veggies? Instant coffee or real?
Carrying your own kit means tradeoffs and a long list of decisions. For each piece of gear, you have to weigh a multitude of factors and come to a conclusion that strikes the right balance for the given situation. A day ride is different from tackling the Great Divide, backcountry different from sidecountry. And while the cost-benefit equation is often multifaceted (price/weight, weight/durability, weight/safety), and while each piece of gear and application brings a unique perspective, the final decision often distills to a very binary approach: Some folks live to shave ounces, others to stay comfortable no matter what.
Which are you?
WIN SMITH SNOW HELMET JUST BY VOTING! This week, one poll participant will receive Smith Optic’s awesome Maze snow helmet. We’ll pick the winner via random number generator (and announce it here) — all you have to do to enter is vote and leave a comment so we have your email to contact you. Contest ends Sunday, October 30, at midnight PST.
Congrats to Kenneth Sams, who won the lid! Thanks for commenting, everyone.