Monday, March 12, 2018

Why Is My Loadout So Heavy?

You may have seen earlier posts where I quote my pack as weighing 40 pounds.  Someone recently asked me a good question, “Forty pounds!  What the hell are you carrying”, (paraphrased of course).  I’ve actually been wondering the same thing after the last two hikes.  I’ve done roughly 32 summits with my current config, it’s a good workout but not good for the knees.

I’ve been wondering for a while what the difference is between my packtenna with mast or my MPAS antenna and some other tradeoffs.  Tonight I decided to unpack everything and weigh it with my digital luggage scale and figure out what my options are and answer some questions that have been looming in the background while I trudge up the hill. 

First, I didn’t weigh a pound of the stuff in the pack.  Like everything in life, overtime, you overstuff.  Dropping things in the pack without thinking, all those nickels add up.  The loadout spreadsheet is at the bottom of the article with a full breakdown of each item weight.

What did I learn?

  1. All this little stuff adds up.  Found a pound of stuff in the pack that I really didn’t need.
  2. The difference in weight between the packtenna with a mast and the MPAS system is zero.  MPAS is a lot easier to setup on hills without any trees and definitely easier when it’s windy. 
  3. I’ll save two pounds by leaving the antenna tuner at home.  I’ve done that before but I didn’t realize how much of a bonus I was getting.  I hate leaving it behind because it sorta shuts me out of 40 meter.  Under perfect conditions, 40m will be right about or under 2:1, and then I can give it a try but normally it’s up over 2.5:1.  The MPAS and Packtenna configs are perfect for 20 meter, sometimes not even moving the SWR meter.  (See my antenna analysis article HERE)
  4. I could downsize my battery.  I had a 12 Ah so I’m using it but downsizing to a 6 Ah unit would get me through a summit and save me 2 lbs.  It should hold for an hour if I’m running at full power with a 25% duty cycle.  There’s only one problem, the 6 Ah battery has a max discharge rating of 12A.  The FT-891 use 15.2 at full power.  I’d have to dial it back to 60 watts or less to stay within rated power.  The 12 Ah battery has a 20A discharge rating.  So I’m stuck with the extra 2 lbs unless I want to run lower power... This is unfortunate but still doable.  In decent conditions, 5W works :)
  5. If I really wanted to, I could leave the stake at home and just jamb one of the mill extensions into the ground but... I’m not doing that. 

  6. The pack is heavy but I’ve customized this one by adding belt padding onto it and have tried two other packs.  My next best option is actually my Gregory 65L but it’s really too big and I’m done looking for the perfect... at-least for a while.  UPDATE:  I've switched to the Gregory Zulu 40 backpack and love it.  It fits better than any stupid mil-type pack I have and it make the trip up and down more enjoyable. 

  7. I could drop a liter of water and save a couple of pounds.  But in reality I have no problem bringing water back to the car.  I’ve run out of water a few times and it’s not fun.  One time was due to a leak (pack sitting on valve at top), it was 85F and I was HOT.  I also like to have some for the dog and there’s no other sources.  Another thing I'm starting to consider is the advice of another hiker, bring extra for people that you might run into that are in trouble.  I'm not going to pack an extra 4 pounds, but why not just fill my 3L all the way.
  8. Finally, combined with what I’ve said about the battery, carrying the 891 is costing me an additional four to five pounds.  If I carry the FT-817, I don’t have to have an external battery but I’d probably bring one. 
  9. Dropping down to a 25’ coax would save me a pound.

In summary

I can easily get down to 36 pounds and if I switch radios, I can get it down to 31.  I definitely learned to pay more attention to what I’m loading in.

The Detail

(Update 2018-03-18: I switched to a 30' coax feedline, saving almost a pound)
(Update: 2018-04:  I switched to the Gregory Zulu saving 2.7 lb.  Also, I no longer carry a tuner for the 891)

ItemWeight in LBNotesPotential savings
DDT Ops Anti-Venom field pack5.4This pack is heavy compared to a Gregory Zulu or Osprey2.70
3L Water6.7I could pull one liter out.2.23
Fleece, gloves & shell1.65The current weather demands this. At minimum, I bring a fleece for use when I summit. Windy conditions require the shell.
Emergency thermal cover, first-aid, compas, flashlight1.15Part of my 10 Essentials
Food0.5Man's gotta eat0.50
MPAS Antenna with stake but not clamp and bracket4.7Stake (.75lb), 2 ea mil-ext, cha-mil, counterpoise, matching unit.0.80
Yaesu FT-891 and acc5.3Could save 1.53 by going to FT-817
Bioenno 12ah Battery3.5Could save by 2 by going to 6ah (below)
MFJ-939Y Tuner2.1I only need this if NOT doing 20M, which isn’t very often.2.10
30' coax1.0
4 small (green) guy lines0.175(.7oz ea)
2 ea. 50 ft guy lines0.9Not requied for MPAS but need three for packtenna I've used one to string up Jpole (.45 ea.)
Slim-Jim rollup JPoll0.6250.63
Logbook, batteries, ...0.7
Total37.78Actual pack weight was 39. I found a pound of stuff I could chuck.10.76

As of 2018-03
My full loadout is just under 35 lb. 
No tuner or jetboil unless needed.
AlternativeWeightItemSavings in lb
Optional Bioenno 6AH battery1.4Would need to buy this and the max discharge rate is 12A vs. current battery that has a rating of 20A.2.10
MFJ-1910 Telescoping Mast3.3My alternate antenna0.00
Packtenna 20/40 meter0.8currently not using (balun 2.6 oz, UNUN 4.4 oz, wire and winder 10.1)
There's no savings here since I need to bring the mast.
Yaesu FT-817ND2.952.35
25 ft coax.9.10


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-- Chris Claborne, N!CLC

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