3 Hours well spent at MEC

I've been doing a lot running lately to get my legs and lungs ready for our trek, and signed up for a trail race with MEC - it's been a good motivator to train over the summer, since it's the first race I've ever competed in. Well, after running 12 km in under an hour (woohoo!) we got the added bonus of a discount at MEC, and it was the perfect time for us to upgrade our trekking gear to cut weight.

When planning a long distance trek, hikers often talk about their "base weight" - the weight of the essentials you'll carry on the trail. The base weight is mostly made up by your shelter (tent), sleeping gear, and cooking equipment, so we spent a lot of time thinking carefully about how best to cut weight off these categories without sacrificing too much comfort. Since this stuff never leaves your back when you're walking, any weight you can remove will make the trip far more comfortable in the long run.

When we looked at the gear we already had, our base weight was close to 22 pounds between the two of us. So we headed down to MEC this week, and after spending almost 3 hours debating the finer points of camping gear we were able to cut over 9 pounds off - that's about 43%!

Here are some of the highlights of our new gear:

  • Tent (6.0 lbs -> 3.7 lbs): we upgraded to a tent that's a bit smaller and way lighter than our current tent. Our new MEC Volt saves most of its weight with lighter poles, and a slightly smaller interior, but it's still quite comfortable for the two of us.
  • Sleeping gear (13.2 lbs -> 7.8 lbs): who knew that sleeping bags and pads  could be so heavy? By switching to bags meant for warmer conditions, and pads that aren't self-inflating, we also managed to save tons of space in our bags.
  • Cooking equipment (12 oz -> 3 oz): while my old stove could keep a pot boiling in the middle of a hurricane, it's just not necessary in this trip. We switched to an MSR PocketRocket that's so small it literally fits in your pocket and weighs only 80g.
  old vs. new....

old vs. new....

Of course, we're also looking through our other gear to find other places to save weight - like the classic backcountry trick of cutting off your toothbrush handle, or getting rid of extra cups and pans from our cooking set. What else can we do to make our lives easier? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Trails,
Chris