Heavy military gear vs Ultralight = Lightweight gear.

by moab90245

I used to carry alot of cheap surplus gear. And then I realized how heavy it was. And I switched my thinking. I turned to the ultralight scene. And started putting together my own “lightweight” version. That met somewhere in the middle of heavy bulletproof military stuff and ultralight gear. I’d concentrate first on things you can get a large amount of weight drop in.

I have the MSS (military sleep system or sleeping bag). Guess what I use it for? Watching tv. LOL! That thing is a beast. Look at down. I picked up a 0F Kelty down bag during their annual sale for around $100. Expect to pay $200 not on sale. Others can turn you onto other good down bags. Perhaps not that low in temp rating. But I wanted to be able to go to 15F. And I figured a 0F would realistically get me there.

If you can use a tarp/bivy instead of a tent in your AO. You can save ALOT of weight there. Otherwise the heaviest tent I carry is 5lbs. And I try to tarp/bivy as much as possible. You can also consider a tarp tent. It’s basically a tent without a double wall or bug netting. Although you can get bug netting on some. I have not hammock camped. But it’s worth looking into if it fits with your AO. That can be lightweight too. I’ve seen guys recently using cheap blue tarps to hammock camp. Not the lightest weight. But if your cutting out a tent for a blue tarp. You cutting some weight. And it double duties as a tarp and a sleeping pod/hammock. (It’s another one of my posts here – http://knockdowndragout.org/2014/01/18/field-expedient-tarp-hammock/ )

Clothing. Do you really need BDU’s? Or can you get away with lightweight synthetic hiking pants. REI and Columbia sell good versions in the $50 range. Less on sale. The only really heavy item of clothing I still carry is my ECWCS parka. Gen I. I need a 3xl. If I could find the Gen III or a commercial lightweight Goretex that fit me and that I could afford I would. If your hiking only on trails and you think it “might” rain you can certainly get away with a set of Dry Ducks. They are extremely light weight. And extremely cheap. That’s a big weight cutter right there. Same goes with shoes. Do you really need a big pair of USGI issue goretex combat boots? Probably not. Look into lightweight hikers or even tougher tennis shoes. Another thing I found was a down jacket (in my size! Yay!) for around $75 bucks. That weighs little in ounces but is a REAL heater. That thing under a rainproof shell could keep me warm in just about any weather. It’s amazing. And again it’s down so it weighs hardly nothing. I’m guessing sub 10oz? Alot of guys live and die by wool. You have to ask yourself realistically how long your clothing needs to serve you. If I was bugging out forever I might trust a wool coat over something else. But just for hiking and backpacking. The aforementioned items will suit you well enough.

Take a hard look at your steel. I would say switch to a saw (look at the sven saws too) instead of the axe or hatchet. Take one solid fixed blade. And maybe a blade on your multitool. That’s enough for most hikes or even backpacking. That will cut alot of weight. If you have to have a hatchet consider a tomahawk. I’m no expert on them. But cold steel makes a head that comes in at 19oz? IIRC.

First aid is a hard one for me. My current FAK is WAY to heavy. I’m considering culling it down to ducttape, gauze and an Isreali bandage. You can make pretty much any bandage from ducttape and gauze. Maybe not the most sanitary. But I would also carry some antibiotic cream too. And ducttape doubles as so much more.

Your pack. That alice pack is heavy. Look at the weight of various commercial packs. Try to get to sub 5lbs IMHO. I rocked a Gregory Z65 in the 5lb range. That is considered “lightweight”. Not ultralight. But that’s not what we’re going for here. It ran $150 on sale. But much better deals can be had for used. Or look at last years models on sale. Unless your a size medium I find the ALice to be to short. Which does not allow the weight of your pack to ride on your hips. But up on your shoulders. That can get tiring. Especially when your not in the ultralight category with your overall weight. REI will size you for free. But there are simple tutorials online. It’s basically the base of your neck to your hip dimples. If that makes sense.

Expect to spend more money. Weight savings = cash. Not always. But most of the time. However some of your military gear is still going to be bombproof go to gear that your not going to want to give up. Like the USGI bivy for instance. A great piece of kit IMHO. Unless your really going to go lightweight and make your own out of tyvek. I would stick with it.

And yes. Weigh EVERYTHING. You’ll soon figure out where you can save the most weight. And where you want to save the most weight. Good luck.