Archive for January, 2009

pic-9-6Aarn Designs makes incredible Backpacks in New Zealand.  These packs have front pouches that attach to the shoulder strap and balance the load.  They are my favorite packs inspite of being heavier than some.  I asked Aarn is he could make them lighter in this email:

Hi Aarn,

Carol here, the one writing the book on light weight gear for baby boomers.  As, I’ve stated before, I think your packs are outstanding.  I’ve listed it as my favorite pack in the book, in spite of the weight.  It weighs about twice as much as one of my other favorite packs, the Granite Gear Vapor Trail.  The engineering of your pack is worth the 2 extra pounds. That’s saying a lot since I carefully consider every ounce I put on my back.  So going for 2 extra pounds in a backpack is a big deal. 


But, I would really like to see a light weight model of the Natural Balance.  I like the volume it can carry, so I wouldn’t want it to be smaller, just lighter.  For instance, I think you could use a less durable fabric.  The material you use is bullet proof.  Which is good for some people, but not the ultra light crowd.  Ultra lighters will sacrifice durability for weight savings.  You wouldn’t want to do anything to compromise the fine engineering, of course, but I bet you could loss a pound or two if you tried.  You know better than me how to achieve a lighter version.


I think the Natural Balance Lite would be a winner.  I’d buy (2) sight unseen.  Anyway, just my two cents.



Here’s his reply:

pic-9-7Dear Carol,  Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your book. I am enjoying reading it.   Thanks so much for your comments and endorsement of Natural Balance. It will help raise awareness of our designs over there.

A couple of comments:
1.  When you bought your pack the NZ $ was quite high against the US $ and now it is low. So its cheaper now.
2.  We are continually looking for ways to reduce weight, with compromising durability, or substantially increasing price. Getting it down by 2 lbs would be very difficult without compromising function. But we may gradually be able to get it down by 1 lb. 

A bodypack will weigh more than a backpack if made of the same materials, as there are 3 load carrying modules rather than one. But the reduced energy requirement with the upright posture easily overcomes some extra weight. For example, the sports science research shows that even with a partially counterbalanced load, a bodypack will take less energy to carry than a backpack which is 1kg lighter than the backpack, provided the total load (including the pack) is more than 7kg.

best regards,
Aarn Design Ltd.      
20 Fleming Street
North Beach

Christchurch 8083
New Zealand

Tel. +64 3 388 1979
Fax +64 3 388 7515

E-mail: aarndesign@paradise.net.nz
Website: www.aarnpacks.com 


Read Full Post »

I have been amazed by the advances in head lamps.  They just keep getting lighter.  My current go to lamp is a Petzl e+LITEpetzlelitef06bigIt is less than half the weight of my former favorite the Petzl Tikka XP.  This little gem weighs in at just under 1 oz.  And costs about $30.  It works fine for around camp chores and reading at night.  Although it lacks the wide angle option the Tikka has, in some ways it’s better.  It has a red function.  This saves your night vision while providing enough light to get by and keeps your camp mates happy by not blinding them whenever you look their way.  It’s so light and comfortable I forget I’m wearing it.

Read Full Post »

Coming Soon

Soon I’ll be posting reviews of new gear I’ve tried since the book was published.  I’ve found some lighter better options.  Also some disappointments.  Check out the new New Cartoon by Jayna.

Read Full Post »



I find myself inside more than I’d like in the winter months.  But day hiking can be fun, even in winter conditions.  Just find a place that’s low enough to not have snow and get going.  Once outside and walking, I enjoy it immensely.  Besides being a good chance to test out your rain gear, it’s lovely in the woods.  You have a better chance to see wildlife too, since there are few other hikers. 


And there’s nothing like coming home to a warm house after a day out in the winter woods.  Try it, you’ll be glad you did.

Read Full Post »

The Medford Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon has published an article today about lightweight backpacking showcasing my book. 

Please follow the link to read the article.

Read Full Post »