Five Ounces

Five ounces. 5/16 of a pound, less than a third. I spent $35 for those 5 ounces, and very happy for it! What is that, $7 per ounce?!

To a long distance hiker, every ounce is at a premium. The less weight I have to carry, the more comfortable I will be. It’s then reasonable to assume that I will enjoy the hike just that little bit more. Each of my 5 MILLION steps will carry 5 ounces less than previously planned; for $35, that’s not a bad deal at all.

I’ve alluded to the weight tradeoff equation before. For a particular function, saving weight is a good thing, as long as it does not compromise quality or usefulness. Example: I have heavy, rugged boots that weigh 3 pounds, and could last the entire hike. To save weight, and be more comfortable, I will take trail runners, at 1.5 pounds. I may need 3 pair as they break down, but that is a reasonable compromise.

Money is also part of this equation. Technology permeates hiking as it does other sports. We have titanium cookware, ultra light nylon cloth for tarps and tents, new weaves of wool that reduce clothing weight substantially. It all depends how deep your pockets are, and what is “OK” if it’s a bit heavier.

My biggest compromise is my hammock, which weighs in at 3 pounds, plus another 8 ounces for a tarp. Many high tech tents now are just over 1 pound, complete (at $400 and up!). But, this hammock is rugged and comfortable, and I JUST LIKE IT. That’s the fun of this individualist sport: you get to choose what lights you up, as long as you accept your choices.

So… what was my big purchase? Camp shoes! At the end of a long day of hiking, airing out tired feet is a luxury. Many of us bring Crocs, slides, or the equivalent: waterproof, light shoes. They are also useful for river crossings and in town, in the shower, whatever. Inexpensive, yes, but at 14 ounces for the pair, on the heavy side for the one or two hours a day they get used.


Enter Vivobarefoot, the company, that sell a variety of minimalist running and hiking footwear. I came across a discussion of these on, my primary source of information about all things hiking on the AT. I can’t wear many shoes as I have a wide foot and a bunion on my right foot, but I ordered a pair of their “Ultra Pure”, and at about 9 ounces, they are great! So… my Crocs will stay at home, and the Vivo’s will take to the trail!


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