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ultralight backpacking multitool

Discussion in 'MultiTools and Other Pocket Tools' started by vivek16, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. vivek16

    vivek16 Loaded Pockets

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    So I've started to get into backpacking and just went on a week long trip on the superior hiking trail with a 40 pound pack and realized that I desperately need to lighten my load. I took with me a mora craftline, a LM supertool 300, and a victorinox rambler and realized you really don't need a lot of the tools on an established backcountry trail. I'm now looking for a lightweight tool with just a knife, awl, saw, and pliers. (outside opening knife is preferred)

    Any suggestions? I'm looking at something from the LM juice series.

    -vivek
     
  2. JonSidneyB
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    JonSidneyB Uber Prepared
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    Try off trail backpacking sometime. It is quite a bit tougher but I think it is worth it. I have done a lot of very long trail packing but you will find that the animals you find on trails behave differently then when you find places to go off trail. Where you living out of the pack completely or where you working out of a base site?

    A mistake commonly made by new backpackers is carrying too much stuff. It cuts into the food supply too much and you need to calories. I always used far more tools when working outdoors than I ever did backpacking. There is quite a bit of information about living on the trail that in my experience has proven to not be quite accurate. It seems to take a lot of actually doing it to figure out what you really need.

    On some long trails you can find the litter of gear here and there where people have started dumping their stuff the shed weight. On the 40 pounds, I don't know what pack you where using but it can make a huge difference on how the weight feels. Some packs are simply not designed to be covering distance, it is not necessarily a fault of the pack but rather the pack is out of it's element. Some packs can be less tiring carrying 80 pounds than others carrying 40 pounds.
     
  3. MDCCLXXVI

    MDCCLXXVI Loaded Pockets

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    Leatherman Juice S2.

    I have brought it on many an ultralite backpacking trip. An important distinction to make though is exactly what kind of backpacking you are doing. Are you bushwacking or on marked trails? Are you camping at pre-designated sites or camping wherever? Are you fishing for food? Etc.

    Generally, if I'm on marked trails with marked campsites then all I really take is a small folding knife and a small multi-tool like the LM Juice S2. I really just used the pliers for untying guylines and lifting the lid off the hot kettle we boiled water in.

    If I'm off-trail and bushwhacking then that's a whole different animal. Generally slower moving, heavier loads, and I have to make my own campsite. This puts a lot more wear on your equipment and having backup tools like a saw/file/heavy pliers/good knife is very important. I'd opt for the LM Charge TTi for off-trail hiking, and an even sturdier tool like the LM Surge for hiking where you have to procure your own food, build your own campsite, and fix your own problems.

    I've done 'ultralight' backpacking for over a week at a time, and my pack incl. water generally weighs around 45lbs. For hikes over 60 miles, at that point I'm shaving weight down where I can. If I'm moving from water source to water source I generally don't load up on H2O because of its weight.

    From my experience, the best ultralight backpacking tool is the LM Juice S2, though there are many others you'd be just as happy with.
     
  4. Gareth

    Gareth Loaded Pockets

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    I go off trail hiking every winter and don't take a pliers based MT with me, in my experience I've never needed one, but others do disagree. Think about what you might need it for and if there might be some other alternative answer to the problem. If you still feel you need pliers then the Juice Cs4 would certainly give you all that you were looking for, but do be warned that the awl is totally blunt and you might want to sharpen it up.

    If you feel like you can live without the pliers then the world of SAKs opens up to you, personally I like the Huntsman/Fieldmaster. Better blades, saw and scissors then the Juice IMO and a couple of ounces lighter (3 3/8oz on my Huntsman 5 1/2oz for the Juice), it might not sound like a lot (and it's really not), but as you've started to find out every ounce adds up. :)
     
  5. Gryffin
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Gryffin Loaded Pockets

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    Therein lies the problem: balancing what you need assuming everything goes as planned, vs. what you'll need when it doesn't. Ask anyone who's done Search & Rescue and they'll talk your ear off with stories of rescuing hikers who went out for the day with nothing but sunglasses, a sandwich, and a bottle of Aquafina, thinking that 10% chance of storms could never happen to them. On the other hand, loading up like you're assaulting Khandahar quickly takes all the fun out of hiking.

    But that leaves a pretty wide range in which to find your comfort zone. Yes, you should lighten that load, but you probably don't want to go all capital-"U"-Ultralight, where you're drilling holes in the handle of your spork to save 0.73 grams. That way madness lies, along with a lot of very uncomfortable nights.

    The Craftline is a great choice, a full-size fixed knife that weighs dang close to nothing. The Super Tool is obviously overkill. The Vic, though, is also a perfect choice for a backup knife, and a knife is one of those critical items, along with fire source, that's worth an extra ounce or two of redundancy.

    I can't think of a tool with that exact mix of tools. A Victorinox One-Hand Trekker has the one-hand blade, an excellent saw, an awl, but no pliers; the only multitools I can think of that have one-hand-opening knife blades, don't have saws, unless you go as heavy as a Charge or Wave. (Hey Leatherman, I smell a market opportunity!)

    The Leatherman Juice tools are pretty good; compact, functional, and there are several models available so you can balance utility and weight. But they're designed to be pocket sized, but not exactly light weight; so what you'll get are short blades and implements, but still several ounces added to your load.

    My personal choice for hiking multitool is the Leatherman PST-II; now sadly discontinued, but if you look on fleaBay you can still find them. Full-size pliers, knife blade, wood file/diamond file (good for touching up your other knives), scissors, screwdrivers long enough to reach recessed screws, can/bottle opener, all in a longer, thinner, slightly heavier package than a four-layer Juice.

    The aforementioned Charge or Wave might be worth the weight, though, if you consider you don't need a separate knife.

    OK, so, we've replaced that ten-ounce SuperTool. A quarter pound down, just 19¾ to go!
     
  6. Gareth

    Gareth Loaded Pockets

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  7. ParamedicPants

    ParamedicPants Loaded Pockets

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    LM Juice CS4...It has a knife, saw, awl, and pliers. The other ones dont have all these tools in them, unless you go to the Xe6 (which i think is too big, imo). The other option is if you look on the secondary market and see if you can get your hands on a Kf4, imo is even beter (wish they never stoped making it). Good Luck.

    If you can wait I agree with Gareth, the Sidekick and Wingman do look promising.
     
  8. JonSidneyB
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    JonSidneyB Uber Prepared
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    There is a difference between backpacking and hiking. It looks like he said he was out for a week. It took me four months to do the AT. Even trying I can't come up with a single way pliers would have done me any good. Not a single thing carried had screws. No cans or bottles as there is no way in the world those would be packable, very inefficient in in the way to store them and way too heavy. If he was out a week he would not have just had a sandwich and I have never seen anyone pack with a bottle of Auqufina. Storms are not the unexpected in fact you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you will get caught in them. There is no avoiding it. If you are doing the trail thing the knife is carried alot and used very little. We don't know what all his backpacking involved but on a trail a knife is used little even in emergency. One handed opening provides no real advantage on trail. Off trail things are a little different but in an emergency going off trail is not a good idea and usually only done as a short cut to resupply.
     
  9. vivek16

    vivek16 Loaded Pockets

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    I definitely want to do trips consisting of a weekend or longer. I agree with a lot of what Jon said. I kept my craftline hooked to my pocket the whole week and maybe had to actually cut something that couldn't have been torn or left unwhittled a total of 5 or 10 times. One hand opening really is overkill. I didn't use pliers the entire week except as a cooking pot lifter. Forget the screwdrivers and the can/bottle openers (maybe I'll carry a p-38). Nothing I carried had screws and the 1 can of spam we had as a group of 5 had a self opening tab.

    I do have a PSTII that I retrofitted with a PST awl and straight edge blade that is my normal edc. The only thing is that it doesn't have a saw and I don't need most of the the other tools on it. I love that diamond file though. I want a saw strictly for an emergency. I am relatively new to outdoor activities and like the extra safety cushion it gives me. I do agree that I don't really need the extra bulk from a lot of the LM tools. Maybe I should go with something like an vic alox farmer and forgo the pliers

    -Vivek
     
  10. Gryffin
    • In Omnia Paratus

    Gryffin Loaded Pockets

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    Point taken. In both cases, you're carrying everything you need on your back, though; backpacking is hiking for more than the day.

    The OP was specifically asking about a multitool, so I assume he had felt he had a need for one. Could be it's just a comfort thing, but I just like having my PST-II with me; unlike you, I have found uses for mine, such as using the pliers to handle a hot pot or remove a fishhook, touching up a knife with the diamond file, trimming loose threads or cordage or moleskin with the scissors, etc. And, of course, the knife blade is there in case my primary knife goes missing.

    Pardon my hyperbole; my point is, some people do head out — for the day, or for a week — ridiculously underprepared.

    For a more concrete backpacking example: one guy I know is an total gram-weenie ultralight fanatic; I don't think his total gear for a week trip is more than eight pounds plus food and water. Of course, he's young, and has no problem sleeping on a piece of tarp right on the hard ground, with only his poncho propped up with a stick for shelter when it rains. Water filters weigh to much, so he relies on tablets or just takes his chances with untreated water. His FAK consists of a sheet of moleskin and two bandaids. He won't even carry the Vic Executive I gave him so he'd have something sharp, because it weighed too much. His attitude is, plan for the best, and if he gets in real trouble, well, that's what the SAR folks are for. Personally, I think he needs his head examined, before he becomes a casualty.

    Well, I haven't hiked the AT, so I can't really disagree with you, except to say that a one-hand opening blade has the same advantage on or off trail, as it does back in civilization: the ability to use the knife even if one hand is otherwise occupied.

    As for the very idea of having a knife on the trail, it may not be that useful when things go well, but if things go bad, it's one of those things you should have available, just like a means to make fire.
     
  11. vivek16

    vivek16 Loaded Pockets

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    I'm trying to get my pack weight without food or water down to around 12 pounds which should be very doable for summer hiking. I don't like being under prepared but careful gear selection and using multi-purpose items can let you get away with a low pack weight. I enjoy being comfortable and hike for fun so I'm not going to go overboard but would like to cut out unnecessary weight.
    I carry a small scalpel in my FAK so if something happens to my primary knife, I do have a backup. I like having lightweight pliers though. I'm not sure what my options are as far as the multitool I'm looking for.
     
  12. kakinuma-kun

    kakinuma-kun Loaded Pockets

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    Personally, I carry the Gerber Flik because I find it relatively lighter than other tools that I own.

    The biggest problem for me, too, is stopping myself from carrying redundant gear.

    By the way, by far my favorite EDC knife is the Ganyana, which I carry because its so light that I don't even feel it.
     
  13. Jean

    Jean Loaded Pockets

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    When hiking (3+ day trips) foot maintenance is critical - I would keep a small SAK for toenail clipping, moleskin cutting, and blister trimming. I've never needed pliers or a saw, I have used the small screwdriver for sunglass tightening.

    I would keep the Mora and the SAK. I just don't like the scissors on the Leathermans and can't use the pliers to fix my stove - and can't come up with another reason to carry one.
     
  14. Monocrom

    Monocrom Loaded Pockets

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    Gerber 450, if weight is a big issue.

    You get a full-sized multi-tool that won't rust away on you just by looking at it.
     
  15. Soappeddler

    Soappeddler Loaded Pockets

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    In a recent issue Backpacker Magazine chose the Juice S2 as the best multitool value of all time.
     
  16. carrot

    carrot Loaded Pockets

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    The only knife you needed on that trail was the Rambler. The trails that people halfway across the country can recognize by name are well-traveled enough that you will never need to fully subsist on your own wits. When I go backpacking a simple Victorinox Farmer does the trick for me: a knife, an awl, a saw, and a can opener. Of course being a knife nut I'll also carry a lightweight Mora, right now my favorite being the Bushcraft Triflex.

    My backpacking list is pretty light these days:
    shelter: Clark Jungle Hammock North American + Thermarest Prolite Small + Lafuma 30º 800 fill down bag
    food: MSR Pocket Rocket + MSR Titan Kettle + Snow Peak Spork + 2 Bic lighters
    water: Camelbak Antidote 100oz, 2 Nalgene Cantenes (96oz + 48oz), 1 Nalgene wide mouth bottle + MSR Hyperflow filter
    FAK: band aids, duct tape, painkillers
    clothes: Crocs, extra pair of wool socks, extra t-shirt, basketball shorts, REI Dunraven Hybrid jacket
    misc: Petzl Tikka 2 headlamp, Mammut S-Flex headlamp, Garmin Vista HCX GPS, spare batteries

    With this, my base weight is 16 lbs, then you add food and water which adds a lot of weight, depending on your hydration and eating needs.
     
  17. Mobuse

    Mobuse Loaded Pockets

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  18. MichaelU167

    MichaelU167 Empty Pockets

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    A Saw, Awl, Knife, and Pliers.

    LM Supertool 300: 9.6 oz
    SOG Powerlock: 9.6 oz
    Swiss Tool Spirit: 5.75 oz
    LM Juice KF4: 5.5 oz (retired, rare and hard to find but probably your best bet)
     
  19. mikey

    mikey Banned

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    Like most people here have already stated. You need to think what your needs are, then find a MT or SAK to match.

    I have never owned a MT until this week that I plan on putting in an EDC kit. I have been using SAK's for 30+ years and never really had any issues with them or found something while camping that I couldnt accomplish with it. Thru the years I have upgraded my SAK's from the classic, to the Tinker (which I still have and just gave to my son) so carried it for around 25+ years and now I replaced that one with the Explorer which has awesome tools on it. Yes, it is prolly more than I need in fact, but well worth carrying. I grew up camping, hiking and did the Boy Scouts thing and I had alot of fun doing it with typically only a SAK but once in awhile we had the folding saw around!

    The MT's I have are the Squirt PS4, which is very light and small and also the XE6 which I will put into my urban EDC kit.

    I am sure that you will probably try different MT's or SAK's until you figure out which one you will keep and it does the best job for you.
     
  20. TomWelch

    TomWelch Loaded Pockets

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    Before you spend another dime on backpacking gear read the book
    "Beyond Backpacking", available @ REI. Travel light and smart.

    Tom Welch
    Mesa, AZ USA